Troy D. Smith teaches history at Tennessee Tech University. He also writes Western short stories and novels. Smith recently won the 2011 Peacemaker Award for Best Western Short Story for “The Sin of Eli,” which appeared in the Western Fictioneer’s first anthology, The Traditional West. He is also a past winner of the Spur Award, and current president of Western Fictioneers.
I appreciate the invitation to do a guest blog here at Booklifenow. While I have never been known to shirk an opportunity to talk about myself and my writing –as we all do, if we want to get anyone’s attention –I decided to use this forum to talk about Western Fictioneers, and the very exciting new project we have coming down the pike soon.
Western Fictioneers is the only professional writers’ organization devoted exclusively to fiction about the American West. We have some of the most exciting new authors in the genre, and many (if not most) of the veterans whose traditional westerns line book racks around the country. We present an annual award called the Peacemaker for best novel, short story, and first novel. We have also begun publishing anthologies; our first, The Traditional West, is one of the biggest such collections ever offered to the public, and one of the most critically acclaimed. It contains both the Spur and Peacemaker award winners from this year, and several of the Peacemaker finalists.
We are now embarking on something never before attempted in the western genre, and only tried a handful of times elsewhere (and not quite in the same way.) WF is producing a new series of novels, under the overall banner of Wolf Creek. They are set in the early 1870s, in the fictional town of Wolf Creek, Kansas. Each of the authors involved –seventeen at last count –has created one or two characters who live in or around the town. Each book is a collaborative novel, with five or six authors participating and writing chapters from the perspective of their own characters, usually interacting with one another. We have a large cast of supporting characters as well, which the authors will “share,” making the project an ensemble piece not dissimilar in structure to the HBO series Deadwood.
As series editor it is my job to make sure it all fits together smoothly –and so far, due to the professionalism and talent of our members, it has been a far easier task than I expected. In fact, I am quite proud of how our first volume –Bloody Trail –has turned out. It will be released on September 1, with a new title to follow every three to four months.
In Wolf Creek, you will discover, everyone has a secret. Tensions from the Civil War remain high, as the town had been founded at the height of the Bleeding Kansas years by abolitionists. With the arrival of the railroad, however, there has been a population influx –many of them ex-Confederates. A seedy “helltown” nicknamed Dogleg City has grown up on the south side of town, filled with brawling cowboys and furtive gamblers (and far worse.) Corrupt politicians and criminally inclined saloon owners compete for control of the dark side of town, while decent men and women try to make lives for themselves –and professional lawmen try to keep the peace. A nearby fort has been established to protect the town, and the surrounding farms and ranches, from hostile Indians. The possibilities for compelling stories –especially from this top-notch bunch of writers –are endless.
We have created a “house name” as principal author of the series: Ford Fargo. No secret is made, however, of who the writers really are –they are listed in the table of contents. In any given volume you may see one of your longtime favorites, or you may discover new writers whose style you like as well. We have been working on this “shared world” for months, and are very excited to announce it now to the general public. I predict you’ll be pulled in as completely as we have been; if this series is half as much fun to read as it has been for us to create, we’ll be in good shape.
More details will be forthcoming soon from WF at our website, www.westernfictioneers.com … and much more detail is available to our readers right now, at a special website we have constructed for our series: http://wolfcreekkansas.yolasite.com/.