Glenwood Springs author pens second in ‘Kincade’ series
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
A new novel by a Glenwood Springs author is in area bookstores now, and its faithful adherence to its western genre is as much a reflection of its author’s inner workings as it is of the fact that it is a sequel, the second in a series.
“Kincade’s Fear,” by local marketing specialist and “professional Old West gunfighter” Michael Chandler, follows hard on the heels of Chandler’s debut novel, “Kincade’s Blood,” which came out in 2008.
The sequel picks up the story of Kincade, a rough-and-tumble gunfighter, cow hand, trail rider and, now, U.S. Marshall of Tombstone, Ariz., after the departure of Wyatt Earp and Dr. John “Doc” Holliday.
Raised by Indians and hardened by a tough life, Kincade is possessed of a simple, if occasionally convoluted morality that might be viewed as a cliche by readers not already enamored of the western genre.
Where the first novel was a straightforward contest of Kincade, the “good guy,” versus Wil Logan, the “bad guy,” in the sequel Kincade is portrayed as battling his inner demons as well.
Packed with the requisite violence, horseback adventures, rustling, holdups and other trappings of the mythic western frontier, Chandler’s books should satisfy any fan of the genre.
But, unlike the first book, Chandler said in an interview, “Kincade’s Fear” is both sharply focused on Chandler’s own ideas of morality, tinged with a kind of ethical ambiguity that afflicts the hero.
“It goes to a darker level,” he said, to “the very essence of good, and the very essence of evil … which, I think, is the emotion of hatred.”
The view of life based on the two extremes, where white is good and black is evil, comes from his generation’s childhood. From the age of four, as an example, Chandler was a devoted young “cowboy” brought up on TV westerns.
“In the fifties, all of TV was westerns,” he recalled, “all good guys, all bad guys. We were raised on that sort of clarity … there were no shades of gray.
“It was naive, to be certain,” Chandler continued, noting that later in life “we learned there is no black and white, it’s all shades of gray.”
But still, he insisted, an individual can choose to “hang his hat on one side or the other” of the classic battle of good-versus-evil, which he characterizes as the divide between hate and love.
And the new novel, he said, is “these two emotions at war … within Kincade’s soul.”
“Fear,” as Chandler calls it when discussing his work, is a collaborative effort, unlike his first, which he wrote on his own. His mother, Loahna Chandler, a former actress, stage performer and descendant of pioneers who came to Colorado in covered wagons, helped her son hammer out the second of what he says will ultimately be a four-part series, at least.
According to Michael Chandler, who recently turned 60, he had the sequel in mind even as he was writing the first novel, and he already has mapped out two subsequent novels. One is a “prequel,” titled “Kincade’s Early Years,” and the other is the third in the sequential story of Kincade’s life as an adult.
Asked why the images of Kincade on the covers of both books look a lot like Chandler himself (they were painted by a friend, western artist Hiram Richardson), he said, “Because I’ve always seen myself as Kincade … very stalwart in the pursuit of goodness.”
He also is a dedicated collector of western paraphernalia.
Chandler’s office in Glenwood Springs looks as though a museum docent should be on hand to caution patrons against handling the antique items on display.
Pistols and rifles, bridles and bullwhips, memorabilia and posters, the list of Western (and that capital “W” is deliberate) artifacts would fill a small book in itself.
Chandler is a former assistant chief of police in Aspen, a member of the Western Writers of America, and has become known statewide for his “professional Old West gunfighter” shows in the streets of numerous Colorado towns.
His books are available throughout the valley, at Book Train and Through The Looking Glass in Glenwood Springs, Novel Tea Books in Carbondale, and Explore Booksellers in Aspen.
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