|Interviews W/ Published Western Authors
Dave P. Fisher
When did you first become serious about writing?
Well, I started with short cowboy poetry pieces back in the ‘70’s and expanded that out to longer pieces. I seriously started into cowboy poetry in the early 90’s and published four chapbooks of cowboy poetry entitled Reflections in the Stocktank I and II, Campfire Yarns, and Shootout at the Ol’ Pancake Corral, but we’ve discontinued those particular books. Many of those poems have since been published by our company, Double Diamond Books; into my new book of cowboy poetry They Still Do That. Excerpts from They Still Do That are also available on CD. We do have plans to republish Shootout and expand it by adding a collection of my new humorous poems.
The novels and short stories I got serious about in the late 90’s. I traveled a lot across the West to get the facts and feel of the locations where the stories take place. All of my stories are historically accurate to all details. Since then, Double Diamond Books has published a collection of my short stories, and many have been published internationally.
Was there a certain person or experience in your life that inspired you to become serious about your writing?
I guess you can say my entire life has been an experience that influenced my writing. I went off a-cowboyin’ at an early age, rode saddle broncs, herded cows, broke horses, packed, and guided. I went to Alaska, and all across the Rockies, and Oregon, and ended up working for Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado as the Packer and riding instructor for the Park.
For one thing, I got tired of reading western stories from people who had never been west or forked a saddle in their lives; their stories were weak Hollywood stereotypes. I knew I could tell a real western story that western fans could sink their teeth into. So, I set out to do it. My writing, for the most part, reflects my life and beliefs.
You write both short stories and cowboy poetry, do you prefer one over the other?
Not really. The short stories I write simply take an episode, be it an hour, a day, or a week, from the life of western people and tell it. They are all serious-toned and reflect the authenticity of the time and people. I like to tell those stories.
Cowboy poetry is pure fun. I only perform my own work; I never do other poet’s poems. I do some serious poems about the life and beliefs of western people, but most of poems are actually humorous stories in rhyme written specifically for their entertainment value. I draw from the people I’ve known and the crazy antics of cowboys. Despite their hard, tough-guy, outward appearance, cowboys tend to be the funniest folks I know.
Do you have a favorite author? Why?
By far, hands down, the greatest western writer who ever lived was Louis L’Amour. He lived a full, exciting life and he knew the west and its people. When he told a story you not only got a lot of good reading, you got a history lesson to boot. I’ve read most of his books.
The best cowboy poet alive is Baxter Black. He’s funny and a great storyteller, but he can also draw a tear out of the hardest eye with certain poems. I never do any of his stuff, but I learn from his style.
What experiences in your life have most influenced your writing?
Got about three days? My life has been like a movie. Cowboying is a world completely removed from what 95% of people do these days. Maybe that’s why there’s such an interest in the West, cowboy poetry, and the undying image of the American cowboy. You are self-reliant, you don’t ask for help, but are always quick to offer it; you handle your own problems, fight your own fights and saddle your own broncs. ACE Bandages, and Johnson & Johnson stay rich off the cowboy. You break it, bend it, or bruise it; you fix it and go on. I once fixed my own broken leg, 100 miles back in the Alaska Bush; you just do what you have to do and it builds your character.
For me personally, I can’t think of a worse fate than to be 80 years old and have no great stories to tell. My writing and poetry reflects those stories and my life. Through it all, I managed to find humor in every situation I ever got into. As L’Amour once said, “An adventure is something that, when you are in it you wish you weren’t, but later it’s an adventure worth the telling.”
Is writing a full time profession for you?
Not yet, working on it though. Actually, the writing is an extension of my cowboy poetry performances, so it’s a package deal. However, I do have several western novel manuscripts ready and they will be published as we go along.
Other than writing, what activities are you involved in these days?
I’m probably pursuing cowboy poetry performances more than anything else. I have a lot of fun getting on the stage and telling a funny story in meter and rhyme. Many poets just stand up there and recite or read, but for me it’s a performance; I act out the characters, make faces, and paint the story for the audience. Then, I love to meet the folks after the show and talk to them.
I am also pursuing acting and belong to a comedy Improv group. This has opened a lot of doors for me in the show biz field. It’s getting closer to the time when I can combine the writing and the show biz, and do it all full time.
I also continue to study western history and visit historic sites whenever possible to keep my work authentic.
How many books have you written and what are their titles?
At present I have out The Strawberry Mountain War and Yates U.S. Marshal, published by a commercial press. Bronc Buster Short Stories of the American West and They Still Do That, a collection of cowboy poetry in book and CD form, are published by our company.
We own and operate the publishing company Double Diamond Books. In addition to my material, the company does represent a select few other poets and their books. For my books and CDs, we do all our own design and layout, only contracting out the printing and binding and CD reproduction. I got fed up with publishing houses wanting to change everything from the title to the content just to suit them. Most cowboy poetry books are almost exclusively published by the individual poet as major publishing houses refuse to accept cowboy poetry.
As for short stories, I have had one published in every quarterly issue, for the last three years, of The Storyteller, an Arkansas based magazine. Other stories have published both online and in print publications, domestic and international. I regularly have cowboy poetry published as well.
As an experienced writer and published author what advice do you have for beginning writers?
When I first started, I listened to or read what other writers had to say and all I got was confused by the constant flow of contradictions. Most of these people, I came to later figure out, really were not good writers to begin with. What I did come to understand was the importance of learning the mechanics of writing, you must know how to write a sentence and a paragraph, and lay out an intelligent sounding work. I’ve read a lot of things that made no sense at all and half the words could have been thrown out. Don’t over-tell the thing, the right words will paint the picture, too many will drown it. Then, create your own style based on proper mechanics.
Don’t think you’re too good to learn, and don’t be thin-skinned. You will need to accept honest critiques of your work in order to grow. Too many beginning writers are so defensive of their “baby” that they will never become good writers. Loosen up, lighten up. You’re going to get a boxcar-load of rejections before you go anywhere. If you don’t have rhino hide, you’ll melt.
Don’t take everything as gospel. I don’t necessarily adhere to what is currently popular in writing style. For instance I keep hearing, you can only use one point of view in a story (POV). I use multiple POV’s and then interlace them, and the people who read it love it. It weaves a better story; to me one POV is one-dimensional, like a flat paper and it makes for a flat story.
The more you understand about writing, the more you will understand about your own style and how to use it. Then write, write, write, and then write some more. Practice makes you better and then you reach a point where you know exactly what you have to change to make it better. Don’t be afraid to rewrite, I do it multiple times until the sentence or scene is just how I want it.
For more information on Dave P. Fisher including his performance schedule and available books please visit his website. You can find a link on the Rope and Wire links page.