A Peculiar Western
Wild Boys was a turning point in my writing. Prior, I had used a vanity publisher, Wasteland Press to publish my first novella, Where the Road Roams, in 2009. All in all, it was a good experience for a first time writer as there is nothing like that feeling of getting your book printed and to hold it in hand. Chaos had enveloped my changing world at that time after taking care of my mother till she passed away. I found an outlet in creativity in writing. Strangely enough, it started with screenplays. I wrote one after the other some feature length, most in short form. One was a western.
The idea for the Wild Boys came to me in 2005. Brokeback Mountain was huge at the time. Although in my mind it was not a true western — not in the classic sense. I grew up with Clint Eastwood as ‘the man with no name’ and hardcore and violent spaghetti westerns made by Italians. Most of them were revenge tales with cold blooded anti-heroes to root for on their bloody conquest to set things right. I decided to write a story in that vein with gay characters. What if some cowboys were happy together and a band of outlaws tore their lives apart by burning down their cabin, killing one, and leaving the other hanging to die — but the other lived for vengeance? The line from Hang ‘Em High came to me in Eastwood’s gravelly voice, “When you hang a man, you best make sure he’s dead.” The story excited me and I had to write it.
Once I lock onto a story it is always in the back of my mind fighting to be brought to life. I bore it out in my head on a road trip from Houston to Texas Frightmare Weekend outside of Dallas in 2006 during the five and a half hour drive. Going with my friends to a horror convention and working on a western worked hand in hand as the both genres shared a lot of the same talent in the Italian film industry during their prospective booms of the past. The styles are similar, each having lots of close-up shots of eyes, panoramic vistas, colorful lighting, and unflinching, stylized violence that was operatic and occasionally in slow motion. The story played out in my head, there and the way back, and the first draft was born.
Sometime later in 2010, I converted the script to a novella as I discovered that immersive writing worked better for me than the communal nature of film as far as pure creativity goes. Using some of Elmore Leonard’s ten rules of writing, of starting in the middle of something, an action, and letting the dialogue define the character along with the importance of an opening line (that Stephen King is a proponent) informed me of the direction and pace of the story. The perfect line came to me. “I am going to kill them, every goddamn one of them.” A new version was launched and ironically I could see it as a film with a twist.
My partner, Bo, encouraged me to submit the novella to a publisher in 2012. I was done with Wasteland having gotten all I could out of that arrangement and began the daunting task of query letters and submissions. Right off the bat was the first rejection which was short lived as the novella was accepted by the second, little did I know that scenario is a rarity. Beau to Beau, a romance publisher, released Wild Boys early that year. I was excited as a new door was opened. I wanted to get it into print, not e-book only, so I promised two more novellas to form a trilogy. In three whirlwind months, I finished the second story, Jake’s Tail by following different characters and changing the tone with the new perspective. The change was perfect to move the story along in a different manner that I found entertaining. Another three month deadline for the third one proved to be the most challenging especially after the easy flow of the middle act. Trail’s End needed to resolve storylines, cross separate tones, and bring it all together. The key I found to unlock the way was the ceremony of the sweat lodge. I had participated in some in the past and totally respect the Lakota ways that allow outsiders to use their rites to cleanse and it made sense to add a spirit quest to the final ride of the Wild Boys. All three novellas were released separately as e-books and together in a paperback trilogy. Beau to Beau was more keen on romance and the covers were of that variety with the shirtless cowboys and such and perhaps did not match the gritty, violent, and gay stories within.
Beau to Beau and I had an amicable parting of ways in 2016 and the rights to my previous works were solely mine again. Thus began the daunting task of self-publishing for the first time, starting with Anarchy — Strange Tales of Outsiders and continuing with this sophomore outing. Changes have been made and the manuscripts have been edited differently into a novel with three parts along with a new cover design by Andrew Harney in the style of a pulp western. I am proud to release the definitive version of Wild Boys — A Peculiar Western Novel this summer.