Interview with Alton Pryor

AltonI met Alton at Gold Country Writers, where he advised me on some formatting issues I was having. This guy has the energy of three writers. He is always out at some event selling the many books he has written. His story is fascinating.

Tell us about yourself.

I have published over fifty books -many of them about California’s past and the colorful characters who rode our trails to fame or infamy. I sold more than 180,000-plus copies of my first book, “Little Known Tales in California History”.

Fate derailed my 33-year journalism career–I had never aspired to write a book, and certainly never anticipated I would come to be regarded as “Mr. Self-Publishing” by my peers in the Sacramento area. I would have liked living in the Old West. I wanted, at one time, to be a really good cowboy. I had horses as a young man and even took a raw colt and trained it to work cattle.

By the time I was born, that was on March 19, 1927, the era of gunslingers and gold miners was over, and I started life, instead, on my family’s farm outside of King City in the Salinas Valley.

I was terminated after writing for 27 years for a magazine. The magazine was sold to a midwest firm. I turned to writing books–I wish I had been fired 20 years earlier.

little-known-cal-large-SLIDERWhat inspired you to start writing? How long have you been writing?

I’ve always liked books. I was considered a pretty good student in English classes. When it came time to get out of the navy, my commanding officer nearly ordered me to go to college. I found a major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Agricultural Journalism. I grew up on a farm, and it just seemed to fit.

What influenced your style of writing?

Writing feature stories has been my real cup of tea even in my early years of journalism. While I can write as good a news story as the next guy, I shined with my feature stories.

How do you approach the art of writing?

I never have a problem coming up with something to write. Topics are all around us. I’ve never met a person I couldn’t write a good feature about.  Some are much easier to interview than others. My favorite interview was with President Ronald Reagan.

 What do you read for pleasure?

Would you believe I like to read rip-roaring western stories. I wish I had learned how to write fiction.  If I was 10 years younger, I would give it a try.

You are very prolific, and your books cover a wide variety of historical events. How do you decide where to focus? What can we expect in the future?

I’m still writing historical books. I’ve just finished “Amazing Women in the Old West.” I’ll have it at a trade show this weekend.

 Any upcoming events?

I’ve been in the process of uploading all of my books on “Create Space”. I’m not only impressed with the quality of their printing, but I can’t match their prices anywhere. I hate to give up my small printer contacts, but they simply can’t compete with Create Space, which is owned by Amazon.

 Final words of wisdom?

A publisher has to be cold hearted if he/she is going to make any money. Cutting printing costs is the most efficient way of lowering your costs.

Thank you, Alton.

Be sure to visit Alton at

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