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Friday, April 6, 2018

Interview with R. S. Belcher (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order The Night Dahlia HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Six-Gun Tarot
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Shotgun Arcana
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Nightwise
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Brotherhood Of The Wheel
Read The Route To Golgotha by R. S. Belcher (Guest Post)

R.S. Belcher is a favorite of Cindy and mine over here at Fantasy Book Critic. With his Golgotha books, Rod manages to mix in a crazy mix of genres combined with epic characterization. Today with the release of his newest book The Night Dahlia, R. S. Belcher stops by to talk about his newest series and the characters within.

Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic Rod, you have been a particular favorite of ours since Cindy & I read and enjoyed Six Gun Tarot. Could you please introduce yourself, tell us what inspired you to write in the first place, and describe your journey to becoming a published author.

RSB: Thanks so much for interviewing me on your site. I've been writing for a living for 17 years, writing as a journalist in 2001. I sold my first major fiction piece, a Star Trek story to Simon and Schuster, in 2006. My first novel, the Six-Gun Tarot, was purchased by Tor Books in 2010, and released in early 2013. Since then, I haven't looked back. I've enjoyed writing since I was a kid and wrote for many years just for pleasure. I can't believe how fortunate I am to do something I love so much for a living.

Q] For someone who hasn't read any of your novels, how would you describe the type of stories that you write? What would be your elevator pitch for the Nightwise Series, The Brotherhood of The Wheel series, & the Golgotha saga?

RSB: The Nightwise series is a NC-17 Noir Fantasy, darker and more cynical than a lot of Urban Fantasy with a protagonist that is more villain than hero. He moves through a dark, dangerous, and erotic occult underworld that exists just out of sight of our modern world.

The Brotherhood of the Wheel series is Southern-fried Urban Fantasy, mixed with horror and urban myth. It's a world where a secret society of truckers, bikers, and others who live and work on the highways of America protect the unwary from the supernatural and real-world horrors that exist just beyond your headlights.

The Golgotha series is historical fantasy, a genre mash-up of Weird Western, Horror, and Steampunk set in the town of Golgotha, Nevada where supernatural forces lurk around every corner and everyone in the town has a secret.


Q] I can never gush enough about the Golgotha saga, I love its wild mix of genres, characters, mythologies and history. Can you talk about its inception and how you plan to take the series forward after the three books you have written so far?

RSB: Thank you! I loved westerns as a kid and wanted to take the traditional western genre and turn it on its head. I had the idea for about a decade before I sat down and began to write the first novel, Six-Gun-Tarot. As I write this, I'm finishing up the manuscript for the fourth Golgotha book, which has a working title of The Ghost Dance War. I have the next Golgotha book after this one plotted out as well, and I'm hoping I will get to keep working on the series for a long time. I still have a lot of Golgotha stories I hope to tell. I also hope to have some exciting Golgotha news soon, but I'm afraid it has to wait for now, though.

Q] Let’s talk about the Nightwise world, you have some fine noir influences mixed in with intriguing horror touches. I really enjoyed both those genres. What were some of your influences in creating these books & the world within?

RSB: I'm a huge fan of detective fiction, especially Robert B. Parker's Spenser series as well as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett's work. The inspiration for Nightwise and The Night Dahlia came from them, as well as a desire to really push the boundaries of Urban Fantasy and do some things with characters and world building that would challenge me as a writer and challenge my readers.

Q] Focusing upon Laytham Ballard. He clearly goes beyond the anti-hero trope and in his own words, he’s a villain plain and simple. What lead to his creation and what was the thought process?

RSB: The aforementioned desire to push limits led to some of the genesis of Laytham Ballard. In full disclosure I feel a lot of kinship with Ballard. He's autobiographical in some ways. I wanted a protagonist that would be hard for my readers to call a good guy, but I try to make him human enough that they recognize and maybe even empathize with his struggles. For some readers it works, for others, not so much, but I'm very proud that Ballard is a fully-realized character and I think readers will see more of his origins and his struggles in Night Dahlia and grow to like the S.O.B even more.

Q] Let’s talk about the chronological timeline of the books? Nightwise—>The Brotherhood Of The Wheel—>The Night Dahlia. Is that correct? How much time separates each title from the other?

RSB: In the new edition of Nightwise that came out in January, there is a new Ballard short story in the back, called The Wire Mother, set in the 80's, next up is the Nightwise novel, set a few years later, then Brotherhood of the Wheel takes place after Nightwise, then the Night Dahlia, out April 3rd, takes place and finally (to date), the sequel to Brotherhood, King of the Road, hits stores December 31st and takes place around a year after Brotherhood and probably around the same time as Night Dahlia. I try very hard to make each book stand-alone, so you can read one without having to read the others. That does get a bit harder the further into the series you get, but that is my goal.

Q] When you started out, did you have an overall plan for the Nightwise/BOTW series, such as a specific number of books to be written? How much of the plot do you plan out? Or to quote George R.R. Martin, “are you a Gardener or an Architect” when it comes to your writing? 

RSB: I'm a mix of gardener and architect. I have found myself doing a bit more architect stuff lately as the series get a bit more complex and my speed of writing has increased, but often as I write, the story and the characters head off into some interesting places on their own that I never expected them to. I really value that organic flow of the story and the characters. It's a kind of alchemy that makes writing so much more fun. I do think it's a kind of magic and I love that aspect.

Q] Let’s talk about the future of the books set in the Nightwise world. Can you reveal how many books do you plan featuring Laytham & the Brotherhood?

RSB: I have some ideas for story arcs for Brotherhood and for Nightwise, along several more books. I know what I want to do for Brotherhood after King of the Road, and it's a very exciting and creepy idea. One idea I have a pretty good outline for a “cross-over” story that would be across a book in each series. I also have requests I get from readers for a few spin-off book/ series based on other characters in the series. I'm plotting out a book about the Memphis Mafia and their leader from Brotherhood of the Wheel that might make a good series of its own. At some point I think it's best to put a series to bed before the quality goes south, but right now I'd love to keep writing both series. If people enjoy the books, let my publisher know, and support them with reviews and, of course, sales.

Q] One person whom you have consistently thanked is your editor Greg Cox. Can you talk to us how instrumental he has been with your writing? Can you give us some examples?

RSB: Greg Cox is my editor at Tor Books. He purchased my first novel, the Six-Gun Tarot, and was instrumental in making it so much better than it was to begin with. Greg is an amazing and prolific author as well as being a consummate editor. He's helped me so many times, and in so many ways, to make each book better. He's patient, easygoing, but thorough and dedicated to his craft. I once had a friend and colleague of Greg's message me to basically tell me how lucky I was to have him as my editor. I wholeheartedly agreed with him. I feel very fortunate to know Greg as a friend, and to work with him professionally.

Q] Tell us a little bit about the research you undertook before attempting to write the Nightwise/BOTW books. What were the things you focused upon? Were there any fascinating things that you found amidst your research?

RSB: I love research, I'm pretty much always researching some crazy thing or another. For Brotherhood of the Wheel, I've read a fascinating book on the development of the highway system and how it relates to socio-economic development, or detriment, as well as how it influenced serial killers since the highway's inception. A ton of urban myths. Trucker tall tales, Oh, and for King of the Road I researched Juggalo mysticism, One-percent biker gang organizational charts...and killer clowns.

For Nightwise and Night Dahlia so much weird stuff, just crazy shit. Drugs, so many occult traditions and magic spells, BDSM, secret societies, the porn industry...and the evil Buddhism. Did I mention how much I love my job?

Q] In closing, do you have any last thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

RSB: To everyone who's taken the time to read the books, support them, recommend them to friends and customers and to send me such kind messages, thank you so much. I can't even begin to find the words to tell you how much your support means to me. Thank you, I'm lucky to have readers like you.

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