They’re Killers and Outlaws

Neil Chase
Neil Chase Author Interview

Iron Dogs follows a group of outlaws seeking shelter into a town that harbors an evil creature. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

I’ve always wanted to write a Western. Not only is it a throwback to a simpler life, unfettered by technology or mass media or the litany of problems and issues we deal with daily in the modern age, but it’s also the purest representation of the American ideal – that of freedom. Is there an image more synonymous with liberty than that of the cowboy on the open plain? And if we dig a little deeper, there is truth in that fictionalized model. Many of the first cowboys we attribute to the Wild West were veterans of the Civil War – men without property or purpose, who headed West in search of money or work, or in some cases simply longing to retreat as far from the horrors of the great conflict they left behind. Their stories are as varied and intricate as the men themselves.

But I also knew I didn’t want to write the same Western we’ve all seen before. While the men might seem like familiar tropes, their circumstances would be unlike anything you’ve read before. As a lifelong horror fan, I’ve always been fascinated by stories where a tight-knit group encounters an otherworldly danger, such as in Aliens, The Thing, and Dog Soldiers, to name a few. So I thought the combination of these genres would make for a special and unique story. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the Wild Bunch met the supernatural equivalent of the Predator, then this is the book for you.

I enjoyed the slow development of each character. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Each character had their special moments to me, and it was a fun challenge to write different chapters from different characters’ points of view. This was particularly true of Frank, Red and Cole, as the novel centers mostly on their viewpoints and backstories, and gives real insight into what makes them the way they are. They’re killers and outlaws, to be sure, but they’re also closer to brothers than friends or comrades. I didn’t want to have just one main protagonist, as it would tip my hand as to which characters would make it and which were fair game for the Strigoi. By focusing on three central characters instead, and to a lesser degree, the other three in the group, I felt I could inject not only some real character development for all of them, but also true unease at not knowing which of them would fall prey to the horrors on their journey.

That said, Red was probably my favorite to write, as his story is filled with unbearable tragedy and hate, and yet, despite it all, he finds himself on a path of redemption. To be honest, he started out as a minor character, and my plan was to have him die off quickly. But the more I dove into the hows and whys of what made him the way he was, the more he fascinated me, and the more story there was to tell around him. It was a case of the character guiding the writer’s hand, and rather than trying to force his path on some preconceived notion, I let him take me on his journey instead. I think it was the right choice.

The creature was creepy and the story had a consistently haunted feeling. What were some themes you tried to channel while writing?

Thank you for saying so. I spent quite a bit of time developing the Strigoi. I knew that in making my story a horror, I had to come up with a monster not seen before. While the main characters don’t actually know what it is, they come to rely on a combination of Eastern European and Native American folklore to guess at what it could be. As a result, I became familiar with European and Southwestern Native American cryptozoology in order to craft a creature that could plausibly fit in both such varied mythologies. The end result is a fresh take on a familiar trope of ordinary men pitted against an extraordinary and seemingly unstoppable creature.

And while the creature in Iron Dogs is unique and terrifying, the story is really about the men trying to survive, rather than the spectacle. The protagonists in this tale aren’t particularly special or good. They’re not even decent men. But they are loyal to one another, and that dedication may be the only thing standing between them and certain doom. We live in an increasingly polarized world, where too often people are judged solely by the content of their words and little on their actions. This book examines a group of men who barely get along at the best of times. They bicker and disagree about almost everything, and yet, they somehow stay together despite it. They are a community unto themselves. On some subconscious level, they come to realize that the only way for any of them to survive, they have to set aside petty squabbles and work together. In doing so, they become more than a community. They become family. And isn’t that what we all seek on some level? A sense of true belonging, where we are judged by the content of our actions and character more than anything else.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m excited to announce that the audiobook version of Iron Dogs has recently been completed and will soon be available on Audible. It was truly a labor of love, narrated by myself, and directed and edited by super-talented filmmaker and musician David Heacock, complete with original music written and performed by David as well. In addition to the audiobook, we’ll be making available the complete soundtrack, along with bonus music inspired by the novel. So whether you choose to listen to the audiobook or the music alone, you’re in for a fantastic time! Come to http://www.neilchasefilm.com for more details!

Alongside the audiobook, I’m also working on a few different projects at the moment, including a number of screenplays and two novels. I have a children’s fantasy novel completed and going through the beta read and editing process, as well as some exclusive artwork for the interior by Jamie Pruden, a wonderful artist and friend. It’s about two kids who have to rescue their mom from a monster-filled alternate dimension with the help of five magical gemstones. And for those with darker tastes, a new horror novel is on its way as well, set in the wonderfully macabre world of Rutherford Manor (www.rutherford-manor.com), and revolves around the early friendship of two of the central characters, Nox Flesher and Lorcan Connolly.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram

When evil dies, it doesn’t always stay dead.

Six outlaws, barely a day ahead of their pursuers, find shelter in a freshly deserted New Mexico town. With no water, and one of them gravely wounded, they realize too late they’re trapped inside the lifeless town. 

As they soon discover the grisly truth behind the disappearance of the townsfolk, the outlaws find themselves hunted by something far worse than anything they’ve faced yet – an unspeakable evil that seemingly cannot be killed. When the malevolent creature targets them in turn, the previously tight-knit group begin unraveling past the breaking point. Thinking it to be a Strigoi Morti, a monstrosity that can only be harmed while feeding on the living, the surviving few are faced with an agonizing choice. Who will they sacrifice so the others may live?

Spine-chilling, poignant, and action-packed, Iron Dogs is an instant classic for Horror, Thriller, and Western fans everywhere.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on October 17, 2020, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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