Updated: Aug 16
Although Red Engine Press has authors and artists from all across the United States, lately we have been exploring my hometown…Fort Smith, Arkansas! And there are many talented folks here. The last few months have been filled with a joyful group of Fort Smith authors, historians, editors, actors, artists and technicians. And this year, our summer, fall and winter will be filled with more local color…seriously.
Our first round of Fort Smith collaborations included artist Russ Jester who designed the cover for an inherently Fort Smith story, “Garrison Avenue.” It was an especially important project for me for several reasons…first, it was the first time I got to work with my very talented baby sister, Dr. Micki Voelkel. Not only was she my coauthor, she and Eric Wells from Fort Smith Little Theater…working with Sol Studio on Garrison Avenue, across the street from where some of the real events in our book occurred in 1912…recorded our award-winning Audiobook version of “Garrison Avenue.”
However, the last couple years have been especially joyful as we have discovered so many talented and creative folks here in Fort Smith. As you probably know, we at Red Engine have been especially thrilled to be working with Judge Jim Spears. After publishing his first two books, “Yearning to Breathe Free: A Judicial History of the Cuban Relocation Project, Fort Chaffee, Arkansas 1980-1982” and “Justice Divided: A Judicial History of Sebastian County,“ I am excited to start a new project with him this week. A true crime story from the 1960s that impacted both of us personally…and we never knew it until 2017. It’s a story only the two of us are left to tell.
Coming up soon, is Darneisha Airhart’s delightful historical children‘s book, ”Louder and Funnier.” Creative and charming, it tells the story of famous Fort Smith bandleader Alphonso Trent. Appropiate for all ages…even Grandma.
Next is a nod to Fort Smith artist Aaron Ray who illustrated Red Engine Press author Steve Tindall’s “My Life as a Giant.” A delightful book that you can not only get on Amazon but if you want to support local businesses, pick it up at Bookish at the Bakery.
Next on our agenda is Fort Smith reenactor and historian Harold Trisler’s new book, “Finding the Last Dalton“…a perfect story to accompany the opening of our new US Marshals’ Museum…it’ll take you on a forgotten history ride. Also enjoy, local artists and actor, Brett Short’s wonderful Artwork.
And then of course is the upcoming launch of my own new book, “Julia and Maud,” which features the talents of several prominent Fort Smithians…from historian Tom Wing to researcher Shelley Blanton at the Pebley, editors and proofers Mindy Lawrence, Karen Daggs and John Faulkner—and artists and cover designers and reenactors Sue and Sonny Robison to name but a few.
We will be launching ”Julia and Maud” at Bookish at the Bakery on Saturday, August 26, 2023 from 11:30am to 2:00pm. Tom and I will be discussing the many aspects of this event that we found in the records and integrated into the narration. We’ll be busting some long held myths and offering new…or at least not recently considered…aspects in most of the retellings. This will be the first time you will get a look at the book and we will share lots of behind the scenes stories. However, we will also do future talks—specifically for those who have read the book—to talk about history, culture, and even psychology of this tragic Fort Smith tale.
While we hope you will enjoy this hometown saga and learn many new things about these historical figures, we have included Maud’s notorious letters and sketches. Readers may have heard about them but most haven't actually seen them. They are important for you to be able to judge these women’s actions, but you may also find them inappropriate for younger or more sensitive readers. Please use your own discretion.
Looking forward to seeing you all at Bookish at the Bakery on Saturday afternoon, August 26, 2023 at 12:30 to 2:00 pm.