Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Open Fire-J. Golden Kimball Takes on the South: On Tour with Scott M. Hurst

I can tell my whole life story in five minutes, if I leave out all the bad parts.
- J. Golden Kimball

From the author . . .

Please tell us a little about yourself!
I graduated from BYU and enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks, working as a filmmaker and living a nomadic lifestyle in a many places, but mostly in Utah and California. When I'm not reading or writing I am usually fixing up my house or playing with my band, Eyes Open.

What inspired the writing of this story? 

I first encountered J. Golden Kimball through the stories shared by his great grandnephew James Kimball. I felt an immediate kinship with Golden, both in spirit and, confessedly, language, and I knew that his was a story that I wanted to share.

Open Fire is the story of a cowboy who is called as a reluctant missionary to the south. It traces his journey from a rough and tumble ranch hand to the still rough and tumble General Authority he would eventually become. One of the many things that has endeared J. Golden to me was his uncanny sense of humor and lightning fast wit. These things often got him into trouble and they often helped get him out of it as well.

Is there a message you'd like readers to grasp from the book?

Golden is well known for his colorful language. The one thing that I hope the reader takes away from this book is an understanding that there was so much more to him. My favorite J. Golden quote is, "I may not have always walked the straight and narrow but I've crossed it as many times as I could." I think with that he really sums it up for all of us. And there's not one cuss word in it!

What kind of research was involved?
Most of the research for the book was done sharing stories with James Kimball, who was the unofficial historian of the family. I did read and raid every other source that I could find, often getting in trouble in the library for laughing too loudly.

What has been your greatest pleasure in writing this book?
It has been a real pleasure sharing Golden's stories and adventures with everyone. One of the best things about publishing this book is having the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of different people from all over and swap stories. I've learned a lot in process and am having a great time!

What would the book sound like if it had a soundtrack?
As I was writing I couldn't help but hear a lot bluegrass in my head and the entire O, brother, where art thou? soundtrack.

If you had a chance to rewrite, is there anything about your book you would change?
Oh, boy. Yes. Nothing too major at this point, mostly just a few words or phrases here or there. I'm notorious for fretting over each and every word and constantly going in and reworking and reworking and reworking passages. One thing I love about having the book in print is that I don't have much of a choice now, it's done.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book in first grade. It was about 4 pages long in really big handwriting about a frog and a peanut butter sandwich. Our teacher showed us how to bind them and I customized the cover with some blue fabric. It felt very official at the time!

Do you have a favorite author? Who and why?
George RR Martin without question. The thing that amazes me the most is the completeness of the world he creates. It still surprises me when I set his books down that I can't hop on a plane and actually just go there and visit with his characters. As a disclaimer for the readers here, Martin's books are definitely rated R, so I don't know if I can recommend them to most of the readers here.

Do you believe in writer's block? Has it ever happened to you?
I don't believe in it at all. There are definitely times when the language flows better than others and sometimes it's sluggish and, frankly, awful. But you just have to sit your butt down and write. Writer's block is just an excuse to go do anything else. The adage that all good writing is rewriting I have found to be absolutely true. So who cares if you have an off day? Sit and write, then fix it in post!


Get your copy!

Enjoy an Excerpt!

Chapter 1

I can tell my whole life story in five minutes, if I leave out all the bad parts.
-- J. Golden Kimball
Once upon a time, when the world wasn’t quite so modern and the west wasn’t quite yet won, there was a bull. It was springtime in the western plateaus of the Rockies. The warming sun and budding sagebrush had finally dug Old Man Winter out like a begrudging tick, and the bull was flush with the vigor of youth and feeling his oats.
The grass was high and green, just the kind a bull would favor, and he wandered where he liked, when he liked, grazing at his leisure. He was a handsome specimen of goodly size and proportion, powerfully built with muscles that rippled like the waves of the Colorado and horns that ended in tips as keen as its newfound sense of independence. He had survived the bitter harshness of winter, a yearling in his prime. The world was his oyster (if bulls cared for that sort of thing), and he was just as free as a bird with no one to tell him what to do or where to go, and he preferred things that way.
The morning had been spent sampling grass in the ditches and gullies of the lower foothills, and by midday his meandering found him loitering in a stretch of highland pasture. He had grazed his fill, and thinking of little more than a drink before lying down beneath a shady cedar tree for a nap, he sauntered over to a thin stream snaking its way through the meadow. His muzzle was inches from the water when the smell hit him.
Pungent, unnatural. It was the smell of fire. It was the smell of men.
            Memory came like a lightning bolt scorching the earth where it strikes. Memory of man’s fire, of his iron burning red, the searing pain on his flank. Memory of fences and corrals. Confinement. No more open range. No grazing when and where he wanted.
Any thoughts of dozing were gone. Deep in his mind, a decision was being made, firm and irrevocable. There would be no going back, not this spring or any spring, not for this bull. He would keep his freedom, no matter the cost. Let them come with their horses and their lassoes. Let them come and see.
The smell had been faint. They had been a ways off yet, but come they did. Three of them, roughnecks down to the last man, as tough and wiry as the broncos they rode. They spotted him the instant they entered the field, where he stood waiting and ready. They were closing in now, reaching for their lassoes.
High above them the sun carved its eternal march across the sky; it was high noon on the plateau. The bull set his horns square to the cowboys and charged.

            Once upon a time, shortly after the bull’s showdown in the foothills actually, there was a cowboy. His Stetson sat low and sharp on his brow, casting its shadow across his strong set eyes, which squinted slightly in the harsh sun, peering out like a hawk. Two days of whiskers covered his cheeks like a fine pelt, adding to the masculine physique of his rugged features and chiseled jaw. Years of hard labor had sculpted his body like a richly tanned David even Michelangelo would envy. Sweat glistened on his bare chest where his shirt lay open, his leather vest laying like a lover across his broad shoulders draping down to caress the six-shooter strapped to his waist. The very essence of the rugged west seemed to flow in his veins as if he were the living embodiment of all that was wild and untamed.
            But this story isn’t about that cowboy. It’s about the tall, lanky fellow standing next to him. By all accounts J. Golden Kimball wasn’t the skinniest man to ever walk the face of the earth, but he sure gave that hombre a run for his money. He was so thin he could find shade in a fencepost. His ten-gallon hat fit loosely around his head, its wide brim crossing him like a T. His gun-belt seemed to defy gravity, refusing to fall despite the lack of bodily territory on which to find purchase. He hadn’t shaved in several days either, as the scruffy patches of hair scattered about his face testified. His Adam’s apple stuck out so far from his beanpole neck that his bandanna practically hung from it. And, as if all that weren’t enough to go against the traditional cowboy grain, perched on the end of his long nose was a pair of round lensed, wire frame spectacles. Golden looked like a librarian stuffed into a scruffy cowboy outfit.
In Golden’s defense he did stand nearly a full head taller than any one else around him. Where this sort of height might usually make a man seem bigger and more intimidating, in Golden's case it only added to his awkwardness, making him stick out like a sore thumb wherever he went. You could tell right away that the road Golden traveled wasn’t only dusty, it was covered with a fair amount of cow manure as well.
            Make no mistake, all appearances aside, Golden was a cowboy to the manner born, tough as a pine knot and dogged as they came, more than able to hold his own against any buckaroo that ever lived. It was for that reason he found himself among the handful of men chosen to go and fetch that Stubborn, Obstinate Bull.

My review of the book is coming in November!


  1. Wonderful of you to join us today Scott. I'm looking forward to reading the book!

  2. Definitely my pleasure! I enjoyed the interview a lot. Thank you for all you do. Enjoy!

  3. * I'm not sure why I keep showing up as rock lightning! This is Scott :)