Hi all, and welcome to the first in an ongoing series of interviews with authors who have books to promote. Odin knows if you’re a regular reader of the Anxiety that I do a fair amount of promoting my own work, so I’m happy to give other authors a chance to get their books out in front of the Atomic Anxiety audience.
Greg Norgaard’s latest, SAVAGE NOIR, is a collection of three stories of Frank Savage. Here’s the book description from Amazon:
MANY BELIEVED THE WEST WAS WILD. FOR SOME, THE WEST WAS SAVAGE. Pro Se Productions, a leading Publisher in Genre Fiction and Hard Hitting Pulp presents SAVAGE NOIR: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES OF FRANK SAVAGE by Greg Norgaard! A hard boiled two fisted western, this omnibus features the original two novels featuring Norgaard’s raw, exciting protagonist-Frank Savage- as well as a never before published short story chronicling Savage’s last adventure. There is only one way to deal with murderous souls when killing is their modus operandi and revenge is on their mind. When the West was wild, one man knew this better than any other. His name was Frank Savage. A SAVAGE RETRIBUTION and A SAVAGE DARKNESS are Savage’s novel length adventures. AN AMERICAN SAVAGE is a newly written tale bringing a six gun blazing finale to a character destined to take his place as one of the best modern Pulp Characters ever. From Pro Se Productions- SAVAGE NOIR by Greg Norgaard!
On to the interview:
Mark Bousquet (MB): What is SAVAGE NOIR?
Greg Norgaard (GN): SAVAGE NOIR is an omnibus of two novels and a short story set between 1875 and 1910. It includes A Savage Retribution, A Savage Darkness, and the short, An American Savage. It follows the exploits of a cowboy, who works for the government as a detective, by the name of Frank Savage. Savage Noir is also the best way to describe the genre that the Savage universe inhabits. It’s not ‘film noir’ but it has some of those elements mixed in with the western genre.
MB: Who is Frank Savage?
GN: Frank Savage is an ex Union soldier who has gone on after the war into law enforcement. He was recruited by the United States government as a sort of Marshal. His missions are such that he is to hunt for criminals dead or alive. But mostly dead.
MB: How did the idea develop?
GN: I’m a fan of 1950′s pulp-fiction novels and western movies. Frank Savage came about as a mix of the old 1950′s lead characters in such movies, and then blended with the violence of the pulp-westerns from the same era.
MB: How long has Frank Savage been rattling around in your head?
GN: Frank’s been knocking around for about seven years. I’d been reading quite a few westerns, and I was getting frustrated because they all started to sound alike. They would often open with the same scene! So, I thought, why not write one? I should write a western that I would like to read. The first chapter of A Savage Darkness is that scene I spoke of that is always the same, but I turned it on it’s ear. My hope is that readers of westerns will see that and realize, “this isn’t my dad’s western.”
MB: SAVAGE NOIR contains three stories: A Savage Retribution, A Savage Darkness, and An American Savage. The first two were previously published and the third is new to this collection, making this the ultimate Frank Savage purchase. What was the rationale for putting these three stories together under one cover?
GN: The idea came from Pro Se Press. I had written the first, and self-published, and I was hunting around for someone to publish the second novel. Tommy Hancock, of Pro Se Press, liked the idea of combining the books into an omnibus. It’s reminiscent of the pulp novels that came out during the 30′s through 50′s. Back then it was a way to get more “bang for your buck” in rough economic times. I thought it was a great idea so I came up with a short story to add to it and here we are.
Excerpt #1: from SAVAGE NOIR
Immediately a voice bellowed out from one of the tables by the bar. It had an annoying twang to it. “I recognize that Goddang son of a b*tch.”
Frank pulled the stock to his shoulder, loaded a round into the breech with a downward flick of his hand, and pointed the barrel all within the flash of a second it took the man to take to his feet.
“Hold onto your hat, Mister Man,” Frank ordered. “I’ve got no qualms about splashing you right here, right now.”
A coin rolled across a table and tumbled to the floor. Frank surveyed the room. It was a one-level saloon and not a woman in sight. Less than a dozen cowboys sat and stood about the room holding lukewarm beers. Half of the bunch looked ready for a fight—the others looked ready for a nap.
“I ain’t here for you, Harvey,” Frank said to the man. “I got much bigger fish to fry than to screw around trying to drag your ugly ass into jail. Besides the fact that I’d rather not dirty up my clothes with your filth.”
A splash of tobacco fused with spit sounded off from the back of the saloon. Harvey pulled a face. His legs were scarcely bent at the knees. He stood between his table and the bar with his hand hanging loosely over his gun. His shoulders were shrugged up tight to his neck and his forearm swayed at the elbow, rocking back and forth slowly. The tips of his fingers stroked the butt of his gun as his hand swung to and fro.
Frank recognized the look in the man’s eyes. Harvey, more than likely, was the top gun in Deviltry. And if he could take Frank Savage out, it would solidify his reputation.
Frank’s voice was deep, clear, and loud. “Whoever don’t want a piece of this, leave now, and leave slow.” He kept his eyes on Harvey. “And don’t come back.”
Seven men moved slowly but assuredly out the front door. Harvey stayed where he stood, steady except, that is, for his swinging arm. As the seventh gunman was walking out the front door he abruptly turned and grabbed Cole’s shotgun by the barrel. The gun shot flames as the two stumbled into Frank with force enough to knock him off balance. The blast sent down a shower of dust and wood splinters from the ceiling.
Harvey saw his window of opportunity and drew his six-shooter. But Frank’s hold on his rifle was solid. Frank’s trigger pulled tight against the stop. The bullet hit Harvey in the shoulder, causing him to drop his gun with a puff.
MB: Tell us about A Savage Retribution.
GN: A Savage Retribution is actually at a point in Frank’s life where he has quit doing what he does well, killing bad guys. The reason he retired was because of a mistake he made that ended up costing the life of an innocent man. As the story progresses he finds out that in the times that he lives, violent men are abound, and he gets pulled back into that life in order to protect those he cares about. It’s this experience that causes him to go back to work. It’s his belief that by destroying these evil men, he in turn will be saving lives.
MB: How does A Savage Darkness relate? Is this a continuation of Retribution or does it stand alone as its own story?
GN: A Savage Darkness continues with Frank after he has gone back to work but it’s a stand alone story. There are only light references made in Darkness about Retribution that only a keen eye would find, i.e. comments he makes about his horse. My goal is to continue writing Savage novels, and intertwine characters from each book into them. I would like to add that these novels are stories that the reader has to pay attention to. There are twists and turns – a character that is introduced at the beginning of a story might be brought back later as someone else.
MB: And American Savage?
GN: An American Savage is later in Savage’s career and it’s also his last mission. He’s hunting down a killer from A Savage Darkness that he had let live. It tells the reader that it’s a happy ending for Frank, albeit a violent one.
MB: Who is Greg Norgaard?
GN: I’m an ex-Navy officer who is a pilot and fan of pulp-books and old movies. I enjoy writing stories that I would like to read.
MB: Your Amazon bio mentions you spent 10 years in the Navy, flying helicopters. Do you draw on your military history in your writing?
GN: I believe what followed me from the military, and shows in my stories, is camaraderie. Friendships that grow deeper when faced with hardships. A bond develops between friends when they are faced with dangerous obstacles. There’s an urge that takes people over that tells them to protect each other. I really hope my readers see that and can relate to it. My favorite stories, television, books and movies, are ones in which there is more than one lead and they work together for a common goal.
MB: What’s next for Frank Savage?
GN: Frank is retired as of 1910, but there are plenty of adventures from his life that have yet to be told.
MB: What’s next for Greg Norgaard?
GN: At this moment I’m working on a short film, Savage Noir, that should be completed this summer. My next book is a crime story set in 1953 called Cowboy Detective. Our new hero will be Glenn Bannion who I based on some of the characters that Glenn Ford played in the 40′s and 50′s. The story will be a crime drama with western elements. It’s what I did with A Savage Darkness but in reverse.
Excerpt #2 from SAVAGE NOIR:
Frank casually walked to the bar and took a seat on a stool. He conceded a small smile.
Frank spoke first. “Hey there, Handsome Sam.”
The two moved slowly to shake hands.
Sam was a roughly handsome man with deep cracks of work and living that somehow had only added more charm to his face. He could still date women much younger than himself.
“Okay,” said Sam.
“It’s American made.”
“Sounds like you,” Sam said. He grinned.
Sam poured Frank a glass of bourbon and a side of water and leaned across the bar.
“I’m guessing that Detective Vance Stranger still frequents this glam-dive,” Frank said.
“Running late is he?”
“Yep.” Sam paused. His eyes were soft and kind. “We missed you.”
“Me, too, Sam, me too.” He took a sip of his bourbon and followed it with a swallow of water.
“We think about you often in this place.”
“Thanks. I think of this place often.”
Frank pulled at his tobacco bag, rolled a fresh cigarette, made a once-over of the hazy bar, and touched a flame to his smoke.
“Who’s your friend?” asked Sam.
“Oh, you noticed him?”
“How could I not? He almost brought the door frame in with him.”
“He’s broad alright.”
“I bet he stepped sideways down that narrow alley just to get here.”
Frank lured some smoke into his lungs. With smoke slipping out of his mouth, he said, “You know I have some questions.”
The door sounded as someone entered the bar. A short kinky-haired brunette stumbled in alone.
“Well, I’ll be,” she blurted. She staggered.
Frank didn’t move fast with his response. “Hello, Roxy.” Frank turned to Sam and whispered, “You take the good with the bad.”
“She’s a nut of the first water,” said Sam.
“Where in the—” said Roxy. She stopped, grinned, dragged on a cigarette, tossed it to the floor, and lit another.
Roxy Desire had been cute once, but she was past her prime. She had perky breasts and a rugged face. One that looked walked on. Not with a boot, but as a boot.
“Long time no damn see, Frankie.” She worked hard on her cigarette as the door slammed shut behind her.
“Yep, been long, Roxy.” Frank whispered, “Not long enough, I reckon.”
“Aren’t you supposed to stand for a lady when she walks in the room?”
Frank said, “Well, show me a lady—”
“Yeah, yeah, and you’ll stand. That’s not funny anymore.”
Sam interjected, “Roxy?”
Roxy said, “Whiskey, same old, same old.”
“Yeah, I reckon, nothing changes around here, does it, Roxy?” Frank said.
“One thing does. You ain’t bedding me down anymore.”
Frank looked down at his drink. “Well, we all have to spend a night in the sewer at least once.”
Mark Bousquet is the author of several novels and collections, including Gunfighter Gothic, Stuffed Animals for Hire, Dreamer’s Syndrome, Harpsichord and the Wormhole Witches, and Adventures of the Five. He has also published a review collection entitled Marvel Comics on Film, which covers every cinematic and TV movie based on a superhero from the House of Ideas. A complete listing of all his work can be found at his Amazon author page.