April 29, 2011


Stephen Bly

“Hmmm. . .a compliment from Mr. Race Hillyard. Should I be suspicious?”
“I’d be disappointed if you weren’t.”
Catherine studied the faces in the train car window beside them. “You know, yesterday I held you in deep disgust.”
“Has that changed?”
“Yes, today I hold you in mediocre disdain.”
From Throw The Devil Off The Train

The kernel plot idea determines how much the love element majors in my westerns. Will women play a significant part at all? If so, how much? Will there be hints or scenes of romance? If so, what portion does it play?

For some western writers, especially those who focus on the romance market, those are big questions. In fact, I would presume that they factor the love interest first thing in their plotting. Me, not so much. If my main character’s a woman, which it has been for a number of my novels, then her relationship with the men, or her main man, will be key, of course.

Miss Fontenot
A time or two I’ve written about strong women who turn down the potential love interest because of other considerations, such as a career (i.e. Miss Fontenot, Book #3, Heroines of the Golden West Series). My fans and a few editors screamed about this. But that was the way Miss Fontenot decided it. I had to respect her wishes.

Then out pops the plot scape for my new release, Throw The Devil Off The Train. It’s a road story inside a train headed west. The grandeur of the West from a train window. The very slow journey, compared to modern transportation, yet cramped, crowded, at times chaotic conditions.

Later, a theme evolved. . .that people are much more complex than first meetings reveal. That hurts and pains, victories and defeats of the past, affect responses in the present. My observation is that most of us hide spiritual and emotional hurts from others. . .and sometimes ourselves. We must be open to what God is doing around us, even through flawed people, to receive the help he sends.

That lead to. . .what if I tossed two cats into a burlap bag, then watched to see how they’d survive. . .or not? This had to be a male and a female. With a long train ride, sparks are going to hit the track. . .somehow, somewhere. Will it be eternal hate or meld into love?

The gal on the train. . .she heads west to escape from her past in Virginia, to a prosperous fiancé in Paradise Springs, a childhood friend. To get a new name. She’s desperate that no one knows her real last name.

She can be as honey-sweet as any southern belle, if she wants to. She and her twin sister, Catelynn, spent the war years in the north at an aunt’s house. While they missed witnessing the violence and ravages of the Civil War, they lost their parents and their estate. Catherine is not glamorous like her twin sister, but her good looks and confident air capture much attention. She’s willing to use her beauty and personality to get things done. . .her way.

He travels west to get justice for his brother’s death. His blunt, stubborn ways leave no room for charm or diplomacy. Independent, with focused courage, he’s in the habit of success at whatever he attempts. His set glare keeps most folks scooting away from him. That suits him fine. He has no use for a woman he considers shallow and manipulative. He also has no fear of dying, because he’s not sure he wants to live. When he sets his mind on a goal, he expects everyone to get out of the way.

After a few gouges and bites between Catherine Draper and Race Hillyard, I could see the trail markings of their story. That’s how I knew Throw The Devil Off The Train was a western romance first, front and center. In fact, my original working title was “Throw Away Heart.” But my editor objected. The Bly fans for this publisher look for a western first, romance optional. 

Yet a question remained right up to the end. Will the Miss Fontenot type independence rear up and reign? Of course, that's up to Catherine. . .but also Race. Romance does come late for them. Perhaps too late. 

Yep, they hate each other on sight. Meanwhile, traditional, raucous western stuff happens. A holdup, hijack, kidnapping and gold mine swindle swirl around. . .and something else evil's on board. Fiery, opinionated and quick to judge and react, can they make a truce long enough to throw the devil off the train? 

Stephen Bly is a Christy Award finalist and winner for westerns for The Long Trail Home, Picture Rock, The Outlaw’s Twin Sister and Last of the Texas Camp. He has authored and co-authored with his wife, Janet, 105 books, both fiction and nonfiction. He and Janet have 3 married sons, 4 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild and live in the mountains of northern Idaho on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. 
Find out more about the Blys at their website http://BlyBooks.com or "On A Western Trail" blog http://BlyBooks.blogspot.com 


Throw The Devil Off The Train
COMING MAY 2011: Throw The Devil Off The Train (hardback)

Available by order through your local bookstore, favorite online bookstore such as www.Amazon.com or the Blys website: http://BlyBooks.com/store.htm   


Comment below and be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Throw The Devil Off The Train ... by next Wednesday, May 4th: What's the most surprising or intriguing romantic element you've ever encountered in a fiction novel?


Molly Noble Bull said...

I would love to win that book. Please enter my name. I tried to enter earlier today, but my computer wouldn't let me. I'm glad I was able to now.

Anne Payne said...

I've never read one of Stephen's books but just checked out The Senator's Other Daughter from the library yesterday! The most surprising element I've found has to be recently I read a novel where the female protagonist was 7 yrs older than the male protagonist. It was an excellent book, too :) Thank you for the opportunity to win this book.


Carolee Price said...

Mr. Bly I have every book you have written, please include me for this new story. Please don't ever stop writing. Thank you!
Carolee Price

Liz V. said...

What's the most surprising or intriguing romantic element you've ever encountered in a fiction novel?

Enduring love, such as that in Dr. Zhivago--the book, not the movie (well both).

Stephen Bly said...

Appreciate all your comments. Thanks much for stopping by. Am writing this from my hospital bed. Guess I will be here a while. However, have got my laptop with me, so can keep on writing. Will be watching for more posts.


LisaMarie said...

I am so so excited about this new book. I would love to win a copy.Thank you for the chance to win!

hopie said...

Can't wait for to read this book.

Liz V. said...

Hope you are out of the hospital and well soon.

beemama said...

I read a novel where the main male character had so many layers to him that he didn't even have a clue who he really was. The female main character SLOWLY peeled the layers away as their friendship grew until they were both surprised at what was underneath. Their friendship never progressed past that, but it was a wonderful relationship.

Sandy Ardoin said...

Sounds like a wonderful book to read! I especially liked the description of Race's character. Please count me in the drawing.

For Anne: I really enjoyed all of The Belles of Lordsburg series--my favorite being The Senator's Other Daughter--as well as Heroines of the Golden West.

Vannie said...

Yes, in your one book where the hero rides off and leaves the heroine was surprising, not the 99.9% of books end. But you have to shake us up now and then and not be too predictable! I would love to win your book. It sounds great. I'm reading the Fortunes of the Black Hills right now.


Wendy said...

I surprising element I ran across was a widowed woman falling in love with her son's friend who was now an adult. I couldn't grasp it and didn't finish the novel.
I have read all of Stephen's books and love them. I can't wait to read this one.

barbjan10 said...

Stephen is new to me as are his writings. I enjoy a wide variety of stories, and I'm ready for a rip roaring Western read

What's the most surprising or intriguing romantic element you've ever encountered in a fiction novel? Whew! I have been touched by so many romances in fiction. My latest book that plucked my heartstrings was Roseanna White's latest novel, "The Jewel of Persia." It is the romantic story of Kasia and Xerxes, the fictionalized portion of the book before the actual historical marriage of Esther and Xerxes. The rest of the story is based on truth in the events.

Thank you for offering Stephen's new book as the giveaway and for the opportunity to win this good book. I hope I win!

Grace & Hope,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Margie Mijares said...

Please sign me up for a chance to win! This sounds like a great book! margie at mijares dot net