Writer's ranch life brings authenticity to book about cowboy's confessional letters
PRESCOTT - Working on a ranch isn't an easy job, but it is rewarding.
For award-winning author Amy Hale Auker, it's doubly so. Not only does she write southwestern literature, but Auker has spent much her life amongst cowboys. Working on a ranch, which she's done since 2008, puts her right where she wants to be.
"I've been hearing cowboy stories since I was in my mother's belly. I've been listening to cowboy stories my whole life, cooking for cowboys, mopping up after cowboys, doing laundry for cowboys and gave birth to a cowboy," Auker said. "For the first time in my life, I started actually cowboying for a paycheck."
On top of her daily work, the author makes time to write every single day or, as she terms it, "shows up to the page."
"The last six years of cowboying have fed my writing in a way I cannot even describe," Auker said.
Pen-L Publishing will release her second novel, "The Story is the Thing," early next year. The book will be available for pre-order in October. She enlisted Prescott artist Steve Atkinson to design the cover, for which he created an original painting.
Auker described the book as an epistolary account written by an old cowboy. A letter, written on yellow legal pads and left to a dear friend, tells not only the main character's life story, but serves as a confessional for a crime committed at the end of his life.
"The reader also gets to know three very special young women as they seek belonging and love and truth," Auker said.
As an author who specializes in prose, Auker said writing "The Story is the Thing" proved to be something of a challenge.
"I like to write about beautiful things - dragonflies, the garter snake that swims across the swimming hole - those are the things I like to write about. But I developed some characters and I realized, about halfway through, this guy is going to die. We can't have him living at the end of this book.
"It turned into so much fun to do."
The book tackles subjects that aren't normally addressed in Western literature, Auker hinted.
On Saturday, Sept. 6, at 2 p.m., Auker will take part in a special literary panel discussion titled "Women Who Broke the Mold" at the Peregrine Book Company in downtown Prescott. Other writers who will be on hand for the event include Heidi M. Thomas, author of "Cowgirl Dreams," "Dare to Dream," and others; and Carolyn Niethammer, whose book "The Piano Player" was released earlier this year.
"We're going to be talking about women who, either in contemporary times do jobs that aren't considered feminine, like being a cowboy for a living, and women who did things culturally or within the day and age they lived in that were surprising," Auker said.
Local television personality and author Sandy Moss will moderate the panel discussion.
For more information, visit the bookstore online at www.peregrinebookcompany.com.
Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier.