Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Clay More: The Oath (Wolf Creek 6, Hell on the Prairie) #western @KeithSouter

The Oath
by Clay More
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 book is the collaboration of some of the best western writers in the business, steered by Troy D. Smith, who also writes two characters. 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.

Dr. Keith Souter
writing as Clay More
RTW: The third story in Hell on the Prairie is The Oath by Clay More (Dr. Keith Souter). This story involves some unexpected twists for Dr. Logan Munro. Today, RTW is featuring Dr. Munro's creator, Clay More. So to get us going, Clay, please tell us a little about yourself.

CM: Clay More is my western pen-name. My real name is Keith Souter and I live in England within arrowshot of the ruins of a medieval castle. I am a part time doctor, medical journalist and novelist working in four genres – westerns, crime, historical and YA. I also write short fiction, for which I have won prizes, including a 2006 Fish Award. A lifelong Agatha Christie fan, I try to include an element of mystery and at least one red herring in all of my stories.

Click to enlarge
RTW: And there's definitely a red herring in The Oath! Also, for some terrific Old West medical information you won't find anywhere else, check out Keith's monthly column, The Doctor's Bag, at the Western Fictioneers blog. But back to The Oath – give us an idea what this story is about.

CM: Logan Munro is the Wolf Creek town doctor. He is Scottish and has served as a surgeon in three wars on three continents, the last being the Civil War. He has certainly seen life, but he has a heavy heart, since he lost his soul mate during the Indian Mutiny. Now, the Hippocratic oath that he took when he qualified as a doctor back in Scotland is the guiding principle of his life. An unexpected shadow from his past soon tests everything that he holds dear, including life itself.

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

CM: Basically, I love the genre, having been brought up with it. You can tell that in my choice of pen-name, since Clay More is a homage to Clayton Moore, the Lone Ranger (as well as being a Scottish sword).

I have always been fascinated by the history of medicine and as a doctor myself, I am a little in awe of the doctors who practiced on the frontiers, providing medical, surgical and obstetric services with rudimentary facilities, a handful of effective drugs and a completely pragmatic approach to medicine and surgery.

That is a long-winded way of saying that I wanted to get inside the mind of those Old West doctors, like the real-life Dr. George Goodfellow and the fictionalized Doc Galen Adams of Gunsmoke fame.

I keep writing in the genre because I find it intensely exciting to pitch stories back in time, in such a turbulent period of American history.

Not only that, but since joining Western Fictioneers and having the opportunity to work with some legendary names in the business, and contribute to the WF anthologies which are so ably published by Livia Washburn, and the Wolf Creek series pioneered by Troy D Smith, I feel very at home in and around Wolf Creek. I can honestly say that working on the Wolf Creek collaborative novels has been one of the most enjoyable times of my writing career.

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

CM: I guess I might be another town doctor, although I am not sure if my surgical skills are up to those of Logan Munro. I wouldn’t mind being a dentist, or maybe even a foot doctor.

Of course, as a fellow Scot I am sure we would get on, pretty well. He was born in Dundee and I was born in St Andrews, which is just over the River Tay. You may have heard of St Andrews, the home of golf? I went to medical school in Dundee and he went to Edinburgh. Both of us play…

But that is enough for now.

19th Century Surgical Tools
RTW: What surprised you the most about Logan Munro? Are there more surprises coming in future Wolf Creek books?

CM: I am surprised at the streak of ruthlessness that he has at times. All doctors have to have self-belief. You can’t start an operation and then stop halfway through or start again, for example. But Logan can adopt a line of thought and he sticks to it, even if it might seem in conflict with his chosen profession. I find that a bit scary.

I am also surprised at how much hurt he still has inside him. Until he gets over that, then he probably cannot achieve true happiness.

Oh yes, there are more surprises ahead!

RTW: What would give Doctor Logan Munro the ultimate happiness?

CMTo get over his loss of Helen and find someone to share his life.

RTW: Please set up your excerpt for us.

CMDoctor Logan Munro has been up half the night treating a young patient. He is just contemplating having some breakfast when a patient, a veteran of the War calls on him. The man is an amputee and he is in agony and desperate for relief from the pain he is feeling in his phantom limb.

Excerpt from
The Oath
by Clay More
a short story in
Hell on the Prairie
Wolf Creek, Book 6

Barclay Patterson wiped some perspiration from his brow and gave a wan smile. ‘That’s a relief to know that I’m not mad.”

Logan crossed the room and picked up a magazine from a pile in the corner. ‘This is the latest issue of Lippincott’s Magazine of Popular Literature and Science,” he explained as he thumbed through it and returned with it folded open at a page. “Curiously, here is an article by Dr Silas Mitchell of Philadelphia. He started up a ‘Stump Clinic’ back there the year after the War ended. He calls them ‘Phantom limbs.’”

Barclay Patterson ran his eye over the page then to Logan’s surprise tossed his head back and laughed. “So I’m not mad,” he said after he stopped laughing. ‘I’m just haunted. Haunted by my own godamned leg!”

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.

CM: I have a couple of medical books coming out this month, one on Understanding and Dealing with Depression and one on Understanding and Dealing with Stroke. Then later in the fall I have a non-fiction book coming out with Skyhorse, called The Tea Cyclopedia. It is all about the drink, its history, its health benefits and some quirky science experiments you can try.

I also have a crime novel that comes out next week, written under my crime writer pen-name of Keith Moray. It is called Death in Transit and is the fifth in a series about Inspector Torquil McKinnon. It is set on the Outer Hebridean island of West Uist. It is a contemporary Scottish crime novel set during a transit of Venus. There is conflict among astronomers and astrologers and the Zodiac Killer is on the loose.

In the western field, I have just contributed to Wolf Creek 4: The Taylor County War. My story The Oath is due out in Wolf Creek 6: Hell on the Prairie, of course. Then later this year I have contributed to Wolf Creek 8: Night of the Assassins, and I am working on a story for the Christmas anthology.

My other main western project is my ebook series of short stories with High Noon Press – The Adventures of Doctor Marcus Quigley. He is a dentist, gambler and bounty hunter on a quest to avenge a murder committed some years ago. The trouble is he has only a few clues about the murderer. The series builds into a complete novel. The third in the series The Covered Trail comes out at the end of June.

RTW: You're definitely keeping yourself busy, especially since you're still doctoring.  Anything else you’d like to add?

CM: I am also halfway through a Clay More novel for Hale, entitled Dry Gulch Revenge. As soon as that is done, I will be writing a novel about Dr George Goodfellow, entitled The Doctor, for the Western Fictioneers West of the Big River series.

And I’ll be writing my next YA novel in the Adventures of Jack Moon series. They are about an Oliver Twist-like orphan set in misty, Victorian London.

RTW: Thanks for being with us today, Clay/Keith.  I loved your story, The Oath, and I'm sure others will love it, too.  Dr. Logan Munro is a fabulous character in the Wolf Creek series.

Readers, for more great stories featuring Clay More's character, Dr. Munro, try all the Wolf Creek books:

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


Keith (Clay) will be giving away two books.  The winner of this competition will be chosen at random, from all those who leave a comment on the blog.
Wolf Creek, Book 6: 
by Keith Moray

Please just be patient, since these will be coming from England.  Drawing will be held July 6, 9pm Pacific Time.  Be sure to include your email address in your comment.

Thanks to Clay More 
(Keith Souter/KeithMoray) 
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. I've said it before and I'll say it again... Logan Munro is rivaling Galen Adams as my favorite frontier doctor. Keith has created such a unique and layered character.

  2. Your post are always informative Keith, I like your characters too!
    Doctor Munro is a much sought after man.

  3. Thanks, guys. Logan really enjoys living and working in Wolf Creek, although it is not quite the sleepy little town he thought it might be.


  4. The surgical tools look positively gruesome. I'm thinking more serial killer than doctor.

    A great post thank you.


  5. Thanks for stopping by, Mary. I know what you mean about the instruments. They are in my own collection and were used by doctors in my own medical practice, which was established in 1847. I chose that photograph quite deliberately. They are a little rusty, but they are very specific instruments. Note the wooden handles, which indicate that they were used before the Germ Theory. That is, they were not designed to be sterilised, but to be washed and wiped clean.

    They look gruesome, yet the fact is that these surgeons learned how to do operations quickly. Nowadays we may think that their treatments were barbaric, yet doctors on the frontier were giving folks the best treatment available.

    When I started out as a house surgeon - (in the UK, back in those days, you had to do six months as a house physician practicing medicine and six months as a house surgeon practising surgery, before you could be fully registered as a doctor) - we did everything by 'open' operation. That is, you had to open the chest, the abdomen or the joint. Then we saw the introduction of laparoscopic surgery (my professor of surgery was one of the laparoscopic pioneers, I am proud to say) and we saw surgery move to a whole new level.

    I like to think that those 19th century pioneer doctors who were operating with relatively primitive instruments were the equivalent of the super-specialists of today. These are the guys who are pushing back the frontiers in neuro, cardiac and transplant surgery. Back then in the 19th century people like Dr Logan Munro and the real life, Dr George Goodfellow were the men in whose hands you entrusted your life. They truly had skill in their hands.


  6. Love the details Keith always provides about medical practice in the old West. The Wolf Creek books often seem to work out so that Keith and I have to work together on our chapters, and he's a delight to work with. Wait'll you see what we came up with for WC8, Night of the Assassins. Of course you have to get WC7 first. That's an excellent one.

    Jim Griffin

  7. Thanks, Jim. Always a pleasure working with you, too. I learn so much about horses and their care each time.


  8. Keith, I'm just now getting around to reading your post as we have been on the road. You know how I love Dr. Logan Munro. He's just such a great character, and I love his "baggage" of his past. (Angst is always so good!)LOL I always learn so much from your writing!


Romancing The West welcomes you to show your appreciation of our guest blogger by leaving a comment. If there's a contest, don't forget to leave your contact information. Thanks!