Local author's trilogy surrounds murder at the rodeo

September 08, 2012
  • Albert Morningstar of Fayetteville, Pa., has been writing novels for 15 years. He wrote a trilogy of murder mysteries.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Name: M. Albert Morningstar

Age: 65

Cities of residence: Fayetteville, Pa., and Mission, Texas

Occupation: Retired attorney

Book titles in the trilogy: "Murder At The PBR," "Murder At The PRCA" and "Murder At The NFR" (available in the fall)

Genre: Murder mystery

Synopsis: "Murder At The PBR": Injured bull-rider Chance Boettecher finds himself the prime suspect in a series of murders plaguing the lucrative PBR bull riding circuit. Reluctantly forced into the position of amateur detective, Chance must break down the veil of deceit and lies in the hard-living, hard-loving world of professional bull riding. Only by exposing that world as one filled with many of the same issues and ills found throughout society will Chance solve the murders.

"Murder At The PRCA": It's Thanksgiving, the bull-riding season has concluded until the new year, and Chance Boettecher has returned to his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, where a pair of brutal murders threaten the historic PRCA rodeo circuit. Drawn into investigating the crimes in order to clear a bull-riding friend and save the "World Series" of rodeo, he discovers that other friends have motives for murdering the victims, while lacking convincing alibis. Juggling romance with crime solving, Chance finds his own life threatened while en route to uncovering the solutions.

Publisher: Aberdeen Bay

Price: $18.95; ebook, $9.95

What inspired you to write the books?

I had been writing novels for 15 years when I caught a PBR (Professional Bull Riding) event on television. The sport of bull riding excited me immediately. My wife and I attended a number of events around the country including the World Finals in Las Vegas. During that time, I began to play with plot ideas, which developed into my trilogy.

A lot of experts say "Write about what you know." Your dialogue sounds pretty true to a rodeo. How did you come by it?

After becoming interested in the sport, I watched many PBR and rodeo events on television and listened closely to the interviews of the participants. Luckily, I've had occasions to speak with a number of cowboys in my travels as well.

Are there other established authors whose styles are similar to yours?

While I am aware of other novels set in the rodeo world, as far as I know mine are the only mysteries set in that world. As to my actual writing style, I'm sure it is a subconscious conglomerate of all the styles I've read over the course of my life.

What themes did you want to present to readers?

Other than the traditional mystery genre themes I wanted to suggest that the issues and ills of American society permeate all segments of our society. What is happening in urban and suburban America is also occurring in rural America.

What is your favorite part of the book?

I particularly enjoyed writing Chance Boettecher's interactions with the policemen in the stories. With them, I was trying to suggest a contrast of the urban/suburban world with the cowboy world.

What was easy about writing the book?

When I begin to write a mystery I already know the ending. Subject to characters taking over at places and changes occurring along the way, it makes the rough draft easy, merely taking the time necessary to write it. However, the rough draft is stressful and, hence, the least enjoyable phase of the process, because until it is typed into my word processor, I do not know if the story is really going to work.

What was hard?

Ironically, the hardest part is my favorite — rewriting. I love to rewrite, could keep going and never finish. I know, though, that a writer has to stop at some point, which, reluctantly, I do.

Did you learn anything about yourself writing these books?

I have been a reader of fiction since elementary school days. Writing and reading have taught me that I'm a story person. I love to read and create (and watch) stories. During the 15 years I'd been writing before I started "Murder At The PBR," (which was 10 years ago), I'd already written nearly a dozen books, most of which do not deserve to see the light of (publishing) day. In addition to learning that I enjoy rewriting my stories, I learned to be objectively and constructively self-critical of them. And I love every bit of the entire process — with the exception of the stress of the rough draft.

What's next after the trilogy?

In addition to writing novels, I also write short stories for Humps N' Horns Magazine, a bull riding magazine that goes all over the world. (My story header is: "Tales From The Bucking Chute.") A free copy, including one of my stories, can be viewed at In addition to continuing to write stories for Humps N' Horns, I plan on polishing some of the novels I've already written as well as writing a mystery set in the year 1946, the year of my birth, in which I intend to work in much of the social, political and cultural events of the year. It will not be my goal to finish the tome, though I might, because I aim to rewrite the book until I'm too senile to write any more. It should be fun.

Are the books available in the Tri-State area?

My books are available through a number of sources. In the Tri-State area they can be purchased at Dru's Books; N Things and On The Road Books in Waynesboro, Pa.; Pittman's Western Wear, in Greencastle, Pa.; Stickell's General Store in Upton, Pa.; and Frontier Western Wear in Fort Loudon, Pa. Additionally, the books can be ordered at, Books A Million, and Barnes and Noble as well as through my websites: and When the third book of the trilogy has been published it will be available at Finally, the books are available in Kindle form at and Nook form at Barnes and Noble.

— Chris Copley, Lifestyle assistant editor

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