Writer Patrick Norris, from Bunclody now living in Amsterdam, explains to Sarah O Toole how he came to write his first novel.

Trails of a Lonely Heart
By Sarah O Toole - Ennicorthy Echo, Wexford, Ireland
Enniscorthy Echo Review for Trails of a Lonely Heart
Not many would link a little town in Wexford as the scene to a modern day western but local writer Patrick Norris has knit the two well. Patrick Norris born in Kilbranish, Bunclody, grew up with his grandparents William and Mary Norris. His grandfather encouraged him to ride horses and his grandmother gave him western books and listened to country singers like Merle Haggard. He has since been in love with everything associated with cowboy life.

“Growing up I was an addicted reader of books, all western as was my Granny and my uncle Kevin who still lives in Bunclody” revealed Norris. After attending Bunclody Technical School he worked for a few years but he decided small town living was not for him.

Spending a few years in London and Dublin doing numerous types of work he decided to travel further a field in search of something new. He moved to Amsterdam, and after several jobs he joined the staff of Time Magazine’s international office. Following his climb up the corporate ladder he decided on a dramatic career change and to pursue a personal dream of his.

“In 2001 I say goodbye to the corporate world and moved to Belgium to start up a small breeding ranch for American Quarter Horses in the sport of Reining which is massive in the USA and was also becoming very popular in Europe at that time. I always had a love of horses and this had been a dream of mine for many years previous”.

“Unfortunately this ranch venture was not a financial success and in December 2006 I sold off all our horses, closed down the ranch and moved back to Amsterdam to be closer to my two children, Meagan and Shane ” explains Norris.

His interest in writing came from his time in the quarter horse sport, writing for American horse magazines. After growing up influenced by cowboy life, reading many books from writers like Max Brand he put pen to paper writing his own western inspired novel. Talking about his writing it is clear that the subject matter of the books is close to his heart and it shows in the books. 

‘Trails of a Lonely Heart’ encapsulates a man’s love for the simplistic cowboy way of life; Wyatt Dillon the main character embodies the persona of all well known cowboys. The only difference to this western is that it is set in modern times.  Wyatt Dillon, like our author was born in Wexford and then emigrated in the late 60’s going in search of his dream of being a cowboy. Despite finding out that the western way of life was no more he partially fulfils his dream by guiding people on trail rides for outfitter camps in the heart of America. Wyatt returns to his hometown of Bunclody in the early 90’s to help set up a western trail riding ranch. He is reunited with his old friend Shane Conrad and meets a beautiful woman called Maria Larimore.

His love affair with Maria has its difficulties and he eventually goes back to his nomadic cowboy ways and returns to America. After travelling for a few years Wyatt then meets Mandy who he marries and settles down with. After ten years he gets a call to return to Ireland to help his former love. Maria and her son Brad have been kidnapped and are being held hostage up the mountains. Wyatt is the only man who knows the area like the back of his hand, returning to try save the woman he once loved. Wyatt and his horse Smokie will come face to face with the kidnappers but will good prevail over evil?  The books main character has many similarities with the author, his Irish heritage and interests. This gives it a more realistic feel as he writes about what he knows. The language is rough at times but it gives the characters a natural flow in their dialogue. It deals with adult themes and has a darker side than traditional westerns.

Readers will find it easy to relate to the characters and Wyatt Dillon, although rough around the edges is a loveable rogue.

Trails of a Lonely Heart  by Patrick Norris

Reviewed by Eleanora van der Wal  - Member of Irish Club Group

I like to think of myself as someone who’s read a bit of every genre from classical to post modernist fiction, from comedy to tragedy. But I never read a cowboy book before. Once, years ago I picked up a novel by the cowboy writer extraordinaire, Zane Grey, but I never galloped off into the story: instead I re-shelved the book after only a few pages. So when I was offered the opportunity to read “Trails of a Lonely Heart” by Patrick Norris, an inner scepticism made me doubt its value. Nonetheless and despite my scepticism, I began the book at a trot and ended up galloping into the story until I reached the finish line. The book is a fast read. It’s well plotted and the characters are empathetic. Language contained in this book is rough and naturalistic. The protagonist, Wyatt Dillon, the ultimate cowboy lives in a moral universe. This is no post-modernist fiction. There are good guys and bad guys and even when the lines between the good guys get smudged – morality rules. Imagine the Marlboro Man come to life to save a beautiful damsel in distress and you begin your ride, oh ! I meant to say Happy trails

Eleanora van der Wal – Member of the Irish Book Club Group 
The Irish Club, The Netherlands December 2010   


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