|'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 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
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
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.