Monday, February 1, 2016

A Conversation with Icy Sedgwick

David Cranmer: I have to confess I haven’t seen too many Western films of late though I’ve heard The Hateful Eight and Bone Tomahawk are continuing proof that the Western remains a viable presence on the big screen. Have you seen them or any other movies worth noting?

Icy Sedgwick: I'd highly recommend The Hateful Eight - I saw it on opening day in the UK and I was so impressed! I also saw Slow West last year, which was a quiet sort of Western, and it's also useful to note how different the contemporary Westerns are compared to the classic films people are used to. Gone are the spats between outlaws and local lawmen, or cowboys out on the trail - the newer Westerns are more bloody, yes, but they're less black-and-white about who is good, and who is bad. Good guys have their dark sides, and bad guys have their own motivations. A lot of people still seem to decry the Western and I think a lot of that is part of the legacy of John Wayne; the modern films are a lot more nuanced, and they're more like historical dramas that are just set in the Old West.

DC: In your latest novel To Kill A Dead Man your character Grey O’Donnell is definitely cut from this new and improved cloth. Where did the idea for him originate?

Icy: A long time ago I'd had an idea to do a John Constantine-style character set in the old West, but I never really did anything with the idea. When I was approached and asked to write The Guns of Retribution, Grey was originally an outlaw, but it didn't sit well with the way he treated people or conducted his business, so his job changed. When I decided to write To Kill A Dead Man, I remembered my old idea for supernatural shenanigans in the old West and decided to give Grey something new to do!

DC: Even though you didn't set out to write a series character you have a very colorful one in Grey. Any plans on continuing him on in further adventures? And if so would they also be supernatural offerings?

Icy: I have ideas for at least two more adventures; one of them will definitely be supernatural in nature but the other one may be more Gothic and 'monster' related! Eventually I'd like to involve Grey with more indigenous myths and folklore, but I'll see how the next couple of stories go.

DC: Do you need complete isolation to write or could you write in a café, bookstore, etc.

Icy: I often write on my laptop in the living room while someone else is watching the TV. I do put music on, but that's more to get myself into the mood of whatever it is I'm writing - film soundtracks are good. I don't like writing in cafes because I tend to get distracted by people watching, but I sometimes write on my lunchbreak at work. I find some kind of background distraction helps me to focus a lot better than total silence or isolation would. I keep dreaming of going off on a writing break but I know I'd get no writing done!

DC: Can you dismiss whatever writing project you’re on when you’re away from the keyboard?

Icy: Lord no. Even if I'm not consciously thinking about it, some level of my brain is still smoothing out plot points, rounding off characters, or coming up with ideas. Then without warning they bubble to the surface and I have to write it down while I remember! I think it's important to not struggle with the project - you can overthink things, but if you let your brain just get on with it while you're doing something else, then you're always working on it, even if you're not actually typing.

DC: Your website is called The Cabinet of Curiosities. Besides writing what takes up a great deal of your free time?

Icy: I'm working on my PhD, which does entail a lot of writing but it's also research focused, so I spend a lot of time reading books on horror cinema, ghost stories and set design. I also like to sketch and paint, and I knit up a storm while I'm watching TV. That's not always the best idea - I got so wrapped up in the second season of Penny Dreadful that I forgot where I was up to and had to undo sixteen rows of a hat!

DC: What was the last great book you have read.

Icy: I just read Stephen King's Misery for the first time and while I prefer the film, few people do characterisation like King. Even when his plots occasionally get a bit wobbly, the way he puts his characters together just carries them. I don't think I'll enjoy any of his books as much as I enjoy The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and some of his short stories are phenomenal, but I consider much of his writing to be a sort of writing masterclass.

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