VICTOR GISCHLER is a novelist, comic book writer, and screenwriter from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His work has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony and Bram Stoker Awards and has been translated into numerous languages. He earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a beer swiller and chicken wing gobbler. We spoke about his writing process, his back-and-forth between comics and novels, and his new release, which will please many if it hasn't yet.
Order Victor's new book, WARRIOR PRIME, and visit his website.
Dave Watson: Congratulations on No Good Deed. It ties many current issues together. Tell us about it.
Victor Gischler: Yes, it delves into A.I. and government spying and corporate power and a lot of things you can find in today's current headlines. However, I didn't want to get too dry and overly technical. Also, I'm hardly an expert on Artificial Intelligence. Rather, I wanted to take a very human approach, showing some regular folks caught up in these issues and in way over their heads. We end up with a sort of Bonnie & Clyde "on the run" story...but in this case the Bonnie & Clyde duo are the good guys, not murderous bank robbers.
DW: You seem to stack your books equally with men and women characters. This in your mind when you start?
VG: Nope. I guess it just strikes my as naturally a lot more interesting to do that. Different stories call for a different mix. I try to go on a gut instinct rather that being too conscious about it.
DW: Who influenced you as a writer growing up?
VG: I read a lot, but early on it was old movies. There was a short while as a kid when I was living with my grandparents. They had this new thing called "cable TV" and back then, that meant going from three channels to fourteen. WOW! Fourteen channels! So I ended up watching a lot of old movies that -- westerns, noir, war movies -- that I think informed my notions of storytelling.
DW: I can definitely see your books as series and feature films. What ones mattered to you or inspired you growing up?
VG: Well, I could sure use the money. Ha. The snappy patter in Double Indemnity was something that I really liked. Big, sweeping cinematic David Lean films. Boorman's Excalibur and then later on Blade Runner. It's a crazy mix of stuff.
DW: Quite the mix. Any movies today?
VG: I'm a Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright fan. I like Quentin Tarantino but almost feel like it's cliche to say that for some reason. I feel myself drifting more toward TV these days with Game of Thrones and Stranger Things.
DW: Not cliche at all, and Edgar could well adapt some of your novels. You write comic books and novels. What's the biggest difference in approach between these two formats?
VG: Kind of on my own with a novel. Yes, I get editorial feedback, and am happy for it, but with comics I'm just a part of the process with artists, colorists, letterers, etc. I guess the difference is obviously flying solo versus team effort.
DW: You balance dialogue with action and plot deftly, and consistently. What do you write first?
VG: I write it all as I go along. I'm not really a big outline sort of guy. I mean, I have a direction and I know some key scenes and turning points ahead of time, but over-outlining just doesn't feel organic to me. The downside is that I'm sometimes a bit disorganized, and I have to take a step or two back to untangle myself.
DW: What's next?
VG: Well Warrior Prime actually came out today, at the time of writing this, so I'm hoping that does well. It's epic fantasy.
DW: What's your favorite cinematic moment?
VG: Not sure if "favorite" because there are so many, but the Danny Boy machine gun scene in Miller's Crossing is pretty cool.
Clip: Miller's Crossing
Dave Watson, founder and editor of Movies Matter, is a writer and educator in Madison, WI.