Tag: The Pulptress

The (fictional) women of my life

Rachel-Weisz-rachel-weisz-120258_800_1101I’m mostly known for my male creations — The Peregrine & Lazarus Gray, for instance — but I’ve spent a good bit of my career writing female leads. The Damned Thing, Rabbit Heart and Gravedigger all feature strong female characters and I’ve also written a couple of stories featuring Nightveil, from AC Comics’ comic book universe. I’m proud of those books, especially since the pulp field is still so testosterone-heavy. New Pulp does have The Pulptress, Elisa Hill and Callie but those are still just a drop in the bucket.

I’ve tried to add to the diversity of characters within the field while not making too big of a deal about it. The Lazarus Gray series not only features Samantha Grace as a major part of the storyline but I also have Eun Jiwon, a member of the team who is both homosexual and Korean. In Gravedigger, we have Li Yuchun, a Chinese American, and Mitchell, a British hero of African descent. I’m not doing this to make any kind of point, really — I simply want to reflect the real world, which the original pulps didn’t always do.

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The (Fictional) Women In My Life

Rachel-Weisz-rachel-weisz-120258_800_1101I’m mostly known for my male creations — The Peregrine & Lazarus Gray, for instance — but I’ve spent a good bit of my career writing female leads. The Damned Thing, Rabbit Heart and Gravedigger all feature strong female characters and I’ve also written a couple of stories featuring Nightveil, from AC Comics’ comic book universe. I’m proud of those books, especially since the pulp field is still so testosterone-heavy. New Pulp does have The Pulptress, Elisa Hill and Callie but those are still just a drop in the bucket.

I’ve tried to add to the diversity of characters within the field while not making too big of a deal about it. The Lazarus Gray series not only features Samantha Grace as a major part of the storyline but I also have Eun Jiwon, a member of the team who is both homosexual and Korean. In Gravedigger, we have Li Yuchun, a Chinese American, and Mitchell, a British hero of African descent. I’m not doing this to make any kind of point, really — I simply want to reflect the real world, which the original pulps didn’t always do.

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From the Vault: My Favorite New Pulp Heroes

Dillon---CthuluThe past couple of weeks I’ve listed out my favorite classic pulp heroes and villains. This time around I decided to dive into the New Pulp waters. Basically, I’m defining New Pulp as characters who are written in the same breathless manner as the classic heroes… but who are appearing in brand new stories and have been created since the end of the classic pulp era. I’m putting emphasis on characters who have made their debut in prose (so no Indiana Jones, I’m afraid) and, furthermore, those characters who are mostly a part of what’s called the New Pulp Movement.

A lot of rules, eh?

That’s just the way we play the game, my friends.

So here’s my Top Ten Favorite New Pulp Heroes:

10. Brother Bones (created by Ron Fortier)
9. Garvey Dire (Created by Joel Jenkins)
8. Fortune McCall (Created by Derrick Ferguson)
7. The Pulptress (Created by Tommy Hancock)
6. Hardluck Hannigan (Created by Bill Craig)
5. Malcolm Weir (Created by Mat Nastos)
4. Mr. Brass (Created by Josh Reynolds)
3. The Black Centipede (Created by Chuck Miller)
2. Elisa Hill (Created by Percival Constantine)
1. Dillon (Created by Derrick Ferguson)

This was actually a really hard list to come up with — I left off lots of heroes that I genuinely love but I had to limit it to just ten. If I did a # 11, it would be Hugh Monn (Created by Lee Houston Jr.).

I’ve actually gone back and modified this list several times already. Oh, well. I think it does give you a nice overview of the best of New Pulp, in my opinion. I should give a special shout-out to Derrick Ferguson, who’s the only author to place two characters on my list!

My Favorite New Pulp Heroes

Dillon---CthuluThe past couple of weeks I’ve listed out my favorite classic pulp heroes and villains. This time around I decided to dive into the New Pulp waters. Basically, I’m defining New Pulp as characters who are written in the same breathless manner as the classic heroes… but who are appearing in brand new stories and have been created since the end of the classic pulp era. I’m putting emphasis on characters who have made their debut in prose (so no Indiana Jones, I’m afraid) and, furthermore, those characters who are mostly a part of what’s called the New Pulp Movement.

A lot of rules, eh?

That’s just the way we play the game, my friends.

So here’s my Top Ten Favorite New Pulp Heroes:

10. Brother Bones (created by Ron Fortier)
9. Garvey Dire (Created by Joel Jenkins)
8. Fortune McCall (Created by Derrick Ferguson)
7. The Pulptress (Created by Tommy Hancock)
6. Hardluck Hannigan (Created by Bill Craig)
5. Malcolm Weir (Created by Mat Nastos)
4. Mr. Brass (Created by Josh Reynolds)
3. The Black Centipede (Created by Chuck Miller)
2. Elisa Hill (Created by Percival Constantine)
1. Dillon (Created by Derrick Ferguson)

This was actually a really hard list to come up with — I left off lots of heroes that I genuinely love but I had to limit it to just ten. If I did a # 11, it would be Hugh Monn (Created by Lee Houston Jr.).

I’ve actually gone back and modified this list several times already. Oh, well. I think it does give you a nice overview of the best of New Pulp, in my opinion. I should give a special shout-out to Derrick Ferguson, who’s the only author to place two characters on my list!

From the Vault: Dangerous Curves Ahead

cat-clara I 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!

The (Fictional) Women of My Life

Scarlett Johansson - Masked Beauty
Scarlett Johansson – Masked Beauty

I’m mostly known for my male creations — The Rook & Lazarus Gray, for instance — but I’ve spent a good bit of my career writing female leads. Guan-Yin and the Horrors of Skull Island, The Damned Thing, Rabbit Heart and the upcoming Gravedigger all feature strong female characters. I’m proud of those books, especially since the pulp field is still so testosterone-heavy. New Pulp does have The Pulptress, Elisa Hill and Callie but those are still just a drop in the bucket.

I’ve tried to add to the diversity of characters within the field while not making too big of a deal about it. The Lazarus Gray series not only features Samantha Grace as a major part of the storyline but I also have Eun Jiwon, a member of the team who is both homosexual and Korean. In Gravedigger, we’ll have Li Yuchun, a Chinese American, and Mitchell, a British hero of African descent. I’m not doing this to make any kind of point, really — I simply want to reflect the real world, which the original pulps didn’t always do.

But I’m proudest of my female heroes. I think they’re all very well-rounded individuals, worthy of standing toe-to-toe with the classic heroes of yore. They’re not defined by their gender, either. I treat them as people first — they just happen to be women. Guan-Yin is brave and daring, driven by a need to prove herself and to find out what happened to her missing father. Fiona Grace (Rabbit Heart) is part of a deadly game played by immortals, forced into an archetypal role that she simultaneously embraces and fights against. Violet Cambridge (The Damned Thing) is a tough-as-nails woman in a gritty noir adventure, caught up in the mystery of who’s killed both her husband and her partner. Charity Grace (Gravedigger) is given three years to redeem her soul, after a lifetime of sin.

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.

Given the announcement earlier in this week — that I’m adapting a Liberty Girl graphic novel published by Heroic Publishing into prose format — I’ll once again be spending a lot of time with a heroine. In this case, Liberty Girl isn’t my creation… but she fits the mold of most of my creations. She’s intelligent, brave and always willing to do the right thing.