Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Steven S. Drachman Interview - Watt O'Hugh and the Innocent Dea

Photo Content from Steven S. Drachman

Steven S. Drachman is a writer and critic whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, The Boston Phoenix, The Chicago Sun-Times, and Entertainment Weekly. He has also written on the Middle East for the IsraelPalestinePeace e-zine and in the Kindle single, Enough Already: A Framework for Permanent Peace, which was the the basis for a Ted Talk in 2014.

His first novel, a Western sci-fi historical fantasy entitled The Ghosts of Watt O'Hugh, was named one of the Best of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and Winner, Best Fantasy Novel by Indie Excellence Book Awards 2012. Book 2 of the Watt O'Hugh trilogy, Watt O'Hugh Underground, was published by Chickadee Prince Books in 2014, to equivalent acclaim. The final book of the trilogy is Watt O'Hugh and the Innocent Dead.


Series: Memoirs of Watt O'Hugh the Third (Book 3)
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Chickadee Prince Books LLC (September 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1732913935
ISBN-13: 978-1732913936


“Touching tragedy, dead-pan comedy and a time-roaming cowboy? Part three of Drachman’s epic fantasy series is indeed fantastic!” ―David David Katzman, award-winning author of A Greater Monster (Bedhead Books)

“[An] engaging tale of Western science fiction and amazing fantasy … Fast-paced, energetic and fun; a dime novel for modern intellectuals.” ―Kirkus Reviews

"The third entry in Drachman'sseries (after Watt O'Hugh Underground) dives right into a complex world of time travel, lost love, faith, war, and the afterlife. The titularRoamer -- a time traveler with cowboy flavor -- is hoodwinked into getting good and dead. He wakes up in the Hell of the Innocent Dead, a place of Chinese myth devoted to those unjustly dead whose murderers still walk free.... VERDICT: Genre mashup devotees should get some good laughs and thrills from this Western/adventure/sf/fantasy blend." ―Nicole Steeves, Library Journal

Can you tell us when you started WATT O'HUGH AND THE INNOCENT DEAD, how that came about?
I don’t know exactly when I started it, but it was a while after the publication of the second book in the trilogy, Watt O’Hugh Underground, which was published in 2014. Underground ended on a cliffhanger, in which Watt was attacked by a huge and ferocious sand crab in the 6th level of Hell. After a conclusion like that, I really had an obligation to finish the story. 

Are there any new Authors that have grasped your interest and why?
Pen Pearson, whose new, first novel, Bloombury’s Late Rose, is about the poet Charlotte Mew, who lived in Edwardian London. It’s a great story, and I like the idea of how she rediscovered and championed an undeservedly obscure artist from a hundred years ago. I just finished reading Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck. I like the way she straddles the fantasy/horror/literary worlds, while still writing stories unlike any I have ever read before. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
When someone writes something perceptive about my book in the media, that can be really rewarding. I enjoy getting support and attention from authors I admire. 

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
In Columbia Professor Hans Bielenstein’s class, in 1984, I learned about the rule of Chinese Emperor Wang Mang, in the first century. An underrated emperor, to say the least, who tried to change the relationship between the government and the people, and between rich and poor. It was amazing to learn about that great, missed opportunity to change the world. He failed. 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Watt?
I learned a lot of interesting things about history in writing these books. I think what was most surprising was probably how much the landscape of America has changed. Fashionable metropolises and resorts of the 19th century that came and went, amazing buildings that seemed to be a permanent part of the landscape that lasted mere decades. I was also surprised to learn that train robbery methods were named for their originators, including one designed by a former Sunday school teacher. This third book delves into what is known as panpsychism, and quantum mechanics, so I had to gain a layman’s understanding of that. 

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?
The Sidonian princess. She is a “simulacrum,” conjured by an Otherworld Fabricator to exhort the Sidonian troops to battle. She’s visually striking, beautiful, fearsome, with an eyepatch and a hawk on her shoulder. At first, she is content to be fearsome. But by the most recent novel, she has begun to challenge the ideas implanted in her head, and to wonder whether it is possible to escape the destiny for which she was designed. 

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m working on short fiction, and helping to spread the word about Chickadee Prince Books, which publishes Watt and a lot of other authors. 

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Watt to the TV character Brisco County Jr. Do you remember that show? Years ago, I originally dreamed up Watt O’Hugh as an older sidekick to Brisco for a proposed series of novels that would continue Brisco’s adventures into the late 1890s. When that project didn’t move forward, I told Watt’s backstory instead, in the 1870s and 1880s, in the trilogy that I just completed. I would still like those two guys to meet and work together. 

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
You should not follow advice on a website from an author who doesn’t know you. This sounds snarky, but it’s not! It’s true. 


  • Sharon Springs, New York, in the 1880s
  • Leadville, Colorado, in the 1870s
  • Hangchow, China, in 1265
  • Paris, France, on April 23, 1881
  • The Big Island of Hawaii, during the 1990s
  • Tel Aviv today
  • Wyoming Territorial Prison, in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1874
  • New York city, during the Gilded 1860s
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan
Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
My membership card in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It’s one of the best places to write. 

Last Halloween Costume you wore and when?
I do not think I have worn a full Halloween “costume” since my days at Outdoor Nursery, a pre-school in suburban Maryland. I dressed up as a clown for the school’s Halloween parade when I was three years old. Based on the Super 8 film that documented this event, I fell into the “sad clown” category. 

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
I know a lot about naked mole rats, which are actually fascinating creatures. Most people probably find most of the things I know about them ridiculous, but there are biologists who devote their lives to studying this little fellow, which is a serious and useful endeavor. So how about this: I get a kick out of weird little factoids about my family history. Arthur Conan Doyle, during his crackpot phase, suggested in his book, The Edge of the Unknown, that my great-grandfather, who was a respected rabbi, knew the secrets of wizardry. My great-grandfather then essentially had to deny that he was a wizard. So that’s a kind of ridiculous fact – the creator of Sherlock Holmes thought the Drachmans were wizards! I put Conan-Doyle into my second book, and played off this event a bit. 

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
Yes. Not always a good idea. 

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
This falls into two categories. Stuff I’d like to go back and re-do, to change, points in life where I would be happier today if I hadn’t, for example, sent an email. There are also times I’d like to go back and re-live because they were fun in retrospect. To be a college student again, for a week. 

Which incident in your life totally changed the way you think today?
The acclaimed novelist, the late Raymond Kennedy, was my teacher at one point, and he believed I could be a professional novelist. Hearing that from someone like that was really important to the way I thought about myself. 

On the morning of Wednesday, September 24, 1879, I awoke in a prison in Montana.

I did not imagine that evening might find me sprawled beneath a great and ferocious sand crab on a rancid beach, deep in the Hell of the Innocent Dead.

But that is indeed where I wound up.

The moral, if there is one: never plan your day too inflexibly.


In this, the final book of the trilogy, Watt O'Hugh, the dead/not-dead, time Roaming Western gunman, travels the length and breadth of the sixth level of Hell, recruiting a shadowy army that might storm the borders of the Underworld, free humanity and the inscapes from the clutches of the Falsturm and his Sidonian hordes, and stave off the Coming Storm.

He'll need a little luck.

You can purchase Watt O'Hugh and the Innocent Dead at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you STEVEN B. DRACHMAN for making this giveaway possible.
5 Winners will receive a copy of WATT O'HUGH AND THE INNOCENT DEAD by Steven S. Drachman.
Winner will receive a $25 Dollar Amazon Gift Card.
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