James Blackshear has written two books on the Southwest, one about land grant history in New Mexico entitled Honor and Defiance: A History of the Las Vegas Land Grant in New Mexico (Santa Fe: Sunstone Press, 2013), the other a social history of life on frontier forts, as well as an investigation of the Hispanic traders known as Comancheros. This second book is Fort Bascom: Soldiers, Comancheros and Indians in the Canadian River Valley (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016)Blackshear has published articles about similar subjects in both the New Mexico Historical Review and the Military History of the West, and occasionally reviews books for scholastic journals. He is also published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series.He teaches U.S. History at the UNT Dallas Campus, and Texas History at the Plano Campus of Collin College in North Texas. His current research includes the Comanchero trade, Comanchero trails, and the links between New Mexican mountain people and Plains Indians.He and his wife purchased land in Pendaries in 1999, and built a cabin, where they spend a couple of months each summer.Below he talks about writing and his specialty as a author of historical nonfiction.
Q. What genre do you work in?
A. Southwestern history, nonfiction
Q. Why that genre?
A. I have always loved history. When my wife and I purchased our property in Pendaries in 1999, the land began to speak, or at least, started asking a lot of questions, which drove me deeper in this direction. One way I answer such questions is through the research process.
Q. What inspires you?
A. My wife, my grandchildren and Pendaries sunsets.
Q. What is your preferred work environment as a writer?
A. My favorite place to write is in our cabin in Pendaries, the Rociada Valley and Pecos Wilderness Mountain Range staring back at me.
Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by the individual?
A. As far as writers go there are several. Three who stand out are Charles L. Kenner, who wrote The Comanchero Frontier, Pekka Hamalainen, The Comanche Empire, and David McCullough, 1776, and numerous others.
Q. What do you most want visitors to the show to know about you as a writer?
A. That New Mexico’s environment has always driven its history. Its topography, weather and rivers have shaped where people live, the economies and trade relationships that developed as a result, and the location of the routes they were created to connect a variety of cultures over several centuries.
Q. Where can you work be purchased?
A. Honor and Defiance can be purchased directly through Sunstone Press in Santa Fe. My book on Fort Bascom can be directly purchased through the University of Oklahoma Press. Also all the major online book services, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, carry these titles.