Johnny Boggs grew up fascinated with the West. He caught glimpses of it on Western TV shows like “Gunsmoke” and the images of the West’s vistas and open spaces were a far cry from the South Carolina swamps and tobacco farms where Boggs grew up. Besides having an interest in the West, Boggs also developed a real passion for writing.
Today, the resident of Santa Fe has combined these two loves. He will share them during the next Authors Speak talk at 7 p.m. today, Jan. 23 at Mesa Public Library.
Boggs is a novelist as well as freelance writer. He currently writes for several magazines including True West, Wild West and Western Art and Architecture. Boggs has written several books for both adult and young adult readers.
The New Mexico writer has earned several awards; Boggs won the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for Outstanding Western Novel as well as six Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America. Last year, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture honored Boggs with the Rounders Award for living, promoting and articulating the Western way of life.
Before he dedicated himself to writing full-time, Boggs worked as a journalist for newspapers in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. After his first two novels were published, Boggs and his wife moved to New Mexico in 1998. Being a full-time writer is not an easy gig; in fact, when speaking to writers’ groups, Boggs advises aspiring writers not to quit their day jobs. It’s common for writers to be advised to write what they know, but Boggs said he writes about what he is passionate about and what interests him.
Being a journalist has influenced his work as a novelist. Journalism requires that stories be written fast and with clarity and accuracy and Boggs brings the same discipline to his novels.
“[Journalism] teaches you to be fair and cover both sides. You tell both sides of the story and let the reader decide who is right and who is wrong and I try and do that in my novels,” Boggs said.
The West that Boggs features in his novels is not the cliché views of the region. His work features strong beliefs that define right and wrong and how these beliefs can clash. He added he also tries to convey the West in a realistic way. Boggs will be discussing his newest book, “Billy the Kid on Film, 1911-2012.”
When he was doing a book signing, a woman who is a descendent of a sheriff who Billy the Kid killed, came to the signing. Meeting relatives of the people featured in your work can be frightening, Boggs said, but “she was very good about it.”