David Boop is an author, editor, screenwriter, and award-winning essayist. He debuted with the sci-fi/noir, She Murdered Me with Science from WordFire Press. His follow-up, The Soul Changers, is a Victorian Horror based on the Savage Worlds RPG, Rippers Resurrected from Outland Entertainment. Wolfpack Publishing will release his Weird Western novel, The Drowned Horse Chronicle – Volume One in 2022.
David edited the bestselling Weird Western anthology trilogy beginning with Straight Outta Tombstone for Baen, who recently released the first of his series of Space Western anthologies, Gunfight on Europa Station. David publishes a lot short fiction including a flash fiction series, The Trace Walker Temporary Mysteries for Gumshoereview.com. He’s worked with properties such as Predator, Deadlands, The Green Hornet, Kolchak the Night Stalker, and Veronica Mars.
About the Straight Outta series and Drowned Horse Chronicle
The Straight Outta series of Weird Western anthologies is a bestselling, award-nominated, three volume set of the West the way it really was crossed with the West that could’ve been: with vampires, aliens, zombie, time travel, and dragons! It features many bestselling authors such as Charlaine Harris, Larry Correia, Mercedes Lackey, Joe Lansdale, Jim Butcher, Jane Lindskold, Kevin J. Anderson, Harry Turtledove, Jody Lynn Nye, Alan Dean Foster, Samantha Lee Howe, Michael Stackpole, Jonathan Maberry, Milton Davis, the late Mike Resnick, and more.
The forthcoming Drowned Horse Chronicle –Volume 1 is a mosaic novel that takes twenty-one of Boop’s interconnected, weird western short stories and blends them into single narrative. In the town of Drowned Horse, deep inside of the Arizona Territory, settlers carry their demons with them like luggage. Cursed by angry Native American god, citizens find their fears taking shape as monsters from nightmares. But some consider it a calling to fight back against such evil. These are the stories of those brave, foolish (and sometimes doomed) souls that stand between the dark and the light. So, come visit Drowned Horse. It’s one Helluva place!
Interview with David Boop
Tell us about yourself – what is something readers would be surprised to find out?
I was a professional Beetlejuice impersonator. That’s usually the most surprising. Also, I’ve had well over 300 jobs in my life, many as a temp, just as many as young man with undiagnosed ADHD. I get bored easily, as you might discern from all the genres I work in. Born in Connecticut, raised in Wisconsin, spent a few years in Arizona, and now I live in Denver. I have three degrees, at least one is completely useless. The last one, Summa Cum Laude in Creative Writing from CU-Denver is the one I’m most proud of.
What is it about the Weird West genre that draws you to it? What are your favorite aspects or examples of this Under-appreciated genre?
I didn’t set out to write a Weird Western. I wrote a Western-themed mystery about the ghost of an outlaw having to solve his own murder. This was for the Tony Hillerman’s Western Mystery Short Story contest. It didn’t win, but an editor friend of mine, David Lee Summers, said he’d buy it for his magazine. Then another editor, the late David B. Riley, asked me for another one like it, but with a sci-fi bend, so I set that story in the same town. It just spiraled from there.
I live in the West, so writing about the history that surrounds me has great appeal. Most of my work involves exploring the past through fantasy; learning the stories of the people who came before us is exciting! Their challenges. Their fears. Then taking those challenges and fears only to amplify them by adding in the macabre? Well, that’s the best part of my day.
What inspired you to write Drowned Horse Chronicle?
The aforementioned stories are set in a cursed town I named Drowned Horse, which bares absolutely no resemblance to any towns I may, or may not, have lived in while sequestered in Arizona working radio [Names have been changed to protect the me]. After the first three DH sales, I set any Weird Western story I wrote there, thinking someday that it’d make a nice collected work.
Only, I realized a couple of things. I had developed three distinct narratives in three different time periods. I needed to figure out what cursed the town and how those people could be saved. I also noticed that I had used a lot of generic terms in those early stories: sheriff. Indian. Stuff like that. If I was going to spend time there, then I needed to have facts. I did a deep dive into the Arizona Territory, learning that nothing I believed to be true was in reality.
As my knowledge grew, so did the quality of my stories. And so did the ideas I based the stories on. I incorporated real events, real people, into them. And because they were short stories, I could kill characters and no one would bat an eye. The narrative fed itself as with some reoccurring protagonists. I wrote a DH story for any call to submit: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, even romance. Some stories have steampunk elements, others comedy, and more than a few have horrific tragedy. I could see the whole narrative growing. The early years with the first Sheriff of DH. The lawless middle years. The last years and the coming of a new lawman whose job it’d be to save the town. I built a timeline, character profiles, and filled in gaps every time I was asked to write a story that a Weird Western could fit their guidelines.
In summer 2021, I had thirty Drowned Horse Chronicle stories sold or completed, enough I could show a publisher my master plan. At the Western Writers of America conference, I met Jake Bray of Wolfpack Publishing and lay out the whole thing. He loved the idea, and we made a deal to see all of the DHC collected and published. including many new stories. Volume 1 comes out later this year.
If you were living in the Weird West, what kind of character would you be?
I doubt I would’ve survived long in the West. I’m too undisciplined, plus with the ADHD and potentially being on the spectrum, I’m the boy who wanders off and gets eaten by a bear or shot by someone. LOL! At best, maybe an actor in a traveling show, but then I wrote that character, and he didn’t fare any better than I would’ve.
Are there any other writing projects you’re working on?
I’ve always got stuff going on. Weird Western-related, I have a Deadlands short story coming out in Jonathan Maberry’s anthology. I have tons of other short fiction across many genres. I’m editing my third and final Space Western anthology for Baen. The first, Gunfight on Europa Station came out this year. High Noon on Proxima b comes out March 2023. Finally, Last Train Outta Kepplar-283c comes out late 2023. I’m also editing a collection of new stories set in Jack L. Chalker’s Well World series. And I have a giant Mech comic that I co-authored with Kevin J. Anderson going to Kickstarter late summer.
What are you reading right now?
Mostly research material, ATM. I’m finally diving into Bleed, Blister, and Purge, a book about Frontier medicine.
Favorite weird west movie/book/comic/etc. and why?
Brisco County Jr. Two words: Bruce and Campbell.
I also have a love for the original Wild, Wild, West TV series, and I’m enjoying the Bass Reeves comic written by Kevin Greivoux.
Anything else you’d like to add about writing or the Weird West?
I have a philosophy: Sell them on your reality before you sell them on your fantasy. It’s important to do the legwork. The fantastical elements are easy to write, but the world around them should take some effort to build. If it doesn’t feel real, then you’re doing your readers a disservice.