I think it is fair to say that most journalists get the urge to write a book at some point writes Russ Brown. Some have achieved this goal with great success. My future as a novelist remains to be seen, but I’ve written a book, titled Miss Chisum.
The standard first reaction to, ‘I’ve written a book’ is generally on the lines of ‘Well done, that is quite an achievement – what’s it about?’ When I reply ‘It’s a Western,’ the response is generally a little more subdued, ‘Why a Western?’
Well, I’ve always been a fan of the genre, particularly the movies starring John Wayne. That fandom stepped up a level when I persuaded his lovely youngest daughter, Marisa, to be my co-driver on the Mac 4×4 charity rally, and discovering that he had quite a passion for history himself.
Googling some of his movies, I stumbled upon a 1976 newspaper interview with an elderly African American lady claiming to be the granddaughter of one of Wayne’s real-life characters, famed Cattle Baron, John Simpson Chisum. I could see a potential movie, which I could anchor as a book, as I have no clue how to write a screenplay.
What began as a romance has become a 72,000-word insight into the true Wild West Frontier, and a critique of Hollywood’s treatment of that heroic era. Did you know it took at least three minutes to reload a revolver in the 1850s? Or that after the American Civil War a third or more of the cowboys were black, and seldom shot anyone? Hollywood tends to brush over the finer details of the West.
Anyway, Miss Chisum is out there, and Duke Wayne’s grandson wants to be in the movie. Anyone got $40 million, or so, to spare to produce it?