Chico Kidd has been writing professionally since 1979. Her ghost stories have been published in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and continental Europe. Most first saw the light of day in small press (Ghosts & Scholars, Dark Dreams, Peeping Tom, Enigmatic Tales, five self-published chapbooks, and others), many immediately snapped up for reprinting in mass-market anthologies. Almost all were collected together in hardback in Summoning Knells (Ash-Tree Press 2000). The Ghost Story Society’s verdict: “powerful… consummate craftsmanship”. Her first novel, The Printer’s Devil, came out from Baen Books (New York) in 1996. It came 12th in Locus magazine’s poll of Best First Novels of the year and gained some brilliant reviews. Chico also writes in collaboration with Australian author Rick Kennett about William Hope Hodgson’s occult detective Carnacki and their first hardback collection, No 472 Cheyne Walk, was published in 2002 by Ash-Tree. Since 2000 she has been busy with the Da Silva Tales, an ongoing sequence of novels and stories featuring “one of the genre’s most interesting and genuinely original new characters” according to Stephen Jones in Horror in 2001.The 2002 editions of his influential anthologies, Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 13 and Dark Terrors 6, feature three of the stories between them. Others have appeared in Supernatural Tales,the Ash-Tree anthology Acquainted with the Night (2004), and in three self-published chapbooks.
Chico was born in 1953 in Nottingham, though her parents met and married in postwar Germany, father an army sergeant from Nottingham, WAAF mother born in India to a Welsh father and mother whose nationality changed every time the tale was told. So she likes to think of herself as a mongrel, because everyone knows mongrels are smarter.
Wow. Chico Kidd has done a lot of stuff. She’s done more stuff today already than you’re gonna do in the next 20 years – or maybe more than I’m gonna do (definitely more than I’m gonna do). I get winded crossing a 7-11 going from the nacho machine to the beer cooler – and that’s on a good day – like if I happened to down a handful of Flintstone’s Vitamins with a Red Bull after I sniffed a purple Crayola Marker (not in a creepy way, purple just helps my sinuses because it is allergy season).
I’m excited if I can balance a tray of Taco Bell and the hot sauce packets at the same time and make it to a booth. There’s an art to it. I didn’t think I was gonna make it standing at the drink-getting station bar at Starbucks the other day. I never know where to stand really – like do you wait there even though you’re kinda in the way? I always do because I don’t hang out at Starbucks – I kinda run in and out – and if you go sit down to wait for your drink you get all these funny looks from all the hipsters in there with their Powerbooks open as they try to look interesting while writing the next big spec script – like maybe an unnecessary sequel to The Roller Blade Seven or Showgirls.
What Chico has kinda done recently is write a really awesome book called
Demon Weather: Da Silva Tales (Volume 1)
…and it goes a little something like this: The souls that shall be gathered are seven in number, because seven is a miraculous number.
Turn of the century Portugal. Demon hunter and ship’s captain Luís da Silva is docked in his homeport, looking forward to a break from the seas and a reunion with his wife. But an enemy from da Silva’s past has other plans for him…
When da Silva’s friends start falling victim to strange comas, he knows it is not illness to blame, but the sinister work of wizard Francisco Batista.With the help of a witch, a werewolf, a ghost, and an antiquarian, da Silva learns that Batista is stealing souls in order to enact revenge for an incident in their shared past, and also to become the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever seen.
But it is not just da Silva and his friends and family who are at risk. If Batista succeeds, his spell has the potential to rip the whole world apart.
…and now, prepareth as Chico Kidd answers 11 Questions of Badassary!
After all the writing you’ve done on all the many topics you’ve written on, what resonates with you so strongly about the character of Captain Luís da Silva and the expansive world you’ve built for the character to inhabit?
That’s a really difficult question to answer. As I never consciously set out to create him and he came into my mind whole and complete with back-story, I would guess that he is (to all intents and purposes) me, or at least my alter ego. His world grew in the telling, from the “monster of the week” syndrome of the short stories to a semi-coherent whole, and I have a whole lot of fun trying to find new spins on supernatural clichés. I guess the key word is fun. I enjoy writing him more than anyone else.
Would you rather be lost in the forest, the desert, the ocean, or deep space?
The ocean. As long as it’s a warm ocean, with lots of fish to catch. Forests tend to have bears in them, and deserts kill you too quickly. In deep space you need to be rescued, and other spacefarers ain’t likely to be friendly. Just look at the Firefly episode “Out Of Gas”. They don’t just not rescue Mal, they shoot him!
If you had to swim across a river of any beverage, what would it be?
My first thought was “beer”. But it gets awfully sticky on the skin. I think the best would be chicken soup, because if you caught a cold from being wet, you could cure it right then and there.
You’ve been writing professionally since 1979. What’s the best advice you’d give to a new writer who’s looking for inspiration and still trying to ‘figure it all out’?
I’m the last person to ask about this. I didn’t have a plan! I thought it would kinda just happen, and it kinda did, but it took an awful long time. Okay, so don’t give up the day job. Write the sort of things you like to read. Enjoy what you write. If it’s hard work, write something else. Don’t feel you have to “write what you know”— that’s what research is for.
When are you completely at peace?
Lying in the sun on a Caribbean island, with a cold beer and a good book.
Do you think that naked eyes are indecent?
No, but they’re overrated. The imagination is usually much more fun. What’s over the horizon is always more interesting than what you can see.
Please describe, in as much detail as you think relevant, your typical morning routine. Do you consider yourself a ‘morning person’? How do you prepare to do morning tasks (ie making coffee, jumping on an eliptical machine, wondering why one of your shoes is is in the microwave)?
No, I’m not really a morning person, but I’ve sort of taught myself to be. Sleeping in when you could be doing stuff is such a waste of time. Also when I get up before my partner I can have some “me time”. The first thing I do is make a cup of herbal tea. (Mostly I drink coffee apart from that.) Usually the neighbor cat has come in by then for a bit of a fuss, so I’ll give her a stroke and a kitty treat. Then I have a look at the papers, and after that I do some yoga. I’ve never found a shoe in the microwave, but one time I found a can opener in the fridge.
You have been driving alone in your car all afternoon when you realize that you are in fact driving in reverse while looking over your shoulder, as is the rest of the traffic on the road with you. Would you look forward and see what you and everyone are backing away from or would you continue your reverse motion and not let the idea that something might be reverse chasing everything on the highway? Would you, at next opportunity discuss this phenomenon openly with your therapist or would you continue to ignore it and keep talking about the fairies?
I would have to know what was ahead, so I’d take a look. What could be so bad? If it was a tsunami I’d keep reversing, but a pack of T. Rexes would get tired eventually. And if it was aliens, I’d rather talk to them, unless they had really big guns. So by the time I got to talk to a shrink, it would have been all over the internet anyway and I wouldn’t be able to deny it if I wanted to.
What makes a good antagonist?
One who’s really good at being a bad guy, but not quite as competent as the good guy. And who doesn’t talk all the time. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve yelled “Just shut up already!” at the screen. Talky villains suck. They totally ruin a story for me.
Would you mourn the loss of your burning barn if you knew once it was ashes that you would gain a better view of the moon over the mountains at night?
As long as there wasn’t anything of value in the barn, or kittens, I’d pick the view every time. And the insurance money.
What’s next on the writing agenda? Continuation of the current series, or are you cooking up something new (or both)? What’s upcoming that you feel excited and passionate about?
Both— I have an ideas book full of stuff, of which I think at least three have potential. I also need to finish off the fifth Da Silva novel, and I’m pretty sure the Captain and I aren’t done yet.
Author Jesse James Freeman delivers a comic book for the ages in novel form with this wild, tongue-in-cheek, imaginative creation that will suspend your disbelief. Jump in if you’re looking to immerse yourself in a unique and original fantasy tale with a sick twist….Billy Purgatory dares you to join him.
Billy Purgatory is Jesse James Freeman’s first novel. He’s also studied psychology and film and scripted comics. When he’s not writing books, Jesse James trains falcons to kill Leprechaun Robots, and will continue to do so until the world is relatively safe.
Jesse James recently contributed 4 essays to the book Write for the Fight: A Collection of Seasonal Essays, co-authored by Tess Hardwick (Riversong) and Tracey Hansen. All author proceeds will be donated to charities engaged in the fight against breast cancer.
Jesse James is currently working on Billy Purgatory and the Curse of the Satanic Five, MythCop, Vehemently Jones, Blood-Love, R. Cane, and Witches vs Robots.