He is one of the most mysterious author in the world. The craziest theories circulate about him. While his seventh opus – The Day It Rained Blood (Bourbon Kid in french) – arrives in bookstores on september 21, he answered our questions to try to unravel the mystery Anonymous…
CINEMACLUBFR : What can you tell us about your seventh book – the sixth starring the Bourbon Kid ?
Anonyme : In France it is called simply Bourbon Kid but it features all of the characters that survived the last book (The Plot To Kill the Pope) and several others from earlier books, including Sanchez, Flake and Beth. It might actually be the craziest book I’ve written so far. There are some huge surprises and some new villains like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Cain, the world’s first murderer. I can’t say more than that without spoiling things.
Everything began when you published your online manuscript. When did you start to write this saga ?
I wrote the first chapter of The Book With No Name on 1st January 2004. It was the first chapter to ever feature the Bourbon Kid. I couldn’t decide how he would fit into the story so I wrote about 50 more chapters before he showed up again. I think that’s what people liked about him, he was such a mysterious character and it was hard to tell whose side he was on.
Why an online publishing instead of an traditional publisher ?
Every single publisher I sent the manuscript to rejected it. So I self- published it and it started selling really well online. After I’d sold a few thousand copies I approached all the publishers a second time and they all rejected it again. But eventually another author read it and recommended it to his publisher. And even though they normally only published biographies and joke books, they liked my novel and took a chance on it. They made a wise decision, I think.
Why being anonymous ?
I’m very unsociable. Plus being anonymous is cool !
Because of your anonymity, many theories circulate has proposes of your true identity. Some thinks that you are Quentin Tarantino, his pal Robert Rodriguez or even The Prince of Wales. Others say you could be David Bowie or a gang of people. Can you confirm that you’re one person and what do you think about the many identities that we lend you ?
I am definitely just one person. And in case anyone hasn’t worked it out yet, I’m definitely not David Bowie. All of those theories are very flattering though. I can understand why Prince Charles would remain anonymous if he’d written my books. His mum would kill him if she found out he used language like I do.
You have succes worldwide. Don’t you want to reveal your name ? Just to see the reaction ?
I could reveal my name and for one day it would be fun, but then the next day I would want to be anonymous again. So I plan to stay anonymous until the day before I die, which I think will be April 16th 2048.
Being anonymous make hard to turn your books into movies or TV shows ?
It makes it hard for movie producers to track down my agent. But movie people are very tenacious. I met with the producers who are working on The Book With No Name and the good news is they have a great vision for the project. If everything works out they could be filming next year.
3 years ago, we wrote about a movie starring the Psycho Killer. How about this project ?
At first the producers were planning to make it into a movie, then they changed their minds and decided it should be a TV series. But at the moment it looks like it’s not going to be anything, which is a shame because I thought it would be a really fun movie.
Movies/Cinema have a huge role in your books and you use many codes of many genre, horror, western, action… What are your inspirations in terms of movies and directors ?
My biggest influences are screenwriters like Aaron Sorkin, Shane Black, Quentin Tarantino, Brian Helgeland and Sylvester Stallone. People always laugh when I say Stallone but if you analyse his work he’s written some outstanding dialogue and he created Rocky, one of the greatest characters in cinema. But my biggest influence was the director Tony Scott. One of the important things I learned from his films was to trust the audience. He would just show you two men standing on top of a building and leave it to you to work out how they got there. No one needs to see them climbing up the stairs.
Your first published book – The Book With No Name – is a joyful mix of horror, action, SF and romance, were you afraid that this mix could be a handicap to publish the book ?
I was fairly certain when I was writing it that publishers would reject it, and of course, they did. But I remember the moment halfway through the book where I decided I was going to put vampires in it. For a brief moment I thought “If I do this, it will never get published”. But then I reminded myself that I was trying to write something unique and original, so I went ahead and did it anyway.
Humour is present in your books – on purpose or not – a tool to take the reader by surprise ?
Without the humour my books wouldn’t work as well as they do. Much of the humour comes from characters pointing out the absurdity of what is going on. Quite often if you have something in the story that doesn’t make sense, it helps if the characters acknowledge it. It’s something QuentinTarantino does very well. In Reservoir Dogs for example, Mr Pink keeps pointing out how stupid the gang are for hanging around in the warehouse when they know the cops are going to show up any minute. If Mr Pink doesn’t point it out, the viewer would be thinking “this is stupid, why are they still in the warehouse?” But because he points it out, you get to laugh at how annoyed he is with the other characters because they’re so stupid.
You have two heroes so far – Bourbon Kid and Psycho Killer – and both have an alias. An opposite to your anonymity and in the multiple identities which you are lent ?
I think everyone should have an alias. You can escape and be someone else for a while and you can behave differently depending on which identity you are using. But also with the Bourbon Kid and Psycho Killer, when I first introduced those characters there was mystery around what their true identity was. And mystery is what crime readers are looking for.
You have accounts on social medias. A good way to stay in touch with your fans and readers ? Do the remarks influence you on your writing ?
Yes they do, to a certain degree. For example, many of my readers have been begging for the return of Sanchez because he was missing from the last few books. I always wanted to bring him back, but it helped that I knew many of my readers wanted him to return. You can’t give the readers what they want all the time though because sometimes you have to surprise them, even if the surprise is not what they wanted, like killing off their favourite characters….
Do you have the will to write or even to direct your own movie ?
I have had some input in the screenplay for The Book With No Name movie, which was great fun. The writers who worked on the script have done a great job with it. And even though I would love to write my own screenplays, at the moment I’m still concentrating on books. And who wouldn’t want to direct a movie!
The Bourbon Kid is a huge part of you and your writes, have you ever thought of saying goodbye to this man or even the Psycho Killer to create a new character ?
After every Bourbon Kid book I always think I will never write another one, but then a few months or years later an idea will pop into my head and I start on another one. The only way I could stop writing about these characters is if I kill them off.
Why the ideology of the anti-hero is so important to you ?
I’ve always found anti-heroes much more interesting. I remember seeing Mad Max 2 on video when I was about 10 years old. I was confused by it at first because I didn’t understand why Max was so reluctant to help the good guys. I was so fascinated by it that I kept rewatching it to try and understand it.
So when I’m writing a book and the good guys are in trouble, instead of having Captain America come to their rescue, I think it’s much more interesting to have the killer from the Halloween movies, because he’s not going to mess around waiting for the bad guys to shoot first.
Women are important in your books. Why not making them the main character like a female Bourbon Kid ?
It’s funny because after The Plot To Kill the Pope I had lots of messages from people telling me that Jasmine was their favourite character. And, in a way she is the main character in that book. She appeared in more chapters than the Bourbon Kid and the Iroquois combined, and she made the most significant kill of all at the end. But with all of my books, I like to use an ensemble. No one, male or female, ever gets the whole story to themselves.
What the future for the Bourbon Kid and Psycho Killer ?
They are both back in the new book, which is out on September 21st. After that, I’m not sure.