The following is an interview with author Bill Richardson regarding the recent release of his novel, Hell Fighters: 21st Century Lovecraft, as well as the audio book edition for More Than Evil. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Richardson about the inspiration for the new releases, how the two projects compare and contrast, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of Hell Fighters: 21st Century Lovecraft! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Bill Richardson: Professor Max Heller stumbles upon a remote area in the woods that challenges everything he thought he knew about the world. There is an evil in this place that defies all logic. Heller then joins a self-proclaimed group of Hell Fighters who wants to defeat this terrible entity. Together, these ragtag misfits embark on a journey to save the world from a force that is almost beyond human comprehension. This story has cults, giant monsters, otherworldly beings, doomsday preppers, ancient gods, mystical technologies and more. It will shock you, scare you, challenge you intellectually and awe you.
I wrote the book for several reasons, but one was that I wanted to play in the wonderful world that Lovecraft created. The evil in HP’s work is so foreign and otherworldly that it is difficult to even conceive of a way to combat it. In most of his stories, the evil either wins or the main character escapes it. No one ever really defeats it.
When I was a boy reading Lovecraft, it often left me unsatisfied. I wanted more. I wanted more detail. I wanted to see the monsters and understand the evil. The forces he shows us are on this grand scale but he always wrote about them in these very short works. It was like a mosaic that revealed different parts but never the whole. I wanted to gather up all those fascinating threads Lovecraft created and weave them into a big, cohesive tale that is accessible to a modern reader. The story features the Quantum Resonator, Arkham, Miskatonic University, an aspect of the Elder Gods, malformed monstrosities and many other elements of Lovecraft. But it’s also book you can enjoy if you’ve never read any of Lovecraft’s stories.
BD: The novel deftly combines fantasy and Lovecraftian horror. What can you share with us about your creative process in weaving these narratives together, and what have been some of your creative influences?
BR: As to influences, I read horror, sci if, fantasy, crime, non-fiction, historical fiction, poetry, classics and literary fiction. How that becomes what I write is something of a mystery to me. I’ve always leaned toward dark stories and most of what I write has a dark edge to it. But I also do a lot of humor, so go figure. As to process, I keep cramming stuff into my head until something comes out. I go to bookstore and browse covers and titles. I’m also a visual artist and sometimes I’ll create an image that will spark a story idea. I read, listen to audiobooks, watch movies, and daydream about stories. Every waking minute, I’m either immersing myself in creative content or trying to create it myself.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Heller’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
BR: Heller is a person who has always used his intellect to solve his problems. But he comes face to face with something so foreign and otherworldly that it defies all logic. So, it requires him to use other skills to take on the enormous challenges he faces. He has to get out of his comfort zone and become something of a man of action. I’m interested in the idea that there is a hero in all of us. If put in the right situation, we can all rise to the occasion and be heroic in our own way. Churchill was a mediocre politician before the war and after it too. But when the challenge of the Nazi invasion came, he was able to rise to meet it and become something more than he was before, or even after. What is a hero? A hero is someone who takes on a challenge that they think is too big for them and meets that challenge. We can all do that in our lives. I want people to realize that they can be more than they think they are.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the novel into subsequent books, if given the opportunity?
BR: I would like to continue Heller’s story and the Hell Fighters, as well. Another thing I explore in the book is how the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. How a group of people with different skills and failings can come together and do more than any of them could do alone. It’s like how the Beatles or the Stones, or any other musical group you can name, is better together than they are separately. I would like to explore that more with these characters. I have entire story arcs for each of them in my head. I leave the book open for the possibility that there can be more and I have several ideas. But I really enjoy exploring new worlds and new characters, and at this point I’m more comfortable with that. Honestly it will come down to what fans want. If they want more, I’ll give it to them.
BD: In addition, you also have the audiobook version of More Than Evil coming to Audible. What can you share with us about the premise of this book, and how would you describe your creative process in bringing it to life?
BR: In More Than Evil, a group of coal miners release an evil force that has been trapped in the earth for millennia. It begins to spread through their isolated town, overtaking its citizens and turning them into virtually unkillable monstrosities. Harlan is the local sheriff and he has to figure out a way to save his family and his town and stop these unstoppable creatures before the evil spreads to the wider world.
More Than Evil and Hell Fighters are very different in tone. More Than Evil is quite visceral. It’s not gore for the sake of gore. The blood is central to the plot and the nature of the evil we encounter but there is plenty of it. It’s kind of like Clive Barker’s early writing in that way.
I wanted to make the audiobook for More Than Evil a different experience than reading the novel. As a result, I used my years of filmmaking experience to create what I like to call, a movie for your ears. I created a rich 3D soundscape with tons of music and effects. The audiobook has both dark and light humor in it that the prose version doesn’t. This was done with music and effects, not by changing the text. The idea is that you can enjoy each version in a different way. Horror really lends itself to the kind of audio treatment I used in this audiobook but it rarely gets it. That’s what sets it apart and elevates it. It’s a very different listening experience than you’re used to.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
BR: I have a book on Kindle Vella called Two Girls Save the World. It’s basically YA adventure/horror. You can read almost half of it for free on that platform. And the appeal of that book is broader than the title or genre might lead you to believe. Guys will like it and adults will too. I have a lot of other stuff in the can and I’m trying to figure out which one to release next. The genres range from SF to fantasy to historical fiction. There will be a new release the 2nd half of February for sure. My intention is to have a release schedule of February and September of each year.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Hell Fighters, More Than Evil, and your other work?
Let me say in closing that I appreciate every person who gives my work a chance and reads it. It is a struggle for every author to build an audience. My number one rule is, don’t be boring. I’ve got a 4+ star rating across all platforms, so a lot of people have liked my work. I feel confident that readers who try my books will enjoy them.
I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of cool things in my life. I’ve been a film and TV producer, a nationally known historian, artist and writer. I’ve been inside the great pyramids of Egypt, embraced the pillars at Stonehenge, seen the world’s greatest works of art in person. Those things brought me great joy, but not as much as writing does. I hope folks will come along on my writing journey with me. I promise it will be a blast.