Western Writer Johnny D. Boggs Epi. 56 Host Dr. Mark Sublette

Western Writer Johnny D. Boggs Epi. 56 Host Dr. Mark Sublette



[Applause] great I've got Johnny D Boggs and I'm noticed on your website which I'm going to plug right now Johnny Boggs calm you put the D in there what's the D for it's my middle name yes but Johnny Darrel Boggs if you need to know yeah my father's name you got the same thing with mine I'm James Martin sublet I understand I do but I had always gone by Johnny Boggs and my first job out of college was a sports writer at the Dallas Times Herald and my editor says why don't you use your middle initial I said well why he goes because Johnny D Boggs flows a lot better than just Johnny Boggs and I said well sure put it in there he's right yeah yeah I remember they'd sent me out to the bureau and I was Arlington Bureau and the first guy who I've know the reporter came up to introduce themselves are you Johnny D box he thought I was French that's funny and when he heard you're South Carolinian like this in Paris yeah let's start with that I'm kind of interested so you grew up in South Carolina right yeah and where your mom and dad south carolinians as well they were south carolinians um my mother's family were longtime South Carolinians that came over in the 1720s oh wow my grandfather came from Illinois so they try to keep that part sy quiet on my side of the family because my great-grandfather was you know he served under grant the Civil War so your great-grandfather was a Yankee yeah clearly the other component of yours were not clearly but they tried not to keep my great grandfather's name was Ulysses and I said well Ulysses yeah that's how they said he pronounced it and I said probably cause he knew if he pronounced it Ulysses and South Carolina it wasn't gonna go over to do my grandfather was Ulysses okay but Ulysses yeah so I grew up in South India back of country heat humidity all that all that good stuff and not probably eyes trying to feel how does a guy from South Carolina become a Western rider and it kind of struck me well you know what the West was a long way from those swamps and tobacco farms that I grew up with yeah but there is some kind of that ruinous right and and there also they like history there I bet they do and you think about the places and I haven't really visited South Carolina much but if you think about all those plantations as historic homes they take that stuff serious I take it very serious but and they're very they love their history they're proud about it they are very proud about it now sometimes too proud but do you really want to be proud about that oh yeah like more of the Confederates rising right yeah my great grandfather was in Andersonville oh yeah which side yeah that's a good question right no he was yeah he was a Yankee side yeah so yeah and actually there was Florence County one of the worst prison war camps was in Florence South Carolina oh yeah it's very interesting yeah so there's a lot of history there and what did your what did your mom and dad do my mom was is still she was the proverbial you know southern housewife though who ran the family and did all the food and was excellent with the back end and my father was a building contractor and then we had a tobacco farm cash crops with tobacco sometimes cotton soybeans whatever he sub kind of sub least that but he was a building contractor so I worked in construction and I was kind of like Elmer Kelton the great western novelist his Ned told him says you need to find another line of work so when my dad retired as a building contractor my my kids sister got the router or the miter box and all those things she was much better at that than I was and you started off early on because I read your bio which is really interesting by oh by the way but you started writing early like third grade you started doing third grade I the English teacher said write a story just write a tail tail you're making something up and I have no idea what I wrote but I remember that feeling I got I said well this is pretty neat you mean I can make things up and get away with it and started thinking about that and so great school people would come up to me says well can you write me a story what do you want science fiction okay I can do that a mystery sure thriller okay yeah I didn't write too much westerns at that time but uh you were actually selling those right – yeah like a nickel dime so you're making were a lot better back then and you remember your third grade teacher was mrs. Maynard and I don't I just remember the name mostly you know third grade and I'm can picture what she looked like but yeah she was she I don't know she was that much encouraging but later in through school the other teachers are like you really should do this you mean keep it up keep it up did you enter any contest for me I did I can't remember what it was but a friend of mine a classmate of mine and we both entered this story that I guess our parents found out so we we both wrote something and I always like to brag that his was rejected before mine was so he got the rejection first and then I got one couple of days later but even at that point you were thinking about I was thinking this is really what I want to do I had no idea how you do it mm-hm and at some point in high school I started or played on the varsity football team I wasn't good enough to play baseball in South Carolina was pretty good baseball team but I kept the book I was the manager so I was keeping the score book and part of my job was to call in the results to the local newspapers radio station TV stations and and I started you know looking at the newspapers and I said well wait a minute maybe this is how you make a living writing I can be a sports writer or newspaper journalist and then at the same time kind of write on the side and so I went to the University of South Carolina I majored in journalism and it's the first job out of college was at the Dallas Times Herald so I was kind of in the West if you consider Dallas the West well it's interesting you know because I am I interview a lot of artists right and I see this recurrent theme going on an artist and you're an artist right and the theme is that early on usually somewhere in this third to fifth grade that they get some encouragement right we are an art teacher and recognition yeah and that sets the tone it does it does and you fall right into the same thing as the artist I interview for magazines artists all the time for various magazine article do you live in Santa Fe New Mexico they'd say well that's true I don't really know a whole lot about art but you know the journalism background says well you do some research and you can you know get your way through it so yeah but every artist I've ever asked and the first question is how did you get interested in art well it's ever since I was a kid yeah and they win something right right they get that encouragement yes and I got the encouragement early on from mater's this is yeah yeah yeah yeah and then mrs. Langston was like fourth or fifth grade and she always said I believe she made it up but she always says that I would be writing short stories while she was given the lecture but whenever she called on me I'd know the answer I'm not sure how did you I was a good student yeah that's about a B student I was a B student through college was never quite made the a list too often although my final semester at the University of South Carolina I was a four oh but that's journalism it's you're taking your core classes there yeah you should be well you are doing the things you love right and that was true too and what did your mom and dad think when you go I'm gonna go to journalism I mean that's really out of the wheelhouse from what yeah it was I think my mom really her ideal job for me was be teaching English and coaching baseball at a South Carolina school my dad was really good about it my mom was – dad was I can't live my kids lives yeah that's really yeah yeah but they were pretty cool and but I learned I was writing southern stories as much as I was writing westerns and and those were historical at that point although the westerns were I don't know what were the Western some Western short stories were kind of all over the place a little blend of maybe literary and traditional but the southerners were pretty autobiographical mm-hmm and I sent the first southern story that I had published back home and I learned if you want to stay close to your family you get these southern stories published keep them to yourselves the westerns you can send home and those they even if the Western characters were based on people I've known growing up they say the southern stuff that can get you in a lot of trouble because they took it too personal they did yeah they saw themselves right this is me right you know why you're writing I said the first story home and I said don't do that again and who gave you grief about this Oh both of them in my mom and dad well my mom was always kind of she was you know she was hard shell southern it still is hard shell southern baptists and it was like I don't know where you picked up this language but it was the language it bothered the language bothers her a little more and then some of the stories and like I said I learned you know Mahmud really doesn't need to be reading this short story yeah and it's not just because of the language yeah well because she could affect you or tell you what you should or shouldn't be drying takes your crazy crazy activity I don't think so that didn't take you long and when you were sending those back was that from like college that you were doing that the first couple I had a couple of westerns actually published in the literary magazine in the University of South Carolina well and and and then and working in Dallas I'd send off these you know short stories to literary publications that were paying me to contributors copies maybe $5 once I got an offer for $100 for a short story as a western short story and they folded before they could publish a story or give me the check and what was their first paying gig do you remember your first paying story that you got I think was 5 bucks and it was for an anthology and it was a Western short story kind of a southern Western shorts and I got five bucks on it's okay I'm a professional rider well you are technically really yeah and that was in college that was some no that was mmm 80s I was out of college I was working at the Dallas Times Herald most run they graduated 84 I graduated college in 1984 so it's probably 88 I think when the first published short story outside of college made it into print and what did you do for those four years after you got out of college I was working at a newspaper I worked at the Dallas Times here that's when you might be Dallas right out of college actually before I even graduation I was driving out to Dallas like violence I was it was a job offer yeah luck I mean you no doubt you go from South Carolina to a city of a million to a Pulitzer Prize winning paper with a circulation of 220,000 daily 300 thousand plus on Sundays but they were expanding they were opening up a new zone bureaus like they were opening for zones and they needed sports writers to cover these zones and I was just happened to be one of the lucky ones on my one of my professors had met a associate managing editor I had a convention or something like that and he came up to me in the hallway and said write this guy tell him you met me sell him tell him I met him at a convention and that he used my name and tell him I said that blah blah blah they have any questions call him and I don't I always said I don't know what photos he had of this guy but I sent it in and they called me up and I got a job yeah can you made a good connection I made a great connection and it was great training I mean newspapers at the time it was a competitive market it was high-stress and it teaches you there's no such thing as writer's block you've got to write with clarity and brevity and I gotta be got to be time yeah you by a long time always and I did that for about a year and a half and then I I was out in Arlington which is a long way from Dallas and I said your chance of advancement is probably better and on the copy desk than it is being a reporter and been closer to Fort Worth and Yard a Dallas so when they asked me if I would be willing to move to the copy desk a and I did that and within a few years I was copied as chief and sports and year so after that I was assistant sports editor in charge of the night operation and what are you doing that what's your job in something like that you're your middle management you're managing the ships who's working on each night and then you're kind of in charge if something happens and there was always something happening to like breaking news breaking but all sports really but all sports related and then you know sometimes you a story breaks that is sports related but it's also something that's worthy of the front-page cover and things like that Billy Martin died on Christmas I was working that night and I was like okay we got to do something here so then the paper closed in 1991 and I went to the well was bought out by the competition oh yeah the story there is we my wife and I bought a house the house was built in 1941 we moved in on December 7th 1991 December 8th we got the first call saying um we just bought your paper and we're shutting you down so for those who don't know the December 7th 1941 reference that's Pearl Harbor and so the day afterwards yeah you I was out of a job you were out of a job that's gonna be a scary it's situations very scared you have any kids or any no we had no kids and you had a house payment we had a house payment and our payment and the plant closing law guaranteed me unemployment our severance packed a four I think was a three months or something like that about time the severance was running out when the Fort Worth star-telegram hired me and again I had to start up I start out as I was in charge and I'm back to just working as a general copy editor on the Sports Desk and again I moved up to assistant sports editor in charge of the night operation overtime overtime I was there for about six and a half years and in 98 I was just thinking I'd had a I was freelancing enough outside of the newspapers working for some magazines I think I had sold a couple of novels very low pay but I was just thinking you know I want this newspaper gig was a lot much a lot of those fun when you're in your 20s because you're 35 yeah yeah yeah the 30s and I was like um yeah and so I kind of kind of came home I was working nights I'm working four to one my wife is working she's selling ant at the time 9:00 to 5:00 we never saw each other her friends always said I was a figment of her imagination and I just came home one night she she hated her job I'm getting burned out working newspapers yeah after all those years and came home and she's sobbing in bed and I'm like look here's an idea it's kind of as a joke but I said we sell the house we moved to Santa Fe New Mexico we've been to Santa Fe twice it was never really on our radar mm-hmm and you get a job and I'll stay home and write full-time and she says that's a great idea I said okay now let's go to bed but she called she she believed it and she called and she got the job and all of a sudden I said wait a minute the first person to look at the house actually made a full price offer on it and we said okay now what am I gonna do this is like 89 this was 98 98 so in 98 honey and he both of you kind of needed this change yeah I think so but she really spurred us she spurted on she was very supportive and what was the job she got in Santa that she was selling ads for a magazine that didn't really pan out and then we had a kid and then um she decided she want to be a realtor so she kicked us out of the house every day so she could study for the real estate ma'am and he was my son was four years old or something like that and she passed the real estate exam she loves it but it's kind of frightening there because you've got a realtor and you've got a rider you don't produce you don't get paid or if you have economic turn right very well easily how can happen in fact we had the crash right after she got her real estate yeah mm yeah it was pretty rare about 37 or so at that time it was it was so you have a kid riding yeah and we've been two years in Santa Fe and now have used and you're writing I'm writing I'm riding all the time I'm writing books I'm writing magazines it's just saying you never turn down an assignment when you're a freelancer because you don't know who's gonna read it and it's a paying gig and doesn't matter if they're paying you 25 bucks or 2,500 you take the job and you still feel that's the case I'm a little more selective I think a little bit that so much for you but before yeah sure but for other writers no and I always you know I just told a couple of magazines a little while ago because the books were so piled up I said I can't really do anything for you into September yeah and you kind of it's still a bit of right because you say well you know what are they gonna call you back in September yeah because they like they don't like rejection either yeah but right yeah so it's kind of it's a fear I you read these interviews of like Buck Owens Johnny Cash all these great musicians who grew up in abject poverty pretty much then they become famous and they work themselves hard hard hard because of the fear yeah of going having to go back to that poverty well and your parents too ordinary yeah absolutely from the South right and they still have a history of what can happen Russ out right so yeah so it's always a little bit of frightening yes I when I'm teaching at a Writers Conference or Writers Workshop the first thing I tell the writers they don't want to hear it I said don't quit your day job yeah this is a tough tough tough way to make a living I think it's the toughest it is I think it's a lot harder than being a artist you know right a painter or sculptor I think it's you know you may go you know from books it could take you four years to get a book out sure you know and you've got to support yourself right between yeah there's a lot of people who want to write and they'll do it for free or undercut you and it's it's hard it's nerve-racking it's not for everyone now you set your own hours but you know you don't produce you don't get paid and if the book doesn't sell those always a good chance the publishers gonna say you know what yeah we can't use you anymore so have you had that happen yeah I've been dropped before yeah yeah when did that happen I deal for penguin Putnam one of the books won the Wrangler award from the Oklahoma National cowboy and howl of Fame Museum in Oklahoma City and I was really good but the books didn't sell and so they just ya know we really don't want any more of these books and and it took a while I mean I was getting published with other publishers but they weren't the New York houses and they were like it took a while before those the the failure of those books to produce kind of goes into the back of the system and then people start looking at you and they say okay well we'll take a chance on you every now and then but yeah yeah the awards are great and I love the awards and it's a tremendous honor but it's a business the bottom line is sales yeah and so when you have something like that the penguin press says oh yeah you you you know you want awards you did three books they don't sell do they come to you and say write in a different genre that may be something that will be more sellable because they see you're a good writer but they some have always kind of some have suggested that a little bit but they've never actually come through and say yeah why don't you do that because you get a the other thing is you get typecast a little bit mm-hmm and they know I can do a Western can I do a thriller right we'll have to say I mean yeah if they came up to me and said can you do a thriller they'd want in they probably want to see an outline a detailed outline some sample chapters and stuff like that and you know writings rotting but you know I cannot do that I don't know you can do it I'm sure what would you do that's the question I serve that see that's a writer to me that's right right because you're willing to do it because you know that's your job right no that's been writing is writing yeah and I always say you know you can find a book that says how to write a mystery novel how to write a romance novel how to write a Western novel how to write a thriller novel they all say the pretty much the same thing it's all about character it's all about you know driving giving something that readers can identify with and and they're you know they're different little formats maybe you they want to throw in there but but it's all riding dialogue a dialogue don't kill the dog don't kill the dog I mean it's funny but to some extent I mean I think of those things Eva was that writers group I was actually in the audience and they were reading they had an literary agent and a book publisher and they were reason like the first page or something like that of a manuscript and then they would you know critique it you kill the dog and if now it's going immediate to the rejection files do you can't do that I know I'd say I mean it's a real thing you can kill Old Yeller at the end yeah but not on the first page so you're in Santa Fe and you're working are you starting to do magazine articles for art magazines too because you've done a lot of really have and that was just the fluke of living in Santa Fe I'm more the fact you were there III don't know if it's a fluke I mean to me something sent you there sure and what I didn't realize is there it's an accepting community especially for our desires right and you know riders we always say are the lowest form of and the lowest form of celebrity but it is an art form yes and you're creating absolutely yes and so it's very accepting and there are a number of writers there so by Hampton sides great guy my favorite Oh superb historian I was actually added that they they there's a fundraising thing called the New Mexico riders dinner it's an annual thing in March it's been going on about three years and and it's just to kind of help out beginning riders and stuff like that and this past March I was there again and this woman says come on sit over here we'll see if we consider this table and they sat me down and I'm between Hampton sides David Morales other side yeah and Douglas Preston the rest of child I'm between Hampton sides and and Doug Preston and they're just how do you do this watch your favorite western movie they're just talking to me yes wait a minute I'm at the big boys table these two fabulous riders are asking me about my craft does it uh about dreaming well I think the only difference between them and you it's not the writing ability your writing ability is just as good it's just that they have found that audience whatever it is and and they're paid for it at a different level sure and and I understand that but I bet they've read your books and I bet they like them and and you know it's a weird thing when you don't think you maybe should be in that level but you really are right and it's hard for you to see it but I think other people would see it I guarantee at this Western Writers Association some you'll be at some table and there's gonna be a writer he's gonna sit next to you that's maybe done two or three right and they're gonna feel like you're that guy and just like that you know really yeah but you know Western I would feel the same I just bought em to size blood and thunder I bought a secondary copy just cuz I wanted I couldn't find my first just because I wanted to reread it it was just as good it just he's just the ability to weave in all this great history with us with a story that just kind of resonates today that's hard to do but he's a brilliant writer I'm broke a great historian and a really funny guy yeah I've heard him talk of yeah yeah well so when you started writing in these art magazines did you have to educate yourself about art sure as much as the artists yeah yeah and how do you go well you know it's a lot easier now I mean you can go back I mean they they give you and Simon sa can you interview this artists and and he if it's a contemporary artist you go to the website and you you research as much as you can about him you look at their art you try to figure out their backgrounds or whatever and then then the rest of us just like interviewing anybody else I mean the same question it's how you get started and then you let the interview take its own course mm-hmm you know I think you can't anticipate an answer like you always ask you know how'd you get started and you kind of know what that answer is gonna be but sometimes maybe it's a little different and you have to be prepared to let the interview do itself and go wherever the interview takes you don't try to formulate the interview and and how this articles gonna pan out you mean actually listen yeah and that's you know newspaper training you're trained observer but you're also trained a listener and you can try to figure out what works and sometimes you know sometimes an interview is just terrible and you got oh man how am I gonna make this work and then sometimes you've got so much great information you got to figure out Wow where do I go where do I start how do I do this and that's the challenge but that's kind of that's probably the art of it today yeah that's sure certainly is what's gonna be important to the reader and what are you you have to have fun doing it too yeah well you know people always say is it fun to write and I always say well it's I like to have written yeah the actual sitting down there right yeah it is work people ask me that saying yes that's like Anna and I I've never said it's fun no well bad but I know whether Ryder said you're a liar ridings fun I said maybe for you but yeah it's hard and it's work and it's taxing and it's a job I look at it almost like a workout you know that's interesting yeah yeah because at the end of the workout I feel really good and I'm glad I did it but those first that first bit was hard to get going and I have a certain amount I got to do I don't have to do like a thousand words I'm gonna do without shorts period right and but when I'm done with it's like oh yeah I feel really good ya know but you know you get a dent on paper and then you can fix it that's one my approach as I was reading there's a new book out by Robert Caro who's done the LBJ and a tremendous amount of biographies and he did a memoir on researching writing and work and there was a line that he used I said when he was first starting out and he's you know reporter for a newspaper and he was really fast typer and as editor said you'd be a lot better you're good but she'd be a lot better if you didn't think with your fingers yeah I can understand that a little bit cuz I'm you know I'm a fairly fast writer from the newspaper training and stuff like that but then you go back and say wait a minute y'all yeah you need to slow it down a little bit and that's kind of hard for our next newspaper journalist do to get into that thing to think slow it down you don't have that's a very hard thing to do yeah yeah and have you been able to do that or no yeah I try yeah I'm sure at some point in the process right that probably the second or third or fourth draft you're going slow so I'm not you're filling in right and then you're reading a lot slower you're eating carefully and you said wait a minute this really isn't that clear this really doesn't work with the character actually say yeah let's think it's really important yeah it is you know I just read your the fall of Abilene oh okay which was fantastic it really was fans really ya know it was and I highly encourage people to okay to take this book I gave it a five star rating what but you know you could I listened for those you know components of description and continuity and story right and you clearly weren't writing fast at those points because you got it right no no that one yes you're right and and one of the things I I I took a number of theater classes when I was at the University of South Carolina and yond a little bit acting here on stage and everything but you you do the approach the same way the character the man walks into a bar okay what's his motivation why is he walking into the saloon and get drunk just to get out of the heat I mean you have to figure all this out a little bit and once you find that motivation of the character it's a lot easier to bring this character to life now and a lot of times I plot out this kind of a loose outline it's not a very concrete outline because if you get a concrete outline and the story takes you in a different direction if you follow that outline it can be predictable mm-hmm and the worst thing you can do in a book is be predictable that's so I haven't loose outline I know where the story is that a written out outline or one in your head it's very it's written out usually but it's like just a little notes on paper it's just very loose in the middle in the beginning middle end what's gonna happen Rod's into town how much you gonna describe the town that's really on the field but I always try to make the dialogue off-the-cuff mm-hmm so it so it sounds like a regular conversation do you see those characters in your head yes yeah I do yeah yeah I mean you feel them and you can I get on you I can hear them interesting thing a number of the books have been subsidiary rights of install to audiobooks which is a expanding market I listen to your book on did you I did okay and I liked it a lot I haven't heard that one yet so I was I was trying to but you listen to it and you go huh well that's not how I heard it in my head when I was writing it but I kind of like that that's a different interpretation as an artistic interpretation yeah acting is an art form too yeah and then sometimes the great thing about listening to audiobooks is sometime you you know driving in the Congo Wow I actually wrote that I know the feeling I did mine an audio yeah the first time I heard it was like oh my god that sounds better than my room that's it I've got a believer wrote that no the time is yours again oh my god did I actually write that oh where was my editor well you know how did you get into the historical novels I mean cuz that's really what you're known for right yeah I think the historical stuff so fairly fairly that's what people think and they always say ma a man how did you get that history right now that well you sure it's right you know sometimes I mean you got conflicting things of history but well and when you write that too I mean you're not trying to keep it all exact no I'm saying I say this is a novel I mean yeah that's what I don't quote me in your term paper right yeah I'm writing fiction I make things up if I'm writing nonfiction I try to get that a lot more accurate than the fiction but the Fila fiction is it's different I mean you've got to go for a little bit of a feel but you do all your research and you do as much research as you can but then you've got all these conflicting ideas are these conflicting stories what's different and you've got to figure that out but the bottom line is you figure out the character and you you get it as close to what you think would be right or what sounds right for the character but the history I was a lover of history just growing up and man it kind of bothered me sometimes when you you we used to watch a number of western movies okay right or any kind of movies you know well you know what that's not exactly what happened it's not even close to what happened you want to get a little closer than that right you want to get the hist the basic idea of the history right well you did that in the last in the fall of AB yeah you know I'd read Calvin's book on Wild Bill Hickok right before I read yours uh-huh and so I knew the facts right and it was wonderful how you kept to them and the important ones to Iraq the ones that you you know you've got the right ones and believe it or not for me it may made the biography better because I could feel it in a different sensibility because I knew the facts right and you kept pretty close to all the historical at least important historical facts and I kind of even knew those facts we're gonna coming up and I was excited to hear how is he going to write that write the story but it did give me a feel a different sensibility about the history because I could see them more in a humanistic form and that's what you really want to do in fiction is is make the care of me you write a story about the Battle of Little Bighorn you know how it ends yeah you write a story about Billy the Kid you probably know how that ends and now when you're writing about history I mean people know that story they know that general history of that how do you make it real how do you make it relevant how do you make the reader want to keep reading when they already knows the bar they already can guess what the ending is gonna be right even if they don't know and you're right okay and so to do that I think it's all about character and when you did that book since it's no kind we're talking about out by the way it is it's 2019 for any book you got to go read it but had that been ruminating in your head to do something on with Wild Bill Hickok and Hardin and those guys well I'm a huge fan of Wild Bill Hickok yeah me too yeah I've always kind of he's just simpler than life and that's kind of a sad figure too yeah yeah so I always kind of liked him he was we seem to be a fun guy Hardin not so much Hardin is bloody killer absolutely homicidal mania yeah yeah yeah actually and the great biography of him written by Leon Metz Leon always said after he wrote this book he was like really disturbed because he's right it's a cold bloody just vicious killer I'm just a mean sob but you kind of you had to make him a little bit of human I mean words yeah right yeah you know even being us right you know he could have his moments I'm sure expensive you're a young kid you know looking up to somebody like that right so that one had been kicking around most I mean people say what are you coming for your with your ideas the ideas I've got a commuter yeah and it's just at some point you got to say well yeah I think I want to write this one and one of the things I've tried to do not always succeeded but I've tried to try to make the next book different than the one I just wrote I think it's smart yeah because both creatively for you to when I was reading Louis L'Amour starting off him in my early teens I was like well this is pretty much the same story I just read and I can understand and I'm not knocking Louis L'Amour at all because every novel I've ever picked up of his I finished but it's like I think I'd like to do things different Lauren D esselman is a member of Western writers of America I was one five spur Awards tremendous writer I when I started reading him before I even had any idea that I could actually write a novel he kind of jumped out at me because every story of his was different it was a different setting kind of a different style things like that Russell banks a great writer he was pretty much the same way Hampton side you can do the nonfiction he's going through different subjects to different subjects absolutely different yeah I mean but they're all about interesting people and interesting people and a time of caricature and yeah character driven and it's an emotional hard time and they are they're up against tough situations always and how do you deal with that and people handle stress different ways so it's always about the care and do you have more than one book going on I can't I can't write two novels at the same time yeah I can you know I can't just do that that's lucky you get confused but I bet when you finish the one you're right under them I'm ready to get the next one you don't want to think about I don't think about after it's edited and done it's out and then too I listen to it on audio and the car a long trip I done it's done you've read it a million times yeah I explain a book once I set it off to the publisher and my wife she goes what do you think I said it's the worst piece of crap I've ever written I just wanted out of the house I never want to see huh and it probably did fine hey I want a reward I think that's true sometimes because I see this with artists with painters right right really great painters that I won't even mention their name but I've had them say I don't think this is very good what do you think they want my opinion right and sometimes I agree but usually more than that I'm gonna say it's fantastic because it is you're a really great pain right but they're so close to it right where it's a little out of their realm right absolutely can't see it as being you know that thing it's and usually it goes like that so it's just a crazy thing you know so I don't see it being that different probably from riding no I don't think it is you know it wins an award right yeah okay and do you ever for me I do get these kind of aha moments when I write it but when I start a book that somebody will come in and say something to me a story they'll tell me a story of something of their life something real and I go oh god doesn't nugget right yeah you got to be careful what you tell me yeah so it's the same oh yeah yeah you hear something that wait a minute this this there's something there right and it could be anything a joke could just along that's right Ryan right actually I was reading years ago and I did a short story on it but I was reading a biography of Daniel Boone and it came down to when he was an older man in Missouri in early 1800s and they asked him to become like basically I just have justice of the peace and he'd hold court under this old elm tree I believe and they called it the judgement tree mm-hm and I just underlined that right there judgment tree that's a great title it's a tie yeah right and I said I can do a novel home and I wound up doing a short story yeah but the just the worst the judgment tree I said bang bingo that's something there and did you work it backwards from that to do the story or yeah yeah all right but you still using dinner I learned you had to use Daniel Boone and I use the title of the short story was the judge I had the same kind of so yeah get that the Little Bighorn they'd been so much written about that and I just said I want to do it from multiple points of view first-person I did that with Northfield a novel I wrote about the Northfield Minnesota raid and the idea actually came from Shelby foot's novel Shiloh we took first-person view points from a handful of characters and just told the story of the Battle of Shiloh from this viewpoints of Confederates and Union soldiers and I said well that's so maybe that's how I'd like to do Northfield and when I said I'll just do a novel from like six first-person points of view and when I started researching them the Northfield Minnesota raid I said there's no way I can limit to the six people so it was like probably 20-something characters each chapter was a different first-person view point and that one you really had to get your outline down pat because you've got to jump from a cold-blooded killer to a civilian to a five-year-old daughter of one of the victims but I did that and and I'll probably wasn't one of your more fun ones that you did but the difficulty part of that was when you're riding from either first person or third person and you're just limited to that viewpoint you can go back and reread the previous chapter to just get into a feel and edit that and then you start the new chapter but this one was harder because every every chapter was different that's a different viewpoint and it's a short story yeah 20 short stories so I did that and it was it was very well received and and and what was the title at Northfield that's a hard thing I think to do as a writer it is it was very hard and once I finished it and sent it off and did all the editing and it's published I said I'm never doing that again and then I started thinking about a little bit of corn I said well greasy grass let's be my title because that was the Lakota name for the river and I said I can do that and but I can't do that from just 20 viewpoints so I think I did like 40 something no noise from everyone and that's just yeah you get criticized a little bit because you can't really identify with one character because every chatter and some of the chapters are really short some of them are like a like a page some of them are a little longer but I did that and the idea was just to to tell the story of the battle and just tell the story of the Northfield raid and make that the battle itself and the raid itself is the character mm-hmm and it's just different points of view and you tried to get as many Lakota civilian soldier Cheyenne crow viewpoints as you could and then you also have to write Custer's yes yes and that has to be hard because we have our set right what who he thought he was right and so how do you go about not being prejudiced on that can you I think you have your own prejudices and but you you read I always say you know I'm not a big fan of Custer I certainly can't say I'm a fan of Jesse James right but you know and the extremes of Custer is easy he's either the the glorious Medal of Honor medal of honor a great guy a super leader or he's just an idiot who gets his command wiped out yeah our Indian hating guy who gets what he deserves yeah there had to be something about him to have these men follow up all right there had to be and Jesse James the same way he's a cold-blooded killer so you thug yeah so you attack it from that point of view but he is he is somebody and there has to be something about him that that he can't be too one-dimensional let's put it that way he's got a head because people followed him yeah you go to Missouri people still some people you got to be careful what you say about Jesse well there's a lot of people named Jesse James okay I've got a for a reason yeah mine died one of my niece's um Sons is Jesse James really did they know they did oh yeah it's kind of lost when right I did his nostril is the problem yeah and so how do you deal with language when you're doing these historical novels one you got to get it right that's right right right I can't use terms that don't exist true and I'd have period dictionaries mmm my desk and now the last thing I usually do is I go back and I try to say is this was this order around that just because you make sure you get the right but you have to cheat because I've done pre-revolutionary novel war novels set in the south which was the frontier at the time and if I wrote dialogues people actually spoke and the 1700s are some cases to the 1800 it would not seem readable to today's readers so you have to kind of cheat a little bit and kind of make it sound like it's authentic but at the same time it's something that people can understand and also just for race issues too sure how do you deal with that could you know that's gonna be kind of especially in this day and age it can be really hard I wondered about that when I was reading your book how do you deal with because would they say you know how would they use some of those epitaph that they used on some of them and I thought you handled it brilliantly by the way well thank you yeah yeah but I wondered how you thought you must have had to grown up in the south it was it was in the south during desegregation and things like that I think it really made a big impression on me so much that you know that's the use of the n-word I mean it was really prevalent at that time and in some cases is still prevalent today maybe too much and I was for a while I use it sparingly I'm certainly not Quentin Tarantino style right but at some point I just I just read that and I said I need to eliminate this word I can't use this word ever again and I and it's a debate and it's a certainly a debate at Western writers of America do you be period-correct historically correct I mean how do you do that and I said well you can be historically correct but you my theory is the sooner that word is eliminated from our language the better off this country it's going to be yeah and I just said I'm done with that and I can have them say something and you understand what he's saying but I don't have to use that word that's right and you know you live in Santa Fe right which is one of the most culturally diverse culturally diverse there's really no majority yeah it's a third American Indian it's a third Hispanic it's a third white another yeah which is a great place to live yeah I think it does give you a different sensibility of what America really right it can be and will be at some 1970s I'm I'm their mandatory integration of the schools and 15 miles from my house they're turning over school buses yeah and protests yeah I did I went through us today we did the same yeah we don't have that but we have rocks and stuff it was a terrible time yeah yeah if you got Vietnam dividing this you got all this going on and you're 8 9 10 11 12 years old and you're going through this I think it really affected me yeah it did me for sure sure it made me think of things differently yeah I mean right our junior high student vice president or vice principal said no Spanish will be spoken I'm in New Mexico at school now that didn't go over so well no I could imagine yeah yeah all the Hispanic Ana's walked out as they should right but that was a big deal and whatever that would have been 72 and I remember trying to get a grips of what's going on you know with your parents wire what's what why can't they speaks man right and you know and what do I have to worry about well because that makes me and you know makes everybody kind of angry at each other no no and so I learned I think from that and it sounds like you had those sound of experience first and second grade there was one black boy in my class and I kind of thought he was cool I liked hanging out with him and things like that and my mom later told me said you know we couldn't throw a birthday party for you when you were that young because you'd wanted to him and and we wouldn't had a problem of that but the neighbors love in that amazing yeah there's a South Carolina it's South Carolina and it's early 70s it was but it kind of thing would I be a different person if I hadn't grown up with that was my riding be different and what I took then and if I had not been cognizant of what was going on it's probably you think about you yeah so carefully what I wondered about that when I was listening to that story is you know cuz I thought you did get it right thank you and and I figured you must have had some internal dialogue with yourself – yeah you know how do I handle this right because it's a question you know and and it's something I guess anybody who deals in historical fiction has to do right and there's always guys do you want to be historically correct or do you want to be politically correct nothing yep just be true to whichever one you want I mean I always said if you look at the two Academy Award winners for best pictures in the 1990s they were westerns Dances with Wolves yeah great movie it's politically correct they just kind of reverse the stereotypes yeah Unforgiven totally there's not one redeeming character in that entire movie they're all awful people so it's very historically correct and they both win Academy Awards yeah so you know just be true you can be there's nothing wrong with being politically correct yeah what do you give advice for young people that want to go into I would even say not just writing but your genre of writing more historical fiction because it seems to me that the audience is changing for that right especially for Western right yeah yeah yeah what do you we don't know you you don't know where it's gone but if you want to be you've gonna write about history you need to get the history right at least but you also have to make it relevant to what people honor people today I mean I think Americans haven't changed a whole lot we still want the same things as we wanted in the 1800s and 1860s in 1819 OS I mean people don't change a whole lot circumstances and the technology and the environment might change a little bit but the people are pretty much the same so I can take characters that I grew up with in the 1960s and 1970s into the 1980s and I can transport these people that I knew into the Western setting or the pre-revolutionary war or the Revolutionary War settings and just you know adapt them into that time how would okhla bub mm-hmm have acted on a Texas trail drive right yeah do you see that audience changing for westerns and especially historical westerns the wonder about that yeah the audience says it's thinking yeah aging right and there's that's something that we have to reach out to and try to figure out it's a it's a I was actually talking to a gallery owner and gallery director in Santa Fe and we were talking about the same thing western films western literature Western art you will in the same boat oh it is no I know that's why you know it's it's as an aging market and how do you reach out to the younger people at years ago when my son was fairly young and I told my literary agent at the time and I said you know I want to start writing some young adult novels but you just got a spray alright right and and he was he said don't do it it'll kill your career don't do and I said well you know but here's the thing if you know I'm writing books for 70 year old men you know and you know 10 15 20 30 years I don't have any readers and if we don't get our kids interested in American West in the American history and reading we're in a lot of trouble and he said I appreciate your sentiments there very noble it'll kill your career okay this is before anybody ever heard of what's now called crossover fiction means it's aimed for kids that adults can read or it's aimed for adults and kids can read and before JK rowling and the Hunger Games and recordin but I said I'm gonna do it anyway he says okay yeah he could have dropped me gonna say do you need to find yourself another agent but he said okay you just do it and then years later shortly before he died he called me up and says and he never said this said Johnny you were right yeah it's so so you gotta and that's the challenge energy when you're when I'm writing that you want to write something that a young adult especially young boy girls read anything but young boys they really want to read about boys and that hasn't changed over since the 1950s when or even probably earlier so you want to write something that will appeal to a kid at the same time that's something that an adult can actually enjoy reading and that you're late is that your later game is well fall of abilene I don't know how you follow babblings one of those that you can it's about 1871 the legend is John Wesley Hardin ramrod at a cattle outfit to Abilene Texas where I have a link Kansas where Wild Bill Hickok is serving as town marshal right so I had this kid ride up with John Wesley Hardin and then he gets put in with Hickok in the land in the land abalones last year as a cattle town so his idea of trying to put these two characters and have a kid who's comes up with Hardin and then he's hanging out with Hickok two extreme different people but they're both cold-blooded killers but for different reasons and for different so he has to grow up a little bit on his own yeah it's out there folks he had to get down on for sure and you got your eighth spur oh right and that's what we're actually you're in town for the Western writers association right annual convention and you're the biggest yeah I mean no one's 1/8 what's that feel like I mean that's a big deal on wards that's I trying to wrap my head around that I've got zero by the way [Laughter] and you know I said Elmer Kelton had seven and all right I hate to say I'm not here with Elmer Kelton I'm not here without Western writers of America because all these writers that I was reading all these writers that I know now most of them are better writers and I could ever hope to be including Albert Kelton Elmer was just a great great guy and he was very humble gracious and he was always willing to help and you know I could he could be sitting with a couple of legendary writers Max Evans and and me old Don cold Smith and I could come up to him at the conference and they'd say have a seat and join us I mean it was that was it was great so it's it's kind of hard for me to wrap my head around this but I always say the bottom line is you you win a spur award it's a great honor I'm not giving any of them back really what it means is you know three people like you book yeah maybe just two yeah but uh but it's yeah it's it's it's it's a little numbing and you know when I when they found out I had wand I was you know this is really neat and then about week later it started hitting me and I'd sit down to computer and I just break down crying I said I can't this can't baby I can't have that many awards I can't be mmm I have more Awards and now we're killed yeah and there's a foot pressure on you for your next book I mean or any future books uh I don't know about the pressure the pressure is always just getting the book done yeah that's enough pressure and you don't really think about the award the Mindy you don't write a book it's saying I this is gonna be an award winner because you never know and I've written books they're like I said that I really they were okay maybe but I wasn't that overly thrilled with them or short stories and you think no okay and then they went an award and they said okay well that's kind of really and I've written books I thought well this is maybe one of the best things I've ever written and nothing yeah so you never know and you love it [Laughter] so you will be honored this week in Tucson right and the Western Writers Association people are interested in Western books and historical fiction right how can they be a part of that through because yeah they can't just be a member of that because you have to be a division all right be a member you have to be a professional writer means you have to have at least one book one articles the rules a little different know how you want to be but you have to be a published author right to be to be eligible for that but it's open to the general public to there are a lot of people so some of the some of the panels you can come in and pay a day fee and get in you can figure it out on log on to Western writers org and you can find out about the convention schedule what's going on it's like I said it's a great we have 240 people registered who come to Tucson and June yeah it's actually pretty Pleasant it's only 100 mics and and they had that changes every year where yeah we move we move from location to location I think next year we'll be in Rapid City North South Dakota which is should be a little cooler than it is here there's one thing else I want to talk to you about cuz we haven't mentioned it but you're really an excellent photographer oh well thank you yeah so let's talk about that you know you tell me about your photography that came about in high school – I just kind of grabbed a camera and I said well this is kind of fun and mostly it's mostly landscape a little bit and then working in the newspapers occasionally they'd send me out to take a photo usually I had a staff photographer but occasionally they need something I'd do that and it's on it's the same principle I think as writing and it's another art form but it's all about you've got your technical things you only get your aperture right get your shutter speed right depth of field you learn all that like subject verb agreement and where to place the commas and like that but it's also framing your framing your story instead of framing the story with words you're framing the story with how you Matt what what do you alter the camera now you want the reader or viewer to see it right right and do you do you sell your photos can people buy your phone I've never really just do for magazines and and fun so have you ever put them in your books yeah I mean I've never used well for a while when I first joined Westerners maybe the second convention or the third there was a publisher that was doing instead of illustrations they were running photos on their book covers and I actually came up to the editor and I just sat down my pitch was you know I'm a photographer cuz I've been rejected this is before I had now I was getting her jaws reading these potboilers for this New York publisher and that was about it and I was pretty said well you know what your career is pretty much washed up but let's see you're doing a lot of photography so I came up and I talked to the editor and I said y'all do a lot of photography night had I had a binder with some back then was thirty five millimeter slides yeah and she went oh yeah you know what these were pretty good we could probably use you something like that you'd probably make money as a photographer for us they need Mike riding but she said okay yeah just send us some send us some slides and we'll see what happens so I was about to get up and I said and you know what you know I I have finished this novel you could send that to me – uh-huh and that's actually how I got the photography actually landed me with the book deal landed me with the agent because she I sent her the first three chapters and she wrote me back and said these are some of the best three chapters I've ever read and and I'm several months and she goes here's what I'm gonna do I'm gonna recommend to you to this agent you write him and tell him I sit and I said to send send him to the first three chapters and then the rest is really up to him and you and we'll see what happens and I set the agent that the first three chapters which is kind of standard you operating procedures you send usually a query letter and then they'll usually ask to see three chapters and a synopsis and you send that and that's when they reject you yeah but this time yeah yeah yeah it's get used to rejection if you want to be a writer and I sent him that and he he said okay let's see the rest of the manuscript which rarely had happened and I send the rest of the manuscript and a few months later he called me up and said okay we'd like to take you on and but what year was that um 98 99 and what else did he say he wanted he wanted to see and want to make sure I could deliver more in one book yeah and how do you how to use I said I said I've got another book in the works and I've got I've had written these other books I said I can I can get you a book at least a book a year and said it won't be a problem so I send I said here's the book I'm writing right now gave him a little bit of description on that here's what I've got ID as far and that was all it took and he said okay and I was lousy with him till he's died and I'm with his wife now that's a long time since 98 yeah yeah and almost 30 years over 30 years 31 Thanks but yeah so so the photography kind of got me and he think that photography because she had this positive you know she likes your photography clearly did that that all of a sudden that put you in a positive mode in her mind as well which helped you know when she looked at the regular chapter she already had a positive connotation with you yeah I never really thought about that but there could be something to that because you you're looking at the story the visual story that's right works in a thrift stores but it's the same idea it's the same principle yeah yeah I just wonder about that because you know it's so competitive to go and that extra visual aid right that brought you a positive connotation of what you were capable of doing as a photographer yeah what can he do as a writer yeah and never really thought about that but yeah it could have very well be good I want to get at least one thing real or not anything else you want to say before close this up you know you we want to get your website to Johnny D box that's where they can buy calm they can though a link to you can go to your independent bookstore or your book chain or your public library usually carries a lot of my books oh this is great I checked out an audiobook for the drive down here so I went to the local library in Santa Fe and I picked out an audiobook and I handed it to the person at the desk with my card and she runs the card and she looks up here you're Johnny box I said yes ma'am we have your books I know we have a lot of your books yeah that's really good if they get checked out a lot thank you so much for telling me that so it's like that's when you feel like I said we do this Hampton sides not all of them but it it suddenly became such a big market now most of them going to audio and does your publisher that my agent handles all that as well I says I mean why do you have an agent I said I'm a poor businessman poor at marketing be the worst salesperson you ever had I can write sometimes so I have an agent handles all the business end of the stuff like do you have Facebook Twitter or any of that I am Witter my gosh like Johnny D Boggs and I do Facebook postings uh as frequently as I can I'll be posting a lot from Western writers of America this week yep so it's great yeah Johnny D Boggs I'm fan thank you for taking the time I know you gotta go get your eighth award which is fantastic good for you thank you and we will I'll be looking for your next book coming out cuz I appreciate you're a real writer I know it'll be probably twelve months exactly or less from the last one which probably about right December actually I'm trying dude like two a year oh yeah yeah and is that because you can do it or is that because there there's pressure for you to do it that's because they asked me to do it yeah yeah there's pressure to do it bosz also is that okay so how can you write two books a year or three books a year or over and I said it's called a mortgage yeah yeah do you hit it every day yesterday no it's it's it's usually conventions a little bit different but it's usually five five to six days a week I try to take sunday off yeah I don't always succeed but I try to just to recharge and refresh yeah and people it's not I mean I worked constructional for my dad in South Carolina this is not putting up rafters on the house in August and South Carolina it's not that kind of physical labor but it taxes you and it drains you in the times yeah absolutely can you go for hours in a row I can do four I can do probably six and then it's kind of you're doing more harm than you're doing good but it depends on the deadline am i up on my deadlines can I take four to take this off do I have to do stop this and do a magazine article now yeah but it's a job I'm asked why I tell people I get up in the morning I shower and I'm walking to the office my commutes a lot less than other people but it's a job and I have to approach it like a job that's right I think that's a good way to end it if you want to be a real writer right you better know it's a job right and right is a job and even if you've working if you've got a job and you're just riding on the side take an hour a day every day take an hour a day maybe something yeah but it's true yeah I do it every day i flossed myself so right I mean it's just like oh I'm so tired I'm George Verde my going dude there are days when I really don't want to go on to that office and turn on that computer yeah but did you make yourself do it yeah that's a professional yeah Johnny Boggs you're a professional thank you thank you or look forward to your next book I appreciate that the time all right great eight awards don't go anywhere I've got one special treat left for you I managed to get to the Western Writers Association and I got a great one Johnny Boggs being serenaded for his eighth spur award spoon fools you see [Applause] I knew you would be actually written several songs and to me expect you in that roundup room to see about rutabaga [Applause] the art dealer diaries are brought to you by medicine man gallery located for over 26 years in Tucson Arizona specializing in antique Native American art early Western art including the famed Maynard Dixon as well as modern art you can find everything online at medicine man gallery calm there's over six thousand objects farmer also a charles bloom murder mystery series written by yours truly me Marc sublet six books in this series and they follow the protagonist Charles bloom through all the intrigue of the art world set in Santa Fe and a Navajo Nation these can be found on audible ebooks Amazon and of course the gallery at medicine-man gallery calm

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