Book and a Pint with Michael and James: Coilhunter by Dean Wilson

JJ: hey man..So, tell me about that project you’re working on? How’s the writing going?

ME: Going well , I’m about a liberal 45% in to this draft which I suspect will be about 55k words. It’s kind of a genre bending thing with multiple stories happening at the same time but at the core it’s humorous military fantasy featuring seals and Walruses fighting over an underwater Alehouse monopoly

JJ: So, seals and walruses drinking and fighting?

ME: Pretty much with some abstract existentialism thrown in. Speaking of which..Freelancer is done! People are reading it! You’re about to reveal a badass Pen Astridge cover…How does that feel?

JJ: Feels really good. I’m so ready for it to be released. Kick the orc outta the nest and see how he does.

ME: Old mad half-Orc Jack

JJ: What?

ME: What do you mean what ?

JJ: What do you mean “Old mad half-Orc Jack?”

ME: Nothing ..forget about it..anyway today I’m very stoked , and I hope you are too to be talking about an awesome book, by a really great author, Dean Wilson’s Coilhunter!

JJ: Ah yes! The Adventures of Mr. Wacky and Mr. Quacky.

ME: That’s right! For those of you that are lost to that reference why don’t you fill them in Mr. Jakins

JJ:Well, Mr. Wacky is a whimsical toy maker who travels the Wild North bringing joy to all the children of the wasteland with his mechanical wonders! And Mr. Quacky is his robot duck companion…Okay, not really. Nox is anything but whimsical. But he does have some nice toys.

ME: The first part sounded a lot more family friendly , which Coilhunter, despite being 100% swear free, definitely is not

JJ: Yeah. This shit gets dark.

ME: Wait..I thought we said we were doing the non sweary segment to match the book. Damnit we fucked this up already!

JJ: Fuck… I mean… Sorry… Uh… I don’t know how to fix this…

ME: Old mad guttermouth Jakins

JJ: Okay, how about instead of swearing , we talk about gratuitous violence and mayhem?

ME: Of which there is a great deal in this book which is in fact a “Weird Western” set in a steampunk/cyberpunk world of wanted posters, bountyhunters, quick draw shooting and sand beasts.

JJ: Oh yeah. Dean really captures the essence of the “Western” right away with the book. I always say tropes exist for a reason and the opening scene with Nox just walking into a saloon looking for the guy on that wanted poster proves why.

ME: Totally! I was blown away right from that chapter as well. The first thing I thought of was how happy I was that there were more of these to read. It felt almost like this weird Tim Burtonesque world that was made for cinema

JJ: Oh man, yeah. This world would look so good on the big screen. I love the steampunk aesthetic and the mix of that with the western genre is such a satisfying one.

ME: And then there’s Nox’s ride! How much did you want a Monowheel?

JJ: Oh, Monowheel. Yeah, that’s pretty great. His trusty steed. I don’t envy the terrain he has to ride it on, though.

ME: Not at all, total dystopian wasteland. Perfect place for killer mechanical structures and the aforementioned sand beasts..come to think of it, isn’t there a sand beast at the beginning of Freelancer?

JJ: Hm… Not really a sand-beast. More of an extra-planar-eldritch-tentacle-thing that just so happens to land in the sand while trying to eat Jack.

ME: And book 3 is going to be about seals?

JJ: Sort of? I want it to be a very Mogayne heavy book, which means, yes, lots of seal/selkie presence.

ME: Old mad content thief Jakins

JJ: Yeah, but probably no walruses.
Actually…That’s a good idea…Seals versus Walruses…Yeah. I like where this is going… Hang on. I have to write this down. I don’t know where these ideas are coming from…And they’ll drink so much beer…

ME: Dude…I had one idea! Seals and Walruses drinking beer and fighting. It’s probably the only idea I’ll ever have! It may not even be a good idea. I’m currently begging military fantasy authors to ghost-write the battle scenes because seals have fucking flippers and can’t hold swords and guns. Can you just take one of your 8,000 mega-creative ideas that I’m green with envy over and use one of those and not outclass me on this one…please?…And consequently where the fuck are my blue cheese combos?

JJ: … This got really antagonistic and I don’t feel comfortable… I ate the combos, Michael. They’re gone. Okay?

ME: Fuck! I’m grabbing another beer. Gotta calm down.

5 minutes later

ME: Alright well that got off track but I did a bit of meditation and I’m feeling focused again..so let’s get back to the book shall we?

JJ:Yeah. I like that plan.

ME: What did you think of Handcart Sally?

JJ: I really liked Sally. When she was first introduced I kinda just assumed she was just gonna get crossed off Nox’s list and he’d move on to the next bounty, but I liked the direction the story went with her. And, I gotta say, I really liked the nicknames everyone got. Handcart Sally, Nine-finger whatever-her-name-was. The million and one names for Nox.

ME: Yep Dustrunner, Lostlander etc. Consequently each of the 9 intended Coilhunter book are named after one of these Nox pseudonyms!

JJ: I noticed that and immediately felt a surge of anger that I never thought of it.

ME: Old mad prolific multiple series writing Dean

What I really dug about the dynamic between Sally and Nox was how she humanized him. We’ve got a freaky killer who everyone is terrified of..an urban legend even, and with her he kind of turns in to this sympathetic character

JJ: Yeah. He’s still not a very nice guy. He’s so single minded and black-and-white about everything that it’s kind of impossible for him to be completely relatable, but she definitely helps us understand why he is who he is.

ME: And anyone that loves the tragic backstory, does this one ever offer that in droves

JJ:Oh yeah. Again, perfect example of why tropes are tropes. It’s a classic backstory done right. Those scenes are brutal, too.

ME: Kinda Punisher, Kinda Edward Scissorhands. I know I keep going back to Burton but all the way through it I couldn’t help but feel that weird tragic ambience. Like a Danny Elfman theme would fit perfectly

JJ: I’d never considered it, but I can’t argue. I can actually see the duck animated in that classic Burton style. And, Nox is basically a cowboy Batman.

ME: Yup..and I’d urge anyone that reads this one to read on. It’s really a lot of set up and book 2 and 3 really add even more dimension to this awesome character and there’s definitely more duck for your buck!

JJ: I haven’t read on yet, but I did grab the omnibus edition off audible so I’m ready to go. Speaking of audio, for those that like that format, this one’s really good.

ME: Yea I’m not a huge audio guy but RC Bray kills it on this

JJ: He is definitely good at what he does.

ME: So let’s sum this thing up. Overall thoughts on this one?

JJ: I really enjoyed Coilhunter. It’s a great example of the Weird West genre that does a fantastic job of using established tropes from both Western and Steampunk to make itself a stronger, better story. Nox is a great protagonist and one I’m definitely excited to see more of as I continue reading these books.

ME: I fully agree. I feel like Dean Wilson has created an iconic character that I can imagine growing even more over the course of the planned 9 books.

So before we close this thing out, why don’t you plug your anthology because I love the cause and it looks awesome.

JJ: Oh, for sure! Releasing on February 28th is my little imprint’s first anthology, Where There Are Dragons. It’s a mixed genre collection, meaning we have everything from literary fiction, to poetry, to bizarro. The only thing all stories have in common is that they, in some way, feature dragons, real or otherwise. Proceeds from every sale will be going to benefit suicide awareness and prevention.

ME: And none of them were written by my wife..

JJ: Sorry…

ME: I’ll let it slide, wife denying, combo eating, Orc writing Jakins

JJ: Don’t forget, Old and Mad.

ME: I’m older and I’m madder that you ate those combos

What are we doing next?

JJ: I dunno, that’s usually up to you. I thought you had a list somewhere?

Pulls out imaginary list. 

ME: Oh look! It’s Andy Peloquin’s Darkblade Assassin, and as a special Book and a Pint treat, because we know you love him, Andy will be answering some of our nonsense questions that will surely have nothing to do with his books.

JJ: Sounds good to me!

ME:We’ll be back in a few weeks with that one. Until then Read some books and support the literary community

JJ: Read all the things!

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