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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

WESTERN WORDSLINGERS—ROBERT VAUGHAN


WESTERN WORDSLINGERS
ROBERT VAUGHAN
WRITERS ON BOOKS 

As part of an ongoing series of blog posts, I’ve asked prolific wordslinger Robert Vaughan to give us his personal take on what writers read and what books influence their lives. Vaughan sold his first book when he was 19. Since then he has sold nearly 500 more, including many written under pseudonyms for ongoing publishing house series, such as Slocum (as Jake Logan), Remington (as James Calder Boone), McMasters (as Lee Morgan), Stagecoach (as Hank Mitchum), Faraday (as William Grant), The Regulator (as Dale Colter), and many others. His books have made a splash on the NYT bestseller list seven times.

His Western fiction has been highly lauded, winning the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America (for Survival, a Novel of the Donner Party under the pseudonym K.C. McKenna), the Western Fictioneers’ Lifetime Achievement Award, the Readwest President's Award for Excellence in Western Fiction.

A retire an Army officer, Vaughan’s experiences as a helicopter pilot with three tours in Vietnam—receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with three oak leaf clusters, and the Air Medal for valor with 35 oak leaf clusters—have made his Vietnam war novels as close as you can get to the hell of war without actually being there. Vaughan was inducted into the Writers' Hall of Fame in 1998, and is a Pulitzer Prize nominee.

His latest Western novel, The Town Marshal, has been recently released by Wolfpack publishing and is quickly climbing the Amazon sales rankings. Wolfpack is also currently reprinting the six books in the Western series Arrow and Sabre—starting with Oushata Massacre—which Vaughan originally wrote in 1989 and 1990 under the pseudonym G.A. Carrington. 
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IF THE TEXAS RANGERS NAILED UP A WANTED POSTER FOR ROBERT VAUGHAN, WHAT INFORMATION WOULD IT CONTAIN? 
Vaughan is a rather big man, but he is slow: Slow to anger, but slow to forgive, slow to make friends, but slow to cast them aside, slow to learn but slow to forget. If you want to set a trap for him, put out some cornbread and milk. He’ll take the bait every time. 

WHAT WAS THE BOOK YOU LOVED AS A CHILD?
Believe it or not, it was a dictionary. I got one for my 8th birthday, (I still have it, and in the foresheet it says: “This book belongs to Dicky Vaughan, keep it clean.”) I loved to look up new words and use them with my friends such as asking the umpire in a Little League game to show some measured impartiality in his adjudication of close calls. 

WHAT BOOKS WOULD YOU READ TO YOUR KIDS OR GRANDKIDS? 
I read Grapes of Wrath to my kids when they were in the 5th and 7th Grade. We were stranded by a blizzard for one week in a cabin on the McKenzie River in Oregon. We had no electricity, so I had to read by the light of the fire in the fireplace (which was also our only heat). The kids really got into the book and quoted it for years afterward, and they still remember it. 

WAS THERE A BOOK THAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER? 
I can’t remember when I didn’t want to be a writer. Before I could even read, I would make scribbles on a piece of paper then make my mother, grandmother, or aunt listen to my “stories” as I read aloud to them. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CLASSIC? 
I don’t know if FROM HERE TO ETERNITY qualifies as classic, but I have read that book at least 20 times. I read it first when I was in high school, and I read it many times while I was still in the army. My 23 years in in the army is still the seminal part of my life, and the army portrayed in From Here to Eternity was my army. 

WHAT CLASSIC HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN ABLE TO READ? 
WAR AND PEACE, because I couldn’t keep the names of the characters straight. 

WHAT IS THE CLASSIC YOU’VE PRETENDED TO HAVE READ? 
No such animal. 

WHAT BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION HAVE YOU ENJOYED? 
SHANE. I very much enjoyed the book, and I consider SHANE to be the best Western movie ever done.  Also, I had the privilege of meeting Jack Schaefer at a Western Writers Convention once. 

WHAT BOOK WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE AS A MOVIE? 
I wrote THE LAWMEN as a screenplay which was supposed to star Robert Mitchum and Dale Robertson as two old lawmen who had been political opponents for their entire lives, but come together to help a young woman who is granddaughter to both. We started production, but Mitchum died before principle photography could begin, so I turned it into a novel. I would very much like to see that one produced. And wouldn’t Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot be great in it? 

WHAT IMAGINARY PLACE WOULD YOU LIKE TO VISIT? 
Not so much a place, as a time. The concept of time travel fascinates me, and since it is also imaginary, I guess it would qualify as an answer for this question. I would like to be on Custer’s last scout. I was in the 7th Cavalry during my time in the army, and I was in D troop. As it turns out, D troop was with Benteen, so the chance of my surviving that epic battle would be fairly good. 

WHAT GENRE WOULD YOU READ IF YOU WERE LIMITED TO ONE? 
I would read Westerns, they are the epic American story, good vs. evil, restless exploration, self-determination, courage, ambition, and confidence. 

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RETURNED TO AGAIN AND AGAIN? 
As I stated earlier, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. If this question would also refer to movies, I would say SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON one of the John Ford/John Wayne trilogy of cavalry of the Old West. That was also John Wayne’s personal favorite. 

WHAT FICTIONAL CHARACTER WOULD YOU LIKE AS A FRIEND? 
Tom Sawyer, because I almost did have him as a friend. My best friend growing up, was named Tom, and we not only emulated Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, in the high school drama club production of Tom Sawyer, my friend Tom, portrayed Tom Sawyer and I was Huck Finn.

WHAT NOVEL MADE YOU LAUGH, AND WHAT NOVEL MADE YOU CRY? 
All right, I’m going to be self-serving here, but that would be my book BRANDYWINE’S WAR on both counts. It has both humor and pathos, and it so closely resembles my own time in Vietnam that it could almost be autobiographical. 

WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW? 
I read after I go to bed and generally do a book every two nights so my answer now will not be valid when this is published. But, tonight I will be finishing Louis L’Amour’s BORDEN CHANTRY. 

WHAT SPARKED THE STORY IDEA BEHIND THE TOWN MARSHAL? 
The story of Henry Brown has always fascinated me, how someone could be so lauded as a peace officer by the people he served and yet, make such a drastic and fateful decision at the end of his life. 

HOW DID YOUR ARROW AND SABRE SERIES ORIGINATE? 
I mentioned earlier that I was in the 7th Cavalry. This is while I was in Germany, and because I was a junior officer I was given the job of historical officer. At first it was just another collateral duty, BUT we had a lot of memorabilia. We had one of Custer’s hats, his gauntlets, and his saber. However, most interesting to me was a field diary he kept during the 7th Cavalry’s Black Hills expedition, written in his own hand! I can’t tell you how it felt to hold that book and know that it had Custer’s writing. I became fascinated with the entire cavalry mystique. We had a pipes and drum corps that played GARY OWEN on proper occasions.  That fascination extended to the entire cavalry of the Old West, and the ARROW AND SABER books, (as well as several other Western Cavalry books) are the result.
THE TOWN MARSHAL
Ripped from the annals of authentic Wild West history, The Town Marshal tells the tale of James Cooper and Henry Newton Brown, who form a close friendship when—alongside Billy the Kid—they are caught up in the Lincoln County War. When they move on, their bond of friendship continues as James becomes a crusading newspaper editor and Henry puts on a marshal’s star, becoming feared by outlaws and idolized by the citizens of the towns he served. But newspaper editors and marshals serve different masters driving the two best friends toward a deadly confrontation.

ARROW AND SABRE #1: OUSHATA MASSACRE
Fort Reynolds, Colorado: 1868...Fresh from WestPoint, Second Lieutenant Marcus Cavanaugh arrives with a platoon of recruits from the East into territory seething with Indian trouble. Two Eagles and his renegade band of Cheyenne warriors have broken the peace, raiding railroad crews and wagon trains, slaughtering men, women, and children, then disappearing into the hills...Scouting for Two Eagles war party, Cavanaugh, at last, discovers their winter village, barely escaping with his life to report back to the fort. But nothing in his military training has prepared him for the savagery and danger he encounters as he leads his men against hostile braves in the bloody battle known as the Oushata Massacre... 

 

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