Fact vs Fiction in the Wild Weird West

Maynard Blackoak

Speculative fiction is a fascinating genre that can make for an interesting take on history.  Much of mythology is a blend of fact and fiction.  It took real people on an actual adventure to inspire The Iliad and The Odyssey.  Since no one alive today has firsthand knowledge of the events that influenced those sagas, who can say they did not happen as written?  Therein lies the draw of speculative fiction.  We can view the account as fiction, yet cannot prove the account as fiction.

The challenge of delving into speculative fiction is selecting an interesting historical event and/or person, and finding a proper spot where their story will deviate from the truth.  The tale also needs to flow in keeping with the established facts.  For instance, if I were to write a speculative fiction piece about a well-known incident that took a turn into the absurd, it probably would not make for an interesting read.  Make the fiction fresh and interesting with a keen eye on the factual subject.

When I began mulling over ideas for Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, I wanted to give it a feel of realism.  As I researched people who lived during that era, it dawned on me that including accounts of actual people and incidents from the Wild West would make the collection more interesting to read.  Delving further into some of the intriguing characters and events of the old west, a strange retelling of their stories began to form in my mind.

For instance, Claire Simmons revolves around the shootout at Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory.  My grandma was born and raised there.  From early childhood, I had heard accounts of what happened that fateful day on September 1st, 1893.  A posse led by several U.S. Marshals snuck into town looking to capture the notorious Doolin-Dalton gang.  Unfortunately, things did not go as planned, and the town erupted into a massive gunfight.

Add a couple of fictional characters and a step into the supernatural with a hint of science fiction, and the story offers a fresh new perspective on the event.  Most of the events of the gunfight are recounted based on actual court records.  To add a little mystique and give the tale an eerie feel, certain fictional aspects were added.  The result is a blend of fact and fiction making for an educating and entertaining read.

A different approach to speculative fiction was taken in The Guns of Clay Allison.  None of the characters or events in the story is based on fact.  Instead, the approach was to offer an alternate and paranormal explanation for Clay Allison’s murderous character and prowess with a gun.

In Cimarron Rose, the saga revolves around the tragic story of Rose Dunn.  Her tale is based on recorded facts up to the point of her personal tragedy.  A heartbreaking incident occurs in her life, leaving her alienated from friends and her adopted family.  From there, the story takes a bizarre turn toward fiction.

Dangerous Dan Tucker: Vampire Gunslinger, The Pecos River Border War was probably the easiest of the speculative fiction stories to write.  Dangerous Dan was a real gun-for-hire.  It was said he was one of, if not the fastest, gun in the west.  He began as a lawman, but one day decided there was more money to be had selling his gun to those with a need of his services.

That is all that is known of him.  He simple disappeared from history at that point.  It was a simple task to come up with a supernatural explanation for his disappearance.  He became a vampire.  From there, I just decided on a tale to wrap around his new existence.

There are more examples in Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West where fact and fiction come together in a supernatural tale.  Speculative fiction or not, all fourteen stories will take you down a different eerie trail.  So saddle up buckaroos and enjoy the strange ride through the Wild West.

Synopsis:

Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West

In this collection of fourteen strange tales from the wild west, Cowboys and Indians face down supernatural beings of all varieties – from vampires and werewolves; to ghosts and vengeful spirits; to mythological creatures.

Saddle up cowboys and ladies alike, once the journey begins, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West will take you down a strange and bizarre path though the old west that you’ve never been on before.

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About the Author — Maynard Blackoak is a freelance writer living in the backwoods of Pawnee County, Oklahoma. He draws upon the sights of neglect and unusual sounds around him for inspiration. A bit of a recluse, he can often be found strolling through an old, forgotten cemetery or in the woods among the twisted black oaks and native elms under the light of the moon.

Twitter: @maynardblackoak

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