I hope that you enjoy reading The Ghosts of Watt O’Hugh.
Please e-mail me your questions at Steven@Watt-OHugh.com, and I will answer them in this space when I get a chance. Also, please let me know how you like the book and what you’d like to see in future books!
Q: What is this book, anyway? Is it a Western, a historical novel, a love story, a fantasy?
A: I might have written ten books instead, but I decided to put everything that I love into this one book. If I could have made it a musical too, maybe I would have.
Q: The book’s gotten some good reviews. It was even named one of the best books of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews? How has this changed your life?
A: It’s been gratifying. I always thought that if we could get Watt O’Hugh out into the world, he would catch on.
Q: In your book, Madame Tang and the Empress both insist that dragons are real. Do you believe that dragons once walked the Earth?
Q: How come there is no picture of the author on the website? I bet he is a handsome fellow.
SSD: You bet wrong! But most important, you shouldn’t have my face in your mind’s eye when you’re reading Watt’s words. You should picture the stoic figure on a horse in Craig Eastland’s cover art.
Q: Is there going to be a sequel?
SSD: Absolutely. Ghosts is the first book of a trilogy. I am working on Book 2 now and expect it to be published in early 2013. Of course, the availability of the next two books will depend on how well this one sells. So if you like my book, please tell all your friends.
Q: OK so here’s the quibbles. There’s actually only 2, but I wasn’t looking to “getcha.” I’ll have to use Kindle “locations” in the absence of tangible page numbers: 1184: 1936 was a leap year; Feb 29 was a Saturday. If this is a clever joke, I’m not getting it. 2245: If this is a reference to Elvis, he died in 1977, not ’73
A: That’s not a reference to Elvis Presley, it’s a reference to Bobby Darin. There are absolutely no Elvis Presley references in my book, or at least nothing conscious. On the other hand, I am more than a little bit obsessed with Bobby Darin. I am not entirely sure that Bobby Darin wasn’t a time Roamer, he always seemed quite Magical and otherworldly, and I hope he still walks among us. That would be nice. As for what seems to be a “leap year” error on “location” 1184, I am sure that there must be an incredibly clever explanation for that.
Q: What books most influenced the creation of Watt O’Hugh?
SSD: I had always thought of this as sort of an American version of Barry Hughart’s fantasy novels about a “China that Never Was”. The Brisco County Jr. TV series obviously influences anyone who mixes Western mythology with fantasy. In fact, if I can sell enough copies of my book, I’m going to see if Warner Bros. will allow an appearance by Brisco in Book 3, which is going to be set around the turn of the 20th century. (So I guess if you are a big Brisco fan, I would recommend that you buy a lot of copies of my book ….?) Roe Richmond, High Noon, and the original Maverick TV show were also things that I watched and read that affected how I thought about Westerns. Mike Brotherton’s two sci-fi novels are different from what I do, but they are really great, exciting books, and Watt O’Hugh aspires to be as exciting.
Q: Why did you decide to publish it yourself?
A: I finished the book in January, 2011, and I published it July. I just wanted it out there so that people could read it if they want to. I know that it is not easy to break through to the broader fantasy reading public with a self-published book, but I think it will find its audience with time, if it is as good as people say it is, and with some luck.
Q: How historically accurate is Watt O’Hugh?
SSD: I wanted to be true to the feel of the 1860s and 1870s, and of ancient China. I can name a lot of examples of absolutely accurate history and some inaccurate things as well. If I say that someone is President of the United States at a particular point in history, that is going to be correct, and if I mention that the old El Train was at a particular corner of Manhattan in 1874, that’s also going to be accurate, but, to give you an example of the trade-offs I made, the description of Leadville, Colorado, which is the model for “Cloud City” in the book is also pretty accurate, although it wasn’t that built up until later in the decade. If you want to read about the Draft Riots, for example, pick up In the Shadow of Slavery by Leslie M. Harris, or The Epic of New York City by Edward Robb Ellis, don’t rely on my book.
Q: What sort of writing were you known for before Watt O’Hugh?
SSD: I spent some time doing interviews and reviews for various newspapers and magazines around twenty years ago, reviewing movies and interviewing movie stars. I liked doing it and met a lot of interesting people – you know, I got to meet Jackie Chan, which is an experience I recommend highly – but I drifted off to other things and haven’t published much in recent years. A few years ago, I set up a Wix site for anyone interested in reading some of my old articles. There is no reason why you should want to read an interview with Jackie Chan from 20 years ago, but in case you do, you can see them at www.wix.com/stevendrachman/journalism