What's in a Name?

I write as Joe IDAHO for two reasons. First, my given name is Samuel Smith. Hundreds, if not thousands, of authors write as Samuel Smith. No one writes as Joe IDAHO. Second, my stories take place in the Gem State and feature characters, plots, events, and themes centered on Idaho's past and present.

As a middle-aged lifelong resident of Idaho, I've had a wide range of experiences. In my youth, I worked on farms and in construction. My favorite pastimes were hiking, hunting, fishing, searching for arrowheads, and secretly writing stories. In my mid-twenties, I enrolled in college and earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in Anthropology. I used my degrees to become a field archaeologist for the BLM and private firms. 

After living as a shovelbum (a traveling archaeologist) for a decade, I became an English Language Arts teacher. Four years later, I quit teaching to care for my infant daughter. 

During the quarantine and isolation of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I started writing my Joe IDAHO stories. 

Welcome to Joe IDAHO’s Gem State Based Fiction

The state of Idaho, the Gem State, is obscure, often forgotten, nearly always neglected, and sometimes hard to locate on a map. It gets confused with states with similar-sounding names, and some wonder if it even truly exists. When Idaho does get mentioned, it’s either romanticized or denigrated into a caricature. But Idaho does exist. It is real, and the Gem State deserves its reputation as a wild, unforgiving place and a land of immense, rugged beauty. 

Idaho is many things. Most of all, it’s a paradoxical canvas of geography and culture. It’s scenic mountains, whitewater rivers, Panhandle lakes, ancient forests, and desert canyons—endless outdoors and wilderness. At the same time, the Gem State is a polluted post-mining and agricultural wasteland, often burning and bathed in wildfire smoke.

Idaho is unregulated freedom, good capitalism, a conservative sanctuary, cheap, and crime-free. It’s also closely associated with the words backward, racist, fundamentalist, hate crime, neo-confederate, and cult compound. People aren’t joking when they call it whiteaho. But you shouldn’t believe it’s all this way. Despite what you may have seen, heard, or read about The Idaho Way, there is pushback, resistance, dissent, and disillusionment. 

The only way to get to know Idaho, to really understand it, is through its stories and the characters who populate them. The Gem State has a unique mythos, values, aberrations, and agitations that repeat a familiar arc. It produces people as rugged and hard, as weathered and scarred, and as varied and resilient as its diverse landscapes. There are heroes and villains, good and evil, monsters and demons to defeat—though it’s not always clear who is who. 

Gem State Based Fiction tells Idaho stories. It deconstructs stereotypes and explores the unconventional. It reimagines and blends Idaho history, folklore, legend, myth, and contemporary culture to create something new.



It’s been said that wolves are the world’s most polarizing predator, and it’s no different in Idaho. “Two-Faced Wolf,” the first book in the Gem State Series, presents an Idaho torn apart by the battle over the reintroduction of the gray wolf. They call it the Wolf War. It’s fought with billboards and bumper stickers, comments and pics, and in courts, rallies, and public meetings. Sometimes, it’s fought in the Idaho wilderness.

In “Two-Faced Wolf,” Idaho’s hunters, ranchers, the redneck Republicans, the traditionalists and conservatives oppose the wolves. Their pioneer ancestors killed them all a hundred years ago so civilized people could live in a wolf-free Gem State. They see reintroduction as a step backward. Environmentalists and conservationists, science-minded folks, wolf lovers, the liberal hippie Democrats support the wolves. In their view, reintroduction was a step forward. Wolves are essential to restoring the ecosystem the pioneer ancestors destroyed. 

The die-hards, the extremists on both sides, seem willing to do whatever it takes to win. Idaho’s land, the wolves, and its people are caught in the middle. Enter big Seq and compact Ralph, two Idahoans at the furthest ends of the extremes. 



TEDDY ROOSEVELT and his hunting companions battle a creature unlike anything they’ve encountered.

The year is 1888. Teddy Roosevelt is twenty-nine, vigorous, and an avid hunter. Donning buckskins and carrying a repeating rifle, he’s tracked and killed nearly every big game species in the continental United States. Now, he’s after caribou. They say the last herd roams the high meadows of the Idaho Territory’s Selkurk Mountains. Determined to fulfill his lifelong dream, Roosevelt organizes a hunting party and travels deep into the unforgiving wilderness.

The game is plentiful, and the caribou are close. It’s the perfect hunt until strange things start happening. A series of loud knocking sounds echo through the night. In the morning, a gravely injured mule stumbles into camp, followed by three distraught miners. The terrified miners tell of a giant beast capable of ripping men and mules to shreds. It’s killed four of their friends and six mules. And it’s still out there hunting them.

Old Bauman, the grizzled, weather-beaten, former mountain man now serving as camp cook, has seen this before. Years ago, one of these beasts killed his trapping partner and scared Old Bauman from the mountains. He calls it a Goblin. Intrigued by the old man’s story, Roosevelt has to investigate for himself. He will not be kept from the caribou by superstition or fear. Roosevelt is a civilized man, a practical and modern sporting man. There is nothing in the forest he cannot kill with his guns.

But things aren’t what they seem. This isn’t your typical Bigfoot story. In a desperate final confrontation, Teddy Roosevelt’s goblin will be revealed. If you’re a fan of suspenseful stories that blend history and adventure with folklore and myth, then you won’t want to miss this riveting novel.