Cliff Hudgins

 

An interview with Cliff Hudgins author of the Viejo Series

Cliff Hudgins has been at the top of Amazon’s Christian Westerns and Teen, Young Adult Westerns bestsellers lists since day one with Wolfpack Publishing. Cliff’s writing is refreshing, plenty of action, well developed characters, hypnotic story lines and a wholesome Christian message.

 

  1. Cliff, when did you first know you wanted to write?

 

As early as grade school I have had an interest in writing and reading stories. Most of the early ones were simple three to four page short stories that no one read but me. What is odd is that I didn’t enjoy the writing assignments in English classes. As a young boy I grew up in a family of story tellers. Most of the men in my family worked in the Texas oil field. The only entertainment they had was swapping tall tales around lunch time. My uncle John Jones was one of the best. I learned from him a great story has to have just enough truth to be plausible and enough spice to make you wonder. It wasn’t until later in life that I actually began to write my first book.

 

  1. Why did you choose your genre and era?

 

I grew up in South Texas engrossed in the culture of the west. Saturday morning westerns were a requirement for kids when I was young. We all practiced walking like John Wayne and Randolph Scott. On my tenth birthday I received a double draw holster and two Fanner .45s. The holster was beautifully hand tooled and real cowhide leather. It was so nice looking, my Dad confiscated the right hand holster for his 22 pistol, and I had to learn to draw and shoot left handed. The Fanner .45 was modeled after the 1875 Peacemaker and had real caps in it.

The only characters bigger than John Wayne were the Texas Rangers, not the baseball team but the real ones. Their reputation was and is mystical in many ways. Big Foot Wallace, Leander McNelly, Rip Ford, and Samuel Walker were names as well-known as   Davie Crocket, Jim Bowie, and William Travis. “Remember the Alamo,” held the same esteem as “One riot one Ranger.”

I choose to write about the things I loved as a kid.

 

  1. What is your motivation for writing?

Some writers write to impart knowledge, some to entertain. I love to watch people read a story I’ve written and see the expression on their face when they get to twist in the tale. I call it the “Gotcha” moment.

I also write to depict the strength of Christians in the old west. Most books treat Christians in a bad light, either milk toast or devious, when in fact the westward expansion of the churches was a vital part of our history. I write to maintain the harshness and sometimes brutal reality of the old west, but write so I don’t have to explain to my grandchildren what that ugly word or scene is all about.

  1. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

Those ideas have a way of finding the writer and not necessarily the other way around, or at least for me. Sometimes it is a comment someone makes or a question asked. A couple of the books started in my mind on the last chapter and not the first. The ending came to me before the book did.

  1. Do you make your whole living from writing books?

No, I have another career. I am a minister and presently work for a group of 45 Baptist churches where my responsibility is helping them work together in mission projects. I have pastored five churches in Texas and one in Hawaii. I also worked for the Virginia Baptist Mission Board as a regional consultant attached to 146 churches, mainly in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. I still maintain an active preaching schedule even though I don’t pastor a church. I also conduct training events on subjects ranging from deacon ministry, conflict management, and pastor search processes. My current title is Director of Missions for the Pittsylvania Baptist Association in Danville, Virginia.

I have had the pleasure to serve other churches through partnership mission projects is Mexico, Panama, and Ireland. A group of four will be in El Salvador soon to meet with local pastors to see how we might help their churches to grow.

  1. What is your educational background?

I graduated from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas with a diploma in Theology. I also graduated from Bluefield College in Virginia with a Bachelor of Science degree in organizational management.

  1. How to you schedule you time for writing?

Some writers I understand, have to have a set formula to write. They must have a special place and write in linear methodology. I don’t. I can stop in mid-paragraph, do something else, and return to the point of the paragraph later, sometimes days and months later. My current career does allow me time between assignments to write, but because of its time requirements I don’t have a consistent schedule for writing.

  1. Tell me a little about your books?

My first was The Weathervane Ranch. The setting is on a ranch northwest of Austin, Texas where we hunted deer and helped one of my deacons raise cattle. The character Pete McNally was patterned after the deacon and his bent toward helping down and out kids. He was retired in the story but I enjoyed his character so well that in the next book, Pete McNally: Texas Ranger, I chose to write about him when he was younger. There is another volume of McNally that I haven’t completed and it has been setting in the dust for some time now.

The Viejo series employs a Christian theme. I also created another Texas Ranger Lee Bannon who is joined on occasion with Viejo. One of the support characters in Viejo and the Ranger was utilized in the next book, Viejo and the Outlaw. It is about an outlaw trying to go straight, and falls in love in the process. It also picks up two other characters first developed in McNally: Texas Ranger. Each book in the series has some tie to the preceding book is a story in its own right. Each book tries to depict the struggle between right and wrong but also the inner struggle of having to enforce the law when it would be easier to turn and look away.

  1. Are westerns the only genre you choose and are there other books on the horizon?

My passion is westerns and will probably continue in that genre, but I have written another book in the non-fiction category. The book is a training module entitled “7 Strands of Church Health,” published by the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. It is an approach to developing skills which can be incorporated in an attempt to preempt conflict in churches or any organization. It utilizes system theory as a non-linear approach to thinking and health.

viejo and the lost ranger

 

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