My favorite author is Louis L’Amour. He wrote prolifically about the American Old West, which is a topic I’ve had a life-long, intense interest in.
This quote from Encyclopedia Britannica explains succinctly who he was.
Louis L’Amour… American writer, best-selling author of more than 100 books, most of which were formula westerns that were highly popular because of their well-researched portrayals of frontier life.
I grew up on a small ranching-farming operation back in the 60s. Television westerns at that time were popular: Gunsmoke, Maverick, Laredo, The High Chaparral, The Big Valley, The Virginian, and many more. I watched every episode of all of them. I collected Louis L’Amour’s books and ready them over and over.
I was then, and still am today, avidly interested in all things “old west”, myths, legends, and truths alike.
The characteristics of the men and women Louis L’Amour wrote about in his westerns are ingrained in my own western romance writing. I never cared, and I still don’t care, that his westerns are considered formulaic. To name a few criticisms:
- the good guys win;
- the bad guys don’t win;
- the violence isn’t considered realistic and graphic enough (according to ‘history’) – too 1950s and 1960s movie westerns romanticized
- the good guy gets the girl
I don’t care about any of that. I like his western for all of those reasons. Two more reasons I like his books:
- the female characters are strong and not written as an afterthought to the plot (he often wrote that the male protagonist treated the female love interest as a woman to walk beside him, not behind him);
- the male protagonists are worthy of the female protagonists’ love and respect.
I reread many of his books every year. Granted, they are quick reads. Nothing tedious or deep, and that’s okay. I love his westerns for the escape they provide, and that they are examples of the magic a true storyteller can craft between the covers of a book. He is a master storyteller, and there is much to learn from his writing.
Here are six of my favorites. The first of his books I ever read was Last Stand at Papago Wells.
Until next time,
writing through history one romance upon a time