Fun Fact: “I’m a firm lover of extraordinarily bad films. Give me the hilarity of botched sixties and seventies low-budget genre films over today’s blockbusters any day. My wife doesn’t understand.”
Note: Stuart has shared many photos from the town of Picher that he took himself, which are interspersed throughout this interview.
SR: Where did your idea for this book come from?
SRW: The tale is based on the true trauma that destroyed the town of Picher, Oklahoma, a true “ghost town.” Driving through it one day (on the way to visit my wife’s folks), the sheer devastation of the town, along with the looming “chat piles” behind it, made me curious enough to follow up on it. What I found was tragic. I just decided to sprinkle ghosts and supernatural hijinx on top.
SR: Was there a specific issue that really motivated you to write this particular story?
SRW: Yep, environmental issues, corporate greed, and the plight of the Native American all figure strongly in my tale. All are still relevant today, now more than ever.
SR: If you were the right gender could you have a romantic relationship with your protagonist? Why or why not? Would it be a good relationship?
SRW: Okay, I have two protagonists: Dennis in the ‘60’s and Tommy during the depression era. If I was a woman… Hmmm (not exactly the kinda question I thought I’d be answering today, but sure, why not, let’s go with it), Tommy might make a good mate, even if he is a bit head-strong at times. Dennis, absolutely not! We’re talking damaged goods here. He packs so much baggage, he really oughta be a baggage handler at an airport.
SR: What do you think the hardest emotion to elicit from a reader is? Why?
SRW: Probably fear. Which is crazy, because I keep trying it over and over. I think it’s hard because writing/reading isn’t a visual medium. It’s much easier to be spooked over a movie than a book. I love the challenge! If it scares me, I hope it scares the reader. (And, usually, the all-too-human villains in my book are scarier than any supernatural doings.)
SR: Did you set yourself a specific writing challenge with this book? What was it, and what was the reason?
SRW: I wanted to shed some light on what happened to the mining town of Picher, Oklahoma. And maybe draw attention to the fact that it can—and is—happening again in other towns.
SR: Tell us something about you that isn’t common knowledge.
SRW: I have webbed toes. No, I don’t. Yes, I do. Shut up, you so don’t! Back off, man, I do, too!
Okay, forget that! How about I have multiple personalities?
SR: Now for fun, if you were stuck on a deserted island and found that magic lamp with a genie and the genie had the power to bring any character in any of your books to life to be your companion, who would you pick and why?
SRW: Um… I really don’t think I’d want ANY of them stuck on an island with me, good or bad guys. I mean…have you SEEN the type of characters who trawl through my novels?
SR: And if the genie would only bring characters from works by another author to life who would you pick to spend eternity on that deserted island with?
SRW: Let’s see… Does the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue count?
Stuart also talks about his book Secret Society
in this author assistant feature he shares photos of his four-legged friend, Zak
Stuart R. West is a lifelong resident of Kansas, which he considers both a curse and a blessing. It’s a curse because…well, it’s Kansas. But it’s great because…well, it’s Kansas. Lots of cool, strange and creepy things happen in the Midwest, and Stuart takes advantage of them in his books. Call it “Kansas Noir.” Stuart writes thrillers, horror and mysteries usually tinged with humor, both for adult and young adult audiences.
If you’re still reading this, you may as well head on over to Stuart’s blog at: http://stuartrwest.blogspot.com/