Alamosa Guns History

Harry Jones was on a roll in the early 1960s, churning out quality manuscripts at a much faster pace than Frederick Muller’s publishing schedule could cope with. He submitted the manuscript for Alamosa Guns via his agency, Curtis Brown, in late January 1964, a point at which his previous three books had all been accepted but were still to be published. Muller accepted the new book for publication on 19 February, which meant that Alamosa Guns became the third book in the second three–book contract. The only criticism was that they felt the need to tone down the hero’s gun skill somewhat.

On 25 February Curtis Brown wrote to Jones to say that they were chasing Muller for another three–book deal, but followed this up in March 1963 with the news that Muller had declined to enter into another contract. Muller contacted Jones to advise him that they had decided to curtail the Sombrero Western imprint because, “…the fickle public demand more sophistication, drama and sex…”

Jones had already started writing in different genres. He’d submitted a TV play, titled A Grave Error, to Curtis Brown as early as 1961, though they had not been confident about being able to place it with a publisher. In late 1961 he’d also submitted a Mickey Spillane–style thriller, titled Mann for Murder (to be published by Burnham Priory in 2015), but this too had been turned down by most of the major publishers. He now turned his hand to writing a historical novel based on his own experiences above and below ground in a Welsh coal mine,though the resultant Pit Prop was not to be completed until 1965 – and not published until 1982.

As Muller’s publication schedule caught up with Jones’ output, a letter from the company dated 24 August 1964 advised that Alamosa Guns was to be published in either January or February 1965, thus pipping Rogue Ramrods, which had been submitted earlier than Alamosa Guns, to the post. As it turned out, both books were published the same day – on 26 June 1965.

Jones, meanwhile, had not taken no for an answer and continued to write westerns, but Muller was not alone in jettisoning its western imprint. The next two westerns, Gringo Gold and Guns of Justice, were completed in late 1965 and very early 1966 respectively but did not see the light of day until the 1980s.

Curtis Brown went so far as to say they pretty much hated Gringo Gold, which is odd when one considers that it is now one of the best–loved of all Jones’ books. It certainly went further in the sex stakes, it was sophisticated in its writing and had more drama than you could shake a stick at … but we’re moving too far ahead.

As far as publications go, no further work was published until 1980. In the meantime Jones settled down to the routine of work in the Haven Master’s Office at the Port of Bristol, where he worked until he retired in 1978.