Sunday, June 30, 2013

Troy D. Smith: Wolf Creek: Hell on the Prairie #western @paladin_68 #amreading #giveaway

Hell on the Prairie
by Troy D. Smith
A short story in
Hell on the Prairie
Wolf Creek: Book 6

This week Romancing The West features the July 2 release, Wolf Creek: Hell on the Prairie. It's an anthology of seven short stories, all featuring characters in or connected to the Wolf Creek series, and offering  in-depth understanding of your favorite Wolf Creek residents.  There'll be giveaways on each post, so please check back each day.

If you're not familiar with the Wolf Creek series, you're missing out! Written under the house name Ford Fargo (the house name for Western Fictioneers), each book is the collaboration of some of the best western writers in the business, steered by Troy Smith, who also writes two characters: Marshal Sam Gardner and Charley Blackfeather. Links to all the Wolf Creek books are at the end of this article, just above the contest announcement.  For more information on the story world, visit Wolf Creek, Kansas.

Troy D. Smith
Today's guest is none other than the head wrangler himself, Troy D. Smith, the current president of Western Fictioneers and editor of the Wolf Creek series. Winner of the Peacemaker and Spur Awards, he teaches American Indian history at Tennessee Tech University.  He's a talented author and I love his Blackwell stories.

RTW: Troy, your story features Wolf Creek Marshal Sam Gardner. What's going on with him?

TS: Marshal Samuel Horace Gardner is outraged — and a little concerned for his job — when he learns that the newspapers have started calling his town “Hell on the Prairie” because of all the violence. He is trying to figure out what to do about it when a notorious, and widely feared, gunfighter calls him out on the town street. Sam decides to give the papers something to write about.

RTW: What prompted you to write Westerns? What keeps you writing them?

TS: I love 'em.

Oh, should I say more? Well, I love the inherent drama and danger of the frontier, and the opportunities that gives a writer to explore people’s primal emotions, with all the “civilization” stripped away. I suppose I was prompted by the impact great westerns had on me as a kid — the novels of Elmer Kelton, especially, and films like High Noon, The Naked Spur, and Ride the High Country.

RTW: If you lived in 1871 and lived in Wolf Creek, Kansas, what would your job be and how well would you get along with your character, Sam Gardner?

TS: Actually, I imagine I’d probably be the newspaper editor — and I’d be the one Marshal Gardner was furious with!

RTW: Oh, but you could make him a star. :)  What surprised you the most about Sam Gardner? Are there more surprises coming in future Wolf Creek books?

TS: I wanted Sam to be similar to Wild Bill Hickock and Wyatt Earp — a Midwesterner, Union man, not above taking a piece of the action, arrogant, and a bit of a dandy. I have been surprised by how he has come alive — I didn’t specifically plan for him to be so sarcastic or so funny. And I’ve been surprised by how much I enjoy writing for him. My step-daughter says I’ve poured all my best qualities into my other character, the Seminole scout Charley Blackfeather, and all my worst qualities into Sam. But that may just be because she has been the victim of my sarcasm.

RTW: You've done a great job with both characters and I couldn't say which one I like the most since they're so different.  But back to the marshal.  What would give Sam Gardner the ultimate happiness?

TS: If one of those sensationalist dime novel authors wrote about his adventures, causing ladies from miles around to come throw themselves at him. I can easily see him running his own Wild West show if he lives long enough.

RTW: I bet he would. :) We'd love to read a little teaser. Would you please share an excerpt?

TS: I reckon the best place to start, and to introduce, is the very beginning.

Wolf Creek, Book 6: Hell on the Prairie
Hell on the Prairie
by Troy D. Smith

“Hell on the Prairie!” Marshal Sam Gardner slammed the newspaper onto his desk in disgust.

“Did you read this trash?” he asked his deputies.

Quint Croy shrugged. “I seen it, yeah. When that drummer coming in on the train from Wichita brought it in here, and said you might like to have it. I never picked it up and read it, though.”

“How about you?” Sam asked the other deputy, Seamus O’Connor.

The huge Irishman shrugged as well. “I skimmed over it some.”

Sam grunted. “Well, I guess you’re too damn tall to read anything too close.”

Sam and Quint were both puzzled over that comment, but their boss’s comments often puzzled them, so they let it go.

“Listen to this,” he said, picking the paper back up. “ ‘Sodom and Gomorrah would blush, we are told, at the vice and iniquity that run rampant in the southern end of Wolf Creek, the area that locals have given the appellation ‘Dogleg City.’ It is said that Negroes, Mexicans, and Celestials have the run of that neighborhood, making it into a heathen Empire where white Christian lives are as cheap as they were in Nero’s Rome.’ ”

“Well, that’s malarkey, right there,” Seamus said. “We ain’t even got that many Mexicans this time of year.”

The marshal ignored him. “But this!” he thundered, jabbing the page with his forefinger. “This is what really chaps my hide. Listen!”

Quint stifled a yawn. He had the graveyard shift, which had ended two hours before, and was having trouble concentrating on anything other than his awaiting cot.

“‘Nor is the so-called reputable part of town much better,’” Sam read aloud, “as corpses are stacking up like cordwood in the town square. Wolf Creek is developing a reputation as one of the most ‘wide-open’ towns on the frontier, its legacy being written in the blood of its hapless denizens. It has truly earned the sobriquet so aptly bestowed upon it –Hell on the Prairie.’”

“What does it mean by ‘hatless denizens’?” Quint asked, his voice a little slurred by fatigue.

“Sobriquet is Mexican for hat, I think,” Seamus said with a sly grin.

Sam spared them an annoyed glance, then continued.

“‘Much of the blame for the town’s unfettered lawlessness can be laid at the feet of the itinerant pistolero the town fathers have employed to organize Wolf Creek’s constabulary, one Samuel Horace Gardner.’”

Seamus braced himself for the wave of fury that would surely be flowing from the marshal at that accusation. Quint yawned again.

Wolf Creek: Hell on the Prairie
Available in print, or ebook at
and soon at other online stores

♠ ♥ ♣ 

RTW: Tell us about your other current releases.  I just finished Blackwell Chronicles.  Loved all the stories and waiting for volume 2.

TS: I have two new ones out that I think your readers would enjoy. The first, from Western Trail Blazer, is Blackwell Chronicles Vol. 1 — it collects the first six of my Blackwell short stories. 

The second, from Western Fictioneers Library, is The Trail Brothers — about a cattle drive, the bond that develops between cowboys from very different backgrounds, and the decision they have to make when something terrible happens.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?

If you haven’t visited Wolf Creek yet, you don’t know what you’re missin’. This series has developed beyond my wildest dreams, and just keeps getting better.

RTW:  That's for sure!  I devoured the first five books in the Wolf Creek series, and books seven and eight will be available later this year, plus a Christmas anthology.  This is a must-read series for any western aficionado, or anyone who loves action-packed stories.

Wolf Creek, Book 1: Bloody Trail
Wolf Creek, Book 2: Kiowa's Vengeance
Wolf Creek, Book 3: Murder in Dogleg City
Wolf Creek, Book 4: The Taylor County War
Wolf Creek, Book 5: Showdown at Demon's Drop
Wolf Creek, Book 6: Hell on the Prairie
Troy is giving away three of his ebook shorts, to three different commenters:

A romance between a very young disabled Civil War veteran and a prostitute.

Also a romance, of sorts… two men pursue the killers of the woman they both loved. This was my first published fiction; it appeared in Louis L’Amour Western Magazine in 1995.

A Pinkerton detective must rescue a kidnapped little girl – but he is haunted by the memory of another assignment, one that went terribly wrong.

Winners will be announced July 6, at 9pm Pacific Time.  To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment, and be sure to include your email address.

Thanks to Troy for visiting RTW today.
Be sure to check back for more interviews with other Wolf Creek authors.
You can enter to win books all this week!


  1. Great interview, Jacquie and Troy! Troy you have some killer covers, too, on all your books and short stories.

    I love Sam Gardner. He comes across just as you planned for him to, and you can't help liking him but at the same time thinking, "Hmmm." I really did enjoy his story in Hell on the Prairie. I have really loved being a part of Wolf Creek. You have a fabulous imagination!


    1. Thanks, Cheryl... I have a ball writing about Sam, and working on this series in general. In this story I wanted to demonstrate that for all his arrogance, and wit, Sam Gardner really is a very dangerous man.

  2. Troy, you do a heck of fine interview.
    I really like how you've made Sam Gardner as tough as nails. Your story in Hell on the Prairie is another fine example of the whole series.

  3. Troy, I just can't help loving this character, and yes, he's dime-novel-worthy. :)

  4. Great interview, Troy. And a splendid story to begin Wolf Creek 6. Marshal Sam Gardner is a no-nonsense 3-D character who is precisely the sort of lawman that a town like Wolf Creek needs. If he did become a dime novel character, how do you think he would be portrayed? Would his characteristics be exaggerated? Would he be depicted sympathetically, as a lawman with a heart, as an honourable man, or as a ruthless custodian of the law?


  5. Troy's one heckuva an editor, too. He's the one who holds the whole Wolf Creek thing together.

    Jim Griffin

  6. I now have more books to add to my wish list

  7. Thank you for a fabulous post. My all time favorite book is a Western, so I know I'm going to love Troy's works.


  8. Sam Gardner sounds like my kind of anti-hero. I've fallen behind on the Wolf Creek series while I catch up on my own writing, but I think I'll skip ahead to the collection of shorts so I can find out how Sam gives the papers a story.

  9. You've certainly got my interest up with Marshal Garner. I like Sam already. Yeah that newspaper editor job sounds mighty good. I really enjoyed your post, Troy. Can't wait to read about Sam Gardner.


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