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The NY Times wrote an article on Charley Parkhurst, mentions “The Whip”

Overlooked No More:
Charley Parkhurst, Gold Rush Legend With a Hidden Identity

By Tim Arango

A swashbuckling, one-eyed stagecoach driver lived her life disguised as a man. After her death, the revelation that she was a woman provoked widespread astonishment.

An illustration of Charley Parkhurst. She earned the nickname “One-Eyed Charley” after she was kicked in the eye by a horse, which was perhaps startled by a rattlesnake. Credit: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times.

Charley Parkhurst was a legendary driver of six-horse stagecoaches during California’s Gold Rush — the “best whip in California,” by one account.

The job was treacherous and not for the faint of heart — pulling cargos of gold over tight mountain passes and open desert, at constant peril from rattlesnakes and desperadoes — but Parkhurst had the makeup for it: “short and stocky,” a whiskey drinker, cigar smoker and tobacco chewer who wore a black eyepatch after being kicked in the left eye by a horse.

Notes From Machu Picchu – by Karen Kondazian

It was time for me to finally lay eyes on the mystical Machu Picchu, a place I had always heard about in awed tones, by the people who had been there– although I knew little about. I flew from Lima to Cuzco, high in the Andes at more than 10,000 feet above sea level. When I got off the plane, I felt winded, dizzy, had a bad headache. I was told that I had altitude sickness and was handed a hot cup of coca tea. After several cups, I felt light and chipper, myself again (While there, I drank many cups of this delicious brew… outlawed in the U.S. as it comes from the coca leaf – translated by the US immigration as cocaine). It kept me well… It kept me thriving… Without it, I could not have conquered the altitude.

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Cuzco was founded in the 15th century by the Incas, and then later vanquished by the Spaniards. I stayed in an ancient Monastery (1595) the Hotel Monasterio del Cuzco, and at breakfast I heard chanting… beautiful, peaceful chanting – and drank coca tea. Blissful is how I started my day.

Notes From Easter Island by Karen Kondazian

December 12th 2012 arrived quietly behind my back… I had been so busy assisting The Whip to find its own strong wings that there had not been a chance to look forward and dream about my forthcoming trip to South America, Easter Island, Machu Picchu–but unbelievably, it was now in my lap looking up at me.

The moment that I truly realized I was on my journey, I watched Los Angeles disappear through the small airplane window and heard first in Spanish, the emergency instructions, then in English. The next hours on LAN (Lima Airlines) were a Fellini blur of trays of airplane food and wine, tangled airplane blankets and pillows– waiting in strange airports feeling lost, not sure if I was in the right place, the right terminal, the right gate, as no one seemed to speak English…  clocks that seemed to go forward, backward—Finally, seventeen hours, one refueling and 2 planes later, I peered out a now familiar little window, and watched mysterious dark fingers of clouds bleed into the psychedelic orange sunrise. We were heading over a small piece of land that, seemingly, was floating at the very end of the earth. At long last, we were landing… on the most isolated inhabited island in the entire world… the mysterious, mystical Easter Island!

 

 

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The Whip wins USA Book News Best Historical Fiction Award

For Immediate Release
November 2012

USA BOOK NEWS ANNOUNCES
WINNERS AND FINALISTS OF
THE 2012 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS

Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors in the
9th Annual USA Best Book Awards

St. Martin’s Press, Harper Collins, Crown, John Wiley & Sons, Hyperion, McGraw-Hill, Sterling, Llewellyn Worldwide, Tyndale House, Thomas Nelson, Sounds True, Chicago Review Press, NASA, American Cancer Society, and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s Outstanding Competition!

LOS ANGELESUSABookNews.com, the premier online magazine and review website for mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE 2012 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS on November 16, 2012. Over 400 winners and finalists were announced in over 100 categories covering print, e-books and audio books. Awards were presented for titles published in 2011 and 2012.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of USA Book News, said this year’s contest yielded over 1500 entries from mainstream and independent publishers, which were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists.

Award highlights include the following (Full results listing available on USABooknews.com):

Karen Kondazian and Louis L’Amour: A Review

 

reading-the-truth

When the Going Gets Tough

by

Katherine Hauswirth

 

Besides meeting kindred spirits, one of the nicest things about this column is the access to books of all kinds from publishers and publicists. These perks include genres that don’t usually draw me, and I surprised myself when I signed on to read the novel The Whip. Normally reading “a piece of the “Old West” in a cover blurb would have me passing on the book. But this one had a hook.

 Charley Parkhurst, when she was alive, was known far and wide as a brave and highly skilled stagecoach driver. Women didn’t drive stagecoaches, you say? Well, she lived most of her life as a man; it was only after her death that Charley’s gender was discovered, to the incredulous surprise of the “tough guys” who (thought they) knew “him.”

 Author Karen Kondazian found a gem when she found Charley’s story, and she’s done a good job polishing and embellishing it. There isn’t a lot of verifiable information about Charley’s life, and Kondazian discloses up front that she’s made up some historical details. It is a novel, after all. But the draw of the story, for me, was that it was based on someone who must have had one heck of an adventure, whether or not the novel gets the particulars exactly right.

When Karen Met Tennessee

Not many people are aware of the friendship between Karen Kondazian and playwright Tennessee Williams.

Karen and Tennessee Williams

Kondazian would win many awards portraying the powerful, complex women Williams had created. As Serafina in The Rose Tattoo, she won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, portraying the secluded widow in the 1978/1979 revival at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. That February evening in ’79 when Williams attended the production, a young Christopher Reeve was in the audience, along with the great film director Richard Brooks (Sweet Bird of Youth, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) who had directed two of Williams most famous films but had never met Tennessee in the flesh, until that evening.

 

Karen and Ed Harris in “Sweet Bird of Youth”

Tennessee gave a Q&A after the performance and was quoted in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner by reviewer Gardner McKay, thanking Karen for her “staggeringly beautiful performance”. Williams was so smitten by Karen’s performance in Tattoo, that the two became close friends, giving Karen his blessing to produce any of his plays during his lifetime. As a result, she went on to portray Princess Kosmonopolis in Sweet Bird of Youth (1980). Starring with her was a brilliant young actor named Ed Harris. She also acted and produced in the west coast premier of Williams’ Vieux Carre (1983), alongside the extraordinary Ray Stricklyn, who later took his character Mr. Nightingale from the play and created the memorable, award-winning one man show playing Tennessee Williams.

Newest Book Review for The Whip

 

08-31-12: Karen Kondazian Cracks ‘The Whip’

Stages of Identity

There’s always some true story out there that’s stranger than fiction. The question facing a writer is whether or not to tell the story as fiction, or simply write a work of non-fiction. If you choose the latter, you can be limited by what we know of the subject; if that adds up to “not much,” then your book is going to end up being mostly conjecture. But if you choose to fictionalize a real-life “stranger than fiction” story, you run the risk of writing a novel less interesting than reality.

It’s a matter of balance with this sort of material and Karen Kondazian gets the balance right with ‘The Whip,’ a slim, smart western based on the story of Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst. Here’s the backstory; Charley Parkhurst, brought up as an orphan, was a renowned stagecoach driver in California for Wells Fargo (called a “whip,” thus the title) who had runs from Watsonville to Santa Cruz and from San Francisco to Sacramento. When he died in 1879, it was revealed that he had been a woman living as a man for the last 30 years; moreover, evidence showed that Charlotte had at one time borne a child. A small dress was tucked away in a chest. That’s pretty much what we know.

Karen Kondazian at Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch

Karen Kondazian just got back from her book signing party at Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch in Carmel, which was a great success and a lovely event for everyone who attended. She also loved the peaceful, pristine beauty of the Ranch….

 

View From Karen’s porch at Mission Ranch, Carmel

Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch House, Carmel

“Fluffy white lambs graze Eastwood’s property … a herd of all white sheep and one black one, wander the fields … you can sit on the porch in a rocking chair and watch them. I did, with a glass of perfect wine… Bliss.”Karen K.

NBC/ABC Monterey interviewed Karen and talked at length about Charley Parkhurst, the main character in Kondazian’s novel. Turns out Charley used to travel coach runs through Monterey and Salinas all the time back in her day! You can watch the news video in the link below:

NBC/ABC Monterey Highlights Karen Kondazian and The Whip – New novel details legendary Watsonville woman’s life

Karen Kondazian discusses The Whip on CBS Los Angeles

 

The Video will run after a short ad.

STUDIO CITY (CBS) — Author Karen Kondazian stopped by KCAL9 Friday to discuss her new novel, “The Whip”, which details the life of Charley Parkhurst, a woman who spent 30 years in the Old West disguised as a man. Read the full story here.

74th Annual Soquel Pioneer Picnic featuring Karen Kondazian

 If you are in the neighborhood, don’t forget to join Karen at the Soquel Pioneer and Historical Association’s Annual Potluck Picnic on July 28th (Noon – 4pm) for some great Old West food, drink, conversation and fun!

Karen will be signing copies of The Whip, re-telling some of Charley’s adventures and take part in an entertaining Q&A.