Author * Speaker * Editor

Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

The Story behind Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot by Stephen, Janet, Russ, Mike, and Aaron Bly

This week, we welcome Janet Bly who shares the very personal and touching story behind Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot. First, a little bit about the book.

IT TOOK A PERSONAL REQUEST FROM PRESIDENT TEDDY ROOSEVELT TO PUT STUART BRANNON BACK IN ACTION. In 1905, at 58 years old, legendary lawman Stuart Brannon now a rancher and widower had no intention of leaving his beloved Arizona Territory to attend the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon, nor to participate in the celebrity golf tournament for the Willamette Orphan Farm. Even an emotional appeal for a longtime friend didnt persuade him. His life no longer consisted of bloodthirsty men to track down people trying to kill him lawless gangs preying on the innocent. Then the telegram came: Stuart, I need you in Portland. Tim Wiseman is missing. I think theres a cover-up going on. Tell folks youre going to the Exposition. Nose around. Find out how a U.S. Marshal can disappear and no one knows why. Ill contact you there. T.R. No way could Stuart Brannon refuse a personal request from the President of the United States. Filled with humor and heart, adventure and romance, Stuart Brannons Last Shot is the story of a man who embodied the Code of the West.

Janet, can you share with us how this book came to be?

January 2011, my late husband Stephen Bly resolved to complete his 106th novel, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot. He passed away after a five-year battle with 10% of a manuscript done, a one-page synopsis and dozens of character names. My sons said, “Let’s get that book done.”

Although I co-authored children’s adventure novels and adult cozy mysteries with Steve, I’d never written adult fiction on my own before. Steve did the lion’s share of storytelling. To prepare, I tore into writing and historical books for tips and shared excerpts with the sons.

Soon I realized the wisdom of including Russ, Mike and Aaron. For one thing, the three together incorporated Steve’s input. Our sons possessed a part of his creative genes. They also knew about golf swings and poker hands. They loved critiquing movie characters and plots. So I joined another partnership.


Finding Steve’s rhythm. Writing from a man’s point of view. Plus, westerns were Steve’s genre. He knew the geography, history, facts about guns and horses, the language and the lifestyle. We had to play catch-up on all fronts. This story had to read like a Stuart Brannon character (7th book in the series) and a Stephen Bly novel.

In addition, the last scenes Steve dictated to me in a quarantined hospital room, when read aloud, the sons commented, “Doesn’t flow with the rest of the story.” In order to include these vignettes, we devised dream sequences for Brannon.

A young Indian says, “The old chiefs dream many dreams.”

Brannon ponders, “Am I like an old chief? Are we getting so close to the next world that this one and the other start to blur together?”

That tied it in.


With the four month time crunch, there wasn’t space to give the manuscript a rest, to put it aside so we could come back to it fresh one last time. Instead, we turned it in after frantic days of rewrites.


What a joy to work with my sons. We labored on behalf of someone we dearly loved and missed. We laughed and grieved together. The process proved cathartic. And the intimate journey along the soul of Steve’s favorite character’s was like peering into Steve’s.

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Janet.

Janet Chester Bly has authored 35 nonfiction and fiction books, 20 she co-authored with Christy Award winning western author, Stephen Bly. Titles include The Hidden West Series, The Carson City Chronicles, Hope Lives Here, Awakening Your Sense of Wonder  and The Heart of a Runaway. Her most recent releases are Wind in the Wires and Down Squash Blossom Road, Book 1 & Book 2, Trails of Reba Cahill series, contemporary western mysteries with a touch of romance. She resides at 4200 ft. elev. on the north Idaho Nez Perce Indian Reservation. Her 3 married sons, Russell, Michael and Aaron, live down the mountain from her with their families. Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot was a Selah Award Finalist.

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Janet is giving away a copy of the book. Just follow the directions below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks again for joining us, Janet!


  1. Liz: Thanks so very much for letting me share this story on your blog! Greatly appreciated! Blessings to you and your readers ….

  2. Fishing is our favorite.

  3. Love how you worked together to complete this story. What a wonderful tribute. I’ve enjoyed many of you and your husband’s books over the years. Now that my kids are grown, I cherish the times we have been able to get together and play music in church on occasion. It has made some happy memories for us.

  4. My husband had a stroke 22 years ago & I’ve literally been his right hand ever since! Oh my goodness, the projects we’ve tackled these past 22 years! LOL!!!! House remodeling, deck building, installing solar panels, building a carport…there has been laughter, tears(me), frustrated shouting(me, again) stitches(him), band aids, sweating, satisfaction, plotting & planning. I wouldn’t trade one minute of our time together. I can’t imagine what it was like for you & your boys to finish this book! Simply awesome! Thanks for sharing your story. I hope it sells a million copies!

    • Robin: So sorry about your husband’s stroke but what an inspiration you are. What you do for him, what you both do together! Sounds like you have a great attitude. And may your hope come true! 🙂

  5. Once a year my family travel from Texas, Tennessee, Richmond, VA,to NC where we meet up and go to the OBX…The best family time ever.
    Thank you and your son’s for finishing this book .
    I loved reading about Stuart Bannon.Thanks for the giveaway and interview.

  6. what a story behind a story! Every year me and my husband plan and make a huge vegetable garden. He tills it up and then he makes the rows as I plant. I admit he disappears when it’s time to weed but when the weeds get too high he is tilling for me again. We are both harvesting a lot of green beans today. He’ll help me string and break up then disappear again while I can. We are a team just like you and your boys when you finished this great story.