Friday, 29 January 2010

Lance Howard spills the beans 2

Lance Howard
Robert Hale LTD
Original cover price £10.75

A mysterious telegram summons John Ladigan, man hunter to the Colorado town of Timmervale. The telegram comes from Ladigan's brother and when the famed bounty hunter arrives he find his brother missing and the town in the fearful grip of the powerful Timm family.

Trouble finds Ladigan as soon as he enters the town when he comes across the sadistic Jack Timm who is beating up on a saloon girl. He saves the girl and humiliates Jack Timm, creating an enemy. Later he discovers that Jack is the son of the brutal town boss, Solomon Timm.

From here on in the author skilfully weaves, action,mystery and romance which keeps the reader turning the pages.

Yet another great traditional western from Black Horse Westerns.

Lance Howard, a pen name adopted by horror/mystery writer Howard Hopkins, has built up an impressive list of oaters that include:

  • Blood on the Saddle
  • The Comanche's Ghost
  • Blood Pass
  • The West Witch
  • Wanted
  • The Gallows Ghost
  • The Widow Maker
  • Guns of the Past
  • Palomita
  • The Last Draw
  • The Deadly Doves
  • The Devil's Peacemaker
  • The West Wolf
  • The Phantom Marshal
  • Bandolero
  • Pirate Pass
  • The Silver-Mine Spook
  • Ladigan
  • Johnny Dead
  • Nightmare Pass

(Click on the link above for the full list from the author's own website)

(Photo - Looks like Dean Martin in this illustration for Silver-Mine Spook.)

The author is also responsible for a series of horror novels under his own name Howard Hopkins. But it is with his thoughts on the western that we are interested.

Q-What elements do you think make up the perfect western?

A- don't think there is any such critter. What is perfect in a Western for one reader is different for another. Some prefer the old style shoot 'em up, while others enjoy heavy characterization or precise historical and setting details. That's the beauty of the Western--it has such a wide corral it has something for every reader. My own westerns tend toward mixing genres and an emphasis on the people who populate them. I view the scenery as more a backdrop in a stage play than some writers, while focusing on the characters and situations modern readers can relate to, as well as old time Western fans.

Q- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A-Check the job ads? Seriously, sit yourself in a chair and write, write, write. Perfect your craft and don't give up. And read everything, not just westerns. Learn from all genres. Always reach deeper into yourself and, as they say, "bleed all over the page". Then hone every word, every phrase, every sentence. A writer NEVER stops learning and growing. Oh, and kill your adverbs.

Q- How much planning do you do before sitting down to write?

A- I work from a very loose outline, usually a one sentence per scene structure. The characters have an annoying tendency to go where they choose, so I try not to rein anything in too tightly. Last year I experimented with working totally without any outline, in a weekly supernatural serial called The Chloe Files ( for more info on that). That meant coming up with one chapter every week, working without a net. It was an experience I probably don't care to repeat, but neither would I want to write a 30-page detailed outline, because that would kill the story for me and the boredom I had writing it would show in the prose.

Q-Favourite Western movie?

A- I don't really have one, sorry to say. I tended to lean more towards Western TV shows--the Wild Wild West, Brisco County, Jr., Lancer, The Young Riders, and of course The Lone Ranger.

Q-Favourite western novel and or writer?

A-Richard Wheeler wrote my absolute favorite Western, Montana Hitch. I read a lot of Matt Braun, too. And a number of the Black Horse Western books, when I can afford them!

Q-What do you think of the current state of the genre?

A-Unlike many, I think it's actually healthier with the grass roots than people think. Publishers tend to bemoan the genre, but I think that's more a marketing moan than an actual measure of folks out there who enjoy a good Western. Western comic books have certainly been doing well--Dynamite's The Lone Ranger and Zorro are both hits, DC's Jonah Hex continues successfully and there are more coming from numerous houses. Moonstone books put out a number of Western comics and has an upcoming Zorro anthology. I think a lot more people need to be exposed to the western, especially children and YAs and shown that it's still "cool". And of course Robert Hale is the stalwart coach navigating the trail, still offering great western fiction at the rate of six per month. There are numerous blogs on the web and western presences, my own Western page at (where anyone interested can join up on the Black Horse Western yahoogroup) and Black Horse Express at Recent figures by the Western Writers of America in an issue of Roundup showed an increase in Western sales over the past years. So I like to focus on the positive, though, of course, things can always improve greatly.

Q- Where do you see the future of the western?

A- see a Western expansion eventually, but I think it will be writers who push the boundaries, more cross genre westerns and more mainstreaming and infiltration of the younger readers, if we can pry them away from video games. I do not think it is headed towards Boot Hill. We have some great organizations trying to promote of proliferate the genre. The Western isn't quite ready to ride off into the sunset just yet...

And so there we have it - the thoughts of another in the wild bunch of storytellers keeping the beloved genre alive. I'd like to thank Howard for taking the time to answer my questions and hope that you, dear blog reader, found this post entertaining and informative. Who knows - it may even inspire you to check out one of the books - most are available on Amazon or can be ordered through most good bookshops. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

1 comment:

Jo Walpole said...

Ladigan is the only Lance Howard I've read (shame on me) but it was very good. :-)