Thieves, Artisans, and a Good Story
By Paty Jager
My love of the west and the area where I grew up, led me to write the Christmas Novella in the Silver Belles and Stetson Western Christmas Anthology. Christmas Redemption came about from my reading a story about a man from Joesph, OR who robbed a bank as a young man and twenty-seven years later became the vice president of the same bank.
Van Donovan, the hero in Christmas Redemption, doesn’t become the bank president, but I used that premise as the catalyst for the story. At the age of fifteen he thinks being a lookout for a bank robbery would be exciting and knows it will infuriate his father. Van’s lark was soon over when an innocent man is killed and Van ends up in prison without one word from his family.
Van redeems himself by learning a trade while in prison and having the courage to come back home and prove to the town and his family he is a changed man.
I gave Van an occupation you don’t see very often in westerns. He’s a boot maker. I spent several hours in the shop of bootmaker DW Frommer II, who specializes in teaching the art of boot making in the 1800s. While I spent all the time learning about the pine pitch that is boiled down and rubbed like wax into the threads that sew the boots together, hair from the back of a boar’s neck that can be split and used like a needle, and how the hole patterns the bootmaker makes with an awl can distinguish his work, I ended up using very little of this information. That is the way of most research, several pages of information are carefully written down and that is boiled down into a sentence or a paragraph in the book. Hopefully, learning about the different types of leather, the different threads and what is pitched and what isn’t helps the authenticity show through in what I do have about boot making in the story.
Van Donovan returns to Pleasant Valley, Oregon where twelve years earlier as a boy of fifteen he left in handcuffs after standing guard for a bank robbery. He's learned a trade and excelled at it and is ready to prove to his father and the town he can amount to something.
Upon his return he learns the fate of the daughter of an innocent man who died in the robbery crossfire. To make amends he takes her out of the saloon and gives her a job, not realizing she'd been squatting in the very building he'd purchased for his business.
Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives?
Silver Belles and Stetsons: A Western Christmas Anthology
Available as a $.99 boxed set for a limited time
Bestselling and Award-Winning Authors bring you ten western romance novellas featuring alpha-cowboys from the past. This boxed set will take you back in time when
men were rugged and handsome and the women who loved them, courageous and