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Friday, July 26, 2013
Ralph's Rants Does Interviews Welcomes Will Murray!
Will Murray Interview
Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of ‘Ralph’s Rants does interviews’. Ralph Angelo here, and this week is going to be a real treat as we have a very special guest, one of the most prolific and well recognized names in fiction and adventure books and writing,Let’s all welcome Will Murray! Hi Will, how are you?
As always, I am crazy busy, editing my new Doc Savage novel, writing background articles for Sanctum Books’ pulp reprints and producing audiobooks for Radio Archives’ line of Will Murray Pulp Classics. It’s a tough life...
Will, let’s get right to it, what made you decide to be a writer?
My earliest ambition was to be a comic book artist. I was a big fan of Marvel Comics in the 1960s, when they were great. When around 1968-69, I discovered Doc Savage, The Shadow, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H. P. Lovecraft, my interests shifted to the older universe of pulp magazines, and my focus changed from drawing to writing. So I begin writing short stories in the pulp vein, and then articles for Doc Savage fanzines in the early 1970s, which was the start of my being a published author. Over time, I graduated from the fanzines to real publishing, although I've never ceased contributing to pulp fan magazines. You might say I became a writer because I was a lousy artist!
I first became aware of you with your writing in the Destroyer series of books, probably my all-time favorite series. Was this your first series that you wrote?
My Destroyers were my first published novels, but prior to starting it, I had written Python Isle in 1979. So the first novel I wrote was Doc Savage novel. It just took 11 years to get into print. I did try a Nick Carter, Killmaster for Charter Books. I submitted three chapters of “The Infallible Assassins” somewhere around 1982 or so. The editor was interested , but they had plenty of other writers working for them then.I wanted to introduce a female Killmaster, called a Killmistress. They were very interested in that idea, but nothing ever came of it. Then came the opportunity to ghost a Destroyer, which turned into 40 Destroyers. I loved writing Remo and Chiun. I still have about 20 or 30Destroyer plots I never got around to using. It’s a shame that series went to hell after my departure.
I know you’ve written just about everything under the sun out there as far as classic pulp characters go. Can you list the one’s you’ve written over the years?
That's a long list! Of course there's Doc, The Green Hornet, The Spider, The Avenger, The Lone Ranger, Honey West, The Phantom, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Ant-Man,even Wonder Woman. And many others. I think the only major ones I haven't written yet are The Shadow and Tarzan.
You are well known right now as the new, or rather current Doc Savage Scribe, usually writing as Kenneth Robeson, a nom de plume that Lester Dent himself used to write the Doc series, as an established guy, how does it feel to be writing under a pen name, especially one so famous?
Actually, almost all of my 60-some books have been under other bylines. To me, the nameKenneth Robeson is a magical one. I think if you write Doc Savage, that's the byline you use. The one exception was Skull Island, but that was a special case. I wasn't writing in the Robeson or Lester Dent style. As a practical matter, if I didn't use the house name, the byline would be Will Murray & Lester Dent––not necessarily in that order. That's a little clumsy, so Robeson works well. But I’m fine with writing under pen names.
I’ve read many of your Doc novels, including the most recent, ‘Skull Island’ Which of your new series is your personal favorite?
It's always tough to pick a favorite of the novels you've written. Looking back, I thought Python Isle is very special. It's a classic Doc Savage adventure written from a vintage 1934 outline, with a lost race background. It was also my first novel. So it’s among my favorite Docs. However, White Eyes may be a better book, and I always love pitting Doc against supercriminals with special super-scientific weapons. Of the recent books, I really love The Desert Demons, although it may be among the least favorite of readers. The reason I like it so much, other than its wildness and that it was my return novel, is that it contains a lot of authentic Lester Dent chapters from 1934 and ’35. It is my most Dentian Doc novel of the current run. Reviewers are calling Skull Island one of the greatest Docs ever written, and I can’t fault that opinion. But it stands by itself, and is more of a proud accomplishment than a personal favorite. Horror in Gold is fun because it explores the world of Doc Savage in detail–his HQ, Hidalgo Trading Company, etc. The Infernal Buddha takes the series to China. Death’s Dark Domain fills in a missing piece of the original series. There isn’t a Wild Adventure I’m not happy with––so far...
Let’s talk about Doc Savage himself for a moment, was he your favorite pulp character? Did you grow up reading his adventures? What draws you to him as a character?
I bought my first Doc Savage novel in 1969, when I was 15 years old. That was Dust of Death. I was hooked. So I've been reading Doc for over 40 years. And yes, he’s my favorite. No one else comes close, although I have very high opinions of The Shadow and the Spider, as well as Operator #5, Bill Barnes and The Whisperer.
Let me ask you this: Is Doc Savage the greatest adventure character ever created and if so why?
To me, Doc Savage is the greatest superhero of all time. He’s a wonderful concept. It's hard to say what appeals to me about him now, since the character and the writing style of Lester Dent are entwined in my consciousness.To me, a great deal of the appeal of Doc Savage is not simply the characters or the storylines, it's the infectious appeal of the writing. I love to read and write pulp writing, and Lester Dent had a special flavor all his own.I think when you're talking about the last hundred years, Doc Savage is the ultimate adventure character. Partly that's because he's a combination of so many great characters that came before––I'm referring to Tarzan of the Apes, Nick Carter, Sherlock Holmes, and others. He’s one of the first true pulp supermen, and therefore the inspiration for Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, and so many other great cultural icons. I like to say that the Doc Savage series was the fountainhead from which a lot of our media superheroes flow. It's impossible to underestimate the importance and influence of Doc Savage upon the heroes of the 21st century. That's not even counting how good the stories are. Witness the fact that 85 years after his debut, Doc Savage novels are still being reprinted, and new ones are being written.
You seem to be writing 100% of the time, you recently released a new book that appears to be an ode to the western, care to talk about that?
Wordslingers, An Epitaph for the Western, started as an article on the pulp Westernphenomenon back in 2001. Over time, the article grew and grew and grew until I had a young book. The book kept growing because I was so fascinated by this untold story of the pulpWestern magazines, the writers, editors and agents who kept the genre going through decades and decades of evolution. It’s like a Ken Burns documentary in book firm. People are responding very well to this book, not because it's about Western pulps, but because it's about pulp writers and the whole pulp phenomenon. Even if you're not interested in Westerns, this is a fascinating read because the story is told through quotes by the many writers, editors, agents etc. who lived through the pulp era, and made it so popular and vital. People have commented––and I mean here other writers have commentated––that this book will teach you a lot about how to make a living as a writer from a very personal perspective. I am very proud of this book.
I noticed you’ve been talking about your next Doc Savage novel recently so I have to assume it’s about ready to be published, What can we expect this time?
The next Doc is called The Miracle Menace. Originally, this was going to be the 80th anniversary Wild Adventure, complete with a wraparound anniversary cover. But then came Skull Island, which supplanted it. So Miracle Menace was bumped forward a book. This one is very hard to describe. It starts telling the story of an out of work magician called The Great Gulliver, who becomes embroiled with the strange group of telepathic evangelists, amid talk that Christopher Columbus may be alive in 1937. On a parallel track, Doc Savage and his men take their dirigible to Missouri to investigate an old Victorian house that vanishes into thin air every time someone approaches it. These two storylines run parallel for three quarters of the book, until they converge in an amazing unfolding of events. Every time I try to compress this plot into a single sentence, I can't do it. I also don’t want to give away any surprises, for there are many. This one is full of fantastic characters, weird phenomena and unbelievable events. There's never been a Doc Savage novel like it before. Oh, and it’s based on a Lester Dent manuscript set in La Plata, Missouri.
Will, how many more Doc novels do you have in you? I’m sure like myself people are hoping that’s an open ended answer.
I've been working on plots in anticipation of my next Doc Savage contract, assuming one will be negotiated. I think I have ideas for another 10 books, between Lester Dent outlines and my own ideas. Things like The Sky Corsair. Six Scarlet Scorpions. The Secret of Satan’s Spine. The Sun Terror. Grotto of Spiders, etc. I’m not thinking beyond that, because I don't need to think beyond that right now. I would like to do a return to the Valley of the Vanished story. It would be great to have Doc Savage meet The Shadow. And wouldn't it be interesting if Doc fought The Shadow’s major foe, Shiwan Khan, the Golden Master? So I have plenty of ideas, never fear.
Will is there anything else in particular you’d like to let readers know about? Any of your works that you want to push that maybe is lesser known, feel free to do it right here, heck mention any of your books you’d like to see get more recognition.
My huge collection of Doc Savage articles, called Writings in Bronze, which is availablefrom Altus Press and on Amazon.com. This is a compendium of articles I've written on the Man of Bronze over the last 40 years. It's a treasure trove of speculation and information. It's practically an encyclopedia on Doc, except it's not written as an encyclopedia. There’s a lot of great reading there.
The Radio Archives line of Will Murray’s Pulp Classics–-both audio books and ebooks–-has exceeded all expectations. We’re up to nearly 30 audiobooks now. We just launched G-8 and His Battle Aces and will be stepping up our Spider releases. We’ve released hundreds of ebooks, ranging from The Green Lama to Terror Tales. Check us out at: http://www.radioarchives.com
Will, I want to thank you for playing along and doing this review. It was a pleasure to have you here on ‘Ralph’s Rants Does Interviews’ and I look forward to reading what you have coming out next, thanks again!
That does it for another edition of ‘Ralph’s Rants Does Interviews’ Thanks for reading!