How a Thuglit short story became Nick Kolakowski’s latest novel

The book is a bit of a hybrid—it starts out as a whodunit and a murder mystery, before transitioning into a hunt-or-be-hunted thriller. Our hero begins the story wanting to solve what he thinks is a relatively isolated killing, but finds himself tangled in a conspiracy involving some very powerful folks who have an… interesting hobby, to put it mildly.”

Fun Fact: Nick says, “Morgan Freeman once (half-jokingly) threatened to have me kneecapped. It was a long night, let’s just say.”

Boise-BSR: What’s your new book/work in progress about?

NK: “Boise Longpig Hunting Club” is about a most unusual family. Our protagonist, Jake, is an Iraq War veteran and a bounty hunter; his sister, Frankie, is the biggest arms dealer in Idaho, where they live. Jake comes home one night to find a dead body in his gun locker, and given what he does for a living, there are roughly a million suspects. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s angered some very powerful, very sadistic people—and he and Frankie are going to have to fight for their lives.

SR: Was there a specific issue or incident that really motivated you to write this particular story? What was the prompt?

NK: I wrote a short story for Thuglit called “A Nice Pair of Guns,” which turned into the first chapter of “Boise Longpig Hunting Club.” Although I originally intended the short story to be a standalone, the characters kept talking to me; I decided that I needed to throw them into a bigger, rougher situation and see how they did.

SR: How do you think your protagonist would respond if aliens landed in the center of town on page 57?

NK: I think Jake would throw his daughter into his truck and drive out of town as fast as possible. Jake isn’t an action hero; he’s a very pragmatic guy who recognizes when he can’t win—he’s not going to charge into battle against little green men armed with ray guns and faster-than-light tech. That being said, if the aliens cornered him… he’s probably think up some kind of cunning trap to mess them up. Same with Frankie—plus, she comes armed with some wicked toys.

SR:  What conspiracy theory is your protagonist most likely to believe in? Roswell? JFK? Princess Diana? What about you? Any conspiracy theories that you think might have some truth to them?

NK: Jake’s likely to believe in anything involving a government conspiracy, especially after all the twisted stuff he sees in the course of this book. I’m not as given to conspiracy theories; they generally involve too many people to have stayed a secret for decades, if they really happened. Plus, I don’t think the U.S. government is really capable of keeping a conspiracy airtight for very long, especially these days.   

SR: What’s your protagonist’s greatest fear? Why?

NK: Jake’s greatest fear is losing his family. That comes into play in a big way in this book.

SR: Is there something you hope the reader carries away with them after they’re done reading? An insight or philosophy that you wanted to come through in your work?

NK: I’m always out to scar people a little bit, in a good way. I’m not so much a nihilist as an absurdist, and I like to show how the world is fundamentally, darkly absurd; its only meaning is what you personally make of it.

SR: If you were in an arm wrestle with your protagonist who would win? What is your protagonist better at than you? What are you better than your protagonist at?

NK: I think Jake and Fiona would kick my ass in all circumstances. They’re strong, smart, and combat-trained. One of the pleasures of writing a book like this is living vicariously through someone who can hotwire a car and strip down a rifle in record time.

SR: Carpool karaoke. What would be your protagonist’s song? Yours?

NK: Frankie’s songs of choice are anything by Trent Reznor, her teenage crush. Jake isn’t that big into music, although he does enjoy classic outlaw country—Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and so on. Those aren’t my music tastes; when I write, I primarily listen to Nick Cave, Tom Waits, gravelly artists/storytellers like that.

SR: What detail in your writing do you obsess over the most? Character names? Locations? Description? Dialogue? Research?

NK: With “Boise Longpig” in particular, I was obsessed with two things: making sure I got Idaho right, and making sure I wasn’t a complete idiot when it comes to guns. I go to Idaho on a fairly regular basis to hang out with family, so when it came time to sit down and write, I stuck to locations I actually knew (with the exception of the climax, which takes place in an imaginary stretch of woods and cliffs—the plot needed geographical elements I’ve never seen in real life).

In terms of the guns, I went out and shot a few of the ones that my characters use, which wasn’t quite enough—I didn’t grow up in a gun family, so I’m no expert. I conscripted two friends who are gun experts to read the manuscript and give me notes, which was fantastic, because they provided all sorts of details that I could integrate for that extra layer of authenticity.

SR: Do you relate more to Sherlock Holmes or Professor Moriarty? Why?

NK: Moriarty is misunderstood. He’s just trying to use his smarts to create a business, like any of us. If that “business” happens to be crime, well… it’s not like the British Empire that wanted him jailed was really all that much cleaner, morally speaking.

SR: What’s your personal life motto?

NK: The only thing that will save you is speed.

SR: Everyone needs an outlet to help them recharge. What hobbies do you have outside of writing?

NK: I run for many, many miles a week. It relaxes my lizard brain, the part that thinks danger is coming from anywhere at any moment.

SR: Do you have any special events coming up? Where can people catch up with you in person or on a podcast?

NK: Every two weeks (generally the first and fourteenth of the month), we have a new edition of Noir on the Radio, in which I chat with an author or two. Check it out! We get into the nitty-gritty of the industry, plots, and writing.

Did you see our interview with Nick about Slaughterhouse Blues? Check it out here.

 

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Nick Kolakowski is the author of the “Love & Bullets” trilogy (Shotgun Honey/Down & Out Books) as well as “Boise Longpig Hunting Club.” His short stories have appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Plots With Guns, Crime Syndicate Magazine, and various anthologies. He’s also the current host of Noir on the Air, a podcast from Authors on the Air Radio.

 

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