After reading the Vampire Western, “Blood and Tequila” by Colin Webster, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce him to my readers. B&T is a book that is just plain fun to read, perfect for a rainy afternoon. So let’s get rolling.
Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to talk with us.
Thank you for doing this interview, it is very kind!
1 – Are you a Western writer who happened to put vampires in this book or are you a Vampire writer who happened to set it in the West?
I’m a western writer, and I used to watch scary movies and always wonder why no one ever had a gun. I figure folks in the west would have dealt with problems much differently than we would today. When I first started writing this kind of western, I didn’t know anyone else was doing anything similar at the time. “Cowboys and Aliens” the movie came out when I had finished my first weird western novel, “Blood and Silver” and I thought there was some real opportunities out there to mix the genre and just have a lot of fun with it.
2 – What was the first piece of writing you did that made you realize that you wanted to be a writer? What was your ‘eureka’ moment?
It was when I was re-reading “Riding for the Brand” a collection of shorts from Louis L’Amour, and also Education of a Wandering Man. I began writing a few short stories, mostly just action scenes, really over the top stuff, and it was a lot of fun.
At the time, I didn’t know there were many other people writing westerns, and the stuff I was picking up at the post exchange in Okinawa where I was stationed with the Marines just wasn’t doing it for me.
I wanted more detail, and more insight into the western man and the lore and things he knew, bits of that are sprinkled all over in Louis L’Amour’s work, and the others of his era.
I didn’t just want to know the gunfighter pulled a “Colt” or a “.44” I wanted to know what model of gun he was using, why he did the things he did, just more and more about the western lifestyle.
I began doing a lot of research, partially rereading the books I grew up with, a leather bound collection of the Time Life series of everything western, books entirely devoted to gunfighters, lawmen of the west, the riverboat men and the gamblers, all of that. All this stuff I was learning really made me want to try and bring it back to life, the little details and whatnot, those little bits of lore that a man might live or die by on the praire or the mountains.
So I started writing them. It’s like reading a story myself, I just let it come out, and I get as much enjoyment finding out what happens on the next page as I hope you do.
3 – Was there any particular inspiration for B&T?
I had already written Blood and Silver, which features a different kind of supernatural creature, and a bounty hunter that tangles with them. I wanted to mix things up, and a south of the border western with vampires just seemed to work. I wanted something kind of gritty and desperate, and I wanted a character who wasn’t your typical “white hat” to kind of ride in and learn and grow a bit.
In retrospect, I’ve seen some stuff out there that isn’t to dissimilar to the theme of Blood and Tequila, but I didn’t notice it until after the fact. I really didn’t set out with a story in mind other than a gang of train robbers who hide out across the border and find they are in a cursed place that spells almost certain death for them. I knew there would be vampires, but other than that I just wrote and let it happen. I always try and write like that.
I read that Louis L’Amour did the same thing, he would write the stories to find out where they went. Often I didn’t have a clue how the next chapter would go, or how plot issues would be resolved, but it all just kind of happened. It was an absolute blast to write.
4 – Wild West and Vampires is an interesting blend of genres. Do you have plans to write in other genres? Do you plan any other creative blending of writing worlds?
I’ve got several more “weird westerns” written and on the way, and more still in the que, just waiting to be written when I can find the time.
Right now I’m working on a book with my Mother about dealing with traumatic brain injury, my father suffered from it after 17 years of professional football. I’m also working on a book about my Dad’s training methods, and in general the workouts and strength and conditioning programs of the 70s Steelers.
Right now I am working on a book here and there, which I have fallen in love with but has to take a back seat to the westerns and other projects. Part of that is because it will end up being very long. Its a blending of several genres, historical fiction, what they call “steampunk” and the weird. The best I could describe it is “Weird World War II.”
All in all, there’s not a genre I can think of where I don’t have something I want to write, perhaps apart from alternative lifestyle romance, but ultimately I will always come back to the westerns, because that is where I have the most fun.
5 – What writers inspired you as a child? Which ones inspire you now?
Louis L’Amour, Jack London, Hemingway, Peter Capstick on his safari adventures, Homer, all authors who wrote mainly about the struggles of man and nature, and man striving with his fellow men. I’ve always been drawn to the rugged individual, the independence and self reliance of olden times.
I like Larry Correia, George Hill, George R.R. Martin, Vince Flynn, and still to this day, Louis L’Amour. I often take a break and just read those old westerns and it makes me burn to write some more stories. I’m just discovering all the new westerns being written by my fellow White Feather press authors and I am blown away. Its like finding treasure in a desert.
My middle name is Dearborne, which is Louis L’Amours middle name as well, I was named in part after him. On both sides of the family there was this love for his westerns, and that really got into me. Hopefully, your readers will understand and forgive when I mention L’Amour every other sentence.
6 – What advice do you have for young writers wanting to start out?
Practice and Discipline. Its something I got from my Dad, who pounded it into me every day. He wasn’t a natural athlete, but he forged himself into one by sheer hard work and determination. He impressed upon me that talent doesn’t mean much unless you develop it.
When you look at how many people are trying to write nowadays, there’s real and stiff competition out there to get published, and after that, to get attention. A lot of aspiring writers try to write what is hot right now, copies of the latest bestselling book, but write what you like, write something you would read yourself, and there will be others who like it too. I hadn’t read any mixed genre westerns before, I thought I was doing something new. Take a chance, and then put all your effort into it. I’ve learned so much I didn’t know there was to writing. I’m still learning, and I feel each book I write is better than the one before.
You’ve got to understand the business side of it too, and spend just as much time and effort writing your query letters and editing your book as you do on the creative process. I know a lot of very talented people who are waiting to be discovered, but you have to get out there and try and try until someone notices you and is willing to take a chance on you.
I read something once that only about three percent of aspiring authors get even one manuscript published. When I was trying to find someone to publish my first book, I was really getting discouraged. I would read about how some of the most successful authors today almost gave up after years of trying.
You’ve got to look in the right place. I had some near success with several books, but the literary agents and publishers I was talking to wanted little to do with anything promoting a theme of rugged individualism. They had a different agenda, and wanted to promote certain political and social items on that agenda. They had said I might make a few changes and they could publish my work. I had no problem with taking direction and making a better story, but this was something else entirely. A fellow could make a lot of money if he was willing to write for a certain viewpoint, but that’s not my way.
Finally, a good writer has to be a good reader. Read fiction, nonfiction, research your topic. Even though westerns have a reputation for being stereotyped melodramas, it takes a ton of research to do them right. There’s a load of gold in the past that you really have to seek out, and it takes some time to soak yourself in the era you are writing about, and learn how the folks really live from day to day, what their values were, how they survived and the everyday items they interacted with. It helps even more if you’ve walked a mile in your character’s shoes. Now, I’ve never been a rancher, more’s the pity, but I am a combat vet and I’ve spent a sight of time outdoors and in all kinds of terrain. I know how to survive in the woods and build a fire in the snow. I’ve been cold and miserable and wet and starved for weeks at a time, and I think that sort of thing gives a perspective on the life of earlier times where these experiences were commonplace. There’s nothing better to help you understand a gunfight than to actually have someone shoot at you and shooting back and doing what needs to be done to survive. I fill in the blanks with intensive research.
Reading others is both an inspiration and a how to for me. I see books in a different light now, and more than just reading and enjoying a story, I can take moments and appreciate how an author set something up, introduced a character, or created a whole alternative world. Reading great writers with an eye to learning your craft is the best training a writer can get.
7 – What about older or middle aged writers who feel it is too late?
It sounds cliche, but its never to late. I recently left the Marine Corps after 12 years of service to start over.
I had done what I wanted to do and was ready to move on. As I write this, I’m 33. That’s not old by my reckoning, but its well past the time where most folks want to be stable and secure in some sort of profession. No one ever looks back on their life and wishes they hadn’t followed their dreams.
Also, being older means you have a wealth of experience and perspective to draw on. I don’t think I could have written like I write now when I was in my twenties. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from a finished product and have a lot of room to grow. The main thing is, I’m happy with what I write. I enjoy the stories, and there are few things more satisfying than knowing that others enjoy my stories too. Going back to L’Amour, he wanted to be a storyteller, that’s how he wanted to be remembered. I love knowing that someone is getting the same enjoyment I get from reading a good book.
In short, when you are older is when you are the most likely to write your best stuff.
8 – Have we seen the last of Clay Wilder? Can we expect more of his adventures? Perhaps his secret origins?
I originally intended Blood and Tequila to be a stand alone, but when I finished writing it I realized there was some real potential here, and I’ve fallen for my own characters. Part of it is I can’t wait to see what he does next. As I write, Blood and Tequila II is finished and should be released shortly. I’m well into the third novel in the series, and things are getting pretty interesting. There’s more in the works too, if Clay and Maria manage to survive what I throw at them. Right now its looking doubtful, but they never cease to surprise me.
As the series grows, I find myself wanting to write a prequel with some of Clays experiences in his formative years. In the first book, he’s mentioned as having a bit of a reputation, and his exploits have been covered in newspapers and stories back east. There’s also a host of characters in the series that are practically screaming at me for their own stories, short and long, and we’ll see some of these surface in the future.
9 – Anything else you would like to share with us before you go?
I just really want to thank you for the interview, and thank all those who read my stories, I write for you. It’s always fun to hear from those who’ve read my stories and enjoyed them. I’ve started a youtube channel for “Webster’s Weird Westerns” where I read some shorts and samples aloud for those who like audio books. So far I’ve got “The Rider and The Storm” and “Dead Man’s Gold” up there, but more will follow.