Saturday, March 30, 2013

James Palmer Interview

James Palmer Interview

Hi and welcome to another edition of ‘Ralph’s Rants does Interviews’. Our guest this week is none other than James Palmer author and guiding force behind such books as the ‘Monster Earth’ Anthology. Hello James and Welcome.

So what made you decide to become a writer?
I’m not sure it was any one thing. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager, and probably long before then, as I’ve always loved using my imagination and making worlds in my head.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing professionally since 2000, starting off with articles and reviews. From there, I migrated into business journalism and then copywriting. Now I’m back to fiction.

Judging from your resume, your stories seem to have a sci-fi bent to them. Is Sci-Fi your favorite medium?

I’d say science fiction is definitely my preferred medium, but it’s not all I write in. I also enjoy weird horror and steampunk, and I’ve written alternate history, adventure, superhero pulp, and weird western fiction.

Who is your favorite character to write so far? Is it one you created or an existing character?
My favorite existing character so far I can’t reveal just yet, because the book containing my story isn’t out yet. I also wrote a story for Barry Reese’s The Rook, but I created my own Rook for that one. My favorite character of my own creation so far is probably Sam Eldritch, Occult Investigator for Hire. He’s a 30’s era private eye whose partner was killed by a demon and granted the ability to see the ghosts and monsters lurking just under the veil of every day reality.

What era do you prefer to write in? The future, the past or the present?

I like future and near future, but the past can also be fun. I find that the past and even the present require a bit more research. The hardest thing to me about writing most pulp is researching what a place you’ve never been was like in 1932.

What are you favorite type of characters to write? Strong men? Strong Women? Average Joe’s who have to step up and do the extraordinary?

Probably average Joes. I like exploring what makes a hero a hero, taking a person who has no heroic qualities and then putting them in a situation where they have to step up and be the hero because there’s no one else who will do it.

Let’s discuss Mechanoid Press, your own imprint. What made you decide to go that route?

It’s just the natural progression of a writer these days. Since I’m going to be at least partially publishing my own stuff myself, I knew I needed an imprint. It looks better than having your books on Amazon say “published by: Createspace” or something. And while I was going that far, I figured I might as well put out anthologies and publish other writers.

So far Monster earth is on Mechanoid Press, what other upcoming books do you have coming out on your label?

In the works right now are a weird western anthology, as well as an e-book only trio of robot-themed stories called Robot Stories, featuring tales by Joel Jenkins and James R. Tuck (author of the Deacon Chalk Occult Bounty Hunter series). I’m also working on a series of weird west short stories that I plan on releasing individually. Then of course there’s Monster Earth 2 coming at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

When do you work best as far as writing/editing/creating? At night or during the day?

Well, I have a family and a day job, so I don’t always get to create when it is most conducive. But I’ve carved out a schedule that works well enough for me. I write on my lunch hour, and the odd Saturday or Sunday. And when I’m not at the keyboard, I’m usually thinking about what I’m going to write or create next.

What do you consider to be your greatest attribute as a writer?

That’s a great question. I’ve never been asked that before. I think my greatest attribute as a writer is the greatest attribute of any writer: the willingness to keep on pushing ahead, to never, ever quit no matter what obstacles are placed in our way.

Who has influenced your writing the most?

There’s been so many, even if I don’t write what they do they way they do. Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow. Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft are probably my biggest pulp influences. I really admire Kevin J. Anderson’s work ethic and they way he treats writing as a business.

Any projects that you want to plug here, past or present, feel free.

In addition to Monster Earth, I also have some solo e-books. Slow Djinn is the first in what I hope will be a series of urban fantasy, Lovecraftian noir tales about a private eye named Sam Eldritch. I also have a short collection of four weird horror stories called Four Terrors: Weird Horror Tales, collecting some of my previously published work in that genre.

I also have a story in Van Allen Plexico’s Blackthorn: Thunder on Mars ( which is kind of a Thundaar the Barbarian on Mars, and was a lot of fun to write.

I’ve got a lot more stuff coming, so stay tuned. People can check out my website at,, or find me on Facebook. I’m also on Twitter @palmerwriter and @mechanoidpress.

James thanks for joining us it was a pleasure talking to you. And thank YOU readers for joining us. We’ll be back before you know it with another ‘Ralph’s Rants does interviews’

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Destiny of Fu Manchu- Revealed!

The Destiny of Fu ManchuThe Destiny of Fu Manchu by William Patrick Maynard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Destiny of Fu Manchu

Having recently read the terror of Fu Manchu I decided to read the sequel to William Patrick Maynard’s first Fu Manchu Novel. I found the follow up to be a novel I truly enjoyed. This one did not follow the exploits of Dr. Petrie, who was captured in the beginning of the book, but rather an adult version of one of the children he had saved some twenty years earlier in the previous volume.
The adventure begins in Egypt and then returns to Britain and soon all over Europe and Asia, as a race against time ensues to put a halt to Fah Lo Suee’s (Here calling herself for most of the novel ‘Helga Gruamann’) grand scheme as she worked for her father, the devil Doctor, Fu Manchu.
Fu’s plot was devilishly evil and would destroy most of the world’s population if successful. This tale took place before the start of World War II, in fact the world was on the brink of war, but for now pre-occupied with Fu Manchu and his Si-Fan’s evil machinations, even to the point of Britain and France foolishly joining with Germany and Hitler, as well as Mussolini and Italy to stop Fu Manchu’s evil.
There were several very good fast paced sections of this book that as a whole held my attention perfectly. I thought this book was excellent. It was a classy, superbly written mystery and adventure novel about one man caught up in something far larger than he had ever envisioned existing. It brought that man’s view of the world to a new level, making him realize there are far larger concerns out there then he had ever imagined.
William Patrick Maynard’s ‘Destiny of Fu Manchu’ is a thoroughly satisfying novel that engrosses the reader in rich locales as well as its insidiously evil plots and macabre characters and sinister situations.
Sax Rohmer would be proud. Five well deserved stars.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Ralph's Rants Interviews Ron Fortier!

Ron Fortier interview

Hello my friends and welcome to another edition of Ralphs Rants does interviews! The man we dragged kicking and screaming into the hot seat this week is none other than one of the few people whose name is synonymous with the term ‘New Pulp’. The guiding hand behind ‘Airship 21’ publications and general brain trust behind the entire new pulp movement, The Captain, Ron Fortier! Welcome Ron!

Ron, let’s get right to it, how long have you been writing, and what was your first published work?
I first got the writing bug as a teenager after having become a devoted comic book reader. Even back then I knew I wanted to work in that field of creativity. Alas my drawing skills were rudimentary and so I turned my focus on becoming a writer. Took all the Lit classes I could, joined the journalism club etc.etc. My first ever published professional work was a 12 pg space opera comic strip called “Duel In the Stars.” It was completely illustrated and lettered by artist Gary Kato and appeared in Charlton Comic’s Bullseye issue # 3. That was the start of it all.

Was writing a first love for you? Or was it something you discovered later on?

Well, writing itself wasn’t my first love; reading was as I explained above. After comics I graduated to paperback thrillers and by the time I was a sophomore in high school I had read over 300 hundred books. Obviously that love of good storytelling had to invariably tempt me to try my own hand at it; first with the comics career and later in prose. Note, I’m still an avid reader and most likely will always be.

Has it always been the pulpier style of writing for you? Or were you drawn into either areas of writing (Comics, etc.) first?

Am repeating myself a lot here, aren’t I? Thing is comics were my entry into storytelling from day one. But as I matured I soon discovered how comics had actually evolved from the pulps of the 30s and over the years my curiosity got the best of me. I began to dig into pulp history and the more golden age pulp mags I found and read, the bigger a fan of the media I became. Having successfully established a comics writing career, I really never thought my love of pulps would ever be any more than a fan thing.

What has been your favorite character you created?

Mr.Jigsaw, Man of a Thousand Parts, the comedy superhero I whipped up over thirty years ago with artist Gary Kato. Things is, Jiggy is a kind-hearted, easy going fellow who genuinely likes people and goes out of his way to always help them. After writing his comedic adventures for so long, it one day dawned on me that I’d subconsciously infused into the character only those of my traits I consider good and positive. In other words, Jiggy became the person I wish I was all the time. Funny how that worked out.

What is your favorite character to write?

Well, again, I do love writing Jiggy, but prose-wise I’d have to say its my Undead Avenger Brother Bones who protects the citizenry of Cape Noire. Bones is the Shadow and Spider all rolled into one for me, a tragic figure who is seeking redemption for his sins by becoming the avenging angel of justice. Its all pure purple prose exaggerated to the max and when writing his adventures, my sole rule of thumb is simply this – anything goes!

Guiding the New Pulp movement in many ways, has it become tiresome or wearying at any point?
I wouldn’t call it tiresome. Frustrating, in the early stages, for sure. Seven years ago when Rob Davis and I attended our first ever Windy City Pulp & Paper convention as Airship 27 Productions, we were looked upon like unwanted aliens amongst the old pulp-collecting crowd. They obviously thought us nuts thinking we could revitalize pulpdom by offering up brand new adventures of classic pulp heroes. So it was an uphill struggling, one we realized from the start and accepted. We truly believed that if we produced quality pulp books eventually even the older pulp fans would come around and of course the idea of creating a new generation of fans was a real possibility.
Seven years later and today all the major pulp cons have some segments devoted to the New Pulp Movement. That is overwhelmingly gratifying and understand this, Rob and I were but a small part of it. There were lots of talented people on this road before us; folks like Ron Hanna and his Wild Cat Books, the team at Black Coat and Joe Gentile over at Moonstone just to name a few. Seven years ago there was something happening in the field and you have to believe it was the Fates that decreed the birth of New Pulp. Amen.

What do you enjoy doing more? Writing? Or producing and seeing it to fruition (Publication)?

Yeouch. There’s a tough one. I do love writing and creating fantastic tales of wonder to share with others. But I guess my early background in comics has bent me towards team creative efforts. Putting together anthologies featuring today’s super talented writers and artists is magic for me and Rob. With each new Airship 27 title, we knock ourselves out trying to produce something beautiful that both readers and art fanciers will want to own. Granted we don’t always succeed like we’d wish, but it is never for lack of trying. At present, I’ve had a new Captain Hazzard novel collecting dust in my files and so many of my loyal fans have waited much too long for it. My one goal is to get it finished and out this year. Wish me luck.

To me, new pulp seems to encase many aspects of popular fiction. The most important aspects of it seem to me to involve being two fisted action and lots of it, gun or sword fights, tough, but sexy women. I see a lot of new pulp centering on the 30’s and 40’s and of course some in pre-historic times and some in current and future times, am I correct in assessing what makes it ‘New Pulp’ As opposed to just fiction and fantasy? Or is there more to it?

I think you’ve pretty much covered the bases. Pulp Fiction from the 30s and 40s was escapist literature. But let me add one further adjective, populist fare; i.e. those tales loved by the masses. Under that umbrella, people like Edgar Allen Poe, H. Rider Haggard, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle and so many others we consider classics writers were in fact writing pulp. Today some of the best thriller writers in the business ala Clive Cussler, Stephen King, John Grisham, Max Allan Collins and other so called “best-sellers” are, by the fact of their popularity amongst readers of all persuasions, truly today’s pulp scribes.

Are sales of ‘New Pulp’ on a steady rise at this point? Or even?

Honestly, they are on the rise as more and more new small publishers are coming into the market thanks to digital readers, the internet, print-on-demand etc. With so many avenues opened to would-be publishers, today’s young editors and publishers are embracing the word PULP, not trying to disguise it any longer. It is a truly viable, American form of literature and the audience for it is growing by leaps and bounds. Attendance at pulp cons is growing annually as more and more college and high school readers, via the internet, discover both old and new pulp. Honestly, we’re seeing an amazing Renaissance of Pulp and I couldn’t be happier.

How does the future look for ‘New Pulp’ in terms of widening interest?

Following the thread from my last answer, New Pulp is going to weave its way through the more electronic storytelling media. Over the past few years with TV series such as LOST and FRINGE, WAREHOUSE 13 and so many others I’m losing count, are all clearly pulp inspired products. The popularity of shows like PERSON OF INTEREST and GRIMM clearly resounds throughout the halls of Hollywood and studio heads are taking note. Even as I write these words, there are film versions of both the Shadow and Doc Savage in pre-production. If done correctly, they can continue this renewed vitality in all things pulps. We shall see.

Now the most important question, in your estimation, how do we as a group widen the outside worlds interest, or in some cases make aware for the first time, of the existence of this medium? In other words what do we do about marketing?

Obviously the biggest tool is the internet. Word-of-mouth today means a whole more than it ever did before. You Tube provides any creator the possibility of making his own “commercial” to promote his or her book, or pulp enterprise. The internet has more and more pulp themed clubs forming up every single day. Writers and artists need to join as many of these groups as they can. Whereas New Pulp Publishers have recognized what traditional big book publishers never did, that making any kind of market healthy, though it does require some competition, necessitates a mutual concerted effort by the entire industry. No other publishing venture, be it prose or comics, has ever faced its future with a better understanding of that fact. Which is why outfits like Airship 27 Productions are constantly supporting other New Pulp outfits like Pro Se Productions, Curiosity Quills Press, Black Coat Books, Altus Press, etc. etc. One tide floats all boats. That tide is the continued growth and popularity of New Pulp Fiction and we get it.

E-Books are huge at this point in time, I myself think they outsell paperbacks something like 5 or 6 to 1. What’s your opinion of this? Good thing or bad? I’m kind of ambivalent about this myself.

I’m a publisher, Ralph. If my readers want Airship 27 titles in a Kindle format, then you can bet we are going to provide them with that. I want to sell as many copies of all my books in as many formats as are available to us. We even sell audio versions of some of our titles. I’m sure all my colleagues feel the same way. But at the same time, Airship 27 is never going to stop publishing traditional books. I personally do not own an e-reader nor will I ever review an e-book for my column, Pulp Fiction Reviews. Why? Because I do love books, the paper, the covers; holding them in my hands and turning the pages with my fingers. Then when finished, retiring them to my bookshelf as a reward for the service they provided me. I totally believe E-books will continue to generate the bulk of future sales, but at the same time they will never replace paper books. I’d like to think there’s room for both in this world of ours.

Ron, as we come to the end of the interview feel free to plug any projects you want in this space, whether new or ones you feel have been overlooked.

Thanks. Last year Airship 27 Productions released 16 titles, not bad for a two man operations. And for the most part all of them did extremely well for us. Still, the one book I think that got lost in the shuffle was our new interpretation of Sinbad the Sailor. Attempting to capture the exhilaration of the old Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies, we launched a new series entitled SINBAD – The Voyages featuring a black Sinbad who captains an international crew. It was one of my personal favorite books that we put out last year and is slowly starting to gain fans. I’d like to see that continue and hope more people who have read the book will go out and tell their friends about. It deserves lots more attention.

I want to thank you Ron for joining us this week and answering all the questions, it was a true pleasure to talk with you about all things ‘New Pulp-y’!

Thank you, Ralph. This was fun and I’m grateful for the opportunity to spread the Gospel of Pulp.

And that does it for this week folks, another edition of ‘Ralph’s Rants does interviews’ is in the can and we’ll see you soon with our next interview! Thanks and I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to go through the archives for previous interviews you may have missed!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

'Redemption of the Sorcerer' book giveaway!

New Book Giveaway for Redemption of the Sorcerer ending March 30th!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sentinels: MetalGod Review

Sentinels MetalgodSentinels Metalgod by Van Allen Plexico

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Van Plexico has been crafting his ‘Sentinels’ series of super heroic novels for close to a decade now. The series follows the exploits of an ‘Avengers’ or ‘JLA’ type super team from its inception through several ongoing adventures in connected novels, usually three novels to an arc. They are quick, entertaining reads, and like everything I’ve read from Van, are well-written and basically fun.
MetalGod is no exception to that rule. It’s a galaxy spanning romp that sees most of the Sentinel’s team on Earth as its leader Esro Brachus heads off to space with several members of the Kur-Bai race of aliens, and their prime super-team, The ‘Elites’, while at the same time a coup is underway on the Kur-Bai homeworld that will have ramifications for Earth as well.
Van obviously has this story plotted out well in advance through the three book arc as seeds have been planted that will bear fruit in future novels.
For ‘MetalGod’ we follow the teams actions as they deal with various periphery characters coming in and out of their lives throughout the book until finally two crisis’s, one billions of miles from Earth as well as one at home draw the divided teams attentions.
Van has created a work of super-hero fiction that draws the attention of the reader and invests them in this universe of larger than life characters. There is enough drama, action and even a sprinkling of humor spread through the book to satisfy anyone. All in all it’s a book that is highly enjoyable and just the right length to not become boring or drawn out.
The newest installment of the ‘Sentinels’ saga is a winner through and through. Highly recommended

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Barry Reese interview on Ralph's Rants!

Barry Reese Interview


                Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of ‘Ralph’s Rants does interviews’. This week’s guest is the prolific and interesting Barry Reese! Welcome Barry, great to have you here!


Thanks for having me, Ralph! It’s always a pleasure talking to you.



                So Barry, what was your first clue that you were destined to be a writer?


I’ve always wanted to be a writer – even when I was six years old, I was making up stories and writing them down (very poorly!). When I got older, I realized how hard it was to be a writer and ended up going into Library work to stay close to literature… but now I’m able to do both!


                And when did you write your first story? How old were you?


I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I didn’t write an entire novel until I was 34, though I’d done countless short stories before then.


                What is your favorite genre to write? Pulp, Super-hero or anything else?


Definitely pulp adventure – but I’ve dabbled in horror, fantasy, etc. I like telling stories but I definitely feel that pulp is in my wheelhouse.


                How does the mind of Barry Reese work when you are beginning a story? Do you have the entire story laid out in your mind? Or do you have a basic outline and write from there?


I usually have some vague notion of a story but I don’t outline anything. It’s mostly by the seat of my pants – if I overplan, it takes away the fun of seeing where the story is going. I generally focus on where I want my characters to be at the beginning and at the end – then create a story that accomplishes that. For me, I enjoy the interplay between characters and I use the plot (and the villains) as a means to an end – they bring out changes to the heroes or else they illuminate something previously unseen about them.


                Flash Question: Who is your favorite all time creation?


Of my own? Probably Lazarus Gray. I love The Rook but that character wasn’t designed to be an ongoing one and I think the cracks show. With Lazarus, I sat down and decided to create a cast of characters that I felt I could write about forever… and I did! I love Lazarus and his friends in Assistance Unlimited.


                In all of fiction, who is the one character you would really like to write, but haven’t as yet, above all others?

I used to say The Avenger but I’ve gotten to do that (twice) so now it’s The Shadow. I really would love to write that character once before I die. I love him.



                Do you go from one project to another or do you take time off in-between to cool off a bit and gather your thoughts for the next book?


I go straight from one project to the next – I used to try and take some time off in-between but the longest stretch I managed was about 3 days. Now I just admit that I’m not stopping so I’ll type The End on one story and start the next right away.


                How many books do you have out now? You were always one of the fastest writers I’ve ever encountered.


If you count all my Marvel work, I’ve been published close to fifty times. Just in the pulp world, I’ve been a part of around 25 different books.


                How far ahead are you plotted time-wise, meaning do you know you are going to start Book X in say April and then you intend to start Book Y when that is finished and Book Z after that one? Or do you just go one book at a time; come what may at its completion?



                What does this year hold for Barry Reese writing-wise? How many titles are forthcoming and are they new volumes of previous characters or are there new characters on the horizon?


The third book in the Lazarus Gray series comes out in April, the first book in my Gravedigger series should be hitting around the same time… I also have an Avenger story coming from Moonstone and a G-8 story from Moonstone. Then there’s Volume Two of the Tales of The Rook series coming this year!


                One quick aside I wanted to congratulate you in your efforts to lose weight. You recently posted you lost about 100 lbs. so far, which is a major accomplishment. I’m very pleased for you, great job!


Thanks, Ralph. Hopefully by getting healthier, I’ll be able to stick around and write for a long, long time.


                Barry thanks for playing, it was a pleasure hearing from you and learning what’s in store for you in the year ahead. Thanks again and I look forward to your next book. Take Care.



Friday, March 1, 2013

The Terror of Fu Manchu- A Review

The Terror of Fu ManchuThe Terror of Fu Manchu by William Patrick Maynard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Terror of Fu Manchu- A review

This was a different type of book for me, as stories set in the past are usually not my normal type of reading material. Thankfully I was surprised by this book.
The Terror of Fu Manchu is a story that travels about the globe, truly beginning with the Chinese Boxer rebellion and traveling forward a few years from there. The book is set in the early 20th century, and follows Dr. Petrie, who is the narrator, and his friend Sir Dennis Nayland Smith in their pursuit of the evil Fu Manchu, who bears a grudge against the western world.
Fu and his Si-Fan (A group of assassins made up of the scurrilous of a hundred different races) are seeking, through mystical means, the destruction of western civilization. Along with several mysterious groups of evil-doers and secret societies involved in this books pages, he just might achieve it.
Petrie follows the trail of Fu Manchu from England to France where he teams with a French Gendarme who saves his life on more than one occasion.
Along the way Smith and Petrie encounter snowmen (Both live and dead) a giant crocodile and hordes of villains as well as a few mystery’s. All in all it’s a compelling tale that rivets your attention to the books pages. In many ways for me it was reminiscent of a Sherlock Holmes story.
What I didn’t like about the story was that Petrie was more of a victim throughout it than hero. Constantly being captured and tortured in one way or another, his constant pining for this woman who is a slave to Fu Manchu grew tiresome as the book progressed. He was, if anything an anti-hero or perhaps simply along for the ride. What I mean by that is that instead of him working against his enemy he simply seemed to follow him along trying to catch up, and when he finally did he was captured and either drugged or tortured or mesmerized. He was certainly no Sherlock Holmes or James Bond in that regard.
Nayland-Smith was more of a heroic character in the book, but for a large portion of it he was nowhere to be found. I was actually surprised by this, having never read a Fu Manchu story before, the only contact I had with these characters was through Marvel’s ‘Master of Kung Fu’ title which featured Fu Manchu’s son, Shang Chi. (A Marvel creation.) Nevertheless Nayland-Smith was a central character through much of that series, as was Fu himself.
So going in I did not know what to expect.
William Patrick Maynard gave us a surprisingly well written and edited book. The story flowed perfectly, and even though I felt it was a bit convoluted at times, as there was just so much going on, perhaps a little bit more than was easily kept track of, it was still a good read.
Recommended, Four out of Five Stars.

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