Home > Author Interviews > Victor Gischler on The Deputy

Victor Gischler on The Deputy

Fans of Victor Gischler’s writing get transported to some pretty fascinating places. In the current story line of his Marvel Comics’ series “Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth” Gischler had taken readers to an alternate dimension that’s infested by flesh hungry, super powered zombies. And next month in the spin-off series “Deadpool Corps”, the writer takes readers out into the depths of space and to several alien worlds.

Gischler’s recent prose novels have also had some pretty interesting settings. “Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse” unfolded in a post apocalyptic world, where strip clubs were the last bastions of the civilization. “Vampire A Go-Go” took place in the city of Prague, where a young college student got embroiled in a centuries old supernatural conspiracy. On April 1st, “Gischler’s new prose novel “The Deputy” hits stores, and in it, the writer spins a story that unfolds in a mundane, but equally compelling world, a small town in rural Oklahoma with a big crime and corruption problem. I spoke with Gischler about the book.

His two most recent novels feature science fiction and fantasy elements, but Gischler started off writing gritty crime novels and “The Deputy” marks his return to the genre. “It actually felt really good to leave crime fiction and go do some of the science fiction and fantasy, because when I started writing that’s what I wanted to write. I wanted to write science fiction and fantasy stories in some form. So in a way I felt like that was going home to do that,” Gischler said. “Now after being away from crime for awhile, I realized that I want to be there too. I don’t consider my crime writing a second choice or second place. So I feel very good to have something coming out to reconnect with those crime fiction readers.

“A lot of those readers are just great. They came with me from my crime fiction to my post apocalyptic and vampire novels,” Gischler continued. “That was great of them, but I think a lot of them have expressed that they’re very happy I’m coming back to a crime book. So I don’t want to call one particular genre my home. As long as I like a story, the characters, and what I’m doing that’s the main thing. Regardless of genre .”

The idea for “The Deputy” first came to Gischler several years ago. “About five years ago I tried to do the idea as a short story. So I’m writing and it’s about 20 pages, then 25 pages, and then 30. It was becoming a very long short story. I didn’t think it would be that long. So it didn’t come together for me as a short story. Then I thought, ‘Maybe it will be a screen play?’ I didn’t want it to be a screenplay though because it’s a first person narration from the protagonist’s point of view and that doesn’t really work for me in a screenplay,” the writer explained. “Then I finally decided I could turn it into a short novel like the old pulp paperbacks. Once I started on it as a novel and I got a few chapters in to it I realized that was the right decision.”

The events of “The Deputy” take place over the course of one night in the small town of Coyote Crossing. “It’s this very rural middle of nowhere town in western Oklahoma. I used to live in Oklahoma and if you get far enough west it starts becoming prairie and wilderness. So that’s where I set the novel,” Gischler remarked. “The town is out of cell phone range and away from everything. It’s this little town that grew up at a crossroads. There’s almost no reason for it to even be there.”

Helping to keep the peace in Coyote Crossing is the titular character, a 25 year old part time deputy named Toby Sawyer. “He lives in a crappy little trailer on the edge of town. His ambition is a very modest ambition, and that’s to get put on as a full time deputy so he can get better pay and health benefits. He’s got a wife that he’s not a hundred percent crazy about, but they’re together and they have an 18 month old toddler. So he’s kind of stuck in this family situation and he’s trying to make the best of it,” Gischler revealed. “He starts the book as this sort of callow youth and then sort of becomes a man. Just in the span of the book he grows up and realizes, ‘I can’t be a snot nose kid anymore. I’ve got to be a man.’ In that way it’s sort of a hard-boiled modern western. There’s very much the sentiment of, ‘A man’s gotta do, what man’s gotta do. That sort of cowboy sentiment comes to the surface as the novel progresses.”

The main action in “The Deputy” begins when Toby Sawyer receives a midnight call from his boss, the Sheriff. “He’s told to come babysit a body in the middle of the street until they can send somebody with a body bag to wrap it up. When you’re the part time deputy you get the crap jobs, like babysitting dead bodies. So he stumbles out of bed, puts on a sweatshirt, his Weezer t-shirt, and his high tops and goes down and sits with the body,” Gischler revealed. “He then decides that it’s the middle of the night and nobody is going to come take this body. He’ll just go sneak off for a little bit to visit his girlfriend and when he comes back the body is gone. He knows he’s in trouble because you’re not going to get a full time job with the department if you loose a body.”

Toby’s quest to recover the body unfolds between the hours of midnight and 7 A.M. And during that time, he meets an eclectic cast of supporting characters. “One of the main sources of conflict is the corruption in the town and because it all takes place in the wee hours of the night we really don’t meet the rank and file townspeople,” Gischler explained. “The normal good citizens are mostly all in bed. So the people we meet during that long night are the people who for some reason or another have business at 2 or 3 or 4 A.M. Since they’re up at that time doing those things, they’re probably not representative of the good people of the town, but rather the corrupt elements.

“It’s a first person book so Toby really is the star of the book and I think the people you meet along the way are very interesting supporting characters,” Gischler continued, “They are more believable, real people though than the supporting characters you might meet in ‘Vampire A Go-Go’ or ‘Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse’. There’s a less over the top quality to the characters in ‘The Deputy.’”

Toby Sawyer’s after hours adventure in “The Deputy” is a brutal one, but it’s not entirely bleak. “I think I like the term hard-boiled more than noir for this story. I think there are elements and a flavor of noir, but ultimately noir is just about bleak hopelessness and it doesn’t quite go that far,” Gischler said. “It’s definitely hard-boiled though. I think it’s not humorous in the way that ‘Vampire A Go-Go’ is humorous, but there are bits of humor in the story. Toby doesn’t have the best life, but it’s not outright bleak and grim.”

“The Deputy” hits stores April 1st and once Gischler’s fans complete the novel they won’t have to wait long for his next story. His comic series “Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth” wraps up it’s run in June , but his new Deadpool series “The Deadpool Corps” kicks off April 7th. Plus, the writer has lined up another Marvel Comics assignment he can’t talk about yet.

Gischler is also developing his next prose project. “I have what I consider to be a very good premise for a novel, but I’ve had a couple of false starts with it. It’s going back to a more fantasy, sci-fi genre. I’m trying to get comfortable with the tone and who the protagonist is,” Gischler said. “So there’s been a slow start on this new novel, but I believe in the premise enough that I’m going to stick with it until I feel comfortable with it. Then once I feel comfortable with the main character and the tone, I can sort of launch into writing and try to get some chapters under my belt.

Since he started writing comics Gischler’s fan base has grown, and the writer feels that “The Deputy” has something to offer both fans of his prose and four color work. “Not everybody who reads novels reads comic books. And not everybody who reads comics reads novels, but I do think there is some good over lap there,” Gischler stated. “So I’m always hoping that my novel fans give my comic work a try and my comic fans give my novel work a try and maybe they’ll find a new way to appreciate what I do.”

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