Old Hickory Lane, a Novel

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Old Hickory Lane, a novel by D. L. Keur writing as E. J. RuekWHAT’S THIS NOVEL ABOUT?

Raised white, half Cree, Warren Jeffreys, D.V.M., is gifted with animals, but not very people savvy.

Struggling to survive his first year in private practice, bad luck and worse judgment lands him broke and homeless, camping out with vagrants and vagabonds. He’s cleansing cows and cutting up dead lambs inside bawling ewes—an animal mechanic working for a small-time veterinary service in rural North Idaho.

Filled with intense, critical emergencies, all of them based on true cases, the book has been “vetted” by modern, practicing veterinarians. It’s the animals that make you really pull for Dr. Warren Jeffreys, because, despite his best attempts not to, he cares. A lot. And, because he cares, because he competes against death, regardless the odds, he makes a difference. Unfortunately, the often cantankerous farm folk he serves don’t always appreciate his efforts and skill. Nor do they trust him, the “too tall, long-haired Injun.” Warren truly is a man without a home, with a foot in two worlds, but welcome in neither until he learns to trust his own heart.

YEARS IN THE WRITING

This novel took years to write.  I consistently avoided writing certain scenes–the most critical and emotional ones–because it was soul-searing to plunge into the midst of their moment-to-moment crises.  Faced with either abandoning the novel completely or finishing it, I chose  to make myself finish the missing scenes and finalize the manuscript.

And, once done and in the hands of aforementioned practicing veterinarians, their veterinary staff, and a handful of beta readers, the reception the book got was jaw-dropping.  Everyone was genuinely riveted by it.  Emotionally captivated, Dr. C. called me late one night weeping in shock as she neared the end of the story.  She was devastated and enraptured, grieving and joyful, simultaneously.  It was a very good feeling for me to know that, what I’d set out to do, I’d managed to do ten times better than hoped…because everyone, absolutely everyone, had the exact same reaction: “What happens next?  When are you going to write the sequel?”

It’s in process. It’s titled Come-Back Road