TRIBUTES have been paid following the passing of a popular author of western novels.

Joseph A. West, who was born and raised in Saltcoats, passed away at the beginning of this year.

Though since his beginnings on the North Ayrshire coast, it is fair to say that West was well travelled.

His first career actually saw him move into law enforcement, as a police officer at the age of 19.

Though West always had a love for writing, which he would soon turn into a career.

He moved himself to Fleet Street in London, among other places and roles he had, where he worked as a journalist for the Daily Mirror.

He would eventually take his talents across the Atlantic in 1972, when West was was recruited as a reporter for the National Enquirer, and began working in the United States.

West would travel the world in search of stories, and this gave him a number of tales to tell from his ventures.

This included a number of brushes with death, such as when he almost froze to death on an Alaskan mountain, or when a spider bite nearly killed him in the Amazon rainforest.

West would eventually move away from journalism, as he became a full-time novelist.

Still living in the USA, he and his wife Emily resided in sunny Lake Worth, Florida, where he enjoyed tamer pursuits like canoeing the alligator-infested swamps of the Everglades.

West, who wrote numerous Western fiction novels under the pseudonym of Ralph Crompton, he often researched the settings of his novels by exploring the terrain in person, usually with little more than a sleeping bag and a can of coffee.

And while West's life and career took him to the USA, he still had a presence and affect on those living in Saltcoats.

Those on the Facebook group 'Memories of Saltcoats as a kid' shared fond memories of him - and West was often a keen contributor to the group.

Many tributes were paid to him there when they heard the news of his passing.

One man said: "Joseph used this Facebook group to keep in touch with Saltcoats and often made contributions on here . Sadly missed, never forgotten."

While another added: "(I have) Good memories from schooldays. I recall Joe passing round something he’d written - it was admired.

"I knew he’d been in the police, then journalism, then US, but lost track after that. Pleasure to hear of his success. Good life, well-lived!"