Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Welcome to Saddlebums

Saddlebums is dedicated to westerns. When you drop by you'll find author interviews, book reviews, essays, and even forthcoming western releases. We want to facilitate discussion, promote western novels and films, and basically be a place where writers and readers can talk about the genre, the west, or any darn thing on their minds.

Our goal is to have at least one new post each week. We'll move around between interviews—we have already talked to numerous western authors including Ed Gorman, Johnny D. Boggs, Tim McGuire, Robert J. Randisi, James Reasoner, Dusty Richards, among others—reviews, and essays. We also want to encourage participation here at Saddlebums. If you have something to say, say it! If you are an author and would like to be part of our interview series shoot us an email. Heck, we even welcome guest bloggers.

In short, Saddlebums is the place for news about the western genre. The official grand opening is August 20th…You better be here.

36 comments:

Chap O'Keefe said...

Well done, guys! If the interview with Brian Garfield is any yardstick, you have some great reading lined up.
One request . . . a pic or two perhaps. Readers always like to see author portraits and a cover or two.

Gonzalo B. said...

Thank you very much. There's plenty more to come.

Maybe there's a problem I'm not aware of, but from my end I see several book cover scans and a big photo of Mr. Garfield. Aren't they showing up?

Chap O'Keefe said...

Only pic I see is the "Major Reno" book cover. I've tried using Mozilla Firefox and Netscape.

Steve M said...

Hi, looking good so far...although I have the same problem as Keith, can only see the cover for "Major Reno". Other places I just see the dreaded white box with a red cross.

Gonzalo B. said...

Thanks for the comments. I think I took care of the problem. I guess nothing ever goes smoothly on launch day.

Howard said...

Excellent interview and I very much enjoyed my tour through your blogsite. Incidentally, I write Black Horse Westerns under the penname Lance Howard and horror/western under my own name Howard Hopkins (www.howardhopkins.com) Together with excellent Black Horse Western scribe IJ Parnham and a select group of western readers and authors we also have the "official unofficial" western magazine dedicated to Black Horse horse Western called Black Horse Express at www.blackhorsewesterns.org if you'd like to check us out and possibly exchange links!
I look forward with great eagerness to further posts!

Bruce said...

This is what we need more Western coverage. I keep meaning to do another column of westerns. Just get sidetracked by other things.

Gonzalo B. said...

Bruce:

As Ben (the other Saddlebums member) has said, we are here to facilitate discussion. If you have any ideas or want to write about a particular subject, be our guest.

Howard:

Thanks for the comments. I already have www.blackhorsewesterns.org on our links and I just added your own homepage as well.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Today I see the pictures . . . and it looks even better!

Incidentally, when Howard says he has "the" official/unofficial western magazine dedicated to Black Horse Westerns that is only a small part of the story. For an extensive and more regular sweep through the BHW scene, you need Black Horse Extra. Glad to see you have a link for that, too!

sid said...

Hi.

I love this site. Well done in this new and exciting adventure.

Just one small point. I am from BlackHorseWesterns discussion group who has the online magazine Black Horse Express (www.blackhorsewesterns.org) I would just like to reply to Chap O'Keefe who, in replying to Howard's email, calls our magazine "a small part of the story". Quite sad this long and not very pleasent difference between Chap O'Keefe and our group had to appear on here, a new and promising enterprise. Just for the record, we are far from a "small" part of the story, and are planning major new intiatives for our magazine in the future. We are also planning a Western short story anthology, due to come out in the near future. Details can be found from the blackhorsewesterns.org address.

I look forward to your future success and reading more interesting interviews etc and giving you my full support.

"Sid"

Anonymous said...

Great blog, and best of luck with it. Also, Mr. Garfield, if you're reading this: Many thanks for writing that western movie book. I've been referring to it at least once a week since its publication. Now that's what I call a keeper.

--Stephen Mertz

Bookgasm said...

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Howard said...

Hi Gonzalo,
Thank you very much for the link to my site and to Black Horse Express. I have contacted Ian about adding your link to our org site. We update monthly with news, articles and excerpts and I am sure our readers will love this blog! As Sid mentioned we will soon have a new western short story anthology from Express Westerns featuring the cream of the Black Horse writing crop, including an intro and story by David Whitehead, Andrea Hughes, Ian Parnham, Matthew Mayo, Nik Morton, Charlie Whipple, Gillian Taylor and many more, so western fans have something to really look forward to! Mr. Whitehead is even providing cover artwork and sage guidance in this production. Thanks again for giving westerns the attention they deserve!

Chap O'Keefe said...

Sid -- You are mis-reading me! I did not mention any differences with your Yahoo group. When I say the Express is a small part of the Black Horse Western story that is how and I other outsiders see it at the present moment, whatever initiatives you have planned. Black Horse Westerns is a 2000-plus series of books that has been published by Robert Hale Ltd since 1986. Anything you, I, or even Howard and Ian, do can't be more than a small part of the story. The Express is "a" mag dedicated to BHWs, not "the" mag.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Howard -- The last update I get for the Express when I click your link is 3 July. Are you sure your monthly update is working? Thank you for posting the details of the Express anthology here. Is this for Hale or another regular publisher, or is it a self-publishing enterprise?

sid said...

Sorry, for the rest of you out there, to bring this argument to this blog but if I may reply just once to Chap O'Keefe. When I said Black Horse Express was "a large part" of the story, I was implying a context of the supporting network around Hale and Black Horse westerns, as I took your original post to be doing as well. Thanks for the statistics about Hale and Black Horse westerns. I was aware of these as I am an avid reader of westerns in general and black horse westerns in particular. That is why the upcoming anthology is so exciting to me. It is a coming together of the best of the Black Horse western writers, and a few newcomers. Knowing Hale would not publish a short story anthology, these writers, most of whom have been published many times, have worked very hard at producing their own. This was not done for financial gain, but for the love of the genre.

I hope we can now concentrate of ventures such as this blog, whose main purpose, like Black Horse Express, is to celebrate the western genre in all its glory.

Sid

Chap O'Keefe said...

Hold your hosses, Sid! No one wants to argue with you here as far as I know. This forum is for open discussion. It is not a "behind closed doors" place. Nor, as far as I know, will anyone try to suppress you or your views here. That has never been in the spirit of the Net, as far as I'm concerned.

My interest in the Black Horse Western series is as a paying, commercial market for western fiction. I also feel that I more than pull my weight in celebrating the genre at Black Horse Extra.

I am pleased to hear that you're excited about the Express anthology and that most of its writers have been published many times. Whether they are "the best" BHW writers is for every individual reader to decide, and I'm glad you make clear that it's not being published under the auspices of Robert Hale Ltd/Black Horse Westerns.

For the record, I am currently completing my twentieth western, which in BHW terms is not a high total compared with, say, Keith Hertherington (aka Jake Douglas, Tyler Hatch, Clayton Nash and Hank J. Kirby). My sixteenth BHW, Misfit Lil Fights Back, was published on July 31. By August 17, no copies were left in the Hale warehouse. As Mr Hale writes: "In one sense it is gratifying that the book has sold out so quickly but disappointing from another angle in that we cannot supply any orders at the moment."

Last week, the book was reviewed at a mainstream literary blog by Michael Allen (Grumpy Old Bookman). A rare privilege. He said: "As for the story: totally professional, as you would expect, and a lot of fun. By my count, Misfit Lil Fights Back, is the author's sixteenth book, so he knows how to do the job. Ms Lil has appeared in the series before, and doubtless will again."

Ben Boulden said...

Hello everyone, and thank you for coming. Chap is absolutely right when he said "This forum is for open discussion. It is not a 'behind closed doors' place. Nor, as far as I know, will anyone try to suppress you or your views here."

Everyone is welcome here, as well as their views and ideas. I enjoy lively conversation, which is exactly what is transpiring between Chap and Howard. Keep it up, and Howard let us know when your anthology is scheduled for release. Maybe send us the table of contents when it's finalized.

Ben

Ben

Howard said...

Hi Ben, thanks for your comments! Actually, I should clarify, it is not my anthology, though I do have a story in it. My story incidentally is dedicated to all those who have suffered from spousal abuse and is an issue I have personally been "touched", pardon the poor word choice, by (I lost a grandmother to it). I personally feel the western has a much wider range of subject matter than some who don't try the genre give it credit for. The antho is the brainchild of Black Horse Western author Ian Parnham (and for anyone who hasn't read his books I highly recommend them). Right now all stories have undergone the eagle eyes of two professional editors and are now in final proofing stages, so the book should be right on schedule for late summer/early fall release. Thanks for asking!

dgb said...

I agree with Howard re the western's range. I've said for years that there aren't many stories you can't tell as westerns--although I've never cared much for horror in a western setting. If a writer as good as Richard Matheson couldn't pull it off ("Shadow on the Sun"), I doubt anyone can.

sid said...

Hi dgb.

Though Howard is much too modest too brag about his own writing, he is also an excellent writer in the horror genre. Although I am not a horror fan, and would normally agree with you about horror in a western, Howard can combine elements of the two very well. I have just finished his "Ripper Pass" novel, under the name "Lance Howard" and it kept me on the edge of my seat until the last second.

I am convinced the boundaries of the western novel must be pushed to include a much wider readership. There is so much in the Old West that could appeal to so many, if there were more writers out there like Howard.

Sid

Gonzalo B. said...

I agree. There are many directions in which the Western could expand. Part of that path has already been treaded by authors like Richard S. Wheeler (ie. by tackling topics and historical episodes that traditional Westerns have usually ignored) or Joe Lansdale and Loren Estleman (ie. by mixing the Western with other genres. Horror in Lansdale's case and mystery in Estleman's). I am sure there are many more examples. Imagination is the only limit for the genre's growth.

Howard said...

I actually think horror blends very well with westerns, right back to tales told 'round the campfire. I used vampires in The Dark Riders and I think any genre can blend well with it, especially msytery, romance, horror, even sci-fi as in Wild Wild West or Brisco County.
And thanks so much, Sid, for the kind words.I am glad you enjoyed Ripper Pass.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Gonzalo -- Your comment about expanding the genre's appeal reminds me of part of one of the answers I gave you for the interview we did for Saddlebums a couple of weeks ago. Actually, this topic might be worthy of a post later in its own right.

My understanding, especially from librarians, is that the current readership for westerns is predominantly male and in the more senior age groups. It's up to the writers and the genre's promoters, who often have to be the writers themselves, to change that. My series of books featuring harum-scarum young Misfit Lil was planned partly with a widening of the potential readership in mind.

Other writers said it couldn't be done: the hero of a western for Hale had to be male. I think Mr Hale had some misgivings, but he went along with the plan and at the present time every other book I write is a Lil. I don't have the figures to hand, but it's an established fact that women read far more fiction than men. Why shouldn't they have the chance to read about a central character with whom they can more readily identify? And who might therefore bring more readers to the genre?

One thing we are all agreed upon -- Sid, Howard, dgb, yourself -- is that we should always be trying to take the genre into new territory, while staying in the West!

Now over to some others, perhaps, to offer better and more breathtaking notions on how we can ensure the genre's appeal into the future.

Ben Boulden said...

I think the salvation of the western resides in its expansion of topics, themes, etc. I enjoy the idea of mixing western with horror, although I have yet to read one that really did it well--I need to read the Richard Matheson western.

There are some signs of life in the mystery / western crossover novels. Gonzalo reviewed DEATH HEAD CROSSING today, which adds elements of the mystery (of course there are shared elements between the mystery and western genres normally) very much like the work of Ed Gorman.

Then we come to the novels of Steven Hockensmith who really writes a mystery in a western setting. I just started his novel HOLMES ON THE RANGE and he takes the traditional western and grooves it into a very smart mystery.

There are also some great writers who are producing contemporary mysteries that are set in the west--C.J. Box, and Craig Johnson are two that come to mind. I think we as a genre need to me inclusive rather than exclusive and allow the western and its traditional definition expand or it really will die.

Ben

Russell Davis said...

Glad to see this getting off the ground. I've added a link to my blog.

Cheers,
Russell Davis

Howard said...

I have read that in the US one of the primary targets for westerns is truckdrivers. Odd thing is after talking to a number of folks who have bought and read my westerns they are nearly 90 percent...women! (And there are a few women western writers out there masquerading as men in variosu series and single titles). I personally feel any marketing dept. aim solely at older men and truckdrivers may well be selling the genre short (and since both seem to be dwindling in number pershaps sales are falling with them, though a recent issue of the WWA's Roundup stated westerns have in fact gained ground over the past few years. And western comics lately have been healthy, with Jonah Hex and The Lone Ranger leading the pack.) With my vampire/western The Dark Riders, almost everbody who has contacted me about it has been a woman (in fact I can't recall a single male at the moment). I have had good luck getting a few horror fans to try a western that way. Says to me women have a very healthy interst in westerns when introduced to them and need to be marketed to more!

Jack Giles said...

I think this is a great site and can only grow.
A couple of months ago I would have said that I was once a Western writer but I'm back in the saddle with a short story in the anthology mentioned by Howard. Also a new book is getting closer to completion.
This may never have happened without the internet and sites such as this and Black Horse Westerns sites.
I grew up with the likes of Luke Short, Frank Robertson and Louis L'Amour. And seen just about every Western movie ever made.
I believe that sites that promote the western not only encourages people to read more westerns but will produce a new generation of writers.
I wish you success.

Anonymous said...

I want to congratulate you on a superb new blog, and not just because you have featured a novel of mine. Judging from the fine Brian Garfield interview, your future author interviews are going to be a major hit.

Regards,

Richard Wheeler

Gonzalo B. said...

Mr. Wheeler:

Thank you very much for your kind words. We have much more coming up. We would also like to interview you if possible. Is there a way we could contact you privately? If you don't want to post your email address, you can always write to us at: saddlebumsreviews@gmail.com

catherine said...

Congratulations. This looks like a great site. I love westerns, particularly black horse westerns, and always have done, (well since black horse westerns have been out, but I remember reading them in my 20s.) The more promotion they can get, the better as far as I am concerned. I am from the Black Horse western discussion group as well, and we have had several discussions about how to promote the western further afield. As a woman myself, I'm sure lots of women would love BHWs. They can have really interesting story lines and great characters. (I too am just reading a "Lance Howard" novel called "Pirate Pass". The female character is really compelling and I'm sure would be interesting to women. It is just a matter of getting people reading!

Keep up the good work and well done again on the professionalism and good feel of this page!

Catherine

Catherine said...

By the way Jack, well done at starting writing again!

I will look forward to reading your story in the anthology and your novel when it comes out.

Catherine

Ben Boulden said...

I'm impressed with the amount of online support the Black Horse Western line has--every discussion I've been involved in, which is shockingly few, has for the most part been spurred on by readers and writers of BHW.

Good job. Now if we could just get them distributed across the pond. (Of course everyone on the other side of the Atlantic probably wishes they could get more of the U.S.-published western lines.) You just can't win.

Ben

Anonymous said...

This is great! I just found it and I've already got a list to head off to the book store with!
I'd been wondering what ever happened to Westerns, they never review a western on NPR or any of the book sites! I was afraid they had all ended up in the Romance bin. Thank you for this blog!

Howard said...

Best western I have read with a woman protagonist was Suzanne Ledbetter's Vengeance Trail. Not only is she an excellent western writer but her lead character carries the book better and with more personality than some other efforts I have tried to slog through. Her prose sparkles and so do her characters. Her other westerns all include a lead woman, I believe, but this particular novel was excellent. There's also Spur winner Ellen Recknor's (who writes under the name Wolf McKenna too, as well as for some series westerns) Prophet Annie, a quirky book where the lead is a woman. In my own Lance Howard books I have had countless co-leads and in my fifth BHW many moons ago a woman outlaw as the antagonist. All my Pass series books are as much carried by co lead Angela "Tootie" del Pelado as are they by Jim Hannigan. So I really would like to see more women leads in westerns and I htink they would bring in a wider audience.

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