A Life-Long Love of Westerns

Howdy, everyone! I’m happy to be joining the Petticoats & Pistols as the newest member today, partly because it’s always nice to hang out with other writers and readers but also because of the focus on westerns. You see, I’ve loved westerns for as long as I can remember. I recently had to answer a questionnaire for my publisher, and one of the questions was why I liked cowboy stories. I had to sit and think about it because it was just something that had always been true. As I was growing up in rural western Kentucky, we only had three TV channels and had to go outside to physically turn the antennae if the reception was bad. I distinctly remember that old movies played on Saturday afternoons, and a lot of those were westerns. When I think back on them now, I can identify why they attracted me and why I still love western-set TV shows, movies and books.

  • The landscape was so wide open with impossibly wide skies and a rugged type of beauty. This was completely different than the wooded, rolling hills where I grew up. At that point in my life, I’d barely been out of the state with brief trips a few miles down the road and across the river into Illinois and a Girl Scout trip to Opryland theme park in Nashville, Tenn., both of which looked pretty much like Kentucky. So those western landscapes, even if some of them were created on Hollywood lots, were like a different planet that I longed to visit.
  • Even though it was romanticized and still is to some extent, cowboys were iconic American heroes. They could live off the land, were honest (at least if they were wearing a white or light-colored hat), chivalrous, and a force for good. Even back then in the 1970s and ’80s, I knew that things were rarely that black and white in real life. Reality was more complicated and filled with shades of gray.
  • I love stories set in the past. I haven’t met a costume drama I didn’t love, and westerns — at least for me — fall into that category. It’s a bit like being a time-traveler and being transported to a different time and place, but you don’t have to worry about the lack of hygiene or modern medicine.
  • While I love my modern conveniences, I for some reason have always loved stories about survival and living off the land. When I think about people who set off in wagon trains west, not knowing if they’d make it or if they’d ever seen friends and family again, I’m awed by how much courage that took. Kind of like people who boarded ships in England and sailed for America. Even though modern-day cowboys and ranchers have the modern conveniences the rest of us do, they are still men of the land and work out under those wide-open skies.

While I write contemporary romance, many of which have cowboys as heroes, I still have a great love for western historicals. These were the first romances I read back in high school and continued to read in the years that followed — stories by Lorraine Heath, Kathleen Eagle, Elizabeth Grayson, among others. My first manuscript was even a historical set along the Oregon Trail, inspired partly because of that old video game called Oregon Trail. A friend even got me a shirt once that said, “You have died of dysentery,” which is a familiar phrase to anyone who played the game.

If a new movie comes out that is a western, I do my best to go see it in the theater so they’ll continue to make more. If there’s a western-themed TV series, I’m parked in front of the small screen. My all-time favorite show, Firefly, actually is a mixture of western and my other favorite genre, sci-fi. Yes, space western, and it was awesome!

In the months ahead, I look forward to blogging about various western-themed topics — my trips across the American West, my love for western-themed decor, rodeo, etc. And I look forward to interacting with the readers of Petticoats & Pistols.

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26 thoughts on “A Life-Long Love of Westerns”

  1. Welcome aboard! I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    I too started off early on with TV westerns, except those that were on in the ’50s and ’60s, with “Cheyenne” being my favorite series, and “The Searchers” with John Wayne my favorite western movie–still to this day.

    Until recent years I was drawn primarily to Colonial history and historical fiction, but now I primarily read westerns, particularly those focused on people crossing and settling the frontier. I think that’s because of the open (and new) spaces that required much of people, bringing out who they truly were, unlike other historicals where society’s rules and customs had so much influence (although I do read European historicals too).

    The one stumbling block I have is portrayals of Indians, I think because my mom, her father and his father grew up in Indian Territory/Oklahoma (so I grew up on their stories) and because of my working with a particular tribe as an adult. The various tribes were/are all different so I unfortunately have trouble with most fictional Indians, preferring to read what they themselves have written. Just a quirk of mine, I freely admit.

    Once again, welcome!

    • Hi, Eliza! Thanks for the welcome. My mom and dad watched a lot of those same westerns too. Things on TV like Gunsmoke, High Chaparral, etc.

      I agree that the portrayal of Native Americans, particularly in the older movies and TV shows where it was just white people playing them. I love that in more recent years there have been more opportunities for Native actors.

    • Thanks, Debra. The ideas for future posts are already percolating.

      As you all can see, I’m not an early riser. So my comments are probably going to come in the afternoons and evenings. I can’t seem the kick my night-owl tendencies. 🙂

  2. Welcome!! I adore Firefly, also! You can’t beat it. I have a love for all things western, but it might be because I grew up on a farm. Can’t wait to hear more from you!

  3. We’re so glad to have you joining us, Trish! I grew up with TV westerns, too, and I’m sure that played a role in shaping my love for western romance. Reruns of Wagon Train, Bonanza, The Big Valley, and then Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman – all of those captured my imagination and created of love of cowboy heroes and strong heroines in me.

  4. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Trish! I enjoyed the TV shows that you mentioned and I am a big Kathleen Eagle fan. My favorite western movie is The Big Country with Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston and a host of other big names. I have heard so many people rave about Firefly, but had no idea that it had a western element to it. Great to have you here and I look forward to your future posts!

    • Firefly is awesome. Unfortunately, FOX cancelled it before even all the first season ran. You can get the entire season on DVD, which I have and treasure. It was just such an amazing cast, great dialogue (SO many quotable lines). There were these outer planets that were sort of like the Wild West, full of outlaws and hardscrabble existence — but with spaceships! 🙂

  5. Trish, welcome to Wildflower Junction. You’ll find this a wonderful place to be, with the most loyal of fans. May your time here inspire us all. Thanks for posting such awesome pictures today. I so get the feel of the wide skies of the west. xo

    • Thanks, Tanya. Yeah, looking up those photos have made me want to take another trip west. Maybe I will this summer to see my sister and stop to see some awesome historical sites along the way.

  6. Hi Trish….I’m so sorry to have missed welcoming you yesterday. It seems I’ve fallen into a strange rut of being late with things. I’m so happy that you’re my Filly sister and I look forward to getting to know you in the years ahead. I’m very optimistic in using years instead of months. I hope you’re here for a long, long time.

    Big Texas Hugs!

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