Saturday, 21 January 2012

Howard Hopkins/Lance Howard - Memories

 It's been a bad week for western fans with the passing of author, Howard Hopkins AKA western legend, Lance Howard and we are further saddened to hear of the hardship now faced by the late author's family - we do hope western fans will be able to help. The following comes from Meteor House

The tragic passing of pulp writer and editor Howard Hopkins at the age of 50:, has been made even worse by the further misfortune of an insurance screw up.
Please forward the following as you see fit; it is copied from a post on the Yahoo “Flearun” and “Golden Perils” groups:
At the request of Howard’s wife, Dominique, Chuck Juzek contacted me and asked me to pass the following info along to the pulp fan community. Due to a mistake by their insurance agent 6 months ago that Dominique only became aware of after Howard’s death, Howard’s life insurance had lapsed at the time of his death. As a result, in addition to everything else that his passing means to her, she’s now scrambling in order to find the funds to pay for his funeral expenses. If you have the ability, she’s accepting donations to help pay for those expenses; at her request, I’m giving her address for anyone that wishes to contribute.
Dominique Hopkins
2 McKee Drive
Old Orchard Beach, ME 04064

Howard appeared here on the Archive many times and in tribute - below we repost several of Howard's contributions to this blog.

Black Horse Westerns. Many folks here in the USA, even long-time Western readers, do not know what they are, but that’s changing, and I think 2010 will be the year they burst onto the trail. 2009 saw a great expansion in the awareness of these rugged little hardcovers with their shiny, action-packed covers. Much of that came from the efforts of dedicated folks on the Black Horse Western group with their Author Days initiative, their Black Horse Express online magazine ( and writer Ian Parham’s Black Horse Blog, as well as a new Express Westerns line of anthologies. A plethora of blogs, including the one you are reading, my own Dark Bits with its Western Wednesdays ( and others have gone viral. Black Horse writer Chap O’Keefe’s Black Horse Extra ( and new imprint of Misfit Lil books, Robert Hale’s own snazzy new webpage ( and newsletter have also forged the trail.
Word is getting out and perhaps riding point in that effort is the man who conceived this Black Horse Weekend, Gary Dobbs. Consummate actor and author, he began his Black Horse writing with a novel that became perhaps the catalyst of growth within the line, igniting more sales than any other BHW before and initiating reprints on select titles. I want to say a personal thank you to Gary, not only for giving me the opportunity to participate in this weekend, but for his enthusiasm and grab-the-bull-by-the-balls attitude.
Which is why I think 2010 will be the year of the Black Horse Western. It’s starting off with a bang and can only get bigger. Express Westerns, on this very weekend, is releasing its second western short story anthology, A Fistful of Legends, which includes some of the cream of the Black Horse crop as well as a couple of talented newcomers, a book slated to compete in the prestigious Western Writers of America Spur awards. Readers will be able to sample 21 writers for the line and see for themselves just how wide a range of talent Black Horse has to offer. Amazon US is now carrying new Black Horse Westerns (but get ‘em fast!), making them easier access for US fans (as well as less expensive).

Lance Howard is a pen name used by Howard Hopkins - under the Lance Howard byline Mr Hopkins is responsible for more than thirty Black Horse Western novels. 
You can find him HERE
And so the Archive hands over to the big man himself who informs us that the western is very much alive and kicking.
The Western is dead.
Or so you'd think if you paid any attention to the big publishing houses out there. But is that a self-fulfilling prophesy? Or is it Westerns just aren't cool in their eyes so they make that excuse because they don't want to publish them?
Amazon reports on Kindle the Western is the lowest selling genre. But is that because folks don't want to read it or because there just isn't the glut of material available as in a genre like mystery or romance? Chicken, egg? (However, John Locke sold 30,000 downloads of his first Western within a short period recently--that sounds pretty decent to me.)
The Western has been reported moribund for too many years to bother counting, it seems. And in a way some of us as Western writers and fans haven't really helped that very much. We, as well as the general public, suffer too often from a perception of what the Western should be. Why it's a hoss, a cowboy and gunfight.
Is it? If that's all it is, it's easy to see why it would be on its way to boot hill.
But I can say with all faith--and against the grain of some western writers, publishers and agents--that it is not. The Western was never about those trappings, though certainly they have been and can be a part of it. The Western is and has always been about the pioneering spirit, about preserving against tremendous odds, about heroism. That has always been in vogue. It always will be.
And so can the Western.
But it is time to loosen the cinch some?
Expand what the Western is and make sure readers know how much it can be.
This is the principle reason I sprinkle my own Westerns with staples from the horror, mystery and romance genres. Much to the chagrin of "Westboys", to coin a phrase. My two recent Westerns released on Kindle and Nook, The Dark Riders ( and Pistolero (, are anything but your pappy's Westerns. They reach out of the genre, Dark Riders with its band of bloodthirsty vampire outlaws and Pistolero with its suspense/ripper motif. I've been criticized for infecting the pure, told by agents reading The Dark Riders to "take out either the vampires or the western part." I refused. The Dark Riders has become my best-selling book, and most reader acclaimed. Because beyond vampires it involves themes--themes of loss and courage, or heroism and overcoming adversity--that are as valid today as they were in the old West, themes upon which the Western has always been built.
Anyone who thinks blending genres doesn't spice things up should take a look at this weekend's release of Cowboys and Aliens.
Boxing in the roots of a tree kills it. Letting those roots expand freely...lets it thrive. The Western is like that. Blending it, expanding it, gives it new life and consequently creates an entire forest. Traditional Westerns will grow, as the genre grows.
Everybody wins.
It's time to make sure everybody knows the Western is still cool. With Kindle we, as Western writers, have that chance. I hope we don't fall into the same box that got the Western labeled boots up in the first place.
Howard Hopkins/Lance Howard is a prolific writer. He has published over thirty westerns with Robert Hale LTD's Black Horse Western imprint as well as supernatural thrillers for both adults and children. When the Archive last interviewed Mr. Hopkins he was slaving away at several projects and now we find him having sold another new western, Dead Man Riding.

With so many oaters to his name this makes him a grand old man of the west - even if in reality he is still a vibrant, youthful fella. I wondered if Howard worries about running out of ideas?

" I ran out 20 books ago...
Seriously, sometimes it is difficult not to repeat something and for a couple of reasons. 1) Because after I write a book I tend to forget it nearly completely, something I learned to do so I could edits drafts more objectively. And 2) because when plotting sometimes it is tempting to take the well-trodden trail on a troublesome passage. It's at that point I really have buckle down and look for a fresh direction. Certainly there are themes and such I revisit, as do all authors, but hopefully those come with a fresh look, a deeper insight or a better take on the subject. As far as running out of stories about the Old West, I don't think that's possible. The West has a life of its own, never dying, never ending and the stories it has to tell are unlimited. "

Howard's forthcoming western is less violent than usual with much of the violence taking place off stage while the writer creates quieter character moments. Is this the start of a new direction?

"With my Black Horse Westerns, yes, I believe so. I want to focus more on suspense and character reaction and interaction. In a number of my previous books I probably pushed the envelope a bit, though they were not that graphically violent, but rather dealt with violent subject matter. I still want to deal with tough subject, however. My upcoming Lance Howard, Dead Man Riding, does as well but violence takes place more off stage or ends at the point of impact. I want to keep it interesting for western fans with plenty of action and all the things they expect from the genre, however, so this book proved a bit difficult, and at times I doubted myself. But in the end it worked out. I think editorial will appreciate the new direction too!"

As well as westerns, Howard works in the horror genre. I asked him to outline his horror work for Archive readers.

"I write in two areas of the horror genre, horror for adults and horror for children (ages 8 and up). My children's horror series is called The Nightmare Club and involves a band of misfit kids who get together with the common goal of solving ghostly mysteries. So far I have three titles in the line: The Headless Paperboy, The Deadly Dragon and The Willow Witch. This series, while being spooky fun, also deals with issues faced by modern children in an age appropriate manner, such as racism, abuse and grief. The series harkens back to Scooby Doo, The Hardy Boys and Alvin Fernald with a bit of Doc Savage thrown in for good measure. (For more info check out my children’s horror page at My adult horror novels range across the board, from the vampire/western of The Dark Riders to the more Stephen Kingish/Dark Shadows style of Night Demons. At present, I am writing a supernatural mystery series called The Chloe Files, which involves the lead character from my horror tale Grimm in her own adventures. I love writing Chloe. She’s tougher than any of the guys in my stories and though she gets herself into a heck of a lot of ghostly and demonly trouble she also gets herself out of it using her own wits and strength. The first two books in the series are out: Ashes to Ashes and Sliver of Darkness, and along with author Betty Sullivan LaPierre I’ve recently finished a new Chloe book trailer video, which can be seen on my homepage at We are pretty proud of this video. I am even hoping somehow to get a bit of western ghostliness into a Chloe adventure soon, and get her up on a horse!"

Howard has been very encouraging to new writers, such as myself. He is never too busy to offer good wishes or a useful snippet of advice. I wondered what would he tell new writers?

"Don’t pay any attention to the naysayers and those who would subvert your confidence. Ignore the negative types who like nothing better than to piss all over your dreams. There are far too many of these types, who through either petty jealousy or insecurity don’t want to see you succeed. If you NEED to write, have a passion for it, then do it. The realities of the business will set in, but don’t let them cripple your creativity. Be aware of them but only in the capacity of finding ways to overcome them. Writing is tough; you’ll need to be tougher. Don’t be afraid to go for it. Try to surround yourself with positive people and join positive groups."

Howard has stuck with Robert Hale and their Black Horse Western range for many years now, honing his craft with each new book. I wonder if he's ever been tempted to stray over to the big American publishers?

"I’ve tried a few times, but the climate over here (in the States, as Hale is based in England) is much different for Westerns. Publishers are conglomerates and the market for westerns isn’t very big at present, though I think there is hope and certainly plenty of potential for expansion. I have had a couple published over here under my own name, Howard Hopkins, but they are more cross genre westerns, which is actually what I prefer to write (such as Pistolero, a riper/western with a bit of conspiracy thrown in. You can check these out along with my BHWs on my western page at: I do enjoy the certain type of westerns Hale publishes, however, and the company are a pleasure to work for, so as long as it remains that way I will keep telling the stories I like to tell and hopefully readers like to read."

Whatever Howard does one thing is certain and that his that his fingers will never stray too far from the keyboard. So what future projects can we look forward to?

"Most of my recent stuff has focused on the latest books in The Nightmare Club and The Chloe Files series, and also numerous comic book and short story anthology projects for Moonstone Books. I have a graphic novel based on the 1930s pulp hero The Spider due out any day called Judgment Knight and a Spider wide-screen comic book titled The Strange Case of The Spider and Mr. Hyde. Both have absolutely stunning artwork! And aside from recently co-editing and writing for The Avenger Chronicles (another pulp hero) and The Spider Chronicles, I am excited about doing a Captain Midnight tale (which I feel is one of my best) for an anthology due this year and working on The Green Hornet. I've started into a new western as well. Aside from that I spend a lot of time writing for my Dark Bits blog: "

Finally for fun I put to Howard that Clint Eastwood goes up against John Wayne. Who would win?

"Oh, man, an answer either way gets me a High Noon showdown from one camp or the other. I think Clint’s got a little meaner look, so maybe would give him the edge, but they are both icons and I’d like to think they’d team up and tame the Wild West!"

Now that Howard would be something....


Family Portraits said...

Nice article shared by you i love this & nice job done by you.Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I still try to grasp the death of Howard. What saddens me each time I read through these touching articles about him and his passing is that there was no screw up by the insurance company. His wife cancelled the policy the previous year. The money collected did not go to pay for his funeral. It really is just beyond me how someone can try to benefit of the death of another they say they loved. Please don't let them put a poor reflection on Howard. He would be mortified by what was done.