Success, if you can get it, is something to be cherished. G.P. Hutchinson has been at the top of the Western tree for some time now. His first book, “Strong Convictions,” was one of the major Western hits of 2015. His new book, “Strong Suspicions,” climbed to the top of the bestseller listings and has become one of the fastest selling Westerns of the year, so far. In fact, over ONE MILLION pages of “Strong Suspicions” were read during the months of April and May. So with that in mind, this interview should give you some insight into the mindset of a writer who has been, and is, so successful.
Now, G.P. is a very humble fella, and he writes because he loves to write, and that may be the very reason for his success. You can also add his consistent mindset towards promotion and his ability to please Western readers to that list of ingredients… But the biggest ingredient is that he has a talent for writing. That’s the key. If you put all of these ingredients together, you can’t help but find success. But let’s ask G.P. about his formula… He’s waiting!
Why was it important for you to write? What drove that ambition?
Sometimes stories are more effective than non-fiction in influencing the way people think. There’s a lot of madness in the world today. In spite of all the advantages of rapid change, 24/7 news cycles, and the ability to Google any subject on Earth, a lot of folks seem more confused than ever about how to live life. My hope is that, while entertaining readers, I’ll offer them something attractive to consider regarding how to live meaningful, purposeful lives based on enduring values in this complicated world.
How closely do you try to keep to historical fact?
History matters—a good deal. But if my story is better served by having a railroad run through a town in 1881 when in fact the railroad did not arrive until 1883, I don’t believe any great harm is done in most such cases. What shouldn’t be changed for the sake of story, in my humble opinion, are the prevailing social conventions and attitudes of the specific era in which the story takes place. Too much is already being expunged from history books these days in order to advance politically correct societal agendas.
What were the most influential movies on your writing?
Tombstone (1993), Broken Trail (2006), The Quick and the Dead (1995), and Appaloosa (2008) all had stylistic influence on my Western novels.
What first got you interested in the written word?
An active imagination and a thirst for adventure in other times and places.
Would you ever write a book about the Alamo or other historical events?
I’ve learned to never say ‘never.’
Do you believe in good and bad? Is that a concept that all who write books should keep in mind?
If by “good and bad” you are referring to how well or poorly done something is (stories, books, visual and performing arts), then of course I believe in good and bad. And I believe anyone who writes a book and sets out to sell it to the public has a moral imperative to give his readers the best work he can possibly produce under his current circumstances. Meanwhile, I think you’d really like to know whether I believe in good and evil, which is a slightly different question. A quick look at the world around us reveals abundant examples of both good and evil—the epic battle of the ages. With all due respect to the postmodernist antihero (a protagonist who is not only flawed, but who also leaves the reader or viewer questioning whether any moral absolute can be applied), I believe there are profound reasons why most readers want to see good heroes who eventually triumph and bad villains who eventual get what’s coming to them. We simply don’t seem to see enough justice in the world where we live out our everyday lives.
If you could go back to any time period—where would you go?
Scary idea—probably the American West of the later 1800s.
Can you describe all of your books in one easy-to-read answer?
In my books I strive to blend the best conventions of classic-style Westerns with the pacing and suspense of modern thrillers.
What will your next book be about?
In Strong Ambitions, Emmett Strong and his family will have to stare death and destruction in the face and cobble together a way to overcome dangerous and determined enemies with seemingly endless resources.
As an author, do you think it’s important to have a large publisher?
While landing a contract with a big publisher could boost an author’s career in a significant way, there’s no guarantee that that would be the case. From what I understand, traditionally published books have a fairly short window of opportunity in which to make a big splash. If they don’t live up to expectations within that window of time, they may very well end up being pulled from the market. There’s a lot of competition out there and limited promotional budgets. Even when published by one of the bigger publishing houses, authors still have a substantial responsibility to promote their own work. Self-publishing has a lot of advantages. There are pitfalls, to be sure. But well-written, well-edited stories, when targeted at the right audience, can remain on the market and gain fans over a long period of time. Either way—traditionally published through one of the larger publishing houses, or self-published—it seems to me that the key ingredient to the success of an author who writes good material is visibility.
Are you ever surprised by how many readers there are, still, in the world?
Not really. Life is—at the same time—tough and mundane. We often don’t see the fruits of our labors until much later, if ever. Reading offers a wonderful way to vicariously experience both excitement and the successful accomplishment of bold and daring deeds.
Is there any kind of book you wouldn’t write, or couldn’t write?
I wouldn’t write anything that, in my estimation, dishonors God or weakens the essential moral fiber of society.
Do you think writers read more books than the average reader—or is that just a myth?
Don’t get me wrong—you have to be a reader in order to be the best writer you can possibly be. On the other hand, while I’m busy writing for six or eight hours in a day, someone else may be devouring books I’ll never have time to get to. I’m amazed by (and a bit jealous of) how much some people read.
How have reviewers treated your books?
Overall, very well, I’m humbled to say. Every now and then, there’s a review that makes me cock my head and say, “What?!?” But as with anything, as much as we might like to, we can’t please 100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time.
And your luxury item to take to a secluded island is….?
Some means of staying connected to the internet.