Julie Bozza is an Aussie-Anglo hybrid empowered by writing, fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, overexcited by photography, and madly in love with Amy Adams and John Keats.
She is the author of the queer Weird West novel, Writ In Blood, and the editor of the upcoming anthology Queer Weird West Tales. Learn more on her website https://juliebozza.com/ or on Twitter at @juliebozza.
About Writ In Blood
Courage. Honor. Loyalty. All fine things, but they’ve led John Ringo to kill a man. He was raised right and he knows he’s not a murderer, but otherwise he’s a mystery even to himself. Doc Holliday claims to have some insights, but Doc is too devoted to Wyatt Earp to spare much attention for the man who’s already lost his soul. Which leaves Johnny Ringo prey to the distractions of a demon. Imaginary or not, if this creature abandons him, too, then surely his sanity is forfeit – and what will his life be worth then?
This Queer Weird West novel follows these three along the complex trails that lead into and out of Tombstone, Arizona in 1881.
Interview with Julie Bozza
What inspired you to write this story?
There’s no denying that my love of westerns began with Tombstone (1993), which we first saw in a cinema back in the day. I wrote fanfiction, I read and researched and watched all I could find, both fiction and non. And eventually decided I wouldn’t be done until I’d written a novel of my own, retelling the Tombstone, A.T. story. (Actually, I’m still not done. Refer to the next question!)
My version of Johnny Ringo is burdened by creativity gone badly awry. He can see people’s souls (he’s convinced that he’s already lost his own), and he’s haunted by a demon he believes to be the Son of the Devil. Whether this is due to his vivid imagination skewed by psychological damage, or it’s all true, I leave to the reader to decide. To Johnny, it’s real. Doc Holliday goes so far as to imagine Ringo as a troubled poet, but frankly does not believe any of the rest.
I based the overall story on the history and the biography of the main players – though some of this seems to be tall tales told at the time or since, for various reasons. So, I was amused to belatedly discover, care of David Johnson’s biography of John Ringo, that he was actually present one night when a Texas Ranger suffered visions of a demon and a trip down to Hell… I rewrote my opening chapter to place Johnny’s first encounter with his own demon on the same night, and took it from there… It seems that even in the “real world,” the weird can be found in the West!
Are there any other writing projects you’re working on?
I am currently editing an anthology titled Queer Weird West Tales, which adds LGBTQ+ main characters to the genre mix of speculative fiction and westerns. I wondered if I’d receive any submissions at all, given that I was asking for stories that included all three of these elements. As it happened, I was happily inundated, and it was a really difficult task to decide on which would work best together as a collection. I’m already proud of how it’s going to turn out! We have a terrific mix of new, emerging, and established authors – including KC Grifant, Bryn Hammond, Narrelle M Harris, and Catherine Lundoff. The planned release date is 31 August 2022, and the Kindle and eBook editions are already available for preorder.
If you were living in the Weird West, what kind of character would you be?
I’d like to say I’d be a non-binary steampunk gunslinger, but I’m afraid I’m not that cool! Maybe I could be their spunky, intelligent love interest…? I’ve been singlehandedly writing and editing the town’s local newspaper, and I’m astounded to discover that… (to be continued)
What is your Favorite weird west movie/book/comic/ETC. and why?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my favorite, but the film Bone Tomahawk (2015) has really stayed with me. The spec fic aspect of it involves body horror, so it won’t be for everyone (I thought I was OK with it, until I had a nightmare a week later). But it’s such a well-written and beautifully made modern take on the western genre. There’s a terrific woman character, Samantha O’Dwyer (Lili Simmons), who is independent, skilled, intelligent, and articulate. The sheriff’s sidekick, Deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins) seems nothing more than a foolish old man, and you wonder why on earth the sheriff puts up with him. But late in the film when Samantha is unexpectedly kind to him, we realize Chicory has completely endeared himself to us. (Also, what a great name!)
What I love best, though, is Kurt Russell as Sheriff Franklin Hunt. This is the finest performance of his that I’ve seen, and some of his choices, while subtle, are astonishing. There are a couple of lines that are so right and yet so out of left field, that I can’t even imagine anyone else delivering them.
If ever there was a feeling that westerns are over, or that the weird west genre is trivial… this film proves there’s plenty of life in both!