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Bad Boys Books host W. W. McNeal

Author W. W. McNeal reads pages of his Texas historical fiction novel, “Plum Creek,” Dec. 2 at the Dahlia Woods Gallery.
Author W. W. McNeal reads pages of his Texas historical fiction novel, “Plum Creek,” Dec. 2 at the Dahlia Woods Gallery.
Photo by: Jennifer Chacon | Staff Photographer

W. W. McNeal, author of “Plum Creek” and retired trial lawyer, read from his book on Dec. 2 at the Dahlia Woods Gallery’s Bad Boy Books.

Dahlia Woods, owner of Dahlia Woods Gallery, is proud to be the first independent book store in San Marcos.

“It’s very exciting,” Dahlia Woods said. “We wanted to promote literature and independent books in Texas and since there were no bookstores per say, we collaborated and opened up the book store in April.”

“Plum Creek” is a story about a young boy by the name of Billy McCulloch who is living through the post-civil war era in central Texas.

He and three former Texas Rangers take a journey to save a young girl who had been kidnapped from her family by Comanche Native Americans.

McNeal includes historical context of how people during that time viewed Mexicans and Native Americans and discusses how Billy’s grandfather told him about the battle of Plum Creek.

“I have read the book and it’s a wonderful story.” Jonathan Woods, crime story writer and Dahlia Woods employee said. “It carried me along.”

Friends and fans sold out McNeal’s novel within 30 minutes of the book read.

“It’s really great that everyone turned out for this event,” Jonathan Woods said. “If people still need books, I’d be happy to order them.”

After a couple of years of practicing law, McNeal went through the English Graduate Program at University of Texas and took creative writing and literature courses.

“I’ve written short stories though the years,” McNeal said. “I realized that I was better at writing novels than short stories.”

After several months of waiting for approval from TCU press, he reached out to them via email.

“The next day he sent me an email with an attachment of the report from the outside readers,” McNeal said. “It was like an English professor’s critique and they had a lot of constructive criticism for things that I could do better, but it was one of the best days of my life.”

McNeal said one of his problems while writing Plum Creek was trying to fit in fiction with history.

However, one of the advantages he had in adding the historical context was to add the generational aspect of Texan beliefs was to remember when he was a young boy.

“They all thought that way, and talked that way,” McNeal said. “I remember a lot of people on both sides of my mother’s and father’s families and the way they lived.”

McNeal spent a lot of time doing research for his novel and had visited a public library in Bernard, TX

“It has an amazing amount of history about the local history there,” McNeal said. “A lot of the people in the novel are real.”

The inspiration for one of the African-American characters named Reeder in “Plum Creek” comes from when McNeal was younger. A man who was nicknamed Crip worked for McNeal’s father.

“He used to say ‘I raised him’ and there is one point in the book where Reeder says that about Billy,” McNeal said. “He and some other black men that I knew were the model for Reeder.”