Straight into Wildflower Junction rides Mr. Lee Aaron Wilson, a western author who sprung from a long line of storytellers. His roots go plumb back to the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. His great-great-grandmother was a princess in the Iroquois Nation. Now don’t that beat all. And not only that, some of his kinfolk were Indian fighters, outlaws, and lawmen. So I reckon Lee Wilson knows a thing or two about the West and the people who lived here.
His third book, “Billy Killdeere,” was nominated for a Spur award at Western Writers of America. Shoot, I could look at the cowboy on this cover all the blessed day long and not get tired of it!
Now, Lee Wilson is going to tell us a tad about his book and himself. Hope you enjoy the interview. Leave a comment if you want.
Billy Killdeere is Western romantic historical fiction, ain’t that right?
Billy was raised in an outlaw clan. At twenty-one he quit riding with the clan and began running the family ranch with his lady, Jenny Baxter.
Is Billy Killdeere an outlaw, a lover, or both?
He was raised an outlaw and becomes the best gunman in his gang, but he also respects women and treats them like ladies. Part of the story has him helping a young woman in a whorehouse where the gang hides out. There’s gunplay and then later when he’s on the run, he’s remembered as the man who rescued a woman from prostitution. Billy is considered a friend and hero to the “soiled doves” with whom he comes in contact. “Good” women enjoy his pleasant demeanor and charming smile, and he takes lovers until he meets Jenny. He can’t marry Jenny, but no other woman fills the ache in his heart.
What is it about Killdeere’s story that gets your imagination all fired up?
Billy is a young man with the deck stacked against him, but he drives forward, determined to stop “hurting people what never hurt him.” He fights no matter the odds. When Jenny is abducted, he is forced to ride on a dangerous and lucrative job. Despite lawmen, gang members and citizens who believe he’s turned, he saves Jenny. Billy just isn’t a quitter. He embodies a theme that seems to creep into most of my stories. “You ain’t beat, no matter how many times you git knocked down, until you don’t git up again.”
Do you have the know-how on any certain subject that deepens your writing and makes your language more authentic?
In more ways than one. I’m a psychologist with over 20 years experience working with criminals. I grew up on the stories of older male relatives from the West and later minored in American History, which makes it easier to anchor a story in time and place. Finally, I have read just about everything written by Zane Grey, Max Brand, Luke Short, Louis L’Amour, and others like them.
How do you develop and research a story?
Ideas hit me from the slightest comment all the way down to a hard news item. I let the idea grow and decide what place and time would best demonstrate the concept. Then I check my sources to assure that my tale is authentic to a given time or place. If certain weapons lend credibility or excitement to a story, I use them, checking my files to make sure my memory is accurate. Sources include books from my personal library, articles I’ve collected, and novels I know to be historically accurate.
Who are your favorite Western authors?
Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, Max Brand, Luke Short, Jack Shaeffer, Earnest Haycox, to begin with. My current heroes are Elmer Kelton, Matt Braun . . . I guess I’ll stop here. The list could get long.
Do you have a hankering for other characters and gunslingers?
Will you be writing about any of them in the future?
Both real and fictional characters appeal to me. Matt Dillon played by James Arness comes to mind. The Sackett boys in the novels by L’Amour, and the way the actors Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott played them come to mind. I loved Have Gun, Will Travel, but I like my own characters better. Billy Killdeere and his cousins Ty and Davy are as real to me as family members. Charles Ritter from my upcoming novel, Prairie Rose, will show up in other stories, as well Cal Massey, a bad guy who has had enough and rides away.
To me, the James boys and Billy the Kid were just criminals, although folk tales have grown up around them. The Earps and the Clantons were outlaws, warring factions. I follow them to study the writers’ ideas, just as I do fictional heroes.
How can we contact you and follow your upcoming work?
Visit me at www.leebaldwinonline.com
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.