Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Writing A Train Robber’s Tale

Here’s goes nothing!  My friends and I used to say that just before bravely jumping from a high cliff into the lake or when preparing to do something equally as daring (stupid?).

I’m writing A Train Robber’s Tale in first person from Patsy Rodriguez’s perspective. (You’ll see a sneak peek below). Of course, Patsy passed away in the first Arrowstar book. You’ll remember her as Bobby Flint’s girlfriend. Star Lance has all of Bobby and Patsy’s love letters and Patsy’s diary to guide her as she writes this book about Bobby.

There are three big challenges facing me as I write this book.

First, this book is a companion book for the first Arrowstar book, and it’s written by the main character of the Arrowstar Series, Star Lance. The cover of the book will show the authors as C. K. Thomas with Star Lance as it does on the cover of The Storm Women.  Getting into Star’s mind as she writes is a challenge. I’ll also have to make sure anything about Bobby’s past mentioned in The Storm Women makes its way accurately into the pages of his story.

And, yes, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m writing the two companion books out of sequence, having written Star’s second historical novel first. I chose to do this because Charade was still fresh in my mind and the story begged for more on those mysterious women buried up on the hill behind the church. I’m extremely glad to have reversed the order because I will be able to incorporate important events in Bobby’s life in Mineral City after he returned from Mexico that I mentioned in The Storm Women.

Second, there are some time-frame mistakes in the first Arrowstar book that I will need to correct before I can publish A Train Robber’s Tale. If you can find the errors (so far no one has alerted me that they have noticed them), I’ll send you a free advance copy of this next book, and explain to you how these errors unfortunately made it into the final version of Arrowstar!

Third, there are things about Bobby that Patsy couldn’t possibly know, so how am I going to handle that. I’ve thought about having her be all-knowing since her spirit seems to be present with Star as she’s writing. I’m leaning toward that possibility. Another possibility would be to introduce some of Bobby’s other friends as narrators of the parts of Bobby’s life that Patsy wouldn’t know about. That could get complicated, and it might cause the reader confusion. However, it might be kind of fun to have different perspectives on Bobby’s life as he lives in Mexico, moves briefly to Flagstaff to be near his sister and nephew, and then ultimately returns to Mineral City.

If you have comments or opinions about how this book might come together, please message me at ckthomas@cox.net. I really would love your help! I hope you enjoy the following brief excerpt from the book’s present beginning. Remember beginnings can change between now and publication. Again, any constructive comments are more than welcome!

A Train Robber’s Tale

Chapter One

While sitting at Kat Abbi’s desk in the parlor of her Diamond R Ranch house surrounded by stacks of letters exchanged between accused train robber, Bobby Flint and his girlfriend Patsy Rodriguez, I strongly felt the presence of Patsy’s spirit.  I kept her diary at my elbow and faint whispers often came to me as I wrote.  A Train Robber’s Tale might well be titled Patsy’s Story because it was her voice I heard in my head as I attempted to reconstruct the life and legend of Bobby Flint.
                                                                                                -Star Lance, December, 2010

It must be understood that I dearly loved Bobby Flint.  If things had been different for our daughter in Ellenville during those years, I never would have taken her to New York when she turned six.  I was pregnant with Katherine Loraine when Bobby took off for Mexico.  He desperately wanted to return for the baby’s birth, but the sheriff here doggedly kept looking for one or more of the Sugar Loaf Gang to show up back in Mineral City.

Bobby would have loved to see his chubby baby girl and the way her dark brown eyes snapped whenever she fussed.  Katherine had Bobby’s straight-edged nose and the shape of her oval face always reminded me of him.  As she matured, I could see Bobby in the way she walked and the way she stood with her slender body held straight and tall.

I never doubted that Katherine had Bobby’s high-strung disposition.  I prayed she would outgrow her hard-headed ways and fiery temper.  Unfortunately she never did, and because of that she missed the opportunity to get to know her real father.  I would have set her straight, but by then I had already left this earthly plane.  By the time Bobby came looking for her, I could no longer console and advise her, but only observe in spirit and wonder how different her life would have been had I survived.

I thought maybe having a child would change her, smooth those rough edges and make her stop and think before she spoke.  She named her daughter after herself, Katherine Loraine, but I always called her Kat.  My granddaughter was nothing at all like her mother.  On second thought, I really can’t say that because she does favor her mother physically with her long black hair, brown eyes and a tall, but delicate frame. 

Kat’s disposition, however doesn’t imitate her mother’s in any way.  I dearly loved this quiet and thoughtful girl who adored horses and went out of her way to show kindness.  If only I could have been there for her when her mother came to such a fiery end and her father passed not long after. 

I know I’ve run ahead of my story, but memories keep tumbling through my mind in no particular order.  Let me gather my thoughts and begin with those early days when Bobby, Dexter, Tom and I took to dreaming and scheming at the cabin near the Sugar Loaf Mine.

The four of us, Bobby Flint, Dexter Girard, Tom Porter and I grew up in Mineral City about 40 miles south of Ellenville, Arizona.  We knocked around that rural landscape as teenagers and explored the caves and abandoned mines on the outskirts of Mineral City and Ellenville. 

On one such adventure, we tried to get into the Sugar Loaf Mine about 20 miles north of Mineral City, but it stood boarded up well enough to keep four ill-equipped kids out.  Wandering around the area, we ran across an artesian well and close by an abandoned, but sturdy cabin.  Bobby dubbed it “Patsy’s Cave” because I was first to spot it, and also because the solid rock wall that served as its backside made it feel very much like an underground hideout.  That was the summer before Bobby’s senior year in high school and well before the four of us ever imagined we’d come to be known as The Sugar Loaf Gang.

To be continued . . .

Write On!