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How the Project Evolved-Part Two

Landmarks and clues are abundant all over the  state
     After retiring from the State Parks in 2003, in November the following year, I was interviewed by Byron Crawford, a Courier Journal writer.  Mr. Crawford came to me as if I were "the" expert on the Legend of John Swift. There are many more around the country that are far more expert on the Swift legend than me, for sure.  Anyway,  I remember we had a very enjoyable visit and before he left, he made the comment, "you should write a book."  His was referring, of course, writing about the John Swift Legend.  After his article appeared in the Courier Journal, I had numerous phone calls, crank letters and renewed interest in the story.  So I decided to write a book.  I determined early that I wanted to write a novel since the story had been factually about written to death.  After my experience with the multi-media program I  just thought a good story with good characters, playing on some known historical facts would be just the ticket.  Now, my first concern dealt with the issue I could make both historians and treasure hunters mad.  Tinkering with historical characters is no easy task and is something not to be messed with unless, it is made very clear the story is fictional.  On the other hand, the treasure hunters might not agree with the truly fictional characters and clues.  I struggled with that a bit but soon got over it with the realization of two important facts. It was my story and there's nothing like a disclaimer.  I was healed and work could begin.

Indian stair steps carved into face of cliff in Red River Gorge.  Most Swift Journals mentioned  Indian stair  steps
     Besides my personal knowledge, I already had a pretty extensive collection of materials and information.  Knowing  the Red River Gorge area,  being familiar with the legend and some of key people involved made the task of writing a novel a little easier.

The :Blue Hole at McConnell Springs
    So the following year I began writing my first draft.  This historical novel is set in Kentucky but it is two time periods running together.  One could say flashbacks, but really I set out to write two distinct stories, one set in the late eighteenth century and the other in recent times.  I spent two years getting the first draft completed and I discovered that in my writing style, though the characters might be imagined, my place locations are not and could not be for me.  I actually, had to visit places such as Pilot Knob, Rock Bridge, Indian Stairway and McConnell Springs and on to get the feel and detail of the place.  Keep in mind, I never actually visited the silver mine!  These places are central to the story and without them, the story would not be believable.  For example, there is a rock shelter at Pilot knob and while there are many very old carvings, there is not a rock wall map.  There is a turkey track on Rock Bridge, an Indian Stairway,  the Warriors Path and caves at McConnell Springs. Then there are some places I can't tell you about, you'll need to read it for yourself.

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