The Whip


Publishers Weekly




The Whip
By Karen Kondazian
Published by Hansen Publishing

The novel The Whip is inspired by the true story of Charlotte "Charley" Parkhurst (1812-1879). Charlotte lived most of her extraordinary life as a man. She became a renowned stagecoach driver for Wells Fargo during the California gold rush. One of her many exploits was the killing of the famous outlaw Sugarfoot, as he tried to rob her stagecoach one too many times.

As a young woman in Rhode Island, she fell in love with a runaway slave and had his child. The destruction of her family drove her west to California, dressed as a man, to track the killer.









Released November 1, 2011
Hansen Publishing Group

  • Charley Parkhurst (1812-79) was one of the finest stage coach drivers Wells Fargo had during the dangerous gold rush days. But there's one thing Wells Fargo never knew about Charley: Charlotte was a woman. In her fiction debut, actress Kondazian dares to imagine the life such a dedicated disguise artist might have lived. Mistreated in an orphanage and sent to live in the stables, where she learned all there was to know about horses, Charley grows up to be a servant in a boardinghouse. When she falls in love with an African American blacksmith, she is ostracized. And when her husband is lynched and her only daughter killed, Charley dresses as a man to apply for work with a stage coach company, aces the hands-on audition, and is sent west. She learns to swear, gamble, and smoke, and her life as a "whip" rewards her well. Yet underneath all the swagger and staunchness, Charley is a broken soul in many ways. VERDICT This quick-paced, wily tale is a fascinating blend of both fact and fiction that is sure to engage Western and historical fiction fans and readers who enjoyed Gerald Kolpan's Etta.

    --Keddy Ann Outlaw, LIBRARY JOURNAL, November 2011

  • An astonishing novel... an amazing tale, about a strong, passionate and determined woman, a real-life heroine who lived her life as one tough hombre--one tough *male* hombre--in the Old West... It's a wonderful read. Take it from someone who's had firsthand experience with great art exploring the human spirit in a Western setting: Karen Kondazian's The Whip is just that. This is a story that cries out through its adventurous surroundings a call from deep in the human heart, a call for understanding, for love, for identity and it does so through the skill of a magnificent writer. (It also cries out to be a movie. It's that rich, visual, and dramatic.)

    --Jim Beaver, star of HBO s Deadwood and author of Life s That Way

  • You won't know what The Whip means until you read this fascinating book. It's a piece of the Old West, a part of America's past, told with amazing authenticity.

    --Thomas Fleming, New York Times best-selling author of Conquerors of the Sky

  • Karen Kondazian's The Whip is a crackling good story with more twists and turns than a wagon trail through the mountains. Kondazian takes what could have been a hackneyed adventure tale of Charley Parkhurst's gender- shifting revenge and imbues it with surprising tenderness and yearning.

    --Edward Achorn, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Fify-nine in '84

  • Like a nugget of gold pulled from the riffles is Karen Kondazian's debut novel The Whip...It may be a book for the times...
    We can all use a little cowboy wisdom about now and Charley Parkhurst may just be the gal to bring it...The Whip, a thrilling and soul-searching read, raises questions about revenge and forgiveness as she takes the reader along dusty trails. Above all, this novel captures brilliantly the zeitgeist of the stagecoach era.

    --Art Kusnetz, San Francisco Books and Travel Magazine

  • One thing I really like about this job is that I get to discover promising new talent far outside of the world of agents, New York publishers, academics, and establishment book reviewers. Karen Kondazian's debut novel, The Whip, is in that category. Her well-written work, based on a true story, displays all the confidence of a seasoned novelist. I didn't detect one false note...Try on The Whip ... I think you will get as caught up in it as I was. This is classic Americana.

    --Fred Beauford, NEW WORLD REVIEW, vol. 4, no. 27

  • Awesome read, excellent narrative, perfect blend of fact and fiction, and though Charley faces an incredibly sad amount of misery and misfortune, the book managed to make me laugh at times as well as shake my head in sympathy....numerous things throughout the book made me chuckle and overall, the book has made a huge impact on me. It's also about a very strong woman, probably one of the strongest women I have ever read about. Life kept beating her down and she kept getting back up, minus one eye or minus a man and a baby, but never without her determination.
    RATING: Five Stars

    --Tara Chevrestt, Book Babe Magazine

  • Compelling historical fiction that reveals the surprising places revenge can lead to...Karen Kondazian has created a memorable character in Charley Parkhurst, stagecoach driver extraordinaire...An insightful psychological study.

    --Peter Robinson, reviewer for KALW, San Francisco's NPR network

  • The Whip is one of the best books I've read in a long time...a real page turner. I didn't want it to end and it stayed with me long after I put it down. The experience reminded me of reading Lonesome Dove---The story is unusual complicated, fast-paced and beautifully written. It's quite simply, epic. I can't wait for the movie version!

    --Elise Ballard, author of Epiphany (Random House)

  • Multi-layered magic, January 14, 2012

    The Whip surprised me. Beyond fine prose, you have the opportunity to delve into hearts and minds you would never expect to think of. Combining historical fact with an imagined back story, Kondazian has created the ultimate hero. Charlotte Parkhurst turns her tragedies into a full life, typically not lived by the women of the 1800's by passing as a man. "Charley," a kind, intelligent soul loses all, has a long-awaited unsatisfying revenge, passion with the one man she reveals herself to, startling turns of fate, and a death that is fitting and poignant. You will enjoy the characters, even the ones you will hate, and you will enjoy the ride.

    --Cris Carl, Amazon review

  • An honest to gosh, cross my fingers, true story!, January 17, 2012
    By Sally (Bibrary Book Lust) (Ontario, Canada)

    Amazon Verified This review is from: The Whip
    This is an authentic old west tale, complete with a lynching, stagecoach chases, gun fights, and more...Reading Charley's story, you really get a sense of what life was like for a young, widowed woman in 19th century America...she was guided by two things - the need to survive, and the desire to avenge her family...Very well-written, this has the feel of something like Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven - a raw, realistic, powerful western that stays well away from the spaghetti roots.


The Actor's Encyclopedia of Casting Directors

The Actor's Encyclopedia of Casting Directors: Conversations with Over 100 Casting Directors on How to Get the Job
By Karen Kondazian
Published by Random House, Inc.

Compiles insider information and intimate profiles of casting directors in film, television, theater, and commercials, from Los Angeles to New York. Casting directors give expert advice on how to get in the door, how to prepare for an audition, and what they look for. Each interview contains b&w photos, credits, contact information, and a personal profile.

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