Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ralph's Rants Interviews Bobby Nash!

Bobby Nash Interview

Hello and welcome to another edition of Ralph’s Rants does interviews. This weeks victim, err guest is Author and TV actor Bobby Nash! Welcome Bobby, how are you?

BN: I’m good, Ralph. Thanks for having me. It’s an honor to be here. Can you untie me now?

Let’s get right to it, Bobby. When did you first start to realize you wanted to write? How old were you?

BN: Oh, man. I don’t recall an exact age, but I was pretty young. I started out wanting to draw comic books and started writing so I would have something to draw. Then other artists started asking me to write for them, and so on. One day, after a little advice from a friend, I realized that I was a much better writer than I was an artist. I decided to focus on the writing and here we are.

What was your first published piece? And by published I mean either web based or print?

BN: When I started writing there was no such thing as web based. Wow. Just admitting that made me feel old. Ha! Ha! I had several pieces published in local and school-related projects in those early days. I also worked on the high school newspapers and yearbook, which I guess counts. After that I worked on fanzines and independent comic books, some of which are all but impossible to find these days. I guess that’s the long way of saying that I really don’t remember which story was published first.

While most new pulp writers tend to write either stories set in the pulp era (30’s or 40’s) or the far flung per-historic past, you tend to write a lot in the here and now with books like “Evil Ways” or “Deadly Games”. And yes, I do realize you write Sci-fi as well. You’ll remember how much I liked “Samaritan”? So my question really is do you consider yourself a pulp writer or a writer? And is there a difference?

BN: I refer to myself as a writer, mainly because I don’t simply write in one genre or format. I love writing pulpy stories because they are a lot of fun, but I also enjoy telling modern day thrillers and other genres as well. I like to play the literary field, as it were. I have been called a pulp writer and a New Pulp writer before and I am proud of that. I do have trouble referring to myself as an author though, but I’m working on that. For now, I usually introduce myself as a writer.

Who, if any, of your characters do you most identify with? Which one is closest to Bobby Nash?

BN: Harold Palmer from Evil Ways is probably the character most analogous to me. When I started writing Evil ways I was taking an evening creative writing class at the University of Georgia. I read the scene where the brothers are talking in the diner after having not seen one another for a few years. One of the comments I received from multiple people was that the characters of Harold and Franklin Palmer didn’t “sound” like brothers. When I was doing my second draft I tried to imagine how my brother and I interact and talk with one another so I gave Franklin his mannerisms and Harold got mine. It helped me find a voice for those characters that really helped me define them. Harold Palmer may not look like me, but he does think and speak like I do.

Who is your favorite character that you enjoy going back to again and again?

BN: This question has a different answer depending on the day of the week. I know it’s kind of cliché to say, but my characters are like my children. It’s hard to have a favorite. That being said, I’ve revisited Lance Star: Sky Ranger, Doc Dresden, and Domino Lady several times and am working on Harold Palmer’s next thriller now.

Now here’s a tough one, who is the favorite character you had to kill off that perhaps you wished you didn’t?

BN: I wrote a graphic novel called Yin Yang for Arcana a few years back. There is a character in the book who was created with the sole purpose of being murdered by the villain. His name was Major Magnificent and I knew he was going to die the moment I created him. Unfortunately, I really got to like the character while writing him. It was work-for-hire so I don’t own the character so nothing ever came from it, but he became very special to me. It made writing his funeral scene better, I think.

You have sequels to several of your books coming out in 2013, care to share which ones and what the new books are called?

BN: Yes. 2013 is the year of the sequel for me. I’m currently working on FBI Special Agent Harold Palmer’s next thriller, Evil Intent. I’m also working on the long-delayed Lance Star: Sky Ranger novel called “Cold Snap!”, a follow up to Deadly Games! called Deadly Hearts!, and I’m revisiting Domino Lady as she meets up with a fairly well-known character. Should be fun. Plus, I have a few other projects in there too I can’t talk about yet. Keep watching my website, for more details when I can spill them.

What is your favorite era to write in? The past? Current time? Or the future?

BN: That’s another one where the answer probably changes from day to day. I love working in the present, but I’ve spent a lot of time writing characters in the 30’s and 40’s and I find myself enjoying the challenges of each. If a detective learns there’s going to be an assassination attempt on the other side of the city and he’s 60 miles away, the obstacles that could prevent the detective from stopping the villain are different in 1930 as they would be in 2013. Not being able to communicate is less feasible today. The future is fun to visit every now and then as well, but I always come back to the present.

You’ve done a lot of collaborations in the form of anthologies before, for the various new pulp labels, do you have any more coming up soon?

BN: I do. Anthologies are fun. Not only does it allow you to play with characters or genres you might not get to regularly, you get to meet and have your work featured alongside some fantastic creators. I’ve been very blessed to work on some really great anthologies. With my focus on novels this year, I’m writing fewer stories for anthologies than normal, although there are some previously written that have not come out yet. Some I can’t talk about yet, but I’m working on a Rick Ruby pulp P.I. story for The Ruby Files Vol. 2 and a few others, a couple of which are based on Old Time Radio shows. Also, IDW’s third Zombies vs. Robots prose book is coming soon, which features one of my stories.

Only last week you had an “extra” role in the new Kevin Bacon show “The Following” How was that experience?

BN: That was a blast. I love doing the extra gigs. I recently started a new day job to help pay those pesky bills so my days as an extra are done for awhile. The Following was a fun three days for me. I was there for all of the parts set in the command center and the storming of a suspect’s house. It was a great time. I met some great people on the cast, crew, and in extras holding while we waited to do our thing. I also met a real life FBI agent who I was able to speak with as part of researching Evil Intent, which was very cool.

Is this the first time you’ve had an extra’s spot on a TV program?

BN: No. I’ve been in a few things, mostly in the “don’t blink or you’ll miss me” or “there’s my elbow” category. I was in several football game scenes for Necessary Roughness, Hall Pass, Detroit 187, The Three Stooges (haven’t seen this one yet), Wanderlust, Level Up, a couple of pilots that didn’t get picked up, a couple commercials, and The Following. I enjoy watching the process. It’s a lot of fun, but very long days.

Did you get to meet Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy (Who by the way played ‘Solomon Kane’ in the adaptation of Robert E. Howards Puritan hero in a movie of the same name. Though you probably knew that already.)

BN: I met Kevin Bacon briefly. We were watching the scene right before the girl with the icepick does her thing. They were reshooting the scene before Kevin goes out and he came over and stood beside me and we exchanged pleasantries. I didn’t meet James Purefoy, but I did sit at the next table over from him and Natalie Zea at lunch one day. As extras, we’re told not to bother the actors, which I respect since they’re there working. I’ve found that it’s a far friendlier atmosphere on a TV set where the actors aren’t shuffled off to trailers after the director calls cut.

So what does 2013 hold for Bobby Nash? How many books are you scheduled to publish this year?

BN: A lot. I hope. I have several projects in the works at all times and my schedule is always in flux as rush gigs and unexpected opportunities pop up. As I mentioned earlier, I started a new day job so that will also impact my writing time because there’s now 60 - 70 hours a week I’m not around my computer to work. Of course, I wrote a good bit of my stories that way so it’s doable.

Any other TV gigs coming up we should be on the lookout for?

BN: There’s still more Necessary Roughness where I’m in the stands. I saw myself several times in last week’s episode, but all from the neck down because of the way the shot was cropped. I knew it was me. Ha! Ha! If there’s a good shot of me worthy of a screen capture, I’ll share it at, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, you name it.

Bobby, thanks for taking the time to do this it was a real pleasure talking to you and you were a real sport playing along with the interview process. Thanks a lot Bobby!

BN: It was my pleasure, Ralph. This was fun.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Monster Earth- A Review

Monster EarthMonster Earth by James Palmer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Monster Earth- A review

Monster Earth by Jim Beard, Edward M. Erdelac, Nancy Hansen, Jeff McGuiness, James Palmer, Fraser Sherman, and I.A. Watson was one of those special books that you can’t wait to start reading. It has that special magic about it, because of the subject matter, that really makes for a fun read. Now to be clear, this is NOT ‘things that go bump in the night’ type monsters. No, this is the kind of monster that tears down buildings, neighborhoods, airports and decimates things with atomic flame type of monsters. In other words, huge fun!
These stories were all told by someone who was sitting nearby watching the action or was some sort of other bystander, or in other cases a government employee or official. So you had a human issue with every one of these tales. These weren’t just crash and rend monster stories. They had soul and heart as well.
Jim Beard’s ‘Parade of Moments’ starts the book off with a pre- world war II story about the first recorded experience anyone had with a monster on this Earth. As not one but two of them appear in china and battle it out, ending in the destruction of one of the creatures. A lone reporter and cameraman recorded the entire event and became famous for it. This was the event that heralded the age of the monsters
The next story was by I.A Watson and was called ‘Happy Birthday Bobby Fetch’ This tale takes place in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. In our world that day was the day that will forever live in infamy. In this world things were no different, just the manner of which the Japanese did their dirty work was. Instead of starting a sneak attack with planes, they used a monster.
This story is more about personal sacrifice and honor above anything else, but must be read to be understood. It was a very good piece that I really enjoyed.
The third tale entitled ‘The Monsters Home’ By Jeff McGuiness was about America’s very own monster, a hairy beast called ‘Johnson’ who was entrusted to defending our shores from attack in the 1950’s. He was a 300’ tall mass of hair so thick you couldn’t even see his eyes. He had escaped on several occasions himself, but like most of the other stories within these pages he was really just a co-star in his own tale. This one centered on the denizens of an almost abandoned Los Angeles and another escape by the towering Johnson, and how it affected a cabbie, a bank teller a cop and a bank robber. This was a very interesting piece about throwing disparate people into a room together and seeing the result. In a way it reminded me of an old ‘Twilight Zone’ type of story.
The next tale is called ‘And a child shall lead them’ by the esteemed Nancy Hansen, concerned the 1960’s, a mystic gem and a slumbering snake woman/goddess several hundred feet tall. This tale was unique in that this was the only ‘monster’ in this book with intelligence. She was more of a mythical creature who was guarding her mystic gemstone from those who would exploit it. This story was about the greed of one small, petty man and how his greed cost lives as well as massive property damage. Another excellent cautionary tale with a pretty epic battle sequence between two gigantic creatures tearing up Boston pretty good.
‘Mighty Nanuq’ is by Edward M. Erdelac and is a generational take between a Grandfather and his Grandson that again takes place in the 1960’s though this story is in the tail end of it, and the majority of the story, told via flashback, concerns Nazi’s bringing their own monster to the top of the world to attack Canada as well as the United States. An excellent story as another monster, a legendary creature named ‘Nanuq’ appears to do battle with the Nazi’s hellish monstrosity.
‘Peace with Honor’ by Fraser Sherman is an early 1970 story centered on the Vietnam war and the communists attacks on South Vietnam with their flying monster, a giant bat to which the United States retaliated with the son of Johnson, simply named Junior. Another epic monster battle ensued as the two gigantic creatures clashed. This story was as much about each creature’s handlers as it was about the monsters themselves. These handlers each did what they could to control the beasts, for without them, both monsters would have been simply rampaging behemoths. There was as much fear of the combatant’s fellow man in this tale as there was of each monster. Another solid story.
‘Some Say in Ice’ by James Palmer is the final tale in this tome and takes place in the 1980’s as a tremendous ship designed just for capturing monsters is somewhere in the arctic searching for a never before seen beast. There is a gigantic creature here hiding under the ice and the American’s want it. As they try out their experimental ship and equipment, hope runs high that the vessel has what it takes to capture a creature so large it snacks on whales. This was a good story that left some unanswered questions at its end, of which I’m assuming will be answered in the next volume.
All in all this was a ‘Must Read’ book for those of us who grew up with Godzilla movies on a Saturday afternoon at the local cinema. Every story in this volume fed into the next one in one long continuous arc that spanned decades. I highly recommend this book, it was that good. Five stars.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Project AlphaProject Alpha by Lee Houston Jr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Project: Alpha By Lee Houston, Jr.
I just finished reading Project: Alpha and loved it. The ending surprised me and left the door open for more, which I am very happily awaiting.
What I liked about this book to start with, was the fact that it was something totally unexpected. It takes place in Earth’s dim, dark past yet is a very futuristic novel focusing on Good vs. Evil as well as clearing up one of the great mysteries of our solar system.
The plot synopsis is the story about a primitive tribesman in Earths dark past who is artificially evolved to the highest level of intelligence possible by an alien from the fifth planet in our solar system. The reason he is evolved is because this alien needs a champion to defeat the first being his experiments gave far reaching powers to.
For you see, there is more than just increased intelligence to Alpha’s powers. There is energy manipulation including force fields, energy blasts, a protective aura as well as interstellar flight.
Project: Alpha is definitely a Super-Hero tale and I like that. It’s a good, interesting read about a young man who is put into a horrible situation through no fault of his own. But being artificially evolved is also a new beginning for him. He was the smallest man in his tribe and was used for menial tasks because of that. By becoming ‘Alpha’ he is given his wildest dreams, the ability to escape his tribe and the dreary life he had been forced to live within it.
This novel was an unexpected cosmic journey for me. It was a grim and tragic tale that unfolded throughout the length of the book, but it was also a tale of hope and inspiration for the neophyte hero who in one novel learns he is not alone in the universe and that there is a more evolved race then his own race of savage cave dwellers out there.
This was a great book! A little grim at times but the reader can easily tell there is more to come and that this is part of a much larger tale. I for one am really looking forward to the next installment. Definitely 5 stars.

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Ralph's Rants interviews Joe Bonadonna!

Joe Bonadonna interview

Hello all and welcome back to another exciting episode of Ralph’s Rants interviews
This week we have the pleasure of interviewing the always interesting Joe Bonadonna.
Hello Joe and how are you doing today?

I’m fine, Ralph, thank you. And thank you for this opportunity.

Joe, let’s get right to it, when did you start writing?

Fifth grade, 1963-1964. A sequel to “Nightmare,” an episode of the original Outer Limits television show. I wrote a couple of things later on in grade school, too, and in high school—kids’ stuff, really. But I didn’t get into it until about 1970, after reading Tolkien and Robert E. Howard. I futzed around all through the 70s, bouncing back and forth between writing and playing in rock and roll bands. I sold 3 or 4 stories to a couple of fanzines—including a version of the Dorgo the Dowser tale, Mad Shadows—but as so often happened with these fan magazines back in the day, they folded before I got published. I did come “thisclose” to having a sword and sorcery novel published by Bantam Books back in 1980, but before contracts could be signed they brought in a new editor, changed their minds about me, and started getting away from that genre, concentrating more on romance novels. That took the wind out of my sails for a time.

What was your first published piece?

In 1984, another fanzine came along, called Orion’s Child. My story, Weegee’s Third Wish, was published in the premier issue, which also featured stories by friend and sometime writing partner David C. Smith, Richard L. Tierney, and even a story donated by Ray Bradbury. We all shared the cover, which was quite a rush for me. OC also published my sequel, The Curious Reversal of Ajo the Bear. Stories by Janet Fox, friend and mentor Ted C. Rypel, and another by David C. Smith were also included, and once again I was thrilled. My name didn’t make the cover on this one, though, lol! OC bought a third story from me, another version of Mad Shadows, but alas, they went under and that was it for Dorgo, until I published Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, through iUniverse, in 2011.

Did you always want to write fantasy/action/adventure?

Yep! My Dad introduced me to reading, Greek mythology and films at an early age. I was always turned on by films like King Kong, Gunga Din, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Hercules, Hercules Unchained, Spartacus, Forbidden Planet, and scores of other genre films. I devoured almost every fantasy, and sword & sorcery novel published or republished between 1968 and around 1985 or so, when I got totally burned out on the genres. I continued to read science fiction and some horror for a time, while getting into mysteries, hard-boiled detective, westerns, World War II thrillers, and a lot of the old pulp magazine stories. I was born and started reading in the days when pulp magazines were still everywhere magazines were sold. I devoured space opera and sword & planet, and a variety of pulp adventure tales. Then I started reading the Black Mask authors, and novels like The Postman Always Rings Twice, Nightmare Alley, Thieves Like Us, and The Real Cool Killers. I’ve read everything by Raymond Chandler, and I’m still working my way through Dashiell Hammett’s body of work. I don’t read as much or as often as I used to, but I sample some new sword and sorcery, and some of the New Pulp. Most of my reading nowadays is westerns, and the Black Mask gang. I like reading classics from the decades between 1920 and 1950—books published before I was born. I have a soft spot for Mickey Spillane, too.

What is your favorite piece of your own that has been published?

While I am very proud of the new one, Three Against The Stars, and the next one, Waters of Darkness, which I co-authored with David C. Smith, I have to say that Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, is my favorite. I’ve sold two new tales of Dorgo, and plan to include them with another novella in a “sequel,” to MS. Dorgo is closest to my heart.

Is there some part of Joe Bonadonna in ‘Dorgo the Dowser’ or O’Hara (From ‘Three against the Stars’) ?

Definitely. O’Hara’s persona is a little bit of me, but he’s also based on several people I know, one of whom was my foreman for 31 years—a Viet Nam veteran, and one of those guys that the saying “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” fits perfectly. O’Hara’s name is taken from the Joe Sawyer character on the old “Rin-Tin-Tin” television show. But he’s very much my homage to Victor McLaglen’s many roles as a sergeant in film director John Ford’s westerns, and most of all to his character of MacChesney in Gunga Din. As for Dorgo, his sarcasm and one-liners, his friendships and romantic troubles with women—these are “me,” and are based on my own experiences. That’s true of many of my characters. One young character holds the hand of a dying comrade. He looks at Dorgo and says, “I was holding my mother’s hand, just like this, when she died.” I was holding my Mom’s hand when she died. I didn’t even think about using that in the story. It just happened. I aim for the heart when I write. I’m not really interested in writing for the brain, making people think. What have I got to say, what wisdom or philosophy have I to give that haven’t already been thought of? It would just be my opinion, anyway, or I’d be repeating what others have already set down in writing. To press the “emotion button,” to make the reader laugh and cry, to make the reader feel is far more of a challenge than making them think.

What is the best part of writing novels for you right now?

When I know what I’m doing and where I’m going with a story. When I have all the characters down, when I have all the questions answered. When I can get “into the zone” and just let ‘er rip. I like it when the characters take over, when I have no control over them. I just type away until they stop. After that, I take over and use only what I think serves the story best. I love the interplay between the characters. One of the things that endear me to someone’s character is their “attitude,” their sense of humor. I try to win readers over with humor and the interaction between characters. I take my inspiration from old movies and TV shows. As for right now? I’ve slammed on the breaks. Too many other things in life are happening now.

And the worst?

Facing the keyboard (or pen and paper) and having no clue what to do and where to go. Fear of the blank screen. Having the switch turned off. Hitting that block, that wall. Sometimes you can smash through it. Sometimes you have to detour around it. Sometimes you have to wait for inspiration. I’m detouring around it right now. Whether I have to wait for inspiration remains to be seen. But I’ve published novels in 2011 and 2012, and have another coming out this year, around March. I also sold 2 novellas and a short story last year, and am working on another for my first shared-world experience. For me, this is a lot. So maybe my mind is on vacation for a while.

How do you feel about the process of getting published? Unnecessarily strenuous? Or rite of passage?

It’s both, I believe. And I had my share of both back in the 70s and 80s with my near-misses and frustrations. Let me back up a little, here. My first book, Mad Shadows, was self-published through iUniverse. That sort of led to my Three Against The Stars being published by Airship27 Productions. Then, when Dave Smith wanted to take Waters of Darkness to Damnation Books, who published his Dark Muse, they snatched it up less than 36 hours after he sent them the manuscript. What makes my experience so unbelievable is that I’m working with people I first made contact with back in the mid and late 1970s. Charles Saunders, Ron Fortier and I belonged to the same writing group: SPWAO, the Small Press Writers and Artists’ Organization. Through Charles I met Dave Smith, through Dave I met Ted C. Rypel, whose excellent, 5-volume sword and sorcery saga about Gonji the Samurai, is being republished by Borgo Press. Little did I know that, 30-odd years later, the circle is complete. Getting back to your question, I’m starting to learn my “market,” and when I write something I have a pretty good idea to whom I’m going to pitch the idea, or submit the file. It’s still strenuous, still hard work. It’s a new rite of passage, too.

You and I have talked at length about companies like ‘iUniverse’ and ‘Publish America’ before, do you feel they are harmful or helpful in getting new authors published?

Personally, I found it helpful. I know there are a lot of punches thrown at vanity and self-publishing, but this is a new day, a new age, and we must change with the times or be left behind. We must embrace all the new technology that makes it possible to get published without an agent and a traditional publisher. And I don’t buy into that, “If you don’t got an agent that means you ain’t no good.” That’s a load of crap. We all know that there is plenty of junk published by the big mainstream houses. Just as I know guitarists who can wipe the floor with Eddie Van Halen, but never got the big break, I know some indie writers out there who make Stephen King and JK Rowling look like rank amateurs. Now, that being said, Mad Shadows got my name out there. It opened doors and introduced me to publishers and other writers, too. There are now opportunities, even offers to collaborate and join in a “shared world” universe. If I hadn’t attended the Windy City Pulp and Paperback Convention in 2011, I might not have met up with Ron Fortier again, or met so many great writers and people working in the New Pulp arena. And what’s cool is how much I’ve learned just this past year, and what I’ve been learning this year.

The genre called ‘New Pulp’ has been good to us both, what do you feel about the way New Pulp has opened doors to so many authors who have obviously been waiting to get published before this, but had the proverbial doors slammed in their faces by so-called ‘Traditional’ publishers?

I think this a marvelous thing going on, this New Pulp movement. There’s a market out there that wants to read more stories featuring their favorite heroes, and New Pulp is filling that need. At the same time, New Pulp is constantly introducing new writers, new characters, new adventures to the world at large. I think mainstream publishing is missing a great opportunity here. But they’re too involved with searching for the “next big thing,” looking for more sparkly vampires, teenage wizards, 19th century novelists mashed-up with 21st century writers and stories, and presidents slaying all sorts of wicked things that go bump in the night. That’s all well and good. There’s a market for that stuff. But there are many “next big thing” authors and novels and characters being published every month by the New Pulp houses. And for those of us who know, no kudos are necessary. But for those who don’t . . . pulp fiction is more than a brand and a type; it’s a literary art form, noble and honorable. It goes almost as far back as Gutenberg’s great invention that first ran on muscles, sweat and ink. Charles Dickens, for instance, made his bones writing for “pulp magazines.” And just look at the vast number of writers who got their start writing for the pulps, authors who are now revered, people like Chandler, Hammett, HPL, REH, Ray Bradbury. The list is endless. “And that’s a good thing,” as Martha Stewart would say.

What is your next project or projects?

I’m preparing a promotional video trailer for Waters of Darkness, gearing up for my book-signing at this year’s Windy City Con, and working on marketing and promotion for my books. Besides getting some work done on the next Dorgo novel, I’m trying to work up an outline for a sword and planet sequel to Three Against The Stars, based on a nugget of a premise. I also have a partial and very rough draft for a sequel to Waters of Darkness. Vampire and zombie novels may be on the table, too. Maybe a novelized biography of my 20 years playing in rock and roll bands; I’ve been toying around and writing a couple of new songs, too. I’ve even thought of writing about my childhood and youth, but honestly—Angels with Dirty Faces, Mean Streets, Good Fellas, a Bronx Tale, and a few other films have already done it better than I probably could, lol!

Final question: When people ask you what do you do for a living, do you answer with “I’m a writer”?

Well, I don’t consider myself a writer, in a sense, because I don’t write for a living. I do tell people that I’m retired, that I write and network every day. I was forced into retirement 3 years ago. It’s hard enough to find jobs these days, especially at the age of 61. I’m just grateful to be in the position to retire early. And I’m blessed to have all these wonderful things happening to me, to have met and to continue to meet so many great writers and wonderful people. Life is grand!

Thanks Joe! Everyone give Mr. Bonadonna a round of applause for joining us this week. Who knows? Next week it could be YOU!

Thanks, Ralph! All the best to you and yours.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pro Se Presents #16

Pro Se Presents 16Pro Se Presents 16 by Nancy Hansen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pro-Se Presents #16 A Review
I like this series. I just wanted to get that out of the way before I started. The idea of a monthly short story anthology of pulp stories may have been done all the time seventy years ago, but not today. This was the all Nancy Hansen issue this month with two very distinct and different stories by Nancy.
The first story is called ‘The Keener eye: Our Crosses to bear’. This was a tale about a female private eye who gets caught up in something a bit above her head when a husband and wife hire her to track down their missing daughter. The story was well crafted and had its fair share of revelations by the tales end, but something about it did not sit right with me. I really didn’t care for the story that much. In fact one of the characters (Gwen) I found outright annoying.
Still, it was a well scripted modern day yarn with a decent mystery running through it concerning the disappearance of a troubled teen at a camp for troubled teens and how Kate Keener solved this mystery. The entire tale culminated decently. I knew some of the areas where the story took place in personally so it had that going for it as well. Honestly, it was not my type of story. That’s not Nancy’s fault though. I’d have to give this story *** (3) stars.

Now the second tale, “The Song of Heroes: Dark eyes of the night’ was much more like it for me. This story was about mythical creatures doing battle at night in a modern day port town. The heroine of the piece was a Siren named Lori, as in Lorelei. This immortal woman has become a prostitute and was doing more than just trawling for Johns; she was hunting Vampires, who had infested this town as well as several others nearby. It seems that Lori has other weapons besides her voice with which to battle her deadly foes. Early on in the story Lori is saved from being brutalized by a nest of vampires when Enrique, who is actually hunting the blood suckers, breaks up their attack on her and saves her from at least being hurt badly. Sirens are immortals you see, and they heal quickly. While their real weapon is their song. A song that will entrance any man, leaving him helpless.
Lori and her new beau Enrique are together for many months. In that time Lori stops posing as a prostitute to draw vamps out into the street, where they can be dealt with. You see Lori has one other power as well, a mystic bracelet with which she can summon the great heroes out of legend to join her and kill the foul blood sucking vampires.
All in all this was a GREAT tale for me. The only drawback I found on this one was the ending which was exactly what I expected it to be. It would have been nice to be surprised at stories end. Still, there’s no doubt this was a five star story to me. It had everything I wanted in it and I truly enjoyed it. This story was a bases loaded down three runs in the bottom of the ninth grand slam home run. ***** (5) stars!
And THAT’s the way I like it!

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Ralph's Rants Interviews "Monstrous" author Jim Beard

Jim B Interview
Hello and welcome to Ralphs rants does interviews

This weeks guest is none other than the prolific, imaginative as well as all around nice guy, Jim Beard.

Lets get right to it, Jim; What event in your life made you want to write?

Maybe I’m not so nice – let’s find out! No single event really, just seems like I’ve always been interested in creative writing. I can remember summer vacations from school where me and the kid next door tried to write a ‘super hero encyclopedia’ but gave up after a few pages…hmm, that’s a trend that’s continued into adulthood  But again, writing has always been in my blood, even though I’m trained as a visual artist and have a degree in it.

What was your first published piece, Either web based or print?

As a writer, my first professional published piece was the profile pages in HAWKMAN SECRET FILES #1 for DC Comics way back in 2002. I had actually written my “Stormchasers” story for JLA/JSA SECRET FILES #1 first, but the Hawkman book was published first. Those profile pages were later reprinted in the first two Hawkman trades.

Where and how did you hone your craft?

I think there’s probably more than a few people who would argue that my craft isn’t that honed  I had intended to be a comic book writer, but after a few gigs the industry went into lockdown mode and wasn’t really interested in having a new barbarian like me breach its defenses. So, I found my path to pulp fiction in 2011 and have been honing that ol’ craft ever since, I guess.

You’ve been published in two novels as well as one anthology (That I know of) in the past year, and have another about ready to pop, as well as another novel you’ve mentioned, a sequel to Sgt. Janus, What else are you planning?

Let’s see – I have six finished short stories that are in with publishers and waiting to be released, and I’m currently working on, yes, the next book in the Sgt. Janus series, SGT. JANUS RETURNS. After that it’s a short tale for Barry Reese’s Rook series and then onto Book II of CAPTAIN ACTION. Then…well, I have some thoughts on what to do, but things change way too quickly in this biz to hammer it all into stone.

Was this your first year of having novels published?

2012 was my first year as a published fiction writer. In December of 2010, I put out a book of critical essays on the 1966 Batman TV series called GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES.

Of the characters you’ve created, which is the one closest to your heart, and why?

That would be Sgt. Janus, of course. You know, its funny; if you had told me years and years ago that I would someday create and have published an Edwardian occult detective character, I would have scratched my head and asked if he would have a colorful costume and secret cave from which he fought crime. It would never have occurred to me back then that such a thing would well up from somewhere deep inside of me and grip me as it has. I just finished the first new Janus tale for the second book and it was a joy to return to that world.

Which of the ‘classic’ pulp characters is your favorite, and has influenced you the most?

Doc Savage all the way, baby. I dig The Shadow and The Spider and all the others, but its Doc and his adventures that engage me like no other. With Doc, all things are possible and all worlds are open for exploration.

Which writer from pulps classic era has been most influential to you?

Lester Dent is still the prototypical pulp writer for me. He says it all and with brevity and wit.

Which era do you prefer writing in? The dim past? The golden age of pulp? The modern (Current ) era or the future?

Overall, I think I still prefer the classic 1930s/1940s era, but, as in Sgt. Janus, I have a great admiration for the World War I period, as well as the Victorian era. That said, writing a Captain Action novel set in the 1960s was a hoot and a half, too.

What does the future hold for Jim Beards writing and publishing schedule?

(answered that in a previous question)

Finally what is your favorite thing about being a new pulp author?

That I found a form of fiction that I feel comfortable writing within and that it makes my imagination soar. Pulp encompasses so much, and the style can adapted to anything at all – any genre, any setting, and group of characters. And it’s all about adventure.

And what is your least favorite?

That I can’t be involved in every single project that passes my way. Seriously. I want to write it all and there just isn’t enough hours in the day to do so. That still bugs me.

And that’s it for this week’s interview. I want to thank Jim Beard for playing along. Be on the lookout for his brand new book “Monster Earth” It’s sure to be a fun read.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ralph's Rants interviews the Godfather of new pulp, Tommy Hancock

Ralph’s Rants does Interviews

Welcome to the new addition to my page, interviews. Our first victim is none other than the Godfather of New Pulp, the guiding force and Partner in/Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, the esteemed Tommy Hancock! (Now would be a good time to clap, people.)

Tommy, you and I know each other about ten to twelve years stemming back to our fanfic days at the various sites, Was that your first foray into writing? Or were you always interested, or let me clarify, was that your first actual “published” work? (Meaning seen by anyone else, on either website or paper)

Fiction wise, yes, the halcyon days of early internet fanfic were the period where my first stories were published. Having said that, I was a published writer at age 14, having a recurring column in the local newspaper for about two years. I also did quite a bit of time doing movie reviews and articles for my college newspaper.

Do you remember what your first published story was? (What I mean by published again, is by web site or paper.)

Sure, if you’re talking about my fiction. Renaissance De Novo #1 with the DCFutures Fanfiction group back in 1997. My take on legacy heroes based on Golden Age ancestors in a dystopian future. Sort of a futuristic All Star Squadron in a world where the legend of the Golden Agers had become far more than the fact.

Were you always interested in pulp or did that come about later on?

I honestly think I was born with an interest in Pulp and most popular culture from the period of the heydays of the Pulps. While other kids weren’t reading, I was haunting K-mart looking for the latest Doc Savage omnibus, hiding a radio under my covers at night listening to old time radio shows, and memorizing every single line in The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca (all by age 13). So, I’ve always had the interest. What came about later was the ability to read the stories I hungered for. The advent of reprints and especially of the internet and the fact that many of the tales from the Pulps are Public domain all contributed to me getting to read thousands of characters.

How did you discover your affection for pulp? You obviously have a great deal of it because I have never spoken to anyone as passionate about a subject as you are about New Pulp.

I don’t think I discovered a passion for Pulp. Like I said before, it’s always been there. As for New Pulp, I think what you sense there is a true fan of what he once thought was a lost style of writing discovering that it wasn’t lost at all, it just went under different names for a long time. New Pulp is an opportunity for a style forged in the crucible of the early 20th Century and hardened in the Depression to continue brightly into the 21st Century and, using the same trappings, allow different writers to spread their own messages to the masses.

Who is your favorite “old” pulp character?

That’s a hard question to answer as so many of them appeal to me. I have a special place in my heart for The Suicide Squad-Klaw, Kerrigan, and Murdoch- but my ultimate favorite would have to be Dorus Noel, a strange detective type created by Arthur J. Burks.

Who is your favorite “New” one?

Again, difficult to answer. And to be honest, with the stance I take on New Pulp of promoting it as a whole thing and pushing it all, it’s one I can’t answer. I have a ton of favorites- The Rook, Dillon, any lead in a Jack Tunney story, Stephen Jared’s Jack, and many, many more….

What about other types of fiction? Who was/is your favorite comic book superhero, and why?

There are other types of fiction? Here’s where my blanket statement comes in. While not every INSERT GENRE HERE story is pulp, there is pulp in INSERT SAME GENRE here, so I read multiple genres, even romance, IF the Pulpiness is there.

My favorite comic book super heroes actually populate the same time frame as my other interests-the Golden Age of American Pop Culture in the 20th Century. Some choices for this list include Johnny Thunder, The original Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel and his entire family, and more.

To me, new pulp seems to be growing quite nicely, am I correct in surmising that? Have you seen growth in the industry from last year to this?

Growth is an elusive statistic to track when talking about New Pulp. Are there more writers than last year? Yes. Are there more companies? Probably, although some have come and gone. Are we selling more? That’s the hard part to determine on an industry/market wide basis. Pro Se’s doing well, so well that we’re making some major expansions. I see hints of growth and expansion from other New Pulp mainstays as well. Also, mainstream media is catching on to the Pulp wave a bit more it appears, what with more Pulp characters appearing in Comics and more movies and shows and such having Pulpy themes and characters, if not calling themselves Pulp outright. So is the industry growing? I don’t know, but as a movement, New Pulp is gathering momentum every time a new page is published.

Where do you see Pro Se in twelve months from now? And in Twenty four?

The next twelve months are already planned, plotted, and underway at Pro Se. We’ll be releasing new imprints, projects, lines, and surprises that I think fans of New Pulp will love. We continue to bring in new writers, both those new to the profession and those who are new to New Pulp. We are focused on Pulp Ark 2013, the Convention/Creator’s Conference sponsored by Pro Se. There’s even a new product or two looming on the horizon.

As far as 24 months, I can’t really say for certain for a month or two more. I will say that 2013 is a very important year in what Pro Se is setting up. It’s been sort of like pre game prep until now, although a ton of work has gone into that prep. 2014 will be the year that steps onto the field are taken in major ways, using everything developed from 2010 forward.

What exactly got you interested in starting a publishing house?

Well, I didn’t exactly start Pro Se. My partner in the company, Fuller Bumpers, actually started the company and brought me into it to produce something we could sell and have fun making. My background was in writing, audio acting, and stage acting and Fuller brought a different sort of writing as well as Movie, Film, and TV experience to the mix. We tried our hand at audio drama for a bit, but after my first Pulp tale was published in 2010, we saw opportunity to not only hopefully one day make our way with a publishing house, but to also be a leader in a growing and vibrant movement that hadn’t even really come into its own yet. At the time, there were very few monthly Pulp magazines (and there still aren’t many), so we started our journey into New Pulp Publishing with our magazine line. Now we have our Magazine in a new incarnation and volume, several anthologies, several novels, two author based imprints as well an imprint dedicated to rare Pulp characters cross promoted with Altus Press’ reprints, and that’s just what’s in the house now.

Almost last question; is there anything you would like to tell the world that they don’t know about you already?

No, not really. I’m sure there are things, but if I used them here, then I’d waste time denying them later and wouldn’t have fodder for later interviews.

Finally last question: Do you remember this?

Wow. Actually, this one I do remember quite well as it’s on my list of ‘projects that changed my direction’. This began as a Green Arrow fanfiction idea that very quickly, before the first page was ever done, grew into its own story and one that sits in my unfinished file that I plan to pull out and shine up one day and actually complete. Unlike a few of my ideas from those days, which are so strongly tied to their source material that they can’t really be made into anything else, Brotherhood of the Bow definitely has legs all its own.

Okay folks that’s it for today’s guest, the inestimable Tommy Hancock Lets have a round of applause for the Godfather of New Pulp!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Spider Vs. The Empire State

The Spider vs. The Empire State: The Complete Black Police TrilogyThe Spider vs. The Empire State: The Complete Black Police Trilogy by Norvell W. Page
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Spider Vs. The Empire State
The Spider Vs. The Empire state is a true pulp novel set in 1938, in fact it was actually written then as part of ‘the Spider’ pulp series of books that appeared every month. This is actually a compilation novell as it contains all three original monthly novels in one volume (‘The Spider- The City That Paid to die’, ‘The Spider- The Spider at Bay’ and ‘The Spider-Scourge of the Black Legions’) All written by Norvell Page.
This novel is an allegory concerning the Nazi movement of the 30’s that was sweeping Germany. It also touches on socialism as well, mentioning the horrors of Soviet Russia several times.
This is a hard core novel with the Spider going through hell and back to save New York State, which had fallen under a puppet governor whose strings were being pulled from the shadows by a man only known as ‘The Master’. A new state-wide police force was instituted called the ‘Black Police’ who collected tax upon tax and fine upon fine on the backs of the citizenry. There are hangings, whippings, bombings and various other methods of death being instituted upon the populace by the rogue government.
This is an exciting and thrilling novel written in a different era, but in a writing style we should all be envious of. Colorful and exciting, the story keeps you mesmerized, wanting not to put the four hundred eighteen page novel down, for the most part.
The middle book at times became overly long it seemed and in spots the story dragged somewhat. There was a portion of the book that became very repetitious with repeated captures and escapes as well as many flights in stolen planes between Albany and Manhattan. That was the only portion of the book I can be critical of, as I felt, even if it did further the story, it was too much of the same, again and again.
All in all this was an excellent book which was like looking through a time machine at a simpler era, though not so far removed that it was unidentifiable. You could feel the fear of the populace as the Master forced his machinations upon the people through his stooges. If I could rate a book 4 ½ stars I would for this one. For fans of the pulp era this is a ‘Must Read’ with its grim and taught storytelling (For most of the volume anyway.) While some of the evils done here would be considered exaggerated and done in the need of fantastic storytelling, this piece can be considered a nervous warning for the times.
A little wordy in spots, and perhaps a bit too long, but a very good read that held my attention throughout. It was like peering into a very frightening world which was just outside the window, but slightly off kilter.

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