Monday, 6 May 2019

Exploring Genres: Westerns

by Roger Norris-Green


About 55 years ago I picked up a ‘Cleveland Western’ for 2 shillings in my local newsagent. I thought I could write one so I had a go. At that time I couldn’t even type so I wrote 40,000 words in longhand in an exercise book. My dear wife Elaine typed it on a portable typewriter and I posted it off to the publisher.

The editor at Cleveland Westerns accepted it for publication.

I was paid 60 pound

Since then I have written 140 westerns for the company under the pen names Cole Shelton, Ben Taggart and Sundown McCabe and two under my own name, ‘Last Stage to Sundown’ and ‘A Stranger comes to Town.’

These last two titles are available direct from me for $10 each if you message me on Facebook.

What are Westerns?

Westersn are mostly set in the later half 19th century (1860-1900) in the American Old West. They usually focus a nomadic cowboy or gunfighter sporting revolvers, rifles and horses, in quest of justice in an unfair world. There may be a empahsis on arid desert setting of the 'wild west' and common themes or plots can revolve around building the railway, conflict with cattlemen or Native Americans, outlaws and lawmen, protecting family and/or revenge stories.

 Westerns include such classics as Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage or TV series such as The Lone Ranter, Bonaza or the John Wayne movies.

Settler romances, set in the American Old West may pick up some of these themes, but have less focus on gunfights and a greater focus on woman's lives and romance. Settler romances are popular in Christian Fiction.

Traditional Westerns with Old Time Values

I write traditional westerns with ‘old time values’. The hero is a good man or at least one who was formerly living a troublesome life but who is coming good. He treats women in a civil manner, respectful and of course, ‘always gets the girl’.

He might be tempted by the ‘baddies’ but he never gives in.

The hero isn’t perfect but the reader can always identify with him because he is a decent human being. 

I have just had two westerns accepted for publication by Black Horse Westerns. One has just been released. It’s titled LAST CHANCE SALOON.

The story concerns a gunfighter who hangs up his guns for the peaceful life but then receives a letter from a beautiful young widow pleading for his help. The exciting finale takes place in the Last Chance Saloon where the hero stands alone against the forces of evil—and wins, of course. I don't have copies for sale but some libraries may have copies. Or you can buy online.

Simply google Last Chance Saloon is on the right hand side of the front page. Also available in e-book.

Oh, although my wife typed my first few stories, I since learned to type and have a computer!

This is the monthly cross post between Christian Writers Downunder and Australasian Christian Writers

Roger Norris-Green is the author of Outcast, Seagulls, Secrets, Tipping Point, A Stranger Comes to Town, Sunday At Ten Ten, Redemption, Last Stage To Sundown, Pathways and The Lonely Shore .

You can follow him on his facebook profile here or learn more about him from his CWD Meet or Members interview here.


  1. Hi Roger, what a good post. I'll have to pass it on to my father-in-law, husband and son, who all enjoy a good Western, and have I think even read some of yours, being fellow South Australians.

  2. Hi Roger - Thanks for posting on a topic we don't usually hear much about. I must admit I don't read much in that genre, but it does provide a good opportunity to look at the forces of good against evil. And well done on writing so many books. I've just submitted my first novel to my publisher, so I can't imagine writing 140. You must love it and be very disciplined. I hope your latest books go really well for you.

  3. Thanks Roger for an interesting post. I haven't delved into Westerns much of late - but I devoured them as a child - I loved the Lone Ranger, the Cisco Kid and we grew up on TV series like Bonaza, Zoro and so many movies. My husband still loves them.

  4. Hi Roger. How prolific you've been in your writing! Good on you. I confess to a certain affection for Westerns when it comes to movies (from the star-studded cast of The Magnificent Seven through every John Wayne heroic reinvention to the comedy-laden Jacki Chan variations) and TV (also grew up on Bonanza, The Cisco Kid, Wagon Train and, ahem, F-Troop). Sing me a song from Calamity Jane, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or Oklahoma and I can almost smell the dusty plains and sawdust of the wild west. As for novels, although I can't say I've sought them out, a few Westerns found their way on to my reading list by being included in Readers Digest condensed books. As you mentioned, they are easily favoured for their well-intentioned and reluctant heroes as much as for their good-wins-out-in-the-end style and their larger-than-life characters and setting. Hmm, perhaps it's time I hauled out my Bonanza DVD collection again ... (I mean, come on ... Michael 'Little Jo' Landon's mischievous smile almost outguns Gene 'The Waco Kid' Wilder's blue eyes, doesn't it, gals?)

  5. 140 novels. That is something few of us will ever reach. I used to love Louis L'Amour and enjoyed watching Westerns. Might be interesting to pick one up again.