Book Tour Q&A: His Ragged Company by Rance D. Denton
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for His Ragged Company by Rance D. Denton! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
A pissed-off warlock with a taste for revenge.
An army of sand-golems with fistfuls of magic.
A wishing well with a mind of its own.
No wonder Blackpeak, Texas never got its spot on the map.
Town marshal Elias Faust thinks that he can make any problem go away if he throws enough lead at it. The living’s easy for a lawman. Bloody, but easy – that is, until Magnate Gregdon arrives with his undead syndicate to tear the town of Blackpeak, Texas apart.
When a shootout with a pair of outlaws goes sideways, Elias Faust accidentally draws the Magnate’s attention. As if dealing with arcane sorcery, reanimated corpses, and the Magnate’s personal vendetta aren’t enough, Faust finds himself at the center of a power-struggle for Blackpeak’s eldritch secrets.
Suddenly, staying alive just got a lot more complicated.
Hunted by a cadre of sandshades and hounded by sinister spellcraft, Elias Faust may be the only bag of skin defiant enough to keep Blackpeak from being destroyed. To outlast the Magnate’s disciples, he’ll need to shoot straighter, run faster, and live longer…even if it means sacrificing a part of himself to do just that.
On to the interview...!
Thank you so much for joining us for this Q&A! We’ll start off with one of our standard podcast opening questions–tell us something great that’s happened recently.
I bought a LEGO Succulent set to ease my frantic brain and my unending anxiety over killing anything green that requires watering and soft-voiced encouragement. It’s working! They’re still alive. And my book won a 2022 Reader’s Favorite Gold Award for best Fiction Audiobook – but that’s all due to the spectacular work of John Pirhalla, a narrator legend!
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
I’m thankful to have an absolute buttload of indie books to read right now, and I’m always bouncing between a Kindle book and an audio one. I just recently started The Fall is All There Is by C.M. Caplan – because I’ll take any excuse to read some brilliant first-person narration! – and my current audiobook is Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter.
How do you spend your free time when you’re not reading or writing? Do you have any hobbies or interests that you can talk to us about?
I love being asked this, because I think it’s important for writers to get out of their heads now and then. Sometimes our brains are an awesome haven; other times, they can be hellscapes. We aren’t just writers; we’re writers and other things, too. I’m a passionate martial artist, and practice two vastly different arts: Aikido, a Japanese martial art that focuses on redirection of force and energy, and Sanda – or Chinese kickboxing. What I’m constantly fascinated by is just how much these arts from two very different traditions are always rooted in the same foundational basics. And I tell you, it’s been a hell of a boon learning how to write better hand-to-hand combat scenes.
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
Currently, my favorites are some of my fellow indie writers that travel in the same writerly circles I do: shoutout to Thomas E. Staples, who sure knows how to write a love scene like in their The Case of the Giant Carnivorous Worm; to Krystle Matar, who doesn’t mind donkey-kicking your heart in The Legacy of the Brightwash; to Melissa Polk, who wrote a protagonist so conflicted and yet so certain in Beneath the Shadow Dark that I challenge anyone to not see themselves reflected; to others, too, whose books have helped me learn how to be proud to say I’m self-published.
My greatest influences, though, are classics. Mary Shelley, her Victor, and her Creature. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and his Protagonist’s harrowing, poetic, doomed-to-fail journey. Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, which was truly the first thing to scare me to my bones.
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
Give me an underdog any day! Which, I know, I know, sounds a little hypocritical, because my protagonist in His Ragged Company is a fairly capable gunslinger – but to be fair, I started writing this book when I was a different person. For the most part, I love your regulars thrown into otherworldly, mind-bending scenarios and stakes that go way over their damn heads. I want them to succeed, but only barely. I want them to climb to the top of that bloody mountain, scraping their fingernails to the beds, bloody and bruised and broken. I want them to manage very real, very human problems – friendships, relationships, doubts, anxieties – at the same time they’re spitting on the boots of terrible threats. Good characters build good stories. Start with a personality you love, and they’ll screw something up enough to eke some plot out of it!
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
I don’t know how much I plan. Is planning scribbling a bunch of thoughts on notecards and Post-Its and leaving them in random places and forgetting them? I do that a lot, because it’s both inventive procrastination and satisfyingly planning-like! I prewrite concepts and forget them most of the time, hoping they’ll come crawling back at the right moment. As for the writing, I just sit and write. It’s neither glamorous nor pretty; I’m usually in my underwear, thinking about all the other tasks and responsibilities I’m suddenly very interested in other than writing. I also get really hot. Do you guys get really hot? Like, sweating-down-to-the-bottom-of-my-ass hot. A human furnace!
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
I wish I could say not much, but I doubt that would be true. Characters, I’m convinced, are always some morsel of us: maybe they bear our same insecurities or fears, only to come face-to-face with those elements for us, or maybe they’re the idealized versions of ourselves, the people we want to be.
In His Ragged Company, I wish I could say I was as bold as Grady Cicero or as sure as Lachrimé Garland or as fearless as Peggy Winters, but I know better than that. I’m Curtis Gregdon, for all the good and bad.
How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?
So, so much different! Truly, thank you for asking this. His Ragged Company was originally conceived as Just A Western, primarily influenced by Robert B. Parker’s Appaloosa series, everything Louis L’Amour, and just a little Johnny Cash for good measure. I wrote the original draft when I was younger and more dull and more brash – I wanted it to be an ugly world with ugly people and ugly language. It also came out as clumsy, hopeless, and dumpy, just so full of men thinking they were real strong men for fighting and fucking and forcing their presence on the world like it owed them something, without even a wink from me as an author. When I finally dug it from the old files in 2018, I realized how much I’d changed, and how much more I wanted it to be. I’d had almost ten years more on my bones. I’d discovered my asexuality. My father had died, and along with him, a lot of my expectations of what space I was supposed to inhabit in this world. I certainly didn’t like what I read, that’s for sure.
So I changed it. I rewrote almost every piece of it. It became fantasy, a little cosmic horror, a bit more hopeful, and a lot more what I want out of Westerns in this decade and not just a regurgitation of bad faith ideas held by most loud, stupid boys in their early 20s. Some of those might still be in it, but I hope you’ll give them a chance to grind themselves out clear.
Do you have a favorite quote from your book that you can share with us? What about this quote in particular makes it your favorite?
“His name was Grady Cicero, and he was my friend.”
Love those you embrace as friends. Love them fiercely.
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
I recently had the pleasure of contributing to and editing a charity anthology called Through the Veil: Stories of Monsters and Hidden Worlds, Inside and Out, the proceeds of which directly benefit a fellow writer whose health has thrown them a curveball. Additionally, I am hard at work chewing my nails over the second installment of the Testimonies of Elias Faust. But you’ll have to find out what that is when it’s done!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
One: Books don’t have an expiration date, so never rush the reading – or the writing! Two: Read what you’re loving and drop what you aren’t.
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
Thanks for asking! I’m on Twitter under @violenceobscene and there’s always http://www.eliasfaust.com, which I may try to update some time in 2023!
Where to buy the book:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/His-Ragged-Company-Testimony-Testimonies-ebook/dp/B0976H4BNL/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/His-Ragged-Company-Testimony-Testimonies-ebook/dp/B0976H4BNL/