Unexpected Questions with Bill McCurry

Fantasy author Bill McCurry writes dark, humorous books about people who have lived more than a few years and made some mistakes. The stories are as much about the ridiculousness of being human as they are about sword fighting and magic. He has written two series, the Death’s Collector series, and the Sorcerer of Bad Examples Collection (Book 2 of which will come out in early 2024).

Bill was born in Fort Worth, Texas and now lives thirty-five miles away in Dallas. That short distance produces more divergence than one might think. If both cities were apples, Dallas would be sliced and resting on a bed of arugula and kale with some nice vinaigrette. Fort Worth would be sitting in a bin at the farmer’s market behind a sign that reads, “These are good old apples. If you’re looking for kale, Dallas is over there.”

Bill earned an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Arlington, which sits halfway between Fort Worth and Dallas. Arlington would be apples juggled by a smiling but overworked clown. The most useful thing he learned at university is that nobody is under any obligation to teach people anything, including professors. Once he learned that, a lot of things made more sense.

People have paid Bill to do an odd variety of things, from construction to business operations to improvisational acting. He lives with his five cats, who are aspiring internet celebrities, and his lovely wife, a woman so keenly determined that she would always be able to kill him if it came to a knife fight. His cats would watch.

If you had to survive in a fantasy world with only the contents of your fridge, what would be your game plan?

Before I got married, my refrigerator never had much in it, but the contents would have made a reasonable start on chemical warfare. Now my wife keeps the refrigerator in a civilized condition, so I have more options, although less lethal ones.

I think I’d be forced to adopt a strategy of stealth and ambush. The chocolate bars (which we have for sudden s’mores cravings) would make a decent lure, especially in a fantasy world where chocolate may be unknown. When my foe stopped to investigate the chocolate, from hiding I would hurl a big glass jar of dill pickles at his skull.

Close-up encounters would require different tools. My refrigerator dispenses water, which means there’s probably a rubber hose in there. I mean, copper is godawful expensive, and plastic gets brittle in the cold. Once removed, the rubber hose would make a fine strangling cord. It would be a well-camouflaged (flat black), so it would fit my stealth/ambush strategy admirably.

If you had to choose between being a time traveler or a space explorer, which would you pick and why?

I would choose to be a time traveler for a couple of reasons. A space explorer would experience things that have been hypothesized but not yet directly encountered. It sounds great, although terrifying. A time traveler would experience both hypothesized things (the future) and also things he has merely heard about (the past). It’s terrifying also, but great in two different ways rather than one.

Time travel has its downsides. A space explorer can’t negate reality by carelessly talking about the 1973 World Series. On the other hand, a time traveler needn’t worry about getting crushed in a black hole or risking explosive decompression in a surplus space suit from the last diaspora.

Space is the most unforgiving of environments, and that’s the second reason I’d choose time travel. One look at the disaster that is my desk proves that I’d slip up and leave the air lock open one day.

Mash together two of your favorite SF properties.  What’s the new work about?

I’d love to see Honor Harrington meet Guardians of the Galaxy.

Honor is transferred to take command of a system away from the kingdom’s core. The Guardians arrive to perpetrate some illegal activity. That begins a whirlwind of pursuit and evasion until Honor captures the Guardians (because face it, nobody can outwit Honor). The Guardians prepare to escape (because face it, nobody can hold the Guardians prisoner), but first Manticore suffers some kind of catastrophic military defeat. Honor is forced to retreat and fight a guerilla war. The Guardians are perfect allies for this and sign on because Honor promises them a vast reward and because Drax thinks Honor’s cute.

Hijinx ensue.

One plot point I look forward to would be getting Rocket up on Honor’s shoulder.

If you could have any fictional pet as a companion, what would it be and why?

I think the only real choice is Superman’s dog, Krypto. Like all dogs, he’d be smart, loyal, and affectionate, which puts him on par with Buck and Old Yeller. On top of that, he stands for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. He can fly. Let me say that again, he can fly, and he can carry me around, so I can fly too. With a little encouragement, he could fly low and bark to intimidate the people who run my Homeowners Association.

Toothless the dragon from How to Train Your Dragon would be almost as good a pet as Krypto. He comes in a bit behind because you can run down to Kroger and get Krypto a bag of Purina rather than coming up with raw fish for your dragon.

If you had to choose between having the ability to speak with animals or plants, which would you choose and why?

I don’t want to be accused of looking down on plants, but I suspect they aren’t very bright. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe groves of redwoods are composing symphonies in their old-boned, creaking language. Maybe mesquite trees are smarter than grasshoppers. I don’t know, but I don’t want to bet my “talk to animals/talk to plants” chance on it.

I want to know why my cat sits in the middle of an empty room and howls. I’m less curious about why a begonia stands in one place and does nothing.

—My latest book is The Dragon’s Manservant, and here’s a bit of a description.

He’s singlehandedly fighting an army to defend a kingdom filled with ungrateful idiots. Can he stop his legacy from going up in flames?

Bib the sorcerer is done saving the world. After volunteering to guard his realm’s vulnerable backdoor by remaining in exile for the last seventy years, the snarky sword master has no interest in bailing the next generation out of their catastrophic war. But when his late wife’s step-grandkids show up begging for help, his initial refusal turns to vengeance when one of the youngsters is killed by an assassin.

Grimly determined to balance the bloody scales, Bib returns to his former home to be greeted with unfamiliar sights and a mocking populace. But in his eagerness to be victorious so he can give them the finger and stalk into the sunset, the famous magic-wielder seriously underestimates a deadly foe.

Will his arrogance get him spit-roasted by his new master?

The Dragon’s Manservant is the sarcasm-stuffed first book in the Sorcerer of Bad Examples humorous fantasy series. If you like heroes who can’t catch a break, novel twists, and fast-paced action, then you’ll love Bill McCurry’s laugh-out-loud adventure.

You can buy the ebook at https://bill-mccurry.myshopify.com/collections/sorcerer-of-bad-examples/products/the-dragons-manservant-kindle-and-epub

My online store is bill-mccurry.myshopify.com

My website is bmccurrybooks.com

My Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/bill.mccurry3/

I had to give up on Twitter. It was driving me crazy.

Please take a moment to support Amazing Stories with a one-time or recurring donation via Patreon. We rely on donations to keep the site going, and we need your financial support to continue quality coverage of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres as well as supply free stories weekly for your reading pleasure. https://www.patreon.com/amazingstoriesmag

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Article

Genre Penetration of Streaming Services from JustWatch 6/18/24

Next Article

Whatever Happened to STARLOG Magazine?

You might be interested in …