Guy Adams, author of the brand new weird west novel, The Good, the Bad and the Infernal (and much more!), was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the new book, and much more, so please welcome him to the blog!
Your brand new book, The Good, The Bad and The Infernal, just came out this week! Will you tell us a bit about it and what inspired the novel?
It’s the first in a trilogy of weird westerns known as Heaven’s Gate. The name of which is stolen from the infamous 1980 movie from Michael Cimino, such a titanic flop it nearly destroyed its studio! This is not just tempting fate, it’s poking it in the eye, stealing its drink and calling its girlfriend ugly.
The idea has actually been with me for years but it took me a long time to get to a point when I thought I could make it work. It involves a legendary town that appears once every hundred years or so, in different places all over the world, existing only for one day. The town holds a door to the afterlife. For twenty four hours you can walk into Heaven or Hell without having to die first. If you’re lucky you might even be able to walk out again.
This first book follows the journey of several strange, often unsavoury, characters as they try and track down where the town is due to appear. You have a group of outlaws from a freak show; a religious order; a travelling preacher with his false messiah; a bank clerk and an ancient gunslinger with an axe to grind. Not all of them will make it.
I suppose you could think of it as BRIGADOON as directed by Sergio Leone.
As for inspiration: a long-held love of Spaghetti Westerns. The Italians, like me, took a genre that they couldn’t geographically lay claim to and turned it into something fantastical, grotesque and yet beautiful.
Did you do any particular research for the novel?
Despite it’s fantastical leanings I’ve tried to also ensure it’s historically accurate so that involved a fair amount of reading. No doubt I’ve screwed up hopelessly somewhere or another but I certainly tried to avoid doing so. Outside of the nuts and bolts of my setting it’s all about the atmosphere. Whenever I’m working on a book I try and immerse myself in movies, novels or music that evoke that atmosphere. I own an inordinate quantity of Spaghetti Westerns and for some time I watched little else, not actively lifting anything from them (at least I don’t think so!) just getting my spurs on. Like a man reading a guidebook before he goes on holiday. I also listen to a hell of a lot of Ennio Morricone, but then I often do.
The book is set in the Wild (and weird) West. Are there any particular westerns that you looked to (movie or book) for inspiration?
The seminal movies for me are Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy, particularly THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY which, alongside ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, I consider moviemaking at its very height, regardless of genre. Corbucci’s DJANGO is a solid touchstone too, as well as his grim THE GREAT SILENCE, both of which influence elements of the novel.
The book certainly wears these influences on its sleeve, every single chapter title is also the name of a Spaghetti Western!
In general, what have been some of the biggest influences in your writing?
I think most writers are sponges, we’re always soaking something up from somewhere.
In many ways my biggest early influence was probably comics rather than prose, I love the expansive ‘anything goes’ attitude you find in that medium. Nobody thinks twice about mixing up genres and letting stories run wild.
My reading tastes are extremely eclectic, from P.G. Wodehouse to Stephen King, Agatha Christie to Neil Gaiman.
Music also plays a big part, I like sounds that evoke atmospheres. I’m less interested in pretty songs as I am aural worlds. Morricone, Tom Waits, Radiohead (particularly their modern stuff, so there), David Bowie.
You know, I think everything influences me one way or the other…
What do you love most about writing fantasy?
You can talk about small things in a big way and vice versa. I think we can say interesting things about reality by looking at through fantasy. Your scope is limitless, absolutely anything is possible, all you have to do is convince the reader of the fact, which is part of the fun.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Luckily I have a lousy memory. I read Michael Marshall Smith’s ONLY FORWARD every few years and always end up being surprised by it. Clive Barker’s IMAJICA too. Perhaps I should go for Agatha Christie’s THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD for reasons that only those who have read the book will know (and if you don’t know then don’t try to find out).
I noticed you’ve adapted a few Hammer horror films into novels. Do you consider yourself a horror fan? What did you enjoy most about the project?
Certainly, there’s always a seam of horror in my work too. I love horror as a genre, more so than fantasy probably (though I rarely think in terms of genre I just like what I like…) It’s rich, subversive, energising and thrilling.
I’m also a huge Hammer anorak so the chance to work on the range was real ‘dream come true’ stuff.
The most enjoyable element of those books was probably the freedom I was given. KRONOS, the first, is pretty close to Brian Clemen’s original CAPTAIN KRONOS movie but the second two, HANDS OF THE RIPPER and COUNTESS DRACULA take a very sideways look at the originals. Hammer Books (and Hammer Films behind them) were interested in shifting the period settings of the movies so HANDS OF THE RIPPER shifts from the Edwardian era to present day. COUNTESS DRACULA is transplanted to thirties Hollywood, they forgive you anything there but getting old.
The original movies will always be there so why do a straight ‘cover version’? The stories are extremely similar, they’re still very much rooted in the movies they’re based on but it was fun being able to bring something fresh to them.
When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I particularly enjoy slipping off my shoes, pouring myself a glass of something strong and then sitting back to remember what it was like to have spare time. I’m a terribly busy chap.
What’s next for you this year and beyond?
I have a new series of novels coming from Titan Books called DEADBEAT, the first of which MAKES YOU STRONGER is out in the summer. They’re a strange, sometimes humourous but sometimes not, blend of pulp crime, horror and fantasy.
Then in the autumn Del Rey UK are publishing the first in another new series of books called THE CLOWN SERVICE, horror/espionage thrillers, that I am inordinately excited about.
Alongside that I’m chipping away at my attempts to forge a career in comics, I’m a regular writer on Madefire’s THE ENGINE with art by Jimmy Broxton. He and I are also cooking up a number of other projects together, one of which GOLDTIGER, a fake newspaper strip from the 1960s will have just finished as a project on Kickstarter by the time this runs. God knows if it will have funded or not. How nice it must be, there in the future, to know these things for sure. Back here it’s keeping me awake at night.
Keep up with Guy: Website | Twitter
About THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE INFERNAL:
“You wish to meet your God?” the gunslinger asked, cocking his revolver, “well now… that’s easy to arrange.”
Every one hundred years a town appears. From a small village in the peaks of Tibet to a gathering of mud huts in the jungles of South American, it can take many forms. It exists for twenty-four hours then vanishes once more, but for that single day it contains the greatest miracle a man could imagine: a doorway to Heaven.
It is due to appear on the 21st September 1889 as a ghost town in the American Midwest. When it does there are many who hope to be there: traveling preacher Obeisance Hicks and his simple messiah, a brain-damaged Civil War veteran; Henry and Harmonium Jones and their freak show pack of outlaws; the Brothers of Ruth and their sponsor Lord Forset (inventor of the Forset Thunderpack and other incendiary modes of personal transport); finally, an aging gunslinger who lost his wings at the very beginning of creation and wants nothing more than to settle old scores.
A weird western, a gun-toting, cigarrillo-chewing fantasy built from hangman’s rope and spent bullets. The West has never been wilder.