TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery.
RB: Thank you; I love what you've done with the place.
TQ: When and why did you start writing?
RB: When I was a kid, I would have to go to work with my mom and she would buy me a pad of paper. I'd spend the day writing and drawing comic stories. I'd fasten them together with a wire twist-tie from a loaf of bread and sell them for a quarter to her customers. So I guess I've been a paid writer since I was about 9 years old.
I started writing short fiction when I was 12 or 13. It was God-awful stuff, mostly rip-offs of Moorcock and Zelazny and these supernatural noir detective stories. I took a creative writing class in 6th grade and the teacher, who had been a literature major poo-poo’ed, my stuff as weird, scary trash full of monsters and guys with magic swords. Apparently I was supposed to be writing about my feelings and snowflakes and such. I was so down I stopped writing for a few years. My mom, bless her heart, bought me a Sears’s electric typewriter with auto-correct (no more liquid paper!!!) and I took off writing again.
Writing has been a big part of my life since I was able to write.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
RB: I am king of the one sentence paragraph and I am a fragment fiend.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
RB: Yes. I do both. With Six-Gun I found it was very helpful to do a rough summary of the chapter just before writing it. It helped keep me on topic. However often the chapter didn’t end up exactly the same way I had outlined it. With short fiction, I am so a pantser.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
RB: I love weird, obscure, byzantine stuff and it is sometimes hard for me to narrow my focus and not throw too much stuff at my reader at once.
TQ: Describe The Six-Gun Tarot in 140 characters or less.
RB: The Six-Gun Tarot is a genre-bending fantasy set in the wild west of 1869. It has horror, steampunk and black humor. It’s been likened to “Buffy meets Deadwood”.
TQ: What inspired you to write The Six-Gun Tarot?
RB: I got the germ of an idea back in the late 90’s. I had this idea of a little western town in the middle of nowhere where everyone had a weird, dark secret. I tinkered with it wrote a few draft chapters, but nothing came of it until about 2007 when I started writing it in earnest.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The Six-Gun Tarot?
RB: It was a great excuse to watch lots of great westerns and some cheesy ones too. Read some books: Larry McMurtry’s western epics- very poetic and powerful and beautiful; reread some Tony Hillerman- great books! Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” gave a less mainstream view of Mormonism, and Marc McCutcheon’s Everyday Life in the 1800’s was a treasure trove of slang, tidbits about life and the folks living it in the era.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
RB: This is a hard question, because I really try to make my characters as real as I can and I end of liking all of them. It bothers me to do the awful things to them I do! I actually felt very sorry for the character of Holly. I didn’t want her to suffer the fate she did, and she didn’t deserve it. I am a bastard (ha ha ha). I also hope I was able to give Harry and Ringo a fair shake in regards to their relationship. I wanted to make it feel real and not forced or token. I tried to just let the love come through and hope it seemed authentic.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Six-Gun Tarot?
RB: I think the chapter called “The Lovers” is pivotal to the readers getting to know more about the cast of characters. I love writing action sequences. I like to try to make people reading them feel the way I felt the first time I read the dueling scene in Goldman’s “The Princess Bride”. So I like Mutt and Jon’s first encounter with Ambrose and I am very proud of the resolution. I am also very happy with all the Maude parts. Maude’s role was expanded a lot in the editing process and Greg Cox, my editor, was both patient and kind in helping me with that.
TQ: What's next?
RB: I’m at work on a Dark Urban fantasy, with a working title of “The Greenway”. It’s set in the present and I’m describing it as Raymond Chandler, John D. McDonald and Jim Butcher mashed up with “The Story of O” and “Pulp Fiction”. It’s dark-ity-dark-dark, and chock-full-o weird fun.
I’m also at work on a Six-Gun follow-up that I’m very excited to be writing. I crossing my fingers there is some demand for it when Six-Gun comes out (ha ha ha). But I’ll write it either way- I still have a lot of stories to tell in Golgotha and I’m writing them.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
RB: Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s a privilege.
About The Six-Gun Tarot
The Six-Gun Tarot
Tor Books, January 22, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.
A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.
About R.S. Belcher
In 2006, he won the grand prize in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds contest. His story, “Orphans” was published in Strange New Worlds 9, by Simon and Schuster.
His first novel, “The Six-Gun Tarot” is being published by Tor Books in January of 2013. It is a weird western that has been described as “High Noon meets H.P. Lovecraft”.
Rod has been a private investigator, a DJ, a comic book and game store owner and has degrees in criminal law, psychology and justice and risk administration, from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has done Masters work on a degree in Forensic Science at The George Washington University, as well as worked on the Occult Crime taskforce for the Virginia General Assembly’s State Crime Commission.
He lives in Roanoke Virginia with his children, Jonathan, Emily and Stephanie, as well as two dogs and three casts.
Author Facebook : The Six-Gun Tarot Facebook Page