What was your first Western novel or story and was it published? The first Western I had published—book or story—was The Gunsmith #1: Macklin’s Women.
What Western writer or writers of the past were the biggest influence on your work? Louis L’Amour, naturally, since he was pretty much the first one I read, but a larger influence on my work was actually Jory Sherman. Reading his GUNN series helped me learn to write westerns. Meeting him and becoming his friend was also important to me.
What's the first Western you remember reading from cover to cover? You know, I’m not sure about this, but it was either SACKETT or THE SACKETT BRAND.
Who is your favorite historical Western figure, and why? BAT MASTERSON. I feel a connection with him, might even be a reincarnation of him. He and I had a lot of the same interests—Boxing, Horse Racing, Poker, Writing. I enjoy writing about him.
How much historical research do you do, and how do you go about it? I do quite a but, depending on the story I want to tell. I have a research library of my own, which I’ve built up over the years, but—and I hate to admit this--Google might be making it obsolete.
How do you choose where to begin your story? Do you use prologues?
The stories usually choose their own starting places. I just go with it. I have used prologues, when I feel they’re necessary. Obviously, I don’t agree with Dutch Leonard, who says they are NEVER necessary.
Do you do all your research ahead of time, or as you go along? Some ahead of time, a lot as I go along. My desk is usually covered with open books, or print outs from Google.
Which of your characters do you identify with the most, and why? Was there a role model for this particular character? I identify with Bat Masterson from my book THE HAM REPORTER, for reasons I covered in question #5.
Do you outline and plot your story or do you write as the inspiration or MUSE leads? I start with the character and then go where he goes. I have only ever outlined in order to show it to an editor and get a contract.
Are you a conservative in your writing and stick with traditional ideas for your characters and plots or do you like to go beyond the norm and toss in the unexpected and why? The simple answer to this is that my approach to writing has never been conservative or traditional. In fact, the same is true of the way I live my life.
Do you need quiet when you write, listen to music, or have the TV on and family around? I need SOMEthing. A ball game, music, t.v. , anything, but NOT silence.
Have you experienced the "dreaded" writer's block and how did you deal with it? I have never experienced writer’s block. I’ve never been able to afford to. My schedule just would never permit it.
Who is your favorite fictional character that you have created? Too many to choose from. Some of them are mystery characters—Nick Delvecchio, Eddie G. Western characters? Lancaster, Tracker and, probably, The Gunsmith.
Who is your favorite fictional character that someone else created? In westerns I’d say William Tell Sackett, for sentimental reasons. When I was young I liked Max Brand’s Silvertip. Also Edge, Steele, Gunn, but probably my VERY favorite character is Fargo, from the Ben Haas series.
Do you address "modern" issues in Westerns? Racism. Feminism. Downs Syndrome. Mental disabilities. Genetic disorders. Sociopathy. Immigrant questions. Brutality. Pedophilia. Any more? I do, probably more lately then in the past. In GALLLOWS recently I covered spousal abuse in the West.
What are you writing right now? The first in a new Nashville based P.I. series, 2 historical short stories, and about to start the new Gunsmith and another Rat Pack book.
Do you make a living writing? If not, what is your day job? I have made a living writing for the past 30 years.
What do you plan to write in the future? Everything!
What made you decide to write Western fiction? I backed into it when I was asked if I could write Westerns. I had no idea, so I said yes. I was asked to create an Adult Western series and came up with The Gunsmith. After that it was just fun—and profitable—to keep doing it.