Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Return of the Cowboy

I love writing western set historicals. Always have. There's just something about a cowboy that intrigues and fascinates me. Growing up I thought there were few things cooler. I cut my teeth on Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns, I watched every episode of The Lone Ranger. If there was a man on a horse riding the western plain, I was there, in front of the television riveted.

Growing up, my parents bought my brother the Time Life Old West series. I snuck the books whenever I could and still usually have at least three in my possession at any given time. I can remember my brother telling me stories of famous Indian chiefs, Custer, the Earp brothers, Frank and Jesse James. I couldn't get enough. One of my favorite movies was based on the story of the Dalton Gang and starred Larry Wilcox from CHiPs. What can I say? At least it wasn't Erik Estrada.

Anyway I guess it stands to reason that when I started writing historicals, the Old West was a natural place for me to end up. And when I started reading historials, there were plenty of books set in this era. Rosanne Bittner, Lisa Gregory, Heather Graham, and later Maggie Osborne and Linda Lael Miller. But in the past five years, trying to find a good western set historical romance has become the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. They don't sell, I keep hearing. Disheartening news for someone like me who loves to read and write in the era. That's one of my main beef with the historical romance genre of late. Not enough selection. Everything seems geared towards one period in time and there just isn't enough variety. Well that's one of my beefs, the other is how they keep wanting to shrink word count so we, as readers, have the pleasure of paying $10 for a book of 90,000 words when for the same price we used to get a book of 120,000 words. Did they think we wouldn't notice? Grrr...don't even get me started on that.

Anyhoo, my point is, that one of my buds on the goals loop posted this little gem that brightened my day:

Kate Duffy predicted "cowboy romance" is "coming back". "Western romances, for Kensington, are a huge priority for 2006," she said. They want to concentrate on creating strong covers for their western historicals.

This backs up some of the buzz I heard in Reno. One publisher said it wasn't that they didn't look at historicals, just that no one has sent them a really good one to publish. Another predicted westerns were about to make a comeback. Sure, you still get the ones who say no, but you know what, everything goes in cycles, and I still maintain the belief that a good story, is a good story, is a good story.

So I'm off to write a good story. Maggie Osborne has retired, so I figure someone has to take her place. I think I'll apply for the job.


Tess said...

Great news for you re: the return of cowboy stories :-)

I agree with you re: the lack of variety in "acceptable" time periods. Here's hoping the industry loosens things up a bit and that readers start buying those few books set in different time periods that do get published.

Melissa Marsh said...

I hear you on the whole "lack of diversity" in historicals. Something definitely needs to change.

Every once in awhile, I get in the mood for a really good old Western. John Wayne's "Rio Bravo" is fantastic. (I think that's the name of it anyway!)

Nikki said...

I think you might just be in the right place at the right time Kelly - get those Westerns polished!!!

And Erik Estrada was hot back then -- don't be hatin'! I still remember my pink Erik t-shirt that I wore every day ... I loved that man. We could have made beautiful music together..

Kelly said...

I'll bet you didn't miss an episode of the surreal life with him on it did you??

Peggy said...

Well, I hope there's room for both of us, Kelly! I'm a huge Western fan! Have a collection of John Wayne movies. Love 'em! And Clint Eastwood was my favourite. I had no idea he was a "bad" cowboy growing up! To me, he was just so sexy!

I agree with finding a good Western Romance. I would really love to get my hands on one, but I hate to say it...the one's out there are boring! The only writer I've found and enjoyed is Jillian Hart. No shootouts or anything like that, but still good.

I've been tempted to hit the "Westerns" section of the library and cross my fingers there is a bit of romance in them.