Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Black Horse Westerns - June 2010

The Hunting of Lope Gamboa by Jack Sheriff

Texas Rangers Jack Carson and Eddie Brand have been hunting outlaw Lope Gamboa for some time without success, but when they ride into Yuma it seems their luck has changed. An assignment of US gold is to be transported along the Oxbow route by Conestoga wagon and the Rangers are convinced that Gamboa will attempt to steal the gold. As all factions close in on the lumbering Conestoga wagon, the trail leads inexorably to a bloody climax in the Gila desert...

Hell in the Mesquites by Daniel Rockfern

The name he gave was Green. If you didn't look carefully, you might have written him off as just another drifting puncher, no better or worse than a thousand others. But there was something about him that made you look again...look and notice the latent power of the whipcord frame, the eyes that could change to icy menace in seconds, and the matched Colts in the tied-down holsters, their butts smooth with much use. A capable man, maybe a dangerous one. The kind of man you were glad to have on your side. A man who looked like he would know what to do in a tight spot and would do it - in a flash.

Prairie Wolves by Corba Sunman

When Bender County, Kansas, becomes the target of a callous gang of range thieves, deputy sheriff Brad Harper finds himself at the forefront of the action. Upon learning that his friend is missing, Harper rides out to his ranch to look for clues and finds the place ablaze. Harper's troubles do not end here, though, and much blood will be shed before justice is done.

The Treasure of Santa Maria by J. William Allen

To his dying day, Monte Crawford never understood why he had saved Grover Lang's life. It was one of those unfathomable things - since it certainly wasn't in his nature to help others. Whatever the reasons, Crawford's uncharacteristic act of kindness leads to all kinds of unforeseen consequences: blood, mayhem and death, as the perilous journey to the legendary treasure of Santa Maria begins...

Creeback by A. Dorman Leishman

When former soldier Jim Rennie finds a dead body at the bottom of Sandy Creek, he realises that his quiet life in Creeback valley is over. Reluctantly, he begins to investigate. The dead boy was not one of the settlers nor a cattleman; nor was he part of their bitter land dispute. Nevertheless, Rennie suspects that the boy's death is central to the feud. Settlers homes are being burned and Tom Rutherford, the man responsible, seems too powerful to be stopped. But Jim Rennie knows he must find a way...

Gideon's Guns by Jake Douglas

Gideon Kirk had lived on the edge of the Law for ten years, both above and below the Rio. When he returns to Texas to take over his ailing father's freight business, he truly believes that this is the deal he needs to shake off his past for good. But old enemies follow him and new foes appear. Soon Gideon is forced to face his past head on.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Bestsellers on - 28 June

The U.S. site this week, and pleasingly nearly all the books are recent publications suggesting they've been bought new and not through the second-hand market. With the pound currently trading at about a thousand pounds to the Zimbabwe cent they've never been better value.

1. Ransom by Owen G. Irons (Hardcover - Aug. 1, 2010)
From $15.61

2. Doc Dryden, Gunslinger by Ted Rushgrove (Hardcover - July 1, 2010)
From $15.61

3. Brazos Fugitive by Tyler Hatch (Hardcover - Apr. 13, 2010)
From $17.90

4. The Tombstone Vendetta by Ralph Hayes (Hardcover - Apr. 1, 2010)
From $17.98

5. Gone to Texas by J. D. Ryder (Hardcover - May 6, 2010)
From $17.90

6. Death Comes Riding by Terrell L. Bowers (Hardcover - Feb. 1, 2010)
From $17.84

7. Find Pecos Joe by Jack Greer (Hardcover - June 16, 1988) - Import
From $33.99

8. The Preacher Rides in by Doc Adams (Hardcover - Dec. 1998)
From $5.01

9. Silver Express by Gillian F. Taylor (Hardcover - Feb. 1, 2010)
From $11.47

10. Shoot-Out at San Lorenzo by Henry Remington (Hardcover - Feb. 1, 2010)
From $17.90

Saturday, 26 June 2010

An interview with Derek Rutherford

Interview conducted by members of the Black Horse Western Discussion Group on 19-20 June 2010:

Welcome, Derek, and thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Here's a very simple potted history of Del, The Writer:

I've been writing with the intention of being published for around 30 years. My first published story was back in the early 80s in a magazine called The Horror Show, which was published out of California. Over the years there have been a couple of dozen short story successes, but for most of that time I've concentrated on unpublishable novels. I think I've written three complete crime novels - only one of which I ever submitted anywhere - and about two dozen unfinished novels. I actually found a few of the agent rejection slips recently and several of them had positive comments. If only I knew then what I know now I'd have probably redrafted the piece and tried again.

I've written three BHWs: Vengeance At Tyburn Ridge, Yellow Town, and The Bone Picker, extract here. The first two have been published, the last is due out this autumn. So far as Express Westerns is concerned, I submitted The Man Who Tracked A River for Where Legends Ride and Dead Man Talking for A Fistful Of Legends.

That's me.

Oh my, I hadn't thought of The Horror Show in years. Might even have an issue or two lying around, since they published Nolan's Norliss Tapes wrap up.

I'm impressed you remember The Horror Show. My first ever story was in their Robert Bloch special, which I remain quite proud of.

I like the extract. I also like the way your story starts already *after* something critical has happened. Like walking into the middle of a movie, and we want to know right away what's the situation this guy is in? how did he get into it? is there any way he can get out of it? etc. We have to read on to find all this out, and by then we're hooked.

That's an interesting and welcome comment. I often feel that I don't do that enough, that I work my way around a story too much before getting into it. So recently I've been trying to actively start stories and scenes in the middle of something, rather than pussyfoot about. There's a fine balance between engaging the reader and confusing the hell out of them.

This scene is nicely written. It all comes out as monologue followed by dialogue, with a handful of "stage directions." It could be a scene from a play. I've seen scenes like this in western movies, usually just before the big final confrontation in which our heroes might die ("Open Range," the remake of "3:10 to Yuma"). They can be powerful, as this one is.

What's interesting is that it's all spoken rather than thought. There's an emotional weight to the scene that comes from men saying to each other what they're thinking and feeling - instead of just keeping it all to themselves, which men tend to do because it makes them seem less vulnerable. Men don't have these moments often in their lives, when they can reveal so much of themselves without the risk of looking "weak."

I generally try to keep my heroes pretty laconic, but I also try to work up a nice shape to the scene, and a nice rhythm - so a long monologue followed by the short exchanges is very intentional. Also, having the character's talk (albeit a contradiction to what I've just said) rather than just think is also a nice way to reveal those characters to the reader whilst at the same time keeping the story progressing at a good pace. Dialogue is probably my favourite element of writing.

I do enjoy studying plays, too. I guess that shows on occasions in my writing.

I think your Buzzard is an interesting mix of honourable and dishonourable. On any moral scale his behaviour is more excusable than the torturing murderers who hung the man from the tree. Could be wrong, but I think it's easier sometimes for a reader to identify with someone like Buzzard than a certified hero.

In some of my reactions from earlier novels excessive violence has been mentioned by agents. Strangely enough, I don't see it myself. Sometimes I allude to violence that has happened in the past and we see the aftermath, but there's not usually much graphic stuff. Certainly not compared to many things I read these days. But then it's entirely possible I'm too close to what I'm writing to see it.

What's violence to one person can be nothing out of the ordinary to another. I suppose it depends on your own benchmark. Personally, if I'm reading a good story and it starts getting a bit too into overload for me I just skim read the bits I don't like the look of whether it's sex, violence or scenery description!

So, take us through how you go about writing a Black Horse Western. Are you a heavy synopsis writer, or more seat of the pants?

I most definitely am not a synopsis writer, but I most definitely should be, hence the large amount of unfinished novels in my bottom drawer. I'm forever writing myself into corners. But every time I set out to produce a synopsis I find myself losing interest - it's the uncovering of the story, the revealing of it to me, that is one of the joys of the process for me.

Usually there'll be two or three elements that come together to create the necessary reactions and interest to kickstart my muse. So it may be an idea for a scene, combined with a period and location in time that has piqued my interest, and maybe something I'm trying to achieve as a writer. In The Bone Picker three such elements came together and away I went. The scene that arrived, fully formed in my imagination, involved a character, most definitely not the hero type, stumbling across a tortured and dying cowboy, and being called upon by the dying man to do something. The time and place was Kansas just before the Civil War.

And the third element was my desire to experiment with The Hero's Journey and to explore some of those devices - the refusal of the call, death and rebirth, shapechangers, and so on. If you've ever read anything about The Hero's Journey then this will make sense. If you haven't, this may come across as nonsense. So, those three things combined and away I went. No plan, just an opening scene and a good intention.

In Yellow Town I wanted to explore how the Civil War might, years later, affect men who'd been involved in the war - in this case men who were on opposite sides in the war but now become partners. The War Between The States often appears in my western fiction. I can't imagine how anyone who was involved cannot be massively influenced by it, witness how WW2 veterans are still moved to tears by just talking about their experiences 70 years later. So I like to explore how such experiences impact events later on in my character's lives.

I appreciate your comment about the Civil War and how it must have darkened the lifetimes of all those who lived through it, especially fought in it. Bloody Kansas in 1855 is a quick hook for me, having grown up in Nebraska just to the north. The national politics (over admitting slave/nonslave states to the Union) leading up to the War made Kansas a real battleground. And a great setting for a novel.

Agreed. In Vengeance At Tyburn Ridge I again explored how the past impacts the present. That novel was almost like a detective novel set in the old west, although one reader told me it was more a love story than anything else - and maybe that was insightful. I always try to incorporate a love story in everything I write.

Story is everything to me. And story is driven by creating interesting characters that the reader cares about. Such character's must want something, and consequently there needs to be other characters who want the opposite... we then get conflict and hence story. So armed with the idea I try to create a decent set of intriguing characters.

After that I see where it goes, and bit by bit I start to find the story. It's not always smooth.

I am a synopsis writer myself, since most of my stories have a central mystery. I generally start with a list of characters, then construct a flow chart of how the story unfolds and how it will tie up. That way I get a visual sense for the book.

Louis L'Amour famously described being asked by his daughter as to why he typed so fast - replying that it was because he wanted to know what happened. Starting with a blank sheet of paper and just writing seems the bold way to go and I have never had the nerve to try it. But perhaps I will. What is your attitude to plotting?

I'm not sure I'd recommended diving in without a plan, if planning currently works for you. I swear I must have written half a million words that ended up going nowhere. I wouldn't say they're wasted words as I'm a firm believer that we need to practice this craft as surely as a musician needs to practice scales or a tennis player his ground strokes. Nevertheless, there is still a sense that with a plan those words could have given me a little more return for my investment in them.

My trouble is that when I sit down and try to imagine an entire novel and a cast of characters I end up getting stuck after a couple of chapters. But if I get into writing those chapters and start to get to know my characters they soon tell me where the story should go. If there is a mystery element to the tale, though, I do tend to work that out in my head beforehand so I do at least know what the basic 'story behind the story' is.

Having said that, I've kind of reached a compromise in my procedure now. I treat my first draft much like this outline/plan/synopsis that we're talking about. So I write it out fully - and much of it will still be there in the final draft - but I give myself permission to write badly, write quickly, to make notes about whole sections / characters / sub-plots that might need to be removed or amended. This way, I don't get too hung up on creating a beautifully rewritten first draft. By treating draft # 1 as an outline I almost get the best of both worlds.

I'm most definitely in the 'there are no new plots' camp. One of my favourite writing books is the massive Seven Plots by Chris Booker. A read of this is a pretty convincing way of illustrating how most of what we read or write falls into a few clear categories. However, that's not to say there are no new stories.

The difference between the two is, for me, characters. Again for me, they are the key to everything. When I think back over the books I love most of all, the thing I remember is not the flawless prose, the beautifully painted backgrounds, the unique twists and turns, but the characters. I remember Hawk and I recall Valdez and Edge and even the Man With No Name, but pretty much I can't remember anything about the plots or the settings. It's all about people. Real people.

So my method of writing (and thus plotting) is that something will give me an idea, it might be a terrorist incident I see on the news, or a cave system in New Mexico I read about in a library book, or a memoir of a stage-coach journey, an insight on card-cheats in the old west, a picture of a beautiful girl...anything. But for some reason it will trigger some resonance within me.

Step two is to let my subconscious mind dwell on this for a while. Also I'll think about how such an incident or insight might fit into one of the classic plots. Is there a Revenge story there about a young boy going after the gang that killed his family? Could a card shark or a beautiful saloon girl somehow use their unique skills to infiltrate an secret organisation (i.e. an Overcoming The Monster story)? Is there something hidden in those caves that a group of men - maybe several groups - are racing to get to (a Quest)?

There are other plots, too: Rags to Riches, Journey and Return, etc etc. But any of these are merely the classic formulas on which we can hang pretty much anything we want. I'll start to think of what my characters are like. I'll start to see them, talk to them, write letters to them (sometimes they write back). I'll spend a long time just imagining what they're lives are like. I hang out with them.

Eventually I'll get to the point where I start to make life harder for my prospective heroes. My card shark, who is the only man in town with the skills to infiltrate the secret mining organisation who are running a white slave labour regime, might be a coward. My boy bent on revenge might be in prison facing the gallows. My pretty girl might be in love with the married sheriff. My man trying to protect his family might be incredibly brave but he's a crippled war veteran. My fearless gunslinger might have killed an innocent man and has vowed to hang up his guns in favour of the bottle.

At this point, I generally start writing (adhering to all those ideas about structure and making my stories compelling that I wrote about in an earlier post). I have a rough idea of the overall classic plot and the key issue for this specific tale. I know my characters and their immediate problems. Any more thinking spoils the enjoyment of the writing. So in I dive.

The downside to this approach is that it does involve a lot of rewriting afterwards, and sometimes I end up writing myself into a canyon I can't get out of. But it's the most fun way to write for me. And if it's not fun, why do it?

I have never been able to plot a novel. I've got half a dozen books on plotting and often feel plotting is my major weakness. Do you tell your story by coming up with a character and following where he or she leads? Or do you set up some kind of time line? Or do you plot down to the incident as Matt Braun suggests in his book on writing westerns?

I've not read Matt's book, but I have read a couple of others on plotting and I most definitely am unable to plot down to the level that a lot of them suggest. Whenever I've tried to build a story through step-sheets, through writing each scene idea out on little index cards, or through any of the other devices designed to help, I find my interest in the story disappearing extremely rapidly. It's almost like once the story is down on paper in any form there's no longer any reason for me to write it. And that's assuming I'm able to get to the end of such a planning process anyway.

I think I've only ever managed to plot out a novel in advance once, and somewhere I still have that deck of about 50 blue index cards held together by an elastic band outlining that plot... I've never gone back to it.

We all know a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. What are your techniques for turning a beginning, middle, and end into a compelling read?

The beginning, middle, and end structure is important. When I write I'm very aware that I need to hold such a shape in my mind and I try and adhere to it. The beginning needs to introduce the characters, the hero, the villain, the love interest, clearly articulate what each wants, why, and what's stopping them getting it (hopefully each other in most cases!) and set-up up enough overt conflicts that the reader is hooked. The middle is the main bulk of the novel and explores those conflicts, and the end resolves everything - and, in my case - usually contains a short little chapter that shows a glimpse of the future, in essence resolving other things about my characters' lives beyond the main conflict of the book. (As an aside, were I to write a series I'd likely miss out on that last 'fully resolving' chapter)

But how to turn that structure into a compelling read? For the beginning, it's all about mystery. Not mystery in the crime genre sense, but setting up questions in the reader's mind that they're really keen / interested /desperate to know the answer to. I like to get right into the story, start the tale where one of my characters is already in a bit of trouble, in a situation of some sort. It's massively importantly that as soon as possible I make the reader care for that character, give him some traits that the reader will identify with, make the reader like him. That's the toughest thing to do at the start as you really need to do this in the opening few paragraphs to fully set that hook.

Equally important (and this is important in all the conflicts throughout the story) is that the character can't be in a position to walk away from any of this stuff. Something has to be holding him back, forcing him to face the issue. If I can get all of this into my opening, also clearly introduce the majority of my characters and the overall issue - even if it's not yet had to be tackled - then the beginning hopefully becomes compelling.

That's what I set out to do in the opening of Yellow Town. For the middle it's all about increasing the pressure on my likeable characters, making sure things are getting ever worse, ever more impossible, for them. Making out like the bad guys are invincible and are going to win. I want the reader to enjoy the story so I try and make the prose easy and fun to read, I like a bit of repartee between characters, I like some 'cool' in there - you know, my hero to be very heroic, albeit not perfect - and I like to add some insight that readers might stop and say "Yeah, that's how it is. That's right."

Such moments are most likely (in my work) to be about human reactions, fears, worries, more than anything external. All of that I try to put into a framework that builds to one or two set-pieces, a gunfight, a lynching, a stampede, a train crash. Those set pieces are the big foundations of the framework, but it's all the aforementioned little character-based things that make the middle compelling.

For the end, everything I've written above, plus all the strands of the plot need to be tied up, resolution is important, and I like to work to the biggest of all the set pieces. I'm a massive believer in the 'black moment', that instance when all looks lost for the hero and consequently for all the people on who's behalf he is fighting (as, in my fiction, he's usually helping others). This moment is what drives the final act of my fiction. As mentioned above, I also like a little 'afterward', in which I try and move the reader to tears and make them determined to buy my next book.

And that's how I go for a compelling end! So there's a structure, but it's all about characters, making them real and likeable and giving them problems that the reader is personally involved in.

How long does it take from start to finish on average?

I had to rewrite Yellow Town in its entirety as I'd used up my BHW wordcount long before I'd finished telling the story. So I had to start again and strip out a few characters and their respective subplots. This meant the whole thing took about six months to write and rewrite, which is about par for the course for a BHW. I have a full time job. I also teach guitar some evenings. I play in a band other evenings, so my writing time is not quite as copious as I'd like. Peter Straub says he can't understand how anyone can work a fulltime job in the day and write in the evenings. I tend to agree, but I struggle on and try to prove him wrong!

I'm interested in your micro fiction and shorts. Have you done a western micro?

The micro fiction stuff hasn't really covered Westerns. It's just a fun exercise I occasionally dabble in other genres. I have used a western background in a couple of the tales, but they've usually had a supernatural or horror element within them. I'll try to find one later.

Apart from AFOL etc, what sort of market have you found for western short stories?

In terms of markets for western short stories, I have submitted a few to anthologies, but again these have tended to be supernatural stories with western backgrounds. I use websites such as duotrope to uncover such markets, but to be honest, it's not something I focus on a lot. Any ideas I have for Westerns tend to very quickly grow into BHW length pieces.

Do you prefer writing short stories or longer length ones?

Longer fiction is my preference. That said, like a lot of fiction writers I started off with short stories (very short stories, in fact) as this felt easier, more manageable. But I've always been a fan of novels and this is where my heart lies. These days I struggle to tell the stories that I want to tell in just a few thousand words, and as most short story markets want just 2k or 3k stories I rarely write shorts any more. I do occasionally work up a 10k story if the idea (and an idea for a market) is there, but most of my (admittedly limited) time is spent on novels.

BHWs are great because they're still quite short but they are long enough to explore themes and characters and tell a good tale.

The disadvantage of the novel form is, of course, it takes longer to produce a piece of work, there's so much more opportunity to go wrong, and they're very hard to sell. Having said all of that, in between my attempts at novels, I do enjoy the light relief of having a bash at something that I can finish in a day or two. There's something refreshing about completing something, so it's a good way of recharging batteries. I even try flash fiction once in a while - 350 word short stories. It's a whole different challenge but can be quite fun.

Nevertheless, the novel is where it's at for me.

What's the average writing day like for you?

I wish I could answer this, but I don't think there is an average day. In a perfect world (when I'm on leave and don't have any other commitments) I'll get up around 7.00, make a cup of coffee, open the laptop and write for hours. I've written several thousand words day after day at such times.

Saturday mornings I often do the above and can also produce a couple of thousand words. Weekday mornings I try to get up and spend an hour writing before work - and can often produce 600 words (my daily target when I'm in the middle of a piece).

But...the reality is that I often need to start work at 7.00 and I often work until late in the evening (I work from home, which has its good and bad points. One of the bad points is that during busy times it's very easy to spend all one's waking hours working!), and with other commitments I really struggle to stick to a schedule. I also have a whole host of other things in my life (which I think is essential for a writer) but aren't necessary conducive to large word count.

Probably an unsatisfactory answer. Probably an unsatisfactory situation for an aspiring writer!

How did you fall in love with westerns?

I grew up at a time when the bookshops in the UK always had a whole stand of Westerns, the way they have a whole stand for Sci-Fi or Horror or Crime these days. I can still recall going into WH Smiths and seeing row upon row of Edge novels, Hawk novels, Breed novels. I recall buying the novelisations of all the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns. My father was a huge fan of Westerns and his personal favourite was Sudden; there were always a few Sudden novels lying around the house (usually resting on top of a Creedence Clearwater Revival LP), a few of which I still have. Although he was adamant that the Oliver Strange novels were the only 'true' Sudden novels, and that Frederick Christian was no Oliver Strange.

So, once I'd reached a certain age in terms of reading ability and pocket money I used to buy loads of these books (trying to get a good pocket money balance between such books and Airfix models!). But even before that, the movies of my youth were all westerns too. As far back as I can remember we were outside playing cowboys and indians.

Almost overnight, however, that stand of books disappeared, never to come back. A mystery as peculiar as the dinosaurs vanishing. Years later, I bought a whole batch of Edge books on eBay, but the intervening years had changed my reading habits / experience quite considerably and I must admit the books no longer caught me the way they did when I was 10 or 11.

Instead, in adulthood, I found new literary heroes and I was often delighted to discover that in their formative years - and often later years - many of these writers had written westerns. I'm thinking of people like Elmore Leonard, Charles Williford, and Robert Parker. James Lee Burke wrote a great novel against the back drop of the Civil War, as did Daniel Woodrell. Ron Hansen's book about Jesse James remains one of my favourites. I had a bash at Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy but it was still a little beyond me, but Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove is tremendous - although I'm not quite so keen on the others in the series.

So these days, maybe it's the historical novel of the west rather than the Western that grabs me as reader, although it's the Western that I write. But I still believe, despite that rack of books having disappeared, that the genre is alive and well, that there still are some big old dinosaurs out there in the jungles.

And I am as proud as hell to have a tiny part in that.

Your comment about the rack of westerns and deciding about buying one of them or an Airfix model is a problem I shared with you.

It seems you enjoyed reading series westerns, have you thought about writing a series?

I'm a huge fan of series characters. When written well, I love the progression of the character, I love the way the author is able to reference earlier events in a character's life that we've been witness to, I love the feeling of living and growing with a character - or even a whole cast of characters.

And it's absolutely something I've thought about and would really like to do, possibly with one of my existing characters, but more likely with someone new. I have a vague idea in my mind of a group of three books for Hale that would fit this bill. I often think about it and always get quite excited by the idea. Just needs some serious intent put around the excitement. But it's highly likely that the next book for Hale might be the start of such a thing (although I did make a start on a standalone recently that I really ought to progress).

In fact, the story that prompted this whole author weekend "Dead Man Talking" was originally planned as a BHW, or possibly several. The flashback element of the story (the murder of the young boy's family) was going to be the catalyst that drove my hero through a series of adventures, all the while trying to track down each of the killers. I envisioned the tracking down and seeking revenge upon an individual 'baddie' in each book, but in the process, a whole series of other adventures happening. But when the call came for a short story for AFOL I thought let's give that plot a go in short story form...

The principle still holds good though, and one day I'll probably give it a go.

How much historical research do you put into writing a novel?

I probably don't do enough research, to be honest. I try my best to be historically accurate and thus to maintain the suspension of disbelief for the most informed of readers. But if ever there's a moment when historical accuracy has to be balanced against the need of story I'm likely to come down on the side of story. That said, for something like the Kansas novel I read everything I could find on the subject - although no matter how much one researches one's story there's always a feeling that reading one more library book is essential... that just one more day's work on the web will uncover some fact that will turn out to be vital.

In the case of the Bone Picker I spent a fair bit of time trying to understand the political situation, the views of the various sides, what happened before my novel, what happened after, why, and where. When I first heard about Bleeding Kansas I thought "I *have* to write something set in this place and this time.

I always try to get a feel for the flora and fauna and geography of a place. The web is a Godsend in this regard - can't believe how I ever managed without it. In other stories I've referred to famous storms and bad winters of history. I always try and check the nvention/production dates of guns and technology, of turns of phrase, and so on. In The Bone Picker I wanted, at one point, one of my characters to refer to a famous racehorse of the day - it was only a passing reference - but it meant looking up the horse racing records of the day. Songs, musical instruments, card games, food, all that stuff is important. But I'm sure I make loads of mistakes. In future I think I might have to specialise in one corner of the west. That way I can reuse a lot of my learning!

To what extent do you find yourself wanting to slip in your knowledge of history for the reader?

I don't feel that need at all, luckily. In fact, the less I can include the better, as the less likely I am to be found out. But I am aware for a need to create enough verisimilitude to create the dream. My preferred method of telling a story is through dialogue, so if my characters don't say something it generally doesn't get said by me either. Almost everything is told through the eyes of characters so if they wouldn't mention something or think about something, then it doesn't get included.

To be honest, I love learning. I love knowledge. If I read ten history books and included none of what I learned in a given story I wouldn't mind - it's still great knowledge to have. Finally, some of my favourite sources, books and web aside, are the two brilliant DVD series "The Civil War" and "The West" by Ken Burns. I highly recommend both.

Do you find yourself aware of the craft and style of a particular writer as you read?

I often set out to read a book with the intention of learning from it as a writer, to be aware of technique, craft, and style... but usually within a few pages I'm caught up in the story and all writerly intentions go out the window and I become a pure reader. Which is, of course, wonderful. Sometimes I'll then reread the book... and get caught up in the story again. Heh.

But it's impossible to read and not be influenced, even if subconsciously. I guess one of my key influences over the years has been Elmore Leonard for demonstrating the way to stay out of the story as an author and to tell the whole piece through the eyes of my characters. To me that's the purest way of story-telling. That said, I do wish I had the ability to write in an omniscient way, but I don't.

Feeling guilty again, most of my other influences are not western writers. John D MacDonald creates some of the greatest characters and stories I've ever seen. Stephen King (I prefer his non-fiction) exudes such joy in the craft of writing. Hemingway for the simple structures that build slowly to produce stories of immense power and beauty. I love Steinbeck and Chandler and Graham Greene and Robert Parker.

Most recently, I've been spending a lot of time reading interviews, screenplays, books, and watching the movies of William Goldman. At this very point in time I'd say he's the one writer I'd love to sit down and have a beer and a chat with. I'm sure I could write a whole essay on the subject of what I've learnt and by whom. I might do so later...

Do you feel that as a writer you read differently than you did when you merely read for pleasure? Do you find yourself analysing the books you read?

I do. I think that once you become a serious writer it becomes impossible to read a book they way a 'layman' would. As mentioned earlier, I still find myself drawn into the stories and forget - on a conscious level - all the intentions I had insofar as learning from a particular book, but subconsciously I'm always analysing how the author is doing things, whether it's working, whether I can do something similar. It doesn't really become an overt process until I go back and read something a second or third time, but it's definitely happening - and how cool is that? I get to read a great book, enjoy it, and learn stuff at the same time.

I do often go back to sections and chapters of books that I recall had a particular effect on me and reread them and analyse them in much more detail. I've even have fun sometimes writing scenes of my own in the style of someone else. I also enjoy those fleeting moments of false superiority when reading a bestseller and finding a line that I think is awful... Heh. I'm sure Dan Brown does the same with my work...

But I still try to enjoy reading, wherever I can, for reading's sake. I can still remember my first day at school when the teacher showed us the 'library'. The library was basically the corner of the room, a few chairs, lots of shelves and loads of books. Many of them were simple Janet and John books... Dog. Ball. Cat. That type of thing. But there were others - full of words that I couldn't read - but with pictures of pirates and knights and cowboys and indians and sailing ships and highwaymen and I knew right then that within books I could find all the adventure that I could ever want. And I still feel that same way.

You mentioned earlier trying to include a love story. Care to expand on that a little?

I'm probably a foolish old romantic but I feel that love is just about the strongest emotion there is, certainly the one that engages me the most. I'm not saying that terror or jealousy or hate or the desire for revenge or anything else isn't up there, but it's love that has driven more songs and movies and books, more scandal, more life changing decisions than anything else. Love has started wars and created heroes, fools, and villains. Artists and poets have long made careers out of love alone.

When I read books or watch movies, irrespective of the genre, it's usually the love story that I'm most interested in. Now, I have no interest in reading, writing, or watching pure romances. I've tried, and believe me they do nothing for me. I can't explain this, but slot a good love story in the middle of another story - be it a western, a crime novel, a superhero movie, whatever - and I think it adds a tremendous amount of power and depth and emotion to the whole.

Consequently, I always try to do the same in my work, and often it is the scenes that relate to the love story that I have most fun writing. Out of everything I've written so far this weekend this answer feels the most vague, yet it may be the single thing that is most important to my joy of writing.

I agree. Romance is part of real life so why not include it in any genre. I certainly include romantic elements in my BHWs and it hasn't been badly received. In fact Louis L'Amour has tonnes of it in his and it didn't do him any harm. Go for it!

One last one (and you don't have to answer this): Do you find yourself working through some of your own personal issues as you write? For instance, do you discover at some point that a conflict between characters reflects something going on within yourself?

I'm sure the answer is yes, but probably unconsciously. There's no doubt an awful lot of me in all of my characters - the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly. But I've never consciously used their conflicts to work out my own.

That said, I've used - and I still use - writing to work through all sorts of things in my life. Like everyone, I've had good times, bad times, hard times, easy times, lows, highs, and sometimes extreme versions of all of these. I keep a journal - I have volumes of them - where I record all sorts of things that are going on in my mind (the journals tend to be about internal rather than external events in my life), and in the process of writing this stuff down, and rereading it later, I find I'm able to deal with my life in a far more ... happy... way than I would be able to do without the release of that writing.

And all that said, as I'm writing this I do recall a particular time in my life when I took the emotions I was feeling and poured them into a novel. It's possible that the scenes I wrote at that time are amongst the strongest I've ever written (although that might be only my reaction to them), so maybe I should do more of this. It does take a bit of courage though.

And having said that, I daresay were I to look back at much of my work I'd probably realise that I do put huge pieces of me and my issues into all of my work. I'm not sure it could truly be any other way. It's quite a scary and revealing thought. Perhaps I should adopt a pen-name!

Having read both your BHWs and the two shorts for the anthologies - I just enjoy what you have written so far. I get the feeling that a lot of thought goes into the characters and the construction of the novel because I get a lot of satisfaction from the reading.

I'm looking forward to 'The Bone Picker'.

It's pretty tough to be objective about one's own work so it's always nice to get other opinions. The moment I put anything 'out there' I almost immediately find things I wish I could change, add, or delete, but that's the way of this particular world. I'm usually aiming for something particular with each and very story - and it's usually interesting characters and an engrossing story - and so long as people are enjoying them I'm happy!

Your short story in AFOL grabbed me from the first line: "The wall was sweating." That is so powerful and gets the reader's attention in four words. How did you think that up?

In all my stories I try to work hard to grab the reader in the first line. In Dead Man Talking I had a very clear vision of that opening scene, of Jared reaching up and touching the wet wall, of his cellmate reeking of sweat, and I guess it just seemed like a great image to kick-off the tale with, linking the idea of sweat (and hence heat) with the image of walls (i.e prison) and also instantly sowing the seeds of the escape methodology. All in four words, that felt pretty good to me.

As an aside, the idea for the story itself came from a real-life terrorist incident I saw on the news some time ago where the terrorists forced a man to become a human bomb and kill somebody else in order to save his family. How humans can do such things is absolutely beyond me... so as a writer I immediately set out to explore the incident, and transposing it to the old west seemed like an interesting way to do this.

I like your writing style in the whole story. How did you develop your own style? Do you think writers are just an amalgamation of all the other writers they have read?

If I have a style it's developed from writing many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of words over many, many years. I have always strived for a smoothness of style - I spend a lot of time reading my work out aloud to myself which really highlights errors, echoes, poor rhythms, etc etc. But you're right - I'm sure I've taken a little something from everyone I've ever read and gradually taken the bits I liked the most and worked them into a mush that I can call my own. I prefer dialogue to description (although I love James Lee Burke when he does the latter), and enjoy having my characters tell the story themselves, often indirectly - saying one thing but really meaning something else. This isn't necessarily a strength, and certainly in the early days I had a penchant for endings that left things too open and required the reader to do too much work.

The last two or three years I've really been studying story-telling as opposed to writing. There's still masses of work I can do to improve the writing, but my greatest fear is not being able to tell a good story, so that's my current area of focus and study.

I just want to thank everyone for extending me the courtesy and opportunity to hog the limelight for an entire weekend.

I hope some of you have found something of value in my ramblings. Certainly for me it's been a great chance to clarify some of my ideas to myself (if not to others) and it's inspired some new ideas and a bucketload of enthusiasm. As tomorrow is a work day I'll think now is a good time to close my author weekend and go and get some sleep.

This was my first author's weekend with the group, and I appreciated your thoughtful comments and the chance you gave us to look closely at examples of your writing and discuss your intentions and process. It's inspiring for everyone, I think, whether readers or writers.

You can find Derek at and his next Black Horse Western, The Bone Picker at Amazon.

Watch out for another author interview soon.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Extract of The Bone Picker by Derek Rutherford

The transcript of an interview conducted last weekend by the Black Horse Western Discussion Group with Derek Rutherford will be posted here in a few days. As a taster below is an extract of Derek's forthcoming Black Horse Western, The Bone Picker, which will be available in October :

Chapter One - Kansas Territory, Summer, 1855

The man was hanging from a tree by his wrists. His feet were three feet from the ground and the dirt beneath him was dark with blood. A jacket and hat lay next to the remnants of a small fire.


Buzzard Jones pulled his horse to a halt fifteen yards from the man, and carefully looked around. The sycamore was one of several growing in the lee of a hill, strong trees a rarity in this region of eastern Kansas. Further along the canyon a group of willows thrived, too. A dry gully ran along the base of the slope. There’d be water here in winter and spring. Enough to make the trees and grass flourish. Tough bushes sprouted in small groups between the trees. Water all year round and it would have made a fine place to build a cabin, sheltered from the wind and the dust.

Buzzard tapped the horse’s flanks and eased her forward, twisting in his seat, looking up at the skyline, scanning the rocks. The only movement came from two birds high in the cloudless sky, circling, waiting for him to move on so they could come down and start feeding.

The hanging man’s head lolled to one side. The part of his face that Buzzard could see looked raw – either beaten or burned.

Five yards away, Buzzard climbed off the horse.

“Someone didn’t care for you much, did they?” he said, walking slowly around the man. Up on the plains the wind would have given the man some movement, pushing him this way and that until he might have almost looked alive. Down here he was as still as the rocks.

Buzzard lifted the man’s jacket. It was torn and there was blood on the inside. The pockets were empty. He threw the jacket back down. The man’s hat was better. A little sweat stained, but Buzzard would get a price for it.

He looked back at the man. His boots were good, too. Better than good. Wine coloured, lots of fancy stitching. Plenty of dollars potential there. But when Buzzard gripped the man’s leg and pulled on one of his boots the man let out a long low moan that sounded like the noise a fellow might make as he died and realised the Devil himself was waiting.

Buzzard jumped back in surprise, caught his foot in the man’s jacket and fell over.

The man said, “Help me. Help me, please.”

“Mercy,” Buzzard said and scrabbled backwards.

“Help me.”

Buzzard stood up.

“I thought you were dead.”

The man didn’t appear to hear. Buzzard stepped closer to him, leaning down to get a better view of the man’s face.

“Mercy,” he said again, quietly this time. The man’s eyes were gone. Cut out leaving just dark holes in his face. “Who did this to you?” It looked like Indian work, or at least the sort of thing that Buzzard imagined might be Indian work. But as far as he knew there weren’t any savages around these parts – hadn’t been for a few years. Anyway, the man still had his hair. Indians would surely have scalped him too.

“Water,” the man said.

“Hold on,” Buzzard said. “Hold on, fellow.”

Buzzard whistled between his teeth and his horse walked forwards. Buzzard reached into a satchel and pulled out a knife.

He climbed back onto the horse and urged her alongside the man. Then he stood in his stirrups, reached across, and sawed through the rope.

The man fell to the floor and the air expelled from his lungs when he hit the ground sounded like a pig squealing.

“’Pologies,” Buzzard said, jumping to the ground again. He slipped the knife back into the bag and pulled a water skin from the back of his saddle. “Here.”

He knelt beside the man, lifted his head gently and poured water into the man’s bloodied mouth.

The man coughed and gasped. When Buzzard felt him pressing backwards, he lowered the man’s head to the ground.

“Who was it?” Buzzard said. “Who are you?”

“Southerners,” the man said.

“Southerners did this?”

The man’s head moved. It may have been a nod or it may have just been an attempt to ease the pain.



Buzzard listened. He couldn’t hear anything except the rasp of the man’s breathing

“My name is…Curry,” the man said.

Curry. Should he recognize the name? He couldn’t place the man, leastways, not with the ruined face.


The man paused again. His breathing stopped and for a moment Buzzard thought he was dead. In a way that would be for the best, he thought.

“There’s… a family,” Curry said.

“A family?”

“Please…More water.”

Buzzard helped him drink again. After Curry had coughed up almost all of the water, much of it mixed with blood, he said, “Can I trust you?”

“Most people don’t,” Buzzard said, a brief flame of anger lighting inside him. “They say I’m a thief and a vulture. A bone picker. But all I do…I just clear up after the dead. Take stuff that they don’t need any more and sell it on to those that do.”

Curry was quiet for several seconds Then he said, “I think I know you. You an abolitionist?” He twisted his head, turning his tortured face towards Buzzard.

“No,” Buzzard said honestly. “But neither am I in favour. I don’t pay much heed –”

“You should.”

“I figure - ”

“There’s a family,” Curry said. “Coming over from Missouri. Friday.”

“I should get you into town,” Buzzard said.

“They’re going to be hiding out at South Bottom Crossing. Midnight Friday. They need to be taken up to Romego. The stables at Romego. Man there named Powder will do the rest.”

“I don’t know why you’re telling me this. I - ”

“Look at what they did to me.”

“I know, it’s – ”

“It’s nothing to what they’re doing to people in Missouri.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean…Please, water.”

Buzzard gave Curry more water. This time he coughed up what looked like blood with a little water added, rather than the other way around.

“Let me get you to town,” Buzzard said. “Sawbones – ”

“This family are… witnesses. They will stand before the Senate and tell what they’ve seen.”

Curry started coughing again. Buzzard felt flecks of phlegm splatter his face.

“You’ll help them,” Curry said, his face pointing upwards.

Buzzard looked away.

“You’ll help them,” Curry said again.

“You’re talking about slaves.”


“Nobody’ll believe what slaves say.”

“These they will.”


Curry started coughing again. Now it was pure blood spraying from his mouth. His empty eye sockets screwed up in pain. When the coughing stopped he fought to get breath into his lungs.

“Why?” Buzzard asked.

“They did this to set an example,” Curry said eventually. “To scare people off. You’re not scared, are you? Just don’t trust -”

More coughing.

Buzzard ran a hand over one of his own cheeks. It came away smeared with Curry’s blood.

“What’s so special about these slaves?” he said. “Who shouldn’t I trust?”

Curry opened his mouth to speak but started choking again. His lungs were full of blood and Buzzard had to roll him onto his side to let the blood out and the oxygen in. He wondered if he had inadvertently caused this damage when he’d cut Curry down, or maybe even by giving him so much water. But that was nonsense, the man’s clothes were covered in blood. It looked like he’d been stabbed and shot and burned. The southerners, whoever they were, were well and truly to blame.

“Curry,” he said, when the man’s retching had stopped. “Who shouldn’t I trust?”

The man never said anything.


The man was still, too still. Buzzard rolled him back over. Every time he’d seen dead people before he knew they were dead because of their eyes. Eyes that were open but not seeing, open and unfocussed, open and cloudy.

He wasn’t sure how to tell if someone with no eyes was dead, so he just sat there a while, hunched over on his ankles looking at the blood that seemed to be everywhere and at Curry’s face and he thought of men who could do such things to a fellow human being. He thought of slaves and he pictured the river at South Bottom Crossing and how far it was from there to Romego and he figured it was a crazy man who’d get involved in such things when clearly there were very good reasons – mostly about retaining one’s eyesight – not to. Then he thought about how this man had trusted him. About how Curry hadn’t even seen him, just listened to him, to Buzzard’s own self-deprecating mini biography, and had made decision to trust a person that most people saw as being barely one step up from the town’s rubbish dump rats.

Later, he took a long drink of water, stood up and walked back to his horse. He climbed up and was about to ride on. He paused, jumped down again, and went over to Curry’s body.

“Forgive me,” he said, and pulled Curry’s fine boots from his feet.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Bestsellers on Amazon - 21 June

1. Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin (31 Mar 2010)
From £8.93

2. Doc Dryden, Gunslinger by Ted Rushgrove (30 April 2010)
From £10.12

3. Come See Me Hang by Chad Hammer (30 Jun 2007)
From £4.99

4. Guntrail to Condor by John Glasby (31 Aug 2009)
From £8.43

5. Murder at Los Cahuillas by L.D. Tetlow (31 Aug 2006)
From £4.18

6. Long Ride into Hell by Daniel Rockfern (Dec 2005)
From £0.56

7. Gone to Texas by J D Ryder (30 April 2010)
From £11.69

8. Beyond the Crimson Skies by Owen G. Irons (30 Sep 2009)
From £7.00

9. Murdering Wells by Greg Mitchell (30 April 2010)
From £9.25

10. The Red Roan Rider by Boyd Cassidy (30 Nov 2000)
From £0.90

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Linford Westerns - June 2010

Ghost Town by Will Sutton

ISBN: 9781444801682
Large Print (Soft Cover) - 256 Pages
Published - 01-06-2010
Genre - Western
Price - £ 8.99

The silver ran out of Silver Gulch, leaving the town up for grabs. But who was driving families out? Was it Cade, the rancher, or Bishop, the timber boss? Or perhaps Farnsworth, owner of the Five Aces saloon... Then ex-New York cop Phil Keyhoe arrived, took a shine to Mary-Jane and decided to stay. First however, he had a mystery to solve and with someone resenting his interference, his life would be in danger every step of the way.

Savage's Trap by Sydney J. Bounds

ISBN: 9781444801644
Large Print (Soft Cover) - 224 Pages
Published - 01-06-2010
Genre - Western
Price - £ 8.99

When Max Chaney, a Californian politician, is suspected of killing a US marshal, Savage is assigned to uncover evidence against him and bring him to trial. But he rides into danger. Gruber's gang will eliminate any opposition to Chaney's election plans for state governor. Savage survives an attempt on his life, only to be hunted by Gruber's gang. Now he must bide his time until he can set a trap that will end Chaney's reign of terror.

Snake Vengeance by Philip Harbottle

ISBN: 9781444801651
Large Print (Soft Cover) - 280 Pages
Published - 01-06-2010
Genre - Western
Price - £ 8.99

Larry Ashfield travels from England to Buzzard's Bend in Arizona to claim his inheritance, but the town's lawyer, Cliff Makin, has cheated him out of it. The young Englishman, unaccustomed to the rough, tough, Wild West is deemed a coward. Seemingly lacking the will to fight back, Larry is almost killed...until the worm turns with a vengeance. Death is meted out to each of his enemies, as Larry becomes a relentless avenger, fighting to recover what is rightfully his.

Scourge Of The South by George Holt

ISBN: 9781444801668
Large Print (Soft Cover) - 240 Pages
Published - 01-06-2010
Genre - Western
Price - £ 8.99

The problems and cultural upheavals, around the time of the Civil War, would vastly change the Indian's ways... When the Sioux swept down on the wagon train from the hills - only two people remained alive, Big Jim Ratford and twelve-year-old Sam Strake. They captured Sam, and ten years later he became a warrior, living a good life. But trouble loomed. The whites wanted their land - the buffalo herds were slaughtered, and in desperation the Indians sued for peace...

Deluge! by Arnold Ryden

ISBN: 9781444801675
Large Print (Soft Cover) - 208 Pages
Published - 01-06-2010
Genre - Western
Price - £ 8.99

When Jeff Alroyd rides into a divided valley, he discovers that the Circle C Ranch, owned by Babs Kemp and her father, is under threat because adjoining landowner 'Poker' Barrow has sabotaged their stream. Jeff Alroyd is determined to help Babs by using his expertise as a mining engineer and poker player. Jeff outwits Barrow and regains the stolen water, but when Barrow resorts to murder and kidnapping, Jeff finds himself apparently beaten - without money, pipeline or water.

Guns Of Virtue by Peter Wilson

ISBN: 9781444801699
Large Print (Soft Cover) - 224 Pages
Published - 01-06-2010
Genre - Western
Price - £ 8.99

Following the murder of his father, and his brother's decline into lawlessness, Adam Wade seeks revenge on the man he holds responsible. His search takes him to the town of Virtue, where ranch owner Hal Kember is a future state governor. But Adam becomes embroiled in a web of deceit and murder involving Kember's wife, Laura, his son, Luke, and a group of stage robbers and killers. In a final shoot-out there is one last life-changing shock for Adam.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Bestsellers at The Book Depository - 14 June

1. Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin - Mar 2010

2. The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin - Jun 2009

3. Hell Pass by Lance Howard - Apr 2007

4. Misfit Lil Hides Out by Chap O'Keefe - Mar 2008

5. Desperate Men by Corba Sunman - Nov 2008

6. Long Shadows by Terry James - May 2009

7. Packing Irons by Steve Hayes - Aug 2009

8. Shoot, Run, or Die by Jake Douglas - Dec 2009

9. Guns of Ponderosa by Chuck Tyrell - Dec 2010

10. The Judas Metal by Gillian F. Taylor - Feb 2010

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Dales Westerns - June 2010

Shoot To Kill by Ben Bridges

ISBN: 9781842627815
Large Print (Soft Cover) - 208 Pages
Published - 01-06-2010
Genre - Western
Price - £ 11.99

The Texas Rangers sent Carter O'Brien south of the border with orders to kill a madman. It was said that his target - a murderous bandit named Salazar - had the face of an angel and the heart of a demon. Given the choice, he'd sooner have faced Salazar in a head-on gunfight than turn back-shooter and kill him from hiding, but the only trouble with that idea lay with Salazar's eight-strong gang of cut-throats. It was common knowledge that if you took on one of them, you took on the lot - and even a professional fighting man like O'Brien had to draw the line somewhere...

The Spurlock Gun by Matt Logan

ISBN: 9781842627822
Large Print (Soft Cover) - 256 Pages
Published - 01-06-2010
Genre - Western
Price - £ 11.99

They said that Chase Donovan had been a Texan Ranger for too long, and that they weren't prepared to put up with his maverick, gun-fast ways any longer. So they took away his badge and kicked him out of the battalion, and he turned into a full-time drunk. Then a wealthy businessman offered to bankroll his very own fight against the lawless. There was only one catch - Chase had to mend his wicked ways. He agreed to give it a go - and wound up trading lead with the bully-boys of North Town, Texas, where bullets were cheap but life was even cheaper...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Review of The Killing Trail

Western history buff Ron Scheel has reviewed The Killing Trail, my Black Horse Western scheduled for publication on June 30. Read the review here.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Bestsellers on Amazon - 7 June

1. Trail of the Burned Man by Thomas McNulty (Hardcover - 30 Nov 2009)
From £5.98

2. Wind Rider by Thomas McNulty (Hardcover - Apr 2010)
From £10.14

3. Shatterhand and the People by B.J. Holmes (Hardcover - Jan 1992)
From £4.82

4. Bob-tailed Horse by Buck Thompson (Hardcover - 13 Nov 1986)
From £10.00

5. A Quest of Heroes by Leonard F. Meares (Hardcover - 29 Mar 1996)
From £68.00

6. Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin (Hardcover - 31 Mar 2010)
From £8.93

7. Brevet Ridge by Abe Dancer (Hardcover - 28 Feb 2007)
From £0.77

8. Blood Runs Deep by Peter Taylor (Hardcover - 31 Oct 2005)
From £1.58

9. Gambler's Luck by D. Armstrong (Hardcover - Nov 1991)
From £0.51

10. Trails of Fate by Peter Taylor (Hardcover - 31 Oct 1992)
From £4.70

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Killing Trail

Robert Hale Ltd. informs me that The Killing Trail, my sixth Black Horse Western, will be published on June 30, 2010.

The Dylan brothers ride high in Ouray, Colorado, until they bully a drifter who leaves three of them dead in the street. Nat Dylan, the youngest, swears to hunt down the drifter, Jared Carter, and avenge his brothers. Carter’s trail leads into Arizona country where Dylan meets Wagonwheel owner Colonel Alton Jackson and hires on to kill Jared Carter. But the more he learns of Carter and Jackson, the more he finds himself on the wrong side. He meets Carmen Vasquez, who sees him as an honorable man, and he feels the mutual attraction. Still, on his honor he must call out Jared Carter, but can he survive a gunfight with the man who killed three Dylans by himself?

Would anyone like to review this book? If so, contact me.