Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Alex Bledsoe Interview II

I interviewed Alex Bledsoe back in March 2009 before reading his debut novel The Sword-Edged Blonde (review here). So after reading his follow up Eddie LaCrosse novel, Burn Me Deadly (review here) and his vampire/horror novel Blood Groove (review here), I figured it was time for a follow up interview with some more pointed questions.

Your novels, The Sword-Edged Blonde and the upcoming Burn Me Deadly, star a hard-nosed detective named Eddie LaCrosse. What ever gave you the idea to take this classic character from a black and white movie and dump him into a fantasy world with swords instead of guns?

I wanted a new way into a fantasy world that bypassed a lot of the traditional clutter. For me as a reader, when I have to pause and think about how to pronounce names, or read laborious descriptions of made-up cultures just to find my way through the plot, I'm taken out of the story. By using a first-person narrator and a tone that's both familiar and fun, as well as keeping things simple unless there's a valid, immediate reason to complicate them, I hoped to eliminate any emotional barriers between the characters and the reader.

Eddie has found love again with the feisty and independent Liz. Will she tame his wild spirit or will she prod him further into insanity?

That'd be a spoiler, wouldn't it?

When I read The Sword-Edged Blonde, I was constantly reminded of the movie, The Name of the Rose, with Sean Connery. When I read Burn Me Deadly, I was reminded of the TV series Deadwood. Do you find inspiration in television or movies for your themes or am I reading too much into your stories?

No one's compared it to "The Name of the Rose" before. I love the movie, and the book is even better: it deals with not only the mystery, but the very nature of the effect books and reading have onus. What do you see as the similarities?

--Library Dad: I mostly saw similarities betwen the book and movie when it comes to the mood and flavor. And of course there's a mystery to solve. As for the Deadwood vibe, well, watch the show and let me know if you see the same links.

And I haven't had the chance to get into "Deadwood," although it's in my Netflix queue. "Burn Me Deadly" was influenced by, if not directly inspired by, the classic film noir "Kiss Me Deadly" (the Mickey Spillane novel it's based on is a very standard thing, but the film is extraordinary). The film essentially gave me a jumping-off point for my story. I borrowed the structure for the opening scene and translated a central concept into a medieval fantasy idea. And that only happened because many years ago my pal Hays Davis made a comment that stuck with me about how dragons would be the equivalent of nuclear weapons in a fantasy world.

The tavern is an often-used fantasy cliche. Do you think Angelina's Tavern fits that cliche? Or do you even care if the there is a "tavern cliche?"

There's a difference between a cliche and a trope. In fantasy, a sword is a trope; a *magical* sword is a cliche. I feel that the tavern is so ubiquitous that the effort to *not* include one would be silly. So given that one is expected, I tried to make it different enough to be interesting.

Blood Groove and Burn Me Deadly are so wildly different, I've often wondered if the same person wrote them. Can you confirm that you actually wrote both of them? And if you did, what made you choose these two different genres?

Yes, I wrote them both. And so did I.

I write in all sorts of genres; these just happen to be the ones published first. To borrow a phrase from Nicholas Meyer, "art thrives on restriction," and the rules of any given genre provide a great platform from which to work.

As for what drew me to vampires, I grew up watching Christopher Lee on late-night TV, so my first image of vampires was scary, powerful, and seductive only to the extent it allows them to feed more easily. I love the first wave of late 19th-century literary vampires: Dracula,Varney, Carmilla, Lord Ruthven, etc. I admired early Anne Rice, but the novelty of her idea--that vampires might be *bored* by being vampires--wore thin by her third book. And I don't get much charge from the idea of a sympathetic vampire, let alone a romantic one. So in "Blood Groove," I put a lot of my ideas about what makes vampires cool, and set it in a time and place I thought made for an interesting clash of elements.

You've firmly planted a foot in the fantasy genre and another in the vampire genre. Do you have plans for another genre like science fiction or steam punk?

Definitely. I don't want to write the same book over and over, and I don't want to repeat myself if I can help it.

If I recall correctly, you grew up in Tennessee. Did you draw a lot on your childhood memories for Blood Groove? If so, were any of the characters based on people you knew?

None of the characters are based on anyone I knew, but the book's mind-set is definitely what I recall from growing up. The seventies was a weirder time than most people think, stuck between the world-changing sixties and the nihilistic eighties.

Rudolfo Zginski was a very interesting character that I loved and hated at the same time. Are you planning on any future Zginski tales?

The follow-up Zginski tale, "The Girls with Games of Blood," will be released by Tor in May 2010.

I know you did a lot of vampire research for Blood Groove. What one source would you say helped you the most?

Stoker's "Dracula." He synthesized a lot of European folklore, and created some elements that we now *think* of as European folklore. Everything that makes vampires cool and exciting is really all therein that book; later books, including my own, exist either as a reflection of, or reaction to, "Dracula." Even Stephen King acknowledges it; he's said that, when writing "Salem's Lot," the brick wall he kept slamming into was "Dracula."

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Just that the reception for the Eddie LaCrosse books has been better than I ever expected. For years I was told by publishers and agents that my mix of high fantasy and hard-boiled mystery was just too quirky for most readers. I'm eternally thankful to the agents and publishers who took a chance on it, and especially to the readers who have embraced it. I hope to keep sending Eddie on adventures for years to come.


Deborah Blake said...

I LOVED the first Eddie book and can't wait for the second one!!!!

TK42ONE said...

Bledsoe doesn't fall into much of a sophmore slump either in the second book. It has very much the same flavor as the first one, so I'm sure you'll enjoy it too.

Jordan Castillo Price said...

I had become so disenchanted with fantasy these last few years, all the goofy, made-up sounding names and the laborious systems of magic and government...really, all the exposition was just killing me. I wanted to read books about people, and for me, that's what Sword Edged Blond was. It incorporated all the stuff I loved about fantasy fiction and let all the rest of the irritating exposition fall away. I'm looking forward to #2!

ediFanoB said...

Thanks for the interview. THE SWORD-EDGED BLONDE was awesome. BURN ME DEADLY was at the same level or even a little bit better. I have had the opportunity to read a reviewer copy. I will post my review at 16th of October over at Only The Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

TK42ONE said...

EdiFanoB - Can't wait to see what you think (in more detail)!

ediFanoB said...

Hey TK42ONE,

just want to let you know that my review is now available.