Louis L’Amour and a Cigar

October 5, 2015

One of the joys of my life is what my kids call a “Louis and a cigar.”

Louis L’Amour may or may not be the greatest Western writer of all time, but he is certainly the best-selling and my personal favorite. At the time of his death, he had published more than 100 books — 89 of which were novels — and almost all of these novels were Westerns. I’ve read each one of Louis’ novels a minimum of three times. They are quick reads, most well under 200 pages, and about every five years or so I’ll cycle through the entire list, in alphabetical order. Tucked in the corner of my backyard is a triangular-shaped deck, with a nice little roof that hides a light and a ceiling fan. Strung between two of the support posts is a fantastically comfortable hammock. It’s fairly new, as I recently replaced my last one, which had done a great job for me for 21 years. From the hammock, I can see my entire backyard and often sit for a bit and watch hummingbirds (17 at one time is my record), crows, ducks, rabbits, hawks and squirrels and — if I’m lucky — an owl flying over the creek, just as dusk settles in. One of the joys of my life is what my kids call a “Louis and a cigar.” I take one of his paperbacks, a good cigar and a little something to drink, and head out to the hammock. No phone and unless it’s fairly important, no interruptions. I try to do this at least two or three afternoons a week. I imagine this is what a more introspective person would call “therapeutic” — I simply call it extremely relaxing. I’ve been known to doze off for a bit (after putting out the cigar) or spend some time thinking, but quite often it’s just a “Louis and a cigar.” My love of Louis’ books and the genre in general (Lonesome Dove is one of my favorite books and my all-time favorite movie) is almost certainly what has led me to start writing Wolf. I have no doubt that when I’m done, there will be more than a hint of Louis to be found. I certainly hope that this semblance is seen by Louis’ fans and readers of Wolf as a sign of respect, which is how it’s intended.