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Fiction The Highwayman

Daring and Decorum: Release Day and Acknowledgments

It’s release day for Daring and Decorum, so I thought I’d share an expanded version of the Acknowledgments.

Here are the acknowledgments as they appear in the novel. Thanks to everyone who helped bring my novel to the world!

Daring and Decorum by Lawrence Hogue available now


My first debt goes to all the writers who inspired me, Ellen Kushner chief among them. Privilege of the Sword showed me what was possible in combining a comedy of manners with melodrama, all while imagining an alternative Europe where people were pretty much free to love whom they chose. Emma Donoghue’s Life Mask introduced me both to late-eighteenth-century England and to ways of imagining how those of non-conforming sexualities might have fit into it. Nicola Griffith: both she and her vision of St. Hilda, as told in Hild, are my heroes. Though I came to it after I finished this book, Heather Rose Jones’ Daughter of Mystery inspired me to keep seeking a home for my own novel. You should probably read these #ownvoices before reading my attempt at historical representation of women who love women, which must inevitably rely on imagination (and research).

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Author Spotlight Books

Spotlight: Blind Tribute by Mari Anne Christie

Cover of Blind Tribute by Mari Anne ChristieIt’s a pleasure to welcome Mari Christie to the website today. Blind Tribute, her Civil War novel about a journalist of extraordinary principle, is due out July 28. The timing is impeccable, as today’s journalists face nearly as many death threats as her protagonist, and over some of the same festering issues. Below you’ll find an intriguing bit that had to be left out of the novel, a blurb, and an excerpt from the novel itself. Read to the end for a chance to win an ebook edition and some neat swag, including a quill pen and powdered ink.


One of Harry Wentworth’s most admirable, and infuriating, traits is his desire to be thorough in his examination of every issue. This serves his reporting well, but not his safety, and occasionally makes him appear slow to action, even as decisiveness is also an innate behavior. This habit of exhaustive contemplation is exemplified in many ways throughout the book, but in the case of his family and friends, perhaps most visible in a brief mention early in the narrative:

Once he had taken care of posterity, assisting his likely future biographers by categorizing his musings, he turned to his last order of business for the day: updating his will, also a lifetime habit, which he had accomplished, without fail, before the onset of each new war. This time, little would change. He would leave all sitting members of The Standard Editorial Board fifty thousand dollars each, his financial interest in the paper allotted equally among them, with the admonition to reinvest in the newspaper. Two hundred fifty thousand would be bequeathed to his sister, along with most of the Wentworth family heirlooms he owned. Half the remaining estate—estimated at three-and-a-half million—was earmarked for his wife; the other half would be divided equally between his three children.

As with any work of fiction, many pieces were cut before the final version was published. In this case, I offer up the Last Will and Testament Harry writes nearer the end of the war, which introduces the many characters who become important to him during the course of the book, and demonstrates, in some wise, the changes he makes in his priorities.

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Reviews

Book Review: Gold and Silver in the Mojave

Gold and SilverGold and Silver in the Mojave: Images of a Last Frontier
Nicholas Clapp
Sunbelt Publications, 2012
200 pp; $24.95
 (Note: This review first appeared in the Winter/Spring issue El Paisano, the quarterly newsletter of the Desert Protective Council.)

The history of the western U.S. is a history of booms and busts. A lode is discovered or a policy is enacted (the Homestead Act, the wind energy tax credit). Where once was “pristine” (lightly populated, subtly changed) nature, civilization rushes in, with all its attendant virtues and vices. Then the ore plays out, or the policy changes, or the rain fails to follow the plow. The people move on, leaving the rusting tin cans, the broken dreams, the windmills creaking idly in the wind.

And they leave photographs. Stashed away in shoe boxes or on display in county historical societies, these old photos can seem quaintly picturesque. Trapped in their black-and-white world, the subjects seem more actors on a stage than real people who lived, worked, loved and died.

In his excellent Gold and Silver in the Mojave: Images of a Last Frontier, Nicholas Clapp scrapes away that quaint layer to reveal the lives behind the photos. Through vivid story-telling, insightful commentary, and carefully selected photographs, the book gets at the actual experience of the people who were part of this later, lesser-known mining boom, spanning the years 1895 to 1920. Clapp calls it a rowdy Last Act for the Old West.

From Randsburg to Ballarat to Tonopah, the book presents photos both expected and unexpected: the gold-panners and the miners, the bankers and the saloon-keepers, the gamblers and the red-light districts; but also the families, the ladies’ clubs, the children, and the Mojave Desert’s first tourists. Some of the most striking are portraits of the people of Tonopah, Nevada, taken by E.W. Smith in his studio, featuring classical backdrops and a laughing gnome for a prop. Himself an award-winning filmmaker, Clapp expertly dissects the images he presents, whether commenting on habits of dress, the expressions of men in a saloon, or the changes in photographic technology that made the images possible.

Gold and Silver in the Mojave explores all the ways wealth was made and squandered here. There was the mining of ore, but also the mining of investors’ pocketbooks; “high-grading” (mine workers lining their clothing with stolen ore); the trick of selling out while a shallow claim still “showed;” and “bucking the tiger” – trying to beat the house in the often-rigged game of faro.

And of course there is the desert. This being the Mojave, the landscapes are dramatic. Even in their heyday, these boomtowns were dwarfed by the desert that surrounded them, the humans, tiny figures amidst nature on a grand scale. This contrast is even more striking in the book’s examples of “rephotography.” A shot of Rhyolite taken a hundred years ago shows the town of 5,000 that sprang up in less than five years; today, a photo taken from the same vantage shows the blackbrush holding sway once more.

Residents of currently booming North Dakota, take heed: this is your future.