I received the welcome news today that Avalon will be publishing my western The Miracle of Santa Maria. This will be my 6th Avalon western and the 6th in the Fergal O'Brien series. The story follows on directly from the events in The Treasure of Saint Woody and it's a tale I'm particularly delighted will be published as I really enjoyed writing it.
Fergal is a snake-oil seller, a purveyor of a universal remedy to cure all ills who along with his side-kick Randolph McDougal inevitably gets into scrapes when he tries to pull off outlandish money-making schemes. In this story though, for the first time ever, Fergal's motives are noble as he comes to the aid of a run-down mission, so it was nice to show his kinder side, an element of his character he usually keeps well-hidden. The story also finally resolves the sub-plot that has been developing since The Flying Wagon concerning the mysterious Woody and his even more mysterious closed box. I've always had the ending to this plot in mind since Woody's box first drifted onto a blank page about 5 years ago, but I had wondered whether I'd ever get there. The story also combines the usual, for my Avalon westerns anyhow, mish-mash of odd things such as an astronomical angle of the Pike's Peak eclipse, some bad Shakespearean acting, swordfighting, nuns, and the miracle of the title. Oh and I'm pleased that a prime contender for the worst joke ever to appear in a western might now see print.
The book will be published in 2011, and there'll be details here about it later. And now that Fergal will be riding again I guess I'll have to ask him what he wants to do next.