Episode 126A – David Bowles – Sheriff of Star County

Overview

David Bowles used to be a marketer for whiskey but now spends his time writing great western books based on real past events. And maybe some whiskey sipping. His family has lived in Austin for five generations.

His series of books follows a family through multiple generations as they deal with the westward expansion and America changing.

Book

Website

Favorites

https://www.cactusbookshop.com/

YouTube

Transcript

today on discovered wordsmith. I have David Boles, David. Good morning. How are you doing

today?

[00:03:20] David: Good morning. You Steve.

[00:03:21] Stephen: David before we talk about your book let’s find out a little bit about you. So tell us where you live and some of the things you like to do other than writing.

[00:03:29] David: I’m presently living in San Antonio, Texas, been here for the last 14 months, but for the last six years my dog Beck and I have been traveling around the country in a a class, a motor coach telling stories and writing books.

And we’re fixing to get on the road again. I’ve just purchased a new RV and we’ll be heading out north to the Rockies here on Wednesday morning. Nice. But I’m originally from Austin. I was born in Austin, fifth generation to be born in Austin. And this is about as far as I ever moved away permanently to San Antonio.

And that was back in 1968 for hemisphere. Okay.

[00:04:06] Stephen: All right. You’ve been traveling. What are some nice areas you’ve been to or good sites you’ve seen?

[00:04:11] David: At 2000 and 17, we spent the summer in Alaska and Canada and that’s the place for me and the thing. And I say one, my last Bookman trace.

I, they sat on there. My editor wanted to know what I wanted to say on the back of the book about where you live. And I said tell ’em I live in Texas in the wintertime and a summer anywhere summer or anywhere, but Texas. So Texas is a, is my home, but it’s, I don’t tend to live here in July and August.

[00:04:44] Stephen: Yeah. Not the most pleasant place that we could be at that time.

[00:04:48] David: Yeah, it’s been really, it’s been really hot, but we love the Rockies. We spend time I spent two summers in angel fire in New Mexico, and I did storytelling there at at the RV camp, in the RV resort in sold a lot of books up there by telling stories.

Nice.

[00:05:05] Stephen: Beautiful. All right. Why did you wanna start writing these books and what got you into

[00:05:10] David: writing? I always heard the stories my father told my grandparents told, and they really interested me and I came from a. A long line of porch setters. And that’s what we had to do back when I was a kid, we didn’t have air conditioning.

And so we always sat out on the front porch. Neighbors would drive down the lane. They would see us on the front porch and they’d stop by. And boy, they’d tell some stories. I started listening to these stories and they just kept going around in my head. Some of ’em were my family and some of ’em were just neighbors, but there were stories that I thought needed told, and until I could retire and have the time to write these stories, I couldn’t, but I did a lot of research over 20 years of research and I have the stories down pretty well.

And I’ve got ’em in, I’ve written this westward saga series. And right now four books and it’ll probably be another two books to finish it up, but it’s the story of America moving west. Okay. So all the way to California.

[00:06:17] Stephen: So you took the that’s a, longstanding tradition taking the oral stories and passing ’em down through generations and you took those and turned them into a series of books is what it sounds like

[00:06:27] David: exactly what I’ve done.

And I use them in my storytelling. Good old

[00:06:31] Stephen: stories. That’s pretty cool. So let’s talk about that series. So your series of books is called westward sagas, and you’ve got book five coming out in a couple months. Tell us about that book. What’s it called and tell us about it.

[00:06:43] David: It’s a sheriff of star county and star counties in south Texas on the Mexican border.

And prior to 1850, that it was called it was in Mexico. And after the war with Mexico, the United States war with Mexico, they decided Texas had always thought that the Rio grand was a border and Mexico thought that Oasis river was a border, which left a little, a strip of land about the size of the state of Tennessee.

That was unclaimed. And after the treaty, Hidalgo February the second of 1848, that area became the United States in the treaty. Those people there, all Hispanic, Spanish speaking. There. And so there was this sheriff hit, the time was a Texas ranger named will. Smith happened to be my great grandmother’s uncle.

And he was appointed to be the sheriff down there in star county when it was organized and no one spoke English and he didn’t speak Spanish is interesting how he was the only law man. And an area as big as the state of Tennessee. And he did a pretty good job of being a sheriff. And so it makes a great story, but there’s a lot of love story.

You’ve got a couple of love stories in there. He lost both of his lovers. I shouldn’t tell that, tell my story way, but it, it makes a great story and about him is true. It is a true story about a guy named William Smith. And in the book I call him will Smith.

[00:08:25] Stephen: Nice. And this is book five. So you’ve had this saga, you said going on for several books now, but it’s the same family over

[00:08:34] David: time.

Yes. And different, different generations. But the first generation was they actually had the home. Their farm hunting 107 acre farm was the Gilford courthouse bat. The battle of Gilford courthouse, doing the American revolution. When old general Carn Wallace came through. And these old hillbillies up there in the mountains of North Carolina managed to beat him up pretty good.

He ended up winning the war, but it’s the old story. He won the war. He won the battle, but he lost the war. And it makes a great book and it’s named Springhouse because the women and children were in the Springhouse on the battlefield during the battle of Gilford courthouse.

And then later book children of the revolution is a story about how those children who went, were on the battlefield today of that terrible battle. And it was one of the most dramatic battles in the American revolution and the movie, the Patriot. Was, that was the general idea that they, that Tom Hank’s movie was based on was the battle of Gilford courthouse.

It wasn’t very factual, but it was a very good movie. .

[00:09:48] Stephen: Gotcha. Okay. So do you, can you think of any other books or an author that writes similar to what your books are like? So people get an idea of what to.

[00:10:00] David: I’ll tell you. Yes, I, my books and I had somebody tell me this about my books. Who’s read ’em all.

And she told me, she said, you started out writing Laura Engles with little house on the Prairie. And you ended up like Larry McMurry and dead man walking . So there’s a pretty range there. And I liked all of them. Larry McMurry does great work and of course, Laura Engel, she died so long ago, her works live on and people love to read the stories and the movie series that they made based on her writings You can still see it today, you can, they run.

’em still, so

[00:10:40] Stephen: there you go. If you liked Laura Engels, when you were younger and you are interested in McMurdy now you’ve got something more to read from

[00:10:47] David: from you. Oh yeah. But I find, I don’t have too much time for reading anymore. That just a lot to do when you’re selling books.

[00:10:55] Stephen: Definitely. So why did you want to. Write these books. And why did say, when I retire, I’m going to write why did you wanna do

[00:11:03] David: that? I kept thinking about it and I kept thinking if somebody needs to write a story about this, I tried to get, I have members of my family that have.

Educations and journalism. I couldn’t get that. I started trying to find a ghost writer to write and I called on HW brands in Austin. He belonged to the Austin writer’s league which I’ve been a long member of for a long time. And he was at a book signing and I was able to talk to him and see if he would possibly, if I could give him all the research I had done.

And he told me, he said, David, you’ve done the research, the story. And you’ve got to tell it. And then I came across Cecil. Murphy. I don’t know if I think he’s probably the most prolific ghost writer in America. And I had the opportunity at a book conference to speak to him and he told me the same thing.

And I said I don’t have any experience. I don’t have a degree in journalism or anything like that. He said, no, but you know the story and you can find an editor that can help you. And I was fortunate enough to find an editor that could help me. I didn’t know. Doodly squat. About writing a book and I started writing it and it just came to me and it came out very well.

Springhouse came out very well, but in my mind, when I wrote that book, I was thinking about my family and I overwrote it. If you wanna if I, I wanna make so sure they understood how. How things were back in those days. And I went in, even, I wrote. Almost a chapter about how to make soap, because I had to make soap back in the day I went even went and just studied how to make St soap my editor cut that whole thing out and broke my heart and she says, nobody wants to know about how to make soap.

So I learned, I’ve learned a lot since my first. And I think now that the last two, especially are more on the style of Larry McMurtry’s work and anybody that likes Larry McMurry would like my work.

[00:13:14] Stephen: Okay, good. That’s nice. And this is independently published, correct?

[00:13:17] David: I got a publishing house called plum Creek press.

Okay. I own that trademark and it’s my publishing company. I’m not advertising to do any publishing right now. Cause my hands are full just doing my work, but I do, I own it. It’s trademarked and registered and it’s going. Got it. Okay. Yes, I own the publishing company.

[00:13:40] Stephen: and what type of feedback have you been getting from readers?

I see that you’ve got some good reviews. You’ve got 20 some reviews on all your books and it’s five stars. It looks like. So

[00:13:50] David: like I’m very fortunate. I get, I get a lot a letters, people write me letters and. Lady just last week I got one and it meant so much to me. It sometimes, it gets discouraging on books.

You don’t sell near as many as you think you will, expenses are high and that sort of thing. But she wrote me a letter and it really stimulated me. She just told me, she says, you have a God gift, God given ability to tell a story and please keep on writing. And I tell you getting something like that means a lot to a writer and to get it handwritten.

Not, handwritten on it from call Oklahoma. If you know where that’s at, I don’t even know where it’s at.

[00:14:32] Stephen: So well, I know Oklahoma is on the other side of the country to from that’s. And we talked a bit about this in email. So if you were asked, would you rather see your books turned into movies or a TV show?

[00:14:44] David: I think a TV show would be better because everybody can see. Not everybody’s able to go to a movie anymore or one reason or the other and in the home they got it. They can record it and they can have it forever. Nice. Yeah. And uh, but I’ll take whatever I can get, but this would make one heck of a movie for somebody the series would

[00:15:07] Stephen: so I think you’re looking at if you could something on ABC or NBC or CBS instead of the streaming services.

Yes.

[00:15:15] David: I don’t know enough about streaming to make a decision on that, but I would like to see somebody take this and make it where everybody could see it. Yeah. Agree. And. Especially the early book, the Springhouse, which is so important to America and that battle, people just don’t know unless they read about it.

I know in, in high school I was, they just touched on it a little bit. It was just one of many battles, but it was an important one. And I think that story and the Patriot. Was a good movie, but it didn’t get into my books are not about battle or fighting. It’s about the people and how the battle and the fighting affected them for years and their children for many generations after.

Nice. Okay. And I can tell you a little story about that. Yeah, go ahead. Tell us, let’s hear, my four, three great grandfather was killed in Austin, Texas by hand. Seven months before he was killed his son, Ja uh, James w Smith, who was the first county judge of Travis county, Texas was killed by Indians and his little boy was kidnapped and taken off to Santa Fe New Mexico, and where that fits into the next generation.

As I can remember, my grandmother. Now my grandmother’s two generations away from that family and she’s at our house and I’m going outside and it was dark. And she looked at me and she says, you she’s old and she’s getting little feeble, but she looked at me and started trembling and she says, don’t go out there tonight.

There might be Indians out. And this was in the 19, would’ve been in about 1950. Wow. That, that happened. And I just saw her tremble and I thought, boy, that’s crazy. Didn’t no Indians around here, but to, in her mind, she was a little girl when all of that went on and there were still Indians around and I have my great grandmother’s Bible.

That she started after the civil war and she was the one that was first born in Austin, Texas. Her El name was El nor van CLE. That Bible has a place where an era had penetrated it during an Indian rate wow. In the seventies. So those things they live on, and they affect families and how they think and everything about everything.

They. And it just goes on from generation it’ll pass on from generation to generation, right? Yeah. That’s interesting. How it affected my grandmother, even though she wasn’t, there was two generations before, but she remembers the fear of Indians that she had.

[00:18:04] Stephen: Did you say earlier that you now live in Austin, Texas?

No

[00:18:08] David: I live in San Antonio, which is 75 miles south of there. And when I can get through the traffic, I have a lot of family there and all my nieces and nephews all live there. They’re and I’ve got eight into the eighth generation burned in Austin, Texas.

[00:18:24] Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. I was gonna say, you said your great-great grandfather.

Killed in Austin. I’m like, yeah. You might wanna get away from Austin. no.

[00:18:31] David: That was in, that was the, he was a county treasurer and and his son was. County judge. Think about that at the same time. Yeah. Wow. Both of ’em were killed within seven months, so they didn’t get to, they didn’t get to, they were appointed.

They didn’t get to run for election , but they didn’t last very long. But the rest of the family fortunately my my great grandfather, El nor van cleave, he survived and his wife, Margaret, and they had a pass of children. And then on my mother’s side, the same thing, both of them.

They’re together. So I on both sides of the family, I’m fifth generation, so nice. We’ve been around a while.

[00:19:12] Stephen: Nice. Good. And do you have a website,

[00:19:14] David: David? Yes, sir. I do. And it’s westward, sagas.com.

[00:19:19] Stephen: Okay. We’ll make sure I’m put and

[00:19:20] David: I’m on Facebook and that’s David Burrow’s author on Facebook and I have a Facebook page for my right and for my stories.

Okay. And one other thing, if I could, I’ve got about 450 shark stories on that website. If anybody wants to read some little shark stories and they’re short and sweet, no more 250 to 500 words. So they’re on there available for free.

[00:19:45] Stephen: Nice. Okay. Yeah, definitely. We’ll put some links to that.

I’m sure. Some people would like that. I interviewed an author a couple months ago from about the same area, Jim Christina, and he writes westerns. If somebody likes both of your guys’ stuff, there you go. We’ve got you on the webs the podcast. Great. So your next book is coming out in February.

What are your plans for any book after that?

[00:20:08] David: It’s already in my head and I’m kinda laying it out and it’s old will my, my main character in the book, he’s up in years. And he ends up over on the king ranch. If have you heard about the king ranch? No, I have not one of the largest ranches in the country and he and old captain king got some stuff up the sleeve , and the story goes

[00:20:30] Stephen: on.

Nice. Okay. So it’s just continuing more stories from the family through the years. Yeah.

[00:20:36] David: Stories that I know about. And I would like to bring it up to about the 1940s or fifties. And that’s when things were fun. Things were happening. Oh, Linda Johnson was then uh, they a Congressman from Texas.

And I’ve got some stories to tell about him too. Cause my dad grew up on the Perton Alice river. Close to where Lydon Johnson lives. So I’ve got some stories I might have to change some names. might have to use some fictitious names. Yeah,

[00:21:07] Stephen: there you go. David, let me ask you what are some of your favorite books and authors to read?

[00:21:11] David: I loved Elmer Kilton and he says San Angelo, Texas. I used to stop by and try and see him every time I went west up towards Lubbock and that, that area there, San Angelo’s about halfway between San Antonio and. I always stop there. And I’ve got a friend that runs a bookstore, the cactus bookstore, gotta give him a plug and he’s got all of Elmer Kelton’s books there, every one of ’em.

And he got all of mine too, and a great place for old books and stories and things like that. But Elmer Kelton really did some great writing and his stories sound a lot. My stories I’ve never tried to copy anybody. I’m not smart enough to copy anybody. I just have to do it my way. But he’s one of the greats and a regional writer.

And of course we had a guy way back there in high school and I broke my teeth on him, old J Frank Doby, and he wrote a lot about Texas and the west and that sort of thing. He wrote some great stuff.

[00:22:12] Stephen: Nice. Okay. And you mentioned the cactus bookstore. It sounds like they support local authors. Is that one of your favorite bookstores?

[00:22:20] David: Yes. Cactus bookstore there is a specialty bookstore. You won’t find any Harry Potter stuff there for sure. But if you like Western stories and if you wanna research the west, I’ll tell you McMurry went there a lot. To get books, old books, they’re outta print.

They’ve got out print books and stuff about the old west and things like that have been outta print for years and historical type stuff.

[00:22:47] Stephen: Oh, nice. Okay. Make sure and put some links to that also in notes. Alright before we finish talking about your book and move on to author, If someone came up to you and said, David, I heard you wrote some westerns.

I like westerns, but why should I get your book and read it? What would you tell ’em?

[00:23:02] David: If you wanna know how this country was founded, it’s a good way to get a history lesson from, I had a lady who’s a now resident of Houston, Texas come to see me just recently in the last couple of weeks. And we had lunch together and she told me.

She says, I didn’t understand about America and Texas and all these things and says that once I read your book, it started that American revolution. And it took me through all that people had to go through to get here. Back in the 1840s and fifties, when they started coming to Texas and moving west and then opening up California going on westward.

And that’s where the WestBridge S is. She says, if anybody reads your book that doesn’t know American history, they’ll understand it after it’s over with, because you’ve laid it out chronologically and the same family. And what happened to. I’ve had people tell me, your story sounds just like my family’s story.

And it does because they all came down the same trail. They came down that trail and crossed the Sabean river into Texas and they had. Hard life. My family, when they got to Austin, there was nothing in Austin. Austin wasn’t founded till eight, not 1839. It was, ju it was a new city built just to be the capital.

They had to sleep under their wagons. There was no place, they had to, until they could build a little cabin, there was no place to live except under their wagons. So nice. That’s the way it was. Wow. And the women in my family, I wanna tell you, they’re tough. , there’s some tough women. You don’t wanna take any of them on.

I’ll tell you that.

[00:24:49] Stephen: Nice. Okay. Okay. Great, David, thank you for sharing your book, talking about your book. I appreciate it. It sounds exciting. If you love westerns, it sounds like a great series to get. Thank

[00:24:59] David: you, Steve. Thank very much. Appreciate you having me on.

[00:25:03] Stephen: Yep. No problem.

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