|Author Lee Nelson autographs one of his books for San Rafael student Cyal Christmas.|
The San Rafael Swell is the setting for Lee Nelson's newest book, "Born to Rope," which will be released soon. Dianne Butler, media specialist for San Rafael Junior High arranged for Nelson to do a presentation at the school. Nelson told the students, "I am the most read author at the Utah State Prison. One time I went there to do a presentation for 300 prisoners in blue shirts. I told them it was great to have such a captive audience. They booed. I guess that wasn't funny to them. Then I told them I felt right at home because I write books about killers, bank robbers and horse thieves and they cheered.
"I have written approximately 30 books. Most writers are avid readers. If you want to be a writer some day, you must be an avid reader. If you read a lot you will know what a good sentence is when it's time to write one. It is hard to write about a subject you know very little about. You must do your research. Research is not boring, it can be fun," said Nelson.
Nelson shared the story of how he came to shoot a buffalo from a horse. First he practiced at an arena shooting cows with blunt tip arrows. He trained two horses and after a few training sessions the horse knew what to do. Nelson said he practiced at least a 100 times until it became easy. When the horse was trained it became time to shoot a live, moving buffalo. Nelson ended up buying a buffalo for $550 from a man who raised them. They placed the buffalo in a trailer and hauled it south of Tooele. The buffalo owner warned Nelson that buffalo can outrun horses and can be very dangerous and will turn on a horse. He knew of horses that had been killed by the horns of the buffalo.
Nelson had a large group of people with him on the buffalo hunt including many children. The children were placed in a horse trailer and told not to come out. The buffalo was released and began to run up the valley. Nelson and his horse raced after the buffalo and he was able to shoot it and puncture its lung. Blood began to come out of the nose of the buffalo. It remained on its feet for 50 yards before going down. While Nelson was pursuing the buffalo the children had let themselves out of the horse trailer and were running after the horse and buffalo on foot yelling at the top of their lungs.
Nelson skinned the buffalo Indian style with an obsidian blade. Nelson said the blade worked really well. He also tried a bite of raw buffalo testicle which was a bit chewy. "I don't recommend it," said Nelson.
|Dianne Butler introduces author Lee Nelson.|
Nelson is also completing research for a book on Genghis Khan of Mongolia. He told about going to Mongolia and riding horses across their land. They still live much the same as they did in the days of Genghis Khan; herding animals on public lands and living in tents. The Mongolians conquered all the civilized countries and they did it American Indian style by horseback. Mongolia has a harsh climate which ages the people. They eat a lot of dairy products and their favorite drink is fermented mare's milk. "It tastes like watered down yogurt," said Nelson.
Nelson said he usually spends about two years researching a book before he begins. He begins with an outline after the research and he sorts the information in order. He begins with a rough draft where he lets the words flow to get them onto the page. He said some writers have a hard time starting because they want their work to be perfect the first time. He said a sure cure for writers block is just to get started and something will happen. One other clue he gave was to end the day's writing in the middle of a sentence or an exciting scene and it is easier to pick it up again the next day. Nelson said his favorite time to write is 6 a.m. where he can get a couple of good hours of writing in before the interruptions of the day begin. He writes for two-three hours each day, unless he is nearing the end of a book when he sometimes will write for hours.
Nelson told the group about the novel he completed for Mark Twain. Twain had a partially finished manuscript about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer: Among the Indians. Twain didn't finish the story which stops where the kidnapped girls are found in an Indian camp. Nelson contacted Twain's Foundation and obtained permission to finish the book. Twenty percent of the royalties on the book go to the Mark Twain foundation. Nelson didn't change any of Twain's words just picked up the story where Twain left off.
Nelson said he owns a publishing company and receives approximately 1,000 manuscripts a year which he goes through searching for material to publish.
Nelson's first book was published in 1979 when he was 39 years old.