Late Western Novel Writer's Last Book Now Available
Robert E. Trevathan's five-decade career as a novelist ended twenty-five years ago with an unsold, unfinished manuscript, but 25 years later his grandson made sure it was brought to publication.
"In 1993, my grandfather was in touch with Avalon books, which had published his work before, about this manuscript, but they passed on it," said his grandson, Alex Greenwood. "At the time I was editor of a small town weekly newspaper, and we were planning to serialize it, but then the newspaper closed, so the book never saw publication."
When Trevathan passed away in 2002, his papers were given to Greenwood, who put them in storage. A recent move reminded Greenwood, himself a mystery writer, about the last of Trevathan's twenty-plus Western novels.
"I found Big Cabin amongst his papers and remembered it had never made it to press, so I thought I would do it with my publisher, Caroline Street Press."
Greenwood had one problem: the first chapter was missing.
"I frantically looked everywhere, but it was gone. I suspect it was lost back in 1993 at the newspaper in the confusion when the paper shut down. So, working closely with my editor, I reconstructed the first chapter."
Greenwood and editor Robert Hayes, Jr. worked for months polishing the manuscript, leading to the publication of Big Cabin and Dispatches from the West (2018 Caroline Street Press 261 pages available in ebook and paperback exclusively from Amazon.com). The book cover by Jason McIntyre features a pair of horses in the sunset, one riderless.
Making sure Trevathan's historical research details were integrated smoothly into an exciting story of the beginnings of several towns in Southeastern Kansas and Northeastern Oklahoma in the late 1880s was most important to Greenwood and Hayes.
"My grandfather was a writer and historian, so his books were very meticulously researched," Greenwood said. "He had a knack for weaving real people and events into exciting stories of cowboys, frontier entrepreneurs and in this book, Ginger Young, a heroic, dedicated female news reporter."
He added that residents of Parsons, Kansas, Vinita, Oklahoma and of course, Big Cabin, Oklahoma will find the book a treat--as will railroad buffs. "You get a deeper understanding of how the railroads were instrumental in building America."
Greenwood also found a short story; "Cherokee Strip or Bust" originally published in a pulp Western magazine in 1957, and added it as a bonus, along with several essays, poems and letters Trevathan wrote in the last ten years of his life.
"He was deeply in love with history and words," Greenwood said. "Something he passed on to me. I hope this book, which is a love letter to his generation of writers of Western fiction, will help him find new fans. Most of his previous novels are out of print now, but you can find them online here and there and in some libraries. I think he's a great talent just waiting for a new generation to discover him."
"I think he would be really tickled by this book," he added. "He never lived to see the rise of ebooks and Kindles--he wrote all of his books on an old manual Smith Corona typewriter, and we of course never got a chance to write together, so this is very special to me."
About Robert E. Trevathan
A historian by trade, the Detroit-born cowboy Robert E. Trevathan fell under the spell of the Old West at an early age. After serving with distinction in the Navy during World War II, then teaching English in Japan, he spent a few years as a writer toiling in the pulp Western magazines (including Texas Ranger and the curiously fun Ranch Romances - an action-packed story from 1957, one of several that earned publication in that periodical, is featured herein). His first published novel was Dead in the Saddle (writing as Trev Roberts in 1959). He moved into hardback the next year with Stage to Laredo, and then began a long string of popular books with numerous publishers including Avalon, Criterion, and Thomas Bouregy & Co.
Other "Trev Roberts" works included Rawhide Trap (1962); Comanche Interlude (1963); The Hide Hustlers (1967); Cannon River (1967); and Desert Campfires (1967, in U.K. as Desert Flame, 1970). As Robert E. Trevathan he wrote Longhorns for Fort Sill (1962); Badman's Roost (1963); Showdown at Ringold (1968); Longhorn Gold (1971 in U.K. as The Moonstone Bullet); Ballanger (1974); Tracking the Bar-J Gold (1979); Rawhide Legacy (1983); Ransom Trail (1984); Ambush (1984); Plunder Trail (1985); Shootout (1985); Holdup (1986); Oklahoma Outrider (1988); Red River Bullets (1990); Red River Angel (1997) and finally, Big Cabin and Dispatches from the West (2018).
His signature work, the award-winning, cinematic and gritty Ballanger, earned the prestigious Colt. 44 Western writing award in 1974. He passed away in 2002.
About J. Alexander Greenwood
J. Alexander Greenwood is the author of the award-nominated John Pilate Mystery Series; including Pilate's Cross, Pilate's Key, Pilate's Ghost, Pilate's Blood, Pilate's 7 and Pilate's Rose. He also wrote the nonfiction top seller, Kickstarter Success Secrets. The Oklahoma native resides in Kansas City, Missouri.