Interview with Author Jeffrey J. Mariotte

Jeffrey J. Mariotte

I am thrilled to have interviewed author Jeffrey J. Mariotte, who shared with us details of his writing life, his book ‘Byrd’s Luck & Other Western Stories‘, which was released on 26th May 2023, and answered a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.

Jeffrey J. Mariotte

Jeffrey J. Mariotte is the award-winning author of dozens of books, including the Major Crimes Squad: Phoenix procedural thriller series, historical Western epic Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquin Murrieta (with Peter Murrieta), the Cody Cavanaugh Western series, Tarzan and the Forest of Stone, the Deadlands novel Thunder Moon Rising, and many more in various genres.

He’s also known for his comics and graphic novel work, especially long-running Weird Western series Desperadoes. Three of his novels have won Scribe Awards for Best Original Novel, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. He’s also won the Inkpot Award from the San Diego Comic-Con, is a co-winner of the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and has been a finalist for the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America and the Peacemaker Award from the Western Fictioneers, among others.

He has worked in virtually every aspect of the book business, including bookselling, editing, and publishing. He lives in the desert with his wife Marsheila Rockwell and their family.

interview picture 2023


1) Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

Byrd’s Luck and Other Western Stories is, as the name suggests, a collection of short fiction. Most of the stories were previously published in various western and horror-western anthologies, but there are two brand-new ones. The first of the new ones, “Byrd’s Law,” is a sequel to one of the older ones, “Byrd’s Luck,” which was a finalist for both the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America and the Peacemaker Award from the Western Fictioneers. The other new story, “Into the Dark,” is based on a horror-western comic series I started in 1997, called Desperadoes.

I’ve written western stories for years, but “Byrd’s Luck” was the first one that got me some actual attention from the western writing community, and that’s ultimately what led to the book. It started as a voice in my head, and a character–an overly large, not very bright but good-hearted man named Byrd (just Byrd). In the story he converses with the young son of the rancher who’s just hired him, and it goes like this:
“I’m Byrd.”
“Byrd what?”
“Is that your Christian name or your given one? Just Byrd don’t make no sense.”
“Just Byrd will do,” Byrd said. The story of his name was more trouble than he liked to take. He had gone by Byrd, and Byrd alone, for years now. “What’s your dog’s name?”
“He don’t need a name. He’s just a dog.”
“Well, if that’s good enough for him, then one name’s good enough for me.”

Once I started writing in Byrd’s voice, the rest of the tale just came to me as I went. It was an odd story, and I was astonished when it gained such recognition.

2) How did you plan out the plot?

When I write novels I like to have a detailed outline, which I just put down in narrative style in Word (except for one complicated book, for which I made a big three-part cardboard storyboard loaded with post-it notes of different colors). But for short stories, I usually have a good idea of what the story will be before I start, then just dive in and see where I end up.

3) When did you choose the title for your book?

When I knew I wanted to put out this collection, the title just made sense–use my best-known western story and then add the rest. So I built the book around the title. I put it out through an imprint called Silverado Press that I created with a friend, author Howard Weinstein. Silverado Press is part of a larger publisher called Crazy 8 Press, but because we put together the imprint, Crazy 8 isn’t doing things like changing our titles.

Among my 70-some novels, I’ve only had an editor push back once on a title, when I wanted to call a series Season of the Witch. The publisher already had a book on the list for the same period called Season of the Hunter, so they suggested Witch Season. Since then, they’ve reissued the series several times, in different formats, sometimes changing the title again, so it’s also been Dark Vengeance and Year of the Wicked.

4) How did you come up with the names for your characters?

Byrd’s name came about when I started hearing his voice in my head. I don’t really have a system for choosing character names. Obviously when writing westerns, I have to be careful to make the names correct for the time period, and I always try to make the names of major characters sort of reflect the characters’ personalities. For minor characters, sometimes I just scan the bookshelves near my desk and pick random names that I see.

5) Can you give us a hint to any sections that you removed?

Nope. These are all short stories (though a couple of them are fairly long short stories), but I didn’t take anything out.

6) What made you choose this genre?

Westerns were my first fandom, when I was a tiny tyke. I grew up watching Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry on TV, and that first love never went away. I also write in other genres–thrillers, horror, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, etc.–but westerns are my first love, and most of my novels are set in the west, whether contemporary or historical.

7) How long did it take you to complete your book?

The oldest story in the book was first published in 2007, but the Desperadoes story is based on the comics I started writing in 1997, so I guess you’d have to say it took 26 years.

8) Can you describe your book in three words?


9) What’s the hardest part of being a writer?

I used to think that writing was the hardest part, because you have to plant yourself at the keyboard and work. But these days, marketing is the hardest part because SO MANY BOOKS are published every year, and trying to get yours in front of peoples’ eyeballs is a never-ending process.

10) Why should our readers pick your book up?

The western genre is typically seen as something that only old folks are interested in, but that should change. It talks about the forming of the country, as the European settlers moved westward from the Atlantic shores they landed on–and it talks about the good and the bad of that movement, including the genocide of the Indigenous population, the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, the use and abuse of natural resources–all topics that are still of vital interest today to anyone who wants to understand the United States.

From an entertainment perspective, western fiction has everything that any good fiction does–characters you want to care about, action, suspense, romance, etc. My western stories tend to be crime stories in western clothes, or else horror stories set in the west (old or new). I split the book evenly between “traditional” westerns (which, again, are mostly crime stories) and “weird” westerns, which include horror elements. I’m a multiple award-winning writer with lots of experience over many years, so I can guarantee that any reader will find something to like in the book.

Byrds Luck and Other Western Stories by Jeffery J. Mariotte

Byrd’s Luck & Other Western Stories
Traditional Western Fiction and Western Horror Fiction

Author – Jeffrey J. Mariotte
Publisher – Silverado Press
Pages – 265
Release Date – 26th May 2023
ISBN 13 – 979-8987838105
Format – ebook, paperback


The crack of a rifle, the thunder of hooves, the silence of the desert at dawn . . . Mariotte takes you there.

Western stories by Jeffrey J. Mariotte have appeared in collections alongside those of legendary Western writers like Louis L’Amour, William Johnstone, Elmer Kelton, and Loren Estleman. Now, BYRD’S LUCK & OTHER WESTERN STORIES collects ten of his own riveting tales of the wild West.

Brand-new stories include “Byrd’s Law”—a sequel to the Spur Award and Peacemaker Award finalist “Byrd’s Luck,” costarring Cody Cavanaugh—the hero of his own action-packed novel trilogy—and the first-ever prose story featuring characters from Mariotte’s bestselling, award-winning horror-Western comics series Desperadoes. A mix of traditional and weird Western tales, this book has something for every fan of Western adventure.

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Fun Questions

Talking Owl Interview Pic 2023

1) Do you have a writing buddy (i.e. a pet)?

Sadly, I just lost my main writing buddy, Jonesy, who used to perch on my shoulder while I wrote. We still have Diana, a cat and Clio, a dog, but they don’t spend as much time in the office during the day as Jonesy did.

2) Do you have any writing quirks?

Not really. I can (and have) written just about everywhere–at my desk, in the car, in a hospital waiting room, at coffee shops and restaurants, etc. I like to have music on when I write, but I don’t need it and often don’t have it. I’m a working writer, so I write when and where I can to get the job done.

3) Where do you write?

Mostly at my desk, which is in the home office I share with my wife Marsheila Rockwell, who’s also an acclaimed, award-winning author and poet.

4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?

If it’s this book, I’ll probably be sitting in a saloon playing poker. Or dying in the desert dust…

5) A talking owl has just finished reading your book, what’s the first thing he says to you?

“Why does it have to be snakes?”

To which I say, “Sorry, owl. The horror-western stuff is at the end of the book. If you didn’t want to be scared, you should’ve started there and read backwards.”

Author links


A big thank you to Jeffrey J. Mariotte for sharing his writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.

The above links are affiliate links. I receive a very small percentage from each item you purchase via these link, which is at no extra cost to you. If you are thinking about purchasing the book, please think about using one of the links above. Thank you.

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