Friday, February 28, 2020

Beau Johnson, Author of All of Them to Burn

Every so often we like to take a break from the usual stuffiness of OBAAT and bring in something cheesy. Knowing no one cheesier than Beau Johnson, he’s the logical choice. Beau has been published before, usually on the darker side of town, and often as the prelude to an investigation. He is the author of A Better Kind Of Hate, The Big Machine Eats, and All Of Them To Burn, which drops February 24. He enjoys golfing, the odd chocolate bar, and both Beckys from Roseanne equally. (No, I’m not going to ask if he enjoys them simultaneously, and you’re disgusting.)
One Bite at a Time: Welcome back, Beau. It’s always fun when you make your more or less annual visit with another collection of stories. Your titles always intrigue me. Last time it was The Big Machine Eats. This new one is called All of Them to Burn. How did you come up with that one?
Beau Johnson: Dana, thanks for having me back!  Always fun talking
with you.  As for the title, no big idea behind this one.  Pretty much wrote itself if I’m honest, falling right in line with Bishop, Batista, and their continued struggle.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t like there to be a story behind the title of the new book.  You know, something that involved decapitations, foot amputations, and the odd immolation or two.  Might get me a little more traction this time round.  Perhaps some free tickets to Cirque du Soleil!
 OBAAT: When last we spoke you said you were a little surprised that Bishop Rider came back for The Big Machine Eats. May I assume that by now you accept him as someone you’re joined to in a mutually beneficial way?
BJ: Yes, definitely. I remember that time well, a good long chunk where Rider would not talk to me. So much so, that yup, I thought we were quits for good.  Little did I know all it would take was for me to break a collarbone and spend ten weeks in a lazy boy for him to rear his head.  I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong, but damn, breaking your collarbone is some pain I suggest you do not try.
OBAAT: You mentioned something there I’ve heard writers say before, how a character “didn’t speak to them” for a time, then did again. Speaking for yourself, why do you think Rider gave you the cold shoulder and why did he come back?
BJ: For me, I’d say it was time more than anything. Me sitting in a chair and bored out of my skull being what allowed him to return.  As for why he left, or why I couldn’t hear his voice anymore, that I have no clue.  Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen again.
 OBAAT: Are your Bishop Rider stories sequential in any way, or are they more or less random events in his life?
A candid shot from Beau's wedding reception.
BJ: Ha! If only it were that easy! Before I knew Bishop was a recurring character, it was random events all the way.  But as I realized he may have some legs under him, well, sequential came into play, albeit from different windows of his life.  A lot of balls to juggle, so to speak.  And I’ve come to understand that the dividing line of his life was when I took his right leg at the knee.  Makes it easier if I write things pre-leg/post-leg if that gives you sense of how I attempt to make sense of his timeline.
OBAAT: We’re going back and forth about Rider here like we assume everyone has read all the stories and our previous interviews. What’s his deal and has he changed any since you first started writing him?
BJ: Ah, great question, Dana. His deal is this: As a rookie, he’s partnered with a man named John Batista but Bishop, after two years on the force, he enlists.  As he’s in Kuwait his sister and mother end up in the wrong place at the right time and long story short, his mother is found face down in a dumpster and his sister is raped and murdered by six men in masks.  This event is recorded too, and once Bishop is home and not only watches what is done to his sister, he feels his department has failed him in finding his family’s killers.  He resigns. And chooses to find justice the only way he feels he can—his birth into murder so to speak.  Batista, however, while not totally down for it, decided to help Rider, and the two of them begin to hunt pedophiles, dirtbags, and any of the men like the ones who took April and his mother from the world.  Takes Rider years but he finally tracks down the men responsible, Marcel and Marty Abrum.  Dispatched, Batista and Rider, along with an old war buddy of Rider’s named Ray, they continue on, for twenty years in fact, until they are betrayed from within, and Rider loses part of a leg in the process.  When this occurs, however, a piece of the past comes forward to save Rider, and somehow, somewhere along the line I think it’s a good idea to have the son of the man who killed Rider’s sister and mother be the one who saves him. Not only save him but to join Rider’s cause, bringing to the table his father’s money, a guilt Jeramiah has harbored since finding out what his father and uncle had done to Rider, and a prosthetic more bionic than plastic. After that, it’s business as usual, and as Bishop usually says in one story or another: they go to work.
Also, yeah, I don’t think Bishop has ever changed.  Not in all his years.  His hate, it still fuels him.
OBAAT: Knowing what a cheese aficionado you are, I of course thought of you when The Beloved Spouse™ made macaroni and cheese a couple of weeks ago. What’s your favorite deal that involves cheese prominently, or do you prefer yours neat?
BJ:  TM, love it!  As for the ways I like my cheese? Anyway I can get it, really.  Mac and cheese, pizza, a hunk of Havarti.  It all works.  Lately, however, it’s been marble on pan-seared chicken, the lot then slammed into a panini press.  So good.

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