22 April 2012

Range Wars 'n' Shootings

In April 1892 brewing trouble came to a head o' steam up in the Powder River Country of Wyoming in the shape of the Johnson County War. I won't go into the whys & wherefores as the link offers a far better account than I could or have space for.

My point is... we tend to think that much has changed, and then we read that it hasn't.

In Nevada, in the Gold Butte area, there is "a long simmering feud" between a rancher and the Bureau of Land Management about who owns what land and whether it should be grazed at all. At the moment it seems to be all shouting from the sidelines. Let's hope it stays that way.

'Cos up in South Dakota, a man is now in prison for shooting three people at... a Western re-enactment show. Yep, that was live ammunition he was using. Thankfully the injuries weren't life-threatening, but from now on I'll take to standing a little further back than normal at these shows.

Ah, perhaps it's just the spirit of the Old West giving itself a stir.

14 April 2012

Ya-hee! Spotlight & 5 Star Review

Under the heading of  'New Western Writer Comes To Town' IcySnowBlackstone has given Dead Men's Fingers prime billing on her blog, complete with an excerpt.

She's also done it the honour of an in-depth 5 star review here which includes:

"...This is a tough little Western... as gritty and bloody as they come.  The descriptions are so realistic one can almost feel the arid heat and see the stark surroundings as the wagons push across the plains, and feel the splash of the water and see the mud being churned up as they ford the river. 'Dead Man’s Fingers' may be short, but it’s filled with plenty of narrative, description, and characterization.  Jed is a good man, a caring father but a man aware of how his past may catch up with him sooner or later..."

Well, thank ya kindly, ma'am. 

7 April 2012

Utah Legend Lives Again - Redempton

I watched The Searchers yesterday. I hadn't meant to. I was supposed to be working but caught it while eating lunch and couldn't pull myself away. It's been a while and the majesty of the landscape had eased in my memory. I'd forgotten, for instance, that the Seven Sisters shown in the header to this blog features as a backdrop. The acting, the haunting determination shown by the characters, made me want to pull Alan leMay's paperback from the shelf.

Some people despise daytime television. I love it.

And then today a surprise. Yet another reprise for the Western genre, this time from Utah in the shape of a new movie Redemption. It's based on the true story of a French immigrant, Jean Baptiste, caught grave-robbing in 1862 and, according to the film, exiled to an island. From its trailer it looks less an all-guns fiction and more an examination of the consciences of two opposing men. I like Westerns that make you think.

Interview and trailer at

Enjoy your Easter.

1 April 2012

Why Westerns?

I mention that I write Westerns and folks look askance. Does anyone read Westerns these days? Do you watch them? I ask.

Sure they do, and that's how most of us got into Westerns, via the big, and then the small, screen. But what sets Western aficionados apart is a willingness to go back and not just forwards in time. Take a look at the Tom Mix films available on YouTube.

Son of a Pennsylvanian lumberman, Tom Mix worked on a ranch in Oklahoma while it was still an Indian Territory. He paraded with the Rough Riders, was part of the Miller Brothers Wild West Show. Even before the movies he, and the West, had one foot in reality and one foot in myth. In his movies he's clean-cut, well-spoken, dressed from a high-class store - it's about as far from the reality of the 1880s West as can be ridden in three days, but it doesn't deter from the sense of space, of responsibility, of self-reliance that the Western genre conjures in our collective psyche.

Western fiction has been looked down upon since the days of the Dime Novel, when the West as we know it was still being carved. So if you want to smirk, be my guest. You're hardly the first.