Conversations with Colleen: The Halloween Special with C. S. Boyack, @Virgilante
Hello, Everyone! Happy Halloween!
The last few years I’ve reserved my Halloween interview spot for C. S. Boyack, one of my favorite speculative fiction authors. Craig has written several books that fit into the Halloween genre. One of my all-time favorite books he’s written is called Panama. Just, don’t read this one alone in the dark!
I usually ask authors to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. However, because it’s Halloween, I let Craig pick his own questions. The best way to learn how to write captivating books is to learn from other successful authors.
Please meet my guest author, C. S. Boyack.
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.
I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.
I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.Amazon Author Page
Hi, Craig, I’m happy to celebrate Halloween with you again this year!
I’m happy to be here. Happy Halloween!
I see you’re exploring the realm of series writing. I know you’re not known for series work, but how is that working out for you?
Never one to shirk a tough job, I wrote one of each type. My fantasy pirates will become a traditional trilogy. I’m calling it the “Lanternfish” series. I’m partway through the second book and would like to finish the draft by the end of the year. I have a supporting story called “Serang” that will be out prior to the end of the year.
“The Hat” is also becoming a series, but it’s the other kind. It’s designed so there are sequels with the main characters, but no requirement to read the previous books if one catches your attention.
The first sequel is the book I’m promoting this month. It’s called “Viral Blues,” and not only do Lizzie and the Hat appear in the story, but several of my other pre-existing characters are also in it. I introduce readers to Lizzie, and the story ends with her, but she shares the spotlight with several other characters.
I enjoyed “The Hat!” How did you bring such a diverse cast of characters into the same story?
It was a Muse inspiration and nothing more. Many of my characters are in our world, and it seemed they might cross paths one day. It posed some real problems because they aren’t all paranormal type characters.
Gina Greybill and Mohan Gupta were no-brainers. They originated in a paranormal story, so additional work under her “Host” program was simple.
Clovis is a regular man. He has no special skills as far as ghosts and witchcraft are concerned. This isn’t to say that he has no skills, but he’s more of an adventure anti-hero of sorts. Dealing with him in this story was incredibly fun.
Jason Fogg and Lisa Burton were harder to work around, but they were both pretty popular. Jason is the product of a science fiction accident, and Lisa is a robot girl. Not a paranormal occurrence in sight in their previous stories.
Eventually, it dawned on me that Marvel and DC do such things all the time. Audiences are already primed for such stories, so why not me?
Excellent! So, today is Halloween, how does “Viral Blues” scratch that itch?
Lizzie is a hard-working twenty-something. She came by an old hat owned by her grandfather. (Lizzie isn’t the first person to wear this hat, and won’t be the last. I think that adds a nice aura to the story. The Hat is a kind of paranormal historian and she can learn about her ancestors through him.)
He’s actually a creature from another dimension, brought here by witchcraft and trapped in the form of a hat for all eternity. Together, they form a symbiosis that allows them to do much more than either of them could do alone.
They get summoned to a cryptic meeting at Gina Greybill’s headquarters and meet the other players. Someone, or something, is tampering with the nation’s vaccine supply.
Once they decide to face this evil, you’re going to get two different varieties of zombie, a ghostly pilot, a Voodoo ritual, and a devil seeking a massive pestilence. That sounds like Halloween to me.
I ought to note this book is a dark comedy. This isn’t the slasher kind of story that has become so popular lately. As a team-up, it might be more Guardians of the Galaxy or Suicide Squad than Justice League.
I remember you did some fun things in “The Hat.” Do these carry over into Viral Blues?
This was always the next book for Lizzie and The Hat. That meant I had some protocol to follow. There are some silly little graphics in the first story, and I stayed with those. This one also has the bass clef as a section break, in homage to the idea they team up to play the upright bass in a band.
I even took it a step further and added a secret chapter after the author section. The story is complete without it, but it adds an extra layer of closure and features Clovis in his natural habitat. This is my attempt to give a nod to pop culture where the Marvel films have a snippet after the end credits.
That’s a marvelous idea, Craig. From your experience, how does series work differ from solo titles? What have you learned?
I’ve learned a lot by writing both series. Since this is about The Hat, I’ll stick with it today. The main thing is to remember and respect canon.
The Hat is similar to a superhero origination story. It might not be the best explanation, but it helps readers get the idea. We learn more about the Hat’s powers, and readers will expect some of those to show up in Viral Blues. The important part is to remember the Hat’s limitations. This is no Mary Sue kind of character, and his abilities can’t do everything. That’s what makes Lizzie’s character so important.
One thing the Hat can do is to track people he has met before. It’s kind of a psychic vibe, and he hates it when people call it that. In Viral Blues we learn there are some beings he can’t track.
I’ve built a fence now and must respect that in subsequent stories. I can see this getting more difficult as the series continues. There could be more fences built, but what’s left is a fertile field for more stories.
More stories? So, what’s next for Lizzie and the Hat?
I currently have four more tales in various stages of storyboarding. A couple of these involve classic Hollywood monsters.
There’s one where Lizzie has a breakdown and it involves the witches that brought the Hat to our world. I’m also toying with one where the antagonist is a saint. There are some interesting historical records that back me up on that one, and since the Hat has been here for thousands of years, he can bring some histories forward.
This series is going to need some recurring characters, and I can’t get by with only Lizzie’s band members or employers. I have an over-the-top vampire planned for the next story, and he may return sporadically. I think the Hat is going to have some genuine fun at his expense.
I hope your readers will give Viral Blues a chance. It’s new, but The Hat has a mountain of favorable reviews. It isn’t required reading, but sometimes shoppers like to know what to expect. That’s the only reason I mention it.
Thank you so much for opening your site up to me today, and Happy Halloween, everyone.
How to Contact Author, C. S. Boyack
Beware the witching hour! Have a happy and safe Halloween!