Why Westerns ?

When I tell people that I write westerns, they usually ask why. Well, I loved watching westerns on the telly when I was young. Series like 'Alias Smith and Jones', 'High Chaperral' and 'Bonanza' were on regularly. I loved horses, and westerns feature a lot of horses - I think that was the initial attraction. While I had a Sindy doll and horse, she came a poor second to my action figures of Butch Cassidy and the Lone Ranger and their horses. Years later, I paid tribute to my first, and favourite horse, Bandit (Butch and Bandit are pictured left, below, though those are not my childhood originals, who are far too battered to look impressive). A black stallion, faster than other horse and with a distinctive Y-shaped white marking on his face, appears as Buck Heeley's horse in 'Navajo Rock'.

Butch and Bandit

My dolls rarely went in for dull occupations like being a model or a doctor; they were usually outlaws or adventurers. Later on, I discovered western novels and collected dozens of them. And of course, western movies. As it happens, I like most genres of movies and fiction; the western is one of them but it dominates my writing. Any author or would-be author will tell you that the hardest thing is not writing a novel, but getting agents and publishers to look at it. The first full-length book I wrote happened to be a western, because I had a strong urge to write about those particular characters. I knew that westerns are almost impossible to sell in Britain, but I wrote that book more as a learning experience than anything. However, I discovered that Robert Hale publish westerns and were willing to look at a newcomer's manuscripts. Although they didn't accept that first book, at least they looked at it and made encouraging remarks. In the face of deafening indifference from elsewhere about other fiction, I wrote a book especially for Robert Hale and got it accepted.
So I write westerns because I like the settings and the possibilities, and because I'm fairly sure that they'll get published, which is the point of writing, after all. I like other people to read what I've written.

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