Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cowboys, and Pirates, and Cannibals -- Oh Ed Erdelac!

Ed Erdelac has been attached to Lucasfilm and westerns and vampire pirates. Who wouldn't be curious about him with a resume like that? So, it was only natural that we hit him up and set out to pick him brain about his work and writing history.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

I’m hard at work on the fourth and final book in my weird western series, Merkabah Rider, which is about a Hasidic gunslinger tracking the renegade teacher who betrayed his mystic Jewish order of astral travelers across the haunted Southwest of the 1880’s. The long plotting is finally coming to fruition, with elements of the Lovecraftian mythos that were hinted of in the early volumes coming to the fore in this one. I’m planning a proper sendoff for the Rider, a straight novel as opposed to the sequential novella ‘collections’ of the previous installments, and illustrated by an extremely talented artist to boot. It’s tentatively titled (and this is the first time I’m announcing this, so hopefully I don’t jinx it) Once Upon A Time In The Weird West.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Two themes I keep coming back to in my work are the ideas of responsibility and faith. Not necessarily religious faith, though I do explore that in some of my stuff, but personal belief in oneself, God, the abilities of another, the way you perceive the world to be, whatever. When I say responsibility, I mean owning up to one’s actions, stepping up and taking the heat if you know you deserve it, or going to bat if nobody else will.

What would be your dream project?

I wrote, produced, and directed and independent western called Meaner Than Hell back in 2009. Though it was a draining and humbling experience, I think I’d like to see my writing on the screen again as it’s an extremely rewarding feeling when it comes off right. My dream project in terms of that changes with everything I write, but currently it’s a comedy about kids in the 80’s playing fantasy roleplaying games, set to a mostly Manowar soundtrack, with the in-game fantasies portrayed as kick ass Ralph Bakshi style animated sequences. Call me, Hollywood (actually I prefer email).

Speaking about other properties I’d like to work on, my first professional job was writing a boxing/espionage story set in the Star Wars universe for Lucasfilm. I would love to do more Star Wars work in the future. A novel, an anthology, or teleplays for the forthcoming live action show – it’s set in my favorite era, between Episodes III and IV. I could write the hell out of that.

Mainly I’d just like to support my family doing what I do best. So I guess my dream project is whatever pulls that off.

If you had any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I wrote a pirate horror adventure novella called Red Sails which I really had a lot of fun with. It was about a vampire sea captain who commanded a ship of werewolves. Every full moon they sink a ship and turn the heartiest of the captives loose on a tropical island inhabited by a cannibal tribe who worships them as visiting gods. In the story, a British marine, Dominican priest, and a cannibal woman team up to turn the tables on them. It was released solely as an ebook and the publisher didn’t do much to get behind it. Now that my relationship with that publisher has ended I would like to at some point re-release it, maybe packaged with a couple of other stories using those characters, maybe illustrated to really tout it. I hope to take a crack at it when Merkabah Rider is in the can.

What inspires you to write?

Damn near everything I read, see, or hear about. Also the constant threat of poverty.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Robert E. Howard, Richard Matheson, Ambrose Bierce, Joe R. Lansdale, Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, Alan Moore, Patrick O’Brian, Shakespeare, William Blake, Walter Gibson, Stephen King…there’s a little bit of all of them in me, or I like to think there is.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

I hate to call it an art ‘cause I think that word gets used too much nowadays, like hero. Not everybody’s a hero, not everything constitutes an art. To me though, it’s definitely not a science. It’s a very instinctual process for me. I don’t do a lot of complex plotting or outlining. Characters do things I didn’t plan for them to do. I really believe what I write comes from somewhere outside of me. I’m just recording it as it happened somewhere out there. It’s a kind of meditative process. I just ruminate on stories until the fuzzy parts come into focus. If that’s science, it’s the tinfoil on your head kind I guess, so I’d lean towards art.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I’m appearing in a couple of really cool anthologies. Dark Moon Books is publishing a charity anthology called Slices of Flesh, and my story The Wrath of Benjo is tail end Charlie in that. Around the same time is editor Lincoln Crisler’s dark superhero anthology Corrupts Absolutely? from Damnation Books, the folks that put out Merkabah Rider. I’ve got a Bigfoot weird western popping up in an anthology by the king of sasquatches himself, Eric S. Brown, and finally in June or so I’m one of four writers (Tim Marquitz, Malon Edwards and Lincoln Crisler) showcased in a novella collection called Four In The Morning with the loose common theme of age. My own entry is called Gully Gods, and it’s a big left turn for me in terms of style – a first person horror story set in Chicago involving street gangs and African child soldiers. I’m curious to see what people think of that one. Finally, I’m working on a weird western/steampunk RPG with my buddy Jeff Carter for Heroic Journey Publishing. But that’s a long way down the line yet.

For more information about Ed and his work, visit emerdelac.wordpress.com.