Monday 31 August 2009


The official report is posted below:


August 31, 2009


Worldwide leader in family entertainment agrees to acquire Marvel and its portfolio of over 5,000 characters

Acquisition highlights Disney's strategic focus on quality branded content, technological innovation and international expansion to build long-term shareholder value

Burbank, CA and New York, NY, August 31, 2009 —Building on its strategy of delivering quality branded content to people around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:MVL) in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced today.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney on August 28, 2009, Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. At closing, the amount of cash and stock will be adjusted if necessary so that the total value of the Disney stock issued as merger consideration based on its trading value at that time is not less than 40% of the total merger consideration.

Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, August 28, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion.

"This transaction combines Marvel's strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney's creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories," said Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. "Ike Perlmutter and his team have done an impressive job of nurturing these properties and have created significant value. We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney."

"We believe that adding Marvel to Disney's unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation," Iger said.

"Disney is the perfect home for Marvel's fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses," said Ike Perlmutter, Marvel's Chief Executive Officer. "This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney's tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world."

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including its more than 5,000 Marvel characters. Mr. Perlmutter will oversee the Marvel properties, and will work directly with Disney's global lines of business to build and further integrate Marvel's properties.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Marvel have each approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, effectiveness of a registration statement with respect to Disney shares issued in the transaction and other customary closing conditions. The agreement will require the approval of Marvel shareholders. Marvel was advised on the transaction by BofA Merrill Lynch.


About The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, interactive media and consumer products. Disney is a Dow 30 company with revenues of nearly $38 billion in its most recent fiscal year.

About Marvel Entertainment, Inc.
Marvel Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a library of over 5,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in licensing, entertainment (via Marvel Studios and Marvel Animation) and publishing (via Marvel Comics).

Forward-Looking Statements:

Certain statements in this communication may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements relate to a variety of matters, including but not limited to: the operations of the businesses of Disney and Marvel separately and as a combined entity; the timing and consummation of the proposed merger transaction; the expected benefits of the integration of the two companies; the combined company's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical fact. These statements are made on the basis of the current beliefs, expectations and assumptions of the management of Disney and Marvel regarding future events and are subject to significant risks and uncertainty. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made. Neither Disney nor Marvel undertakes any obligation to update or revise these statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied. Such differences may result from a variety of factors, including but not limited to:

  • legal or regulatory proceedings or other matters that affect the timing or ability to complete the transactions as contemplated;
  • the possibility that the expected synergies from the proposed merger will not be realized, or will not be realized within the anticipated time period; the risk that the businesses will not be integrated successfully;
  • the possibility of disruption from the merger making it more difficult to maintain business and operational relationships;
  • the possibility that the merger does not close, including but not limited to, due to the failure to satisfy the closing conditions;
  • any actions taken by either of the companies, including but not limited to, restructuring or strategic initiatives (including capital investments or asset acquisitions or dispositions);
  • developments beyond the companies' control, including but not limited to: changes in domestic or global economic conditions, competitive conditions and consumer preferences; adverse weather conditions or natural disasters; health concerns; international, political or military developments; and technological developments.

Additional factors that may cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements are set forth in the Annual Report on Form 10-K of Disney for the year ended September 27, 2008, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") on November 20, 2008, under the heading "Item 1A—Risk Factors" and in the Annual Report on Form 10-K of Marvel for the year ended December 31, 2008, which was filed with the SEC on February 27, 2009, under the heading "Item 1A—Risk Factors," and in subsequent reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K and other filings made with the SEC by each of Marvel and Disney.

Important Merger Information and Additional Information:

This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval. In connection with the proposed transaction, Disney and Marvel will file relevant materials with the SEC. Disney will file a Registration Statement on Form S-4 that includes a proxy statement of Marvel and which also constitutes a prospectus of Disney. Marvel will mail the proxy statement/prospectus to its stockholders.Investors are urged to read the proxy statement/prospectus regarding the proposed transaction when it becomes available, because it will contain important information.The proxy statement/prospectus and other documents that will be filed by Disney and Marvel with the SEC will be available free of charge at the SEC's website,, or by directing a request when such a filing is made to The Walt Disney Company, 500 South Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91521-9722, Attention: Shareholder Services or by directing a request when such a filing is made to Marvel Entertainment, Inc., 417 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10016, Attention: Corporate Secretary.

Disney, Marvel, their respective directors and certain of their executive officers may be considered participants in the solicitation of proxies in connection with the proposed transaction. Information about the directors and executive officers of Marvel is set forth in its definitive proxy statement, which was filed with the SEC on March 24, 2009. Information about the directors and executive officers of Disney is set forth in its definitive proxy statement, which was filed with the SEC on January 16, 2009.Investors may obtain additional information regarding the interests of such participants by reading the proxy statement/prospectus Disney and Marvel will file with the SEC when it becomes available.


Back in November I posted the first part of a series of articles, entitled The Music Never Really Died - the idea was to look at the solo work of all four Beatles from a fan perspective. That first article looked at Paul McCartney from the split with The Beatles up to the album London Town. And so now, with the issue of the Beatle remasters imminent, seems a good time to pick up with part two.

Wings final album was Back to the Egg - it wasn't intended as a final album for the group but when touring the album later that year, Paul was busted in Japan with a considerable amount of wacky baccy in his luggage. Paul did some jail time and the band fizzled out - apart from one or two tracks Back to the Egg is not a particularly strong album but there are brief flashes of the old genius -Baby's Request drips with echoes of Peppers and Getting Closer does manage to rock. But overall the album is understated like much of Wings material. However the band did produce several classic albums - Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, Red Rose Speedway and the excellent Ram. The latter of course credited to Paul and Linda McCartney.

The next decade would see Paul's lost period, in which he flirted (disastrously) with disco, opened himself up for ridicule (The Frog Chorus) and produced one of the most dire rock movies of all time with Give My Regards to Broad Street. But he continued to work and there are many unknown gems on some of the albums from this period. Press to Play is, to my mind, a unknown masterpiece and both Flowers in the Dirt and Flaming Pie are great albums.

Macca's first post Wings album was - McCartney II

It was intended to be a home-grown affair, much like his first solo album McCartney, with Paul playing the majority of the instruments. But where McCartney had a certain earthy charm, was of its time and contained a couple of all time greats - Every Day and Maybe I Amazed. This album was curiously disjointed and has an over reliance on electronic noise. Still Dark Room, Waterfalls and One of these Days are beautiful and the poppy Coming Up was a huge hit. The album also contain the throwaway Temporary Secretary which has become something of a cult hit in recent years in its remastered dance version. As usual the critics were not very kind and even hardcore fans found little of the old Paul McCartney here.

Tug of War followed, two sides of perfectly polished pop but unfortunately lacking any real edge. The title track was brilliant, as was The Pound is Sinking and the heartfelt Lennon tribute, Here Today. But the disco flirtations really don't help and added further fuel for the Macca detractors who claimed he was always wimpy and that it was Lennon who had made the Beatles. But although not my favourite album there are sublime moments, such as the power ballad Wanderlust and the twee, Somebody who Cares. The album also included the embarrassing Ebony and Ivory.

Pipes of Peace follows and although the title track was a pleasing enough mellow pop track, there is little else on the album to please. And McCartney's two songs with Michael Jackson have their fans but was this really the man who had rocked through Helter Skelter and Oh Darling?

Give my regards to Broad Street followed in 1984 and went platinum in the UK and gold in the US. The track listing, made up of old Beatle and Wings classics and one or two new numbers were excellent. There's even a better version of Silly Love Songs on here than the original recording. The film it accompanied may have been a mistake but the album was a return to form with Paul revisiting his Beatle past.

Press to play came in 1986 and went gold in the UK but failed to do much in the US. Even firm Macca fans have trouble with this album but it is a vastly misunderstood masterpiece and almost as inventive as The White Album. McCartney steps out of his comfort zone and gives us a track listing of experimental rock with hardly a glitch. Good Times Coming, Stranglehold, Talk more Talk and Pretty Little Head rock with the best of them. Footsteps and Only Love Remains are super cool epic ballads and Macca goes all punk on Angry.

"What the hell gives you the right to tell me what to do with my life..."

The next studio album was Flowers in the Dirt and boy, was Macca on a roll now. Every track, with the possible exception of We Got Married, are excellent. The collaborations with Elvis Costello, particularly You Want her Too, gave Macca some of the edge he had been missing since his days with Lennon. The album went platinum in the UK and just about everywhere else.

Off the Ground followed and scored another hit worldwide but it had none of the inventiveness of Flowers in the Dirt and tracks like Biker like an Icon are awful. There are some great moments though - the eco rock of Off The Ground and Changes and the awesome ballad Wine Dark Open sea.

Macca didn't give us another studio album until 1987 with the excellent Flaming Pie. Mind you he had been busy over recent years, what with starting touring again and working on the long gestating Beatles Anthology. To promote the album Macca held an online chat which entered the Guiness Book of Record for the most people online in a single chat room at once. It is a uniformly excellent album, sold really well and contains several McCartney classics. Used to be Bad is awesome as is Really Love you.

Run Devil Run followed which was an album of largely rock and roll covers all performed with McCartney's excellent driving rock tones. The new tracks on the album were also recorded to sound like 1958 rock and roll. It's a great party album.

The next studio album, Driving Rain splits fans down the middle. It was recorded quickly with none of the care put into Flaming Pie but it has a raw quality that grows on you. Course Paul's songwriting here is not up to his usual standards and several songs, including the title track are throwaways. It was released to strong reviews but sales were at an all time low - maybe it was the lack of a single to push it. There are some excellent tracks - Macca sounds raw on Lonely Road, a song dealing with his loss of Linda and Rinse the Raindrops is a fine example of Macca's talent - the song changes key several times and McCartney sings with a voice as rough as sandpaper.

Course it was during this period that Macca met and eventually married that one legged bird. That ended in a bitter divorce, leaving Heather hopping mad and Macca retreated to the studio to lick his wounds. The resulting album was his strongest for years.

Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard is the most personal album McCartney has ever recorded - the exceptional Riding to Vanity Fair is a bitter tirade against shallowness and its target seemed to be the errant Heather or, as the press had dubbed her, Lady Mucca. Each track on the album flows into the next and there's not a bad number on this album. Excellent stuff. Each track is a stand out in itself.

Memory Almost Full followed and although it's a great album it doesn't hit the heights of Chaos and Creation. There are references to the past in several songs, That was me, Vintage Clothes and Ever Present Past and there are a couple of the no-nonsense rockers that McCartney does so well - Dance Tonight and Nod your Head. Only Mama Said and Mr Bellamy are stand out tracks and the stark The End of the End sees McCartney questioning his own mortality much as he had done in the Flowers in the Dirt track, That Day is Done.

Now I haven't mentioned the first two Fireman albums merely because they can not be considered McCartney albums proper but the third Fireman album, Electric Arguments is very much a McCartney album and it's also his best since Band on the Run. The album starts off rocking and continues that way until the final groove and the Fireman pseudonym is redundant here. Where the previous two albums had been experimental electronic doodlings, Electric Arguments is filled with songs with traditional structures. McCartney's reworking of an old blues classic, Light from your Lighthouse is as contagious as swine flu and Highway rocks like it's 1969 again. Acclaim was universal for the album and it is among McCartney's best work.

One day historians will look back on McCartney's entire body of work and evaluate it in the context of itself rather than as an adjunct to the greatest romance of the 20th century. And then and only then will McCartney stop being dismissed as the soppy one and his true worth be realised by the multitudes. It's already common knowledge to those in the know.

To sum up McCartney was never going to top his work in the Beatles - how could he? That was and remains the greatest body of work in rock music history. But where lesser artists would have faded away into obscurity after the Beatles, Macca stayed out in the forefront...he's still there now... and long may he remain so.


Paul D. Brazil has another story - In The Doghouse - over at the always excellent webzine, A Twist of Noir. If you've not read any of Paul's work I urge you do to so - you never know what to expect,see.

There's also a new issue of Back Alley online now - 7 new stories including one from Archive fave, Pattie Abbot. Get on over THERE

And don't forget there's a western story over on Beat to a Pulp this week.

I'm not one for computer games, well apart from the odd go at online scrabble, but I am interested to see the new Rockstar game Beatle edition. I won't be any good at it but it does interest me to see the way the Beatle's image has been used.

Here are some images from the forthcoming game.


ekly Stats Report: 24 Aug - 30 Aug 2009

Unique Visitors2051581642412431631571,331190
First Time Visitors1591231231851921151121,009144
Returning Visitors4635415651484532246

Sunday 30 August 2009


British tabloid The Sun are reporting that the new BBC cartoon based on the Beano's Dennis the Menace has been cleaned up by the PC brigade.


COMIC tearaway Dennis The Menace has been turned into Walter The Softy by politically correct BBC bosses.

They have banned The Beano's bully from using his trusty catapult, water pistol and peashooter in their new cartoon series.

Dennis is also no longer allowed to pick on geeky Walter and is not slippered by his dad as a punishment. Even his dog Gnasher has been targeted.

He will no longer sink his teeth in people or engage in his trademark wanton destruction.

Dennis also looks less menacing, with his scowl replaced by a charming boyish grin.

In the new series made by Red Kite Animation, which launches next month on CBBC, Dennis has been "re-imagined".

He now gets in scrapes by dreaming up contraptions that end up causing mayhem. In one episode he turns Gnasher into a cleaning device to tidy up after he cooks, but the house ends up covered in filth.

An insider revealed: "Dennis can't be seen to use weapons and giving other kids grief in a BBC cartoon. The BBC doesn't want to be accused of encouraging children to be violent."

But the move has angered purists as the comic, which launched in 1951, still has Dennis getting up to his old tricks.

A BBC spokesperson commented: "Dennis the Menace has been evolving since it's creation in 1951, in print and on TV. Although the stories and animation have been updated to appeal to current CBBC viewers, his character has not changed significantly and Dennis remains as boisterous and mischievous as ever."

The Archive says; The Sun are, as usual, talking bollocks if the stills from the new show are to be believed. There's Gnasher gnashing and Dennis slinging.

Archive book biz news

The British PLR, that's public lending rights, is to go through a major shake up - this will enable PLR to include non-print books such as ebooks and audiobooks. The proposals put forward by the government as part of an industry wide consultation is to be welcomed. At the moment PLR equates to 5.98p to the author every time a book is loaned out. And with most public libraries reporting an increase in audiobook loans and the DCMS, the department for culture and sport, have claimed there is an increased demand for ebooks. The government's digital Britain report will be made available in October.

Sainsbury's Supermarket has revealed plans to grow book sales by 30% over the forthcoming Christmas period, giving them a market share estimated at £35 million. The supermarket now boasts 1.62% of the entire UK book market - the trend for supermarkets to dominate is worrying for the book industry. Although it is good for the consumer who can pick up the latest bestsellers at knock down prices it means that mid-list titles are being ignored. The supermarkets are not going to be interested in new writers, said a spokesman for the Society of Authors.

Seth Grahame-Smith will follow up his bestselling Pride and Prejudice with Zombies with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire hunter. Since April his Jane Austin mesh-up has sold 45,000 copies in the UK alone.

For the first time there will be a SImpsons Annual on sale for Christmas. It seems incredible but the long running TV show has not yet spawned an annual for the Christmas market - the book will be published by Titan and be priced at £7.99. And speaking of The Simpsons - Fox have greenlit another two seasons of the show.

Are you a Bookaholic? Bookaholism is the term decided upon by The Booksellers and publishers Association for a forthcoming publicity drive to get more people reading. Tesco supermarket have also thrown their weight behind the concept so expect to hear the term Bookaholic more and more in coming months.

Le western

The cowboy, the most durable and popular figure on the U.S. screen, has until recent years generally been dismissed by critics and film historians as an error of popular taste. But in French critical circles, the cowboy has long been regarded with deep solemnity. Many a longhaired Frenchman believes that the western film is Hollywood's finest achievement, a kind of national folklore in the making. In a flood of recently published books and articles, Europe's highbrow critics have been soberly examining the western and discovering in it virtues and complexities which even its most loyal fans never suspected it possessed... READ THE REST OF THE TIME ARTICLE HERE

Cowboys here, cowboys there, cowboys everywhere

There's an interesting article at Bustles and Spurs HERE

Saturday 29 August 2009

Midnight Showdown

The lovely Sandra Seamans has a new western tale, Midnight Showdown over on the always excellent, Beat to a Pulp. For a supposedly long dead genre the western is everywhere these days. Saddle up folks and get on over there.


When the next western anthology from Express Westerns hits the shelves it will be a remarkable collection and not only for gathering together a bunch of fine western writers between the covers, but because newcomer, Peter Avarillo is actually the pen name for a sixteen year old British girl. The Archive wouldn't mind betting that this makes her the youngest writer to have a western in a professionally published book.

Western's run in the family because Chantel Foster is actually the granddaughter of Ray Foster, otherwise known as western writer, Jack Giles.

'Westerns have always been around at granddad's house. ' Chantel told the Tainted Archive. 'Books and films. When I went to live with granddad two years ago I began to take an interest. Watching films like 'Lonesome Dove' and 'Broken Trail' I could lose myself in the story. Then I began to look at books like George G Gilman's 'Edge'. I'm not a fan. But I do like 'Herne The Hunter'. Then I read Lance Howard's 'The Devil's Rider'. Oh, my God what a book. This had stuff in it that young people could relate to. I thought if only. Just before Christmas last year I found an interesting story about a western 'legend'. And I got an idea and wrote what was to become a good story.'

Apart from her western interest Chantel is into all the usual trappings of being a teenager. I wondered what her friends thought of her western writing?

'They laughed at first' Chantel says. ' But there are some closet western interests there. One boy in my class was surprised to find another person who read westerns. At the moment only my family know that my story is going to be published. The others can wait until I have the real thing in my hand.
Me and mum went down to Swansea market today and I brought back two carrier bags full of westerns. A lot by Max Brand. I need something to read when I get home this weekend.'

The Archive applauds Chantel and grandfather, Ray for guiding her towards some pretty darn fine reading habits and hopes that other young readers can follow her example and discover the western genre. But Chantel's inclusion in the forthcoming anthology really is a remarkable achievement. Having a grandfather who is well known in the western genre meant nothing during the selection process and Chantel's story had to stand on its own merits. And this is just one of the 21 stories of the old west that will fill the book to bursting. And and of course, as announced in the previous post, western legend, James Reasoner is penning the introduction.

'Wow. It's beginning to register with me,' Chantel says, 'that all the hard work has achieved something. Granddad believed in me. So did Nik Morton and Charlie Whipple (anthology editors). I will never be able to thank them enough.
I mean I'm going to be in the same book as some of my 'heroes'.
If you had the chance to appear on stage playing with 'The Beatles' I think you might have some idea how I feel.'

Thanks Chantel but is my Fabs fixation that obvious? Anyway I may have never appeared on stage with them but the Beatles Rock Star game is out on 9.9.09 so I can at least fantasise.

The complete line up is republished below:

DEAD MAN TALKING – Derek Rutherford
LONIGAN MUST DIE! – Ben Bridges (David Whitehead)
BILLY – Lance Howard (Howard Hopkins)
HALF A PIG – Matthew P Mayo
BLOODHOUND – Courtney Joyner
BIG ENOUGH – Chuck Tyrell (Charles T Whipple)
ONE DAY IN LIBERTY – Jack Giles (Ray Foster)
ON THE RUN – Alfred Wallon
THE GIMP – Jack Martin (Gary Dobbs)
VISITORS – Ross Morton (Nik Morton)
THE NIGHTHAWK – Michael D George
DARKE JUSTICE – Peter Avarillo (Chantel Foster)
ANGELO AND THE STRONGBOX – Cody Wells (Malcolm Davey)
THE PRIDE OF THE CROCKETTS – Evan Lewis (Dave Lewis)
CRIB GIRLS – Kit Churchill (Andrea Hughes)
MAN OF IRON – Chuck Tyrell (Charles T Whipple)
CASH LARAMIE AND THE MASKED DEVIL – Edward A Grainger (David Cranmer)

The first anthology - WHERE LEGENDS RIDE is still available and is just the thing to get you in the mood for the so far untitled second anthology.

Introducing James Reasoner

Now that the line up's been announced for the second Express Western anthology, the so-far untitled, follow up to Where Legends Ride things are starting to boil. It's is now official that western writer, James Reasoner, a legend of the genre, is to write the introduction to the new book.

More news on the Anthology later today.

I've been digitised

I've taken the leap and gone and got myself one of those new fangled e-book readers. I was going to go for the new UK version of The Kindle but it's up in the air as of when it will actually go on sale. And so I've opted for the Elonex which is exclusive to Borders.

It's also the cheapest on the market and comes preloaded with 100 books - all for £189.99. Can't be bad. Though if you get the accessory pack with is basically a nice looking, though expensive, leather case for your reader and a 4GB SD card which allows you to store upto a 1000 e-books it pushes the price up another £29.99. In comparison to other machines on the market the reader is excellent value but the accessories are a bit much if you ask me.

First impressions - the initial set up is easy. Simply download the free Adobe Digital Editions and via USB authorise your reader to your computer. Then it's just a matter of dragging items from you computer into digital editions and from there into the reader library. To delete you simply select the file and click delete.

Reading on the thing is amazing - the electronic ink system used gives the same feeling to the eye as reading conventional text. The machine boasts no screen flicker and no glare when used in full sunlight. Living in Wales, I couldn't find any sunlight to test this but ( it works fine in the rain, though) there is no screen glare when held under a strong light.

All of the free books pre-loaded into the memory are classic already in the public domain - Sherlock Holmes is on there, Mark Twain, Dickens, Shakespeare, H G Wells and so on. You've got Dracula, Tarzan, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. But the first thing I did is downloaded the free Edge continuation e-books and slapped those on it. I've never read these as I can't handle long works on the PC screen so I've now got six new Edge books. Things are looking up already.

I'll review the machine fully when I've had a couple of weeks using it but upon first impressions I'm delighted

Friday 28 August 2009


Given the Success of Wild West Monday, fellow writer Howard Hopkins wants to do a similar thing for horror - CHECK OUT


Shaun Hutson has always bucked the system - he's still doing it. After being expelled from school he fell into a number of jobs, none he could hold for too long - shop assistant, cinema usher and a barman. Indeed if he hadn't taken the plunge and become a full time author in 1983 then Shaun would probably still be on that treadmill of job after job. He's writtern in every genre imaginable westerns, war, crime and he's still bucking the system and where most of his contemporaries from the horror boom period of the 80's have vanished he's still here, alive and kicking and selling books.

Biographical details are scarce but there is some information on Shaun's official website.

According to Shaun's website.

He is a reformed alcoholic with diagnosed psychotic tendencies, is very unsociable and likes to shoot pistols for a hobby, he has appeared on stage with his rock band idols, Iron Maiden on numerous occasions, has received death threats in relation with his work, supports Liverpool and never misses a home game and a quote on one of his books once said, he (Shaun) has done for literature what Hitler did for Poland.

Before starting the interview Shaun was pleased to see I am published by Robert Hale and informed me that he started out with Hale many years ago.

" I used to be published Robert Hale (I’m sure I mentioned it). I did eleven war novels for them when I first started writing and will always have a soft spot for them as they published my first ever novel BLOOD AND HONOUR. Anyway, enough of that, on to your questions… "


TA: I've often heard you called the sickest writer on the planet. How does this make you feel?

SH: I have no objection at all to being called the sickest writer on the planet, just as I never objected to the other nicknames like The Godfather of Gore, the Shakespeare of Gore and stuff like that. I suppose it’s better to be remembered as something. It depends on your definition of sick really. Writing horror all these years I suppose I’d have been more pissed off if people had labelled me “a really nice writer”. So, feel free to call me sick.

TA: You're sick - seriously you have survived the horror boom years of the 80's when so many of the other once familiar names have vanished. Why is this do you think?

SH: It’s just a pity those horror boom years ever went away. I’ve said it many times before and I’ll keep saying it but I think horror is a dead genre (it certainly is as far as publishers are concerned). Stuff like Twilight has been successful but it all seems to be vampires and werewolves. The shelves are covered with shit that looks like it was inspired by the Underworld films which were bad enough anyway. There’s no traditional horror being published anymore, not by big publishers anyway. They’re all too busy with crime and serial killers. It’s almost as if they’re saying “see we were right all those years ago to turn our noses up at horror.” Bastards. I haven’t a clue why I survived and some other authors fell by the wayside. Probably because my fan base is so loyal. My readers are different. A cut above the rest and they’ve always supported me no matter what I’ve done and I’m grateful for that.

TA: In recent years you seem to have branched out into crime. Do you prefer writing crime or horror?

SH: Lots of people have told me I’ve been writing crime but I can’t say as I’ve noticed. I just write my new book every year, I never think which category it’s going to fall into. I write about what interests me at the time, what grabs me as a writer. I never think about current trends or stuff like that. I just do what I want to do and hope that people will like it. That’s what I’ve always done. If I had any sense I’d be trying to write fucking detective novels or books about forensics and serial killers because that’s all publishers seem to want but I’ve never made that cross over into the thriller genre because bookshops are too intent on putting authors into their ready made categories. The book business is so regimented as far as defining authors goes. Once you write two books in one genre that’s you stuck there for all time in the eyes of the book business.

TA: One of your most successful books, Slugs was turned into a movie. It was dire and I'v
e heard you've disowned it. Why?

I don’t think I ever disowned SLUGS the movie but I always made sure that people knew I had fuck all to do with it. The thing is, when you sell film rights you know that what turns up on the screen is going to be nothing like what you originally wrote (unless you’re fucking J.K. Rowling) so you just accept it. Or you should. It makes me sick when I hear authors moaning about how bad adaptations of their books are. I just think, they paid you shit loads for the rights, shut the fuck up and enjoy it. Having said that, the company that made SLUGS didn’t even pay me enough to soften the blow but what can you do?

TA: During the Eighties you cut quite a flamboyant image for a writer, what with appearing on stage with rock icons, Iron Maiden. Are you still Maiden's biggest fan?

SH: I’m pretty sure that Iron Maiden have got lots of fans more devoted than me. I love their music though. I have since their very first album and getting the chance to meet them and work with them on and off over the years has been wonderful. We’re all about the same age and they’ve managed to survive all the trends that have come and gone, just doing what is so recognisably their style and I’d like to think that there are similarities between the two of us (apart from the fact that they’re multi-millionaires…) in as much as they’ve remained faithful to their audience and never sold out.

TA: When I was in my late teens, the Eighties again, shops were full to the rafters with horror novels but these days the genre is far less visible. Where do you see the future for horror?

SH: I’m not sure the horror genre has got a future to be honest. Not with big mainstream publishers. It’s weird because there are so many horror films at the cinema and yet, for the only time in my life as a writer, that trend hasn’t been adopted by the publishing business. Horror films appear by the dozen every year and yet the publishers still cut back on their horror and bookshops stock less and less of it. It’s very depressing. They obviously need more shelf space for all the crime novels and the truck loads of ghost written fucking celebrity books that now pollute our bookshops. When Jordan can have the number one selling novel and Chris Moyles autobiography is a best seller then you know how deep in the shit the book business is. And how bad a state society in general is in for that matter…but anyway…

TA: Writers you yourself admire?

SH: I don’t read fiction so I can’t really say. Well, not new fiction anyway. If I read new books then it’s non fiction but as for fiction, other than Thomas Harris, I can’t be bothered (as he only writes one every seven years it’s not too much of a stretch). I’ve just re-read LEGION by William Peter Blatty who was a wonderful writer and I’m reading a novel by Jim Thompson at the moment (written in about 1954, I think). I read Raymond Chandler sometimes and occasionally some older short stories but other than that I don’t read fiction unless it’s something that really leaps out at me, like something I notice in the review pages of the paper (I started reading a book called The Chatelet Apprentice around Christmas but never finished it) I never, if I can help it, go in bookshops either so most of the stuff that’s on my shelves is about seven or eight years old.

TA: Future projects?

SH:I’ve got a book out in the autumn called LAST RITES and I’m working on another one at the moment but I’m not settled on the title yet. That’ll be out next autumn. Other than that, I’ve got stuff lying around with publishers under pseudonyms but whether anything ever comes of it remains to be seen. I’m not holding my breath.

TA: SlugS is a totally gross out novel, great fun and at the time it was published we had already been terrorised by rats, crabs, cats and seemingly every creature under the sun. What made you chose to write about slugs?

SH:To be honest, it wasn’t me who chose to write about Slugs. I wanted to do it about leeches (because of the vampire possibility too) and my agent of the time who’d read a novel I wrote called Deathday that featured a giant slug said why not do a novel all about slugs. I couldn’t see the mileage in it until I started researching and, happily, as usual he was proved right and I was wrong. The slugs novels were great fun to write and Slugs will always be very dear to my heart because it is the novel I’ll always be remembered for. I could win the Booker Prize (well, not really, I’m joking but you know what I mean) and I’d still be known at the bloke who wrote slugs but like I said before, it’s nice to be remembered for something. I’ve got nothing against them in real life by the way but I do find them pretty revolting. But so do lots of people. Maybe that was why the book worked.

TA: And finally will the mutated slugs ever return?

SH: I can’t imagine there’ll ever be another Slugs book. Not unless we could all get in a time machine and go back to the 80’s (not a bad idea…). It was always intended as a trilogy…(sorry..) but I can’t see the third one ever being done now, certainly not with the demise of the horror genre in general but I must admit, it would be nice to do it. I think I’ve still got the plot lying around somewhere….Or maybe I will get around to doing that one about leeches eventually…Actually, I wrote a scene in my new novel the other day about a guy having a nightmare about slugs…maybe it was an omen….

Watch this space as they say - The Tainted Archive thanks Shaun for his time.

Shaun's website can be found HERE

Below is a vintage video of the author interviewed by a young Jonathan Ross

The history of horror cinema in one go...

Horror has been around since the dawn of cinema - in 1910 the Edison Company produced a version of Frankenstein. Der Golem was also concerned with the creation of life and this time from a German studio. As was Nosferatu (1922) which is perhaps one of the best remembered silent horror movies.

However it was the coming of sound that brought in the Golden Age of horror films. King Kong in 1933 showed what could now be done with the wonders of the motion picture camera. The 30's and 40's were indeed a special period with Universal's mostly excellent series of creature features keeping fright fans happy. There are several all time classics among the many films the studio produced, Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolfman to name but three.

The 50's was the age of paranoia and horror cinema reflected this - creatures were no longer spawned by the occult but by this new radiation and the Communist threat came from outer space. Where previously monsters had a supernatural origin now they came from beyond our galaxy and science fiction and horror merged. British studio Hammer did however continue to make money with the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and other monsters of the golden period. Interestingly Hammer also produced sci-fi/horror hybrids with the Quatermas films.

The 60's was a far more cynical time in terms of horror - Hitchcock gave us environmental horror with the Birds, Rosemary's Baby brought the supernatural into the real world. Roger Corman was the king of the low budget horror flick and produced a string of Poe adoptions usually with Vincent Price. British shockers, Hammer were at this time in their most inventive period and 1966's Plague of the Zombies in a classic.

The 70' s saw taste go out of the window and demons come back into the room. The Exorcist heralded a slew of demonic films - The Omen being only one series of movies. Speilberg took horror to the seaside and invented the event movie with Jaws. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) practically invented the slasher genre. And the Italians were reinventing the horror movie, as they had with the western, and selling it back to us.

The 80's was a period of technical highs and repetition - many classics came from this period - Evil Dead, The Thing, The Elm Street Series. There were more serial killers at work in the cinema during this period than ever before and horror film sequels became the order of the day.

The 90's - post-modern time, folks.
Scream parodied everything else and then itself. Seven dressed itself up in class so as not to appear like a horror film. Frankenstein and Dracula became respectable in the hands of Francis Ford Coppola and Kenneth Branagh - shit De'niro even took over the old Karloff (Karloff was better, though.) role and Gary Oldman made a cool Dracula but again Lugosi was better.


Later today The Archive interviews Godfather of Gore, seller of sleaze,master of the macabre, Mr. Shaun Hutson. And to get in the mood the Archive is going over to the dark side for a day of posts devoted to that most maligned of literary genres, horror fiction.

During the mid-80's I seemed to read nothing but horror fiction - it was a boom time for the genre. In the US Stephen King was outselling everyone and over in the UK, James Herbert was topping the best-seller lists. Direct to paperback horror novels were everywhere Guy N. Smith, Shaun Hutson, Gary Brander, Graham Masterton.

It was a great time to be a horror reader - in the newsagents there were magazines like the excellent, Fear which as well as offering all the latest horror news also published short fiction and encouraged its readers to try and become the new Stephen King. Fear was an excellent magazine and back in the day I never missed a issue, I bought its entire run. The magazine looked at horror in an intelligent way and as well as the latest gore books it also covered the classics such as Poe and Lovecraft. The magazine had a spin off fiction magazine called Frighteners but the first issue had to be pulled off the shelves because of a gory cover illustrating a Graham Masterton story. The story Eric the Pie, has become infamous and many claim it went a step too far and was responsible for the demise of the magazine. Those with a strong stomach can read the story as a PDF from the author's website HERE. Be warned the story is rather gruesome - it comes from respected author Graham Masterton, author of The Manitou and the author told an interviewer in 1996 that, 'On reflection I think it went too far.'

Having to pull the magazine after customer complaints dealt publisher, Newsfield a massive blow. Frighteners would go to another two issues and Fear vanished with issue no 33. There's an interesting article on the demise of Fear and the Frighteners story HERE.

The closure of Fear really pissed me off - I had a short story, Cissy's Heebie Jeebies lined up for the mag - I really wanted to get some fiction in Fear. Ahh well, I eventually placed the story with small press publication, Peeping Tom where it was well received. During this period there was a vibrant small press with publications like Skeleton Crew, Samhain and Peeping Tom keeping the torch burning for horror fans. And there were still several newstand horror magazines, The Dark Side and Shivers being the most well known, but for me none filled the void left by the demise of Fear.

I wrote for several of the small press magazines as well as interviewing writer, Peter James and being delighted when I managed to sell the piece to the well respected and long running, (still running) Interzone. My own horror novel, entitled Misty remains however in the loft, unloved and unpublished. And to be honest unpublishable.

Horror books though, for the moment, remained numerous in the shops - there were all manner of creature on the prowl. James Herbert may have started it with The Rats but since then we had Slugs, Crabs, Cats, Locusts,bats, snakes and more than the odd slime beast. There were vampires, ghouls and werewolves running wild.

There were some great new talents being published around that period, some who have lasted, some who have not - Steve Harris scored high with a string of chillers starting with Adventureland, Mark Morris wowed us all with his novel Toady and these days writes, among other things, Dr Who novels for the BBC, Michael Slade (actually a team of American lawyers) grossed us out with The Ghoul and Clive Barker burst onto the scene with his innovative Books of Blood.

There was a period when the genre was getting unexpected critical respect. Stephen King analysed the genre in his Danse Macabre and respected critic and writer, Douglas E. Winter put together the excellent Prime Evil anthology.

New subgenres sprung up - Splatterpunk which was horror's answer to the Cyberpunk movement and didn't really mean much - if a book was overly gruesome it was labelled as Splatterpunk. Brian Lumley set about successfully reinventing Lovecraft with his Necroscope books.

So what killed Horror - overkill. The market became saturated and not only with books but slasher movies, each less inventive than the last. The Jason's, the Freddy's and the Michael's ruled the celluloid roost. The Nightmare on Elm Street saga was particularly successful with Freddy becoming something of a superstar and even getting his own spin off TV series.

These days the horror genre is still there but like, the western, it is in a state of recovery - Stephen King no longer writes out and out horror, slasher movies generally go straight to DVD and horror is no longer a certain thing in marketing terms. But have no doubt one day horror will remove the stake from it's festering heart and return to once again torment the popular culture.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Johnny D Boggs update

This comment was made on the recent Johnny D. Boggs interview but in case you missed it - here it is.

If you want to meet Johnny, he will be signing copies of his books at the Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield, MN on September 12.



There's no stopping them

It's all too much but we can't get enough of this band who split up back at the dawn of the Seventies. It may have been All those years ago but it seems like yesterday - They're still with us, those four Scousers, and we simply can't get enough of them.

The long awaited remastered albums are imminent (9/9/09) and this weekend, starting Saturday BBC Radio 2 kicks off its Beatle weekend.

This week's Radio Times boasts a Beatle cover and an interview with Paul McCartney.

'Looking back on it,' McCartney tells the Radio Times. 'I can see the joy outweighed the negativity. Whatever bad things John said about me, he would also slip his glasses down to the end of his nose and say, "I love you". That's really what I hold onto to. The rest is showing off.'

The line up over the three days is impressive and , as well as Beatle songs being blasted out day and night, there are several documentaries and the BBC have always been masters of audio documentaries. As anyone who listens to Radio 4 or BBC 7 can contest.

And so to get in the mood here's a full, freaky episode of the Beatles cartoon series from the 60's. Fab, or what!

Man, those accents are bad!!!!


The list of stories has been announced:

DEAD MAN TALKING – Derek Rutherford
LONIGAN MUST DIE! – Ben Bridges (David Whitehead)
BILLY – Lance Howard (Howard Hopkins)
HALF A PIG – Matthew P Mayo
BLOODHOUND – Courtney Joyner
BIG ENOUGH – Chuck Tyrell (Charles T Whipple)
ONE DAY IN LIBERTY – Jack Giles (Ray Foster)
ON THE RUN – Alfred Wallon
THE GIMP – Jack Martin (Gary Dobbs)
VISITORS – Ross Morton (Nik Morton)
THE NIGHTHAWK – Malcolm D George
DARKE JUSTICE – Peter Avarillo (Chantel Foster)
ANGELO AND THE STRONGBOX – Cody Wells (Malcolm Davey)
THE PRIDE OF THE CROCKETTS – Evan Lewis (Dave Lewis)
CRIB GIRLS – Kit Churchill (Andrea Hughes)
MAN OF IRON – Chuck Tyrell (Charles T Whipple)
CASH LARAMIE AND THE MASKED DEVIL – Edward A Grainger (David Cranmer)

Head over to Nik Morton's blog for all the info.

Great to see so many familiar names there and newcomers too - I am honoured to be a part of this anthology - the first Where Legends Ride anthology is a brilliant collection of varied western stories that will please all fans of the genre. And this second volume, so far untitled, is bound to offer more of the same.


Donald Westlake
Quercus £7.99

This is the first Dortmunder I've ever read - you see the trouble with American writers who are not household names, not in the mega bestseller lists, is that a lot of us in other countries never get to hear of them. We certainly don't see them in most of our bookshops - the Internet is changing all that and genre specific sites can reach readers all over the Wild West Web. That's how I discovered Donald Westlake's other half - Richard Stark. When I read Point Blank (originally The Hunter) I was hooked. The character of Parker was an eye-opener for me, I'd never met anyone quite like this man in all fiction. I was then on a mission, I still am, to get all the Stark/Parker books.

I still avoided Dortmunder, though. I'd never seen the Robert Redford movie based on the character, nor in fact was I even aware of it. Shame on me.

I'd learned that Richard Stark was a name used by writer, Donald Westlake for a series of brutal crime novels, primarily about Parker but that the author also wrote equally entertaining crime novels under his real name, Donald Westlake. I read Hard Case Crime's Somebody Owes Me Money and enjoyed it but it was hardly in the same league as the brilliantly brutal, Parker. I became aware of Westlake' s Dortmunder series through various Internet sites and forums but for some reason I got the impression that the books, although highly praised, were out and out comedy crime novels.

Maybe it's the way they are marketed - look at the first cover image, this is a cool, subdued almost moody picture from the UK edition I finally picked up. But in contrast the original American cover looks like a tame crime caper, the type of thing you see in daytime detective series on the television. Not that there's anything wrong with daytime crime capers - hey, we've all got our thing.

However it was discovering that the first Dortmunder novel had actually started out as a Parker story led me to finally take the plunge. Dortmunder's first appearance was in 1970's, The Hot Rock. The story about the theft and loss and recovery and loss again of a precious gem wasn't working. The author realised the problem was Parker, then the main character, and that the story didn't suit his persona. And so Parker was rewritten into John Dortmunder. The character is like Parker in many ways but not so brutal. You could never imagine Dortmunder coldly killing someone who gets in his way and yet the universe he inhabits is very much the Parkerverse.

What's so Funny is actually the penultimate Dortmunder novel. It wasn't planned like that but the author, Donald Westlake sadly passed away after completing a further Dortmunder, Get Real. According to the WIKI there were a total of 14 Dortmunder novels - so one down, thirteen to go.

You see there's this ex-cop turned PI who holds some pretty incriminating evidence on Dortmunder and together with all his contacts still in the force, all linked together by this new internet thing, he makes it pretty clear that he has the power to send our hero, career thief John Dortmunder away for a very long time. That doesn't really appeal to Dortmunder but then nor does the alternative - a seemingly impossible scheme to steal a solid gold chess set from a vault beneath a Manhattan Bank.

Like the Parker books the dialogue is straight forward and direct - often hilarious it leaps from the page, each character having a distinct cadence. You instantly know which character is speaking from what they are saying and the way they are saying it. It's a talent that leaves me in awe of Mr. Westlake.

Dortmunder decides he has no choice but to play along with the ex-cop, knowing that the scheme is impossible. but figuring that the ex-cop will realise this in the end and, with no hard feelings, walk away from the plan. Hey, they tried right. However as the story goes on and more and more characters are sucked into the scheme it begins to look like they are going to try after all. However at about the half way point, the author pulls the rug out from under us and we realise that the scheme was, as initially thought, impossible. And that the Macguffin has no further use in the story, it's done its job, introduced us to characters and conflict - but wait a minute there are loose ends to tie up. And just when you think you've got the handle on the way things are going to go the author once again uses slight of hand to throw the reader into a quandary. The theft is going to happen after all, ...isn't it?

To say anything else about this book would be to risk spoilers and I'm not going to do that - if you haven't read it you are in for a treat - it is comical but the comedy comes naturally out of the characters and situations and above all it's suspenseful and John Dortmunder himself is a brilliant creation. I still prefer Parker but Dortmunder comes close and I'll certainly be reading the rest of the titles in the series. Maybe I'll alternate between Parker and Dortmunder and get the best of both worlds.

Donald Westlake WEBSITE

Next on The Wild Bunch Wednesday Story Challenge

Check out the most recent part HERE - There are also links to all previous instalments.

Dave's took the story off in an unexpected direction and the author who takes over part five, next Wednesday is none other than Jack Martin - Yep, probably biting off more than I can chew, I have stepped forward and taken the virtual pen....


Wednesday 26 August 2009


BHE Westerns, a new paperback imprint, looked to be floundering before she properly set sail - the intention was to put these slim paperbacks on the shelves at low prices, the way they used to be.

However the realities of modern publishing meant that the book was priced at a much higher rate than author and publisher, Chap O'keefe would have liked.

Chap O'keefe said, "I would like the book to sell on its merits, like its predecessors in the BHW range. These sell at around £3 more than £10, £1 less for a limited time on release . . . or like the last Lil book, Misfit Lil Cleans Up, not at all once no longer on the Hale website and listed by Amazon UK as: 'Currently unavailable we don't know when or if this item will be back in stock."

However the book's out there now and offers great value for money - Misfit Lil and Chap O'Keefe are a popular team with previous adventures selling out within weeks of publication.

The book is now listed on Amazon. Com priced at a very reasonable $15.22. It's a lovely looking paperback original - Not only is it a good read but as the first BHE it could prove highly collectable - copies of out of print Chap O'keefe books can go for silly prices. For instance a copy of The Outlaw and the lady is being offered at the time of writing for $120.63.

Check out the listing HERE

And if a great action packed western with a favourite character isn't incentive enough to buy the book there's also a big cash prize which anyone buying the book will be eligible to win.

BHE Books are offering a big cash prize for one lucky reader. The competition will be held in conjunction with the next Wild West Monday and will be announced on The Tainted Archive. To qualify for entry you will need your email receipt for the book from Amazon, Lulu, Book Depository or other on-line retailer.

If this book is a success then it means that BHE will publish other paperback originals and Chap O'keefe has said that he'd like to throw the doors open to other writers. So come on folks...head over to Amazon and put in your order and take a chance of celebrating this Wild West Monday with a fistful of dollars.

Presidential Address - The Tainted Archive in conversation with Johnny D. Boggs

Born in 1962, Johnny D Boggs was destined to write about the West. He spent his formative years on a farm in Timmonsville in South Carolina. At school Johnny found he had a talent for storytelling and he would write down wild stories in longhand and sell them to class mates, detective and super hero stories.

His interest in the western developed when he discovered the true West rather than Hollywood's West - this history fascinated him and then later when he discovered the novels of Jack Schaefer and Dorothy M. Johnson he was hooked.

These days Johnny is an author of many bestselling westerns himself, the recipient of multiple Spur Awards and he is currently sitting in the exhaulted position of being president of the Western Writers of America.

I wondered what his duties were as President?

"As president, I try to put Western literature, and Western Writers of America, in the forefront. We've worked on building up WWA's Star Speakers Bureau, and promoting our Best Western surveys. We voted on the 100 Greatest Western Movies last year, Best TV series/miniseries/movies this year, and will vote on the Greatest Songs of the West next year, and after that, I hope, get into the books. We have a new anthology coming out, titled ROUNDUP!, which will be published by La Frontera Publishing. Duties, of course, include running board meetings, serving as a spokesman for Western Writers of America, putting out fires, maybe starting some fires, and, above all, preserving and promoting Western literature. All while trying to make a living as a writer."

The Western Writers of America do much good work for the genre but many feel that not enough is being done for the western on the Wild West Web. I put this to Johnny. What for instance can be done on the web to aid in the growth of the genre?

"You're doing it right here. Newspapers were once our target, but with the condition of newspapers, at least in the United States, these days, we have to do more promotion online. Look at Anderson Cooper on CNN. Between commercial breaks, he's blogging and answering emails. He's doing that for a reason, and the reason is more and more people are going online. Blogs such as yours, and other web publications, are doing much to push Western literature. I've heard some publishers site the web as one of the reasons they have seen an increase in Western sales. That's something we're well aware of -- not to mention Twitter and Facebook and Linked In -- but WWA is primarily a volunteer organization, so we can move a little slowly at times, and we're still trying to figure out how to make the web work for us."

Where does Johnny see the western going in the future? Do we need to widen the definition of the genre and include contemporary novels set in the West?

"Oh, I'm a big believer in tearing down fences. I think Tony Hillerman was one of the best Western writers we've seen in years. He wrote about men with hats and guns bringing law and order to the West, only his heroes happened to be contemporary Navajo policeman. Many publishers still define a Western as a story set west of the Mississippi River between the years 1865 and 1900, but the Wild West began when the first European settlers landed on the Atlantic coast. Actually, you can argue that the West began with the migration of our Native Peoples. We have writers who tell those stories, and tell them well. Jim Woolard's novels about the Ohio frontier are excellent. Michael and Kathy Gear write about Indians before European contact. Meredith Mason Brown won a Spur Award for her biography of Daniel Boone. The novels by Allan Eckert and James Alexander Thom are great studies of the frontier West -- often east of the Mississippi.
And I can step outside and find a cowboy at my local grocery. The West is very vibrant, and often wild and woolly, today, and there have been some great works set in the contemporary, or at least post-World War II West: Elmer Kelton's THE TIME IT NEVER RAINED and THE MAN WHO RODE MIDNIGHT. Max Evans's THE ROUNDERS and THE HI LO COUNTRY. Brady Udall's THE MIRACLE LIFE OF EDGAR MINT. Aryn Kyle's THE GOD OF ANIMALS. Plus the contemporary mysteries by C.J. Box, Michael McGarrity, and, as I mentioned earlier, Tony Hillerman. And I think Larry McMurtry's best works, aside from LONESOME DOVE, are his contemporary visions of the West in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, LEAVING CHEYENNE and HORSEMAN, PASS BY.
One thing we'd like to see more of are crossover Westerns, that is, Westerns that can find new readers, and new life, in other book sections. Historical romances and mysteries, naturally, but look at Emma Bull's fantasy novel TERRITORY, a retelling of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday -- as sorcerers! It's a tremendous read, and Emma's historical research was dead-on terrific. I can't wait for Emma to finish the sequel."

I asked Johnny how he would describe his books to new readers, mentioning that I had just read and enjoyed his novel, The Big Fifty.

"Thanks. My mother's a big fan of THE BIG FIFTY. I tell people that I'm a Western writer. I just don't always write the kinds of Westerns your grandfather read. By that I mean I'll bend the rules and settings. CAMP FORD's about a baseball game between Confederate guards and Union POWs. EAST OF THE BORDER's about the theatrical career of Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok and Texas Jack Omohundro. NORTHFIELD recounts the James-Younger Gang's blunder of a bank robbery, told by more than 20 different first-person narratives. Next up is HARD WINTER, due out in December, which is about a young cowboy's experiences during the disastrous winter of 1886-87 in Montana. I try to make my next book as far removed, in story, plot, setting and structure, as my previous novel, but I also strive to tell an entertaining, and maybe educational story, as historically accurate as I can. I also don't often write about white hats and black hats. Mine are definitely more gray. I write about people with strong convictions about what's right and what's wrong, and often those convictions are opposite, which leads to trouble."

On his own website Johnny writes that excluding, The Searchers, he much prefers the works of Anthony Mann and Bud Boetticher to John Ford. I asked him what it was that drew him towards these two directors?

"Mann and Boetticher had an edge to them, a depth to their heroes -- those characters played by James Stewart in Mann's films and Randolph Scott in Budd's were carrying a ton of baggage -- and superb villains. That's something screenwriter/director Burt Kennedy -- who wrote a number of the best of the Boetticher movies -- once told me: Make your villain stronger than your hero. That way it'll mean more when the hero wins out in the end. Burt also told me to put your hero in a situation where he can walk out of any time. That way it's more dramatic when he stays.
Budd never had much of a budget, and his movies are spartan, lean, but the best of the bunch -- THE TALL T, RIDE LONESOME, SEVEN MEN FROM NOW and COMANCHE STATION -- grab you by the throat and don't let go. And I admit that BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE is a guilty pleasure.
Mann was more polished, but really savage. WINCHESTER '73, THE NAKED SPUR and THE MAN FROM LARAMIE get a lot of analysis, but I think two of his best Westerns are DEVIL'S DOORWAY -- MGM released it after the success of BROKEN ARROW, but it's a tremendous movie about Indian-white relations, and an amazing political statement in 1950s America -- and BORDER INCIDENT, which is a film noir about illegal aliens and slavery in post-World War II Arizona. They're just dynamite motion pictures.
Ford, of course, gets the glory, and THE SEARCHERS remains my favorite movie, not just Western, but movie. John Wayne's Ethan Edwards has a lot of baggage in that one, and Ford turned Monument Valley into his own canvas. Yet the more I watch Ford's movies, the more his Irish humor wears thin, and the more flaws I find in his Westerns. On the other hand, I think some of his non-Westerns -- THE GRAPES OF WRATH, THE QUIET MAN and HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, in particular -- are among the best movies ever put on film."

As a British writer of westerns I ask Johnny if there is still the attitude in some quarters that you have to hail from the US to write westerns?

"The West isn't so much a physical place. It's more how you feel it. It certainly helps to live here, to know what the wind feels like, or the sound of coyotes yipping, but we're writing fiction. At some point, imagination has to take over, and if your prose can take me to that place, I don't care if you live in Leadville or Liverpoole. It's the words that matter, not your locale. I think most of my contemporaries feel the same way."

Desert Island Western - film and book?

"THE SEARCHERS and A.B. Guthrie Jr.'s THE BIG SKY. !"

And finally for fun - The Duke V Eastwood - Who wins?

"he Duke. He's a much better actor than he's often given credit for. His performances in THE SEARCHERS, TRUE GRIT, SANDS OF IWO JIMA, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, HONDO and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE really stand out. Then again, Clint has proved to be a fantastic director with his behind-the-lens work in MILLION DOLLAR BABY, MYSTIC RIVER, UNFORGIVEN and PLAY MISTY FOR ME. And THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES has grown on me over the years. Wayne's turns as a director, THE ALAMO and THE GREEN BERETS, are pretty much train wrecks."

The Tainted Archive thanks Johnny for his time

Johnny's books can be bought anywhere books are sold - there are links to buy any of his available titles on his website HERE

Book review - The Night House by Jo Nesbo