Larry L. Bailey
I am a Westerner, blood, bone and soul. I am more at ease on a horse than in a vehicle. I belong to the land, not the land to me. I am an outcropping in human form of the spirit of this wild, fierce, overwhelmingly beautiful part of planet Earth. I live on a ranch crossed by a creek lined with beaver dams and populated with most of the wildlife originally found here including an occasional wandering cougar. My family has horses and cattle and sheep and goats as well as the whole compliment of fowl. A flock of wild turkeys makes it's home with us and flies home to roost atop the chickenhouse every evening. We produce almost all our own food and usually have a year's supply stored around the place.
My white ancestors came west in covered wagons and lived at peace and mixed with the Native people they found here, so, in the parlance of Sherman Alexie, who comes from the neighboring Spokane reservation, I am from the "Little Bit Tribe" - I'm a little bit Indian. Among my children are two dark and beautiful half-Native daughters and I consider it an honor to be their father. It was not the people of the Earth, the farmers and ranchers who were driven to exterminate the elder peoples here but the urban people, the politicians and merchants who saw them as impediments to hegemony. To us they were our neighbors and relatives and still are. Almost half the population of our region is Native and the Colville Reservation in my home county of Okanogan is 1.3 million acres - a good-sized sovereign nation.
After seven years at the University of Washington in Seattle getting what my cowboy grandfather described as "more education that a person needs," I returned home. I have established a large regional network of websites known as OkanoganNet and publish a newspaper called Okanogan Times.
My writing reflects my intimate association with the physical world. The environment is not a background for my human characters but an active presence. My characters are drawn from the people I have known in my life in the west and you would not be surprised to bump into one of them on the street but there is more to these people than you may have imagined. There is much in my writing of the Earth-centered wisdom of our Native elders but my novels are not "preachy." I have often been told that my stories are "too real" to be fiction which I take as a great compliment. They are fiction, but fiction that grows out of real life lived by real people in real places. Yet sometimes that reality is not the same reality that most of us see around us every day, but a reality imbued with the natural magic that flows from the heart of our mother, the Earth.