Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6 Review & Author Interview

Available now for Kindle
By comparison to life on Seneca 6, the old West depicted on the silver screen is about as wild as a kindergarten class dancing around the maple pole. The denizens on this ol’ mining rock are facing a rise in outlaw related activity, and the impending revolt of the planet’s native people. The townsfolk need a lawman. A man that won’t turn yellow in the face of danger. Sheriff Jem Clayton has faced insurmountable odds before–even lived to tell the tale–but something sinister is a’brewin’… something that not even Jem will be able to face alone.

Through the eyes of author Bernard Shaffer, the world of Seneca 6 has been greatly expanded upon in this follow-up novel, and Schaffer invites you to come play in his sandbox while his masterpiece unfolds around you.

As with all of Schaffer’s works, the reader will be able to count on two things: 1. Unparalleled character development. Each character’s path through the story is chronicled in meticulous detail, showcasing a broad range of emotion that is easy for the reader to feel. 2. Perfect pacing. Whether writing a flashback scene to flesh out the backstory, or carefully sprinkling hints at impending doom, Schaffer insures that the reader can sense something big lurking right around the corner.

Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6 is everything that a sequel should be. It’s bigger, badder, and packs one hell of a wallop! It’s somehow both new and familiar all at the same time. Fans of the first book will enjoy getting to see their old favorites return, while also becoming attached to the newbies stepping into the spotlight to shine.

Also, for new readers looking to take a chance on the series, this book is a completely stand-alone adventure, meaning that knowledge of the first book isn’t required, but encouraged.

The best thing about this series is that you don’t have to be a fan of Westerns to enjoy it. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the story, and with this book Schaffer has written something truly, well, magnificent.

Interview with Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6 author Bernard Schaffer

Thanks for stopping by during this exciting time to talk to us about your new book, Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6. First of all, congratulations! How are you feeling?

David, thank you for having me back. Congratulations to you as well. One of the best things about the Kindle All-Stars is that the core group of people involved have stuck together and evolved. I’m proud of you for all your hard work this year.

I feel good. I’m really looking forward to releasing this book. It’s strange to love something you create, not as a product but as a place. I write about Seneca 6 because in my heart, I wish it were real. Someday I’d like to ask JK Rowling if she felt depressed every time she finished one of the Potter books. I always feel bummed out when I have to leave.

Readers might remember from earlier interviews that you’re always working on multiple projects at the same time. How long had you been working on MGoS6?

I officially started work on it April 30, 2012. I only know that because Word says that’s when I created the file. I have earlier notes that go back to last year.

Upon the completion of Guns of Seneca 6, how long did it take before ideas for a sequel started coming to you?

Probably right away, but not many of them got used. I needed time to let everything gel into a coherent story. The ideas rolled in like trains and I’d greet them at the station and dutifully record whatever they were carrying. Eventually, I figured it all out.

So, Magnificent takes place a year following the events of the first book. Give us a quick overview of what’s happening in Seneca 6.

Guns ended with Jem Clayton taking over for his father as the Sheriff. Jem is a pretty badass character and as I sat down to write about him being in his office, all these little townsfolk kept coming in to bug him with their petty grievances. As I wrote it I realized that Jem would be thinking the same thing I am. “Get me the hell out of here.”

Ultimately, Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6 is about following our own destiny. Jem starts off as a Sheriff because he thinks it’s what he’s supposed to do. Haeinwa’tha goes off on a quest because it’s what he’s expected to do. Ultimately, their interpretations of their “perceived destinies” is what gets them into trouble.

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be “scope.” There’s a lot going on in Seneca 6 and a large cast of characters in motion. Was expanding its figurative universe a conscious decision going in, or did it just sort of develop that way as you went along?

I realized early on that Seneca as a planet is much bigger than one little settlement. Look at Earth. We’ve got arctic regions, deserts, rain forests and more. Life of all different varieties exists everywhere you look. You can see drastic change just by jumping in your car and driving for a little while. Seneca is a lot more remote than we are, but I have yet to fully explore it in my mind. Who really knows what lies beyond the wasteland?

That being said I wanted to fully develop the area we’re focused on. I wanted to explain exactly who the Beothuk are as a rich and varied people of multiple tribes, much like our own Native Americans.

I also liked the idea of bringing Bob Ford back. In the first book, he’s pretty much a patsy for Jem’s Gentleman Jim. Something that gets thrown away. I wanted to explore what happens when you throw someone away and they come back.

In the original Guns of Seneca 6, Jem Clayton was the clear lead character. In Magnificent, it appears as though Seneca 6 itself has become the real star. Talk about what you learned from writing the first book and how that played into your creative process with the sequel.

Each of the characters was already a living, breathing thing by the second book. If you notice, I didn’t introduce anybody we’ve already met. There’s no preface. If you’re reading Magnificent Guns, I assume you already know whats going on. We just get down to business.

Speaking of your creative process, is it different for each series that you write? With Whitechapel, you maintained a painstakingly detailed timeline on a whiteboard next to your desk. With Superbia, you were able to draw from your own personal experience on the force. How does Bernard Schaffer prepare for a book rooted almost entirely in fiction?

It’s by far the easiest because I can just let fly. The Whitechapel books are difficult because they are constrained by reality. Timelines, vernacular, anachronism, all must be considered. Not always followed, as some of my British reviewers so kindly pointed out, but yes, considered.

Superbia is more a case of saying, “All right, I know what happened. A whole bunch of other people know what happened. How do I tell the story but tweak it enough to keep it interesting and fictional?”

For the Guns books, I just need to be in the mood. I included my Guns iPod playlist in the Acknowledgments section to pay homage to the songs that kept my fires going.

Guns of Seneca 6 was described by many reviewers as a steampunk/western hybrid with elements of science fiction. MGoS6, while still steampunk, appears to have left the sci-fi elements behind in favor of a more traditional Wild West flavor. Did you find that your influences varied a bit between the two books?

It was more of keeping the story consistent with who the people in the story are. The stars of this book don’t really have access to too much technology, so it doesn’t play that big of a role. And generally, when they do get their hands on some, it goes badly.

Readers got a taste of the native people of Seneca 6’s culture in the first book, but the Beothuk are at the heart of the story in Magnificent. Giving life to that culture, including language, must have been exhausting. How did you go about its creation?

I’ve spent an ample amount of time with Native Americans. My old partner is a Seminole, and through him I’ve been exposed to their culture in ways that I could never have imagined. Anything you see about the Beothuk in the Guns series begins with what I believe to be true about the American Indian. Most of the language in the books derive from Native American words, including the names of the main Natives who are based on real people.

The seed for the Beothuk involvement with this story began a long time ago with one of my mother’s friends.
It’s a common joke among Natives that every white person they meet has a grandmother who was a Cherokee princess. I’ve seen it happen.

My mother’s friend is kind of daffy, I mean, she’s a sweetie and would do anything for you, but you understand what I mean. So, long story short, I was telling her how we’d just gotten back from a powwow and her eyes kind of glazed over. “Those are my people,” she said. “All of my life I’ve felt a special connection to them and have visions of being one of them. I bet if I went to a powwow and TOLD them that, they would take me in as one of their own.” Yeah. Because the Native Americans have nothing better to do than adopt needy old white ladies, right?

History has really done a grave disservice to the American Indian. We’ve turned them into some sort of fairy tale. I suppose that’s better than the Scary Red Injun John Wayne preferred, but I’m not so sure all this post-Dances With Woves/ casino wealth myth is any better. Ask any average American if people are lucky to be Native American. I bet they say yes. I bet they say all Natives got rich off casinos. Meanwhile poverty, unemployment, and substance abuse is running rampant on most reservations. Christ, I sound like Marlon Brando. I can’t apologize for it though. It’s a serious issue.

Your ability to create rich, entertaining characters is well-documented. Readers always have a hard time identifying their favorites. What about you? Is there a personal favorite for you within MGoS6?

I love Sam Clayton. It’s one of those things because I killed him off so early in the first book but he just looms over everything. I’m still not done writing about Sam, though. Or Tom Masters, for that matter.

The other character I adore is Bug. It’s funny but I call them their nicknames in my head. To me, he’ll always be Bug, the daredevil child doing tricks on the back of his destrier.

Since you love to bury hidden references within your books, any hints to the readers as to what area of knowledge they should brush up on in preparation?

I think anyone who knows the history of the Old West is going to love the books. For the people who don’t, they are in for a treat because the Western genre is as deep as any other. If someone reads Guns and decides to watch “The Wild Bunch” or go read a Ron Hansen book, I did my job. If they go to a powwow and experience Native culture (without, somehow, managing to tell everyone about their Cherokee princess relative) then it’s a win.

I certainly didn’t invent the Western, or the sci-fi Western, or Steampunk Western. I’m just doing my part to carry on the tradition.

Without spoiling anything for the reader, I will just say that you’ve certainly left enough slack at the end of this book to pick up later. Are you already thinking about a third Seneca 6 book somewhere down the road?

A few people have called Magnificent Guns my Empire Strikes Back. I can promise you two things. One, the Guns of Seneca 6 will return. Two, it won’t have any Ewoks or music numbers.

You’ve got an amazing Superbia series. You’ve got an amazing Seneca 6 series. You’ve got amazing collections of short stories. You’ve talked about your impending return to Whitechapel, but you’ve been unusually quiet as of late about your upcoming plans. So, what’s next for Bernard Schaffer?

I learned earlier this year that I needed to shut my trap about my plans. Nobody cares what you say you will do. It’s what you finish and deliver that counts. From here on out, I’m only discussing projects that are definite.

Each series has its own audience, and my goal is to make every release from now on a major event.
I feel like my writing is only growing stronger and I want to bring that to Superbia 3 and Whitechapel 2. If you liked what came before, find something to hold onto because I’m not swinging for the fences anymore. I’m trying to put it out of the stadium.

For more information about Bernard Schaffer, please visit his official website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.