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Published on Saturday, October 1, 2011

An Interview

with Icy Sedgwick


Icy Sedgwick has a new Western available through Pulp Press titled, The Guns of Retribution. Recently, she chatted with The Western Online. For more information about her and her writing, visit her website.


The Western Online: Can you describe The Guns of Retribution for the readers of The Western Online?

    Icy Sedgwick: It's very much a revenge tale, set in Arizona in the 1880s. It's about a young bounty hunter named Grey O'Donnell, who ends up being drawn back to his hometown of Retribution. He has to square up to a nasty figure from his past before he can really move forward, but it's no soul-searching piece - just one guy standing up to a bully.

TWO: Exactly what kind of Western is The Guns of Retribution? Why?

    Icy: I'd like to say it's a pulp Western, as that's what I was aiming for! It's based on more of a pulp narrative than a traditional three-act structure, mainly because I was writing for Pulp Press and I really wanted to get under the hood of a pulp story to see what made it tick. I think the adventuring ethos of the Western sits alongside pulp very nicely.


TWO: Is this your first writing foray into the Western genre and what draws you to writing a Western?

    Icy: While I was writing The Guns of Retribution, I did have a go at writing a connected trilogy of flash pieces based around the Dead Man's Hand, which I'll be bringing out at some stage. I love the Old West, from its history to its iconography, and it's so totally different to English history. Old West tales are almost mythic in their scale, and there's something epic about the genre that is really attractive.

TWO: What challenges do you face writing about the American West and living in England?

    Icy: Well the biggest issue is that you can't just head outside your front door and experience the landscape for yourself. Writing any historical fiction always has drawbacks because even if I wrote about life in my hometown in the Victorian era, I still can't directly experience it for myself. When you then remove yourself from the time period AND the location, you need to do extra research to try and bring it to life, as much for yourself as for your reader. If you can't believe it, then how will anyone else?

TWO: How did you go about doing research for The Guns of Retribution?

    Icy: I watched lots of the movies to get a feel for the genre. I know a lot of them aren't historically accurate but it was important to connect emotionally to the Western. I read an awful lot of non-fiction, spent hours mapping the Arizona landscape on Google Earth, and obviously checked things online. I know the Internet isn't necessarily the best source of information, but there's an astonishing array of photographs from the period which help with an idea of fashion, and so many local history societies who just want to share the stories about their area.

TWO:What other genres do you write and which one is your favorite? Why?

    Icy: I mostly write fiction that comes under the speculative fiction umbrella, but I really enjoy writing historical horror. Sure, you could write about a vampire, but why not write about one prowling the highways of Georgian England? Besides, what could be more horrific than finding yourself locked in the stinking cesspit also known as Newgate Prison? I love history and I love the "what if" of spec fic, so it makes sense to me to combine the two. I guess it's hardly surprising that I'd branch out into Westerns, considering all the other historical fiction I write.

TWO: When were you first exposed to the Western genre?

    Icy: Probably when I was young and the movies were on TV. I remember watching Back to the Future III at the cinema and thinking Hill Valley in 1885 was about the best thing I'd ever seen. I know it's not really a Western but I think from there, I wanted to know more about railroads, outlaws and the like. I'm making myself a reading list of Westerns and working my way through. It's really a genre I want to immerse myself in.

TWO: What is your favorite Western, either book or movie? Why?

    Icy: I'd say Tombstone, the movie. As a piece of filmmaking, it isn't exactly brilliant, but I absolutely love watching it. I'd say that I think Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday is one of the main reasons I enjoy it so much. Amazing to think he ended up putting in one of the most boring performances in Batman Forever.

TWO:What writers have had the biggest influence on you?

    Icy: I'm really ashamed to say I haven't read as many Westerns as I should have, but I don't really know who has been an influence. I guess I've always been impressed with Neil Gaiman's approach to storytelling, and ever since I was little I've been a huge fan of Roald Dahl, the way he can weave the fantastical and the macabre into something so entertaining.

TWO:Do you believe the Western is in the midst of a revival and do you plan on being part of it?

    Icy: I do think there is a Western revival - the fact that Hollywood is still making Westerns proves there's still an appetite, so now we just need to convince the reading public that there are still people who are writing Westerns. I've been really amazed by the number of Western authors I've found, or who have found me, on Twitter. They've been really welcoming, and it's a community I'd love to get to know better. In fact, I'd be thrilled to be part of a Western revival.


    Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and is based in Newcastle. She has been writing with a view to doing so professionally for over ten years, and has had several stories included in anthologies. She currently contributes regular articles to Write Anything and Fuel Your Writing, and spends her non-writing time working on a PhD in Film Studies. Icy also spends her time gallivanting around the North East as a blogger and researcher for a paranormal investigations company. Icy has just had her first book, a Western named The Guns of Retribution, published through Pulp Press.


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