Cosmic Book News: You guys are known for a lot of slaughterfest, in your face grotesque scenes. But, with Black Light, the gore is kept to a minimum. Was it intentionally pulled back to showcase Buck as a character and the things he endures, as opposed to just shock value?
Marcus Dunstan: With Black Light, the ideas was to put a twist on the supernatural that would ground it a little more. Patrick and I loved the idea of taking something that isn’t confined by a 90 page format that didn’t need to hold back in any case to its concept. So, this supernatural terrain allowed us to go back to our childhoods and pepper it with visceral images and viscous entities. There is still cutting, there is still nail, claw and there is anger. But it feels more real and it doesn’t have to push as hard to get you there.
Stephen Romano: It’s more along the lines of a non-stop action adventure kinda thing. But we do have the token torture sequence in there, but it’s not like we’re trying to rehabilitate our image either. We’re just trying to tell a really good story. I think when you’re known for doing certain things, it’s harder to do other stuff and I think this was, at least for me, really refreshing.
Cosmic Book News: The character of Buck Carlsbad has a lot of quirks. His use of urns, his no drinking and his use of a Walkman. Who’s brilliant idea was it to use Warrant’s song Down Boys? That thing was in my head for the duration of the book!
Patrick Melton: Well Stephen was in a hair band when he was young! Which is quite ironic!
Photo Credit: John Gulager
Stephen Romano: I was! I’m a big fan of hair metal! The thing with Down Boys is it’s about life worn stuff, and people don’t really think about the deep meaningful side of lyrics to songs like that. We wanted to make Buck a more interesting character in ways that were original. You don’t see a private eye listening to Motley Crue, it just ain’t gonna happen! So, anytime we could make him quirky and interesting and come up with a reason for it within the context of the character — we went for it! It made it much more fun to write! On that note, we intended to dedicate the book to Jamie Lane who died just before the book came out. But, unfortunately our publishing schedule didn’t allow for that. But in future editions it will say, “For Jamie.”
Cosmic Book News: The title, “Black Light,” actually refers to Buck’s ability to see what the dead see, and he can actually bring back objects to the mortal plane. How did the name come about?
Patrick Melton: We always had the concept that he could go into this other plane, but at one point John said, ‘You gotta name it something cool!’ And Stephen said, ‘What would Andy Wharhol call it?’
Stephen Romano: Actually that was John [Schoenfelder]. He said, ‘You have to come up with a post-modern expression that defines it. What would Andy Wharhol call it?’
Patrick Melton: Hmmm, Black Light? It was originally titled “Black Jack Nine.” Which, for some reason sounded too cute or cool for them [Stephen and John].
Stephen Romano: I think Black Light is a better title! The idea of pulling something out of the “black light” was an idea given to us by our editor, he really did drive a lot of what we were doing in terms of really pushing for originality.
Cosmic Book News: The book has a lot of potential for not just a sequel, but a series of books. Is there a possibility of that seeing fruition?
Marcus Dunstan: Buck Carlsbad has pissed off people on two realms of existence. He has set off a number of possible courses to take as he wrestles with his “gift.”
Patrick Melton: We had a lot more room to set up Buck’s world, more so than when doing movies. We got the chance to set him up, his world, his past; we had the chance to set up these other characters as well. There are characters that don’t sort of play up as much as you’d think because we are leaving them to do things in the future. So, the idea was to set a full plate and then have subsequent adventures with Buck. We have discussed a sequel as a group, but a lot of it comes down to [this book’s] success and if Mulholland Books wants to do more. So we will see!
Cosmic Book News: Well if we have to wait for a sequel, let’s talk about the movie!
Patrick Melton: The book came out [with] intentions to make it into a movie. So Mike De Luca is the producer, who did Social Network and MoneyBall.
Stephen Romano: The great thing about De Luca is that he is not just a legendary producer, but he is also a writer. He wrote [John] Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness and the last Freddy movie before they rebooted it.
That’s great. He was the first guy we wanted to work with.
Cosmic Book News: How faithful will the movie stay to the novel? Will it be more gory?
Stephen Romano: The novel is pretty gory.
Marcus Dunstan: At the same time, whenever you can cloak it in the supernatural, I think there is a way to break fingers, tackle ghosts, ingest, regurge — whatever you have to do, but keep it within that PG-13 net that has grown quite violent in its own right.
Cosmic Book News: Who would you cast to play Buck? Would you bring in an unknown actor or go with someone that would draw in a crowd?
Stephen Romano: Who do you want to see as Buck Carlsbad?
Cosmic Book News: No one cares who I want as Buck!
Patrick Melton: Marcus has this deep, deep love of Manhunter. So we want William Peterson circa 1985!
Cosmic Book News: Well, the Back To The Future Delorian is down the hall, we could possibly make this happen!
Patrick Melton: We will cast William Peterson from now, but give him the “Benjamin Buttons” treatment!
Patrick Melton: But in all seriousness, you guys know the names as well as we do. I mean you could say Jason Statham is tough, but he often has roles that don’t show off his charming side, not since Snatch really. But I don’t think he does an American accent, especially not a Texas one!
Stephen Romano: You had mentioned Matthew McConaughey.
Patrick Melton: He would be an interesting guy, just because he has that Southern charm and he can be tough! I heard he was great in Killer Joe, it hasn’t come out yet, I think it was at Sundance. But he’s also from Austin, Texas which would be great!
Stephen Romano: I think your idea was pretty good about casting a relatively unknown guy, maybe somebody that was on a show, like The Wire. Somebody who is a good actor but not yet a superstar, then surrounding them with Gary Oldman types. But don’t put me in charge of that ’cause I’ll just hire Kristen Stewart as Bethany Sin! [Laughter] But she’s not going to vomit for us!
Patrick Melton: We like to say regurgitate!
Cosmic Book News: Before we wrap up, you guys have a lot of things going on right now. Can we here a little bit about them?
Marcus Dunstan: Next year, we will see the release of Piranha 2 3DD and The Collection, the sequel to The Collector! And Stephen has some fantastic news of his own as well!
(Editor’s Note: We were informed Marcus was working with Guillermo Del Toro on the sci-fi monster blockbuster, “Pacific Rim,” currently filming in Toronto, ON. However, this was deemed “top secret,” but the news has since come out.)
Stephen Romano: I recently signed a deal with Simon and Shuster to release my first solo thriller. Currently it’s called, “Resurrection Express.” I always refer to it as ‘Mission Impossible meets The Bourne Identity, directed by Quentin Tarantino.’ It’s going to be a wild one! It’s not Horror, but a straight up thriller like Black Light is!