The surprising thing about my favorite Texas novel, Lonesome Dove, is that I never finished it. It became my favorite with the first sentence: “When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake—not a very big one.” I loved Gus and got worried near the end of the book when things began to look dire for him.

My brother had finished reading it, so I asked him, “Does Gus die?” This was 33 years ago. I remember where we were standing when he told me. After that, I put the book down and never picked it back up.

And now Robert Duvall, who played Gus on-screen, has optioned my new novel, The Which Way Tree. I recently had dinner with him in Fort Worth during an anniversary celebration of the miniseries. Afterward I walked outside and saw his death scene projected on the side of an office building. It made me sad, but I kept watching, knowing Gus was alive and well where I had left him in the Worthington hotel lobby.

Read our review of The Which Way Tree.