Brennan LaFaro is a horror writer living in southeastern Massachusetts with his wife, two sons, and his hounds. An avid lifelong reader, Brennan also co-hosts the Dead Headspace podcast. Brennan is the author of Noose, as well as Slattery Falls and its forthcoming sequels. You can read his short fiction in various anthologies and find him on Twitter at @brennanlafaro or at www.brennanlafaro.com.
It’s been fifteen years since Noose Holcomb perpetrated the Buzzard’s Edge Train Robbery of 1872, leaving Rory Daggett an orphan. Settled in with a new family and a second chance at life, Rory never quite sheds the thirst for revenge. When one of the gang members returns to Buzzard’s Edge, Rory’s life is violently upended once more. Capturing the rogue spurs on a furious chain of events that pits Rory against each member of Noose’s gang, every one more twisted and terrifying than the last, in order to work his way to their leader. With the help of a fellow orphan whose life Noose turned upside down and the town’s sheriff, Rory will stop at nothing to be the man who ends Noose’s reign of terror, but can he do it without becoming the man he seeks to kill?
Interview with Brennan LaFaro
Tell us about yourself – what is something readers would be surprised to find out?
My day job is teaching music at the elementary level, but my focus in college was on jazz composition and improvisation. Most writers might be surprised at how many lessons in learning how to craft a melody on the spot are applicable to improving craft as a writer. Namely, honing and refining skills, but ultimately needing time for those technical aspects to come out in your playing/writing organically.
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?
What I love about westerns in general is the larger-than-life historical figures. People like Wild Bill Hickock, Nat Love, Bass Reeves, Calamity Jane, and I could go on and on. These are people who really lived but have become part of American lore, existing as the country’s own brand of mythology. Adding the weird aspect, and horror in general, just comes naturally since I’ve always thought of horror as more of a spice than a main dish. Combining tall tales with authentic human monsters, folkloric monsters, and other supernatural aspects contains all the ingredients for a great story.
What inspired you to write this story?
I’ve tremendously enjoyed the splatter western series from Death’s Head Press, and when they opened for pitches, I figured what the hell? As it turned out, I wrote the first chapter of Noose and decided not to pitch it, concerned it wouldn’t fit their mold. The book has no problem painting the walls with blood and guts when it’s necessary, but seemed to lack the level of depravity most DHP books put on display. I pitched the book to DarkLit Press as my version of a splatter western and Andrew Robert, who has been incredible to work with, countered that it fit better into the subgenre of adventure/quest horror. I didn’t disagree.
If you were living in the Weird West, what kind of character would you be?
I created a character named Thaddeus Locke, a consulting detective in the vein of Sherlock Holmes who has lived all over, but ultimately winds up in the town I created, named Buzzard’s Edge, Arizona. Locke doesn’t appear in Noose, but rather in a story called “Trade Secrets” in the Brigid’s Gate anthology, Blood in the Soil, Terror on the Wind.
I like Locke’s logical and detached way of participating in the often bloody and gritty aspects of late 1800s Arizona life. He stands back, observes, and doesn’t get involved until he’s looked at every practical angle. I like to think that’s how I’d approach the old west. I’ll double down on that answer if there are werewolves and vampires about.
Are there any other writing projects you’re working on?
In December 2022, I released the second book in my Slattery Falls series with the third to follow next June. These books deal more with haunted houses and paranormal investigations than the old west, but do delve into the same time period that Noose is set in. I just may have to overlap the two worlds at some point.
Regarding my work in weird west fiction, around the time DarkLit Press released Noose, we had conversations about revisiting the subgenre and town of Buzzard’s Edge. Soon after, we signed a two-book deal to put out a direct sequel to Noose. The as-yet-untitled sequel will follow Rory on another adventure and come out in Fall of 2024. Earlier that year, I’ll be releasing a collection of stories called Last Train to Buzzard’s Edge. The collection will include several previously published stories set in the Noose universe with a great deal of new material added.
What are you reading right now?
I’m finishing Brian McAuley’s debut novel, Curse of the Reaper, and it’s shaping up to be one of my favorite books of the year. I’m also immersing myself in a ton of vampire books in preparation to write a vampire novel next year. Some books on my list include The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman, Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite, and a reread of NOS4A2 by Joe Hill among a few others.
Anything else you’d like to add about writing or the Weird West?
It’s a great setting for stories. Taking timeless themes and characters that jump off the page and dropping them into the scorching deserts, endless plains, and mountain trails of the old west is a recipe for real-life horrors mixed with lots of unknown land ripe to fill with monsters. If I could offer one piece of advice to someone looking to try their hand, it would be don’t skimp on the research, but make sure story comes first. It’s a whole lot easier to fix facts during the editing phase than a story that falls flat or characters that bore.
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