When — and why — did you first fall in love with Westerns?
I have always loved Westerns. My brothers and I grew up watching them on the black and white television — “Roy Rogers,” “Gene Autry,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Sky King” and “Zorro” to name a few off the top of my head. But I also came to the love of Westerns naturally. We were raised on a small ranch and always had horses. My mother and father enjoyed rodeo and riding horses and passed that same love of horses and rodeo to me. When I was born, my dad worked for a rancher taking care of cattle. That same ranch is just a few miles from where I live now. My parents taught us all to ride, and we all started on a pony named Black Beauty. There was a path around the house from where she would circle around it. She was a babysitter; mom would put us on her back and then she would walk around the house with us for hours. Mother would come and switch us off and Black Beauty did the rest.
Who are your three favorite Western writers?
My very favorite one is Louis L’Amour. I’ve read many of his books and once had a leather-bound collection of over a dozen of them. After that it is hard to say — maybe Zane Gray and then probably William Johnstone. I do love many of the writers currently writing. I love to read almost as much as I love to write. Currently in my “to read” bookcase are David Bailey, Wayne Winkle, Fred Staff, Sam Scott, Johnny Gunn, Douglas Cobb and Cherokee Parks just to name a few. I just can’t seem to keep up with all the books I want to read, but when I retire I am sure I will have the time.
Which Western do you wish you’d written?
I can’t say that I ever wished I had written someone else’s book.
What is the most recent Western you’ve read?
“Death Rides a Gray Horse” by Fred Staff. A very nice Western adventure set in the post-Civil War era, which is a time period for writing that I too favor.
The “Desert Island” question. What are your three favorite Western books?
I don’t have three favorites, but “The Rustlers of West Fork” by Louis L’Amour could be one. But if I was on a deserted island, I would take three I hadn’t yet read.
What are your three favorite Western movies?
“Tombstone,” “Open Range” and “Quigley Down Under.”
Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite — and why?
That is hard to say. I love them all, but I would think that “Wintering in Outlaw Pass” could be it. It’s a more retro book occurring in the 1950s and has some scenes in it that I can closely relate to. It is an exciting Western adventure full of the things you expect a Western to have — shootouts, fights, outlaws and romance splashed in in just the right amount. However, I think “James Tylor the Bounty Hunter” is there on the top too. I believe it has sold the most copies of any I’ve written. Or maybe “Gunsmoke the United States Bounty Hunter.” That’s a hard question to answer in that it changes, and I do feel like every new release is my favorite at the time.
What is the most recent Western you’ve written?
That would be the short story “Revenge at the River’s Edge.” It remains very popular and is one I may go back and add to. It was published by Dusty Saddles Publishing and came out May 9 of this year. It is a pre-Civil War story about traders going upriver to trade. Much of it occurs on the Neosho River that runs just a few miles from our ranch, but of course it must have the mighty Mississippi included. It was written to be in a book that had several authors with stories presented by, guess who, Scott Harris. That book is “The Trapper: The Trail of Blood.” The publisher Dusty Saddles liked it well enough to make it a short story of its own.
Can you tell us anything about your next book?
I have several in the can, so I am not really sure which one the editor will put out next. But I believe that the next book will be “Laramie.” It’s about a man who had once been a sheriff and becomes a bounty hunter. He brings in the outlaws dead or alive. It has the twists and turns that you have grown to expect with any of the Clint Clay novels and short stories, but it is still a new and different tale of the lawless West. I think it is one that will hold your interest and leave you wanting more. It may just become a series.
If you could go back in time, what would be the time and place in the Old West you’d like to have lived in for a year?
Another not so simple question. I believe I would like to live after the War Between the States and during the big cattle-drive era. I would have loved to have driven cattle up from Texas on the Chisholm Trail and spent the end of the drive in Dodge or Abilene.
Is there a question you wish I’d asked?
What got me started as a Western writer?
I have always enjoyed reading and writing and was encouraged to by my English teachers while in school, but after school I didn’t write until I started writing my wife poems. She enjoyed the Western and cowboy poetry I wrote her and encouraged me to write more. J.C. Hulsey then encouraged me to write some Western books. I found that I enjoyed it and I had far more words to play with than when writing poetry. The more I wrote, the more hooked I got on writing, and to my surprise, Western readers enjoyed my writing — and that too was encouraging. But I write mostly for myself, and if the readers like it, it is a blessing. A blessing I am very grateful to have.