By Pamela Dozois

Author R. Lawson Gamble (the R is for Rich) has published a new book, the first in his new “Johnny” series titled “Johnny and the Kid”, an old-time Western. 

This new series has its roots in the actual sense of the Old West. It is written in the first person and speaks to how a young boy develops into a gunfighter at the time: What the forces are that come to bear, which incorporates his widowed Ma; the transient nature of the people who come through the town, all of whom’s first stop is the Saloon; the cowboys on cattle drives, hobos, and fugitives from justice.

“I’ve finished eight books in the ‘Zack Tolliver’ series and I sat down to write for pleasure. I’d always wanted to see if I could write a story from the ‘first person’ point of view,” said Gamble. “As I wrote, I was Johnny, a 15-year-old boy facing many unexpected challenges. With each obstacle and danger that came along, I, as Johnny, had to solve it, face it, or run from it and do whatever this young boy would do and I found it very exciting.”

The book took Gamble only two months to complete. In starting the series, he wanted the essence and look of the book along with the formatting to reflect the Old West in terms of stolid, feet on the ground, horse-sense approach of the people at the time, which was set between 1870 and 1880, post-Civil War, in a boom town called Deep Water, Texas.

“In the formatting, I did some unusual things, like block paragraphs without indent, so looking at the interior gives the reader the feeling of the flat plains of Texas and the square corral fencing,” said Gamble. “It is slightly smaller in size so you can throw it in a saddlebag.”

Each of the books to follow in this new series will have the title “Johnny and the …” – the second book is titled “Johnny and the Preacher,” which is due out in late fall. The cover of each of the books will be the same with a slightly different color hue – all sand and dust of the Old West.

“Ever since I was a little boy, I loved watching the old Westerns on a black and white television, shows with Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger until the day my Dad cut the TV cord,” Gamble said. “By that action he more or less left me in that era. This book is an outgrowth from those early days.”

The book is dedicated “To Ma and Pa Gamble from their pistol-packin’ little boy, ‘Two-Gun’ Ricardo.”

“When my mother, who is 99 years old, read the book she said she could see me as her little boy with my cowboy hat and my two pearl-handled pistols strapped around my waist,” said Gamble.

In a book review, Fiona Ingram. one of the editors for Readers’ Favorite says, “The character development is so well done that it’s as if Johnny was sitting in my living room telling the story. The plots and subplots are wonderful. I love the who’s who that kept the suspense heightened. It’s the best book I’ve read this year. Well done!”

“When an author starts a new series, particularly if the genre is different, he/she risks losing what has already been gained in the first series in terms of followers,” Gamble said. “We readers like familiar ground, familiar characters, and love nothing better than to venture into book after book created in the same familiar way. When an author seems to move away from there, their interest drops off, even at the suspicion that the original series might not continue. 

“There are lots of other series out there to find. Although I fully intend to continue my Zack Tolliver FBI series as usual, those who enjoy it and follow it, upon seeing this different work among my books, may lose faith. It is a risk I have to take. 

“Writing has always been pleasurable for me but never as much as while writing ‘Johnny and the Kid,’” said Gamble. “I immediately wanted to start ‘Johnny and the Preacher’ as soon as I’d finished.”

Gamble gives talks about Los Alamos Valley history. He has spoken at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society for the “Valley Speaks” series and at the Santa Barbara Westerners chapter at the Santa Barbara Club, just to name a few.

“Johnny and the Kid” is available on Amazon or any retail bookstore. He will be doing book signings and readings in the area to launch his new series.

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