Answers to the podcast never given

IMG_6946

I had a great time this morning doing an interview with J.C. Hulsey who does the Wild West Showdown podcast.

He contacted me last week about being interviewed for the podcast, and so last night I spent some time making notes so that I would be prepared for the interview.

The notes really focused on my new Westerns – Too Long the Winter and Redemption at Two Rivers Station.

These books are going to appeal to more readers than the Jackson Speed novels. I mean, let’s be honest, Jack Speed is a fun character, the novels are set against a very rich (and accurate) historical tapestry, and I love the Jackson Speed novels.

But not as many readers are going to be interested in a womanizing coward as a “hero.”

My new novels are selling pretty well, so I think obviously Mr. Hulsey’s listeners are going to be more interested in hearing about these.

So my notes in preparing for today’s interview focused almost entirely on the new novels.

What did I end up talking about?

You guessed it: Jackson Speed.

The interview didn’t feel so much like an interview. Mr. Hulsey and I just had a conversation, and the conversation naturally flowed toward one thing rather than the other, and I completely forgot about my notes.

But here I am with all these notes and nothing to do with them, so I thought I would share here some of what I prepared in an imagined interview.

I’ll call this “Answers to the Podcast Never Given.”

 

Q. WHY DO YOU WRITE WESTERN NOVELS?

I have always had a fascination with the time period.

My dad is an armchair historian, and in particular he’s always had an astounding knowledge of Civil War history. Growing up, I remember thinking there was no way I’d ever be as knowledgeable as my dad. It’s still a challenge to me to include anecdotes or facts in my novels that my dad didn’t previously know, and once or twice in a novel I’ll manage to surprise him.

The Civil War leads naturally to the American West – what we call now the Old West or even the Wild West, and my interest in this place and time in American history very much developed naturally.

So I’m drawn to that time period of the 19th century from the Mexican-American War, through the Civil War and to the close of the 1800s. That time period takes you from the time of Manifest Destiny and exploration through the War Between the States and into the expansion period.

Not only was it a definitive period of American history, but it was also a time of some really amazing characters. You’ve got so many fascinating and true stories of lawmen like Dangerous Dan Tucker and Seth Bullock and Bass Reaves, and the lawmen were seldom as interesting as the outlaws. And a lot of those folks blurred those lines.

 

Q. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TIME PERIOD THAT IS SO INTERESTING TO YOU?

You also had people who had this really amazing spirit of adventure and willingness to take risks.

Not everybody, of course. Most folks just stayed put in the town they came from, but there were tens of thousands of people who sold everything and set off on an adventure.

Someone back east who sold everything traveled six months across the country, sometimes not really even knowing where they would end up. They faced dangers and obstacles that folks today can’t imagine and wouldn’t dream of taking on if they could.

I’ll tell you a quick story along those lines.

I’m working on the last book in a series of four novels that were inspired by a story from my family’s lore.

Sometime in the mid-1800s I had an ancestor, maybe a cousin to a great-great grandfather, who set out West. The family never heard from him again.

One day his trunk was delivered home with no explanation. No note, no idea who sent the trunk home. Nothing. No one in the family ever knew what happened to him.

That’s a story that has stayed with me over the years and really captured my imagination, and it’s the starting point for the series I’m finishing now.

 

Q. WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS?

One of the reasons I’m drawn to writing Westerns is that I read Westerns.

Louis L’Amour and Robert B. Parker are among my favorite authors. Robert Parker was probably better known for the “Spenser” novels that inspired the TV series “Spenser for Hire,” but he’s also written some great Westerns.

I love Owen Wister’s The Virginian – a novel that also inspired a TV series back in the 60s.

Robert Utley wrote some fantastic non-fiction books about the Lincoln County War that read like novels.

I’m also a fan of Glenn Tucker and Shelby Foote as Civil War historians.

 

Q. WHAT DO YOU HOPE READERS TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR NOVELS?

My goal when I write a novel is to just simply tell good stories. I want to entertain my readers. If you’re not careful, you might learn a little history (especially from my Jackson Speed series which is heavily footnoted with historical context).

But really what I want to do is just entertain folks so that when they finish reading one of my novels they feel satisfied with the way they spent their time.

I charge $3.49 for most of my books, so it’s not a huge investment in terms of money. But it’s humbling to me to think that people are spending their time with my novels, and I don’t want them to regret that. So when I am writing a novel, that’s what I’m thinking about – I’m thinking about a commitment to the reader that I’m going to do the best I can to write a novel that is worth their time.

 

So … According to my notes from last night, that’s absolutely how the interview went. I was able to talk all about my interest in American history and my new Western novels and I hardly even mentioned Jackson Speed at all.

When the podcast airs, I’ll post a link and you can decide for yourself whether or not I accomplished anything resembling my goals.

I think, actually, the most interesting thing I said in the podcast is that I’m a professional doorman for my dogs.

I need to wrap this up now because I hear someone scratching at the door.

Advertisements

Western novels coming soon

 

If you follow me on social media, you might have seen where I’ve hinted in the past few months that I’ve been working on expanding my catalog beyond the Jackson Speed novels.

I wanted to try my hand at writing some more traditional Westerns, and I have spent several months writing those novels.

I’m actually writing in three different and unrelated series, and I also wrote a standalone novel, though the main character in that novel may end up appearing in one of the other series later.

Having spent almost six years writing novels set in the 1800s, the Western genre seemed like an obvious place for me. It’s not much of a transition to go from the Jackson Speed novels to a traditional Old West adventure novel.

In the next few weeks I’m going to start releasing some of these new novels.

My goal with these was to get large portions of the series (or in one case, the entire series) written before publication. I know with the Jackson Speed novels, readers sometimes get frustrated waiting a year for the next book. So I really threw myself into these projects so that I could publish books in each series within a few weeks of each other.

The first book to release will be “Too Long the Winter.” This is the standalone novel set in Colorado Territory in the early 1870s. The novel tells the tale of mountain man Bear Le Vrette who abducts a girl and takes her into the mountains (if you were one of my wonderful beta readers, don’t be confused … I changed the title after I sent out the book to beta readers).

In “Too Long the Winter,” U.S. Marshal and the girl’s distraught father turn to Le Vrette’s friend for help in tracking the mountain man and attempting to save the girl.

It is a fast-paced novel with a good bit of action to it, and it was so much fun to write. I never really intended to turn it into a series, but I liked the main character (Luther Corbett) so much that I figured out a way to work him into another series that I’ll be starting later this year.

The first series I’m releasing is the Two Rivers Station Western series. The focus of the series is Jack Bell, a Confederate veteran who after the war returns to the Texas farm his father had. These books are classic Westerns – badges and gunsmoke, good guys and bad guys.

The second series I’m releasing (look for it in March) is the Lodero Western series.

Lodero is the classic sort of gunslinger from the Old West, but he’s on a mission to learn what happened to his father who went to seek a fortune and never came home. This is a 4-book series, and my intention is to release all four books this spring.

I’ll share this with you: In my family’s history there is a story about an ancestor who went west to Oregon or California. No one in the family ever heard from him again. But some years after he left, someone shipped his trunk (empty) back to the family.

I’ve heard that story several times since I was a little kid, and that was some of the inspiration behind the Lodero novels.

After Lodero, probably sometime this summer, I’ll be releasing another series of books. These are much shorter, but my intention is to publish a story once a month in this series at least for a few months. The series is character-driven and is set in a gold rush boomtown in the Colorado mountains in the 1870s. The location Animas Forks, was a real gold mining boomtown and is now a ghost town.

To give you a flavor, if you enjoyed the HBO series Deadwood, you’ll probably like “Animas Forks.”

If you’re a Jackson Speed fan, I hope you’ve had an opportunity to read “Jackson Speed In the Rush.” I am still working on the next book in the Jackson Speed Memoirs – Jackson Speed and the Regulators. My hope is that I will have that book ready to publish sometime in August.

If you enjoy classic Westerns, I hope you’ll give some of my new books a chance. I’m  thoroughly proud of them and very excited to see how readers receive them.