A question I’ve been asked more than once is ‘Why do you write and why westerns, coming from the UK as you do?”
There are many factors which have combined together to put me where I am today. After saying that there are a couple of main reasons as I see it.
The first is the year when I was born – 1957. It meant throughout my formative years there were always westerns being shown on TV. Not only the black & white films but also the weekly episodes of The Virginian, Gunsmoke, Bonanza and so on. My parents both watched them avidly – so there was my early exposure to the genre.
The fact I had no siblings meant I was an avid reader before I ever went to school. It’s a love that’s always stayed with me. Within those pages I found a welcome release, as well as something to both stimulate and occupy my mind. Even now I’ll read, anything, anywhere. From the reading followed the love of writing. I’ve always been poor at art/drawing – unable to even draw a tree and make it resemble the real thing. So I always felt an urge to create my pictures using words rather than a pencil or a brush.
Often over those early years I’d look at my father’s bookcase and wonder what it would be like to hold a book in my hand with my own name running down its spine. Again it was another desire which firmly stayed with me as I grew older.
So, early in 2009 Ewa (my wife) and I were trying to decide where to go in the USA for a holiday. I’d been to Florida a couple of times and didn’t particularly like either the crowds (of Orlando) or the constant humidity. As we both enjoyed westerns Arizona pretty much selected itself.
My first time ever on the back of a horse at a ranch in southern Arizona was very much my ‘epiphany’ moment. It was thanks to Ewa it happened at all. She’d ridden before and enjoyed it. I hadn’t, and wasn’t particularly keen to begin at that stage of my life. How wrong I was! By the time that first ride was over I’d already decided what I wanted to do – eventually – when the chance arose. I wanted the opportunity to write westerns – stories set in the desert states of the USA. It felt as though the seeds, planted way back in my childhood, were finally being watered and starting to flourish.
Circumstances meant that at the end of March 2013 I was actually able to devote myself fulltime to pursuing my dream. Since then it’s pretty much taken up most of my waking moments in one way or another. Whether it’s getting the words down for the initial story, or painstakingly working through one of the many re-reads/edits, or keeping social media ‘ticking over’ with the name of Jake Base.
I have to say over my life I’ve met a huge number of people – both socially and during my (previous) career in IT. In all that time I’ve never knowingly run into anyone who’s written and published a novel.
Maybe authors are a slightly unusual, and rare, breed after all!
(Chris G. Derrick, 29th April 2016)