Great Lonesome is my twenty-ninth western/frontier novel and my tenth book with Five Star. I wrote it in 2018, and it came out in November of 2020, delayed by a few months as many books were during the pandemic.
Prior to writing this novel, I gathered notes over a period of a few years. I wanted to write a story about a person who rejected materialistic and conformist values, and I thought it would be a good story if this person met another person with similar interests. And so I came up with my protagonist, Reese Hartley, and my unconventional heroine, Muriel Dulse. Both characters have come west in order to have their own land and to forge a new life. Hartley also wants to get away from systems and machines, which become sort of a correlative for a way of life in which people pursue wealth and material possessions and oblige others to cooperate with them.
Like last year but quite different, this year has been a good year for me with awards. My short story “Return to Laurel” was a finalist for the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Western Short Fiction Story and was also a finalist for the Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award for Best Short Fiction. My novella “Leaving the Lariat Trail” won the Peacemaker Award for Best Short Fiction. Any one of these distinctions would give me an occasion to be thankful, and so I am appreciative three times over.
“Prairie Center” is a relatively long poem (about five pages) that I wrote about three years ago. I brought it out in a chapbook of poems entitled Rangeland and Prairie, and it won the Western Writers of America Spur Award in 2019 for best western poem of 2018. It was also published in a magazine entitled Saddlebag Dispatches, and it is now available in my collection of western poems entitled Thorns on the Rose (second edition).