Author D. M. McGowan writes historical fiction about the settling and opening of Canada’s West. “The Great Liquor War” – 1998 – Daison Publishing / “Partners” – 2008 – Strategic Book Publishing / “Homesteader: Finding Sharon” – 2009 – Strategic Book Publishing.
Dave was born in Collingwood, Ont. and have lived in Owen Sound, Caledon, Heathcote, (in BC) Ft. St. John, Vancouver, (back to Ont.) Jarvis, Oshawa, Windsor, (Alb.) Calgary, Ft. Saskatchewan, (BC) Kelowna and Dawson Creek. He has been a cowboy, forest firefighter, heavy equipment operator, farmhand, gardener, road musician and businessman. He lives with his wife, Karen, and children and grandchildren in Northern British Columbia, where he works as a commercial driver.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Canada? I have received from readers and requests for another story.
I also take pride in revealing some of the past of this great country. Some strong people with great vision built this country but we seldom hear of them. They are the pioneers who came to a flat land of great distances, to a world of high mountain peaks, to winter’s cold or summer’s heat that was far beyond their comprehension and yet built something wondrous out of that, a world that we who live in it often don’t properly appreciate.
Those of us who look for it can gather information on politicians or major business leaders of the past but it’s difficult to find out about those who actually built Canada, the miners, loggers, cattlemen and farmers. People much like those who are continuing to make it work.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? Driven by a love of history I had gathered stories that interested me. In an attempt to feed and house myself and my family I enjoyed a variety of experiences through the years and turned some of those into stories as well. While we were traveling Western Canada playing music my wife and partner, Karen suggested that I should write some of those stories down. I did as suggested and found that what I enjoyed most was historical fiction.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? I began writing in 1990 but did not consider publishing until much later, perhaps 1995. My first was “The Great Liquor War” published in 1998.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? Yes, to both questions. As mentioned above I’ve had a variety of experiences and have used knowledge gained there in some of my stories. For example a common practice in the mountains is to build a cache of goods and supplies for later use either at a permanent or long term camp site or for use on an oft travelled trail. These caches are usually ten feet or more off the ground to save these supplies from the ravages of wildlife (primarily bears, wolves and coyotes). They may be no more than a floor or platform but are sometimes a log cabin high in the trees. I’ve never read mention of such in historical fiction or westerns and have included them in two of my stories.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? I generally make up some kind of a title so I can save it and find it in my computer. However in many cases I’m aware this title will have to be changed when I’m finished. The stories usually take on a life of their own and become something I had not intended when I wrote the first paragraph. “The Great Liquor War” was “Liquor Laws” in the beginning. “Jake’s Justice” (unpublished) started off with that title and turned out to be close to my original idea.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? Historical fiction or a “Western” with a focus on Canada. I enjoy reading good stories from the west but have found very few sited in Canada. Two or perhaps three writers have done excellent work with fiction on the Canadian West and that work is as entertaining as any in the world. Except for those few, however much of it is very hard to read, misleading and inaccurate.
There are billions of western novels out there but very few from “the North West Territories” or “the Colony of British Columbia.”
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? The reviews I have received from many sites, the reviews from fans and the awards from Reader’s Favorite.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Help and suggestions from the marketing/promotion staff at Strategic Book Publishing.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Traditional publishing houses who continue to place their focus on literature when entertainment is what has always sold.
Don’t waste time with those who want something other than a good story.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Write! If you have a problem which you wish to call “writers block” put that story aside and sit down and write. Start a new story, outline the person you want as a life partner or explain the one you have, write about your favorite pet or restaurant but write something. When you’re done or perhaps tomorrow go back and work on that story that’s giving you trouble.
Who is your favorite author? Anyone who is entertaining. Louis LaMour, Michael Connelly, Lee Child
Please add questions (and answers) that you think your readers would like answered.
What’s “Homesteader” about? Yes, the story “Homesteader” takes place in the Canadian West of the late 19th century. However, that isn’t what it’s about
Yes, the story relates how a horseman from west of Rockies and his riding partner each take land under the Homesteader Act. However, that isn’t what the novel is about.
Sure there are Colt, Remington and Smith & Wesson revolvers mentioned, along with a few rifles including two Winchester models. But that has little to do with the story.
There are a diverse group of characters. There is a bully who, like most bullies thinks he is smarter than most and judges people by their appearance. There are some North West Mounted Police officers, some doing their jobs and others who only want the “Force” to look after them. There are hardworking, money-less families, widows, prospectors, Blackfoot, Sioux and the business people of Calgary.
Several action scenes are included. There are bucking horses and broken legs, a stage coach robbery and murder. Fence posts turn to slivers from the impact of a 45-70 bullet.
Let us not forget the weather. A horrendous winter is part of the story; a winter that eventually was responsible for changing the way the country handles livestock.
What the story is actually about is a young man finding the woman he loves. About learning that what he has been taught all his life is not necessarily true; that what may appear on the surface may not be what is underneath. About keeping a good partner and gaining another even closer one.
And, of course, recovering.
What is Partners about? “Partners” is primarily about communication; the inability of the young, physical and poorly educated to understand some one older, well educated, worldly and of a more mental inclination. Of course, there is a need for communication in the other direction as well.
Lack of communication is not a unique problem. The difficulty exists today between the young and old, educated and ignorant, men and woman. I believe that this is a problem that has existed since the dawn of time.
I also believe that we don’t do enough to overcome this lack of understanding. When we do make efforts to communicate we often make the problem worse. When we don’t make an effort to be understood this too may make the problem worse since a non-action may project a lack of concern.
Is it necessary that we do anything? Perhaps time and stable emotions on the part of both parties will solve the problem.
“Partners” explores this question and supplies a possible answer or result. The story begins in the Cyprus Hills of the North West Territories (we call it Saskatchewan these days) in 1866. Our two heroes (one young and one REALY old … well, half my age) try to stay alive as they travel west, through the Crows Nest Pass and end up in Barkerville.
Yes their most serious problem from the Prairies does catch up to them, but …. Well, things could always be better.
I try to have some actual history in my stories and novels. “Partners” and “Homesteader” are no exception. There are stories and small tidbits of information buried within the fiction, things that really happened or perhaps things that affect what we do today. Both these novels are also available for Kindle, iBook and Nook.
Staking a claim to a homestead in the rugged, untamed Canadian frontier of the 1880’s was hard enough. But when someone tries to run roughshod over the “nesters,” a man has to take a stand. There is more than bad weather for Hank James to contend with as he rides in search of the land of his dreams and the woman of his heart. Portis Martin, manager of a large cattle company, has no use for the small homesteaders that have begun to pepper the area…and he isn’t afraid of using every dirty trick he knows to run them out. And Portis had been doing a pretty good job of it-until Hank James and his partner arrive on the stage. The dreams of early homesteaders were not always strong enough to see them through adversity, but with Hank James on their side, the people might just find a way of uniting for the common good and building a dream that can endure.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Western with a focus on Canada.
Thomas Brash is trying to escape but knows he never will. Pursuing him is the memory of the family he lost to cholera. Perhaps he believes that traveling alone in a wild, dangerous land will end all his memories; there is no doubt he wishes to be alone. Whatever his intentions the appearance of Frank Clement and the circumstances of that meeting upset those plans. Brash views Clement as an uneducated child who requires fatherly protection and guidance. Clement views Brash as a tenderfoot and cannot understand how anyone who knows so little could live so long. These two loners are joined by others and they all become partners. Having achieved relative sanctuary and surrounded by civilization their wilderness past comes back to haunt them.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Western with a focus on Canada.
The year is 1885. Hank James has been in Canada several months panning gold from a stream near Roswell, British Columbia. When he hears a prizefight will be held in town, he attends along with everyone for miles around. With a little help from the fight referee, he wins big betting on the fight. Having realized that the life of a miner isn’t nearly as romantic or rewarding as he expected, and with advice from the policeman who helped him win money on the fight, Hank goes to Farwell to haul freight with pack horses for contractors building the transcontinental railroad.
The railroad’s security, a detachment of North West Mounted Police, have maintained across the West that no liquor be allowed one mile on either side of the rail bed. Provincial authorities disagree. Hank James believes in honoring and repaying his debts, but that doesn’t mean he should be involved in a war between the BC Provincial Police and the North West Mounted.
He and his partners have trouble enough running their freight business, they don’t need to be caught between competing policemen. They are already stuck between Canada’s transcontinental railroad people and the contractors doing the actual construction. While the police are fighting one another, who is looking for criminals, particularly those stealing Hank’s horses? Despite a variety of jobs, D.M. McGowan now works as a commercial driver and lives near Mile “0” of the world-famous Alaska Highway.
His stories bring Canadian history to life. “I believe in seeing morality and societal responsibility rewarded. Too much of today’s fiction seems to lead into the dark instead of the light.”
The Great Liquor War by D. M. McGowan is a western pioneering era saga that combines great story telling, true-to-life cowboy experience with US and Canadian history combined with legends from the 1800’s.
The main character Hank James was born in Canada and migrated south into the US with his family after the Civil War. Hank’s father headed towards Oregon in search of a farmstead while protecting his family from raids by outlaws and Indians. They made it as far as Kansas to find that the land was too dry to farm so pushed on to Oregon to find the land was too wet. With Mother Nature as their biggest obstacle and many mouths to feed young Hank James set out on his own. He settled down with his own gold mine claim near Rossland, British Columbia in 1984.
Hank wasn’t afraid of hard work, but he wanted more out of life than to eke out a living on his claim. With tenacity Hank took advantage of the Transcanada Railroad, found some partners and started his own freight business. Life should be good, but where there is industry, technology, commerce and economy, there are criminals.
In all my reviews I quote a passage so readers can get a feel for the authors writing style. I quote from page 37.
“It didn’t take a detective to know that the horse thief had played a little joke on the Provincial Police. Constable Art Hubbard was over six feet tall and probably ten pounds lighter than the one eighty mentioned in the description. Not only was he a long way from round, he was also clean shaven.
I gave Constable Hubbard my story, ending with the recovery of the bay gelding and the description I had from Miller. “An’ the fella called himself Art Hubbard,” I added.
The Constable’s expression didn’t change. He worked his chew around into one cheek and sent a stream of tobacco juice into the waste basket. “Feller with a sense o’ humor,” he noted, and then added. “It’ll be one ‘o Bulldog Kelley’s outfit. They work out o’ some of the illegal saloons t’ be found back in the bush. We catch one or two of ‘em every now an’ then, but we can’t get Kelley, an’ he’s the head o’ the snake. I can think of one or two that might fit your description, but not a one that had a full beard. An’ this fella’s probably shaved by now.”
I wrote out my story, signed it, and returned to work.”
Between the horse thieves, authority over liquor sales and a war between the BC Provincial Police and the North West Mounted Hank is he in over his head? Only time will tell if he makes the right choices and will he win the heart and loyalty of Sharon Dalton?
Saddle up your horse, holster your gun and join a rugged western cast of characters that will take you back to the reality and the legends of the Wild West.
Cold Coffee Press endorses The Great Liquor War by D. M. McGowan for the nuggets of history told within a great story of human experience in the Wild West. This book was given to us in a PDF for review. This review was completed on August 11, 2015. For more information, please visit Cold Coffee Press. http://www.coldcoffeepress.com