“I should’ve been a cowboy.”

Toby Keith’s famous words ring true for local author and Tyler Auffhammer, too. Auffhammer is a reporter for The Mountaineer.

His latest book release, Marshal Horne of Talon’s Crossing, was released in November by Airship 27 Productions just weeks ago.

“Finally seeing this project come to life as a physical book is quite a treat,” said Auffhammer, who finished the stories over three years ago but looked hard and long to find the right publisher for them.

Marshal Horne of Talon’s Crossing, a short story collection set in 1870s Nevada, follows veteran lawman Gideon Horne as he protects and serves the small town of Talon’s Crossing.

The book includes twelve interior illustrations drawn by veteran artist Jeff Cram, along with a painted cover by artist Adam Shaw. It was Airship 27’s stable of talented artists that really sold Auffhammer on the company.

“The first thing you see on a book is the cover,” said Auffhammer, a former English teacher. “And I know how valuable having a good-looking cover can be.”

Airship 27 is also happy to have Auffhammer as part of their team of talented writers.

“We are really excited about this one,” said Airship 27 Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “Aufhammer has recaptured the romantic adventure of classic western TV series … His stories evoke a time when the American West paved the road to a country’s unstoppable future. This is one slam-bang western our readers are going to want to saddle up with fast.”

While this isn’t Auffhammer’s first publication, he believes it is his best so far.

“It really captures the types of stories that have been in my imagination since I was a kid,” said Auffhammer.

Auffhammer grew up reading the stories of Louis L’Amour and watching western shows and films like “Gunsmoke” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” It was those stories that evoked a mysterious West that Auffhammer’s stories seek to uncover.

“Marshal Horne is the stereotypical lawman: gruff and hard-nosed,” said Auffhammer of his fictitious hero. “But also well-read, experienced, and caring. I wanted a fully rounded character to head up my stories.”

In 2018, Auffhammer had a story included in Pro Se Production’s 1950s Western Roundup, and one of his poems was later included in a collection by the Cowboy Poetry Press. Marshal Horne is the next notch on his fictional gunbelt.

While Auffhammer’s stories take place in the American West, his heart, and now his home, is in the mountains.

After traveling during his youth, Auffhammer finished high school in Robbinsville, and then attended Western Carolina University on a Teaching Fellows scholarship.

He spent his four years at WCU writing for the Western Carolinian, where he was eventually Managing Editor.

Auffhammer has spent the past six years teaching high school English and creative writing in Davie County near Winston-Salem, but recently moved home with his wife and children to Waynesville.

Recently, Auffhammer began working as a reporter for The Mountaineer.

What’s next for Auffhammer?

“I am already hard at work on more Marshal Horne stories,” he said. “But there’s so many stories and characters fighting to get out of my imagination that I’m not sure what’s going to come out next.”

“Marshal Horne of Talon’s Crossing” is available at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville and on Amazon.

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