Laura Anne Gilman: On Writing Weird Alt-Westerns…

Last week, Laura Anne Gilman finished up the enviable task of writing and then publishing a whole trilogy of books, which is always a success that should be met with fireworks and whiskey and a Herculean nap. That book is Red Waters Rising, and you can check it out now where books are sold. Here she is, with some final thoughts on ending the series…

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Many thanks to Chuck for giving me a bit of a platform today.

This month is the release of RED WATERS RISING, the third book in the Devil’s West series, what I’m calling (in my head, anyway) the “Devil’s Ride trilogy,’ about the adventures of two very different people bound together by a devilish plan to keep the West That Wasn’t safe against the Future to Come…

And I’ve been blessed that the trilogy’s gotten such a positive response from readers and reviewers, because it was, in technical publishing terms, a holy hell crapshoot.

Honestly never had any desire to write “weird west.”  Or any kind of western at all, honestly.  I was born and raised on the East Coast, and at heart am a city girl.  Urban fantasy?  I got you covered.  And as a history major/geek, you wanna do historical fantasy?  Hey, let’s go all the way back to the Etruscans and create a new mythology!  Contemporary dark fantasy?  I’ve got your sociopathic elves right here!  (no, really, I do.  Careful, they definitely bite).

But – despite knowing how to ride a horse and safely handle a shotgun, and, okay, I admit it, owning a pair of authentic, bought-in-a-feed-and-supply store-in-Oklahoma pair of cowboy boots,  the idea of writing a western of any sort had never meandered across my thought patterns.  Or rather, it didn’t until the opening lines of a story – “John came to the crossroads at just shy of noon, where a man dressed all in black was staring up at another man hanging from a gallowstree ” – cracked open a world I didn’t know I’d been creating, and out spilled not just a handful of diverse short stories, but this trilogy,  SILVER ON THE ROAD, THE COLD EYE, and this month’s RED WATERS RISING.

And I went from “no desire to write weird west” to “holy shit I love writing American historical fiction with a heavy dose of Da Weird, give it all to me now please let me do this forever.”

Even if I did have to spend several years explaining why there are no gunslingers in this time period.

And now, with the trilogy complete, and new adventures on the horizon, I’m looking back over the words written, things learned, and hopes both realized and deflated, and trying to sum it all up for you, the joy and the frustration, the heartbreak all writers are heir to.  But that, I discovered, leads me not to words of wisdom, but, well, filk.

Really, having met me, you should have expected nothing less.

…Mamas’ don’t let your babies grow up to write alt-westerns

Don’t let ’em ride horses or learn about flintlocks

Let ’em write spaceships, or Regency frocks

Mamas’ don’t let your babies grow up to write alt-westerns

‘Cause they won’t fly off the shelves and they’re quick out of print

Despite dedicated readers who say it’s their thing

Alt-westerns need obscure lib’ry resources and costly road trip wand’rings

Little known factoids and magic and historical plights

Them that don’t read ‘em won’t like ’em

And them that do sometimes won’t ever find ‘em

They’re not bad they’re just a bitch to write

and writers are so stubborn when a book’s got their heart…

Mamas’ don’t let your babies grow up to write alt-westerns.

Laura Anne Gilman: Website | Twitter

Red Waters Rising: Indiebound | Amazon