When I was a kid visiting my aunt and uncle in Hastings, Michigan, my favorite thing to do was gaze for hours at Uncle Rob’s many bookcases. I can’t tell you how many great authors I discovered on those shelves. John Dos Passos, Jim Harrison, Thomas Babington Macaulay…but the one author that intrigued me the most (but so far even to this day have not read) was Louis L’Amour. He had an entire leather bound collectors set of the great Westerns that he didn’t allow me to touch. That was a bit of a buzzkill, but it created a little tiny spark inside that for the longest time has been all but extinguished.
I don’t know why, but when I got to California a couple of weeks ago all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I began to be interested a little bit in Western literature. I’m not sure if it was flying over the desert on my way into San Diego, the style of house that you don’t see at all in Michigan, or something else entirely. I’m certainly not staying in an area associated with the Wild West. What might have done it was when I came downstairs and saw my girlfriend’s mom watching Longmire on Netflix. Craig Johnson’s mysteries are the only Westerns I’ve ever read, and besides the occasional Gunsmoke episode when I can’t find nothing else on the first season of that show is the only true Western show I’ve watched my entire life. And I can very honestly say that I’ve never written anything even remotely near that category.
Not only can I figure out why I’ve gained a sudden interest in them, but I also don’t get why I’m interested in possibly writing a Western. Could it maybe be that, like the space settings I always turn to for my SF, the Wild West is completely unknown territory to me? Is it the rich tradition that outdates SF and modern fantasy that is drawing me in? Is it the Western condition?
Hopefully as I start doing some research into it and make an attempt at writing one I can find the answers I seek. I’ve toyed around in the past writing horror, comedy, thrillers, and literary fiction but never Westerns.
Time to saddle up and get going!