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Twin Passions

How does a writer go from Western history to epic fantasy?

Deborah J. Lightfoot, a native of West Texas, got her love of history from her grandfather, a High Plains cowboy. From her mother, an artist and avid reader, came her love of books and all things mysterious and magical. Dark horsemen entered her imagination through such early influences as the television show Have Gun Will Travel, in which Richard Boone's Paladin was "a knight without armor in a savage land." Small matter that the sophisticated Paladin wielded a six-shooter instead of a sword.

Six-shooters figure in Lightfoot's award-winning books of Western history and biography. Swords and sorcery provide the action in her newest work, Waterspell, a YA/crossover fantasy with medieval overtones and historical background. In combining her twin passions, Lightfoot takes inspiration from movie stuntmaster Yakima Canutt, a former rodeo champion whose horseback stunts in such classic films as Stagecoach and Ivanhoe took him from the Old West to Medieval England.

With a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Texas A&M University, Lightfoot has worked on both sides of the editorial desk for newspapers, magazines, and book publishers. She has freelanced for a national youth organization as a writer-editor, working with subject matter in the biological and environmental sciences. She has taught creative writing at the college level and won many writing awards.

Besides writing, editing, and devouring books, her pleasures include traveling abroad and hiking the Yorkshire moors, Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim National Park, and Mexico's La Primavera Bosque.


"History did not have to happen the way it did . . . what exists today is not its logical conclusion. There is no freedom where history is a straitjacket."

So writes Theodore Zeldin, author of An Intimate History of Humanity. His words neatly pull together Deborah's two ways of looking at, and writing about, history.

The real history—history that happened "the way it did"—appeals to the journalist in her. Searching for old stories, finding the facts along a trail that is not much trodden now: that's like going on a treasure hunt.

You'll find history's true happenings in Deborah's three books of History & Biography (all of them award-winners) featured at left under "Selected Works":

Trail Fever: The Life of a Texas Cowboy (by D.J. Lightfoot)

The LH7 Ranch in Houston's Shadow (by Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore, her "other byline")

A Century in the Works (by Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore, coauthored with the late Simon W. Freese)

For Something Entirely Different: WATERSPELL

These days Deborah is also a novelist, and she loves the freedom of writing fiction that speculates about history as it might have been (or may become). To explore her "speculative history," please visit the website of her fantasy series: Waterspell.

Or read a sample chapter at Goodreads.