My novel Lonesome Range was a challenge to write and, for me at least, one of the two or three best things I had written up to this point. For my entry on this novel, I am posting the commentary that I wrote for the Leisure Books (Dorchester Publishing) website when the book came out in 2006.
Lane Weller is a man who is looking for something bigger than himself to believe in. He finds it with Cora McGavin, a woman who is also looking for something more than she has in life now. Unfortunately, Cora is married, and her husband is a bullying sort who always wants things done his way. As a result, Lane becomes something of an outcast, riding the lonesome range. Through the course of events, he has to decide whether his love with Cora is the real thing or just something to lie about.
I had been wanting to write this novel for a few years, and I was glad to get the encouragement from my editor, Don D’Auria, to do it. Don told me he has found it best to have an author work on the novel that he or she most wants to write. For me, it was Lonesome Range.
With this novel, I wanted to push the limits of the traditional western in a way that I hadn’t yet pushed them. When I write a western, I try to fulfill the expectations that a reader would have of the category, and at the same time I try to make the novel resonate for the modern reader. In Lonesome Range, I wanted to take the timeless problem of a man who falls in love with a married woman, and I wanted to set it in the historical West, where such a problem was even more repressed than it is today.
One thing I have noticed about people who fall into hopeless love affairs is that they are often isolated and alone, so I thought, what better place for such a story than a small town in Wyoming and the surrounding rangeland. One part of my research for this novel entailed taking day trips out to the range country where Lane Weller would spend much of his time learning to be a ranch hand and trying to figure out an answer to the big question. Other parts of my research consisted of reading historical books about Wyoming over a hundred of years ago, sorting through hundreds of notes about nature and the seasons, and reading a couple of French novels that Lane would have read about idealistic and fated affairs.
I have seen the topic of clandestine love treated in more recent works of high quality as well, such as The Go-Between (both a fine novel and a fine movie) and The Age of Innocence (an all-time great novel), both of which have moved me. Stories such as these have a powerful pull because they deal with a truth in life that many people have been through and that many others would rather not talk about. My belief is that sometimes the best genre fiction takes risks and does not stay safely within the bounds of the genre, and I thought I would give it a try here.
The end result, I hope, is an original western novel, written along classic lines, about a man and a woman who fall in love in Wyoming. For the reader of classic westerns, it portrays the conflict of an individual against a powerful antagonist, the conflict of an individual against the acquiescence of average members of society, the belief in an ideal, and the need for the idealist to negotiate with himself what he can expect out of life. I believe that many readers have ridden a similar lonesome range, and I hope some of them enjoy this treatment.
Lonesome Range is available at Amazon.