By David Nieves
At SDCC I had the privilege to sit and talk with the master purveyor of words Steve Niles himself. It was a brief chat about what went into one of the best books to come out of Dark Horse’s stable, Breath of Bones: A tale of the Golem. Along the way we managed to get into the philosophies of true punk rock.
CB: Agreed, so with WW II stories the best seem to have a personal connection with the writer and this was a great one. What was your personal connection to Breath of Bones, if any?
“Probably the relationship. I mean I have no connection to WWII, I was born in 1965. But what I do have is I never knew my grandparents, I knew one of my grandfathers for about ten minutes, never had a relationship with my father that whole thing. It’s sort of writing in absence, writers do that to. Everybody’s always write what you know well I spend a lot of time writing what I don’t know. I don’t know functional
relationships, families. I don’t know about these things where families pass down traditions that’s amazing to me. I was writing about wish full thinking and what I see in other people. A grandfather passing down a thing to his grandson to protect this town.
CB: It’s gorgeous that you can do this story looking in from the outside in a way.
“We all feel the same things, all have the same feelings. Even though I didn’t grow up with a functional family I have my own version of a family now. My wife and I, Monica, have nine animals. My life is ruled by animals. I think Gil has a bigger audience than I do [laughs].
CB: Were you working on Eyes of Frankenstein at the same time as this story because they both feel similar in tone?
It has that element because of the sympathy for the Frankenstein monster. [His] eyes are giving out after hundreds of years and his one enjoyment is reading, its a nightmare. There’s always something about a big giant guy that has the heart of a child.
CB: if you could pick between Karloff and Lugosi to appear at Comic-Con should would you choose?
I just love Karloff, there’s something about him that makes me feel comforted. I watch Thriller every night… not that I dislike Bella, I have different feelings for him there’s something very tragic and sad about Bella and part of that is the drug thing. He had this great career and then it was down. Borris Karloff started Frankenstein when he was in his 50s or 40s, he was already an older guy. He seems more modest kind of guy I’d like to talk to.
CB: When do we get your punk rock story?
I don’t know that I could ever do it. If I did it I’d leave the music out of it. I don’t want to see panels of a band playing. Nothing embarrasses me more that seeing musical notes with lyrics behind as they do the play thing. Somethings just don’t translate to other mediums. If I could tap into it… I’d wish I’d kept a journal through all those things. To me it’s more about the little moments than the big ones. First time I got to talk to Ian McKay or go to his house. There’s all these things that happen in a punk rock existence that moment you realize you don’t have to wait for anybody. You can do anything in this world on your own, to me that’s what it was always about.
CB: To go back to BoB for a second, at the end of the book was the Golem the spirit of his grandfather?
” A lot of people think that because of the timing but no. Here’s my reasoning, if it was it would have been a different departure. That’s also his wife sitting there, I feel like he would try and communicate that… my idea was just supernatural force.
CB: Are there any monsters left you want to tackle?
“Werewolves! I want to figure out a way to do werewolves.”
CB: What draws you to that?
” Cause I hate every f***king one[laughs]. There’s always apart that makes me go ugh. I love the original Wolf man although I hope my dad would wait a little longer before beating me. I love the Howling but not the overall concept, the idea of a twelve step program for werewolves was a little silly to me.
CB: Do you think it would be hard to do in a modern era?
“It’s like the Golem, I thought about it for years till I found the right one.”
If you can ever catch Steve Niles at a convention, you might find just as I did that for a guy who writes more monsters than anyone on the planet he’s the most human person you’ll ever meet. His words entertain us, his own story comforts those of us who wrestle with our own demons, and his perspective makes you believe there’s no door that can’t be kicked down.
Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem is available now in trade both in stores and digitally through Dark Horse. Visit their website for more details.
UPDATE: The audio from our conversation with Steve Niles is available for your listening pleasure, including info about his next project.