Enter the world of Burning Ground. Pennsylvania, 1971: Graham Davidson is a young man with intense survivor’s guilt after the death of three siblings and his tangled feelings of partial responsibility. Seeking life’s direction, Graham learns about vision quests from a Crow Indian called Redfield and embarks on a profound spiritual journey.

Graham finds himself back in time one hundred years in Yellowstone National Park. He joins the Hayden Expedition commissioned to explore the wild region. His perilous journey is marred by a tragedy in a geyser basin, a grizzly bear attack, a nasty lieutenant and an encounter with hostile Blackfeet Indians. Graham complicates his own mission when he falls in love with Makawee, a strong Crow woman who serves as a guide. As the expedition nears its conclusion, Graham must make a choice. Does he stay in the previous century with the woman he loves or travel back to the future?

This author must be a curious soul if he was motivated and excited to tie together so many elements for an epic story. He also must be a deep thinker and, probably, a great lover of the great outdoors. To confirm our suspicions, and ask even more about his inspiration, we had a productive conversation with Mr. D.A. Galloway. Read it below, and read our review here

Q: Why did you write Burning Ground? What got you interested in this time period? Did anything from your background help you bring the story to life? 

A: Some attributes and experiences of the protagonist Graham reflect my own. For example, I am profoundly deaf in one ear. I am also an Eagle Scout and studied forestry at Penn State.

I was fortunate to secure employment with the Yellowstone Park Company during the summer of 1977. It was an ideal job for a college student. I was initially hired as a dock helper at the Bridge Bay Marina but was chosen to be trained to drive tour boats on Yellowstone Lake. On my ‘off days,’ I hitchhiked around the park and explored the remote backcountry. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the mystical, magical place of geysers and grizzlies. I carry this love of Yellowstone with me over forty years later!

Fun fact: the Crow referred to this region of hydrothermal activity as “The Land of Burning Ground,” thus, the name of the novel.

Q: There must have been plenty of research necessary since the book spans vast places and times! How much did you know going in, and how much did you learn along the way? Of everything, you’ve learned, what surprised you the most?

A: While I relied heavily on my experience for the contemporary scenes, there was an enormous amount of research required to write about Yellowstone in 1871. Fortunately, several key members of the Hayden Expedition of that year kept diaries, which formed the basis for what happened to the protagonist Graham as the team traversed around the future park over 38 days. My goal was to blend fact with fiction in a seamless way that would both inform and entertain the reader.

I learned much about the culture of the Crow and grew to respect and admire these proud people. Perhaps the most surprising finding from my research was how close we had come to commercializing this magnificent region. Squatters had already filed land claims in the Mammoth Hot Springs area by the early 1870s and had planned to convert it into a spa! If Congress had not acted on setting aside Yellowstone in 1872, it would almost certainly look much different than the protected park we enjoy today.

Q: Have any of the characters in particular captured your attention or remained in your mind after finishing writing?

A: Rides Alone, the Crow warrior who was initially an enemy (but later an ally) to Graham, was a fascinating character to bring to life. He was the nineteenth-century equivalent of Redfield, Graham’s mentor in the twentieth century before he traveled back in time. Burning Ground is dedicated to Redfield, a Crow Indian I met while a teen in Pennsylvania. He was a remarkably wise and kind man who had an outsized influence on my life. Indeed, the personal relationship between Redfield and Graham (sans the time travel) reflects the memories of my teen years working on the fruit farm with a man I admired greatly.

Q: What are some key insights that you took away from this experience? What are some you’d like readers to take away?

A: Throughout history, there are certain personality traits that make us “human.” People can be deceitful, racist, self-centered and brutal toward one another. But we can also be considerate, compassionate, generous and benevolent toward our fellow man. 

Many historical events in our country highlight the inhumanity of those involved in westward expansion. Some might argue we have evolved into a better form of humanity in the twenty-first century. In my view, modern man still exhibits the same proportion of flaws and positive attributes as our ancestors.

Another key takeaway: you never know where or when you may find friendship or love.

Q: How are you approaching the rest of the series?

A: The Frontier Time Traveler series will be a trilogy. My protagonist, Graham Davidson, will spend time in the same region over the years 1872 – 1877. His adventures will be centered on key historical events in the Montana and Wyoming territories during those years. 

Can Graham and Makawee (the Crow woman with whom he falls in love in Burning Ground) share a life even if they are from two different centuries and dramatically different cultures? Can Graham overcome the guilt he carries from being the lone surviving child in his family? Should Graham use his knowledge of the future to change the course of history or should he knowingly allow hundreds to die? Only time will tell!

Fatal Ground, the second book in the trilogy, will be released in the summer of 2022.

After a long career in the paper industry and writing a bestselling nonfiction book, Safety WALK Safety TALK, Galloway decided to follow a once-dormant dream of writing a novel.

His new fiction novel is inspired by a summer spent in Yellowstone National Park in the late 1970s giving guided tours on Yellowstone Lake. His love for our nation’s first national park is rooted in that wonderful experience. He is currently working on the sequel to Burning Ground, tentatively titled Fatal Ground. He enjoys reading about adventurers and explorers, traveling internationally, riding a recumbent tandem bike and spending time with his grandsons.