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Monday, 25 December 2017


When I first started The Tainted Archive, way back in 2009 it was to write about my love of the western genre and also to promote my first western novel, The Tarnished Star. Over the years the blog has changed and become something that encompasses all of pop culture. My writing's branched out also - as well as the westerns, which I still write, I've been publishing non-fiction historical work through Pen and Sword Books and next year will see the publication of my first crime fiction hardcover. However the Western is still foremost on my mind, it remains the genre which I love the best - earlier this year in fact saw the publication of my eighth novel for the Black Horse Western imprint with Massacre at Red Rock. And I intend to get to work on a new western novel early in 2018.

The western's been pronounced dead, interred, buried and burned more times that Donald Trump's upset the Twitterites. Strange then that a genre that's been on it's last legs for decades is still alive and kicking. The back end of 2017 saw Netflix launch a western mini-series in Godless that just may be the best TV oater since Lonesome Dove. Godless is an absolute triumph that rewards binge viewing; tightly written, brilliantly acted  and excellently executed. This is one show that western fans will not want to miss. There have also been more rumours from HBO that the long awaited Deadwood TV-Movie is finally off the ground and moving towards production, but we've had this news before so it's a case of waiting....and waiting...and waiting.......

There have been scores of low budget western movies this past year, most of them straight to DVD but some of them enjoying limited theatrical releases. OK, many of them have been forgettable but there have been some nuggets of pure gold in amongst the pyrite. On particular movie I would urge the reader to view is Tombstone Rashomon directed by Brit Alex Cox.

The movie was crowdfunded and shows not one but five differing versions of the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral, each from the perspective of the different lead players. It's an interesting movie that could have benefited from a larger budget, but even in its lower than low budget state it remains a fine viewing experience. Another low budget and more traditional western I would point fans towards is The Ballad of Lefty Brown, a straight forward revenge western that shows a real love for the genre.

With a much larger budget and a big name cast, Hostiles (which I've not seen yet since it doesn't get a UK release until Jan 2018) looks hugely promising - already it's gathered good reviews and the trailer promises an intelligent western movie.

The western's continued to put in a strong showing in the literary world - Robert Hale's Black Horse Western imprint, now owned by Crowood Press, continues to put out hardcover westerns on a monthly basis, most of these books also become available digitally and as large print paperbacks. And speaking of eBooks the excellent Piccadilly Publishing continue to release classic and original westerns. And of course over in the US there are several major publishers that continue to put out western novels. I must mention Craig Johnson's modern day oater, the Longmire series which, enjoys strong sales and is helping to bring mystery readers towards out beloved genre. In fact given all the classic westerns coming out in eBook, not to mention the stuff coming out from small and self publishers then there has never been an easier time to get your hands on a western fix.

The Western Writers of America 2017 Awards:

Historical Nonfiction
 The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, The Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History by Paul Andrew Hutton (Crown)
Finalists: American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains by Dan Flores (University Press of Kansas); The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West by Peter Cozzens (Alfred A. Knopf)
 Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary by Joe Jackson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Finalists: Texas Ranger: The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, the Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde by John Boessenecker (Thomas Dunne Books); Nobody Rich or Famous: A Family Memoir by Richard Shelton (University of Arizona Press)
Contemporary Nonfiction
 New Deal Cowboy: Gene Autry and Public Diplomacy by Michael Duchemin (University of Oklahoma Press)
Finalists: The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and One of the Deadliest Days in American Firefighting by Fernanda Santos (Flatiron Books); Stories From Afield: Adventures with Wild Things in Wild Places by Bruce L. Smith (University of Nebraska Press)
Traditional Novel
The Mustanger and the Lady by Dusty Richards (Galway Press)
Finalists: The Contractor by James C. Work (Five Star Publishing); News of the World by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow)
Contemporary Novel
 Off the Grid: A Joe Pickett Novel by C.J. Box (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Finalists: Jasper Spring by James T. Hughes (Dog Ear Publishing); Hidden Star by Corinne Joy Brown (FriesenPress)
Mass-Market Paperback Novel
 Return to Red River by Johnny D. Boggs (Pinnacle)
Finalists: Widowmaker Jones by Brett Cogburn (Pinnacle); Frontier: Powder River by S.K. Salzer (Pinnacle)
Juvenile Nonfiction
 The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill (Flying Eye Books)
Finalists: Entertaining Women: Actresses, Dancers, and Singers in the Old West by Chris Enss (TwoDot); Sissy Bear at the Fort by Holly Arnold Kinney (Fur Trade Press)
Juvenile Fiction
 Trouble Returns: A Ruby & Maude Adventure by Nancy Oswald (Filter Press)
Finalists: The Green Colt: The Adventures of Wilder Good by S.J. Dahlstrom (Paul Dry Books); Saddle Up! by Donna Alice Patton and Emily Chase Smith (Chase Smith Press/Redwood Digital Publishing)
Storyteller (Illustrated Children’s Book)
 Seasons of the Bear: A Yosemite Story by author Ginger Wadsworth and illustrator Daniel San Souci (Yosemite Conservancy)
Finalists: Voices of the Western Frontier by author Sherry Garland and illustrator Julie Dupré Buckner (Pelican); Big Buckaroo Goes to the Special Olympics by author Rachelle “Rocky” Gibbons and illustrator Jason Hutton (Tate Publishing)
Short Nonfiction
Winner: “‘Master of Ceremonies’: The World of Peter Biggs in Civil War-Era Los Angeles” by Kendra Field and Daniel Lynch (Western Historical Quarterly)
Finalists: “Cowboys & Millionaires: How Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders Bonded as Brothers Before Leaving to Fight in the Spanish-American War” by Mark Lee Gardner (True West Magazine); “Touching History: A Grandson’s Memories of Felix Marion Jones and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows” by Will Bagley (Utah Historical Quarterly)
Short Fiction
 “Odell’s Bones” by Troy D. Smith (Cane Hollow Press)
Finalists: “Comanche Camp at Dawn” by Johnny D. Boggs (Giacobbe Fritz Fine Art/Nocona Burgess); “Umpire Colt” by Johnny D. Boggs (High Hill Press)
 “Ain’t A Hermit” by Floyd Beard (self-published, produced by Butch Hause)
Finalists: “Ballad of a Basque Sheepherder: Shaniko, Oregon” by Matt Schumacher (Redbat Books); “Diamonds” by Ann Sochat (TwoDot)
 “Halfway Down The Devil’s Road” by Jim Jones and Allan Chapman (East Mountain Music)
Finalists: “Tularosa Rose” by Doug Figgs and Les Buffham (Slash DC Music); “The Cattleman” by Jeff Posey (Buckskin Friend Music)
Drama Screenplay
 Hell Or High Water by Taylor Sheridan (Film 44/OddLot Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/CBS Films)
Finalist: Desierto by Jonas Cuaron and Mateo Garcia (Esperanto Kino/ Itaca Films/CG Cinéma/STX Entertainment)
Documentary Script
 The Drift: An American Cattle Drive by Geoff O’Gara (The Content Lab)
First Nonfiction Book
 The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and One of the Deadliest Days in American Firefighting by Fernanda Santos (Flatiron Books)
First Novel
 Jasper Spring by James T. Hughes (Dog Ear Publishing)

The western is even represented in new media, with several podcasts that western fans will find enoyable. So take a seat around the virtual campfire and check out Voices of the West . Another show which I enjoy is Westerns with Dad , in which father and son team, John and Scott Bernhard watch and talk about classic western movies. A recent episode that I very much enjoyed compared the John Wayne True Grit with the Cohen's remake. Another great podcast is Hellbent for Letterbox, which again focuses on western movies and is hosted by Paxton Holly and Michael May. There are also scores of podcasts that present Old Time Radio westerns but one I would urge you all to try is TimesPastWesterns - this particular podcasts cherry picks the best of old time radio for our western pleasures.

So this long dead genre seems to be very much alive and kicking, and no doubt the next classic western is just around the corner. So saddle up, there's plenty out there to enjoy.

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