eSpec Books interviews Emily Lavin Leverett, – co-editor of The Weird Wild West edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret McGraw. Check out our Kickstarter campaign at http://kck.st/1udizgM:
What is your favorite western movie and why? Tombstone with Kurt Russel. The first because I just loved it when I was younger. There was something about it that stuck with me. Favorite line: “Where’s Wyatt?” (Reply from) Doc Holiday (fabulously played by Val Kilmer) “Down by the creek, walkin’ on the water.” Wyatt had just avoided been shot by a bunch of outlaws when he’d run out into the middle of a creek, out of cover, to shoot them. Two runners up: The Outlaw Josey Wales with Clint Eastwood. My father loved this film, so anytime it was on when I was kid, we’d watch it. High Plains Drifter with Clint Eastwood. Way dark film about vengeance and personal responsibility. When the devil comes to town to get pay back for what you’ve done, you better expect Hell. Indeed, the “drifter” (never given a name) comes to a town and helps them get ready to defend the town against three outlaws coming back to it from jail. They agree to do everything he requests, and that includes painting the town (literally) red. The members of the town (except two, a dwarf and a woman) allowed the men to beat the town’s Marshall to death with whips in the street, and then they buried him in an unmarked grave. If that doesn’t bring vengeance down in a one-horse town, what will? The film is deeply problematic in several ways (including rape), but it still is compelling, especially since the *why* unfolds over the course of film, so for most of the time, the town’s secret is hidden from the audience.
Who would you say is your wild west role model and why? I’d answer Clint Eastwood again, but that would be redundant. I think my current role model is the nameless Driver in Drive (Ryan Gosling). At first glance, this film about a get away driver taking a stand in defense of a married woman he’s fallen in love with, doesn’t seem like a western. But it has got all the classic genre elements: new guy comes to town (new apartment complex); guy just wants to do his job and leave; town (the woman) needs his help; he protects those that can’t protect themselves; he kills a bunch of subordinates; there’s a “gun fight” with the bad guy at the end; he drives off into the sunset. The fact that he loves a married woman, and doesn’t interfere with her marriage, and tries to help her husband, all sets up the “drifter” idea. Plus, like Clint Eastwood in his westerns, Gosling has no name, and rarely speaks. The guy is just the epitome of badass cool. Sure, rather than a horse, he’s got a car, but in the end, the movie is a total western.
What interested you in working on this project? Two things interested me about the project. The first is the people working on it. I really enjoy hanging out with Misty and Margaret, and so I was thrilled to have a chance to work with them. Second, was that I’m pretty unfamiliar with the genre. I loved the idea of westerns, but I haven’t encountered many in Spec-Fic, so this gives me a chance to explore something totally new. Misty has discussed her own weird western project with me, and it sounds so exciting! So my interest came from wanting to expand my horizons and read and work with something new!
Describe your idea of a weird western chuck wagon meal. Chuck wagon meals always happen around campfires, so for a weird western one, the first element that needs to be something other than normal is the fire. Perhaps a faux fire on a spaceship—that is, people can’t really have open flame, so a screen shows a crackling fire in the desert. And the food. Chuck wagon food is, well, terrible. Things that keep, like salted jerky and beans. Dwarf bread? Lembas like Tolkien? But most important, are the stories. People travelling via caravan or stagecoach (Stagecoach that’s another great western with John Wayne) didn’t know each other. Strangers thrown together because they’re all trying to get somewhere. This group dynamic brings out leaders, followers, natural allies and enemies. Their stories, why they’re going where they’re going, are crucial. A weird western chuck wagon would have all kinds, from the witch pretending she wasn’t, to the outlaw trying to stay ahead of the marshal.
Which Wild West archetype (Gambler, Outlaw, Saloon Girl, School Marm, Railroad Man, Pioneer, Cowboy, Lawman or Indian) would you chose to be and why? I’d be a lawman (lawwoman). But only barely. The idea of a lawwoman on the frontier, out on my own, the only thing standing between settlers, pioneers, and other vulnerable folks and really scary bad guys, is just awesome. Who doesn’t want to be that kind of hero? I’d have a Saloon Guy in every town, and ride off into the sunset, never staying long in one place. Just me and whatever weird western thing passed for my horse. Maybe a giant cat? A great spaceship?
What are some of your own works readers can look for? I’ve edited The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil Volume 1 and my short stories have appeared in a few places, including Flash Fiction Online.
What projects of your own do you have coming up? The Big Bad: Volume II comes out soon from Dark Oak Press. I’ve also got a story, “The Last Two People on Earth” in Athena’s Daughters II.
How can readers find out more about you? Readers are welcome to check out my blog: emilyleverett.blogspot.com
Emily Lavin Leverett is a fantasy, sci-fi, and (occasional) horror writer from North Carolina. Her works have appeared in Flash Fiction Online and Drafthorse: A Journal of Work and No Work, and will appear in Summer 2015 in Athena’s Daughters II from Silence in the Library Press. She also edits, with short story collections including The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil and Big Bad IIwith John Hartness, from Dark Oak Press. She freelance edits as well. When not writing or editing, she also is a Professor of Medieval English Literature at a small college in Fayetteville. She teaches English literature including Chaucer and Shakespeare, as well as teaching composition and grammar. Medieval studies, especially medieval romance, heavily influence her work. When neither writing nor teaching, she’s reading novels, short stories, and comic books or watching television and movies with her spouse and their cats.
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