What: Scott Adlerberg grew up in the Bronx and a wooded suburb just outside New York City. His debut novel was the Martinique-set crime novel SPIDERS AND FLIES. His short fiction has appeared in THUGLIT, ALL DUE RESPECT, and SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE. Each summer, he hosts the Word for Word Reel Talks film commentary series in Manhattan. In 2014, his novella JUNGLE HORSES was released by Broken River Books. It’s his second longer work that has to do with the Caribbean, a place where he spent a good bit of time.
Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.
I just read your novella JUNGLE HORSES and was really blown away by the mix of Noir and Magical Realism. How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Well, I’ve often found that the best story ideas come from linking two unrelated ideas you have kicking around in your head. They could be ideas that came to you weeks, months, even years part. You make a connection between these different ideas, and you may just have the seed for an intriguing tale.
JUNGLE HORSES developed like this. It began as a story about a guy in London who’s addicted to horse race gambling. I knew how it would start and where it would go up to a point. He’s middle-aged, this guy, tired, not much energy in him, and his best friend is his wife’s lover. He sees his life change because of his betting fortunes. But the change doesn’t happen as he’d hoped or expected. Then what would happen? I wasn’t sure. But at some point something clicked in my head and I thought of another story idea I had. This one had to do with a sinister island in the Caribbean. Certain weird phenomena were happening there. Would it be possible to send my struggling London guy to this island for the second part of the story? If so, what would make him take this trip? Why would he go there? I had to think about that for awhile and eventually I came up with an answer. I found a reason to send him to the tropical island. So the second part of the story would unfold there, far from the guy’s familiar surroundings. And he would have to deal with very different horses there, not racing thoroughbreds like he bet on in London. They’d be a mysterious breed and would impact on him in a big way.
But, yeah, the London part of the story was realistic and the island part, as I imagined it, fantastic. What to do about that? I decided “blend them”, just go with it, especially because the fantastical part would and could happen in the new environment. It’s an island, self-contained, and what happens there transforms his character.