On this site:
Montana's Enduring Frontier
Small Town Bound
John Clayton speaks at conferences,
libraries, bookstores, and other venues. To have John speak at your event, you can email him directly (info [at] johnclaytonbooks.com)
or use a speakers' bureau (see links below).
Here's what folks have
said about John's talks:
Lockhart is a well-known figure at the American Heritage Center (AHC),
University of Wyoming. Her
papers, which are held at the AHC, are popular with students and the public
I had never known Lockhart to 'come alive' as she did during John Clayton's
presentation about her passions and her foibles. I left Mr. Clayton's
presentation feeling that I had met the person behind the papers in her
Waggener, American Heritage Center
John Clayton's lecture and slide show about his new book, Cowboy
Girl, is a great history lesson, wonderful
entertainment, and a fascinating biography of rancher, journalist, Western
author, and 'cowboy girl,' Caroline Lockhart. The Carbon County
History Museum hosted one of John's first lectures about Lockhart to a
standing-room-only, very enthusiastic audience of community members and
history buffs. Filled
with humor, interesting stories, wonderful photographs, and fine scholarship,
Clayton's lectures are a welcome addition to our knowledge of the history
of Carbon County, of Montana, and of the West."
Redli, Carbon County Historical Society
is a mesmerizing speaker. John
and Cowboy Girl were a big hit.
in an outdoor park, preceded by a parade of cowgirls, and his tales of
Caroline Lockhart wowed the crowd."
Ennis, Friends of the Madison Valley Public Library
Red Lodge Friends of the Library asked John Clayton to be our guest speaker
at our annual dinner this year. We were not disappointed! John's speech
was not only as interesting and engrossing as his book The Cowboy
Girl: the Life of Caroline Lockhart,
but he also tailored his speech just for us by describing the paths of
his research for the book and the many libraries he visited."
Owen, Red Lodge Friends of the Library
John's talks include:
The Ghost Metropolis of Mossmain. Offered through the
Speakers Bureau of HumanitiesMontana.
This presentation tells the story of Mossmain, a metropolis conceived by
Billings (Mont.) financier Preston B. Moss (1863-1947) and designed by world-famous
landscape planner Walter Burley Griffin. As "the first garden city in America,"
Mossmain would have integrated agriculture and urban life to create a
Chicago-style metropolis east of Laurel. Mossmain busted before it could boom.
But its story has interesting implications for how we view Montana's 1920s
homesteading bust, as well as the changing relationships Montanans have had with
the economy, nature, and community.
Happily Ever Aftering
on a Montana Cattle Ranch. Offered through the
Speakers Bureau of HumanitiesMontana.
When Caroline Lockhart moved to her homestead in Dryhead, Montana, in 1926, she
was trying to enact in real life the sort of "happily ever after" experience she
had described in her Western fiction. Though little-known today, Lockhart
(1871-1962) in the 1910s wrote six novels, three of which were made into movies,
and all of which culminated in the hero retiring to a cattle ranch. Lockhart
based her novels on her real-life experiences -- and vice-versa. So can a single,
liberated woman with a tendency to romanticize succeed at running a 1920s
Neonatives in Montana. A "neonative," as conceived by the late
historian Hal Rothman, is a person who moves to his or her "hometown" as an
adult. The neonative's relationship to that community is almost as strong and
complex as -- though quite different from -- that of the native. Often neonatives
come to a place for its qualities, but inadvertently change it into the place
they left behind. Is that good or bad? How have neonatives affected your
community, or Montana as a whole?
The Cowboy Girl. An introduction to the book The Cowboy
Girl: The Life of Caroline Lockhart,
including how John got interested in the story; a summary of Lockhart's
career, importance, and character; and dramatic readings from the book. Illustrated
speech, 20-60 minutes, for general audiences.
The Library Boy. A behind-the-scenes look at how John researched
The Cowboy Girl
in libraries around the country. The speech then builds on those experiences
to discuss the importance of libraries to not just this book, but the
lives of individuals and communities. Dramatic reading, 45
minutes, for library fundraising events.
The Biographer's Complication.
Benefits and perils of writing in the
genre of biography. How do you craft a person's life? How do you find
the material? And how do you market the book? Lecture/discussion,
15-45 minutes, for literary festivals and writing workshops.
Finding and Structuring
Narrative Nonfiction. How do you write
a nonfiction story that reads like a novel? Your most crucial choices
come long before you start writing. In this workshop, with time for experimentation
and discussion, John helps writers find a meaningful story, and structure
it in ways that pay off for readers. Lecture/discussion with exercises,
45-90 minutes, for writing workshops.
First, Kill the Editor. A discussion, with guided exercises, of
how writers can improve their productivity, creativity, and accuracy by
separating the brain's functions. (Don't worry, editors, you get fully
resurrected by the end of the session.) Lecture/discussion
with exercises, 45-90 minutes, for writing workshops.
The Lady Writer and
the Lady Doc. An examination of the
feud between Caroline Lockhart and Dr. Frances Lane, immortalized in Lockhart's
novel The Lady Doc. Their mutual
hatred polarized the town of Cody, Wyoming, and for over 100 years people
have been wondering what drove them apart. John draws out the feud's implications
for today's most controversial political issues. Illustrated speech,
20-60 minutes, for diversity audiences.
John speak at your event, email info [at] johnclaytonbooks.com