Interview with V.S. McGrath
Tell us about your background. Who you are, where you are from?
My name’s V.S. McGrath. I’m born and bred and live in Toronto. I am a second-generation Canadian born to parents who came here from Hong Kong and Malaysia. They are Canadian citizens and have run a successful business in the heart of the city for 35 years.
What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the readers will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader?
The Devil’s Revolver series is a sweeping fantasy adventure set in the sunset days of a magic-infused Wild West. It follows stubborn, headstrong Hettie Alabama, 17, who’s on a desperado quest to save her kidnapped sister. Along with a motley crew, at her side is a legendary cursed revolver called Diablo that ages her a year for every person she kills with it.
The themes and tropes in the Western genre are well-established—freedom and individuality, vengeance and violence, moral ambiguity in the pursuit of justice. With a diverse cast of characters, some of whom can wield magic, I got to explore other themes as they related to the intersections of power, privilege, marginalization, and oppression. The fantasy aspect of the series allowed me to hold up a mirror to contemporary issues like the climate and energy crises, racism, and immigration. Magic powers require a whole system of regulation and control, and that is all factored into the worldbuilding and how the characters interact with each other.
What prompted you to be an author and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain person, artist, or genre?
I’d always loved writing, and at age 8, I’d decided I wanted to be an author like Beverly Cleary. I didn’t complete and publish a book until much, much later, though. I started my writing career at Harlequin, writing contemporary romances under the pen name Vicki Essex. I learned so much from the romance writers around me about the craft and the business.
If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why?
If the TV show Wynonna Earp made a baby with Charles Portis’ True Grit, and then you sprinkled in some more magic and horror elements, you’d have The Devil’s Revolver.
Tell us about your latest work and what inspired you.
With The Devil’s Revolver series, I’d always wanted to write a fantasy, but I didn’t want another setting that was a stand-in for feudal-era Europe. I was playing the video game Red Dead Redemption at the time I was first conceiving the idea, and thought, why not the Wild West? The Weird West genre is well established, of course. The challenge I faced was to integrate magic into the Western genre in an organic way. The latest book, The Legend of Diablo, is the fourth and final installment of the series.
How can your readers contact you? Or buy your books? Or where can they sign up for a newsletter?
You can find out more about me and my books and sign up for my newsletter at www.vsmcgrath.com. The final book in the series, The Legend of Diablo, will be out September 17. All my books are available or can be ordered wherever you buy books and ebooks. Visit www.devilsrevolver.com for excerpts, reviews and more about the series.
Thanks for taking the time for this interview. All the best!