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Champlin, Tim 1937–

Champlin, Tim 1937–

(John Michael Champlin)


Born John Michael Champlin, October 11, 1937, in Fargo, ND; son of John B. (a veterinarian) and Elizabeth I. (a teacher) Champlin; married Ellen Hosey (an artist), October 26, 1967; children: Christopher, Kenneth, Liz. Education: Middle Tennessee State College (now University), B.S., 1960; George Peabody College for Teachers, M.A., 1964. Politics: "Independent, but mostly Democrat." Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, sailing, tennis, coin collecting.


Home—Nashville, TN.


Writer. U.S. Department of the Interior, recreation resource specialist in Ann Arbor, MI, 1967-68; Stewart Air Force Base, Smyrna, TN, civilian youth director, 1968-70; Veterans Administration, Nashville, TN, veterans' benefits counselor, 1970-77, supervisor, 1977-94. Military service: U.S. Naval Reserve, radar operator, 1955-63.


Western Writers of America.


Citation from Catholic Press Association, 1978, for article "The Irish Travelers: Always on the Go, but Seldom Changing."



Summer of the Sioux, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1982.

Dakota Gold, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1982.

Staghorn, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1984.

Shadow Catcher, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1985.

Great Timber Race, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1986.

Iron Horse, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1987.

Colt Lightning, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1989.

King of the Highbinders, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1989.

Flying Eagle, M. Evans (New York, NY), 1990.

The Last Campaign, Thorndike Press (Thorndike, ME), 1996.

The Survivor, Thorndike Press (Thorndike, ME), 1996.

Deadly Season, Five Star (Unity, ME), 1997.

Swift Thunder, Five Star (Unity, ME), 1998.

Lincoln's Ransom, Five Star (Unity, ME), 1999.

Tombstone Conspiracy, Five Star (Unity, ME), 1999.

Treasure of the Templars, Five Star (Unity, ME), 2000.

Wayfaring Strangers, Five Star (Unity, ME), 2000.

A Trail to Wounded Knee, Five Star (Unity, ME), 2001.

Iron Trail, G.K. Hall (Thorndike, ME), 2001.

Raiders of the Western & Atlantic, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2002.

The White Lights Roar, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2003.

Fire Bell in the Night, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2004.

Territorial Rough Rider, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2004.

Devils' Domain: Far from the Eye of God, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2005.

The Blaze of Noon, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2006.

Cold Cache, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2007.

Contributor of stories and articles to magazines, including Bay and Delta Yachtsman, All Outdoors, Encounter, American Way, Louis L'Amour Western Magazine, Seek, Great West, and Gracious Living.


Tim Champlin, born John Michael Champlin, has written several well-received westerns. Tackling historical events such as the battle between rail companies for control of the West (Iron Trail) and the clashes between American Indians and U.S. forces in South Dakota in the 1800s (Summer of the Sioux, Champlin's first novel), the author creates detailed western sagas that often incorporate unusual plot developments. Most of Champlin's stories are narrated by Matt Tierney, a young reporter for the Chicago Times-Herald. A Twentieth-Century Western Writers contributor praised Champlin's "technique of complicating his novels with incredible, surprising sub-plots." The Twentieth-Century Western Writers contributor also wrote: "Champlin's readers are more than satisfied with his intricate, complex, historically accurate narratives."

Champlin's westerns have been well received by the critics both for their stories and historical accuracy. For example, the novel The Survivor was called a "brisk and satisfying read" by a Publishers Weekly contributor. The novel tells the story of a French prisoner, Marcel Dupre, who escapes from the island of St. Joseph off the coast of French Guiana and then heads to the American West. He soon finds himself hunted by the French government and Wells Fargo, who was hired by the French because they fear that Dupre's memoir will expose the government's harsh treatment of prisoners. Wes Lukowsky, writing in Booklist, called The Survivor "a strong effort that deserves a strong recommendation."

In Lincoln's Ransom, Champlin bases his novel on a true story of a man who took Abraham Lincoln's remains and held them for ransom. "This is an entertaining romp for western fans young and old," wrote Budd Arthur in Booklist. The White Lights Roar revolves around the theft of valuable Krag rifles being shipped by train. When the train line's owner, James Whitlaw, is accused of stealing them himself, he sets out to find the rifles and soon forms an unusual alliance with Irish Republican Brotherhood member Tommy Gasheen, who wants the rifles to fight the English. Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky called The White Lights Roar a "character-driven adventure in which personal vindication is at odds with … issues of freedom and revolution."

Champlin tells the story of Lieutenant Thaddeus Coyle in A Trail to Wounded Knee. Disgraced and court-martialed, Coyle is drummed out of the Army and ends up at Wounded Knee in the Dakota Territory, where he learns of the Indians' ritual known as the Ghost Dance. "The characters are memorable and the historical detail compelling," wrote Wes Lukowsky in Booklist.

Champlin once told CA: "I have wanted to write ever since I was a little boy. At the age of twelve, I attempted to write a mystery similar to the ‘Hardy Boys’ books. I quit about two hundred handwritten pages into it, when I got my heroes into such a jam that I couldn't get them out.

"I started writing for publication in 1970, and had some success. I grew up in North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Arizona, and loved western history. In 1977 I decided to attempt a western historical novel. Summer of the Sioux was the result.

"The western novels and short stories I have written are all set in the period between 1876 and 1890. From Indian campaigns to gold mining to riverboat trade to lumbering, I am attempting to portray aspects of frontier America as they really existed. In researching these things, I try to make my books more adventurous than violent. Certainly there was violence on the frontier, but it wasn't always the six-gun violence we have come to expect in western novels. There was the violence of the blizzard, of the plagues of grasshoppers, of prairie fires, and of epidemics of cholera. There were stampedes and mine cave-ins, accidental drownings, and broken bones from breaking horses.

"I see the American frontier west primarily as a huge, ever-changing block of space and time in which an individual had more freedom than the average person has today. True, it was a freedom to fail as well as to succeed, but the opportunities were there. A person then was not crushed by the burdens of personal income tax, a thirty-year mortgage, and the worry of trespassing on someone else's property if he stepped off his own. For the most part, the population was widely spaced and transient. It was an era of building, of boom and bust and boom again. The resources and the future seemed unlimited. For those brave, and sometimes desperate, souls who ventured west looking for a better life, it must have been an exciting time to be alive. If I can capture even a little of this on paper for current readers I will be satisfied."



Twentieth-Century Western Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991.


Booklist, November 15, 1996, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Survivor, p. 569; June 1, 1999, Budd Arthur, review of Lincoln's Ransom, p. 1789; April 15, 2001, Wes Lukowsky, review of A Trail to Wounded Knee, p. 1532; October 15, 2003, Wes Lukowsky, review of The White Lights Roar, p. 388.

Publishers Weekly, January 29, 1996, review of The Last Campaign, p. 87; October 28, 1996, review of The Survivor, p. 58; September 29, 1997, review of Deadly Season, p. 68; May 29, 2000, review of Wayfaring Strangers, p. 54.

Roundup Magazine, April, 1996, review of The Last Campaign, p. 25; December, 1996, review of The Survivor, p. 24; December, 1997, review of Deadly Season, p. 29; February, 2000, review of Lincoln's Ransom, p. 32; April, 2000, review of Tombstone Conspiracy, p. 32; October, 2000, review of Wayfaring Strangers, p. 32; December, 2000, review of Treasure of the Templars, p. 23; June, 2001, review of A Trail to Wounded Knee, p. 39; February, 2003, review of Raiders of the Western & Atlantic, p. 28; December, 2003, review of The White Lights Roar, p. 26; June, 2004, Doris R. Meredith, review of Fire Bell in the Night, p. 38; June, 2006, Lou Rodenberger, review of The Blaze of Noon, p. 42.

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