UPDATE: The winner is…Colleen C!
My love of historical fiction springs from the nexus of where imagination meets fact. Through her time-telescope book, Jubilee, poet author Margaret Walker hurls me back in time to the American Civil War as experienced by a slave family based on the life of her great-grandmother. James Michener does the same on the multicultural history of Colorado in Centennial. My erotic historicals don’t come anywhere near the scope of these sagas, yet in “The Patience of Unanswered Prayer” imagination meets fact as it does in Walker’s and Michener’s work.
As he brings my heroine Eleanor Taylor to safety, my hero Franklin Adams muses on family life that could have been his but for slavery. I created this life for him, i.e., the backstory of his ancestors in Africa from my research. The image above is from the New York Public Library’s Schomburg digital collection. It shows an African man feeding cattle. Michael Grauer, the McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture and Curator of Cowboy Collections and Western Art at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, in Oklahoma City is quoted as saying “cowboy traditions originated in Africa, where cattle herders would rope cattle on foot, and the likes of the Maasai people drove them toward better lands for grazing.”
My research for this story also found that while Blacks enjoyed more respect and freedom driving cattle in the West, they rarely rose to trail boss or foreman. Yet reading about Bose Ikard, one of the most famous Black Texas frontiersmen and trail drivers, I learned this former slave, who worked on several of the Goodnight-Loving cattle drives, was so trustworthy Charles Goodnight often put him in charge of the cash collected at the end of the trail. Thus, I created Franklin, also a former slave, with an ancestral knowledge of the best way to handle cattle and equally trusted like Ikard. My imagination met these two facts and created one of those rare exceptions: a Black trail boss.
Other famous Black Westerners could have been models for Franklin as well. One was former slave Nat Love, also known as Deadwood Dick, who worked for large cattle spreads in Texas and Arizona. He recounts his life in his autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love. Another could have been Bill Pickett who is credited with creating bulldogging. While these facts did not meet imagination in my present story, I can easily see how they might in future ones.
So for a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments some interesting piece of history that may have sparked your imagination.
“The Patience of Unanswered Prayer”
in Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology
A feisty businesswoman about to become the next victim of Post-Civil War revenge receives rescue from an unexpected source
Excerpt from “The Patience of Unanswered Prayer”…
She prayed Flyte would ungag her quickly, prayed her gut was right that he wasn’t party to whatever Radcliffe had planned.
Flyte pulled down the gag.
“He’s going to kill me,” she rasped, her mouth free of the loathsome muzzle. “You have to stop him.”
“Kill you?” Flyte blenched. “He’s done this for your safety.”
“Taking me the long way round to Darlington City in the dead of night is for my safety?”
“A mob was waiting to lynch you.”
“You know that’s not true. Radcliffe trumped up these charges against me to put me at his mercy.”
“Gordon Daniels brought the charges against you.”
“At Radcliffe’s urging. Daniels is ex-Confederate and can’t cotton any Black—man or woman—doing better than Whites.”
“Why would the sheriff do that? He’s an ex-Yankee who hates confederates like Daniels.”
“Radcliffe hates me more. He wants revenge on me for rebuffing his attentions.”
“I can’t believe—” Flyte paused, then looked thoughtful. A frown filled his face. “Yet…”
His hesitation gave her hope. Her gut tensed, and her heart beat until her chest hurt.
“You know full well taking me from jail is either foolishness or mischief.”
The cock of a gun hammer turned them both in the same direction.