Guest Interview: Weird West Writer Gemma Files

Gemma Files is the weird west author of A Book of Tongues, one of the novels included in the

gemma-files

Gemma Files

weird west StoryBundle which a reader can purchase at a very low price. I had the opportunity to interview Gemma recently and she was kind enough to allow me to post it on my blog. I hope you like it, and I hope her interview inspires you to check out the weird west collection from StoryBundle.com as well. Thanks!  –Mark

Mark: Hi, Gemma, thank you for the opportunity to interview you about your work. I’ve looked forward to this opportunity for a long time, so let’s get to it. As a writer how do you define the weird west genre? Why did you decide to set A Book of Tongues in this time frame?

Gemma: Hey, Mark, right back at you–I’ve been impressed by your work since I first ran across the initial short stories that would eventually give rise to Haxan online. Like most people my age (I think), I was first introduced to the weird west genre through Joe R. Lansdale and Jonah Hex, both on their own and in concert, though thinking back, I actually believe my first brush with it came through William S. Burroughs’ The Place of Dead Roads and Michael Ondaatje’s Collected Works of Billy the Kid. So for me, it’s definitely always been best defined as “Western with something extra,” whether that something is psionics, black magic, Mexica goddesses, zombies, alien technology, time travel or just a general sort of…spiritual weirdness, an Acid-soaked 1960s hangover, a Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law deconstructive Southern Gothic ethos that translates from The Outlaw Josey WalesMcCabe & Mrs Miller and Heaven’s Gate on down to The Long Riders and Unforgiven, Deadwood and Carnivale. There’s also a whole lot of fire and brimstone folk-country/spookabilly rock ‘n’ roll in there, too: 16 Horsepower, Murder by Death, Leonard Cohen, Emmylou Harris, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. That’s the soundtrack that was hovering in the back of my mind as I was writing A Book of Tongues.
As for why I decided to set the book in that time-frame, well…my previous obsession had been Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, so I’d already done a fair bit of research about the 1860s. But at the moment I began writing, I’d just spent basically a year not writing much except fanfic for James Mangold’s remake of 3:10 to Yuma. So that was the seed everything grew from: a Bible-quoting bad guy in black and the trigger-happy right hand man who was obviously in love with him, with liberal application of other stuff I liked: blood magic, evil dead gods, Pinkerton agents, towns cursed to salt, absinthe, incautious sex, train robbery, wholesale murder. All that.

ABookofTonguesM: A Book of Tongues has many cultural and historical references, some quite obscure or not well known. You kept the western and supernatural elements distinct when needed, or used both to great effect. How did you research this novel, and how did you decide what elements to keep, and what to leave aside?

G: I love history, and I love to know stuff other people don’t. One of my biggest influences was probably either a book called Poe Must Die by Marc Olden, which I got at a rummage sale when I was in my teens and is mainly set in Five Points, New York’s most notorious slum, or Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery, large sections of which are set in the area of London called Seven Dials, which makes an appearance in Hexslinger Series Book Three. Poe Must Die juxtaposes hierarchical black magic and necromancy with “normal” period-specific criminal violence and enterprise, while The Great Train Robbery is about how people’s emotional impulses–venal and otherwise, pre-planned or otherwise–can drive and derail even the most complicated plans. Both were really useful in terms of outlining A Book of Tongues. The other thing that helped was thinking about religion as another form of magic, both in terms of Reverend Rook’s Christianity and the Mayan-Mexica goddess Ixchel’s plans for humanity, especially since both are bridged by various characters’ talent for natural magic–“hexation.” But generally, I just kept the stuff I liked most and threw away the rest, the way I do with almost everything else.

M: A Book of Tongues is the first novel of a trilogy. When you were writing did you know this ahead of time and did it present any problems in structure?

G: I did not know this would be a trilogy, no.;) What happened was that I kept working from exactly the same outline I started with, then getting to 80,000 words out of a potential 100,000 (ChiZine Publications’ official cut-off point) and going: “Oh shit, time to tie it off and write another book.” I like to say it comes from having written screenplays; the three books are like three acts in a classic Syd Field-style Hollywood three-act structure, each sub-divided into three acts of their own.

M: I was wondering what is it about the weird west genre you like? Is there anything you don’t like, or would like to see improved?

G: Like I said above, I think the weird west has an amazing potential for deconstruction, particularly as it applies to some of those old established storytelling tropes which really deserve to be challenged. In a lot of ways, Westerns are a genre of stories America tells about itself to excuse its own actions–the destructive lies behind the idea of Manifest Destiny, for example, of the West as an “empty” frontier, which allow settlers to try to pretend that that emptiness wasn’t achieved by removing indigenous people from their tribal lands, herding them like buffalo, trying to exterminate them. Add in slavery on top of that, and sexual violence, and all the different types of awfulness people perpetrate against each other, and you see that this is a genre ripe for reinterpretation, for being busted down to its component parts and messed around with so different voices–voices other than those of the accepted default–can get a chance to tell stories which imagine themselves as heroes rather than background, or villains. Is it easier to do that when you splice Western DNA with something else, something that cracks the mold a bit? I don’t know. I do know that even in A Book of Tongues, though, I was trying to push those boundaries. I’ve been rightfully called out for not doing it as hard as I might have (the novel’s a pretty shameless bag of dicks, for one thing), but I do think I got a lot better at it by the time A Tree of Bones rolled around.

M: What are you working on now? Can we expect more stories or novels set in the weird west?

G: What I’m working on right now are two contemporary, stand-alone horror tales in the basic mode of Experimental Film, for which I recently won the 2015 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel. However, who knows? When CZP asked me to write some supplemental novellas for their Hexslinger Omnibus ebook, which collects all three parts of the series, I had the opportunity to revisit this world and those characters in a way that was very satisfying–I wish more people had gotten to read those tales, because they really do form a nice little epilogue of sorts to the whole saga. Since then, however, I haven’t really done much more in the genre, aside from three fairly obscure short stories (“Some Kind of Light Shines From Your Face,” which I did for an anthology called Gutshot, “Black Bush,” which was in Arcane, and “Satan’s Jewel Crown,” for Dark Discoveries #26). I’d eventually like to do another series set in 1880, mainly focused around New York–characters from the Hexslinger series would turn up in those, definitely. I’m pretty sure I’m not done.
M: Finally, the most important question of the interview. What would you like to hear Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke say if you were suddenly transported to the Old West?
G: Okay, what would I like to hear Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke say if I were suddenly transported to the Old West…well, sad thing to admit, but I’ve never actually seen Gunsmoke. My personal vision of ridiculously cleaned-up Old West media acceptance of choice would probably be the so-called “Brat Pack” Western Young Guns (1988, dir. Christopher Cain), in which characters at least got to say a weird-ass version of “fuck” (“farg,” if I remember correctly). I’d like to be welcomed there by a thin, smirking Emilio Estevez and a vaguely poetic-looking Kiefer Sutherland.
M: Thank you, Gemma!
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“Showdown at the Cliche Corral” Live at Sunnyhuckle Magazine

“Fiction writer Kenneth Mark Hoover discusses his love for the true Old American West in literature, not the one born of Hollywood clichés, but the historically rich and fascinating one that is so often forgotten.”  –Sunnyhuckle

Mark here. My latest article “Showdown at the Cliché Corral” is featured on Sunnyhuckle Magazine. Once again I take Hollywood, cliches, myths, and western writers who should know better to the woodshed.

As you might expect I take no prisoners. Click below and enjoy the smell of burning gunpowder in the morning!

“SHOWDOWN at the CLICHE CORRAL”

Did you miss the new cover for my upcoming novel Quaternity? Here it is!

Hell is truth seen too late.

Before he became a U.S. federal marshal in Haxan, John Marwood rode with a band of killers up and down the Texas/Mexico border.

Led by Abram Botis, an apostate from the Old Country, this gang of thirteen killers search for the fabled golden city of Cibola, even riding unto the barren, blood-soaked plains of Comancheria.

And in this violent crucible of blood, dust, and wind, Marwood discovers a nightmarish truth about himself, and conquers the silent, wintry thing coiled inside him.

COMING JUNE/JULY 2015 from CZP! I  can’t wait!

 

Quaternity by Kenneth Mark Hoover

Changing the Western (for the better)

While I was attending SoonerCon a week or so ago a writer friend relayed a conversation she had with a family member.Hoover-8

She said the uncle stated he liked to watch westerns because “they were real.”

She proceeded to tell him, No, they were not real, but only Hollywood’s version of the Old West.  What he saw on television and movies was not in any sense “history” or “reality” of what the Old West was truly like.  He was being sold a bill of goods. Period.

I work in the western genre. Not exclusively, but I toil there quite a bit as readers of this blog know. I’ve seen this before. I know mythology and cliche has been elevated to historical status in some areas. Frankly, I find this depressing, because if this is all we have, if things don’t change, then this genre will never change.

And it needs to change.

The idea of the iconic western is an extremely powerful story telling tool. I use it all the time. It’s also the whole frontier mentality that makes much of science fiction accessible to readers and fans alike. But westerns are earth-bound. We can readily identify with that. Hell, even Star Wars was a western, and Star Trek often used western elements.

They are used because they are powerful.

Here’s what I would like to see. I’d like to see a western novel where there were no guns. Historically, most people never owned, carried, or used one. That’s historical fact. I’d like to see stories about that.

I’d also like to see more stories from, and about, women and POC. Because, you know, they actually existed back then.

It’s easy to slipstream behind Hollywood tropes. Cliches are the easy way out. Example: the iconic gun fight a la High Noon.

I agree this all makes for great television. But that’s not how they fought. Gunfighters did not meet each other on the street. They shot each other in the back and through windows. It was gang warfare. No one in their right mind would stand with a gun 15-feet away from another man with a gun in an open street. These weren’t dueling Knights of Old, which is where this myth was appropriated.

I remember visiting the Flats near Fort Griffin while doing research for Quaternity. I came across a first person account of a town sheriff or marshal who jailed a man and then shot him through the bars and killed him because “he was too mean.”

Now I want you to stop and think about that a bit and then get back to me.

To be sure, not every man and woman behaved like this, and it would be ridiculous to assume otherwise. But they weren’t Knights from the Round Table, either. They just were not.

There are three gunfights in my novel Haxan. None of them go according to Hoyle because it NEVER happened the way Hollywood sold it.

I’m also getting a little worn out with the romantic notions that permeate too much of what I see. Men and women of all races, all religions, all creeds, struggled every day to survive in the Old West. Just like they do today.

There’s nothing romantic about that.

Mythology is not history. Cliches are not a foundation to build on. Well, I mean, you can, if you want. If we write the same stories over and over, and don’t push the envelope, this genre will not evolve. It won’t die. As I said up at the top the idea of the western is too atavistic for that to happen.

The western will never die. That’s a good thing, in my opinion because it’s an interesting setting in which to tell stories about people.

But maybe it’s time to step away from the romantic ideals of an age that never existed, either, and write something different. There are many western writers right now doing exactly that. Their voices are few.

I’d like to see more.

“Talitha Koum” now appearing in Frontier Tales

Well, the new novel is out. But that’s not all going on in the world of Haxan.

My new Haxan short story entitled “Talitha Koum” has already engendered controversy among fans. It’s published by Frontier Tales and is on their website now. If you like the story please remember to vote for it on their website. That helps me a lot.

If you don’t like what happens in the story, please remember to vote for it on their website anyway. It helps me a lot!

So click the link and see what all the fuss is about! I mean, it’s Haxan. What could possibly go wrong for the people who live there, right….?

Right….?

 

“TALITHA KOUM” by KENNETH MARK HOOVER

CZP Bought My New Haxan Novel QUATERNITY for July 2015!

A lot of good news on the writing front, recently. Haxan has just been published by CZP last week, and I also learned they want to buy PulpFiction_112013_DSCF0017Quaternity for a July 2015 publication date.

As followers of this blog know Quaternity has a very special place in my mind. I wrote that novel, all 85,000 words, in 19 days. I mean, that was after about a year and a half of starts, stops, thinking about it, etc. Border trips, which I blogged about, and other research and fact finding trips.

Then, suddenly, the flood gates opened and it poured forth. It was an amazing experience in many ways. and as a result the novel became personally important to me. Yes, I think it’s my best. I tried to do something very different in that novel, both substantively and personally. I set out to write an anti-western, even an anti-mythological western. A complete break with the cliches and mythology that has held much of the western genre back for over a century.

That’s what I wanted to do. I will flat out say I think I have succeeded.

Those who know me know I don’t say that lightly.

I knew it was a big goal when I started the project. I was never certain I would find the key to unlock what was holding me back. After all that time spent and no real pages to show for it, I never quit. I never for one moment thought the story idea and what I was trying to accomplish wasn’t worthwhile or didn’t hold up.

That’s not always true with every story. Sometimes a writer learns when to walk away from a story. I never felt that with Quaternity. I always believed there was something special there, if only I could tease it out.

If only I could find the key.

I did. I finished the novel in 19 days and was floored at that process. Submitted it. It went through a couple of rewrites, and now CZP wants it for next year.

I couldn’t be happier!

It’s a validation. A big one. Yes. It’s that important to me.

Thermopylae. Masada. Agincourt. And now, HAXAN.

THERMOPYLAE. MASADA. AGINCOURT.

AND NOW, HAXAN, NEW MEXICO TERRITORY, CIRCA 1874 . . .
Through a sea of time and dust, in places that might never be, or can’t become until something is set right, there are people destined to travel.

Forever.

Marshal John T. Marwood is one of these men.

Taken from a place he called home, he is sent to fight an eternal war. It never ends, because the storm itself, this unending conflict, makes the world we know a reality.

Along with all the other words waiting to be born. Or were born, but died like a guttering candle in eternal night.

 

What is Haxan? Haxan is Lonesome Dove meets The Punisher . . .  real, gritty, violent, and blatantly uncompromising.

 

“In the Haxan series, Kenneth Mark Hoover is recreating the Old West. Or rather he would be, if the Old West was equal parts Gunsmoke and John Brunner’s Traveler in Black. . . . Fans of the western and dark fantasy genres alike should give this series a serious look.”
—Richard Parks, author of Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter and To Break the Demon Gate

 

Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover

 

My Brand New Novel HAXAN is Launched!

My brand new dark western Haxan is being released by CZP today. Here are places you can order the novel, either e-book or print. Or if you are venturesome, do both!

I really hope you like the story, and I hope you tell people about it.

Thanks!

–KMH

 

Kindle Edition (Amazon):  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover-ebook/dp/B00HCHCLUQ/?tag=westeros-20

Paperback edition:  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover/dp/1771481757/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Apple iBook (iTunes): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/haxan/id784425699?mt=11

Google (Play): http://books.google.ca/books?id=60iYAgAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haxan-kenneth-mark-hoover/1117715955?ean=9781771481755

ChiZine Publication: http://chizinepub.com/books/haxan

 

And for fun, here is a cool Haxan* bookmark created by Reece Notley you can slap on your website. That way, when the Eternals of Haxan night-walk you (and they will), you will be protected.

Unless you want to be taken from a place you call home, and forced to stand against that which must be faced….

 

haxan_banner

 

*Tomorrow, an excerpt from Haxan because why not?

Pre-order Information for My New Novel HAXAN

Thermopylae. Masada. Agincourt.

And now, Haxan, New Mexico.

We go where we’re sent. We have names and we stand against that which must be faced.

Through a sea of time and dust, in places that might never be, or can’t become until something is set right, there are people destined to travel. Forever.

I am one.

—Marshal John T. Marwood

 

Here are the sites where you can pre-order my new novel Haxan published by CZP. Haxan will be launched on June 17, 2014. Hope you like it!

 

Kindle Edition (Amazon):  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover-ebook/dp/B00HCHCLUQ/?tag=westeros-20

Paperback edition:  http://www.amazon.com/Haxan-Kenneth-Mark-Hoover/dp/1771481757/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Apple iBook (iTunes): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/haxan/id784425699?mt=11

Google (Play): http://books.google.ca/books?id=60iYAgAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haxan-kenneth-mark-hoover/1117715955?ean=9781771481755

ChiZine Publication: http://chizinepub.com/books/haxan

 

My new novel Haxan slated for publication by CZP on June 17, 2014

Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover, published by CZP

My Schedule for ArmadilloCon 36, Austin, TX, July 25-27

Here’s the latest attending schedule for my upcoming appearance at ArmadilloCon 36. Come see me in action!

 

Twin Paradox Fri 5:00 PM-6:00 PM Conference Center Gibbons.

A discussion of the twin paradox and how it affects the world today.

 

Space Westerns Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Room F Crider.

Why are Westerns so good in space?

 

Reading Sat 9:00 PM-10:00 PM Southpark A

(I will do a reading from my new novel, Haxan)

 

13 Assassinations Sat 11:00 PM-Midnight Room E de Orive.

Does martial arts have a place in fiction?

 

Looks like this schedule is going to be a lot of fun.  Come see me. If you can’t find me, try the bar! –KMH

My New Haxan Story, “Talitha Koum” Published by Frontier Tales

Big breaking news day on the writing front!

I also have a brand new Haxan story “Talitha Koum” which has just been published in Frontier Tales Magazine. Click the link to read it, and please vote for my story!

This is a different kind of story in the Haxan mythos. In this one Magra Snowberry discovers a terrifying truth about her past…or is it a lie? And Marwood finally asks her to marry him!

But can anyone find what they are looking for in the town of Haxan when a dark mystery from the past comes in on the night train, carrying not a gun, but the truth in his pocket?

Read and find out!

“TALITHA KOUM”

 

“I’m your huckleberry.”

In an old writing group we had an ongoing joke you never “arrived” until you wrote an Elvis story. Many members did, I did not. Doc_Holliday

The same sort of thing might be said of westerns, but with Doc Holliday. This consumptive blue-eyed killer continues to generate stories, ideas, and unverifiable legends. I got to thinking. What if Doc Holliday visited Haxan, the one town in New Mexico Territory known as a vicious killing-bottle. Mightn’t he feel at home?

My “Doc Holliday story” was named “Tombstone” and it appeared in 2010 in The Western Online. Later, people got in touch with me and expressed how much they enjoyed it.

Finally, Holliday’s trademark quip has historical backing*, so that’s why I included it in my story.

Just follow the link if you want to take a peek at it! I hope you enjoy it.

 

TOMBSTONE

 

*Much of what we know about Holliday is shaky at best. I think that is what draws him to readers and writers. Aside from the basic facts regarding his life, almost everything else is a tabula rasa.

Doc Holliday in 1879

 

Woo! My New Story “Talitha Koum” to be Published by Frontier Tales in June

My new Haxan story “Talitha Koum” is scheduled to be published by Frontier Tales in June of this year. I am looking forward to this. It’s a “Magra” story more than anything else, and though written from Marwood’s perspective, it’s mostly about her.

We learn more about her early life and especially her mother, Black Sky. I’ve always felt we needed to know more about Magraand this story was that attempt. Also, this is the story in which Marwood pops the question.

So you will have to read it to see how it all ends!

Elsewhere, I went ahead and joined the DFW Writers’ Workshop. I think it will be beneficial.

I’m getting my other ducks in a row and plan to attend several SF/F cons this year. I’ll post schedules and such when I have them.

Thanks for your interest in my writing!

 

Banner designed by Reeve Notley

Banner designed by Reece Notley

Quaternity and Haxan Update

Still have some personal things on my plate which take precedence over everything else, but I wanted to catch you up on my

Busy writer is busy.

Busy writer is busy.

writing so far.

I finished the second draft of Quaternity and sent it to the publisher for review. I thought they had a lot of really good advice for me and I believe the novel is that much stronger for it. I feel I am lucky they took the time to critique it at this depth and commit so much time to it. They didn’t have to do that.

I added about 3,000 words to the original manuscript and now it runs about 78,000 total. Fleshed out some characters and brought Marwood more to the forefront in key scenes where he was something of a background character. I’m happy with how things have progressed regarding this novel. If you’ve been following this blog you know how much trouble I had with this book until the flood gates opened and I wrote the entire novel in 19 days. Pretty crazy, but I still view this novel as the best thing I have ever done. I raised the bar on myself a lot with this book and I was glad I met my goals.

I’ve also got news in the upcoming days regarding the novel Haxan which will be published by CZP in May of this year. Please, keep checking back.

Thanks!

A Study in Character Motivation Revealed through Style and Voice: “The Bruja and the Ferryman”

Not too long ago I learned I had an upcoming Haxan story in which I used voice and style to reveal character motivation which would be published. I even blogged about it.

Well, that dark fantasy story is now live at Frontier Tales and you can read it for free. The story is about Magra Snowberry who is trying to get home. She runs into a strange ferryman and three apocalyptic horsemen who are looking for a fourth rider.

I ask you, what better way to get your morning started than some Old West necromancy?

I tried to do other things in this story, including the use of vernacular and dialect. Like anything else in fiction a little of this goes a long way, so I used it sparingly.  I believe this gives it impact without making it too difficult to read, but that’s for the reader to decide.

I really do hope you take a look at the story and I hope you like it. Thanks!

“The Bruja and the Ferryman” by Kenneth Mark Hoover

What’s for Dinner? Texas Hash!

Posted about having this on Twitter and a friend wanted the recipe. Ask and you shall receive! We’ve been making this dish in our family many years. You can swap out or change the main ingredients to make it vegetarian if you so wish. Easy to make, and yummy. Have fun!

1 pound ground beef

3 large onions (cut in rings or chopped)

1 large green pepper (chopped)

1 can tomatoes

1/2 cup uncooked regular rice

1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef in large skillet until light brown, drain. Add onions and green pepper, cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in tomatoes, rice, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Heat through.

Pour mixture into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Cover, bake 1 hour.

Eat ’em up, cowboy!*

 

Texas Hash, a family favorite.

 

*Sorry about the blurry picture. Steam got on my camera lens, haha.

My New Story Coming from Frontier Tales, and a Discussion of Character Motivation Revealed by Voice and Style

Frontier Tales has accepted a new Haxan story from me. It will appear in September. Magra Snowberry must get home to find the man she loves. Standing in her way are four horsemen.The title is as yet undecided.

I’m really excited about this story for many reasons. It features Magra Snowberry and tells the story how she tries to get home to the man she loves. Standing in her way are four peculiar horsemen, and a ferryman who tries to help her.

I wrote this some months after I finished the Haxan prequel Quaternity. Some of the stylistic language is similar, along with a decidedly literary bent. I did this for a purpose. I no longer write stories only to transcribe action. I now try to write for the ear as well. I write for the voice.

How a story sounds is just as important to me as how it reads. I wasn’t always that way. But I am fully wedded to that philosophical idea today. I think the Rubicon I crossed was with the short story “Fishing the Styx” because in that tale I went far the other direction from a simple retelling of action.

I do this because I have never viewed my role as a fiction writer coupled with that as a stenographer. Right or wrong, I view my role as a writer more important than that. I view fiction as more important than that. Of course, I always try to be careful to avoid pretension. Stories that rely on that dynamic alone always collapse under their own weight. So it’s a balancing process…and one I admit I have yet to master.

But I think I’m getting there.

While I like the story as is, it remains for the reader to decide for himself whether my stylistic choices, and my philosophical choices, work.

I tend to like stories that take chances and I took a few here. I hope you like them.

Magra Snowberry has always been a character who intrigues me in a very different way than, say, Marwood. John Marwood brings his own identity to each and every story. But I have always thought Magra was more malleable. Not in a sense of weakness. Her malleability comes with her innate ability to adapt.

Magra is more philosophically fluid, if that makes sense, than Marwood. Or, perhaps, anyone else around her.

Also, when push comes to shove, she’s as willing to take the long red road of violence to achieve her ends as Marwood. I think the difference between her and Marwood is he sometimes tries to couch his actions within the framework of the law. He’s not always successful.

Magra, on the other hand, isn’t so wedded to thoughts of justice or the arc of law. She’s not more nihilistic than Marwood. She’s more practical.

She’d rather be left alone. But if you keep getting in her way there’s going to be pain involved.

A lot of pain.

It’s very easy to write about Marwood. You always know how he’s going to jump. I don’t necessarily view this as a point of strength. I’ve had characters say in several stories that Marwood never changes. “The west is changing, but you stay the same.”

It’s not a compliment. It’s an indictment of his lifestyle. It’s a warning to him (and people like him)  a rigid worldview is not going to hold up to the pressing arc of history.  Other people see this. He can’t. He never can. At the moment it’s his strength. But he’s not stupid. He realizes the inability to change or adapt will, one day, prove disastrous.

Simply put, Marwood is unable to learn from the history he has lived. He doesn’t look back and he doesn’t look forward. He is trapped in the now.  He is trapped by Fate.

Magra, on the other hand, views life and death in longer terms. This comes from her ability to night-walk along with her powers as a bruja.

She is not trapped or limited by Fate. She weaves Fate.

When I first started writing these stories Magra didn’t have the elevated position she now holds. I think in some of the very early stories she comes across as the damsel in distress. I changed that forever with the story “Vengeance is Mine” published in the anthology Beauty Has Her Way.

I originally wrote that story from Marwood’s perspective, but the editor, Jennifer Brozek, made me see the story would be more powerful and possess more emotional resonance if viewed from Magra’s perspective. This made me take a long and serious look at Magra and forced me to elevate her place in the pantheon of Haxan characters. Who, for the most part, tend to be broken and flawed people trying to survive in  a violent world.

Magra was always important, of course, and especially strong-willed. But now she had to take those characteristics and apply them in a way that would make the fiction interesting and memorable.

Magra came into her own in the short story “Vengeance is Mine” and she’s never turned back. I’m pretty happy about that because it makes her a viable character with her own stories to tell.

This new story is a continuation of that. When the story comes out I’ll link it here on the blog for you.

Hope you like it. 🙂

In an upcoming story Magra Snowberry meets four horsemen. This can't end well.

“One Life Between Earth and Sky” published by The Western Online!

Hooray! My new Haxan story “One Life Between Earth and Sky” has just been published by The Western Online.Writing is always a bit hazy. It took me over a year to find the crux of this story and bring it to light.

This story is only 1500-words long and it took me over a year to write. This dovetails perfectly with Stephe Thornton, another of my writing friends, who tweeted yesterday whether quality or quantity is more important. I said quality without a doubt, and she thanked me.

It’s not for me to speak to the quality of this particular story. It’s not “better” because it took over a year to write. It took me a year because the story wasn’t ready to be written when I started it. Writing is like that sometimes, at least for me.

Anyway, this is a nice way to start the long weekend. Here’s the link to the story, and I hope you like it.

 

ONE LIFE BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY

 

 

 

 

Coasting Downhill

I finished reading my new novel Quaternity aloud.

This exercise was very helpful. Not only because I found some little mistakes, but I found places where it didn’t “sound” right. So I made the appropriate changes.

Truman Capote once said he wrote for the ear. There’s some truth in that, I think. Hearing the words read aloud brings the story into a new perspective for me. I’ve done this with parts of short stories, paragraphs, scenes. Never the entire novel. But this was something I decided to do a long time ago when and if I ever finished writing the novel.

I felt it was something necessary because I knew from the outset this would be a difficult novel to write. Since that was the case I figured I would have to go an extra mile to make sure it “sounded” right to the ear.

And, from what I can tell, it does.

All I have left is to write the synopsis and send it in to the publishers. Then I will read through the novel one last time, but that shouldn’t take long at all. It’s all downhill from here.

Whew!

How I Wrote My New Haxan Story “Rado”

I had what I consider an unusual amount of trouble writing this short story. It wasn’t the plot but how the voice was developing that I had so much trouble with.

I had never written a Haxan story that featured Jake Strop before so maybe that was part of the problem. I didn’t want him to come across as a clone of Marwood and he had to have his own voice and way of looking at things.

I started this story about two years ago, dropped it and came back to it from time to time. I knew there was something there worth working for and I think I finally found it. But this was one of the more difficult stories to write, I found. I’m glad it all came together for me, however.

Anyway, The Western Online has accepted it and now it’s up for everyone to read. Just clickie on the linkie below.

I hope you guys enjoy it. Thanks for listening! 🙂

 

“Rado” published by The Western Online

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