Monday, December 23, 2013

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: JOSHUA REYNOLDS

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Joshua Reynolds?

Joshua Reynolds: I'm a literary mercenary with a modest level of talent and more-than-modest level of self-confidence. I'm a hack, a penmonkey, an ink-stained wretch, a word-dribbler.

I am, in other words, a freelance writer.



DF: Where do you currently reside and what do you do for a living?

JR: I currently reside in the city of Sheffield, which is in the north of England and, as oh-so subtly hinted at by my previous answer, I write for a living. 

DF: Share some of your personal background with us.

JR: I was once bitten by a rattlesnake.

It died.

DF: Access the memories of the 12 year old Josh Reynolds. Are you right now doing what the 12 year old Josh Reynolds dreamed of doing?

JR: Insomuch as it doesn't involve reigning over my own country like a power-mad dictator, I would say no. This was like three, maybe four down the list from that particular dream.

Definitely in the top fifteen, though.

DF: What is your philosophy of writing?

JR: I dunno...quantity has a quality all its own? No, but seriously, my philosophy is hard to put into words. Polite words, I mean. It mostly involves cursing and throwing papers up in the air, and having men with guns come through doors every two thousand words or so.

DF: How would you describe your style?

JR: Gratuitous? I don't know really. I think that's one of those questions you have to ask somebody who's not me to get a good answer.
The thing is, I don't think about it much. Writing is a job, and it's one I've gotten mostly adept at. But beyond that, I don't think about it in terms of style or philosophies or anything like that. I sit down, I write, I submit, I move on to the next thing. If something works, I repeat it until it stops working. If it doesn't work, I discard it and come up with something new.

Hey, maybe that's my answer to both this question and the previous one! My philosophy and my style is 'whatever works'.

DF: You’ve written an hellacious amount of short stories. Obviously you like the short story. Why?

JR: It is, in my opinion, one of the most efficient and effective ways of delivering an entertaining story. A short story forces you to pare and tweak and chisel at everything that isn't story. Books and novellas can take their time, they can have flabby bits and tangents and bits of business that add to characterization and the setting. But short stories have to get to the point--whatever that point might be--very quickly. You have to establish characters, plot and setting right from page one, paragraph one, sentence one.

DF: Exactly how many short stories have you written and if you had to pick three as your best, which ones would they be?

JR: Written, or had published? If it's the latter, almost two hundred. If it's the former...three, maybe three-hundred and fifty? I write between sixteen and twenty five a year, on average, these days.

As far as three of the best...the first is maybe "Just an Old Fashioned Love Song", which was published in 2007 in a magazine called Not One of Us. It's got a weird, funky rhythm to it that I've only managed to replicate once or twice since.

Second would be "Corn Wolf", which appeared in a 2010 issue of Necrotic Tissue. It's a straight-edge horror story, with Jamesian wallop to the rural horror twist. It's got one of my usual tricks--something horrible moving through something innocuous in a disturbing fashion--and a fairly nasty climax, which make it one of my more effective stories.

Third would have to be "Bultungin", which was published in 2013 in the anthology Shapeshifters. I think this is one of my better ones because I went outside of my comfort zone with it. Not necessarily in terms of plot, but in terms of setting and characters. Plus...were-hyenas. Hard to top that.   

DF: Some of my favorite stories of yours are an insane mash-up of horror, steampunk, pulp action adventure and historical fiction. Do you ever worry that your work cannot be easily classified or labeled?

JR: Nah. If it sells, it doesn't matter to me how it's labeled and if it doesn't sell...well it's moot, ain't it?

DF: I’m a big fan of your Mr. Brass stories. How did you give birth to the character?

JR: I wanted to write something steampunk-y, so I decided to go all in from the get-go. A brass robot-man punching out characters from Victorian literature seemed fairly steampunk.

Granted, what I considered steampunk at that point was 'like that Alan Moore thing, only less subtle'.

DF: Do you plan on writing a Mr. Brass novel or do you feel the character is more suited to short stories?

JR: If someone offered me the right terms, I'd whip up a novel in a heartbeat. But as that has yet to occur, I think I'll be sticking with short stories for the time being.

DF: In the New Pulp community whenever Jim Anthony, Super Detective is mentioned, your name is sure to be mentioned as well. How did you come to write Jim Anthony and why do you think you understand the character and his world so well?

JR: When I was first invited to submit something to Airship 27 several years ago, Ron Fortier was kind enough to send me a list of public domain pulp characters. The write-up of Jim Anthony on that list began, I think, with the phrase 'second-rate Doc Savage clone', and that immediately caught my attention. More for the Doc part than the second-rate bit.



Thing is, I've always wanted to write Doc Savage. It's on my bucket-list. And, frankly, I think Jim Anthony is as close as I'll get. Which is no bad thing. The Super-Detective is a fun character, with as much going for him as Doc, at least from the point of view of a writer. Jim Anthony is a very human character. He's passionate, opinionated, arrogant and lusty. He gets angry and depressed and frightened. And he can punch supervillains. What's not to like?

DF: Can we expect more Jim Anthony adventures?

JR: I'm actually in the process of writing a sequel to my last novel with the character, Death's Head Cloud, right now. The working title is Red Shambhala, and it sees Jim and co. face off against a murderous Russian aristocrat as they hunt for a treasure hidden in the wilds of Mongolia.

So the short answer would be 'yes'.



DF: You’ve written several novels for the prestigious Black Library. How did you get a contract to write for them and what advice can you offer to those who would like to write for them?

JR: I got the first contract the old fashioned way. I submitted a proposal, the commissioning editor liked it and I got offered a contract. As to advice, the best I can think of is, quite simply, write something else. Black Library rarely hire first-time writers, and my resume played a large part in getting me that first offer.

DF: I really enjoyed KNIGHT OF THE BLAZING SUN. Where’d you come up with that story?

JR: It evolved naturally out of my interest in real-world knightly orders like the Templars, and how they functioned. It was really just a matter of taking that interest and figuring out how to explore it through the lens of the Warhammer Fantasy universe.



DF: For those who don’t know, tell us who Gotrex & Felix are.

JR: Gotrek & Felix are Black Library's oldest and, perhaps, best-loved franchise. Created almost twenty years ago by veteran fantasy writer Bill King, Gotrek is a dwarf warrior determined to find a fitting doom, in order to expunge some heretofore unrevealed sin. Felix is a human poet who, after a being rescued by Gotrek, is honour-bound to follow him on his adventures and record his eventual demise.

I've written two novels about the duo--Road of Skulls in 2013 and The Serpent Queen which will be released in 2014--as well as a novella and a number of short stories.




DF: Can you tell us about any future novels you’ll be writing for Black Library?

JR: Unfortunately, I can't. They'd send somebody by my house to break my thumbs if I mentioned anything. Suffice to say, I'm writing at least two more novels for them. After that...who can say?

DF: A particular type of fictional hero that you have demonstrated a huge love for is that of The Occult Investigator or Psychic Detective. Where does that come from?

JR: Mostly it comes from a love of the central concept behind such a character--someone who fights monsters. A person who faces off against every nightmarish horror the Outer Dark can produce as a matter of professional and personal responsibility. Like the detectives of Conan Doyle, Chandler and Christie, the occult detective seeks to bring the monsters to justice, only in the latter's case, the monster isn't a poisoner or a blackmailer, but a werewolf or a vampire or a gibbering horror. And that's something I just plain dig.

DF: Who is The Royal Occultist and what is his job?

JR: The Royal Occultist is the man--or woman--who stands between the British Empire and its occult enemies, be they foreign, domestic, human, demonic or some form of worm of unusual size. If there are satyrs running amok in Somerset or werewolves in Wolverhampton, the Royal Occultist will be there to see them off.

The current Royal Occultist is Charles St. Cyprian, who's best described as Rudolph Valentino by way of Bertie Wooster. In the same vein, his assistant, Ebe Gallowglass, is Louise Brooks by way of Emma Peel. St. Cyprian is the brains and Gallowglass is the muscle; he likes to talk things out, and she likes to shoot things until they die.



Together, they defend the British Empire of the 1920s against a variety of gribbly monsters, secret societies and eldritch occurrences.

DF: Tell us about THE WHITECHAPEL DEMON.

JR: The Whitechapel Demon is the first book in Emby Press' 'The Adventures of the Royal Occultist' series. It sees Charles St. Cyprian and Ebe Gallowglass go up against a secret society of murderists and an otherdimensional doppelganger of one of history's most notorious killers. The book serves as an introduction to the world of the Royal Occultist as well as delivering an exciting adventure for new readers and old fans alike to enjoy.





DF: Can we expect to see future adventures of Charles St. Cyprian and Ebe Gallowglass? Please say yes.

JR: Definitely. Next year will see the release of The Jade Suit of Death, the follow up to The Whitechapel Demon. There are also a half dozen short stories waiting to appear in the pages of forthcoming anthologies and magazines, and two more audio productions in the works. Too, there may be a collection of short stories forthcoming from a well-known New Pulp publisher.

DF: What’s a Day In The Life of Joshua Reynolds like?

JR: Very boring, actually. I get up, I eat breakfast, drink some coffee, and get to work around eight, eight-thirty in the morning. I work on whatever project has the closest deadline until twelve, break for lunch and a coffee until one, and then work on a second project, or answer emails, mail contracts and invoices, run errands and/or update my blog until five or six. I generally try and get some more writing in between seven and midnight most nights.
Like I said, not very interesting.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?

Joshua Reynolds: The best present you can get an author, besides buying one of their books, is taking the time to leave a review somewhere. So, if you've read something, please consider taking a few minutes to review it on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords or wherever. I, and most every other author out there, would appreciate it immensely. 

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