Can you briefly describe an experience that played a role in how you wanted to develop Weird Wild West?
Antoinette: I conceived of Weird Wild West back in 1994 with the idea that it would eventually become a comicbook, but it never did.
In 2012, we were discussing steampunk with Ethan Somerville and I mentioned that we had a steampunk western. Ethan was instantly interested. And so the collaboration began on Weird Wild West, not as a comic, but as a novel.
When the first part, Hell Dorado, was finished it came in at just over 37,000 words. An option was to pad it out but I hate reading unnecessary padding in novels. I decided to continue the story in a Part 2.
I had never thought of ideas any further than Part 1 but while writing Part 2 I was coming up with many new ideas that went beyond Part 2. And that’s when Weird Wild West became a series. I’ve worked out 12 Parts now, of which seven have been written. Although they are linked in some way, each Part can be read on its own.
Without telling us what your favorite passage / scene in the book is, can you describe how it felt when you wrote it? Was there anything unique about your writing set-up when you wrote this passage?
Ethan: I don’t really have a favourite scene. All I know is when I enjoy writing a passage, I write faster and don’t think about what I’m actually writing. The words just pour out like they’re already out there and I’m just the conduit. Most of the time I don’t know what I’ve written until I go back and read over it.
Antoinette: I don’t have a favourite scene but the most intriguing aspect for me was discovering who Doc Cassidy is. Doc Cassidy is only mentioned in passing in Part 1: Hell Dorado in relation to a character on the stagecoach called Billy Levi. I’ve been working on future Parts in the Weird Wild West universe and in the eighth part I decided to tell Billy’s story. I referred back to Part 1 to refresh my memory of Billy Levi and found the single reference to Doc Cassidy, a character I had totally forgotten about!
I already had Billy’s mother, father, uncle and Preacher Farrow. There were too many males so I made Doc Cassidy a female. She started to do some preternatural things and I started asking “who or what is Doc Cassidy?”
It took a week to figure it out but once I did she became a kind of linchpin to the story. She is becoming a common thread in the series and her true nature will probably not be revealed till Part 12! But it’s not necessary to know who or what she is for the stories to work. Even my co-authors don’t know who Doc Cassidy really is!
Steve: For me, the favourite part was turning the written word into an image that illustrates passages in the book.
If you could ask any deceased artist one question, what would it be?
Ethan: Can you share your creativity with me?
Antoinette: I’d ask Salvador Dali, “What time is it?”
Steve: I’d ask Frank Zappa, “Where do the huskies go?”
Do you think fiction has any function or purpose outside of the entertainment realm?
Ethan: Definitely. Fiction is extremely educational and without it we’ll lose our ability to imagine and be creative.
Steve: It allows you to express feelings and ideas in an entertaining and imaginative way. People need a break from reality.
Which book do you think is overrated?
Steve: Fifty Shades of Grey
Antoinette: Anything by D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, the Brontes, et al. In high school they forced us to read turgid tomes by those “classic” authors and I absolutely loathed them.
Can anyone be a “good” writer?
Steve: If you practice and persevere you will eventually find your narrative voice.
Antoinette: Everyone has a story to tell and everyone can be a writer. Whether you are good or bad is in the eye of the beholder. What appeals to one person, does not appeal to another. I think it would be presumptuous and conceited to tell someone else that they cannot be a writer.
Which book or other piece of art do you think is underappreciated?
Ethan: Nocturnal Academy
Antoinette: Art by the late Tom Crites, who used to produce magazines called “Paniscus Revue” and “Malefact” to which we were contributors. His art is so beautiful and intricately detailed, it is jaw-droppingly good. It was sad to learn of his passing.
Steve: I prefer to highlight the underappreciated music of the Avant progressives of the late 1960s and 1970s. They created some of the most obscure and unusual music ever invented. Artists include: Lol Coxhill, Steve Miller, Soft Machine, Art Zoyd, Univers Zero, Henry Cow, Magma, Faust, Hatfield and the North, National Health and Etron Fou Leloublan, along with a plethora of “Italian progressives”! There were also Australian experimentalists such as Sirius, Quasar, and many others that have virtually disappeared from the history of this unique period of music. There are too many lost eclectic classics that should be heard and appreciated today. I often create stories and art while listening to this kind of music. I recommend Robert Wyatt’s LP “The End of an Ear” as a fitting soundtrack for inspiration for those who are creating existential art and stories!
Carter Rydyr Bio
Antoinette Rydyr and Steve Carter have been working in the genres of horror, sci-fi, fantasy and satire since 1991 and they are known by the acronym, SCAR. Recent graphic novels, include: “Phantastique – Tales of Taboo Terror” “Savage Bitch”, “Weird Worlds – Subversive Science Fiction Stories” and “New World Disorder – Rise of the Neofem”. More of their creations can be found at their website: www.weirdwildart.com.
In 2010, their screenplay, Curse of the Swampies won Best Feature Film Screenplay at the “A Night of Horror International Film Festival”. http://www.weirdwildart.com/words/filmCOTS.html
They also write fiction under the name of Carter Rydyr with stories published in Surreal Worlds, More Bizarro Than Bizarro and Aliens, Sex & Sociopaths: The Best of Surreal Grotesque. And they produce “sound sculpture” music under the name of TeknoSadisT. All TST albums are available on Bandcamp: https://teknosadist.bandcamp.com/
Ethan Somerville bio:
Ethan Somerville is a prolific Australian author with over 60 books published, and many more to come. These novels cover many different genres, including romance, historical, children’s and young adult fiction. However Ethan’s favourite genres have always been science fiction and fantasy. Ethan has also collaborated with other Australian authors and artists, including Max Kenny, Emma Daniels, Anthony Newton, Colin Forest, Tanya Nicholls and Carter Rydyr.
Visit the website: www.stormpublishing.net
Visit Ethan’s facebook page at: http:/www.facebook.com/Ethan.Somerville.writer