Press release from Anthony E. Ponder:
The Appalachian Cowboy is a new paperback novel written by Anthony E. Ponder. He is a Madison County native and author. The book was recently published by YAV Publications.
This story begins in 1879 in the fictional West Texas town of Los Villas. Junior Justus is the main character. He is searching for his newspaper reporter brother, Josh. They are from Madison County although the county name does not appear in the story.
However, the narrative does say that they are originally from Jewel Hill (Walnut). He grew up on a farm near the old Drover Trail, also named the Buncombe Turnpike. That trail for herding animals to market followed along the French Broad River from Tennessee to Asheville (Altamont in the novel). Charleston, S.C., was the destination for the livestock driven along the trail. Jewel Hill lies between Lapland (Marshall) and Warm Springs (Hot Springs). Also mentioned are Mt. Mitchell, Blowing Rock, Bat Cave, and Jonesboro.
Josh Justus’ reporting was similar to newspaper reporting today. He got into trouble for writing truthful stories about people. As most reporters can tell you, some folks can get profoundly upset by verifiable facts printed about them. So it was with Josh. He was unceremoniously ridden out of Los Vilas.
Before a climatic street gunfight, there is an unusual twist. After several delays, Mr. Justus learns from his opponent that they are distant cousins. This cousin, reared in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is now a hired gun living in Washington Territory.
“I wanted an authentic photograph for the cover,” Ponder said. “It had to be one of an outdoor gunfight. A street shootout was the most dramatic scene in the novel.
“Finding an authentic backdrop for a gunfight posed a problem,” Ponder added. “There are not many places in our area with an old west setting. Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, N.C., was the perfect and perhaps only location. Ms. Alaska Presley graciously permitted me and Publisher, Christopher Yavelow, to gain access to this gated property. On Christmas Eve in 2019 the book cover photos were taken. We worked in gorgeous 72 degree weather.”
In his search, Mr. Justus is joined by his wisecracking sidekick Cousin Oscar Ames. They quickly adapt to life in the western frontier. They adapt to everything but western speech.
Mr. Ponder rewrote the dialogue for his Appalachian characters. It was due to the dialect. He and publisher, Christopher Yavelow agreed that our Southern Appalachian dialect is very difficult to read.
For Publication, Mr. Ponder corrected a greater portion of the dialect. “I left just enough of our dialect for the western characters to pick up on it,” Ponder said. “Yet, I managed to squeeze in a few words like: “poke” for bag, “cast-arn” for cast-iron and “far” for fire. By including some of our dialect, readers, I felt, would gain an appreciation for our mountain heritage.”
Mr. Ponder further stated: “I wrote The Appalachian Cowboy in 1990. I did a lot of research into the West Texas area during the 1879 time period. After completing the earlier version, I placed it in storage. My first book, My Humor Heritage in Madison County and Beyond, was quite successful. So, I decided that readers might enjoy a follow-up work.
“I searched through my previous writings. After dusting them off, I settled on The Appalachian Cowboy. I sensed that it had potential upon my second re-reading. There were gaps that needed to be filled and some explanations made. Those improvements made the story line flow more smoothly and logically. More details were added for some of the characters. Well-known historical figures Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, and Sakajawuea were also placed into the revised story line.
“With these revisions, I believed that I captured an authentic western story. Our local characters interacted easily with those living out west, including Indians. In the story are a train and a bank robbery, busy saloons, deadly gunfights, and gunslingers for hire. My use on animals added spice. Within the 250 pages, I tried to utilize some of my life’s experiences accumulated over many decades.
“I am delighted to have my book published. Guidance and assistance from YAV Publications was invaluable.”
The Appalachian Cowboy is Anthony Ponder’s second published work. It follows his first book entitled My Humor Heritage in Madison County and Beyond. His books may be purchased on line from Amazon or ordered from your favorite bookstore. The Appalachian Cowboy is also available through Kindle ebooks.