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Bang Bang You’re Dead: Stephen Pytak

August 28, 2009

spytak

Corinn is Stephen Pytak’s brainchild – literally, Corinn was born out of Pytak’s brain. Cool right? Not as cool as the plot Pytak has Corinn wrapped up in – and what is just as cool is who drew Corinn for the sequel: Norm Breyfogle. This man is the comic artist who ‘Pow! – Whamed!’ (this would be much more effective on the TV) his way through Batman in the 90s! Working together with Breyfogle, Pytak’s .40 Caliber Mousehunt is full of revenge, cold blooded murder and of gorgeous but lethal women who weild guns and kill for money…

I read on your website, .40 Caliber Mouse, that you are ‘fascinated with the dark side of the human soul’ – what is it that draws you to it?

Great question. A lot of things. For starters, I’m really intrigued by characters who are weighed down by internal struggles (dealing with something negative in their past, loss, anger and bitterness, a need for vengeance, and so forth). I think all of us have some closet inside ourselves that we know about but don’t open too often. It’s interesting territory to mine for story ideas, if you’ve got the key and are not faint of heart.

What is .40 Caliber Mouse about – what gave you the idea?

In the late ’90s, I noticed people were doing a lot of shopping online. Then I read an article or two about people who contracting mercenaries using e-mail and so forth. That’s when it kind of hit me. What if there was this outlaw organization that did that sort of thing? How would that work? The idea fascinated me. My wife and I came up with a few different character types (”Corinn” being the best in my opinion). We knew it needed a memorable name. We figured since the computer “mouse” was something everybody had, that had to be incorporated into it. I researched guns. I wanted the main character to use something hip and powerful. The .40 caliber Beretta looked attractive. I incorporated that into it too. In short: the first novel is about a mysterious character named Reeves who hires a white-collar Internet terrorist, Corinn, to build a Web site that can’t be easily shut down. She does. Then, he does something rather insane and suicidal. He uses it to advertise his services. He’s a mercenary with a rather personal agenda. Then the body count begins to rise and the authorities close in…

How does the novel speak to today’s generation?

There’s tons of stress and anger in the world today. And people are always looking for easy solutions to difficult problems. So it’s fun to read about (especially if you’ve got it out for someone). It’s fun to fantasise about someone solving your problems with a couple of rounds. At least I think so. But The .40 Caliber Mouse can also teach us something about ourselves, our dark sides, crossing the line and the consequences of our actions. Also, my anti-heroes aren’t bullet-proof. They’re not perfect. They’re troubled. They’re angry. They’re like us, just in more trouble. I hope fans of thrillers will enjoy reading about my characters and perhaps even see a bit of themselves in them. I know I have Corinn’s temper, but not her trigger finger. I’m hope no one else does either, considering what fate has in store for her.

Your characters are, as you say, trigger happy and want to solve their problems with a gun – In Britain, America and most recently Germany, teenagers are now wielding guns like candy and shooting people without suffering the consequences (as they kill themselves or gang culture enables their protection and the silence of witnesses). Can your plot line sit comfortably with the reality of gun culture in the world?

Another good question. Real world violence is not fun. I write about it as a reporter. Assaults. Shootings. Murder. A real turn off. But I draw from it when writing fiction. If you’re writing a thriller about vengeance and guns, and want to set it in modern times, you have to recognize the true darkness in society. We may not rub shoulders with it every day. But it’s there. Can’t ignore it.

I was hyper aware of society’s fear of sudden sieges at schools and restaurants when I wrote The .40 Caliber Mousehunt. In response, I created a character who engaged in such violence. But unlike students who shoot up their classmates, “Mazz,” a veteran of Gulf War I, had it out for the credit card industry. Bottom line: he enjoys taking out credit card billing offices with knives, picks, guns and explosives.

The plot line of The .40 Caliber Mouse series does fit comfortably with the reality of gun culture in the world. Not sure I like using the word “comfortably” when talking about guns and murder. But it’s relevant. A lot of people unwisely turn to violence when they’re suffering an all-time low. For everyone who’s taken that dark road, I’m sure the experience was a little bit different. I’m sure some of them wanted to make a statement of some sort, like adding a body count as an exclamation point of some sort. For my characters, The .40 Caliber Mouse is a statement too. But for every one of my characters, “Reeves,” “Mazz” or “Corinn,” that statement was a little bit different.

I don’t think movies or books are the cause of society’s problems. I don’t write fiction to encourage people to believe violence is the answer. But I think fiction, and characters like “Corinn,” should allow us to explore those dark places inside ourselves and to work out the angry knots bruising our intestines. She invites us to recognize the injustices we’ve suffered, to talk about them, to bitch about them, to stand up for what we think is right. Then she’ll deal with it, her way. Again, fun to read about in a paperback; not fun at all when it’s happening down the block.

Norm Breyfogle worked on DC Comics Batman in the 90s – how did you get him on board for The .40 Caliber Mousehunt?

In October 2005, I came across Norm Breyfogle. He had a great style. Immediate. Alive. The characters he draws have a wild adrenaline pumping through them. I hired him to draw “Corinn.” What he did changed my life (no kidding). Breyfogle’s “Corinn” was a great moment for me. At the time, Norm was working on a few independent comic books — including “Of Bitter Souls” and “Danger’s Dozen” I’m fortunate he found time in his busy schedule to do The .40 Caliber Mouse. He’s the best!

What other novels do you have in development?

I’m writing a horror-thriller called The Wild Damned which takes place in The .40 Caliber Mouse universe. So expect to see some familiar faces. Corinn will appear, but she is not the main player. I’m about half way done, but I enjoy taking my time on these things. I have yet to sign an artist, but hope to by late spring.

If you want to know more, check out Stephen’s Myspace page or go to his website .40 Caliber Mouse, or visit his independent publishing edition Mazz Press.

Read BookFreeq’s review of The .40 Caliber Mousehunt and the interview with  Norm Breyfogle.


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2009 10:27 pm

    Good questions, Sheena! “The Wild Damned” is going well. Artist Norm Breyfogle will be working on the illustrations for the book soon. For more information, log onto http://www.mazzpress.com or http://www.wild-damned.com

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  1. The Man Behind The Muscle: Norm Breyfogle « BookFreeq

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