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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Writers’ insider information

Under the heading ‘Insider information’, the latest issue (#154) of Writers’ Forum (UK) features an article (pp 46/47) by Phil Barrington who interviews three writers of westerns – Diana Harrison, Jill McDonald-Constable and yours truly: he asks about the rapidly changing world of writing and how it affects this genre.

In the article I mention the UK stalwart Robert Hale, but also Piccadilly Publishing, Western Trail Blazer, Prairie Rose Publications, and Beat to a Pulp.

Coincidentally, my book Write a Western in 30 Days is again in the top 100 for the category Kindle Store>Books>Education>Education & Reference>Publishing & Books. So, many thanks to all those people who purchased it – and I hope it proves useful. Reviewers say it’s of benefit to writers of all genre fiction, not only westerns.

The Old West was not tamed solely by men, of course. Women played their significant part and are often major characters in modern versions of the Old West. Women in the western represent the alternative to violence. There’s a paradox here, as civilization depends on there being men who will not choose the seductive comforts the woman offers: it’s as though a society without violence, a society indeed fit for women, can only come into being through violence.

Western writing is not the domain of male writers alone, and never has been; a number of female writers have produced memorable work in the field, among them Annie Proulx, Janet Dailey, Dorothy M Johnson, Amy Sadler, and Gillian F Taylor (the latter is a Mastermind finalist). Some use male pennames, such as Amos Carr, used by writer Jill McDonald-Constable, Terry James used by Joanne Walpole, Tex Larrigan, used by Irene Ord, and Terry Murphy used by Theresa Murphy. Others have opted for unisex pennames, such as M.M. Rowan and D.M. Harrison.

Every genre needs new blood, since the readership has a voracious appetite for more of the same. As it says on the cover, this guide seeks to encourage new writers to tackle the western and do so within a limited time period.

The western can cover all manner of storylines relevant to today’s readership. Dysfunctional families, domestic strife, racism, greed, crooked business, and even supernatural elements are all grist to the mill for modern writers of westerns.
Essentially, the western has a broad canvas, rich in history and imagery, a period from the 1860s to the 1890s, where myth and history intermingled. The Old West was a melting pot of nationalities, of religions, and of morality. The human condition can be examined using the mores of the western archetype. New stories of the Old West can move readers just as effectively, if not even moreso, than competing genres. The only limitation is the skill of the writer.
- Write a Western in 30 Days, pp 4/5

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