Keith R. Rees, an author who grew up in the Natchitoches area, has released his latest novel. “Legend at Lanana Creek” is the sequel to the 2007 novella, “Legend Upon the Cane.” It was released Jan. 7 and is available online in paperback and eBook formats.
Rees will attend a reading and book signing Saturday, Feb. 15 in downtown Nacogdoches at The Bosslight bookstore from 1-3 p.m. He also has plans to attend the annual Blueberry Festival in June showcasing his books.
The legend has been told for centuries about how twin Indian brothers were instructed by their father, on his deathbed, to take their tribes and travel for three days in opposite directions. The future of these two brave men, Nakahodot and Natchitos, culminates in the founding of the oldest settlements in Texas and Louisiana, Nacogdoches and Natchitoches. Where “Legend Upon the Cane” followed the life of Chief Natchitos, “Legend at Lanana Creek” follows the life of the other twin brother, Chief Nakahodot.
“Legend at Lanana Creek” is the tale of the courageous chief of the Nacogdoches Indians. It’s a story about the incredible events involving his tribe that lead to the establishment of a Spanish mission in 1716, in what would be become Nacogdoches, the oldest settlement in Texas.
“I think the new book gives the story more depth and to the characters too. It’s an exciting story with action, battles, natural disasters and even romance,” said Rees. “In the first book, I noted on how there are so many similarities between the two towns. They are roughly the same size, they are both college towns (which of course has the friendly rivalry and is the last game of the football season where the schools play for the large statue of Chief Caddo), both have brick-paved streets in the downtown area, the school colors are the same purple and white, and they are both roughly at the same longitude on a map!”
Nakahodot leads his tribe on an arduous trek fraught with peril, but they are rewarded with their new home set in a peaceful area of the Piney Woods between two tranquil streams called Lanana and Banita Creeks. Here they encounter French and Spanish explorers over many years as well as facing natural disasters, famine and other hardships. They also witness the introduction of Christianity to the area by Spanish missionaries. The missionaries are led by Domingo Ramon and the fearless Franciscan priest, Father Antonio Margil de Jesus. By an ironic twist of fate, they are also joined by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, the French explorer who had established the post at Natchitoches only two years before in 1714 alongside Chief Natchitos. The efforts of the three men would result in the historic establishment of the mission called Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in 1716, which would later be the foundation for the settlement called Nacogdoches.
“I grew up in Natchitoches, so I had always heard about the legend of the twin brothers that were the sons of Chief Caddo,” said Rees. “For years as a teen, I had thought about writing a story about the town’s founding, and what it must have been like when Louis de St. Denis and his men came across the tribe there. I started doing research on the idea in 2006 and 2007 and eventually started coming up with fictional characters and a story to go along with the historical data I found. ‘Legend Upon the Cane’ was the result of that work and became my first book in 2007. It’s considered a novella since it is just over a 100 pages, but it is still sold today in Natchitoches and remains my best seller online.”
“I had not really planned on doing a sequel since I knew next to nothing about Nacogdoches, but a couple years ago, my mother had her book club in McKinney, Texas, read my book and discussed it at one of their meetings. The feedback from her group was interesting, with the biggest question being, ‘When was I going to write about the other brother?’ Mom suggested I should seriously consider it. I was still in the midst of writing the One Night Trilogy at the time and found a publisher for the first novel from that series (“One Night in Bangkok”), so I wasn’t paying much attention to the idea of doing another Native American story. But the thought remained into the back of my mind.”
Rees said he has a goal of writing one novel per year, so when 2019 rolled around, he pulled out a copy of “Legend Upon the Cane” and read through it. “I saw that I really skimmed over their childhood and felt I could expand on the twins upbringing much more, as well as their parents. I began to do research online and found that St. Denis also had a hand in helping establish the Spanish mission amongst the Nacogdoches tribe in 1716, two years after settling Natchitoches. That bit of history I was not aware of, so that is when I decided doing a sequel was a good idea. It gave me a way to tie in the first story. So, I began my research more in-depth. I even took a trip to visit Nacogdoches in person last spring. I had been there twice before but many years ago. Just before I visited there earlier this year, a horrible tornado had just struck the area of Alto, Texas, (and destroyed the Caddo State Historic Site there as well) about 20 miles west of Nacogdoches. I drove right down the old El Camino route (Hwy 21) that goes through Alto and witnessed the awful destruction. Unfortunately, lives were lost in the storm as at the time of the storm. There was an event called Caddo Culture Day going on at the state historic site with hundreds of visitors there. I went on to Nacogdoches and did research at the local university, Stephen F. Austin, and also spoke to people at the local chamber of commerce and visitor center. I also visited historical sites in the town and along the El Camino Real highway. I began writing the story in May and finished it in July. There is a special dedication to the people of Alto at the beginning of the book as well.”
Rees has been writing for 25 years in multiple genres, including historical fiction, science fiction, paranormal, young adult fiction and romance and poetry. “Legend at Lanana Creek” is his 10th novel and eighth to be published. He has also released a paranormal ghost story in 2019, “Specter in the Glass.” All his works are available on Amazon.com.
Rees also attended Northwestern State University and Louisiana Tech University, where he graduated in 1992. He resides in Cedar Park, Texas, and has one daughter, Isabella.