This weekend we welcome Chuck Tyrell. He’s an international award-winning western writer who knows a thing or two about how to spin a good tale. Chuck grew up only nineteen miles from the legendary Fort Apache in Arizona.
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Good morning Petticoats and Pistols. Thank you for the invite. Now, let’s see if I can say anything of import, or at least slightly entertaining.
In considering how to run off at the keyboard, I thought of Laurel Baker. She’s the woman whose story, or at least one part of her story, is in my Black Horse Western short novel called Hell Fire in Paradise.
BHW books have a word-count limit of 45,000. But that doesn’t mean you can sit down at the word processor and knock out that many words by the word counter at the bottom of the page. It means counting as if every page were full of words, chuckablock, as my dear departed mother used to say. So if you aim for 40,000 and don’t go over by more than a thousand or so, you’ve got a Black Horse Western.
Now, about Laurel.
I met Laurel when she and her husband were prospecting for gold in the hill country north of Dos Cabezas, which is 20 miles east of Wilcox and seven miles or so from Bowie. Arizona, that is. Not far from infamous Apache Pass, actually.
She and hubby Jack found a small gold deposit, just enough for them to buy the land they wanted on Paradise Creek in Arizona’s White Mountain country. While in the wilderness north of Dos Cabezas, they met and befriended White Mountain Apaches (the only Apaches never to fight the white man).
Night falls on Paradise and Laurel puts her two boys to bed in the loft. Jack went to Ponderosa, the closest town, for supplies that morning. He hadn’t returned. After putting the boys to bed, Laurel saddled her horse and went out on the mail road to see if Jack needed help. She went all the way to the lip of Paradise Gorge. No Jack. She waited a while, then decided to go home. As she neared, she could see the house was on fire, boys inside. Laurel’s Black Horse Western story begins here. And it’s a long journey to the other side of grief. I don’t know what it is about the name Laurel, or in the case of Return to Silver Creek, Laura. Maybe it’s the connotation of winning that the name carries.
Just a word about Return to Silver Creek, which just came out from Solstice Westerns.
When I wrote the book, it was 80,000 words long. But it was the sequel to Vulture Gold, and BHW wanted to publish it. How to chop a story in half?
You eliminate a character. Well, not eliminate, but take out major portions written from that character’s POV. So the BHW Revenge at Wolf Mountain focuses on Laura’s husband and his search for the perp who raped and beat and cut Laura.
Now the whole story is out, and we can read Laura’s grief and shame and indecision and near inability to deal with the child her traumatic experience left her with.
Where do I stop? With Blessing?
When I started writing A Man Called Breed, Wolf Wilder was running through the Mojave Desert with four men on his back trail. They wanted to kill him for something he did in Ehrenburg. The novel opens at Adam’s Well. There’s a girl there in the company of two other people. When she opens her mouth to speak to Wolf, she says her name is Blessing. I didn’t know what her name was until she told Wolf. But that happens a lot in my stories. Often characters have to tell me what their names are. Isn’t that strange?
“If that’s all . . .” The major turned toward the troopers.
“It’s not all,” Blessing said. She marched over to Reed Fowley, the tail of my shirt flapping in the slight breeze, and me standing there in my union suit. Reed just looked at her, a smirk on his face. Blessing stepped closer. She barely came up to his shoulder.
“After what you done,” she said, “I oughta kill you. But dying’s too good for your kind.” She reached up with her left hand and grabbed his nose. At the same time, her right hand brought my kukri swinging out and around, and she sliced through Reed’s nose just behind her fingers.
The blade cut flesh and cartilage like it was cutting cake, and Blessing stepped back with the end of Reed Fowley’s nose in her hand. For a split second, Reed didn’t know what had happened. By reflex, his hand jumped up to cover his nose. Blood dribbled down his chin, but the severed stump bled little, considering. Reed screamed. No one moved.
Blessing held up the end of Reed’s nose. “Now people will see you for the man you are,” she said. She wiped the kukri on my shirt and handed it to me. She turned to Major Simmons. “That’s all,” she said.
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Women in the west were tough. At least those who show up in my westerns are. In a couple of months, BHW will issue my short western Road to Rimrock. One of the women in the book takes a liking to the MC, Matt Stryker. Her name is Catherine de Merode.
The name de Merode, in actuality, is Belgian royalty, as is Catherine. Be that as it may, she is well schooled in Savate, a French martial art that has its roots in the waterfront of Marseille and might be equated to Tae Kwan Do of Korea. So naturally there’s a fight scene. While maintaining her very prim character, she thoroughly trounces a major antagonist and threatens her with death if anything untoward ever happens to Matt Stryker.
Road to Rimrock is a strange western because it doesn’t have a single face-off shoot’em-out scene. It’s all about a man keeping a promise made to the town drunk.
So, I’ve rambled on about the women in my westerns, and several of them are dedicated to women. Return to Silver Creek, for example, is dedicated to Yukiko, Emma, Tina, Eve, Nanna, Maggie, Jessica, Ashley, Annie, Nanase, Lan, and Hana – the women in my life: wife, daughters, and granddaughters.
Good day. Been nice talking with you.
Charles T. Whipple Aka Chuck Tyrell
NB Black Horse Westerns are probably best purchased from The Book Depository UK, which sends the books anywhere in the world free of charge. Click HERE for the link. A search for Chuck Tyrell will tell you where else to find my westerns, Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, Createspace, whatever. As Charles T. Whipple, I write non-fiction about Japan, and have a new series of fantasy novellas on the way (one out) from Publishing by Rebecca Vickery.
Visit me at www.chucktyrell.com for more about me and my books.