Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Doug Hocking. He is the author of Western Mysteries and Historical Fiction.
Westerns, Mystery, Historical fiction
Way Out West
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Doug writes historical fiction bringing the Old West back to life while making another generation proud of the accomplishments and struggle of their ancestors. Each book is a history lesson wrapped in an riveting story.
Doug has led an exciting life. Born near New York City, a fact he very seldom admits, he learned to speak from his Cornish grandmother.
As an adult, he learned he understood Cornish slang and thought it normal speech. He also knew the whole story of Jack the Ripper and the Titanic. Grandmother was 10 and in Plymouth when the Ripper prowled. A uncle was swept away with the Unsinkable Ship. Still very young, Doug was taken West where he grew up on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in the Rio Arriba of New Mexico among piasonos and indios. At 18 he hitchhiked to Albuquerque and enlisted in Army Intelligence.
The next decade was spent in Thailand, Taiwan and at the Pentagon and at bases so secret the Army often wouldn't say where they were. This made it difficult to comply with orders to report, but Doug is a great intel analyst and interpreted the "indicators" to track them down. One soldier almost passed out when Doug asked directions: "That's classified!" "Hey, I'm assigned there, but they won't tell me how to get there." He became an interrogator. Doug stopped in Taiwan for several years and acquired an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland. Returning to the US he studied Ethnography in graduate school and then returned to the Army in Armored Cavalry finding the cavalry more fun than musty tomes of forgotten lore. In Germany, he was eyeball to eyeball with the Soviet beast before it fell. His final tour of duty was the most difficult of all, trying to turn Military Intelligence lieutenants into officers. He also played a role in intelligence gathering and interpretation during the first Gulf War.
Since then Doug has earned honors with a graduate degree in US history and garnered his certificate as a field archaeologist in historical archaeology braving a summer at a wilderness camp with college students in southern Colorado excavating Fort Massachusetts. "Bears only poked their heads into the mess tent a couple of times." Doug has sold real estate, built homes, taught college and worked in the hospitality industry. He spends time exploring lost towns, ruins, old forts and trails, interpreting foundations and trash, ranging far. A trip to Guadalupe Canyon hard by the borders of Arizona-New Mexico-Sonora and Chihuahua found him stopped by Border Patrol who wanted to know his business. "I did the obvious and sold the man a copy of my novel."
At the urging of his mother, Doug began writing. His work appears regularly in Wild West Magazine and Roundup as well as True West. There are more books on the way: The Battle of Cienaguilla, Redwall Canyon, The Mystery of Chaco Canyon and Devil on the Loose.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
I'm working on a biography of Tom Jeffords. I've gotten so many blank stares that I have to say: remember Jimmy Stewart in Broken Arrow, the guy who rode alone into Cochise's Stronghold? That's Tom Jeffords. I'll finish it this year. I don't know if I want to take it to an academic press. If I do, it will take a while to get into print. I also have some Dan y Roque novels complete but needing rewrites, a few more planned, and an anthology of short stories almost ready. Devil on the Loose is done but down low on the list for publication. My wife thinks it's my best writing.
You do some of book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances. When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I'm on line at www.doughocking.com where I blog and at Pinterest and Facebook on Doug Hocking Author Page. I'm on Twitter and YouTube. I'm speaking Friday, April 24, at 0830 at the Arizona Historical Convention on the Black Legend of Lieutenant Bascom. This will be part of a chapter on Cochise in the Tom Jeffords biography. I'm giving it again on May 4 at the Tucson Corral of the Westerners and again on Thursday the 7th of May at the Bisbee Corral. I'll be at Boothill in Tombstone for Wyatt Earp Days May 23 and at Indian Market in Santa Fe the 3rd week in August at the El Dorado Hotel. On June 17, I'll be at the Copper Queen Library in Bisbee talking about Mysteries of the Southwest.
I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of several short story collections published by La Frontera Publishing. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other Western authors? How did you put something like that together?
Mike Harris, the publisher, put it together. Mike's got wide distribution so it gets my name and product out there. Dusty Richards, a Spur Award winner, has asked me for stories for Saddlebag Dispatches and I've sent one in and plan to send others.
Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do you sort of play it by ear?
I have a dog, Patrick O'Frodo, who barks and snarls at my wife when she interrupts my writing. First thing in the morning I'm on the Internet, then devotions, walk, and return and write. I take an hour and a half break for breakfast at noon and then get back to writing until 6. Of course, everyone imaginable tries to disrupt this schedule. Tuesdays and Saturdays are for old west exploration with my friends. Sunday for church.
Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, getting the book to your readers and the relationship with your readers and fans?
When I started writing, there were already ebooks. I feel great about people who want to hold a real book, but I think the future is electronic and that there is so much more we can do with it. I can include maps, diagrams, pictures and photos, even in my novels. I pride myself that the background of all my novels are absolutely real. If I say a town was there, it was. My people use the right weapons and tools. The roads are where I represent them as being. I've got the cultures down that First Nations people or Hispanics can read my books and recognize themselves.
How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
My favorite software is Scribe 3.5. It keeps cards and notes on everything. I can use it to track the events of a real or imaginary person's life and keep them in order. I'm fond of the historical novel so this is important. I hate outlines. I write down the things that have to happen and the order they have to happen in. I include topics I have to introduce so the reader can understand. Then I start writing, crossing things out as they happen, pushing them back if they still need to happen. My characters are often based on real people I've known well, even when I write about real people.
Usually, they tell me what they want to say or do. It's fun when a character who has been on the sidelines suddenly jumps in with something he or she wants to say. I have to go back and reread each character in isolation in order to get his dialog down correctly. Roque is fun. His English is pretty good except when he's angry and then his Spanish dialect shines through. Moses Carson, a real person, mountain man, older brother of Kit Carson, was fun. I often made him unintelligible with mountain man dialect as he would have been in real life. I've got books on dialect and on phrases used by various cultures. I'll pick out 20 or 50 to belong to a particular individual and use them whenever they fit.
Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?
I'm working on it. I should try to get an email address from everyone who buys a book.
You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?
The blog is a way to write down things I want to remember and want to put in a readable form. Other items are an exercise in keeping my thoughts straight about how I do history and history's relationship to historical archaeology.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?
I like the ones that come from my reading audience. I belong to a number of history related and writing organizations and if I send them a book, they get me a published review. I spoke at the Southern Trail Chapter of the Oregon-California Trail Association last week in Silver City and folks were buying my books because they read about them in Desert Tracks. I've also had reviews on local newspapers and on radio. I offer to speak at libraries and museums and I'm available for their special shows. One of my favorite spots is Boothill in Tombstone. I get to meet people from all over the country and the world.
We met at the Tucson Festival of Books. You were in the Western Writers of America booth which featured four authors dressed in unique western outfits fitting their genre. The booth banner announced the Three Amigos and a Lady.
A Book festival is a unique selling situation. How did you prepare for the festival? Did it meet your goals? If you had to do something different next year, what would that be?
The booth was Three Amigos and the Lady, Western Writers was next door. But we all are members of Western Writers of America. WWA doesn't want to sell books for a lot of good and valid reasons. I had done the festival before and I have the Arizona licensing required, so I put out word that I was interested in sharing a booth through WWA channels. I got an immediate response. I've been working arts and crafts fairs which, for me, are a great place to sell books, so I had the equipment and the experience. I worked with Chris Enss, Bill Markley and Miles Swarthout, all of whom are great people. I'll do the same again next year but they will be my first choice as boothmates. It's just too expensive to do alone. We were on Voices of the West on KVOI radio from the booth. I'll try to get more news outlets interested early on.
Author's Book List
The Mystery of Chaco Canyon
- Dan y Roque Book 2
The Mystery of Chaco Canyon is an historical fiction, a mystery and a love story set against the background of the American Civil War in the Southwest. Ten years after the events described in Massacre at Point of Rocks, Dan and Roque joined by Doña Loca and Jicarilla Apache, Peregrino Rojo, are set on a quest by a dying Masonic brother. Along the way they must solve the real mysteries of the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rocks, Rough Hurech’s Grave and the Silverbell Artifacts. The mysteries are real, the solutions novel. The enemies who pursue them are real, the battles are real. The DaVinci Code meets the Wild West.
They didn't ask me why I write historical fiction (westerns), so I don't have to lie. My answer would have reflected all the elements shared by other Western Writers. I was born, though I seldom admit it, near New York City, and dropped off on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico to grow up in a land stuck in the 19th century. I loved it and still do.
Order the Book From: Amazon
- Barnes and Noble
Massacre at Point of Rocks
- Dan y Roque Book 1
Massacre at Point of Rocks is an historical fiction, a gripping tale of historic events along the Santa Fe Trail. In 1849, Santa Fe trader James White took his family ahead of the slow moving caravan to rush his wife and child to safety and comfort in the city of the Holy Faith of St. Francis. He was met near Point of Rocks by Jicarilla Apaches. This is the first time their side of the story is told explaining how and why Ann White and her daughter were abducted.
The event could not be ignored. Soon all New Mexico was roused and numerous rescue operations were under way. Buffalo hunters, Comancheros, Indian agents, and multiple military patrols sought her. A reluctant Kit Carson was recruited to go to her rescue. Only he could find the trail and follow it for 200 miles. Kit Carson found himself and his friends embroiled in a war not of his choosing.
Massacre at Point of Rocks is also the tale of a young man who goes West to meet his hero, Kit Carson, then at the height of his fame and popularity. He is disappointed with the short, soft-spoken Carson, but learns through numerous adventures to appreciate the famous scout as a real and special man. The story takes the reader into Jicarilla villages and ceremonials and through the paisano towns of the Rio Arriba. The background to the story is the real New Mexico of 1849 recreated so that the reader may understand the men, their times and their challenges. The Santa Fe Trail comes to life.
Order the Book From: Amazon
- Barnes and Noble
Marshal of Arizona
Arizona in the 1850s was without law and order, a refuge for outlaws and men on the run. The judge was 600 miles away in Santa Fe and taking evil-doers to court a matter of impracticality. Tubac needs a lawman but he'd have no official status, no jail and no court to support him. He'd have to intimidate banditos into leaving his town alone. What could go wrong with that?
- Barnes and Noble
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