The Wild Boys Ride Again
Nine years ago my western novella, The Wild Boys was published. I finished the final draft before moving with Bo for his job and he encouraged me to submit it. The story flew fast from my imagination with revenge tropes and queer machismo. The protagonist, Dusty Calhoun, survives the burning of his ranch, the killing of his cowboy, and a hanging, to seek vengeance by infiltrating the responsible Blakely Gang. Along the way he meets Jake Willowford and is reminded of his past, but he has to see his plan through. I liked the simplicity and setting the story in motion in the middle of something—Dusty’s revenge. I was in Milwaukee working out at a gym when I got an email of acceptance from a publisher. Beau to Beau was the name and queer romance was their game. My story was a bit edgier and more violent than the norms of the genre. It was an outlier in the vein of an Italian western from the 60’s with Clint Eastwood’s The Man with No Name and of the rambunctious Young Guns from the 80s but definitely gayer. I was thrown off by the romance etiquette of a shirtless guy on the cover (Fabio in style), but the marketing was out of my hands besides some limited input. I was excited with the book’s quick release a few weeks later. They also took on my previous books, Where the Road Roams and Dark Lands, out at that time from a vanity publisher, Wasteland Press, and re-released them with strange new romance covers. The cover made no sense for Dark Lands being a collection of horror stories, but I was happy for the possibilities of a wider release. In my euphoria, I came up with the idea of continuing The Wild Boys stories since the original was a novella created from a screenplay. I set myself a crazy month-long deadline to finish each of the next to chapters to create a trilogy. Traveling with work on the road, I turned down chances to explore new towns and team building to focus on the writing when time allowed. On Jake’s Tale, I changed the POV and created a different adventure of Dusty missing that worked really well. I liked writing the banter and playing the tension between Jake and Frank Ward, a farmhand turned outlaw, as they searched for Dusty while evading One-Eyed Walker and his posse. The third novella, Trail’s End was by far the most difficult to get a grip on. I switched POV back and forth between Jake and Dusty and introduced new characters into the Wild Boys gang. Double-crosses, desires, and vengeance met all melded together building to a climatic shootout in an Old West town. I finished them and both were released over that summer.
The Wild Boys may be a little rocky, but I am proud of the three tales.
Time went on. In 2017, I regained the rights and republished my works under my own banner. I used to be horrified by the romance tag as I felt my western was more violent and true to the way of the gun, not sanguine and sentimental but dangerous and desirable. I like the pulp cover that is currently on The Wild Boys — A Peculiar Western, yet it does not allude to how truly queer the book is. I feel I may be losing the intended audience. In the spirit of change, I am releasing the three parts, Dusty’s Revenge, Jake’s Tale, and Trail’s End, separately as ebooks with brand new covers. The covers represent the pulp western angle with the backgrounds of the Old West town from Almeria, Spain where a lot of the classic spaghetti westerns were shot (a theme park now rests in the sands) brings the spirit of the genre I pictured in my head. I also went all out with the come-hither cowboys who are a staple of the romance genre. These different editions of the trilogy that makes up my peculiar western are now available digitally. The Wild Boys novel containing all three stories is also available with its original pulp cover in physical form.
Below is a look at the new ebook covers.