eSpec Books interviews Scott Hungerford, contributor to The Weird Wild West edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw.
eSB: What is your favorite western movie and why?
SH: As a guilty pleasure, I have to say that it’s the Quick and the Dead, a western directed by Sam Raimi. The cinematography just makes me happy, as it recreated Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns in a classic Raimi style. It doesn’t compare to any of the John Wayne classics, but it is the first western I bought and still own on DVD.
eSB: What does the wild frontier mean to you?
SH: Not as much as unclaimed as unexplored, to me the frontier implies a sense of space, a sense of isolation and freedom that is unlike anything you’ll find on a quick weekend vacation. It’s a place where the only rules are your own personal limitations, set within an often beautiful, unforgiving landscape that lets no small mistake go unanswered.
eSB: Who would you say is your Wild West role model and why?
SH: From watching a lot of television growing up, I would like to say that James T. West from the Wild Wild West is my natural choice… but at the end of the day it’s really Artemus Gordon. His use of disguise and gadgets to help beat the bad guys inspired a lot of the gadgety aspects of my steampunk fiction and helped flesh out a number of the game products I’ve worked on in the past.
eSB: What would you say is required reading for fans of Weird Wild West fiction?
SH: Maplecroft by Cherie Priest is my first thought, as well as Boneshaker, another book by the same author that is one of my favorites in the genre of the weird.
eSB: What interested you in working on this project?
SH: While I grew up in Downtown Seattle, without much interaction with anything bigger than alley cats or stray pigeons, a good friend of mine started taking me to state fairs about ten years ago. With those day trips came the chance to see bull-riding exhibitions, to watch some of the bravest men I’ve ever seen doing their best to last eight seconds atop a thousand-pound bucking bull. This last year, I had the privilege to see the PBR World Finals for all four days in Las Vegas, to watch the best in the sport doing what they do best at the risk of their own lives with every ride. It was during this time that I got the raw idea for the short story. When a friend let me know about the Weird Wild West anthology, I knew that I had found the perfect venue for the tale!
eSB: How do you research to capture that western feel?
SH: I had the good luck to attend the Professional Bull Riding championships this last year. While spending a week in Las Vegas with showgirls and slot machines didn’t exactly give me a deeper understanding of western culture, in talking to folks in the stands, including my ninety-year old seatmate who worked as a woodcarver for his entire life, I got a really good idea of what makes someone from that culture tick. Hard work, maximum effort, telling the truth to others and oneself, and to never, ever surrender even when faced with impossible odds.
eSB: Which Wild West archetype (Gambler, Outlaw, Saloon Girl, School Marm, Railroad Man, Pioneer, Cowboy, Lawman or Indian) would you chose to be and why?
SH: My auntie Leila is to blame, as she taught me how to play blackjack, poker, and cribbage when I was just five years old. I’ve always been the gambler hooked on luck, taking risks on long odds, especially during my twenty year career as a game designer working on everything from Magic: the Gathering to Marvel and Disney products.) While I’m not one to leap into trouble every time it presents itself, I really enjoy finding ways to beat the odds, especially when the chips are stacked against me or the teams that I’m a part of.
eSB: Have you written/created anything else in a weird western vein? Please tell us about it.
SH: One of my core novel plots involves the iconic trickster god, Raven, trying to save his daughter from being turned into a vampire. During their journey to find the cure, they have to travel on a haunted riverboat that sails the currents of the Mississippi, even to the point of cutting through the boundaries of time itself to make its way from port to port. Raven first boarded the boat as a carpetbagger back in the 1800’s looking for a good poker game – and the legacy of that cursed journey, and the love affair that began on that trip, still haunts him to the current day.
eSB: What are some of your own works readers can look for?
SH: While I’ve written a dozen novels over the last ten years or so, a number of which are currently in query to agents and editors, I have three e-books for sale up on Amazon. The first is a Steampunk-Victoriana romp named The Fire Cage involving a young inventory fighting against a truly dastardly scheme. The second is a YA novella is about a Goblin Girl living in a fairy-tale world where nothing is nice or fair. The third a fantastical story blending the flavor of the Arabian Nights stories with modern-day Seattle. Of the three, Fire Cage is my favorite of the set, as it held Amazon’s #1 worldwide best-seller in sub-genre for six days in July 2014!
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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Scott-Hungerford/e/B00H1LA5TC
The Weird Wild West
edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw
The untamed frontier is a challenge, a test of character, a proving ground for the soul. It’s a place where pioneers rewrite their future, or end their days…for better or worse. In the spirit of Bret Maverick, Cat Ballou, Kwai Chang Caine, and James West, The Weird Wild West blends western grit with the magical and mysterious unknown that waits beyond the next horizon.
With thrilling stories by Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, John Hartness, RS Belcher, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Misty Massey, James R. Tuck, Robert E. Waters, David Sherman, Tonia Brown, Liz Colter, Scott C. Hungerfold, Frances Rowat, Ken Schrader, Bryan C.P. Steele, Wendy N. Wagner, and a bonus story by New York Times bestselling-author Faith Hunter, you’ve hit the Mother Lode!