Chuck Tyrell Talks Westerns


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.

* * *

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).

Fast forward.

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?

Blessing ends up one Wolf Wilder’s homestead in Lone Pine Canyon. I’ll not be giving away the story if I just tell you what she does in Wolf’s words.

“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.

* * *

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 for more about me and my books.

+ posts

11 thoughts on “Chuck Tyrell Talks Westerns”

  1. Chuck aka Charlie, a big welcome to the Junction. We’re thrilled to have you. Sounds like you’ve been a busy man. I love the covers to your books. They hint at excitement and adventure for sure. I’m glad to see that you portray tough women who do whatever they must to survive. I truly think this country wouldn’t have been settled without women who had the strength and spirit to carve out a life. And it took a special breed of man to live in the old west. Lots of hard work.

    Hope you enjoy your visit with us. Keep writing the stories you’ve become known for!

  2. Hi Chuck, welcome to Wildflower Junction. I like that you write about tough women. They would have to be to compete with the strong men pictured on your covers!

    Thank you for visiting with us today. Keep those stories rolling.

  3. Hi Charlie,
    Thanks so much for being our guest here at PETTICOATS AND PISTOLS today! We’re glad to have you. WOW, is all I can say to Blessing’s excerpt! Talk about one tough woman! I absolutely love seeing so many of your wonderful covers here in one place–you have some of the most exciting covers that tell a story in themselves. I know you also have a collection of short stories that was just released through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZERS called BIG ENOUGH. Are there any strong women on those short stories of yours? You’ve created some wonderful characters–keep ’em coming!

  4. Your book sounds really good. I live in Arizona and have visited the White Mountains a lot. it is a beautiful area of Arizona.

  5. Charles/Chuck, so nice to “meet” you. I love westerns and yours sound terrific. I write western historical romances with lots of mystery, but suspect mine are less edgy than yours. I’ll be getting Wolf and Blessing’s story for my Kindle, although all of your books you’ve described sound intriguing.

  6. Hi Charles, so glad you are visiting Petticoats and Pistols today. My daddy’s name was Charles, as was my grandfather. Daddy didn’t allow anyone to call him Chuck or Charlie … it was always Charles until he had grandchildren. They called him Grandpa Charlie and he loved it! So naturally I love your name.

    I also love strong heroines! Now I have another western writer to read,so guess I’d better get a book or two ordered. Again, thanks for coming to P&P today, as we really enjoyed your blog. Best wishes and hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  7. A very interesting blog, Chuck. That is a tragic story about Laural going to hunt for her husband to see what happened to him and her children buring in the fire of their home while she was gone. Whew! A strong heroine is a must in a western. Don’t go putting some silly, dainty girly girl in there who can’t muster an ounce of courage. LOL
    Best wishes to you.

  8. Chuck,
    Thank you for an interesting post. It is good to look at women in the West from a different (read male) perspective. Life was often much more brutal than most books and movies portrayed it. It took strong people to survive. Often that survival was tenuous at best. I am afraid Laurel’s story is one that was lived out more times than we care to think. I will be interested to read it.
    Best of everything with your writing career, all three parts of it.

  9. Hi. Sorry to be tardy in getting back to the post to see what you guys are talking about. Women. Well, I’m the grandson of pioneers. Aunt Sarah Mills used to regale us with the tale about the time Geronimo showed up at her dad’s place in Forestdale Arizona with five horses to trade for Sarah. Life is tough. Sometimes tougher than tough. Laurel’s story is fairly straight forward. She refuses to bend to the will of the businessman who wants her Paradise ranch, and her ex-buffalo hunter neighbor, her Apache friends, a crippled wild bear, and a barbwire fence builder with two sons, back her up.

    But you know, if you only read one Chuck Tyrell book, could you please make it Return to Silver Creek? I would dearly love to hear what a bunch of petticoats have to say about that story. I did a great deal of research into the psychological damage rape does to women. Some it damages forever. In my book, the woman makes it through, barely, with the help of her friend, her husband, Padre Juan Bautista, and the people around her. But it’s not easy.

    Joye, if you’ve been to the White Mountains, you may have visited Paradise Creek. It’s past McNary (the Ponderosa of the novel) on the old mail road toward Springerville, (if I remember right) just before you get to Hawley Lake. And you’ll recognize the country in Return to Silver Creek. The H-Cross ranch would have been the Solomon Ranch, now gone to the developers. The Forty-Four would be Butler Ranch on the right as you drive from Show Low to Springerville. Concho is Concho, but the Pilar rancho would be around the hill to the south from town (I used the Baca Float grants as the model for the Pilar grant). The mountains and the Prieta and so on are there.

    Cheryl: Big Enough is out. The title story is about a young woman who is the baby in a family of men, her dad and her three older brothers. It’s a love story, love between a girl and her black filly. With a hint of romance at the end with the baddie who turns out not to have been such a baddie after all. The woman in the second story, Coo, is the wife of Massai, a Chiricahua Apache chief. The “Man of Iron” goes through the gates of Hell to get Coo back to her husband. And what does it gain him . . .? One of the stories, The Kid and the Commodore, is non-fiction. I think it’s 2.99 for Kindle and 8.95 in print. Haven’t checked Nook, but it’s there, too.

    Sorry the covers are mostly male. BHW doesn’t give the authors any say in the covers, nor do the large print publishers. My talented daughter Emma Whipple Powell did the cover for Return to Silver Creek — much more emphasis on the woman than the man.


    If you want something different that helps the victims of the Japan quake of 3.11.2011, get A Matter of Tea. Interesting stories about Japan.

  10. Never heard of the beer nor tasted it. I do love Karen Kay’s books greatly. I have even reviewed some.
    God Bless Karen and enter me to win

Comments are closed.