Only weeks before committing to writing a Western, I had been beating my head against a wall. (Figuratively, of course. Or at least I think so.) I’d been trying to crank out a second novel set in East Asia, trying to outdo my first. I say ‘trying’ because 40,000 words into the first draft, I was clearly neck-deep in kimchee. Aware of readers’ feedback from my first book, I could see that this one was developing into something far too foreign for most Westerners’ tastes. Those 40,000 words needed to marinate a bit, and I needed a break from them.
What I also needed was what authors Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant refer to as “inspired play”–just sitting down at the keyboard and letting the imagination run wild. So that’s when I picked up a couple of chapters of a tale of the Old American West that I’d drafted and laid aside a couple of months earlier.
I liked the characters in my brief Western sketch, and I had a rough idea where I wanted to take them–or better yet, where I wanted to let them take me. (Once you get into writing a story, characters have a way of fleshing themselves out and making their own decisions about what happens next.)
It was like opening the gates and letting the water rush down the flume. Words poured out. I found myself chuckling aloud as I tapped out scenes on my laptop, even when working on the story at my favorite local sandwich shop. Every writing session was pure joy.
A Character-Driven Story, Yet Fast-Paced
Strong Convictions developed as a character-driven novel, but that doesn’t mean it’s slow-moving. An author friend of mine told me, “Wow! It blasts off like a rocket!” One reason it does so–I believe –is because, even as I focused on staying inside the characters’ heads and hearts, I employed a lot of the stylistic devices I had picked from writing a thriller.
I write short chapters. I write scene by scene. And I have to see each scene in my mind, rolling like a movie, before I can begin to write it down the way I want it. I’m on the set with Emmett and Juanito and Li and the others. They’re in the saddle, leather creaking as their eager horses yearn to break and run.
And there’s lots of action. All kinds of action.
It’s a big story on a big stage–the wide-open West, from the bluebonnet-covered hills of central Texas to mining towns in the shadows of the Sierra Nevada.
#1 on Amazon
Writing a Western was a huge kick for me. So far, it seems as though readers are having a lot of fun reading Strong Convictions, too. Earlier this week, the book was #1 on Amazon’s Free Western Best Seller list, with thousands of downloads during the special five-day promotion.
Lord willing, Strong Convictions will be but the first in a string of quality Western novels to make their way from my somewhat cinematic imagination to your e-reader or printed edition. Providing you with exciting and refreshing entertainment is my goal. Hope you enjoy!