26 Pickup, the Half-ton
Hell And Back, the new Walt Longmire novel, hits the stands this week!
“I’m curious after reading the sample chapter of Hell and Back, this book seems different from all your others, and I was wondering what compelled you to write it?” – Steve Freedman
All haunting is regret.
Whether it’s a result of the things we’ve done or the things we didn’t, and in that way, we are all possessed by something. The human psyche of the missing manifests itself in all the characters of Hell and Back — the limbo of unfinished business. It’s a book about coming to terms with the phantoms of regret and loss that hopefully grant Sheriff Walt Longmire a new life.
Like everybody else, I sometimes dwell on things I shouldn’t, like what is the scariest thing I can think of, and the answer is pretty simple — not knowing who, where or why I am.
Hell And Back isn’t a simple amnesia story but is rather one about a man fighting to reclaim his very existence against an active and malicious adversary. There are times when the good sheriff doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone and this is one of those times. Readers who know my books are aware that I like to tread in the margins as I like to call it, the place where different genres can mix and hopefully enhance each other in something like a fine meal.
This book is different, and even though this isn’t the first time I’ve said that this novel goes out there in the topography of loss, where Walt’s been for the last seventeen years but never at this width or breadth. Memory is the fuel of all haunting but that is sometimes the unadorned and unvarnished truth which becomes clouded and camouflaged by nostalgia in the hostile world I’ve attempted to create in Fort Pratt, Montana — a mysterious western, gothic-romance with tinges of horror.
I was made aware of the current horrifying problem that involves murdered and/or missing indigenous women when I came up with the idea for Daughter of the Morning Star. I knew there had to be a backstory that would provide an underpinning to the more mystical aspects of the tale and remembered that a few years ago I had spoken to venerable Cheyenne Elder Leroy White Man about the Éveohtsé-heómėse that is something of a bogeyman to keep the young ones from venturing off.
His theory was that the Wandering Without was a conglomeration of all the lost souls that had been banished from the tribes — the murderous, the insane, and the evil ones that had been driven out into the wilderness to die alone. His belief was that there was and always had been something out there waiting to take these souls that no one else wanted and that they had banded together to feed a hunger for companionship. What better feeding ground than the infamous town where thirty-one boys lost their lives in a terrible fire at the Fort Pratt Industrial Indian Boarding School?
The Northern Cheyenne have a saying that you judge a man by the strength of his enemies… I couldn’t think of a better statement about Walt Longmire, but what if the souls he’s dispatched on their way are joined together — out there somewhere, waiting for him?
My money is on Walt.
Hell and Back hits the stands this week, enjoy the read and I’ll see you on the trail.
PS: If you’re looking for where I’ll be on the Hell And Back tour, check out the Tour Of Duty on my website which begins on Monday.