Anne: Our interview today is with James J. Griffin, author of the A Ranger Named Rowdy series. I reviewed a couple of stories from the series yesterday. You can read that review by clicking HERE. Mr. Griffin is a western book and a horse enthusiast from wayyyyy back. I think you'll enjoy this interview with him.
So, Jim, what inspired this series?
Jim: Giovanni Gelati of High Noon Press approached me about doing a series of short Texas Ranger stories. Since I'm a lifelong horseman and know how amazing horses can be, A Ranger Named Rowdy was born (Rowdy, in case anyone hasn't guessed, is a horse). Rowdy's human companion, Texas Ranger Tim Bannon, is a happily married, church-going man. I like to write stories with heroes who have strong moral convictions.
Anne: When you were writing the stories, did you tell them to someone in particular? What age group did you have in mind?
Jim: No, unless you count my Shih Tzu, Dogie. Since I have no immediate family close by, my writing is done with just Dogie for company. As far as age group, most of my stories are suitable for almost any age group.. The stories are aimed at adults, but certainly can be read by ten- year-olds and up. There's no cursing or graphic violence, and any sex is merely suggested. However, they are Westerns, so there's plenty of shooting and fistfighting.
Anne: I know you have horses, too. Tell us a little about them.
Jim: I've owned four horses, all of whom were paints. The horses in my stories are all based on my own horses with their personalities, peculiarities, and quirks. Right now my horse is Yankee, an American Paint. Just like Dogie, who was my dad's dog until Dad passed away, Yankee is a Pet Partners certified therapy animal. He goes to hospitals and nursing homes to visit the patients. He also does tricks: gives kisses, hugs, neck massages, and shakes hands. If I tell him I'm a horse thief. he tries to knock me over. The one people love most is our "Western Movie" stunt. I pretend I've been shot and fall face-down, then Yankee uses his nose to flip me onto my back, and nuzzles me until I "come to."
He and I are also members of the state Volunteer Horse Patrol. We assist in state parks and forests. And just like Dogie, Yankee's a rescue. When his predecessor died, my beloved Sizzle , I was determined never to get another horse. Siz was the gentlest horse I'd ever met, and I was too heartbroken at his loss to want another horse. But when I told them Siz had to be put down, the folks at The Cheshire Horse tack shop insisted that I get Yankee out of the bad situation he was in. I kept saying no, they kept saying I had to get him. So I gave in.
When I went to see him, he put his head on my shoulder as if pleading to be taken home. That did it. The woman had just put the poster saying she wanted to gt rid of Yank on the board at The Cheshire Horse that morning, shortly before I walked in, and if I hadn't stopped in that day of all days I never would have known about him. Siz had been fighting chronic colic for years, and I'm convinced God took Sizzle when He did because He knew Yankee and I needed each other.
Anne: Which is your favorite of the stories so far?
Jim: I think my favorite of the Ranger Named Rowdy stories is the only one which hasn't been released yet. It's titled The Blizzard and is a Christmastime novella, so it's longer than the first ten stories. It should be released very shortly, with luck perhaps later this week.
Anne: Did you pay a visit to the parts of Texas you write about?
Jim: Yes. I've been all over the West, and most of Texas. I have a friend, Jim Huggins, who just retired from the Rangers two years ago and is now a professor at Baylor University. He helps me with the Ranger details in my stories. And my friends Karl Rehn and Penny Riggs of KR Training in Manheim, Texas help me with information about the weapons used in the periods my stories were set. I'm often asked why I never moved to Texas or somewhere out West. My answer to that is as much as I love the West, I love my native New England more. And as I've told Jim, Karl, and Penny, if we pressed New England as flat as most of Texas is we'd cover a lot more territory. My favorite part of Texas is the Hill Country, which reminds me a little of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. I need my mountains and seasons.
Anne: What do you have in mind when this series is finished?
Jim: . I've already started the next Jim Blawcyzk Texas Ranger novel, The Ghost Riders. I'm also planning on the next Sean Kennedy and Cody Havlicek Texas Ranger novels. And I also have chapters coming up in several of the forthcoming Western Fictioneers Wolf Creek novels. I'm also one of the judges for the Best Independently Published Western Novel for the Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award this year. So between work (two jobs), riding Yankee, and writing, I keep pretty busy.
And I'd like to conclude by thanking you for this opportunity to discuss my books and my work.