Today I am interviewing Pat Kelleher, author of the new fantasy novella, Drag Hunt, a bonus story in the re-release of Unclean Spirits by Chuck Wendig.
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DJ: Hi Pat! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Pat Kelleher: Hi, DJ. Well, I live in Manchester in the north west of England. I’ve been a making a living as a jobbing writer working in a variety of media from comics, books and radio to video games. My first novels were the No Man’s World books published by Abaddon, a pulp science fantasy series following the adventures of a First World War battalion of soldiers stranded on an alien world.
DJ: What is Drag Hunt about?
Pat: It’s an urban fantasy about two people who have lost everything they hold dear and who are thrown together in order to get it back. It just happens that one of them is a Native American trickster god who has had his penis stolen. The other is a mortal who finds himself adrift and powerless in a horrifying world he never knew existed and how he ultimately comes to terms with that.
DJ: How did you come about to writing this novella?
Pat: I’d just finished the third book of the No Man’s World series when Rebellion asked me if I’d be interested in writing an urban fantasy novella for the new Gods and Monsters shared world series they were launching. Chuck Wendig had written the first book. It hadn’t yet seen print, so they sent me Chuck’s manuscript, as it lay the groundwork for the shared world. Chuck has a distinct style and a unique voice. He’s a hard act to follow, so I was a little nervous, but the world he created was rich with possibilities. And after the epic scale of No Man’s World, I relished the opportunity to tell a smaller story.
DJ: Does Drag Hunt deal specifically with Unclean Spirits, or is this story just told in the same world?
Pat: It’s the same world and while it doesn’t deal specifically with Unclean Spirits, it does take cues from it. I was given carte blanche to carve my own little corner of that world but there was one minor character that Chuck used that I was thrilled to see on the page. Well, only a few pages as it turned out. I’d been intrigued by the character ever since I was bought a book about the Coyote and Raven creation myths as a youngster. And this just seemed like too good a chance to pass up. I really wanted to tell a story about Coyote. So I pitched an idea to Rebellion, who loved it, and luckily so did Chuck. So it picks up the character from his brief appearance in Unclean Spirits giving a few nods to some of Chuck’s plot developments along the way. It does stand alone, but it is kind of a side-quel, too, hence Rebellion repackaging it here in print for the first time (it originally came out as an e-novella).
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Pat: There are two main characters; one is Coyote, the Native American trickster god, who I’ve mentioned already. And as for cool quirks, he’s just too full of them for his own good. He’s an amoral, spontaneous kind of god. He also has an almost unassailable self confidence. And in keeping with the myth cycles he has a unique relationship with parts of his body, believing they all have independent agency. He treats them as an extended family of younger siblings rather than part of himself, to the point where he keeps his penis in a bag around his neck and has arguments with his anus (all of which you can find in the myth cycles – I’m not making this stuff up!). And then there’s Richard Green, a man who has lost everything and finds himself thrown into this shadow world of gods and monsters, completely out of his depth, with Coyote as his travelling companion. Richard has lost faith in everything including, possibly, himself. He shuts down, but gradually begins to react and then act.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Drag Hunt like?
Pat: It’s our world, but with the pantheons and monsters of all mythologies, packed into it against their will. They’re down here with us and they’re not good neighbours. Most of humanity isn’t even aware of their presence. Which is just as well because they’re petty, vindictive, capricious and have their own agendas. They move amongst us, unseen for the most part, affecting humanity around them as they do so.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Drag Hunt?
Pat: Having a small cast! No Man’s World had a huge cast of characters and it was nice to write what was, by comparison, a small intimate road-movie of a story. I just decided to have fun with the idea, so it’s lighter in tone than Chuck’s story. And I really enjoyed writing the relationship between Coyote and Richard.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Pat: … Ha! I honestly have no idea. Chuck’s accompanying story, probably. Or maybe that moment when Coyote… no, sorry. Spoilers. Seriously, I just hope they enjoy the ride.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Drag Hunt? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Pat: I suppose if there is a theme, it’s about having faith in yourself.
DJ: I want to bring up again that Drag Hunt is a novella. What is it about the novella format that you like? Do you feel there is a particular advantage to telling your story that way over the novel?
Pat: Well, this was my first novella and it was commissioned so the choice of format wasn’t my own. But having come out of a series of novels I did notice one thing. Common to a lot of writers, about thirty thousand words into writing a book I get to a point where my inner critic tells me that this is just the worst thing I’ve ever written and what the hell do I think I’m doing? It’s only a phase and you push on through. But with the novella, by the time I hit thirty thousand words, I was practically done. So I was pleasantly surprised to find my inner critic wrong-footed for once.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Drag Hunt that you can share with us?
Pat: Ooh, quotes. Let me see… How about –
“The doors opened and they stepped out onto the sixty-eighth floor, not so much where the gods dwelled as where the gods did business.”
“Nataero slammed his foot on the brake. The tyres locked, throwing up loose chippings as the car slewed to a halt on the hard shoulder. The abrupt stop slammed Richard’s body forward into the seatbelt.
‘I think you’ve lost your manners,’ said Nataero, his tone hard.
‘Sorry,’ said Richard hurriedly.
‘Oh look, there they are.’ Nataero glared at him in the rear view mirror. ‘I’ve found them. Don’t lose them again. Not around gods. It’s not a wise thing to do.’”
DJ: Now that Drag Hunt is released, what is next for you?
Pat: Well, there’s the usual ongoing round of bread-and-butter magazine work including, at the moment, writing children’s nature stories for the RSPB. I’ve got a bunch of short stories I’m itching to write and I owe a book to Fox Spirit Books that I have to finish. And with Drag Hunt being reissued, I am kind of curious about what happens to Richard Green next, so maybe I need to have a word with Rebellion.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about the world of Gods and Monsters that we haven’t talked about yet?
Pat: If the offerings of Chuck and myself have whetted your appetite you can read further books set in the Gods and Monsters universe written by a fantastic pantheon of writers; Mythbreaker by Stephen Blackmore, Snake Eyes by Hillary Monahan and Food of the Gods by Cassandra Khaw.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Pat: My pleasure, DJ. Thanks for having me.
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*** Unclean Spirits is published by Abaddon Books and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Life begins when your boss is killed.
For five years, Cason Cole has been a chew toy for a god. He walked away from his wife and son and devoted his life to a predator who holds nothing and no-one dear. Now, as the man he loves and hates lies dying at his feet, the explosion still ringing in his ears, Cason is finally free.
For centuries, the swarming gods of the Earth were content to lounge in Heaven, forgetting the mortals they left behind; but thirty years ago, the all-powerful “Usurper” ejected them all, to a man and woman. Now it’s back to the bad old days: cults and sycophants, and the terrible retribution the gods visit on those who defy them.
None of which is going to stop Cason from getting back what’s his…
Pat Kelleher is a freelance writer. He has written for magazines, animation and radio. He served his time writing for a wide variety of TV licensed characters, translating them into audio books, novels and comics. Yes, he¹s written for that. And that. And even, you know, them. He has several non-fiction books to his credit and his educational strips and stories for the RSPB currently form the mainstays of their Youth publications. Somehow he has steadfastly managed to avoid all those careers and part-time jobs that look so good on a dust jacket.