Monday, 5 March 2012

Night of the Gunslinger

I've received the news that Hale will publish my western Night of the Gunslinger. I expect it'll see print around May 2013 and it'll be my 27th Black Horse Western.

This novel was one of those itches I had to scratch and I've been trying to reach that itchy spot for a few years. The basic idea was to write a story in real time and, when this proved to be too tricky, to write a novel detailing the events in a single day. So about ten years ago I started Bad Day in Dirtwood with this intention. Rapidly the discipline of keeping all the events within a 24-hour period proved wrong for the story and so I abandoned the constraint with the intention of trying again later.

A few years later I returned to the idea with Dead by Sundown, which constrained the idea further by making it a story that would start at sunup and end at sundown. Again the constraint proved too much for the story. A couple of years later I tried again with Bad Moon over Devil's Ridge, this time detailing events over a single night. This story had two points of view rather than the one I'd used for the previous attempts and so I thought it might work this time, but again I had to relax the time constraint leaving me wondering whether I'd ever make it work without cheating by using flashbacks or extensive exposition etc.

As it turned out, I solved the problem by ignoring it. I started writing Night of the Gunslinger with the intention of writing a story about a law office siege in the days leading up to a notorious outlaw's trial. Except I got further and further into the story detailing the events leading up to the siege with no sign of the siege starting until one day I realized that I probably didn't need the siege at all. At that point I also realized that I was halfway through the story and everything so far had happened during a single night...

Whether the story works or not, I'm glad I finally got rid of that itch! Here's my suggested blurb:

With the town marshal laid up with a broken leg, Deputy Rick Cody must stand alone to protect New Town during a night of mayhem. At sunup Edison Dent will stand trial for Ogden Reed's murder. Although Rick suspects that Edison is innocent, he also reckons his own sister knows more than she's prepared to reveal.

With Rick having only one night to uncover the truth, his task is made harder when the outlaw Hedley Beecher plots to free the prisoner while Ogden's brother Logan vows to kill Edison and anyone who stands in his way. Within an hour of sundown four men are dead, and so begins the longest and bloodiest night of Rick's life.

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