Well, this cover leaves no doubt, right? Aya caramba!
This is one of those conundrum questions with no right answer.
Does a Western need cowboys?
But cowboys are always welcome here! 🙂
Does a Western need six-shooters or guns or shoot-outs?
Nope, but they want you to respect the 2nd Amendment and their right to carry.
Where are Westerns located?
Oh, gadzooks, this is a tough one! Typically west of the Mississippi, but would you set a Western in California? Probably not. Oregon? Yes, in parts, away from the coast especially. How about Washington state?
Yep, Central Washington is cowboy territory, with or without traditional cowboy dress or western garb. Texas, yes… Arizona? Not so much, maybe, even though there are ranches in Arizona, the spiking temps and lack of water don’t lend themselves to a lot of Western settings. But like anything else, there can be exceptions to the rule.
Part of this is researching your area. We all understand western expansion, the purchases that netted America from “sea to shining sea” which is pretty amazing in and of itself, right? And that gives us a whole scope of locations and settings, and then the author’s job is to be true to the setting. It’s amazing how differently school calendars and sports and systems are run from the east vs. the west. Or even within certain states. Learning the flora and fauna so you don’t plug sagebrush into Indiana or Missouri… or Live Oaks in New York or Ohio when they love, need and want a warmer climate.
We authors think long and hard about setting. We want it to balance the book and fit the situation and often to tax the characters whether it’s my blizzard-like snows in “Back in the Saddle” in Central Washington (Double S Series) or the hard, craggy landscape surrounding Pine Ridge Ranch in my Shepherd’s Crossing series set in Western Idaho.
And of course living in Western New York gives me every right to write westerns, right? 🙂 Laughing here, because an author’s love of genre or setting or style isn’t about where they’re from–
It’s where they’re willing to go and research and explore! To that end, I loved creating my historical western series set in Second Chance, South Dakota, smack dab in Laura Ingalls Wilder country. It’s so much fun to mix two favorite genres: Western & Historical and come up with absolutely delightful stories.
What’s your favorite kind of Western? Contemporary? Historical? Or is it the location that makes it sing to you?
I’ve got a copy of my Sewing Sisters’ Society novella collection for one commenter today… a fun look at settling the west, one romance at a time!