Joaquin Lowe is the writer of Bullet Catcher, a new dark fantasy western series from Serial Box, which releases serialized fiction weekly. Each episode is available in ebook and audio and takes about 40 minutes to enjoy. Bullet Catcher is currently 20% off on Serial Box at $9.99 for 14 episodes if you buy the season pass.
In the desert, the only thing sweeter than water is revenge. Imma Moreno has no kind of life in no kind of town. Her parents are dead, her brother probably is too. When a stranger arrives, a stranger who can bend bullets to his will, she figures she has nothing to lose. So like a cobalt shadow cast in the sand, she follows him into the wastes. She's hoping to find answers, purpose, maybe even some kind of life. What she finds will change not only her life, but her whole world.
Tim Midura: Bullet Catcher combines Fantasy and Western elements. What made these two elements the perfect backdrop to tell the story of Imma Moreno and her mentor?
Joaquin Lowe: I think you hit the nail on the head in relating the genre to the protagonist/mentor relationship at the heart of the story. One thing I find fascinating about the Western genre is how it shares so many elements with other types of stories that might not be obvious at first blush. In this case, I find that there are a lot of parallels between Westerns and Japanese samurai epics. One of the chief inspirations for Bullet Catcher was a Japanese film series and comic book calledLone Wolf and Cub; it's about a ronin who roams the countryside righting wrongs while towing his infant son behind him in a little wagon. The ronin and the western outlaw are analogous figures: They live by a personal moral code that doesn't necessarily align with "the law of the land." For the reader, this type of character represents resistance, especially if "the law of the land" is seen as immoral. This worked in tandem with my anti-gun sub-theme; in a land where guns are rampant and have caused extreme chaos, the heroes are outlaws whose moral code is anti-gun. And the fantasy elements allowed me to push that conflict to an extreme.
TM: What's appealing about the pairing of a grizzled old mentor and the young apprentice?
JL: I think that relationship represents a passing of a torch, a connection between the old and the new. I also believe relationships like the one between the two characters in the story is inherently un-cynical; they form a familial bond even though they are very different people. They find common ground by finding and helping to bring out the best parts of one another. (Also, in terms of readership, it allows older and younger readers to connect with one of the main characters.)
TM: I like that the morality of the story isn't plain black and white. What made you go in this direction?
JL: I'm glad you liked that! I think characters that have both "good" and "bad" qualities are more interesting and more honest. If a character is only "good" or only "bad" they don't read like real people and they tend to be pretty boring. What was key for me when writing the character of Nikko was that, as the antagonist, he had to do "bad" things, but he's also probably the character in the story most capable of loving honestly. He loves the people who are close to him, and this blinds him to certain qualities of those people. For Imma and the Bullet Catcher, their arcs are similar, in that while young, they grapple with tremendous power and tremendous anger, but through their experiences and with the help of people around them they grow as people.
TM: Can you expand on the old war between the Gunslingers and the Bullet Catchers?
JL: I'm hoping that this war is something that I'll have the opportunity to expand on in future Bullet Catcher stories (especially since there are characters in this book that feature prominently in that story) – But it's sort of a tale as old as time. I think of it in terms of what T.H. White wrote in The Goshawk (which is an amazing book): "Old things lost their grip and dropped away; not always because they were bad things, but sometimes because the new things were more bad, and stronger."
TM: Most Serial Box titles are collaborative teams. What kept you working solo?
JL: I actually already had the book when Serial Box approached me. It was originally published in the UK by Hot Key books. But when I signed on with Serial Box, my editor Lydia Shamah immediately had a large list of ways to improve and develop the book. I really think her ideas breathed new life into the story. When I reread the story the parts I like best are generally the new parts that directly came out of the notes she gave me. I really can't understate how much of an impact Lydia had on this story. No book that sees the light of day is truly written solo; it's the collaboration between the writer and editors. And here I'm not just talking about Lydia but the amazing copy-editors who worked on the book and found every little inconsistency and splinter. They are all really amazing, creative people.
TM: The first season of Bullet Catch is fourteen episodes. Do you see more seasons in the future?
JL: I sure hope so! I have lots of ideas for what happens to Imma, and the Bullet Catcher, and Nikko. And hopefully I'll have a chance to go back and tell more stories about the world of the Southland too, about Imma's parents and a young Bullet Catcher. Fingers crossed!
The first episode of Bullet Catcher is up on Serial Box now.