When — and why — did you first fall in love with Westerns?
I first fell in love with Westerns watching them with my father. He was an avid John Wayne fan and loved the West himself, and his love for it flowed down river to me. When we took vacations out west, they took me to places that I had never seen and instilled in me the wanderlust that would grow to become realized in my 20s and 30s.
Who are your three favorite Western writers?
I love Tony Hillerman, Larry McMurtry and my new friend Craig Johnson. Tony’s work brought me into the land that I loved when I could not be there in person. Larry’s work was full of memorable characters and depth that churned in my mind long after the book was back on my shelf, and Craig’s Longmire series is the new standard to be set against for young writers. He even was gracious enough to do the main blurb for my first novel, “Path of the Dead,” published Aug. 14, 2018.
Which Western do you wish you’d written?
If I thought about that honestly for a moment, I guess it would be “The Searchers.” I have a hardcover copy of that novel and have yet to read it, but the movie was so good I would have loved to have penned the novel it was based upon.
What is the most recent Western you’ve read?
I am currently finishing up Craig Johnson’s “Death Without Company,” the second novel in the Longmire series. I love his characters and now think of the actors in their respective roles as I step inside their world and take a break from living in the fictional world of my own characters.
The “Desert Island” question. What are your three favorite Western books?
I would have to say ANY of the Hillerman “Leaphorn/Chee” novels that I haven’t read yet.
What are your three favorite Western movies?
I would have to say “Chisum” and the “Centennial” and “Lonesome Dove” miniseries. They NEVER get old!
Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite — and why?
Well, since I only have the one novel published, it will be “Path of the Dead.” It took me 20 years to write that book while life took over the reins, and I never once gave up. I had people tell me that I was never going to get it published and that I was no James Patterson or Steven King. I always responded that I would get it published and that James Patterson and Steven King were no Tony Hillerman, and he was no Robert B. Parker, and they were no Mickey Spillane, and he was no Raymond Chandler, and I could go on and on! The point being that I was ME. No one else. And no one else will be me. Each of us, as a writer, has our own style and voice; and once we find that voice, we are on the path of fulfilling our goals and dreams. Because of persistence and a will that drives us to achieve, we can all attain the brass — NO! The Golden Ring!
What is the most recent Western you’ve written?
“Path of the Dead,” which is book one of the Arthur Nakai Mystery Series, published Aug. 14th, 2018.
Can you tell us anything about your next book?
I am currently working on “Death Waits in the Dark.” I recently spent 10 days in Santa Fe and northwestern New Mexico visiting the locations for the novel and meeting with some Navajo people to discuss the current things going on in the area that are pertinent to my main plot as well as my subplot. It was an interesting visit. I learned a lot about the oil and gas drilling and fracking that has taken over much of the Navajo Reservation and its environmental impact; I also interviewed a retired U.S. Army chaplain friend of mine who has firsthand experience counseling our soldiers that suffer from PTSD, another hard subject dealt with in my novel. I hope my readers will learn about the current issues the Navajo people face and how PTSD changes the lives of so many of our heroes in so many ways. The third novel in my series, “When Silence Screams,” will deal with the missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) that go missing each year. I have already begun researching that tragedy and have become more angry with each true story I read about. I hope it will help bring to light the fact that 5,712 young girls and women were murdered or missing just in the year 2016 alone — a fact that seems lost on the mainstream media.
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?
Hmmmm. I guess I’d have to say anywhere in the American West. I love it all. From the deserts of the Southwest to the mountains or Montana. I find it hard to chose one location. I think that I would be happy most anywhere I could have befriended and learned from the native tribes of the area. I would have loved to have done that.
Is there a question you wish I’d asked?
I guess who my all-time favorite Western movie star was.
And that, of course, would be the Duke himself. John Wayne. I had the great fortune of visiting the John Wayne Birthplace and Museum many years back and had the chance to speak privately with the curator. After I had shown her my photo album of all my JW memorabilia, she said that she thought she had something I would appreciate. She got up from behind her desk and went to a file cabinet in the corner of the room where she removed a box. She sat it on her desk and opened it and removed John Wayne’s Union cavalry hat that he wore in “The Horse Soldiers.” She handed it to me, and I could not believe it! I was holding John Wayne’s hat! It was like a drummer holding John Bonham’s drumsticks! I began to shake and gave it back to her. I’m afraid that will be the closest I will ever get to my hero.