Here on 'Ralph's Rant's' you'll find information about my Sci-Fi (#SciFi), Epic Fantasy (#EpicFantasy), or Sword and Sorcery (#SwordandSorcery) Novels as well as reviews of other authors books. You'll also find interviews with New Pulp Authors and artists displayed here. and of course there is my almost daily blog posts called 'Your Daily Ralph" There's always something new to find here at Ralph's Rants. Become a member of this blog and get a heads up when there's new content.
Hi Mark, how are you? It’s been a while since we chatted. It looks like
busy in the past half year or so, what can you tell us all about it?
Hi Ralph! Glad to be back. It’s
been an interesting, weird, fun, frustrating time, but right now, with the
release of Gunfighter Gothic (Volume 2): Absinthe & Steam,
everything is pretty darn great.
On the professional front, I’ve
termed out of my position in the English Department here at the University of
Nevada, Reno, which means that even though I’ve
done outstanding work in my position (documented by student and departmental
evaluations), the bylaws of the College say I can’t
keep my job, no matter how much my immediate bosses might want to keep me, or
if I’m better
than any potential replacement. So it’s
been a roller coaster of trying to find something else, which isn’t so easy in a
flooded academic job market right now, but all of that sounds worse than it is.
I’m not a
woe-is-me guy, so anything that gets frustrating because it closes one avenue
simply sends me looking for the next opportunity.
With all of that said, professional frustration has been good for
my writing, as the need to escape daily pressures means I’ve been a more
frequent visitor to the worlds I’ve
created. Professional frustration leads to creative outburst, I guess. Ha.
Since January of this year, I’ve
published two full-length collections: Adventures of the Five: The Christmas
Engine and Gunfighter Gothic, Volume 1: Under Zeppelin Skies. I’ve also contributed
stories to several Pro Se collections: To Love and Die, The Many Worlds of
Ulysses King, and Rat-A-Tat: Short Bursts of Pulp.
The two heroines of your Weird West tales seem to be your
favorite creations at the moment is that true?
Yes, definitely. I love Hanna and Jill. I love most of my
characters to varying degrees, but Hanna and Jill are always a joy to write.
More than any other character I’ve
created, they just take over whatever story they’re
in. I keep wanting Gunfighter Gothic to be darker and creepier than it
is, but they have such a positive outlook on the world that no matter the dark
place I put them in, no matter the depravity of the villain they run across,
with a quip to make light of the absurdity of it all.
Heck, I don’t
even know if I can call it a weird western anymore, given this new collection
of stories takes place in England.
What can you tell us about your newest adventure for the
Absinthe & Steam sees them in England, trying to have
a good time, and reborn Celtic gods and alien robots keep getting in the way.
Under Zeppelin Skies was about their dual quests to kill personal (figurative)
demons, and this time around they’ve
decided they don’t
want to go back to their old lives, so they stay in England as professional
investigators of the weird. (As their calling card read, “Gunfighter Gothic:
We Shoot the Weird in the Face.”
The themes of absinthe and steam run through this collection. The
first story, “Thanksgiving
at the House of Absinthe & Steam”
sees them out having a good time at London’s
trendiest new bar, and then pulled into the mad plans of a French botanist and
how exactly he’s
been making these amazing new drinks. The second tale, “God in the Steam,” concentrates on
the steam, as they encounter a Russian scientist who’s been trying to meld human flesh and
metal machine into a new form of life. The third story brings these two stories
together and introduces two new characters, Lady Absinthe and Gentleman Steam,
because I wanted a pair of occult detectives to inhabit this world.
For the two ladies, this time around sees them learning to live
as professional partners. In their pre-Under Zeppelin Skies, Jill was a
daughter and Hanna was her servant, and the first collections was about the two
women learning to become equals. This time around, it’s about figuring out what kind of
partners they are.
Is their new adventure as eclectic and wild as the previous
ones? It always reminded me in a way of the Wild, Wild Westbut taken to the Nth power.
a great description, Ralph. Do you remember the Jeff Mariotte comic, Desperadoes?
I loved that comic, and when I started out writing Gothic, I wanted it
to be like that, a big, serious western full of hard men and demented ghouls,
but Hanna and Jill are just too much fun for that vision to have remained past
the first story. Now, I see it more as my take on The Adventures of Brisco
County, Jr., or what would happen if you took those characters and dropped
them down into a horror plot. I wrote a tribute to Doctor Who for them, since
the Doctor has been such a big influence (it’s
Suited Monsters” and
as an ebook only right now), so maybe it’s
best to think of Gunfighter Gothic as taking any of the modern Doctors
and dropping them down into the middle of Tom Baker’s run.
This has really been a lesson in having your characters tell you
what kind of stories they want to be in. I could force them to adhere to my
original vision, but they’ve
already taken it someplace else. Do you trust your characters to take you
someplace you didn’t
intend, or don’t
you? I’ve let
Hanna and Jill take me someplace unintended.
How many books are going to be in that series? Is it open ended,
or do you have a definite ending in mind?
be able to write them forever. The approach I’m
taking is that each collection will cover a month of their lives, give or take.
Volume 2 is set in November and December, 1866. Volume 3 will be called Black
Christmas, and will take us out of 1866 and into 1867. They’re on this big tour
of Europe and Asia right now, and probably won’t
make it back to the States until Volume 10 or so. They’re having adventures, but there’s room for other
adventures in between my stories, in case I ever want to come back and write a
story with them in England, again.
I have no idea what their ending will be or when it will happen;
I figure they’ll
tell me when it’s
time to ride into the sunset.
What about your series aimed at youngsters, Adventures of the
Five? Anything new coming soon on that front?
Nothing until late 2015, at the earliest. I’ve got so many
other stories in more advanced stages and whenever I write The Five, it takes a
lot out of me emotionally. I love those kids and I hate myself for putting them
through such hell. My other kids’
series, Stuffed Animals for Hire, will have a new book out before
2014 is over. I’m
about 5,000 to 10,000 words from being finished with it.
What else do you have planned besides those two series this
Gunfighter Gothic (Volume 2): Absinthe & Steam is out
now, and I might have as many as 4 other books out by the end of the year:
volume 2 of Stuffed Animals for Hire (my kid’s espionage series), volume 2 of my
cosmic series, the Deep (the universe where Harpsicord and the Wormhole
Witches takes place), a new book of film reviews, Science Fiction and
Fantasy Movies of 2013, and volume 3 of Gunfighter Gothic.
But as I’ve
said, I’ve had
such an outburst, I’ve
got 4 or 5 other novels percolating, and my Pro Se Single Shot series, The
Disintegration of Dragons, will start sometime this fall, too.
also been toying with the idea of stretching into the Way Back Machine and
bringing my original characters from our shared MV1 days into the present. The
main characters I created for my All God’s
Children series have been some of my favorites, and I’m getting the itch to disconnect them
from their fanfic past and see what they can do on their own.
So, creatively, I feel like I’m
in an amazing place right now. Like so many of us, I wish I had the time to
just sit and write all day.
Hrm … that
sounds like a good idea for a story …
a writer who robs banks so he can do nothing but write …
also editing two collections, one set in my Dreamer’s Syndrome universe and another
featuring a supernatural spin on the “cozy
edited by myself and Tom Deja.
You and I are finally in an anthology together, the recently
released ‘Rat-A-Tat Short blasts of pulp’That was a fun book. What’d you think of it?
I just got my copy of Rat-A-Tat today so I haven’t had a chance to
dig into it, yet, but I love the idea. I’m
going to try to read a story a day, last thing at night or first thing in the
morning. I created a new character for the anthology. Her name is Magpie Dark
and she’s a
prisoner at a mental institution who never talks, except by mimicking things
others say (hence, the magpie moniker). The Assistant Warden sends her out on
these missions, and it remains to be seen whether he’s doing this for good or ill, or just
how much Magpie (not her real name, of course) is aware of what’s happening. I
wanted a character who did things but didn’t
reveal anything about herself in the process.
Are you planning on attending any Cons this year?
love to do in the future but it’s
just not in the cards, right now.
So what are we going to see from you in 2015?
I wish I knew! I was having this conversation with someone the
other day about how we plan our future projects and for me, there’s not much advance
planning, other than the fact that I want every other book (or every other
third, at most) that I release to be a Gunfighter Gothic collection.
give you an example - we have a planetarium here on the UNR campus and I
stopped by the other day to watch a movie in their domed theater just to get
out of the heat and see something on that curved roof. I watched a 45-minute
short film about Saturn. I was the only one in the theater and the film was
breaking down all the facts about Saturn and its rings and moons and I was just
hit by the stray thought that as great as it is to know what’s out there in the
universe, I miss the kind of open-eyed speculation of the past. It’s great that we
know the moon isn’t
made of cheese or there aren’t
any little green men on Mars, but it’s
also great to let your imagination run wild.
watching the film, I’m
thinking of how awesome it would be to write a kid’s series that operated on that kind of
wild speculation and fantasy where fire people lived on Mercury and vast
civilizations lived in the clouds of Saturn.
When I got home, I fired up the MacBook and banged out 3,000
words about a monkey and a robot setting up just that kind of story. I do this
often - just get down the opening to a story and let it sit for awhile - and
sometimes I go back to them and sometimes I don’t
and sometimes they end up taking over my writing schedule.
Mark, it’s always
a pleasure to chat with you. Thanks for participating once more and feel free
to leave some links to where our readers can purchase your rather excellent
Thanks, Ralph! Always a
pleasure. If people are so inclined, I welcome them to check out any of the
My personal website: themarkbousquet.com,
which focuses on travel writing and keeps people up to date on my fiction
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Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to announce the release
of the second Challenger Storm adventure as written by creator Don Gates and
illustrated by award winning artist Michael Kaluta.
“Challenger Storm’s debut novel, “The Isle of Blood,” was a
delight to all pulp fans everywhere,” says Airship 27 Managing Editor Ron
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When several cargo ships begin disappearing on the waters of
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Later a freakish wave wipes out a small Greek fishing
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PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!
The latest collection of Gunfighter Gothic stories is now available.
Fresh from their battle at the haunted Kraken Moor, Hanna and Jill are
back for more investigations into the dangerously weird and weirdly
The vacationing Americans are hitting Victorian England hard in three
horror stories that pit them against reborn Celtic gods, robots from
outer space, a brilliant French botanist, and an Arthurian wizard.
In “Thanksgiving at the House of Absinthe & Steam,” a wild night of
drinking a new brand of absinthe leads to a disturbing revelation
about just how those drinks are created.
“God in the Steam” sees Hanna & Jill facing off against a Celtic god
trying to break the chains of Hell by murdering his half-human son.
“The Worldly Introduction of Lady Absinthe & Gentleman Steam, Occult
Detectives” ties both stories together, and this time it’s a
brainwashed Jill that needs to hire someone to help her with a case of
the weird: her mistress, Haneul, is determined to bring Merlin back
from the dead to assassinate Queen Victoria!
brings to a mighty climax the galaxy-shattering Gothic SF / Military Space Opera adventure that began with the 2014 Novel of the Year Finalist, LEGION I: LORDS OF FIRE and continued with the critically acclaimed LEGION II: SONS OF TERRA. Futuristic armies clash, godlike beings manipulate empires, alien armadas invade, and the gateway to the Underverse is reopened, unleashing slavering demonic hordes upon an unsuspecting galaxy!
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"Plexico is the master of Space Opera." -Pulp Fiction Reviews
In the pages of this just released collection of pulse-pounding short stories published by iPulp Fiction you’ll find dangerous and driven heroes and anti-heroes like the Envoy, a high rolling hitman plucked from Hell only if he kills for Heaven; Onyx Adams, a tough, kung-fu’ing Afro-wearing female private eye; and the Silencer, a Vietnam vet who returns to his hometown but finds the war goes on when the woman he loves is killed by gangsters.
"Everything you'd expect from a Gary Phillips story collection-- solid, kick-ass pulp."