The inspiration for PRAIRIE FIRE

Many have asked about the “ghost photo” that was the inspiration for my novel PRAIRIE FIRE. Okay, here it is. This is a print of a copyrighted photo taken in the far corner of southwestern Missouri in the early 1990s by a fellow Chickamauga Cherokee (my tribal affiliation). This was pre-digital, so the photo was taken on film. I met the photographer, listened to the tales told by several witnesses. This photo is REAL, and there were many witnesses to the event.

Here’s the story. Some tribal members went to one guy’s land to clean up a portion for use in camping and whatnot. The problem was there was an old rickety wooden barn right in the middle of where they wanted to build a campground. The simplest solution was to burn it down in a controlled fashion. Well, that’s when things got interesting. It was nearing evening, as evidenced by the dark background. Up out of the flames popped this Native American warrior on a horse, brandishing a weapon in each hand. He even has a “little people” elemental guide standing in the small flames behind the horse (have to look closely to the bottom right).

This was not a single flash of flame accidentally caught by one click of the camera. No, this image roared up and STAYED up for at least fifteen minutes, while everyone stood there looking dumbfounded. The photographer ran across the field, jumped a fence, got into his car, fumbled to grab his camera, jumped the fence again, and ran back across the field in summer heat and humidity. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it! Then ran up and snapped this photo.

In the black/white prints, you can see a “ghostly audience” standing in the darkness behind the fire, ringing the edge of the forest. And you have to see the color print to appreciate the details. Of course, I cannot take a reproduction photo and share it. It’s not mine to share. The most I can do is snap a small photo of the print on the wall. I don’t know the name of the photographer, but I did meet him and listen to some of the witnesses recount the event. This really happened. The photo is genuine.

Obviously, all I did was take the spark of an idea (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and create my own story from it. That story became the western paranormal romance novel PRAIRIE FIRE by Terri Branson. I’m very proud of this book. Although it’s listed as a romance, it’s really just a “juicy western” that appeals equally to men and women. The book is available in ebook (EPUB and Kindle), paperback, and hardback. Click here to read about PRAIRIE FIRE and to find sales links:

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