New Kids On The Block 2018 with Lyndsay Ely

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2018? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at [email protected]. I would love to collaborate with you!

About Lyndsay Ely

Lyndsay Ely (pronounced “eel-y”, as in those eels are looking very eel-y today) is a writer who currently calls Boston home. She is a geek, a foodie, a feminist, and has never met an antique shop she didn’t like. Her favorite color is crimson, and her favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo. Gunslinger Girl is her debut novel.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

A question I get a lot is “What inspired you to write Gunslinger Girl?” That’s easy to answer — when it comes to protagonists, women are an underrepresented group in Westerns (though certainly not the only underrepresented group). More complex are the inspirations for some of the bits and pieces that came to make up the story. I drew from a lot of places, both fiction and nonfiction, and some of those places were movies and tv shows.

At first, I thought it was going to be hard to compile a list of my top ten Western shows and movies. Turns out, I had ten with plenty to spare! Granted, not all are traditional Westerns…but then again, neither is Gunslinger Girl.

Please note: While everything on this list includes some level of violence, the ones marked with an asterisk (*) may, in particular, feature sexual violence or assault, or other potentially triggering material.

Top Ten Western Television Shows and Movies

1. Brisco County Jr.
A lot of people wonder where I got on the idea of a Western blended with scifi. If I’m being honest, it traces back to Brisco County Jr., a short-lived Western show from the 90s, starring Bruce Campbell. I loved this show. Ahead of its time, it was a Western adventure (Campbell’s character was avenging his father’s murder) mixed with science fiction (there was a mysterious “orb” that gave people powers) and comedy (Brisco’s horse, Comet, was one of the best characters on the show). It was dramatic, it was campy, and it was exciting — but most of all it showed me the versatility of the Western.

2. The Quick & the Dead
I am basically incapable of turning this movie off when it’s on TV. There aren’t many female gunslingers out there, and Sharon Stone’s The Lady is one of my favorites. She was skilled, she was no-nonsense, and she was as unapologetic about a gunfight as she was about hooking up with Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Kid character (even if that was a little cringy).

3. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I’ve seen this movie a lot. More times than I can remember. It’s a classic, with all the Western trimmings right down to Clint Eastwood himself. It also contains one of my favorite movie lines of all time. A bounty hunter gets the drop on a bathing Tuco (the Ugly) and starts monologuing at him. Tuco, who has a gun in the tub with him, kills the bounty hunter, following up with the perfectly timed “When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”

4. Preacher*
First of, this comic book series is rated M for mature. Like, total disclaimer that I don’t encourage anyone under 18 read this. The TV show? Not as messed up by half. You’ve been warned.

Even though it’s not traditionally a Western, Preacher is a rollercoaster of a story that incorporates a lot of Western elements — a tortured hero obsessed with justice, a gun-toting “angel” of death, and the guiding spirit/hallucination of John Wayne. Y’know, the usual.

5. Deadwood*
I’m still mad HBO cancelled Deadwood. This show was So Good™, and a major influence when it came to writing Gunslinger Girl. I loved how the line between hero and villain was constantly being blurred, and how the disparate cast of characters could be at odds one minute and end up working together the next.

6. Westworld*
Okay, HBO might redeem themselves for Deadwood’s cancellation with Westworld, we’ll see. For the moment, Westworld is pretty awesome — peak sci-fi Western, and Thandie Newton is absolutely killer (in so many ways). Also, what’s not to love about a story where you can kill off your characters over and over and simply bring them back?

7. Django Unchained / The Hateful 8*
I was torn about including Tarantino’s films in this list, given his close association with Harvey Weinstein, but excluding them would be excluding some really amazing performances by actors like Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. If there’s anything Tarantino does right, it’s allow the actors to really let loose in their roles. A very special shout out for Daisy Domergue, the extra-rare — and genuinely fear-inducing — Western villainess in The Hateful 8. As far as I’m concerned, Jennifer Jason Leigh was robbed of that Oscar!

8. The Dark Tower series*
I feel both “ahhhh!” and “meh” about The Dark Tower, depending on where I am in the book series. (That being said, I think it has one of the best first lines and best endings of all time.) But I included it in this list so that I could plug the Marvel comics series that built onto the story told in Wizard & Glass, as well as another rare girl with a gun, Aileen Ritter. In the world of the Dark Tower, girls can’t be gunslingers. Does that stop Aileen? Of course not.

9.Cowboy Bebop
I almost forgot to include this show, which would have been a sin. Move over Firefly, the best Western-in-space is inarguably Cowboy Bebop. It is genre-bending at its finest, with some of the best characters of all time: hitman-turned-bounty hunter Spike Spiegel, former lawman Jet Black, hard-luck gambler/grifter Faye Valentine, hacker extraordinaire Edward Wong, and genius Corgi, Ein. Give this one a try if you haven’t yet; The Ballad of Fallen Angels episode gets me right in the feels every time.

10. Once Upon a Time in the West*
Sergio Leone. Ennio Morricone. I already listed The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly earlier, but this is really the pinnacle of classic Western films. It’s a slow burn, epic film kind of move. Every scene is genuinely mesmerizing. Whether you are a fan of Westerns or film-making in general, this is not one to be missed!

That’ll do it! But I’m always looking for recommendations for new Western media to check out, so if you have any favorites I missed, comment below!

Title Gunslinger Girl
Author Lyndsay Ely
Pages 432 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Historical Fiction
Published January 2nd 2018 by Jimmy Patterson
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great…

In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

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