Trail to Telluride book cover

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Natalie works the midnight to noon shift as an emergency room nurse at Wellspan Hospital in Gettysburg, PA. She has a husband, a teenage son, a teenage daughter, a dog, and a cat. She leads a busy middle-class life—working, taking care of her family, serving on the school board, volunteering at the food pantry, trying to find time to exercise. Natalie is about as grounded in reality as any 40-year-old American woman could possibly be.

Lately, however, a whole host of crazy, vivid dreams have invaded her sleep. Most of these dreams involve a gentleman getting shot. In the chest. Inside a bank. Sometimes Natalie’s there to save the wounded man’s life; sometimes not. Sometimes the bank is the PNC branch out on York Road where she and Zachary have their joint checking account. Other times it’s an old fashion bank and the people in the bank wear western garb like you might see in an old John Wayne movie.

The dreams have been unsettling, but more recently Natalie has also started to hear voices. Typically, she hears two distinct voices. They tend to argue. One voice keeps telling Natalie she needs to go; the other tells her to stay put.

New Mexico Zia Sun Symbol and Map
“Go where?” Natalie asks.
“New Mexico.”
“Why New Mexico?”
“The reasons why will divulge themselves once you have shown the courage to go.”

That evening Natalie and Zachary have an epic domestic quarrel. Natalie is so irritated she takes Zachary’s old Corvette out for a spin. Natalie never takes the Vette out for a spin. Sure enough, she cracks it up. Smashes the fender and headlight and scratches the entire passenger side of the 50-year-old showroom clean sports car.

Out of her mind now with the dreams, voices, and ruined Vette, Natalie flees for New Mexico to fulfill her destiny. She makes the trip in another of her hubby’s vintage classics, a ’63 Chevy C-10 pickup with a top speed of 50 mph.

Away Natalie goes!

Trail to Telluride is a love story. Trail to Telluride is a romance. Trail to Telluride is a western. It is a time machine gone haywire. It is ultimately the story of what one woman will do to ensure the safety and continuity of her family.

Come along for the ride. Let your imagination roll. Meet Ray who runs the motel and bar out in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico. Ray is a wildflower in a bed of highly cultured roses. She will change Natalie’s life forever.

Meet the Apache warrior Geronimo. Hear the story of his murdered family that changed the course of his life. Meet the Earp brothers, Wyatt and Virgil. And meet the infamous bank robber, Butch Cassidy, who will have a fling with the youthful Natalie out along the trail to Telluride.

Trail to Telluride is exactly what fiction should be—imaginative, mind-expanding, challenging, insightful, surprising, and just plain entertaining.

Natalie is a heroine for our times—smart, educated, grounded, hard-working, entirely devoted to her family, but also liberally-minded, ready and willing to take on fresh challenges and outlandish adventures. Natalie drifts into the past, but she represents our future.

Author’s View

Thomas William Simpson headshot

A few days ago I was telling a couple buddies over a couple cold ones about the plot of Trail to Telluride. As I am wont to do, once I got started, the whole mess came bubbling out in a few rapid-fire minutes. And when I finally wound down and took a deep breath, one of my drinking pals asked, “How do you come up with this stuff?”

The creative process. There’s a rabbit hole of exploration.

The answer is, “I don’t know.”

Trail to Telluride literally popped into my head in an instant. The whole kit and caboodle.

Okay, maybe not every character and every scene and every plot twist, but overwhelmingly the story from beginning to end flashed across my brain one day while out walking the dog.

This has happened several times before—This Way Madness Lies, adrift, Annie’s War, The Impostors.

I hope it happens a few more times before the end.

I had been thinking about writing a western. I love western movies. For full-blown escapism I love to put on an old western—the longer the better—take a hit, maybe two, and just stretch out on the couch. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Searchers, Vera Cruz, True Grit, Ride the High Country.

I don’t know what it is and I don’t really wanna know but these stories steal me away.

I wanted to write a story that would steal readers away.

In Trail to Telluride those readers manifested themselves in our narrator, Natalie Johnson. Natalie literally gets stolen away. Due to circumstances both within her control and entirely out of her control, she gets pulled from the safety and security of her close-knit suburban family in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and quickly finds herself cast out upon the high, barren New Mexico desert. And from there her journey only grows richer and more bizarre, i.e., inexplicable.

Trail to Telluride is a long, deep ride into the imagination. If you’ve enjoyed Gawd Bless Amurica, The Passage, A Brief History of Women in America, Careful Who You Cross, or really any of my novels driven by both character and plot, I think you’ll have a good time with Trail to Telluride.