Guest author Suzie Grant still believes in happily-ever-after, and after growing up reading classic adventures like Treasure Island and Gone With The Wind, and watching westerns like Gunsmoke, Lonesome Dove, and Bonanza, Suzie knew what she wanted to do with her life. She lives happily ever after with her new beau, three boys and one little Shitzhu named Peppy Le’Pew in NC. From Castles to cowboys there’s something thrilling on every page of her books.
The Devil’s Daughter available now at Amazon and B&N
For the Sake of Sin available now at Amazon and B&N
Stetsons, Colts and Wranglers, Oh My …
Western Romance authors then & now
By Suzie Grant
A little over a hundred years ago the market was saturated with Dime novels where the lonely cowboy rode off into the sunset. And then in 1902 Owen Wilson published The Virginian, a lone, chivalrous cowboy who rights wrongs, a romance, and a final gunfight became the standard for the formula Western for the next century.
With the release of The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, an Avon single title romance paperback, the face of the romance genre changed forever.
Rosemary Roger’s, Sweet Savage Love was released in 1974 and carved out a niche for the American western romance in the industry. She is considered to be one of the founders of the modern historical romance. Every night for a year, Rogers worked to perfect a manuscript that she had written as a child, rewriting it twenty-four times. When her teenage daughter found the manuscript in a drawer, she encouraged her mother to send the manuscript to Avon, which quickly purchased the novel.
LaVyrle Spencer worked as a teacher’s aide at Osseo Junior High School. In her thirties, she read Kathleen Woodiwiss‘s novel “The Flame and Flower”, which gave her the idea to become a novelist. She decided to try transferring to paper a recurring dream she was having about a story based on her grandmother’s lifestyle on a Minnesota farm. Her story became her first manuscript, The Fulfillment, and she sent it to Kathleen Woodiwiss. The bestselling author read the novel and promptly mailed it to her own editor at Avon. The editor purchased the novel, which was published in 1979.
Spenser was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame in 1988. She wrote 23 sweet historical and contemporary novels. Published around the world, her works included 12 New York Times Bestsellers, and she has won four RITA Awards, 3 Golden Medallion Award and a Minnesota Book Awards. LaVyrle said: “the trademark of my books is mending relationships.”
Linda Howard came on the scene in the early eighties and helped build the genre to what it is today. She cut her teeth on Margaret Mitchell, Robert Ruark, “and anything else that fell into my hands,” she says. Whether she is reading them or writing them, books have long played a profound role in Linda’s life. Linda wrote her first book when she was 10 years old. “Needless to say, it was unpublishable,” she says. “It didn’t even have a title.”
She continued to write fiction, concentrating on romantic stories. “I get bored with politics and murder and mayhem,” she says. She eventually worked up the courage to submit a manuscript for publication. “It made me sick literally, physically ill. It was like putting your naked baby into the mailbox. And I lost 20 pounds waiting to hear from them. I couldn’t eat.” Linda needn’t have worried. Silhouette Books bought her manuscript, beginning a career that has lasted years and earned her many awards and letters of praise from adoring fans. She has over 10 million books in print around the world, and has written more than 25 titles.
Western romances grew in popularity over the years. The setting itself is by definition uncivilized and a breeding ground for romantic conflict. Authors like Johanna Lindsey, Diana Palmer, Kat Martin, Elizabeth Lowell tamed the Wild West with overbearing heroes and spunky heroines and created the genre that we now, know and love.
Westerns, romance in general, has evolved dramatically over the years but we should always be proud of where we came from. And looking back on these old titles while researching this project, I realized how little we’ve documented about our progress through the years. It was very difficult to find a “history of the western romance” and hopefully someday that will change.
Some of my favorite titles were Johanna Lindsey’s Savage Thunder and Elizabeth Lowell’s Only series. I can still remember the way my heart fluttered and how much I hated for the story to end.
Today the genre has a solid and steady audience, and while we’ve lost the limelight, we still carry the torch. There’s something romantic and enduring about a western, a sense of pride in our heritage and an elusive quality of a dying breed. The wide open spaces are as compelling today as they were then, the ideals of old and the tip of a cowboy’s hat at a lady are all things that mark this genre as unique and beautiful. I don’t think any other genre will ever capture my heart the way westerns have, and hopefully years from now readers will still feel that sense of pride in claiming this genre as “ours.”
Looking back through our genre’s history may bring us together but looking ahead into our future, you can rest assured knowing that the cowboy legend will endure both time and trends.
When all the others die out or fall by the wayside, you can bet there will always be westerns available to read. With authors like Jodi Thomas, Georgina Gentry, Leigh Greenwood, Bobbi Smith, Patty Jager and so many more that I would have a hard time remembering them all, who keep this genre alive and breathing. I take a moment to tip my hat to those, past and present, for keeping the American dream in our hearts. May we always have pride in our heritage and a western in our hands. www.suziegrantauthor.com www.ladyscribes.blogspot.com