Happy June to all my loyal readers!
JP: First off, give us your elevator pitch for THE BOOK OF BART.
RH: THE BOOK OF BART is Fletch meets John Hughes, with a demon running the show instead of Chevy Chase.
JP: That’s quite the passel of 80’s zeitgeist! Is this a dark comedy akin to American Psycho, or something a little less pointed?
RH: Good question. I don’t really see it as a dark comedy, just a comedy with a lot of snark. It’s asking a lot to ask a reader to spend 280+ pages inside the head of a demon, so I tried to keep things fun more than anything else, since I’d imagine most readers would get bored spending time with a demon doing typical demon things.
JP: For those not familiar with your work, is comedy your regular gig? Or was this something new for you?
RH: I’d say silly is my regular gig. My favorite writer is Christopher Moore, who sort of owns the silly genre right now. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s written Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, Fool (which is King Lear from the POV of the jester), and You Suck (the funniest vampire novel I’ve ever read). The combination of silly and fantastical really appeals to me, and I feel that’s more my wheelhouse. I do try to “stretch my muscles” and go in different directions, like with my upcoming zombie novel DEAD NEW WORLD, which is Black Hawk Down with zombies.
JP: Outside of Christopher Moore, which other authors would you say inspired you, or whom you say the style of Book of Bart resembles?
RH: Book of Bart resembles Moore’s work, as well as Gregory Maguire, who wrote the Fletch series. Also Douglas Adams. I’ve just always been fascinated with stories involving otherworldly beings, and I love books that don’t take themselves seriously. I feel it provides more of an escape, I guess. I don’t know. Stop trying to confuse me!
JP: I’m getting a real Stone-Parker “Book of Mormon” vibe from the book cover, by the way. One thing about those guys, as well as Adams and Moore if you dig deep enough… their light-hearted fantastical whimsy has roots in social commentary. With a demon as your main character, one expects The Book of Bart to have a sprinkling of that as well. Is there any social satire at play for your readers?
RH: There was a bit of social satire in earlier drafts of the book, but a lot of it was cut out in the editing process. There’s still some in there, but I’m a big believer in something Alfred Hitchcock said, which is (paraphrasing) focus on the plot, and let the audience decide the themes for themselves.
JP: So what’s next for you as a writer? You mentioned you have a more on-the-nose zombie action novel coming out soon… what’s on the horizon after that?
RH: Quite a bit, actually. DEAD NEW WORLD is coming in October, and I’m putting the finishing touches on another bonkers book called The Conch Shell of Doom. I’ve started writing a sequel to THE BOOK OF BART, which is going to be absolutely insane. I’ll probably write stories about Bart for the rest of my life. DEAD NEW WORLD is planned to be a trilogy, so we’ll see if that happens. I also have a 1984-esque story that’s still in the incubation phase.
This is all on top of pimping out my books as much as possible, of course.
It sounds like a lot, but you have to take it one at a time. I will say it’s kind of reassuring to know I don’t have to really worry about what book to write next for a few years!
JP: Sounds like you’re insanely busy… so I’ll just float one more question before I let you get back to work. It’s a question I tend to ask everyone because it’s hard to answer and I’m kind of a dick. Here’s the question: How would you define “evil?”
RH: Hmm. In terms of writing, I try to avoid writing straight up “evil” characters. I like to think of my villains as more misguided than anything else. But in real life, evil comes in all shapes and sizes. Killing someone is obviously evil, but I’d say if you do something that intentionally hurts someone solely for your own personal benefit is pretty evil. Actually, it’s kind of like porn. You know it when you see it.
You can find THE BOOK OF BART on Amazon. Here’s a blurb to wet your whistle:
Only one thing is so powerful, so dangerous that Heaven and Hell must work together to find it: the Shard of Gabriel.
With a mysterious Black Cloud of Death hot on the shard’s trail, a desperate Heaven enlists the help of Bart, a demon who knows more about the shard than almost anyone. Six years ago, he had it in his hands. If only he’d used it before his coup to overthrow the devil failed. Now, he’s been sprung from his eternal punishment to help Samantha, an angel in training, recover the shard before the Black Cloud of Death finds it.
If Bartholomew wants to succeed, he’ll have to fight the temptation to betray Samantha and the allure of the shard. After an existence full of evil, the only way Bart can get right with Hell is to be good.