Rod Thompson spent the first years of his life on a small farm in South Dakota, where his grandparents had moved from Missouri in a covered wagon to homestead. Young Rod rode a horse to a one-room country school and his dad taught him to shoot by age five. He said, "I shot at my first rabbit by age eight . . . and missed. My dad loved to tell stories and I loved to listen, so for years I sat at the feet of the master."
Living a half day's drive from the Black Hills, he was raised on the legends of Crazy Horse, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. At fifteen he stood on the bridge looking down into Devil's Gulch where Jesse James jumped from his horse to escape a large posse. Asked why he decided to write, he said, "Because it's in me, and what could it be but a western?"
Rod, what inspired your characters and how do you see them evolving in the future?
It is said that writers should write about what they know, I knew how to be a country boy. I spent the first years of my life on a small South Dakota farm. Country folks are good people, and I wanted my protagonist to be a typical Dakota farm boy with a strong moral compass; an honest, hardworking, God-fearing man with a sense of humor and loyalty whose life was shaped by the events in his life, as was the life of the one love his heart would allow him to have. That’s the way things were back before divorces were given out like popcorn. They took their wedding vows seriously.
He wasn’t born a superman with wonderful skills and a desire to save the world. His ideals, love of life, humor, and loyalty were given him by his parents. The skills he had were developed through hard work, determination, and necessity, as were hers, and that is the thread that connects the thrilogy: two normal people of the time, separately together, struggling to find their way on the frontier and rising to each occasion. They did what needed to be done and were shaped by the doing.
The characters meet in The Black Hills, get married and are torn apart in The Saga of Jane Hicks, and I can’t wait to see what happens to them in the third book of the thrilogy (not a misspelling).
How do you feel about mixing the western and romance genres, and is there romance in this book?
Now that is perfect timing for this question. I love romance in the western, romance of the times, romance of the Old West, romance between a boy and his horses, romance between a boy and girl—man and woman as long as it isn’t mommy porn. I’ll leave that to others. My agent first described The Black Hills as an Americana filled with humor; a western action epic. My editor at Berkley added that it has a strong underlying love story. So yeah, I love romance and most readers say they like it and want to see what happens to them in the future. I pray I can continue to do it justice.
What led you to become a writer?
Life…it was in me. Before television, movies, electronic games and sports bars with 3,000 television screens stole everyone’s imagination and creativity, people entertained each other with stories about their ancestors and travels and made up poems and songs and played fiddles, guitars and harmonicas.
My mother played piano, my father played fiddle and harmonica, and together they played at barn dances. He also loved to tell stories, some of which were even true. He loved to tell them, and I loved to listen. For years I sat at the feet of the master. The desire to write was never about choice. It just was, and I am my father’s son.
Which authors have inspired you?
My father read Zane Grey while my hero is L’Amour. A few readers have likened my writing to his. However, as fun as that is to think about, I am not now, nor will I ever be in his category. He was nothing short of amazing. Just being mentioned anywhere near him is good enough for me.
Advice for fledgling writers? Write. And get two books released on the same day. My first book, The Black Hills was re-released by Penguin-Berkley with a foreword written by James Drury, the star of “The Virginian” television series, who called to tell me it was the “best book of any kind he had read in years,” and thanks very much to an extra effort from Troy Smith, The Saga of Jane Hicks was released on the same day. Why? Because I could and it was fun. What a blast. My daughter and draft editor, Rhonda and I, went out to dinner that night.
Tell us about your first book in the series, The Black Hills.
Cormac Lynch backs down from no man. . . and only one woman. Hoodlums who brutally murdered a farming family in the 1800’s Dakota Territory left a 14-year old farm boy for dead in the field. Huge mistake! They were not prepared for Cormac Lynch's brand of Dakota vengeance, and he was not prepared for the hair-trigger temper of Lainey Nayle, the redheaded teenage Irish beauty he rescued in the process. Separately together, they face the dangers and anguish of growing into adulthood on the frontier with determination, horses, guns, petticoats, and the humor of the times in this historically correct western epic… and his two best friends are horses.
And The Saga of Jane Hicks?
Cormac receives a letter from a woman he has never heard of, Jane Hicks. She and her children are in terrible danger and need help. And the only man she can turn to is the one who killed her husband in a gunfight. Cormac has no idea of the threats that confront him as he crosses the Sioux Nation to reach Dakota Territory.
The first reader comment: “OK! Cormac has no memory. He bluffs his way with seven men. If you let anything happen to that beautiful red-head, I am going to be very upset Rod!!!!
"Dang good book so far...now I'm talkin like Cormac
Somebody needts to make this a movie!!! Great ending. There was humor...sadness...love...anger...and relief put together very nicely...WELL DONE.”