Q&A with Stephen Leigh
by Ty Franck
Q. What do you think is the best quality of the new WILD CARDS triad?
A. I think the new writers in the series will bring a new attitude to the books. The ‘experienced’ authors like George, Melinda, and John are used to working with each other, and they all write terrific stories on their own. But now there are new voices and new outlooks and new ideas tossed into the mix, too, and I think that’s a good thing. If WILD CARDS is going to make a new start, it really needs to be a new start, in lots of ways. Inside Straight should be accessible to anyone, without having to have read all the books that came before it. If you have read those books, wonderful — you’ll catch some of the references that new readers might miss — but the long ‘backstory’ of the series isn’t necessary knowledge with the new triad.
Q. Tell us about the inspiration behind your story for Inside Straight.
A. Drummer Boy is my son’s fault. He’s a drummer, and more than a bit obsessive about it. As I was casting about for ideas for characters in the series, I thought about him and wondered gee, what would happen if he were infected by the wild card virus. And Michael Vogali (a.k.a. Drummer Boy) was born — a joker/ace who is his own drumset. Now, I hasten to add that my son does not?have DB’s temperament or attitudes (nor is he in such a successful band… yet…), but the genesis of the character is there. ?
As for the story, well, it’s a coming-of-age story. ?I wanted to show DB — who during the AMERICAN HERO portion of the book is mostly an overgrown child — having to deal with the real world, not just the coddled fantasy of a rock star. ?He gets a pretty stern dose in “Incidental Music…”
Q. Do you see all your stories being “Drummer Boy” stories?
A. Well, there’s never any guarantee in the WILD CARD universe that you’ll get a story in any particular volume — you have to come up with a story that fits the overall plot of the book and?that meshes with other writers’ stories and characters. So it may be that DB won’t be in a good position to tell a tale in another book, or it may be that my pitch won’t connect with the other stories tightly enough, or that other writers in the group will pitch stories to George that appeal to him more than mine. But that said, I do have other characters in the universe who I’d like the chance to explore as well. Barbara Baden (aka “The Translator”) is one; I think she could be a potentially very interesting (and important) character, if I get the chance to use her as the protagonist. And I have a few other characters in mind as well.
It’s ultimately up to the readers: if they love the series, then the series will continue — and the more books we write, the more chance we have of giving those characters their moment on the stage.