SPFBO 9 Finalist Interview: Clayton W. Snyder, the Author of Cold West


Book links: AmazonGoodreads


AUTHOR INFO: Co-author of SPFBO finalist Norylska Groans, which Anthony Ryan (Blood Song) described as “Rich in bone-crunching violence and a grimly convincing sense of place and character.”, and the final instalment of the Manifest Delusions series, A War to End All. Several of my other novels have been SPFBO semi-finalists. I’ve also authored numerous short stories, my most recent, Hounds, at Grimdark Magazine. I currently split my time between work and writing. I have worked as a systems admin, chainsaw operator, and once did an ill-advised stint as a bodyguard because I am ‘really tall’.

Publisher: Clayton Snyder (February 29, 2020) Page Count: 141 (Kindle edition) Cover art: Clayton Snyder



Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

I’ll just barf my bio out here:

Co-author of SPFBO finalist Norylska Groans, which Anthony Ryan (Blood Song) described as “Rich in bone crunching violence and a grimly convincing sense of place and character.”, and the final instalment of the Manifest Delusions series, A War to End All. Several of my other novels have been SPFBO semi-finalists. I’ve also authored numerous short stories, my most recent, Hounds, at Grimdark Magazine. I currently split my time between work and writing. I have worked as a systems admin, chainsaw operator, and once did an ill-advised stint as a bodyguard because I am ‘really tall’.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

I do! I’m a hybrid sysadmin/developer for a retro video game retailer. Mostly I build their internal sales and data tools.

Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influencers?

My favorite current writers? Michael R Fletcher, and Anna Smith Spark. As far as influences go, probably Zelanzny, Chandler, and Weis and Hickman.

Can you lead us through your creative process? What works and doesn’t work for you? How long do you need to finish a book?

It’s less of a creative process and more of a creative primordial soup. I just throw ideas at the wall until something sticks, then start writing. Outlining has never worked for me. I am 100% a discovery writer. Depending on the length, and how easily it’s coming, I typically need about three months to finish a book.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

Dark worlds, grey characters, and nightmarish, phantasmagorical scenes.

What made you decide to self-publish Cold West as opposed to traditional publishing?

If we’re being brutally honest, it was really too short for an agent to look at, and I wasn’t willing to just let it sit and languish.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of self-publishing?

Favorite is the absolute freedom of storytelling. Least favorite? The absolute freedom of storytelling. Most of what I write is traditionally unmarketable. That can be a little frustrating sometimes.

Why did you enter SPFBO?

More visibility for my work.

What would you do if you won the SPFBO?

Retire to the Hague. That seems like a nice place. I always hear about it.

How would you describe the plot of Cold West if you had to do so in just one or two sentences?

Unforgiven meets nightmare magic.

What was your initial inspiration for Cold West? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea?

Unforgiven, the movie. I think it took me about a year to really get it to where I was happy with it, though it never really evolved much from its original idea.

If you had to describe it in 3 adjectives, which would you choose?

Shiny happy people?

No, wait.

Dark violent western

Is it part of the series or a standalone? If series, how many books have you planned for it?

Standalone.

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to Cold West’s protagonists/antagonists?

Simple enough: The protagonist is Wil Cutter, a former outlaw turned father who’s just trying to make the best of a bad situation.

The antagonist is Fletcher, a former revolutionary turned traitor who brings Wil’s world crashing down.

Does your book feature a magic/magic system? If yes, can you describe it?

Yes. There are two types of people: Callers, who have the ability to pull elemental magic from the aether, and Nulls, who have the ability to cancel it. To say much more is a bit spoilery.



Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Cold West and the artist?

It’s a cowboy setting fire to a city. I liked it. I’m ostensibly the artist, as I found some stock art on Adobe and bashed it all together to make the image.

Which question about the book do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

“Why is this so good?”

“Because Clayton is a handsome genius.”

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2023/2024?

I’m currently working on a new novel tentatively titled Neon Gods, not slated for release until 2024.

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

HELP, I’M TRAPPED IN THIS QUESTIONNAIRE

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