Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
PORTALES — Kevin Costner's good friend, author and partner in the collaboration of the movie "Dances with Wolves," Michael Blake, is now currently on a book tour of the nation's public libraries. Blake recently visited Eastern New Mexico University and the Portales Public Library.
In an interview in the Office of Communication Services at ENMU, he said his goal is to enlighten people to get back into the habit of reading. "It is a shame that our country does not embrace the art of reading. We have become a society of spoon-fed commercialized people, fueled by the media and computers. We have become more enamored by reality television then we are with using our imaginations."
Blake was a student at ENMU in 1968 and then went on to graduate from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He said, "In the time that I attended ENMU it was a volatile time in the United States. Everyone was torn apart, choosing either the side of pro-war or anti-war. It was no different on ENMU's campus; most students were faced with choosing sides."
While at ENMU Blake was on the student senate and was runner-up for student body president. During the race the votes were split between different factions of the campus--such as the ROTC, agricultural department, Greeks, athletics and others. Along with running for student council, he was an editor for ENMU's school newspaper, The Chase, and was always highly involved in campus activities.
He noted, "The teachers at Eastern are some of the best that I have experienced, including my professor Dr. Jack Williamson (world-renowned science fiction writer). I have many great memories of Eastern and it is always a pleasure to come back from Arizona to visit."
When asked how he came to write "Dances With Wolves," he explained that "it was the time that I spent in eastern New Mexico that I was able to understand the Native Americans of the area, mainly the Comanche. I developed a mission to portray the Comanche people as real people with everyday life problems and struggles."
Blake has been working on four novels: one of which is an autobiography which portrays the high and lows of his life. He said that he wishes to leave his three small children a written legacy of his life. "I hope the autobiography is funny, poignant and instructional," he said.
Along with his autobiography, he did enormous research on a novel, "Marching to Valhalla," about his newfound hero Colonel Custer." Through learning about Custer, Blake realized his judgment of Custer was not thoroughly
correct. He discovered that Custer was much more cultured than normally portrayed. "Custer was an interesting character who not only was a good fighter, but also had tremendous passion for life."
The sequel to "Dances With Wolves" is "The Holy Road", which took 14 years to write. Unfortunately, it was published on September 11, 2001, giving the release of the sequel a missed opportunity to become as famous as its predecessor.
"The Holy Road" is a continuance of Blake's epic saga of Lt. John Dunbar's life with the Comanche Indians. The novel is set 11 years later while he has still remained part of the Comanche culture. The main conflict of the novel is about the dilemma the Comanche are faced with, either to resist the United States government to be placed on a reservation or stand up and fight.
The third of the sequels to "Dances With Wolves" takes readers on the path of the Comanche to the twentieth century.
"Dances With Wolves" has been published in 20 languages. Blake was able to raise over $7 million dollars from oversees distributors to put in motion the production of the movie. All major studios turned him down, but with his own ambition and the help of others the movie was made and became an outstanding success at the box office.
Blake has been married for 11 years to Mary Ann Blake, a Danish woman from Copenhagen, Denmark; she is his publisher and the mother of his three children, 7, 6 and 3 1/2.
According to Blake, all of his books are made of the highest quality of material, designed to last a lifetime and beyond.
From age 17 to 44, Blake never made more than $10,000 dollars per year. "The success of 'Dances With Wolves' "has given me the confidence to continue writing and the privacy and peace to live my life the way I choose."
Unfortunately, due to past health problems, Blake was unable to fully enjoy the success of "Dances With Wolves"--unable to attend Oscar night in Hollywood to receive his Academy Award for the screenplay.
Blake added, "I am proud of what I have accomplished; everything I have done has been honestly earned."