Building a life in northwest Oklahoma
Sheldon Russell's latest historical novel
March 3, 2021
First there was the land. It was a land of gypsum hills, red cliffs and underground caverns, a land of dust and wind and violent storms. Cowboys from the south push their cattle through to railyards in Kansas. Indians roam the area picking off unwary travelers. Settlers from the east gather for the opening of the Cherokee Outlet.
The sweet cool water of an artesian spring draws people to a canyon. A nearby cave offers temporary shelter. A handful of intrepid women seek out the canyon, hoping to establish a community limited to females. A young man drifts through looking for a place to belong.
In his latest book, Woods County author Sheldon Russell tells the history of northwest Oklahoma through the eyes of Raven, Ruth, Marco, Lou, Deputy McVey and Logan. "Time and Again" follows the lives of the inhabitants of Spring Canyon where hard work can pay off in prosperity, only to be wiped out by severe weather.
From the opening of the Cherokee Outlet, through World War I and II, an economic depression, epic dust storms, a massive tornado and the discovery of oil, the people of Spring Canyon experience the historical events of the region. In their personal interactions, they also find love, betrayal, conflict, violence and fulfilment.
It's obvious that Russell knows the history of the area and understands the character of its inhabitants. He also has an eye for the beauty found in the sometimes harsh landscape. Familiar landmarks in the story like the nearby community of Woodward, the Cimarron River and the salt flats give clues to the story's location.
An entertaining historical tale by an award-winning author, "Time and Again" by Sheldon Russell is available in Alva at the Graceful Arts Gallery. It may also be found online at SunburyPress.com or Amazon.com.
Russell is a former public school teacher who retired as a professor emeritus from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2000. He and his wife Nancy, a well-known artist, now live in Woods County near Waynoka.
His first novel, "Empire," was published in 1993. Since then he has written a number of books and won several awards. In addition to his stand alone titles, he is known for the Hook Runyon mystery series. The fifth in that series, "The Bridge Troll Murders," received the 2018 Oklahoma Book Award in Fiction.