Tuesday 5 May 2009


Robert Hale LTD have been in the publishing business since 1936 - a small family run independent who have the tenacity to remain successful in a world where large conglomerates seem to rule the publishing business.

As well as non-fiction they publish biographies, reference works and they are particularly strong with fiction - general fiction, romance, crime and westerns.

They specialise in small print runs; historically the bulk of their titles have gone to libraries. However this is starting to change with more and more readers buying the books from online booksellers or from Hale direct. And new technologies in publishing mean that they now have the facilities to reprint quickly should there be particular demand for any titles.

These days John Hale runs the company and it is his instinct for a good story that has kept the western line alive when the oaters have long been out of vogue with most readers. Mr. Hale was kind enough to take a break from his busy schedule to answer a few questions with The Tainted Archive.

TA: The internet has allowed writers to push their work like never before - websites, blogs etc have all raised the public awareness of the line. Has this resulted in any concrete sales as of yet?

JH: Sadly not as yet. This is primarily because hardcover westerns tend to be borrowed from libraries, not bought.

TA: The BHW range is unique in the UK in that no other publisher is supporting the genre and Hale deserve kudos for this. Do you feel that the western is a viable genre for the future?

JH: Yes. Providing that all concerned are not solely concerned with financial considerations.

TA: What advice would you give new writers wanting to break into the market?

JH: Tell a good story.

TA: Small print runs are the norm but if, for instance, there was a massive demand for certain titles would this demand be met?

JH: Most certainly. We can now very quickly print as few as 100 copies if the demand exists.

TA: Recently the Tainted Archive reported that the number of BHW's has increased from six to seven a month. What was the reasoning for this given the current economic downturn?

JH: Enough acceptable westerns are being written. The number per month can go up and down dependent on various factors at the time.

TA: What do you like to read personally?

JH: I can't remember the last time I had time for "non-business" reading.

TA: Do you ever see the genre returning to it's former glory?

JH: Probably only if someone like Louis L'amour emerges and mass market paperback publishers take up the genre.

TA: Will Hale ever movie into electronic publishing - Kindle, Sony Reader, E-books etc?

JH: Yes.

TA: Finally the community of BHW writers have thir own forums, blogs and websites. Does anyone from Hale look at these.

JH: Yes.

Thank you Mr Hale for your time in answering these questions.

I recently sent out a request for Black Horse writers to send me any information on their current and upcoming projects to accompany this piece and many responded and so The Archive has great pleasure to report the following information:

Keith Chapman AKA Chap O'Keefe - " I've recently received copies of the latest O'Keefe western to come out in large print (April 2009). Peace at Any Price is available now." Keith is also in the final stages of his latest Misfit Lil epic.

I.J Parnham's next western is Riders of the Barren Plain to be published July 2009.

Jack Martin's Tarnished Star is still scoring record pre-orders and will be published June 2009. The second Jack Martin western, Arkansas Smith is due in March 2010. The short story A Man Called Masters is in issue four of First Edition Magazine which will be one sale everywhere from this Thursday. And my crime story, Rhondda Noir written under my own name Gary Dobbs will be on the Crimewave podcast sometime this month. I read this myself and bloody well enjoyed doing so.

Chuck Tyrell tells us that Guns of Ponderosa will see print in March 2010 and that The Killing Trail is set for June 2010. The author is currently working on a new novel, Hell Fire in Paradise.

Laurie Powers, not a Black Horse writer as of yet, but we all love her in any case and she tells us that she is working on a family story set around a close friend of hers whose great grandfather was a baseball pitcher and Montana Sheriff. Her Pulp Writer can be purchased now from all good bookshops and online book retailers.

Ray Foster AKA Jack Giles is helping a young lady with her first western novel and thinks the work will probably turn into a collaboration between himself and the young lady in question. He also has a story slated for the forthcoming anthology Where Legends Ride II. He is also working on a novel called Poseidon Smith which is an old work he has returned to.

Nik Morton AKA Ross Morton tells us that The $300 Man will be published at the end of May 2009 and he's currently coming to the end of a romantic thriller - The Dragon Tree. And after that it's back to his fourth western, Blind Justice.

Joanne Walpole AKA Terry James is looking forward to the publication of her debut western, Long Shadows at the end of this month.

Keith Souter AKA Keith Moray tells us that The Pardoner's Crime,written under his own name, an historical crime novel set in 1322, is out May 2009 in large print from Ulverscroft. In July 2009 and this time from Keith Moray the large print edition of Murder Solstice will see print and also in July it's back to the Keith Souter name for The Fools Folly from Hale which is set during the War of the Roses. After that it's onto the first draft of his next western.

David Whitehead is currently three quarters of the way towards finishing Alaska Hell and he's also working on Send for Morgan Star which will be the fourth of his westerns to appear under the Glenn Lockwood name. He has also just republished his 1991 BHW Tanner's Guns in an all new cover - details of this can be found at his website. This prolific writer is also working on an autobiography of Leonard Meares who wrote westerns under the name of Marshall Grover.

Howard Hopkins AKA Lance Howard has just sold his 31st western to Hale and is working on hordes of other projects. Look out for an interview here later this month.

These are just a handful of the writers slaving away to provide all action western adventures in the traditional vein for the pleasure of fans everywhere. Visit Hale's website to find out more and also the individual websites of the writers involved. And remember if you want good, no nonsense western adventure then look out for the sign of the Black Horse.


I.J. Parnham said...

Thanks for that to everyone involved.

Paul D Brazill said...

Bleedin' Nora! there's a lot of it about!

Jo Walpole said...

I like the fact you can read what you like into Mr Hale's answers. It gives everybody hope. :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

Tell a good story! Right on. That's what readers want to read. I'm glad to hear about the epublishing coming. That's cool.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for this interview. Great to read and Hale deserves a huge cheer for sticking with the genre and even growing it in the face of much econmic and publishing adversity.

Jan Jones said...

Thanks for this - I love that answer "Tell a good story".

Ray said...

Great piece, Gary. A very positive piece.

David Cranmer said...

Loved all the info. Great interview.

Liz Hanbury said...

Thanks Gary :-) Good interview with Mr. Hale.
'Telling a good story' is simple, but excellent advice.

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