Meet the Author: Paul Bedford
Meet Paul Bedford: author of titles such as Gone West!, Reign of Terror and now back with a new novel, Texas Fever.
- Of all your books which did you enjoy writing the most?
That’s a tricky one. ‘Reign Of Terror’ was the most enjoyable to write, because it was about the final and long prayed for defeat of the Comanches. It also contained shades of ‘The Searchers’, one of my favourite John Wayne films. The book that gave me the most satisfaction from seeing it published was undoubtedly ‘The Forgotten Land’. I initially wrote it as a much shorter story at the age of seventeen, and then expanded its scope to become a BHW. By way of celebration, after an interval of forty-five years, I had a full size poster printed from the book cover.
- What is the weirdest/most unexpected piece of research you had to carry out to write one of your novels?
That would have to be my research into the extraction of bullets and cauterization of various wounds. Over the years I seem to have inflicted a great deal of pain on people… but only on paper, of course!
- Would you rather be the outlaw or the sheriff?
Although it is often said that bad guys tend to be more interesting, I believe I would prefer to be a Deputy United States Marshal. For some reason, I find the role of federal marshal rather appealing. Perhaps it is because the remake of ‘True Grit’ is such an enjoyable film.
- Do you have any habits or superstitions when it comes to writing?
None whatsoever. Lucky rabbits feet are for other people.
- What role do the reader’s expectations of westerns have in writing?
Whenever I write a BHW I always assume (perhaps wrongly) that the reader is knowledgeable about the history of the Old West and the sort of weaponry that was in use. Therefore I try to be as accurate as possible. For example, that period covered both the ‘cap ‘n ball’ era, and the introduction of modern cartridge firearms. Having said that, a reader once remarked to me that she didn’t actually know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun, so perhaps all my research is unnecessary!
- If you could go anywhere to gain inspiration for your next novel where would you go and why?
I would return to San Francisco, which I last visited in 1981. Apart from it being a lovely city, my next novel will be set during the California Gold Rush, and ‘Frisco’ was the arrival point for many of the ‘forty niners’.
- Are there any similarities between Leeds and the Wild West?
Only on a Saturday night in the city centre!
- Were there any scenes that were difficult to write? For example, emotionally or stylistically – taking many drafts to write.
Yes. In every book that I have written. Because of my unstructured approach to writing, as I discuss in my reply to question nine, I often find myself at a dead stop, with absolutely no idea how to proceed. Thankfully I have a guaranteed remedy for this. I take a long, solitary walk through Roundhay Park in Leeds. It never fails. One thing I have not had to do is rewrite anything. Once I have it clear in my mind, it seems to pretty much pan out.
- Do you write with the final chapter in mind or do you start writing and the final chapter takes shape?
I adopt a somewhat stressful ‘seat of the pants’ approach to writing, in that when I start a book, I have absolutely no idea how it will end, and that situation can sometimes continue until the final chapter. It is a case of creating a set of characters and letting them have their head. The convoluted logic to this is, that if the story is a surprise to me, then hopefully it definitely will be to the reader.
- Are there any personality traits that you enjoy writing into your characters?
Whether the characters are good or bad, I try to imbue them with a certain toughness and resourcefulness. The West would have been hard on folks, and anyone who was to survive and prosper would need these traits.
- What are you reading at the moment or are there any books coming out that you are particularly looking forwards to?
I am just finishing ‘Sharpe’s Escape’ by Bernard Cornwell. I have read most of the Richard Sharpe novels, and always find them entertaining. Cornwell has also written a number of stories set in the American Civil War, which is very much of interest to me. I have a BHW coming out next year called ‘Shiloh’, which is set in that conflict. Robert Hale flatly refused to publish BHW stories set in that or the American Mexican War, but thankfully The Crowood Press adopt a far more liberal attitude, which makes for greater variety.
Find Paul Bedford’s books here
Read Derek Rutherford’s interview here