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Hi and welcome to another edition of Ralph’s Rants does Interviews. This week we welcome Billy Craig, author of oh, just about a million things, including The Jack Riley Adventures: Valley of Death, Mayan Gold, Dead Run, Pirate's Blood, The Child Stealers, and The Mummy's Tomb; as well as, The Fantastic Adventures of Hardluck Hannigan among others.
Billy, welcome, how are you today?
Well. I’m just getting over a bad bout of stomach flu so I could be feeling better!
Sorry to hear that Billy, hope you feel better soon.
Let’s jump in feet first shall we? What made you decide to write? Was it something you saw that you thought was fantastic, something you looked at and thought ‘Hey, I can do better than that!’ or did you just have a story to tell?
Well, I taught myself to read by age four and by age six I was already reading stories that I thought I could do a better job of writing.
What was your first written story and how old were you when you wrote it?
My first story was a mystery titled Thing in the swamp that was part of a first grade anthology called Tales to sleep on.
What genre drew you to writing and why?
I have always been a huge fan of “high-adventure” or pulp fiction and mysteries.I grew up reading Doc Savage and the Shadow as well as The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.I was reading Raymond Chandler by the time I was twelve along with the Tarzaan books, so I guess it is no surprise really that those two genres is where most of my body of work fits.
Where did you grow up Billy? What city/state and did that play a hand in getting you into the writing game? I grew up and still live in New Castle, Indiana, best known for turning out basketball greats Kent Benson and Steve Alford.It is the sort of town where very little if anything out of the ordinary happens.Writing became my way of escaping from the boredom much like reading does.
Do you write year round or is it season specific?
I write year round, and I write every day, even though some days such as the past couple where I have been sick it may not be more than a sentence or two.
Who is your favorite character to write and was he one you created yourself or was it an existing pulp hero?Sam Decker is probably my favorite character to write and he would fit into the pulp detective genre.He’s a wise-cracking Former DEA agent turned Private Investigator in the Florida Keys.
Was there ever a character you killed in a story that you felt afterwards you’d like to write again?
There was one, Harlan Esterhaus the main villain from my first book Valley of Death.Jack Riley faced off against him again in The Child Stealers.The other one who be Dr. ChiPei, a Fu Manchu type that appeared in the Jack Riley book Pirates’ Blood, and then The Mummy’s Tomb.He has also appeared as a villain for my 1940’s pulp Hero Hardluck Hannigan as a much younger villain of course.
What environment makes you the most creative? Nights? Rainy afternoons?
I usually write at night after I have put my 7-yr old son Jack to bed.But rainy nights when I can have the patio door open and listen to the rain beating down on the tin roof over the patio give me the most inspiration.
How fast do you write normally? How many words per day?
Well my first book, Valley of Death I wrote in a month.But I was single and lived alone then.I just completed my latest mystery novel for Absolutely Amazing E-Books, Marlow: Indigo Tide in about 2 months.I started it right before Dad went into the nursing home and finished it just this past week after dad had gotten home.I usually do about a thousand words per day.On a good day that is.Others not so much.
What is your favorite novel or story that you have written so far, the one that when you finished you thought “This is MY book, the one that I’ll be always associated to as the writer of.”That would be Marlow: Indigo Tide
What do you read? Who are your favorite authors?
Among my favorites, Robert B. Parker, Kenneth Robeson(both Lester Dent and Will Murray), Donald Hamilton, Jerry Ahern, Don Pendleton, Louis, L’Amour, Max Brand and Zane Gray to name a few.
In line with the previous question, as an author who inspired you the most?That would be a toss up between Jerry Ahern and Don Pendleton, both men were friends and mentors.
What can we expect to see as upcoming releases from Billy Craig this year? Well my second Joe Collins Mystery Paradise Lost should be released the second week of April, then Marlow: Indigo Tide, then Decker P.I. Best Served Cold, Sabre and the Temple of the Sun, The third Joe Collins Mystery, Freetrader Orion: Meteor Raiders, and hopefully the second Jericho Walls, Texas Ranger western.
Any projects you want to push here, feel free, whether past or upcoming, let the readers know what you think they should have read from you
Well that depends on what the readers are looking for Ralph.For modern pulp adventure, any of the Jack Riley Books, for traditional pulp the Fantastic adventures of Hardluck Hannigan which I am now bringing out some omnibus editions of.For mystery lovers The Joe Collins Mysteries and The Decker P.I. mysteries and of course Marlow: Indigo Tide.
Billy, thanks for playing along it’s deeply appreciated. I’m sure many of my readers will enjoy reading what you had to say, thanks again and have a great day.
Hello and welcome to another edition of Ralph’s rants does Interviews. Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Salmon, author of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF THUNDER JIM WADE and The recent award winning ‘The Ruby Files’ among many others.
Hi Andrew and welcome, it’s a pleasure to have to you here answering some questions for us.
My pleasure! Thanks for inviting me.
First up, what made you decide to try your hand at writing? Was it some writer who inspired you or just something you felt you could do?
Oddly enough it was a movie. Star Trek II to be precise. Up until that June morning in 1982 I read comics exclusively. I wouldn't read a book if you paid me. Even for school, I would ask my friends what an assigned book was about or skim through the Coles (the Canadian version of Cliff) notes. Then I sat down to watch Wrath of Khan. And the movie changed my life. I didn't come out of the theater wanting to read Star Trek. No, I staggered out into the hot sun wanting the WRITE what I had just seen. Somehow, watching the movie, the machinery of storytelling revealed itself to me. I could see how the foreshadowing, themes, action and character worked together for the first time. So naive was I that I thought these things were exclusive to Star Trek and learned to spot them in the series reruns afterwards. The movie also introduced me to Dickens and a lifelong devotion to reading began that day as well. What followed were many stops and starts, then 12 years researching/writing THE LIGHT OF MEN, reading voraciously all the while, until I discovered hardboiled fiction, noir and, eventually, the classic pulp heroes.
You’ve developed quite a collection of novels and stories that you’ve either authored on your own or had a hand in. What draws you to a project?
It can vary, but the main thing is that either the character or premise has to grab me. For something like Holmes and Watson that allure is obvious. Same goes for the Moon Man or Secret Agent X. For others like Dan Fowler, Thunder Jim Wade or Jim Anthony it's the overall set up that gets my creative juices going. As a Doc Savage fan, just about any of his clones will do it for me. I immerse myself into the worlds of these characters. I'm a research fanatic.
When you write, do you stay with only one project from start to finish? Or do you work on several at a time. Leaving one for a while and going to another as inspiration strikes?
I used to be able to stick with one project until it was completed. And still do for the most part. However, I do keep my ears and eyes open for ideas as they flit through my mind or pass by the eye. In this way I can often do prep work on a project while finishing the writing on another. This way I can hit the ground running on something new after writing "The End" on whatever I'm currently working on. With so much New Pulp being released these days, I like to keep a steady stream of work flowing so as not to get lost in the torrent of stuff so many great publishers are cranking out.
What is your favorite era to write in? The here and now? The 30’s and 40’s? The far flung future?
I love the 30s and 40s! I love the research and the colorful characters. Writing Holmes tales has dropped me into Victorian London and I can't tell you how much fun it's been to wallow in research for that time period. I've only made a handful of forays in to the far flung future with MARS MCCOY and a short story or two. My novel, THE DARK LAND, is set in the year 2049 and that's really as far as I like to go. So that 100 year span from the 1930s to the 2040s is my stomping grounds. I like being able to put characters in situation that readers today can relate to and, although I don't mind reading high sci-fi, writing it hasn't interested me as yet. But, hey, anything is possible.
Is there a favorite character you created that you love going back to and writing new adventures for?
I've not created that many original characters although that is about to change. THE DARK LAND was always meant to be the first of a trilogy and the lead, a cloned police office named C-Peter Reilly, is never far from my thoughts - especially with the rough plots of the next two books rattling around in my head. I co-created the GHOST SQUAD with Ron Fortier and their debut adventure was very well received by readers. Ron is kicking around an idea for a follow-up and it would be a blast to work on a sequel. Recently I've spent the last two years researching a novel that will feature German pulp heroes and it's been a blast rounding out this group of intense individuals. I'm all for giving the reader what he or she wants so if any of the characters I've created strike a nerve with readers out there, then by all means get the word out to me directly or the publisher and we'll make something happen.
Where do you do your best writing? At home or away from the maddening crowd somewhere?
I write at home, usually late at night. I'm a true night owl and my energy peaks while the world sleeps. Also the distractions of the day can be left behind and I can really get those creative juices a-bubbling. I once churned out 11,000 words in one three-hour session that ended with the sunrise. Honestly, when I'm in the throes of a tale, I can write anywhere as the story will not be denied.
An addendum to the last question, do you require peace and quiet to write or does background noise have no effect on you?
At the beginning of a tale, quiet is essential as you need to let it reveal itself to your mind. Same goes for the intense concentration required for revisions. But once that tale is cooking, then it's easy to ignore the distractions.
I noticed you seemed to write as part of several anthologies, do you prefer this to writing solo novels and if so why?
Although I still love being part of anthologies (phew! I've been in a lot of 'em!), these days I'm more drawn to novels and other longer forms. With 18 or so published books under my belt, most of them anthologies - and more on the way - I'm starting to feel a little hemmed in by the shorter form and want to try out expanded ideas and concepts on the bigger stage. That said, I'm always open to shorter work if I find the character irresistible. Expect longer works from me though in the future.
Was there ever one character you killed off and then afterwards when all was said and done you wished you hadn’t?
Writing pulp, one doesn't often get to kill off important characters so I don't think I can answer that question. The best example I can come up with is a dynamic duo of evil in my second Sherlock Holmes tale. Although I didn't kill them off, I introduced them in a tale set right at the end of Holmes's career, which makes further clashes with the great detective difficult. I'll figure out something to do with then though.
What new material can we expect to read from you this year?
I've got quite a bit in the hopper these days. I've written Lynn Lash and Major Lacy tales for Pulp Obscura and they should debut before the year is out. Bobby Nash invited me to do a Lance Star yarn for Volume 4 of that series, which is scheduled for 2013. Also my first-ever comic script will appear in All-Star Pulp Comics #2 in the not too distant future. It's a Ki-Gor adventure with art by the ever-talented Kelly Everaert. Readers can also expect more Holmes and Moon Man from me but I can't go into detail about those at the moment.
Anything you want to plug right now that’s out there? Feel free, even if it’s not on the market yet.
I'm super excited that more and more of the pulp books I've been a part of have been released for KINDLE! Both THE LIGHT OF MEN and GHOST SQUAD have been released as well as Airship 27's most recent SHERLOCK HOLMES in which I have a tale. A new hero, GHOST BOY, has burst on the scene for KINDLE and in print. I was fortunate enough to get a tale in there. Even the award-winning RUBY FILES is now an ebook. Also, the two SECRET AGENT X anthologies I contributed to have been KINDLE-ized and all of the above join the NEW ADVENTURES OF THUNDER JIM WADE as part of my ebook library. Sure, everyone is doing ebooks these days but some of the above titles like LIGHT and GHOST SQUAD have received a lot of interest over the last year or so from readers wanting to read them but awaiting e-versions. Airship 27 delivered! And, of course, all of the above are available in print as well. Pop on over to my amazon page and you can see everything I've got out there.
Big thank you to Andrew Salmon for joining us this week, hope you enjoyed his interview, I know I did! We’ll see you next week for a new ‘Ralph’s Rants Does Interviews’ Until then, go read something from one of the great authors I’ve interviewed here, heck start with something Andrew has done.
Free 'Redemption of the Sorcerer!' Starting on friday April 5th and ending at midnight on Saturday April 6th Redemption of the Sorcerer will be free in the Kindle version on Amazon.com. This will not happen again anytime soon, so if you want a free kindle version, save the date! I'll even provide you with a link! And if you love it, please leave me a review on Amazon and Goodreads, Thanks! http://tinyurl.com/coc9cyh