Today I am interviewing Jonathan Fesmire, author of the new steampunk western zombie novel, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, first book in the The Adventures of Bodacious Creed series.
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DJ: Hi Jonathan! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Jonathan: Sure! I’m a professional writer and steampunk enthusiast. So, it should come as no surprise that I now write steampunk novels, specifically Wild West steampunk. And, for good measure, I throw in my own brand of zombies. In addition to writing fiction, I’m a full-time copywriter, so I’m lucky enough to get to write for a living. I’m a single dad, and my awesome son lives with me full time.
DJ: What is Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western and The Adventures of Bodacious Creed series about?
Jonathan: The first novel is about a U.S. Marshal, James Creed, already somewhat of a legend when the story begins, who goes to Santa Cruz, California, to track down and arrest a serial murderer. Instead, that killer, Corwin Blake, shoots him dead. Creed wakes up in a laboratory where a woman in her early twenties has brought him back to life using steam-era technology. Creed resumes his mission to stop Blake. Of course, there’s much more to it, but that’s a good summation!
The rest of the series will cover his further adventures. Honestly, I don’t know where it will go. My stories shape themselves as I write them. Or, more specifically, my characters guide my stories, so it’s tough to come up with a long story arc, though I do have the broad strokes of the next two books in my head.
Like the first book, I plan for each to be a complete story, but with an obvious opening for the next book. The second novel, Bodacious Creed and the Frisco Syndicate, picks up the important threads left open by the first novel.
DJ: What were some of your influences The Adventures of Bodacious Creed?
Jonathan: One was just liking steampunk. I think the aesthetic is fantastic. Another was realizing how much I enjoy westerns, especially sci-fi westerns and related stories. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower cycle was a big influence, since that’s my favorite fantasy/sci-fi series. Firefly was another, and to some degree, The Wild Wild West. Oh, and Back to the Future Part III. The Wild West is part of the American zeitgeist, especially from the Mississippi river on westward, and it’s fun to imagine what it might have been like with Jules Verne-esque technology.
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?
Jonathan: James “Bodacious” Creed is thought of as a zombie by many, but he’s more like Frankenstein’s monster, except intelligent and noble. He’s always been a bit of a loner, though he has a great capacity for love and kindness, as well as terrifying outlaws. In some ways he has become more indrawn since his resurrection, though his drive to fight for justice is also greater. He has known serious loss of people he loves as well. He enjoys reading and is an incredible guitar player, which was mentioned but not shown in the first book.
Anna Lynn Boyd is a young brothel madam and a genius, who has made a fortune ushering in a technological age along with industry mogul Miles Morgan and Nikola Tesla. She has chosen to keep her inventing a secret, however, in part to protect the prostitutes who work in her high-class restaurant and bordello, The House of Amber Doves. She’s the one who resurrected Creed.
There are other important characters, like Anna’s partner and lover, Jonathan Johns, a shy genius and martial artist, and Coconino, a steam-cybernetic coyote Creed rescues that becomes his companion.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Adventures of Bodacious Creed series like?
Jonathan: It’s basically the Wild West. The society itself is not much different from how it was in actual history. One difference is that I based the Santa Cruz of Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western on modern Santa Cruz, where I grew up. I thought it would be fun to envision it transformed into a Wild West city, rather than use it as it actually was (though there are some historical figures in it as well). Another, of course, is the steam-powered technology and the discovery that the luminiferous ether can be accessed and used as a power source. Plus, there are automatons (robots), light bulbs (invented by a young Tesla), and more. Oh yes, and my character, Miles Morgan, met Tesla while in Europe, recognized his genius, and hired him while Tesla was still a young adult, before Tesla had even finished his education, hired him, and brought him to San Francisco to work for him.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Bodacious Creed?
Jonathan: That’s the toughest question yet, since I enjoy so many aspects of writing. I would have to say the those moments when a scene comes together in my mind, when my ideas surprise me. It might be realizing something about a character, seeing how two or more characters are going to collide, figuring out that someone has been keeping a secret, and the like. Those little epiphanies are part of the joy of writing any novel.
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Jonathan: They’ve been fantastic! At this point the lowest number of stars its received for a review on Amazon is three, and that’s just one review. All the others are four and five stars, mostly five stars.
A fair amount of readers are skeptical about the book when starting it. They’re not sure how steampunk, the Wild West, and zombies could fit together. Then, they see how it all works organically and get into it. Others don’t necessarily like one or more of the elements in general, but end up loving Bodacious Creed. It’s been fun seeing how it’s not only attracting fans of steampunk and westerns, but introducing new readers to the possibilities of these genres as well.
DJ: What made you want to reach out to Kickstarter originally, and how has your experience been with it so far?
Jonathan: Well, I was interested in Kickstarter as a concept and as a platform. Crowdfunding a creative project seemed like a great idea, and I saw a lot of people having success with it. I actually started a totally different Kickstarter, based on the Occupy Movement (this was in early 2013) and my 3D modeling skills, and that did so badly I pulled it.
Then, I thought about how I had this idea for Bodacious Creed, and that maybe it was time to write that novel. Not many people were Kickstarting novels then, and some people had serious resistance to the idea, but I did it anyway. I thought about how Kickstarter could be for more than just funding it. I could gage interest in a steampunk zombie western. I could make early pre-sales. I could get others invested emotionally in the book and its success. And, perhaps most unique of all, I could allow backers to have input into the story. That last worked better than I thought it would. One backer helped co-create a character with me. Another wanted a version of himself in the story as a bounty hunter. That character became crucial to the plot and worked really well. It helps that that gentleman is a tall, bearded guy who looks like a Wild West bounty hunter.
DJ: This wouldn’t be a Kickstarter without some bonuses and stretch goals too 😉
Jonathan: Yes! For the new Kickstarter, backers can get a digital copy of the book, the trade paperback, and/or a limited edition hardcover. Those hardcovers, for the first book, are gorgeous. For this one, other rewards include a wall poster of the cover and a deck of playing cards based on the novel.
Since the Kickstarter just began, there are no stretch goals yet, but if it surpasses its initial goal, I’ll add stretch goals for illustrations within the book.
DJ: Now that Bodacious Creed and the Frisco Syndicate is on Kickstarter, what is next for you?
Jonathan: I’m going to continue my research for the novel, and start plotting it. I know the basics. James Creed will go to San Francisco after a crime boss. I’m going to use a lot of San Francisco history, including many colorful people who lived there during the era, most of them criminals. I plan to start cranking out chapters, NaNoWriMo style, in May. I have the goal of finishing the first draft by the end of the year.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Author Newsletter: https://www.jonathanfesmire.com/free-fiction
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jonathan-Fesmire/e/B002BM1ZXQ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Bodacious Creed, the Kickstarter, and The Adventures of Bodacious Creed series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Jonathan: Readers have commented that they appreciate the honest portrayal of the characters, how they are all flawed. Some have also pointed out how much they like the strong and well-rounded female characters, and how even with the villains, there’s a good balance between male and female characters. I think that comes from how I see life. We’re all complicated, all drawn in various shades of light to dark.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Bodacious Creed is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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Back the sequel, Bodacious Creed and the Frisco Syndicate:
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U.S. Marshal James Creed has known loss, starting from the untimely death of his wife and daughter in a sudden fire. His work, chasing down and arresting outlaws across the Wild West, is all he has left to live for. Then one day, in 1876, the infamous killer Corwin Blake catches Creed by surprise and guns him down.
Creed awakes after a mysterious young woman resurrects him in a basement laboratory beneath a brothel. Half alive, Creed feels torn between his need for justice and his desire to fall back into the peace of death. Creed’s instincts drive him to protect the city of Santa Cruz, California, from the outlaws it harbors while searching for Blake.
He uncovers a secret criminal organization, likely protecting Blake, determined to use resurrection technology for its own ends. The former marshal, now faster, stronger, and a more deadly shot than ever before, must work with a brothel madam, a bounty hunter, and the remaining marshals to uncover the criminal syndicate before they can misuse the machines of rebirth and create more mindless zombies. Meanwhile, he must also stop Blake, before the outlaw kills the only people he cares about.
His own death can wait.
About the Author:
Author Jonathan Fesmire, originally from Santa Cruz, California, now lives in Southern California with his son. By day, he’s a copywriter, by evening a steampunk author, and at all times, a dedicated dad.
Though Jonathan started out writing fantasy, he has moved completely to steampunk, enchanted with its aesthetics, possibilities, and implications. He’s a fan of the stories, the art, and the gadgets, and enjoys interacting with the community. In fact, Jonathan regularly interviews popular members of the steampunk community for his The Wild Steampunk Blog.
His first steampunk novel, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, is available on Amazon.