This interview originally appeared at Spinetingler on October 26, 2016.
On July 31st Eric Red’s new western novel, Noose, first in a series, was published. To celebrate, I am reprinting my interview with him about westerns.
Today I’m talking to Eric Red. Eric Red is known for writing films like The Hitcher and Near Dark. He’s also written a fun western/horror book called The Guns of Santa Sangre.
Brian Lindenmuth: Why westerns?
Eric Red: The mythology of hero and villain cowboys with guns on horses in a hard landscape where problems are settled in definitive physical terms resonates for everyone on a subconscious level. It’s remained a popular storytelling form for over a century for a reason.
Why did The Guns of Santa Sangre have to be a western?
Guns is a western novel so maybe the better question is why it had to be a horror novel as well. Since the book is a spin on the classic oater tale about anti-hero gunfighters who regain their honor by protecting a defenseless village from bad guys, I made the bad guys werewolves because I hadn’t seen that before. The western and horror genres mash up organically, because the elements of both are so iconic for readers.
What is your favorite type of western?
The old west was a tough, violent place. I like westerns that portray that dangerous world accurately, but have bigger-than-life good guys and bad guys.
What is your favorite western movie?
The Wild Bunch
What is your favorite western novel?
I have four. The Searchers by Alan LeMay, The Shootist by Glendon Swartout, The Cowboy and the Cossack by Clair Huffaker, and Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
Who is your favorite western writer?
Sam Peckinpah, as a screenwriter.
What do you most value in the fiction you love?
A propulsive narrative that pulls me in and keeps me turning the page, with characters I care about. Doesn’t matter the genre.
Who is your favorite violent western character?
The Judge in Blood Meridian.
Is the western genre dead, dying, in a state of disrepair, or doing just fine?
Readers and audiences love westerns, always have and always will, all over the world. Western movies, TV shows, and books continue to be successful because people always have an appetite for them. Just count the amount of western movies, shows, and books that have come out over the last few years.
Then/Now/Next: what book did you read last, what book are you reading now, and what book will you read next?
Just finished The Girls by Emma Cline, am reading Breakhart Pass by Alistair MacLean now, and am going to read The Fireman by Joe Hill next.
What was the last great western that you consumed (watched or read)?
The Hateful Eight.
Eric is a Los Angeles based motion picture novelist, screenwriter, and film director.
His first novel, a dark coming-of-age tale about teenagers called DON’T STAND SO CLOSE, is available from SST Publications. His other three novels, a werewolf western called THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE, a science fiction monster undersea adventure called IT WAITS BELOW, and a serial killer thriller WHITE KNUCKLE, are available from Samhain Publishing.
He created and wrote the comic series and graphic novel CONTAINMENT for IDW Publishing, recently reprinted in hardcover by SST Publications, and the comic series WILD WORK for Antarctic Press.
His original screenplays include THE HITCHER for Tri Star, NEAR DARK for DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group, BLUE STEEL for MGM and the western THE LAST OUTLAW for HBO. He directed and wrote the crime film COHEN AND TATE for Hemdale, BODY PARTS for Paramount, UNDERTOW for Showtime, BAD MOON for Warner Bros. and the ghost story 100 FEET for Grand Illusions Entertainment.