Jill Marie Landis: What is a Western, anyway?

jill marie 3A great big “Howdy!” to everyone at Wildflower Junction. It’s great to be passin’ through again as a guest blogger. Always nice to see all of you readers and authors alike. This is a busy March for me. Not only do I have a March 2nd deadline, but a new book coming out tomorrow, too. It’s a book I’m really excited about.

 HEART OF STONE is the first book of my new Irish Angels Series and its available in two formats depending on where you shop. Not only is there a mass market edition, but it’s also available in trade paperback.

 HEART OF STONE features a hero and heroine who wouldn’t usually move in the same circles, let alone fall in love, but tell that to Laura Foster and Reverend Brand McCormick of Glory, Texas. Many of you have read my two other books set in Glory. I imagine it’s the kind of old western town we’d all like to visit or even live in. The kind of place “where everybody knows your name,” where folks come together as a community to support their own. At least in theory. heartofstone[1]


But what happens when one of their own, a woman believed to be upstanding and respectable turns out to have a past so dark that it will not only bring her down when revealed, but it will ruin the life of the man who loves her—a widowed preacher and father of two young children? Will anyone stand behind her then?  And it’s not as if her hero doesn’t have some secrets of his own–which only complicates matters.

But I don’t want to give anything more away. I’ll just say I think you’ll love these characters as much as I loved writing about them. At least I hope so.

Since I’m busy wrapping up my latest work in progress and will be looking for a new setting soon, I thought I’d take this opportunity to hear from some of you about what you consider a true “Western” historical romance. Do you prefer them strictly set in the Western United States? Do Westerns have to include heroes who are cowboys with spurs, boots and holsters before a book can be considered a Western? Are horses and stagecoaches and hold ups obligatory? Indians a must?

What about ranchers in the Pacific Northwest? What about Vaqueros in California? How about Pinkerton Detectives? Or miners in the Alaskan Gold Rush? Pioneers like Daniel Boone? I’m sure his wife wore petticoats and ol’ Daniel had a gun, but could you call his story a “western?” And what about riverboat gamblers? Remember Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara? Plenty of petticoats and pistols in that post Civil War classic. Would you leave Gone With the Wind on the shelf because it’s not a “Western?” jill marie 2

By the way, since the early 1800’s we’ve had plenty of cowboys here in Hawaii, only they’re called paniolos. Talk about the far West. We’re as west as you can get—but maybe writing a Hawaiian “western” would be stretching it. Or not?

If you have time, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts about settings for westerns, for historicals in general, and what you gravitate toward when you’re shopping for a good read. I’ll have two autographed copies of HEART OF STONE hot off the press to send to two lucky reader winners.

Until the Fillies let me stop by again, I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

 Aloha, Jill Mariejill marie 1


(To order Jill’s book, click on the cover above)

+ posts

45 thoughts on “Jill Marie Landis: What is a Western, anyway?”

  1. I usually think of Westerns as being set in the West with cowboys, horses, and the rough terrain because otherwise it may get confusing. It can get confusing with someone calls something a Southern read but it’s only about a main character that is from the South but is now based in New York. I guess it could be credible but then it’s just stretching.

    My mom says she thinks of settlers and civilization being brought into the West. I think she likes those old Western movies.

    When shopping for a good read I guess I like something that’s not only romance but has information too. I also don’t like war stuff though I have read books with that setting.

  2. Hi, Jill. I like your picture—wearing western clothes while on a beach!

    I think my first thought when hearing the word “western” is to think of the western states of Wyoming, northern Colorado, Montana, and Texas. I have always filed ranching stories set in northern CA or in Alaska or Canada as rugged frontier stories, but not as westerns. But, they are westerns, aren’t they? Just a different frontier than we are used to reading.

    Your book sounds really good! Thanks for being here today.

  3. Strictly speaking I think of Westerns as taking place anywhere in North Anerica west of the Mississippi sometime after 1800. That means besides the western states Alaska, Canada and Mexico also work for me. The hero does not have to be a cowboy. There are modern westerns, but I usually prefer them to take place prior to 1900.
    I love Gone with the Wind and Civil War novels too, but do not consider them Westerns.
    I have enjoyed your writing for years. Thanks for all the good reads! Love the cover on this new book.

  4. Hello, Jill! Thanks for a great post! “Heart of Stone” sounds wonderful, and the beautiful cover captures the emotional conflicts of the story line. I am getting ready to read two of your other books, “Just Once” and “Blue Moon”!

    Historical Western Romance is my favorite genre. I love westerns of all kinds. Being a Southerner, I also love Civil War romances and stories set in the South. However, for me, nothing beats a western in it’s purest form. By that, I mean a stalwart cowboy and his lady, the land, and the life. When a cowboy truly loves, he loves with all his heart, forever. His woman is as cherished as his values, his “cowboy code of honor”. Not always in words, but in deep, deep feelings. Feelings as true as the blue of a Texas bluebonnet.

  5. This book sounds wonderful! As far as reading goes, I prefer history…but that’s about as specific as I get. I usually prefer a good Western Romance set west of the Mississippi, but I also love Civil War stories, colonial tales, Pride and Prejudice-era fiction. I completely agree with Judy, though: there is no hero like a good cowboy.

  6. Hi Jill. I love your writing. I think a book can be a western if the setting portrays a western theme.

  7. To be honest my favorite westerns are the ones set in the mid-west or southwest that involve ranchers and mail-order brides! For some reason gritty, tough on the exterior cowboys and “citified” women from the east make for interesting romances! Plus the danger that cowboys faced on the prairie from stampedes, rattle snakes, droughts, flash floods are always interesting!

    XOXO~ Renee

  8. Welcome, Jill. It’s great to have you back at the Junction and even greater to know you have a western out. Can’t wait. I’ve always been one of your biggest fans. As for westerns, I like every part of the west. My current book takes place in a ghost mining town in Colorado, but I’ve kinda been dancing all over the landscape.

  9. hi and welcome;
    I love Westerns where there is a ranch, cattle drives, brandings, trail rides and a cowboy and the widowed wife(who owns the ranch)who get a liking for each other.

  10. Heart of Stone sounds great! Lots of tension in your blurb.

    Westerns for me have to do with ‘settling the West’ stories for me. Kind of like Janet Oke books, with more suspense and twists.

  11. To me, a Western takes place in a setting west of the Mississippi during the 1800s. I love a strong cowboy hero, but he doesn’t have to be a rancher. He can work in town or even scratch out a living on a farm. It’s the ruggedness that’s a must for me.

    Glad to have you here, Jill. Hope the tsunami threat has past for those of you on the islands.

  12. This sounds like a wonderful book that I will want on my tbr shelf…
    I guess I love anything that is about the early settlers, where they found a peice of land and made it there own…Where the sweat of their brow built something they could be proud of.. But I also love Riverboat gamblers Or the call of the tall ships that took men off to sea and woman waited on that ‘widows peak” for them to come home.

  13. I love the old time westerns but I also like modern westerns. I think westerns can also be in Alaska and Canada. I like books about the Civil War (like your Magnolia Creed).

  14. What makes a book a western? It can actually get a little gray because Prairie Romances are real close but of course not the same thing at all.

    Cowboys…stetsons, cattle, spurs, lassoes. Ranchers instead of farmers. Longhorns instead of milk cows.

    And they’ve got to say, “I reckon.” every once in a while.

    Hope you survived the tsunami okay, Jill.


  15. Hi Jill, Historical westerns are my favorite read. I have really been hooked on them lately! I have never read your books before but you write my kind of book. I usually think of westerns as anything set out in the west with cowboys or indians, around the 1800 for the historical ones. When shopping for books that is what I look for is the western settings! There just doesn’t seem to be that many authors writing them today. Now I got a new author to me to start looking for. I will be watching for your books for sure.

  16. hi Jill Marie, always so good to have you here. And glad that tsunami didn’t cause too much worry.

    Hmmm. Westerns? I live on California and I think there’s a ton of western stuff around here…but whatever on that. I love a guy in a Stetson. that pretty much does it LOL. I totally love the paniolo in Hawaii. I did a blog right here on them and the Parker ranch a while back…while I atually was in Kauai! I think they are as “far west” as you can go.

    Although I remember the Aussie “western” with Tom Selleck: Quigley Down Under. Hmmmmmmm.

    Thanks for stopping by the Junction today!

  17. Good afternoon, Jill. Have enjoyed your books. As for what constitutes a Western, that can be looked at in many ways. Yes the locale counts, New York or Boston really wouldn’t work. However, it doesn’t need to be about cowboys and indians. The people that populated the West were all part of it – the farmers, doctors, businessmen (and women), preachers (and priests and nuns, especially in the Southwest and California), miners, people associated with the railroad, wagon trains, loggers, even the early pioneers. It is not just the time and place, it is the ethic of the people involved. Why not Hawaii? Even if you want to work within the historic time frame, it fits.

    The story of the West is so much more than shoot outs and roundups. It is the story of building communities and a country – all the good, bad, honorable and dishonorable sides of it. So have at it. You are in the perfect place to research and write a Hawaiian Western. It would be interesting to find out about the beginnings of ranching on the Islands.

    Good luck with the release of HEART OF STONE. I’ll be looking for it.

  18. Jill,

    I really enjoy your books and will have to get this new one. I love just about any well written book set in the west, but I prefer the 1870-1900s time period. I love tough heroes and feisty heroines. I live in OK, so anything that’s west of me is the West. I do include Texas in that, even though it’s technically in the South. 🙂

  19. Westerns = 1800s, set in what is now the western
    states, cattle ranching, cowboys and Native Americans. Historical Westerns can include the
    settling of the Midwest, founding small towns
    and areas of the West including the Northwest
    and yes, even Hawaii!

    Pat Cochran

  20. Hi Jill! What a joy to have you at Wildflower Junction! I love your books and am excited about the newest.

    Geographically, I think of westerns as books set west of the Mississippi. I guess that would include Hawaii. Australia too! Both settings have the right feel, so I’m quick to pick them up. Ranch or city setting, small town or wagon train, I enjoy everything about the Old West.

    Timewise, I’m a pre-1900 person. Cars and telephones changed everything.

  21. Congrats on your new release!!! 😀
    I love Historicals… they are what gave me the reading bug!!! As for what makes a Western a Western… I would agree with the others… so many great answers above…

  22. Hello Jill,

    I must admit my favorites are set in the southwest and of course they would have to have Native Americans in them.

    Your book looks very interesting I put it on my must read list. I love to read historicals and I love to write them too. My favorite time is in the 1800s.

    I write Native American and I could not change that for nothing

    Walk in harmony,

  23. Oh, I so love variety and I think the different places you mentioned would make great “westerns”. I think of them more as fronteers and that can be anywhere. As long as I love the characters, I would follow them anywhere :)Love your title and cover!

  24. Hi Jill Marie,

    A big welcome back to P&P! We always love having you. I’m green with envy that you get to live in Hawaii. That must seem like paradise.

    Love the cover to your new book. It looks great. It’s a nice change of pace showing a girl on the cover instead of a male model.

    To me, a western romance mostly needs the right setting. But, it can be any of the U.S. states, Australia, Canada, or even South America. It needs to have cows and/or horses. To me, the hero doesn’t always have to carry a gun, but he definitely needs the hat, jeans and boots. Although, I have read books where with a Canadian Mountie hero and that works for me. I like my men a little rough around the edges, but who has a love for wide open spaces.

  25. Hi Jill,

    I love the sound of your story, I think a western can take place just about anywhere as long as it spans the years 1840’s-1890’s. Throw in a few horses and you have a western!

    All the best for your release!

  26. Congrats on your release ! Heart of Stone truly sounds terrific !
    I don’t really have any preference in terms of westerns setting. I’m visiting Texas for the first time next month though (Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas), so I may have a favorite in the future 😉

  27. I usually think of westerns as taking place in the Old West. I have read a few contemporary westerns and I enjoyed them.

  28. Hi Jill Marie and welcome back to the Junction!

    I’m biased, but I love hard-bitten cowboys with lessons to learn. The setting doesn’t have to be Texas, just somewhere that the land is a challenge all its own.

    P.S.> Hope you came through the tsunami warnings and high waves intact!

  29. Almost forgot–I was in your neck of the woods in November. Wow, what a place the Big Island is! And I was amazed to find out a little about the ranches and paniolos. Cool stuff!

  30. hi jill!
    thanks for coming by!
    love your cover–very beautiful/intriguing
    like the last pic with the maps too!

    though i’m sure i would enjoy all the situations you mentioned for stories because they contain the “spirit” of the west
    my true favorite is still the “typical” western
    nothing like a tough manly cowboy to make me swoon
    a man who works hard, earns respect from all he meets, is handsome and trustworthy
    strong and capable
    and saves his true love from some terrible situation
    give me that and i’m “in” every time
    just sends me into “dreamy” mode thinking about it

    thank you so much for the chance at a copy of your book!
    looks wonderful!

  31. Hi Jill,that books sounds so good,cant wait to read it!Was a interesting post an I enjoyed reading it,I just love that time period

  32. Aloha All!
    Wow! I’ve never taken so many notes reading comments before. Thank you to one and all. Sounds like Cowboys win hands down! (Who wasn’t in love with Michael Landon in Bonanza?)
    This gives me something to think about once I have the second and third Irish Angels books finished.
    I’m bowled over with your great comments and complements. Mahalo (thank you) as we say over here. (Would have answered sooner today, but Saturday we evacuated for the tsunami. Still in recovery mode and a deadline tomorrow.) Thankfully the tsunami was only about 4 feet but it was a wonderful drill. Take care and keep reading! Jill

  33. I like reading books set in the West. I guess bcause they are about cowboys and their unique but satisfying life. I would like to read about cowboys in Hawaii too.
    I have been a fan for a long time

  34. Hi Jill!

    It’s great to see you here! What a wonderful story line and I love that it is Irish. A deadline tomorrow and still in recovery fro the tsunami. Wow! Go, Jill.

    Wanted to say a warm hello. Haven’t seen you in a while and you are one of my favorite authors and favorite people. 🙂
    Love, Karen Kay/Gen Bailey

  35. I ususally think of Westerns as books about the cowboy way of life in the Western part of the United States but hey, I’d read one about Hawaiian cowboys…that might be fun..get a different slant on things. You are right, you are the furthest West a state can get but sorry I dont think of you as a Western state , but as an Island state.

  36. Jill your book sounds great can’t wait to read it. I usually think of westerns set in the mid-western.
    Sorry it took me so long to write in computer has been froze up.

  37. Hi Jill…a great posting…I love the cover of your book…thanks for the opportunity to read it.

  38. I grew up on the old John Wayne western movies and the like so for me nothing is better than the American Old West. Doesn’t matter if it’s about the day-to-day struggle just to survive back then, cattle ranching, or a good ole adventure across the territory–add the right mix of characters and some romance for flavor and you got a great western.

    Also wanted to say I have loved reading your books and your new release sounds great too!!

  39. As much as I love Westerns, I enjoy all historicals. In answer to your question, I consider the story a Western if it takes place west of the Mississippi prior to 1900, otherwise it’s an historical. Gone With the Wind is an historical.

  40. Hi Jill,
    Welcome to Wildflower junction and congratulations on your new book. Can’t wait to read it. I tried to picture John Wayne in Hawaii and couldn’t. I need the ruggedness of Texas, Colorado or even Australia.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  41. I have to admit when I think of westerns I think Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Colorado and those kinds of settings. I love Australian books but I don’t really think of them as westerns. I usually think of them as historicals. I know, fine line and all that. I wouldn’t mind reading a western based in Hawaii, it would certainly be different.

  42. Hi Jill. I love westerns and cowboys but am thinking that I would enjoy one set in Hawaii. I was surprised to see a cowboy rounding up cattle as we drove up the volcano on Maui. Found it very interesting and I think that a Hawaian cowboy would be fun.

  43. When I think of westerns I do think of cowboys and ranches. It’s interesting to think of identifying other settings as westerns.

  44. Hi again and thanks to all of you! Miss seeing everyone at conferences, national and Orange County meetings! I’ll be in Tennessee at RWA and hope to see many of you there.
    Aloha and Mahalo!
    Jill Marie

Comments are closed.