After a brief hiatus, Western Fictioneers' collaborative series is back in a big way.
The series is set in the fictional town of Wolf Creek, Kansas in the early 1870s. About two dozen WF members have participated, each creating one (or sometimes two) unique characters who are denizens of the town (or the area.) Most books have been novels, with each chapter written by a different author from their character's point-of-view, and others have been short story anthologies (which give the authors an opportunity to delve more deeply into their characters.) The books are released collectively under the house name, FORD FARGO, but the individual authors are also identified.
If you haven't read the series yet, a great way to get started is with our new set of trade paperback compendiums, WOLF CREEK CHRONICLES, each of which reprints four Wolf Creek Books (there are three such compendiums available, with more to come in the future.) Each volume features cover artwork commissioned from comics legend Timothy Truman. They are also available as e-book boxed-sets. It may be too late to order the paperbacks in time for Father's Day, but if Dad has a kindle...
Meanwhile, three brand new Wolf Creek books have recently been released, all themed anthologies.
WOLF CREEK 14: WAR STORIES focuses on the eerie barber John Hix, created (and written here) by Frank Roderus. Hix tells people he was in the California gold fields during the Civil War, but is fascinated by the conflict he missed. As he plies his trade and makes small talk with his customers, he asks them to tell him their war stories. Several of the town's citizens do so in this volume, in individual short stories -touching, not just on the Civil War, but also on fighting Comanches in Texas during that same period, and earlier conflicts such as the Crimean War and the second Seminole War. But John Hix has a very dark secret, and if you tell him the WRONG story...well....
WOLF CREEK 15: LUCK OF THE DRAW part one, and WOLF CREEK 16: LUCK OF THE DRAW part two are a two-volume collection featuring a dozen stories altogether. The owners of Wolf Creek's biggest saloons (which include the mayor, Dab Henry) have organized, and widely advertised, a huge poker tournament to bring money (and a large number of professional gamblers) to the town. What could go wrong? That's what Sheriff G.W. Satterlee and Marshal Sam Gardner are wondering, and they're pretty sure they know the answer...
Two more books are in various stages of completion and will be appearing in the near future:
WOLF CREEK 17: COMANCHERO TRAIL
WOLF CREEK 18: HUNTER'S MOON
Catch up on Wolf Creek today! NOTE: a short excerpt -the prologue- from LUCK OF THE DRAW 1 appears at the bottom of this blog.
Links for the various books are listed below. But first, a list of our past and present Wolf Creek players (with more to join soon):
THE WRITERS OF WOLF CREEK, AND THEIR CHARACTERSBill Crider - Cora Sloane, schoolmarm
Phil Dunlap - Rattlesnake Jake, bounty hunter
Wayne D. Dundee – Seamus O’Connor, deputy marshal
James J. Griffin – Ben Tolliver (aka Bill Torrance), owner of the livery stable; also Father Sean Flannery, priest
Jerry Guin - Deputy Marshal Quint Croy
Douglas Hirt - Marcus Sublette, schoolteacher and headmaster
Jackson Lowry - Wilson “Wil” Marsh, photographer
L. J. Martin - Angus “Spike” Sweeney, blacksmith
Matthew P. Mayo - Rupert "Rupe" Tingley, town drunk
Vonn McKee – Maudie LeJeune, singer
Meg Mims – Phoebe Wright
Clay More - Logan Munro, town doctor
Kerry Newcomb - James Reginald de Courcey, artist with a secret
Cheryl Pierson - Derrick McCain, farmer
Matthew Pizzolato - Wesley Quaid, drifter
Robert J. Randisi - Dave Benteen, gunsmith
James Reasoner - G.W. Satterlee, county sheriff
Frank Roderus - John Hix, barber
Jacquie Rogers – Gib Norwood, dairy farmer; Abby Potter, madam
Jory Sherman – Roman Hatchett, trapper
Troy D. Smith - Charley Blackfeather, scout; Sam Gardner, town marshal
Charlie Steel – Kelly O’Brien, small rancher
Chuck Tyrell - Billy Below, young cowboy; Samuel Jones, gambler
L. J. Washburn - Ira Breedlove, owner of the Wolf’s Den Saloon
Big Jim Williams – Hutch Higgins, farmer
LUCK OF THE DRAW: PROLOGUE
“Wait a minute,” Marshal Sam Gardner said. “You want to do what?”
“A poker tournament,” said Dab Henry. Dab was the mayor of Wolf Creek, and owner of the Lucky Break saloon. The meeting was being held in his office. Also present were Virgil Calhoun, owner of the Eldorado, and Ira Breedlove, owner of The Wolf’s Den. Gardner, the town marshal, had been accompanied by G.W. Satterlee, the county sheriff.
“Isn’t that sort of what you all have, every day of the week?” Sheriff Satterlee asked.
“Not like this,” Dab said. “We’re talking about something big—something huge.”
“All three of us have agreed to pitch in with costs,” Ira said. “It’s an investment. We’re going to pay to have advertisements in papers all through the West, and rely on word of mouth from there.”
“People will pour in from everywhere,” Virgil Calhoun said. “We’ll have it four months from now, in July, around Independence Day.”
“People will pour in,” Gardner repeated. “People already pour in from everywhere. And then a good many of them subsequently pour lead into one another. On the one hand, this keeps G.W. and me and our deputies on the payroll and in drinking money—on the other hand, you’re talking about making our lives a living hell for however long this to-do of yours lasts. How many people are we talking about? And how many of them should we figure on being sore losers with bad tempers?”
“We have it all figured out,” Dab said, excited.
“Well that makes me feel better already,” Sam Gardner whispered to Sheriff Satterlee.
“There’ll only be sixty seats for the tournament, first come first served, with a hundred dollar ante right up front. That’s what the top prize will be. Whoever is the last man playing will have won everybody else’s money, six thousand total.”
“All the games will take place at our respective establishments,” Ira said. “And we will charge admission for spectators to watch—and I expect a lot of folks will. And each of those spectators, who will no doubt come from all the counties around and maybe even other states, will want to drink. And fornicate. And gamble themselves—even if they’re not in The Big Game, smaller, independent games will pop up all over.”
“Yes,” said Calhoun, who seemed to have been instantly infected by Dab’s enthusiasm. “And every one of those spectators will be staying at our hotel and boarding houses, and eating at our restaurants. Even our smaller saloons and establishments, though they are not part of the tournament officially, will benefit from the runoff, as our places get either too crowded or too rich for the taste of the drovers and the yokels. Everybody wins.”
“It’ll put Wolf Creek on the map,” Dab said.
“Wolf Creek is already on the map,” Gardner said. “It’s on the map as a wild, unruly place, prone to Indian attacks and range wars and general fatal tomfoolery. And G.W. and me are on the map right there with it, as lawmen not professional enough to hold a lid on such a wide-open place.”
“They’re mostly sayin’ that about you, to be fair,” Satterlee said with a playful grin. “I’m just responsible for the rurals.”
Gardner ignored his friend. “And now you want to throw a bunch of lit firecrackers in the pot.”
“Lit firecrackers who spend money,” Ira pointed out. “Let me list it again: drinking, gambling, whoring, eating, sleeping, all to the benefit of our citizens and especially to us in this room.”
Satterlee immediately scowled, and Ira picked up on it at once. “I’m not accusing you of kickbacks, G.W., but you do get your legal share of the county fines. And Sam—well, Sam knows where his bread is buttered, and now we’re offering some honey to go with it.”
“When this whole thing is over and done,” Gardner said. “I expect we’ll be short a few of our fine upstanding citizens. That would be no great loss, in some cases, but it would be in others.”
Ira smiled. “That’s why they call it gambling, Sam.”
“Don’t sound like they called us here to ask our permission, or even our opinion, Sam,” Satterlee said.
“Consider it more of a courtesy,” Ira replied, “to let you know what’s coming and give you time to prepare.”
G.W. looked at him. “Well, as long as you’re throwing money around—”
“Making investments,” Ira corrected him.
G.W. continued. “As long as you’re throwing investments around—the least you can do is invest some money for Sam and me to each hire another deputy or two for that week. We have no shortage of good, reliable men, so long as it’s worth their while.”
“Listen here, now,” Dab said. “We have made careful budgetary plans, if you can’t do the job we pay you to do, that’s not our—”
Ira interrupted the mayor. “No, Dab,” he said, “the sheriff has a point. It is the least we can do.”
“And the less you do the better, as usual,” Sam said, and G.W. elbowed him.
“Then it’s settled,” Ira said. To the lawmen he said, “Prepare yourselves, gentlemen. May the games begin.”