January 29, 2009


by Stephen Bly

Folks often ask me if I always wanted to grow up and write books about cowboys. Nope. Not me. I never once dreamed of being a writer. But I did grow up wanting to be a cowboy. I had Roy Rogers pjs, Roy Rogers curtains, a little plastic statue of Trigger graced my dresser and sat transfixed when I watched "High Noon" the first half dozen times as a lad.

As a lad, I didn’t read only western novels. My aunt and uncle stored a box of dusty dime novels in a room next to their garage. I’d go to sleep reading them every chance I got.

History caught my fancy most of all. I liked the nonfiction accounts of life in the Old West. In time I learned to grab every available University of Oklahoma and University of Nebraska title I could find.

After I got married and started raising sons, I began reading lots more Westerns. My mother gave me her Zane Grey stories. Then, I discovered B. M. Bower, Owen Wister, Will James, Luke Short, Ernest Haycock, Elmer Kelton, Vardis Fisher, and over sixty Louis L’Amour novels. Somewhere in the midst of reading the 63rd L’Amour adventure, the idea struck me, “I can write one of these!”

By then, I had authored a dozen nonfiction books, so I knew I could fill the pages. But I didn’t know if I could spin a tale folks would want to read.

So, one summer Janet and I and 6-year-old Aaron camped in the Beartooth Mountains, south of Red Lodge, Montana, where I wrote my very first western novel, THE LAND TAMERS. Since I had no idea if I’d ever have the chance to write another piece of fiction, I tried to pack every scene I ever wanted to write in that one book.

The Tyndale editor who finally accepted it for publication told me, “It moves too fast in places—like an Indiana Jones movie.”

I replied, “Well, Indiana Jones hasn’t done so bad.”

As it turned out, THE LAND TAMERS (1987) became the first of many tales I was privileged to produce and I haven’t run out of ideas yet. Someday, I hope to write, “The Man Who Stole Nevada.” Ah, but that’s another story. And I’m pleased to report that THE LAND TAMERS was just re-released this month in hardback by Center Point Press/Thorndike.

On the trail,
Stephen Bly


brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Stephen, I wanted to be a cowboy too when I was a little girl--didn't work out that way,not even a cowgirl, but I sure understand how you feel about the good ole western books! I'm glad that you didn't give up!

Vickie McDonough said...

Ah, a kindred spirit.

I never once dreamed of being a writer either but God lead me into that field and even allowed me to get published.

I grew up watching all the old cowboy shows and reading any book I could find with a horse in it. I dreamed of growing up and marrying a rancher. Alas, I married a computer programmer who is scared of horses. :)

I love reading westerns and prairie romances.

Stephen and Janet Bly said...

Brenda/Maggie: Yep, I still enjoy reading good westerns, when I'm not trying to write one!
On the trail,

Stephen and Janet Bly said...

Vickie: And I married a writer who loves taking photos and videos of horses (especially ones running), but doesn't enjoy riding them!
On the trail,