Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Two-Fisted/Six-Gun Alt Reality Meets Lovecraftian Menace: Introducing William Vitka

As a perusal of my old Magical Mondays segments might indicate, I've more than a passing interest in various mysterious monster beasties and their related legends. Thus, I was very excited to hear about the second upcoming Kindle All-Stars Anthology project: Carnival of Cryptids. The anthology is scheduled for release on February 1st.

The Kindle All-Stars are a select group of authors from around the world who donate their work in the name of charity.  All profits from Kindle All-Stars anthology are donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

This week I'll be interviewing four of the Kindle All-Stars who contributed to the Carnival of Cryptids and reviewing the anthology this weekend.

Today, we're starting off with William Vitka, author of "Six Gun Diplomacy" and an NYC-based journalist and author. He's written for CBSnews.com, Stuff Magazine, GameSpy, On Spec Magaine, and The Red Penny Papers.


1) Please tell us about your story. 

A human town is haunted by monstrous natives who dwell in the waters off their shores. Two diplomats arrive in an attempt to establish peace between the species … But it all goes very wrong, very fast.

2) What went into designing the cryptids/monsters featured in your story? Though the tone is obviously quite different, would it be incorrect to say there's a bit of Lovecraftian literary DNA in there, as it were? 

Yeah, you could argue that there's a touch of Lovecraft in all of my fiction. Not in terms of tone, as you noted. Lovecraft was my first introduction to Horror fiction. In fact, I can still remember my old man reading The Colour Out Of Space to my brother and I when we were younger – I think I was 9 or 10. Why he thought this was suitable bed time material, I'll never know. But I'm quite glad he did read it to us.

As for the creature design, it seemed logical because of where and when I wanted to tell the tale. I love huge tentacled beasts (Thanks, Lovecraft). Hence our Kraken. Then I wanted to make things even worse. Hah! The best part is that The Kindle All-Stars lets me get away with all that. I wanted to tell a story not just about monsters, but also about a place and a time. An alternate Galveston felt right. Especially since it was the site of the devastating 1900 hurricane. There are more than a few allusions to the storm and even the founders of the city. Lafitte, for example. The history of Resilient takes its cues from the real history of Galveston … To a certain extent, at least.

3) You have a lot of elements here, horror, steam punk, and alternate universe travel. When you were writing the story was there a particular aspect or element you were more concerned with coming across than the others?

My primary concern with writing is: Does it feel possible? Or at least real within the world you're presenting to the reader? I always want my writing to sound like it's some crazy insanity we're telling each other at a bar. Dialogue, action and characterization are always at the forefront of any story. Elmore Leonard's novels are the best teacher for this. Hell, you can go from writing shit dialogue (which is a goddamn plague in Horror and SciFi) to great if you read enough of Leonard's work.

But as for the particular elements in Six-Gun, no. I wasn't concerned that one would overshadow the other. The only reason I wasn't, I think, is because I tried to make sure all of the characters treated it nonchalantly. Time travel? Sure. Alternate Earths? Okey dokey. Cross-species Squidmen? All in a day's work. Jack, Catarina and The Collective are cogs in a bigger universe. They're in their own stories as well. I've written an entire novel about their past and their rise as heroes. My biggest concern with Six-Gun was that the universe itself stayed intact.

4) Part of the mystique of cryptids, one could argue, has to do with their typically mysterious nature. In your story, you've approached the mystery from a different angle, with the "creatures" far less inscrutable than they might have been in a different type of story. Please tell us a bit about your thought process in that regard. 

'Supernatural' explanations are bullshit. In fact, they're not explanations at all. If you've got a monster, a really great monster, and you end your story with something along the lines of: The monster was a ghost the whole time because at one point 300 years ago a girl was sad and she killed herself but now we're gonna have cake because we found the lost jewels that make her happy again … Then I'm going to be pissed off as a reader. You aren't telling me anything. And you've been lying to me the whole time I've been studying your words. My characters and my monsters always, always have some kind of traceable biology and physiology. If I, as the author, can't actually explain what's going on in my story, then I shouldn't be writing it. Thus: "Six-Gun Diplomacy" adheres to its own internal logic.

5) Jack and Catarina are engaging characters who happen to be visitors to the particular setting of this story. Are they characters you've developed for other works and/or do you intend to use them in other works? 

They're two kids from Brooklyn who had to grow up very fast. I mentioned above that they're the stars of a separate novel. Along with Jack's brother, Caleb Svoboda. All three have appeared in their own short stories. And I found them all engaging. So I said to myself: You've got three humans who are Super Heroes, in a way. You better explain that. Their origin story is called EMERGENCE. The cover is being worked on as we speak!

6) Please give us a brief overview of some of your other works.

My first novel, INFECTED (http://www.amazon.com/Infected-ebook/dp/B00A2WKI7G/), is about what a journalist would do during the apocalypse. So, far, it's gotten 5-stars across the board. Cherie Priest and Jonathan Maberry endorsed it. It's been a thrill, and everyone should just go buy it! THE SPACE WHISKEY DEATH CHRONICLES (http://www.amazon.com/Space-Whiskey-Death-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00AXTOBUS) is a collection of my stories. Several of which feature Jack and Catarina. They're all part of my weird universe building. 

Of course, I have to mention Kindle All-Stars #1 (http://www.amazon.com/Resistance-Front-1-Bernard-Schaffer/dp/1469927098), because that's what started my wild relationship with all the awesome authors involved.

Thanks, William.

If you want to find more from William Vitka, please visit http://vitka.tumblr.com/.

Carnival of  Cryptids is available at Amazon.

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