Weird West Author Spotlight: Michael Merriam

Welcome, Michael!

Michael Merriam is the author of the steampunk series Sixguns & Sorcery, and his essays and stories have appeared in Uncanny MagazineCast of Wonders, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. He has published ten books and over 100 pieces of short fiction and poetry. His scripts have been produced for stage and radio. Like most artists, he has worked a variety of odd jobs over the years, including short order cook, late night radio disc jockey, international freight specialist, and manager of a puppet troupe. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two exuberant cats.

Learn more about Michael at his website: michaelmerriam.com

About Not Enough Midnights

When several families vanish under mysterious circumstances and the sheriff investigating is driven insane, disgraced ex-U.S. Marshal Jefferson Stottlemyre is called back into federal service by order the President of the United States.

Now Stottlemyre, aided by his old friends Deputy Marshal William Blenchy and Lady Priscilla Talbot of the British Secret Service Supernatural Division, must unravel the mystery of who – or what – is murdering settlers around Binger, Oklahoma Territory.

Gathering allies and gaining enemies, the group must deal with rogue treasure hunters, a cavalry troop reluctant to fight, a horde of hidden Native American drummers, terrified townsfolk, and a mythical monster turned deadly reality on the prairie.

Interview with Michael Merriam

Tell us about yourself – what is something readers would be surprised to find out? 

I grew up in rural Oklahoma and lived in this tiny little town of about 150 people. We lived near an old-timer called Marshal Rich. Turned out he was once a U.S. Deputy Marshal for Oklahoma Territory. He had all these great stories and I got to fire some of the legendary old west weapons, like the Springfield Trapdoor, the Spencer .56, and Colt 1860 Army Revolver. Added to this was my grandfather, who served in one the last mounted cavalry units in the U.S. Military. I practically grew up on horseback and started working cattle ranches and riding fence lines at ten years old. Not far from another place I lived in Oklahoma was a mound and rock formation called Buzzards Roost, where Jesse James and his gang are said to have hidden gold and silver treasure. Also nearby was the Wichita Mountains, where the legendary Iron Door is supposed to be hidden. While the Wichita Mountains are a wildlife preserve and open to the public, Buzzards Roost is on private property, so maybe don’t go getting yourself shot for trespassing!

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 feel like there is so much you can do writing in the American West. It was time of legends (some of which are true, many of which are embellished). I have always been a fan and reader of classic westerns, adventure stories, and pulp. Adding in fantastic elements or cosmic horror just ups the ante for me as both a reader and a writer. 

What inspired you to write this story?

I had already written a novella called The Horror at Cold Springs (which is currently out of print) which featured some of these characters, and I knew I wanted to revisit them again, to show them dealing with the after effects of the previous adventure while engaged in another one. I once lived about 5 miles from Binger, Oklahoma, which is the setting of The Curse of Yig and The Mound by H. P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop and I really wanted to both riff on them and pay homage to them.

If you were living in the Weird West, what kind of character would you be?

I’d probably be a ranch hand or a bartender. You know, things I’ve been in this life! I also like to tinker with mechanical things, so maybe an artificer of weird mechanical items. I could also see myself being a frontier newspaper owner and editor.

Are there any other writing projects you’re working on?

I’m putting together an omnibus of the four novellas that make up my Sixguns and Sorcery setting; two weird west novellas and two Victoriana steampunk novellas, tentatively titled Charming Mayhem. I am also deep in rewrites of an urban fantasy novel set in my current hometown of Minneapolis, MN featuring a conflict between various spirits of place and an aging and angry sorceress seeking her lost love, all tied together by the history of baseball in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN.

Favorite weird west movie/book/comic and why?

The Wild Wild West television show is a big influence on me as a weird west and steampunk writer. I also have a fondness for various old weird western comics, including Kid Colt and Weird Western Tales. I’ve been reading Kenneth Mark Hoover’s Haxan series of novels and stories. If you are not familiar with it, fix that right now! 

Learn more about Michael Merriam and His Weird West Tales:

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