Booklist has called Johnny D. Boggs "among the best western writers at work today." He has won the prestigious Spur Award from Western Writers of America six times: for the novels Camp Ford, Doubtful Cañon, Hard Winter, Legacy of a Lawman and West Texas Kill, and the short Story "A Piano at Dead Man's Crossing." His novels Ten and Me, The Hart Brand, Northfield, Killstraight, South by Southwest and And There I'll Be a Soldier, and his short story "The Cody War" earned Spur finalist honors. He also won the Western Heritage Wrangler Award in 2004 for his novel Spark on the Prairie.
Born in 1962, Boggs grew up on a farm near Timmonsville, South Carolina, around the old stamping grounds of Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion (chronicled in his frontier novel The Despoilers). He knew he wanted to be a writer at an early age.
"Kids my age would want to play characters from a popular
TV show or movie like Steve McGarret or Cool Hand Luke," he recalls. "I was too busy making up my own characters and playing them. I wrote my first story in third grade and was hooked. I also started writing stories -- super hero or detective stories mostly, not Westerns -- and selling them to my classmates for a nickel or dime. My royalties were a lot higher then."
After receiving a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina in 1984, Boggs took a job in the Dallas Times Herald sports department, working his way up to assistant sports editor when the paper folded in 1991. In 1992, Boggs joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports department and was again an assistant sports editor when he left in 1998 to concentrate on his novels and free-lance writing.
As far as his interest in the West is concerned, Boggs explains: "I remember watching Gunsmoke on Monday nights with my dad and grew up during the tail end of the TV Western era. The Virginian. Bonanza. High Chaparral. I was a fan. I also once played hooky to watch John Ford's Fort Apache on television, but don't tell my mother. I was always interested in the American West and as I grew older and discovered the true West as opposed to the Hollywood West, I became even more fascinated. When I discovered the Western fiction of Jack Schaefer and Dorothy M. Johnson, I knew that's what I wanted to do."
A prolific writer of short nonfiction, Boggs has written about all aspects of the American West: travel stories, environmental issues, fashion news, apparel industry trends, history articles, reviews and celebrity Q&As and profiles (including James Arness, Val Kilmer, Chuck Norris, Wes Studi, Randy Travis and his friends rodeo legend Larry Mahan and Western writiers Elmer Kelton and Max Evans). He is a staff writer for Persimmon Hill and a frequent contributor to True West, Wild West and Boys' Life. He's also an accomplished photographer whose works have appeared alongside many of his articles as well as on the covers of various Five Star, Thorndike and G.K. Hall titles.
What's the future of the Western genre? "Publishers and filmmakers might be fickle from time to time," he says, "but there will always be an interest in the West and our heritage. The West was, and is, vast, and there are many stories that haven't been told, and many stories that deserve retelling. Besides, I've always believed that the West isn't as much of a physical place as it is spiritual. The West is how you feel it."
Boggs is represented by Golden West Literary Agency. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife, Lisa Smith; son, Jack Smith Boggs; and basset hound, June.
Novel: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Book: A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo.
Short Story: I Woke Up Wicked by Dorothy M. Johnson
Movies: The Searchers, Casablanca, It's A Wonderful Life, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, The Seventh Seal, Lonely are the Brave, Dances With Wolves, Key Largo, Elmer Gantry.
Writers: Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens,
Raymond Chandler, Jack London, William P. McGivern, Russell Banks, David Morrell.
Western Writers: Jack Schaefer, Dorothy M. Johnson, Fred Grove, Will Henry/Clay Fisher,
Western Novels: The Big Sky (A.B. Guthrie), Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry), White Fang (Jack London), Shane (Jack Schaefer), My Pardner (Max Evans), The Time It Never Rained (Elmer Kelton), Monte Walsh (Jack Schaefer), Not Between Brothers (David M. Wilkinson), The Unforgiven (Alan LeMay), The Hanging Tree (Dorothy M. Johnson).
Song: Will the Circle Be Unbroken by A.P. Carter.
Singer: Johnny Cash.
Album: Live at San Quentin by Johnny Cash