An Interview with
R. Scott Bolton
Rough Edge Publisher / Editor and Indie Author

by Jeff Rogers

Intergalactic mercenary Horatio Barthalomew Fist returns in his third adventure, BURNER, by author R. Scott Bolton. It's been too many years since the last H.B. Fist sci-fi extravaganza hit stores (that would be OVERNIGHT SENSATION, preceded by the first book in the trilogy, KILLED BY DEATH). In BURNER, H.B. finds himself chasing down a terrorist who wants nothing more than to tear the Galactic Alliance apart ... unless his price is met. Loaded with action, humor and sci-fi weirdness, BURNER is a fast-paced and entertaining read, perfect for the beach or airplane. We met up with R. Scott Bolton -- who also happens to be the owner/publisher/editor of RoughEdge.com and a longtime podcast host -- and asked him to tell us a little about BURNER.

JEFF ROGERS: So it seems that H.B. Fist is still going strong, still has some space junk to take out to the curb. His latest adventure marks a trilogy of sorts. He's back to take care of his car, his woman, and anything that gets in his way (and not necessarily in that order). How is this adventure different from the other ones?

R. SCOTT BOLTON: Well, it's not, really. I actually created H.B. Fist because I thought there were too many gloomy science fiction projects out there. I mean, BLADE RUNNER and its sequel are brilliant films, but you sure can't call them "fun." I wanted to create a hero somewhere along the lines of an edgier Flash Gordon. You know, like Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer in space. Something that was fast and easy to read, and that just might put a smile on your face at the same time.

JR: When writing his character, did you dip your toe in his previous work or did you try to expand his attributes?

RSB: The three books aren't exactly a trilogy in that the story doesn't start with the first book and end with the third. In fact, I'm actually working on a fourth Fist book now! But they all take place in the same world, the same sci-fi universe. So, in that sense, H.B. Fist is pretty much the same in KILLED BY DEATH as he is in BURNER. I don't know that I could expand his attributes too much or he might not be true to himself. I want readers to understand and empathize with him the same way they do with characters like James Bond and Harry Harrison's Slippery Jim DiGriz.

JR: BURNER has H.B. Fist doing what he does best, hunting the bad guys, who is his space sleuth persona based around?

RSB: When I started writing KILLED BY DEATH all those years ago, I was a huge Mickey Spillane fan. Still am. I loved the way Mike Hammer did what he did, the tough guy persona, the no-nonsense violence, the black and white of right and wrong. But I wanted Fist to have a more human side as well, which is why he has a loving wife and a dog! They keep him grounded, but they also know that he has to do what he has to do.

JR: Fist's Flapjacker, an original and unique sci-fi weapon, has seen its share of action. Glad to see is still being used to "dimensionally minimize" the bad guys. Did BURNER amp up H.B. Fist's quest for intergalactic justice?

RSB: I got the idea for the Flapjacker (Dimensional Minimizer Model #DMX0812) from an old episode of that 1960's BATMAN TV series. I don't remember which villian it was, but he was using some kind of hardware to turn his enemies into lifestyle posters of themselves. And that's what the flapjacker does -- it removes one of its target's dimensions and turns them into nothing more than a life-sized photograph of themselves. Easy to file and store. No need for expensive prison stays. As for BURNER amping up Fist's quest, you know, I don't think so. H.B. has always said that the one thing that burns him up (you should pardon the expression) is the bad guys in the world who want to screw it up for the rest of us. I think that's his destiny and his place in the universe. That's the fire that keeps him going.

JR: BONESHAKER was the original title of the third H.B. Fist novel before BURNER was announced, will that title see the light of day?

RSB: No, it sure won't. The fact is that BONESHAKER is BURNER. In the early stages of writing BONESHAKER, another novel called BONESHAKER was released. It was a steampunk novel by Cherie Priest and it went on to become kind of a big deal. I decided I'd better re-title my book so no one thought I was piggy-backing on that one. All of the H.B. Fist books are named after MOTORHEAD songs (KILLED BY DEATH, OVERNIGHT SENSATION). A quick scan of my MOTORHEAD collection brought me to BURNER. And I'm glad it did. It gave me new ideas about who that character was that helped me finish the book.

JR: All three books read very well. Has your style or approach to writing changed over the years?

RSB: Thanks for saying that. I've always said I want my books to be as much fun to read as they are to write. I'd like to think that my style has improved dramatically since KILLED BY DEATH and I'd like to thank the folks over at the National Novel Writing Month for helping me develop that. For those of you who don't know, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place in November. During that month, from the 1st to the 30th, your goal is to write a 50,000 word novel. I've been doing it for five years now, and have produced a new book every year. You don't get a perfect book that you can publish on December 1st but, if you finish writing it, you've got something that you can edit and massage and re-write to your heart's content. Pretty soon, you're happy enough to let friends read it and, after that, anxious to release it to the world. All that being said, I'll let my readers tell me if I'm improved since the early days. I could be completely full of myself!

JR: It seems that H.B. Fist is a little more aggressive in BURNER than the previous books. Do you think that's the case?

RSB: Yeah, maybe. The villain and title character, Burner, destroys a memorial that stands for everything Fist believes in. Burner murders innocent people, including mothers and children. And then he makes a real mistake (which you'll have to read the book to find out about). Yeah, Fist's a little more pissed off in BURNER than the previous books but I think that makes sense, don't you?

JR: BURNER is set in space but it feels like a grounded novel. How do you write a story that encompasses both solid ground and space?

RSB: And thank you for saying that, too! As I said before, I pretty much wanted to put a hard-boiled man of action into space but I gave him some real-life relationships, too. He doesn't just have to worry about himself, he's got Candy, his wive, Sonova, his dog, and he's got some real friends, like Sheriff Sonny Beach. I mean, there's no question, the H.B. Fist books are over-the-top ... I call them lo-fi sci-fi ... but I want it to feel as real as possible while keeping it as outrageous as possible.

JR: Is H.B. Fist going to be space jamming for a new "out of this world" gig beyond BURNER?

RSB: I am currently in the very early stages of the next H.B. Fist book, STONE DEAD FOREVER. It's basically a Western that takes place in space.

JR: One last question, where can a page turner get a copy of H. B. Fist's adventures? And where can we learn more about the books of R. Scott Bolton?

RSB: All three H.B. Fist adventures are available at Amazon.com. Or, if someone would like an autographed copy, they can purchase them directly from me. Anyone looking for more information can visit rscottbolton.com or follow me on Twitter @rscottbolton.

JR: Or you can click the images below to buy them directly from Amazon. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Scott!

RSB: Always a pleasure speaking with you, Jeff. Thanks!


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