07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why I Write and Love Westerns

I'd feel lower than a snake's belly if I didn't inform you all about the charm of western romance novels whether they're historical or contemporary.

We've all felt that visceral pull when a man in tight blue jeans, cowboy boots, T-shirt or a long sleeved work shirt, and a cowboy hat came into view. Before you even see the face, you sigh. We all watched Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and The Virginian growing up. Or the western movies with John Wayne, Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott… I could go on and on.

In our culture the cowboy means chivalry, honor, duty, loyalty. Traits we all cherish in a hero. That's why I like to write westerns- historical or contemporary.
The cowboy way of life and spirit is embodied in the heroes I write. My Halsey brothers while they're more miners than cowboys, they have the mentality to fight for what's right, treat a lady with respect, and love children and animals. The hero Holt in Bridled Heart is a rodeo cowboy. He exudes charm, but he has a moral compass that is needed when he encounters the heroine who has demons in her past.

And the great characters in the secondary western characters… Gabby Hayes, Tonto, Festus, Trampus. I use the secondary characters I've loved in movies and TV shows to make my secondary characters in my books. In the Halsey books, I have a widowed woman who takes the Halsey brothers under her wing when their parents die. She's a bit nosey but only because she cares. And though she's a tiny thing she doesn't think twice about taking one of the grown brothers by the ear and making them do what's right. And they listen to her because she is their elder and a woman. A cowboy trait. In Bridled Heart the sidekicks are many. His rodeoing buddies with their set of cowboy ethics to help Holt follow his conscience, a teenage girl who adds levity and reality to the story, and a border collie Zip. A good secondary character gives levity to a story in my opinion.

Another reason I write westerns could be the fact I grew up riding horses on a 200 acre ranch and exploring the mountains around our house. The early 1900's ranch house we lived in had a wood cookstove, an outhouse, and a woodshed. Also an earth cellar, we butchered chickens and rabbits, made butter and ice cream. I lived a life similar to the lives of the characters in my historical books. Owning 350 acres raising hay and cattle, I live the country life that I put into my contemporary westerns.

Western romance books whether they're historical or contemporary are about the lifestyle and the cowboy way of life that we all love: God, country, respect, honor, loyalty, and duty. And that's why I write westerns.

Why do you like westerns? Who is your favorite western character either in a book, movie, or TV show? Why?

Paty Jager


therese said...

I like westerns and cowboy stories for the loyalty and their attention to a broader world than - it's lunch time.

Cowboy stories in the open range of our past were a bit restricted to months on the open range with nothing but beans to eat. Dancing with the local lovelies are good.

Terri Molina said...

very cool that you grew up on a ranch.
I love the old west history (probably because I'm from Texas and Texas History class really drew me in) but I don't think I could ever do it justice writing about it.
Great blog post.

Judith Ashley said...

I've been caught watching the old reruns of Bonanza - Hoss Cartwright being one of my favorite characters and certainly fitting your definition of a true cowboy.

Gunsmoke was a 'must see' when I was growing up also. One of those programs that we all watched as a family. Miss Kitty, a fallen woman who still had her dignity; Marshall Dillon, the epitome of the quiet hero.

The moral compass portrayed in these programs certainly had an impact on how I viewed the world and how I thought the world should be.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Paty.

Tam Linsey said...

I've never been into Westerns, although living in Alaska I've experienced a few of the things you describe - outhouses, butchering, hauling wood, etc.
I have to admit, my head turns at the sight of a sexy man in jeans, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat. You just know they know how to treat a lady.

Terri Molina said...

My favorite western, growing up, was Big Valley!! I so loved Heath.

Helen said...

For 35 years I've been married to a man who has wished he was in a saddle fighting for all the goodness that his heroes fought for. He will be thrilled to hear when he comes home tonight that I've met a Western writer who grew up riding horses on an open range. One of my enjoyment's in life is watching him watch Westerns. I'm as equally happy to know you because I come from a family of western TV viewer's and like em' too. And I want you to know camp coffee is our favorite brew!

Sarah Raplee said...

thanks for a thought-provoking post, Paty. I love westerns for the reasons you love to write them. I also love the way characters pull together to prevail in a difficult and often harsh environment - Strength through unity is a beloved theme in western stories. Great post!

Judy said...

When I was very young, Westerns were my favorites, that is all I watched. Fixing to tell my age: Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, all of the older ones, I loved!!!

I enjoy reading Westerns now, I enjoy the romance and humor in them.


Christie Walker Bos said...

I'm a big fan of Westerns, although I must admit I always cheered for the Indians. Loved Dances with Wolves, in which the Native American's were shown more true to life than just being "the savages" who raided and killed the "poor settlers" who, by the way, were setting up camp in the middle of their "churches."

Still, a good cowboy movie or even a series like Lonesome Dove, makes me yearn for simplier times.

While it would have been tough being a woman in those times, especially with my women's lib ideas, I sure would have loved to have worn those clothes!!!

Paty Jager said...

Therese, I agree while the true western cowboy's life wasn't near as wonderful as we write in romance novels, it was in many ways even at the time a revered occupation. Especially when the dime novels started glamorizing outlaws and the men who brought them in.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Terri.
The history of the west is something I've always been interested in. So writing western romance gives me an excuse to buy books on the history. Anyway that's what I tell my husband. ;)

Paty Jager said...

Judith, I grew up watching the old westerns on TV and my grandfather read Zane Grey. They did impart a moral compass for those who watched the shows.

Paty Jager said...

Tam, I think no matter who you are a man dressed western always catches the eye.

Paty Jager said...

Terri, Yes! Heath was my heart throb, too. Big Valley was one of my favorite westerns. That and The Virginian. I swooned for Trampus.

Paty Jager said...

Helen, LOL on the camp brew! I didn't grow up riding the range, I rode the mountains. Where I grew up was mountainous. Now I live where there is more range land than mountains.

Paty Jager said...

Sarah, I agree! Strength through unity is definitely a true thread in stories now and how they lived. Communities worked together and families worked together to overcome troubles.

Paty Jager said...

Judy, You watched those shows as reruns. ;) Thanks for commenting!

Paty Jager said...

Christie, if you love Native American stories you'd like my trilogy set among the Nez Perce. I agree, I think it would have been fun to dress up for a social like they did back then but I think working every day in the long dresses wold have been hard to get used to.

Lauri said...

Great post, Paty, and wonderful new blog! I'll be visiting regularly.

It'll forever be Little Joe for me.


Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Apparently what I write is considered western simply because my stories are set west of the Mississippi River. Since I live in the west, in the Sierra Mountains, my heroines need to be rougher and tougher which makes them western. I'm not complaining since now I know the reason why. I always thought westerns were your kind of stories and I've always loved them, too. Saturday night was not in its right orbit unless we watched Gunsmoke. I still think of that show as a warm and fuzzy time in my youth.

I bounce back and forth between a cowboy in tight pants and a highlander in a kilt. I suppose that's why my hero is usually a cowboy with a Scottish accent. :)

You've got me stumped who is Trampus? Festus was always a favorite, especially his obsession with the 'hangy down part' of one's ear. :)

Paty Jager said...

Lauri, Thanks for stopping in! I know you and Little Joe. And for some reason i can easily see that. I think you've built a little of him in all your heroes.

Paty Jager said...

Paisley, Trampus was a second to the foreman on the Virginian. And the reason I watched the show.

Tanya Hanson said...

Sam Elliott is the best cowboy ever in whatever he's in. As for TV, I also loved Trampas and that's why I watched the show and even checked out The Virginian in the library. (found it a snoozefest at that age LOL).

Een though it's an Aussie "Western", Tom Selleck is awesome in Quigley.

Sarah Raplee said...

Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck are two of my favorites, too! and I loved Quigley down Under. :)

Paty Jager said...

Tanya, I agree. Tom Selleck in Quigley Down under is to drool for. Even my husband loves watching that movie over and over. But I don't think it's for Tom Selleck. ;)

Sarah, Sam Elliott's voice gets me every time!

Kris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kris said...


I grew up reading Louis L'Amour and Danielle Steel so western romances are a natural fit for me.

My favorite western movie is the Sacketts which had both Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot in it.

I agree that Sam Elliot is the ultimate cowboy and I love his voice. I listen to his Dodge ram commercials just to listen to his voice - it is so distinctive.

My favorite TV show is one that very few people know of - it's called the Yellow Rose and it aired in 1983 for only one season. It had not only Sam Elliot but also the late great Ken Curtis, Noah Berry Jr. and Chuck Conners. Talk about an all star cast of cowboys.

Sarah Raplee said...

I remember that one, Kris! Sometimes the good die young. *SIGH*

Paty Jager said...

Kris, I agree the Sacketts is a great western., I mean really, Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck. You can't get any more yummy that that. I faintly remember Yellow Rose.

Sarah, Thanks for stopping in!

Kris said...

Sarah & Patty,

Ironically, Warner Bros. actually released 'The Yellow Rose' on DVD yesterday


Needless to say that I pre-ordered it as soon as I heard about it back in March. :-)

Sarah Raplee said...

That's great news! thanks for sharing, Kris!!!

Paty Jager said...

I'll have to check that out. Thanks, Kris!

Redameter said...

Ahh yes, I'm right at home here. I loved the Big Valley, and Heath of course, the silent underdog.
John Wayne was one of my favorites, Sons of Katie Elder, Rooster Cogburn, The Cowboys. John learn to be the best cowboy ever, and he learned it from Paul Fix, you guys probably remember Paul as the sheriff on The Rifleman. He taught John how to walk and talk like a cowboy. Paul was no slouch either.

Native American, Beyond the Dream Cacther is a sensual story of two half breeds in West Texas trying to survive.

Who didn't love Hoss Cartwright?
Gary Cooper in HIgh Noon?

I hope someday I'm as good as the writers were back in the 50's and 60's. When the westerns rules.

Love and blessings

Paty Jager said...

Rita, My husband loves John Wayne's the Cowboys.