Series Idea

Why come back to writing novels?

Always wanted to . . . and then the right idea came along.

There is a huge upland plain along the Idaho/Nevada border that is currently losing population at the rate of 5 to 7 per cent a year–whole towns are being abandoned. In an odd reversal of the settlement story, which I wrote about earlier, the landscape is becoming emptier than it was 200 years ago. People living there are seeing their way of live disappear faster than they ever imagined and are often at a loss to understand why.

I went on patrol with a sheriff working in that area. He is responsible for a county that is larger than the state of Massachusetts. He dealt with all the same problems as any law officer–drugs, gangs, domestic violence, and so on. Plus some that are unique to his situation–modern-day cattle rustling, grave robbing of prehistoric sites, international poaching of endangered species, to name a few. To complicate matters, he has little manpower and less budget. What’s more, the people who elect him seem to think he should do something about their disappearing lives. Novel material, indeed!

As I continued my research, interviewing other sheriffs, including a woman working the high-country of Colorado (most of her county is above 7,000 feet), I realized I had material for several novels–material that included a unique landscape and lifestyle, not to mention murders with unusual motives, like the value of dinosaur bones, the love of wild horses, and hanging onto the water California wants.

What qualifications do I bring to this project?

I have three previously published novels–Pocket Books in the late 1990s–historicals based on the then-new research that had redefined the role women played in the settlement of the American West. Exciting stuff to someone who grew up on a ranch in Idaho run by three generations of women. Writing those novels was like rediscovering my family . . .

Miss Ellie’s Purple Sage Saloon is about a women saloon-owner faced with a female Temperance leader determined to shut her down. The fact that they had a love interest in common complicates matters.

Kate Burke Shoots the Old West is about a woman photographer who witnessed and later exposed the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, placing her own life in danger.

The Lady Pinkerton Gets Her Man is about a Lady Pinkerton detective in 1880s Wyoming. Little known fact: there were Lady Pinkertons before the word “detective” had been invented. They were called “spies,” and they were expected to be “ladies” at all times so as not to reflect badly on the Pinkerton Company, which didn’t always treat them like ladies in return.

These books are out-of-print but available used at Amazon and other booksellers–usually cheap. Go for it.

At the time, they were well reviewed: Hurd has consistently created fine, gutsy heroines as tough as their time, place and men . . . (Publishers Weekly).

What have I been doing since then?

Among other things, I’ve been building a career as a fine art photographer.