All those Westerns, people sometimes comment, after browsing through my web site for the first time – the ones you wrote in the 70s & 80s – churning them out the way you must have done – what are they like? Which partly means, unsaid, are they any good?
I can’t – or won’t – answer the second, unasked, question – everyone to their own taste, after all – other than to say they had their readers at the time and, for a smaller, perhaps more selective number, thanks to Piccadilly Publishing, they still do.
But what are they like … ?
It’s easiest perhaps to answer that in relation to the 10 book Hart the Regulator series, the only one not co-written with either Laurence James or Angus Wells. Co-written in this context meaning that after fairly brief but enjoyable discussions, remembering old movies and listening to the likes of John Stewart and Guy Clark, we went off and wrote alternate books in whatever series we were currently working on. Generally, more than one series at a time.
The Hart books tend to begin with a detailed description of landscape, vast and wide, cinematic- an establishing shot – the camera, as it were, pulled back before focussing down, offering a sense of place into which the central character rides and, hopefully, the reader is drawn. This is the opening to the sixth novel, ‘Ride the Wide Country’.
The endings, the final page or pages, are most likely to move in close, the action bloody and abrupt, the mood closer to that of film noir – a kind of emptiness, a sickness almost, that the central character must carry with him from book to book, from one episode to another. These are the closing paragraphs of ‘Ride the Wide Country.’