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Sometimes people ask me why I write westerns when I live in Arkansas. I have to educate them immediately about Arkansas. This is a state with a reputation for “hillbillies” because the beautiful Ozarks stretch through one-third of our state. Now, before you decide that this reads like a travelogue and go elsewhere, let me allay your fears. You know how the movies always have a set-up before getting to the real story?
Here’s the real story. My Dad was born in Tyler, Texas to Cherokee parents. Oh, they weren’t full Cherokee, but each had enough of the People’s blood for it to count. His Dad worked in the oil fields. When my dad was near 16 his mother passed away leaving his dad with four boys, my dad being the eldest. Those boys were wild, let me tell you. One’s spent time in prison, another was stabbed by one of his wives. Neither of these were my Dad, but he could tell the best stories about his raising anyone could imagine. And growing up I heard them a lot. He never rode a horse in his life, but he always wore cowboy boots and drove a pickup truck and told stories about Texas. Which explains my western bent.
Well, partially, at any rate. I really wanted to write pure old westerns, but having a female protagonist didn’t work out so well, thus they became romances. When an editor suggests something, we writers often do it, unless it’s immoral or illegal. And I did so want to write westerns with a woman for the hero. So what was the problem sticking a little kissy-face here and there?
The first of these novels was published in 1994, sadly long after my dad passed away. He never did get to read any of my stories. He loved Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and stories of that sort. Well, I may not write like Dee Brown, but I do write about western history all the same. And usually there are Cherokee, Cheyenne or Sioux involved in some way, because I’m fascinated with the culture clashes of those days because of family history.
I was born in Arkansas, raised in Wichita, Kansas and have now lived in Arkansas for 40 years, 15 miles from where I was born. That tells you that I’m getting pretty long in the tooth. After moving here with my husband and two children, I began to teach piano to grade school students, paint in oils and write for a local newspaper, mostly profiles of fellow artists and crafts people. Eventually, the writing won out and became my main focus when it worked into a job as feature editor for a rural weekly newspaper. I often marveled that I was paid for doing such an enjoyable job as interviewing folks with fascinating pasts.
A historical column led to some nonfiction regional history books which in turn led to historical fiction. You remember those western historical romances mentioned earlier? Yep, those. I’ve won a few awards, nothing too impressive, in both fields.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m an ordinary writer, an author of books I’m proud of, but most of all I’m happy to be doing something I enjoy. Writing is difficult, fun, exhausting, challenging. What it is not is glamorous, nor does it make one rich, except in a few cases.
I now have 15 published books, both fiction and nonfiction, all still available since getting my rights back on the western romances and making them available on Kindle.
My latest is Stone Heart’s Woman, a story of the Northern Cheyenne and two people whose cultures clash, yet they work together to help The Beautiful People make their way home to the land of the Yellowstone. Did you know that George Armstrong Custer fathered several children with the Lakota Sioux and the Cheyenne women? This plays an important part in this tale.
About the Author:
Velda Brotherton writes of romance in the old west with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements. She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books. Visit her at her website.