Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Silver Alibi

   It's not common in my experience as a reader to come across a cross-genre novel that fully satisfies the conventions of both of the genres it crosses. Usually it will lean toward one genre more strongly than the other. James Reasoner's new novel The Silver Alibi manages to function as a full fledged mystery with clues, suspects, red herrings, and some nice twists and turns while also being a full out Western with plenty of gunplay, brawls, and the like.
  The protagonist, Judge Earl Stark, is a former stagecoach guard who studied law and eventually became a Federal circuit Judge. Stark rides into trouble within the first few pages. On his way to the town of Jackhammer to arbitrate a dispute between rival mining operations, Stark comes across some men trapped in a creek by a deadly crossfire. The Judge wades in with his Winchester and evens the odds. Turns out that the boys in trouble are part of one of the mining companies and Stark uses the fact that they don't know who he is yet to get some inside information about the dispute.
   Before long, Stark realizes that things are complicated and potentially dangerous, and that his job won't be an easy one. Then a murder occurs and things get much worse.
   The whole time I was reading this one I kept thinking that it would make a great movie. The plot is a little gem of  construction with each scene leading logically to the next and providing just the right amount of information to keep the reader guessing as to the true identity of the killer. But as  I said it doesn't scrimp on the action either.
   The judge is a great character and Reasoner surrounds him with an interesting cast. There are characters to like and ones to hate and there's even a little romantic subplot. Like I said, it would make a great film. I'm just now meeting Judge Earl Stark but I see that he's appeared in several other books and short stories. I'll be tracking them down. Highly recommended.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Department of Lost Barbarians: He-Man

   Wait? He-Man? That He-Man? A Barbarian? Yep. Not only that but truly a lost barbarian because he was retconned into something else a couple of years after he first appeared. I only learned of the character's alternate origin yesterday while searching for information for an upcoming post about comic book artist Alfredo Alcala, and I thought some of my fellow sword & sorcery fans might find it of interest.
   Legend has it that the Mattel toy company originally was going to do a toy line based on the 1982 Conan the Barbarian movie but the deal fell through so they came up with their own barbarian, however various toy collectors have told me that this story is apocryphal. (This is apparently a major point of contention among He-Man collectors.)
   However, Mattel definitely had the big barbarian in mind as this very early sketch for a He-man design shows.
This much I already knew, since back in 2011, Mattel included a figure made from this sketch, called Vikor, in their Masters of the Universe Classics line. I picked one up, of course. As action figures go, it's a pretty damned cool Conan figure. Personally I always thought the Vikor sketch bore quite a resemblance to this Neal Adams drawing of Conan from the cover of Marvel's Savage Tales issue #5.
However, it was this illustration by the aforementioned Alfredo Alcala from the very first He-Man mini-comic, which was included with some of the toys, that gave me the idea for this post. Note that in the text under the picture that He-Man is a member of a jungle tribe, a true barbarian. Check out the flint spear and the loin cloth.
A couple of pages later, He-Man rescues a green-skinned sorceress from a dangerous beast and she rewards him by giving him weapons and a set of armor that increases his strength to a superhuman level.

There's no secret identity in the original version. No Prince Adam and no mention of a mother from Earth or all the trappings from the Filmation cartoon series that would come a few years later. The Original he-man was a flat out, Conan style Barbarian. I think I prefer him that way.    Anyway, Alfredo Alcala, who did quite a bit of work on Marvel's Conan comics and about whom I'll have more to say later, drew several He-man mini comics for Mattel. I've got a couple on the way from Ebay as we speak.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Chronicles of Professor Elemental

   "Discovery" the first episode of the web series, The Chronicles of Professor Elemental is finally here. Some of you may recall my mentioning the good Professor a while back. His Steampunk rap stylings (know as Chap Hop) were brought to my attention by comic book artist and all around swell guy, Mike Hawthorne. I was very taken with the Prof's songs Fighting Trousers and Cup of Brown Joy, and when I heard that he was trying to get a web series going through a kick starter style appeal to his fans I had to contribute. The campaign raised a good deal more cash than  the original goal and they were able to make a nifty three part pilot. The first of those three parts is up now at the link I'll supply at the bottom of this post. If you like Steampunk and enjoy British dry humor, and of course some Chap Hop songs and general silliness, then check out The Chronicles of Professor Elemental. Watch the ending credits and you'll see me there as a funder under the screen name CRRUT. Look at me. I'm a patron of the arts.

The Big Picture

   My old television was on its last legs so my pal Cliff loaned me one of his, a 44" flat screen, which is a considerably larger picture than I've had before. Cliff also gave me a Blu-ray player for Christmas (the man loves electronics) so I hooked that up to the flat screen last night. Good grief but that's a big clear image. I know some folks have 55 inch screens but I doubt I would want one that big. Not in my current living room anyway. With the 44" it already feels like I'm at the drive-in. So anyway, movies have a new look at my place. Thanks, Cliff!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On the Hills and Everywhere

   If you're looking for a Christmas story to warm your heart, might I recommend Manly Wade Wellman's tale of John the Balladeer, On the Hills and Everywhere. John doesn't take part in this one, but rather relates it to a group of children while their folks are cooking Christmas dinner.
   John tells the story of two neighbors, former friends, who have had a falling out. One of the men hires a traveling carpenter to build a fence between the properties, but gets something far different and far better than what he asked for. This is one of Wellman's mountain tales and it has that same home-spun quality that his best stories have. Trust me, this one will bring a smile to your face.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Plans

   Tonight is the Christmas get-together for my extended family, so I'll be heading out to my uncle's house about 6:00 pm. That will be the over eating part of the holiday. Then tomorrow morning I'll go to my brother's house to exchange gifts with my parents and my brother's family.  And that should take care of Christmas.
   So far my plan to have a better Christmas has gone well. I've enjoyed having the tree, though not as much as Bruce has enjoyed it. I've watched Christmas movies and read Christmas stories, and I plan to do more of that today.
   I need to dig out my stash of Christmas themed comic books. I know I have some collections of Uncle Scrooge, Archie, and various super hero Christmas stories. They're in a box somewhere. Otherwise, should be a calm Christmas Eve here. Hope everyone is having a good Holiday as well. I've learned that I can still enjoy the Christmas season. I just have to work at it.


Started the second draft of Congregations of the Dead, the follow up to Blind Shadows. My co-author, James A. Moore, gave me the first crack at it. I got through about a third of the 300 plus page manuscript yesterday and so far I haven't had to do any major rewrites. Just the usual corrections, rewordings, and such that one expects. I will say that letting a MS sit for as long as we did this one allows you to come at the book with fresh eyes. I haven't peeked at it since we set it aside several months ago. I'm expecting more trouble toward the last third of the book as I remember thinking at the time that it was a bit choppy, but we'll see.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Kirby Conan Redux

A while back I put up the cover to an old Marvel Comics Calendar drawn by my hero, Jack Kirby. The cover had one of the few examples of Kirby drawing Conan the Barbarian. However that cover had been inked by John Romita, whose inking style somewhat changed the look of Kirby's characters. This was standard practice back in the day. Romita draws some of the most handsome men and most gorgeous women you've ever seen in comics, so he often was brought in to add some polish to a finished cover for Marvel. However, those of us who love Kirby want to see as much of Jack's pure penciling power as is practically possible, so imagine how happy I was to come across the pencil version of the cover. It might not be as technically 'pretty' as the inked version, but it's got the power and energy that only Jack Kirby could bring to a drawing and it's an example of pure Kirby Conan. Be sure and click on it to see it full size.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Tale of Two Scrooges

I mentioned last week that I had watched the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol and that it was one of my two favorite adaptations of Charles Dickens' classic. This weekend I watched the other favorite, the 1984 Television movie starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. The reason I still have two favorites is because I can't decide which I like best.
   Both are very faithful to Dickens with most of the dialogue being lifted directly from the book. Both have charismatic actors in the lead role and both have great period detail and wonderful supporting casts. It's a hard call.
   The 1951 version gets a bit of an extra push because it's the version I grew up with. I watched it with my parents every year when I was growing up, so there's a nostalgia factor. It's also the more 'feel good' version of the two, a bit lighter in tone, with a more "movie-ish" version of early Victorian London.
   The 1984 version is darker and more realistic. The poor people look poor and the sick people look sick, especially Tiny Tim who is indeed played by a very small boy. The 1951 Tim is almost as big as Scrooge. Dickens probably would have approved more of this version as it does a better job of showing the social problems he was trying to talk about in his book.
   As I mentioned, both movies have excellent leads. Alastair Sim makes Scrooge a believable miser, a man who made some bad choices and allowed his goals to eclipse his feelings. He looks genuinely terrified when faced with Marley's ghost.
   And George C. Scott? Here is where Scott shines because he takes the poetic dialog of Dickens and he manages to make it seem like he's really saying those things. He's not acting or reciting. He's talking, making him the more naturalistic of the two Scrooges. Scott's Scrooge is a human being, a man who let his tragic childhood turn him against the world, and who let his pursuit of wealth cut him off from people who cared about him. Scott makes you believe he could change his ways, that there's still something of the young man who loved his sister deep inside the hard crust of Ebenezer Scrooge.
   So anyway, having watched both versions fairly close together, I'm still not sure which I like best. And fortunately, I don't have to choose. I can watch both every Christmas season and enjoy what each has to offer.

Friday, December 14, 2012

On the Shoulders of Giants

   I had told my friends that when I got a copy of Blind Shadows I was going to shelve it between books by Karl Edward Wagner and Manly Wade Wellman, not because I have any illusions that my work belongs beside theirs, but because they were the two biggest influences on me when I was writing my part of the novel. My Co-author, James A. Moore agreed that we should dedicate Blind Shadows to Wagner because he had been a big influence on Jim as well.


  I'm feeling decidedly author-ish this week having received my comp copies of Blind Shadows. As you can see, Bruce is suitably impressed. Actually he's probably wondering how that dust jacket would taste. Fear not, they are out of his reach now.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


   Very good night at the comic book store last night. In fact, about as good as it gets for me, as there were reprint collections by two of my favorite comic book artists, Russ Manning and Jack Kirby.
   Manning was also representing one of my top three favorite fictional characters, Tarzan of the Apes, so it was a double for his book. This was volume one of Dark Horse Comics' Tarzan: The Russ Manning Years, and it reprints some of the comics that my mother collected and some of the first things that I ever read. In fact these comics helped me learn to read, as I have talked about before.
   Along with writer Gaylord Dubois, Russ Manning illustrated a series of adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels and this volume features adaptations of Tarzan of the Apes, The Return of Tarzan, The Beasts of Tarzan, The Son of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, Tarzan the Untamed, and Tarzan the Terrible. All of these are illustrated by Manning, whose smooth, graceful drawing style is just as fresh today as it was in the 1960s. Manning drew a noble, powerful (but not muscle bound) Tarzan. His scenes of the jungle are lush and exotic. His animals are accurately rendered. He drew beautiful women and fantastic lost cities. He was the perfect choice for the Tarzan comic book and later for the Sunday Newspaper strip. And he is my absolute favorite Tarzan artist. So yeah, glad to get this one.
   The Jack Kirby book was the second and final collection of Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth, Kirby's post-apocalyptic, Planet of the Apes style comic. But in Kirby's World, almost all animals have evolved into creatures of human intelligence, so Kamandi (named for Command-D, the bunker he was raised in) has to deal with not only talking gorillas, but talking dogs, baboons, tigers, dolphins, and other intelligent beasts. This collection features one of my favorite issues, #29, which offers tantalizing glimpses of what became of the world's Greatest Superhero in the Great Disaster. A story called 'The Legend' reveals that somewhere perhaps, Superman is still alive. Great stuff.
   And interesting connection between these two books is artist Mike Royer. Royer was the primary Inker for Kamandi and he also assisted Manning on some of the art reprinted in the Tarzan book. Both Manning and Kirby lived in California at the time and Royer ended up working for both of them. Bet he'd have some stories to tell. Anyway, two great books.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Robert E. Howard's Pirate Adventures Coming Soon

  The fine folks at the Robert E. Howard Foundation have posted the cover for the next in their teriffic series of books featuring the writings of REH. This time out it's Howard's pirate stories and verse. Should be fun. Damon C. Sasser has posted the contents here:

Check it out.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Broadway Bounty

Broadway Bounty is my second visit with Robert J. Randisi's bounty hunter, Decker. I picked up Bounty on a Baron in a used bookstore and liked it enough to look into the rest of the series. After I read the plot of Broadway Bounty, I knew I'd have to get that one. In this book, Decker travels to New York City to avenge the backshooting of an old friend, a fellow bounty hunter named Dover.
   Decker goes on the hunt for the man who hired the gunmen who killed his friend and soon finds himself the target of the same man.
   I love this sort of fish out of water story, with the Western bred Decker trying to adjust to the Wild Wild East. The streets of new York are not the kind of canyons Decker is used to and he has to adjust to a different kind of man hunt. But Decker learns fast and soon he's dispensing his own brand of frontier justice on the city slickers.
   This is a fast paced Western with good supporting characters, a couple of nasty bad guys, and even a romantic subplot. It's under 200 pages so I read it in a couple of hours. Just like with Bounty on A Baron, I was very impressed with Randisi's stripped down prose. No words are wasted as he drags you along with Decker. I'm currently reading one of Randisi's Gunsmith books and enjoying it tremendously. More on that later.
   The bad news is there appear to be only five book in the Decker series. The good news is, they are available on Kindle so you don't have to hunt down the paperbacks if you don't want to.
   Oh I did notice that Randisi has continued his practice of crossovers from his private eye days. Back when I was reading the Miles Jacoby PI books, Randisi would often reference other writers private eyes, like if he needed information on a suspect in Detroit, Jacoby might call Loren D. Estleman's Amos Walker. Estleman gets a nod in one of the Decker books when Decker mentions US Marshall Page Murdoch, who has his own series. And the Gunsmith knows Jim West from the Wild Wild West. I love stuff like that.

Weekend Report

 Had a fairly quiet weekend, which was what I wanted. Did a good bit of reading. I read Broadway Bounty by Robert J. Randisi, which I'll review in my next post. Did some non fiction reading about Charles Dickens and the Pre-Raphaelites. That led to me writing a post about Conan comics artist Barry Windsor Smith and his connection to the Pre-Raphaelites, which I deleted after about ten minutes because I decided I hadn't done the subject or the artists justice. Expect to see an expanded version of that later with more information.
   Read a bunch of stories from volume #12 of the Dark Horse Savage Sword of Conan reprints which led to the post below about Rudy Nebres. Overall the stories in this book aren't terribly well written, but there's some good art. Chuck Dixon will be along in volume #13 and the writing quality will improve.
   Movie and TV wise I watched the Christmas episode from the first season of the regenerated Doctor Who, The Unquiet Dead, which features Charles Dickens and zombies. Now THAT's a Christmas episode. Also watched several episodes of Kung Fu. I'm about halfway through season two on my re-watch of the entire series. The show has hit its stride and there are some really well done stories.
   I watched Scrooge,  the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. This is one of my two favorite versions of Dickens' classic. What's the other? That would be telling. I'll try to put up a post about both versions in the not too distant future.
   Otherwise I spent the weekend just chillin and watching my cat Bruce practice his mixed martial arts moves on my Christmas Tree.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Savage Spotlight: Rudy Nebres

   I was talking to my pal Mikeyboy over at the Crom! blog and we were lamenting how we miss Marvel Comics' black & white magazine The Savage Sword of Conan. If you were reading this blog about this time last year you may recall a series of essays I did, waxing nostalgic about my days as a kid reading SSoC. I miss those bright and garish covers that promised and often delivered so much exotic action and adventure. Nothing really like that on the comics stands these days.
   Anyway, it made me want to write a bit more about Savage Sword, so I'm inaugurating a new occasional feature here at Singular Points, The Savage Showcase. I'll talk about anything that comes to mind dealing with SSoC. This week I was looking through the latest volume of SSoC reprints from Dark Horse Comics, #12, and I was reminded of one of my favorite artists from the 70s-80s, who only occasionally graced the pages of Savage Sword, Rudy Nebres.
   Nebres migrated from the Philippines to the US in 1975, when the big two comic book companies, Marvel and DC, were bringing in a bunch of Filipino artists, including Alex Nino, Ernie Chan, and Alfredo Alcala, all of who did work on Conan the Barbarian. I'll talk about each of these guys at some point, but the spotlight is on Rudy today.
   My first exposure to Rudy Nebres was actually on another Marvel black and white mag, The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. Nebres was drawing the Iron Fist feature in Deadly Hands and I loved it. Chris Claremont, who was writing the title at the time, steered clear of the usual superheroics of the color Iron Fist comic and wrote a more fantasy oriented storyline which was well suited by Nebres' lush illustrative style. Really Nebres would have been a natural for sword & sorcery from the get go, but at that time the great John Buscema was turning out some of his best work on Conan so the Cimmerian wasn't available. (Nebres did ink a couple of Big John's stories and they look spectacular.)
   A little further down the line though, Buscema had moved on and Nebres got to come in and show what he could do with everyone's favorite barbarian. I'm giving you two examples, a pin-up and a page of continuity. The comic pages is from SSoC #121, which is reprinted in the aforementioned Dark Horse volume #12. The pin-up appeared in issue #123.
   Over the years Nebres would work for most of the comics companies, including DC, Marvel, Red Circle, Warren and Continuity. He's still drawing today and is available for commissions.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Full Treasury

  A while back I mentioned that I was trying to get all four of the Marvel Treasury Editions that featured Conan the Barbarian without paying an arm and a leg. I kept a close watch on Ebay for these 10"X13" giant comics and last week my diligence paid off. I found a very nice copy of Marvel Treasury Edition #4 for a good price and I snapped it up. It arrived in the mail yesterday. Of the four, this was the only one that I'd owned a copy of when I was a kid. I remembered it well because it was the first look I had at two Roy Thomas/Barry (pre-Windsor) Smith adaptations of original Robert E. Howard Conan stories, Rogues in the House and Red Nails. Both are well done with Red Nails being particularly impressive, showcasing what was perhaps Smith's best art on the series. Rogues in the House is probably my favorite single Conan story and I read this comic before I read the REH prose story, so Smith's visions of the foppish nobleman Murilo, the evil red priest Nabonidus, and the ape-like Thak definitely colored my impressions of the story when I finally read it.
   So anyway, there's another collection complete. Now, what can I hunt down next...

Friday, December 07, 2012

I'm Going to Have a Merry Christmas if it Kills Me

   I am determined to have a good Christmas season. The last few years I've let the Holiday pass with barely a ripple. Like many adults I blamed this on growing older and the commercialism of the season, and blah blah blah. But really, as Abraham Lincoln observed, most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be, so I decided to put forth some effort this year.
   I've already blogged about laying in a good supply of Christmas reading material in the form of Sexton Blake stories, but I've added more books to the mix and I'll talk about that soon. I'm lining up a bunch of Christmas movies too. I have put up a tree, which is something I haven't done in a long time. Of course my cat Bruce knocks it over about twice a day, (He attempted to climb it within the first ten minutes of me setting it up.) but hey, it's giving him a good Christmas so what the hey.
   Most importantly, I've been making sure to help others out at this time of year when "want is keenly felt, and abundance rejoices" by donating to various charities who need a boost at Christmas time.
   And I have to say, that here, three weeks before Christmas, I'm already enjoying the season more than I have in years. It just takes a little effort. Okay, end of heartwarming post. Back to the usual foolishness.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Now It Can Be Told

   A while back I discovered the British book publisher Angry Robot through a display at Barnes & Noble. They put out a lot of dark fantasy and the book that caught my attention was Kell's Legend by Andy Remic. I enjoyed that one and read several other books from the company, most of which I've reviewed here at Singular Points.
   Anyway, as I was reading the work in progress manuscript for my pal James A. Moore's fantasy novel, Seven Forges, I noted that its dark and gritty tone seemed like a perfect match for Angry Robot, so I suggested that Jim try submitting Seven Forges there. He did, and I'm proud to announce that Angry Robot has officially picked up Seven Forges for publication in 2013. I couldn't say anything about it until the deal was finished, but Jim has announced it on his blog, so now it can be told.
   This makes me very happy. Congratulations, Jim.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Belated Blogiversary

   I just remembered that I missed the sixth year anniversary of Singular Points. I started this blog on November 1st, 2006. I've been at this a while. According to the stats reader, this will be the 1403rd post I've made. Quite a lot of words and I'm still having fun, which is the whole point of a blog like this.
   So thanks to everyone who stops by to see what I'm going on about. I've made some friends through this blog and learned a ton of stuff from the various comments, links, and such that folks have provided. Hopefully I can continue to share books, comics, movies, etc that are not without their singular points of interest, as Sherlock Holmes might say.

Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration

   Okay, seriously, if you're a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs' immortal creation Tarzan of the Apes, then you need this book. I'm saying this as a guy who owns dozens of books about Tarzan. Scott Tracy Griffin has done Tarzan fans a huge service by putting together this big, colorful coffee table book about everyone's favorite jungle lord.
   The book starts with a biography of Burroughs, then moves to chapters devoted to each of the two dozen Tarzan novels. Each book gets the star treatment, with a detailed synopsis, covers and illustrations from the original magazine appearances, then covers from the various hardback and paperback versions and even covers of the multiple comic book adaptations, many of these shot from the original art. Frank Frazetta. Russ Manning. Hal Foster. Thomas Yeates. Joe Jusko. Roy Krenkel. John Allen St. John. Names to conjure with. The book is printed on heavy paper so these illustrations really stand out. I was particularly taken with the covers from the 1960s Gold Key comics, as these were my introduction to Tarzan.
   In between these features, Griffin has done essays on Jane, Korak, Nkima, Jad bal ja, and the other characters who appeared in the books over the years. Learn about the various lost civilizations that Tarzan discovered and speculate on just what species were the apes that raised the jungle lord. There's even a full glossary of the ape language that Burroughs invented so you too can learn to speak ape. (I already do but I could use a refresher.)
   The book covers all the movies and television versions of Tarzan as well with plenty of photographs and loads of behind the scenes information. This really is a celebration of 100 years of Tarzan and it's hard to imagine a more thorough look at the lord of the jungle. Highly recommended.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Happy Birthday Conan!

   December marks the 80th anniversary of the first publication of Robert E. Howard's Conan. The December 1932  issue of Weird Tales featured the very first Conan story, The Phoenix on the Sword. Please join me in wishing the big guy a happy birthday. Conan is a pop culture icon and one of my very favorite characters. The world would be a poorer place without him.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Meme

   My pal Howard Andrew Jones, whose new novel The Bones of the Old ones is due out this month, invited me to take part in The Next big Thing blog meme. That deal is that several different writers would answer the same group of questions about their work. You can read Howard's answers and see links to other writers here:

   And now, on with the questions.

What is the working title of your book?

   Since my first novel, written in collaboration with James A. Moore, is shipping this week, that's the one I'll talk about. The title is Blind Shadows. We've already done a first draft of a second novel with the same protagonists, but I'll leave that until later.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

   Jim asked me if I wanted to collaborate on a novel that would combine horror with crime fiction and I said, "sure!" We tossed some ideas around and decided we wanted to something in the vein of Arthur Machen (The Great God Pan), something where the bad guys would appear to be human but really weren't. We decided to make these creatures members of a backwoods family and to set the story in the mountains of northern Georgia. We wanted the book to have a Southern Gothic feel to it. With guns.

What genre does your book fall under?

   It's either a horror novel with crime fiction or a crime fiction novel with horror.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version.

   I can't really think of anyone from the current crop of Hollywood actors. Both heroes, Wade Griffin and Sheriff Carl Price are big bruisers. Probably have to go with unknowns for the leads.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of the book?

   A private detective and a small town sheriff investigate the murder of an old friend and become involved with a horrific menace from another dimension.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

   Blind Shadows is being published by the Arcane Wisdom imprint of Bloodletting Press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

   It took right at eight weeks. Jim and I were trading chapters back and forth at a dizzying speed. Jim described it to another writer friend as juggling knives at one another.

What other books would you compare this story with in your genre?

   The closest thing I can think of is Joe Lansdale's Hap and Leonard books. But with monsters. It's kind of like a really scary buddy movie.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

   After Machen, probably the biggest influences as far as the horror aspects go were Karl Edward Wagner and Manly Wade Wellman. There's some Lovecraft there too. Crime fiction wise, Mickey Spillane is a big influence on my viewpoint character, Griffin. Also the heroes of Robert E. Howard. You would have to ask Jim Moore who influenced him when writing Sheriff Carl Price. I think of this as a very pulpish novel. Imagine a head on collision between Weird Tales and Black Mask and you would be close.

What else about your book might pique the interest of readers?

   Jim and I wanted to do something uniquely Southern so we're using a setting that hasn't been seen in many horror novels. We really were trying for something different. Oh, and there's also the world's most dangerous English Professor.

   James A. Moore has joined the game with information about his Next big Thing, the first volume in a projected fantasy series, The seven Forges. Check it out here:

Doing Your Homework

   I mentioned a few posts back that I was working on a Weird Western story. A couple of folks have emailed, asking how that's going. Well truthfully it stalled out at about 10,000 words because I read back through it and said to myself, "This reads like it was written by someone who read about half a dozen Westerns and decided he could write one." Well, duh.
   So I set about gathering reference books and more Westerns and I've been reading my way through those. The photo doesn't even begin to show a quarter of the stuff. There's a ton of newer Westerns on my Kindle by folks like Wayne Dundee, James Reasoner, and of course, Peter Brandvold/Frank Leslie. In fact I picked up all of the Yakima Henry books yesterday at a used bookstore.
   Also, I learned a ton of stuff while I was in Santa Fe in October which showed me how much I'd gotten wrong in terms of the landscape in that area. I asked a lot of questions, made a lot of notes, and bought a lot of books while I was there and I visited all the historical places I wanted to use in my story.
   So I'll be back to the West but right now I'm doing my homework.