September - November 2009


June 2009
Jack Martin
Series Heroes
Riding the Range

March 2009
Blast to Oblivion
Tyler Hatch and Twins
Night Herding
Walt Masterson

December 2008
All Guns Blazing
Jim Bowden & Co.
Revolver Conversions

September 2008
Western Noir
Power of the Premise
West on Wheels

June 2008
Plot or Not Debate
Jack Giles
Whitney Revolver

March 2008
Walt Masterson
Plotters and Pantsers
More Horse Talk

December 2007
Peace at Any Price
Dan Claymaker
Horse Sense

September 2007
Artist Michael Thomas
Judging by Covers
The Schofield Revolver

June 2007
David Whitehead
Realistic Ballistics
Plot Twists

March 2007
Crime/western fiction
The Walker Colt
Sydney J. Bounds

December 2006
Lauran Paine
Jake Douglas & Co.

September 2006
Misfit Lil
Greg Mitchell

June 2006
Marshall Grover
Facts for Fiction
March 2006
Jeff Sadler
Mike Stotter
Writers and Money


Gunsmoke Writer's Trilogy   Hoofprints
BHE's First Paperback Original
The Passing of the Classic Western
Write Words Wrong Words
  New Black Horse Westerns

Fittingly, American writers have always had a strong presence on the Black Horse Western list published in Britain by Robert Hale Ltd. In early days, Lauran Paine was dominant, contributing novels by the month under a raft of pen-names. Other US authors who featured in the '80s and '90s, with books written under famous bylines, were Ernest Haycox, Lewis B. Patten, Les Savage, Jr and Max Brand.

Today, the tradition continues with fine original stories penned by American authors including Terrell L. Bowers, Billy Hall, Lance Howard and Matthew P. Mayo.

In this issue of the Extra, we feature two more present-day writers whose work has received acclaim from BHW readers. Steve Hayes and Paul Lederer (aka Owen G. Irons and Logan Winters) both live in California.

In our opening article, Steve, a  gifted screenwriter with a long career in Hollywood, shares fascinating memories and some views on his BHW experience.

Paul, who came to prominence in the 1970s, prefers to keep his life private, but contributes a thought-provoking discourse on what he sees as The Passing of the Classic Western.

Elsewhere, we move on to an important announcement about the publication of an original western novel in paperback.  Support for this initiative could result in the book becoming the pilot offering for a new series, supplementing BHWs. Older readers fondly remember the days when the paperback original was a staple on the racks of every corner shop in countries around the world. With the rising appeal of online shopping, can the western ride this modern trail to a new golden age?

A promising sign was the recent huge pre-orders success of the June BHW, The Tarnished Star. As recorded here last time, author Gary Dobbs, aka Jack Martin, waged a magnificent campaign online to show just what could be done.

Readers have been asking the obvious question for years: "Why aren't BHWs – handsome library hardbacks – also available as lower-priced, convenient pocket-book paperbacks designed for the broader retail market?" The answer has been, "Because there is no demand."

Other than by writing stories that capture the imagination of the contemporary reader, the authors are in no real position to change the situation. Only the book-buying public can. But the first step, of course, is for someone to publish the right books in an attractive format. Readers can't buy what doesn't exist.

Please read the article BHE's First Paperback Original with care and consideration. You'll find it immediately after Hoofprints, the regular round-up of newsy items from the western genre.

To round off the contents list this time – as most other times – Greg Mitchell loyally steps up with some cogent tips that will help the writers among us while giving all readers an informed insight.

Your comments and western news are always welcome at

FREE excerpt here

Hollywood veteran pens BHWs


Rebellious teenager Raven Bjorkman and her widowed mother, Ingrid, save the life of Gabriel Moonlight, an outlaw dying from gunshot wounds. While he’s recuperating, they learn he was shot by the son of his enemy, a ruthless rancher named Stadtlander.
    By the time Gabriel rides off, Raven and Ingrid care deeply for him. But since they are moving to Old Calico, a California mining town, to live with Ingrid’s rich brother, Reece, they don’t expect to see Gabriel again.
    Fate decrees that they will be reunited and Gabriel finds himself in a perilous situation where only his gun-skills will save the day.

Back cover
Packing Iron

PUBLISHER Robert Hale Ltd had the 2007-2008 strike by the Writers Guild of America to thank for bringing it a trilogy of excellent Black Horse Western novels from Hollywood veteran Steve Hayes, whose talents it would now sadly appear to have lost.

Steve is a Briton who went to Hollywood shortly after World War II. He has written westerns for years – either for the big screen (Escort West, Tomahawk River, etc) or for television (How The West Was Won mini-series, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Westerner, Men to Match My Mountains, The Seekers mini-series, etc).

When the screenwriters stopped work, Steve dug out an unused screenplay.

He says, "I got pissed with the goddamn WGA strike, sat down and rewrote it as a novel and emailed Hale to say who I was, and would they like to see the book? John Hale said yes. He bought it without changing a word. That never happens in Hollywood, pal, it’s the land of collaborative writing. Hale then bought the next two books I wrote in between doing my memoirs. So 2008 was a hectic but rewarding year."

Steve's BHW trilogy is: Guns for Revenge (September 2008), Packing Iron (August 2009) and A Coffin for Santa Rosa (October 2009).

"The books that follow GFR deal with hero Gabe, a woman named Ingrid, and her almost feral teenage daughter, Raven. And, of course, the horse, Brandy. I considered introducing them in the first novel. But then I decided I wanted to concentrate on and fully establish Gabe. The characters that seem vague or come and go was deliberate. I tried to make them appear like a backdrop – a visual aide to what Gabe is going through rather than bother with who and why. I am quite a good artist and painter, though seldom do it any more, and I’ve tried to treat characters like central figures in a painting. Don’t distract from them with too much going on around them."


Again, the stallion charged and again the buzzards scattered and then returned for their meal. With each charge the horse grew weaker. Finally, it stopped charging and stood protectively by the man, flanks heaving, too exhausted to move. The buzzards formed a circle around man and horse, and patiently began their death watch. . . .

Guns for Revenge has a long and interesting history.

Steve says, "Originally, it was going to be a two-part episode on Gunsmoke, then I expanded it for a short-lived mini-series called Men To Match My Mountains (I’d already written an episode for them), and when that show went down the tubes, I told the story to Borden Chase. He was a famous western writer for magazines and films like Red River. He loved it and wanted to co-write it with me for Universal and James Stewart whom he knew well from the movie The Man From Laramie. But Stewart wasn’t available and Borden got hung up with Viva Gringo, made into a great movie called Vera Cruz with Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster. So I put it on the back-burner and wrote two shows with Ron Bishop for How the West Was Won (The Enemy and The Gunfighter). I then got a call from William Bowers, whom I’d known for years. Bill wrote one of the best western movies, The Gunfighter with Gregory Peck. I agreed to co-write the project with Bill, but he hit the sauce pretty good and though we started off well, I couldn’t keep him sober . . . and so and so on…."

Steve is a great raconteur and goes on to tell us about other famous western writers he has known and worked with, including James Webb, Leo Gordon . . . and Louis L'Amour!

"I was friends with Louis L’Amour before he wrote Hondo, and was considered a short story writer who wrote about the sea and sailing ships and skippers, as well as a few westerns. He wrote, as you know, A Gift From Cochise which later became Hondo. I will add that Louis got immense help from the screenwriter James Edward Grant who actually changed the hero’s name to Hondo and created the role of Sam the dog, et cetera. But once he got going, Louis never looked back.

"Louis was a good guy who twice a day came into a very famous coffee shop, Googie’s, that was located next to Schwab’s on Sunset near the start of the Sunset Strip. I was an actor-writer then who managed Googie’s. Thanks to the large number of famous movie stars and celebrities – Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Rod Steiger, Bob Middleton, Rory Calhoun – it was the hit place to go in the early '50s. Louis lived in a building nearby called the Andalucia Apartments which I and my first wife, Gloria, lived in previously. Later, after his marriage, Louis lived there with his wife Kathy, to whom I still talk occasionally.

"Louis and I hit it off because we both shoot from the hip and don’t weasel out when it comes time to keep our word. Also, I introduced Louis to Ava Gardner, whom I’d dated for a while in 1949, and Louis was nuts about her. Join the long line, buddy, I told him.

Who had shot him? Did he have a wife or a family? Was he, as Raven had said, an outlaw? Was he on the run from a posse? If he were, it would explain why he’d been shot. And most importantly, she
wondered, why did she have a strange feeling about him, a feeling that told her he would become a vital part of her and Raven’s lives?

Errol Flynn

Lili Zanuck

"I’ve recently had published a two-volume memoir, called Googie’s, Coffee Shop to the Stars, that includes some very rare photos, including a great picture of Louis before he hit it big. Published by BearManor Media, it’s available at, Barnes & Noble, and several Hollywood bookstores like Skylight Books. It deals with my early years in Hollywood (1949-59). During those years I was friends with almost every major star and knew Ava Gardner, Lana Turner and Jayne Mansfield intimately. I was also buddies with Clark Gable, Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn.

"I lived at Flynn’s house as his guest for a while in 1950 and became well-known as his watchdog when he went out and got falling-down drunk. The book also deals with my experience in Cuba in 1958 when I knew Ernest Hemingway and ended up fighting for Castro in the Revolution. Both volumes have sold well and I’m delighted with the reviews."

Steve has written and co-written  in many genres. "One of my best efforts was a sci-fi movie with Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen, called Time After Time."
He has also written other books. The Third Invention – How the Bow and Arrow Extended Mankind is selling on Amazon as a rare book. "In the late '50s and through the '60s, I was a world-class target archer and hunter."

And he once wrote a mystery-political thriller called Osprey Dilemma (Dell/Delacourt). "It did fairly well, criticism-wise, but I irritated one gal producer at Universal who wanted to buy it and then change the ending. (I’m still pissed that Bob Redford had the balls to change the ending of that brilliant book The Horse Whisperer). When I wouldn’t do it, she had Lili Zanuck offer to option the book – but I found out by happenstance that the two knew each other and just in time turned them down.

"I can recall Lili saying how she didn’t understand why I didn’t want to change the ending: 'It’s just a movie.' I said because if I’d wanted it changed I would have never written it that way in the beginning. 'God,' she snapped, 'you’re my worst freaking nightmare – a goddamn writer with money!'

‘This ain’t about coffee, Mrs Bjorkman. It’s ’bout the blood on  the
floor of your barn.’
‘I already told you about that, Sheriff. Remember? I said I knew the man had been shot—’
‘So you let him change shirts in your barn?’
‘I’m a widow,’ Ingrid said indignantly. ‘Where would you have him
do it – in my bedroom, perhaps?’

Ernest Hemingway
"Fortunately, I have done very well financially and garnered a certain degree of respect in the industry as a screenwriter, as well as a writer/producer of several successful offshore TV series: Acapulco H.E.A.T, Tarzan and Conan, which you may have seen."

Steve began writing in 1957.

"I had a writer friend, or mentor, called Herb Nicholls. He wrote screenplays and short stories. I had no knowledge of writing, or grammar having left school at 15, and being more interested in sports. Also, because of my looks, I was keyed into becoming a movie star more than thinking about writing. Herb had one remark he hammered into my head: 'Show me, don’t tell me.' Took me years to eliminate the 'telling' parts from my writing, and then I went into TV and movie writing where it’s all showing, so I never had much chance to tell a story or take a moment to wander from the thrust of the story.

"TV, especially, is grim because you have only a certain number of pages to work within. You have to make every word or scene not just count, but be irreplaceable, or it will be cut. Herb chose some writers for me to read. Stephen Crane and Hemingway were two, and I remember reading Crane’s The Open Boat and A Farewell To Arms – Hem’s best book in my opinion – and for the first time realizing what Herb meant. Kipling was another great 'show me' advocate – and in later years, I think Cormac McCarthy does a good job at it, despite his Faulknerish lack of punctuation."

One of Steve's favourite stories is Shane ". . .because of the brilliant way Jack Schaefer hardly told us anything about Shane. Leaving him vague and mysterious was mind-boggling when you consider how everyone else always goes to great lengths to describe the hero’s past. I don’t know if Jack realized how unique and smart that was – but it was. And thank God George Stevens, the movie's director, kept faithfully to the book.

"Having written many mini-series I’ve learned that viewers – my readers – will accept what is placed before them so long as it keeps their interest. In the early days when I wrote for TV it was like writing miniature plays. Playhouse 90, Lux Video Theater – I mean, the men and women involved were truly craftsmen. It was brilliant writing done by great writers like Paddy Chayefsky, Woody Allen and Rod Serling. But later it all became very commercial and the great writers gradually returned to theatre.

"As for being financially successful in an ever-diminishing writing world, one has to suck up one’s pride and keep in mind at all times that just because you’re talented doesn’t mean someone less talented won’t change your work – despite the fact that the work is lessened in quality and creativity with heavy-handed control.
"I wrote a great two-hour script for How The West Was Won. Co-writer Ron Bishop only worked on dialogue – at which, by the way, he was by far the best of anyone I’ve ever known. The script was called The Gunfighter. John Mantley, the producer, loved it but asked his story editor, Cal Clements, to trim it a little. Cal, a nice guy but not a great writer, flattened out both character and dialogue to an extent John didn’t like the script any more. He considered dumping it. Writers still get paid in these circumstances, but I protested vehemently – something people in my industry are not accustomed to, and complained to the WGA.

"I told John I’d rewrite it ten times, if necessary, but I wasn’t going to have schlock out there with my name on it. He wasn’t used to people standing up to him. He said okay, let me see your next draft, which I did for free. He approved it and it turned out to be a good show that James Arness really liked.

"On the other hand, my boss at Keller Entertainment, the TV production company who did offshore series, insisted on having the last word even though she couldn’t write a freaking letter – and as a result three shows eventually went down the tubes. But I got wealthy because I decided that this would give me freedom to write anything I wanted from then on. But the angst at seeing dreck getting on TV – fortunately my boss allowed me to use pseudonyms – almost gave me an ulcer.

"So there you have it. As Hemingway once told me: what you win on the swings in Chicago you lose on the roundabouts in New York."

Stadtlander raised up on one elbow. ‘You arrogant pup! You really think you can just ride out of here?’
‘That depends on Sam, here.’ Gabriel turned to Sheriff Akins. ‘When we get outside, I see any of your deputies or Stadtlander’s men pointin’ a gun at me, I’ll put a bullet in your spine. May not kill you right away but you’ll surely wish it had.’

Why is Viva Gringo!, Steve's fourth western, to be published in the US by BearManor Media and not in the UK by Hale?

"John Hale does not feel that Viva Gringo! fits the mode of western associated with BHWs."

Steve was told at length about how good this was and that was, and how brilliant the dialogue and characters were. Then he was given the publisher's opinion that it was not written the way BHWs were written.

"My reply was: 'Fair enough. Best, Steve.' I never argue with anyone – producer, publisher – who does not leap at buying my work. I see no point. Why should I try to persuade someone who doesn't see its merit at first glance? Too often, because of money, writers sell out and weaken or destroy their work because they have to obey a producer or editor. I am a writer with money and integrity. I do not feel I have to make changes or explain why I did this or that. Nor will I make changes that damage the integrity of the material."

Steve also had issues with BHW cover illustration – the author is not generally allowed input – which were resolved, and was unhappy with the long interval between publication of linked books.

After a mile or so the pass widened and became a bowl-shaped canyon sheltered by towering red cliffs. In the moonlight the cliffs looked silver; but in sunlight they glowed like the fires of hell prompting the Mexicans who originally discovered the area to call it: El Cañon del Diablo.

Lew Wasserman
Steve remembers an incident following a production meeting about the TV series The Incredible Hulk.

"The head of Universal, Lew Wasserman, a very powerful man in the industry, who'd had some comments about my script, said, 'You don't seem too intimidated by me, young man.'  I replied, 'I have been bombed on a daily and nightly basis by Nazi bombers, I've come through the Cuban Revolution and the Congo Revolution unscathed – what can you do to me that would intimidate me?'

"I didn't say it rudely, but he looked at me, then at the others and shook his head. 'I think I've just been put in my place, gentlemen.'

"All this leads up to my feelings about Hale's Black Horse Westerns. I've read a few that make me think 'I stopped writing like that after Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers TV scripts.' "

But Steve says some of the writers deserve better and more respectful treatment. "That's not arrogance; that's a fact." And it's why he "rebelled" and wouldn't discuss changes that would "screw up" Viva Gringo!


Art-ful editor of 1962.
Impressions of a diverting kind


We've been asked to explain the difference and the similarity between the BH Extra logo and Robert Hale Ltd's Black Horse Western logo. BH Extra is produced independently of Hale Publishing whose website is at and includes a western section. The difference in branding is intended to reflect this while doing "extra" to promote the BHW books. The BHE logo is not a copy of the BHW one, which first appeared in 1986. It was in use 24 years earlier and was created – on a kitchen table! – by a staff member of a now long-defunct UK company, Micron Publications Ltd. A logo was required for a new, companion series of pocket comic-books to Western Adventure Library, to be called Cowboy Adventure Library. The editor – who was also an all-hours scriptwriter, art assistant and much else in the manner of the era's backstreet publishing – traced the figure of a horse and rider from a Micron book on to Bristol board, tidied it up and filled in the outline in Indian ink to produce a silhouette. This was reproduced in yellow within a black triangle on the CAL covers. It also appeared, in its simpler form, in the cross-advertising that appeared twice a month on the back covers of WAL books.

Commenting about the title on the article about himself in our last edition, new BHW writer Gary Dobbs, aka Jack Martin, says: "The Phenomenon from Pontypridd . . . and I thought Tom Jones had the copyright on that phrase! Seriously, another great issue and not just because of the feature on me – although I liked reading that and have sent the link to friends everywhere. I found the round-table chat on heroes too good to kill off to be both humorous and fascinating. Hoofprints, too, is essential reading, especially if I can crib bits for The Tainted Archive blog. And the Greg Mitchell piece [on cowboys and horses] was wonderfully informative. All in all, another great issue."

BHE hits mark.

Award to publisher.
Author Jan Jones took this rare picture of publisher John Hale in February when he received the Romantic Novelists' Association Lifetime Achievement award. Jan writes romantic comedy (because she thinks people need to laugh out loud once in a while), Regency historical novels, young adult SF and fantasy, poetry, and short stories for women's magazines. Her next book from Hale will be Fortunate Wager. She says, "We were only in the office for 20 minutes or so, but my impression was that Mr Hale is charming, slightly shy, astute, witty and ageless." As BHW writers can confirm, he is also invariably prompt and courteous in replying to their submissions – which is far from a publishing industry norm. The RNA gave John Hale the award because of his outstanding commitment to publish good romantic fiction and to encourage new voices in an industry where the "next bestseller" was too often seen as king. As the only British publisher prepared to publish original western novels on a regular basis, Mr Hale has also had enormous influence over the shape of the western genre. Its future exercise, however, is controlled by supposedly staid, nanny librarians whom Mr Hale says are the final arbiters of the themes and content allowable in westerns. To many observers, this appears to let the genre in the UK fall under unfortunate new restrictions not imposed on other adult fiction.

Paul Brazill, a short-story writer and blogger, who was born in Hartlepool but lives in Poland, writes, "I'm a regular reader of  Beat to a Pulp and have been very impressed by the contributions from the Black Horse writers." David Cranmer's website for short fiction has included contributions from BHW authors Gary Dobbs (Jack Martin), Ray Foster (Jack Giles), Nik Morton (Ross Morton) and Keith Chapman (Chap O'Keefe). Paul favours noirish crime stories and one of his own yarns, Tut, has appeared on the site. Beat to a Pulp covers the field – action/adventure, crime, hardboiled, noir, horror, science fiction and – pleasingly – western.

BHW writers praised.

David Whitehead (aka western writers Ben Bridges, Matt Logan and others) checked out the last edition of  BHE and emailed, "By Jove, you've done it again! A terrific issue, with lots of good stuff in there, thoughtfully illustrated and as always very reader-friendly. I particularly enjoyed the references to Blast to Oblivion. I'm about two-thirds of the way through reading it right now and am thoroughly enjoying it. And since I had made an unsuccessful search for Paul Lederer just the day before yesterday (because I have his Owen G. Irons story Six Days from Sundown on my reading pile) it was good to see that you had actually tracked him down. . . . Incidentally, I have the large-print edition of the mentioned Irons book, and to my surprise I see it features a slight variation on the same cowboy-on-horseback from Blast to Oblivion. Anyway, bottom line – another superb issue and one BHE should be justly proud of."


The greatest TV western series of all time is Gunsmoke, says Western Writers of America, an organization of more than 600 professional writers, including some BHW contributors, that was founded in the 1950s. The WWA announced the Greatest TV Western Series, Mini-series and Movies of All Time during its annual convention in Oklahoma City. Gunsmoke, which ran for 20 years, from 1955 to 1975, came in ahead of Maverick (1957-62) and Rawhide (1959-66). The top five western series was rounded out by Bonanza (1959-73) and Have Gun, Will Travel (1957-63). A more recent hit, HBO's Deadwood, placed 11th. The list of top TV movies or mini-series was headed by Lonesome Dove, an Emmy-winning 1989 CBS production based on Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. It was followed by The Sacketts, Conagher, Monte Walsh and Disney's Davy Crockett.

Top mini-series.

Happy anniversary, cowboy!
Steve M has been filing many more fine reviews of new Black Horse Westerns at his blog, Western Fiction Review. We told veteran Australian BHW writer Keith Hetherington about a review of one of his books under the Tyler Hatch byline. Keith responded, "Many thanks for the pointer to the blog and the review of Rawhide Ransom. Very gratifying. I've not read many reviews of my stuff over the years. Did a few books-of-the-film some years ago (Patrick, Chain Reaction, Snapshot, etc.) and had some fairly encouraging remarks – some from the US where they were released along with the films." Keith also mentioned that continuing health issues had meant a real push was needed to finish his western Renegade's Legacy. "Finished editing it on the 53rd anniversary of Rita and I meeting. A mate of mine had arranged a blind date with two nurses and one couldn't make it, so the other, his girl, asked Rita. She had just arrived from Scotland a couple of months earlier and was interested to meet an 'Aussie cowboy' – my mate's description of me! He didn't tell me and, unknowingly, I turned up in checked shirt and denim jeans. But it couldn't have been too disappointing – we celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary in September." BHE's congratulations, Rita and Keith!

F. A. Thorpe, publishers of the popular and excellent large-print Linford Western Library, which reissues many, many BHWs, released their edition of A Gunfight Too Many in June with a fine new cover. The conversation at BHE went, "Hey! Isn't that Russell Crowe on the cover? " "Yeah, you're right. Just like in 3:10 To Yuma. Do you suppose they'll have to pay him?" "I hope not. What's more, folks were picking Sam Elliott for the part of Sam Hammond. Much more suitable! Who is Crewe playing – gun-handy bounty hunter Herb Hopkirk?" Another Chap O'Keefe BHW, Misfit Lil Hides Out, was released as a Linford large-print in July, and Misfit Lil Cleans Up is due in the same series in October, with a new cover by favourite Lil artist Michael Thomas, who was a Linford discovery in the book-jacket field.

Covered by Russell Crowe.

Mesmerizing Lil.
It's Misfit Lil everywhere! Her newest BHW adventure is Misfit Lil Robs the Bank, out in September from Hale. The Book Depository is listing the book for pre-order, with its usual splendid offer of free delivery worldwide. Misfit Lil Robs the Bank was originally titled Misfit Lil and the Mesmerist, but publisher John Hale is opposed to outré angles in traditional westerns. "Material of this kind is not, I feel, at all what readers have come to expect.... The essence of a western is the presence of clear-cut issues and to introduce mesmerism or anything of that nature is unacceptable." So Chap changed the title – no problem. And thankfully a compromise was reached, meaning the author's careful research didn't go to waste after all, leaving it easy to guess how Lil was motivated to rob the bank. And isn't the cover's dark-clad rider nicely suggestive of the evil Dr François Guiscard? Late of a Paris hospital infamous for the experimental treatment of madwomen, the nasty doctor is hired by Lil's long-suffering cowman pa to cure his daughter of her behaviour problems. Stand by for lively reaction from the gal Gary Dobbs describes at the Tainted Archive blog as "O'Keefe's daring babe of the West" !


TV and Hollywood historian Tommy Garrett, writing in the LA Canyon News, alerts us to the book Television Western Players of the Fifties: A Biographical Encyclopedia of All Regular Cast Members in Western Series from 1949-1959. Tommy says author Everett Aaker, who lives in the UK, has done an amazing job with such detail and description that even he learned from the thoroughly researched 600 pages. "The feeling you get reading this book is one of amazing depth in what made some of our television western icons worldwide figures. Each entry and subject in this book is described in great biographical detail and family details, accounts of how the subject first broke into show business as well as details of roles played. The author even delves into what co-stars thought of the stars featured." The appendix lists 84 television westerns with dates, show times, themes, and stars, and stretches to the likes of the long-forgotten shows Laredo and The Lawman. "No one is left out of this amazing book. What I like about this tome is the fairness the writer offers in his opinions. You get the clear idea that he’s a huge western genre fan, but you can’t get a clear look at who his favourites were, because he covers them all with in-depth knowledge, research and respect." The book is from McFarland Publishing.

Set-top book.

And now Black Horse Extra presents. . .


REPEATEDLY, and most particularly during the campaigns for Gary Dobbs' inspired Wild West Mondays, readers have asked why Britain's seven-books-a-month Black Horse Western series is available only in expensive library-hardback form, while the broader retail market has for years been dominated by the ubiquitous pocket-book paperback.

Readers of other genres – especially romance and crime – can buy new reading at most bookstores. Harlequin Mills & Boon, for example, have for decades sold vastly more copies of their books as slim paperbacks than as hardback editions.

But western readers in many countries must rely on a trickle of hard-to-find US imports, often of classic titles, like those of the much-reprinted Louis L'Amour, which older hands have already read.

Author Ray Foster (aka Jack Giles) recently informed BHE, "If writers like Chap O'Keefe, Elliot Long, Jake Douglas and David Whitehead were in paperback, then I think the face of the western would change. . . . I have that rebellious streak which says if something isn't right, then something has to be done about it. In this case, the bulk of western paperback output is owned by two companies – Penguin and Transworld Publishers (Bantam in US and Corgi in UK) – and neither puts westerns on the shelves. Apathy in the retail stores and with distributors is a result of nothing new being offered. The old manager at my local Waterstone's gambled by ordering in a couple of authors that I suggested. Those books, in his words, just flew off the shelf. It took a lot longer for the two Louis L'Amour novels to sell. Sadly, his head office was not as impressed as he was. What I draw from that is that new, fresh material sells – not the old-timers."

He was far from the first to have made similar observations and had a similar experience.

"You could as well have been watching a movie as reading a book. . . O'Keefe writes
 westerns with the coolness of a hired gun."

– New Zealand Herald

In Black Horse Westerns, we have original westerns but not original, paperback westerns. Does that matter?

We believe it does.

Regular readers of the Extra and BHWs will be aware that publisher Robert Hale Ltd believes it is under increasing constraints about the content of  its library-targeted novels. Until recently, and when appropriate, the stories were allowed to touch upon very real social issues, such as prostitution, incest, bad parenting or spouse abuse. Readers knew, and accepted from the recorded history of the times, that these aberrations were as present on the Frontier West as they were in other places during the hypocritical Victorian age.

In this respect, the books were no different from other fiction. They neither gloried in sleazy detail nor presented a ridiculously sanitized view of the world in which they were supposedly set.

Hale now believes its hands are tied by its customers as to what can – or rather cannot – be accepted in a western. To all intents and purposes, this boils down to nothing that would have been unacceptable in a pre-1950s western:

"Our customers are not the public as such but public librarians and needless to say that is why [US library publisher] Avalon insists on their books being squeaky clean. They have an even more demanding public library system than we do. One can just imagine what some of their Bible-bashers from the South would say. . . ."

Well, maybe . . . but evidence from other sources – including the leading British western book collector and several respected authors – proves that few British public librarians conform to the outmoded Mrs Grundy stereotype of thick stockings, thick glasses, bottom planted securely on a cushion while she wades through westerns looking for "dirty" bits to make her tut. For instance, the explicit US series featuring Longarm, the Trailsman and similar heroes are on the shelves of many UK libraries.

"Misfit Lil . . . . What a terrific name for a character, eh? This book belongs to an endangered species:
 the western. As for the story: totally professional, as you would expect, and a lot of fun. By my
count, Misfit Lil Fights Back is the author's sixteenth book, so he knows how to do
the job. Ms Lil has appeared before, and doubtless will again."

– Grumpy Old Bookman

Just a couple of months ago, Chap O'Keefe received word from Hale about the latest yarn in the very popular Misfit Lil series: "I can see no way in which we can accept this for publication in our Black Horse Western series. Quite apart from any merits the novel may have the subject matter rules it out completely."

The "subject matter" was, as usual for a Lil story, ninety percent traditional western with a spicing of what one reader has called "friskiness" plus some serious themes and characters drawn from more than one sector of humankind.

Not one to rule out that he could have misjudged, despite having written and edited fiction for publication since the early 1960s, Chap forwarded the e-copy of his book to several author colleagues. They were unanimous in saying they could find nothing offensive.

David Whitehead (aka Ben Bridges, Matt Logan and Glenn Lockwood) said, "First of all, let me say that I'm shocked that John Hale could reject a western from one of his most regular and indeed most accomplished contributors. I will certainly read Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope over the weekend and let you know what I make of it."

And within hours:

"Well, it's 4:20 on a chilly, wet Saturday afternoon – you'd never mistake it for what we used to call flaming June – and I've just finished reading Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope. It is a FINE and eminently ACCEPTABLE western, beautifully written as always, with a nice line in dry humour, good characterization, a whole string of neat and imaginative sequences and a mystery that certainly baffled this reader right to the end. Are we really to understand that in this day and age a certain element of the story would shock most BHW readers? On the contrary, I found it a refreshing and bold move, because it truly confounded expectation. It takes western fiction in an exciting new direction and this, I believe, is a major selling-point. Whatever happens, we need to get this book into print one way or other!"

"Misfit Lil makes for an engaging lead character."
– Western Fiction  Review

David had already encouraged and assisted Mike Linaker (aka Neil Hunter) to continue with his Brand series of westerns, which was similarly dropped by Hale. Mike writes for the top-selling Mack Bolan paperback adventure series and is still lauded for his tough Bodie westerns written in the Piccadilly Cowboys era, which was the high point in sales of British-written westerns.

Also, David has collaborated with Steve Hayes, subject of our lead article, to write and publish a psychological suspense thriller, Feral, and a second is on its way.

Ahead of several others, David now set about encouraging Chap O'Keefe to put the Misfit Lil book on the market using the Lulu distribution system. Chap's reluctance to be associated with a project some might see as carrying the stigma of "vanity" or "subsidy" publishing was overcome by an assurance that upfront money did not have to be paid by the author for a stock of unwanted, over-priced books.

Within days, David had shown how the book could readily be put into type for publication and an unfussy but stunning cover was designed. Second-rights artwork was generously contributed by Michael Thomas, one of Britain's busiest producers of book covers, who said, "If things take off, I'm always available for illustration work."

". . .the quintessential action-packed western."
– Saddlebums Western Review

It was decided the cover "look" had to reflect western fiction written for an enlightened reader of today. Just as DVD covers for the likes of Deadwood and Appaloosa differ from those for reissues of classic western movies, the covers of modern paperback westerns should be given a distinctive "period" look, while still having echoes of the BHWs it's hoped they can supplement. The result was run past David, Keith Hetherington, Ray Foster, Steve M, Paddy Gallagher and Gary Dobbs. Everyone was delighted: "a beauty" . . . "classy" . . . "fabulous". . . "I like" . . . "very eye-catching".

But we still have a long way to go. Black Horse Extra Books, this website's latest and most ambitious venture, will need many, many readers' support to succeed. If you care about the genre and its resurgent possibilities, please consider buying a copy of the first book through Lulu or another online seller. It could become a collectors' item! BHE also needs voluntary representation to get the book into stores. Showing your copy to independent bookshops, not linked to the major chains, might be particularly useful at the present stage.

Unaltered repetition and nostalgic celebration of the plots and stories of decades ago is destructive to the western genre. A healthy interest in the past has always been encouraged by the Black Horse Extra, but it needs to be matched by an equally healthy interest in fresh and exciting developments.

Writing and publishing westerns today is harder than ever. As readers, let's back our contemporary writers in worthy ventures. It's as much in our interest as theirs! 

"Yep, pardners . . . Chap spins a mighty fine yarn that should send yuh moseyin' on
 down tuh yuh local bookshop pronto.  This excitin', fast-paced, quick-drawin' book
 is jest thuh thing for puttin' in the cowhands' Christmas stockings."

– NZ Rural Press

UPDATE: Be in to win! Buy Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope at Amazon or Lulu and you will qualify to enter the Wild West Monday Competition for a worthwhile money prize. Just keep the emailed receipt from the seller you have purchased from and watch for the detailed announcements at The Tainted Archive during the month of October.

Gary Dobbs (aka Jack Martin), says, "The book is now listed on Amazon. com priced at a very reasonable $15.22. It's a lovely looking paperback original. Not only is it a good read but as the first BHE Book it could prove highly collectible."

A tip for bargain-hunters! is also currently listing O'Keefe's Ride the Wild Country in the Dales edition for the special price of $10.01 (instead of $23.99). Buy it with Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope and you qualify for Amazon's FREE Super Saver Shipping.

For readers in Britain, Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope is also listed at at a price of £11.50 "Delivered FREE in the UK".

Alternatively, approach your usual online supplier or bookstore, quoting title, author and ISBN 978-1-4092-8943-2. Lulu offers discounts for bulk purchases, beginning at 20% for 24 copies.

The opening chapter of the book, plus some endorsements, are available FREE here.

Man of mystery speaks his mind

Kendo was looking for salvation as well as retribution. Of these two retribution was the simpler to exact.
    Losing Frank Pierce's horse herd to raiding gunmen had not been his fault, but it was bound to ruin Kendo's reputation which had already been severely darkened by past failure. Left alone and afoot on the open plains by treacherous companions, he needed to track down the outlaws and recapture the horses, the sale of which Pierce was banking on to save his small ranch.
    That alone was a vast challenge and Kendo couldn't know how much worse it could get before he encountered the beautiful woman who was intent on building an outlaw empire in the far country.
Back cover
Beyond the Crimson Skies

BY his own choosing, Paul Lederer is a mystery man among western writers.

"Reclusiveness is my nature. In the olden times, when I was pulling down ten-thousand a month and people knew my name, I used to actually hide from readers. My wife Annie thought that was quite amusing."

Suffice it to say that Paul has led a tumultuous life, both in North and South America – "a long and sordid tale if you weren't there" – and he does not feel that his readers need to hear his life history.

"Please! No requests for anything autobiographical. It has been a hard life, and I don't like revisiting it." 

Paul was much happier to tell BHE about his last BHW, The Outpost, which was published at the end of June.

"The book is about a varied group of people trapped in an uncertain situation – an abandoned fort on the frontier.  A pair of young lovers, an aging gunfighter and his long-time love, a soiled dove."

The book was also the subject of an enthusiastic notice at the online Western Fiction Review. Steve M said, "Owen G. Irons is fast becoming one of my favourite BHW writers."

Although at the time of writing Paul, who lives in La Mesa, California, was trying to re-establish his New York City publishing contacts, he has been a regular contributor these past few years to the BHW series, both as Owen G. Irons and as Logan Winters.

Beyond the Crimson Skies, his next BHW, will be published at the end of September. Leading up to its release, Paul was happy to give us his views on what he describes as "The Passing of the Classic Western".


Louis L'Amour
One thing that concerns me these days is the decline of interest that major American publishers display concerning the classic western – which, as most of my readers know, is the field I prefer to work in. Why this should be in the country where the genre was created is beyond me. I could speculate as to the socio-political tendencies among the new wave of editors and publishers, but it would be only that – speculation.  The new theory seems to be that they simply do not have enough buyers to justify resources on this sort of novel, that women are the prime purchasers of books, and that anyway the Western is passé.


I have to argue their premises on several points: First of all, I have received far more mail from female readers who seemed to enjoy my books than from men. Maybe women are just more inclined to write to me; could be. Secondly, I have many people from Oregon to Texas complaining that they cannot find new "straight" westerns on the market.

This is true.  I wonder, after the amazing success and popularity of Louis L'Amour how New York can, following his death, consider the genre passé. Perhaps none of us is writing well enough to fill the void his passing left. I wouldn't know. Could be, I suppose, but I know when these publishers get behind a book and push it, it will sell.

The wave of "adult westerns" published in a rush of imitation on the heels of Jove's highly successful Longarm series led to the further dismantling of the art and craft of writing the western novel.  A lot of writers needing the money – and I was one – jumped on board that ship to hack out page after page of stuff as ridiculous as a Bonanza episode.

In effect, both we and the publishers were victims of our own greed or simple need to survive in a tough marketplace. I was pulling down ten-thousand a month in those times, and I guarantee you that Ruff Justice #22 made more money that Owen. G. Irons' Windstalker. In my defence, I had a family to support, and some times "a man does what a man has to do".
To change the subject entirely – I hope – does anyone read Luke Short any more? He was far superior to another author of that era, Max Brand. Why? In my estimation, it was because he wanted to be a western writer while Brand (Frederick Faust) wished to be a poet.  There again, I speculate, but I prefer Luke Short. And I have to admit that I can no longer read Zane Grey; his prose is too stilted and convoluted for me.

Myself, I try to keep the plot moving along, but in the short novel, this also leaves little space for character development.  It's a balancing act.

I have been asked to say something about my upcoming Black Horse Western books.  Let me think . . . I liked, and hope readers will, Hangtown by Logan Winters (coming in October) which concerns two misfit desert rats who "inherit" a deserted ghost town which does not remain deserted for long as a band of troublemakers, the US Army and a man called Laredo arrive along with a wagonload of pesky females.

And, yes, if anyone thinks that Laredo seems familiar, he is a crossover character from an earlier Owen G. Irons novel – the only time I can remember Owen G. Irons and Logan Winters sharing a protagonist.

I have also been asked to say something about Beyond the Crimson Skies.  This is simply a tough, broad-shouldered book about a man who needs to find redemption for his past lapses and requires heart, soul and sheer guts, along with the love of a good woman to achieve it – the essence of the classic western which, as I have said, is the kind of book I try to write, and the only kind I care to read.

– Paul Lederer

With 250 published novels, Paul says he is "lucky if I can recall any of the titles let alone what they might have been about. Sorry if I sound vague, but I suppose I am a vague person."

Some of Paul's career highlights BHE mentioned in a Hoofprint in the last edition. Comparing his profile with the "amazing success and popularity of Louis L'Amour", we can offer as explanation only that L'Amour was never elusive or enigmatic. He was a personality in his readers' eyes, with a biography presented at the back of most of his paperbacks. This was further cultivated in the introductions and notes he wrote for his short-story collections. That is possibly part of the "void" no one has filled. L'Amour was presented as a rounded person, large as the life he'd lived. He cultivated his fans. We know of at least two who went on to become BHW writers. Louis invited them to dinner, paying the restaurant bill! Such gestures make huge and lasting impressions.

In the decades since L'Amour's death, many publishers of westerns have concentrated on promoting their own imprints, giving them prominence over author names. The brand comes before the hands that sustain it. And western heroes, once created,  have frequently become the property of the publisher, to be written about anonymously under house pen-names. But readers – and especially collectors, of course – seldom choose their books by imprint.

As we have here, they continue to hunt down the identities of the writers who produce fiction that pleases.


More wisdom from Greg Mitchell


A raid on a money shipment in the town of Appsley leaves a sheriff and a guard dead and another man wounded. Lawman Pete Hewitt is sent to keep order until the town council elects another sheriff.
    A chance discovery convinces Hewitt that someone in town could also be involved in the raid and a storekeeper's murder confirms his suspicions though most believe the events to be unrelated.
    Problems escalate when Hewitt antagonizes a gunman called The Count, and when it looks as if he can unmask the villains, his life is in great danger. Can he survive long enough to run the law-breakers to ground?

Back cover
The Raiders

     A leader's a good thing to follow
    Through scrub or through life I'll allow.
    But don't follow too close behind him
    'Cause you might get the swing of a bough.

    – Mulga Maxins, W. H. Ogilvie

MY contribution for this edition is from a reader's point of view and not an author's. I have had considerably more experience in the former category and as such I am sometimes disturbed by writers who merely copy the hackneyed and often wrong expressions of others.

I am not implying that many writers are copycats. Some combinations of words come to writers' minds because we have read them so often. At the time they seem to fit but on closer examination they might prove to be inappropriate.

For example, the grips on a hero's Colt .45 are described frequently as being "well-worn". But sometimes, rather than adding authenticity, the careless use of such a description can destroy the story's credibility. The well-worn description could apply to wooden-butted guns that had been around since the 1840s, but the time element must be considered in relation to the Colt .45.

These revolvers went on to the market in 1873 but due to army contracts, did not reach most civilians until the the latter part of the 1870s. Because these were relatively late-model weapons in the Wild West era there would be little wear on grips. The latter were made of hard-wearing material such as wood, hard rubber, ivory, mother-of-pearl, or even silver. For Colt .45 handles to be showing signs of wear during the settings of most stories would indicate a degree of abuse that any self-respecting gun owner would avoid. Other parts of a well-used revolver would show wear long before the grips.

We all need to think carefully about words that spring to mind because we have read them so often.

Too frequently we hear of people being shot with "shells", but unless western gunman had taken to using artillery pieces, that could not happen. Bullets are not shells and the shell remains in the gun after the bullet has been fired.

During the American Civil War, General, later President, Grant was asked why he never swore. He replied that there were sufficient words in the English language for him to express what he wanted to say. Unfortunately, this message is sometimes lost on writers who feel they must invent new, anatomical verbs for simple actions. No longer do riders rein, turn, wheel or spur their mounts. Now cowboys "heel" their horses. Do they really nip at the horses' heels as cattle dogs do? Riders too frequently are described as kneeing, heeling or even hipping. I wonder how long it will be before some hero ankles his horse. One writer using such terms is original but they become repetitious and boring when when several others do the same.

Colt .45

Ulysses Grant
Fictional heroes are given a wide variety of guns, some of which are totally inappropriate for the time line of the story. Then they are modified in a way that would affect their safety, reliability and accuracy. There is no evidence that the famous gunfighters of the Old West had elaborate modifications made to their sidearms. The better weapons were very effective as they came from the factories and few westerners tampered with them. It is true that some hideout guns were drastically modified, but many were older weapons that had been cut down to make them easier to conceal. There is nothing wrong with arming a character with a different gun, but be sure that you are not continuing claptrap perpetrated by a previous writer's wild imagination.

We are all influenced by other writers but even the best can make mistakes. It pays to test another writer's expressions against the situation we are describing to see if they really work.

As one who has been reading westerns for at least 60 years, I have a lot of other writers' words running around inside my head. Some unkind souls would even suggest that there is sufficient room in there for several marathons. However, these often-read words are the first in my imagination to volunteer for any descriptions I happen to be writing and sometimes, upon reflection, they prove inappropriate.

The time line can be a real trap for those who adopt a "cookie cutter" approach. Arming a hero with a .45 Peacemaker could sound authentic but it is ridiculous if the story is set before that model was invented. Similarly Walker Colts and Dragoon Colts were so cumbersome and inferior compared to metallic cartridge models that they were out of style by the 1880s.

It is better to use general descriptions or do your own research rather than weaken good work by taking someone else's words to fit into your situations. Never underestimate the reader. Many, because of extensive reading or practical experience, can spot an absurdity, and their respect for the writer drops accordingly. Be yourself and don't continue someone else's error because it sounds catchy.

All westerns are based on a limited number of situations. Original treatment of these situations can be overshadowed by writing that already sounds too familiar to the reader. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery but it is not always the sign of a creative mind.

– Paddy Gallagher, who writes his BHWs as Greg Mitchell. His
 latest, to be published in September, is The Raiders.

Colt Dragoon




Published by Robert Hale Ltd in August, September and October

Gun Fury
Walt Keene  0 7090 8779 3
Arizona Payoff
Duke Patterson
0 7090 8780 9
Gannon's Law
Peter Wilson
0 7090 8783 0
Guntrail to Condor
John Glasby
0 7090 8786 1
John Long
0 7090 8787 8
Dragonfire Trail
Hank J. Kirby
0 7090 8789 2
Packing Iron
Steve Hayes
0 7090 8806 6
Beyond the Crimson Skies
Owen G. Irons
0 7090 8748 9
Silver Express
Gillian F. Taylor
0 7090 8781 6
Shootout at San Lorenzo
Henry Remington
0 7090 8790 8
Dead Man's Range
Paul Durst
0 7090 8791 5
Death Comes Riding
Terrell L. Bowers
0 7090 8796 0
Misfit Lil Robs the Bank
Chap O'Keefe
0 7090 8801 1
The Raiders
Greg Mitchell
0 7090 8807 3
A Colt for the Kid
John Saunders
0 7090 8792 2
Logan Winters
0 7090 8795 3
Sweep of Fury
Dempsey Clay
0 7090 8799 1
The Battle for Skillern Tract
Matt Laidlaw
0 7090 8800 4
Iron Eyes Makes War
Rory Black
0 7090 8810 3
The Staked Plains
Billy Moore
0 7090 8813 4
A Coffin for Santa Rosa
Steve Hayes
0 7090 8845 5

Misfit Lil Cheats
the Hangrope
Chap O'Keefe
978 1 4092 8943 2

Black Horse Westerns can be requested at public libraries or ordered at bookstores. They can be bought online from the publisher at, or from other retailers including  Amazon, Amazon UK, WH Smith, Blackwells and The Book Depository ("free delivery worldwide").

Trade inquiries to: Combined Book Services,
Units I/K, Paddock Wood Distribution Centre,
Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, Kent TN12 6UU.
Tel: (+44) 01892 837 171 Fax: (+44) 01892 837 272

US distributors: Independent Publishers Group,
814 N. Franklin St. Chicago, IL 60610
Tel: 312-337-0747 Fax: 312-337-1807
Customer service:
Trade sales: Jeff Palicki
Special sales: Richard T. Williams
Home page:

For Australian Trade Sales, contact DLS Distribution Services,
For Australian & New Zealand Library Sales, contact DLS Library Services,
DLS Australia Pty Ltd, 12 Phoenix Court, Braeside, 3195, Australia.
Ph: (+61) 3 9587 5044  Fax: (+61) 3 9587 5088

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