Crossing genres in the wild west...
My Lance Howard westerns, I am fond of saying, are a cross between Gunsmoke and Scooby Doo. Take one heaping measure of traditional western-shoot-'em-up, add a few dashes of mystery, the macabre and even a sprinkle of romance, then mix well. Serve with hot lead, full-bodied characters, and blazing action and you have the basic recipe for one of my Black Horse Westerns, and I am certain many others of the one-hundred plus titles published each year by Robert Hale, Ltd.
While many purists may grumble about diluting to genre's bloodline and a large portion of the general nonwestern readership remains completely unaware of the scope of the Western literary form, most Black Horse Western writers bask in the freedom to tell a rip-roaring tale of the Mythical West and mix things up a bit within the genre. Few outside the genre realize the breadth and depth of which the Western genre is capable — in fact, possibly dependent on for growth and sustainment.
These nontraditional, traditional hardcover westerns allow readers and writers a great deal of creative imagining. Even nonwestern readers I have personally converted to this unique line have found themselves pleasantly surprised at just what a western can encompass. This "range", forgive the pun, contributes much to the appeal of these attractively packaged books.
Crossing genres is just one of the techniques employed by Black Horse writers to add spice to captivating tales of the mythical West and its colorful characters and panorama.
Since I am most familiar with my own stories, I'll mention a few of them, ones that will, I hope, illustrate just a smattering of what's available for readers within these collectible little hardbacks.
With origins as a horror writer, I am most fond of stirring the pot with a bit of supernatural intrigue and menace. I began this cross-pollination with my second Black Horse Western, The Comanche's Ghost, wherein the supposed spook of a rampaging Indian terrorized a small cattle ranch. While my stories probably owe more to the old pulp hero Doc Savage and his main chronicler, Lester Dent, than to the Scooby Doo cartoons, I like to think I carry on the tradition of campfire ghost tales and Native American lore, all served up in a few hours escape from the day's grind and depressing world events. You won't find a heavy-handed dose of political correctness in these books, but you'll find a pleasant sense of exhilaration and relaxation (probably the readers' equivalent of riding the mechanical bull at a western bar).
I carried on the mysterious blend with The West Witch and a number of others, most recently The Devil's Peacemaker, The West Wolf, and The Silver-Mine Spook. Recently I decided to branch out into mystery with Johnny Dead and Ladigan (upcoming from Black Horse).
Westerns offer a marvelous canvass for storytellers, and an even more exciting vista for readers. Crossing into other genres such as horror, romance, mystery and even science fiction (as watchers of Brisco County and The Wild Wild West can attest) only serves to increase the popularity, longevity, and revitalization of a time-tested, beloved literary form (not to mention America's truly indigenous genre now embraced by many countries in the world). It makes the gold nuggets shine all the brighter. Black Horse blazes the trail, so cast away those notions of what you thought the Western was and saddle up for the ride of your life.
— Howard Hopkins writing as Lance Howard is the author of 21 Black Horse Westerns, his most recent The Silver-Mine Spook just out in trade paperback. He has authored seven other novels in the western, horror, and young adult horror genre, as well as publishing an electronic journal for pulp enthusiast called Golden Perils. His most recent Black Horse sale is titled Poison Pass..
Contact Howard at Yingko2.aol.comnospam (remove the "nospam" from the address)