Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Saddlebums Interview: Tim McGuire

Illinois-born and Texas-raised Tim McGuire has always had a fascination with history. He aptly translates it into his novels, action-filled yet character-centered stories that have earned him the accolades of Western greats such as Loren D. Estleman and Larry McMurtry.

Mr. McGuire presently resides in Grand Prairie Texas. His next novel, Texas Cowboys, is scheduled to release from Berkley in late 2009.

What led you to start writing in the Western genre?

As I've posted on my website and in other interviews, I am a product of the '60s where the Western was as common as the current "reality" shows. My mother loved Westerns and before cable TV, that's what was always in syndication. My father was a history buff, especially Civil War era, so I absorbed his love for the study and developed in my mind just what a character I would dream to be. That, and a lot of respect for history put together The Rainmaker. The character and subsequent plots developed into a series swirling around in my head.

You have written two series of books with regular characters: The Rainmaker novels and the Texas trilogy with Rance Cash. While the aforementioned Clay Cole, a.k.a. "The Rainmaker" is a rugged, tough, no-nonsense character, Cash's depiction is more lighthearted, him being a gambler rather than a gunslinger and his troubles often leading to comic situations. Was this shift from a gritty traditional Western novel to one that incorporates more humor a deliberate one?

I didn't want to create the same character and call him by a different name. In the Texas series, I started the storyline ten years earlier when the West was just a rumor to those in the East. Rance Cash is intended as a less than deadly serious fellow to follow with a bit of spicy behavior to his way. Les and Jody were meant as the focal point, but Rance was the one that kept you reading. I tried to think as a gambler must have thought in a game of cards and of life. He's not as cruel as those in accurate history, but I've tried to present him as a fortune seeker which is the prime motivation of most of those flowing west.

"I do believe that a well told story has a place for every interest"

Can you tell us more about the campaign to "Save The Rainmaker"?

I was trying to test the waters as it were to measure just what type of support I had to continue the series to the last four books. At current, I am still counting. It's understandable publishers measure success in copies sold. Although I have been pleasantly gratified with the personal responses I have received through my guestbook, more numbers are needed to the left of the decimal point to make publishers notice.

You have been described by Loren Estleman as a "traditional Western" writer. Do you agree with that assertion? Have you ever thought about trying your hand at other type of stories such as historical novels or even other genres?

Let me first say, Loren was incredibily generous with his praise. That said, I am a fan of a well told story and am actively seeking to expand into other genres. I am a particular fan of the thriller genre in which I have a few projects brewing. As a far as a lecture on history in novel form, I don't feel qualified to write that sort as a form of entertainment which a novel should be.

Many of your books include a blurb from Larry McMurtry that I think describes your novels perfectly: "Tim McGuire writes a good western, the story fast-paced, the characters vividly drawn." Was he referring to any particular novel of yours?

Mr. McMurtry was also very gracious to lend his name to my works and I have always sent him a copy of every book in which it appears. I am confident his comment is aimed at Danger Ridge, my first novel. How I am confident of that will remain between he and I.

What are your thoughts about the present state of the Western genre and what do you think the future holds for the Western story?

In regard to the present Western novel in printed novel form, I'm afraid to say that the future is not VERY bright, but there is hope. First, reading novels in general is a fading medium due to the lack of free time required. Reading takes time. Watching is much easier which is why the success of most novels is amplified by the parlay to film.

I do believe that a well told story has a place for every interest. Look at the upcoming films and the original printed works they are based on. However, I do feel there is a stigma to overcome. Most people that I have asked what they read respond that they read everything - except Westerns, which their grandfather/uncle/dad/or other older relative used to always read. When I ask what they like in a story, they respond intrigue, suspense, and a little romance. Younger readers appear attracted to fantasy, where their minds can wander.

The accurate truth is that the historical west was a fantasy to those whom observed it first hand. Imagine the landscapes of Western Montana or Southern Arizona seen for the first time. Describe that in detail, and then develop characters who resonate to the current reader and there is hope for the genre. I've been contacted by more than one person whom told me they seldom or never read a Western but felt compelled to tell me how much they enjoyed the story. See my guestbook and archive page.

Most writers are voracious readers and you are probably not the exception. What do you read for pleasure?

I must confess, I read mostly nonfiction for research. I seldom read fiction for two reasons. One, I don't want to be tempted to copy another style and, two, if I have time to read, I have time to write.

"Imagine the landscapes of Western Montana or Southern Arizona seen for the first time. Describe that in detail, and then develop characters who resonate to the current reader and there is hope for the genre"

Do you have any writing influences? How about influences in the Western genre?

I don't have a writer that I follow for the reasons above. I did greatly enjoy True Grit.

Are there any Western writers you would like to see back in print?

Most of those names are still in print. I'm not sure of the stories meantfor readers of the '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s will sell well in today's market.

Are you writing anything right now? Can you tell us more about any other projects you are currently involved with?

I have a few irons in the fire. I am presenting a continuation of the Clay Cole series. Also, I have project which continues the Texas series in the progress of the set timeline and may include a familiar character in his early years as well as a few famous names. Also, I have heard from the film world in California.

What is the greatest satisfaction of your writing career? Is there anything else you still feel you need to accomplish?

My greatest feeling of accomplishment is knowing my stories are well received from those whom I've heard from. As far as yet to accomplish, I want to get all the stories in my head onto a printed page, both comtemporary and historical, mystery, humor, raw life and poignant moments.


Anonymous said...

Tim McGuire is one of the new western writers who I've been meaning to read. Thanks again for another excellent interview.


Anonymous said...

Tim is a writer to watch. I have read all his Westerns so far and in my opinion any new book is a little better than the previous one. I'm sure we will hear from this writer in the future.


Gonzalo Baeza said...

I agree. He was one of the first writers I thought about when we decided to interview Western authors. Watch out this blog for more news concerning his future projects.

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