An exclusive interview with veteran actor and Western author Alex Cord and Virginian Western author Mike Hundley.
Both have acclaimed books. Both have a vast experience. Both have the answers.
Have A Question For Alex or Mike?
The Western Interview of 2017
Each of my books is as different one from the others as day is from night. Though the milieu, theme and premise in each is totally diverse, there is in all of them a passionate, pervasive love story. I am most interested in deeply felt and expressed human emotions and beliefs. A modern day Texas cowboy in grief, whose entire life is changed by a wild horse and a young beautiful woman; another earlier book is about a love that never dies.
Mike, let’s go a little deeper than authors-- If you could spend time with a character from your book, who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Alex and Mike, it’s great to have you both here. Thank you for agreeing to this sit down interview with me.
It must have been a fascinating learning curve, Alex. Mike—readers are currently really enjoying “Gunsight Justice,” your first Western. What is the book about? Can you explain a little about it?
Mike Hundley: It’s a pleasure.
Alex: I couldn’t have said it better, Mike.
Alex, let me start by asking you about one of your experiences. As a writer, is there anyone better than John Steinbeck? You, of course, were lucky enough to spend some time with that great writer. What do you think made his work such a big influence on your own?
Lucky is right. I think he was one of the very best ever. I have read every word he’s written, including “To A God Unknown” at least six times over the years. Each time is like the first. He was a master storyteller with enormous understanding of the human condition. An exceedingly intelligent and very kind man. Having had the opportunity to spend time with him was an indelible experience for which I am most grateful. His descriptions of nature made trees, grass, rocks, clouds and shadows into multi-dimensional characters as complex as humans.
Mike, as a Western fan yourself, let me ask you something you might be likely to ask one of your readers. What is your favorite part of your new book?
It must have been a really fascinating experience, Alex. Mike, I think some of Alex’s descriptive words there could be applied to your work—your descriptions, for example, have been highly lauded. Which book that you have read has most influenced your life?
There are many, but I think my first choice would be Shakespeare. Because he is a genius. Then there is Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy, Annie Proulx. I am inspired by all of them.
As a high school student, many books. History, all action-based, the Romans and Vikings, the British Empire, our American Indians (the most beautiful culture), the Civil War. All real and true history books inspired my fiction, created my imagination. Way too many to list, but true history of the world is a big horizon.
Sound like interesting projects to me, Alex. Mike, can you share a few of your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
Well, I think readers would agree, Mike, that your education shines through clearly when you write. Alex, do you think writing is an educational process?
Mike Hundley: You’re very welcome!
Alex Cord: It’s been a blast.
Absolutely. Both. Isn’t “life” defined by “human nature?” I think writing is as educational as reading, sometimes more so. It seems to me that all knowledge of human nature, emotions, feelings, thought, is available to us in the depths of our beings, our souls. We need only to dig, sometimes deeply and with patience, to discover what we want to know.
A defeated Confederate family leaves Virginia and builds a ranch in Colorado only to fight more battles for survival. People are killed, and two young sons take up trails for revenge against long odds, finding bullets are their best friends and deadliest of enemies. A surprising romance blooms on the trail, and the story takes surprising turns from the beginning to the end. And did I mention to the end? Just as the reader is on the right trail, it forks, and another trail emerges leading down into dark timber and steep cliff trails. Danger is always lurking in the story from a series of passions, good vs. evil. Drama and romance is around the next turn, and there’s no way to stop it until the end. And it goes on to the surprising ending—The White Light.
Interesting analysis, Alex. But let me ask you this, Mike. How would you personally describe your writing style?
Mike, it’s not hard to see why readers are enjoying the book. It sounds like an absolute joy to read. Alex, let me ask you this… how would you describe your books?
I feel the moment with great passion, love my good characters and hate the evil ones. Good prevails, usually after some blood is shed. Readers will see the fights of good vs. evil in my stories. I have been told I write in a poetic style and a very descriptive style that brings characters to life and puts them in real places. Those are nice compliments.
More than a part, there are many places where I drifted out of myself writing what the characters felt and saw. It is the element of excitement, of action and death and fulfillment of hearts that drives the story in unexpected directions. It took us all down dangerous trails where we had to fight off enemies and find our way home as I rode with the characters. There are many surprises that just happened to all of us as we all rode along. At times I felt more like a character than the writer. At night, I unsaddled my horse and cleaned my Colt .44. It’s the closest thing to living in the 1880s. I believe readers will feel it, too. It’s out of body or mind, pulled back into historical times of settling an unforgiving, savage wild country. Smell the sweat of your horse… Be a pioneer, fight for everything you have every day. I love to impart those feelings, injection molded into the story with no fear of the aftermath.
Inspiring words, Mike. I think many readers can take comfort from those words. Alex… if you could spend your day with one author, who would it be?
I think many readers would agree with you, including the interviewer, Mike. Alex—what has writing taught you?
Cultivate respect. Stop treating the world like a trash can and do the same for people. Smile. Be kind and generous. It costs nothing. It’s a simple matter of the choices we make. Work at letting go of anger. When you make someone happy with something as simple as a smile, your heart will fill with joy.
Well, lying around with May reading poems all day might get me into trouble, but what adventure she holds. I mean, if she invited me…
Seriously, I would like to ride a high dangerous trail with Ransom and Gabe on a fine, high spirited horse; I would like to hear my self say under my breath, “My life ain’t worth a plugged nickle” as I look over into a chasm, holding my reins lightly, talking to my horse and new friends, hoping at the ride’s end I have earned their respect. That would be a red letter day, for sure. Oh, yeah, and then wash some Aleve down with a shot of Patron tequila. WOEWEE!!
My favorite thing would be sitting around a big fire with friends who have passed on, all the great men I have hunted, fished and traveled with. All the women I have known, friends, lovers and family laughing and singing. It would mean I made it to heaven. Could anything be better than that? No, nothing could ever be better.
What an interesting and perceptive answer, Alex. I think there’s a lot to be said about the idea of learning from your writing experience. Mike, let me ask you something. We know Alex learns from his writing experience—but do your books have a lesson to be learned or a moral?
I think many of us can agree with that, Mike. Alex, let me ask you this. Readers have placed “A Feather in the Rain” in the top 20 bestselling Westerns on Amazon. What are you going to write for them next?
My mama and daddy raised me to be a good boy. I hope Mama sees that it shows in my writing. There is always a hidden and an obvious moral. Readers have to be willing to see it. Then it grabs them by the throat. The fight of good against evil is there in all the pages, and the feelings of those fights carry all the way though the story.
I am entertaining two ideas. I am a slow writer. I think I’m slow at everything. A lot of good people have been after me to write another Western. I am also intrigued by the multitude of ways that men relate to women. Been thinking about a book on that. I’ve got some notes on that one and a title which I will not reveal yet.
Hoping to still have a strong mind and colorful imagination, still having the desire to write and still aspiring to be fearless and good like [my protagonist] Gabe. Always praying to hold onto my health.
Interesting that we are always returning to those same human nature characteristics, Mike. Alex, let me ask you a question inspired by Mike’s last answer. You have, of course, a long career as an actor under your belt. But let’s concentrate on your stage career—how did your experiences as a stage actor define your ability to write about humans and the characteristics of people?
Well, that’s all we have time for. I can see the clock ticking by, but I want to thank you both for agreeing to this interview. It’s really been something else.
I was at least seven or more years on stage before ever setting foot in front of a movie camera. Whatever I know about acting, I learned on the stage. The enormous work it takes to prepare, to create, to build a character, to bring him to life. To develop a history of who he is before we see him in the play. To be able to answer any question about him. I had the benefit of studying and working with some great directors and teachers. I was a very keen and eager student. I took modern dance classes to learn about using my body in motion as a means of expression. The way a person walks can be as unique as the features of their face. Voice and diction must be given attention. You bring all of it with you when you step in front of the camera. It’s your bag of tools. The main difference between stage and film is technical, hitting specific marks, realizing that you must stay in frame. Not too big a deal with a little experience.
Recorded At 2pm 28th December 2016
The story begins by telling of Jesse Burrell, a Texas rancher and horseman who had buried his son. Disconsolate, Jesse's love and lust for life went fallow. Determined to never again experience the heartache of loss, this trail-hardened cowboy chose a self-imposed lonely and celibate existence. With great effort, he managed to struggle through the motions of his life, running a ranch and occasionally winning awards in cutting horse competitions (although the ultimate dream of a Futurity championship eluded him.) That was how his life was, and that was how it seemed destined to remain.
Then through a chance encounter, he meets a beautiful young woman, her own heart shattered by the death of her brother. They immediately see in each other a kindred spirit. Their explosive love affair will set readers' hearts ablaze with empathy and passion.
"Of course, I know where the initial idea for the story came from," confesses Cord, "but a lot of it? Well, the story just took on a life of its own." Cord is a private man, not given to explaining where the line is that divides fiction from fact in his latest book.
A Feather in the Rain is Cord's second novel. The first-Sandsong-was published by Warner Books and has been optioned for a feature film production. He has also written and sold three screenplays.
Patriots! There are times when a man must stand up for the things he believes in. There are times when he must holster a gun and ride out to right a wrong—at times, a man has to demand GUNSIGHT JUSTICE! This is the new action-packed acclaimed Western saga, a full storied novel from Mike Hundley.
After the Civil War, Will Garrison takes his family west. Together they build a ranch and battle powerful Indian tribes who have hunted the lands for centuries. A peace feather is offered after a climactic battle. With the Indian tribes and the Garrisons now walking a path of peace, a new threat has emerged… the railroad. Greedy government-backed killers plan to annihilate everyone and claim the land they need to expand their rail lines north across Colorado and into Utah. Their vile, sinister plan is revealed after many fights.
Will Garrison’s son, Gabe, fights back and unleashes his pent-up vengeance against the railroad and kills one of their hired mercenaries. A destined meeting of chance leaves him rescuing a bloodied woman and falling hopelessly in love with the dark beauty. May is a brave woman who fights to guard a secret of her own. Together they flee to ancient trails, and as paid assassins track them, it becomes a long vengeance trail of dead men. When May reveals her deadly secret, Gabe finds himself at war with the railroad, an evil killer, and with everything he ever knew. He knows it’s time for GUNSIGHT JUSTICE!
This is the action-packed Western that will remind you that freedom is something you must always fight for. Good battles evil as epic conflicts become climatic love scenes, and you find yourself breathlessly riding a trail of danger, deceit and passion with Mike Hundley in this Western that leaves no bullet unfired, no emotion untouched, and no reader left behind.
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A Feather in the Rain