Reader Views features my father Erwin A. Thompson on their homepage this week. This is the article released on PR Web today:
Born in Schuyler County, Illinois, in 1915, Erwin A. Thompson has lived on the bluffs of the Mississippi River for nine decades in the house his grandfather built in 1863. A unique gem in a world that has seen unprecedented change, this poet, novelist, fiddler, noted folk artist and hoe-down square dance caller, still holds true to the strong values of an era long past. He presents the first installment in his new Western Series “Cattle Country and Back Trail: Two Tales from Thompson Western Series” (ISBN 978-0595402281, iUniverse, 2006).
In 2006, Thompson’s daughter, Janet Grace Riehl, a noted author and editor, began dusting off the written scripts of the stories she heard growing up, and suggested her father begin releasing his novellas to the current generation. As series editor, Riehl encouraged Thompson to begin with “Cattle Country and Back Trail” the heart-warming series set in Wagon Wheel County, a fictional location similar to Colorado/Southern Wyoming.
“Cattle Country” begins just after the Civil War, and revolves around an escalating range war involving a greedy rancher and the banker who backs him, and the hardworking, motherless Ashburn family who struggle to keep land and cattle. Conflict upsets the entire community and Thompson cleverly contrasts the ruthlessness and courage of his defining characters.
“Back Trail” happens six years later, when a solo rider from Texas passes through Wagon Wheel County in hopes of out-riding his dangerous, dark past. But when he sees the young son of his employer tricked into a gunfight with a professional gunman, he breaks the promise he made to himself to never use his guns again. His mettle is tested as he fights for his new homeland and discovers that a romance that began as real-life chess grows into a match with his true mate.
Thompson’s pioneer-era cast includes more than one hero, and offers an enticing diversity of adventure, humor, romance and rock solid values. “My characters reflect real people, including their selfishness and greed, as well as courage and caring,” says Thompson. “The issues I write about are as old as time — the courage to fight when necessary, the willingness to help someone in need, sacrificing comfort for a greater cause – through these situations, I look deep into the relationships between people, their loyalties, and their sense of community.”
Whether re-awakening fond memories of older generations, or providing a captivating glimpse-into-the-past for younger readers, “Cattle Country and Back Trail” is superb reading for the entire family. Stated best by Thompson himself when asked about the timelessness of his Western series, he says “Generosity, courage, honesty, and love will never be out of date.”
About the Author:
Erwin Arthur Thompson lives in Godfrey, Illinois, and has been writing poetry, family history, music and lyrics to original songs for three quarters of a century. A combat veteran of WWII, Thompson was awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star for injuries and gallantry in action. Arts Across Illinois named Thompson “folk treasure” and featured him on a WTTW Chicago Network show so popular that it is still represented on their website. Thompson has also been featured on numerous radio broadcasts. The letters he documented for his mother, father, and extended family network and the books the Riehl-Thompson clan authored form its own archive at the University of Illinois Library to illuminate the living history of the early 1900’s. These materials are considered by the collection curator as an invaluable resource for researchers of that time period.
“Cattle Country and Back Trail: Two Tales from Thompson Western Series” (ISBN 978-0595402281, iUniverse, 2006) can be purchased through online bookstores. Review copies available upon request.