|Interviews W/ Published Western Authors
How and when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was nine years old when I wrote my first poem. I’ve written poetry, songs and stories all my life. I never thought about becoming a professional writer. I did it for funsort of a hobby, I guess. People always said I should try to get published, but I was too busy trying to make a living to follow through with the writing bit. Six years ago life was kicking my rear end pretty good. In the middle of personal crisis I decided I was going to write a book and try to get it published. The process of sitting down at a keyboard and writing a couple of thousand words a night, every night, until I finished the first draft of a novel saved my life. Writing helps me keep what’s left of my sanity.
Do you have any formal writing education or are you self taught?
College English helped me learn to do thorough research, but other than that, I’m self taught. I read a bunch. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like. Reading bad writing has taught me as much as anything. You need to learn what not to do, as well as, what to do.
Do you have a favorite author and who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is Louis L’Amour. Most people don’t realize that he wrote in lots of other genres besides westerns. I think he could write whatever it took to survive as a writer. Sometimes he’d get a little preachy, but I loved his characters and his settings were right on.
Naming my favorite writer is tough. I reckon Randy Wayne White, who writes action adventures based around the Sanibel Islands on the west coast of Florida is my current favorite. He’s amazingcharacters, setting, plot are all tight. I’ve been to the area he writes about and he’s a lot like Louie. If he describes an area in one of his novels, you can bet that place is exactly like he says it is.
I enjoy Aaron Elkins who writes mysteries featuring a forensic anthropologist. Margaret Tessler, a mystery writer out of Albuquerque is a super novelist who deserves to be better known.
I enjoy lots of western authors. James Reasoner, Robert Randisi, Lance Howard, Gillian Taylor and a whole bunch of others. Like I said, “I read a lot”.
You write under the pen name of Lee Pierce. Any particular reason?
My ‘honest to gosh’ real name is Ronald McDonald. Nobody’s gonna read a western by a bushy headed clown. Lee Pierce was my great grandfather. He was an old time Texas cowboy. When I met him he was a peanut farmer in central Texas and sometimes I stayed with him. He was a great character. I’m using his name to honor his memory.
Are you a full time writer?
I wish. No, I own a Mexican Restaurant in northwest New Mexico, and I’m starting a regional publishing company this month. I do cowboy poetry and storytelling when I can and I write. I stay pretty busy, most of the time.
How many books have you written and what are their titles?
Armstrong’s War was my first. It’ll be going into a second printing after the first of the year. Rough Justice is coming out next week. The Borderlords is my latest novel. Hopefully, it’ll be out before March.
Can you give us an idea of what Rough Justice is about?
The most popular brothel in the Texas panhandle gets burned to the ground. Some of the working ladies get killed in the fire and the rest are kidnapped. Silverjack McDonald, a sometimes gunfighter, sometimes lawman, fulltime rogue, takes it upon himself to put together a motley bunch of characters to try and rescue the ladies.
It’s a good story. I use quite a bit of humor in my writing and all my characters are flawed. I try to make them as real as possible.
Is Rough Justice also available in e-book form?
Yes, it is. It’s even available in Mobile Pocket form, too.
I understand you’re a big fan of Western 'B' movies. What is it that draws you to them?
I was born at the tail end of the ‘B’ western era. I saw some at the local movie house but I watched most of them on TV. I loved the action, the humor, the gorgeous horses, even, the usual absurdity of the whole premise. I knew they didn’t represent the real west. They were just entertainment. I still watch them.
Once you started to seriously write, how difficult was it for you to get your first story published?
I could write a book about that. Maybe I will someday. I’ll try to make it short but the whole story is way too long for an interview. Not a lot of big publishers put out westerns. I researched for about six months looking for a publisher who would, at least, read my manuscript. Robert Hale Publishing in London England turned out to be my best shot. They publish six westerns a month. I sent them my work. They sent it back and said, “We like your story. If you would make a few changes, we will buy it”. I made the changes and they bought it. Armstrong’s War.
What advice can you offer young writers just starting out?
I’ll say the same thing that 99% of published writers say. It always sounds trite, but it’s true, you have to write, write, write. Writing is a craft. We all can’t write like the greats in the business, but we all can become the best we can be by writing and persevering. You’re never too young or never too old to start. I was fifty-five when I got serious about writing. I’m sixty and I’ve sold three novels, a short story, a few cooking articles, published a couple of songs and a few pieces of poetry. I have four books finished that are almost ready to send to a publisher. I am working on a Mexican cookbook and a book of cowboy poetry. I’ve done it all because I have a passion for writing that I kept covered up for most of my life. I thought about writing everyday of my life but that was as far as it got. Every now and then I wrote something down but it was for my eyes only. Like I said earlier, it was sort of a hobby. I became a writer when I started to write every day come hell or high water. It doesn’t hurt when you’re as windy as I am, either. Anyway, that’s my advice.