But first our regular look around the web for western content - well it seems neat to start with Lee Walker's Westerns which is Ed's own blog. And of course the first stop in any western web trawl is the excellent Western Fiction Review, the site is updated several times a week and the current post is an interview with Keith Hetherington, a writer with years of experience in the western genre. In the mood for a some western fiction, well head over to Short Barrel Fiction, where there are stories for all tastes. Davy Crockett's Almanack is featuring some varied subjects of late but there's always something western going on. Meridian Bridge goes from strength to strength and has lately posted an interview with Mr. Bill Crider. I especially liked that one. And finally Nik Morton informs us on his blog of the latest news on the eagerly awaited anthology, A Fistful of Legends - it's getting exciting now. And this gives us another neat link into our Q+A session as Lee Walker also has a story in the forthcoming collection.
LEE WALKER Q+A
Lee Walker's debut western, Gun Law is due from Robert Hale this December
How does it feel to be joining the Black Horse range?
It’s great! I’m definitely the new kid on the range but I’ve found everyone involved with Black Horse Westerns to be very supportive and encouraging. I’m amazed at their level of enthusiasm for the genre and have found that everyone wants others to succeed. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that.
What does the Western mean to you?
As a kid, I remember curling up on the sofa on a wet Sunday afternoon watching old black and white cowboy movies with my grandfather so I guess I’ve always had a soft spot for them.
From a historical point of view, the more I read, the more I am amazed at the sheer bravery and determination of the men and women who pioneered the West, settled it and finally tamed it.
I admire the breadth, quality and sheer creativeness of western writers and get annoyed when people get a little ‘snooty’ about the genre.
Where do you see the western's future?
I think it’s healthy and as long the genre adapts to other means of distribution like Kindle, E-Books, POD etc I don’t see any reason why the stories will not continue to sell. When I speak to people about western books, they tell me you can’t get your hands on second hand books because they sell so well and people collect them. In libraries, borrowing frequency is still high (check out how many times the books are borrowed) so there is still a very healthy interest in them and I don’t see that going away.
It is frustrating though, to go into large bookshops like Borders and Waterstones and not see a dedicated Western section!
What should readers expect from your books?
Hopefully, characters they can believe in and a good action-packed yarn. Gun Law was my first book and although I’m proud of it, already I can see ways I could have improved on it. I hope in subsequent books to keep growing and improving as a writer.
I’ve got a few things in the pipeline.
Gun Law comes out at the end of December so I’ll be busy working on the publicity for that.
I was delighted to have a short story called Dead Man Walking accepted for the second anthology of short stories from Express Westerns – A Fistful of Legends – and I have been working on a couple of short stories (The Angels and Demons, The Kid) for future anthologies
I recently sent John Hale the first three chapters and synopsis of Gold Fever, my second BHW and he responded favorably and has asked me to send him the completed manuscript, so I’m busy putting the finishing touches to that.
I signed up for this years National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which started on 1st November and I’m busy blitzing through a 50,000 word first draft of a novel with the working title, ‘The Man Who Wouldn’t Die’, which if I finish, will hopefully become my 3rd BHW.
I reckon those projects will keep me busy until the end of the year!
I’m already setting New Year goals for 2010 and have got outlines for another four books – nothing like setting your sights high, I say!
Writers that influence you?
Believe it or not, I’ve just discovered Louis L’Amour! (I told you I was new to westerns.) Thoroughly enjoying getting through his books and I’m a big fan of Matt Braun and Annie Proulx – and of course I try to get through as many BHW’s too!
Your writing practices?
I do try and write every day but don’t always achieve it. (I own a property business, have a full time job, a six year old and a large Airedale Terrier that needs long walks everyday!)
I like to come up with a title first and then I write out the plot using index cards breaking the story down into separate scenes the way a scriptwriter might. Once I’m happy with the arc of the story, I can then start to develop the characters and do any research I need. Of course, these parts all work together, so sometimes the character changes the plot, or another idea comes out of the research that changes the direction but I try to have it all worked out before I knuckle down to the writing.
Advice for aspiring writers?
Never give up. Enjoy the journey. Don’t do it for the money. Seeing your name on a book makes it all worth it!
Desert Island Western - both book and movie
I would take the complete collection of Time Life Western books which I am working my way through at the moment. Great photographs, very informative and great research for BHW’s – although they are so enjoyable to read, it doesn’t feel like work.
A movie? I’d take Dances With Wolves.
For fun - Eastwood V Wayne. Who wins?
Has to be Eastwood but a big Wayne fan too.