Thursday, September 20, 2012

35 Writers Who Have Influenced Me The Most

Over at Sean Taylor's excellent Bad Girls, Good Guys and Two-Fisted Action blog he's got this wonderful post "35 Writers Who Have Influenced Me The Most." Operating on my favorite principal that great artists steal, I immediately informed Mr. Taylor I was stealing his topic for my blog. So I'm gonna go over here and cackle evilly while plotting my next theft while you read. Enjoy.

1: Piers Anthony
2: Steven Barnes
3: Leigh Brackett
4: Ray Bradbury
5: Edgar Rice Burroughs
6: Stephen J. Cannell
7: George C. Chesbro
8: Clive Cussler
9: Samuel R. Delaney
10: Lester Dent
11: Alexandre Dumas
12: Will Eisner
13: Harlan Ellison
14: Ian Fleming
15: Dashiell Hammett
16: Chester Himes
17: Robert E. Howard
18: Langston Hughes
19: Joel Jenkins
20: Joe R. Landsdale
21: Stan Lee
22: Robert R. McCammon
23: Walter Mosley
24: Larry McMurtry
25: Michael Moorcock
26: John Ostrander
27: Ishmael Reed
28: Mike Resnick
29: Joshua Reynolds
30: Charles Saunders
31: Jim Steranko
32: Andrew Vachss
33: Jules Verne
34: Cornell Woolrich
35: Roger Zelazny

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sinbad-The New Voyages


Airship 27 Productions announces the release of their newest pulp anthology title, SINBAD – The New Voyages

The greatest seafaring adventurer of all times returns to the high seas, Sinbad the Sailor!
Born of countless legends and myths, this fearless rogue sets sail across the seven seas aboard his ship, the Blue Nymph, accompanied by an international crew of colorful, larger-than-life characters. Chief among these are the irascible Omar, a veteran seamen and trusted first mate, the blond Viking giant, Ralf Gunarson, the sophisticated archer from Gaul, Henri Delacrois and the mysterious, lovely and deadly female samurai, Tishimi Osara.  All of them banded together to follow their famous captain on perilous new voyages across the world’s oceans.

“This was another opportunity for us to explore another classic pulp genre,” Managing Editor Ron Fortier explained.  “Fantasy high adventure was a popular setting in many of the more exotic themed pulp titles of the 1930s.  Doing one starring Sinbad seemed a natural choice for us.”

Writers Nancy Hansen, I.A. Watson and Derrick Ferguson offer up three classic Sinbad tales to rival those of legend while adding a familiar sensibility from the cult favorite Sinbad movies of FX master, Ray Harryhausen.  SINBAD – The New Voyages will enthrall and entertain all lovers of fantasy adventure in a brand new way; featuring cover art by Bryan Fowler and twelve black and white illustrations by Ralf van der Hoeven.

“From inception to realization, this was one of the fastest titles we’ve ever put together,” Fortier added.  “In fact we received so many submissions that we had enough to fill two books.  You can expect volume two to sail over the horizon soon.  And we couldn’t be happier.”

So pack up your you traveling bags, bid ado to your loved ones and get ready to sail with the tide as Sinbad El Ari takes the tiller and the Blue Nymph sets sails once more; its destination worlds of wonder, mystery and high adventure.  

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – Pulp Fiction For A New Generation!

Now available as $3 PDF download.

From Create Space

Later from Indy POD.

And finally Amazon & Kindle.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Derrick Ferguson Hunts Down The EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET

 Paperback: 256 pages
 Publisher: PulpWork Press; 1ST edition (September 15, 2009)
 Language: English
 ISBN-10: 0979732921
 ISBN-13: 978-0979732928

When last we saw Garvey Dire, he was doing pretty well for himself.  Oh sure, his mission to Mars had gone wrong, leaving him near death.  But then he was miraculously transported 47,000 years into the past.  And in that past, Mars is not a dying planet.  Indeed, it thrives with life including the Muvari tribe which is mostly populated by warrior women.  The males of the tribe are few and are guarded as they assure the continued survival of the tribe.

Garvey survives a number of harrowing adventures to rise to a level of prominence in the Muvari tribe as well as marrying the gorgeous and deadly Ntashia, the finest swordswoman of Mars.  Garvey even managed to prevent World War III back on Earth in his native time period and save the life of his best friend.  Salt-N-Pepa could very well have been talking about Garvey in their song “Whatta Man”

When we catch up again with Garvey Dire he’s facing an army of Galbran.  They’re a rival tribe of cannibals who have an old score to settle with Garvey and an older one to settle with the Muvari.  And while he’s trying to hold off this army in a remote outpost with but a handful of Muvari warrior women, he’s also trying to figure out how to handle the Muvari custom of a man having more than one wife.  It’s not as hard one might think since his first wife Ntashia has made the arraignments for the marriage and is actively encouraging it.  It’s custom, y’know and when on Mars, do as the Martians do.

It’s almost a relief for Garvey to discover that his old rival and fellow Earthman Arnold Stechter survived the events of “Dire Planet” and is alive and well.  He’s lost his memory of his life on Earth and doesn’t recall that he and Garvey are bitter enemies.  But Stechter hasn’t forgotten his ambition and desire for power.  He has gathered together outcast warrior women from a dozen different tribes and forged them into a savage, bloodthirsty army.  And with these EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET he intends to conquer and rule Mars.  But it’s a plan that has to begin with the overthrow of Ledgrim, the hidden Muvari capital city.  And it’s Garvey Dire who will unwittingly help Stechter achieve that goal…

If you’ve read and enjoyed “Dire Planet” then you’ll certainly want to read the sequel.  Not only does Joel continue to explore and reveal new layers of his Martian culture but he also gives us new layers of his protagonist.  Garvey’s naturally hesitant about entering into another marriage when he’s already got a wife he’s perfectly happy with.  Garvey Dire exhibits more maturity in this multiple marriage thing than you would expect from a hero in this genre.  Garvey’s still learning his role and place in this world and he sometimes wishes things would go a little slower.

One thing he’s not slow at is facing down the hoards of enemies thirsting for his blood in this one.  If this book doesn’t have the highest body count of any of Joel’s books, its right up there in the top three.  Just the first fifty pages of the book has a higher death rate than most complete novels.  And this is before Garvey finds out about Stechter and his army of exiles.

EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET is an enjoyable book but a demanding one.  Joel seems determined to give readers more bang for their buck and while he certainly does that it also means that there’s a lot more you to pay attention to attention to and keep track of.  The only complaint I have with the book is that in order to get in as much information as he can, Joel will occasionally have characters explain some aspect of Martian life and culture to Garvey, even during scenes where it seemed to me that concerning themselves with surviving whatever is trying to kill them should be of paramount importance.  Also there’s the character of Naegrik the Galbran.   While he provides Garvey with a sidekick who’s just as much of an outsider as he is, Garvey’s acceptance of his conversion from full-blown cannibalism to bosom buddy and lifelong pal is a bit too quick for my taste. But I liked how the other characters kept an eye on Naegrik when he was around and constantly reminded Garvey that hey, this guy grew up eating people.

But the main thing here is the adventure and Joel delivers it with great style and tight control over the half dozen subplots he’s got going.  And EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET ends with a cliffhanger that will demand that you get the third book in the series; “Into The Dire Planet” to find out what happens next.  And for my money that’s exactly what Pulp, whether Classic or New is supposed to do.  Enjoy.

For more information about Joel Jenkins please visit:

The Vaults of Caladrex
Pulpwork Press

And Joel has kindly provided a Dire Planet Compendium that you can find at The Vaults of Caladrex if you go to the right side of the blog and scroll down until you hit the keyword ‘Dire Planet Compendium’

And if you buy EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET direct from PulpWork Press you get a 20% discount by entering the following code: 5YRZ6A8W

Also, this same code is good for a 20% discount on all of Joel Jenkins’ titles and most of the other Pulp Work Press titles!

Derrick Ferguson Takes A Trip To The DIRE PLANET

 Paperback: 248 pages
 Publisher: PulpWork Press; 1St Edition edition (September 15, 2009)
 Language: English
 ISBN-10: 0979732948
 ISBN-13: 978-0979732942

Not being an historian I’m not sure if Edgar Rice Burroughs created the Planetary Romance genre.  But I am certain that he refined it into something so unique and special that all anybody has to do is say “John Carter” or “Dejah Thoris” or “Barsoom” and most everybody even remotely acquainted with Pulp will know what you’re talking about.  Planetary Romance or Sword and Planet as some like to call it is a wildly popular genre in its own right.  Burroughs having struck great success with his Mars books pulled off the same trick with his Carson of Venus books.   In the 1980’s I discovered other books/series in the genre written by Lin Carter, Michael Moorcock, Alan Burke Akers and even…sigh, the “Gor” books written by John Norman.

Suffice it to say without going into detail that some of them I enjoyed and others I shook my head in downright disbelief that they ever got published.  I can happily say that DIRE PLANET by Joel Jenkins is one that I’m glad got published as it’s a wonderful example of what New Pulp is about.  Joel embraces the conventions of Burroughsian Planetary Romance but it does it with a modern day eye.  As a result it’s a book that at once feels familiar and fresh.  Just when you think you know which way the plot is going to go, Joel manages to find another fork in the road that takes you someplace else.

The Earthman taken from his native world to the planet Mars this time around is Garvey Dire and he doesn’t get there by mystical means.  He gets there by spaceship, the NASA Mars Orbiter.  Garvey Dire’s mission is not just one of exploration and discovery.  His mission is one of vital importance to the continued security and safety of The United States.  China wants to establish their own base on Mars.  And so the race is on.

It’s a race that ends in disaster when Garvey’s ship crash lands on Mars.  With his leg broken, losing air and blood, it seems as if Garvey’s story is over.  But that all changes when he sees the image of a gorgeous green skinned swordswoman in armor.  And it’s because of that image his life is saved as he’s transported 50,000 years back into the past and to a Mars unlike any he’s ever dreamed of.

It’s all here; flashing swords against ancient super science.  Hideous beasts and their even more hideous masters.  Noble warriors battling against grotesque humanoid creatures of astounding cruelty.  Captures.  Chases.  Escapes.  Fates worse than death.  And romance.  Garvey Dire finds it all on ancient Mars.

But what really makes DIRE PLANET a cut above other Burroughs inspired Sword and Planet stories is the political element.  Once Garvey gets hurtled back to ancient Mars, Joel doesn’t forget the U.S./China conflict and indeed, the way he cuts back and forth between the two time periods is in true Burroughs tradition as he was expert at juggling two sets of characters, leaving one set in a nail-biting cliffhanger at the end of a chapter then bouncing over to the other set of characters for a chapter then leaving them in an inescapable trap then going back and-

Well, you get the idea.  It’s a good technique that never failed to work for Burroughs because it’s a surefire way of keeping the story going.  Joel even manages to resolve the conflicts in both time periods in a manner that while it’s clever it also involved just a little too much bouncing back and forth through time for my taste.  Not that I’m opposed to time travel, mind you.  But I think that Joel figured that the only way out was to pinball various characters back and forth between the two time periods.  It’s a little bit dizzying but hey, if you’ve hung on with Garvey Dire all that way, you’re going to go on to the end and you won’t be disappointed.

I can’t finish this review without mentioning two of my favorite bits in the book; Number one is the revelation of who The President of The United States. And number two is that Joel apparently is psychic because he predicted one of the most popular devices in use today way back in 2005 when this book was first published.

So should you read DIRE PLANET?  You certainly should.  If you’ve never read anything by Joel Jenkins this is the perfect place to start.  Joel has been writing what we’re now calling New Pulp as long as I’ve known him and we’re talking roughly around 15 years.  And in all that time he’s built up quite the respectable amount of work.  DIRE PLANET is one of his best.

For more information about Joel Jenkins please visit:

The Vaults of Caladrex

Pulpwork Press

If you buy it direct from PulpWork Press you get a 20% discount by entering the following code: 5YRZ6A8W

Also, this same code is good for a 20% discount on all of Joel Jenkins’ titles and most of the other Pulp Work Press titles!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: JOE BONADONNA

DERRICK FERGUSON: Who is Joe Bonadonna?

JOE BONADONNA: Well, I'm a single guy pushing 61. I'm of Sicilian-Irish blood, with some Spanish (my paternal great grandmother was born in Spain), German, Scottish, Greek and, so I'm told by older relatives, Ethiopian blood going back hundreds of years when the Moors and Ethiopians were in Spain. Both sides of my family are doing the Ancestry. com thing, and we even have a private Facebook page. I live alone; my relationship with a woman I've known as a friend since 1976 came to an end in November, though we remain friends. Never been married, have no kids, no brothers, no sisters. I do have a rather large family of cousins, and a few aunts and uncles who are still living. I'm quite a chatterbox and a sense of humor helps me survive.

DF: Where do you live and what do you tell the government you do for a living?

JB: I was born, bred and still live in Chicago. The IRS knows that in 2010 I was "forced" into early retirement when the pharmaceutical chain I worked for since 1978 closed their three main warehouses in my area. I've pretty much been writing articles for Black Gate magazine's website, blogging a little, writing my stories and networking ever since. I'm looking for part-time work, but have resigned myself to the fact that I may not find a job. So I'm riding it out best I can until January 2014, when I turned 62. Hopefully there will be some social security left. Do you think they'll give me all the money I put into it since 1969 -- right now? No? I didn't think so.

DF: How long have you been writing?

JB: I've been writing, off and on, since grade school. I wrote my first "story" in 5th grade, about 1962-63. It was a sequel to "Nightmare," an episode of the original THE OUTER LIMITS. I later wrote a play I had hoped to "produce and direct" in my parents' basement. It was called "The Return of the Greatest Monster Ever," a sequel to FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN. In high school I wrote a sequel to JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS that I called "The Glass Impala." After that I wrote poems, songs and song lyrics, dabbled in fiction, etc. In 1983 I wrote a screenplay based on my job, and between 1997 and 2001 I wrote and co-authored 5 screenplays, none of which sold. I was a board member of the Chicago Screenwriter's Network, from about 1998 to 2002

DF: From your blog I gather that you’re a major Sword and Sorcery/Heroic Fantasy fan. When did you discover the genre?

JB: I discovered sword and sorcery (and heroic fantasy) in 1970, quite by accident. In 1969 a guy who sat next to me in high school physics turned me on to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. A year later, while looking for more of the same, I stumbled across copies of deCamp's THE TRITONIAN RING, and Leiber's THE SWORDS OF LANKHMAR in a used bookstore. I bought them because they looked interesting. The Ballantine Books Adult Fantasy Series got me hooked. And then I discovered Robert E. Howard.

DF: MAD SHADOWS is one of the best reviewed New Pulp books to be published recently. You describe it as gothic noir. I’ve also heard it called “hard-boiled fantasy” Tell us about it.
JB: MAD SHADOWS: THE WEIRD TALES OF DORGO THE DOWSER . . . ah, I do call it "gothic noir." Don't ask why, lol! I like the sound of it. It's sword and sorcery with a film noir edge. Adding elements of film noir from the 1940s and 1950s, the old "Black Mask" type of story, and Warner Brothers gangster flicks of the 1930s were my inspirations. I wanted to attempt something different with my sword and sorcery.

DF: How did the character of Dorgo The Dowser develop?

JB: Dorgo the Dowser came about after watching THE MALTESE FALCON on television back in 1978. He just popped into my head, as Robert E. Howard said of Conan. Then I saw a TV Guide listing for the old GORGO monster film of the 1960s, and I just changed the "G" to a "D" and there you go!  At that time all I knew about "dowsing" was that it was about searching for water -- "digging" for it, so to speak, as Sam Spade dug for clues. A rerun of the old THE RIFLEMAN television show, wherein an old dowser was trying to find water, gave me the idea to add a nickname to Dorgo. Hence, Dowser. It was a last-minute bit of inspiration in 2008 that gave me the idea of having Dorgo use a dowsing rod as a "magical, investigative tool." I had NO idea until shortly before MAD SHADOWS was published that dowsing rods are also metaphysical tools: there are many types of dowsing rods, and each has its own use.

DF: Tell us about your future plans for the character.

JB: Ah, Dorgo's future. Let's see. . . . I have written 3 new tales of Dorgo the Dowser. I hope to keep writing his tales until I feel his time has passed, until I feel that his stories do not live up to what I accomplished in MAD SHADOWS. Haven't thought much about his "arc," but I have made him a bit tougher, a little more "hard-boiled." Because the stories (except for one thus far) are written in first person, I try to have the tales revolve around a main character who goes through changes, so to speak, with Dorgo as the narrator. These are his adventures, but since I don't really write the lone wolf or "barbarian solo" type of thing, I like to feature other characters: I like dialog with my action, human drama and interaction. I also like working in the 15-K to 25-K novella arena, and I may or may not write a full novel about him. I do, however, have one idea in mind starring Dorgo and some of his recurring cast of characters. This would be a sort of SEVEN SAMURAI and THE WILD BUNCH sort of tale. Dorgo's swan song? Who knows. I don't.

DF: Anything else in the works that we should know about and be on the lookout for?

JB: As far as my upcoming projects are concerned: I have a space opera, THREE AGAINST THE STARS, coming out later this year or early next year from Airship27 Productions. A new tale of Dorgo the Dowser, a novella titled "The Order of the Serpent," will be published by Weird Tales, on the PDF version of their magazine, sometime in 2013, I believe. Another Dorgo tale, "The Book of Echoes," will be published next year in Heathen Oracle's eBook anthology, ARTIFACTS AND RELICS. A third tale of Dorgo, "The Girl Who Loved Ghouls," has yet to find a home; I tend to write "long," in the novella format, and this often works against me, lol! My first sword and soul story, "The Blood of the Lion," will be appear in 2013, I believe, in the second GRIOTS anthology, GRIOTS 2: SISTERS OF THE SPEAR.

I'm just finishing up a sword and sorcery pirate novel, WATERS OF DARKNESS, that I'm writing with David C. Smith, based on an idea of his. Dave has been writing and publishing since about 1978. He is the author of ORON, THE FALL OF THE FIRST WORLD TRILOGY, SEASONS OF THE MOON, CALL OF SHADOWS, and the upcoming DARK MUSE. Our good friend, Charles Saunders, "introduced" us back in 1977. Dave and I are also working on a sword and planet story, "To Save Hermesia," for a shared world anthology. I have at least three more Dorgo stories planned, and hope to write. Beyond that, the future is wide open.

DF: You’ve also got a musical background. Tell us about that.

JB: My musical "career" began when I took my first guitar lesson in October of 1964, about 8 months after The Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. My folks' basement and garage were the entertainment centers in my old neighborhood. I played in bands, wrote lyrics and songs for the next 20 years, while writing fiction on the side. I was a very, very minor barstar on the local music scene here in Chicago. In 1984 I hung up the guitar and concentrated solely on writing sword and sorcery, with occasional excursions into whimsical fantasy, horror, and screenplays. Arthritis in both hands makes it difficult and painful for me to play guitar nowadays, so I rarely touch my "six-string razor."  While I miss being up on stage, I don't miss the work involved in rehearsing and traveling. But standing on stage . . . that's pure fun, pure joy.

DF: What’s your thoughts on New Pulp?

JB: I've always said of myself: "I'm a pulp fiction author. I write pulp fiction." There are some comments about pulp fiction in MAD SHADOWS, and a discussion of my influences in the Afterword of the book. I've always loved pulp fiction, even before I knew the term. That's pretty much what I first started reading in the science fiction, fantasy and horror magazines: Analog, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Astounding, Ellery Queen, etc. I really wasn't aware of New Pulp until 2011, when I went to my first Windy City Pulp and Paperback Book Convention with Dave Smith. This is where kismet plays into the picture: A friend took me over to the Airship27 table to show me some books. I got to talking with Ron Fortier and Rob Davis, and learned we had a mutual friend in Charles Saunders; he's at the center of everything!!! As it turns out, Ron was a member of the same writer's group that Charles and I belonged to back in the 1970s, SPWAO, the Small Press Writers' and Artists' Organization. Well, one thing led to another . . . Dave Smith published CALL OF SHADOWS thru Airship27, my space opera THREE AGAINST THE STARS will be published by Airship27, and all sorts of connections were made.

I embrace New Pulp -- it's a breath of fresh, and yet familiar air in this heavily-competitive world of writing and publishing. There are literally scores of excellent writers involved in this, as well a a large number of great pulp houses. A variety of "genres" that you won't find in bookstores. Incredible amount of new and old pulp fiction characters. I've made many new friends through New Pulp, and have become a part of a number of fun and informative Facebook Groups. I am proud and happy to be associated with New Pulp and all the writers, artists and publishers I have met through friends and Facebook. To some it all up: Pulpae fabula victa!

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Joe Bonadonna like?

JB: A day in my life is pretty dull and routine. I wake up, make coffee, check my emails and Facebook pages, write, read, dinner, television or hanging out with friends. I manage to get a few hours of sleep, too. That's about it, Oh, there are a few other things, but they're of no real interest to most people. Writing and networking are very lonely "professions," especially when you live alone. I should get a cat.

DERRICK FERGUSON: Anything else we should know about Joe Bonadonna?

JOE BONADONNA: I'm pretty much a domestic "housecat." I tend to keep to myself, though I get together quite a lot with friends. I have been getting back in touch and seeing a lot of my childhood friends -- many of them I've known since kindergarten 1957/1958. This Facebook thing is great for things like that, too. I'm really having one of the best times of my life right now. I'm truly blessed.

Joe Bonadonna, author of Mad Shadows: The Weird Adventures of Dorgo the Dowser, a collection of sword and sorcery tales. You can order it from:, and at:
Also available from the Book Depository at:

Visit my Blog at You can find me on Facebook and Google+, and visit my Google Profile. I can also be found on YouTube. Just Google: "Joe Bonadonna sword and sorcery." It's a 6-part talkfest on fantasy and publishing.

Coming soon, from Airship27 Productions: Three Against The Stars, my new space opera: old-fashioned adventure in the grand tradition of Henry Kuttner and Edmond Hamilton.

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 ...