Phil Dunlap, Western Author

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I just bought a Genealogy program for my computer. I'm so excited to get started my fingers are tingling. It's an interest I've had for many, many years, and while I've been able to gather scads of information about past relatives, most of my research is a jumble of papers, photos, scribblings and the like. I desperately need order. This program promises to give me just that. However, after combing through all my existing charts and graphs, pieces of paper, and pictures of tombstones, I find it is likely that something I'd love to find will elude me. So far, nothing I've seen bolsters any hope that I'll be successful, but hope does indeed spring eternal. What is it I hope to find?

I want an outlaw! I'm a fiction writer, so this shouldn't surprise anyone? I thrive on adventure, derring-do, romance, and those colorful characters that have somehow found life more exciting living just beyond the law. How thrilling it would be to find a gunslinging, bank robbing, rough-riding outlaw somewhere in my past. I'd love it. Wouldn't you? Wouldn't most of us? I suspect the main stumbling block will the very thing so many outlaws of the old West turned to: they changed their name. That could obviously prove to be a dead end. They didn't change their names just to make themselves more worthy of being on a movie marque in the 20th Century. They did it to elude capture. And, probably so their families would never find out what happened to them. Some preeminent pang of shame considering their likely demise, I presume. Most 19th Century families were moral, upstanding, hard-working folks who would have shuddered at the thought of a son or daughter following the owlhoot trail.

But me, well, odd duck that I may be, I would still relish a good old-fashioned bad man in my past. Even a bad girl would be okay. Someone to help anchor me in the reality that is today. Also, maybe a little something to stir my fiction imagination. I would love to hear from anyone who'd like to leave a comment on my mental state, or maybe throw in one of your own past family members who've, shall we say, not always followed the straight and narrow. Maybe we could share one. An outlaw, that is.

1 comment:

  1. I had to laugh, Phil, but definitely see your point. A bad guy would add just the right little dollop of intrigue. Barring that, maybe you can find a grandmother several time grand that has a great story. Back in the 1700s once of mine was, as a young woman, scalped and left for dead. Tricking fate, she live to 90. There must be a story there!

    Carol Crigger