February, 2015 - "The Poacher's Daughter" was awarded the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, in Oklahoma City.
This is where I get to tell you a little about myself, or at least that part that pertains to my writing. Besides the basics -- I live in the Great Basin, west of the Rocky Mountains, and I've been married to the same wonderful woman for over thirty years -- probably the quickest way to introduce myself is through the information that is already out there. For example, the author's bios on my first two novels, which reads in part:
"Michael Zimmer grew up on a small Colorado horse ranch. Later, as a high school student in Indiana, he began to break and train horses for spending money. An American history enthusiast, he has done extensive research on the West..."
That was written at the publication of my first novel, "Sundown", in 1988. In the years since then, my interest in history has continued to grow. I'm especially fascinated by the more obscure aspects of the 19th century West, a land in a constant state of transition. Whether it was the mountain man era giving way to the expansionist period or cattlemen displacing the hunters and trappers, it was a wild, wonderful, and uniquely American experience.
You may someday read a Michael Zimmer novel about a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas, or a stand-tall Marshall taming a frontier town. But you'll be more apt to read about buffalo hunters, outlaws, or Indian traders.
As a writer, one of the things I'm most proud of is my research. The author's bio in the 2009 British printing of "Cottonwood Station" elaborates a bit more than what appeared in "Sundown".
"Michael Zimmer['s]...personal library contains well over 2,000 volumes covering that area west of the Mississippi from the late 1700s to the early decades of the 20th century.
"In addition to perusing firsthand accounts from the period, Zimmer is also a firm believer in field interpretation. He's made it a point to master many of the skills used by our forefathers, and can start a campfire with flint and steel, gather, prepare, and survive on natural foods found in the wilderness, and has built and slept in shelters as diverse as bark lodges and snow caves. He owns and shoots a number of Old West firearms, and has done horseback treks using strict 19th century tack, gear, and guidelines..."
In other words, I'm a re-enactor. I've cooked food over a buffalo-chip fire - and ate it. I've both trekked through National Forests and ridden horseback through them, using period tack such as Santa Fe saddles and gourd canteens. I've wandered the mountains in all seasons wearing buckskins and wool, and I've slept - comfortably -- in 12 degree weather using just a pair of Hudson Bay blankets and a piece of black bear hide for my mattress.
I feel that these skills enhance my understanding of the American West, and that the adventures I've experienced, no matter how mundane compared to the real deals, are reflected in the finished product.
I hope you agree.
If you would like to know more, check out my website at: www.michael-zimmer.com
Wil Chama was interviewed in 1938 as a contributor to the American Legends Collection, a part of the Federal Writers' Project....
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The Poacher's Daughter is an extraordinary story of betrayal and redemption set within an uncompromising landscape of raw brutality and unimaginable beauty....
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In 1874 Utah territory, young teamster Buck McCready becomes wagon boss for the Kavanaugh freight outfit after his mentor, Mason Campbell, is murdered....
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J. T. Latham is rotting in prison in the Yuma Territory. But then Sheriff Del Buchman offers to commute his sentence if Latham helps execute a prisoner exchange with some dangerous banditos....
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In the Redhawk Mining District, he is known as Johnny Montana. It is the name given to him by those who followed him to the Northwest gold fields in the spring of 1863....
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Some of the citizens in this part of Montana Territory claim the only thing Jacob Wilder can raise with any success is hell and sons....
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When the McCandles' Gang decides to shoot up Coalville, Idaho, it seems like a pretty easy hit. But among the survivors is a young man named Joseph Roper....
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