Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Your Daily Ralph- A Few (More) Words with Mark Bousquet

Ralphs Rants does interviews:

A few (more) words with Mark Bousquet



Hi Mark, how are you? Its been a while since we chatted. It looks like youve been busy in the past half year or so, what can you tell us all about it?


Hi Ralph! Glad to be back. Its been an interesting, weird, fun, frustrating time, but right now, with the release of Gunfighter Gothic (Volume 2): Absinthe & Steam, everything is pretty darn great.


On the professional front, Ive termed out of my position in the English Department here at the University of Nevada, Reno, which means that even though Ive done outstanding work in my position (documented by student and departmental evaluations), the bylaws of the College say I cant keep my job, no matter how much my immediate bosses might want to keep me, or if Im better than any potential replacement. So its been a roller coaster of trying to find something else, which isnt so easy in a flooded academic job market right now, but all of that sounds worse than it is. Im not a woe-is-me guy, so anything that gets frustrating because it closes one avenue simply sends me looking for the next opportunity.


With all of that said, professional frustration has been good for my writing, as the need to escape daily pressures means Ive been a more frequent visitor to the worlds Ive created. Professional frustration leads to creative outburst, I guess. Ha.


Since January of this year, Ive published two full-length collections: Adventures of the Five: The Christmas Engine and Gunfighter Gothic, Volume 1: Under Zeppelin Skies. Ive also contributed stories to several Pro Se collections: To Love and Die, The Many Worlds of Ulysses King, and Rat-A-Tat: Short Bursts of Pulp.


The two heroines of your Weird West tales seem to be your favorite creations at the moment is that true?


Yes, definitely. I love Hanna and Jill. I love most of my characters to varying degrees, but Hanna and Jill are always a joy to write. More than any other character Ive created, they just take over whatever story theyre in. I keep wanting Gunfighter Gothic to be darker and creepier than it is, but they have such a positive outlook on the world that no matter the dark place I put them in, no matter the depravity of the villain they run across, theyre ready with a quip to make light of the absurdity of it all.


Heck, I dont even know if I can call it a weird western anymore, given this new collection of stories takes place in England.



What can you tell us about your newest adventure for the girls?


Absinthe & Steam sees them in England, trying to have a good time, and reborn Celtic gods and alien robots keep getting in the way. Under Zeppelin Skies was about their dual quests to kill personal (figurative) demons, and this time around theyve decided they dont want to go back to their old lives, so they stay in England as professional investigators of the weird. (As their calling card read, Gunfighter Gothic: We Shoot the Weird in the Face.


The themes of absinthe and steam run through this collection. The first story, Thanksgiving at the House of Absinthe & Steamsees them out having a good time at Londons trendiest new bar, and then pulled into the mad plans of a French botanist and how exactly hes been making these amazing new drinks. The second tale, God in the Steam,concentrates on the steam, as they encounter a Russian scientist whos been trying to meld human flesh and metal machine into a new form of life. The third story brings these two stories together and introduces two new characters, Lady Absinthe and Gentleman Steam, because I wanted a pair of occult detectives to inhabit this world.


For the two ladies, this time around sees them learning to live as professional partners. In their pre-Under Zeppelin Skies, Jill was a merchants daughter and Hanna was her servant, and the first collections was about the two women learning to become equals. This time around, its about figuring out what kind of partners they are.



Is their new adventure as eclectic and wild as the previous ones? It always reminded me in a way of the Wild, Wild West  but taken to the Nth power.


Thats a great description, Ralph. Do you remember the Jeff Mariotte comic, Desperadoes? I loved that comic, and when I started out writing Gothic, I wanted it to be like that, a big, serious western full of hard men and demented ghouls, but Hanna and Jill are just too much fun for that vision to have remained past the first story. Now, I see it more as my take on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., or what would happen if you took those characters and dropped them down into a horror plot. I wrote a tribute to Doctor Who for them, since the Doctor has been such a big influence (its called Rubber Suited Monstersand its available as an ebook only right now), so maybe its best to think of Gunfighter Gothic as taking any of the modern Doctors and dropping them down into the middle of Tom Bakers run.


This has really been a lesson in having your characters tell you what kind of stories they want to be in. I could force them to adhere to my original vision, but theyve already taken it someplace else. Do you trust your characters to take you someplace you didnt intend, or dont you? Ive let Hanna and Jill take me someplace unintended.


How many books are going to be in that series? Is it open ended, or do you have a definite ending in mind?


Hopefully, Ill be able to write them forever. The approach Im taking is that each collection will cover a month of their lives, give or take. Volume 2 is set in November and December, 1866. Volume 3 will be called Black Christmas, and will take us out of 1866 and into 1867. Theyre on this big tour of Europe and Asia right now, and probably wont make it back to the States until Volume 10 or so. Theyre having adventures, but theres room for other adventures in between my stories, in case I ever want to come back and write a story with them in England, again.


I have no idea what their ending will be or when it will happen; I figure theyll tell me when its time to ride into the sunset.


What about your series aimed at youngsters, Adventures of the Five? Anything new coming soon on that front?


Nothing until late 2015, at the earliest. Ive got so many other stories in more advanced stages and whenever I write The Five, it takes a lot out of me emotionally. I love those kids and I hate myself for putting them through such hell. My other kidsseries, Stuffed Animals for Hire, will have a new book out before 2014 is over. Im about 5,000 to 10,000 words from being finished with it.


What else do you have planned besides those two series this year?


Gunfighter Gothic (Volume 2): Absinthe & Steam is out now, and I might have as many as 4 other books out by the end of the year: volume 2 of Stuffed Animals for Hire (my kids espionage series), volume 2 of my cosmic series, the Deep (the universe where Harpsicord and the Wormhole Witches takes place), a new book of film reviews, Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies of 2013, and volume 3 of Gunfighter Gothic.


But as Ive said, Ive had such an outburst, Ive got 4 or 5 other novels percolating, and my Pro Se Single Shot series, The Disintegration of Dragons, will start sometime this fall, too.


Ive also been toying with the idea of stretching into the Way Back Machine and bringing my original characters from our shared MV1 days into the present. The main characters I created for my All Gods Children series have been some of my favorites, and Im getting the itch to disconnect them from their fanfic past and see what they can do on their own.


So, creatively, I feel like Im in an amazing place right now. Like so many of us, I wish I had the time to just sit and write all day.


Hrm that sounds like a good idea for a story a writer who robs banks so he can do nothing but write


Im also editing two collections, one set in my Dreamers Syndrome universe and another featuring a supernatural spin on the cozy detectivestories, edited by myself and Tom Deja.


You and I are finally in an anthology together, the recently released Rat-A-Tat Short blasts of pulp That was a fun book. Whatd you think of it?


I just got my copy of Rat-A-Tat today so I havent had a chance to dig into it, yet, but I love the idea. Im going to try to read a story a day, last thing at night or first thing in the morning. I created a new character for the anthology. Her name is Magpie Dark and shes a prisoner at a mental institution who never talks, except by mimicking things shes heard others say (hence, the magpie moniker). The Assistant Warden sends her out on these missions, and it remains to be seen whether hes doing this for good or ill, or just how much Magpie (not her real name, of course) is aware of whats happening. I wanted a character who did things but didnt reveal anything about herself in the process.


Are you planning on attending any Cons this year?


Im not. Thats something Id love to do in the future but its just not in the cards, right now.


So what are we going to see from you in 2015?


I wish I knew! I was having this conversation with someone the other day about how we plan our future projects and for me, theres not much advance planning, other than the fact that I want every other book (or every other third, at most) that I release to be a Gunfighter Gothic collection.


Ill give you an example - we have a planetarium here on the UNR campus and I stopped by the other day to watch a movie in their domed theater just to get out of the heat and see something on that curved roof. I watched a 45-minute short film about Saturn. I was the only one in the theater and the film was breaking down all the facts about Saturn and its rings and moons and I was just hit by the stray thought that as great as it is to know whats out there in the universe, I miss the kind of open-eyed speculation of the past. Its great that we know the moon isnt made of cheese or there arent any little green men on Mars, but its also great to let your imagination run wild.


As Im watching the film, Im thinking of how awesome it would be to write a kids series that operated on that kind of wild speculation and fantasy where fire people lived on Mercury and vast civilizations lived in the clouds of Saturn.


When I got home, I fired up the MacBook and banged out 3,000 words about a monkey and a robot setting up just that kind of story. I do this often - just get down the opening to a story and let it sit for awhile - and sometimes I go back to them and sometimes I dont and sometimes they end up taking over my writing schedule.


Mark, its always a pleasure to chat with you. Thanks for participating once more and feel free to leave some links to where our readers can purchase your rather excellent novels.


 Thanks, Ralph! Always a pleasure. If people are so inclined, I welcome them to check out any of the following:


My personal website: themarkbousquet.com, which focuses on travel writing and keeps people up to date on my fiction projects.


The Gunfighter Gothic website: gunfightergothic.com


Atomic Anxiety, my review site: atomicanxiety.com


Big Orange Toy Box, my site for my kidsbooks: bigorangetoybox.com


Also, people are welcome to follow me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/mark_bousquet) and Instagram (http://instagram.com/mark_bousquet).


And, of course, I would be thrilled for folks to check out my Amazon Authors Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Bousquet/e/B004WWUTNU.


Take care, my friend!


You too buddy! Thanks again!

No comments:

Post a Comment