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An Interview With Nicholas Osborn

An Interview With Nicholas Osborn

  • Growing up in East Texas, how have your experiences on a ranch influenced your storytelling style in writing modern Westerns?
    • My upbringing in East Texas was more than just influential on my writing, it was foundational to who I am. Living and working on my family’s cattle ranch helped to shape who I am as a husband, first-time father, and individual, and I’ve poured all of this into my writing. If there is one thing that growing up on a ranch will give you, it’s perspective. This comes from values instilled throughout several generations like a strong work ethic, respect, and how those closest to us make everything we do worthwhile. 

      I hope to use this perspective to tell stories that bring the old west into our lives today, with all the adventure, heart, gunslinging-action, and hope for a better tomorrow that we’ve come to love from the best Western stories. Modern Westerns can do so much more than just tell a story longing for a time that is no longer here. My stories will aim to bring the myth of the American west to the modern world and showcase how the values that made it so aspirational are still alive and kicking today.
    • Could you walk us through your typical writing process? How do you go from an initial idea to a completed story?
      • The initial idea for a story always starts with a feeling, an emotion, that evokes something innately relatable for all of us. Our own lives are driven by what we care about most, and that is every bit as true for the stories I write. The characters, the world they interact with, their struggles and triumphs, everything comes from this. 

        The fun really begins once the heart of the story is finally nailed down. Once I know what the characters need to express, everything collides with the myth of the west and what makes the Western genre special. This helps to shape the important story beats from the inciting incident to the turning point before all hope is lost and the well-fought-for eventual payoff.

        I’m not what writers call a “pantser” by any means, though I do respect those who can just sit down and see where the story takes them. I organize the pacing and flow before the daily writing ever starts to ensure the story never hurts for action, surprises, or wit, and also never loses sight of the emotional compass that set it all in motion. By the time the writing process truly begins, it's like hitting play on a movie right after you watched the trailer! 
    • Why do you believe keeping Western culture alive in modern literature is important?
      • This might be a deeper answer than most would expect, considering that I don’t shy away from having so much fun in my writing for the Western genre, but it’s really been a journey of accepting myself. I am the result of my ancestors, from those who were there to sign the Declaration of Independence to those who were forced onto the Trail of Tears. For me, literature is a way of connecting to who I am because that wasn’t always possible growing up.

        I wasn’t the type to wholeheartedly embrace growing up in deep East Texas. I saw everything from my thick accent to my worldview as something that needed to be worked on, until I got out into the world and realized those were the very things that made me unique. It’s that same journey of acceptance that made me realize there aren’t enough stories being told that a younger version of myself could take pride in. Hell, there aren’t even enough stories being told that I could take pride in today!

        Through the years, I’ve come to understand that keeping Western culture alive can only come from those with an authentic and sincere passion for the lifestyle and values it upholds. It’s up to us to keep Western culture alive in modern literature because I know I’m not the only one who struggled to find their place in a world that is increasingly trying to say we shouldn’t embrace it.
    • Who are some of the authors or historical figures who have inspired your writing the most?
      • I grew up getting lost in the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, but always saw a stack of creased Louis L’Amour books by my grandfather’s bed and was surrounded by Western icons like John Wayne from a young age. Today, my writing is inspired by icons of the west either in the passages of history, on the television, or in the pages of books. I like to think that my own style is a collision of Cormac McArthy and the 1933 WXYZ Lone Ranger radio show, begging the question, what if contemporary Western stories could still be placed on the shelf alongside the once-popular dime novels? 
    • What have been the biggest challenges you faced when shifting from journalism and marketing to fiction writing?
      • Marketing, journalism, and fiction writing couldn’t be more different. They each serve a separate, yet important purpose that doesn’t always crossover. Regardless of these differences, I’ve always considered the challenge to be as simple as staring down a blank page. 

        The most daunting task of taking on fiction writing is that everything is up to me. In journalism, we tell factual stories of what is happening in the world around us. In marketing, we create a story of why a product or service is not just wanted but needed. Fiction writing represents a blank document with only the context that you place on it. You don’t have anything else to look to, you can only find the words needed by looking inward, but that also just so happens to be the key to how you’ll do your best writing.
    • What do you hope readers gain or feel after reading your debut series and its first installment, A Day Late and a Bullet Short?
      • Just to have fun joining Davy and Rose on their journey. That’s what it’s all about, literally. It’s a mysterious adventure filled with deadly shootouts, lost artifacts, and treks across the beautiful East Texas landscape, all with the promise of one outlaw’s treasure waiting at the end.

        Behind all of the action is something aspirational, though. A Day Late and a Bullet Short is a story about generational legacy, historical power, and what it means to fight for those we love. I hope that when readers reach the last page, they feel closer to who came before them and more confident about the next chapter in their own lives.
    • How has becoming a father-to-be changed your perspective on your writing?
      • It won’t take long to feel the weight of me preparing to become a father in my debut novel. My wonderful wife, Janae, and I have been together for more than a decade and we reached a point where we really wanted to grow our family while I was deep into the writing process of my debut novel. Each time I sat down to write, there was a thought in the back of my head that hadn’t always been there before. I kept asking myself, what would my kid think if they sat down to read this after I was gone?

        It added weight to everything I wrote, but it was also an unexpected opportunity. My writing became a chance for them to get to know who their father is in a completely different way, and I hope to be around to see their reaction when they’re old enough to read it!
    • What books are part of your “to be read” pile right now?
      • I am currently working my way through the Cass Callahan books from Chris Mullen, published by Wolfpack, and can’t wait to dig into the newest release in the series, Hunting El Despiadado. Other books in my embarrassingly tall TBR pile are All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone by John J. Jacobson, The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale, and Orphan Cowboy by Robert Vaughan, also a Wolfpack title!
      • What songs would you select that best capture the mood and atmosphere of your books?
        • I was listening to a LOT of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys when writing A Day Late and a Bullet Short. Texas swing country music in general is a great comparison for my writing. It’s got a fun, upbeat tempo with lyrics that hit you in the heart more often than not, which is a balance that I always hope to have in my books.

          Honorable mentions go to songs like Charro from Elvis Presley (the movie Charro! too, if you like), If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time from Lefty Frizzell, and Lonesome as a Shadow from Charley Crockett.
      • If your series were adapted into a movie, who would you choose to play the lead role?
        • Jesse Plemons would be my choice for Davy. He’s got an intrinsic likability, that smooth Texas charm, and could pull off a history and nature nerd like David “Davy” Patton with relative ease. Plus, I’m willing to bet he could really rock the park ranger uniform with that iconic hat.

          Lily Gladstone taking on the role of Rose would be something to see, that much I’m sure. She’s got the gravitas, the seriousness, and the warmth that I would hope to see captured in the character of Rose. There are complexities to her that make someone like Gladstone, who I would call one of the most talented actors today, an undeniably strong choice. 

          With these two together on screen, I think a movie adaptation of 
          A Day Late and a Bullet Short would be in good hands.  
      • At such a young age, you’ve chosen to write in the Western genre, which traditionally appeals to an older demographic. What drew you to Westerns, and how do you think your perspective as a younger author brings a fresh take to this classic genre?
        • The myth of the west has never really died. Sure, it might have aged a bit and appeals to an older audience, but there are few genres that are as unapologetically American as the Western. I heard a long time ago that Westerns were the most inherently political genre and it’s a statement that I agree with, because it tells the story of where we came from. I’m drawn to Westerns because it’s the world I live in right now. It isn’t something where we are only stuck remembering what once was, it’s who we are today, for good and bad and everything in between.

          We are surrounded by modern ideas and ways of thinking in our exposure to so much information in today’s world, and it has created conflict and division that isn’t too far removed from the days of the wild west. As a relatively younger author in the genre, I hope to channel all of this to bring a new perspective that is authentic to Western culture for a new generation, while also paying homage to the values that has made the genre stand the test of time.
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