Maverick Preachers by Victoria Bylin

angel230.jpgI love writing “preacher” heroes. Even before I made the leap to Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals, my Harlequin Historicals all had preachers with grit and purpose. They had faults, too. And courage. And hearts as big as the sky. I can’t think of anything more “alpha” than a man who’s willing to die for a cause, and that’s the kind of preacher I write.

Next in line for hero status is Reverend Joshua Blue. Josh and his wife Adie are side characters in A Bounty Hunter’s Bride (Love Inspired Historicals, May 2008). They get their own story in A Maverick Preacher (LIH, February 2009). Josh isn’t shy. He’ll ride into an outlaw camp or preach in a saloon. He’ll take a punch if it’s called for, but he’s just as quick to protect the people in his care.

Old West preachers ministered to people where they lived. Like his real life predecessors, Josh starts a church in a saloon. He’s a peaceful man, but he carries a gun. It’s a calling card of sorts, his way of meeting men on their own turf. When he rides into outlaw camps, he’s quick to tell the story of Jonah and the whale. He believes in second chances, mostly because he very much needed one for himself. That’s one of the things I love about westerns. Everyone gets to start over.

abbies-outlaw.jpgMy preachers are fictional, but I’ve borrowed bits from historical accounts. One of my favorite stories gets mentioned in Of Men and Angels (HH, July 2003). When William Merritt, a maverick preacher in his own right, leads a church service in July, the men sing “Silent Night” because it’s the only church song they know. Reverend John Leaf (Abbie’s Outlaw, April 2005) is a reformed gunfighter. He walked into my mind fully formed, a mix of the violence and humility that come from staring down the gun barrel of eternity.

Old West preachers weren’t wimps. They traveled for miles in storms and brutal heat. Along with their wives (there’s more to be said there!), they started churches and towns. They lived with purpose and brought hope to the far edges of the world. They weren’t perfect men, but more than a few were hero material.

+ posts

27 thoughts on “Maverick Preachers by Victoria Bylin”

  1. Vicki, it’s so wonderful to have you with us this weekend. You’ve given me a perspective of Old West preachers that is just so intriguing–a preacher hero who carries a gun? I love it!

    Happy New Year!

  2. Hi Pam,
    It’s nice to hear from you! I try to give all my preachers something that sets them apart, a trait or habit that makes them just as human as the people they meet. Right now, I’m working on a novella for LIH. The hero’s not a preacher, but he’s been deeply influenced by an unusual man. I’m having fun with it!

  3. Fascinating post, Victoria! Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols. Thank you for stopping in to share with us today 🙂

    These sound like my kind of westerns! I love them rugged western heroes full of conviction and purpose 😉

    All best wishes for the New Year — Feb 2009 won’t get here fast enough! *lol*

  4. Hi, I’m traveling. So I haven’t been around much. Hi, Victoria. I’ve been researching the Flathead Indians and have been reading about DeSmet and early missionary to their tribe and others. These preachers had guts. they really believed in what they were doing to stick their necks out so far. Interesting topic.

  5. Fabulous post! I love your books and enjoy all types of heroes. I love that you focused on the preacher heroes in this post because it shows the variety of heroes in the old west.

    I am looking forward to reading your upcoming books! I read all genres of romance and I think it is cool that Love Inspired is coming out with a historical line…I have said in the past that I wish they would.

  6. Vicky, I just love to read Westerns, they remind me of my father. From the time I was a little girl my father would always have a western in his hand in his spar time. I find that I enjoy reading them to. Its a change of pace.

  7. Vicki, welcome to our little fictional town here! I’m so glad to have you. Loved your post about early day preachers. There’s a cool TV movie on tonight called “Avenging Angel” on the Hallmark Channel that features a preacher who lost his faith after his wife and daughter were murdered. He turned to the gun and bounty hunting for a while but found his way back to his calling when he encounters a woman and little girl in desperate need of his services. It’s a wonderful movie.

    Several years back, Clint Eastwood also starred as a preacher who carried a gun inside his Bible. The name of the movie escapes me, but it was really good. He stands up for a group of peaceful people who don’t believe in fighting. It might’ve been “Pale Rider” but I’m not sure.

    Your books sound like excellent reading. Love the preacher heroes!! 🙂 I’m going to look for them and also “The Bounty Hunter’s Bride” that’s coming out in May. Wishing you lots of success.

  8. Vicki, I forgot to say that “A Maverick Preacher” is too long off. I don’t know how I’ll manage to wait until Feb. 2009! And don’t you have a Christmas anthology with our Elizabeth Lane? I think I remembered seeing that on your website.

  9. Hi Jennifer,
    I’m delighted you’ve enjoyed my books. The leap to LIH came naturally, though I’ve got another HH novella coming down the pipe. The line launches February 2008 with Jillian Hart filling the western boots. I can’t wait!

  10. Hi Gail,
    My dad didn’t read westerns, but he used to play Marty Robbin’s “Gunfighter Ballads” on the old stereo. I was about five when I fell in love with the gunfighter in “El Paso.” Memories are precious, aren’t they?

  11. Hi Linda,
    The movie is definitely PALE RIDER and Clint is fabulous in it!

    I wish we got the Hallmark Channel 🙁 Instead of watching AVENGING ANGEL (my first choice by far), I’ll be tuned into the Patriot game. I’m not that big a football fan, but both sons are home from college and we have piles of snacks. It should be fun.

  12. Howdy, everybody! Great blog, Vicki! Thanks. The hero in one of my books is a reformed gunfighter turned preacher, but it still needs a lot of work. I’m not sure whether to leave it a straight western or turn it into a western romance. When you mentioned “El Paso,” the song immediately started playing in my head! Now I’ll be stuck with it until I go practice the violin for church tomorrow! 😉

    Linda, yes, that Clint Eastwood movie was “Pale Rider,” and it was basically a remake of “Shane” (same plot line, different characters and setting).

    What is it about the old west that holds such an attraction for all of us? Is it the strong characters, the unforgiving nature of the land combined with its beauty, the wildlife, the sense of freedom, or a little of all of the above? Whatever it is, long may it wave! 🙂

  13. My father read westerns all the time and I just picked the books up when he finished.
    I have not read one of your books, but will be on the lookout for them now.

  14. Hi Vicki,
    Loved your post about preacher heroes. Who doesn’t love to read about a good man with an edge about him? I especially like that your preachers can be or have been flawed at one point in their lives. Thanks for the great blog today on Petticoats. Looking forward to your Love Inspired historicals!

  15. Hi Hope,
    Great question about the appeal of westerns. I read somewhere that regencies are about social survival, while westerns are about physical survival. In a western setting, the h/h can be tested in every possible way.

    I’m also partial to western landscapes. There’s something about mountains and prairies that gives me a real rush. Can you imagine traveling 2,000 miles by wagon and seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time? Talk about awesome!

    For your gunfighter turned preacher, I vote for making it a romance. I love a good story of any kind, but it’s the love angle that stays with me.

    I’ve got “El Paso” in my head, too! I might have to put “Gunfighter Ballads” in the CD player. “El Paso” is my #1 favorite, but “Running Gun” is No. 2. One of these days, I’m going to take the line, “A woman’s love is wasted when she loves a running gun,” and turn into a book with HEA. Love is never wasted!

  16. Hi Estella,
    Isn’t great to share a love of books with family members? My dad always had a book on the coffee table, usually adventure or spy fiction. I read Alistair Maclean because of him.

  17. Howdy, Charlene!
    I’m with you on liking flawed characters. Without flaws, my preacher heroes would be cardboard cut-outs. It’s their mistakes–and there have been some doozies–that give these men compassion, humility and a willingness to die for the people they love.

    I have a quote on my desk from Oswald Chambers: “God never made bloodless stoics. He made passionate saints.” My preachers (I hope) fit that description.

  18. I’ll be watching Avenging Angel tonight – I haven’t seen it yet. I first thought from the title that it was the one with Tom Berringer where he’s working for Joseph Smith (called *The* Avenging Angel), but alas not. Kevin and I will have date night.

    Thank you for blogging with us, Vicki! You’re the best. SMOOCHES!

  19. Hi, Loved your post! Haven’t read any stories with preacher heroes but this sounds wonderful I took up reading as my new hobby a year ago and can’t believe all the books i’m reading and learning new author and the new books coming out. I will definatley be looking for your books. Happy New Year!!

  20. Hello Lori,
    I’ve been a reader all my life, but I went from a couple of books a month to 3-4 week after we moved to Virginia and I discovered the Fairfax Co. Public Library. They have a ba-zillion books and a big romance section. That’s when I discovered many of the books I still love.

  21. I noticed a few things I would have changed had I written and made the set, Vicki. <g> Too bad they didn’t ask me. Charlene mentioned the sheriff had amnesia or something, and I thought it was the whole town – no one remembered Kevin Sorbo’s character had been the preacher there not that long ago. Hello?

    Also Kevin lit an oil lamp that I know was a Texaco gas station premium in about the 1960s, maybe 70s. I have two of them.


Comments are closed.