Sunday, February 21, 2010
I try to make them as different from me as possible. But that is impossible for any writer, including myself. Stuart Brannon’s my most well known. He’s become a legend…in my mind and in the minds of my readers. My wife, Janet, claims he’s just like me in so many ways. “After all, look at his initials—same as yours,” she points out.
I sure would like to be like him. He’s my hero. In fact, every novel of mine has some sort of reference to or cameo appearance by Stuart Brannon. Some have told me they think that all my fiction, whether historical or contemporary, is one huge revolving series...because of the inter-relation of the characters.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Well, don’t know if this is the quirkiest, but it rates as one of them…I don’t like writing about a place I’ve never been. That means loading my truck to cruise up and down most every road in the eleven western states. I’ve spent much more time on unpaved roads than highways. In fact, asphalt and blacktop bore me. Interstates drone like a prison line because I see nothing but the rig in front of me. One time I flew to downtown New York City to interview an editor recommended to me, surrounded by millions…the next day I was bumping along one of my unpaved roads to the edge of the Grand Canyon, no soul in sight as far as I could see. A sign warned: Don’t travel alone. Carry water. This road not patrolled. All of this helped my research for the Austin-Stoner Files about a NY editor who teams with a rodeo cowboy out west.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I started receiving checks in the mail from magazine editors for my articles and short stories. That was back in 1976, quite some time ago, but I was already married and a father of two young sons. In fact, my wife Janet was responsible for getting those early submissions sent out.
Hooray for Janet! Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I like reading all kinds of history book, from any era, any civilization. I’ve always been fascinated with history. When I started writing westerns, I focused my reading on the Old West between 1870 to 1910.
What are you reading right now?
I'm working on three different volumes...Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough (about Teddy Roosevelt), Prescott’s The Conquest of Mexico and The Conquest of Peru, and Tough Towns by Robert Barr Smith
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Creede of Old Montana is book #101 for me. That’s both fiction and nonfiction for adults, kids & teens. Some of the most recent titles are The Land Tamers (a re-issue of my first western novel with Tyndale), One Step Over The Border by Center Street/Hachette), 3 contemporary novels in The Horse Dreams Series (B&H), Paperback Writer (which received a positive review in Publisher’s Weekly), and 6 books in the Fortunes of the Black Hills Series (western, B&H).
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Some pro golfers are grinders…they play one shot at a time. Not all are nice and easy, but they give the next shot every ounce of skill they possess. Head down and focused on the next swing, they look up onlyat the end of the round. My life’s like that. I’m a grinder. Whatever the Lord sets in front of me next to do, I tackle it full steam. I keep my head down and focused on the present. And you know what? I’ve had a pretty good life. Nothing spectacular, but it’s been good.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My marriage and partnership with Janet for 46 years, plus the wonderful family the Lord’s given us…three sons, three daughters-in-law, three grandkids.
What is your favorite food?
Steak…the thicker and redder the better. However, my wife has me on a mostly fish and chicken diet right now with lots of fruits and veggies. It’s for my own good, but I sure do hanker for some beef at times.
I'm with you. I eat really healthy, but once in a while, I have to have some steak, medium rare. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My main challenge in the beginning was trying to find a publisher who would risk doing westerns. Before my first western was released, the publisher told me upfront that they would not do anymore. So, I shelved the other manuscript I had completed and waited for some sort of opening. Several years later, when Frank Peretti’s first novel became a bestseller, I found out who his publisher was and took my first Stuart Brannon novel out of the drawer. I approached them and they were very open to trying my westerns. I did a lot of fiction for Crossway after that.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Read good writing. Keep writing something every day—in a journal, a story, roughing out an article or book, composing a poem. Attend a writers’ conference where you can take classes and interact with editors, publishers and other writers.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Oh, yes, the "D" word. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Tell us about the featured book?
Avery John Creede rides to Fort Benton, Montana, in 1860 for a reunion with old army pals. He discovers a running gunfight with a notorious outlaw and two women determined to distract him, each for her own reasons.
The dark haired beauty, Carla Logonaire, is an old flame and the gal of Avery's dreams. Her daddy made his mega-fortune with imported glass and partnered with Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. Avery buys a diamond and sapphire ring for her, just in case.
Meanwhile, he's accosted by Sunny, the caustic mystery blonde in the yellow dress, who threatens him because he jailed her bank robbery friends. She wants him dead. Meanwhile, Avery desires nothing but a little peace and quiet.
But just as things get real hectic, Avery's 15-year-old tenderfoot nephew, Ace, shows up with disturbing news…and Uncle Avery’s got a new responsibility on his hands.
Sounds like a book I'd like to read for sure. Please give us the first page of the book.
No one knew how Avery John Creede got the scar on his face.
No one except Avery and the one who did it. He never talked about it. Most who knew him figured the other person dead. Not the type of scar that makes you wince and turn your head, and never covered by a beard, it hung high on his cheekbone like a badge of honor. But a person had to stand up to Creede and look him in the eye to see the scar. For the past six weeks on the trail north from Shiprock, no one had been that close.
July hot and August dry, the September heat that reflected off the brick wall left Avery with a stale feel, like a sweat drenched cotton shirt, long dried. He studied the wide river from the tiny, two-step balcony of his second-story room at the Grand Hotel. Although he could not see it now, he knew he was positioned under the arched 1881 stone façade high at the building’s peak. Like a pontiff overlooking an empty plaza, he surveyed the near deserted street below.
A lady with a famine-thin waist and a bleached yellow dress spun a parasol over her shoulder as she sauntered past the cottonwoods toward the riverbank. Like bait skimming across a still mountain lake, Avery figured she trolled for some man to set the hook.
A very good hook. How can readers find you on the Internet?
You can order our books through any online bookstore or via our website: http://www.blybooks.com/
Creede of Old Montana
by Stephen Bly
Center Point Publishing/Thorndike
300 pages, hardback, $29.95
Thank you, Stephen, for this peek into your life.
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Posted by Lena Nelson Dooley at 2:00 AM