Published on Monday, June 14, 2010
with Eric S. Brown
Horror writer Eric S. Brown granted an interview to The Western Online. His recently released book, How the West Went to Hell is available on amazon.com.
The Western Online: You are a well established Horror writer. Is this your first foray into the Western genre? If so, why?
Eric S. Brown: No. My novella collection, Season of Rot, from Permuted Press, which was nominated for a Dead Letter Award, contained a zombie western entitled "Dead West". I have also written numerous horror western horror and zombie tales over the years. There's a great Civil War one in Unabridged Unabashed and Undead: The Best of Eric S Brown that focuses on Northern agents battling planet zombies in the South. I also have a post apocalyptic western book, The Weaponer, due out later this year from Coscom Entertainment. As to why, I did How the West Went to Hell and write horror western stuff, I love Louis L'Amour's work and have been a fan of the western genre since I was kid. Things that mix the western with other genres like Joss Whedon's Firefly or indie movies like The Burrowers have always appealed to me as well. How the West Went to Hell is like a Jonah Hex adventure from the days where Joe R. Lansdale was writing the legendary gunfighter for DC Comics.
Eric: How the West Went to Hell is the tale of a New York book editor, a gunfighter, a gambler, a barkeeper and his daughter, and a new sheriff trying to stop a zombie like virus from destroying the world. It's a gun-toting, six-gun blazing tip of the hat to both the Horror and Western genres.
TWO: In what ways is your book a story that readers of The Western Online would enjoy?
Eric: I read a LOT of L'amour and Ralph Compton as well as re-read Joe R. Lansdale's classic "Dead in the West" before starting this project. I tried hard to make it as real of a western as I could and truly develop the characters to the point of where the reader really cares about them. If you like Old West action with a twist, this is the book for you.
TWO: A lot of writers are mixing the Western with other genres these days. Why do you think that is?
Eric: The western is a timeless genre. It's also American to its core (of course!). With big films like Jonah Hex coming this summer and the rebirth of the genre in the world of comics, I think it's a natural thing to be happening. I don't really know why but I am certainly glad for it.
TWO: What is it about Westerns that allows for the blending of other genres?
Eric: The western is a limitless as the zombie genre. You can do almost anything in the Old West from exploring the spiritual realms of the Native Americans, to the darkness of the Civil War, to completely off the wall Steampunk stuff like in The Wild, Wild West.
TWO: What format do you prefer your Westerns, written or visual? (novels, short stories or movies, television) Can you name two of your all-time favorite Westerns and tell us why?
Eric: I like the western in all its forms! From John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, to novels, to comics like Jonah Hex. My two favorites to date would be "Dead in the West" by Lansdale because it's the PERFECT blend of the western genre with the world of horror and my direct inspiration for How the West Went to Hell. And Jonah Hex. I have read Jonah Hex since I was a kid. To me, Jonah is the greatest comic western character who's ever been created.
TWO: What are some of your writing influences?
Eric: H.P. Lovecraft and George Romero would be the big ones in terms of Horror. David Drake, the king of military SF, is also another big one for me. Drake's work is amazing and very real because he did serve in the military in Vietnam. And all of DC and Marvel Comics. I am a walking storage unit of DC and Marvel lore.
TWO: The Western and all of its sub-genres seem to have endless appeal in today's culture and it's even seeing a bit of a resurgence. Why do you think that is?
Eric: I don't know but I believe it's a very good thing.
TWO: With the world now connected by the Internet, how do see the contributions of web sites like The Western Online in that Western resurgence?
Eric: I think they play a huge part and help push the rebirth of the Western along. The resurgence of Zombies from horror jokes to being one of two of America's favorite monsters started the same way with the indie world pushing it into the mainstream and showing the genre still had life.
Eric S Brown lives in NC with his wife and son. He has been called "the king of the zombies" by places like Dread Central and featured as an expert on the zombie genre in books like Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead and the upcoming Extreme Halloween.
Some of his numerous books include War of the Worlds Plus Blood Guts and Zombies (slated for re-release by Simon and Schuster in 2010), Season of Rot, Bigfoot War, and World War of the Dead to name only a few.
Some of his upcoming releases include Undead Down Under, The Weaponer, The Human Experiment, Brethren of the Dead, Anti-Heroes (with David Dunwoody), as well as his first comic book "Agent Death and the Angels".
His short fiction has been published hundreds of times in magazines and anthologies like The Undead I & II, Zombology I & II, Dead Worlds I, II, III, & V, Dead Science, The Blackest Death I & II, Dead History, The Best of House of Horror 2009, Creature Features, Letters from the Dead, and such upcoming books as The Zombist, Gentlemen of Horror 2010, Monster Mash, and Undead Kansas.
He also writes an ongoing comic book column for Abandoned Towers Magazine which won "Best Nonfiction 2009" in the Preditor and Editor Awards.
Eric is planning on writing a traditional Western novel sometime in the near future.