A panel of authors who wrote “Noah’s Ride”, a western novel, will speak at Sam Houston State University on Wednesday, October. 11.
The authors will meet with students throughout the day in workshops and will host an evening session for the public. The evening session will be held at 7:30 p.m. in room 105 in the Evans Complex.
One of the authors is Mike Blackman, co-share of Sam Houston’s Philip G. Warner Chair in the communications department. Blackman worked in journalism for 33 years as a reporter and editor for papers in Philadelphia, Fort Worth and New York.
Blackman is one of 13 total authors of “Noah’s Ride.” Phyllis Allen is a short story writer and essayist had her work featured on NPR’s radio show All Things Considered. Jody Alter serves as director of TCU Press and received the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement from Western Writers of America, Inc. Mike Cochran is a reporter for The Associated Press and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Carole Nelson Douglas is a former reporter, editor and writer of the Midnight Louie feline PI mystery series and the Irene Adler Sherlocklian historical suspense novels. Jeff Guinn is the former book editor of the Fort
Worth Star-Telegram. He is also the author of 10 books such as The Autobiography of Santa Claus and Our Land Before We Die. Mary Dittoe Kelly is the religious education coordinator at Good Shepherd Catholic Community and winner of the Star-Telegram’s You Be the Author competition.
Elmer Kelton an award-winning author, America’s best-selling author of western American fiction. James Ward Lee is an author and co-editor of Literary Fort Worth. James Reasoner is an author of more than 180 novels. Mary Rogers is an award-winning features writer and columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Carlton Stowers is an author writing true crime, and Jane Roberts Wood is an author of several novels.
Seven of the 13 authors will be at the campus on Oct. 11: Alter, Blackman, Cochran, Douglas, Guinn, Rogers and Stowers.
Each author will hold two workshops throughout the day on topics of journalism, novel writing and non-fiction writing. Jim Donovan, considered as one of Texas’s premier literary agents, will hold workshops for students who currently have literary works they want to publish. The workshops will be held in room 209 in the Dan Rather
Communications building. Students interested in attending the workshops should contact Blackman at (936) 294-1335 or
“We want to do these workshops so the new generations of writers might add future chapters to the book,” said Guinn.
During the general session, the panel will discuss Noah’s Ride and answer any questions the audience may have. Barnes & Noble will be selling the books at the evening session and the authors will be available to sign the books.
The actual novel itself, “Noah’s Ride”, is considered a unique novel in that one author wrote one chapter. Each author had the previous chapters to go by when writing their part. Blackman said each author was given one to two weeks to write his or her chapter.
The actual novel sets itself in Civil War times and is about Noah, a plantation slave who escapes and travels to the Union forces and finally ends up in Texas. Once in Texas, Noah establishes a small ranch where he runs some cattle and raises a family with his wife Nelly. Noah names his ranch Free Land and assumes the name Freeman.
The local sheriff, Quint Carpenter, is out for blood because his younger son is killed by Noah’s sister. To add to the plot, a carpetbagger named Bear Coltrain once wanted to kidnap Noah to sell him back into slavery, now wants Noah’s land. Noah saved the life of John Malone, a cavalry officer, and Malone comes back into Noah’s life to repay the debt. There are also other minor characters and situations that unfold.
Alter, who served as the editor, said the main idea for the novel came from Guinn.
“But the plot developed as each contributor provided new twists and turns and complications,” Alter said.
Guinn said the basic theme all the authors had to go on was an escaped slave in the Civil War wanted to ultimately end up with the Buffalo soldiers in San Angelo, TX.
Guinn said this group of authors were some of the best authors in the state and thought the book should have a western theme from the beginning.
“If Texas is doing a collaborative novel, it ought to be a western novel with a shoot out between guys with white hats and guys with black hats,” Guinn said.
Blackman, Guinn and Alter all agree the main challenge of writing the novel was the fact that each author did one chapter.
“It was a creative challenge in that you never knew what you were going to get,” said Blackman.
“I didn’t know how it would end, before we even got started,” said Guinn.
“Writing was a challenge because each contributor had to wait to read all the chapters preceding his or hers before writing or even beginning to plan what would happen in the chapter,” Alter said.
“Editing was a challenge because we had to be sure there was consistency and continuity between chapters and that historical accuracy was maintained.”
The novel has been out since April or May and has received positive reviews by various people and organizations.
“One publisher said this is the best book by Texas writers in the last 12 months,” Guinn said.
“It’s a good old-fashioned western, a good read, and as one critic says rollicking and playful. The same source pointed out that the writers seem to be having a helluva good time as they wrote,” Alter said.
Guinn and Blackman both said they were surprised how well the book came out in the end.
“I never thought even Texas was big enough to have this many great authors come together on one book, but it surprised me, and the quality of this book will surprise you” Guinn said.
According to the authors, not many collaborative novels are out there.
The first collaborative novel was “Naked Came the Stranger” in the 1970’s, according to Alter.