“I ONLY READ HISTORY OR NON-FICTION.”
“A FRIEND OF MINE HAS A SON THAT LIKES TO READ WESTERNS.”
“I KNOW AN OLD GUY HAS EVERY LOUIS L’AMOUR BOOK EVER WRITTEN”
“I READ BEST SELLERS. YOU KNOW, MYSTERIES, SUSPENSE, ROMANCE.”
These are the type of comments I’ve heard since I penned my first novel, mostly from people who have never investigated the genre of the western. But I’ve made some converts.
The Old West, of course, is about time and place… but basically it’s about people, as every novel is about people. A western can be a mystery, a war story, a love story, or a taut tale of suspense. It can be drama, melodrama, heartwarming, frightening, a tale of good, of evil and everything in between. (Throwing in a loyal dog, a lovable kid and a good horse doesn’t hurt, either).
I belong to a group of men and women who meet regularly for spiritual study. We also play golf, go to meals together and meet often socially. A few bought my books at a signing I held at a local book store. The reactions of these new readers spurred others to try them. Now I get comments like:
“I couldn’t put it down, Pete. I was up half the night.”
“I need another book. When is your next one coming out?”
“Great read. Is there going to be a sequel?”
“You have any copies with you? I want to send one as a gift.”
Many years ago, with my first manuscript in hand, I attended a WWA conference in Albuquerque, where I was welcomed and befriended by greats like Tony Hillerman, Elmer Kelton, Robert J. Conley, Dusty Richards, Don Coldsmith and others. Some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met, not an out-sized ego in the bunch. It took until 2004, constantly submitting my writing to a long line of publishers, before I was published by Avalon Books… but it has been worth the trip. If you are an aspiring author, don’t give up. And read other fine writers in your chosen genre. I promise you’ll learn.
Granted, most of my readers are locals and acquaintances, having been introduced to my ramblings by word of mouth. But it’s a start toward introducing the western novel to a fresh audience. I have also referred readers to other authors who write tales of the Old West… my own favorites, many of them fellow members of the Western Fictioneers… some of the finest writers today or ever, regardless of genre.