Thursday, April 15, 2021

Daniel Emery Taylor: It's the ADHD

We're going to change things up a bit for this writer interview. We're going to talk with Daniel Emery Taylor, an indie movie producer and scriptwriter. He's still a hardcore genre writer (horror being both a genre and hardcore), albeit in a different format. 

Plus, he's just a straight-up, awesome guy and he worked with Heather Locklear (which is definitely a plus). 

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

If you mean actual, completed work that has been brought to fruition, my film It's Just A Game is currently available to view on most of your favorite streaming platforms. It is your standard "bullied girl wishes her tormentor was dead and then gets kidnapped by a theatre cult who wants to use her body to summon the spirit of an ancient witch" tale. Because there are so many of those, right? In all seriousness, I wanted to try to meld different elements together to create a new genre of scary movie - part slasher, part home invasion, part supernatural thriller, part cult horror - a unique film experience. Constructing a linear narrative was not necessarily my prime objective. I just wanted to evoke emotions. Most of the reviews have been very kind, though many of them say something like "I have no idea what was going on but I couldn't stop watching!" And, honestly, I consider that high praise. I've said the same thing about some of my favorite Fulci films.

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

I suffer from maladaptive daydreaming - I have entire universes in my head and they all demand an exorbitant amount of attention. The only way to exorcise them is to get them out onto the page. I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek, of course, but that isn't too far from the truth. I have always had an overactive imagination and a desire to bring these imaginary people to life via storytelling. I have been writing stories, and later scripts, since the second grade.

What inspires you to write?

Anything. Everything. I know that sounds like a cop out but it's true. Sometimes I will think of something - a scene, a striking visual, a horrific death, whatever - and then my brain immediately goes to work filling in the rest of the story. I could get a random flash of a visual in my head - a beautiful woman, standing on her balcony, staring down at a swirling black fog below. Who is she? Why is she there? What is in the fog? It goes from there. Every story I write begins with the visuals. The story fills in around them.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

I tend to write a lot about outcasts - which I don't suppose is particularly unique - and the choices they make in light of their hardships. So, someone is bullied as a child - does that make them more likely to become a hero, because they know what it's like to be victimized and they want to save others from the same fate, or do they become a villain, because they want the world to suffer as they did? Really, it could go either way, depending on a variety of other factors. We each have choices to make in life and it is fascinating just how quickly our entire situation can change based solely on our reaction to it. Plus, there is the splendid duplicity of man - the fact that most humans are basically good but also carry within them the potential for the gravest forms of evil. I'm not saying we're just a bad day away from becoming homicidal maniacs ... but I think we would be shocked to discover what we would be able to do given the right set of unfortunate circumstances.

What would be your dream project?

I have a few - the first being a film I would simply call "Yeshua," a historically accurate depiction of the life of the Messiah. Every Jesus movie we watch presents Him solely in the Western European/American presentation, hitting the same story beats (whether they be Biblical or simply based on our own folklore and tradition), giving the same perspective. I would love to write and direct that picture that restore the Jewishness to the Jewish Messiah, the King of Israel. I would love to hear some proper historical context for His teachings on film. As 21st century Americans, we tend to either assume His Words in the abstract and mystical or we try to apply them literally but are absolutely ignorant of the cultural subtext. I think to be able to see His story, in His land, and with His people, would perhaps help people see Him in a different light. Perhaps, they would get a much fuller picture.

The next is much less lofty - I would love to take a crack at Marvel's Man-Thing. I got my acting career started in The Return Of Swamp Thing so I think it would be appropriate to jump the aisle and help bring Swampy's Marvel counterpart to the silver screen. With the MCU now getting into the mystical side of their universe, with the Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange, Agatha Harkness ... the Nexus of All Realities, the Multiverse ... now is the time for a proper Man-Thing film! And there are other Marvel characters I would love to work with - Werewolf By Night, Moon Knight, and, for something silly, Gwenpool.

And, finally, I would love to write and direct a Friday The 13th film. I know there are current legal issues keeping Jason at bay but I think it would be such a fun character to play with. I feel like, with a lot of similar characters, writers want to try to overthink them or reinvent the wheel. Jason X showed us that all you need for a fun, successful picture is just to drop Jason into a new, interesting situation and turn him loose. Imagine, Jason loose in a ski resort in the snow. Jason battling redneck militia men on their private compound in the woods. Jason accidentally gets boxed up and shipped to the Middle East where he ends up killing a bunch of terrorists. Jason in Greenwich. These stories write themselves. How does Jason get to Connecticut? It doesn't matter. We just want to see him wreaking havoc on a yacht or a golf course.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Because, to me, the act of writing and filmmaking tend to become one - since I primarily write screenplays for my own use - the writers that most influence my style are writer/directors. Brian De Palma, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Sam Raimi... they each have such a distinct style, gloriously visual, and often chaotic. What I pick up most from these individuals is less about the mechanics of their writing and more about being true to your own vision, telling your own story, and giving the audience something that thrills or intrigues.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I would love to remake my film Fat Chance (which the distributor released as Camp Massacre). It was a horror-comedy about a group of overweight guys on a weight loss reality show (like The Biggest Loser) who find themselves stalked by a masked killer. There was a lot of good, funny stuff in the script but a lot of it didn't work. A lot of it definitely doesn't work in 2021. Sometimes things sound much better in your head than in reality. Sometimes you know what the joke is but the audience doesn't. It's a script that was close to my heart and there is enough good there to salvage - though I don't suppose I will.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Writing, as we're discussing it, is an art. You can teach the science of writing - the mechanics of it - but you can't teach someone how to tell a story. You can't teach creativity. I have read very beautifully written scripts and stories that were also dreadfully boring and of absolutely no consequence.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Actually doing it. Sometimes, I get so lost in all of the "great" ideas I have (which are mostly trash, I assure you) that I can find it hard to commit to one. I am notorious for getting twenty pages into a script and then jumping to the next thing. It's the ADHD.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

I have a couple of folks I let read my scripts while I'm still writing - mostly to see if my story is being properly conveyed. It is good to have folks you trust, who know their stuff, who will give you honest feedback. 

What does success look like to you?

As long as I am telling the stories I want to tell and am able to get them out into the world, so they can find their audience, I consider that a success.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I have about five different things in various stages of the creative process but nothing I can really plug, hahaha.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Movie Reviews for Writers -- Hammett (Guest Review by Derrick Ferguson)

NOTE: I had been emailing with Derrick a little before his death about having him contribute some reviews for the Movie Reviews for Writers section of this blog, and sadly, those reviews will now never happen. I was able however to dig through his Ferguson Theater blog and find this gem to share with you. I have to tell you though, that opening line brought all the tears back. 


I want you guys to do me a favor, okay? If sometime in the future, after I’m dead and gone and somebody, for whatever obscure reason wants to make a fictionalized movie about me and my adventures, make sure they watch HAMMETT first, okay? Because that’s exactly what I would want a fictionalized movie about me to be like.

HAMMETT tells you right from the start that it’s a fictionalized story about Dashiell Hammett, the writer who totally redefined the hard-boiled detective novel in America. He created Sam Spade, The Continental Op and Nick and Nora Charles. His Continental Op novel “Red Harvest” has been cited as the inspiration for movies such as “The Glass Key” “Yojimbo” “A Fistful of Dollars” and “Last Man Standing” as well as my own “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time.” Dashiell Hammett had the benefit of authenticity in his work, having actually worked for The Pinkerton National Detective Agency for about eight years. He claimed that the characters in his stories were all people he actually knew or encountered in his work as a detective. And during the course of the events of this movies we see where he got the inspiration for certain characters in his stories. We also get a damn good mystery yarn to boot.

But when we see Samuel Dashiell Hammett (Frederic Forrest) in this movie, he’s put his Pinkerton days behind him. Suffering from tuberculosis and alcoholism he’s living in San Francisco and has made a reputation for himself as a pulp writer of detective/thriller stories. One night after finishing a story he’s visited by his old Pinkerton partner James Francis Xavier Ryan (Peter Boyle) the guy who taught him everything he knew. Sam’s out of the game but Jimmy calls in an old marker and soon Sam Hammett finds himself helping Jimmy look for a Chinatown whore named Crystal Ling (Lydia Lei.) Jimmy made this out to be a simple missing person case but it’s far from that. Crystal Ling is also being hunted for by pornographic photographer Gary Salt (Jack Nance) and Chinatown ganglord Fong Wei Tau (Michael Tau.) And if that wasn’t enough Police Detective Lt. O’Mara (R.G. Armstrong) strongly suggests that Hammett forgets he ever heard the name Crystal Ling.

Sam would love to leave this whole dirty business alone but Jimmy has gone missing, along with the manuscript of his latest story. Assisted by librarian/sometimes girlfriend, the wonderfully named Kit Conger (Marilu Henner) and the cab driver Eli (Elisha Cook, Jr.) Hammett navigates the convoluted hidden government of San Francisco, run by The Cops, The Crooks and The Big Rich to find out what happened to Jimmy Ryan and the secret of Crystal Ling.

I cannot say enough about how much I love HAMMETT which to me successfully invokes the spirit of classic film noir from the 30’s and 40’s despite being a color movie. And most of it is due to to the outstanding performance of Frederic Forrest who should have won an Academy Award for Best Actor for this movie that year. There are so many touches of Humphrey Bogart in his performance…too many to name but if you watch the movie, you’ll see what I mean. It’s not an imitation, far from it. But you’ll have to see the movie to understand what I mean.

And it’s a writer’s movie in that we see how how in putting together this mystery, Hammett incorporates it into his fiction. We see surrealistic scenes where Hammett’s reality blends with his imagination that I could really identify with because it’s happened to me.

The supporting cast is outstanding with the exception of Marilu Henner who I put in the same class with Robin Givens. They’re actresses who everybody tells me are supposed to be sexy but to me work too hard at being sexy instead of just being sexy. Know what I mean? Lydia Lei is terrific as Crystal Ling and she has a scene with Frederic Forrest that ends up with her saying: “I did such wicked things” and you totally believe his response. David Patrick Kelly as a gunsel is reminiscent of the same character played by Elisha Cook Jr. in “The Maltese Falcon”

In fact, all of the characters in HAMMETT have echoes to characters we’ve seen in other movies based on this great writer’s works and in a way, that’s a large part of the enjoyment of HAMMETT. It’s one of my favorite movies and I’m betting that after you see it that it will be one of yours as well. Enjoy with my heartiest blessings.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Remembering Derrick Ferguson (In His Own Words)


The New Pulp community lost a hero on April 4, 2021. The New Pulp movement lost its soul on April 4, 2020. The independent genre writers world lost its heart on April 4, 2021.

I know it's all en vogue to all but raise writers to sainthood upon their death and rattle off accolades as if they were the second coming of Ray Bradbury incarnate. But trust me, all those are fair statements in regard to Derrick Ferguson.

I've long argued that (bear with me here for a moment) Isaac Asimov was the brains of sci-fi but that Ray Bradbury was its heart. In the same way, Derrick was the heart of the community of independent genre writers, and particularly that of New Pulp. But it wasn't just his writing that put him there and defined it. It was his sort of ambassadorship for the movement, bringing the unrelatable term to the masses with comparisons to movies and other forms or entertainment, his “get started” lists of 100 New Pulp books you need to read, and his action-adventure mindset in regard to everything from his movie reviews to his posts in the Usimi Dero group he ran on Facebook that brought so many like-minded fans together.

How do I know he was the heart? Because unlike other fan groups, Usimi Dero was always a place of positive interaction among so many divergent fans of comics, books, movies, games, etc.

Derrick was also a friend even though we really only every spoke via podcasts or email. We did so many interviews together, and we connected on a level of writer similarities that I often referred to him as my New Pulp brother. We saw New Pulp the same way, along with several other folks. It was a way to rescue action and adventure stories from the traps of the past—whether they were systemic racism in the portrayals, sloppy writing in the structure and plots, or cliched stereotyped that didn't go anywhere in the characterizations in the stories.

I loved that about him. I identified with him because of that. Whenever I had an editor or a publisher basically inform me to simplify it or just “let the hero be the hero,” I could always lean toward Derrick's shared vision for what New Pulp could become beyond the limitations of Classic Pulp.

But lest I wax poetic, I want to let Derrick speak for himself posthumously.

You see, Derrick was very active (in addition to his own prolific writing bench) in my Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fisted Action writing blog. So, the best way I could think to honor this patron saint of New Pulp and action-adventure storytelling is simply to go back through many of his comments he made as part of his own interviews or in roundtable interviews.

So, this is Derrick defining himself, his work, and his writing legacy.

May we all be so talented and respected and remembered.

On Becoming a Professional Writer

"I considered myself to be a real professional when I had people seeking me out and offering me money to write for them. I felt like I had turned a corner and had reached a level where people knew my name, had read my work and trusted me enough that they were willing to say; 'Hey, here's a chunk of change... come write something for me.'"

On Blogging

“I only post stuff on my blogs when I have something to say. I really don't see the reason to post stuff just to be posting stuff or to constantly promise readers that "There's some really BIG STUFF in the works!" I know that for me, as a reader, the fourth or fifth time you tell me that there's BIG STUFF in the works I yawn and go away. Wait until you can tell me what the BIG STUFF is and then post it. Most writers I know how a set day that they post every week but I'm just not that organized. Maybe if I were I'd have more books written.”

On New Pulp and Classic Pulp

“As New Pulp writers we're trying to emulate the fantastic fun and rip-roaring action of Classic Pulp. But without the mistakes of Classic Pulp. Those stories that we love so much were written for another time, one that we like to think was less enlightened (although I look around at the United States today and I ain't all that sure of that) less tolerant and less understanding.”

“My perception and experience is that fans of Classic Pulp have no use or need for New Pulp in any way, shape or form. But that's okay. New Pulp deserves and needs new readers that are eager for new heroes that represent them no matter what their race, age or gender may be told in a breathless prose that doesn't give them a chance to catch their breath. And those readers are out there. I hear from them (occasionally) on Facebook, Twitter and by email. I myself think that New Pulp has produced characters that can stand beside Classic Pulp heroes with no shame at all. And readers who don't know anything about Classic Pulp characters have embraced the idea/concept of these multicultural protagonists if the popularity of "Black Pulp" and "Asian Pulp" is an accurate measure of their enjoyment.”

“First of all, tell good stories with good characters. That’s the foundation of pulp fiction right there. People will want to read stories about heroic characters fighting impossible odds to do the right thing and protect the innocent no matter what their ethnic background is. Give people quality every time and everything else will follow. There are some people who are not going to read New Pulp no matter what and having heroes of color is not going to change their opinion or reading habits. And that’s okay. There’s a whole lot of other readers out there who will pick up a New Pulp book with interracial characters. And let me just say that New Pulp isn’t looking to replace or be superior to Classic Pulp. It’s an extension and an amplification of Classic Pulp. It’s no more and no less that the tropes of a genre updated for the consumption and entertainment of a modern day audience.”

“I would be blatantly lying if I didn't come right out of the gate and admit that with the creation of both Dillon and Fortune McCall I was actively looking to break new ground in new pulp and show why New Pulp was going to be different from Classic Pulp.”

On Genres and Low-Brow Entertainment

“Whenever I hear/read somebody complain about how they don't like labels and they don’t see why anything has to be labeled…tell you what we’re gonna do. We’re going to take all the labels off the canned foods in your local supermarket and let you guess what’s inside those cans the next time you go shopping.”

“Before I step up on my soapbox and start the pontificating, let me start of by saying that I don’t consider ‘throwaway writing’ to be a bad thing. Robert Heinlein is famous for saying that 90 percent of everything is crap. I think that 90 percent of entertainment is throwaway and disposable. Most people are really just looking for something to entertain and/or distract them from whatever is giving them the grumbles in their life. Of course, the creators of that entertainment hope and pray that it will live on after them. But I find it difficult to believe that the creators of Gomer Pyle, USMC expected or hoped that people would still be watching the show 50 years later.

“I don’t think writers have much of a problem coming up with original and creative protagonists for period piece detective fiction. At least not the ones I’ve read. I think it’s the readers of that particular genre (or any other for that matter) who don’t want the original and creative protagonists. I think the readers are expecting the Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe knock-off because that’s what they know and it’s as comfortable to slip into as those ten-year old jeans they won’t let their spouses throw out, no matter how ragged and holey they get.”

So what should writers avoid when crafting their protagonists? How about getting rid of the alcoholic ex-cop turned private dick still grieving over his marriage and ex-wife? This is one that infects not only period piece detective fiction but modern day detective fiction as well. How about a detective who is actually successful and makes money at his job? One of my favorite things about the “Chinatown” sequel “The Two Jakes” was seeing that Jake Gittes has prospered.

On First Drafts

“I don't a give a poobah's pizzle about any rule of editing or grammar when I'm writing that first draft. I'm telling the story to myself and just letting everything gush out in a white-hot blaze of pure storytelling. I never fix any errors right away. That's what the second and third drafts are for.”

On Creating Art

"You should always strive to tell the best story you can in the best way you can. What I am saying is that there’s madness in sitting down at your keyboard and pronouncing to the world ‘I am going to create art!’”

On Characterization

“Plenty of time characterization is done as my heroes are traveling in vehicles from Point A to Point B,” he says. “Let me provide you with an example from a popular movie: there’s a scene in the movie Silver Streak where Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor are in a stolen fire-engine red Jaguar racing to save Jill Clayburgh from Patrick McGoohan, and they’re exchanging what is some pretty meaningful dialog about their relationship, the situation they’re in and how they’re going to save Jill Clayburgh. It’s a nice scene with characterization but it’s done in a moving car that is taking them from one action scene to the next. The movie slows down to provide us with characterization but the actual plot doesn’t slow down and carries the promise that we’re going to see more action once to get to where we’re going.”

“Writers of pulp knew the secret of having genuine characterization in their work long ago. You can do characterization and have sparkling, meaningful dialog and solid supporting casts and all those things that literary fiction prides itself on in the most action-packed of stories. Here’s the catch: Don’t stop the action to do all that stuff. Let me clarify. Action doesn’t mean that you have to have constant fist-fights, explosions, cliffhangers, the heroes continually escaping fates worse than death or chases and captures. Although if you are writing pulp, I would certainly hope that you do have all that stuff in there. After all, what’s the point of writing pulp if you don’t? It’s like making a ham sandwich without the ham. But in pulp, the plot always has to be going forward. You simply cannot stop the thrust of the plot to indulge in a three page introspective passage when your heroine is supposed to be saving the world.”

“For me, a story begins and ends with character. If the characters aren't interesting and if what they're doing doesn't interest me I don't care how mind-blowing the ideas behind the story is. There are writers who can pull off an idea driven story and I've read many of those over the years but as a rule, those types of stories don't put the sugar in my coffee. I'm more drawn to character driven stories.”

“And the characters don't have to be likable In fact, I'm more intrigued when a writer can present me with an unlikable character and during the course of the story I grow to sympathize with him or her. My DIAMONDBACK novel; “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” was partially an exercise to see if I could write a novel length story where 99% percent of the characters were backstabbing, unrepentant cold-blooded bastards (especially the lead character) and still make them compelling characters you wanted to know more about and find out what happens to them.”

“That's why most of the time when you start to read a story of mine, I'll open with the character doing whatever it is he does best.”

On Sex In Writing

“Like so much else in my writing, I just tend to go with my gut when it comes to writing about sex. I'm not as good at describing sex as I am describing action so when I do have sex scenes I tend to keep them brief and to the point. In my Dillon stories and novels, I give the reader just enough to know that my boy is ready to get it on and then I cut away to the billowing curtains and the fireplace. In my "Madness of Frankenstein" novel and my current "Diamondback" serial running on my Patreon page, the sex scenes are a bit more graphic, nasty and brutal. But that's because I'm writing about nasty, brutal people and the nasty, brutal sex just seemed to fit.”

On Westerns

“See, here’s where I scratch my head when it comes to clichés. Say you write a western. Okay, you’ve got horses and six guns and Indian attacks and schoolmarms. Now is it fair when somebody reads your western and accuses your work of being cliché ridden? When you read in a certain genre, shouldn’t you expect certain tropes of that genre to make an appearance?”

“My love and appreciation of the Western came from my parents, especially my father. He would watch any and all Westerns that came on TV no matter who was in. And back then we only had one TV so if I didn't watch what my parents did, I just didn't watch TV. He didn't have a favorite Western star. He just loved all Westerns. He and I would watch Have Gun Will Travel, The Wild Wild West and Wanted: Dead Or Alive together and my very first grown up movie was The Wild Bunch, which I saw at the tender age of 10 and changed the course of my life forever.”

“What draws me to the Western as a creative person? My gut says it's because you can make a Western as simple or as complicated as you want and nobody will give you any shit about it. The Western is American mythology which is why it'll never go away. Myths just don't go away. They get changed, sure. In the 60's/70's/80's many of the tropes of the Western were adopted by police/crime thrillers and science fiction movies. But we always come back to the Western because there's a purity there, a stripping away of the bullshit that infects our society today and brings us back to basic, core beliefs, traditions and codes of behavior that we've lost but still long for.”

On Strong Villains in Fiction

“I always keep in mind that as far as the villain is concerned, HE'S the hero of his own story. To him he's got a perfect good and sound motivation for doing what he's doing. Even if he knows it's wrong, he thinks his reasons for doing it is right. Two of my favorite villains of all time are Fu Manchu and Doctor Doom. Both are men capable of hideous evil. But they also are men of honor and great benevolence toward their people. They are villains whose complexity springs from the core of their belief that the world would be much better off if they were ruling it. When I write my villains I try to remember that villains are people too. Well, some of 'em, anyway. I think a memorable villain should be as formidable and as resourceful as the hero if not even moreso. Nobody would have remembered St. George if he had slain a waterbug. No, he went out and slew a dragon. That's why James Bond villains such as Dr. No, Goldfinger and Ernst Stavro Blofeld were so memorable. They were all smarter than Bond, had way more money and resources and just by looking at the tale of the tape, Bond should have never stood a chance against them. But he took 'em all down. I think sometimes writers are afraid of making their villains too powerful, too charismatic or too intelligent for fear that they will take over the story or overshadow their hero. I say go for it! Maybe your hero will surprise you yourself at how he rises to the challenge!”

“I think at some point it has to be made clear to the reader exactly WHY the villain wants to take over the world or find the Ark of The Covenant or rob Fort Knox. Motivation is the key to any good villain...hell, any good character, period. Even the secondary characters have to have SOME motivation for why they're doing what they're doing. If the writer knows his characters well, their motivation can't help but come out in the story at some point because the character him or herself will literally demand that they be heard.”

On Diversity in Pulp and Comics

“I think it’s downright ignorant to deny that there is plenty of blatant racism and sexism in Classic Pulp and I’d never suggest that anyone who is coming to Classic Pulp for the first time shouldn’t be mindful of that. But I also think that one has to take into account that these stories were written in a less enlightened time and if you’re going to read Classic Pulp then that has to be taken into account.”

“Now some people say they can’t get past that and that’s cool. Some people honestly can’t separate like that. But I do have a problem when people suggest that Classic Pulp should not be read at all because of the racism and sexism. Classic Pulp isn’t just escapist literature. It’s also a historical record of the popular entertainment medium of that time period. You can’t ignore an entire genre or try to pretend it doesn’t exist because some of the depictions of race makes you uncomfortable or upset.”

“We can’t ignore the racism of the past but neither should we shoulder the burden of it. Those writers did their thing back then and writers of New Pulp are doing their thing today. The only thing we owe the culture at large today is to tell the most entertaining stories we possibly can and provide quality reading that won’t waste a reader’s time or money. That’s got to be first before any other consideration. Everything after that is gravy. That’s not to say if a writer intentionally wants to be more racially diverse in his work he can’t be. I mean, my character Dillon I created because the more I read Classic Pulp the more I felt that a black pulp hero was needed as there simply wasn’t one that I could find. And I tried. Couldn’t find one with a search warrant. But at the end of the day I should hope that people who discover Dillon and read his adventures do so first of all because he’s an interesting character who is living an extraordinary life. His being black adds an extra layer to his character, yes. But he’s got a whole lot of interesting layers as well that have nothing to do with his being black.”

“Comics are surviving now by being a sideshow act. It's not enough to just tell good stories with good art (I'm talking about Marvel and DC here). There's a respectable number of independent comic creators who are producing excellent comic books with multicultural heroes and heroines. It's only Marvel and DC who still treat it as if they're breaking the Internet when they announce they've got a new black hero, a new Latina heroine, a new gay and/or lesbian hero. When I created Dillon and Fortune McCall and Sebastian Red I knew full well it was going to take years for them to catch on. And Dillon's been around for 15 years now and I'll still get emails from new readers who inform me that they never bothered with the character before because they thought; 'it was some blaxploitation thing.' And I think that's the mindset of writers: we're marathoners who realize that we have to put in the time and work to get readers to turn their heads in our direction. And I think that after a floundering around period we're finally starting to learn how to make The Internet work for us. There's a whole lot of other writers who have mastered that and did it years ago. Especially the Romance and Street Lit writers.”

“Race-based entertainment is nothing new and shouldn’t be treated as such. It grinds my grits to no end when race based entertainment is challenged. You have those who will make the argument that race based entertainment is in itself racist. Which is flat out bullshit. It’s not racist to want to see heroes and heroines of your own ethnic background in your entertainment whether it be books, movies, comics or television. Black cinema has been with us since the 1920’s. Movies made for black movie goers who went to black movie theaters to see them as they couldn’t go to white theaters. Same thing with Asian cinema. And I don’t see a thing wrong with New Pulp marketing to a specific ethnic group. Every other form of entertainment does it so why shouldn’t we? Especially modern day audiences that welcome and look for ethnic diversity in their entertainment.”

On Cynicism Toward Heroes

“What's holding them back is that we have a generation, possibly two that has grown up with the manufactured angst and drama that infests most comic books today. Like another genre, the daytime soap opera (which comic books actually have the most in common with) comic books are no longer a vehicle for telling interesting stories about interesting characters. Now they are simply vehicles for writers to demonstrate how much they hate superheroes.”

“What's the constant thing you see whenever a pulp hero is revived by DC or Marvel? It's that hated word that will appear in the first paragraph: "relatable." It's always stressed that the pulp hero is being made "human" so that readers will "relate" to him. We're talking about readers who have been raised on Spider-Man who lost more often than he won and spent just as much time agonizing over how he was going to pay the rent as he did worrying about how to beat The Green Goblin. And that's why Spider-Man has his fans because they relate to that. And that's okay. Me, I'd rather relate to Tony Stark who is the smartest guy in the world with his own warehouse of high-tech armor, buys a dozen Ferraris when he's in the mood and babes lined up outside his door since the week before. Or Thor or Superman. That probably says more about my ego than anything else but I digress.”

“My point is that comic book fans are conditioned to reading about characters who don't win no matter what they do. Spider-Man makes a deal with The Devil and his marriage is wiped from existence and those mothercussin' X-Men are still BMW-ing [editor's note: bitch, moan, and whine - it took me a minute too] about how humanity hates them and why can't we all get along and Wonder Woman is still figuring out who she is and what she's supposed to be doing. Because comic book readers think this constantly recycled soap opera crap is drama. But the classic pulp heroes weren't built along those lines and don't subscribe to a whiny "woe is me" philosophy.”

“So now, we give them Doc Savage. The most perfect example of humanity: the smartest and strongest guy on the planet who travels all over the world fighting the forces of evil with his five best pals. Should be simple to do that comic each and every month, right?”

“Nope. Because the comic book fans of today and even worse, the writers throw up that word; "relatable" They insist that a Doc Savage who is written as he's supposed to be written is no good to today's world because he's not "relatable" and he has no flaws and because the writers aren't good enough to work their skills to write Doc the way he's supposed to be written, they tear away everything that makes Doc and his world interesting and then they wonder why nobody wants to read the book.”

“The Shadow doesn't have that problem because he never gets watered down like Doc and The Avenger. After all, The Punisher and characters of his ilk are similar and The Shadow was there before all of them, performing .45 caliber lobotomies before they were born.”

“Me, I'm like Benjy Stone in My Favorite Year when he yells at Alan Swann that he can't use him life-sized; he doesn't need him life-sized. I'm that way with most of my heroes; I don't need them to be 'relatable.' I can't use a Doc Savage who worries about paying the rent or where his next meal is coming from. That's not what I read him for. Like Benjy, I need my heroes as big as I can get them. But not comic book fans. They're used to reading about heroes crushed by life and losing all the time. That why most pulp heroes don't work for them because that's not real to them.

On His Own Legacy

“I don’t know any other way to write a story other than to write it the way that I want to write it and then present it to the Readers At Large and let them make up their mind about what I wrote. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a very original or innovative writer. I also admit that I don’t spend a lot of time burning up my brain cells trying to figure out ways to be original or innovative. I’ve got friends who desperately want to write. Have wanted to write for years. But they haven’t because they refuse to write anything that’s isn’t “totally and completely original.”

“So let’s be honest here: unless you’re a literary genius (And hey, you may be. What do I know?) The chances of you telling a completely original and unique story are very slim. But by no means should that stop you from doing so. But what I am saying is don’t let that stand in your way of having fun telling the most entertaining stories that you can tell until that Thunderbolt of Zeus crashes into your brain and that literary masterpiece comes flowing out of you to amaze the world. You keep on writing. It’ll happen.”

“And the ability to entertain is not to be taken lightly. I don’t get emails of thanks often, but every so often I will get one from somebody who will thank me because they read something I wrote that transported them away from their problems for a couple of hours, and for me, that’s one of the highest compliments that I can be given.”

Sunday, April 11, 2021


The 3 Member Awards committee counted over 200 ballots and these are the results:

A Cowboy in Carpathia – Teel James Glenn – Pro Se Press 

Zorro: Death of a Grandee – John L French – Zorro: The Daring Escapades – Bold Venture Press 

Pulp Reality, Vol 1 – Rose Shababy, Ed. – Stormgate Press 

Ed Catto – Ravenwood: Stepson of Mystery, Vol 4 – Airship 27 Productions 

Damian Aviles – Pulp Reality, Vol 1 – Stormgate Press

Congratulations to all this year’s winners. 

Finally our thanks to all you participated and voted and especially to Van, Gordon Dymowski and Fred Adams Jr.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

[Link] Penguin Random House Will Distribute Marvel Comics to Comics Stores

by John Maher

In a move that will likely transform the distribution of comics periodicals in North America, Penguin Random House Publisher Services has reached an agreement with Marvel to distribute its periodical comics and graphic novels to the comics shop market, also known as the direct market.

The two companies have signed an exclusive, worldwide multi-year sales and distribution agreement for Marvel’s comics—including individual issues, trade collections, and graphic novels both newly published and backlist—to the direct market. PRHPS officially begins its distribution to direct market retailers for Marvel titles on October 1. The move marks a major change in the U.S. comics distribution market, which Diamond Comic Distributors has long dominated.

PRHPS will offer Marvel comics to retailers on nonreturnable wholesale terms. The comics shop market is a network of about 2,000 independent retailers around the country that traditionally bought their inventory from Diamond Comics Distributors, the largest distributor of periodical comics in North America. Direct market retailers generally buy most of their stock nonreturnable at wholesale prices. Comics shops sell a mix of periodical comics, graphic novels, prose books and pop culture merchandise.

Marvel’s new agreement with PRHPS follows the unexpected departure of DC from Diamond in 2020. The new distribution agreement means that the Big Two of American superhero comics—Marvel and DC—which are also Diamond’s two biggest accounts as well as pillars of the direct market, have left Diamond Comics Distributors. It is unclear how this will impact Diamond and the comics shop market going  forward but it does mark the end of Diamond's dominance of periodical comics distribution.

Read the full article:

Friday, April 9, 2021

Airship 27 Productions Presents Jon Shadow in KILLING SHADOWS

Airship 27 Productions is proud to announce the start of a brand new action adventure series from writer Teel James Glenn.

Jon Shadows is a freelance bodyguard and investigator. When his ex-lover, Maria, tells him her billionaire husband, William Carter, is trying to kill her, he can’t help but come to her aid. Shadows’ plan is to attend an annual corporate employee meeting on Carter’s private island and do some digging.

He soon discovers the eccentric computer mogul has ominous ties to the Japanese crime syndicate known as the Yukaza and is already being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. But before Shadows can make sense of the data, a close friend is brutally murdered and it looks like he is slated to be the killer’s next target. 

In Jon Shadows, award winning writer, Teel James Glenn, has created a terrific new hero with echoes of the classic ala the Saint and James Bond. In the end, Jon’s enemies soon learn Killing Shadows is no easy matter.

Airship 27 Art Director Rob Davis and artist Tedd Lehman the nine interior illustrations. 


Now available from Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Mysterious Worlds of Mark Allen Vann

Mark Allen Vann is a writer I recently discovered. I figured in the spirit of "share and share alike" I should introduce him to you as well.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Currently I am in the process of finishing up the editing process for the sequel to my first Anthology, Eight Against The Darkness. This book is entitled The Fateful Eight and I hope to have it ready for release by late April or early May. Like my first book it will be made available through my own Xepico Press publishing label.

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

As far back as I can recall I was told that I had an over-active imagination and was told that I should write. I have dabbled in writing for many years, it just took this long to finally take it seriously enough to listen.

What inspires you to write?

It is a mixture of everything I read or watch on television naturally, but also just wanting to share the strangeness that comes out of my head as well. More than one of my stories started out as a dream I had. Even some daily life circumstances have inspired or influenced my writing.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Perseverence and standing up for what you believe in are most prominent. The title of the first book, Eight Against The Darkness fairly well sums up what it’s all about. There are other themes in the mix, such as overcoming inner demons and past mistakes and the like as well.

What would be your dream project?

Now that is a tough one. I would love to have free range for a classic Pulp team-up with carte blanche on characters I could use. Obviously with copyright laws that is impossible to do, but you did say dream project. In the more realistic avenue, doing a collaborative shared universe with some of my writing peers would be a fun project as well.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

I guess I always refer to my Mount Rushmore of authors. HP Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E Howard, Michael Moorcock and Jules Verne. More recently I would throw Agatha Christie in the mix as well. Of course, most of them come from a different era of writing and my style is really a bit more straight forward and while they are an inspiration to what I write, I don’t copy some of their dated philosophical way of thinking.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

Well, I do not have a lot of work out yet, so I guess I would say that I would clean up a bit of the editing in Eight Against The Darkness. There are a few edits that I missed the first time around. I have tweaked my editing process a bit so hopefully there won’t be as many going forward. It’s a learning process.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

While there is definitely a bit of science to writing, the stuff that was always drilled into you in writing classes, proper grammar and all that, I write fiction and therefore, feel that the story is the crucial part. I feel that what you have to say is more important than how you say it, so art is definitely king here. If you tell an enthralling story, people won’t care as much that you missed a comma here or there. Science makes me think of formulas and if your story is to formulaic, then you may as well read a textbook.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I have spent the last couple of months working on the editing of this book. It is a bit of a grind. Next book I will edit the stories as I go. I give editing zero stars. Not a fan.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

They do help inspire me greatly. Seeing the progress some of my writer friends are doing helps me try to do better. Seeing their Facebook posts makes me want to write. They keep me on the path.

What does literary success look like to you?

If you would have asked me that a year ago, I would say that getting that first book out would be literary success. Now a year later, I would say getting that second book out would be success. I am not in this for the fame and riches, heck I am pretty realistic. I think if I never have a book in Barnes & Noble for example, I would be okay with that. That said, I would love to make enough money to quit my day job, but that would be the icing on the cake.

Now for future literary goals, it would be pretty cool to see a few of my characters in a graphic novel someday.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I am also working on a book entitled Saturn’s Child And Other Tales which I am hoping will be out by year end. Though it features different characters than the first two, it is tied into the same universe as my other stories. I am also working on writing stories for a couple of other publishers including Stormgate Press and Airship 27, so hopefully you will be seeing my name around a bit more often.

For more information, visit:

If you want to reach out to me, or see what is coming out through Xepico Press, you can send us a message at the Xepico Press Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Movie Reviews for Writers: The Adventures of Anais Nin

After watching this docu-drama, I regret not having a deeper bench of Nin's work rattling around in my brain. She seems like a very experiential writer who saw with world with the sense of wonder that C.S. Lewis called Sehnsucht, with almost a sort of magical realism-tinted glasses, although her experience was far more sensual than Lewis's spiritual. 

While this film covers Nin's sexual life in detail, it also has a remarkable depth in exploring her writing life. Of course, for Nin, those two were intertwined, almost symbiotic, though I'm willing to bet that's not the case for most of us. 

But we're here for what the movie says about the writing life and the act of writing. 

My favorite line from the film is this one taken from Nin's diaries: "Few know how many women there are in me. When ordinary life shackles me, I escape one way or another." 

To me, this sums up the writer's psyche perfectly. Others have phrased it as there are worlds within me. Other, less spiritually tinged writers simply say that they are filled with stories. But I really love the way Nin calls these other women out as, well, other women. Of course she would; it ties in perfectly with her more experiential approach as a writer. 

One of the experts interviewed in the film sums it up like this: She needed the writing to make sense of the experience, but also she was having the experience to do the writing. Nin herself explains in her diaries that she often feels she is become another women inside her, that one is mild and calm and pure and a dutiful wife, and that the other is wild and free, a demoness. 

I wouldn't go that far in my own writing, but I do feel there are parts of me than can only escape through my work. I will never be a hard-hitting hero like Rick Ruby. I could never explore the wonderings of what my life might have been as a women like Fishnet Angel. Nor could I ever commit the vengeful atrocities some characters have in my horror stories -- but I don't need to. I have my stories to let me experience those things. 

Nin writes that "writers make love to what they need," and for me that act of love is a metaphorical one, but still valid nonetheless. I need the adventure, I need the magic and even the science that might as well be magic, and I need unfettered heroism, but I also need to function in the real world as a father, husband, granddaddy, hire-able adult, etc. 

But, and this is the most amazing part I think, when the realities start to ground us as writers too much, we always have the escape into our work. Or, as the thoroughly liberated Anais Nin said, once she is rooted down to the ground again, she feels her hair pulled up to the stars again. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Romancing the Genre (With Apologies to the Stone)

This week, we're going to look at working romance into your other genres. What is the appeal of having romantic subplots in stories that are more typically focused on action, adventure, or even horror? We turned to the jury to get their verdict. 

Have you found a romantic subplot in your action and adventure (whatever genre you're actioning in) stories to be a helpful extra layer or not? Why?

Corrina Lawson: To be specific on questions, my own work straddles the line between romance and other genres. It's a terrific layer because it should (ideally) key into the growth of the character. A character has to undergo a sort of transformation to their best self in the story--and sometimes it's only the romantic interest who can see through the chaff to that best self. (Witness, say, Romancing the Stone, where Kathleen Turner basically forces Michael Douglas to take a hard look at who he wants to be.) 

Selah Janel: I haven’t written a lot of romance, but I’ve done a few things and a lot of what I write has romantic subplots. For me, I really like exploring relationships and interactions between characters. I really like playing with circumstance and tension, and getting under the surface to explore how characters relate and grow together. 

HC Playa: I write adventures with sex and love because I cannot for the life of me write actual romance.

Lucy Blue: Why do I write romance? Because I think human connection is the most interesting, most valuable reward any protagonist can achieve. It’s what we fight for. It’s what we survive for. And we can portray that by putting in a generic hot chick or dude to fridge and forget while we get on with the kung fu fighting. Or we can be brave and let that relationship be real. In movies, that works all the time. But in books, a real relationship equals romance, and romance equals Hallmark. And yeah, that makes me tired.

Emily Leverett: I've got a romantic subplot in my Eisteddfod Chronicles. The two MC have an affair. It's as much about the political implications as the personal, and both will continue to matter as the story comes to a close. Sometimes (all the time?) it's not possible to separate the personal and political. 

Sean Taylor: I almost always have a romantic element in my stories. I think it makes a fantastic B-plot or even C-plot depending on the length of the work, and it allows me to showcase more characteristics of my characters rather than just their ability to punch or exorcise horrors. 

David Wright: I tend to let the characters decide.

Mike Hintze: I go with the flow. The story tells me what happens

What is the appeal to readers to find a romantic story squirreled away inside other genres?

Lucy Blue: I have never written about rose petals in my life. I write action-packed, gory, hard-edged horror and fantasy stories with real conflict and peril that just happen to have a romantic relationship at their center. But as soon as I say I write romance, other horror and fantasy writers think rose petals and emotional melodrama. (This is me not talking about it.

Sean Taylor: As a reader myself, I always love to find them, as long as they don't overpower the A-plot. But they can get as close as they want to without bothering me. I look to the greats like Rebecca or even Haunting at Hill House. Without the romantic subplots, even those stories (one to a great degree obviously) would have been far more "one note" stories.

Emily Leverett: A romance can make a good backdrop for those explorations, because little is more personal than who you're having sex with.

Selah Janel: I think people tend to simplify what romance is and why people read it. I think it’s another way of seeking catharsis and when a person sees themselves or their personality reflected in a character, it gives hope that things can work out for them and they’re worthy of love, too. There’s a whole gamut of situations and emotions to explore - is a feeling required, unrequited, is there loss involved or baggage that might be an obstacle, how they see themselves and others - just all sorts of things that factor into how people relate to each other. It makes that moment when two characters do connect or reconnect that much more interesting and sweeter.

Corrina Lawson: The appeal to readers is more insight into characters, I would guess. Less so than in novels, but in movies, the romance part often seems tackled on because the love interest is only there to be rescued or in peril. *Even today.* I think romance gets a bad rep because of those types of movies. Most of the time, the movies would be better without them because they're not central to the character's story.

Or do you feel that romantic subplots just get in the way of your main plots?

Mark Holmes: I love a good romantic subplot! The problem is in 8 to 10 pages of a comic script I usually don't have any space to tell one other than a quick smooch at the end of the story.

Nik Stanosheck: The romance can be a way to get to know the characters and to help them grow and develop more.

Corrina Lawson: Romance is a type of relationship. I find authors who write relationships well tend to also write romance well, and it adds character and depth to a story. I should clarify, that in the genres I write, characters try to find their best selves. Obviously not true of other genres where tragic endings are fine. But romances there can also underscore character faults and bad choices.

Sean Taylor: At least the way I try to write them, they add to the main story rather than getting in the way, at least I sure hope so. That's the plan when I start to write anyway. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Motivational Mondays -- Those Who Teach Can Do More Than You Think!

You know that saying, “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach”? Well, don’t believe it. Some folks specialize. Some folks can do both. But I feel like most of the people who actually say that probably can’t do either.

And shut up. I love to write fiction – AND tutorials.

Very little makes me happier than entertaining readers and/or helping beginning writers.

Sunday, April 4, 2021



OCCUPIED PULP marches headlong into mystery and adventure in post-war Europe and Japan

Flinch Books announces the upcoming release of OCCUPIED PULP, six tales of action, adventure, and mystery set in the aftermath of World War II.

When the war that defined the 20th century came to an end in 1945, the undercurrent of geopolitical tension continued for months afterward as Europe and Japan under Allied occupation became a hotbed of nefarious schemes. Mystery lurked around every corner, and danger waited down every dark alley. OCCUPIED PULP surveys that precarious post-war landscape with stories from six high-profile pulp writers: Will Murray (DOC SAVAGE), William Patrick Maynard (FU MANCHU), Patricia Gilliam (HANNARIA), Bobby Nash (SNOW), Justin Bell (STORM’S FURY) and John C. Bruening (THE MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN).

On sale in print and Kindle formats in April 2021, this collection of harrowing tales delivers all the two-fisted, slam-bang action and adventure that are hallmarks of the pulp tradition. Along the way, you’ll encounter fascinating heroes and villains who wage a mighty struggle to either protect the fragile peace or set the wheels of conflict and destruction back in motion.

“We’ve assembled an amazing lineup of writers for this project,” says Flinch Books Co-Founder and Editor John C. Bruening. “I knew from the outset that I would have to be on my A game if I was going to be among the contributors. Individually and collectively, these stories capture the dangerous state of affairs in the months immediately following World War II, when new lines were being drawn, new alliances were being forged and the global balance of power was still up for grabs.”

Flinch Books Co-Founder and Editor Jim Beard concurs. “We’re always looking for a project that not only launches from a solid, traditional pulp base, but also stretches to be something unique among other fiction anthologies. With OCCUPIED PULP, I think we’ve done our jobs.”

So suit up, soldiers! Grab your weapons and step into the hot zone, because there are plenty of skirmishes yet to be fought and won.

The war is over, but the action continues!

Art by Adam Shaw.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

[Link] Douglas Adams' note to self reveals author found writing torture

One of Douglas Adams’ notebooks that will feature in 42, a book based on unseen letters, scripts, jokes, poems, ideas, ID cards and to-do notes in the archive left by author. 

He was one of the most wildly imaginative writers of any generation but even for Douglas Adams writing could be a torturous process, requiring a “general note to myself” that he would finally get pleasure from it.

“Writing isn’t so bad really when you get through the worry. Forget about the worry, just press on. Don’t be embarrassed about the bad bits. Don’t strain at them,” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author wrote to himself. “Writing can be good. You attack it, don’t let it attack you. You can get pleasure out of it. You can certainly do very well for yourself with it!”

The fascinating note will be in a book based on the abundant trove of unseen letters, scripts, jokes, poems, ideas, ID cards and to-do notes in the archive left by Adams after his death in 2001, aged 49.

The crowdfunded book shines light on his best-known work, including Hitchhiker’s and Dirk Gently, as well as unrealised projects such as a dark theme park ride at Chessington World of Adventures.

A number of documents reveal how horrible the writing process could be for Adams, not least the “general note to myself” with which he reminded himself that he would get there in time.

“I love it, but I just wish he’d read it to himself more often,” his sister Jane Thrift said. “I think it [writing] was a tortuous process for him, not all the time, but when it was difficult for him it was really difficult.”

On another page of typed notes, Adams wrote: “Today I am monumentally fed up with the idea of writing. I haven’t actually written anything for two days, and that makes me fed up as well.’

He goes on to reference the legacy of Hitchhiker’s. “Arthur Dent is a burk. He does not interest me. Ford Prefect is a burk. He does not interest me. Zaphod Beeblebrox is a burk. He does not interest me. Marvin is a burk. He does not interest me. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a burk. It does not interest me.”

Typically for Adams, his complaining quickly morphs into an imagined conversation with a dragon called Lionel.

Read more:

Friday, April 2, 2021

Airship 27 Production Presents The Masked Rider: Tales of the Wild West Vol 3

Airship 27 Production saddles up for more rip-roaring western action adventure with “The Masked Rider – Tales of the Wild West Vol 3.”

The Wild West has always had its share of larger then life heroes; both fictional such as pulpdom’s own Masked Rider and historical ala Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. In this new collection, we offer up a trio of tale showcasing each.

Western writer Thomas McNulty delivers a south of the border yarn with Earp and his Holiday on the hunt for a dangerous desperado. This is followed by Paul Findley’s story of the fabled Masked Rider and his Yaqui partner Blue Hawk on the trail of murderous cattle rustlers.

Finally, in a full length novella, Gordon Dymowski has the mysterious Masked Rider attempting to solve the murder of a Army Cavalry officer in “A Town Called Malice.”

Artist Jason Wren provides the interior illustrations with Shane Evans the colorful cover, all assembled by Art Director Rob Davis. Here is action and adventure set against a frontier stage true to a time and place that forever left its legacy on a nation; the American Wild West.


Now available at Amazon in paperback and soon on Kindle.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Tamara Lowery and the Waves of Darkness

I can't remember which convention I was attending when I met Tamary Lowery, but I can tell you it wasn't the last we'd attend together. She's such a stalwart on the convention scene that no doubt most of my blog readers have probably already met her themselves. Still, for those of you who need to re-ignite your acquaintanceship with her or meet her for the first time, this one's for you. 

Tell us about your latest work. 

There are 2, currently. I recently finished the first draft of Hunting the Dragon, book 8 in the Waves of Darkness series and first book in the second story arc for the series. The first 7 books comprised the Sisters of Power arc. While they have been out of publication since I broke with my publisher, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, the rights were immediately reverted to me. I'm in the process of revising and reformatting them for self publication. 

As for book 8: it picks up with the final events of book 7,  Maelstrom of Fate, and starts the Daughters of the Dragon arc, which will also take place over 7 books. 

The other recent work is artistic in nature. I was commissioned to do the face card portraits for a 5 suit Dragon Poker game. This is a companion game for an authorized Dragonriders of Pern LARP available from Antiquarian Boardgames. 

What happened in your life to prompt you to become a writer?

It was a natural offshoot of my need to be creative. I love to read, and, like so many others, loved to create my own fanfic in my head  ...decades before the internet existed. While my original career choice was to become a journalist, I eventually decided to become an honest liar instead and write fiction. The tools and access afforded by the internet led me to finally go for it. 

What inspires you to write?

I find story ideas and inspiration in various places. Sometimes it's a news article. Sometimes a stray odd bit in magazines like National Geographic or Smithsonian find their way into my writing. Sometimes TV shows trigger an idea. Often my husband tosses out an idea. Mostly though, it's because I'm that special kind of not-right-in-the-head person who HAS to write. I truly enjoy writing. Luckily, having to wear a face mask at work keeps my coworkers from being disturbed by my evil grin when a particularly wicked story idea occurs to me. 

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your works?

Adventure, horror, sex and sexuality, and the fact that all sorts of side issues keep cropping up and interrupting my main characters' efforts to complete their Important Task or to find out what it even is. 

What would be your dream project? 

I haven't got a clue. Wait  ...yes I do. I would love to get a story accepted for an anthology I've been invited to and have it actually see publication IN MY LIFETIME. So far, something has halted publication of every anthology I've submitted to. 

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Anne McCaffrey, definitely. I wish I could be even half as good at world building and characterization as she was. Several authors I've encountered over the past decade or so at conventions have provided guidance and advice, either directly or on writing track panels. I also have tried to make my own unique voice in my writing, and I've noticed the development changes over the course of my book series. 

If you have any former project to do over and make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

Well, I'm already revamping the first 7 books of Waves of Darkness for re-release; revising to fix a few stylistic issues I've become aware of during my growth as awriter, reformatting for a different print size, and commissioning new cover art. I would like to redo season 1 of The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe with new, art and professional covers. I also plan to up my marketing game on all my projects. 2020 kind of did a number on my creativity and energy levels. 

Where would you rank writing on the "is it an art or is it a science" continuum? Why?

I think it depends on what type of writing. Both really apply to fiction, because you not only need a flair for good storytelling, but you need to research what your readers want, and you definitely need a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary. One of the few stories I DNF'd had good bones, but the author was too busy showing off his vocabulary of obscure, rarely used words. You don't want to dumb down your writing, but you don't want your readers having to go through several Google searches per paragraph just to understand WHAT they're reading. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Keeping track of story ideas when I come up with them at work, when I don't have access to scrap paper or my phone and have to stay conscious of my surroundings and the task at hand for safety purposes. 

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

I'm fortunate and privileged to know or follow a wide variety of writers, both in person and online. Granted, conventions are about the only times I get to interact in person, since my work schedule pretty much rules out attending local writing group meetings. Still, I get good advice at cons, and I learn quite a lot from news letters, blogs, and videos put out by other writers sharing their journey. I pick up various tips about style, current tropes, publishing processes (both traditional and indie), and what pitfalls and mistakes to avoid. I see what does and doesn't work for them, and I figure out my own methods from these. I never ever allow myself to be so arrogant as to think I have learned everything useful I can. 

What does literary success look like to you?

Hitting a best seller list would be nice, but it is not my definition of success. THAT is getting confirmation that people enjoy reading what I write as much as I enjoy writing it. I hit that mark when I encountered a fan online through a mutual friend during a Fandom discussion of Girl Genius. I made a mention in the thread about the book I was working on at the time, and she started fangirling on my series. She's up in Oregon, the opposite corner of the country from me, and had been introduced to my books by a friend of hers. I recently made her my alpha reader. 

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I really want to get my Waves of Darkness books into audio books. I've had interest expressed to me about this for a few years now. I still have some research to do on my options (besides ACX and Audible). But, I eventually WILL get this done. 

For more information, visit: for my blog, character profiles, book list, excerpts and deleted scenes, and a pretty nifty virtual convention dealers' room under the Pirates Cove & Hucksters Haven heading.