Later this week I’ll be reviewing Matt Manochio’s newest horror novel, SENTINELS. It’s a fun and adventurous weird western staged in postwar South Carolina and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts about it with you. Watch for that review on Thursday, 11/19. In the meantime, Matt has kindly agreed to class up the blog a little bit and share some insights into his decision to write a weird western. Enjoy.

sentinelsWhy I Wrote a Weird or Supernatural Western
By Matt Manochio, Author of Sentinels

I hadn’t heard of the terms Weird West or Weird Western until a couple of years ago, and that was only because I was researching what one might call a Western containing supernatural elements. And it’s a stretch to call my novel, Sentinels, a Western—weird or otherwise—because it’s set South Carolina. Can’t really call is a Southern or Weird Southern. I simply prefer to call is a Supernatural Western set in South Carolina. Which leads me to the point of this guest post: my favorite Western movie.

I’m not a huge fan of the cinematic genre, which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate it. I’ve not seen nearly as many of the classic Westerns that my parents (I’m 40, they’re in their mid-70s) experienced in their youth. I’m talking The Searchers, Shane and High Noon.

My first introduction to the genre occurred in the 1980s when I saw Silverado on HBO. You remember Silverado, right? Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline and Danny Glover team up to dethrone an unscrupulous New Mexican (at least that’s where it was filmed) cattle rancher. I was 10 when the movie came out in 1985. The Kasdan brothers (including Lawrence, who’s co-written Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens) wrote it, and it starred many famous actors including Jeff Goldblum, Brian Dennehy, Linda Hunt, and John Cleese, among other.

But what appealed to the 10-year-old little boy in me was the action. Of course there were gunfights, but the pitting of good versus evil couldn’t have been clearer to me. You knew who the bad guys were and you wanted them to meet justice.

Kevin Klien’s character Paden had his ivory-handled Colt. Costner’s Jake wore a fancy two-gun belt. Glover’s mal was an expert with a rifle, and Glenn’s Emmett was good with both—and he’s left-handed, which I dug, because I’m a southpaw too.

Perhaps it appealed to me because the movie, when I saw it, was modern, and I knew John Cleese from Monty Python (little did I know he likely took the role so he could afford his alimony payments). But whatever, I liked the idea of a sophisticated Englishman in the West. You’ll see Silverado’s influences in Sentinels. My villain, Thomas Diggs, as it happens, is an Englishman. My hero, a sheriff’s deputy named Noah, is a sharp shot with a lever-action rifle (but horrendous with a six-shooter).

Of course there are shootouts. No Western would be complete without them. And even if they might not have happened as we’re led to believe in Westerns, I included a quick draw—yes, Sliverado had one too.

I’ve always wanted to write Western, and figure Sentinels, despite it having zero geographical relationship with the Old West, to be my own. Yeah, there’s some blood and guts—I mean, it is supposed to be horror, correct? But more than that, it’s an adventure and fun—how I’ll always remember Silverado.

You can purchase SENTINELS at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or direct from Samhain and you can follow along with the rest of the SENTINELS publicity tour here:

Sentinels tour graphic (1)


About Matt Manochio:


Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.

He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Press Association Awards for his reporting. He wrote about one of his passions, rock ‘n’ roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career.

He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment, and currently lives in New Jersey with his son.