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Kat Meets Cowboys #2: An Interview With David Watts

Growing up in Texas in a family with a “can do” attitude, David was always unfamiliar with the concept of limitations. Thus, David Watts has become a doctor, a professionally trained musician, an inventor, a radio and television personality, and an accomplished poet and writer. His literary credits include seven books of poetry, two collections of short stories, a mystery novel and several essays. He has received awards in academics, medical excellence, television production and for the quality of his writing. He is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF and Professor of Poetry in the Fromm Institute at USF.

KT: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

Funny, I never realized it. Not until it got going. It just happened. And then I was hooked. Oh, I guess I fancied being a famous writer when I was a kid but not until I got slammed with a major, spirit-crushing crisis did I, without thinking about it, just sit down and start writing…

KT: How long did it take you to come up with an idea for your first novel? 

Not long. I just put together things I thought would kick start something interesting: a complicated but likeable, rough-hewn character, an immediate crisis he had to handle, and a quest for something missing in his life. Sounded like an interesting story idea to me.

KT: How long did your first novel take to write? 

About three weeks. 

KT: What advice would you give new authors?

Stop thinking about it and just do it. Once you get into it, there is this brain dump that hits the page, an avalanche that contains bits of westerns you’ve watched, people you’ve known, funny situations that stuck with you and maybe even a sad moment or two. Basically, it is a crystallized version of your own life there on the page.

KT: What does a typical day when you are writing look like for you? Is there anyone who influenced your writing style? 

Nothing’s typical. When I start a project, I’m writing it even when I’m not writing it—meaning that in the back of my mind it goes on without me for a while so that when I sit down again, there is a paragraph or three waiting for me. Like it says, “What took you so long to get back here?” When I find a stretch of time, I plug in a boxcar full of things that have been waiting there in the back of my head. The interesting thing is I don’t know they are there until I start writing again.

KT Where did the idea come from for your latest series? 

When I was 19, I spent a summer working at the YMCA of the Rockies just outside Estes Park, Colorado. I loved it there—climbing mountains, sleeping overnight alongside glassy lakes, serving food out of a chuckwagon. I never thought to use that experience, but when I decided to do a Mountain Man series, well, there was the background. What’s special about that is the fact that I actually experienced the landscape, the people, the danger of falling off a mountain. When I put that into my story, because I was there doing those things, it makes it real.

KT: What got you interested in writing Westerns?

Never thought I would be writing Westerns. Nick Wale saw a piece of my writing and said to me, “You need to be writing Westerns.” And that’s the end of that story.

KT: What do you think makes for the perfect Western?

Westerns are amazing. They have flex. You can put almost anything into a Western so long as it makes sense, and the Western will accommodate it. I’ve put in a little murder mystery, a subtle love story, a growing up crisis, and I’ve even splashed in what I believe to be little insights into the complex human psychology that drives us crazy sometimes.

KT: What can we look forward to from you next?

God knows. For sure, I don’t.

About Katrina Turner:

Katrina Turner resides in Pennsylvania with her fiancé and child where she works as the Social Media Manager for Dusty Saddle Publishing. Katrina enjoys reading, writing, painting and playing her guitar—anything that lets her express her creative freedom. When she’s not working, you can find her curled up on the couch with a good book or having a fun game night with her loved ones. Please email 

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