Substack News Letter

Saturday, March 13, 2021

A Sci-Fi with a Western Twist Gunslinger Candid Conversation with Edward j. Knight

OK, many of you reading this posting may still be stuck in your home. You have baked, binged on streaming services and have zoomed all your besties. What to do next. Well books are still around and being published. I found one being offered in the Sci-Fi western vain that really caught my attention. Written by Edward J, Knight the book, Gunslinger: The Dragon of Yellowstone tells the tale of a sixteen year girl on a quest to save the west from destruction. 

Ed great to meet you, thanks for doing a Candid Conversation. This book looks very interesting, can you give me and those reading the blog a peek into the plot of the book.

Ed K.: Hi Cliff! Great to meet you, too. Gunslinger’s about a girl who wants to prove she can be a gunslinger, even if she has to fight a dragon to do it. It’s set in a universe where the Old West meets Norse monsters. In this one, our hero Beth Armstrong gets to face ghosts, dwarves, and of course a dragon.

Beth herself trained with legends. The ghost of Calamity Jane gave her the gun and Wild Bill Hickok taught her to shoot. By sixteen she’s ready to make a name of her own.

She gets her chance when strange assailants murder a visiting Arapaho Indian shaman, Beth plunges into a quest to find the killers. Then the army is summoned to face an invasion, leaving just Beth and her friends to fulfill the shaman’s original quest of finding the creature that’s been attacking the Indian tribes. Of course, locating the dragon is just the tip of the problems. This is adventure fantasy—Beth’s going to discover the fate of the world West of the Mississippi is at stake before she’s through.

Cliff T.: So now that we got that explained. A 16 year old girl as a gun fighter, that is different what prompted the idea to develop this character?

Ed. K.: Beth came from a couple of different sources. Primarily, I have a feisty nine-year-old daughter that I drew a lot of inspiration from. I don’t want her to feel she can’t do something, even as traditionally masculine as gunfighting, if she truly wants to. Beth also originally appeared as a secondary character in my novel Sidekick: The tale of Billy the Kid and the Giants of Colorado. She’s a classic case of a supporting cast member being so fun that she basically demanded her own lead role. Finally, I’d done some reading on Annie Oakley, and I loved her constant frustration at having to constantly prove herself with a gun because she was female.

Cliff T.: I noticed that there is an element of science fiction in the story. Was that an easy thing to mix into a western?

Ed. K.: I’m not sure I’d say easy so much as straightforward.

I created the Mythic Western universe on three simple premises: a) souls are real, and when a person dies, they leave this universe for another (or they become ghosts if they don’t leave); b) when the soul passes, a small temporary rift opens between our world and the other; and c) a witch or a shaman can make that rift semi-permanent, allowing other living beings to pass between the worlds.

Everything else in the story draws from those premises. This particular story starts thirteen years after a rift was opened to Jotunheim, which allowed giants, trolls, dwarves, and dragons to all invade our world. I’ve had to do a fair amount of research to make sure that they physics still works out right (e.g., so how does a dragon fly without magic?). I’ve also strived to get the historical details as accurate as I can.

So it’s not easy because there’s been a lot of research. I want the story to feel like it really could be the Old West, just with these creatures in it. But by sticking to my three premises, it is straightforward.

It’s kind of like traveling north while navigating by the stars. It may be a bumpy journey, but you’re not lost.

Cliff T.: i know that some authors draw upon life experiences or connections to people from current and life connections is that the case with this book?

Ed. K.: As mentioned earlier, some of Beth is based on my daughter. Most of the rest of the book is an amalgam of people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had living in Colorado and visiting Wyoming.

Cliff T.: What has the reaction to Gunslinger been thus far?

Ed K.: It’s been positive. Those that have read the advanced copies like Beth and the various twists and turns in her adventure. The only complaint I’ve had is from my daughter herself. We read the book at bedtime, one chapter a night, and she hates, hates, hates how I end chapters with cliffhangers, and then won’t keep reading! I mean, why should I? I know what happens next, and she does need her sleep <evil daddy grin>.

Cliff T.: In your bio it states that you were involved with satellites, putting a number of them into orbit. That is interesting. Was that work the genesis of your desire to write a book like this one?

Ed K.: In an indirect way, yes. I’ve been working with or for NASA for twenty-eight years now, and that’s made it harder for me to write science fiction, which is what I originally started in. The problem has been that I know too much, and when you do it right, Aerospace is boring. We engineers want to have Apollo 12 on our resumé, not Apollo 13.

So I found that when I sat down to write hard science fiction, I had a hard time coming up with storylines that were both exciting and didn’t have me going “yeah, there’s no way that’d happen.” So if I was going to be just making stuff up, why not go all the way into historical fantasy?

I may return to trying hard science fiction in the future, but frankly, writing books like Gunslinger is a lot more fun.

Cliff T.: From the look of it space, science fiction and westerns have been a part of your life for quite a period of time. This must make doing this project more like a labour of love than anything else, would that be a good description?

Ed K.: I’m not sure “labour of love” is quite the right term. Writing brings a certain joie de vivre to my life. Instead of telling stories about how the satellite’s going to survive a radiation anomaly, I’m telling stories that make my daughter’s eyes light up. It’s a lot of fun to bring Beth and her friends to life and see what they’re going to do.

Cliff T.: Where can people find you and Gunslinger?

Ed K.: My home site is Gunslinger is available through WordFire Press and at all major retailers starting April 7.

Cliff T.: Do you think there will be a part 2 3 or 4, is there a plan to make this a series of books?

Ed K.: I’m planning a series of stand alone books, with the idea that you 
could pick any one up and have a complete tale, even if you’ve never read the earlier books. I’ve started writing the next one, Ghosthunter: The Spirits of Saint Louis, but, well, like many of us, COVID has forced much of my time and energy elsewhere.

Cliff T.: Excellent Ed, thank you again for doing a Candid conversation it was great to meet you and I hope the book gets a good run.

Ed K.: Thanks. This has been fun!

Edward J. Knight author of Gunslinger: The Dragon of Yellowstone features the story of a 16 year old girl on a quest to save the West even if means defeating a dragon to do it. The book is published by Word Fire Press /
Edward has published other books and you can find his work on his website at Edward wrote to us from Denver CO., USA.

Cliff T.

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