Mar 15, 2012

Spotlight: Johnny D. Boggs

I am so pleased to have with us for our Spotlight of the Week
Western Writer Mr. Johnny D Boggs
Mr. Boggs and I are from the same hometown. I can tell you that we are so very proud of him.
I have really enjoyed reading the following story he has written for us and I know you will too.
I personally think that maybe we need to dream a little more and actually bring our dreams to life like this fantastic man has done.

Hit the picture below to go directly to Johnny's Website
Johnny D. Boggs Website
Please visit this site because there is no way that I can share all of his information on this little blog.
He has such a collection of books link for book

Johnny D. Boggs:
On South-Western Writing

     For me, it started in third grade, with Mrs. Maynard teaching English at Hudgens Academy -- a cinderblock school my dad built -- in Timmonsville. The assignment was “Write a tale.” That’s right, make something up.
     All these years later, I have no idea what I wrote, but I do remember the feeling I got while writing that short story. Well, maybe not writing it. Writing is a pain. A disease. An obsession. A struggle to make the right choices of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, tone, structure, dialogue. But the feeling I got when I finished that story is the same feeling I get now, at age 50, when I finish a novel, book, short story or magazine article.
     So ... third grade is when I knew I had write.
     My choice of profession shouldn’t come as a surprise. My parents were avid readers. Daddy introduced me to William Faulkner -- I still cry just thinking about Go Down, Moses -- not to mention Max Brand and Zane Grey. (Admission: I have never liked Zane Grey, but that’s just a generational thing.) I fell in love with Alexandre Dumas from a condensed version of The Three Musketeers I found in our bookcase one summer night. Daddy was an amazing storyteller. Mama still regales me with great stories about her childhood. (Admission: More than a few stories my parents told me have made their way into my fiction.)
     While in grammar school, I began writing stories, stapling the pages together, and selling them to classmates for a nickel or dime. Back then, most of the stories were detective pieces, mysteries, science fiction, super heroes. Yet I grew up on the tail end of the TV Westerns boom. Gunsmoke was a Monday night ritual, and remains one of the few TV Westerns I can watch today without cringing at the historical inaccuracies or downright insipid plots. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing James Arness and Buck Taylor (remember Newly?) for magazine articles. Also, Channel 2 in Charleston showed “John Wayne Theater” on Saturday afternoons, and if the wind wasn’t blowing too hard, if I could adjust the antennae just right, movies like Angel and the Badman, Dakota and In Old California would come in without too much snow on the TV in our den. I think I watched Dakota at least six times, and it’s a pretty lousy Western. Angel and the Badman, on the other hand, I think is one of the most overlooked great Westerns. And, yes, it is true that during my senior year at Hudgens, I played hooky to watch Fort Apache.
     I loved watching Western movies. Still do. I’ve even written about film in books (Jesse James and the Movies, and a current project, Billy the Kid and the Movies).
     Nothing, however, topped books. Probably in junior high school, I scored a pack of Louis L’Amour paperback Westerns. Hondo, I enjoyed, but after reading the other novels, it struck me that Mr. L’Amour kept telling the same story over and over and over again. Of course, he often -- but certainly not always -- told that story well, but I made up my mind then that I didn’t want to be that kind of a writer. I wanted my stories and novels to be different.
     I still think that way, which drives my literary agent and my editors crazy. They often plead with me to write a story like Louis L’Amour would have written, and I keep ignoring them, saying, “I’m not Louis L’Amour. I’m Johnny D. Boggs.”
     On the other hand, L’Amour still sells a zillion more books than I do.
     Down the road, I would discover Western writers like Jack Schaefer (Shane), Will Henry (I, Tom Horn), Dorothy M. Johnson (A Man Called Horse) -- and later, A.B. Guthrie Jr. (The Big Sky), Fred Grove (The Buffalo Runners) and Elmer Kelton (The Day the Cowboys Quit). They taught me that you need not write “horse apples and gun smoke,” but tackle literate, thoughtful stories that just happened to be set in the West. I even had the pleasure of befriending Grove and Kelton, who were always helpful to struggling new writers like me.
     Other writers -- William P. McGivern (mysteries like The Big Heat), Walter Miller (science fiction like A Canticle for Lebowitz) and David Morrell (thrillers like First Blood) -- also showed me that genre fiction can indeed be great literature. I met David Morrell at jury duty, and we’ve become good friends. I still learn from him. Writers should always learn, always improve. I think it was Raymond Chandler (Farewell, My Lovely) who said when you figure out how to write, it’s time to stop.
     Why the West?
     I’ve always been a history buff. I’ve always loved horses (yes, I have been bucked off more than once). Daddy eventually gave me his .22 Marlin. It was lever-action, so when I went hunting squirrels, I could envision myself holding a .44-40 Winchester and stalking some vicious outlaw in the piney woods of Kansas. Kansas? Ever been to Kansas? Ever seen a forest in Kansas? Gunsmoke was shot primarily on Hollywood back lots. Oh, well. Eventually, I would learn.
     (Admission: Living in the West -- first in Texas, and for the past 13 1/2 years in New Mexico -- I get claustrophobic after a day or two in South Carolina. Those forests make me feel like I’m in a dark tunnel. I’m used to those great Western vistas and wide, open spaces.)
     After graduating from the University of South Carolina in 1984 with a journalism degree, I took off for a job as a sportswriter at the Dallas Times Herald. I think, however, that I had left the Pee Dee much earlier.
     The West was far removed from the tobacco fields, the swamps, the thick pines I had grown up around. That’s what literature can do. It takes you away from your environment. Alexandre Dumas, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson weren’t writing about hanging tobacco in the barn on sweltering summer afternoons. That said, my favorite novel of all time remains Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I have written a few contemporary Southern short stories. In fact, I just finished reading one -- “Rites of Autumn,” about football, desegregation and friendship -- to my son’s fourth-grade class. Of course, since that story is set in the late 1960s, those 9- and 10-year-olds thought it was ancient history.
     I’m mostly known, however, as a “Western” writer, and my overflowing bookshelves are crammed with far more Western histories and biographies than Southern or even Civil War titles.
     Still, I haven’t forgotten the Pee Dee. I never will. Two of my novels, The Despoilers and Ghost Legion, are set in the Carolina back country during the Revolution. I convinced my editors and agent that that was the West in 1780. South by Southwest starts at the Florence Stockade in 1865, and my two heroes don’t cross the Mississippi River until two-thirds into the novel. And There I’ll Be a Soldier, due out in December, is about the Civil War battles of Shiloh, Tennessee, and Corinth, Mississippi. (I made my heroes from Missouri and Texas so my editors would think I was writing a Western.) I’ve lost count of just how many characters I’ve created who leave the South for the West. On my list of ideas for novels are at least a half-dozen set in the South. Frontier Novels, one of my publishers calls them.
     Other publishers call me crazy. They don’t understand that when the first Europeans arrived on the Eastern seaboard, the West was just a few miles inland. James Fennimore Cooper might be the father of Western literature in America, but he was writing about upstate New York. Even Louis L’Amour wrote “Westerns” set in the Carolinas.
     I write about the West, yet I also write about the South. When Walter Edgar, the brilliant historian and author of South Carolina: A History, was reading Ghost Legion (about the Battle of Kings Mountain) on his radio show, he told me: “You cannot escape your roots. You are a Southern writer.”
     Maybe I should call myself a South-Western writer.
Timmonsville native Johnny D. Boggs has won four Spur Awards and the Western Heritage Wrangler Award for his fiction. A 2011 Distinguished Alumnus of the University of South Carolina’s College of Mass Communications, he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife and son. His website is

Johnny talking to kids at Delmae School, in Florence, S. C.

At Monument Valley

Johnny, thank you so much for sharing this with us!

David Morrell's comments about Johnny D. Boggs

"When I taught American literature at the Univ. of Iowa, a colleague taught a 'Great Westerns' course devoted to novels. Vardis Fisher's MOUNTAIN MAN, Alan LeMay's THE SEARCHERS, A.B. Guthrie's THE BIG SKY. Charles Portis's TRUE GRIT. Clearly Western can be literature. I suspect that Johnny D. Boggs would be on the syllabus today"--David Morrell best-selling author of First Blood and Brotherhood of the Rose.


  1. Thank you for sharing this sweet joy. It really inspired me :D

  2. Great spotlight story Dolly! Being a girl from the wild west ( Northern Nevada) I enjoyed it thoroughly! And, now I have a new author to share with my husband... He loves reading westerns and I'm fairly certain I've never seen these books by his bedside! Thanks!
    PS. Love the pics of the wide open. Reminds me of home! ( my other home )

  3. I really enjoyed reading this ost. Now I'm going to look for some of his books in my local library!!! Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  4. Thanks for sharing this story. I always had a weakness for Westerns. Lonesome Dove is my all time fave!

  5. I still do too although they don't make them anymore. My daddy sure watched them and in those days you watched what was on and that was about it. I am proud of this hometown writer Johnny had a dream and looks like he is living that dream. I put that music on so in combination of that, his books and story Chuck and I had to watch Lonesome Dove over two nights...I love it too! Now to read some of Johnny's books...Thanks for stopping by Shannon!