Derrick Ferguson: For the benefit of those who don’t know you, tell us who Mark Bousquet is, where you live and what is it your do to keep a roof over your head.
Mark Bousquet: I’m currently living in Scranton, Pennsylvania and working at Syracuse University. I teach in the Writing Department, generally teaching those required freshman and sophomore writing classes almost everyone resents having to take, but I try to keep things moving and open up the students’ eyes about what constitutes writing. Instead of just doing essay after essay, I have them create things like podcasts, video documentaries, comic books, and infographics.
DF: How long have you been writing?
MB: Forever. I remember the first time I got a creative writing assignment in first grade or so, and I was hooked on creating stories. Since then, I’ve always been writing something. I started out writing mostly sci-fi short stories, but didn’t really know what to do with them, and then, like so many of us, I got involved in writing fanfic. I wrote around 100 stories for MV1, spending time on titles like Fantastic Four, Alpha Flight, Web of Spider-Man, and Captain America, and then started All God’s Children, which was my “end of the Marvel Universe” story. In AGC, I pulled in characters from all across the universe, up and down the timeline, but the focus of the series became the 5 “Orphans of War” that were my creations and descendants from Marvel characters. I had not intended this to be the case, but these characters took the story over and that was the end of writing fanfic for me because the thrill I got from writing those original characters was like a drug I had to chase going forward.
DF: What was the first Dillon novel or story you read?
MB: All the way back to The Voice of Odin – I’ve been a fan of Dillon since the Frontier Publishing days.
DF: What’s your favorite Dillon novel or story?
MB: Dillon and The Judas Chalice is my favorite. The opening car chase is brilliant and worth the price of admission alone, but then there’s a whole story that comes after it. Great writing.
DF: Who’s your Favorite Dillon Sidekick?
MB: Eli Creed, because he’s the one sidekick I’d love to see fronting his own series of stories.
DF: What is it about Dillon and his universe that made you want to write “Dillon and The Devil’s Mercy”?
MB: When I moved out of writing fanfic and started writing my own characters, Dillon was there to light the way, so to get a chance to write him and play in this universe is a way of bringing things full circle and saying thanks. The character and his stories mean a lot to me and I couldn’t pass up the challenge of contributing to a universe that I’ve been reading since the beginning.
DF: What is “Dillon and The Devil’s Mercy” about?
MB: It’s about young people getting into trouble and making bad decisions that Dillon has to clean up. As “The Devil’s Mercy” starts, Dillon is busy doing Dillon things – stealing Nazi Doomsday Machine plans from Caden Boy, a bazooka-wielding rich kid who owns his own island – when he gets a call from one of Eli Creed’s kids, begging for help and insisting Dillon not contact his dad. This sets Dillon off and running to Zurich, where an orphanage has been set on fire, a kid is missing, and Idell Creed is shooting at Dillon from across the street. The missing orphan ties into a legend that dates back to Ivan the Terrible and the Oprichniki, his private police unit, and before you know it, Dillon has to break into a yacht-turned-submarine before he drowns.
DF: It could just be me reading too much into the story but it seemed to me as if you were putting Idell Creed into position to take over his father’s job as Dillon’s partner. Am I right?
MB: I wanted to explore what it must be like to be the son of Eli Creed. We get these stories about Dillon, but inside that universe, Eli Creed is the Living Legend of the private investigator world. It has to be tough to be one of his kids, and even tougher given the existence of Dillon. It’s hard enough being better than all your brothers, and impossible to live up to your dad, but then you toss Dillon into the mix … you think being Eli’s kid is impossible, but then there’s this other guy running around with your dad who has managed to make the impossible a very real thing. I’d imagine Eli’s kids run the gamut from being impressed with Dillon to resenting him.
With Idell, I wanted to create a character that was taking his first solo steps into a world he’s not ready for. He’s in over his head and he knows it. He can’t call his dad and he doesn’t want to call Dillon, but he bites the personal bullet and does it to help get him out of this jam he finds himself in. If Idell is ever going to take his father’s place, this is the first step in what will need to be a very long journey.
DF: How much research did you have to do for this story?
MB: A fair amount. Besides re-reading Dillon’s adventures, there was a whole bunch of research on bazookas and submarines and Tatzelwurms. The hardest part was in finding the details to confirm your memories – I knew Eli had kids but I didn’t know how many or what their names were or if they’d ever been given personalities, and that took a bit of time to track down and even then, I wasn’t sure if I missed something along the way.
DF: How did you come up with the character of Ekaterina Yarmolenko?
MB: She was the first character I had when I was trying to figure out how to tell a Dillon story. I’m a sucker for “cold and deadly” agents, and that’s where she started. I wasn’t entirely sure if she was going to be an ally or opponent, but when I discovered Ivan’s Oprichniki, it all fell into place. She was a blast to write and like Idell and Caden Boy, she’s of the next generation of adventurers, making her first real steps onto the grown-up’s stage.
I thought it would be interesting to put Dillon in the middle of an adventure where his fellow actors were younger than him. When Dillon adventures with Eli, they’ve both been around the block enough times to know the score, but Idell, Ekaterina, and Caden don’t know these rules, which can make things more dangerous for Dillon.
DF: Assuming there’s going to be a “Odd Jobs II” do you have any ideas for a story?
MB: Heck, yeah, I’ve got a “Devil’s Trilogy” boiling inside my brain, trying to get out, and if I get the chance to write it, a lot of the themes I’ve discussed here will come to the forefront. The things that happen to Idell, Ekaterina, and Caden in “The Devil’s Mercy” leave them all profoundly changed by the end of it and I’d love to see where they go from there. The hard question is whether I can do that and still have it be a Dillon story.
Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?
Mark Bousquet: If folks are interested, they can check out themarkbousquet.com for information on all my writing projects. They can sign up for either of my two mailing lists (one for my all ages books and one for my grown-up materials) and receive a free digital copy of a past story for doing so.
Thanks for letting us play in the world you’ve created!
Thank YOU and the other extraordinary writers who contributed to the ever growing elements of Dillon’s universe and his cast of characters.
And speaking of casting; you didn’t think you were going to escape without me doing my usual obligatory Casting Call, didja? Haw. I hereby present my cast for “Dillon and The Devil’s Mercy”
Idell Creed…Ezra Miller
Caden Boy…Jared Leto
Bin Fin…Randy Orton
Ekaterina Yarmolenko…Gina Carano