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Published on Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Interview with

Stanley Wheeler


The Western Online: Can you describe your story for our readers?

Stanley Wheeler: The story follows the exploits of young man in the Idaho Territory, circa 1863-64. The protagonist Victor McBride hopes to ease his burden of guilt by fleeing to Australia but finds himself drafted into a partnership supplying food to the mining communities. Three things soon disrupt the peace that McBride finds in the Idaho Territory: A young woman, outlaws, and the enemy who provoked his original flight westward. As a captain appointed by the local vigilance committee, McBride pursues his enemies using his knowledge of tactics and of men. Success in matters of the heart proves more elusive for the young man.

TWO: How is your story one that would interest the readers of The Western Online?

SW: This story is very much rooted in the period and remains true to the western genre. Although the story deals with some minor historical events, the characters really make the story. The action includes gun play and shootouts but this is no mere "shoot'em up." The personal relationships and the reasons for the rapid rush of hot lead are just as vital to the story as the conflict's results. The characters include a corps of McBride's friends on the side of justice against their opposing outlaw leaders. The many minor characters who provide color, comic relief, or plot complications are often quite as interesting and enjoyable as the main characters.

TWO: What motivates the protagonist in your story? What is he trying to prove?

SW: McBride bears the scars of the ongoing Civil War. He feels that he is a fallen man. He has run from a sense of shame. The story begins where his running ends. He finds that he can enjoy the friendship of honorable men and help bring civilization to a chunk of the lawless west. His own past drives him to bear personal risks rather than to place others in harms way. He longs for redemption.


TWO: How would you define the term "Western" and what does it mean to you?

SW: The Western is above all else a morality play set in the American West. Ideally it should take place between 1860 and the turn of the century. Dusty trails, rocky slopes, small settlements, great plains, horses, cattle, mining camps and saloons provide the backdrop against which this most American of art forms recreates the action of the never-ending battle of man against man and the elements. Long odds and flaming pistols color the scene.

The Western for me is a reminiscence of those days of lawlessness that linger in our collective psyche like the fading notes of a familiar song. A great Western attempts to capture the hope and fear inherent in those times.

TWO: What draws you to writing Westerns?

SW: Westerns are fun to write! A writer has the privilege of crawling inside the skin of every character that he creates. Writing westerns allows me to be a cowboy, a sheriff, a gunslinger, a barkeeper, a miner, and a saloon singer. That is just a real good time. Additionally, the western setting has an inescapable appeal; it begs to be peopled with interesting characters and exciting action.

TWO: What writers have influenced you the most?

SW: Louis L'Amour and Owen Wister must lay claim to the greatest influence, along with Edgar Rice Burroughs. Max Brand, Zane Grey, Alexandre Dumas, Walter Scott and a host of others have no doubt left their prints on me as well.

TWO: What is your favorite Western, either novel or movie? Why?

SW: I'm embarrassed to admit that this is a very difficult question to answer. I have thoroughly enjoyed the books of Louis L'Amour and other western writers. There are a host of great western movies that I love. Let me cheat on this by choosing a few favorite movies: EL DORADO, including it's earlier and later incarnations as RIO BRAVO and RIO LOBO; I also never miss FIVE CARD STUD with Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum, and Inger Stevenson when it airs on television. The dialogue in EL DORADO is quite witty at times. The movie has a great cast. John Wayne was at his best and the rescue and redemption of the sheriff resonates with hope for all who have stumbled in life. FIVE CARD STUD is a different kind of story, a remake of the film noir Dark City - and the remake is better than the original, (everything is better as a western) - with its detective story elements coupled with the classic western climactic confrontation of the killer. Of the more recent western movies, BROKEN TRAIL and OPEN RANGE, both with Robert Duvall, are among my favorites for their depiction of good men goaded into distasteful but necessary acts for the sake of justice.

TWO: If you could go back in time and meet one famous person in the Old West, who would it be and why?

SW: Another question that requires a single selection from among infinite possibilities. I guess I would have to go with Porter Rockwell. He is somewhat of an enigma to me, having reputations both as a saint and a stone-cold killer. I would like to get his take on events, feel the shake of his hand and look into his eyes.

TWO:What are you plans for the future? Are you working on a sequel?

SW: My plans are to write more. A sequel is definitely on the list. There are a few loose ends in Justice in Season that require a sequel for full satisfaction.


Stanley Wheeler lives and works in the West - western Idaho. He was raised on farming, ranching, and milking cows. This upbringing was referred to as "character building." With a sufficiently edified character but few marketable skills, necessity forced him to seek an education. Poor educational choices drove him to seek refuge in the practice of law. He has worked as a law clerk and attorney in private practice. He is currently employed as a deputy prosecuting attorney.


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