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feature an interview

Alex Bledsoe HE DRANK, AND SAW THE SPIDER

Interviewed by Danita Minnis

While Alex Bledsoe’s fans come in droves for the sword and sorcery tales he spins, they stay for the realistic worlds he creates in his novels. Read one of Alex’s urban fantasies and commune with gritty characters in a world that very much seems like home. A background as a reporter, editor, photography and even vacuum cleaner salesman only adds to the hard-edged humor in Alex Bledsoe’s novels. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and three children.

Alex, your latest installment of the Eddie LaCrosse series He Drank, and Saw the Spider delivers the fantasy-fest your fans can’t get enough of. Who or what inspired you to create Eddie LaCrosse and his humorous misadventures? I first started thinking about this character back in high school. I wanted to have a fantasy hero who wasn’t an idealistic boy like Frodo or Luke Skywalker, but who also wasn’t the wise old sage: a guy who had some mileage on him, but was still in his prime. There weren’t a lot of those back then, though thankfully they’re more common now. My initial template was Tom Skerritt’s Captain Dallas in the original “Alien”: I loved his low-key, and ultimately doomed, heroics. In fact, in my head, that’s who Eddie looks like. You began the magical world of the Tufa clan with The Hum and The Shiver. In 2013, you took us back to those haunting Smoky Mountains in Wisp of a Thing. Wilderness is an intriguing setting in your stories and used to maximize psychological games. Does the wilderness hold an otherworldly quality for you? I grew up in a tiny Tennessee town, so “wilderness” was never more than a hundred yards away in any direction. I spent my childhood catching frogs, lizards and snakes. That’s a kind of tactile, hands-on relationship with nature that many kids (including my own, alas) can’t get when they live in town. Sure, you can take them to a park, but it’s not the same as walking out your own back door and startling a black racer snake so that it shoots away along the foundation line. And that’s the paradox of “wilderness” for me; it’s both entirely mundane, something I’ve touched with my own hands, and simultaneously mysterious, grand and magical. When you see a thick stand of trees, you can make an educated 166 | btsemag.com

guess about the plants and animals you’d find there. At the same time, the presence of faeries, gnomes, trolls and nymphs doesn’t seem entirely out of the question, either. “Wilderness” is big enough to accommodate all of them. You have worked as an editor and a reporter, which may potentially be stylistic opposites. During the creative process does the reporter in you help in thinking out of the box when writing? Does the editor shut him down? They work pretty well together. The reporter does the first draft, which gets the idea out and provides the raw material, and the editor does everything after that. Sometimes they overlap, but it’s seldom a problem. I will say that it’s LOADS more fun being the editor than the reporter. Beginning with 2009’s Blood Grove, you explore the seedy side of Tennessee’s nightlife, vampire style. Let’s talk Baron Rudolfo Vladimir Zginski in Girls with Games of Blood, the follow-up to Blood Grove. Baron Zginski is gritty and humorous. He has a certain appeal and is quite human for a vampire. What inspired this excessive vampire? I wanted to have a vampire who was compelling and interesting, but also scary—you know, like Dracula, or, before him, Varney and Carmilla. They haven’t really been scary since Anne Rice came along in 1976, which is one reason I set both novels in 1975. I deliberately took the surface tropes of Dracula—old world Eastern Europe origin, royal title, power over other vampires—then tweaked them a bit, making him at heart more a

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