THE WESTERN LIVES—AGAIN OR STILL?

My name is Bob Randisi, and boy are my arms tired.

Since 1981 I have been writing Westerns. Backed into it, actually. I started out as a mystery writer, but when an editor asked me if I could write westerns, I said yes. I always said yes back then. However, at the time I had hardly even read any Westerns, just watched them on T.V. and in the movies. So I went out to a used bookstore and bought about 40 books by different authors, in a variety of series, so I wouldn’t come up with anything that had already been done. As a result I created THE GUNSMITH. The first book was published in January of 1982, and they have been appearing once a month since then, under my pseudonym J.R. Roberts. I recently finished writing Gunsmith #378, and I am contracted through #384.

Westerns were red hot in the 80’s. I ended up creating series like Tracker, Angel Eyes, Mountain Jack Pike, Ryder, as well as writing books in other series like Cimarron, Shelter, The Trailsman and Canyon O’Grady. In 1982, my 3rd year as a full time writer, I wrote 27 books in 12 months. In 30 years I have written and published 585 books, a good 400 of them Westerns.

But as the 90’s came the Western genre started to die off, and the number of series being published dwindled. Soon, only The Gunsmith, Longarm, Slocum and The Trailsman were left. And although sales of these series were not what they had once been, there was a loyal readership.

Ah, but wait, of late there’s been a resurgence of the genre. How do I know that? Because for about 15 years I was writing them for Dorchester Books. 10 in all. Also two series for HarperCollins. But then Harper cancelled their Western line, and recently Dorchester went out of business.

Fear not, though. Recently, Gunsmith sales have increased. (I can’t speak for Longarm, Slocum and Trailsman. Those books are written by a stable of excellent writers, while I continue to write all the Gunsmith books.) My sales have increased, as have my royalties. And thanks to ebooks—which, as a reader, I HATE—my early books are back in print. Speaking Volumes LLC has brought back the early Gunsmiths (and plans to reprint the first 200 of them), as well as all of my Angel Eyes, Tracker and Mountain Jack Pike books. They’ll be available as ebooks and as POD trade paperbacks. In addition, some of them have been done in audio. While they all have beautiful new covers, the Gunsmith continues to appear under the J.R. Roberts name while the other books now bear my real name.

Yes, Westerns are back, and none too soon for readers of blogs like this one. Loyal readers have kept us alive, and now new readers are discovering Westerns—reprints and originals. My new book, BULLETS & LIES, is the first in as new series to feature Denver private detective Talbot Roper. The stories are set in the 1880’s. Book #2, THE RELUCTANT PINKERTON, will appear next year. Roper is a character who has appeared in many of the Gunsmith books, so the series is a spin-off. However, it is a traditional series, while the Gunsmith continues to be an Adult Western series.

And the newest development? Amazon has purchased the Dorchester inventory, which means they will be bringing back all of my Amazon Westerns—as well as many others–including last year’s CROW BAIT, my last book for them.

Every decade somebody tries to bury the Western Genre, and every decade we—the readers and writers of Westerns—successfully fight them off. (In fact, I was late delivering this blog because I had to finish two books this weekend—both westerns.)

I’m proud of all of us!

And one lucky commenter today will receive a copy of Bullets and Lies!! 

 

AMAZON

 

Guest Blogger
Updated: September 7, 2012 — 1:34 pm

24 Comments

  1. I LOVE Westerns!! I shall be checking all of these out on Amazon. Angel Eyea has me really intriqued.

  2. And I thought Nora Roberts was prolific! Bob, you’re amazing! 585 books! Excuse the exclamation marks, but I’m stunned by your numbers. Do you plot out a story in advance on paper/ screen? Congratulations on a truly awesome career. It’s great to hear westerns are on the upturn.

  3. The Western will never die, in large part because of excellent writers like Robert Randisi. He’s one of my longtime favorite writers and one whose work I turn to for inspiration in my own writing.

    Keep on, sir. I’m buyin’ ’em and readin’ ’em (even those pesky ebooks!).

  4. Westerns live on. Congratulations and best wishes on your wonderful career. this post is so uplifting and special.

  5. Loved the post. You have an impressive body of work. Good news about Westerns coming back. I’ve misses them and I’ve worn out my vhs Western tapes!

  6. I love Westerns and I will have to check out your books. I agree I totally dislike ebooks. When I read I want to hold a BOOK in my hand not a device.

  7. Your persistence, talent and creativity is to be admired. Westerns deserve to be recognized. Your novels sound compelling and unique. I hope that Westerns last forever since they are memorable and unforgettable. What success you have achieved.

  8. Welcome,an my husband an I both love westerns,novels an movies,,one of the truly lost arts is writing a good western an seems you have done that very well,congrats to you!

  9. Westerns are important and so enjoyable. I am so glad that Westerns are making a resurgence. I love them and grew up reading them. I will be looking for your books. Best of luck and thanks for this great post.

  10. A fascinating post. It was interesting to learn about the wax and wane of Westerns. I hope that more appreciate these amazing books. To have created so many wonderful stories is great.

  11. I love the old time western and the modern day western. As long as they are westerns I will buy them.

  12. I started reading my Dad’s Zane Grey’s at an early age and developed the love of westerns.
    I enjoyed the post.

  13. Hi Bob, I can’t begin to imagine 27 books in one year! Way to go, you are Western Superman. I am so glad the Western lives on and on. And now on Amazon, too. Thanks for spending the day with us here in Wildflower Junction! Come back soon, y’here?

  14. Bob is an inspiration. I’ve KNOWN I was a fan since the early 90s, not realizing I’d been a fan of “J.R. Roberts” for a decade and that was him! Bob was also one of the first people, in his guise as editor (he didn’t even mention the gazillion western anthologies he’s edited over the years!) to take a gamble on me and my stories. My hat’s always off to him.

  15. Enjoyed reading the comments. I have read some of the Gunsmith books and enjoyed them. I grew up reading Louis L Amour. Loren Estelman, and Zane Grey westerns and really like that genre.
    In a way, a good western is also a mystery.

  16. I have to say I have never felt the Western would die. It is too much a part of our DNA. There are as many stories to tell as there are people who made the trip those many years ago. I thank you for this amazing post and for the wonderful work you continue to offer to those of us who read this entertaining and ‘educational’ genre. Looking forward to catching up on the books I have missed.

  17. I’ve been reading westerns for most of my adult life. They are, today, about half my reading each month. I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time, although of course I didn’t know that for most of it. I did read a few under your name though.

  18. I’ve got a little pile of Dorchester Westerns to read. I’ve enjoyed Western books, movies & factual history pretty much all my life. I write also, and even when I’m writing something about a space-whale or Dutch Renaissance art, I’m thinking about Westerns, and their influence on me as a writer.

  19. Bob, so glad you could be our guest here at Petticoats and Pistols today. You are a writer that I hold in high esteem, and I’m glad to call you “friend”. I’m in awe of your ability to write so prolifically. (I’m a sllllllooooooowwwww writer.) I enjoyed your post, and I agree–the western will never die, and I’m proud to be a part of keeping it alive.
    Cheryl

  20. My thanks to everyone who commented. It was my pleasure to be here. Victoria, much of my plotting is done in the writing. I start with a basic plot, and then I go where the characters go.

    RJR

  21. Thanks for an interesting post. I worked in a small county library in Tennessee for 8 years and though I was the children’s librarian, I also worked on the adult collection. We had a good sized group of patrons who were loyal readers of westerns. I know most of them had read everyone we had many times over. I was always looking for more books to put on the shelf. I know we had the Gunsmith and Longarm series and I made sure we kept up with the newest ones. I cannot imagine writing the number of books you do a year.
    I too prefer the real books to ereaders, but the ereader is a convenience for many.
    Best of luck with your new endeavors.

  22. Bob, thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t believe how many books you’ve written. I have many of the Gunsmith books on my shelf, but didn’t realize you wrote as J.R. Roberts until I read your blog! Thank you for keeping the west alive with your powerful stories!

  23. Best news I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for taking the time to tell your own story here. Intimidating to realize that if I started at the beginning of your output, I’d never catch up with you.

  24. Bob, thank you for your blog. My husband has been reading your The Gunsmith books and shares parts of them with me. The latest one really threw him for a loop…he swore it was written by someone else…figured you had gone on vacation or something. Wyoming Justice, #142, he says was so different from the others he almost didn’t finish it (didn’t remember Clint smoking in any of the others)…but he loves trains and railroads (just finished refurbishing a caboose) so he finished it…but is so happy to go on to another one. Take Care and thanks for the writing…

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