With the release of Bardic Tales and Sage Advice (Vol. VII), we’re running this interview with author Thaxson Patterson II. His story, The Gunslinger with No Hands, won 2nd Place in last year’s Bards and Sages annual writing competition. Thaxson’s story is included in the anthology.
BAS: Congratulations on your story. What was your first thought when you were notified?
Thank you, I was beyond excited to be selected among the winners of the competition. The first thought that raced through my mind after leaping for joy was I hope the readers like my story.
BAS: Have you ever entered a writing contest before? What interested you in the Bards and Sages Writing contest?
I’ve entered several writing competitions recently. I discovered Bards and Sages through a Google search for writing contests and I’m thankful your site was one of the first to be found. Your contest specialized in fantastical fiction, the kind of genre I love to write, so it was essentially a perfect match for my story.
BAS: Your story will be included in the annual Bardic Tales and Sage Advice anthology. Have you had other stories published elsewhere? If so, where?
Yes, this will be my second time being published. At the end of January, another short story of mine will be included in a fantasy anthology called The Toll of Another Bell, by Xchyler Publishing.
BAS: Tell us what your story is about.
The Gunslinger with No Hands falls into the category of supernatural horror with a western flare. It is a story focusing on what keeps bandits up at night, a gunslinger that cannot be outdrawn or outwitted. The lead antagonist is a despicable notorious local outlaw Douglas Dalton, a deserter of the Confederate Army, train robber, and murderer. He leads a band of cutthroats that stage a train robbery where Dalton kills the conductor in cold blood. This act scares his gang into recounting four tall tales of the righteous retribution a man can expect to experience if he kills in cold blood from the Gunslinger with No Hands.
BAS: Where did you get the idea for the story?
I’ve always been a fan of Westerns, specifically John Wayne and Clint Eastwood classic movies, such as El Dorado and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. My lifelong reading, collecting, and obsession with a variety of literary genres including Lovecraftian horror, Dean Koontz mysteries, and Stephen King supernatural tales, additionally influenced the creation of this story.
BAS: Hollywood just called and they want to turn your story into a movie. Who do you cast in the lead roles?
Well if money, age, time, and space were no option, Clint Eastwood was willing to play the heel, he would be my first choice as Douglas Dalton. The Conductor and Foreigner I think would best be played by Jason Robards Jr. and Errol Flynn to give the audience a strong reaction to their demises. The roles of his fellow bandits, Mason, Jones, Grant, and Bullock, need quality character actors that can bring forth their quirkiness as they tell essentially supernatural ghost stories around a camp fire. I’d nominate Lee Van Cleef as Jones, Charles Bronson as Mason, Jack Elam as Grant, and Brian Dennehy as Bullock. The Marshal and Sheriff at the end of the story would have to be played by Sam Elliott and James Coburn without question. I guess in terms of modern actors, I would seek out guys like Daniel Craig for Douglas Dalton and his gang would be filled with Ryan Gosling, Gene Hackman, Sam Sheppard, and Kevin Costner.
BAS: If your story had a theme song, what would it be and why?
It would be a cross between the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, composed by Ennio Morricone, and the chilling music from the film The Shining by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind. Imagine that music invoking the spirit of Hollywood Westerns while menacingly breathing down your neck at the same time as if something supernatural was out to get you.
BAS: How long have you been writing and who or what originally inspired you to write?
Writing has been an ongoing journey full of creativity, joy, and tears, spanning over several years. I started writing as an extension of my art design aspirations and ended up finding this art medium to be more thrilling, liberating, and rewarding than traditionally drawing or painting. I think the ability to craft an entire world every time I begin on a blank white page is both terrifying and exciting. I hope the reader of my story can sense that joy I had in building and crafting this story into something that will delight them and spark their own imaginations.
BAS: Do you keep a steady writing schedule, or do you simply write when the muse strikes you?
Unfortunately I don’t have a specific muse that inspires me to write. First, I write an outline first, when the story comes from the great beyond to my hard headed noggin, and then try to decipher it into a workable draft.
BAS: What is the best writing advice you ever got?
“I enjoyed reading your story.” These five simple words are the best words an author is waiting to hear. My family has been the greatest support for me pursuing my occupation of being an author. I’ve learned to have confidence knowing that every mistake I make, is an equal chance at improvement. The more you do something the better you become and it is through repetition and perseverance that your talent will hopefully improve enough to catch up to your ambition.
BAS: What is the worst writing advice you ever got?
Strangely, I’ve forgotten if I’ve ever heard anything extremely negative someone has said. Critiques, harsh or glowing, and narrative advice are always welcome but negative comments don’t stick between the ears with me for long. Probably because I’m my own worst critic and grade myself tougher than anyone else ever could.
BAS: Besides writing, do you have other creative pursuits and hobbies you would like to share?
I’m a grown baby man when it comes to comics and geek culture collecting a small hoard of anime, comics, and manga. Thank goodness for digital storage drives otherwise I would have to invest in constructing a man cave to store all of my stuff.
BAS: How many books do you read a year? What was the last book you read?
I don’t read as many books as I should or would like to. When I do get the time to read I enjoy reading speculative fiction. Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman is a great book about the genre of super heroes and a story I really enjoyed reading and pondering how he constructed it.
BAS: Where can readers get in touch with you or follow your work?
Readers can follow me at
Or just stop by and read my ramblings on science fiction and fantasy genres at my blog