Jane Kennedy Sutton: Resources for Writing Western Fiction

Welcome to my guest, Jane Kennedy-Sutton, author of The Ride, an adventure novel where the heroine, plucked from her mundane housewife existence, finds herself embarking on the ride of her life down historic Route 66 towards Chicago, encountering the road to self-discovery along the way.

Prior to embracing the role of author, Jane considered herself a ‘professional tourist’ as her husband’s career kept her moving around the globe. According to Jane, settling in and exploring each new locale was an exciting, full time job with no pay but a host of benefits. She’s lived in Taiwan, South Korea, England, the Netherlands, Italy and Saudi Arabia, but has also had the opportunity to visit many other countries as well. Since settling back in the states, Jane is now a full time writer and occasional tourist. She is a member of the Florida Writers Association and the Gulf Coast Writers Association. The Ride is Jane’s first novel and was released by ArcheBooks Publishing in August 2008.

To learn more about Jane and her writing, visit her blog, Jane’s Ride and her website.

Resources for Writing Western Fiction

by Jane Kennedy-Sutton

In the early 1900’s, at the age of 14, my grandmother moved from New York City to Calvert, Texas. She made that trip partly by train and partly by covered wagon. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a fictionalized account of what this journey may have been like for a teenage girl. I currently write contemporary fiction so this story will be a stretch for me. I know I have much to learn before I start.

Since the action begins in New York and takes place during the turn of the century, it won’t be a classic Western, but Calvert was still pretty much of a frontier town at the time she arrived. Therefore, I’ve been researching books about writing historical fiction and Westerns that I think might be helpful. Along with Heidi’s book, Cowgirl Dream, here are a few I’m considering:

Calico Chronicle: Texas Women and Their Fashions 1830-1910 – Betty J. Mills

Amazon Description: Calico Chronicle offers a rare glimpse into the daily routine of Texas women by showing us their everyday fashions. Photos from the costume collection of The Museum, Texas Tech University, and reproductions from mail-order catalogs of the period illustrate this valuable book.

The Female Frontier: A Comparative View of Women on the Prairie and the Plains – Glenda Riley

Amazon Description: This book introduces the important concept of a female frontier–a frontier “every bit as real and coherent, as, for example, the mining frontier.” It gives us a new understanding of western women’s shared experiences and of the full implications of their participation in America’s westward movement.

Riley has reconstructed women’s roles and concerns from census data, legal proceedings, newspaper accounts, local histories, essays, sermons, novels, photographs, works of art, and in large part from their own words, as recorded in diaries, day books, journals, letters, memoirs, reminiscences, and interviews. These women include the barely literate and the educated, the young and the old, single and married, white and black, native-born and immigrant. What emerges is a new understanding of the shared experiences–at home, in paid employment, and in community activities–that constituted the female frontier.

The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction: Researching and Writing Historical Fiction – James Alexander Thom

Amazon Description: The historical novelist has a responsibility to make his fiction both meaningful and accurate. “The Art & Craft of Writing Historical Fiction” offers comprehensive instruction on everything from conducting research to character development and world-building to navigating matters of historical license. Author James Thom instructs readers on how to find and use historical archives; conduct physical and field research; re-create the world of their novel, as the book’s characters knew it; and, seamlessly weave historical fact with their own compelling plot ideas.

Do you own any of these books and if so would you recommend them. Are there other books that you’d recommend?

Let’s hear from everyone what your writing resources are. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in a drawing! And check out VBT-Writers on the Move a group for ongoing virtual book tours.

Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 6:00 am  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me, Heidi. It’s a pleasure to be here today.

  2. The Ride sounds like a fantastic read. Thanks, Heidi, for a glimpse of the book and the author. Also, I enjoyed reading about the other writing resources. Great idea.

  3. I love the cover!

    Your WIP should be a wonderful read. I enjoy books that bring some history to the reader through story telling.

    Thanks for a great post.


  4. I love Jane and her writing. The tips on writing historical fiction was wonderful. Thanks.

  5. Thanks, Heidi, for sharing about Jane and The Ride and the interesting writing info!

  6. Jane is also a gifted blogger who never fails to put up interesting and useful posts. If you’ve not been to her blog, I recommend you should stop by. She posts on Mondays and Thursdays.

    Best Regards, Galen.

  7. Thank you all for stopping by and visiting with us today! I’m looking forward to reading The Ride as well!

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