Today we’re turning the blog over to Mark Beaulieu, whom I’ve known since our shared days at Marvel Volume One (MV1), a huge fanfiction project that now seems to have existed in some long-ago semi-mythical era where talented writers argued over rules and regulations of a completely fictitious fanfiction “company”… and worked together to weave a tapestry of epic excitement.
Or something like that.
Anyway, Mark is a longtime friend and I was thrilled when he asked if he could contribute a guest blog post to my site — and I was even more humbled when I read the words that follow. Without further ado, here’s Mark Beaulieu:
I remember where I was when I read the first volume of The Rook. There was construction going on at the University of Hartford while I was teaching a summer course. I couldn’t go to the normal cafeteria for lunch so I’d lug over to the Hawk’s Nest (a cafeteria in the student dorms). I’d read The Rook while eating lunch and eating Buffalo chicken wraps.
Mmmmm….sorry I’ll get back on track.
I was blown away by Barry’s writing style. I had read some of his fan fiction, but this was much better. He had really grown as a writer. The Rook was a well-developed character that engaged in high action stories with supernatural baddies. And I’m a sucker for Nazi villains. I blame the old Captain America comics I read as a kid and of course the great Raiders of the Lost Ark movie (easily one of the best movies ever made). After reading this book, I looked for more like it. I got the next few Rook books and The Damned Thing. I enjoyed them all.
Barry’s books led me to look at other titles. In particular, How the West was Weird volumes 1 and 2. I absolutely love the second volume of that series. The first volume is good, but the second is much stronger, in my opinion. This introduced me to the work of Derrick Ferguson and Ron Fortier. The Sebastian Red stories in those two volumes are absolutely fantastic. Ron’s story in the second volume is also great. I knew Tony Wilson and Mark Bousquet before seeing their stories in the second volume, but Tony’s story is my favorite one in the anthology. It’s a Jonah Hex type story and it’s excellent. Mark’s story is part of a much bigger story arc and works on its own, but the later stories really add to that universe.
Now I’ve started copy editing for Pro Se Productions and I’m really enjoying that. I wouldn’t be editing for anyone if it wasn’t for Barry’s Rook books. This may bother Van Allen Plexico, but I was reading his books in a vacuum. I didn’t realize he was part of a larger movement. I really enjoyed Van’s Sentinel books and I’ll buy and read anything Van writes, but I was buying those as a friend and didn’t pay attention to any discussion of new pulp. Sorry Van. I also read Mark Bousquet’s stuff and I owe him for being a major supporter of my writing (what little I’ve done) but again I was reading his stuff in a vacuum. I feel strongly that I owe it to friends to buy their stuff if I like it and I’ve always enjoyed Mark’s and Van’s books. Heck, Dreamer’s Syndrome hit every button I could ask for as a reader. I couldn’t believe how good that book was when I read it. There aren’t many books I enjoyed more than that. However, I was reading these without understanding there was a larger world of small press books. It was really Barry’s The Rook that opened my eyes to the larger world of new pulp.
And I think my life is better for it.
Mark Beaulieu is the writer/creator of the upcoming Ulysses King anthology from Pro Se.