Spirits of Wind and Fire: When Cultures Collided in the Old West

by | May 20, 2022 | Author | 0 comments

Thank you so much to Jennifer Jackson and The Authors’ Lounge for inviting me to share information about Spirits of Wind and Fire, Book One of the Dragon & Hawk historical fiction trilogy. These books explore the adventures, heartbreaks, triumphs, and sorrows of three Welsh immigrant brothers and the strong-willed people of the Southern Arizona Territory. Spirits introduces the reader to copper miner Evan Jones of Wales and Reyna Montoya Svenson, a widowed Mexican-Native curandera — a healer— from Tucson. The title refers to each character’s spirit guide: a Red Dragon of Wales (Fire) and a desert Red-Tailed Hawk (Wind). One can only imagine what happens when fire and wind combine, right?

 Evan and his brothers, Dylan and Huw, must navigate a totally new world of people who have different skin, customs, and ideas from what they have known. Of course, it isn’t easy, but eventually they learn to love the magnificent Sonoran Desert and its inhabitants—well, at least some of them.

My inspiration came after my son’s fifth grade class field trip to Bisbee’s Queen Mine and learning about the 300 different nationalities that came to mine copper there from the 1880s onward. It coincided with my recent decision to study the Welsh language, and I wondered how people from one of the wettest places on earth would handle moving to the extreme heat and openness of the desert.

Plus, throughout my childhood, my mother had regaled me with stories about my grandmother who was a curandera in Tucson in the late nineteenth-early twentieth century. It all started to percolate in my mind. How would people from such different cultures get along?

Real historical events and people are incorporated with the fictional characters: very brief encounters with Doc Holliday and the Earps; Nellie Cashman, the miners’ “Angel of Tombstone”; real stage robbers, a mine collapse in Bisbee, and a riot on the streets of Tombstone…Those were some wild days, that’s for sure.

My target audience is those who have never been to Arizona and maybe didn’t know just how diverse the population was in the nineteenth century. Those who may not know much about Welsh or Mexican culture will find this an interesting read, as well as learning phrases in both Spanish and Welsh. My characters have to learn how to communicate with one another on many levels: not only the language barrier and dealing with normal relationship complications, but the very real problem of survival in the violent Old West.

One of the fun parts of researching for this trilogy was traveling to Wales and digging through the artifacts of the Pontypridd Historical Society, which is a small coal mining town just north of Cardiff—most famous these days for being the birthplace and childhood home of legendary singer Tom Jones. I also loved spending hours at the Arizona Historical Society’s library where they have a huge, tooled leather-bound ledger of the Wells Fargo Company detailing every stagecoach and train robbery in Arizona from 1880 through 1912.  Then of course, there were the stories of my grandmother: her recipes for remedies, rites and rituals, plus her enduring friendship with an Apache medicine woman.

I do hope people will be intrigued with Spirits of Wind and Fire to continue the series. Book Two, Dreams of Fire and Rain, is set in Tombstone right before the big earthquake of 1886. Book Three, Legacy of Blood and Fire, follows the next generation of Joneses to San Diego and Tucson in 1904.

This is actually the third edition of this trilogy. The first I self-published through a local editor in Tucson (way too expensive), then it was picked up by a Canadian publisher, then I got my rights back and independently published the final revision through Amazon.

The Dragon & Hawk Trilogy, Cover Art by SelfPubBookCovers.com and Jude Johnson

My other books include a nonfiction collection of biographies of the real Welshmen who influenced Southern Arizona called Cactus Cymry, and my newest publication is Nine Tales From Wales, a retelling of folktales featuring dragons, mermaids, and faeries. I have a few short stories in anthologies, and one children’s book written with my dear friend Marg Brassington in Australia called Walkabout Willie/Mucky Karms. All are available through Amazon on my Author Page.

My future plans? Oh, I’d love to see this trilogy turned into a miniseries and have it made right here in Southern Arizona. One review I had from BBC Wales personality Roy Noble said, “This is the stuff films are made of!” So, any film makers out there, feel free to contact me. My website is https://judejb.wixsite.com/jude-johnson where there is a contact form to email me.

I’m in the middle of revamping my social media presence and I will add those new links to my website soon.

Thanks again for having me here at The Authors’ Lounge!


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