Monday, May 2, 2011
Why I Write and Love Westerns
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?