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Backstory - The Silent Heart

31 July 2022

THE SILENT HEART — in draft form — has been around for a long time in my life, in my paper files, in my computer files. Starting with a photograph of a dapple gray horse in a technical engineering magazine in the mid-1980s. And, then, progressing toward reality through a dream.

That dream took place in my creative mind, one night, during the week after Christmas 1995. I woke up quite startled, frightened, and fascinated.

I wrote down my memory of that dream. I do not believe that I understood at that moment that this somewhat racy scene was the start of a new novel. Within a few months, however, I began to collect materials and to compose characters and themes for THE SILENT HEART.

I’ve long since shredded that piece of handwritten writing, along with so many other high-quality paper sheets of perhaps equally high-quality cursive composition that went into Composing The Westerns. Below is my synopsis of that long-ago summary of the Dream That Started It All:

The town hussy is kissing a man named Riego, behind a fence by his horse barn. Walking past the fence is a rather prim woman, a married woman. She hears the impassioned voice of Riego, telling the hussy that what they’re doing is:

“Life, life itself.”

This silly goose ought to have kept walking, and not eavesdrop on this intimate matter; but she cannot pull herself away. She’s falling in love with Riego. Feeling she is about to throw up, she finally summons the courage to leave the odious scene.

The fact that I was residing in a house in a cul-de-sac in Suburbia at the time of this dream, and I professed to friends that I felt like I was living in a goldfish bowl, with everyone watching not just my comings-and-goings, but those of everyone else, with subsequent penny-ante gossip about anyone and everyone, anything and everything that were none of their business:

That element of my life played right into my fiction.

My silent heart became THE SILENT HEART in the midst of a malevolent maelstrom of petty little married women and their equally wimpy spouses of the 1990s in Suburban California.

Twenty five years have whizzed by since that singular dream of mine. I’ve done steady as well as intermittent work on this Western. Last week, I commented to Dear Husband at the breakfast table:

“I think I’m about to start writing another Western.”

“Oh?” was the intrigued response of my spouse. “The Silver Heart or Silent Dagger”?

“Very funny,” I replied. “I’ll use that line in a promo. THE SILENT HEART is the next novel.”

SILVER DAGGER is the Western that was conceived during the winter of 1998, shortly after I moved from that voyeuristic Suburbia with my family to a fixer-upper in the Sierra Nevada foothills. A risqué dream did not kickstart that historical tale set in Truckee in 1888. NORTHSTAR did.

For more background information on the lengthy road of this novelist to Montrose, Colorado of 1895, please refer to this portion of this website: Composing the Westerns.


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