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Kat Meets Cowboys #3: An Interview With John Buzzard

John Buzzard has a knack for writing Westerns that readers truly want to read. Over the past few years, his books have been favorites, and he just keeps on writing. Buzzard, the man, is a man with a fascinating tint. His ability to write comes from his strong communication skill—and that skill is evident here today as we sit down to meet him and discuss his world, his art and his future.

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

When I was in high school. However, I had always heard about how it was nearly impossible for a new writer to get published, so that discouraged me for many years. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s when I made a serious effort to get published. After getting a bunch of rejection letters by e-mail, one publisher agreed to read my manuscript.

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

I’m not sure of the exact timeline, but I wanted to come up with something that would stand out from all the other manuscripts being submitted. I recalled seeing a painting about the Sand Creek Massacre, where in 1864, the cavalry attacked a village of peaceful Cheyenne Indians who flew the American flag from a lodge pole, and what an emotional impact it made on me. I thought it would be a story with some shock value, which would make readers uncomfortable. After reading the reviews, I could tell I had made the impact I had intended.

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

It took me about 3 years to write that first one, but now that I’m with DSP, I know there is no way Nick Wale is going to allow me that much time to peck out a manuscript, LOL. Seriously, though, I appreciate the fact that DSP is constantly wanting a progress report on my next project. I had no idea I could write so much material in a short amount of time.

KT: What advice would you give to new authors?

Always know how your story is going to end before you start writing. That way, you have a finish line to focus on, and you won’t become one of those writers who types out 85,000 words but has no idea how to end the thing. When George Lucas wrote the original “Star Wars” movie, he could see the Death Star blowing up at the end before he wrote the first word of his screenplay.

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

I work a full-time job, so all of my writing is done on the weekends or any days off during the week. My peak performance occurs in the early morning hours as soon as I’m awake. By 3 pm, I’m usually spent and have a difficult time staying focused. My favorite western-fiction writer is Elmore Leonard. I read somewhere that a person once asked him, how he keeps his novels so exciting. He answered, “Easy, I just leave out the boring parts.” I’ve always taken that advice. I’m a firm believer that if it’s boring to write, it will be boring for someone to read. Elmore Leonard’s novels always had these slick, streamlined plots with polished dialog. That’s something I strive for in my own writing. Also, Leonard’s antagonists weren’t just bad, they were evil. That’s another thing I strive for. I want the reader to give a fist-pump when the bad guy is killed at the end.

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

I always enjoyed the “Dirty Harry” movies that Clint Eastwood made in the ’70s. They were just westerns that took place in modern day San Francisco. When I write about Cain Callahan in my current series, I’m thinking of Dirty Harry in the Old West. I ask myself, if this were a movie, and Clint Eastwood had the starring role, what would he do in this situation? What would he say and how would he say it?

KT: How would you approach it differently if you were to repeat it today?

Well, the series was only started this year, so at this time, it is kind of hard for me to spot the flaws. Maybe in five years or so, I’ll look back and see things I wish I had done differently.

KT: What got you interested in writing westerns?

One evening, I sat on the couch and turned on the TV. A cable channel was about to show a movie, which they described as a “not-so-glamorous” side of the Old West. It was the 1969 western, “The Wild Bunch,” written and directed by Sam Peckinpah. The protagonists were gray anti-heroes, and the antagonists were really vile characters. It was an extremely violent movie, (for its time) but not gratuitous. Ever since then, I wanted to write gritty westerns with flawed characters.

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

That’s hard to say. As with any genre, there needs to be a story that holds the readers’ interest and there has to be well-developed characters they can relate to.

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

I’m currently working on the next installment of the “Lawman Cain Callahan” series. Cain is commissioned by a U.S. Marshal and the army to ride into Mexico and bring back a renegade Apache warrior. Hopefully, that will be available in early 2022. 

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 admin@dspublishingnetwork.com 

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