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Victor Gischler is one of those authors who balances craft and art so well, he can apply his voice to about any genre. He got recognition with his crime novel Gun Monkeys, then moved into horror and sci-fi with books like Vampire A Go-Go and Gestapo Mars. He has made a name for himself as a comic book writer with original work and taking on the likes of Dead Pool, The X-Men, Conan, and The Shadow. He has recently pursued the western with his series character, Casron Stone, under the alias Nate Morgan. The second book, Short Rope For A Tall Man was released recently. I tracked my old friend down to talk about this new trail in his life.

SCOTT MONTGOMERY: How did you veer into westerns?

VICTOR GISCHLER (AKA NATE MORGAN) : My agent was talking with an editor at Kensington about another project, a thriller I'd written, and we didn't quite connect on that one, but the editor thought I did good work and asked if I'd ever consider trying a western. It didn't take much to goad me into it. The genre has lots of "toys" to play with -- six-guns and Winchesters and big hats and steam locomotives, etc. It seemed like fun, and I'm happy to report that it was.

S.M. : Why the pseudonym and how did you come up with the name?

V.G. : The westerns are not like anything I've written before, and having my real name on the cover doesn't really bring much to the table. No traditional western reader is going to see Victor Gischler and think "Hey, didn't he write Ink Mage? I'll try his western." So if you go with a pen name, you sort of get a clean slate. Sales numbers can follow an author around. My fantasy books have sold very well. On the other hand, my thriller numbers aren't especially impressive. So instead of messing with all that, it's often simpler to start over with a pen name. I gave my editor a list of names I thought might work, and he picked Nate Morgan.

S.M. : What did you enjoy about writing in the genre?

V.G. : Well, I mentioned the toys above ... so yeah. Spent a lot of time Googling which guns were invented when, single-action versus double, all kinds of stuff. I'm not usually a big research guy, but this felt different to me ... not like work. I don't quite consider that I write "historicals" but there is that element of it. It was fun making decisions like "Is this novel set before or after Little Big Horn?" or "How far has the railroad gotten by the time my story takes place?" That sort of thing.

S.M. : One thing I like about Carson Stone is that he is more affable than many of the current, darker western paperback heroes. Was that a conscious choice?

V.G. : The westerns I write for Kensington are very traditional ... very rated PG. Going darker might not have worked so well, at least not for me. The protagonist needed to be affable. Maybe not 100% squeaky clean, but definitely not an anti-hero either. Also, the book is in no way a comedy, but it seemed alien to me that it would be completely devoid of humor, and I think the "affable" protagonist allows for a good balance.

S.M..: Both books have some fun female characters that are often as capable in the action as the men like Kathryn Payne. What makes writing those ladies fun?.

V.G. : As I said before, these are traditional westerns, so it would not be unheard of to see a damsel in distress or two, but ... well ... yeah, that's not quite so fun to write, and if I'm not having fun, then why should the reader? Am I above sticking a damsel in distress into a book if that's what I think the story needs? Naw. But, again, it seemed more fun to do something else.

S.M. : The names of your characters really pop. Do you put a lot of thought into the right name of a character?

V.G. : This happens all the time while I'm writing: I'm typing up a storm and come to a new character and I slam on the brakes because now I need to think of a name for that character. So now I'm just sitting there looking at the computer screen, not writing, trying to think of a name. I'll get up and go look at a bookshelf and maybe steal an author's first name and a different author's last name and see how they sound together ... or a million other things until a name strikes me as right for the character. This is a very hit-n-miss sort of approach.


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