|Author Chuck Tyrell|
Featured Author: Chuck Tyrell
Romancing The West has a special guest today. Please welcome author Charles Whipple who writes westerns as Chuck Tyrell. This is a western blog so we're featuring some of his upcoming western novels, but he also writes a Japanese fantasy series, The Masacado Scrolls as Charles Whipple. The first book, The Fall of Awa, is out now.
Here's Chuck's bio from his website: Charles T. Whipple, an international prize-winning author, uses the pen name of Chuck Tyrell for his Western novels. Whipple was born and reared in Arizona’s White Mountain country only 19 miles from Fort Apache. He won his first writing award while in high school, and has won several since, including a 4th place in the World Annual Report competition, a 2nd place in the JAXA Naoko Yamazaki Commemorative Haiku competition, and the first-place Agave Award in the 2010 Oaxaca International Literature Competition.
Raised on a ranch, Whipple brings his own experience into play when writing about the hardy people of 19th Century Arizona. Although he currently lives in Japan, Whipple maintains close ties with the West through family, relatives, former schoolmates, and readers of his western fiction. Whipple belongs to Western Fictioneers, Western Writers of America, Arizona Authors Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, and Tauranga Writers Inc.
That's the abbreviated version. Here's the real deal.
RTW: It's time to get down to business. What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Do you work that into your books?
CT: I wonder if there is a single aspect of life that intrigues a person? I suppose if I had to choose something, it would be independence. Although there is no such thing as total independence, life in the “old west” came very close. As far as a man is concerned, it was possible to live with just your two hands and a knife. In a family situation, a man and his wife, with a few tools, could basically carve a life for themselves out of the wilderness. It didn’t always work, but if their eye was sharp for good land, ample water, and sufficient growing season, they could survive on their own.
My grandparents were such. They lived in dugouts until small cabins—some adobe, some post and mud, some trimmed and squared ponderosa—were built. In the end, my mother’s father built his own home, which still stands, of red brick he kilned himself. That man made 50,000 bricks and built a two-story home with them. Who today can say the same?
That sense of independence. That do-it-yourself attitude. That fend for your family capability. That’s what the Old West means to me, and that’s the kind of character I love and respect. In my Western stories, I try to show the heroism of those hardy people.
RTW: If you lived in the old west, what modern convenience would you miss the most?
CT: If I lived in 1880, I’d probably be dead. The average lifespan in those days was only about 50. That said, my great grandfather moved to Arizona at age 76. He lived to 89. No conveniences. No modern medicine. No automobiles. Just a knowledge of how to get along in a tough land. Modern convenience . . . well, if I lived in 1880, I would know nothing of modern conveniences, so I would be unable to miss them. What do I like most about now? The ability to communicate instantly across the miles to friends around the world. In 1880, my world would probably have been bounded by the distance my horse could travel. Once in a while, I’d read news of faraway places, but the effect that news would have on my life would be minimal. Now my life is affected by my friends, far and near, and my family, both here in Japan and in the US. Fortunately, we can communicate readily, which makes us more rounded people, I believe.
CT: In movies, of course, one must laugh about the guns used. I watched one last night from the 1960s. It was supposedly set in 1872. But the actors used Colt SAAs, which was not on the market until 1873. Same with rifles. The heroes fought off Comanches with lever-action repeaters that looked to me like late model Winchesters, perhaps M1886. In 1872, they would have been 1866 Yellow Boys or Henrys, I’d think. The other thing is, black powder makes a lot of smoke. We don’t hear much about the smoke in Westerns. You don’t see much smoke in Western movies.
It’s interesting how many Western novels are set in towns. It’s interesting how many alleys seem to exist in those towns. Yet, when you look at photographs of period towns, there seems to be a lot of distance between buildings. The setting, town or country, is as important as your characters. Early Elmore Leonard stories used setting well, in my opinion. Today, if you would like to read someone who uses setting well, read Barry Eisler.
RTW: Why is must Breed in your soon-to-be-released A Man Called Breed take his particular story journey? What does he have to prove?
CT: Well, here’s a half-breed, a man who lost his mother at Sand Creek, who never really knew his Pa. A man raised by the Master Sergeant at the fort. A man who proved himself as a scout for the army, who earned a Medal of Honor (yes, several “Indian” scouts won Medals of Honor), who mustanged in the White Mountains of Arizona until he got enough horseflesh to get himself a nest egg. He sells his mustangs at Fort Yuma and takes a steamboat to Ehrenburg, intent on going to a place he knows near Cherry Creek to start a horse ranch. The story starts with a man who tries to throw the Breed out of a bar because he’s the wrong color. It ends with that man’s father apologizing for his son’s actions. The story in between those two events will glue you to your chair and keep the midnight lights burning.
RTW: Sounds like quite a ride. You have an excerpt for us from another upcoming release. Tell us a little about that.
CT: Yes, I’m going to jump to another book – Return to Silver Creek. On one level, it’s the story of a man’s search for the villain who raped his wife. On another level, it’s her battle back to sanity, and how she (and he) comes to terms with her unwanted pregnancy. As Christmas just went by, I think this excerpt is apropos.
Return to Silver Creek
Copyright © Chuck Tyrell
A twitch, a tightening in her belly brought her thoughts leaping back to her real problem. A baby. A child of rape. An infant bred in the depths of sin.
She sat up straight in the chair, clasping her hands primly on her lap. Her lips pressed together in a firm line.
Padre Juan looked at her with the question plain on his face. Softly he said, “You are thinking about the child again.” Drawing a large breath, he spoke again.
“Let me tell you an ancient story, Laura Havelock. Perhaps it will help you see the child in your womb more clearly.”
Laura nodded, but did not relax her prim position.
“Once in another land, far away and long ago, a young man fell in love. The young man worked with his hands and he had finished his apprenticeship. He was now a journeyman, old enough and skilled enough to provide for a family.
“The young man went to the parents of the woman he loved and asked them to allow him to marry her. Seeing a stalwart youth, a journeyman, a person who loved their daughter and would provide for her, the parents agreed to a betrothal and it was announced to all. The young woman and the young man were very happy.
“Then one day the young man’s world crumbled. His betrothed, the woman he loved more than life itself, told him she was with child.
“What pain! What horror! What agony of spirit! Yet he loved her still.
“Tossing and turning in his bed, the young man slept fitfully. He had such a burden on his heart. Then, in the dead of night, he dreamt of an angel. A being in white. A being glorious as the noonday sun.
“‘Listen to me,’ the angel said in a voice that penetrated to the young man’s very soul. ‘Hear the words of my mouth. I say to you that the child in the womb of your betrothed is of God. Think you no more of it, but marry her according to your vows.’
“The young man knew when he awoke that his betrothed held life from God within her. And he respected her for it.
“When the time came, he was with her when the child was born. And they named him Jesus.”
The room was silent as Laura thought about the padre’s parable. At last she raised her eyes, still confused.
“Laura, my child,” the padre said, “without God there can be no life. In my humble opinion, the child in your womb is also of God. There is no other way.”
Laura bowed her head. And the child moved inside her.
RTW: Chuck, that's some powerful writing. Thanks for giving us a sneak peek to what has to be a fabulous book. I always ask what's next. Will you have a sequel to Return to Silver Creek?
CT: Return to Silver Creek is itself a sequel, the lives of Garet Havelock and Laura Donovan Havelock, who first starred in Vulture Gold, the story of Garet’s quest to get back the bullion stolen from the Vulture Mine in the city where he was marshal. Garet, too, was a half-breed, son of a Texas Ranger and his Western Cherokee wife. He had to prove that breeds could carry a badge just as well as whites. Laura was the half-sister of the man who robbed the bank.
RTW: Anything else you’d like to tell the RTW readers?
Books Currently Available
Writing as Chuck Tyrell: Vulture Gold
Writing as Charles Whipple: The Fall of Awa
Black Horse Westerns by Chuck Tyrell are available from the Book Depository, which ships postage-free anywhere in the world.
Coming February 2012 from Chuck Tyrell:
Return to Silver Creek
(unabridged version of Revenge at Wolf Mountain)
Coming Febraury 2012 from Charles Whipple:
The Shadow Shield, #2 of The Masacado Scrolls