Monday, June 7, 2010

Why I Write the West

The first Western Romance novel I read was “This Calder Range” by Janet Dailey. Before that, my adult reading material came in groups. One genre kept me busy for months or years, until I moved on to another. I first read Science Fiction, dozens over a period of a year or so. But I cannot remember one author or one title. The plots and otherworldly creatures fascinated me at the time, but I soon selected something else. So many books—so little time! I began Willa Cather’s books, and when I’d finished all those, I selected a new kind of novel I’d not seen—women’s fiction. Maeve Binchy, Rosamund Pilcher, Belva Plain. Each author received my undivided attention until I’d read all I could find. Next, westerns. Plain old shoot-’em-ups, stories depicting cattle drives, rustlers, outlaws, and lawmen. Oh, I loved these novels, and Louis L’Amour became my favorite because he often had a little love story in there.
Romance? Didn’t read it. None, zip, nada. Too trite, I’d heard—the novels always ended the same way—happily-ever-after. Same plot, boy meets girl, they fall in love, have a falling-out, make-up, get married.

“What’s wrong with that?” I asked a cynical friend who only read literary works.

Then, one day in 1990, I visited a used-book store and bought a paperback by Janet Dailey titled
This Calder Range. I couldn’t put it down. Remember, I love Westerns, and this even had a HEA. I fell in love. I searched the used-book stores and eventually the library until I’d found and read all ten in the Calder series. Her latest, I believe, was released a couple of years ago. From there, I discovered LaVyrle Spencer, a master of romance writing, Dorothy Garlock, Maggie Osborne, Linda Lael Miller, and Jodi Thomas—plus many more. I still search for new authors who write exciting, satisfying Western Romance.

In 2004, I sat down and began to write a story. And yes, it was a Western romance—a historical. Probably I’ll never be in the same category with my favorite authors, but each one has been an inspiration and a benchmark for me.

Why do I write the West? I find it difficult to put into words.

The Last Frontier, perhaps? That’s the name for space exploration and Star Wars.

Romance in Sweeping Vistas with a love story set in a different time, perhaps? That’s how we describe novels set in early Scotland.

The Era of the Strong, Silent type who always gets the girl while he brings justice in full measure, perhaps? That’s how we describe Indiana Jones adventures.

See? I cannot exactly describe my feeling when I begin a new Western Historical novel, either reading one or writing one. Oh! Now I know Why I Write the West! It’s like falling in love.
Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print


Savanna Kougar said...

Celia, I enjoyed your reader's journey and how you talked about it.

I read a lot of the Calder books, but then, they got too sad for me.

I cut my teeth on Westerns, in terms, of TV shows, and have always wanted to write my own versions, complete with the Happily Ever After.

There's something powerful about those stories that reaches in and grabs me. The heroes seem to be real men that are about justice, truth and the American way.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Celia - I like westerns, too. I had a great aunt who loved them.

Like Savanna and yourself, I enjoy the epic, larger-than-life quality of westerns and those pivotal moments in the plot. Western women are always good, too: caring, intelligent, hard-working, brave.

And the Native Americans - fascinating, powerful, mystic.


Linda Banche said...

Hi Celia. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, too, before I settled down to romance. I like some relationship in the story, too.

While I don't read very many Westerns, I love Susan Krinard's historical werewolf series. Several of the stories (ONCE A WOLF and TO TAME A WOLF)are set in New Mexico in the 1880's. And before you say they're paranormal(which they are), they're mostly accurate Westerns, with a little werewolf thrown in.

Sharon Donovan said...

Celia, great post straight from your heart. I don't read many westerns but love western themes like the Ewing Ranch on the old night soap Dallas and thought Bobby and Ray looked pretty damn good in hats. I love the spirit of the Old West and was a big fan of Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie. My dad was a big fan of Clint and John Wayne and we always had them playing on the television.

Kathy Otten said...

I grew up watching reruns of Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. My dad loved John Wayne and I read almost every Louis L'Amour and Max Brand western I could find. I did read a few of the Calder books too. I guess that why I like to write them. But what I don't understand is why publishers and agents don't want them. I've heard westerns are out, but is that only because they are not on the shelves for readers to buy?

StephB said...

Celia, I loved your reader's journey. I had something similiar happen to me back in 1988 when I discovered "Queen in Waiting," by Jean Plaidy, but that's a story for another time. LOL!! You've inspired another blog post in me.

I think we "affinties" for things which are hard to understand. I'm drawn to early 20th century, Russia, Europe, and feel strongly about hemophilia, but I have no idea why. Perhaps it's an echo of a previous life? (If you believe in reincarination.)

Thanks for sharing your passion about westerns with us today.


Savanna Kougar said...

Steph, sounds like the echo of a previous life to me.

Savanna Kougar said...

Kathy, depending on the heat level you enjoy, Westerns are all the rage at some small print publishers and in erotic romance, or one trend that is the current rage.

Wild Rose Press, Celia Yeary's publisher, has lots of good westerns, ebook and print. Have you read Celia's TEXAS BLUE, and her other westerns?

Gem Sivad is a historical western erotic romance author. She publishes with Liquid Silver and is about to publish with Ellora's Cave.

Siren-BookStrand is going great guns with westerns, historical and contemporary, that are erotic romance. They do ebooks and print.

Karen Kay is a historical romance author, who pens fabulous American Indian books. She writes for Avon.

I don't know about on the shelves. The BIG BOY publishers may not be putting Western Romance on the brick and mortar shelves.

Celia Yeary said...

SAVANNA--I understadn the sadness in the novels--a little more true to life, I guess. I also didn't like the modern ones so much, especially when one of the Calder boys married the rich, spoiled socialite and they eventually divorced. Again, that wouldn't happen in todays' romances--no such thing allowed. Thanks you--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

LINDSAY--I especially like family sagas, and Western romances are a great vehicle for that. Thank you,,,,Celia

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--New Mexico is a great setting for a paranormal western romance. The state--back then it was New Mexico Territory--is filled with Indian lore, and truly, some of it is very paranormal.Celia

Celia Yeary said...

SHARON--overall, Western romances are probably one of the smallest genres. They don't appeal to a huge crowd, but the crowd is very loyal, I think. Western romances and Regencies, I think, are much alike in that they lend themselves to a vehicle for those long series of family members.
Part of this is probably the Handing-down-of-land--great set-ups for one more book. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--I'm confused about that, too. At the beginning, I heard "the western romance is dead--try something else." But even with my two, so far, I've found that the 1st built an audience, and that's why my second is selling well, too. I have two more in the series, under contract, and in another year of so, I can look at the statistics and see if this is true. Thanks for visiting--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

STEPHS--you're right. It is hard to understand why one genre appeals to us, but another does not. I never could get into any Scottish romance sagas, but I couldn't tell you why. Thank you for your comments--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

KATHY--I called you Linda! I know better.But my reply to you is under the second "Linda." Celia

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Celia,
I love westerns. I grew up on The Texas Rangers, Laramie, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza. Sure do miss those shows. I read all the Louis L'Amour and Max Brands I could beg or borrow as a young teen.
Maybe it is the tall, lean, straight-talking cowboy (did I forget super sexy?) and the woman who has to suck it up and deal with a harsh life that draws us in. What ever I'm a true fan and I think your books could definitely go on the shelf beside any of the big names in the field.

Celia Yeary said...

Thank you, Rebecca! I appreciate your comments. Yes, it's that tall, lean Texan, except westerns take place in a lot of other states. My favorites--besides Texas--are Montana and Wyoming. I'm glad ou stopped by. Celia

Laurean Brooks said...


I thought you wrote westerns because people like me love to read them. I grew up on Roy Rogers, and Cheyenne Bodie, (excuse me while I swoon).

I haven't read a Janet Daley book in years, but I use to devour her everything by her.

Glad you like to write westerns because we love those strong, silent, cowboys.

Celia Yeary said...

Thank you, Lauren--Yes, I write them for you! Honestly? I write them for myself. It makes me very happy. Celia

EA said...

I loved this post. Very insightful into your mind, Celia. You have to have a certain ability for writing westerns. If I tried my hand at it you could spot the city slicker faking it a mile away.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Celia, you are so right. I fell in love with western romance after reading Louis L'Amour when Maggie Osborne, Jodi Thomas, and Lorraine Heath introduced me to western romance. Now, we have your name to add to the list of great western romance authors!

Like Kathy Otten, I don't understand why westerns are "out." Certainly they sell well for The Wild Rose Press and others. NY is missing out!

Linda Swift said...

Very thoughtful comments, Celia. There's something about the vastness of the West, and the type of men (strong, silent, brave, protective of women, etc) that attracts readers like me. As to why you write them? It's like falling in love, you say. I think that's why we write any genre. Our ongoing love affair with words. And our books are our babies that result from that. Keep those Westerns coming. You do it so well. Linda

Linda Broday said...

Celia, I can't imagine writing anything except Western romance. I fell in love with the genre when I read Johanna Lindsey's "Angel" and I never looked back. And like Savanna said I, too, grew up watching TV westerns. They were so exciting. But I was always sad when the cowboy rode off into the sunset alone. He needed to be able to love someone and share his triumphs and defeats with. So, when I wrote my first western romance I was happy to give him a special woman to love.

To me, the cowboy represents truth, honor, and justice. I love his struggles to settle and tame the West.

Good luck with your stories!

Celia Yeary said...

EVIE--you? a city slicker? Naaaah. You'd pull it off-Celia

Celia Yeary said...

CAROLINE--you are the sweetest thing. But you know you are one of the best, too--just wait, one day you and I will be famous! Celia

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--you know I will keep them coming. From the mouth of one of the best, you know. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA BRODAY--I remember the cowboy hero riding into the sunset alone. That was very sad, wasn't it? Good luck with your writing. Celia

Savanna Kougar said...

Linda Broday... It used to stick in my craw that a heroine got gypped out of her special cowboy and the hero cowboy rode into the sunset by himself without his love.
No way! That is what romance is for.