Vivian Zabel, author of Prairie Dog Cowboy joins us today to talk about the setting for her new novel published in October by 4RV Publishing. The 180-page book set in the Oklahoma Panhandle in 1899 is primarily intended for ages 9-12.
Buddy, the main character begins learning how to work a ranch when he’s just four years old. The work of a cowboy is in his blood and that’s what he wants to do when he grows up. A neighbor who believes in him makes him a promise: when you’re good enough to rope a prairie dog, you can have a job on my ranch.
I met Vivian on the Published Authors Forum. She’s a fellow contributor to the Forever Friends anthology published last year and the author of Midnight Hours and Case of the Missing Coach. I’m happy to welcome her to the Round Table.
The Prairie of Prairie Dog Cowboy
by Vivian Zabel
The setting for Prairie Dog Cowboy was fictionalized but exists in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The prairie runs from what is now northeast Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and north into Kansas and Nebraska. The area is also considered part of the High Plains.
Many people think the panhandle is drab, ugly, and flat. Not so. Yes, a person may think the land is flat because few, if any hills, are found, but the land has unexpected valleys and gullies that contain green, living things.
The view is spectacular in its own way. I’ve stood outside the house where my husband grew up and looked “forever” in all directions. The sky bright and blue arched above my head. The horizon stretched at the edge of the skyline miles and miles away. At night, the stars against the black velvet of darkness seemed closer than in other places. The lights of towns twenty to thirty miles away could be seen without trouble.
The gullies, deep and rather narrow cuts in the land caused by wind and rain run-offs, often hide green grass when the land above is dry and grass is brown. Valleys, which are different than gullies in that they are usually wider and have more flood plain created by rivers, are filled with trees and lush plant life.
Along the roads, in pastures of prairie grass and man-induced plants, cattle graze, slick and fat. Fields of wheat or milo, sometimes corn, can be found creating breaks between thousands of acres of native pasture.
In the book, the ranches owned by the Hyman family and James Buck are found along the Beaver River. Much of the area used as the Buck ranch and a portion of the ranch used as the Hyman ranch were taken by the government to make Optima Lake and a reserve and hunting area. The land still exists though, cutting through the Oklahoma Panhandle prairie.
Buddy rode and worked the land that can still be found, rich and valuable, filled with hardworking people.
Prairie Dog Cowboy can be purchased through any book store, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and/or 4RV Publishing.
Note: anyone leaving a question or comment will be entered into a drawing to receive one (1) of four (4) canvas bags with a 4RV logo.