IF THERE WAS A SATURDAY MATINEE, Dusty was there with Hoppy, Roy and Gene. He went to roundup at seven-years-old, sat on a real horse and watched them brand calves on the Peterson Ranch in Othello, Washington. When his family moved to Arizona from the Midwest, at age 13, he knew he’d gone to heaven. A horse of his own, ranches to work on, rodeos to ride in, Dusty’s mother worried all his growing up years he’d turn out to be some “old cowboy bum.”
He read every western book on the library shelves. He sat on the stoop of Zane Grey’s cabin on Mrs. Winter’s ranch and looked out over the “muggie-own” rim and promised the writer’s ghost his book would join Grey’s some day on the book rack.
Since English teachers never read westerns, he made up book reports like “Guns on the Brazos” by J.P. Jones. The story of a Texas Ranger who saves the town and the girl. Then he sold them for a dollar to other boys too lazy to read when teenagers were lucky to earn fifty cents an hour. In fact, book reports kept him and his buddy in gas money to go back and forth to high school.
After graduating from Arizona State University in 1960, he came to northwest Arkansas, ranched, auctioneered, announced rodeo, worked 32 years for Tyson Food in management, anchored TV news and struggled to get a book of his own sold. The three earlier books on the list were published without his knowledge and only discovered in 2011 as even existing.
In 1992, his first novel, Noble’s Way was published. In 2003, his novel The Natural won the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Fiction Book of the Year Award. In 2004, The Abilene Trail won the same award. Dusty invests a lot of his time helping others who want to learn how to write by speaking at seminars and conferences all over the United States. There is no difference in writing any kind of fiction. In Dusty’s words, “You simply change the sets, costumes and dialect.”
He serves on the board of Ozark Creative Writers Conference held annually in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, as well as on the boards of the Ozarks Writers League in Branson, Missouri, and the Oklahoma Writers Federation. He also serves on the board of his local electric co-op, and of the Springdale, Arkansas, PRCA rodeo. He is president of Western Writers of America. In 2004 he was inducted into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame.
Over one hundred books have been published under his own name and pseudonyms. That does not count his five dozen plus short stories and hundreds of articles and columns.
Dusty and his wife, Pat, reside next to Beaver Lake east of Springdale, Arkansas, that is whenever they aren’t off at speaking engagements or writing conferences, announcing rodeos or chuckwagon racing, or researching for western novels. He and his wife have two wonderful daughters, Ann and Rhonda, two great sons-in-law, and four super grandkids.
If he can steal time to do it, Dusty likes to fish for trout on the White River in Arkansas.