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Friday, February 1, 2013

GUEST POST: The Route To Golgotha by R. S. Belcher

The idea behind my novel, The Six-Gun Tarot, began quite a while back and it began not with a specific character, but with the notion of the town of Golgotha itself. Let me see if I can give you a map to how I found Golgotha, Nevada. Fair warning it’s not a straight route.

I love westerns; I loved them as a kid. I remember playing at being The Lone Ranger and The Rifleman (an old 60’s TV show I saw in reruns with Chuck Connors) and Trinity. “Trinity” was a knock-off of the Sergio Leone “spaghetti westerns” starring Clint Eastwood and I made their acquaintance as a kid at the drive-in ( “My Name is Trinity”, “Trinity is Still my Name”, you get the idea…) before I was introduced to Mr. Leone and Mr. Eastwood’s superior brand of frontier melodrama. Not that I cared one bit as a kid about superior- Trinity was fun! Played by Terence Hill, Trinity was a little funnier and more of a smart ass as compared to Eastwood’s Man with No Name- who was just pretty much primal bad-ass.

Thinking back on it now, some of the genesis of Golgotha is in Eastwood’s almost supernatural archetypal gunslinger. His character was more like a force, than a man in several films- especially in films like “High Plains Drifter” and “Pale Rider”. Part of the seed for Sheriff Jon Highfather, in “Six-Gun Tarot”, comes from Eastwood’s 1968 western- “Hang ‘Em High”. I think “High Plains Drifter” was the first time I had ever seen the western genre used to evoke an eerie, almost supernatural and surreal mood. I loved it. The idea of an isolated town in the middle of this hellish desert full of half-crazy people, cooked for a long time in my brain.

Another inspiration that led me to Golgotha was David Lynch and Mark Frost’s “Twin Peaks” Television show. The idea of, again, an isolated community where everyone had secrets inside of secrets was very appealing to me and the concept stuck. “Twin Peaks” had murders, inhuman evil spirits, extra-dimensional lodges, giants, dwarves, secret societies, sexy women and damn good pie!

H.P. Lovecraft is also obviously a huge source of inspiration for The Six-Gun Tarot. Lovecraft’s works almost universally include a powerful sense of isolation, of secret little communities and towns dotting the globe where secrets and primordial powers lurk. His work influenced me a great deal. I think it’s safe to say there are very few writers in the fields of fantasy and horror who Lovecraft didn’t influence to some degree.

There are smatterings of other influences I can pull out of the air —Robert Parker, Ambrose Bierce (who may make an appearance in a future Golgotha novel), Larry McMurtry, Tony Hillerman, Mary Shelley, Steven King’s “Salem’s Lot”. Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles” comic book series (by DC/Vertigo) and Alan Moore’s “Swamp Thing” Comic series were also invaluable for warping my young, impressionable mind. You throw all that into my addled brain and shake well, and often, and you eventually get the base components for the Six Gun Tarot. Give or take a few...

I started on the book in a very different form in 2000. At that point the gateway character was the sheriff crossing the desert and ending up in Golgotha and taking on the mantle of the town’s law man. It didn’t work well at all and I put the idea and notes away. In 2007, I went back to work on the idea again, this time with the gateway character of Jim Negrey and his trek across the 40-Mile Desert. 

One of the things that developed while writing Six-Gun, was I started out with the premise that the majority of the town folk in Golgotha had some kind of secret, and many of them were supernatural. I wanted the town to be a magnet for the best and worst kind of people in the world. Many of the characters in Six-Gun Tarot, like Clay and Harry, owe their larger roles in the book to how much I liked them as I fleshed out their secrets and how much potential I saw in them as characters. So the town actually played a huge part in the how the characters and the story developed. All roads lead to Golgotha!

The blending of genres in “The Six-Gun Tarot” really came from the same twisted process as my writing. I didn’t set out to write a multi-genre mash-up. I set out to write a book that I thought would be fun for the reader, about things I think are cool and interesting. I classified it, while writing it, as a historical horror story. But looking back now, I can see where people see steampunk, and fantasy and a lot of the other elements that are being discussed. I swear all I was trying to do was write my book, my way and enjoy it. I hope people enjoy the book as much as I did writing it!

Thank you for letting me prattle on today. I like feedback and I can be contacted a bunch of different ways: You can reach me at, or on FaceBook through Author RS Belcher or the Six-Gun Tarot FB page. Thanks again for this great opportunity to chat on your blog.

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Six Gun Tarot
Read Qwill's interview with R. S. Belcher

AUTHOR INFORMATION: R. S. (Rod) Belcher is an award-winning newspaper and magazine editor and reporter. He has been a freelance writer for over a decade. He has written for local, state and international publications. He was born and brought in Virginia and has spent majority of his life in the old dominion.

Rod has previously worked as a private investigator, a DJ, a comic book and game store owner and also has degrees in criminal law, psychology and justice and risk administration, from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has done Masters work on a degree in Forensic Science at The George Washington University, as well as worked with the Occult Crime Taskforce for the Virginia General Assembly’s State Crime Commission.

His short story won the grand prize in a Star Trek strange New Worlds Anthology contest and hence was published in the Star Trek Strange New Worlds 9 anthology. Another short story of his was also published in the horror anthology “Deep Cuts”. He currently lives in Roanoke Virginia with his family and their pets. This is his debut.

NOTE: Author picture courtesy of David Hungate (Dominion Images) and the author. Hang 'em High picture courtesy of Swamp Thing cover image courtesy of


Unknown said...

I love the idea of the Six Gun Tarot - it seems like such a weird mix of genres it sounds like it'll be a hell of a fun read :


The Reader said...

Hi Jamie

It is indeed a fun read ith a wild mix of genres and storylines. As you read in the review, Cindy & me liked it a lot. Looking forward to your thoughts on it.


Jen Greyson said...

What a great mashup. Definitely putting this on my TBR pile.

Unknown said...

It's a very good series. i can't wait for the next book.


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