Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Uncle Hank and the First Westerns I Ever Read

That's the cover of the first western I ever read.  I can't remember the year exactly, but I do remember it was a summer back in the early 70's.

I was spending part of that summer with my grandmother in Rugby, North Dakota, and my great-uncle Hank Wiltse was also spending some time there from his home out in Washington.  I remember he was recovering from a heart attack though he hadn't changed his habits much.  Hank rolled his own cigarettes and drank Miller beer out on the front steps of my grandmother's trailer because Grandma wouldn't let him smoke and drink in the house.

"Oh, Hank and his ole beer!" she'd say to me when she heard him popping a lid in the kitchen.  "Oh, Hank and his smelly ole cigarettes!" she'd cry as he used a little machine to roll a coffin nail at the kitchen table.

Anyway, it was hot and there wasn't a whole lot to do in Rugby except watch the trains go by.  So one day Uncle Hank gave me two bucks to walk down to Rexall Drug and pick us each up a western to read.  I remember I twisted and turned the squawky spinner rack until I picked out UNDER THE SWEETWATER RIM by Louis L'Amour and FORT STARVATION by Frank Gruber.  I chose those books purely because I liked the cover image on each.  I read STARVATION first while Uncle Hank read SWEETWATER RIM, and then we switched.

I can still see Hank sitting out there on the step in his T-shirt and gunmetal gray crewcut and black horn rimmed glasses, reading and smoking and tipping back his clear bottle of Miller or lounging on my grandmother's flowered couch inside.

I read outside in the shade or inside on the floor near Hank and my grandmother's window AC unit.  Every time I open up either one of those books now and start reading about Slater or Ten Brian, I get a whiff of Hank's Prince Albert tobacco and hear the Burlington Northern rolling by, and feel the reverberation of the massive wheels through my grandmother's trailer floor.  I can hear the creak-creak-creak of my grandmother's orange rocking chair while she rocked and brooded, one leg curled beneath her, her chin resting on the heel of her hand.  I can feel the heat and humidity and smell the winter wheat ripening in the massive blond field rolling away beyond the railroad tracks.

I have Uncle Hank to thank for igniting my love for reading westerns and for trying my hand at writing my own much later.  Before that, I loved watching westerns on the big screen and television, of course, but before that summer I'd never known the special magic of reading one.

I've read a ton since.  I've written damn near 60 under my own name and my pen name, Frank Leslie.  I have no idea why, but I've never dedicated one to Hank.  I wish I could thank Hank personally for firing my life's calling, but he's been dead a long time.  I did name a dog after him, though--albeit a mutt that didn't live very long.  My grandmother thought that was pretty funny but she also knew that as much as I loved dogs, I was bestowing upon Uncle Hank a truly great honor.

Maybe that's why I haven't bothered dedicating a book to him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Wallander" Starring the Brooding Branagh, or, Stop With the PC Cop Shows Already!

Mean Pete doesn't normally watch much television at night.  He's usually too busy formatting e-books, shaking his fist at the neighbor kids from his deck, or drinking beer and rereading Mickey Spillane paperbacks.  But dangit if he didn't start enjoying this WALLANDER mystery series starring Kenneth Branagh as a brooding Swedish police detective.

But Mean Pete doesn't think he can stomach it anymore.  Not after tonight when the "broodingness" of the character was brought up about 12 times too often and, then, after a fairly harrowing show in which Wallander's female partner ends up in a coma after being clubbed in the head by a crazy Swedish redneck wielding a sledge hammer, Wallander's wife hauls him off to counseling to discuss his feelings.

Yep, that's how this otherwise fairly riveting show ends--with Wallander's wife hauling him to a shrink to open up and spill his guts out on the floor like a griz sow giving birth.

I'm sorry, but today's PC cop shows have Mean Pete mad as hell!

What happened to the days when ole Mannix would gun down seventeen bad guys armed with only his snub-nosed Midnight Special and a checked leisure suit in the grand finale, and then, after losing his best friend on the police force to a car bomb, gets drunk in a sleazy '70's-style bar decked out with aquariums and red naugahyde only to stumble off with the first blonde floozy who buys him a gin fizz?

That's how real men--at least REAL FICTIONALLY HEROIC MEN handle the tragedies in life!  They get drunk and they get laid, in that order.  Not hauled off to some doe-eyed shrink by their simpering wives!

And as an aside to all the aspiring writers out there, especially to the writers of WALLANDER if you're reading this which you should be--it's best to not have your other characters, much less the main character himself, discuss overmuch his broodingness and solitariness.  It's always best to have your brooding solitary character just be brooding and solitary and shut the fudge sickle up about it already!

And send him home at the end of the show, beaten and bloody and in the arms of a hot floozy!

Does Mean Pete have to tell you how to do everything?!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hell On Wheels--'Mean Pete' Style!

This is Number 6 of the Ben Stillman titles though it's not necessary to read the books in any particular order after the first one, ONCE A MARSHAL.  It's up and running on Amazon for 2.99 and should be up soon at B&N for Nook, as well!

This one brings together the entire cast of main characters from the fictional frontier town of Clantick, Montana Territory, and puts them on a stage with Ben Stillman and a Judge who some crazy ex-Confederates are gunning for.

By the way, the town of Clantick is/was really the town of Havre up on Montana's Hi-Line--the region set along the Milk River and the Canadian border.  This is where my ex-wife and I spent five good years living in an old hired-hand's shack on a working cattle ranch in the foothills of the Bear Paw Mountains.  In the books, those mountains became the "Two-Bears."  We were teaching English on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation at the time, which I think was and probably still is the smallest and most remote Indian reservation west of the Mississippi.

I loved that area.  My dog Old Shep and I hiked nearly every peak and coulee of that picturesque little "island" range.  Skiied a good bit of it, too.  I used that area in all the Stillman books and hope to continue using it again when I start the next Stillman original later this winter.

Here's Old Shep when he was young.

Here are the "Two-Bears", aka the Bear Paws:



Mean Pete

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Last Lawman Sneak Peek!

Lassen yur yaller, click the illustration for my Website over there on the right-hand side of this blog, and read the first chapter of Mean Pete's new book featuring U.S. Deputy Marshal Spurr Morgan.  (Double-click on that opening introductory page after you're done enjoying the theme song to The Magnificent Seven). Then click the tab on the website labeled "Last Lawman Preview."

Spurr is old, and he's got a weak ticker.  A lifetime of hunting killers and other mangy human polecats, drinking whiskey, smoking too much, and entertaining the ladies will do that to a man.

But when a gang who calls themselves the Vultures led by Clell Stanhope kills one of Spurr's best lawman friends and lays waste to a couple of Wyoming mountain towns, kidnapping a pretty woman after killing her son, Spurr hits the owlhoot trail with his Starr .44, Winchester '69, his trusty roan, Cochise, and with the sense of purpose--and justice--of a much younger fella.

Along the way, Spurr gets a little assistance from a big half-breed--as mulish in his ways as ole Spurr himself--known as Yakima Henry...

Mean Pete hopes you enjoy the teaming up of two characters from separate halves of the same writer--Peter Brandvold's Spurr Morgan and Frank Leslie's Yakima Henry!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Glamour Shot of Mean Pete and His New Book!

THE LAST LAWMAN--hot off the press!  First entry in the new Spurr Morgan series...

The UPS fella woke Mean Pete up from a nap to deliver his contract copies from Berkley.

Should be in stores now or soon.  Go ahead and throw Mean Pete and his old curs a beer and a bone!

Mean Pete

Monday, September 10, 2012

Colter Farrow: Bad Justice

My next Colter Farrow novel--the branded boy good with a Remington .44--will be out in April.  It's available for pre-order.


Mean Pete

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mean Pete's Drivin' Angry

Mean Pete was raised on redneck action flicks like the old Burt Reynolds Gator McCluskey movies and the Peter Fonda movies FIGHTING MAD, RACE WITH THE DEVIL (co-starring Warren Oates and Loretta Switt as well as the babe from DARK SHADOWS, Lara Parker ) and other 70's action classics like BREAKOUT (Charles Bronson), WHITE LINE FEVER (Jan Michael Vincent pre-MacGyver horse hokey!) JACKSON COUNTY JAIL (Tommy Lee Jones and Yvette Mimieux) and the only movie Jethro ever starred in--not to mention directed!--MACON COUNTY LINE (with a theme song by Mean Pete's favorite country singer Bobbie Gentry).  

There are tons of others, but Mean Pete's been roasting chicken and drinking PBR's and boxed wine, so that's all he can come up with for now.  And he's still reeling from watching Amber Herd beating the crap out of a religious fanatic in a speeding motorhome...  God, she's good.  And I don't think she's just pretending to be a redneck princess, either!

Nicolas Cage is sort of what you'd get if you crossed Charles Bronson with Amy Winehouse--a jaded action hero for these modern existential, hedonistic times...  And Amber Herd is the new Sally Field--though please don't tell her I said that.  The girl can do some damage...

Anyway, you understand where my sensibilities lie.  I always thought CITIZEN KANE was a little chatty and THE SEARCHERS--well, I hate to say it, but put it up against THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, and it lags a bit.  (Plus, there are no babes!)

So, if you're like me, you'll thoroughly enjoy DRIVE ANGRY, which is a throwback to all those great action flicks of the 60's and 70's that Mean Pete grew up on and which probably influenced his writing nearly as much as Luke Short, Mickey Spillane, Jonah Hex, Jaws--the novel with the girl swimming nekkid on the cover--and Leo Tolstoy.

If you haven't yet seen DRIVE ANGRY, and you like those great action classics--gidyup, pards!  You're in for a treat!

Mean Pete

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Deadly Prey Now Available And Stillman Preview from Mean Pete!

This second in the Gideon Hawk, Rogue Lawman series is now up and running at both Amazon for Kindle and Barnes & Noble for Nook!

The next Ben Stillman novel reprint (below) is coming soon.  The very first original Ben Stillman novel in ten years should be up and running by the end of the year (bellower.)

Coming This December As An Ebook Exclusive from Mean Pete Press!


Mean Pete His Own Mean An' Nasty Self

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rogue Lawman: Deadly Prey Coming Soon!

Gideon Hawk is back dropping the hammer on all manner of raggedy-heeled reprobate...even after four territorial governors have signed Hawk's death warrant and sent another lawman, one who was once like a brother to Hawk, out to seal the deal...

This second installment in the ROGUE LAWMAN series--hardboiled western adventure--will be up later today at Amazon.  Should be up tomorrow at Barnes & Noble!

First time in ebook print since it first appeared nearly ten years ago.


Mean Pete (whose forearm is spasming from all the 12-ounce curls he did over the Labor Day weekend...)