I was lucky enough to be able to interview my fellow-author, Alex Bledsoe, who also has a story in The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it. An interview with C. S. MacCath will follow next week!
DB: How long have you been writing short stories and is this your first pagan story?
AB: I've been seriously writing since 1996; and my first published story, "The Chill in the Air Wakes the Ghosts Off the Ground," was actually a pagan-themed story, although that wasn't a primary consideration at the time. In the nineties I had several pagan stories published in PanGaia magazine, and have also been published in The Wheel, Five Feathers (South Africa) and Dragonswood (UK).
DB: What draws you to write about pagans and how did you get the idea for the story in the anthology?
AB: I found the pagan view of the world to be amenable to my own, and it allowed me to deal with issues and topics that fascinate me in a way that might surprise the reader. Respect for nature, balance between men and women, and a direct relationship with a higher power free of institutionalized dogma are all things I believed in *before* I knew about paganism, and within these ideas are plenty of places for conflict with traditional society's values. That's usually where my stories come from.
When I heard about the anthology I knew I wanted to submit something, and I asked myself, "What's the *least* likely genre to have a pagan-themed story?" I decided the answer was a Western, so I challenged myself to write one that was both a traditional "oater" with a sheriff, a gunslinger and a showdown on main street, and that also brought in pagan ideas to generate the conflict.
DB: Your story takes place in the Old West, but in a very nontraditional way. You tend to write work that combines genres in an unconventional way, like your novel The Sword-Edged Blonde, which mixes sword and sorcery fantasy with the noir detective novel (quite successfully, I might add). How do you pull off such unusual pairings and what draws you to this approach?
AB: Usually it's a variant of the question I mentioned above: What's the least likely way to tell a particular story? The Sword-Edged Blonde started out as a straight epic fantasy, but it was too traditional, too average if you will, to come alive that way. So I thought, what's the most unusual way to tell this story, and decided to write it as a forties pulp detective novel, keeping the high fantasy setting. (The sequel, Burn Me Deadly, continues that approach). When I wrote my vampire novel Blood Groove, I had a story that technically could've worked in a contemporary setting, but had no real spark to it. So I backed it up to 1975, which put it before Anne Rice revolutionized the public idea of the vampire and allowed me to work with the vampire archetypes that spoke to me (Stoker, Hammer, etc.) free of any post-Rice irony.
DB: What can people expect from you next?
AB: Blood Groove will be released by Tor in the spring of 2009. The following fall, Burn Me Deadly (also from Tor) hits shelves. And a couple of other projects are making the rounds.