Why do I blend a little western into my faerie stories?

Why Westerns?

Why do western themes and styles keep popping up in my stories?

One of the things I learned from Tolkien, and my own upbringing, was to respect my own mythos. England is an old, old land with lots of myths and legends. They have Arthur, Vikings, Robin Hood, and even Tolkien’s work functions as a myth for England.

I’m not British. I have roots there, just like I do in Ireland and Scotland. (Both have wonderful mythologies and legends.) But, what about here in the young, young land of the United States? We have the Revolution. We have exploration, the constant push west. We have the Civil War. We have winning two World Wars. We even have a bit of Vietnam. All of these shape us, our laws, and our culture. They’ve influenced us for generations. But, my favorite (other than WWII) is our cowboy mythology. Yes, most westerns aren’t historically accurate, or they have many inaccuracies. But, they’re part of who and what we are. We are the drifter who is more than what he seems. We are the gunslinger, the card-shark, the cowboy, the cowgirl, the rancher fighting those who would take all he has. We are long wagon trains. We are laying tracks for technology all the way across the country.  We are all of this and more. My favorite element is the man who rides into town, gets drawn into a conflict on the side of the underdog, saves the day, and gets the girl.

When I was a kid, probably around twelve, I read all my Dad’s Louis L’Amour books. Devoured is maybe a better word. I loved every minute of them. I loved the men. I loved the women. I loved the action. The adventure. I loved his fist fights. I loved the Sacketts. Oh, the Sacketts. My first dream as a writer was to be as prolific as Louis L’Amour. I just wanted to write the same story over and over and over, and only change the settings and names. Why? Cause that was what I loved reading.  (I still love reading things like this, just like I enjoy action flicks that are basically the same guy in different settings.)

I also loved True Grit. That book was one of my favorites as a kid. Here was a girl not being anything but a girl, but getting this old guy to help her avenge her father, it was perfect. I loved it. The writing is top notch, and the adventure is one of the best. If you haven’t read it, you need to.

Now, my favorite western is Firefly. Yes, it’s a SciFi show, but really it’s a space western. They’re cowboys in space. It has all the right elements. It has the rough around the edges hero with has his ragtag crew. They’re pushing out from the government to make a life for themselves. They have a code and each other.

Why do I blend a little western into my faerie stories?
Image by B. Iyata, edits by me.

After Firefly, comes The Sackett movie, the Magnificent Seven, Quigley Down Under, and Tombstone. Doc Holiday is a great example of why I love westerns. He’s loyal to a fault. He’s willing to do everything for Wyatt Earp. He may not be safe, but there is something you love about him. The Magnificent Seven is a redemption story. You have seven guys who’ve lived by their guns their whole life, and now they’re called to sacrifice everything for a small town who can’t pay them. They see this as a way to redeem their souls from all the wrong they’ve done. (I know that theologically they can’t earn salvation, but redemption stories, be they ever so humbly human, are still an expression of us knowing we need redemption. It is a great way to start a conversation about the fact that we know what we’ve done will damn us.)  

The Sacketts is a great family movie…meaning it’s about a family who will do everything for each other. When the word goes out that they need help, the Sacketts all come running. They are the kind of guys you would want your sons emulating.

Another beloved one from childhood is Down the Long Hills. What could be better than a story about two kids and their horse? I watched this movie so many times growing up. It combined two of my favorite things: kids shouldering the hardest elements of life and coming out ahead, and horses.

We also watched a lot of John Wayne growing up. I still love to hear his voice and see him walk. As I’ve developed my style over the years, I’ve found westerns popping up all over. My characters keep leaning towards long coats and tied down guns. They keep riding in on bikes to take out the bad guys and get the girl. They use rifles, shotguns, and revolvers. All the years of soaking in L’Amour pours out between my stories of magic, doors, and worlds.

I realized I was writing modern, faerie story westerns.

Instead of turning away from the subtle themes, I decided to embrace it. Westerns may not be super popular right now, but they are special to me, and these are my stories. I embrace the mysterious man who saves the day. I embrace the woman who knows how to shoot. I embrace the kids with guts. I embrace strong friendship themes, land themes, and family themes. I embrace the man who is mistaken for a backwater yokel who is rich with wisdom and insight. I embrace friendship between natives and newcomers in the middle of war. I embrace hunters, wild places, dangerous animals, and range wars. I embrace the lawless and the lawman.

These themes push their way into my stories, sometimes without me even noticing. Westerns flavor my work with grit and gunpowder. I’m a Texan reaching deep into my countries own myths and legends.

Do you have a favorite Western? Book or movie? Let me know in the comments!   

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A Christmas Story: The Tactical Bracelet

 

o Visit Faerie-stories.com to read this adorable short story about a family celebrating Christmas, and the adorable reaction to a tactical bracelet.Cousins, young and old, gathered around Aunt Abby. Jules pulled Finley into her lap, singing softly in her ear. Constance joined her with Shannon. They started a quiet game of pat-a-cake with the two littles. Bruce dumped out a set of crayons and started to draw a tree, complete with owls and a blue jay. Ellie and Imogene hurried to draw trees too, with owls and blue jays. Joshua, Jude, and Remi emptied the car box. The boys lined the cars up by size and color, while Remi arranged the racetrack.

“Everyone ready?” Aunt Abby eyed all the busy fingers.

“Ready!” All ten cousins chorused.

“Ready,” Grandpa said, plopping between everyone and scooping Remi up in a loud, whiskery hug.

“Grandpa!” Remi yelled and giggled. Then everyone had to be hugged except Bruce, who didn’t like hugs, which only meant Grandpa hugged him harder. Once everyone had been hugged, and tickled, and gotten a drink, and gone potty, the ten cousins settled back down.

“Story time?” Aunt Abby asked.

“Yes, please,” Jules said.

“Will this have Zelda in it?” Ellie asked.

Aunt Abby through for a moment. “No, but how about the Ellie in the story is wearing a dress like Zelda?”

“Yes!” Ellie crowed.

“Who am I dressed like?” Imogene asked.

Realizing what she’d done, Aunt Abby quickly said, “Imogene is dressed like Moana. Jules like Princess Peach, Constance like Princess Leia, Shannon like Rey from Star Wars, Finley like Ginny from Harry Potter, and Remi like Hermione.”

“And us?” Joshua looked at the boys.

“Well, obviously Joshua, you’re dressed like Kylo Ren. Bruce is Garmadon, and Jude is Lightning McQueen. Good?”

Nods all around.

“Now are we ready for the story?”

“Yes!!!”


After the sun went to bed, and the tiny warm lights shone bright in the dark, ten cousins—dressed in various bright, and some scary costumes—gathered around Grammie and Grandpa’s Christmas tree. Uncle Price read the Christmas story. His voice rose and fell with the rhyme. Anticipation and delight gleamed in every eye.

Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve. It was Christmas Eve. Time for presents, food, and sweets. Big boxes, odd shapes, tiny little things wrapped in red and green paper called to the children.

As Uncle Price said, “A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” a cheer filled the room.

Jude scooped up the Santa hat. “I can pass out the presents!”

“Silly boy,” said Jude’s Momma, “you can’t read yet. Let Uncle Jason be Santa.”

Disappointed, Jude gave up the red and white hat of power.

With many shouts over excited heads, the parents got each child sorted into a spot. Ready, Uncle Jason passed out the gifts.

A flat one went to Bruce, a big one to Jules, a soft one to Finley. More flat ones went to Constance, Remi, Shannon, and Ellie. A medium box brought a smile to Jude, while Joshua handled an awkwardly long box, and Uncle Jason gave Imogene a round box with reindeer wrapping paper. Books, pencils, stuffed animals, kits, crafts, clothes, pop-up-books, coloring books and more piled around the ten cousins.

Finally, to end the night, Imogene ripped off the last bit of paper on a box, opened the lid, and pulled out a yellow and black tactical bracelet, three sizes too big, complete with a tiny compass, and saw.

Delighted, Imogene held it high over the evening celebration, and exclaimed, “I’ve always wanted one of these.”

All the grownups paused.

Aunts, uncles, mommies, daddies, Grammie, and Grandpa all glanced at each other, then burst into laughter. They laughed and laughed. And each laugh expressed their satisfaction with the day, the cousins, the gifts, and each other.

The End.


“The end, already?” Imogene frowned.

“Just with that story. There will be more.”

“Why are there going to be more?” Imogene asked.

“Because there are so many of you and you keep doing silly things.”

“Hey!” Bruce said.

“Yeah, hey!” Jules echoed him.

Aunt Abby shrugged. “It’s not my fault y’all are silly. I’m just the storyteller.”

The End

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Photo by Aletheia Young

P.S. Usually I will only have one blog post a month, but if I write a short story that I don’t intend to publish professionally, I’ll post it on my blog spontaneously. I like to live on the edge. 😉

P.S.S. Did you know, I do posts specific to different social media? If you follow me on Twitter, you get the #oddwriter posts once a month. My Facebook posts are almost daily, with updates on what I’m working on. On Instagram, you’ll get to see the world through my eyes with images from around my home, including my trees, plants, decorations, and probably my computer. 🙂 My Pinterest is going to be mostly story related, but if you love faerie stories, you’ll enjoy seeing the magical things I find. My Patreon account will have mostly Patron only posts, but there will be some things you can still read and enjoy.  On Spotify you can listen to the music that inspires me. (FaerieStories) Follow me where and when you please. (Links to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to your right.)