When I was in my impressionable youth, I lived for the weekends. Every Saturday was another double-feature at the movies. The Western movies. I’d get popcorn and a Coke and scoot down in the middle row and take up residence for the next two or three hours. All my heroes were cowboys or sheriffs or gunslingers or, well, you get the picture. As I got older, and finished high school, went to college, got my first real job, I just naturally figured I’d just move on and adopt a new set of heroes.
Problem was that it didn’t happen that way. I was somehow unable to mentally separate myself from the dusty trails and boulder-laden desert of the southwest. Oh I had other interests, of course: illustrating, flying, graphic design, all of which I immersed myself in to one degree or another. And I seemed to be sailing along quite well, until I actually went out west and walked among those very same boulders, cacti, and hot, dry sands that had held my interest for so long. And the mountains, those incredible mountains. The renewal of all those wonderful dreams of being on the streets of Tombstone or hunkered down behind a rise to await the inevitable ambush from Apaches, or riding a horse up and down the arroyos and across dry riverbeds in pursuit of outlaws. There’s even a smell of something that lingers just out of reach, it’s the smell of life and death, and it whisks you off to a time when good and evil clashed so demonstrably that you couldn’t escape the clarity of its presence. And maybe just a hint of fear that it might catch up to you.
So, today I write Western novels. Why? Maybe I’m still just a cowboy at heart. If that’s true, I know I need to reach out to all the other cowboys to share what I love about the West. Wouldn’t I like everyone to read my books and get caught up in the excitement of the early gunfighters, Indians, ranchers, and railroaders? You bet. And that’s why I’m here. Because, while to some it may seem a stretch, I think we’re all cowboys. We all love to ride in a convertible with the top down, race along on a motorcycle, or jog on a mountain trail in the cool morning air. Almost just like cowboys. Therefore, In my mind, every single one of us is a cowboy at heart. I know I am.
And that brings us to the National Day of the Cowboy, which will be celebrated July 28, 2012. Yep, just around the corner. It’s a celebration of all that’s the old West, but it’s also about the spirit that lingers in us all. It’s the spirit that drove men to do marvelous things in the most dangerous conditions imaginable in an effort to accomplish a dream: to build a nation. And they did. Those hardy pioneers–the cowboys, ranchers, farmers, railroaders and merchants–all worked tirelessly together to build what we enjoy today: the greatest nation in the world. And, by golly, we’re still doing it.