Sunday, November 18, 2012
THE REAL EMMA
As I mention in the Afterword of my new Western e-novel Vengeance on the Sweetgrass (on amazon and barnes and noble.com) as well as on this blog, I have taken the liberty of basing my story on a real event but changing the actual outcome; this was my own device for delivering justice to evildoers when in life they never paid for their crimes. My chief source for the novel was a terrific book called The Wyoming Lynching of Cattle Kate: 1889 by George W. Hufsmith (High Plains Press, Glendo, Wyoming, 1993). Anyone who reads Vengeance and then turns to Mr. Hufsmith's book will be able to see which of my fictional characters represent living people and which I have invented out of whole cloth.
Mr. Hufsmith's book had a powerful impact on me when I read it several years ago after buying it in a used-book emporium in Ruth's hometown of Salida, Colorado. The actual victims of the double lynching were a woman named Ella Watson and her lover James Averill, whom I transformed into Emma Waldroup and Jack Antrim in my novel. The names and backgrounds of the lynchers have been changed but most other facts about them and their lives and acts are accurately portrayed in the novel--especially the bit about the wolves. I hope anyone who enjoyed Vengeance will buy and read Mr. Hufsmith's book. It's readily available in paperback at the usual online bookstores. It's filled with the same righteous indignation that set me afire when I felt I had to write Vengeance. And it tells a harsh truth about the settlement of the American West. I think every American should read it.
Of course I must enter here the usual disclaimer, that the charaters in my book in no way resemble real people living or dead. The work is entirely a product of my own imagination--and indignation.
I hope if you read it you will also read Mr. Hufsmith's book. It is a marvel of detective work and fine retributive writing.