NEW YORK, NY -- Once written off as a dying breed, the Western novel is anything but riding off in the sunset -- thanks to a mix of old stalwarts and new voices bringing originality to the genre.
"Every year some so-called pundit announces the 'Western is dead' -- and every year, the number of Western novels increases," says Cotton Smith. "Why? Because readers are enjoying what always works -- a great story with memorable characters written by a craftsman."
Smith should know. He is vice president of Western Writers of America, a nonprofit organization founded in 1953 that promotes and honors Western literature and a novelist whose latest title, WINTER KILL, is out from Leisure Books.
Gary Goldstein, senior editor at Kensington Publishing Corp., agrees. At Kensington, William W. Johnstone titles sell a half-million copies each year.
"The Western represents American literature at its most pure," Goldstein says. "The American West, for many people, represents a bygone era when life was simpler; when the line between good and evil was clear, when the air and the water were clean."
Top new titles include JERICHO'S ROAD, the latest Texas Rangers saga from seven-time Spur Award-winner Elmer Kelton (Forge, November). Berkley sends out Frank Roderus' JUDGMENT DAY in December and Jory Sherman's BLOOD RIVER in January. Five Star publishes TOMBSTONE TRAVESTY: ALLIE EARP REMEMBERS by Jane Candia Coleman in December while Signet releases Richard S. Wheeler's TROUBLE IN TOMBSTONE in December and Joseph West's GUNSMOKE: BULLETS, BLOOD AND BUCKSKINS, a tie-in to the popular TV show, in January.
"Today's Westerns have tremendous range," says Johnny D. Boggs, whose historical comedy EAST OF THE BORDER is due out in December from Five Star. "While traditional Westerns and Western romances remain popular, you can also find solidly researched historical novels, literary fiction, contemporary stories, young-adult titles. There's something for everyone."
Other titles: A BAD DAY TO DIE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LUCIUS DODGE by J. Lee Butts (Berkley), TERRITORIAL ROUGH RIDER by Tim Champlin (Five Star), GUNS OF WOLF VALLEY by Ralph Cotton (Signet), APACHE STORM by Jason Manning (Signet), THE LAWLESS BREED by T.A. Mort (Pinnacle), MISS DEMPSEY'S SCHOOL FOR GUNSLINGERS by I.J. Parnham (Avalon), SHADOW REALMS by David Thompson (Leisure), THE HIDDEN VALLEY by Jeanne Williams (Five Star) and DEVIL'S KIN by Charles West (Signet).
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