Thursday, October 25, 2007

Steve Hockensmith

Cameron Hughes ( interviewed Steve Hockensmith, author the "Holmes on the Range" mystery series.

Part of the introduction and their first exchange:

"[Hockensmith's] books are funny, original, and rather than plots driving the characters, the characters drive the plot.They paint a great picture of the old American West and manage not to romanticize it while not making it overly dour either. I want the books to sell to see Hockensmith's take on places like 19th century Hawaii and Cuba and the real thuggish nature of the Pinkerton's. What’s particularly amazing is that in the field of Sherlock analogues, he manages to make his two protagonists completely different and interesting...."

Why westerns?

Why not?

Actually, I can think of a really good reason why not: The Western genre’s a sales killer. So let me take this opportunity to make an announcement to the world.

I don’t write Westerns!

Except, of course, I do.

Sorta kinda.


It always annoys me when some pretentious wanker insists his new novel/movie/TV show/whatever isn’t science fiction even though it’s about mutant clones battling aliens for dominion over the earth. “Yeah, it takes place a thousand years in the future, but it’s really about people” blah blah blah. So I don’t want to be a hypocrite by trying to distance myself from the Western. My heroes are cowboys, for chrissakes! The first book takes place on a cattle ranch in the 1890s. The bad guys in the second book are train robbers. Come on!

But I do truly believe that my books are, first and foremost, mysteries. They just happen to be historical mysteries in which the setting is the 19th century West.

Does that sound lame?

See, this is a little dance I do because I suspect there are a lot of mystery readers who’d never touch a book they thought was a Western. I wish I didn’t have to worry about that, but I do. So I end up feeling ambivalent about my connection to a wonderful American storytelling tradition that I, personally, have great fondness for. Sad, eh?

So let’s start again.

Why Westerns? Because I grew up with them, probably. Both my dad and my granddad were huge Western fans, so when I was a little kid I didn’t just know who John Wayne and Clint Eastwood were -- I knew Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and Lash La Rue and Red Ryder and Gabby Hayes and Smiley Burnette and on and on to infinity. I was always a history buff, too, so the reality behind the fantasy was fascinating to me, as well. And I guess all that just stuck with me through the years. Blame it on nostalgia ... or arrested development.
Read the entire interview.

--Marshal Zeringue