Thursday, October 20, 2022

Beau Johnson, Author of Old Man Rider

 No one has guested in this blog more than Beau Johnson. (Editor’s Note: He did not research this, at all, but it sounds right.) There’s a reason for this: he’s a great interview. His new book, Old Man Rider, drops this week and I’m delighted to have Beau back to talk about Rider, cheeses, and life in general. (Mostly cheese.)


One Bite at a Time: Welcome back, Beau. It’s always a pleasure to have you here on the blog. The new collection is Old Man Rider. What’s Bishop Rider up to now?

Beau Johnson: Hi Dana!  As ever, thanks for lifting the ban and having me back! As for Rider and what he’s up to now—if I'm honest, the answer remains the rest of his life. The stories within the pages of Old Man Rider harken back to the beginning of Bishop’s struggle (A Better Kind of Hate), then fast forwarding to his end (All of Them to Burn), and if I’m honest again, many of the stories in-between (The Big Machine Eats and Brand New Dark).


OBAAT: It’s been five years since you were first here to discuss A Better Kind of Hate, the collection in which Bishop Rider debuted. Since then you’ve written close to a hundred Rider stories. Has he changed over the years? If so, how? If not, what keeps him on the same path through all the trials he’s faced?

BJ: He’s still as angry as ever, and that pretty much has been his defining point throughout his life-–the very thing which has kept him on the path. So no, he hasn’t changed all that much.  Down some body parts, sure, but I believe that’s par for the course with a character such as Rider. 


OBAAT: Back in 2017 I asked “Where did [Bishop Rider] come from? In what ways is he like, and unlike, you?” You replied “I'm pretty far removed from Bishop Rider. He's combination of many things, but anger is the thing which drives him most. Call him Frank Castle. Call him Charles Bronson. Call him a man who is trying to save himself by saving others.” That’s a good description of his character, but it doesn’t really answer the question of where in your imagination he came from. So, give it up before I taunt you with cheese.

BJ: Ha! Well, it was his sister, April Rider, who came first.  Me having a picture in my mind of six men in masks and her life ending because of them. This is how Rider was truly born.  He’s a response, really, to an image I had almost fifteen years ago. Oh how the time flies!


OBAAT: How did you come up with the name “Bishop Rider?” It’s not bizarre, though it is unusual, and it’s a great name for such a character. I sometimes drop in homages to book or movie characters when naming minor players in a book. For example, I once named my head of investigations for the Chicago Crime Commission after an FBI agent made notable thorugh his efforts to bring down the Chicago Outfit, and the Western I never finished has a couple of variations of names from The Wild Bunch included. Was anything like that involved in Bishop Rider’s gestation, or did you pull names from the phone book? (Naming characters always fascinates me.)

BJ: You ever see the movie ALIENS? Anyway, the android played by Lance Henricksen, he’s where Rider’s first name came from. Unfortunately, I have no such story for his last name save I knew there would always be an i and never a y.


OBAAT: Last month you tweeted “I’ve been told going shirtless and misting myself in baby oil may—may—help me sell more books. We’ll see what I can come up with.” How’d that work out for you?

BJ: Ha! Yeah, that happened over on the Facebook. I keep things pretty PG in my promos, though, so such a misting was never really in play. Also: third nipple. (I kid. I kid.)


OBAAT: You published your first book five years ago. Now that you’re a literary veteran, what about being a writer has surprised you the most?

BJ: How hard it remains. How new obstacles appear. How perfect strangers will champion you more than your own family and friends ninety-five percent of the time.  That there are more people rooting for your success than your failure but that apathy is rampant regardless and I will no longer keep my head in the sand about such things. Also: editors are your friend.


OBAAT: The quintessential final question for any interview: Understanding each meal may be our last, what’s the most recent cheese you ate, and how was it chosen.

BJ: Marble, baby.  And only because we were out of Havarti! Thanks again, Dana.  For having me.  Fun was had!


And not just by Beau. Buddy, you’re always welcome here.

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