Western Wednesday: Interview with Bill Crider

outrage at blanco bill criderBill Crider shouldn’t need an introduction. We all know him, we all love his cats him. Bill Crider may best be known for his mysteries but he’s also written a number of westerns over the years: Ryan Rides Back, Galveston Gunman, A Time for Hanging, Medicine Show, Outrage at Blanco, and Texas Vigilante. They are all available on the Kindle in reasonably priced editions.

Brian Lindenmuth: First, two questions unrelated to westerns

You gave us all quite a scare recently, how are you doing now?

Bill Crider: ​I was scared, too, but the oncologist assures me I’ll be okay. In fact, I’m feeling okay now. Chemo has been postponed for a few months, which is fine with me.​

Did the popularity of the VBK’s surprise you?

​Yes, it sure did. I put photos of other things on Facebook every day, and they get a few likes. I put the kittens on there, and I got 1500 likes the first day. I knew kittens were popular, but not that popular.​

Why westerns?

​I grew up with western movies and TV shows. The Saturday matinee with a double feature of B-westerns was where every kid in town went for entertainment. Roy and Gene, Monte Hale, Tex Ritter, Lash LaRue, Don “Red” Barry, Wild Bill Elliott, Whip Wilson, Rex Allen, and on and on. I saw ’em all and never grew out of my enjoyment of them.​

What is your favorite type of western?

​I like just about any western. I can’t really make a choice here.​

What is your favorite western movie?

​For pure entertainment, it’s Rio Bravo. For something a little more serious, The Searchers or Ride the High Country.

What is your favorite western novel?

​Again, hard to choose​. I’m really fond of Berger’s Little Big Man and Garfield’s Wild Times, but there are a lot of others I like equally well. True Grit, for example. Joe Lansdale’s Paradise Sky comes to mind.

Who is your favorite western writer?

​Another tough one. I really like Harry Whittington’s westerns, but Jack Schaefer has written some great ones.​ So has Elmer Kelton. I can’t stick with just one of anything.​

What do you most value in the fiction you love?

​Storytelling, great characters, color, and action.​

Who is your favorite violent western character?

When we’re talking violent, Edge is the first guy I think of. I haven’t read the entire series, but I’ve read enough to know he’s about as violent as they come.

So many great westerns and western authors are out of print. Who do you think deserves a critical reappraisal and brought back to print?

​Harry Whittington, Donald Hamilton, H.A. DeRosso, Lauran Paine​

Is the western genre dead, dying, in a state of disrepair, or doing just fine?

​It seems to be doing well in electronic form, and there are western movies coming out fairly often even if they don’t play in the theaters for long, if at all. But I can remember the time when they were reviewed in The New York Times Book Review, when they covered the paperback racks, ​when there were dozens of western TV shows, and when the Saturday matinees had a B-western double feature every week, and when a new A-western movie came out every month or two. Compared to those days, pickings are kind of slim. ​

Then/Now/Next: what book did you read last, what book are you reading now, and what book will you read next?

​Just finished Fields Where They Lay, by Timothy Hallinan, am reading My Turn, by John O’Hara, and I have no idea what I’ll read next.​

What was the last great western that you consumed (watched or read)?​

​Just watched Riders in the Sky with Gene Autry and wrote a blog post about it. It’s not a great western, but it seemed great to me when I was 8 or 9 years old, and the nostalgia factor is high.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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