Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Five With James Reasoner

1. Most exciting day of my life.

There are actually three: the day I married Livia, and the days our two daughters were born. My writing-related runner-up would be the day the box of author copies of my first novel arrived. I don't remember the exact date, but I know it was a warm, sunny day in October 1980. Livia and I were out walking when the UPS truck arrived at our house with a box. When I saw it was from Manor Books, I knew what it was. Sure enough, when I opened it, there were brand-new copies of my first novel. That was quite a rush.

2. My favorite food.

Ice cream. My favorite food for a meal, probably nachos or a really good cheeseburger. I've never been known for my healthy eating habits.

3. My favorite car.

Actually, the Chrysler van and the Honda Element we have now are probably the best vehicles I've ever had. When I was in college I had a Mercury I liked quite a bit. And I have fond memories of a car I never drove, the battleship-gray '56 Ford my parents had when I was a little kid. After they stopped driving it but it was still sitting next to my dad's shop, I spent a lot of time playing in it and pretending to drive.

4. Something you may not know about me.

Although I think I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a writer, when I was in school my plan was to become a history teacher, preferably Texas history. Later, in college, I was going to be a librarian. I guess it all ties together somehow. I've used history in a lot of my books, and I still love libraries.

5. My family's brush with history.

My great-grandfather was born in San Marcos, Texas, and grew up all over central Texas. Once when he was a boy living near Round Rock, his father sent him out to look for some horses that strayed. While he was doing that, he ran into several men, one of whom seemed to be hurt. He was a little afraid of them, but they asked him what he was doing and when he told them, they said for him to go ahead and look for his horses. They rode off, and it was only later he figured out the men were Sam Bass and his gang, on the run from the law after the ambush in Round Rock that ultimately cost Sam Bass his life. (The preceding story is one that my father told frequently. I can't vouch for the truth of it, but it's an interesting family legend, anyway.)


  1. Great story about your great-grandfather, James. And a good choice displaying Blue Bell ice cream. Mmmmm.

  2. I always love these "Friday Five" posts--it's a good way of getting to know everyone. I love the story about your great grandfather, James. I have one about my grandmother's sister. They'd gone to town one day and several men rode in. My grandmother's sister was about 9 at the time. One of the men asked her to hold the reins for his horse, and they all went into the bank. A few minutes later, they came out in a big hurry, and he gave her a silver dollar. It was Jesse James. Ironically, her father's name was James Jesse Johnson. I love these stories like this. I don't blame your dad for telling that one again and again!

  3. I love these Friday Five posts, too. What a fabulous story about your great-grandfather, James. As for Blue Bell ice cream, it gets my vote for best ice cream on the planet. :-)

  4. I remember Manor Books ... they were still around in the days I first started getting the crazy notion I should try writing a western. Weren't they out of California? I think maybe Loren Estleman also started with Manor ... I've heard that, anyway.

  5. I know what you mean about opening that box containing first books.
    I still get that feeling whenever I am fortunate enough to get one published.
    Great post James, enjoyed the bit on your Great Grandfather. Sometimes history touches all of us.

  6. In 1980 I read a favorable review of Texas Wind and tried to find a copy of it. No Luck. Manor Books operated in a cloak of secrecy that the CIA, NSA can only envy.

    Jim Meals

  7. Love the story about Sam Bass. Did your g-grandfather get the horses rounded up?

    I've never had Blue Bell ice cream but ice cream is something I have a hard time saying no to. Especially homemade ice cream.

  8. Cameron,
    Manor Books was in New York (and supposedly heavily mobbed up, although I didn't know that at the time). The California publisher you're thinking of is Major Books, which published Loren's first books and a couple of Jory's, as well as THE SANDCATS OF RHYL, a science fiction novel that I believe was the first novel by WF's own Bob Vardeman.

    TEXAS WIND was among the last books distributed by Manor. Heck, it may have been THE last book (a part of me would like to think so).

    I don't remember what became of the horses in the story. I suspect he found them. He eventually moved to Brown County and became a rancher there. His real was Rafael, but he always went by Rafe. I think Rafe Reasoner is a great name.

  9. James,

    We can all relate to that first box of books! But what about when you hit one hundred published books, or two hundred, or three hundred? Weren't those days also some of the most exciting of your life?

    Great story about your grandfather. To retain such stories of family history, invigorate and motivate those who come after.

    Watch that diet James, you need to be around for a long, long time, writing those good stories for the rest of us.

    Charlie Steel

  10. Charlie,
    The way my schedule worked out, #100 and #200 were both house-name books, so while I was glad to hit those milestones, they didn't mean as much as they would have if my name had been on the books. That's why I made sure #300 was one that I could claim.

    Livia asked the other day if I could time it so #500 coincides with our 50th wedding anniversary. I hope to still be around for that 50th anniversary, but I'm not sure I have 200 more books in me.

  11. Great stuff. Getting a copy of my first book was as not as big a rush as seeing it on the rack at the local supermarket, but then I'm an OLD salesman. Great, great, great blog.

  12. Love libraries, love history,it makes sense you would use that information to provide us with great stories. Memories and the stories we are told as young children make such an impact.I do have to say...don't like ice cream so you can have my share. Smile. Enjoyed getting to know you better. Doris

  13. A fantastic bit of family history, James. Ice Cream is my favorite meal--strawberry most of all.
    I used to love listening to my grandmother and my dad tell the family stories. I don't think anyone famous happened along in them, but they were great stories anyway.
    Wonderful blog, James. It's a good reminder that we all have some family history that means so much to us.