Question: You have been described by your admiring peers as the hardest working, most prolific writer in the business. How many books a year do you typically write?
James Reasoner: Recently I've been averaging 14 books a year.
Question: My God, that's amazing. How do you pull it off? What's the secret to being so prolific?
James Reasoner: I once heard a writer described as someone who sat in a room and typed for 30 years. That's me. I don't do much else. Don't get me wrong -- I read, I watch movies, I do things with my family -- but when I go on vacation, the computer comes along and the work continues. I don't take time off between books. Often I've finished one book in the morning and started another that afternoon. But I think the real secret is that I enjoy writing. I have fun, and that's good since I spend so much time doing it. I've also been very lucky to have as many opportunities as I've had.
It helps, too, to be married to an award-winning author in her own right (Livia J. Washburn), who helps immensely with plotting and editing.
Question: Although you've written in many genres, most of your work seems to be westerns. What attracts you to the genre?
James Reasoner: I didn't set out to be a Western writer. My goal was to be a mystery writer, and I wrote and sold more than a million words of mystery fiction before I ever wrote a Western. But I'd always been a reader and fan of Western novels, and when the chance to write one came up, I was more than happy to give it a try. My motto has always been, "Sure, I can write that." I was working for a book packager at the time, and the company produced several different Western series. I really enjoyed writing that first one and found that I was good at it. My editor liked what I'd done and wanted more, so I became a Western writer. I love the genre because the Western is the classic American story. Also, it provides an opportunity to write many different kinds of yarns. I've done quite a few Westerns that are really mystery novels, I've done horror Westerns, I've done family sagas . . . There's just no end to what you can do with a Western.
Question: Writing books in a series you didn't create obviously isn't new for you....how many different series have you contributed to over the years?
James Reasoner: At least 30. Maybe a few more.
Question: What appealed to you about The Dead Man series?
James Reasoner: The Dead Man was my first chance to write a really strong supernatural thriller. I mentioned that I've done horror Westerns, but these were novels that wound up having largely rational explanations for seemingly supernatural elements (what I call the Scooby-Doo Ending).The Dead Man is much closer to true horror, which is something I've always wanted to write. That, combined with the really fast-paced thriller element, was just an irresistible opportunity for me.
Question: How did your experience writing all those western series prepare you for The Dead Man? And what were some of the unique challenges?
James Reasoner: My Dead Man story is set in the American Southwest, so having written a great deal about that area allowed me to get the geography and the physical setting as right as I possibly could. Plus Westerns usually have a lot of action (mine certainly do, anyway), so I have plenty of experience in writing those sorts of scenes. Actually, that ties in with the challenge of writing The Blood Mesa. This is a horror novel, so I had to ask myself just how graphic to make the violence. It wound up being, well, pretty graphic.
Question: What did you enjoy most about writing The Blood Mesa?
James Reasoner: The pace, the action, the chance to write something where the reader (and by extension, the writer) almost never has a chance to take a breath. That was great fun. Plus the character of Matt Cahill and the situation in which he finds himself is very compelling. I was a big fan of the series before I ever wrote a word of my entry.
Question: What was it like working with the originators of the Dead Man series, Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin? Is it the same as working with the editors on a western series?
James Reasoner: Lee and Bill were great. They know Matt Cahill better than anyone else, of course, and were very helpful in making sure that I captured the character. We were on the same page as far as the pace and structure of the story was concerned, too. I've been lucky to have many fine editors over the years, and those two guys certainly fit that description as well.
Question: What other books do you have coming up?
Right now I have Tractor Girl,a hardboiled crime novel set in the Texas during the 1950s, available on Amazon for the Kindle and as a trade paperback from CreateSpace. I'm very fond of this one. It's a story I've wanted to write for a while. Later this fall my next book in the Rancho Diablo series will be available as well. This is a Western series I co-created with Mel Odom and Bill Crider, which we're writing under the house-name Colby Jackson. It's the on-going saga of a family establishing a ranch in Texas during the 1870s. Plus I'm continuing to write other Westerns and the occasional thriller under various pseudonyms. I stay busy.
This story is the literary equivalent to a drag strip race...the story keeps accelerating until its brutal climax. That truly is its strength - it's rapid fire pace and its unflinching brutality --Permission to Kill
The story riffs off of some creepy western themes, with a hefty dose of cannibalism, whacko/zombie-movie mania, and did I mention there's a few sticks of dynamite thrown in for good measure? [...]It is highly recommended. -- Post Modern Pulps
Goes from 0 to 60 really quick...James Reasoner never lets up with the action or tense moments. Once the action kicks in, it does not stop until the last page. "Bring on book six!" is all I can say. --Bookgasm