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Thursday, 27 May 2010

The long and winding Parade 8 - Buffalo Bill

Next month will see the digital publication of my novel, A Policeman's Lot from Solstice Publishing - I'm very excited to see this book finally in print and hope that readers everywhere will enjoy it. The book will also be available later in a print format.

The book is set in my own stamping ground of Pontypridd during the year 1904 - in those days Ponty, as we locals call it, was a busy industrial town that sat below both the coal rich Cynon and Rhondda Valleys. Writing the book involved months and months of research and not only into the Welsh past but also into a true American legend - one Buffalo Bill Cody.

Cody was born in Iowa territory in 1846 and died in 1917. At the time of his death he was probably one of the most famous men in the world - the problem was how to characterise him.

I tried all ways to bring him to life, to get his speech patterns, his mannerisms and all the little foibles. After reading the first draft I found his character alternated between being the straightforward sharp shooting frontier hero and a flash and pushy showman. I read scores of books on the subject - incidentally I would recommend The Colonel and Little Missie by Larry McMurtry as the definitive study of Cody as showman.

Still I couldn't get Cody right - I wanted the showman but I also wanted a noble man of principles. I didn't want him to be too much of one thing; I wanted a man of contradictions. And then one day I stumbled across the Clint Eastwood movie, Bronco Billy and I immediately saw my Buffalo Bill - there he was, on the screen. And so my Buffalo Bill is an amalgamation of frontier hero, sharpshooting ladies man and Clint Eastwood.

I was painfully aware that I was writing about real people in a fictional setting - these were people who actually lived, breathed and had all the human strengths and weaknesses. I wanted to reflect that in my characterisation of the great man.

The picture of Cody (left) is from 1903 - a year before the novel starts so I had some good photographic pointers as to his physical look. But the man beneath the skin was harder to get to. I hope however that I've done the man justice and that when the book hits the shelves, iPad's, Kindle's. Nooks, PC's, Macs, Sony's and so on, that maybe some readers will want to find out more about the great man.

Next, I'll tell you something about Police Inspector Frank Parade

1 comment:

Keith said...

That is great to hear. I wish you the best with it.tr