Our special guest today is a reader and reviewer who shares our passion for westerns–and I mean she’s passionate about them in a big way. Kristie Jenner has made it one of her personal missions to interest readers in the genre; in fact, she came up with the idea for the Great Western Challenge this week, and the Fillies here at P&P were delighted to jump on the cowboy train with her.
Kristie says that while she loves a good historical set in England, she thinks many readers may be ready for a change from dukes and earls and other various and assorted titles. And she believes that if readers are getting a wee bit tired of vampires and shift changers and other otherworldly worlds, a good western is just the thing.
Cheryl: First off, we all thank you for providing the cowboy eye candy today! Please explain The Great Western Drive challenge to those who may not have heard about it.
Kristie: The long answer: I recently put up a poll on my blog for readers to pick their favourite genre. While I love all genres, my special fave is westerns even though I started out reading English set historicals. When I saw how low westerns scored, I realized that probably many readers just haven’t tried the right ones. So I rounded up my posse – Sybil and Wendy, who are just as passionate about this genre as I am and set about getting readers to at least try them – hoping that the stories capture their imaginations as much as they have me. If I, once a dyed-in-the-wool English historical fan, can love a western, I think many a romance reader can too.
The short answer – I thought Little Joe was Hawt when I was young and just noticing the other side of the gender!
Cheryl: I confess I was a Little Joe junkie, too. So Kristie, tell us why you are such a big fan of westerns.
Kristie: I’ve always been more a fan of blue-collar type heroes then the white-collar type. I just love a hero who works with his hands and isn’t afraid to work up a bit of sweat now and then. I love a hero who is willing to labour for everything he has rather than just inheriting it. And no one works harder than many a western hero, whether it’s being a marshal, a cowboy, a gambler, a gunslinger or even a reformed outlaw.
And a western heroine is one I can identify with so much more easily. I don’t know if it’s my age or ’cause I’m more average myself, but while the girly girl in me likes reading about all the fabulous balls and dresses and things in historicals set in Europe, I very much prefer the realness of the conflicts a western heroine goes through.
Another feature the western has going for it is that you won’t find one of those annoying fake rakes in a western. I find the heroes in just about every western as real as it gets, again because they are real. They don’t play games. They are what they are, whatever their profession.
And while I’ve read a few with Pinkerton agents, westerns don’t have the overabundance of spies of many English historicals.
And I’ve found that many more westerns have that certain poignancy that I find more majorly appealing than any other genre as a whole.
Cheryl: Certainly none of us can understand it, but why do you suppose some readers are averse to trying a western?
Kristie: One of the reasons I’ve heard for not trying westerns is because readers don’t find the setting attractive. I think differently. I find it very attractive to read a book based on our own history. Ok — so maybe I’m making myself an honorary American for this one, but what can be better then reading about a setting that’s exciting and lawless and new? An English historical can’t offer readers that. And if you like a bit of down and dirty, well the Western has that too!
Another feature I find more often in a Western is the heroine saving the hero. Think about it; a bounty hunter, wounded, needing care makes it to the steps of the heroine who has control of life or death over the hero – yummers! Now that, I find sexy.
And there are none of the class distinctions that get tiresome. It doesn’t matter where the character started in life; it’s a more level playing field in a western. We aren’t pulled out of a story because the heroine is acting too friendly with the staff. We aren’t pulled out wondering if all the too-handsome dukes and earls and viscounts will ever run out. There simply couldn’t have been the abundance of them that fill up the pages of English historicals.
Cheryl: So, it’s the cowboys that hold a place in your heart, isn’t it?
Kristie: Western heroes seem to me to be more manly man type heroes. I think if you are a fan of the alpha hero, there would be many more alpha heroes to choose from in the Old West than there would be in other locations. I think if you are a fan of the lone wolf hero, then the Western is your genre. I imagine after spending that much time in the saddle, they would be looking for a little female companionship. And who can resist a wounded outlaw type hero?
Seriously, all of you western/Lost fans, can’t you just picture Sawyer in that role, and let’s see–me as Etta Place. And if you go for the more law abiding type hero, who better than a marshal? No, no, get Matt Dillon out of your heads–he’s not a good example *shudder*. He kept Miss Kitty dangling way too long! And he just wasn’t handsome. But Jack maybe? With Sayiid as the mysterious bounty hunter? Yeah, I like that.
Cheryl: There are a few favorites I’d surely love to see in a cowboy hat, too. David Boreanaz for one. Oh my goodness. But back to books . . . will you share a few of your all-time favorite western romances with us?
Kristie: Well first off – Joe’s Wife – no really! I love this book. Sweet Lullaby by Lorraine Heath is another one that comes oh so close to making me cry. The only reason I didn’t mention it is because I know it’s very hard to find – I’m always seeking out copies at UBSs without luck, and I wanted to feature books that were readily available on either Amazon or UBSs or even better – still in print. Outlaw Heats by Rosanne Bittner is another favourite. It really has an epic flavour to it and much to Wendy’s amazement – since it is a large book, I’ve read it a number of times.
Cheryl: I was tickled pink that Jill Marie Landis is writing westerns again. She was always one of my favorites, ever since her first book, Sunflower. And Margaret Brownley has tossed her hat back into the ring. I can’t wait until her new western comes out. She’ll be blogging about it with us here at P&P. Is there an author who has turned to another genre that you would just flip over to have them write a western again?
Kristie: We’ve lost so many Western authors over the years, haven’t we? Jill Marie Landis is one of my choices too! I loved that whole series. I love her westerns. I’d love to see Patricia Potter out with the number she used to write. Susan Kay Law and Alexis Harrington are authors whose westerns I miss! And if Lorraine Heath were to return to her western roots, I’d be dancing in the street.
Cheryl: I am so there with you on Pat Potter, Alexis Harrington and Lorraine Heath. I would also add Catherine Anderson to my wish list. Coming Up Roses is an all-time favorite of mine. And I’m still in mourning over Maggie Osborne’s retirement.
If you could pick one recently released western and send one to 500 new readers to introduce them to the genre, which one would it be?
Kristie: Yikes!! That’s a tough one! My reading is down – though my buying is up *gulp* and there aren’t quite the selection there used to be, but one I read this year that I very much enjoyed is Rachel and the Hired Gun by Elaine Levine. And one we are all looking forward to with GREAT anticipation is Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman.
Cheryl: Now that is a glowing endorsement! Hope Elaine and Jo drop by this week—they will if they have their google alerts set.
We have just celebrated two extremely successful years of blogging and promoting all things western here at P&P, so that tells us there is an interest in westerns. Is there anything you’d like to say to the authors who’ve continued to write westerns and those just breaking in?
Kristie: We are doing our best to spread the word. Sybil has more of an ear to the industry and I think she has some interesting news coming up later this week. I know it’s tough to write something that is harder to sell, and romance goes in cycles. If a couple authors take off big time, I think publishers will be willing to go there again. They just need something like a JR Ward of the western. In the meantime, there still are many readers who love them, and as a spokesperson for those readers for today – thanks to all the writers who are still writing a genre we love.
Cheryl: Thank you for being our guest today at Petticoats and Pistols. We appreciate your dedication to the western romance and wish you a successful Great Western Drive!
You can visit Kristie at her blog, Ramblings on Romance
Read more about the challenge at The Good the Bad and the Unread and at Wendy the Super Librarian’s blog.
So, how about you, blogger friends? Are there other reasons you love romance? Is there a celebrity you’d like to see in a cowboy hat? Which author would you like to have write a western?
And…most importantly, since you’re already western lovers, will you accept the challenge and give a friend a western romance novel this week?