Wednesday, July 2, 2014

An Interview With Gordon Rottman

The Western Online: Can you describe your story for our readers?
Gordon L. Rottman: Out of work cowpoke Bud Eugen comes across Marta, a mute sixteen-year old Mexican girl whose family has been killed by Indians. Bud reluctantly takes her along, even though he's never had to accommodate another person in his simple life. He's unable tofind anyone willing to take her. In spite of his prejudices, Bud grows to like the spunky girl (and her excellent cooking). Eventually, they both find work on a border ranch. Here, the relationship between the girl and the young cowboy hesitantly grows. But banditos raid the ranch kidnapping the rancher's daughters and Marta. Bud, with twelve other men, pursues the banditos into the most desolate reaches of Mexico. Ambushes and battles with banditos, Rurales and traitors are constant; and the brutal weather of the Great Die-Up is as much a threat as the man-made perils. Life and death choices are made at every turn as one side gains the advantage, then the other. The rancher's daughters are rescued and the exhausted party turns back. But Bud presses on alone, against insurmountable odds — determined to fulfill an unspoken promise to Marta.

TWO: How is your story one that would interest the readers of The Western Online?

GR: The Hardest Ride is a traditional Western, a historical, with plenty of action, a romance, and memorable characters. I tried to make it as authentic as possible and give an idea of what life was like in the 1880's borderlands. I've spent a great deal of time in the saddle on the very ground the story talks place on in Mexico.

TWO: What motivates the protagonist in your story? What is he trying to prove?

GR: A relationship slowly developed between Bud and Marta through the story's course. He was never able to tell her that he wanted a life with her; he speaks little Spanish. He'd bring her home regardless of the odds. Bud's also loyal to his boss, Clay DeWitt, whose daughters too were taken and he's driven to return them. And then there's Marta, she's very much a co-protagonist as the story is as much about her.

TWO: How would you define the term "Western" and what does it mean to you?

GR: Growing up I watched a lot of Western movies and TV shows. Admittedly I didn't read that many Western novels. In the Army I ended up in Special Forces (Green Berets) and realized those guys lived by what could be called a modern day "Code of the West." It stuck on me. Too, over 30 years of frequenting my wife's family's ranch in Mexico, I felt at times I had time-warped back to the 1880s. I learned so much from the vaqueros and what I learned was no different than how things were in the 1880s.

TWO: What draws you to writing Westerns?

GR: The Hardest Ride was originally envisioned as a contemporary border action story involving drug cartels. Previously I'd never considered doing a Western, I write non-fiction military history. I began writing several young adult adventure novels, some based on my daughter's experiences in Mexico. After reading Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy and Blood Meridian, I decided that the story would be better served as a traditional Western.

TWO: What writers have influenced you the most?

GR: Hands down, Cormac McCarthy. I would never try and emulate him, but I learned to not hold anything back in a story.

TWO: What is your favorite Western, either novel or movie? Why?

GR: The novel, Blood Meridian. The movie, Rio Bravo. It's got all the elements of a good Western. I could easily list a dozen others, but Open Range would be No. 2.

TWO: If you could go back in time and meet one famous person in the Old West, who would it be and why?

GR: Having been a soldier for 26 years and then wrote exercise scenarios for Special Forces for 11 years, I'd like to sit down with a sergeant from the 1880s and pick his mind about every aspect of his experiences.

TWO:What are you plans for the future? Are you working on a sequel?

GR: Taliesin Publishing is releasing my young adult survival-adventure e-book set in Nicaragua, Tears of the River, on June 5th. I'm working on the sequel for The Hardest Ride—Ride Harder—and am also working on the third book, Marta's Daughter.

TWO:Is there anything else you'd like to add?

GR: Westerns have grown on me since I started this project. Some say Westerns are dying out. I sincerely hope not. There's a lot of good Western writers today turning out excellent books in the many sub-genres. All we can do is keep plugging away.

Author Bio:
Gordon Rottman lives outside of Houston, Texas, served in the Army for 26 years in a number of "exciting" units, and wrote war games for Green Berets for 11 years. He's written over 120 military history books, but his interests have turned to adventurous young adult novels—influenced by a bunch of 'udacious kids, Westerns owing to his experiences on his wife's family's ranch in Mexico, and historical fiction focusing on how people really lived and thought—history does not need to be boring. His first Western novel is The Hardest Ride to be followed by more.