Blood Red WerewolvesBooks/Art/Culture,Home,News Tony Timpone
Screenwriter Eric Red made a name for himself in the 1980s by penning such iconic horror flicks as THE HITCHER and NEAR DARK. He later added directing to his resume with macabre favorites like BODY PARTS, BAD MOON and 100 FEET. These days, the Pittsburgh-born Red has turned into a busy novelist, indulging his passion for Westerns and werewolves. His first book, THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE, debuted in 2013 and this August sees the release of its hairy sequel, THE WOLVES OF EL DIABLO, which you can preorder HERE (hardcover and paperback) and the Kindle Amazon version HERE. In this exclusive interview, Red talks about his love for lycanthropes.
FANGORIA: What made you go from screenwriting to novels?
ERIC RED: I still write scripts but like a lot of screenwriters wanted to try my hand at a novel and wrote my first one five years ago. Kind of fell in love with writing books and have written six published novels since. A script is a blueprint for a movie whose final product depends on the realization. A book is the final product and that’s satisfying for an author. I’m a storyteller by trade and love telling stories whether in books or films.
The biggest difference between movies and books is a book enlists the reader’s imagination as an active participant. A film shows you pictures, a book makes you supply your own. What I love most about writing novels is when people read the book they bring their own personal images to the prose, and that creates a more intimate and intense involvement with the story because readers interface with the tale on a personal level. That’s the great thing about reading, isn’t it? Being a novelist has happily become a second career for me, besides making movies.
FANG: Has this work been more creatively fulfilling?
RED: In a novel I have a lot more storytelling “weapons in my arsenal,” so to speak. I get to tell a story in much greater narrative length and detail, get inside characters heads and say what they are thinking, use many different voices, have a lot of immersive descriptive detail and more. In a script you are limited to dialogue and action, basically.
Compared to screenplays, there are fewer limitations writing books and it is nice to not have to worry about the practical realities of bringing it to screen. There are no budgetary and logistical restrictions to the action of the story in a novel. The only limits are imagination. It’s uncompromised in that way.
FANG: Tell us about the new book and how it picks up from the last one.
RED: As those who read the first book THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE remember, three tough American gunfighters in 1800s Mexico named Tucker, Fix and Bodie are recruited by a beautiful peasant woman named Pilar to rescue her small village from a bloodthirsty pack of werewolves who took over her town. The wolfmen are Mexican bandits when in human form whose leader Mosca has lived for centuries. The three gunfighters take the job for the silver in the church the woman promises them as payment after they use the rest of the silver to make bullets that can destroy the werewolves. But in the end, the gunfighters do it for honor, not money. The first book builds to a bloody action-packed showdown.
THE WOLVES OF EL DIABLO begins a month later during the next full moon when we learn the bandit leader has a ferocious bandita werewolf sister named Azul. She is hell-bent on taking savage revenge on the gunfighters who killed her brother Mosca back in the village. The action picks up when the three gunfighters rob a Mexican army steam train carrying a fortune in silver. Azul leads her bloodthirsty gang of wolfmen in a gory attack, and Tucker, Fix, Bodie and Pilar are on a highballing railroad in the middle of the desert fighting 50 werewolves. In the vein of THE WALKING DEAD, the novel’s MAGNIFICENT SEVEN-style heroes who won’t back down find themselves trapped on a train in an unbeatable fight they can’t win against an endless horde of unstoppable werewolves. Equal parts fantasy, Western, horror and action, THE WOLVES OF EL DIABLO is a whole new brand of high-octane adrenaline-fueled excitement and entertainment I think fans will love.
All of my novels up until now have been stand-alone books. With this series, I wanted to create a new epic dark fantasy mythology of legendary heroes battling supernatural monsters in fantastic realms that will span a trilogy and take readers where they haven’t been before.
FANG: Seems you wanted to make the sequel bigger and badder, with more werewolves and more action…
RED: The readers of the first book loved all the cowboys vs. werewolves action, so in the second book I decided to give the people what they want! Can’t imagine writing a more action-packed book than this.
To use a movie reference, THE WOLVES OF EL DIABLO is to THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE what ALIENS is to ALIEN: more werewolves, more silver bullets, bigger weapons and relentless supercharged action.
It’s been fun writing THE WOLVES OF EL DIABLO and THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE doing a crossover of the Western and horror genres, mixing classic Western gunfighter good guys with classic horror bad guys like werewolves, because both Western and horror are action-packed, good guy-versus-bad guy stories. It’s a natural mash-up. Horror Westerns have actually become a brand-new genre they’re calling “Weird West.”
FANG: Who did the fabulous cover art for the books?
RED: The covers were done by my good friend John Gallagher, a brilliant illustrator and film and TV designer. To give the book covers a cinematic flavor, John uses detailed high-definition action imagery in a dynamic wraparound cover design, a canvas that stretches across the front and back of the book and evokes a widescreen Western movie frame. John Gallagher’s graphics have become an intrinsic part of this book series’ identity. Working with him is one of my favorite parts of the entire process.
FANG: After these two books and BAD MOON, is it safe to say werewolves are your favorite monster?
RED: What I love about werewolves is they are really two characters: a human fighting a losing battle against their destructive lycanthrope nature and also the monstrous beast they turn into during the full moon. These two faces give a werewolf added drama and dimension compared to other monsters. Werewolves are rich characters to write because I get two bites at the apple with them dramatically: bad guys as wolfmen and bad guys in human form. The werewolves are always the same but the people who turn into them can be different types of characters. In BAD MOON, the wolfman Uncle Ted was a good man tortured in losing his humanity who sought to find a cure for his lycanthropy with family love.
In THE WOLVES OF EL DIABLO and THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE, the Mexican bandits love being werewolves—they relish the raw power of being the biggest bad asses around who can take what they want and whomever they want whenever they want to. These are savage and unapologetic bad guys. They love being werewolves the way the clan in NEAR DARK loved being vampires. My werewolves represent the total absence of humanity and the gunfighters reaffirm their humanity by fighting them.
I wanted to bring my werewolves back to the traditional horrific beast. These are monstrous blood-drenched, furred, fanged and clawed creatures that will rip you limb from limb and eat you whole.
FANG: What is the lasting appeal with these creatures?
RED: They have pathos. The tragedy of the werewolf is they must suffer slowly losing their humanity to the bestiality that is the nature of the lycanthrope. Even when a wolfman has some love or goodness they value inside themselves while in human form, the mindless all-consuming savagery of the werewolf will ultimately destroy those parts of their soul. Inevitably, the werewolf will know the horror of killing everyone they love. This theme carries through THE WOLVES OF EL DIABLO and THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE, and all the werewolves in my books have been scarred by it, especially the brother and sister Mosca and Azul. This tragic aspect gives the werewolves some pathos. We feel for them a little.
FANG: Will this series become a trilogy? Or more?
RED: THE WOLVES OF EL DIABLO is the second book in a trilogy called THE MEN WHO WALK LIKE WOLVES. The third book THE CLAWS OF RIO MUERTA comes out next year. Without giving any of WOLVES away, anyone who reads it will know CLAWS is a family story. The third book is the final reckoning and ultimate showdown between the gunfighter factions and werewolf factions and will be full of surprises. This story cycle will end in the last book of the trilogy…that might begin a whole new set of adventures, so guess we’ll have to see.
FANG: Any film or TV interest in your werewolf books?
RED: Nothing I’m ready to talk about at the moment.
FANG: What’s next for you?
RED: I’m writing a straight Western book series for a major publisher called THE JOE NOOSE WESTERNS, following the action-packed adventures of a tough cowboy in 1800s Wyoming. The first novel, NOOSE, comes out in 2018 everywhere, to be followed by HANGING FIRE.