In this week’s guest blog, New York bestselling author Debbie Viguié heads to the Wild West…
Every once in a while a book or movie comes along that has the power to transform a life. For me the movie was Star Wars: A New Hope. The book was The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey. When it came time to decide which I most wish I had written, it was hands down The Lone Star Ranger.
I was just finishing sixth grade and I was a voracious reader. One day my father took me into the library at home and told me that he knew I was looking for something new to read and that he knew how much I liked television westerns. He walked me over to one section and waved at four shelves and told me that all the books on them were written by a famous western writer, Zane Grey. He pulled one off the shelf and handed it to me. It was The Lone Star Ranger. “I think you’ll like it,” he said with a smile.
And to this day the opening line of that book has stayed with me. “So it was in him, then—an inherited fighting instinct, a driving intensity to kill.” It was a wonderful, amazing first line and it was written about the hero. In the first chapter Buck Duane has his first gunfight and kills his first man and is forced to flee his home and become an outlaw. After years of being a good man surrounded by lawless men he is given the chance to redeem himself by a Texas Ranger and is sent undercover into the biggest, nastiest crime ring around where his job is to take it down from the inside.
When I finished that book I knew that I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to make people feel the way that I felt right at that moment. Zane Grey’s writing was unique compared to everything I had read until that point in time. He spent a lot of time inside his hero’s head, showing us the struggles with all his inner demons, the complex motivations, his doubts and fears and dreams. I felt like I knew Buck Duane almost better than I knew myself. Every novel Zane Grey writes is a romance at its very heart. Often the romance is between a man and a woman but it could just as easily be between a man and his land, a wild horse he has tried for years to capture, his country, even baseball. When there were key scenes in a story between the hero and the heroine (for example, their first kiss) he would tell the entire scene twice, once from each person’s point of view. It was magical and when I grew up I realized just how well he had written not only the men in his stories but also the women with all their strengths and weaknesses, their fears and doubts and passion. Their pain was my pain, their joy was my joy.
The book also helped me shape my ideas about what I was looking for in a husband. I wanted a Zane Grey hero who was strong and courageous, fierce as a tiger and also gentle as a lamb. A Zane Grey hero knew what he wanted and fought for it even when others didn’t understand. My father is very much a Zane Grey hero in my mind. And in college I finally found another one, the most amazing man, who is my husband. The fourth time that we met he declared his intention to marry me, and like a good Zane Grey heroine I was completely terrified because I knew in my soul that he was the one and it was overwhelming and breathtaking and frightening and wonderful.
So, I wish I had written that story and been able to share that much passion with the world and help shape the ideals and values of others. I’m best known for my fantasy novels, but I’m working on a western that I’ve been crafting now for a couple of years. It’s my love letter to Zane Grey, a man who didn’t just write about adventure but also lived it, an author who died decades before I was born, but whose words still grip my heart every time I read them.
Debbie Viguié is the New York Times Bestselling author of over a dozen novels including the Wicked series and the new Crusade series co-authored with Nancy Holder. The latest Wicked novel, Damned, is out this August.
Much of Debbie’s writing has a dark edge to it, including her retold fairy tales, her latest being Violet Eyes, a retelling of The Princess and the Pea. In addition to her epic dark fantasy work Debbie also writes thrillers including The Psalm 23 Mysteries and the upcoming Kiss trilogy.
When Debbie isn’t busy writing she enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, visiting theme parks. They live in Florida with their cat, Shrödinger.
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