It was a year of bliss and excitement. I never missed an episode, and Hannibal Heyes, the outlaw trying to go straight, became my creative inspiration that has never been equaled. I was drawing and painting constantly, and my western theme art was improving in leaps and bounds. I tried my hand at writing western stories and found another creative outlet that has come and gone, and then come back again. It was a perfect year.
Then heart break. On December 31st, 1971, to the shock and dismay of his family, friends, and fans around the world, Peter Deuel tragically took his own life.
Graphite on Paper (April Brauneis © 2018)
Jump forward forty years, and Peter is still very much a part of my creative inspiration. Now, through contact with people who had known Peter, and through Paul Green's well researched and informative biography, first and second editions, I came to have a better understanding of the man that Peter was, and the demons he had been fighting.
Five years ago, I decided to write my first full-length novel, combining what I knew about Peter, the man, with Hannibal Heyes, the character he had brought to life on the screen.
It's an exploration, as such. A journey down a difficult road that upholds the importance of friendship and loyalty. About choices made, and why, and how acknowledging and accepting the choices that we make is the only way to over-come the negative and grow beyond it.
It's also an exploration of suicide. I have experienced the effect of this tragic choice more than once throughout my life. I have even considered it as an option for myself, but fortunately, was able to step back from that abyss and hang on to what I had. But there are many others who go the other way. Desperate depression, leading to suicide is the hidden disease. Nobody wants to talk about it, nobody wants to acknowledge it, and yet, it runs rampant through all societies.
What is it that drives a person to make such a cruel choice? How does someone go from being happy, outgoing and with an optimistic view to the future, to deciding that life isn't worth the effort anymore? What happens to the people left behind? How does the choice of just one person effect the lives of all those friends and family members who are left, having to deal with enduring loss and heartbreak?
These are some of the question I explore in what turned out to be an epic tale. Once I started writing it, I couldn't stop. It possessed me. I wasn't the one writing the story, the story wrote itself, and brought me along for the ride. It was a whirlwind of typing that lasted for two years, and I sure did learn a lot about Wyoming history along the way!
Now, after more time of re-writing, fine tuning and intense editing, the first volume is ready for publishing. The only thing holding it back now, is the completion of the cover design. I must be a glutton for punishment; I couldn't simply use a free image for my cover--no, I had to insist on creating it myself! See my artist's blog for more details on how that is coming along.
So, stay tuned. I will keep everyone up to date on how things are progressing. It's been an amazing ride, so far, and it's sure not over yet!