You just never can tell who will storm the barn and hit the bestseller chart when a brand-new western talent comes to town. This interview is with Chris Lord. His first Western is currently riding high in the top one hundred with readers around the world discovering a brand-new talent. That first book is called “Black Sunday at Eagle Springs” and you can find it on Amazon awaiting your Kindle reader— and the acclaim it so readily deserves. Lets meet Mister Lord…
NW: Hello, Chris. So glad to have this opportunity to talk with you about your exciting new Western novel, “Black Sunday at Eagle Springs,” and to get to know you as well. So, you mentioned in your text that you were looking at the numbers with Westerns, and you were impressed by how popular they still were?
CL: Well I was just shocked. I guess you read stuff and want stuff and you hear stuff. But I’ve never heard anyone talk about the genre in a sellable number.
NW: The biggest Western sellers are making a lot of sales. It is a big and booming industry, and it is getting bigger. We just need to have a few movies, and it will be back in the forefront, I think. Have you always been interested in writing?
CL: The first thing I ever wrote I was eleven or twelve, and I’ve been writing off and on. And sometimes that inferiority complex would come in, where you write only three or four sentences and give up. But about three or four years ago I decided I would start enjoying that aspect of who I am, and so I started writing. I don’t play any golf or have many other pastimes. I pastor a church as my full-time job. Usually on my vacations, I will write a book. My family will take three- or four-weeks’ vacation, sometimes all at one time, and I can use some of the time to express my creativity. But this year I had no vacation. And I’m still under the fire, but I do find the writing is a very enjoyable and low-cost endeavor. My Dad is 87 and the best man I’ve ever known. I grew up watching Westerns with him. I love the themes of good people who fight the bad, the taking up for the underdog, standing for justice. Have you heard of the Ennegram? It’s a test to see what kind of person you are. Mine came out that I’m a classified as an 8 – the Protector—Vigilant one. So I decided I would just let myself escape into that. I’ve enjoyed it. The of people I use here in Georgia to Beta read my stuff say they enjoy it, so I believe this will be a fun pursuit.
NW: So, how did you approach a western? I mean, where did the storyline come from for this first Western?
CL: My daughters and wife hate watching movies with me. My family are all big movie watchers—my Dad, mostly Westerns, and my Mom everything else. But I am always picking apart a plot in a movie. My daughters get irritated with me sometimes because I do that, but things are so glaringly obvious for me. I love it when I am surprised, but most of it is so glaringly obvious I just assume it’s obvious for everybody. To me, most Westerns are about catching the bad guy, and also, I want it to be clean. To me, if you show too much, you leave nothing to the imagination of people. So I don’t like that in a movie. It’s always good to keep people wanting the consummation of a relationship much more than the act itself. So in my writing, I just approach it from what I like in the movies that influence me. I love John Wayne. I absolutely loved him as a child. I even cried when my Mom wouldn’t change my name to John Wayne. I just put a little John Wayne in my writing approach, using his ways of getting the bad guy. “Star Wars” is a Western. It is the same thing, just in a different locale.
NW: It is interesting you say you are writing clean Westerns. You consciously made that decision. You realized that a huge portion of the readership is looking for a clean western adventure?
I don’t want to be writing a story, and get about ten chapters in and realize I don’t even like what I’m writing.
CL: First of all, I am a pastor. I am not criticizing other writers, but personally I am not fond of using gratuitous violence and language just to sell books. I still listen to some of the radio dramas that are out there, and they were all clean. I don’t mind alluding to certain things, but steer away from graphic violence, language and sex. I just don’t want to go there. It does not befit my place as who I am or as a pastor—imaging, respectability and all.
NW: I agree with you there. The cleaner westerns seem to sell better than the more violent ones.
CL: I was going to ask you about that. (laughs)
NW: And again, from a marketing point of view, the closer the books are to the Western movies and TV series of the 50s and the 60s the better they sell. It’s interesting.
NW: It is interesting because we have had super violent Westerns, and we have had to tone them down, because the people did not like them. Dialogue and interplay between characters is what sells westerns. That’s what I believe.
CL: Well, I know I’ve looked at and read Westerns, not only for marketability but for enjoyability, and I don’t want to be writing a story, and get about ten chapters in and realize I don’t even like what I’m writing. I was reading some of the other reviews of other writers and I was shocked at the negative reviews because of language and sex were there. One referred to “a whoremongering session filled with profanities”. And with the violence. In 2019 you get complete description of the “skull crack and all the blood,” whereas in the 50s you just got the face with blood on it. And later the body on the street. And you knew what happened. The older way of creating a story allows the audience to fill in the blanks. Now it’s all done for you.
NW: I think you are right. I think the suggestion is a lot more powerful than the reality.
CL: And again, I will allude to all these things. I will allude to rape, but you’re not going to see the scene. People know what happens in that moment. To me, you don’t have to go beyond that. I am not going to criticize other writer’s styles out there. And I have had conversations with other ministers, very moral, very upright people, who have asked me about scenes in a movie, and if they bothered me. I tell them those scenes did not bother me because they applied to the story. There was nothing gratuitous in it, because it did apply at that point in the movie. It worked, and as long as it works. I still haven’t crossed over in my writing to fully invest gratuitous acts to a “bad seed of the earth” character. I just allude to that with description.
NW: I take it you are working on your second novel already?
CL: Yes. I am.
NW: Does it follow on from the first, or is it a direct sequel?
CL: It will be a sequel, as far as the timeline is concerned. But it will still be a stand-alone. I don’t want it to be a complete second part where the first is required, but it does continue the storyline.
So he’s a young kid, post-civil war, lives with his uncle, learning his uncle’s trade of being a showman. His mission is to track down those who killed his parents.
NW: You really have been bit by the western writing bug!
CL: I am a natural storyteller, and I hope I’m a good writer. I do my best, but sometimes I fight my inner demons of grammar and trying to make sure it’s good. I was glad my Beta readers liked what just I did with Black Sunday. I saw one of them the other day and he said, “Please tell me you’re doing another one.” And I told him that I had sort of started one. He seemed happy. But, no matter what, I’m still enjoying it. I’m still doing it. I still enjoy the characters.
NW: What goes on in “Black Sunday At Eagle Springs.”
CL: the first book is about a young kid—he’s probably about my son’s age—about 20-22 years old, parents murdered. Western stories are all similar in a way. So you have to give the character someone to fall in love with. So he’s a young kid, post-civil war, lives with his uncle, learning his uncle’s trade of being a showman. His mission is to track down those who killed his parents. He is very devout in his faith in God, and he sees his job as one who renders justice to those who rape, pillage, murder others. The story is basically a 24 hour day. It’s a Sunday, and he meets up with a family and goes to church with them. He meets the pastor who is having trouble with bandits. He helps him with them, and, in the meantime he’s got the two outlaws he’s chasing. The other half of the outlaws are chasing him, the lead character is Luke. It all comes to an end where Luke must hopefully defend the day and save himself. He falls in love with daughter of the town preacher and she with him.
NW: Pretty extensive story line. The writing process must have really been full of ideas for you to pull all that together.
CL: (laughs) I’m a half-pants outliner. I love an outline, but I don’t do a full outline anymore. As I type I really want my character to go where they want. So that it can be a little more legitimate. That happens a lot. I had one started one way, and I went back and moved some of that out because my main character just didn’t want to start out that way. He had to start a different way.
NW: So tell me about your cover—how did you come up with such a catching, intriguing style?
CL: To be honest, I probably looked at 75 top 100 Old West Westerns, and it seems like sadly the Billionaire Cowboy has invaded. Just a good Frontier Western genre. How many of those things have I seen? I like big bold letters. I always like white. I did the cover. All three books—even though I don’t have the third book yet—will have a strong resemblance.
NW: So, you looked at other cover concepts and you built a cover that you hope would appeal to your audience.
CL: I just liked the bold with some orange and a big title. I have seen a lot of the westerns use the old, really old pulp art cowboy covers in the past year, which I find shocking, because I think a lot of that is still copyrighted, at least in America. I prefer doing what I am doing with my covers. I probably went through fourteen different versions of my cover and that is the one I settled on. Still not sure if I like it or not.
NW: Well, it’s certainly a good one it is a seller. Nice cover. It really pays to be influenced by what is selling. That is the color scheme that people are looking for. White or gold font, bold colors. Many readers are older, so the bigger the text on the cover, the more appealing it is to them. So, tell me, what were you doing before you became a writer? What was your claim to fame?
CL: (Laughing) I don’t know if I had any claim to fame. In my bio I mention Romper Room, the children’s TV show in the 60s. I was on Romper Room as a child. I was on the show for about a month or so. Everyone in America my age knows Romper Room. I also worked on a talk radio station for several years in the 90s and was good with it. I hosted a local TV show successfully. Got known to be funny as a speaker. It was a motivational stand up comedy type routine. But all of that is more like work and not as enjoyable as writing down what is in my head—riding a horse and shooting a gun. This may sound morbid, but it’s always fun to try to figure out different ways to kill somebody. My wife thinks I am just an evil person. We will watch a western and I’m saying, “well why doesn’t he just shoot that person? He just needs to shoot him in the knee and walk away. That guy needs to die.” She will say, “That’s horrible! How can you be a minister and think something like that?” I tell her it’s a survival thing. I’m not here to pray for him. If I’m that character, I’m there to take care of business and protect people. I need to kill that guy.
NW: Well, I must remember not to be on your “business “side when you are in character. It was such a pleasure to talk with you today, and we look forward to your sequel.
CL: Well, thank you for taking the time to call. It was a pleasure talking with you.
About Chris Lord
Chris Lord has wanted to be a writer since childhood. Sitting at a desk as a child and writing stories in a notebook in a scrawl few could read. Moving on to an IBM Selectric, writing about alien species and adventurers. He thanks God for the computer when gives the ability to write anywhere.
Living the life of a verbal storyteller, and making a living by using that gift, over the last many years publishing those stories has given Chris a great sense of satisfaction. It’s always nice to read the reviews and emails from readers.
Living in a suburb of Atlanta, married and with three children, Chris has had many jobs in life to get to where he is today. Chris is happy to be here now and has the opportunity to share this story and many others with you.
Eagle Springs expects a quiet Sunday…
But quiet won’t be had today by anyone…
Least of all the newcomer on the black mustang!
The piano in the saloon suddenly stops. The church singing silences. The Butcher Brothers are trying to gun down newcomer Colton Luke after he rides into town. And church hasn’t even been dismissed.
Luke isn’t dazed by the killers behind him at the saloon or the bandits coming to town for his friend the Preacher.
Destiny awaits and the fancy two-gun rig slung across his hips has kept him alive. Will it be enough this time?
This isn’t the first time he’s faced a gun. It won’t be the last, either. Killers and bandits are easy to deal with, but keeping his past where it belongs, that’s where things get tough. What if his secret gets out?
And then there’s the girl…
Ella Fair has him off his game.
No profanity or swearing. Plenty of action, honor and a little love.