Located smack in the middle of Oregon, Prineville, a small cattle and mill town, is nestled in the Crooked River Valley beneath rimrock plateaus of the Oregon high desert. I grew up there, a small town boy, among cowboys and loggers. During my college years, I fought range fires for the Bureau of Land Management. We bunked in a guard station fifty miles east of nowhere. It was the most amazing experience of my life. Every day, we’d journey up into the pine forests of the Ochoco Mountains or down into the sagebrush and juniper flats of the lowlands. We fought fires on isolated cattle ranches and on farms in lush river valleys.
After college, I spent my working life as a cop. Even then I was a closet writer and, after leaving police work, I decided I wanted write full time. I attended Vermont College and earned an MFA in Creative Writing. When the time came to create my first novel I knew it had to be set on the high desert. With my cop background, the mystery genre was natural.
I wanted to write a period piece, but not a traditional western, so I picked 1952 as my time period and created a fictional central Oregon town, Barnesville as my main setting. Here’s how I describe it in my mystery, Harkness, A High Desert Mystery:
Barnestown was a fair little burg. We had one paved road, an official U.S. highway, running through the middle of town. Every other street was dirt, dusty in summer, swampy for those few days in the spring when we got rain. I cruised down the main drag. Frank Flehardy, the town maintenance man, glanced up and nodded as I passed. Half of his time seemed to be spent replacing pine boards in the sidewalk in what served as the business district. I swerved to avoid the milk delivery wagon. There were as many horses on the road as automobiles, though the horse traffic had thinned as the pioneer generation died out.
Gravel crunched under my tires as I stopped in the county parking lot. The county courthouse was the largest human construction in our town, with a granite clock tower built by the faithful at the turn of the century when Barnestown had been the hub of central Oregon. People may not change, but times did, and Barnestown had slipped into the back eddies of commerce, still hanging on as a cow town, but mostly the postwar boom had eluded it.
My hero, Matt Harkness, is a flawed man. He drinks too much, falls in love with the local judge’s wife, and suffers from the trauma of fighting in the Pacific during World War II. Even with all that, he’s content until two young star-crossed lovers disappear. Then everything he knows and loves are at risk. You can pick up a copy of Harkness at http://www.amazon.com/Harkness-High-Desert-Mystery-ebook/dp/B009T7HPN0/. Also check out my blog at www.michaelbigham.com.
My thanks go to Marilyn for this opportunity to be a guest on her blog. I’m in the middle of her mystery, The Devil’s Foothold. Great stuff, pick it up.
About the book: In this thrilling debut novel, by Michael Bigham, Sheriff Matt Harkness faces a perilous challenge. He isn’t your typical Western sheriff. Cowboy boots make his arches ache, he’s phobic of horses, he drives an old battered pickup and his faithful companion is a wiener dog named Addison. Set on the Oregon High Desert in 1952, life in the small town of Barnesville has been easy-going for Matthew until a star-crossed teen-age couple disappears. Harkness is the keeper of secrets in his little town and to solve the crime, he must decide which secrets to expose. One secret involves Judge Barnes, the county’s most powerful man. But Harkness has a secret of his own: he’s in love with the Judge’s wife. How much is Harkness willing to risk to catch a murderer?
About the author: Raised in the mill town of Prineville in Central Oregon beneath blue skies and rimrocks, Michael Bigham attended the University of Oregon and during his collegiate summers, fought range fires on the Oregon high desert for the Bureau of Land Management. He worked as a police officer with the Port of Portland and after leaving police work, obtained an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Vermont College. Michael lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughter. Harkness is his first novel.
Harkness Tour Schedule
Monday, May 6th
Book spotlight at Between the Covers
Tuesday, May 7th
Book spotlight at The Writer’s Life
Author interview at Beyond the Books
Friday, May 10th
Author interview at Blogcritics
Monday, May 13th
Guest post at Murder by 4
Tuesday, May 14th
Guest post at Marilyn’s Musings
Friday, May 17th
Guest post and giveaway at The Busy Mom’s Daily
Wednesday, May 22nd
Author interview at As the Pages Turn
Thursday, May 23rd
Book review at The Book Connection
Friday, May 24th
Author interview at Literarily Speaking
Tuesday, May 28th
Book spotlight at Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways
Thursday, May 30th
Book review at Thoughts in Progress
Monday, June 3rd
Book review at Community Bookstop
Tuesday, June 4th
Book review at WV Stitcher
Wednesday, June 5th
Guest post at Lori’s Reading Corner
Thursday, June 6th
Guest post at The Story Behind the Book
Friday, June 7th
Podcast interview at 6:30 PM EST at A Book and A Chat
Monday, June 10th
Author interview at Examiner
Tuesday, June 11th
Book review at The Library at the End of the Universe
Wednesday, June 12th
Author interview at Pump Up Your Book
Thursday, June 13th
Book review at CelticLady Reviews
Monday, June 17th
Author interview at Broowaha
Tuesday, June 18th
Book spotlight at The Dark Phantom Review
Wednesday, June 19th
Author interview at The Dark Phantom Review
Thursday, June 20th
Book spotlight at Literal Exposure
Monday, June 24th
Author interview at Paperback Writer
More stops coming soon!