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!   

Advertisements

Church and Home

Church and home

Hi! Thanks for stopping by to check out my new blog and other social media links. Many of you know me, and even know me really well, but I wanted to do some introductory posts for the next few months to kick off my new blog. Since I’m only posting once a month, this may take most of this first year. (This should make you happy, because that means I’m actually spending most of my time writing stories.)

You can get a good overview of me and my writing from my About Page, but there are two things I want to highlight today: Church and Home.

If you ask me what is most important in my life, I will tell you it’s my local church. I’m a member of Heritage Baptist Church, a confessional, associational church in Texas. I’ve been a member of HBC since Feb 1995. Even though I grew up in this church, I didn’t really understand the importance of church, and my church membership, until I was much older.  God, in His kind providence, had to take me down a few notches. Before then I was a member, but found our church pretty uncool, boring, and filled with annoying people. I loved some people, but spent too much of my Sundays seeking to be shocking. (I’m so appalled at my behavior as a young person. Thank you HBC for loving me anyway.) For a time, my husband and I even left HBC. We were going through a very sinful stagr, but thankfully God is good and brought us back.

After we came back—humbled, repentant, needy—I began to see my church as it really was. I saw the importance of meekly listening to the preaching of the Word. I saw the love of the saints. I saw men and women fighting every day to beat back sin. I saw faithful attendance as the beautiful thing it was. I saw the joy of the confession and the association we were part of. It took leaving my church to help me see what I almost lost.

I’m so thankful for my church.

I believe that serving our church is our greatest and highest calling as believers. This is the real work that we do. These fellow saints are the ones we work for. Why? Because we love Christ. We love the one who died for us. And what does He love? He loves the Church. He serves the Church. So that’s what we do. We love and serve the church.

Church and Home Quote

 

So, what does that look like for me? Well, the closest church member that I have the privilege of serving every day is my husband. He lives with me. He’s a fellow saint I can serve all the time. And, by serving him, I can serve my whole church. It is good for my church, and for me, to be submissive to him. It serves my church to take care of things for him. And, doubly so, because my husband is a gifted brother in our church with a hope for the pastorate. Every meal I cook, every cup of tea I take to him, each receipt I record, each bathroom I clean, is serving a fellow saint and serving my church.

All of that bleeds into seeing my home as my career. Writing is something I love with all my heart. It is something that makes me feel unbelievable happy. It is something that feels ‘really me’. It is something I’ll do the rest of my life even if I never get published. I love to tell stories, even if I’m only telling them to myself and a small group of fans. But, for all that love and passion, my home is my career. When I got married, I took on this career. I became a homemaker when I said “I Do”. For years, I thought of homemaking as an innate ability, much like having gray or green eyes. I’ve since come to realize that I need to view it as much as a career as a doctor does: study, practice, learn, and grow.

This is what is on my mind, in my thoughts, in my prayers. This is my labor.

Balancing between my love of writing and my career is a work in progress for me right now. I don’t think writing, seeking to get published, or any of that is wrong. I just have to work to keep it in the right spot. It isn’t my heart’s focus. My home and keeping it is my heart’s focus.  This is harder than you’d think. There are so many more glamourous things I could be doing. I could start my own Style Consulting business. I could use my energy to serve my church where that service could be seen by others. I could push and push and push for a writing career. All of that would earn me the praise of those around me. (Except for my husband who would be living and dealing with a dirty house and a proud, praised wife.) All that would be glorious. But, what I’ve been called to as a married woman is to keep my home and help my husband. And my husband needs me to manage all the things so he can work and study. Be content, oh heart, be content.

Whenever I’m struggling with this career, when I see fellow sisters getting to do things I want to do, or be involved with things I want to be involved with, I have to have a little talk with myself. My life isn’t their life. What I see isn’t always what is. This is where God has put me, right now. This is the husband he has given me to help. This is the saint I’m called to serve day in and day out. He’s the one I want to love, not myself.

I believe God gave me a love of writing. I want to use that writing to serve my church. I want to write things that encourage those in the trenches. I also want to serve my home with my writing abilities. Yes, that means working towards bringing in a small income with my writing. But, it also means keeping my writing within certain boundaries. It means writing Children’s and YA stories. And it means not taking too much time out of my day to work on my writing.

once-upon-a-time-719174_1920

So, when you read articles here on my blog, or see FB posts, Tweets, or Instagram pictures, know that it comes from the heart of a woman who loves her church first, then loves her home, loves being a HearthKeeper, and then loves to tell a good story of light overcoming darkness.


What is your career? How do you balance between your passions and your responsibilities? Do you make those responsibilities your passions? Do you have a church you love? Comment below and tell me about you. 


If you’re interested in supporting my writing, and getting to be a character or characters in my stories, fly on over to my Patreon Page and check out the different options. 🙂

A huge shout out and big hug to my Patrons:

Emily S.

Rachel A.

Naomi A.

Thank you so muc for paying me to write!