An Interview With Johnny Gunn
By Lauren Bridges
Johnny Gunn is a Reno, Nevada novelist who is retired from a long career in journalism. He has worked in print, broadcast, and Internet, including a stint as publisher and editor. These days, Gunn spends most of his time writing novel length fiction, concentrating on the western genre. He has been with Wolfpack Publishing since 2017.
Wolfpack: I know you have a long history in journalism, what type of journalism did you enjoy most: print, broadcast or internet?
Johnny Gunn: Each in its own way is enjoyable. Working for a print outlet you have a little more opportunity to dig deeper into a subject. In a broadcast newsroom you are limited for time, but often reporting directly from the location of whatever is happening. Can get exciting if you’re close during an armed standoff. I found as editor of an online news magazine that I was very close to those that read what we were doing. Enjoy most? Being able to print, broadcast, or disseminate the truth. That first amendment is what has kept us free from monsters like Stalin, Hitler, and Tojo.
WP: How did you go from Journalism to writing novels?
JG: I was freelancing for a few years and nibbled my way into writing short stories. I got a few of them published and when I finally retired from real news I expanded a couple of those stories into novels, and while it took some time, I finally started getting published. As the old saying goes, try and try again.
WP: You mainly write Westerns, why this genre in particular?
JG: I’ve always loved reading and when I was growing up, in the 40s and 50s, pulp western magazines were at the end of their heyday. Mom didn’t always approve, but she didn’t know that grandpa was buying them for me. I have lived in Nevada since 1964 and the cattle ranches in the Great Basin haven’t progressed much from the 1860s as far as working cattle. I don’t have to go much beyond my back fence to get an idea for a story.
WP: Are there any other genres you would like to try out?
JG: I’ve written a couple of mysteries and a fantasy, and I have to say I enjoyed doing the writing, but my real kick is the western. Looking at westerns, mysteries, and thrillers, any mystery, any thriller can be put in a western setting. Just watch your history, buster.
WP: Take us through an average day in your life. From when you wake up until you go to sleep.
JG: Oh, boy. Pretty dull reading, I’m afraid. I get up around five and feed the horses and the dog. If it’s a cold morning I light the fire. Coffee in hand I hit the computer, give a cursory glance at the news, read my e-mail, and start writing. I break about eight and feed the chickens and make something to eat. Usually just toast, and continue writing until around ten or so. Then it’s just house and farm chores.
If the weather cooperates I’ll try to get in some time on my horse, Poco, and since we raise more than half the food we eat, chores take up a lot of time and effort. We usually eat an early dinner and I’m in bed around nine most of the time. How’s that for excitement?
WP: Are there any authors out there who inspire your work?
JG: The more you read the more you learn. My reading list is eclectic to the extreme and I would feel bad trying to point out a few. I read history, biography, westerns, mysteries, classics, fantasy, and even a romance once in a while.
WP: What is the best advice you can give to a new author?
JG: It’s probably the same one that every writer just starting out has heard many times. Read. Read. And then, read some more. Then, write, write, and write some more. Never stop writing. Going back to my journalism background, I’ve always pooh-poohed the concept of writer’s block. If your editor wants that story at one o’clock, he’d best get it slightly before. Editor’s can’t spell writer’s block.
WP: Your first book with us, Jack Slater, came out about a month ago and today is #1 on Amazon’s Western list, is that something you were expecting?
JG: Biggest surprise of my life, I think. I felt way down deep that it was a good story, that I put it together right, and tried to make it relevant. It started out as a Young Adult novel and by the time I wrote –end- I knew it would do just as well with the adult audience. It’s a universal story, I think. Best seller? In my dreams, maybe. Yet, there it is, number one. Wow.
WP: Ezekiel’s Journey is set to release May 10th, what can readers expect from that?
JG: Ezekiel’s Journey is a wide-screen drama in full color. It’s the story of a man who didn’t really care if he lived or died after losing his wife and children over a period of years. He wanted a farm and a family in the worst way and lost it. Everyone was talking about California and gold, but he heard stories of Oregon, good water, fine soil, saddled his mule and left his Missouri digs all by himself, crossing this vast country alone until he reached Fort Bridger. It’s a big, wide-open saga of a very strong man who will not give up.
WP: Are you currently working on anything?
JG: I’m putting together a series of books based on a character named Terrence Corcoran who works as a deputy sheriff sometimes, rides with outlaws once in a while, loves the ladies whether they be good or bad, and has his own sense of what’s right and what’s not. I believe he will continue to ride the west in the pages of many books.
Learn more about Johnny Gunn here, and keep an eye out for Ezekiel’s Journey this week!