As I read “La Madre Del Oro” I felt like I was in the Old West, encountering a delightful mix of authentic dialect, conversation, names, and locations that placed me—the reader—firmly on the scene. How did this story come together as you were writing it? Did you mine from favorite stories, movies, and TV shows? What informed the cowboy within as you crafted “La Madre Del Oro”?

I’m not much of a cowboy, nor do I have an inner cowboy to rely on.  I did a lot of research for this story about the time period and location.  It was interesting work.  I’d known very little about the New Mexico Territory before it became a state, but now I know a little more.  The setting is as accurate as I could make it.  The Trail of Death and the Camino Real are real places, and as forbidding today in summer as they were then—minus air conditioning.  I’ve seen cowboy movies, but they were never a great interest of mine.  I liked some of the Sam Peckinpah flicks and a couple by Sergio Leone.   Memories of some books I’d read came in handy—Welcome to Hard Times by E. L. Doctorow, some of Cormac McCarthy’s books. As for the location, I traveled around Arizona a couple years ago, out to the ancient Hopi dwellings, and the landscape in those places gave me a sense of what the Southwest was like.   JJ Adams had a great copyeditor working on this book, and he/she (?) helped to keep me honest with the historical details about the LeMat pistol, the New Mexico Territory, the nods to the Spanish language, etc. Continue reading ›


The Northwest Pacific Express is a very unique train. How did you come up with the idea for it and for the “mechanics” of how it works?

John first invited me to be part of Dead Man’s Hand because of Cowboys & Aliens, a comic I wrote that got made into a movie. And I wanted to do the complete opposite of that story, so going from science fiction to high fantasy seemed a logical other direction. And being a rather well-rounded (and huge) nerd, I knew a lot about ley lines and dragons and realized it’d be fun to combine the two into a Weird Western train heist, which is at its core is what “Neversleeps” is. Continue reading ›

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Walter Jon Williams

I love the voice of the Commodore, but I was curious about who he was talking to throughout. Do you imagine this is a running monologue he’s telling himself, in keeping with maniacal villains’ tendencies to ramble about themselves? Or do you imagine there’s someone writing it all down, to show the world later?

I imagine him muttering to himself as he’s pacing the quarterdeck, telling himself a story that he’s obsessively told himself before, all while waiting for the Condor to turn up—and when that happens, the story shifts to present tense, and we’re into the climax. Continue reading ›


You hint at the world in “The Devil’s Jack,” drawing enough of a picture for us to understand the realm Jack has to deal with, but leaving us wanting more. Was this a sandbox you’d played in before, or were the demons, magicians, and devil created whole cloth for this anthology?

At the time, I’d written one previous story in the Devil’s West—“Crossroads,” which was published by Fantasy Magazine in 2011. That story actually originally came out of a writing exercise I’d set for my students—to be a good sport I played along, and out of that opening paragraph came an entire world! The idea of a divergent history, a space in the ‘real’ world where magic held sway in a very practical, non-fantastical way … it appealed to me too much to let it go. I had a feeling that there were more stories in this world—three, so far. In fact, there turned out to be novels there as well. I just sold three books set in the Devil’s West to Saga Press/Simon & Schuster! The first one, Silver on the Road, will be published in 2015. Continue reading ›


Would you tell us about the origins of this story? How did the disparate elements—Idaho Territory gold mines, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, a wilderness-dwelling drifter—come together? Did this story require a lot of research?

I’ve studied the history of the Chinese immigrants during the gold rush in the American West since law school, and have written other fiction drawing on this research. The Taiping Rebellion and the abolitionists were also research interests of mine, and so, for this story, I didn’t have to do much new research beyond confirming some facts.

I think there’s a general under-appreciation for the diversity of the “Wild West” and how it was connected to revolutions and events in other parts of the world, and I wanted to write a story that highlighted some of these connections. Continue reading ›


Where did the idea for “Sundown” come from?

An offhand comment while watching the TV show Justified. The main character mentions the relatively unknown history of early black US Marshals. I became curious and began to dig around for their stories, and each one was rather fascinating. When John approached me to write a story for this anthology, I knew I wanted to incorporate one of these figures. Continue reading ›

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Kelley Armstrong

What was the genesis for “Bamboozled”? Any plans to continue writing in this world?

I’ve always joked about writing a werewolf western. This was my chance. I would love to write the origin story for these characters. I’ll have to gauge the interest for that. Continue reading ›


Your presentation of the city of Seattle in 1899 feels very authentic. How much did your research on the real Madam Damnable influence the development of this story?

Hah! It’s not authentic at all. And the real Madame Damnable—who was very little like the woman whom I named after her—was long dead by 1899. Basically, the city I’m presenting is an amalgam of northwestern port cities in the late 1800s, with some completely invented bits thrown in. There are elements of San Francisco and Portland as well as Seattle. So I’m glad they integrated well! Continue reading ›


What is the appeal of “weird west” fiction? Why do writers—or you yourself—write about it? What do you think readers like about it?

I’ve always been drawn to genre mash-ups I think because they’re a way to honor traditional tropes and yet cast them in a new light, to essentially play tropes off against one another. For me, the western has always been one of the most adaptable—it works well with fantasy, horror or even science fiction. For me personally, there’s just something about many of those western tropes that appeals to me and evokes an instant sensory reaction. Continue reading ›


What is the appeal of “weird west” fiction? Why do writers—or you yourself—write about it? What do you think readers like about it?

There are a lot of parallels between the settlement of the American west and established themes in science fiction. Here is life on the frontier, the sense of exploration, but then those same lands had already been settled, hadn’t they? The treatment of Native Americans reflects warnings found in colonization stories within science fiction. And there’s the adventure of being at the forefront, of new technologies like the railroad, the telegraph, machined parts, rifles, the promise of riches and wide open spaces. Anyone who enjoys a good western could find something to like in the genre of science fiction. And vice versa. Continue reading ›

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