In 2008, he took a major step sideways and wrote the book he’d been born to, Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse , a wacked out trip through the former American South after the collapse of civilization in the near future. Part Mad Max, part Gulliver's Travels, it’s a blast. And a half. He followed up Girls with last year’s Vampire a Go-Go , an everything and the kitchen sink, supernatural mystery, (think Dan Brown re-written by Christopher Moore and edited by Hunter S. Thompson). He’s also been writing for Marvel comics where his wise-guy voice is a natural fit.
This week marks his return to crime fiction and the breather seems to have recharged his batteries. I won’t say that The Deputy is his most mature book yet, (I don’t think it’ll ever happen and I don’t think I’d want it to, maturing that is), but at least its protagonist, part time Coyote Crossing Oklahoma deputy Toby Sawyer, kinda sorta wants to grow up or at least earn a little respect. He understands that he’s a joke, to everyone in his life, but for the sake of his infant son, he’s determined to become a real adult.
It’s gonna be a hard process and a long night.
The story opens with Toby being called to a crime scene in the middle of the night. He shows up, sleepy-eyed, in a Weezer t-shirt and sweat pants that he has a hard time keeping up because the gun holster keeps pulling them down. His job is a simple one. Keep an eye on the shot-dead body of a local rowdy boy who finally started trouble with the wrong guy in a bar, until it’s picked up. But it’s laaaate and hoooot and Toby gets boooored awful quick. He moseys over to Skeeter’s for a beer and when he comes back out the body is missing.
Well, dang. Now what?
Things only get worse for Toby from there. Over the course of the night, he’ll uncover dark secrets about the goings on of this nowhere town and find out what he’s made of. If he can just stay out of his own way, he may even survive.
By the book’s end, the body count has climbed high, and the voice, that one that pops up in Victor’s books when the bullets start flying, singing Eye of the Tiger, it’s here, but what sets it apart, what anchors The Deputy to more emotionally resonate ground is Toby’s devotion to his young son and the urgency it lends his struggle.
I asked Victor to talk a little about The Deputy .
There is an underlying dread felt by The Deputy's protagonist that he is going to let down his infant son. It felt very confessional. How long ago did you write it?
This was written -- if I recall correctly --going on 2 years ago (more?). I might not go as far as calling it "confessional" but I did very much tap into that feeling I think many parents have. The need to provide and protect your child, it's always there. It never goes away. Once you have a kid, it figures into every major decision to make and many of the minor ones too. A very common but very powerful feeling I think a lot of people can relate to.
What was the genesis of the book?
Well, it started as a short story. It became pretty clear pretty fast that it wasn't going to work as a short story because there was too much I wanted to cover. On the other hand, I wasn't 100% sure at the time it could be a novel. I wanted the whole thing to take place in a single night, and I finally got to the point where I felt comfortable it could be a novel ... but I knew it would be a short one. The idea for the character came one day when I was wondering about that line between being a kid and being an adult. In the beginning of the novel, there are still too many ways protagonist Toby Sawyer still wants to be a kid. Things change by the end of the story.
Why was it important for you to set it entirely in one night?
I really wanted the story to have a modern day High Noon feel. Also, there are a number of personal things in Toby's life that have been bubbling under the surface, as well as the corrupt stuff going on in his town, and I wanted the feeling that this was all coming to a head RIGHT NOW. It's not an "ongoing investigation", but rather a world of s*** that's falling on Toby's head at that moment in his life. I wanted ALL the s*** to hit the fan in a concentrated period of time.
(You can read the rest of my interview with Victor Gischler at Hardboiled Wonderland)
Any Gischler fans out there? Have you got a favorite?
Jedidiah Ayres writes fiction and keeps the blog Hardboiled Wonderland
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