The Bourbon Kid is the international best selling author of The Book With No Name, The Eye Of The Moon, The Devil's Graveyard and his latest novel The Book Of Death was released on Kindle last week. The books are fast paced, pulpy fun with plenty of murders, badass characters and lots of laughs.
The obvious comparison to the books is that of a Tarantino film, taking small parts (or sometimes very large chunks) of style from different genres and fusing them all together in a ferociously paced page turner. The Book With No Name was the number one selling eBook in Spain last year, and the sequels weren't far behind. Given the cinematic quality of the writing it is not surprising that there are rumours of a film adaptation swirling around.
The novels are mostly set in the fictional town of Santa Mondega, a small wasteland full of unsavoury characters regularly drinking, getting into fights and murdering each other. Sanchez is an overweight barman, whose bar, the Tapioca, is where most of the action revolves around. The Bourbon Kid is another main character, a vicious serial killer, who might not be the bad guy that everyone assumes he is.
The Bourbon Kid is also the alias that the anonymous author gives credit to his work; you can follow him on Twitter here and here's what he had to say in answer to my questions.
What made you decide to go back to Santa Mondega for The Book Of Death after branching out and satirising X-Factor in The Devil's Graveyard?
I wanted to finish off the Santa Mondega story. I always saw book two (The Eye of the Moon) as my Empire Strikes Back. The good guys get a bit of a pasting in book two and it doesn’t end particularly well for most of them. I knew a lot of people wanted to know what happened next, so after I finished The Devil’s Graveyard I went back and tied up all the loose ends from The Eye of the Moon. I guess that makes The Book of Death my Return of the Jedi, except instead of Ewoks I have Sunflower Girls!
The Book Of Death was published in French first and the books are popular in Europe, why do you think this is/what made you decide to go international?
A lot of countries outside of the UK like their heroes to be much darker. In the UK and US, heroic characters tend to have very politically correct values and morals. I like anti-heroes but in English literature anti-heroes are really tame. The Bourbon Kid is basically a bad guy who will kill anyone, but that’s exactly the kind of guy I’d want on my side if I was surrounded by vampires.
In the UK when I was trying to get the first book published all of the UK publishers rejected it because it didn’t fit into a specific genre. But Foreign publishers and the book buying public embraced it for that very reason. Seeing the books do well internationally is brilliant and it’s always a thrill to see the different covers.
What's the current situation with the film of The Book With No Name?
The latest news is that it’s being developed into a TV series called Pulp. There’s some information about it in this Variety magazine link.
Both Sanchez and JD were a lot more heroic in the latest book, or did you always want them to be the 'good guys'?
In Sanchez’s case I felt it was important for his character arc that he should finally do something heroic, although in keeping with his character most of his heroic acts are either unintentional or under protest. With JD I guess there were just so many bad guys to kill in The Book of Death that he didn’t have time to do anything else so he ended up being quite heroic for a change.
What's next? Elvis, Rodeo Rex and the Kid travelling from town to town?
Funny you should ask. I was recently thinking about that idea. If I ever follow up on it I think I’d have to find a way of getting Sanchez involved too. Elvis, Rex and the Kid could easily defeat any enemies, but if you throw Sanchez into the mix he’d keep messing up their plans, which would make it a lot more interesting! At the moment though, I’m working on something completely different with an entirely new set of characters.
How do you visualise the novel when you start writing, are there wallcharts/timelines/whiteboards keeping track of whose alive or not?
I usually have one or two scenes in my head. I write them down as if they are the first few chapters and then I wrap the rest of the story around them. Once I’ve finished the first draft I write a summary of each chapter and then I start tidying it up. I usually rewrite it six or seven times until it looks absolutely nothing like the first draft. For example with The Eye of the Moon the first chapter I wrote ended up being chapter 60 and the last chapter I wrote was chapter 32. It’s a stressful way to write though. I think wallcharts/timelines and whiteboards are probably a better idea!
What advice would you give to people who are trying to become 'self published sensations'?
Write your story the way you want to write it. My writing got better when I stopped trying to sound like a writer and started writing how I talk. It’s easier that way and I can’t sound any stupider than I am.
Also it doesn’t hurt to make lots of friends online. Networking is crucial to succeeding in self-publishing. And never give up. When I first self-published The Book With No Name in 2006 I worked incredibly hard at drumming up interest online. But it still took about 3 months to sell the first 100 copies. It also got some pretty nasty online reviews from other self-published authors. There were times when I felt like quitting because with all the rejection letters, bad reviews and poor sales it didn’t seem like it was worth all the effort. That book is now an international bestseller because thankfully I didn’t quit when things got tough.
With Twilight making vampires 'cool' a couple of years after TBWNN and the self published 50 Shades series dominating book sales do you ever feel like you're always at the party too early? Or do you like being ahead of the curve?
It’s funny because vampires were really out of fashion when I wrote TBWNN but since Twilight they’re everywhere. And self-publishing was sneered at back in 2006 when I did it. After TBWNN started selling well I approached an agent about it and told him I’d sold thousands online. He refused to read it and told me that the fact I’d self-published was proof I wasn’t good enough to be published properly. What a bellend! Publishers are constantly on the lookout for self-published successes now.
I suppose I have always been at the party a bit early, but I’m a firm believer in always trying to do something that no one else is doing. There will be a million 50 Shades of Grey rip-offs hitting the shelves in the next twelve months. I’ll be working on something that hasn’t been done to death.
Here's the video trailer for The Book Of Death: