We’re heading west, the weird west, every Wednesday. Weird Western Wednesdays are devoted to the wonderful and often wild sub-genre of speculative fiction, weird westerns. Guest authors will contribute a posts discussing weird westerns.
Welcome Gail Martin to Pulp Reports.
Q: What is weird western? What makes it different from other genres?
A: There are probably a dozen different definitions, but for me a Weird Western is set in the American or Canadian West, conforms to some of the tropes of the Western genre (wide open spaces, lawmen, cowboys, six-guns, for example), may or may not be set in the ‘Old West’ time but should have a strong Western sense of place, and has strong, plot-centric elements of the supernatural. So that could be ‘cowboys and aliens’ or it could be someone encountering ghosts or magic or indigenous spirits. But whatever is encountered needs to be ‘weird’ in the eyes of the person having the encounter, and also be central to the plot/danger/conflict. So it’s different from regular Westerns because of the supernatural element. It’s different from alternative history or urban fantasy or steampunk or sci-fi because of the strong Western setting.
Q: Why do you write weird westerns? What do you enjoy about it? Love about it?
Two of the recurring characters in Iron and Blood, our steampunk novel, have a history with the army in the West during the 1880s, prior to when the novel occurs in 1898. So that was a natural tie-in to the anthology theme. I also grew up with a deep familiarity with the Old West and Native American lore because that was my father’s passion. I think there is a lot of opportunity to use the Weird Western setting to explore the ‘cowboy’ period in ways traditional Westerns have not—i.e. stories that show more of the true diversity of the time, including people of color, women in important roles, people of varying ages and socioeconomic status, First Nations peoples, and people with disabilities. All those people were in the real West, but when we limit our view to the John Wayne/Clint Eastwood stereotype, we overlook all those other rich stories.
Q:If you could be any weird western character, who would it be? Why?
Zoe, from Firefly! Because she can take care of herself.
Q: What’s next in terms of weird western fiction? Where does the genre go from here?
I think we’ve only begun to scratch the surface in terms of stories that don’t have a stereotypical male square-jawed protagonist. There’s certainly still room for those kinds of stories (and one of our Department of Supernatural Investigation agents certainly fits that role), but I think we’ll see more stories with different types of protagonists as well, and a more nuanced treatment of Native Americans/First Nations peoples, their history and their beliefs/traditions.
Q: How can readers get in touch with you? Social media shout outs
A: We’re pretty easy to find!
a. Twitter- @GailZMartin and @LNMartinAuthor
b. Facebook- Facebook.com/GailZMartin (profile) and Facebook.com/Winter Kingdoms (fan page)
c. Wattpad—Wattpad.com/Gail Z Martin
e. Goodreads—Goodreads.com/Gail Z Martin
f. Website-www.AscendantKingdoms.com g. Newsletter— http://bit.ly/1CF12Th or click through on our web page
My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine with every post. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www.AscendantKingdoms.com
Part of my Days of the Dead tour includes excerpt links like Trick or Treat goodies! Enjoy an excerpt from my urban fantasy novel DeadlyCuriosities here: http://bit.ly/1obkBAb and an excerpt from our steampunk novel Iron & Blood here: http://bit.ly/1GAvGOc and a link to my friend Laura Anne Gilman’s new weird Western Silver on the Road here: http://www.lauraannegilman.net/whats-in-print/devils-west/silver-road/sotr-preview/
Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.