Wilkinson, David Marion 1957-
WILKINSON, David Marion 1957-
Born 1957, in Malvern, AR; son of Martin (a Presbyterian minister and petroleum engineer) and Alice (self-employed; maiden name: Johnson) Wilkinson; married Bonnie D. Bratton (an attorney); children: Dean, Tate. Ethnicity: "Scotch-Irish; French." Education: University of Texas—Austin, B.A., 1980.
Writer. Has worked variously as a carpenter, legal investigator, mortgage loan officer, and oil field worker domestically and abroad.
Western Writers of America, Ozark Creative Writers (vice president), Writers League of Texas.
Violet Crown Award, Writers League of Texas, 1997, for Not between Brothers: An Epic Novel of Texas; Spur Award for short fiction, Western Writers of America, 2000, for "Opening Day"; Oklahoma Book Award finalist, Oklahoma Center for the Book, and Spur Award, Western Writers of America, both 2003, both for Oblivion's Altar.
Not between Brothers: An Epic Novel of Texas, Boaz Publishing Company (Albany, CA), 1996.
The Empty Quarter, Boaz Publishing Company (Albany, CA), 1998.
Oblivion's Altar: A Novel of Courage, New American Library (New York, NY), 2002.
Only One Ranger, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2004.
Contributor of short fiction to publications such as ReadWest Online Magazine.
David Marion Wilkinson draws upon his personal experiences and historical facts of life in the American West to fuel his novels and short stories. An award-winning Western novelist, Wilkinson's first book, Not between Brothers: An Epic Novel of Texas, was the recipient of the Violet Crown Award from the Writers League of Texas. The book covers four decades of early Texas history during a time when immigrants were trying to stake out a piece of Texas land while coming into conflict with the Indian tribes who already lived there. In the story, Remy Fuqua arrives in Texas, practically penniless, and proceeds to make his fortune by sheer force of will. He marries into a prominent Mexican family, becomes a father, and establishes a wealthy ranch. But he knows the dangers in the area and is prepared to do what he must to protect his family and property.
In contrast, Penateka warrior Kills White Bear has experienced first-hand the downfall of his people and his way of life. Disease, the destruction of once-rich hunting areas, and the continuing expansion of settlers have deprived his tribe of what once was theirs without question. Angry and resentful, Kills White Bear finds no room in his life for the Anglos or Mexicanos, and realizes there will be no peace between them. War is inevitable, as is the meeting between Kills White Bear and Remy Fuqua.
"For me, the story is a look back at a young America before her bloody boundaries were drawn," Wilkinson said in a statement on his Web site. His deep research required him to "read sixty non-fiction, historical, and primary source works in order to write my own," Wilkinson said. "I strove for historical accuracy first and foremost."
Though the book had the potential for controversy in its portrayals, Wilkinson did not seek to glamorize or apologize for any of his characters. "The intent was for the reader to see how things were, and then judge for him or herself," Wilkinson commented on his Web site. He wanted readers to see the world in which their ancestors lived, to find the dignity and courage the early Texas residents possessed, and to "forgive them for their faults," Wilkinson remarked. In the end, Wilkinson described Not between Brothers as "an American story of determination, healing, and hope against all obstacles and all odds." The book has also been optioned by actor Kevin Costner's Tig Productions for a potential television miniseries.
Wilkinson's second novel, The Empty Quarter, is based on his experiences working in the oilfields of Saudi Arabia and the North Sea. "It's not often that a writer has the opportunity to draw upon a life-changing experience to mold years later into a work of fiction," Wilkinson wrote on his Web site. The book's main character, Logan Wilson, clings tenaciously to the lifestyle of an oilfield worker in the Rub Al Khali desert, a life that he has long known, until events in the novel jolt him powerfully from his entrenched life. A similar experience propelled Wilkinson himself from the oil-rich desert sands. "It took a disastrous upheaval to drive me from that dark and empty place, the story of which forms the core of the novel I now offer you," Wilkinson commented.
Wilkinson returned to the Western genre with his third novel, Oblivion's Altar. During the sixty-year timespan of the novel, covering 1776 to 1839, Wilkinson presents an "entertaining, imaginative, and historically informed story" that examines the U.S. government's "ruthless displacement of the Cherokee Nation from its Georgia homeland," wrote James S. McWilliams in the Austin Chronicle. Ridge, a Cherokee chieftain born Ka-nung-da-tla-geh, or The Man Who Walks the Mountaintops, is a prominent farmer who believes the treaties and words of conciliation offered by then-president Andrew Jackson. But Jackson, named Sharp Knife by the Cherokee, has no intention of honoring the treaties or helping the tribe in a bitter, vicious land battle against the U.S. government. Ridge attempts to resist the land-grab through peaceful means and strategic resistance rather than through bloodshed, a stance that jeopardizes his reputation within the Cherokee community. Education becomes Ridge's weapon; he sends his son John off to an East Coast missionary school, where the boy becomes a lawyer. John takes the fight for Cherokee lands to the government's own favorite battlefield and wins cases for the Cherokee in the courts. However, the victories are blatantly ignored by the government; the tribe is forced from its lands in a violent displacement that initiates the Trail of Tears and the difficult migration of Indians westward.
"Ridge is a tragic hero, a good man who did everything he could to protect his people," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer, but a hero who is ultimately doomed by betrayal by both the white men he trusted and the Cherokee people he championed. "Wilkinson's tale packs a strong emotional punch" in its depiction of Ridge's defeat and the historically accurate portrayal of the Cherokee displacement and the origin of the Trail of Tears, the Publishers Weekly critic continued. "Wilkinson effectively, and at times brilliantly, illuminates the blood and guts of a Cherokee history seen from West to East," McWilliams observed.
Wilkinson's short story, "Opening Day," appeared in ReadWest Online Magazine and was the winner of the 2000 Spur Award for short fiction from the Western Writers of America.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Austin Chronicle, November 15, 2002, James S. McWilliams, review of Oblivion's Altar.
Publishers Weekly, October 21, 2002, review of Oblivion's Altar, p. 56.
David Marion Wilkinson Home Page,http://www.dmarionwilkinson.com (July 14, 2003).
Nashville Public Radio WPLN,http://www.wpln.org/ (July 14, 2003), biography of David Marion Wilkinson.
ReadWest Online Magazine,http://www.readwest.com/ (July 14, 2003), profile of David Marion Wilkinson.*