Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A Western Year

Published by Hale - Black Horse Western - Feb 2008
Roamer is having a bad day - he is savaged by a grizzly, robbed by bandits and attacked by wolves. So by the time he makes it to the little Rocky Mountain town of Tall Pine all he wants is a cup of coffee, a hot meal and a soft bed. Instead, the sheriff jails him for murder.
Layers of lies and a string of killings blacken the very soul of Tall Pine as a seething mob marks Roamer's homely face as guilty and seeks its twisted justice with his blood. Can he stop the townsfolk from destroying themselves or will they kill him first? It's a race against time for Roamer as the savage mob rips apart its little town, leaving innocent people dead and the wrong people in charge.
This has to be my top book for 2008. Even now, nearly a year gone now Roamer's fight with the grizzly still lives in my mind.
Matthew P. Mayo is a relatively new western writer and I have read all three titles that he has written so far. The other titles are WINTER'S WAR and HOT LEAD, COLD HEART.
Other western writers that I have enjoyed this year are Rory Black with his Iron Eyes series; James Reasoner's 'Death Head Crossing' and his Longarm novel 'The Restless Redhead'; Chap O'Keefe's Misfit Lil; the western novels of Australian writer Jake Douglas; Corba Sunman - another Black Horse Western writer and the discovery of Hank Mitchums's Stagecoach Station series.
Also, this year has seen the collaboration of British writer Dave Whitehead and the German western writer Alfred Wallon with the excellent re-telling of Adobe Walls in 'ALL GUNS BLAZING'.
And I have to mention that June this year saw the publication of Jack Giles 'LAWMEN'. His ninth and my 'first'.
It would be interesting to know what book of the year other people nominate. In the meantime a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


A Merry Christmas to all and all the best for the New Year.
I'll be back when the festivities are over.
Thanks to all those who follow my blog.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Wild Westerners Day - 22nd Dec 2008

Check out the piece on The Tainted Archive (link in side panel). Here in the UK bookshops do not sell westerns - why not? Go into stores and demand a western book or go into the local library and ask why the haven't stocked up on new westerns.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Michael D. George - Western Writer

RAWHIDE RIDER by Dale Mike Rogers due to be published 30th January 2009 by the Black Horse Westerns imprint of Robert Hale Ltd.
Seasoned gunfighter Rawhide Jones quits working for Diamond Jim Brady in an attempt to start a new life as a lawman far from Laredo down in the border town of Santa Maria. But Brady has other ideas and sets the rest of his gunmen on Jones' trail to kill him for nobody quits Diamond Jim Brady and lives to tell the tale. Can Rawhide Jones survive and turn the tables on his evil boss? With the help of Marshall Ethan Parker and his two sons, Jones tries to do the impossible and live.
So what do Black Horse Western writers Dale Mike Rogers, Boyd Cassidy (author of the Bar 10 books), Roy Patterson, John Ladd, Walt Keene, Dean Edwards and Rory Black have in common?
They are the pen-names of 57 year old, Cardiff, Wales born Black Horse Western writer Michael D. George.
Last year he nearly died and his health suffered but he can still write.
This year saw the publication of Rory Black's 'THE REVENGE OF IRON EYES' in July and Michael D. George's 'KID DYNAMITE' in August.
I first became aware of Rory Black's Iron Eyes books when Steve M did a review, last August, of the novel 'SPURS OF THE SPECTRE' on his excellent blog Western Fiction Review (see panel for the link). I was hooked on the character and wanted to know more.
From time to time I read the back numbers at where I came across an article by Black Horse Western writer Lance Howard. One of those who responded to the article was Michael D. George.
Recognising some of his pen-names I wrote to Michael asking for an interview and this is the result.
1. Thanks for agreeing to this interview.
It is my pleasure to be interviewed.
2. What prompted you to become a writer? And why westerns?
Well, ever since I was a small child I sort of knew that I wanted to write. After years of trying I just thought that I would try westerns and 'THE VALKO KID' (BHW April 1999) was accepted. The funny thing is that when I was about 13 I tried to write a western called 'The Valko Kid'. 34 years later I got it right. I have a vast knowledge of the wild west but never used it until 1998.
3. Was your first accepted book a western or something else?
No, like I said Valko was it.
4. With so many pseuonyms do you work on more than one book at a time?
No, I tried that but my brain could not cope.
5. Of all the books that you have written do you have a favourite?
My favourite book is 'The Valko Kid' because it was the first but Iron Eyes runs a close second.
6. Which of your books would you recommend to a new reader of westerns?
That's a tough one. I think my novel 'THE MEXICAN BANDIT' (by Roy Patterson - BHW Jan 2001) is fun. I am sure that someone new to the genre might like it as it is different to the average 'oater'.
7. Rory Black's character Iron Eyes is very interesting. Can you tell us something about the inspiration behind his character?
Iron Eyes is a mystery even to me. I had just written a book 'KID PALOMINO' and John Hale of Black Horse accepted it but said that I needed more action in my next book. So I thought "I'll give them action." I started to write about a saloon with blood dripping down the walls and there was Iron Eyes. He just came into my mind. At first, Mr Hale was not so sure about the character as he did not fit the 'hero' stereotype. I explained that he was an anti-hero and since then has proven to be my most popular creation.
8. Do you have any tips for new writers?
Know what you are writing about so that fiction relates to fact. It has to ring true or you will fail. Detail.
9. Finally, what do you think of the western genre today and how do you see the future of the genre?
I think westerns are as good today as they have always been.
The future lies in the hands of the buyers for W.H.Smith etc though. There was a time in the 70s when the western filled acres of space and sci-fi and fantasy was regarded as dead. Now the reverse is true. It is all in the taste of those people. Publishers cannot make paperbacks if companies like Smiths won't give them shelf space.
If TV had a few family shows on the west like 'Gunsmoke' and 'Bonanza' the attitude would change.
There are no masculine parts to stores like there was. I think buyers are missing a trick though - men have to be made welcome or their money stays in their pockets.
It has been nice talking to you, Ray.
Thanks again Michael.
I do think that he has a point there. It does seem that writers and publishers are at the mercy of a handful of distributors who control what the public reads.
As a few additional reads that I have read are Roy Patterson's 'The Way Station' (this has a great action packed cover that fits with the book); Dean Edward's 'The Valley Of Death' and Dale Mike Rogers 'The Mustang Men'. All worth a look.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Duane Eddy

Think of the 'PETER GUNN' theme and I can't help but couple that with the name of Duane Eddy.

It is strange to think that this year marked his Seventieth birthday and that he has spent fifty of those years twangin' that old guitar.

Duane was born in 1938 in Corning, New York and moved, in the fifties, to Pheonix, Arizona.

There are various versions of his influences that range from gospel and blues to a love of the guitar playing of Gene Autry and Django Reinhardt. Whichever way you look at it all those influences flavour his music.

In the mid-fifties he met up with DJ Lee Hazlewood with whom he began writing music which Hazlewood began to produce. Duane was signed up to Jaime Records (released under the London label in the UK) and, in 1958, released the first track 'Movin' and Groovin'' that proved a modest success and established that 'twang' sound. This sound came from the bass strings of the guitar.

'Rebel Rouser' was the big breakthrough record and it was this that made me aware of rock n roll.

Duane Eddy holds the record for the shortest disc to make the top 40 with 'Some Kind-a Earthquake' that plays in at 1 minute 17 seconds.

In 1960 a recording of 'Ghost Riders In The Sky' by The Ramrods was thought to be by Duane Eddy for the legendary twang and the calls and whistles that were the hallmark of Duane Eddy and The Rebels (his backing group). In fact The Ramrods were a Connecticut group consisting of Claire Lane (drums), her brother Richard (sax) with Vincent Bell Lee and Eugene Moore (guitars). They had the sound down to a T so it is understandable that there was some confusion at the time.

Though it is said that Duane Eddy never varied his sound time has proved that he could be innovative. The album 'Songs Of Our Heritage' shows another side of Duane Eddy's work as this is probably the first 'unplugged' type of album by any artiste. Also there is 'Twangy Guitar And Silky Strings' that combines Duane Eddy's sound with a string orchestra. When Duane signed to Sinatra's Reprise label he produced two big band style albums - 'The Biggest Twang Of Them All' and 'The Roaring Twangies'.

Duane Eddy made several films: 'Because They're Young', the 1968 Biker movie 'The Savage Seven' and 'Kona Coast' with Richard Boone.
His first appearance was as a guitar plucking cavalry trooper in 'A Thunder Of Drums' with Richard Boone, George Hamilton, Richard Chamberlain and Charles Bronson. He followed this with another Western 'The Wild Westerners' - a B movie where he was billed in third place - ahead of singer/actor Guy Mitchell. He wrote the film score and the main title theme was the B-side of 'Ballad Of Palladin' which was the theme from the Richard Boone series 'Have Gun-Will Travel'. Duane Eddy guest starred in two episodes of this series.

In 1994 the Grammy Award winning Duane Eddy was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame.
Over the years Duane Eddy's guitar playing has influenced many other artists ranging from Paul McCartney and George Harrison to Bruce Springsteen.
Duane Eddy plays the end titles to the John Travolta movie 'Broken Arrow' and those twangy guitar plucks to announce the villain are his fingers at work. Hans Zimmer, who wrote the score, is quoted as saying: "I always thought that Duane's style was being ripped off by the spaghetti westerns. But this time I got the real thing."
I can see his point. There have been times when I have thought that - the score to 'A Professional Gun' with Franco Nero sounds as though it was something that came from Duane Eddy.
That's the thing with influence - the sound is always there.
To use the title of one of his tracks I guess Duane Eddy will always be 'The Man With The Golden Guitar'.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Walt Masterson

Just going to echo the announcement on The Tainted Archive that Black Horse Western writer Walt Masterson has died. Christopher Kenworthy, who has written several books under the Masterson name, died from leukemia. He will be sadly missed and my family and I would like to express our own sympathy to Chris's family.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

God Forgives...I Don't

Starring Terence Hill, Bud Spencer and Frank Wolff
Directed by Giuseppe Colizzi
This movie saw the first pairing of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer who were better known for the Trinity movies and, maybe, that is what taints this film.
God Forgives owes more to the 'Dollar' movies and, therefore, has a laconic sense of humour.
The story is simple. The outlaw leader, Bill San Antonio (Wolff) fakes his own death by forcing Cat Stevens (Hill) into a gunfight over a game of cards. Piece by piece the whole story comes out through a series of flashbacks.
When a train is robbed and all the passengers killed the finger points at it being the work of Bill San Antonio - but he's dead. Insurance Investigator Hutch Bessy (Spencer) is sent to look into the matter and enlists the aid of Cat Stevens who works to his own agenda. He wants to see San Antonio dead and, at the same time, has his eye on the money.
The film is slow to start off with but it is paced so that it livens up quickly.
The DVD for this film is of poor quality - watchable though - but this is down to the production company.
Two further films featuring Cat Stevens and Hutch Bessy followed. 'Aces High' with Eli Wallach and 'Boot Hill' featuring Woody Strode. Both these films and 'God Forgives' were directed by Giuseppe Colozzi.
For film buffs: Terence Hill was born Mario Girotti in Venice during 1939.
Bud Spencer was born in Naples during 1929 as Carlo Pedersoli.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Home Is The Hunter

After all the house hunting and surviving the horrors of moving this small family have settled into their new home.
As each of us have individual traits we all have our ways of settling in.
For me this means the strategic placing of my bookcase and putting all my westerns onto the shelves. Once that is done I can turn around and say that I am home.
The wife, Sandy, on the other hand must unpack the kettle and make a cup of tea.
However, the newest member of our family, namely our teenage granddaughter Chantel has astounded us.
We moved into our new home on Friday and, by the time we went to bed, we still had boxes to unpack and other things to do. But Chantel single handed put up her bed and made it; put up her curtains; connected DVD player, Freeview Box, Playstation and TV together; set up her music player and hung her clothes in the wardrobe.
While we were slogging away she was phoning and texting friends and letting them know that the move had been a success.
This was not a selfish act. Chantel did offer to help but we refused it for the obvious reasons. At least, for her, normal service had been resumed.

I have to admit that I was unsure about down-sizing.
It had to be done as neither Sandy nor myself were able to cope with a large garden. Now everything is on one floor and it is someone else's job to take care of the gardening.
The peculiar thing is that now everything is in it's place we seem to have more space.
My thanks go to my two sons, Jack and Scott, who took the brunt of the heavier loads and my daughter-in-law, Nicola, who drove the van.
And to my two small grandsons Luke and Ryan who recognised their grandfather's priority by piling books onto the bookshelf. Eventually, I will teach them things like alphabetical order and that it is not necessary to put as many books as possible onto one shelf - but it is the thought that counts.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Gone Away

There will be a short silence for a week or so as we are moving house. We go off line tomorrow and return around the 9th/10th Dec - so I'll be able to catch up then.