My next guest writes in a genre I love to watch, as in old western movies while I’m revising or proofing. I’m happy to introduce to you author John Layne! Let’s take a moment to find out about his background and then delve into his inspiration and process. Here’s his bio:
John is an international, multi-award winning author of Western Fiction and long-time veteran of law enforcement beginning his police career in Houston, Texas, in 1981. He has held numerous positions in his 40 year career, including Detective for the past 26 years. He is currently a Sr. Detective for a state-wide law enforcement agency in North Texas.
His professional writing career began in the sports industry where he penned articles for national magazines and online publications. He held the position of sports editor for two years where he wrote on professional, collegiate, and amateur athletics.
He grew up watching western movies and reading stories of the Old West. His theatrical influences include actors John Wayne, James Stewart, and Clint Eastwood as well as directors John Ford, Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, and Andrew McLaglen. He drew literary inspiration from Louis L’Amour, Robert B. Parker, C. J. Box, and Lee Child. His passion for history and the classic western genre inspired him to write short stories and two novels on the Old West along with his first feature file screen play, all classic westerns set in 1877 Texas.
Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?
John: The Western genre is my favorite and a pure passion of mine. I grew up with the Western and love it today more than ever.
Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?
John: U.S. Deputy Marshal Luxton Danner. I thought out his character before the writing began.
Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?
John: Actual historical research. The border towns along the Red River were under siege from outlaw bands at the time of the story.
Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?
John: The villain Tuff Jenkins. The story didn’t permit enough time and space to expound upon his background.
Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?
John: Weeks of historical research from both the Texas Historical Society and the Oklahoma Historical Society along with the history of the railroads and the period societal norms. Everything from political positioning to the accurate descriptions and names of clothing the characters wore.
Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?
John: This is a tough one. Actual drafts was probably 3, but there were numerous re-writes and editing that followed before my publisher and I was satisfied.
Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?
John: My first book, Gunslingers took nearly 4 years from start to release. Red River Reunion took a solid year from start to release. With most of the research completed and the characters identified and defined, book two went much quicker. I would say that one year is now typical for me as long as I’m writing this series.
Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?
John: I always go back and read the prior three chapters before I begin a new writing session. This allows me to immerse myself into the story and re-engage with the characters. I also need it to be quiet. I don’t write with any type of background sound or noise.
Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?
John: During my drafts, I tend to use “than” and “had” within my sentences. When I go back for my re-writes, I usually delete most of those words because they really aren’t needed or I restructure the sentence to sound better.
Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?
John: I have been influenced by a number of people over the years. I always note actors John Wayne, James Stewart, Maureen O’Hara, and Clint Eastwood. Film directors John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Henry Hathaway. Literary models include Louis L’Amour, Robert B. Parker, C. J. Box, and Lee Child.
Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?
John: My home office is my sanctuary. I have it decorated to perfection and I do my best work there.
Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?
John: My day job is currently a police detective and has been for the last 40 years. Let’s just say I’m ready to write full time now.
Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?
John: Actually just getting one book published. I was fortunate that my first manuscript caught the attention of a publishing company and agent. My first two books have been recognized with a combined 13 literary awards.
Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?
John: This is a tough one, but I’ll go with Louis L’Amour. Years after his death, he’s still considered the King of the Western genre.
Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?
John: Well, since I’m still in hot pursuit of wealth and fame, I’ll go with admiration. Not of me, but my work. I hope my readers and fans admire my work. That would define success for me, but I sure would like a best seller also! (Laughing)
In 1877 U.S. Deputy Marshal Luxton Danner and Texas Ranger Wes Payne are dispatched to the Red River border of Texas and the Indian Territory to protect settlements on the Texas side of the river. The settlements were constant victims of outlaw raiders that hid out in the Indian Territory because there was no law enforcement there. Danner and Payne embark on an adventure to rid the area of outlaw superiority and reclaim the town of Range for the settlers.
Thanks for sharing your writing process and resulting story, John. Sounds like a great read and I bet doing the research for it was fascinating.
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