// you’re reading...



Alton Pryor, author of more than 50 books on western history, including Outlaws and Gunslingers, and The Real Story of Wyatt Earp, talks about outlaws and other western personalities, and how he finds out about them...

RV: Do you like some of the outlaws you wrote about in Outlaws and Gunslingers, like Black Bart (who would leave a poem at scenes of crimes) and John Wesley Hardin, or do you think of them as dangerous criminals first and foremost?

AP: I detested John Wesley Hardin. He was sick in the head and would kill for no reason. It’s true he shot a man for snoring too loud. He simply shot through the wall to the next room where the snoring man was sleeping.
While he wasn’t an outlaw, I thoroughly enjoyed writing about Elfego Baca. At 19 years of age, he determined to clean up his little town in New Mexico. It was fascinating how he appointed himself sheriff and accomplished what he set out to do.

RV: Where did you come across stories for your books, apart from the well-known figures of folklore and legends like Bob Dalton and Billy the Kid?

AP: I’m constantly asked how I find all these little stories that I write about. I don’t find it difficult; I just pay attention when I’m reading. I think most people narrow the topics they read about too much. I read about everything. That’s the beauty of reading, you can travel the whole world with only a book in your hands.

RV: How long does it take you to write books and how do you research them?

AP: Usually when I start writing a book, I work on it for long hours at a time. When I’ve got a good flow going, I don’t like to interrupt it. Each book has its own time length as far as researching and writing.

RV: What trade shows and other events have you travelled to selling your books?

AP: I do a lot of trade shows, ranging from the California State Fair, where I helped instigate the Author’s Booth, the Mountain Mandarin Festival in Auburn, Home and Garden shows and Gun Shows. People that buy guns can also read.

RV: What are you working on at the moment?

AP: To answer your last question, I am not currently working on a book. I’m concentrating on selling what I’ve got.
I was fortunate with my first book, Little Known Tales in California History, which has now sold more than 180,000 copies. Costco stores picked it up and sold it during the Christmas Holidays. That’s really what convinced me I was a book author.

– See Alton Pryor’s website stagecoachpublishing.com for some articles and stories on the Old West, and a showcase of his books.

-continued next page
-copyright Simon Sandall