It will, I suspect, come as a surprise to no-one at all that I’ve been interested in American history for a long time; I didn’t exactly pull Alamo out of a hat, and I have a surprisingly large reference library on the American Civil War, and the times preceding and following it. Oh, hell, I’ll skip the preamble and cut right to the point, I’m planning a series of Westerns novels. I’ve been vaguely thinking about it for a while, but a couple of months ago I read Nik Morton’s ‘How to Write A Western in Thirty Days’ and decided to have a try myself.
One brief session on Amazon later to pick up some soundtracks, and I started digging, working out period, character, and so on, and finally elected on New Mexico and the borderlands, immediately following the Civil War. It’s not exactly new ground, as anyone who has watched the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns will testify, but that’s the area that’s singing to me. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the fighting in the area, battles such as Valverde and Glorieta, not to mention Kit Carson’s activities of 1864, getting a feel for the setting. Certainly in the period 1865-68 there was a hell of a lot going on; I’ve been reading a lot about Jo Shelby lately...
The lead character - and it will come as no surprise that I have yet to name him, as names usually come last with my preparations - is a former Confederate Cavalry Major, a veteran of the Army of New Mexico and participant in the final battle of the war, Palmito Ranch. While the plan is to set the series following the war, I do have some vague ideas of going back into the war for some books at some point, though probably not for a while. (Fun fact - the Confederate commander at Palmito Ranch was none other than John Ford! No relation, I believe…)
My current plans call for books at the 42,000-48,000 word length, to be priced at $2.99, though I already know that I’ll be writing a novella as well, more details on that to follow. I’ve already got outlines for three books and the novella in preparation, and expect to release the first of these books in February, probably towards the end of the month. I’m really looking forward to working in a new genre, and there will be at least three books in this run - though assuming it sells at any level at all, I’m hoping to write six of these this year, not including the novella. Not ruling out more novellas, as well, especially in this new genre; my brain seems more amenable to shorter plots in the western idiom, for some reason - that, and I’m going with single-POV for this series, as opposed to the multiple-POV in the Alamo novels.
It’s probably fair to say that I made a lot of blunders when I started to write the Alamo series - not so much with the books themselves (I hope, anyway!) but with how I organized my notes, and I’m hoping to do a rather better job this time. Hell, having a novella or two won’t exactly hurt. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do with Alamo for a while, though until recently I didn’t have any ideas I could fit into the length in that series. This time, I want to get things right, and I’ll definitely be posting on this later in the month, once I’ve completed ‘Ghost Ship’ and can start to get things down on paper.