Hey all, this time out I’m letting a fellow weird western author take a stroll down the main street of Delirium Tremens while I kick back on the porch. Specifically, author Lincoln Crisler, who’s zombie novella WILD is out now from Damnation Books, the fine folks who publish my Merkabah Rider series. This is what DB has to say about it…
‘When Colonel Albert Waters, a controversial Civil War veteran, and his thirteen-year-old son Henry disappear from their El Paso, Texas home, Deputy Sheriff Kurt Kearney calls upon Matthias Jacoby, a strange newcomer, to help with his investigation. Word is, Jacoby’s handled a few cases like this before. Kearney and Jacoby form an uneasy alliance with Black Tom Catch, an infamous New Mexico rancher, cattle rustler and outlaw, and take off after the bandits they suspect kidnapped Waters.
Could the gunfighters have bitten off more than they can chew, however, when their search for the colonel reveals strong ties to black magic and blood sacrifice?’
I spoke with Lincoln about writing and about WILD. Here’s what we talked about.
EME: Tell me first about yourself, Lincoln.
LC: I’m twenty-eight years old, married with two daughters and a son and I’ve been in the Army for ten years. I’ve been to Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar for a year each. I like beer and cigars. And I write scary stuff.
EME: Hope this doesn’t come off as too personal, but I’ve always been curious about your nom de plume. Is Lincoln Crisler your given name?
It is my given name. “Crisler” is actually pronounced as though it were spelled “Crissler” and my mother’s maiden name (no shit) is Ford.
EME: As a father of three and a half myself, I’m usually forced to just drop into writing mode minuteman style whenever my youngest crashes. Do you have difficulty making time to sit down and write? What’s your prescribed method of dealing with that?
LC: It’s pretty easy for me to just jump on and do website maintenance, book reviews and promotional activities, but the actual writing? It’s easier when I’m deployed, honestly. By the time all my other obligations are dealt with, I have no energy left to write. If I can’t get it in before work or on my lunch break, it isn’t getting done that day. When I’m out of the Army in ten years I’ll be able to get up early or stay up late, but right now it isn’t an option, since I’m already doing that!
EME: Now let’s talk about WILD a little bit. Give us the gyst.
LC: WILD is loosely based on a real unsolved missing persons case from Old West El Paso. A prominent citizen and war hero disappeared with his son and was never seen again. I changed a few things around for artistic reasons, borrowed the names of some peripheral characters and added some black magic and zombies, a mysterious stranger and a former Army medic. There’s a bit of sleuthing, a touch of the supernatural and plenty of gunplay…something for everyone!
EME: What induced (possessed might be a better word) you to write a weird western story?
LC: I wanted to write about zombies and magic without using a worn-out modern setting and familiar modern horror tropes. When I was looking for fodder from that period of time, Colonel Fountain’s disappearance popped out at me. Unsolved mysteries make great beginnings for horror stories!
EME: I’m always intrigued by the appearance of obscure folk practices in dark fiction. In WILD you feature a hechichero. Tell me how you came across them.
LC: Google. I’m familiar with Southwestern American mystical practices least of any in the world (Jewish mysticism would have beat it out, but I’ve been staying on top of the Merkabah Rider series!). It’s a fair assumption to make that any civilization that believes in magic has good wizards and bad wizards. In the case of Mexican mysticism, these are curanderos and hechiceros, respectively. It was important to me not to take the easy way out and just use the standard “Evil Medicine Man.” I put entirely too much work into the plot and settings to take a step back like that. A little research usually ends up saving your ass.
EME: Another thing I like is the name dropping of obscure deities. Not being too familiar with the Aztec pantheon (but having always been interested in learning more), Tetzacatlipoca jumped out at me. Talk a little about this guy without giving too much away.
LC: Tezcatlipoca was a very important Aztec god, who is mentioned frequently alongside Quetzalcoatl in creation myths and such. He was associated with such things as magic, divination and temptation, which makes him a great choice for my hechicero’s patron. Again, I wanted to put in some extra effort instead of just having my bad guy “worship the Devil.”
EME: WILD came across like the beginning of something. Will we see more of Matthias Jacoby’s adventures? Will we learn more about his past?
LC: I left it open-ended as to whether there’ll be more Matthias. Early readers seem to like the book, so I’d be an idiot not to revisit him. I don’t know when or in what form I’ll come back to Matthias and Juan, though. I will say that Sherlock Holmes was an influence on WILD from the get-go, so there’ll probably be more mysteries. I also have a short story in mind featuring the origin of the zombie magic used in WILD; it won’t be set in the Wild West, however. And there might be some leftover zombies from Matthias’ adventure, so that might be good for a story, too!
EME: Where can folks pick up a copy of WILD?
LC: WILD is available in digital and paperback formats from Damnation Books, and there are still a few copies of the 26-copy lettered hardcover that I produced myself. More information on all of these, to include excerpts and reviews, can be found at http://lincolncrisler.info
That’s about all this time around. How about that cool cover from Ash Arcenaux too?