Author S.C. Burns is taking her latest book, Cookesville U.S.A.: The Wildest, Wickedest, Wealthiest Big “Small” Town In the West on tour – a Virtual Book Tour, that is, with Outskirts Press! Technology has created a wide variety of ways to reach audiences all over the world. All it takes is a little thinking outside the box, and nowadays you can market a self-published book in a variety of affordable and impactful ways. Virtual book tours, for example, are a great way to connect with readers from all corners of the globe, all from the comfort of your own home. Join S.C. Burns and Cookesville U.S.A.: The Wildest, Wickedest, Wealthiest Big “Small” Town In the West as they appear in features and interviews (such as the one below) in the weeks and months ahead!
Luckily for us, S.C. Burns was kind enough to answer a few questions as the tour was getting started so that we can give you a sneak peek into the mind of the creator of Cookesville U.S.A.: The Wildest, Wickedest, Wealthiest Big “Small” Town In the West.
OP: Tell us a little bit about Cookesville U.S.A.: The Wildest, Wickedest, Wealthiest Big “Small” Town In the West. What is it about?
S.C.: It is a historical satire/drama/western, based upon the history and peoples of Bakersfield, CA—and its relationship with Hollywood. While Bakersfield was founded by a Colonel Baker, the fictional town of Cookesville was settled and founded by a wealthy goldminer named Frank Cooke. Cooke was a captain in the U.S. Cavalry (yes, he was Captain Cooke), who fought in the Mexican War before heading to the California gold fields to make his fortune. When he returned to the southern “San Andreas” valley with his Choctaw wife, and a menagerie of Chinese and Mexican laborers, he brought with him the idea of protecting the “others” in the new state of California—those who had no legal protections by the new state constitution. This story continues into the 21st century, as Cookesville grows into a modern and thriving town—governed oftentimes by persons of questionable character. The major protagonist, “Lynnie,” is a sleuth who uncovers, and often covers up, the major crimes for a major law firm in Cookesville. He and most characters in this book are based upon real people in the history of Bakersfield, most of whom I have known personally, and some of the characters’ storylines are a composition of numerous people. The investigator whose life mirrored Lynnie’s (he passed away in 2011, like his character in the book) was approached by actor Dennis Quaid, who wanted to tell the story of one of the real crimes “Lynnie” had worked to alter (cover up?). “Lynnie” passed away before this could happen. My spouse (criminal attorney, family law attorney and administrative law judge with the California Department of Rehabilitations) and I were close friends of “Lynnie’s.” We often met for lunch, had him over for dinner in our home, and I collected those stories through the years.
OP: Why did you decide to write this story?
S.C.: I have lived in Bakersfield for over forty years, raised my three children here, and often planned to leave the area. In plotting my “escape,” I have been continually snagged by a relationship, friendships, and career advantages. Also, as I state in my introductory chapter, Cookesville (like Bakersfield) is a conundrum, one that is hard to leave behind. There are great country clubs, tennis clubs, wealthy organizations and beautiful neighborhoods that freeway flyers never see. They have no idea about the amazing quality of life, and benefits, of living here—in spite of the heat in the summer, and Tule fog in the winter. Its extremes in climate and wealth (from poverty to extreme wealth) are responsible for its dramatic history and stories. As I continued to dream of retiring elsewhere, I finally decided that the reason I have been “stuck” here is that I need to tell the dramatic stores I have been privy to: crimes, affairs, crooked and clever politics, but mainly the personal dramas I have observed.
OP: How did you get your book published?
S.C.: During the years I have been writing this book, and especially during the race to finish it in 2020, I have continued to peruse publishers, the length of time the publishing process might take, while continually returning to the terms proposed by Outskirts Press. Knowing that I would be in complete control of the contents of my book and the story I need to tell, I opted for this company. They have a solid history of sound practices, and well-oiled promotional plans. At this point in the process, I have been very happy with Outskirts Press.
OP: What types of readers would be interested in this story?
S.C.: If you read the review by Peter Freedman in the front pages of the book, I think you’ll see that this book should appeal strongly to anyone familiar with Bakersfield: residents of this fine town (of many nationalities and ethnicities), Hollywood writers and producers, and anyone who likes western history. The story starts in 1846 and concludes in the year 2011, and it includes authentic mob influences (establishing Las Vegas and reaching into the valley), Italian farmers, big-time oil and agricultural corporations, and more. It has both a small-town vibe and an international community of investors in the various industries. Always, there are strong communities—Native Americans, Chinese, Italian, Basque, Mexican, African Americans, and Middle Easterners. You can see that anyone who knows anything about Bakersfield might be curious to read about some familiar and salacious history.
OP: What is special about your book?
S.C.: The authentic Bakersfield shows through: the historic wild west, the influences of the U.S. South (King Cotton), country-western music, the hidden resources such as oil and agriculture, and a continual connection to the Los Angeles/Hollywood community. The real crimes are recognizable, though they have been fictionalized to protect both the guilty and innocent. My book contains authentic sexual relationships, ladies of the night, and extramarital affairs—many of them known to community leaders who will recognize the inferences.
OP: What differentiates it from other books in the same category?
S.C.:What sets Cookesville apart are the real stories of Bakersfield that have not been exposed before. As already stated, people I have known through years of socializing, working and being involved in the legal community will recognize many of the stories. Much like the book/movie, The Help, I am already being contacted by friends who are telling me whose story they recognize, and asking me who some of the others represent. I knew this would be a fun project, and it is certainly proving to be so.
OP: Have you published any other books? Do you plan to publish more?
S.C.:Yes. My first book was entitled, Daughters of Juno, Chronicle I; Matilda of Argyll. It was published in 2003 by Pentland Press. Before they went out of business, I republished the book with University Press of the South in 2007 as Matilda of Argyll—after re-editing the book and removing the introductory paragraph—in order to have it stand on its own, not as a series.
OP: How can someone learn more about your book or purchase it?
S.C.: There is a lengthy summary about this book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I will be advertising through digital billboards around Bakersfield soon, and hopefully beyond Kern County in the not-too-distant future. Also, I hope to be interviewed by you, on your Blogsite!
OP: Thanks for your time, S.C.! We look forward to learning more about you as you visit other bloggers!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
S.C. Burns has been a teaching historian at the college/university level for 26 years. Her scholarship and research focus on hot-button social issues, and her search for authenticity in history and fiction has led her across Europe and Latin America. A native of northwestern Kentucky, Burns has lived in Orange County, CA, San Francisco and British Columbia, Canada. She eventually settled in Bakersfield, CA where she raised her three children.
For more information or to contact the author, visit https://www.outskirtspress.com/CookesvilleUSA
This author purchased the Virtual Book Tour marketing option, which allows self-publishing authors to connect with bloggers and harness the power of the blogosphere by taking their book on the “virtual road.” Learn more about this service by visiting your Publishing Center and reviewing the available marketing options.
Are you an author looking for help to market your self-published book?