”The Cheyenne Nation” – 52 Pickup, Week 4

52 PICK-UP — Question 4

This week, we get a special “sneak peek” into a future story — with a connection to the past. Enjoy!

From Anne MacLachlan:

“Clearly Dorothy and The Bear have a comfortable history together. Will we ever find out more about it? I just love the little asides between them. For example, as Walt notes, who tugs on Henry’s hair …. And lives?”

Hi Anne,

There are things I put in the novels almost like bookmarks, to help remind me of story lines I want to explore in future books, and you’ve stumbled onto one. What’s fun for me is the development of the characters and their relationships with each other, and just as important the timing of those relationships. It’s something I’ve explored before and will continue to explore—that people aren’t and haven’t always been or will be the person they are when you meet them. It’s important to me to try and see the characters in all their different facets, and although that sometimes requires a chronology or time shift, it seems to be something readers enjoy along with me; i.e.,Walt, Henry, Lucian and others in The Western Star, Spirit of Steamboat and Another Man’s Moccasins just to name a few…

From earlier books, we know that Henry was raised partially in absentia in Durant by relatives, so his early years couldn’t have been easy, even for a Durant Dogie. Anyway, there’s a mention of the altercation between Walt and Henry at the water fountain at school, which leads to a bit of behavior that is not in any of the books yet—and another and finally a stint of public service imposed by Sheriff Lucian Connally for the two of them just in time for the local rodeo that is attended by actor Robert Taylor–the old Robert Taylor, star of Ivanhoe, Westward the Women, The Last Hunt, and Cattle King. A little-known fact: Taylor had a cabin above Buffalo (aka: Durant) back in the 50s and 60s, and I thought it might be interesting to have Walt and Henry meet the movie star in an early chapter of their life.

So, in this prospective novella, Robert Taylor is the Grand Marshal of the Durant Rodeo, and the public service that Henry and Walt draw is shuttling Taylor around—of course, things don’t go smoothly… I think it’ll be fun to see them and other characters back in their teenage years and see how some of those relationships develop, including the one between Henry and Dorothy where Henry once had a summer job washing dishes at the Busy Bee.

—Craig

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