You might say “A Wandering Man” got its start in the 1990s when Robert Liddycoat and his late wife, Barbara, bought a home built around 1900 on North Downing Street in Seaside.
Robert Liddycoat debuts his novel, “A Wandering Man,” based on historical events that took place in Seaside over a century ago.
“My wife began researching the provenance of the house in the county clerk’s archives,” Liddycoat said.
That led her to source materials, including old newspaper stories from The Astorian. Her research led Barbara Liddycoat to the Seaside Museum and Historical Society where she read a newspaper story detailing a shoot out that took place in Seaside in December 1898. “My wife studied everything they had on the incident on microfilm and then she typed everything out. That’s when I became interested.”
An idea for a novel based on verified information began to take form in Liddycoat’s mind. He began studying old maps, historical society archives, timber company brochures, newspaper stories about gunslingers and shoot-outs, and whatever else that seemed pertinent.
His research took him to Baker City where he read about a real life sheriff who became a character he wrote into the story. Characters based on real people from that period gradually began to come alive.
In April 2017 Barbara Liddycoat died. But her parting gift to her husband was the idea she gave him for a story, and he strongly felt her influence urging him to write it.
The result is “A Wandering Man,” published by Inkwater Press in Portland.
This story covers 13 years in the life of a young man named Jacob Scot, Liddycoat said, leading up to his role in a bloody shoot-out reported in the Astorian newspaper on December 31, 1898.
Reprinted at the end of the book is the original article that ran in the Daily Astorian on December 31, 1898, headlined “Tragedy at Seaside: Three Men Killed and One Hurt in a Desperate Fight.”
The novel’s narrative traverses the Oregon locations of Baker City, Austin, Clarno and Golden. The finale takes place in the area of modern day Seaside where the Necanicum River runs towards the sea at the cove under Tillamook Head, before circling back inland to Circle Creek.
Historical settings in Seaside mentioned in the book include the Grimes Hotel, the Grimes railroad station, the H.F. Logan Saloon, Carlson’s Cottage and Lewiston’s Cottage, as well as the actual building now known as the Bridge Tender.
“Seaside is a good place for a writer,” Liddycoat said. “You stay in the chair because of the bad winter weather and there’s nothing like looking out on the ocean for inspiration.”
Liddycoat no longer resides at the Downing Street address. He now enjoys an ocean view in Seaside.
He wasn’t always a writer.
“This book started out as a hobby, but after retirement it turned into a fascinating undertaking which I couldn’t stop thinking about,” he said.
He became obsessed with his creation, Jacob Scot, a young man with no place special to go and nothing special to do. Scot learns to shoot and his skill and integrity are tested. As he wanders, the stakes get higher.
In December 1898, when Seaside was a fledgling resort city, Scot becomes reacquainted with his long lost love, and “a man who it will take more than a bullet to kill,” Liddycoat writes.
But kill him he must because the fate of the people Scot cares about hangs in the balance.
Stay tuned for local readings and book signings.
“A Wandering Man” can be purchased at Beach Books as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Inkwater Press website at Inkwaterpress.com.
Later this summer Liddycoat’s second book is due out, a novel called “Hit + Run.”
“This second book is about small town terrorism and the effect it has on two recent retirees in Gladstone, Oregon,” Liddycoat said.
Also based on a true life event, this second book assures Liddycoat’s position as a noteworthy writer of historical fiction.