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... L. Alexis Young Review of ...
by Tom (Forty Rod) Taylor
'Legends' of the West come alive in novel by L. Alexis Young, Staff Writer, Daily Bulletin
                                                                                                    Article Launched:10/12/2006 08:39:21 PM PDT

Tom Taylor hopes to save all things Western and his new novel is only the beginning of his quest to revive a genre he thinks is riding off into the sunset.

The author, who lives in Ontario, published his first novel, "Legends," in April after writing about 40 other novels and nearly 20 short stories, mostly about the American West. Taylor was born in the American West, in the town of Ontario, Ore.

He grew up playing cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians and has never left his roots. A well traveled man, Taylor bases the characters in his tales on people he has met around the world.

"We've set a goal to save the Western genre and write more books, make movies, make cartoons, and whatever else we can do," Taylor said about himself and a group of fellow writers. "I try to keep my stories more realistic. There are a couple of shootouts in the book but not the typical shootouts where people walk out in the middle of the street and face off.

"I don't really know what inspired this story. (I) wrote a short story and then said this isn't a short story, it's a final chapter, so I went back and wrote the rest."

Taylor said he wove actual people, places and events throughout the story he calls historical, Western, fiction and romantic mystery.

"I did some deep research for the book. It's got outlaws and Indians and just all kinds of people in it. I've had 44 jobs in my lifetime, lived in 10 states, visited 47 states so I know a lot of people. Everybody in the book is a composite, only one person in the book is based on a real person."

Walt Lange, also a Western writer, said Taylor's book was a great read and he enjoyed the blend of history and fiction.

"This is a story of not just the wild West but the last vestiges of tales of the American cowboy," Lange said. "Tom Taylor weaves a compelling story around Marty and Jack Thorn to describe the last days of the free-ranging cowboy. It is not the usual shoot first ask questions afterward style Western novel nor is it the Western set romance novel. This is a must read for any lover of the American West and tales of the Old West."

Taylor never considered being an author until he crossed paths with a high school English teacher that made him write more than what other students were required to write. That teacher told Taylor to never stop writing and he took her advice. Taylor didn't take any formal writing classes, but instead double majored in elementary education and social sciences, and minored in English at Utah State University.

"My junior year in high school, I had an English teacher that had us write book reports and one day she said I don't want you to write any more book reports and was I glad," Taylor said. "But then she said instead of writing book reports she wanted me to write at least five-page short stories every two weeks. I got the first one back and it had enough red on it to paint a school bus, she butchered it. She said don't write a new one, revise this one. And she told me `I want you to continue writing the rest of your life' and I have."

When Taylor isn't busy writing, he spends his spare time dressing in Western garments to attend competitive Cowboy sport shooting matches hosted by either the Cajon Cowboys in Devore, Norco Cowboys, or the national Single Action Shooting Society, all organizations where he is a member. Once a competitive shooter, Taylor said he now participates because of the comradery he has with others who enjoy the Western culture.

"I've been shooting as long as I can remember," Taylor said. "I remember being too little to hold both ends of the gun so my dad would help me shoot. I've never been a great shooter. I won first place in my category one time because I was the only one in that category."

Taylor is known most of his friends as "40 Rod", a nickname given to him in high school for reasons he can't remember. His friends say the author has a brilliant mind when it comes to Western tales and his life experiences have made the stories more interesting.

"I think his stories are realistic and bring to you a little history and the trials and tribulations of the people that lived in those times," explained Lee Cox, a friend of 20 years. "Tom has one of the best minds of military and W estern stories because he's been in both the Army and the Marines."

A former captain in the U.S. Army, a U.S. Marine Corps sergeant and a Vietnam War veteran, Taylor said people he met during his military service have played an important role in his novels.

"I was in the Army for four years and the Marine Corps for 5 1/2 years so that also filled my bucket of personalities for the book," Taylor explained. "Two of the men in the book are based on men I knew in Seal Beach and Vietnam. Right now I'm working on a book based on S outhern soldiers in 1865 and I've already got three sequels in mind for that book. The lead character in that book is also the lead character in 'Legends.' " Taylor, 64, and his wife of 41 years, Shawna, have one son, one daughter and one grandson. His father was a cowboy and Taylor dedicated "Legends" to him. The book is available at major book retailers.

L. Alexis Young can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (909) 483-9365.

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