|Renowned Entymologist |
and Award Winning Western
Author, Dac Crossley
Dac: I'm from old Texas stock but not part of the King Ranch empire. From my front porch I could see the big white King Ranch headquarters. I had one younger brother, a chemical engineer. We lived at the end of a caliche road, way out beyond house numbers. Dad raised chickens.
Caroline: Did you write fiction while you were at Texas Tech before you changed majors from English to biology?
Dac: Not fiction. I named some new species of mites when at Tech. My room-mate and I wrote a short comedy, once.
Caroline: What’s a story you remember your grandmother telling you that readers will enjoy?
Dac: I learned the night sky from my grandmothers. One taught me the constellations in the northern sky, the other, in the southern sky. Knowing the stars allowed you to navigate on the plains, and to tell time at night. Both grandmothers spent part of their childhood on ranches, and knew the brush country quite well.
Caroline: Do you return to Texas often? Without revealing enough to invade their privacy, tell us about your family.
Dac: I go back to south Texas whenever I can. I no longer have family there, but the memories linger, and I visit the old places in San Antonio and Corpus Christi and environs. And meet with friends from my childhood. I have deep roots in south Texas. The sights and sounds, the feel of the brushlands strike a chord deep within me.
Caroline: I noticed that GUNS ACROSS THE RIO was a finalist in the 2008 National Indie Excellence Awards. Where did you get the idea for that book? Did it require a lot of research?
Dac: It began with stories my father told me, of growing up on the border, of bandits and railroads, fast horses, slow automobiles. I prowled the border area for locales for my story.
Caroline: National Indie Excellence Award 2009 winner, RETURN OF THE TEXAS RANGER, is a sequel and I notice the same three characters are included. Did that book spring from the first, or did you have to dig it out?
Dac: In fact, I wrote RETURN first. I had an agent for that one, who was unable to sell it altho she tried hard. GUNS was actually a "prequel" that happened to be published first.
Caroline: I love the premise of your latest book in which someone escapes the Alamo to fight again. Was a particular event or experience inspiration for your 2011 National Indie Excellence Award winner, ESCAPE FROM THE ALAMO, or is it simply from the experience of being a native Texan?
Dac: Honestly, any Texan author just has to write an Alamo story. The Alamo history is very much a part of my upbringing. My mother was a historian.
Caroline: If you could go back in time for a brief visit, where and when would you choose?
Dac: That's easy. San Antonio in 1836, and the fall of the Alamo. I want to see for myself!
Caroline: What fiction are you reading now?
Dac: A DISTANT FLAME, a Civil War story by Georgia's most accomplished writer, Philip Lee Williams. I am plotting a post-Civil War story for South Texas, so this counts for research as well.
Caroline: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?
Dac: My customary advice is read, read, read and write, write, write. Tell me a good story.
Caroline: Your blog on chiggers made me laugh. Do you have any stories to share about the pesky little red devils?
Dac: Listen, I enjoyed those days. Touring the west, south and southeast, trapping rodents, shooting birds, catching snakes and lizards, sleeping under the stars. Couldn't do that today.
Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Dac: Today it's easier to publish your book than it ever was. You have a story in you, don't you?
And from a western writer - "Timing is the most important part of a rain dance."
Caroline: I love that quote! Thank you for being my guest.
Dac: It's been my pleasure.
D. A. Crossley, Jr., is a retired professor at the University of Georgia, and his nickname is “Dac.” He's an emeritus professor of ecology and a curator emeritus of ticks and mites in the Georgia Museum of Natural History. Even better from our viewpoint, he writes great western fiction!
Dac grew up in Kingsville, Texas, the home of the famous King Ranch. It was also the home of railroad shops for the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico railway company. Dac says everybody in town worked for the railroad or the ranch, or did business with them.
Dac received his undergraduate degree from Texas Tech in Lubbock. Yay! That's where Hero graduated and I attended for two years. Dac's doctorate was in Entomology at the University of Kansas, where--you will no doubt be surprised to learn--Dac studied the classification of chiggers - redbugs. He thinks he's still the U.S. expert.
After university he worked at Oak Ridge National Lab as an ecologist. Which he says he surely wasn't. In those days (1950's) almost nobody was. He studied the effects of radioactive waste on forests and fields. A fortunate turn brought him to the University of Georgia, where he had the privilege of working with some excellent ecologists.
With retirement looking him in the face, he turned to his first career choice - writing and hit his stride in writing about South Texas in its pre-civilized days. The Old West lived on for decades down near the Border and in the Wild Horse Desert. Family stories and tales he was told as a child form the basis for his Texas novels.
Buy link for Dac's books at Amazon is
Please return on Friday for a visit with Claire Ashgrove. Don't forget the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop lasts through midnight on Hallow'en. Leave a comment to be entered in my daily give away, including international readers.
Thanks for stopping by!