How Far Is Too Far?

Psst-Masked-GirlI keep most of my New Pulp writing in the PG-13 range but I’ve been known to cross “the line” on occasion… some of you may remember when Sun Koh mutilated a rapist in an old Peregrine story, for instance. And my novel Rabbit Heart is basically a study in excess! Whenever I thought that I might be pushing the envelope too far in that book, I went ahead and tore it open.

But when is it *really* too far?

I’ve kept hardcore sex and violence out of Lazarus Gray, for instance, but there’s an element of subjectivity there, as with all artistic endeavors. When I wrote The Damned Thing, there was a scene early on that involved oral sex. To be honest, I’d forgotten about it by the time it saw print — it was just a brief character moment and believe it or not, not every scene sticks in the mind of the person who wrote it (I write a lot of scenes…). So when it came out, I had a reader who went on and on about that scene and how much it disturbed them. I didn’t even remember what they were talking about! See, for them, that was shocking and extremely memorable. For me, it was no big deal. So you never know how folks will respond.

But there are times when even I know that I might be going into territory that would be best left undisturbed. I’ve mentioned before that I started writing a sequel to Rabbit Heart — it was going to be titled Starstruck. In fact, I wrote about 12,000 words on it, meaning it’s about 20% complete. But even as I was writing the opening scenes of Starstruck, I knew that this probably couldn’t see print. Despite how far I’d gone with Rabbit Heart, I went a lot further into the disturbing territory with just the first 12,000 words on Starstruck. There is at least one scene in there that I think would be hard for people to get out of their heads when they thought of me… and I’m not quite sure I want to go there.

Nobody’s read Starstruck – not even people who’ve really begged & pleaded! I’ve thought about finishing it but it’s so dark and if I didn’t publish it, what would be the point? I’ve considered completing it and then sticking it in a box with a note to say that it could be published after I was dead & gone but then I’d miss the perverse pleasure of seeing people freak out!

On the other hand, I don’t want to tone the story down, either. If I’m going to write disgusting smut then by God, I’m going to write disgusting smut!

Anyway, I think that I’ll continue staying on the PG-13 path for most of my New Pulp work – I often try to craft stories that will appeal to adolescent boys the way that classic pulp did me when I was that age. A little titillation is fine but I try not to veer too far into adult territory. Of course, sometimes the characters demand their course of action (like Sun Koh did in that Peregrine story) and often what I consider PG-13 isn’t what someone else would. In fact, I had one lady tell me she’d never let her 15 year old son read my books because they contained too many “demonic” elements.

In the end, the work puts whatever restrictions on itself that feel appropriate. When I’m writing The Peregrine, there’s a certain feeling to the world that lets me know the basic parameters, even if I sometimes bump against the guard rails.

The “Other” Hero of The Peregrine Chronicles

Today I figured we’d spend a few minutes talking about the ‘other’ hero of The Peregrine Chronicles. Will McKenzie is introduced in the second Peregrine story and soon becomes not only best friend to our hero Max Davies but also a frequent companion on his adventures.

Some of the highlights include:

1937 – Will arrives in Atlanta and is introduced to Max by the mysterious Benson, a man who has risen above tragedy in his own life to become a hero in the employ of the government. The youngest police chief in the nation, Will has movie-star good looks and a fierce attraction both both the ladies and to danger. As we’ll see, the combination of those two interests is a particular problem for him! In his debut appearance, Will heads off into the Atlanta underground to help foil a vampire uprising “Kingdom of Blood”, The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One).

1939 – Max and Evelyn become parents to a son that they name William, after their good friend (“Abominations,” The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One). Later in the year, Will and an ex-girlfriend named Violet Cambridge become embroiled in a horrific adventure surrounding a cursed object, an ancient cult and Aleister Crowley (The Damned Thing).

1940 – Will travels to Berlin with The Peregrine and The Domino Lady to confront the organization known as Bloodwerks (“Bloodwerks, The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One).

1941 – Kidnapped by a Nazi agent known as The Iron Maiden, Will is able to not only escape her clutches but convince her that she’s fighting on the wrong side. Kirsten Bauer and Will are soon married (“The Iron Maiden,” The Peregrine Volume One).

Later in the Forties, we learn that Will and Kirsten are struggling to have a child. As of this writing, we don’t know if they ever succeeded or not. Will is actually in most of The Peregrine stories after his introduction but the above are some of the best. If you’re a big fan of Will, I’d definitely suggest you seek out “Kingdom of Blood” and The Damned Thing, both of which feature him very prominently.

All Kinds of Updates!

into_darknessThings are really busy lately so I figured I’d update you on a few of the projects I’ve got in the works.

First, the cover to my upcoming novella for A Song of Blades and Heroes game world is presented here today. It’s by Andrea Sfiligoi and I think it’s a gorgeous piece of work! Assuming the Kickstarter gets funded – and it looks like it will – you should see this sometime in early 2016. The world is high fantasy and features intelligent fungi, powerful warriors and lots of the supernatural.

In other words, it’s just my cup of tea!

Also, I’ve gotten a couple of great images that play into Lazarus Gray Volume 6 – one by Ted Hammond and the other from Chris Batista. I’m currently writing the second story that will make up Volume 6 and hope to be finished with the writing of the entire book before the end of the year.

I’m on page 28 of the edits for Götterdämmerung, the crossover novel that features Lazarus, The Peregrine and Gravedigger (plus many more!). Pro Se Press hopes to get this one out before the calendar flips over to 2016.

Once I’m finished writing the current Lazarus story, I have to jump over to do a Warden story and then I’ll be back to finish off Volume 6.

Beyond that… what would folks like to see? Something entirely new? Gravedigger Volume 3? A new Peregrine story?

Let me know, folks!

A Visit With… The Warden!

Steven Hudkins is the creator of a an exciting new hero, The Warden. I’ll be contributing a short story to the canon soon and I thought all of you would like the opportunity to learn more about Steven and his creation!
1. Tell us a bit about your secret origin, Steven. How did your incredible writing powers develop?

I wish they were incredible, my editor wouldn’t have to work so hard! When I was young, I decided I’d either become a film director or a novelist. It wasn’t until I was a little bit older that I really discovered comics. In a way, it combines the two art forms. Cinematography is a huge part of writing comics. After that, I just began to work it. As I’m sure you know, that’s really the best and only way to become a writer. You have to put in the time. I never took any classes, but there are hundreds of resources online that teach you how to tell a good story. I am also in a critique group, so we try to become better writers together. When I am ready to move forward with a project, I always work with an editor to make sure the script is top-notch.

2. The Warden seems to have some strong pulp influences – can you tell us about your past with pulp? What characters or stories resonated with you?

When I was younger, I was obsessed with film. I also loved fantasy, so I was a fan of the Conan and Kull movies (bad acting and all!). From the movies, I discovered the stories by Robert E. Howard. That was my gateway into pulp, really. I started with the really well-known authors, like Howard and Lovecraft, but then I learned about specific characters like Doc Savage. It was new territory for me and I really had to work to find pulp books. Mostly, I found them at flea markets or garage sales. I love Doc Savage, but I think Conan the Barbarian would have to be my favorite character. Howard has an incredible talent of taking a story with all these fantasy and supernatural elements and making it believable. Conan has all of these larger than life experiences, but Howard makes you believe every word of it. I’m still expecting archeologists to find evidence Conan existed.

3. Who is The Warden?

The Warden is a man with a unique quality. Every time he dies, he is reborn and his life starts over. Memories of his past lives often come to him in flashes or dreams and he uses the skills and experiences remembered to fight the supernatural. The main story is set at the turn of the 20th century. Science and industry are beginning to shine a light on the world, but casting deep shadows. The Warden is the one that delves into the darkness to prevent the shadows from engulfing the light.

4. Tell us about the Kickstarter involving the character – who’s involved and what’s coming out of it?

We have 13 total collaborators on the project, so it’s a big team! Our team is also a great mix of full-time professionals and a handful of up-and-comers. We are creating five short comic stories and one written story, then binding it all together in a beautiful hardcover. The first story, “Swamp Magic”, is already completed and is a free download on the Kickstarter page. George Sellas handled all of the art and did an incredible job. The other stories are scripted and ready to begin production. I wanted each story to have a slightly different feel to it, so they all take place at different times in the Warden’s life and in different locations. One story is set in the jungles of India while another is set in a boxing gym in Boston. This is the first appearance of the Warden, so I wanted to introduce the character in a broad way while leaving the origin story for later. Each story has a different artist and colorist as well, allowing for each artist’s style to suit the storyline. For instance, Jen Hickman has a softer, flowing style, so she is illustrating “Death Waltz”, which adapts a folk tale of a ghost seeking revenge during a wedding dance.

5. Any links or websites you want us to check out?

The Kickstarter page is the big one, but feel free to follow the project on Facebook as well!