by Chuck Tyrell
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.
- Monday: Troy Smith discusses his character, Marshal Sam Gardner, and his role in Wolf Creek.
- Tuesday: In Drag Rider, Chuck Tyrell has some fun with Billy Below--how'd this character get his name?
- Wednesday: Clay More tells us about doctoring in the Old West and in his story, The Oath, how Wolf Creek's Dr. Logan Munro deals with the conflicts his oath.
- Thursday: Cheryl Pierson's story, It Takes a Man, gives us an in-depth look at Derrick McCain.
- Friday: Jerry Guin tells us how his character, Quint Croy deals with his new job as a lawman, and how Asa Pepper ended up owning a bar in the rough part of Wolf Creek, called Dogleg City in Asa Pepper's Place.
- Saturday: Jacquie Rogers penned a guest appearance by a special guest in her story, Muleskinners: Judge Not, that runs concurrent with Wolf Creek 1: Bloody Trail.
- Sunday: In New Beginnings, James J. Griffin gives us insight into the past of the town's blacksmith, and how a surprise changes his life.
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 novel is the collaboration of some of the best western writers in the business, steered by Troy Smith, who also writes two WC characters. Anthology stories all feature a Wolf Creek character or event. 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.
RTW: Today, Romancing The West highlights Chuck Tyrell and his Wolf Creek story, Drag Rider. Charlie, please tell us a little about yourself.
RTW: Your character, Billy Below, has been in several Wolf Creek novels. Tell us about his story, Drag Rider.
CT: Billy Gladstone was a 14-year-old mavericker. He found unbranded cattle in Texas’s thorny brush country, branded them, and when he had 25 steers, he sold them to Walt Brodrick, then joined Brodrick’s cattle drive north to Kansas, leaving his mother and younger brother behind. The herd goes through rivers and rustlers and Indians, but makes it to Wolf Creek, a town just beginning. He earned his pay, lost his flower before he turned 16, earned the name Billy Below, and became a first-rate hand. He was a drag rider no more.
RTW: If you lived in 1871 Wolf Creek, Kansas, what would your job be and how well would you get along with your character, Billy Below?
CT: At Wolf Creek, I would either own the newspaper in town or a small ranch on the outskirts.
As a newspaperman, I would try not to be judgmental about people. Hard for a newsman of that day, but my character would demand it. Billy would be just one more cowboy to me, until he saved my daughter from the remnants of the Danby Gang.
As a small rancher, I would appreciate Billy’s cowboy senses, his eye for the range, his determination to ride for the brand, and his ability to stick to the job until it was done. He also has good taste in women. That Brandy girl, she’s something.
RTW: What surprised you the most about Billy? Are there more surprises coming in future Wolf Creek books?
CT: What surprised me most about Billy Below? Well, when you hear how he got his moniker, you have to wonder. But when you work with Billy, you’ll find him dead serious and doing what has to be done to finish the job. You’ll not see Billy Below selling himself to the highest bidder.
RTW: What would give Billy the ultimate happiness?
CT: Billy Below is a cowman. He knows the range. He knows the water. He knows how to get maximum from the herd with minimum effort. Someday he’d like to find the right woman, someone who’d partner with him, and build his own spread. Although he has no ambition to be the biggest cowman in the country, maybe his serious mein and his hard work ethic will give him more than he reckons.
RTW: Now for the fun part--set up your excerpt for us, please.
CT: New cowboys were often given the buckinest cayuse in the remuda. It was no different with Billy. Here’s how he handles the paint horse.
by Chuck Tyrell
a short story in
Hell on the Prairie
Wolf Creek Book 6
“Be right with you,” Billy said. But as he shoved his left boot into the stirrup, a hump came up in the scrawny paint’s back. Billy barely got his right leg over the cantle when the paint leaped straight up and came down on four stiff legs to give Billy a spine-jolting before he sunfished around in a tight circle, doing his damnedest to dislodge the rider from the saddle.
Reckon Willis let out a holler. “Whee-ooh. Ride ‘im, you all. Whee-ooh. Yeehaw.”
Billy hauled on the reins, trying to get the paint’s head up from between his legs. It wouldn’t come, and the paint wasn’t about to stop sunfishing.
The daylight between Billy’s butt and the saddle got wider and wider until he was coming down when the paint was going up and the smack of buttocks on saddle seat sounded loud and clear, and Billy rebounded high and far, his boots came clear of the stirrups, and he found himself in a heap on the ground.
The paint stopped the moment Billy hit dirt.
“Ain’t now way to ride a hoss,” Reckon said.
“That paint don’t know me, that’s all,” Billy said. He rubbed his backside with both hands. “You figure it’s just me? Or does that horse buck everyone off?” He limped over to where his hat lay in the dust, picked it up, and used it slap the same dust from his clothes. The paint stood hipshot, its head hanging.
But the moment Billy took the reins again, the horse’s head came up and he turned it to give Billy a sniff. “It’s me, old pard, and I’m bound to ride you to the herd. Either that, or die.”
One moment Billy was sweet-talking the paint, the next he was in the saddle with the reins pulled tight, holding the paint’s head up.
The horse crow hopped a bit. Then decided Billy had the upper hand. He settled down and let his head droop.
“There. See? Not such a bad situation,” Billy said. “Now. We’ve got a couple dozen steers to haze over to Hawley Flats. Let’s get to it.”
The paint never tried to throw Billy again, and it turned out to be the best trail horse of his entire string, despite its coloring.
Wolf Creek: Hell on the Prairie
Available in print, or ebook at
and soon at other online stores
RTW: Looks like Billy had quite a ride. :) Tell us about your other current releases.
CT: I’m not a prolific as many writers of westerns. The story of another cowboy, Monty McCord, [RTW note: this book is available for pre-order!] is just out from Robert Hale’s Black Horse Western line. Another Black Horse Western, Diablo, will show up near the end of the year or early next year.
A new series with Piccadilly Publishing just began. The first novel is Stryker’s Law. The next one, which comes out in November, will be Stryker’s Ambush. And the one after that, Stryker’s Bounty.
CT: More is coming in the Wolf Creek series. In the upcoming Wolf Creek book, Night of the Assassin, one of my characters in Western Fictioneers anthology The Traditional West will show up to battle assassins from a Chinese tong in California. The character, Kay, is a ninja. Look forward to some knock-down drag-out fighting.
RTW: Sounds exciting! Anything else you’d like to add?
CT: Western stories are getting a lot more attention these days. Hollywood keeps putting out a western a year or so. Classics are available on the web, and new writers keep entering the fray.
RTW: That's for sure, and readers can find a lot of great books at Western Fictioneers Library, including the Wolf Creek series.
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
Chuck is giving two ebooks.
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you have two chances to win!
Be sure to check back for more interviews with other Wolf Creek authors.
You can enter to win books all this week!