Thursday, 15 November 2007

There's Something About Cave Creek: Gene K Garrison

Title: There's Something About Cave Creek: It's the People
Author: Gene K Garrison
ISBN: 9781430309826
Published by:
Genre: non fiction, western
Price: £7.95

What is the book about? "There's Something About Cave Creek (It's The People) is about characters who lived in the tiny desert community of Cave Creek, Arizona, USA in the early 1900s.

It's a Western, but not all shoot-'em-up. For instance, there was a sometime-prospector/sometime artist who painted landscapes in oils. He sold or traded his art at the local bar for drinks. That bar, Harold's Cave Creek Corral, was the centre of the social life, along with parties in homes where local musicians were very much in demand.

There's a chapter about Katherine Jones who had a reputation as a good shot. She was sheriff for while in the 1930s and she meant business. During Prohibition (a law that prohibited the making or selling of alcoholic beverages) she kept the bootleggers (illegal brewers of booze) at bay, except for a few choice ones that she felt were acceptable.

Another sheriff, at a different time was tall, slim Frank Donars. He didn't want to be sheriff, but nobody else would do it. His most dreaded job was breaking up fights at the bars on a Saturday night. It was dangerous. A very odd thing that he did was chain prisoners to a tree overnight instead of taking them down the dirt road to jail in Phoenix. It was about a thirty mile trip, and he did not want to waste the time. The prisoners, surprisingly, preferred being chained to a tree than going to jail, which would cause them to lose a day's work, and they couldn't afford that. The kind sheriff would unchain them in the morning and drive them to their jobs because most of them didn't have cars. It turned out that Sheriff Donars was really a musician.

Why did you write the book? I am a freelance writer, and in the 1970s I chose to write about these characters. I found them fascinating. Then in 2006 I decided that they deserved a book. I decided to share them with the world.

Where did you get your inspiration from? My inspiration was from the people themselves. Leadpipe was squatter who lived in a trailer and lean-to next to the County Dump. That's what it was called then. Now they call them "landfills." The Mothers' Club was composed of strong women who wanted the best for their children. They set out to solve problems whether they knew what they were doing or not, and they were great achievers.

I wrote a chapter about a cowboy who worked for the government mending fences way out in the boonies. I discovered him by accident on my way home from interviewing a charming elderly couple who owned a gold mine, but lived without electricity, or any other modern day amenities. The cowboy was packing his horse with supplies for a long fence mending job. That's what I called the chapter — "Mendin' Fences."

How does your book differ from others that are similar? The Cave Creek book brings to life a long ago era. You can call it history if you like, but there were no wars, no gigantic discoveries, except for gold, silver and copper, and they were just mentioned in passing. It's about getting to know people and the way they lived. The book preserves that era.

Usually writers do research about times gone by. They stick their noses into library books or pull up facts on computers and write, with a little change here and there, about what other writers wrote. Sometimes the facts gets changed in the translation. I got my information first hand, from the people who lived it. I listened intently as they told me about their lives, their struggles, their humour in their colloquial style — and I always checked back with them to see if there was anything that needed to be added, or changed in any way. I was told by one of my editors that I didn't have to do that because I'm a professional writer. I did it anyway.

Why did you choose POD? I have had two books published by traditional publishers, even published one myself, and then after those two books were out-of-print for a while I decided that POD sounded like the answer. I would have information in front of the computer world, and the POD company would take orders and do the accounting. I would receive royalties. I thought I had it made.

What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of this method? The negative: distribution was non existent, they charged for everything they could think of, and I had to do my own PR. Bookstores don't want to stock them. I don't want to be my own distributer, and I would like to have time to write something other than PR. I went to a different POD company for the book under discussion here. I feel I have more control and that they are doing more for me.

How did you market your book? In marketing I I try different things. I have it for sale in one bookstore, The Well Red Coyote, and have it in a few Barnes & Noble bookstores. I recently sent one book to the B & N headquarters for them to determine if they want to put it in their "system." This takes four months. I have written press releases for newspapers, and a local arts and entertainment weekly has published items about the books, but that's a one time event for each one. I have been on radio interviews right from home, and I like that. I have spoken to groups — a retired teachers club, a community centre, and a museum. I have participated in book festivals. I had an expensive ad in an expensive magazine.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome? I'm still trying to overcome marketing. It takes up too much time, and prevents me from doing creative things.

What would ylou say to others considering POD? For those considering POD I would say to go with, but realise that there is much more work to do than with a traditional publisher. The trouble is that traditional publishers are there to make a profit, and most won't take chances on anything outside the genres that have been profitable for them in the past. POD is a great time saver in the sense that authors don't have to spend years trying to peddle their manuscripts to publishers.

Where can I get a copy of your book? "There's Something About Cave Creek (It's The People) may be ordered online at or

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