Born on the Five Wells Ranch, in Andrews County, this consummate Texas writer has authored almost fifty books and been voted the greatest western writer of all time by his peers. Sandhills Boy: The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer is a thoughtful look back at 81 years on earth.
You grew up surrounded by cowboys. Were you tempted to make your living as a ranch hand? I always wanted to be a good hand, but from the first, I seemed to be lacking in the essential cowboy skills. Had I been better at it, I might have been content to make it my life’s work.
How has the cowboying you witnessed influenced the cowboying you write about? When a story calls for it, I can describe the work accurately, because I usually have done it or at least tried to. There is no substitute for hands-on experience, even if it involves pain.
You’re a dyed-in-the-wool Texan. Have your travels changed your perspective on your home state? I believe traveling helps me look at Texas through fresh eyes. Traveling to other countries, beautiful though they may be, gives me a chance to compare. In terms of freedom, opportunity, and yes, tolerance, I find this country well out in front of anywhere else I have seen.
Tell us a bit about how your World War II military service in Europe changed your life … Military service brought many changes in my life. For one thing, it took me to places I would otherwise never have seen and introduced me to people from many parts of the world. It vastly broadened my world view, for I had never been out of Texas before. It taught me that at the basic human level where we all live, we