It was originally my plan to write one Western novel. It was a good plan and fit very well with my penchant for burning through hobbies quickly. It was a bucket list thing, a lark that promised fun and fulfillment. I started writing in 2017 and self-published “Coyote Courage” toward the end of that year. It was a blast to write the book, though admittingly, I had no idea what I was doing. I had friends and family to guide me, and in the end, the book turned out pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. And I was done, or so I thought.
Two days later, I started the second book.
By the middle of last year, I had published six Brock Clemons Westerns: “Coyote Courage,” “Coyote Creek,” “Coyote Canyon,” “Battle on the Plateau,” “Mojave Massacre” and “Ambush at Red Rock Canyon.” Additionally, I published two anthologies: “Tales From Dry Springs” and “Tales From the Grand Canyon.”
I was fortunate enough to sell millions of pages, get my 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol had promised me and have a tremendous amount of fun along the way.
And then, I was done.
Not with writing Westerns, but with the Brock Clemons story. I’d been asked to co-write a book with a very successful author, but in the end, his protagonist was not consistent with how I viewed Brock, who I had come to be quite territorial about. However, I was intrigued and motivated by the request, so I created a new character, Caz: Vigilante Hunter — no last name.
All the while, I intended to go back to Brock. But when I finished the sixth book in the Caz series, instead of going back to Brock et al., I started a third series — Stagecoach Willy, and I am now on the second of six planned books.
I share this because while I find it hard to let go of Brock, I find it harder to think about going back and writing another in the series. I have explored the things I wanted to explore, developed the relationships I wanted to develop, and while I could keep doing it over and over, I don’t think it’s fair to the reader or, candidly, to me. I like keeping the books — which means the characters — fresh. I was one book away from Brock becoming stale. If you are familiar with the term, I was very close to “jumping the shark,” something I wanted to avoid.
That doesn’t mean I won’t go back. I have a couple of ideas floating around. One, when I finish the six Willy books, I’d like to do a single novel that brings Brock, Caz and Willy together. Sounds like fun. I was tempted to kill Brock off, but friends asked me not to, in case one day, I’d like to go back to him, which I may. And here’s a little advanced notice — I think the next series I tackle will be based on Huck, Brock’s adopted son. Over the course of the Brock series, Huck developed into my favorite character, and I’d like to explore that further.
Anyway, I thought it might be of interest to know a little of what goes on in a writer’s mind, or at least in the mind of this writer. Certainly, if you put 10 writers in a room to discuss the subject of how many books is too many, you would get 11 different opinions. Speaking of which—I’d love to hear yours. If you’re so inclined, please send me a note at [email protected]
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and have a fantastic day.