Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BERTRAM GIBBS

DF: Who is Bertram Gibbs?
Bertram Gibbs: Husband, father, film, comic book, television, Broadway collector and enthusiast. Researcher of psychology and forensic science. Avid follower of true crime stories with a preference for serial killers and mass murderers. Ex-actor, Ex-Army Reservist. Harsh critic. Opinionated and crazed sarcastic bastard. Writer.

DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep yourself in cheese and crackers?
BG: Presently in Massachusetts though I continue to classify myself as a New Yorker. Da Bronx, to be exact, which is a whole different mindset and perception. I work as a Credit Analyst for a tire company.

DF: You have an interesting background. Tell us about it.

BG: Well, I grew up in an artistic family. My grandmother Harriet Gibbs (aka Nana) was a chorus girl in The Blackbirds of 1926. Ethel Waters was her roommate for a while and she hung out and knew Bill”Bojangles” Robinson (who she said was a right bastard), Tim Moore (years before he became 'Kingfish' on Amos & Andy) and many of the jazz greats of the period.

She was a light-skinned black woman and got the job because she 'passed'. She also had a resemblance to Bette Davis. My grandfather, Bertram Gibbs (the first, me being the second) was a jazz drummer. While Nana studied and became a nurse's aide both Nana and Grandpa worked as caretakers for a synagogue. Hanging with them I ended up speaking fluent Yiddish by the time I was six. Which totally messed up the minds of my kindergarten and first grade teachers.

Their daughter, my mother Dolores (who shall heretofore be known as 'Ma') loved the arts but suffered from extreme stage fright. To compensate she went to just about every film and Broadway show that came out before and after I was born. She brought me up with a love of theater in all aspects and taught me everything she knew on actors, directors, cinematography, makeup, film and stage history.

I also have a younger sister, Harriet. My father, Gerald Nathan was an artist and killed in a hit-and-run when I was five. Leaving Ma to do the work of a single parent for twelve years. Being very independent and a free thinker, she kept her maiden name and only changed it when she married Pops; Pablo Benitez. He was an artist as well but settled for being a draftsman for Brooklyn Union Gas.

Though bigotry existed and having a grandmother who looked white, Ma raised me to be color blind. Regarding prejudice she always reminded me;”Bigots are not bigots because they are a particular race or religion. Bigots are bigots because they're stupid.” Being brought up in a household filled with liberal, artistic sensibilities and being a New Yorker made the curmudgeon I am today.

DF: How long have you been writing?
BG:When I think about it, always. At first, I wanted to be an actor and while studying my craft wrote monologues, scenes and plays for myself and my acting classes and workshops. I used to drive my English teachers nuts. We would get 100 word assignments and I would pass in something closer to 500. I was always praised for my detailed imagination and criticized for my verbosity but not in a negative way. Set numbers are very confining when you are trying to tell a story or express an idea. Twitter is my nemesis.

Ma was my biggest fan and harshest critic of my work. She would read my stories-which were sometimes longer than my school assignments-and give me her warm, loving and dangerous smile as she handed it back to me, sometimes saying “Very good, very imaginative. But similar to (fill in story or character name in previously written work) Do it again.”

DF: What have you learned about yourself through your writing?
BG: That there are no limitations. That you do not have to accept the things that are. That with determination and imagination you can do anything. Many years ago, in 1962 to be exact, Ma took me to see “Lawrence of Arabia.” Aside from the cinematic splendor and complex characters there was a line that stuck with me. It was said by Omar Sharif's character, Ali; “Truly for some men nothing is written unless THEY write it.”

DF:What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Bertram Gibbs?
BG: Presently, fans of crime fiction. Puzzle solvers. Readers who enjoy a literary shell game. The pea, or clue is right there in front of you. You just have to pick the right shell. And even if you pick the right one you may be surprised to see that the pea is only a resemblance of the one first slipped under the shell.

DF:You wrote a lot of DC fan fiction which is where I first discovered your work as we wrote stuff for a couple of the same sites. How and why did you start writing fan fiction?
BG: To answer that I have to start at the beginning. Ma, like all parents used to read me stories; for her, it was literally from my infancy. Daily, nightly, when she was cooking, when she was cleaning the apartment; there was always a book she would read from. And it was never in baby-talk. Never dumbed down for my age. Ma was a stickler for the English language. When I was two she handed me a children's book and asked me to read it to her. I told her in my simplicity that I didn't know how to read. I remember her smile as she said, “And now you will.”

From that point she brought home comic books, knowing that the cation in the panels would explain and enhance the words. Of course she would help me but when I was stuck on a word or a phrase, she dropped a dictionary in my lap and said, “look it up.” So by the age of three, I was reading on my own. From there I would not only read the comics but make up stories using the characters.

Flash forward to a story that stuck in my head and ended up on paper: Plastic Man, The Blue Beetle and Booster Gold join forces to take down Lex Luthor using their combined 'power of annoyance.' I went to Warner Books and DC Comics with hopes that they would either publish it in novel form or adapt it in the comic book medium. I was turned down despite all my efforts. So here I was with a 400 page paperweight with no audience except for a few friends. Out of boredom and frustration I went on the Internet and found that what I had written was called 'fan fiction.' And from there I found and contacted Curtis Fernlund who ran a wonderful DC Comics fan fiction site and “The Return of BWAH-HAH-HA” was published in a chapter a month serial format. Due to the positive response to the story, a wellspring of adventures came out, also appearing on the site.

DF: Do you miss it?
BG: Yes, I do. I had so much fun writing stories for the site and had a few more to contribute as well. One was a Justice Society story where The Spectre and the gang have to battle a netherworld demon who resembles sing Johnny Mathis. But life got in the way.

Even though my present work is in crime fiction I still noodle in the superhero genre. Sometimes I fight not to include certain comic book elements in my crime stories. Here I will call my last statement BS. I wrote a story some time back called “Strange Fellows” (It's from The Merchant of Venice-”Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time”) It is one of my Fine and Costa tales and revolves around the actions of a domestic terrorist who after killing a costumed street vigilante decides he will become a super villain. I used elaborate comic book death traps, brought the detectives into the world of comic books and comic book films, made several references to DC and Marvel characters. That was fun to write, especially since I had to keep things in the real world.

DF: I would suppose that your original superhero novel FORMALLY KNOWN AS... satisfied an itch on some level, correct? Are you going to write a sequel or any other novels set in the same universe?
BG: Oh, yeah. A buddy of mine read the story twice before giving me his opinion of it. Of course, eager to know if what I wrote was good, decent or trash I kept on him for several weeks. He finally said that I was the most egotistical bastard on the face of the planet. My answer was “Yeah? And?”) He noted that he felt the story was great, I used myself as the (super) hero of the story.

But to answer your question, there have been thoughts of continuing the adventures of Al Hendrickson; The Colector and his (I'M NOT YOUR) sidekick, Pat Kelly.

DF: Considering that REFLECTIONS FROM THE ABYSS and THE FIRST THING WE DO are both crime/thriller novels I'd have to say that you're a fan of that genre. What are your influences? What writers and stories in the genre get your crank turning?
BG: From a very early age ma exposed me to movies like The Maltese Falcon, Laura, The Blue Dahlia, Angels With Dirty Faces, White Heat and the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes flicks. Those films turned my interest to the literary works of Dashiell Hammett. Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie; among many others. I was about nine or ten when I stumbled onto the weekly one-page true crime story published in the Sunday Daily News. I was hooked.

Each case I read depicted true evil. Violent single and multiple murders and mutilation. Serial Killers. Crimes of Passion. Crimes without motive. And they all brought the question: what could create these human monsters? What could turn an individual with a seemingly normal upbringing to crime? What could create a Leopold & Loeb. A Charles Manson. A Starkweather. A Bundy. A Henry Lee Lucas. I now have an extensive library on crime; factual and fiction, forensics, psychology as well as the films that began it all. And all are fodder and reference material for my stories.

BG: Someone is killing lawyers. Not just lawyers; defense lawyers. And not just defense lawyers. Attorneys who represent drug dealers, rapists, pedophiles and murderers.

Detectives Desmond Fine and Frank Costa are working the case, trying to piece together whatever can be found at the crime scenes to locate the killer. As much as they want to find the person responsible for the deaths of these lawyers they see these representatives of the legal system as bottom feeders; attorneys who manipulate the law and allow the guilty to go free. As more of these lawyers are killed, Fine and Costa follow a serpentine trail of evidence, all leading to it's most logical conclusion: this is the work of a serial killer.

But the question is why kill the lawyers and not the ones perpetuating the crimes?

Then Detective Fine's childhood friend, public defender Eric Price is murdered. Now Fine must battle his ever-increasing guilt at not protecting his friend while he and Costa search for ways to catch the elusive killer.

And just a bit on my characters: Fine and Costa are extremely intelligent, insightful, heavily sarcastic and think outside the box in the handling of their cases. Fine is personable, dapper and intense with an athletic build. Costa is sullen, grouchy and is strongly built six-foot eight monolith whose replies are eloquent in their grunts and grumbles. They are not only partners but the best of friends and it is their relationship that guides the story.

BG: Carlton Book is a successful freelance accountant. He conducts his life as he does the spreadsheets and financial statements he works on; with careful review of all variables, calculation and finally, execution. His philosophy serves him well in his other 'profession' as an assassin for hire. Each 'removal' is akin to deleting a figure on a spreadsheet. Completely impersonal and done to make the 'numbers' balance.

When he enters the condominium of his next assignment he finds his target brutally murdered by an elusive serial killer know as the '3-Monkey Killer.' In his haste to leave the scene of the crime, Book accidentally leaves evidence behind. As Book is forced to see his profession in a new perspective, the 3-Monkey Killer begins to send him messages, stating that they are 'blood-brothers' who should work together and that he is watching Book's every move.

The accountant/assassin must now find the serial killer before the serial killer finds him or before the detective in charge of the case arrests Book for the psychopath's crimes. And uncovers his own.

DF:Where do you see your writing career five years from now?
BG: Working with a good publisher and fully established in the literary field. Not necessarily 'world famous' but known to deliver compelling and complex entertainment. And to be able to financially support my wife and I with my work. I have also been in contact with film producers, hoping that they will adapt my tales of murder and mayhem to film. Maybe parlay one to enhance the other.

My wife Melissa means more than the world to me. She is my eternal love, my partner and my best friend. And she puts up with my Hamlet-level brooding and my sudden ideas for a story in the middle of a conversation. I want and intend to be successful for her as well as myself. She deserves more but if I can give her at least this, then that's jake with me.

DF:What are you working on now?
BG: Another entry in my Coffee and Sarcasm series. Number eight by my count. It's a little ditty I've titled “A Whole Theater of Others.” A group of writers similar to the Algonquin Round Table are being picked off one by one. They are all gruesomely murdered in the methods written by one of the members. Fine and Costa are brought in to investigate and determine if the writer is the killer or if someone is trying to pin the crimes on him.

DF:What's a typical Day In The Life of Bertram Gibbs like?
BG: Up at 4:30AM. Consume copious amounts of coffee and smokes (trying to quit the latter) while watching the news or a show I DVRed the night before. Hose off, write for a few hours, head out to work, do the 8 to 5 while mentally adding, subtracting or amending the story I'm working on. Drink more coffee. Go home to my loving wife and have a quiet evening hanging out with her, our three cats and one dog who thinks he's a cat. Watch more of my shows and/or write after my love heads for bed. Hit the sack about 11:30PM-12AM (Sleep is for the weak) Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?
Bertram Gibbs: I think we have the basics down. Just a final word to your readers and our fellow writers;

Too many talented people have abandoned their dream for a 'normal' life. For some, it works. For others, they are condemned to always wonder 'what if?' Know that there is no actual definition of 'normal'; in a life or in an individual. Accept that and understand that if nothing is normal then 'crazy' is a constant; always lurking in the shadows. Embrace your personal madness. There's freedom in insanity. And within that freedom lies your dream.

Go for it and never stop until you get it.

And as George Santayana said; “In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.”

To learn more about Bertram Gibbs and his work bounce on over to his website which can be LOCATED HERE.

And here's Bertram's 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...JAMES HOPWOOD

Derrick Ferguson: Who is James Hopwood?
James Hopwood: James Hopwood is my pen name. I have also been Jack Tunney three times. But in the real world I am David James Foster.

I assumed a pen name to separate myself from three successful artists, albeit in different disciplines, who have published under the name David Foster. Firstly there is an excellent award winning Australian author; then a world champion woodchopper; and finally a successful musician and music producer. Then there's David Foster Wallace, of course. Adding another ‘David Foster’ to the marketplace, would not only detract from their achievements – as well as my own – but would also create confusion for the reading public.

DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors, away?
JH: I live in Melbourne, Australia, in a little seaside suburb called Seaford. Near the pier that featured in the original Mad Max with Mel Gibson.

Yeah, those bill collectors, can't outrun those guys. I mainly work in graphic design and typesetting – small scale stuff, my illustration skills aren't too crash hot these days. But I get by, no complaints.

DF: Tell us something about your background.
JH: I grew up in rural Australia, about 2.5 hours north of Melbourne on the Murray River. It was a small town called Echuca. They filmed a TV mini-series there in the early 80s called All The Rivers Run, which starred Sigrid Thornton and John Waters. I only mention it, because those who've seen it will have a pretty good idea about my old home town. I got out of there pretty early though, in my late teens, to study art and design. Finally made my way to the big smoke, and have lived here ever since.

DF: How long have you been writing?
JH: I guess I've toyed around with writing since I was in my twenties, but I was one of those guys who kept it all hidden away in a bottom drawer. But the internet changed all that. I corresponded with like minded people from all around the globe, people who were into the same kind of books and stories as I was, and I thought if they're giving it a go, then I should too. Five years ago, I broke the shackles when I penned a novella for the Fight Card series, called KING OF THE OUTBACK. The reaction to it was pretty positive, which gave me the confidence to keep going.

DF: What's your philosophy of writing?
JH: I'm pretty loose with my approach, and I keep changing to suit my circumstances. I write pretty much every day because I enjoy it, but I am not too concerned if I miss a day or even a week. The thing for me is to be at least thinking about my work, and how I will use the time when I do get in front of a computer. I hate sitting in front of a blank screen waiting for inspiration to strike.

I am also a big believer in research. Like any writer, I hit road-blocks and snags along the way. But I have found the harder I work researching, the more likely I am to find that nugget that will get the story back on course. That's not to say my stories are based on fact, or some kind of concrete truth, but it's from there I find ideas spring forth.

DF: How did you get involved with HOLLYWOOD MYSTERY? Whose idea was it?
JH: Pro Se Productions put out an open call a couple of years ago for the anthology, and at the time I was tied up with a few other projects, so I reluctantly let it slide. However, when my schedule opened up, I was surprised to find there were still a spot open and decided to pounce. My idea was for a THIN MAN type of story, featuring William Powell and Myrna Loy.

I presented a proposal for a 10,000 word story that featured Myrna Loy being stalked by a taxi driver at the premiere of her latest movie. However, corresponding with Tommy Hancock, Pro Se's Editor-in-chief, I lamented that with such few words, I couldn't really do a traditional 'cozy' ending – you know the type, where all the suspects are gathered in one room, and the detective announces who the killer is. To create that kind of ending, I suggested I'd need more words to define each of the individual suspects. Much to my surprise and delight, Tommy got back to me and said, if I needed more words, take them. So I did, and a new story arose.

The idea for the anthology was Tommy's – he appears to be as much of a fan of classic mystery movies as I am. The other authors on board the project are Mark Squirek, Christofer Nigro, Wayne Carey and Gordon Dymowski. Admittedly, I am biased, but I think we've put together a damn good package.

DF: Judging by the story you wrote for HOLLYWOOD MYSTERY; “The Poison Pen” You're quite the fan of William Powell and Myrna Loy and the work they did in the classic THIN MAN series. What was the first THIN MAN movie you saw and how old were you when he saw it?
JH:I was in my early 20s (about 25+ years ago) when I first caught THE THIN MAN on late night television, and I loved it. I don't think it was ever released on VHS or DVD in Australia (but am happy to be proven wrong). It was many years later once online shopping became available that I was able to pick up the series from England, and they have remained a regular part of my movie diet ever since (along with the Michael Shayne movies, with Lloyd Nolan).

DF: What's your favorite THIN MAN movie and why?
JH: Undoubtedly the first one. While all the movies are good, as the series progressed a little bit of what we'd now call 'political correctness' seeped in. When Nick and Nora Charles had a son, the boozy comedic antics were toned back, and they were gently transformed into more respectable role models – albeit with their flaws and nuances.

DF: I was impressed by how you captured the style and elegance that was the hallmark of both William Powell and Myrna Loy. How much research into the background of their relationship did you do?
JH: Thanks, Derrick. Of course, I watched all the films in the series repeatedly – and a documentary or two, about Powell and Loy. But I did stay away from Dashiell Hammett's original story. I wanted 'The Poison Pen' to reflect the breezy style of the movies, rather than the source material.

DF: You planning on writing any more stories about Powell & Loy?
JH: I have no plans at the moment, but if there's demand for more, sure, I'd be happy to oblige.

DF: Do you have any dreams of writing a THIN MAN story and/or novel for Pro Se?
JH: That would be fantastic, but I am sure the Estate of Dashiell Hammett would have a thing or two to say. Into that mix throw whoever holds the rights to the film series, and I'm guessing it would be a potential minefield. But it is a nice dream. Hey, if a deal can be arranged, sign me up!

DF: You and Paul Bishop collaborated on creating a character: Mace Bullard of the Foreign Legion. How did that work out? How'd you guys come up with the character?
JH: Paul Bishop actually came up with the idea for Mace Bullard for a project he was putting together with Tommy Hancock, called Bishop & Hancock's Pulse Fiction. Pulse Fiction featured a whole swag of new characters, and when I first heard about the project I was interested in an American Indian character who'd washed up on a shore in Africa. But Paul pulled me aside, and said that he wanted me to take a look at Bullard. I hadn't really read any Foreign Legion pulps at that time, but he hooked me up with some Robert Carse Legion tales, which I devoured, and realized it was a genre I could sink my teeth into. Paul had Bullard's backstory all mapped out. All I had to do was plonk him in the middle of an adventure. Paul loved what I came up with, and basically said, 'Kid, the character's all yours now. Do with him what you will.' Of course, I run all my Bullard stories past Paul for approval. So far, it's been a blast.

DF: Where has he appeared so far and what future plans do you have for him?
JH: As hinted at above, he first appeared in Bishop & Hancock's Pulse Fiction: Volume 1, in a tale called Honor of the Legion. He returned in The Pirate King for Airship 27's mammoth Legends of New Pulp Fiction. Hopefully Bullard will re-appear before the end of the year in Sahara Six, a novella length tale, which sees our intrepid hero transferred to the most remote outpost in Morocco. Then, ssshhhh, this is a little secret, I have plans for a novel length story, called Dead Man's Key. It's a little way off at the moment, but it's coming.

DF: What's a typical Day In The Life of James Hopwood like?
JH: Ah, I'm an early riser, so I'll usually have the computer on around 6:00am, and start working on a few projects before breakfast. Then I head to the beach for a spot of snorkling, then return home for my first martini of the day. Sorry, that last sentence is a bare-faced lie – just pretending to live out an Ian Fleming fantasy life. After breakfast I squeeze whatever tasks the day has in store for me, the usual working-stiff drudgery. But it gets me out of the house. However, I carry multiple notepads around with me at all times, and I'm always scribbling notes. At night, if I'm not drawn to the 'idiot box', I'll try to convert some of those scrawled notes into something cohesive.

These days, I hate to admit I don't read as much as I used to. My work consists of sitting in front of computers for most of the day, and it can strain my eyes. The sad offshoot is I read less. However, I have really taken to audio books, and find they are a great way to close the day. I have been listening to some of the Robert Stark (Donald Westlake) Parker novels lately, and they are fantastic. Currently I am on The Rare Coin Score.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?
James Hopwood: For anyone who's interested in my work, I can be found at:

And on occasion I shoot my mouth off about films and books at my blog:

Cheers, Derrick, thanks for your time, and continued support for your fellow writers in the New Pulp community.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...NICOLE KURTZ

Derrick Ferguson:Who is Nicole Kurtz?
Nicole Kurtz: I'm an educator, an author and a mother.

DF:What do you tell The IRS you do for a living?
NK: The IRS identifies me as an educator. I've been in the public school system for 15 years.

DF:Tell us about your background. As little or as much as you want.
NK: I'm originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, but I've lived all over the United States, from South Carolina to California. I have a bachelor's degree in Writing and a Master's degree in Education. I have been writing my whole life and can't remember a time I wasn't writing stories either on paper or mentally.

DF:How long have you been writing?
NK: I've been writing since I was 11 years old. My first payment for writing was an essay contest I won in 11th grade. I realized then, “Wait, I can make money from this?!”

DF:What's your philosophy of writing? Do you think that writers should even have a philosophy about the act/art of writing?
NK: My writing philosophy is simple—write your truth. Honor the story only you can tell. Don't worry about sales and genre when writing. Worry about those things after the story is written and done.

DF:Do you enjoy writing?
NK: I love writing! I write all the time, on notebooks and napkins, on the backs of bills and along the edges of envelopes. Writing is how I communicate best and how I process information.

DF:Do you write for yourself or for your readers?
NK: I primarily write for myself when writing fiction. When writing non-fiction (i.e., essays and blogs) I focus on the audience and how my thesis is supported.

DF:What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Nicole Kurtz?
NK: Great question! I write futuristic thriller, so my audience are readers who enjoy those types of adventures.

DF:Tell us about Mocha Memoirs Press
NK: Mocha Memoirs Press is a small press that publishes speculative works by authors of marginalized groups.

DF:Who is Cybil Lewis?
NK: Cybil Lewis is a professional investigator in the year 2146. Independent. Focused. Committed. She investigates violations in post apocalyptic D.C. Think “Blade Runner” with a female protagonist.

DF:How long has Cybil Lewis been with you and where can we expect her to go in future novels?
NK: Cybil has been with me for over 20 years. In the future, expect Cybil to continue to solve violations in her unique fashion and may, just maybe, get the air-conditioner in her apartment fixed.

DF:Where does the story of Cybil Lewis go from here?
NK: Cybil continues to investigate violations but her personal life becomes more of a challenge for her. In addition, her partner Jane continues to evolve and thus her relationship with Cybil will change. Those are going to be interesting interactions and impacts on Cybil's business and life.

DF:You're an outstanding voice in the field of African-American Speculative Fiction. Where do you see your place in this field and where do you want to go?
NK: Wow! Thank you. My place in the field is right alongside other authors. I've been writing Speculative Fiction for nearly 20 years. I would love to continue to write, publish and find new readers. I also like to inspire new authors of color, especially those that write thrillers.

DF:You are one of the most prominent of female African-American Speculative Fiction writers. Do you see AASF writers as creating a genre unto themselves due to their unique worldview as African-American women?
NK: I do believe that as an African-American woman, my vision is different from other authors not within that demographic. However, I don't think it is a genre unto ourselves. I write futuristic thriller, horror stories and dark fantasy. While most of my protagonists are black women, the story is still good and worth reading.

DF:Are there any drawbacks to being a AASF writer?
NK: There are drawbacks to being an AASF writer in that I find some readers who proclaim they can't identify with my protagonists. Yet those same readers can identify with a shape-shifting tiger or a blue-skinned alien. I write speculative fiction, which is still a predominately white male dominated genre. So my work is subjected to misogyny and racism in the genre as I am in every day life.

DF:And what are the positives?
NK: The positives far outnumber the drawbacks. The excitement I see on readers' faces when they see a protagonist that looks like them. Or the relief when they see that I, a fellow African American or POC wrote something speculative is more than worth the occasional racist. I enjoy sharing my stories with others and I love getting feedback on those stories from readers. Those are the positives that buoy me when writing gets tough.

DF:You've hosted a lot of panels. In your opinion what are the qualities one needs to have in order to moderate a successful panel?
NK: Moderating a panel successfully is hard! LOL! It is important to give each author or panelist an opportunity to speak. Equity of voice is key when moderating. If one can provide the discussion topics ahead of time, that makes for much more thoughtful discussions.

DF:Do you like hosting panels? Why?
NK: It depends! If it is a topic I am passionate about, I do not want to moderate because I want to talk! LOL! Otherwise, I don't mind hosting panels.

DF:What are your dream projects? If you had unlimited time and money, what would you want to do most?
NK: If I had unlimited time and money I would spend time writing Cybil Lewis novels and promoting her throughout the U.S.

DF:What is A Day In The Life of Nicole Kurtz like?
NK: In a word: Chaos!

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?
Nicole Kurtz:I love to laugh and I'm not nearly as serious as Cybil is about things. Your readers can find me online at Twitter (@nicolegkurtz), Facebook (, and at Other Worlds Pulp (

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

In Which I Get Smacked Around

Tommy Hancock interviewed me for his online magazine BIBLIORATI and I think it's a pretty good one that you can read and enjoy HERE.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

33 Months Later With Joe Bonadonna

Joe Bonadonna is one the many friends I've made online who I wished I lived closer to so that we could spend the whole day just hanging out and talking about writing, books, movies and pop culture. Which would probably means that neither one of us would get much work done and thereby deprive you guys of a lotta good reading.

But interviewing him is the next best thing and here we are with another one. You can find previous interviews I've done with Joe HERE and HERE. And now, go on and enjoy this one!

Derrick Ferguson: What have you been up to since we last talked?

Joe Bonadonna: Let’s see now, quite a lot has happened in the last two or so years. I tried to get a sword and planet sequel to my space opera, Three Against The Stars completed, as well as a second “Mad Shadows” novel. But other things got in the way. First, in 2014 I wrote “Sinbad and The Golden Fleece,” which appears in SINBAD: THE NEW VOYAGES, VOL. 4, published by Ron Fortier and our good friends at Airship 27 Productions.

Then I wrote “We the Furious” and “Undertaker’s Holiday” (with author Shebat Legion) for POETS IN HELL, volume 18 in the long-running Heroes in Hell shared-universe series, created by author Janet Morris in 1986, first published by Baen Books and now published by her own Perseid Press. In 2015 I wrote two more novellas for Perseid Press: “Hell on a Technicality,” for DOCTORS IN HELL, volume 19 in the Heroes in Hell series, and “The Dragon’s Horde,” for HEROIKA: DRAGON EATERS, the first volume in Janet Morris’ new Heroic Fantasy anthology. Then I went back to working on my novels. However, I got sidetracked once again. In 2016 I wrote “The Pirates of Penance,” a very long novella for PIRATES IN HELL, volume 20 in the Heroes in Hell saga, which is set to be published sometime in early 2017. Then Shebat Legion and I wrote a quirky little tale called “Samuel Meant Well and the Little Black Cloud of the Apocalypse” for the next volume in author/publisher Michael H. Hanson’s shared-world series, SHA’DAA. Meanwhile, “To Save Hermesia,” a short story I wrote with Dave Smith, was accepted for a new sword and planet shared-universe called THE LOST EMPIRE OF SOL. 2016 also saw the publication of my humorous, modern-day Lovecraftian tale, “Queen of Toads,” which you can read for free at Black Gate Online Magazine. Somehow I managed to write another novella for LOVERS IN HELL, the 2018 volume in the Heroes in Hell series. (Hopefully, that will be accepted next year.) Miraculously, 2016 ended with the completion of two novels: The MechMen of Canis-9, (the sword and planet sequel to my space opera, Three Against The Stars) which has been accepted by Airship 27 Productions and will, hopefully, see the light of day sometime in 2017.

The second novel, Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent was recently published by me, with the help of the incredibly talented artist and author, Erika M Szabo, and her Golden Box Books Publishing Services. Not only did Erika design my cover and the interior look of the book, she turned my original, poorly self-drawn map of Dorgo’s world into a thing of beauty. She set up everything for me: paperback through CreateSpace, and Kindle through both Amazon and Smashwords. So a big shout and thank you to Erika, who came along like a Guardian Angel just when I needed one.

DF: You've published a new Dorgo The Dowser novel. Tell us about it.

JB: As mentioned above, the title is Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent. This time around, it’s more of a novel than its predecessor, Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, which consisted of 6 novellas. Old friends from the first book return, and we meet a few new friends, as well. This time around, Dorgo falls in love with a witch known as the Girl Who Loves Ghouls, battles creatures from another dimension, and meets one very special cat named Crystal. It’s also the first time he hears about an ancient death cult known as the Order of the Serpent. Then, after a young woman is murdered and a dangerous book of arcane lore is stolen from her, Dorgo comes closer to learning more about this secret Order. But first he must battle both humans and demons in order to find and destroy The Book of Echoes. Finally, Dorgo squares off against a horde of fiends born of dark sorcery when he tries to help a young girl who became trapped inside a powerful spell while attempting to destroy someone calling himself Ophidious Garloo. Racing against time, Dorgo the Dowser uses every trick he knows to uncover the secret identity and learn the True Name of Ophidious Garloo —who may very well be the deathless leader of the Order of the Serpent. The novel has all the magic, murder, mystery, monsters and mayhem you’d expect from a Dorgo the Dowser novel.

DF: Are we going to see more of Dorgo?

JB: I hope so. I have about half of a third novel in first-draft form, and if possible, I’d like to do a fourth book, but return to the type of picaresque novel I wrote first: six or seven separate novellas. Who knows? Only Time will tell.

DF: You've been keeping busy doing some editing work as well, I hear. What are the challenges of editing?

JB: Keeping my eyes open for typos, missing words, and such. I don’t do story editing: I may, on occasion, suggest that a sub-plot or story thread be placed here or played out there, but mostly I just spot-check for typos. I don’t consider myself a “real” editor, and I always suggest that authors find some professional editing service, if they can afford it.

DF: Did you find yourself using a different set of creative muscles editing?

JB: In a way, yes. Since my editing consists mostly of proofing, I have to keep my mind away from thinking: I’d write this scene differently, I’d play out this subplot in a different way, I’d add another character or take away an unnecessary character; I’d go in this or that direction; I’d kill off this character or that character, etc. I try not to think about how I would write the story, and I never suggest anything about plotting unless that is something I’m asked to do. I will give tips on things like giving every character his or her own voice and way of speaking, and I always tell people to watch certain movies by certain directors and screenwriters who were masters of dialog. I hate reading books where every line of dialog sounds like the stilted, all-too-unnatural, Biblical style you hear in many Cecil B. DeMille movies. Writers like James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Paul Cain, Chester Himes, Leigh Brackett, Cornell Woolrich, Elmore Leonard . . . these authors really knew how to write natural-sounding dialog.

DF: Think you'll do more editing in the future?

JB: Perhaps, if I’m not too busy at the time and a friend needs help with a short story. But I am not a professional editor, nor do I play one on TV. I really don’t like editing. Editing is not something I would do on a regular basis . . . not for love or money.


JB: This is a shared-theme anthology, available only on Kindle right now, published by Heathen Oracle. The idea behind it was to come up with some “artifact or relic,” write a brief history of it, and then write a story around it. Azieran is the world author and publisher Christopher Heath created for his own stories of his mage-warriors, the Malkan Knights, and this was his brain-child. We were given total freedom to do what we wanted, with only two rules: use an artifact or relic as the story’s McGuffin, and make it pure sword and sorcery. Part two of my new Dorgo novel, “The Book of Echoes,” made its first appearance in this anthology, although for my novel it was greatly changed, revised and expanded. This anthology was published back in 2013, featuring stories by such authors as James Beamon, David J West, John M Whalen, and Christopher Heath, to name a few, and even a reprint of “The Mad Abbott of Puthuum,” by Clark Ashton Smith. It’s a pretty darn good anthology of sword and sorcery tales that needs more recognition.

DF: What keeps you motivated during creative slumps?

JB: Family, friends, old movies, and reading non-fiction books, such as biographies, film studies, and even doing a little research — especially for the Heroes in Hell series. Writing for this series requires a lot of reading up on real, historical characters, as well as characters from legend, mythology and pre-1900 fiction — provided we can find a link to a real personage. While my two main characters in Hell are Victor Frankenstein and Quasimodo, both of which are pre-1900 characters, I found links to real people. At the time Mary and Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron were traveling through Geneva, Switzerland, there lived a doctor and vivisectionist: Doctor Johann Conrad Dippel (August 10, 1673 – April 25, 1734) who was a German pietist theologian, alchemist and physician. Dippel was born at Castle Frankenstein near Mühltal and Darmstadt. He is often credited as being the inspiration for the infamous doctor we all know and love. As for Quasimodo . . . back in 2002 or 2003, workmen at Notre Dame Cathedral broke through a wall and discovered the bones of a hunchback, dating back to Victor Hugo’s time. There are some accounts that there was, at one time, a hunchbacked bell ringer at the cathedral, and that Hugo might have known him.

DF: What do you do with your free time when you're not writing?

JB: Due to health problems that have cropped up over the last few years — especially in 2016, which seems to have been a bad year for so many — I am now fairly limited to what I can physically do: no more helping out friends rehabbing houses and such. I spend a lot of time going to doctors and physical therapy. But I do spend time with family and childhood friends, many of whom I’ve known since around 1960. I do a little reading, but my mind tends to wander to what I’m working on or want to work on. I watch a lot of old movies, too, and by old I mean 1920s through 1950s. In the future I hope to spend as much time as possible in Arizona and Las Vegas during the winter months, going back and forth occasionally, and not officially returning to Chicago until May or June. Mostly, I take it easy, and discuss writing with a lot of young people I’ve met on Facebook.

DF: Tell us about your upcoming projects. Anything you're working on now that you can tell us about?

JB: Other than plotting and working on that third Dorgo novel, and taking notes for a possible horror novel, I may try my hand at something autobiographical. But the big thing planned for next year is to put out a second and revised edition, totally self-published with Erika M Szabo’s help, of Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, which will give me total control of pricing, giveaways and other things over which I currently do not have.

Derrick Ferguson: Drop some Words of Wisdom on all the young aspiring writers out there reading this and thirsting for your knowledge.

Joe Bonadonna: LOL!!! The Old Guy speaks, right? Well, I’m still learning. Every day I learn something new about writing and the publishing business. Some advice I would give is: read and know the genre you write in, but read beyond it, too. Read a bit of everything: true or fictional crime, history, romance, sci-fi, horror, erotica, espionage thrillers, biographies, etc. Read the novels of Bronte, Hugo, Verne, Wells, Austin, Dumas, Stevenson, and Poe. Read the great plays by Clifford Odets, Tennessee Williams and Lillian Hellman. I also suggest that writers read screenplays by the masters: Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, for example. Watch and study their films, as well as the films by people like Howard Hawks, Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang, Raoul Walsh, and William Wellman, to name a few. Books like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and especially The Chicago Manual of Style should be on every writer’s desk; they have helped and taught me a lot.

Lastly, if any of your readers are interested, one of my stories from Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, called “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” has been in the top ten list of fiction on Black Gate Magazine for almost six years now. You can read it for free, right here:

And if anyone would like to read a light-hearted horror story, they can read my “Queen of Toads,” also at Black Gate magazine:

I’d like to, if I may, give a shout-out to Erika M Szabo, in case anyone out there might be interested in her and Golden Box Publishing Services:

Once again, thank you very much, Derrick. I hope to be interviewing you fairly soon, too.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BARBARA DORAN

Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Barbara Doran?

Barbara Doran: I'm a New Pulp writer, currently published by Airship 27. My work includes "Claws of the Golden Dragon" two years ago, a Sinbad short - "Sinbad and the Island of the Puppet Master", "Wings of the Golden Dragon" (due out soon, we hope) and a Sherlock Holmes/Van Dusen crossover that I hope will be appearing someday in Ron's Sherlock Holmes anthology. (Not soon, however; he's got quite a queue there.)

DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?

BD: I'm currently living somewhere in the general vicinity of the birthplace of powered flight. (That's Dayton, Ohio, where the Wright Brothers designed and built their aircraft.) As for keeping the bill collectors away, I'm a very lucky writer in that my Long Suffering Husband handles that side of things. I just keep my own personal Tiger and Dragon from immolating themselves. Mostly. Err...back in a moment. Time to put out another fire.

DF: Tell us a little something about your background, if you please.

BD: I was an army brat who moved around a lot as a kid. Chicago, Carbondale, Oklahoma, Colorado, Missouri and finally Ohio. My father is a Western Beast bred and born and my mom was a native born Chinese, born in Nanjing just around the time of the invasion. She came to America for college and met my dad at his mother's cafeteria in Carbondale, IL. (Amusingly, genetic tests show that I have more than 50% Asian ancestry, thanks to my Dad having Northern European ancestors. He always has claimed to have a Chinese stomach.)

I studied as a software engineer at the University of Dayton, but my first love was always writing and I spent most of my spare time with fanfic. It took a while but I finally realized I really preferred writing and that's where I put most of my focus. Truly dedicated readers might be able to find some of my old work still out there. They may even recognize a character or so.

DF: How long have you been writing?

BD: Pretty much from the day I learned to read. Bits and pieces, mostly unfinished, but my brain was constantly creating fanfiction universes based on my comics and TV shows.

DF: What's your philosophy of writing?

BD: The words go on the screen. Keep typing until they're done. Then edit. And edit. And edit. Respect your characters' personalities. Respect your readers' intelligence. Make sure the plot doesn't wander around and get lost in the scenery. Keep things moving, even when there are plot points that need to be talked about.
Don't stop. Just. Don't. Stop.

DF: You a plotter or a pantser?

BD: I'd say I'm mostly a pantser, but I use research as my guide. I like to think of writing as creating a clay sculpture. I know the general shape I want, but sometimes I have to add some material here, remove some there. And every so often, take the whole blessed head off and redo it.

DF: Do you enjoy writing?

BD: I love writing. I realized, years back, that it really was the thing I should have been doing with myself. Even when I'm not at my computer and putting words down, they're working their way around inside my head. So one could say that I'm creating stories all the time.

Too, I've discovered that I simply don't know what to do all day if I'm not writing. So, when I'm not persuading my children to do the dishes and/or their homework, I'm tap, tap, tapping away.

DF: What writers have influenced you?

BD: P.C. Hodgell, Diana Wynne Jones, GNU Terry Pratchett, Dick Francis, Walter Gibson, Arthur Conan Doyle, just to name a few. I've also become quite fond of N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series. It's amazing and devastating and I'm really looking forward to seeing where she takes it.

DF: Do you write for yourself or for the reader?

BD: Really, both. I try to make sure the work can appeal to more than just a narrow audience, of course. However, if I don't enjoy what I'm writing, I'm not going to be able to do a good job with it. So I write for readers who like the sort of things I like to write and hope that's a wide enough appeal to draw in readers.

DF: Are you interested in critics or criticism?

BD: I don't go out of my way looking for them. I do get beta readers, but that's to make sure what I wrote works and doesn't leave questions. I'd be glad to get more reviews, though, to get an idea where I might improve.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? is there an audience for Barbara Doran?

BD: As far as my original pulp work goes, I think the audience would be fans of shows like the Green Hornet. Sinbad and Sherlock Holmes both have a fandom and I'm overjoyed to write for them.

I hope there's an audience for the sort of work I do. I'm not a hard-boiled detective type writer, but I think there's room in New Pulp for the type of over the top, weird science/magic crossover stories I like to write.

DF: Do you crave recognition?

BD: I'd like my work to be known. I'm a fairly shy and retiring person, so I don't mind letting it do the talking for me.

DF: Do you think that New Pulp will ever have respectability?

BD: I think it already does, really. There might never be a big New Pulp publishing house along the lines of DAW or Baen or Tor, but I think it's getting more and more wide spread.

DF: What's the best advice that you can give someone who wants to write New Pulp?

BD: Don't talk about it. Do it. Also, research is always your friend. Even if you never put a word of what you've found directly in the work, it'll act as a foundation for the piece and help your world feel more lived in.

DF: How important is it to follow your instincts while writing?

BD: As a pantser, pretty important. I've learned that when I find myself blocked and uncertain about what I'm doing, it's usually because I'm headed in an unworkable direction. So I trust my subconscious to be looking ahead of me and saying, "Eh, Barbara, what the heck are you doing?"

DF: What is the one book or story you’ve written that you would recommend to somebody to read who doesn’t know anything about you?

BD: Right now I only have the one original New Pulp out, so I'd have to recommend "Claws of the Golden Dragon". However, when it does come out, "Wings" is a much tighter, better written piece. It's set in Shanghai a little before things got bad and features mobsters, spies, monsters, magic and Gods. Oh, yes and a bit of romance, just for spice.

DF: What are you working on now?

BD: A rather large, probably not for Pulp, novel about a colony of humans stuck on a water world and dependent on Artificial Intelligences for survival. They live on floating islands (AI'lands) and are on the run from an insane and homicidal AI named Varos, with only their own AIs to help stop him. It's sort of a space opera, as the SF is quite loose.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know about you?

Barbara Doran: Along with my love of Green Hornet, I'm a big anime and Shaw Brothers' fan. My work is peppered with references and I will gladly award a great big know-it-all-prize to anyone who recognizes where one of my characters got their name, personality and/or appearance.

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BERTRAM GIBBS

DF: Who is Bertram Gibbs? Bertram Gibbs: Husband, father, film, comic book, television, Broadway collector and enthusiast. Researcher of ...