Beau Johnson has dropped in for a cup of tea laced with beer and hardcore violence to talk about his new book, All of Them to Burn, out on 24 February from Down & Out Books. I just need to know who the author is he speaks of.
Hi, Beau, what’s this new book you’ve written?
Right out of the gate then, is it? Okay. I see how this works. But first, Jason, I want to thank you for having me. You have always been so gracious with me, my answers notwithstanding. Anyway, now that that’s out of the way, the new book is the same as the previous books I suppose. New stories, of course. New adventures. But set up the same way the others have played out. Some one-offs. Some time-travel. But at its heart sits what always has: Bishop Rider and his continued struggle. More to the point: the end of it.
Bishop Rider rolls on, righting the world’s wrongs – but the world has a whole lot of wrong. How does Bishop cope with this knowledge, that his revenge can never be finished in his lifetime?
He knows. Has accepted the fact many times over. But it doesn’t deter the man. “It’s not the way killin’ is done.” He’d say, or something to that effect, and steamrolls on in an attempt to get as many as he can before he can no longer “go to work.”
And how about redemption. Bishop seeks it, but the things he does – even if it is to the scum of the Earth – must pile on the weight of his sins. Do you see him ever reaching a point of redemption?
Never. The man has too much hate. I even broach this very subject in ALL OF THEM TO BURN. In one story, a character tells Bishop he thought he’d feel different after Bishop lets this man kill the man who’d killed his child. “That’s the secret, Hoss,” Bishop says to this man. “You never do.”
How has Bishop developed since The Big Machine Eats, his second outing.
Well, funny you should ask. Seeing as I’ve always told Bishop’s story out of sequence for some reason, many things have occurred since the Big guy last ate. One, he continues to deal with the fallout of being down a limb. Not a whole limb, mind you, just the bottom part of what I call his kicking leg. Then there’s the whole Kincaid thing, which involves what Rider sees as his greatest mistake, and how it comes back to haunt him. There’s also the bit about his death, too, but maybe we save that for another day.
You’ve noted that people around you give you sideways glances after reading your work. Now I know it’s fiction, but what we write comes out of us. What percentage of you is Bishop Rider, and what do you tell friends who question your state of mind?
Ha! 90/10 split all the way! Rider being the furthest thing from his creator as you can possibly get. Which makes it all the more enjoyable when I do get those sideway glances (insert maniacal laughter here).
What’s your view on the state of the world?
I can’t, m’man. It kills me. Apologies.
You’re a massive advocate for other writers, which is top stuff. Who are you mad for right now?
I’m currently reading ORPHAN X by Gregg Hurwitz. Great stuff so far. And my last read was MY DARKEST PRAYER by Shawn Cosby. Top notch. Great voice. Great story. Great book. As I’ve been known to say: go on, get some. On the horizon I have GRETCHEN by Shannon Kirk and MAXINE UNLEASHES DOOMSDAY by Nick Kolakowski.
You’re itching to write. Life gets in the way and you end the day with your plans still in your head. Out of ten, how mad are you and how do you deal with it?
Since my wife and kids got me this handy dandy cell phone four years ago not so mad. I mean, I’ve now written one and half books on a phone for crying out loud! Weird times, my friend. Weird times.
You’ve said you’re an acquired taste. What kind of reader loves you all over their taste buds?
More than I ever thought would, to tell you the truth. I feel I’ve gotten better at writing, or maybe stronger is a fairer word, but I’ll acknowledge I took a hit early in my career, just before A BETTER KIND OF HATE came out. A bigger name than I will ever be, a writer I loved, let’s just say I wasn’t their acquired taste. And I know I’ll never be to everyone’s liking, I do, and you’d have to be some kind of moron to think along such lines, but it doesn’t mean it hurts any less to understand that someone you admired sees you as such.
What’s your next book? Is it written, planned, or still brewing and stewing in your mind?
Too soon to tell, but I will say this: a funny thing happened on the way to editing ALL OF THEM TO BURN…
Any last words, Beau?
Not only is Jason Beech a gentlemen and fellow wordsmith of the dark, you should check out his books too! I hear the latest one is a corker. All told, during my next purchase round, I might just have to get it myself.
Since Beau and I talked he’s announced that he will release another book featuring Bishop Rider, Brand New Dark. When the time comes I’ll take the pool ball out of his mouth and allow him to talk about it.
In the meantime, get involved in some Bishop Rider stories –
Known Associates published by Story and Grit.
Knit One, Purl Two published by Shotgun Honey
Displeased published by Spelk Fiction