Saturday, May 21, 2022

Dennis Doty - A Very Busy Man

This month Dennis Doty gets the spotlight. I appreciate his patience as I worked through a list of things that needed to be taken care of before this fun interview was posted. I'm sure he understands for he also wears a number of hats also. In addition to being an author, he also is Vice-President of Western Fictioneers, and editor of Saddlebag Dispatches.

Dennis recently was a finalist in for the Peacemaker Award in Short Fiction for his work: "When It Raines" from the Winter 2021 issue of Saddlebag Dispatches.

Dennis Doty-from his Facebook Page

 1. What decided you to start writing for publication?

I read a novel published by one of the major publishers which was so poorly written and lacking in editing that I convinced myself I could do better. That was the impetus to begin writing seriously. Submitting for publication was simply an ego check to see if I had succeeded or if I was fooling myself.

2. Do you like to write short or longer stories?

I like both, but I’m better at short fiction.

3. Do you write for the market or yourself?

Some of both. Usually, I write whatever inspires me, but I can and have written to assignment or the needs of the magazine.


4. What life experiences influenced your writing?

I think the entirety of my life experience influences my writing. My grandfather was a cowboy who started out on the old Jinglebob Ranch in New Mexico. He was a miner, pack master on a dude ranch, and lived all over the west and I grew up listening to his stories. I spent ten years in the Marines and a couple on the old Southwest Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit and those experiences and lessons find their way into my stories. I’ve had a reasonably interesting life and over the years have shared a table or conversation with cowboys, Native Americans, truckers, politicians, waitresses, celebrities, carnies, and minor royalty. I learned that they’re all just people, some more interesting than others.

6. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mostly a pantser, but for longer works I need more structure to work with.

7. Is there a writing routine you follow, or do you write when the muse strikes?

I don’t have a set routine primarily because I have too much going on in my life, but I don’t believe in waiting for the muse either. If I have the time, even a few minutes, I’ll write something even if it’s bad. I can always fix it later or insert it in future work.

8. Do you ‘interview’ your characters before or at any time while telling their story and what do you do if they don’t cooperate with your story idea?

I’ve never interviewed one of my characters, but I do usually have a character sheet with background, description, goals, and motivations, challenges, flaws, foibles, etc. As a pantser, I’m usually free to see where the character wants or needs to go, but in longer works that can lead to some time-consuming rabbit holes that are hard to backtrack from. Thus, the need for an outline.

9. Is there anything else you feel people would like to know or would be surprised to learn about you?

I was once fluent in conversational Korean, both oral and written.

10. Do you write in other genres?

Yes. I’ve written westerns, historical, humor, romance, military, and fantasy.

11. Research, do you find it important?

Research is critical. Even in areas and subjects, I’m quite familiar with, it’s important to do my fact-checking. I’ve read far too many stories where the character wore a Stetson before John B. invented them, or Native Americans using African plants. Those are the sort of things that pull your reader completely out of the story and probably lose readers permanently.

13. What advice would you give to those who dream of writing, or what advice would you give your younger self?

If I could advise my younger self, I would have started seriously writing decades earlier. I didn’t start until I was in my mid-50s. There are so many stories I’d love to tell that I know I simply won’t have time for. I concentrate on what I can do and try not to have regrets.


14. What are the books or authors you grew up with that inspired you to take pen to paper?

Too many to count, but some of my earliest influences were Walter Farleigh, Will James, Jack London, Carolyn Keene, C.S. Forrester, and MacKinlay Kantor.

15. If it were possible would you choose to go forward in time or back?

Definitely back. There are so many periods in history which fascinate me, and despite the difficulties and hazards of those times, I like to think I’d do well.

16. Have you considered writing a series, either by yourself or with a group?

Yes, but I’m not prepared to talk about it right now.

Thank you, Dennis, for your time and insights. For more about Dennis and his many projects:


  1. Always great to read these interviews and see where different authors are coming from.

    1. I love learning more about my contemporaries and long-distance friends.

  2. Great interview, Dennis and Doris! I have Dotys in my family history; we may be kin somewhere down the line.

  3. Probably. Feel free to reach out and we can explore the connection.

  4. Great interview, learn something new every time I read one. That you used to speak Korean was fascinating.

    1. Thank you. Wish I'd kept up with it, but the opportunities to use it have been less than infrequent.

  5. Enjoyed the interview. Great inspiration.

  6. Loved this interview, Dennis!

  7. I feel like I know you better. Good interview. Regina McLemore

  8. Dennis, Doris, great interview! I am "late to the party" but I sure did enjoy reading all about you, Dennis and getting to know you better. I'm a pantser too, and when I write something longer I find I need "some" structure (more of a timeline than anything else.) Very neat about your grandfather's life experiences, too! Really enjoyed this and I look forward to reading more of your stories!

  9. Thank you, Cheryl. I hear good things about your stories as well. Guess I need to get my hands on one or more of them, but my to be read pile is getting completely out of hand.

    1. HA! I totally understand that crazy TBR pile! Thanks for the kind words, Dennis!

  10. Great interview. I think I may have found a new writer and I want to read some of his work. Thanks for doing this interview, Doris.

    1. Thanks, Agnes. You can find several of my stories in back issues of Saddlebag Dispatches at the Saddlebag website.

  11. Well done, folks! I really enjoyed getting to know a few things about Dennis.