A reader recently pointed out that some Overstreets appear in “The Nice Guy” and wondered what that meant in the larger context of my writing.
While I decide whether to answer that question , let me give a brief explanation of who the Overstreets are and why two elderly people in an RV park would so capture a reader’s attention.
If you have read “All the Time in Our World”*, then you know that one of the two main characters in the novel is Marianne Overstreet. Later, she briefly tells the story of how her famous ancestor came up with that name, which wasn’t his birth name. Owing to the way the name started, she is very surprised to see it so venerated later on. So, who are the Overstreets?
I have a novel I have been working on for years (and, after a recent re-working of a chapter I was never satisfied with, is nearing completion) that I have tentatively titled, “Tales of a Western Life”. I’ll not try to hide it from both of you readers of my blog that John Overstreet–the main character of the novel–owes much of his existance to Louis L’Amour … and a little bit to James Michener, as well.
When I finish a good novel, especially a character-driven one like L’Amour’s, I am often wondering what happened next to that character. Did he marry the girl? Did he ever go exploring? Did he like the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”? No, I don’t usually wonder that, but you know what I mean.
“Tales of a Western Life” is that novel I always wanted to read. We get to know what happened to John Overstreet after he went to work for the horse ranch, and after he met the girl, and after the gunfight. We follow one man’s life from growing up in East Texas under the thumb of an abusive father, to his days trailing cattle in west Texas, to his years as foreman–and, later, owner–of a horse ranch in Colorado. We find out how the changing of the centuries changed his life, and what his dreams are for the future, and for his children’s future. We also get a glimpse into his first encounters with baseball, automobiles, and motion pictures. We deal, with him, with life and death and birth and heartache and triumph.
And where does Michener come into all this? While a novel–and all main characters in it are fictional–the book deals with the real-life drama (and people) that shaped Como, Colorado, and Haskell, Texas, and many other places in between. I have spent years researching the locales and the customs and, while I don’t boor the reader with the details, anyone who reads “Tales of a Western Life” then does some research of their own can find that there really was a hotel fire that year, that Old Mose actually did kill that many people, the coal mine collapsed just as described and there really was an opera house in Hamilton.
Mostly, though, I think you’ll just enjoy the fact that it’s a “ripping yarn”. Cowboys, miners, gunfights and trains … what more could you ask of the west?
*Now available as a single volume on Kindle!