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Guy Adams Interview

Guy AdamsLast month it was my pleasure to read and review The Good, the Bad and the Infernal by Guy Adams. Guy was a new author to me, but he’s been around awhile and is incredibly prolific, writing for comics and audio as well as his novels. Guy very kindly took time from his hectic schedule to answer a few questions for Fantasy-Faction.

For those yet to read any of the books, can you give us a quick pitch of the Heaven’s Gate trilogy?

When first talking to Solaris, the publisher, I said “Imagine if Sergio Leone had directed Brigadoon.” Which sounds brilliant but, of course, it isn’t really like that because these things always run away with themselves.

There’s a town that only appears once every hundred years, it exists for a day and then vanishes again. The town holds a doorway into the afterlife. The trilogy is about the strange people that try and find the town and what awful things happen to them once they find it.

You were influenced by spaghetti westerns – what made you want to twist the Wild West into the Weird West?

The Clown Service (cover)I can never resist throwing horror and fantasy into things. All my books end up doing it, The Clown Service is espionage/horror, the Deadbeat series is crime/horror, I just love a mash-up. Besides, the western, particularly the spaghetti western, has always been mythical. The Dollars trilogy aren’t examples of realism, they’re weird, dreams of dust and blood. To make those dreams a little weirder feels only natural.

I felt you handled the genre with genuine affection. Homage can often become a pale imitation; how difficult was it to avoid the usual clichés (for example, no “howdy pardner” style dialogue)?

I think the key—and I hope I succeeded in this—is that, while the environment may be a homage the characters aren’t. Yes, I have a Man With No Name but I’ve given him a reason not to have one and worked hard at making him ‘real’. Give characters life and let them talk, you can rarely go wrong if you do that. My background as an actor may help too, I don’t sit and perform the dialogue out loud but I do hear it as speech in my head and try and avoid the unsayable.

Also, I’m always looking to do something fresh. I have past form taking something that, on the surface at least, may seem familiar but then pushing it somewhere different. I think that’s fun. The Roderick Quartershaft character is a good example of that. At the opening of the first book I can imagine a number of my readers thinking ‘Oh, here he goes, a comedy Victorian character…’ I would hope they’re simply unable to say that about him by the end of the first book let alone the trilogy as a whole!

You’re very prolific – is there a “Guy Adams” writing routine that enables you to do this?

Deadbeat Makes You Stronger (cover)Oh it’s just working too many hours, as simple as that. I rarely take a day off and just keep chipping away at it all. I would love to have a magic method, especially one that allowed me to have more free time, but the truth is I just rarely leave my desk!

How long have you been writing, and what made you want to be a writer?

I’ve been doing this nine years now and sort of fell into it (which sounds annoying, sorry). My first professional book was something I pitched as a project that I didn’t necessarily intend to write myself, then I did and the work involved meant I had to give up the day job and then keep finding the work to feed my family.

I’ve always enjoyed writing but I never imagined doing it as a living, now I can’t imagine being fit for anything else.

You also write for comics. 2000AD was something I grew up reading, how did you get into that?

There’s only one way to get into 2000AD and that’s to write a four-page, twist in the tale story that is good enough to get published. My first one wasn’t, my second was. Which was a relief.

After that I was offered the opportunity to revise Grant Morrison’s Ulysses Sweet plus a comedy Tharg strip. There are a few more bits and bobs on the way. I have a Rogue trooper story in the Sci-Fi Special (available now earthlets!), there’s a three-part ‘voodoo-punk’ thing coming soon and I’m just about to start scripting a ten-page one off for the Christmas issue. I grew up on 2000AD too so it’s been wonderful to actually work in it. A real highlight of my career.

Your enthusiasm for writing really shines through in your work, but is there a style you prefer (ie, books vs comics)?

The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield (cover)Every story is different and finds its own, best medium. That said, I find comics more pleasurable to write. They’re quicker than a novel (obviously) which means I can be varied in what I’m doing, flitting between different stories and characters. Also, with comics, you have the extra pleasure of handing a script over to an artist and then experiencing your work taken to a completely new level.

I’ve done a few audio scripts and that’s the same, words on a page transformed into something bigger. That’s just brilliant. I wrote one of these last year and the experience of suddenly having my cold, dead words spat out of wonderful actors’ mouths surrounded by brilliant sound design bells and whistles is just glorious. It’s like scribbling a doodle and having someone make a marble statue of it. The pleasure of that never grows old.

What’s next for the Heaven’s Gate trilogy, and what will you be up to when it’s complete?

For A Few Souls More (cover)The final book, For A Few Souls More, is written and will be out in a few months. One day I may return to that world—while the trilogy is satisfyingly complete, there are certainly different stories I could tell.

My second Clown Service novel, The Rain-Soaked Bride is out in a few weeks, as is the second Deadbeat book, The Dogs of Waugh. So I’m cluttering up bookshops for a while, like a damp smell clinging to the carpet.

Artist, Jimmy Broxton and I are finishing off work on our creator-owned book Goldtiger, which will be out shortly too.

Future projects include another audio script (just writing a treatment for that now actually), the third Clown Service book and then I start work on what I hope will be a really interesting, inventive project. It’s my version of a ‘post-apocalyptic’ story, but it’s going to be told through a series of novellas that flit all over the world. One set will be set in London, one in New York, both of those feature recurring characters in each and an ongoing story. On top of that will be one-off adventures in other locations, Paris and Japan are the first two. It’s either a fun way of building a truly global narrative or a final proof of my lunacy. Time—and sales—will tell!

As a writer, who or what have you found inspirational?

Oh Lord, so many people… This is one of those questions it’s always slightly impossible for me to answer! Thing is, as a storyteller, any book or comic you read, film or TV show you watch, it’s all stretching the same muscle. Anything I experience and enjoy—and the list of those things is truly endless—spurs you on to tell stories of your own. Even the bad stuff is inspiring in its own way, ‘If only it had been more like this…’

A writer lives in a world of stories, their own and other people’s (any writer who doesn’t take the time to also be a reader and a viewer is on a hiding to nothing). Their work is the by-product.

We’d like to thank Mr. Adams for taking the time to speak with us today. You can learn more about his many series on his website, or follow him on Twitter.

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