Debra: Welcome to this edition of Talk Radio with NO Radio! Today’s guest is Tell Cotten and he has arrived a few minutes early so we don’t get to talk about him beforehand like we usually do <winks> but let me start off by telling you a bit about Tell before we start asking him questions today. He is a seventh generation Texan, grew up in the ranching business and is still in the ranching business with a large cattle ranch in west Texas. Let me share with you that if that didn’t put an image of a real cowboy in your mind already, add the long sleeve, pearl button snap shirt, wrangler jeans and the boots and hat that he is wearing today and you are there! No surprise to read Confessions of a Gunslinger and then meet Tell as he appears he could have been a character in his own book! He brought a picture today of him and his son riding together and it’s so adorable…see for yourself:
Debra: <laughs> Ok, ok, let me also share that my first question when I met Tell was, “Is that your real name?” and it is! He shared with me that there was a movie in the 70’s called The Sacketts starring Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot. Sam Elliot’s character was named Tell, and his parents liked it. I’m a huge Sam Elliot fan myself so I have seen that show too. How very cool to have such a unique name and perfect for a writer’s name I think, too! Do you get teased or asked about that a lot?
Tell: Yes, growing up I got teased some. My last name is Cotten, and folks would call me Cotten Tell rabbit and things like that. When I introduce myself to older folks they always say, “Tell me your name?” And I’ll say, “Tell”, and they’ll reply, “Tell me what, now?” And then I’ll have to spell it out loud. But it’s okay. I like having a unique name!
Debra: Very cool! I think we all got teased about our names in one way or another, it amuses me now but was hurtful when we were kids. You sound like you were a good sport about though! I’m going to grab some coffee real quick, leave you entertaining our audience for a moment, would you like some coffee?
Tell: Yes, please, would love some. <moves to the picture window over my writing desk> Wow, I really like the mountains! We don’t have any mountains where I come from. Back home it’s just one oil well after another.
Debra: I can’t imagine living anywhere else…<is in kitchen now>
Tell: Hi! <into microphone, waves, thinks outloud> Entertain the audience while she makes coffee….hmmmm….Ah-hah! <sings> I got no dia-mond, tho-ugh I’m shy, still I think I’-m a luc-ky guy <fingers snapping the rhythm> I got the sun in the mor-ning and the moon at night, Got no man-sion, got no yacht, Still I’m hap-py with what I’ve got-Oh, you’re back! <grinning ear to ear> Didn’t know what to say, so what do you do on the radio…sing!
Debra: Wow, what a voice! I recognize the lyrics, Dean Martin but you didn’t quite sound like Dean, good but not Dean.
Tell: My wife says I sound like Ricky Nelson.
Debra: That makes sense! Well done <clapping>
Tell: <takes a bow, pure cowboy style, hat and all> Thank you, little lady. <Great John Wayne impersonation!>
Debra: Wow! You are too funny and not the least bit shy either.
Tell: I think a lot of people expect that shy cowboy persona but I’m really not. I grew up playing guitar, and as a kid I sang and played in church. I also teach guitar now. In fact, I even wrote a song once, but my wife won’t let me play it in public. I don’t know why. It’s called, “I still miss my wife, but my aim’s getting better.” Catchy, don’t you think? <blows imaginary smoke from imaginary finger six shooters and puts them back in imaginary holsters, grinning ear to ear, waxing silly head to toe>
Debra: <laughing, must stop to respond> Yes, very catchy, Tell, your wife must be proud of your great song writing talent! <laughs again> Sorry! You crack me up! Oh, here we go, focus, we are on the air…okay. <deep breathe, sits up straight and looks at notepad with questions on it> Thanks for sharing that with us and on that note, folks, let’s jump right into the Q&A then? <Tell nods while sipping the coffee, no longer silly and looking like nothing out of the ordinary just happened> First, tell us a little something that folks might find out of character for a cowboy that you do for fun?
Tell: I’m an excellent chess player. I have a rating of over 1800 on chess.com, and I’m very proud of that! In my opinion, playing chess teaches you how to solve problems and deal with conflict.
Debra: Neat! Now let’s talk about that book! I loved it and I don’t read westerns…you’ve got to tell our audience what it’s called and in 20 words or less, what is it about?
Tell: Confessions of a Gunfighter is the first-hand account of Rondo Landon, gunfighter. It is a character and dialogue driven story about a boy that must cope with the circumstances of the time.
Debra: Tell us a bit about how you envision your target audience for this book?
Tell: There are plenty of westerns out there that are filled with language and adult situations. And, I know a lot of folks that are turned away by that. I purposely wrote Confessions of a Gunfighter to be family friendly. There is some violence, but I was careful not to make it too gruesome or gory. And, as a result, almost anyone can read it.
Debra: Is there a supporting character who took on a life of their own or turned out to be far more popular than expected and if so, do you have plans to feature them as the lead character in a story of their own?
Tell: Yes, I have received a lot of feedback on my character Lee Mattingly. He’s an outlaw, but there’s also some good in him. There’s a battle of good versus evil going on inside him, and I think a lot of folks related to him. As a result, he has a big part in my next novel, Entwined Paths.
Debra: Ewww, a little sneak peak in there too, well done. Can’t wait to read that one too! What is it you love most about writing?
Tell: It’s hard work writing a novel. And, the most rewarding part to me is when someone tells me how much they enjoyed reading it. I think that is the best that any author can hope for!
Debra: Is there anything about you or your writing that makes you unique from other authors?
Tell: I grew up riding horses and working cattle, and I also know how real cowboys talk and what their mannerisms are. I think that separates me some from a lot of western writers. I’ve been there and done that, so to speak.
Debra: What would you say is your biggest strength as a writer?
Tell: I really enjoy writing dialogue, especially western characters.
Debra: That makes sense, there was a lot of dialogue in that book, you wrote it very well and I think that may have been a deciding factor for my enjoyment as well…it made it so different from other westerns I have opened and put right back down. If you were to write a story featuring a fictional character from another author’s novel, who would you choose and why?
Tell: Tell Sackett, from Louis L’amour. I would love to be able to write some dialogue for him! Of course!
Debra: What advice would you give to publishing houses with regard to how to go forward and adapt to the industry over the next few years?
Tell: EBooks are getting more and more popular, so I think publishers are going to have to learn how to become more and more digital. I’m lucky that I have a great publisher. Solstice publishing is very current with the times, and they do a great job of promoting our books. However, every author has to realize that if they want their books to sell then it’s up to them. They have to learn how to promote their own books, or else they probably won’t make it!
Debra: That seems to be more and more the case, even for the authors that have the more traditional contracts these days, unless they are already famous and sell on name alone, I see more and more self-advertising or paid advertising but from the authors and not just the publishers these days. Can you list a few other books which you feel would appeal to a similar audience as your own book?
Tell: The Long Shooters by Dan Chamberlain is a very good read. I’d also have to recommend Double Crossing by Meg Mims. And, if you’re looking for a western with some humor, try Hustle Henry and the Cue Ball Kid by Jack Strandburg.
Debra: Would you rather have great reviews but average sales or great sales but average reviews?
Tell: I’d much rather have great reviews but average sales. That would mean that almost everyone that read Confessions of a Gunfighter enjoyed it! And, so far I haven’t received any bad feedback, and I am very happy about that!
Debra: Tell, <reaches over and shakes hands>, thanks so much for coming today and doing this interview-
Tell: Thanks for having me-
Debra: Anytime and is there anything you want to say to the audience, just to wrap things up for us today?
Tell: Getting published has been a dream come true for me, and I have been very humbled by the positive responses I’ve received. Solstice publishing took a chance on me, and I want to thank Melissa and Nick for taking that chance!
Amazon author page
Barnes and Nobles
Be sure and check out the book reviews for Tell’s book, one here on my site but also the many great reviews on Amazon! CLICK HERE for book review