What Are You Doing, Barry?

emma-watson-elle-2011-8_thumbI ask myself that all the time.

I finished off the Captain Action novel awhile back and it was sent off to the guys at Airship 27 plus the license holders. Editor-in-Chief Ron Fortier gave the book a big thumb’s up so I think it’s probably on the fast track to getting published. I had a blast writing it and working with Jim Beard.

I also completed the Nightveil novel — “The Quiet Girls.” I’m really proud of that one and I’m hoping that Tommy Hancock at Pro Se and Bill Black at AC Comics approve of what I’ve done. I created a few new characters in this one and I think that some of them would make for good recurring foes and friends for Laura Wright. We’ll see if anybody at AC wants to incorporate the story into the comic book canon.

I’m currently working on the second story for Lazarus Gray Volume Eight. “Wait,” you ask, “shouldn’t that read Volume Seven?” No — I’ve already written book seven and it’s already in the hands of the good folks at Pro Se. It should appear later this year, though I suspect it will be after the third book in the Gravedigger series — also complete and at the publisher.

It’s good to be ahead on deadlines, isn’t it?

If you guys have any questions about upcoming works, feel free to ask away!

Writers That Have Inspired Me

EmmaWatson-HarryCrowder03I’m not going to go in-depth as to why these guys have influenced me since in many ways, it would be hard to nail it down. These are authors that have been favorites of mine and are ones that when I read them, I consciously go “Wow, look how they did that! I want to be able to do that!” I certainly read and enjoy other authors besides just these guys but these are the ones that I’d list as inspirations (in no order other than what popped in my head). Some of them have styles that are very different from my own but I still feel like I’ve taken something from them along the way.

Paul Ernst

Robert E. Howard

Walter Gibson

Stephen King (“old” King anyway — ’70s & ’80s)

Michael Moorcock (Elric specifically)

Rob MacGregor (his Indiana Jones work)

Andy McDermott

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Frank Herbert (his Dune series)

Timothy Zahn

Chris Claremont

Clive Cussler

Marv Wolfman

Geoff Johns

Jim Shooter

Wayne Reinagel

Arthur Conan Doyle

Derrick Ferguson

F. Scott Fitzgerald

From the Vault: Dangerous Curves Ahead

Emma Watson hotI gave a how-to writing class to a group of high schoolers about four years ago and one of the young men asked me how I wrote female characters. Having written several books starring female protagonists (The Damned Thing, Rabbit Heart and Gravedigger all come to mind), I immediately had a response. I said that you should always start thinking of your characters as people first and gender later. I told him that there is no one “type” of woman out there… there are women who cry at the drop of a hat but then there are women who are tough as nails. There are women who love to shop and wear pink… there are also women who love mixed martial arts and who can drink any man under the table. There are even women who love to wear pink, cry at the drop of a hat, are still tough as nails, love mixed martial arts *and* can drink any man under the table.

Women are people first. The same goes for different races or anything, really.

I also told him that if he were still worried, to look at the women around him — his friends, his family, his sisters. Think about how multifaceted those women are and then incorporate that into his work.

When I was creating Gravedigger, I thought of ways to make her different from my other characters — but not once did I think of her gender as being a personality trait. She’s a much harder-edged character than Lazarus Gray, because of her life experiences. Yes, she’s a beautiful woman… yes, she could be a mother someday. But she’s a human being first. I don’t need to worry about writing “women” because I know how to write “people.” I mean, I am one!

Yes, sometimes you should incorporate differences into female characters but again, if you know more than a handful of women, you’ll know how different they all can be — some poke fun at men, some don’t. Some like to smoke, drink and swear. Some don’t. Some women would never have sex with a man outside of a committed relationship. Some women see nothing wrong with ‘Friends with Benefits.’

Never assume that a woman — or a man, for that matter — can’t act one way just because of their gender. We have certain societal norms, yes, but the degrees to which we all fall inside or outside of them vary tremendously.

When it comes to sexualizing your characters, you have to know your character, your story and your audience. With my heroines, all of them are beautiful, yes — but this is adventure fiction. The women are beautiful and the men are handsome. I never try to objectify my female characters any more than I do the male ones — in other words, I do objectify them in the sense that they’re attractive and this is mentioned… but they’re far more than that. Pulp is escapism and part of the appeal is that our heroes (male & female) are larger-than-life. They’re gorgeous, they’re brave and they’re heroic. They’re idealized. Even in Rabbit Heart, which is highly charged with sex and violence, I don’t think I treat the women in the story any different than I do the males — some of them are very emotionally unstable, some are promiscuous and some are just downright nasty… but that’s true of both genders in the story. And Fiona Grace, though driven by powerful needs, is still an idealized heroine who rises above it all. Yes, Fiona’s outfit on the cover is risque — but if you read the story, you’ll know there’s a major reason why it’s shown that way. The story deals with archetypes and the way society views them — and Fiona is forced to play that part, to a degree.

So keep the focus on the *person* and not the gender… in the long run, it’ll pay off for you!

Writers Who Have Inspired Me

EmmaWatson-HarryCrowder03I’m not going to go in-depth as to why these guys have influenced me since in many ways, it would be hard to nail it down. These are authors that have been favorites of mine and are ones that when I read them, I consciously go “Wow, look how they did that! I want to be able to do that!” I certainly read and enjoy other authors besides just these guys but these are the ones that I’d list as inspirations (in no order other than what popped in my head). Some of them have styles that are very different from my own but I still feel like I’ve taken something from them along the way.

Paul Ernst

Robert E. Howard

Walter Gibson

Stephen King (“old” King anyway — ’70s & ’80s)

Michael Moorcock (Elric specifically)

Rob MacGregor (his Indiana Jones work)

Andy McDermott

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Frank Herbert (his Dune series)

Timothy Zahn

Chris Claremont

Clive Cussler

Marv Wolfman

Geoff Johns

Jim Shooter

Wayne Reinagel

Arthur Conan Doyle

Derrick Ferguson

From the Vault: Dangerous Curves Ahead

Emma Watson hotI gave a how-to writing class to a group of high schoolers about three years ago and one of the young men asked me how I wrote female characters. Having written several books starring female protagonists (The Damned Thing, Rabbit Heart and Gravedigger all come to mind), I immediately had a response. I said that you should always start thinking of your characters as people first and gender later. I told him that there is no one “type” of woman out there… there are women who cry at the drop of a hat but then there are women who are tough as nails. There are women who love to shop and wear pink… there are also women who love mixed martial arts and who can drink any man under the table. There are even women who love to wear pink, cry at the drop of a hat, are still tough as nails, love mixed martial arts *and* can drink any man under the table.

Women are people first. The same goes for different races or anything, really.

I also told him that if he were still worried, to look at the women around him — his friends, his family, his sisters. Think about how multifaceted those women are and then incorporate that into his work.

When I was creating Gravedigger, I thought of ways to make her different from my other characters — but not once did I think of her gender as being a personality trait. She’s a much harder-edged character than Lazarus Gray, because of her life experiences. Yes, she’s a beautiful woman… yes, she could be a mother someday. But she’s a human being first. I don’t need to worry about writing “women” because I know how to write “people.” I mean, I am one!

Yes, sometimes you should incorporate differences into female characters but again, if you know more than a handful of women, you’ll know how different they all can be — some poke fun at men, some don’t. Some like to smoke, drink and swear. Some don’t. Some women would never have sex with a man outside of a committed relationship. Some women see nothing wrong with ‘Friends with Benefits.’

Never assume that a woman — or a man, for that matter — can’t act one way just because of their gender. We have certain societal norms, yes, but the degrees to which we all fall inside or outside of them vary tremendously.

When it comes to sexualizing your characters, you have to know your character, your story and your audience. With my heroines, all of them are beautiful, yes — but this is adventure fiction. The women are beautiful and the men are handsome. I never try to objectify my female characters any more than I do the male ones — in other words, I do objectify them in the sense that they’re attractive and this is mentioned… but they’re far more than that. Pulp is escapism and part of the appeal is that our heroes (male & female) are larger-than-life. They’re gorgeous, they’re brave and they’re heroic. They’re idealized. Even in Rabbit Heart, which is highly charged with sex and violence, I don’t think I treat the women in the story any different than I do the males — some of them are very emotionally unstable, some are promiscuous and some are just downright nasty… but that’s true of both genders in the story. And Fiona Grace, though driven by powerful needs, is still an idealized heroine who rises above it all. Yes, Fiona’s outfit on the cover is risque — but if you read the story, you’ll know there’s a major reason why it’s shown that way. The story deals with archetypes and the way society views them — and Fiona is forced to play that part, to a degree.

So keep the focus on the *person* and not the gender… in the long run, it’ll pay off for you!

Writers Who Have Inspired Me

EmmaWatson-HarryCrowder03I’m not going to go in-depth as to why these guys have influenced me since in many ways, it would be hard to nail it down. These are authors that have been favorites of mine and are ones that when I read them, I consciously go “Wow, look how they did that! I want to be able to do that!” I certainly read and enjoy other authors besides just these guys but these are the ones that I’d list as inspirations (in no order other than what popped in my head). Some of them have styles that are very different from my own but I still feel like I’ve taken something from them along the way.

Paul Ernst

Robert E. Howard

Walter Gibson

Stephen King (“old” King anyway — ’70s & ’80s)

Michael Moorcock (Elric specifically)

Rob MacGregor (his Indiana Jones work)

Andy McDermott

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Frank Herbert (his Dune series)

Timothy Zahn

Chris Claremont

Clive Cussler

Marv Wolfman

Geoff Johns

Jim Shooter

Wayne Reinagel

Arthur Conan Doyle

Derrick Ferguson

From the Vault: Dangerous Curves Ahead

Emma Watson hotI gave a how-to writing class to a group of high schoolers about two years ago and one of the young men asked me how I wrote female characters. Having written several books starring female protagonists (The Damned Thing, Rabbit Heart and Gravedigger all come to mind), I immediately had a response. I said that you should always start thinking of your characters as people first and gender later. I told him that there is no one “type” of woman out there… there are women who cry at the drop of a hat but then there are women who are tough as nails. There are women who love to shop and wear pink… there are also women who love mixed martial arts and who can drink any man under the table. There are even women who love to wear pink, cry at the drop of a hat, are still tough as nails, love mixed martial arts *and* can drink any man under the table.

Women are people first. The same goes for different races or anything, really.

I also told him that if he were still worried, to look at the women around him — his friends, his family, his sisters. Think about how multifaceted those women are and then incorporate that into his work.

When I was creating Gravedigger, I thought of ways to make her different from my other characters — but not once did I think of her gender as being a personality trait. She’s a much harder-edged character than Lazarus Gray, because of her life experiences. Yes, she’s a beautiful woman… yes, she could be a mother someday. But she’s a human being first. I don’t need to worry about writing “women” because I know how to write “people.” I mean, I am one!

Yes, sometimes you should incorporate differences into female characters but again, if you know more than a handful of women, you’ll know how different they all can be — some poke fun at men, some don’t. Some like to smoke, drink and swear. Some don’t. Some women would never have sex with a man outside of a committed relationship. Some women see nothing wrong with ‘Friends with Benefits.’

Never assume that a woman — or a man, for that matter — can’t act one way just because of their gender. We have certain societal norms, yes, but the degrees to which we all fall inside or outside of them vary tremendously.

When it comes to sexualizing your characters, you have to know your character, your story and your audience. With my heroines, all of them are beautiful, yes — but this is adventure fiction. The women are beautiful and the men are handsome. I never try to objectify my female characters any more than I do the male ones — in other words, I do objectify them in the sense that they’re attractive and this is mentioned… but they’re far more than that. Pulp is escapism and part of the appeal is that our heroes (male & female) are larger-than-life. They’re gorgeous, they’re brave and they’re heroic. They’re idealized. Even in Rabbit Heart, which is highly charged with sex and violence, I don’t think I treat the women in the story any different than I do the males — some of them are very emotionally unstable, some are promiscuous and some are just downright nasty… but that’s true of both genders in the story. And Fiona Grace, though driven by powerful needs, is still an idealized heroine who rises above it all. Yes, Fiona’s outfit on the cover is risque — but if you read the story, you’ll know there’s a major reason why it’s shown that way. The story deals with archetypes and the way society views them — and Fiona is forced to play that part, to a degree.

So keep the focus on the *person* and not the gender… in the long run, it’ll pay off for you!

And Now… Monday!

emma-watson-elle-2011-8_thumbA new week begins, my final one at work for 2013. I’m excited about the Christmas break and looking forward to spending a lot of time with the most important people in my life. I’m going to be trying really hard to finish the current Lazarus Gray story before I go on break but we’ll see how it goes. Once I’m finished with this one, I’ll be one story away from finishing off Volume Five.

And then?

Götterdämmerung!

Yep, the crossover novel starring Lazarus, The Rook and Gravedigger will take center stage on my work schedule. I’m looking forward to it and I have some plans that should please longtime followers of my shared universe.

The Single Shots line from Pro Se is a great idea, I think — I hope all of you read the press release I posted yesterday. I know that some of you have already read those stories but there will be new releases on the way, as well — things that have either never been printed before or have fallen out of print. Might you finally see my old Grimarr or Ki-Gor stories back in this form? We’ll see.In the meantime, be sure to recommend these to friends as a great low-risk way to sample New Pulp, both from me and from others.

Edits are currently ongoing for The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Four: Satan’s Circus, which means that it will soon by slotted onto the Pro Se publishing schedule. Can’t wait for you guys to read this one, as it wraps up so many plot threads that have run through books two and three. I know I’m biased but it’s pretty damned epic!

On the reading front, I’ve been going through a number of new comics and greatly enjoying DC’s Forever Evil event. My favorite crossover since Blackest Night (2009). We also ventured out to see the new Hobbit movie and I really enjoyed it — I think I prefer the first movie just a tiny bit more than this one but I’d still heartily recommend it. Great fun.

We’ll be back tomorrow with the new best seller list — hope your favorite ends up on top!

Another Author Q & A

EmmaWatson-HarryCrowder03Every now and then I let some of the questions I’m asked pile up so I can answer them all at once. The first set of questions were answered here.

Here’s the latest batch! And if you want to play along, just send me a question by replying here or through Facebook!

Will we ever see a Leonid Kaslov novel?

This is probably the most common question I get asked. From the moment my “Russian Doc Savage” appeared in the The Rook Volume Two (“Kaslov’s Fire”), people have wanted more. I did use him in several later stories in The Rook but I’ve never come up with a plot that was worthy of spinning the character off into his own adventures. Originally I had planned to do him as his own thing — in fact, much of “Kaslov’s Fire” was meant to be a Kaslov novel. When I hit a wall with it, I decided to fold it into a Rook story I was working on. In the end, it became one of the best Rook stories I’ve ever written and definitely one of the most popular.

Never say never… but I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to doing a Kaslov solo adventure. Sorry.

Do you plan to do any sword & sorcery stories?

I did a couple, actually. Both featured a Viking warrior named Grimmarr and they were published in Tales of the Norse Gods. It was an anthology issued by Wild Cat Books. The first one was really good — the second I wrote in two days when the editor said they were one story short for the book and couldn’t I help them out… It’s not bad for having been written in 48 hours! The character (and his sword) have since been mentioned in various Rook stories and he gets another shout-out in Lazarus Gray Volume Five that I’m writing right now.

No plans on more s&s in the near future, though.

What are you favorite Rook covers?

Hmm. Tough one! I really like Storn Cook’s cover for the Wild Cat edition of volume one, Norm Breyfogle’s vampire cover for Wild Cat’s volume four edition… and the George Sellas covers for the volume two and three special editions are amazing! Those four are probably my favorites.

How are you so prolific?

I type really fast.

Well, that’s not the only reason — though it helps! I’ve always been a quick writer. I don’t obsess over plot details (as many of you have pointed out! lol)  as I get an idea and just GO. I believe in the pulp mindset: You write. You write a lot. You finish a story. You move on to the next story. Don’t bug me about small details because I don’t have time for them, I have another story to write.

Just keep going. Always.

What comic book characters would you like to translate to prose?

I got this question after doing a Shadowman story for Kindle Worlds. I have a few from various publishers that I’d consider:

DC – Batman, Challengers of the Unknown, Doom Patrol, Kamandi

Marvel – Moon Knight, Agents of Atlas, Captain America (wartime adventure)

Valiant – Eternal Warrior, X-O Manowar, Ninjak, Doctor Mirage

I think those are the main ones.

Have you ever tried to get the license to write XXX?

I removed the character’s name because it’s never a good idea to talk about such things in public. All I’ll say is: Yes.

On a podcast interview you said that you wrote two endings to The Damned Thing. Will we ever see the other ending?

Probably not. When writing the novel, I was torn between two endings — one that was “happier” and one that was “oh my god, you just ripped my heart out, you soulless bastard!”. I talked over both of them with my wife and she helped me pick one. I think it was the right one and nobody’s ever come up to me and said they loved everything but the ending, so it seems to have worked out.

For the record, what you got was the “happier” ending.

Keep those questions coming!

Another Day, Another Blog Post

emma_watsonIt’s a Tuesday and I’m wishing I were still snuggled in bed. Alas, there are things to do — so I’m up and at my desk, writing this little missive for all of you. Aren’t you lucky? 🙂

Had a nice phone conversation with one of the higher-ups at the pulp publisher I teased you about yesterday. We talked about the project I’m doing for them and some potential multimedia expansion of same. I always take such possibilities with a huge truckload of salt — there are so many things that could derail the best-laid of plans. I try to just focus on my part of it — the writing — and let the rest shake itself out.

Work continues on the second volume of Gravedigger. I crawled past the 17,000 word mark yesterday and I think the entire thing is shaping up to a real winner of a story. For those of you who read the first book, you’ll know that The Voice warned Gravedigger about the coming of “The Other,” a sort of dark reflection of Gravedigger. Well, in this book you find out who that person is… and they’re a figure straight out of classic mythology. Yes, just as I played with the Headless Horseman in the first book, this time around, I’m pulling someone else from folklore — this time from a much older myth. I hope people find it interesting.

My plans for the future look like this: try and finish Gravedigger volume 2; then do a second story for Lazarus Gray volume 5; then do this mystery project for my mystery publisher (not sure I can share the details as of yet); then back to Lazarus Gray.

Of course, I’m sure that those plans won’t stay in place for very long. My muse might carry me into another direction or some publisher might come calling with a new project, deadline attached.

Once I’m done with all of *those*… I don’t know. Maybe it’s time for something different. Maybe I’ll try and dip my toes back into Pulp Obscura or seek out a new publisher for something new to do. I like to mix it up but whenever I do, I end up yearning to be back with my own creations.

I found this lovely picture of Emma Watson today and was enchanted by it. She’s very photogenic and I absolutely love the black and white images of her — timeless and beautiful. Hope it brightens your mood a bit.