Gary McCarthy

Gary McCarthy Interview Comment Questions Below 

Author interview:

  • Tell us about yourself, Gary McCarthy, and how many books you have written.
  • I’ve been a very busy writer for many years with forty-two novels published under my name and five novels under the RAILS WEST and JOE MOSS Series written with my old writing buddy, Frank Roderus. I’ve also written at least seventy novels in the GUNSMITH, LONE STAR and my favorite and the longest running adult western series of all, LONGARM.
  • What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
  • It’s a novel I have long wanted to write. Being an old Elvis fan, I never quite got over how young he died (42) and how, if he’d met some “real” country and cowboy people, he could have been saved from his own self-destruction. So I wrote and recently self-published ELVIS & COWBOY CHARLIE (The “what if” Novel”) which is about Elvis stopping to watch an All-Indian Rodeo in 1972 and becoming a part of a family of mixed Hopi and Navajo. I wrote it to change the course of Elvis’s life and it gave me a lot of satisfaction because, as you would expect, Elvis finds some real and solid values and gives up his fame and fortune to take up a western and ranching life.
  • Do you have any unusual writing habits?
  • I love to write and when I don’t feel like writing, I don’t! I have no regular “hours” to write, often don’t write for days or weeks, but when I do write, I go at it with great enthusiasm and intensity.
  • What authors or books have influenced you?
  • John Steinbeck is my favorite author but I thoroughly enjoy the mysteries of Tony Hillerman, Preston Lewis and Lincoln Child. Among western writers, my favorites remain Frank Roderus and Elmer Kelton.
  • What are you working on now?
  • I’m working on an historical novel whose main character was an early and courageous aviator.
  • What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
  • I’m lousy at promotion but I do have an excellent
  • Do you have any advice for new authors?
  • Nothing original, but you must have to have a lot of passion for what you are writing…while at the same time being realistic about the marketplace. Write in a genre that you care about and know about. Also, I am a very firm believer that plot is always secondary to character. I’ve had many people say, “I’ll give you a story and you write it…we’ll split the proceeds!” I try not to laugh. The art and genius as well as the most difficult aspect of writing is to create great and unforgettable characters. Plots, even very good ones are rarely original and easy to imagine.
  • What is the best advice you have ever heard?
  • Consider it a gift to be a producing writer and never look at others who are more or less successful than yourself. Don’t judge your work by their work…follow you own path.
  • What are you reading now?
  • I hope this doesn’t sound shallow, but I’m revisiting THE DERBY MAN SERIES that I wrote many years ago for Doubleday and Bantam Books. It’s fun to look back on something you created thirty years ago and fondly remember how much it was enjoyed and how successful the series was in many languages and countries. Mike Bray of  Wolfpack Publishing is reprinting the entire eleven-book series which has been out of print for quite a few years and I’m both excited and grateful
  • What's next for you as a writer?
  • I have a few historical novels in mind and I might do another HORSEMEN or DERBY MAN, if the mood strikes me. These novels were fun to write and I loved and still miss the characters.
  • If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
  • I would take something written by Edward Abbey, probably “DESERT SOLITARE”, John Steinbeck’s classic “THE GRAPES OF WRATH”, Nevil Shute’s “A TOWN LIKE ALICE” and Carl Sagan’s “COSMOS”.
  • What inspires you to write?
  • It takes me to a happy and satisfying level of consciousness. It provides me with a sense of purpose and a paycheck.
  • For Fiction Writers: Do you listen to or talk to your characters?
  • I sure think you do. I’ve written dialogue for say Darby Buckingham in THE DERBY MAN and when I write it wrong, I can almost hear him say, “I wouldn’t say that, you goat!” Or, “Now why would I act that way? Gary, you know me better than that!”
  • How did you decide how to publish your books?
  • I wrote a novel called RIVER THUNDER about a young Hualapai Indian boy who is sent to an Indian School near his home at Peach Springs, Arizona on the Old Route 66. The year is about 1911 and back then many Indian children were sent to these schools for “re-education” so they could meld into the white man’s society. Although well intentioned, the process failed badly leaving a generation or two of Native American’s wondering where they really did belong and not feeling like they fit in anywhere. I could not sell RIVER THUNDER to anyone in NYC (they loved the story but couldn’t figure out how to market it) yet I knew it was one of my best works so I self-published the work. Fortunately, Gary Challender with Books-in-Motion was a fan and had recorded all my novels and wanted to record this one as well. RIVER THUNDER won the Western Writers of America Spur Award for “Best Audiobook” in 2010. That’s when I decided that I would begin to self-publish my best work and the novels that I could get reversion rights to from New York. So now, between my Canyon Country Books line and the thirty-some novels being reissued as e-books by Wolfpack Publish, all my work is available again and I couldn’t be more pleased.


Let us know what influenced you to publish with a publisher or self-publish your book. What would you advise new authors to explore?

I always tell authors to give New York a shot first, but to be aware that many times the best fiction won’t get any attention from the big name publishers. I think that self-publishing is a wonderful and viable alternative. Over the course of my career, I’ve tried to help many writers get published by New York and very few were able to do so because they didn’t know the “right people” or the “timing was wrong” or etc. etc. Now, with self-publishing, writers can put their work out on the market and if it is good enough and they build a large body of work, they’ll probably thrive.

  • What do you think about the future of book publishing.
  •   It’s clearly in e-books and I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. Saves the forests, huh!


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