Sunday, June 24, 2018

Excerpt, Trailer, and Giveaway! The Captive Boy by Julia Robb

Genre:  Historical Fiction
Date of Publication: December 20, 2015
Number of Pages: 170

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Colonel Mac McKenna's Fourth Cavalry recaptures white captive August Shiltz from the Comanche, only to find August is determined to return to the Indians. McKenna attempts to civilize August to nineteenth century American standards and becomes the boy's foster father. But when August kills another boy in a fight, McKenna rejects him, and August escapes from Fort Richards (Texas). When war with the Comanche breaks out, McKenna discovers August is a war leader – and his greatest enemy.

"THE CAPTIVE BOY by Julia Robb is a story told in a unique way – through journal entries by several different characters, and a novel within the novel. Robb is masterful in her depiction of each character, bringing to life an intriguing tale of the Old West."
-- Writer's Digest competition judge

"It will capture you and keep you engaged from the beginning all the way through the end and also give you insights into the difficulties faced by those who fought on both sides of the Indian Wars in Texas after the Civil War. Buy this book. You will not be disappointed."
-- Steve Mathisen

"Ms. Robb's research is evident on every page. Without becoming bogged down in detail, she employs just enough of it to paint an accurate picture of a dangerous and unforgiving time."
-- Samuel L. Robinson


Excerpt from The Captive Boy
By Julia Robb

    I was sitting by Col. Theodore (Mac) McKenna’s desk when Privates Wilson and Smith dragged the kid through the door.
    They wrestled him to a chair and held him down, trying to tie him up while he fought them, their hands slipping on his greased-up skin.
    The kid wasn’t wearing clothes to speak of, just a breechclout barely covering his privates and deerskin leggings over his tattered moccasins.
    Wood smoke, hot sweat and buffalo robe–which smells like mangy dog–radiated off the boy like heat off a campfire.
    Breathing was difficult, even with the window open. You usually smelled that particular combination of foul odors when parleying in some benighted Comanche lodge.
    Finally, Major Sam Brennan and Sergeant-Major Pruitt helped, and the four of them managed to grab the boy by the shoulders and hold him down in the chair.
    Even then, the kid thought his name was Eka Papi Tuinupu, or red-headed boy; but he was really August Shiltz, son of kraut-eating immigrants who were farming near Fredericksburg when they were murdered and their son taken.
    A neighbor (if you can call someone who lives fifteen miles away a neighbor) took some food to the family, as the Shiltz’s were hard-luck people, and found everyone except August lying in front of the smoking cabin.
    Their naked bodies were white in the sun, scalped, mutilated, the woman and girls raped–which was what the savages always did.
    I never understood how the army spotted August during the raid on the Comanche village, as it was easy to mistake him for a Quahadi (what this band of Comanches call themselves, antelope people).
    Sun had darkened his skin and his red braids were black with dirt and grease.
    Only a close look revealed the Teutonic face; his long nose and long jaws below sharp cheekbones, the thin lips and narrow, defiant blue eyes.
    Also, at sixteen, he was already taller and heavier than most fully-grown Comanche warriors.
    On horseback, the Comanches were magnificent, but standing on level ground with the rest of us they usually failed to exceed five feet six inches tall, much like jockeys one sees at Saratoga, and their bowed legs made them appear even shorter.
    I’ve been to the university at Heidelberg and seen students dueling–their facial scars are marks of honor and proof of their dubious manhood–and August looked just like them; minus the scars.
    As soon as the men dragged August into Mac’s office, I snatched my sketching pencils from my pocket and went to work.
    I still have that sketch, which came in handy a few years later when I wrote about the war: August, perching on the chair like a bound hawk, his eyes slit in rage and fear.
    Colonel McKenna watched the boy, his hands folded on his desk, light from the window shining on his blue cavalry uniform, glinting off the silver eagles sitting on his shoulders.
    Army command sent McKenna to Fort Richards eight months previously to command the Fourth Cavalry. He fought in the War of the Rebellion and was a decorated war veteran, wounded six times and brevetted seven times on the field, climbing from second lieutenant to colonel to brevet major general: Not even George Custer was promoted that rapidly.
    Mac was a handsome man. He had long, thin jaws, a full, well-curved mouth and a square chin.
    Sometimes Mac’s hands shook, like he vibrated inside, though he carried himself like an iron rod on parade. He had a pleasant tenor voice, but it was controlled, as if his feelings were in the guardhouse and he had thrown the key away.
    His men were in terror of him, and for excellent reasons.
    “Are you August Shiltz?” Mac asked.
    No reaction.
    Mac said to Ben Washington, the black Seminole scout standing by his desk, “Tell August if he stops struggling he will not be restrained.”
    You would never mistake Ben for a soldier, or for a regular Seminole, for that matter. The Black-Seminoles were descended from runaway slaves who took refuge with the Seminoles in Florida and sometimes intermarried.
    Ben was typical of that ilk. Kinky hair fell to his shoulders, but his skin was lighter than his slave ancestors. And he had slim lips and Indian cheekbones perching under his eyes like iron bars.
    Mac sat with his hands clasped on his desk, staring at the kid.
    That was another thing about Mac, he didn’t exude warmth or empathy. Cross him in any way and you would live to regret it.
    “You have been identified as August Shiltz, taken from your father’s farm when you were nine years old,” Mac said, waiting while Ben translated.
    August looked coiled to pounce.
    “The raiders killed your parents and your sisters. Do you have other family here in Texas?”
    “How much English do you remember?”


Julia grew up on the lower Great Plains of Texas, eventually became a reporter, and lived in every corner of the Lone Star State, from the Rio Grande to the East Texas swamps. She couldn’t shake images and experiences and began writing them down.
A priest once disappeared on the Mexican border and that inspired parts of Saint of the Burning Heart. She discovered a hypnotic seducer, who she turned into Ray Cortez, the bad guy in Del Norte. Reading about child Comanche captives and their fates made her want to write about a cavalry colonel who attempts to heal a rescued boy, and that turned into The Captive Boy. Finally, what happens to a man who is in love with another man, in a time and place where the only answer is death? That became Scalp Mountain.

Two Readers Each Win a Signed Copy
JUNE 19-28, 2018
(U.S. Only) 

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