Saturday, June 5, 2021

Win Blevins - A Career in the World's Oldest Profession.

In this next 'author interview' post, Win Blevins lets us into his life as a writer in " the world's oldest profession - storytelling".  It is hoped you will come away with a feeling of pride, and excitement for not only Win's amazing accomplishments but what is possible for yourselves.

Photo from Amazon author page

What drew you to write westerns? 

The answer to this one surprises even me: I don't think of myself as writing westerns but novels set in the West. My characters are mountain men, Indians (especially them), Mormons, Mexicans, in one case a Buddhist nun kidnapped and brought to the U.S. for prostitution, and others. Some of my books (more than 40 of them) are fantasies: One is about Mark Twain coming back to earth to help out a modern Hannibal writer who's in trouble. There are no cowboys in my books, or not yet. But I love the West. Have lived here since 1966, two decades of that on the edge of the Navajo reservation. Loved climbing mountains, learning to ride, hunting, hiking, exploring ruins, everything. 


Who are your favorite writers of the West? 

Some are Norman Maclean (author of the wondrous A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT), Rudolfo Anaya, Tony Hillerman, Edward Abbey, John Nichols, Larry McMurtry, Elmer Kelton... I grew up on the Saturday matinees set in the West and loved them, but those stories don't satisfy the adult me.

Pantser or outliner? 

Pantser all the way. I think outlining would close the doors and windows of my imagination and force me onto a predetermined path. I LOVE the adventure of going on to a new page and a new scene every day. I love to listen to my characters and let them surprise me with what they say. I don't put on shackles by deciding in advance.

What would you say is a short Win Blevins reading list? 

STONE SONG, my novel of the life of Crazy Horse, GIVE YOUR HEART TO THE HAWKS, the DICTIONARY OF THE AMERICAN WEST, and the RENDEZVOUS series, four novels that follow the life of one mountain man from leaving home to settling in California.

Where do you get your ideas? 

I don't get them--they chase me down, tackle me, and don't let go until I write them. One of those, my novel of the life of Crazy Horse, STONE SONG, took seventeen years of labor to produce, rewriting, and rewriting to get it right. It's probably my best-known, most popular book.


Are all of your books fiction? 

No, I've written non-fiction books. HAWKS is a history of the Mountain Fur Trade, the DICTIONARY is clearly non-fiction, and there are others.

Do you collaborate?

I love to collaborate with my wife Meredith. Among other things, she gives my dialogue more pizazz. 


What drew you to writing as a career?

I loved writing even in childhood. Later, I was following the wrong track, finishing doctoral work in English lit when the Rockefeller Foundation rescued me. They gave me a fellowship to study to be a music critic at the USC Conservatory of Music. That led to writing reviews of music and theater at the two big Los Angeles newspapers, again not the right track. Finally, I wrote GIVE YOUR HEART TO THE HAWKS. Half a century later HAWKS is still in print and bringing good royalties. 

In conclusion?

 I LOVE to write and still write every day. At 82 I recently published another novel, am in the midst of writing the next one, and won’t stop I like the daily process of sculpting yesterday's sentences into something more graceful. Like the surprises that my characters bring—good lines, good episodes, surprises in the direction of the story. I like to start by putting a character in a dilemma and see where he or she goes with it. Also, I like editing. Was an editor at TOR Books for fifteen years.

Thank you for an inspiring, thoughtful, and fun interview, Win. What a legacy.

For more about Win, and to find his books on Amazon: Amazon Author Page


  1. Win's Dictionary of the American West is always, always on my desk when I write Western material. It's invaluable.

  2. What a wonderful interview! Thank you for sharing a little bit of your life, Win.

  3. You've led a fascinating life.... Thanks for sharing.

  4. I keep my copy of Win's Dictionary handy as well... a must-have if you're writing period dialogue!