Thursday, 21 July 2016

Author interview:Thomas McNulty

Thomas McNulty is a name I recognise but, until I became acquainted with him on Facebook, I hadn't had the pleasure of reading any of his books. That's now being remedied and I will be posting a review soon. However, until then, let me introduce you to the man himself.


Please tell us a little about yourself.

My first book was a biography about Errol Flynn. I worked as a freelance writer for about ten years on what I call “The Hollywood Beat” where I interviewed actors and directors.  It was fun, and I made a lot of friends, but that was enough. I avoid most anything related to Hollywood these days except going to see an occasional film. I run a blog – Dispatches from the Last Outlaw – where I post about books. I am an avid book collector. For anyone interested, I recommend the essay on my blog which can be found on the “About this Blog” tag. That essay is called “The Art of Reading.”

How many books have you written?

I have written five Black Horse Westerns, the Flynn biography, a rather minor essay turned book about werewolves in mythology and literature, and four self-published books, so I’m up to eleven. I just finished another one this month.

Do you write under any other names?

I have published magazine articles under the name Jack Ripcord, which is also the title of a self-published book I released a few years ago. Jack is my alter ego. I am Jack Ripcord.

What is your latest release called, what’s it about and what inspired it?

“The Gunsmoke Serenade” was released by Crowood and this is the third story I’ve written featuring US Marshal Maxfield Knight. I have his entire life plotted. I know exactly what happens to him when he’s an old man. Each story I write about him is an installment in the horse opera of his life. “The Gunsmoke Serenade” puts him through his paces, but he’s going to need to harden himself because I know what’s coming his way.

Who is the publisher and where can we buy it?

“The Gunsmoke Serenade” is available from Crowood in hardback and for Kindle via Amazon.

What’s your latest writing project?

I just finished a sea story set in the Tropics in 1936. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written, or at least I hope it is. I love tales of the sea. I have no idea what I’ll do with this book, but I had to write it. I am also finishing another Western and I have to decide if I’m going to self-publish it or dole it out. I do enjoy the control I get with self-publishing.

Do you have any unusual writing rituals?

When I write Westerns I keep a Colt Single Action Army revolver next to me on the computer hutch. I love the feel of a gun in my hand. My wife and I are enthusiastic competition shooters and participate in a sport called Cowboy Action Shooting. I own over thirty guns. I shoot regularly. I have three Winchester rifles, the ’73, the ’92, and the model 94. My favorite rifle is the modern Henry “Big Boy” in .357 magnum caliber, which can be used in competition. That’s a handgun caliber, but effective in modern cowboy shooting matches. It does have a tubular feed rather than the side loading port, which is cumbersome, but the damn thing is beautiful. And if I’m writing something other than a Western I always have some type of gun at hand, either my father’s Colt .45 automatic or maybe the Walther PPK, made famous by Ian Fleming. I have my eye on the Kimber 9 mm. I don’t really need it, but I want it. So keeping guns around when I write is certainly motivational. The posters above my hutch also inspire me. One is a poster from “Tombstone” that Val Kilmer signed for me, another is a poster from “They Died with their Boots On” starring Errol Flynn, and a poster of David Carradine that he signed for me when I interviewed him. I’m a Black Belt, so there’s plenty of fisticuffs in my adventure stories, and I love the martial arts.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard about writing westerns?

The best advice I have ever heard about writing came from Joe R. Lansdale when I asked him that same question. He said put your ass in the chair and write every day.  I would add read everything you can get your hands on every day, and comprehend what you read. You don’t have to like it or dislike it, but understand it. This goes back to that essay I mentioned titled “The Art of Reading.”

What advice would you give to a would-be western writer?

Read, travel, comprehend, and put your ass in a chair and write every day.

How many books do you generally read in a month and what are you reading now?

I have read at least one book a week since 1969 or 1970. I am a book collector. Sometimes I can read two books in a week, but one for sure, so that’s a minimum of 52 books a year, usually more. I’m a speed reader and I have been tested so I have a high comprehension level and retention level. People that speed read and don’t retain what they’ve read have missed the point. I’m currently reading “Traitor’s Blade” by Sebastian de Castell and its fantastic!

Is there a book you’ve read that you wish you’d written and, if so, why?

Well, as for Westerns, I’m a Zane Grey fan. I collect Zane Grey editions, especially the Walter Black editions. He wrote a book called the “The Lone Star Ranger” in 1915 but the unexpurgated version was published by Leisure in 2008 as “Last of the Duanes.” That’s an unacknowledged classic. But seriously, I admire so many great books, it’s impossible to pick just one.

Which of your books would you recommend to a first time reader? Why have you chosen it?

I think from a technical standpoint, my best book is “Wind Rider.” It’s my favorite of my own books. I think I told a good story, and I think I told it as well as anyone could. Anyway, that’s what I hope. I am preparing to release six books for Kindle, including “Wind Rider.”

If you were stranded on a desert island, which book, song and film would you like to have with you?

Naturally the book will be one of my favorites, “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson, the song will be “Dead Man’s Chest” the sea shanty from the book and put to good use in the Disney film version starring Robert Newton, and which is the film I’d choose. And just before the cannibals row over in their bark canoes, I’ll pick up my guitar and begin hollering:

Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest-
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil be done with the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Thank you for your extremely interesting answers.

Thank you for having me on your blog!

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