Black Bart Reborn
About the Author: Following a previous life,
author Steve Bartholomew has turned his
attention to telling stories about the Old West
during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Bartholomew has discovered there are thousands
of untold stories to be found in old newspapers,
magazines, and sometimes even history books.
The stories he writes are mostly fiction, but then
so are a lot of history books. He has learned that
what people most value are not the bare bone
facts of the past, but the stories we tell about
them. Steve (whose friends mostly refer to him as
"Bart") derives his idea from listening to people,
walking around old neighborhoods, and from a lot
As for his previous life, he had an undistinguished
career in civil service. His first actual job was in the
U.S. Army. Someday he may write a book titled
"All I Need to Know I learned in the Army." He
now lives in a rural part of northern California,
where he likes to listen to folks and look at trees.
When Black Bart left prison he
figured he'd had enough of
crime and Wells Fargo. After
all, he'd got time off for good
behavior, and only had to do
time for robbing one stage
coach out of the twenty-eight
he had held up. Bart thought
he would try his hand at mining
once again, and maybe settle
down later by running a
pharmacy. He also had plans
for the woman he loved,
Magdalena Ramos. Those were
his plans. What he didn't figure
on was the man who had put
him in San Quentin to begin
with, Detective James Hume.
Nor did he plan on meeting his
old nemesis, Jason Sutliffe who
had started Bart on his life of
A month after leaving prison,
Bart was determined to vanish
from the Earth and from
history. The official records say
he did. This book is a tale of
where he might have gone, and
what he might have done. It is
not history. It is a story.
Steve Bartholomew Does Black Bart.
by Richard Sutton
Author Steve Bartholomew in animated discussion.
Today, I'm sharing an interview with one of my favorite authors, Steve Bartholomew. He
is an amazing storyteller working mostly with subjects set in the Old West. Steve is
quite prolific and I'm glad to say I've read and reviewed several of his titles to date, so
when I hear a new one was being launched soon about a notorious hold-up man, I had
to find out more. Black Bart is all well and good, but who is this guy Steve
Steve tells me he was born a long time ago, in Minnesota. His parents had the good
sense to move to California when he was about a year old. "My mother said that was
because it was twenty below for three months straight." She sounds like an intelligent,
He says he got his real education in the US Army, then spent four years in college
listening to people talk. I remember the listening part from my own college years. He's
lived in Mexico City and New York a few years, then he returned to San Francisco.
Probably for the seafood. He had a career in Government service which probably
wouldn't interest any readers, so I won't go into that here.
Q: Growing up in California, I remember stories of Black Bart. He was supposedly the
most successful stage coach robber of all time. Is that accurate? I know that California
was rife with highwaymen, especially during and after the Gold Rush days.
A: One might debate about who was the most successful thief, but BB robbed 28 stage
coaches that we know about. That's probably a record. He only did time for his last
robbery because it was the only one they could prove in court. Unlike most of the other
thieves and robbers, both in Government and on the road, Bart never showed any trace
of viciousness. He never hurt anyone, and always carried out his crimes with an
unloaded shotgun and with the greatest courtesy.
Q: Black Bart Reborn, like all of your work I've read, reveals how corrupt the banking
and corporate powers were at the time. The links between California's Politics and that
of Neighboring Nevada seem particularly murky with everyone's hands in everyone
A: Yes; it could be argued that our modern society is even more corrupt, given the
billions done away with by banking cartels. I have no wish to debate the politics of that
question: it's just the way things are. Somehow society continues to function, more or
Q: This novel features a couple of extremely sharp, even devious woman characters.
Was this unusual in the day, or do they portray a type of entrepreneurial female
character that wasn't uncommon?
A: There were many powerful, creative women in the Old West who provided a major
driving force, even though they couldn't vote. Lately I have become interested in the
young women telegraph operators. That occupation was one that helped liberate
women from the life of housewives or school mar'ms. One reason they were hired was
that the head of Western Union believed women have more sensitive fingers than men.
So they moved out to remote whistle stops in the prairie, surrounded by coyotes, Wild
Indians and bandits-and practically ran the railroads.
Q: I know you do a great deal of research when working on a new novel, so I have to
ask, was Bart's loot ever recovered?
A: Not a dime. His story was that he'd lost it all in the stock market. I have a theory he
might have sent some of it back to his estranged wife and family in Missouri.
Q: When I read Historical Fiction, I'm always struck by how our society seems to be
unable to truly absorb enough of the lessons from past mistakes to prevent them
recurring. Do you think this is a human issue, or one seen more in the governmental
A: Well, the Government is run by humans as far as I know, though there are folks who
have a different theory about that. Why do people keep rebuilding in flood plains, or
under volcanoes? If at first you don't succeed, etc.
Q: Well, that certainly opens up a whole Pandora's Box of questions, but more
on-subject, what's next on your agenda? Should your readers prepare for a shift of
genre, or a breakout subject or character?
A: At the moment I have two completed books with a publisher, awaiting appraisal. One
is about old San Francisco, the other, recently finished, takes place during the creation
of the Transcontinental Railroad. I have had a few other diversions from the Western
Historical genre. My second novel was a story of the paranormal, Chapel Perilous. Last
year I published a YA novella, Ariella. However, my main interest is in the living history
of California and Nevada, the places I know best. If you want to read something truly
fantastic, pick up any history book.
Here is a list of Steve's work, and an online resource where it can be purchased in print
and eBook formats:
Black Bart Reborn:
The Terrorist Plot at Gopherville:
Ariella, an heroic tale: http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/medieval-fantasy/5774
Chapel Perilous: http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/paranormal-fantasy/5685
Journey to Rhyolite: http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/western-historical-fiction/3437
Gold, a tale of the California Gold Rush:
The Woodcutter: http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/western-historical/3185
The Imaginary Emperor:
The Inventor: http://www.stevebartholomew.com/#!books/cnec
Spirit Catcher: http://www.stevebartholomew.com/#!books/cnec
Tunnel 6: http://www.stevebartholomew.com/#!books/cnec