I have loved Western fiction since the first comic book I remember reading–a Roy Rogers comic in the office of a Russian barber, inside a building in Paris, France leased to the U.S. Department of Defense. (He definitely wasn’t a spy….) I’d loved Roy and Hopalong Cassidy and other cowboy stars on TV back in Illinois, but after moving to France at 6 years old, American TV wasn’t available. So finding this other way to enjoy stories about my favorite cowboy was a revelation.
Since then, I’ve matured a little. I still love Western comics, but also Western novels, short fiction, film, TV, etc. And, to my great delight, I’ve been able to write some over the years. Most of my many, many novels take place in the American West, but most are contemporary. Beginning with my long-running, award-nominated comic book series Desperadoes, though, I started writing historical Westerns.
Fast forward to this month. I was thrilled to become the subject of the back page feature in True West magazine–one of my very favorite magazines, which I read cover-to-cover every month. The feature is called What History Has Taught Me, and previous subjects have included writers, artists, historians, and more. It’s a who’s who of people who work with the reality and the legends of the Old West, and being included in that company was deeply gratifying–making me feel like I’ve arrived, in some way, as a Western writer. Take a look at my page here.
Then, this morning, I learned that my historical Western epic Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquin Murrieta, is a finalist for the Peacemaker Award for Best Novel from the Western Fictioneers organization. I wrote Blood and Gold with Peter Murrieta, an Emmy-winning writer/producer for television, and a descendant of Joaquin’s who brought never-before-shared family stories into the book. We’re giddy with excitement at making that esteemed list. All the finalists can be seen here.
What’s next in the Western arena for me? Well, my Tarzan novel Tarzan and the Forest of Stone–featuring Tarzan’s first-ever adventure in the American Southwest–should be out next month, and is still available for preorder here in multiple formats.
My police-procedural series Major Crimes Squad: Phoenix, launching in September from Wolfpack Publishing, is kind of a contemporary Western, featuring a lead character who’d rather stay on the family ranch than work as a detective, except after the ranch was subdivided between family members over the years, his parents sold what remained and opened a used-book store. Russ Temple stays true to his Western roots while solving heinous crimes on the cactus-studded mean streets of Phoenix, Arizona. Think Longmire meets The Shield. I also have a couple of short stories on the way soonish, about which more when I can announce.
After that? I’ve got some things stirring on the fire. Wait and see.