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.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...JANA OLIVER

Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Jana Oliver?

Jana Oliver: I’m someone who has found that listening to the voices in my head and writing their stories into book form is a pretty nifty job.

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

JO: I live near Atlanta, Georgia and my tax returns state “Author”. Yeah, for real. I’m still jazzed about that.

DF: Tell us a little something about your background.

JO: I have a checkered past, in that I wasn’t always a writer. I started out as a registered nurse, did a gig as a fill-in DJ, wrote advertising copy for major retailers and was a travel agent. All of which actually helps me now that I’m a wordsmith.

DF: What writers have influenced you?

JO: The late Sir Terry Pratchett’s unlimited imagination still stuns me, the depth of Anne Perry’s Victorian mysteries, as well as the world building of urban fantasy authors like Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Chloe Neil, Suzanne Johnson, etc. Most of the time when I read something amazing, I lean back in my chair and go “Wow, I want to write that late someday.”

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Jana Oliver?

JO: Jana has always been eclectic because my stories don’t stick to one genre. Whether it be young adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance, historical/paranormal mysteries or contemporary mysteries, I’ll write the book if the story and characters intrigue me. Most authors try to stick to one genre. I get bored too easily, so my audience is all over the map.

DF: Do you write for yourself or for your readers?

JO: A little of both. Mostly I write for the characters who “use” me as their scribe so their stories are told.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?

JO: Its. A. Gift. Doesn’t matter who you believe gave it to you this time around, it’s a gift. The books/stories are important. They reach into peoples’ hearts and their lives. So in my mind ignoring that calling is a bad thing. Sure, we all have times we can’t write because of family, etc., but the bottom line is if you having this calling, you should be doing it.

DF: Are you interested in critics and their opinion of your work?

JO: Luckily I’m a lot more thick-skinned than I used to be. Mostly my spouse watches the reviews and lets me know if there’s a common thread, something I might be able to fix in future books. An example is that when I was first writing, my villains were pretty cardboard. Now I give them full back stories, motivations, the whole works. That change came because of reader comments.

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

JO: I’ve learned it’s VERY important. Because if not I hit a wall in the story and waste time trying to fix stuff.

DF: Tell us about THE DEMON TRAPPERS series

JO: The DEMON TRAPPERS series is currently five books (the final one—VALIANT LIGHT—is coming out in November) and it has a worldwide following. Which is pretty cool given it’s the tale of a 17 y/o girl who just wants to follow in her father’s footsteps. How hard can that be? Well, pretty hard since he traps demons for a living and the trappers in Atlanta aren’t fond of a female in their midst. But Riley Blackthorne does have someone rooting for her—Lucifer, in fact. That’s never a good thing.

Riley is a great character to write: Strong, caring and actually learns from her mistakes. And she’s mouthy. (I have no idea where she gets that trait. Ha!) Besides Hell and its demons, Riley has an adversarial relationship with Denver Beck, a young veteran who is her father’s apprentice. Their stories have proven very popular. It’ll be sad to say goodbye to them, but I want the series to end at just the right time and not overstay their welcome.

DF: Tell us about THE TIME ROVERS series

JO: Can you say “Genre Blend”? Because that’s exactly what this series is. Historical mystery, paranormal, a bit of science fiction and romance. I send a time traveler from 2057 back to 1888 London during the time of the Jack the Ripper murders, not to find the killer, but to locate a missing time “tourist.” But Jacynda Lassiter, my Time Rover, realizes that nothing is as it seems because of the Transitives, a group of shapeshifters than can mimic anyone’s appearance. Add in some Fenians, some missing dynamite, a plot to change the future and that’s the Time Rovers’ series in a nutshell.

Because I’m slightly crazy, I spent an incredible amount of time ensuring the Victorian details were as accurate as I could get them. To that end, I’ve attended a number of academic conferences on JtR and Victorian London and numerous trips to the East End to wander around the dark alleys. Sometimes you just have to do your pub research firsthand. (wink)

In the end, the Time Rovers series won eight or nine major writing awards, found me a literary agent who helped me launch my career in NY. All because a small Canadian press (Dragon Moon) took a gamble on me and my very unique trilogy.

DF: You appear to have achieved a good deal of successful in both the Young Adult and Supernatural genres and joined them both successfully. Care to tell us your secret?

JO: I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’m best when I incorporate some paranormal element, even a small one, into my stories. When paired with the young adult genre, that worked very, very well. I think part of the success is that I always try to do something unique rather than following the trends. Which is why my heroine in the Demon Trappers did end up with the Fallen angel as her soul mate.

DF: You were around at the beginning of the independent self-publishing movement on The Internet. How did it begin for you and has it developed into what you thought it would?

JO: I began my career self-pubbing in 2001, back when there weren’t all the tools in place to help make the job a “easier”. Getting the books stocked at Amazon was a pain in the butt (now I work through Createspace so the printing and shipping are automatic) and e-books didn’t exist. At present 80% of my sales worldwide are in electronic form. That rocks. Back then the best way to build my name was going to conventions and hosting a podcast, which is how you and I met. Now there’s all the social media platforms that offer a truly worldwide audience. It still boggles my mind that people in far-flung parts of the world are downloading my indie books.

DF: What have you got in the works?

JO: I just published DEAD EASY, which is a YA/New Adult contemporary murder mystery set in New Orleans. Couldn’t resist messing around with a serial killer and a quartet of amateur detectives. I’m about to start writing VALIANT LIGHT, that final Demon Trappers book.

DF: What is a typical Day In The Life of Jana Oliver like?

JO: I drag myself out of bed about 8, and veg until about 9:30 as I don’t like eating first thing in the morning. Usually I answer e-mails, do social media posts during that time period. And pet the cat, who insists that she curl up next to me on the couch while I sip my coffee.

I’m more of an afternoon person, so I truly don’t really start writing until noon or later, then work through until my nap. A brief snooze allows me to work out scene problems and refreshes me. Then I write until the spouse gets home. If I’m on deadline, I will write after supper and on the weekends. It all depends on the schedule.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?

Jana Oliver: Just wanted to thank you for all the great questions!

More information about Jana Oliver can be found at her website so just bounce on over THERE RIGHT NOW and her Facebook page can be found RIGHT HERE

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...JAIME E. RAMOS

Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Jaime E. Ramos?

Jaime E. Ramos: I am a writer who lives in St. Louis MO. I was raised on the bad streets of Gary Indiana and graduated Calumet High School. I am a happily married man with one son, named Thomas. I love dogs and writing and reading and watching football. I am a lifelong Chicago Bears fan.

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

JER: I am a Claims Adjuster.

DF: Give us some of your background info, if you please.

JER: Let’s see. I graduated High School and immediately attended Indiana Boys State which is a competition sponsored by the American Legion. I was nominated to be a County Commissioner in the competition. I tried college a couple of times and found it to be not my cup of tea. I have worked blue-collar jobs like factory work and restaurants. I have worked in the insurance claims field for the last fifteen years, proving that a college education isn’t really needed, at least I didn’t need one to become successful. I have a successful marriage to my wife Phyllis. Phyllis is the one person that can handle my many personality flaws and I appreciate that greatly.

DF: How long have you been writing?

JER: I have been writing since the age of six.

DF: Do you enjoy writing?

JER: I enjoy writing now that I have had a small tastes of being published. Lingering in obscurity is not fun and I never write just because I am bored or whatever. I write with a purpose.

DF: What writers have influenced you?

JER: Great question. Roger Zelazny, Ernest Hemmingway, Robert Shea, James Clavell, William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the great David Michelinie.

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

JER: I have never written anything for myself. I’m not really sure exactly what that means. I write with a purpose to tell stories that others can read.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Jaime E. Ramos?

JER: I would like the whole world, the entire planet to read my work.

DF: How did you get involved with New Pulp?
JER: I gravitated to New Pulp while doing research for a prose super-hero story that I had written. I was looking for a publisher and discovered Pro Se Productions. I found my home in this genre and made real sound business and creative connections. New Pulp also kicks my creativity into over-drive.

DF: Do you think that New Pulp has the potential to be The Next Big Thing? (Whatever that means)

JER: I think Pulp being the precursor to comic  book characters and other genre fiction has always been a viable universe for Hollywood and publishing houses.  As New Pulp evolves there is always a chance that new fans and creators discover the genre.

DF: Where do you see New Pulp being five years from now? And do you see yourself as still being an active, vital element of New Pulp?

JER:  I think that many New Pulp publishers will discover new writers with diverse characters and settings.  I think the Movement will gain steam and broaden as a genre.

DF: Tell us about your involvement in LEGENDS OF NEW PULP.

JER: Well I had gotten an email from Tommy Hancock and discovered how ill he was. I wanted to help him in some small way. So I sent out a few messages to other writers (you included) and asked if a benefit anthology with the proceeds going to Tommy or his family would be in line. The answer as a resounding YES. I knew that I wasn’t a “publisher” per say, and I would need help putting the book together. I contacted Ron Fortier at Airship 27 and he loved the idea. Ron really took the lead and put it together, I proofed roughly half of the stories.

DF: How do you feel about the runaway success of that book?

JER: I am ecstatic that the book has been a success.  So far the book has won some awards and I am proud of  the creators.  I am also very proud that Tommy has benefitted from the proceeds.  It’s great to see a community come together.


JER: This book has been in the making for three years. It is a “shared world” setting, in which each author’s characters share the same space and environment. After a technological singularity has plunged the world into war and darkness, a small city is built from the ashes. After a self-appointed monarch rises to control the inhabitants, super heroes are called upon to fight for the citizens. I created this really complex history for the world, but the stories are relatable and the characters are solid.

DF: David Michelinie is one of my favorite comic book writers. I loved his work on “Iron Man” and he created the World War II hero Gravedigger, one of the best African-American characters in comics. How’d you persuade him to join this project?

JER: I became friends with David on Facebook after sending him a fan-message. David graciously answered fan questions from me and we eased into a very cool “internet friendship.” When I came up with the concept of Singularity, David agreed to look at my concept, but didn’t commit until I actually sold the idea to a publisher. I pitched the idea and within a week a publisher committed to the project. David was then forced to service and created an amazing character called the Righteous Red. His story for the project is stellar!

DF: Will there be more books to come?

JER: I think so. I have been in talks with my publisher at Pro Se Productions and we are looking at sales. Sales generates sequels so if the sales are strong, I hope their will be more books. My goal is to create a brand and I have worked hard to put it together. I am ambitious and relentless.

DF: Which is tougher, writing or editing?

JER: I think editing is more difficult. I enjoy reading the stories that people write, but I don’t enjoy being the “heavy.” Editing is really not in my wheel-house, but I have learned to do the best I can and keep it positive. I let the writers know that I am in their corner and they seem to respond to me.

DF: What is a typical Day In The Life of Jamie E. Ramos like?

JER: I get up early and head to work down in the city of St. Louis at 8 AM. My office is just a few blocks from Busch stadium. I work on claim files until 430 PM and then I head home. After getting home, I visit with my wife and son and my dogs Coco and Chewie. After dinner, I try working on Facebook and writing stories that I am committed too. I try to take in either Game of Thrones or Ancient Aliens before turning in for the night.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else you want to add?

Jaime E. Ramos: I appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed by you, sir. I hope that Singularity becomes a great success and watch for announcements for my next solo novel “Cash Rawlins and the Infernal Eye.”

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BILL FRIDAY

Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Bill Friday?

Bill Friday: You would ask the hard question first. 

This is going to sound silly but, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to give just one answer to a question like that. It’s like the answer changes out of necessity every few years, from childhood into adolescence… teenage to adult… then into who I am now. And right now, I’d have to say that I’m a man who knows his time is short. Not because I have some kind of diagnosis hanging over my head. I don’t. But when you’re young, you think you’re never going to age. That you’re invincible. That you are going to dodge every bullet, and do every thing you randomly set your mind to. Then after a few years, or decades, you realize… okay, I realized… that thoughts like those were just crap. You grow up with dreams that don’t get realized. You want to play centerfield for the Dodgers. When the expiration date for that passes, you tell yourself you want to be the play-by-play announcer for the Dodgers, and you’re glad that one didn’t happen because the guy with the job is finally just retiring after 67 years. So you get yourself busy forgetting all those random thoughts. You make yourself busy by living, getting married, rising your kids, working thirty-some-odd different jobs… none of which ever satisfy the something that’s gnawed at your insides since the day you quit dreaming and started living. And somewhere along the way, after all those years and all those experiences, you realize that the only thing you have to show for them is your recollection of them.

And then, you write.

So I guess, to answer your question, I’d have to say that I’m the guy who writes what he remembers.   

DF: What do you do to keep yourself in cheese and crackers?

BF: For most of the last ten-plus years, I have worked as a driver in the freight transport industry, primarily at night, after the rest of the world has gone to bed. After a while working graveyard, I discovered that the world is a much quieter place when there’s no one awake to interfere with your thoughts. It has been in this profession that the majority of my writing has taken shape. Most of my work hours involve the companies and corporations in and around Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Without realizing that it would eventually become a “thing”, I started tagging photos and posts with the hashtag #LAXConfidential while blogging and using social media. What started out as an unintentional homage to film noir became another way for me to sort out all the memories I was making out of life, and work. Eventually, it became the filter for the words inside my head to find their way out to the public. 

DF: Tell us a little something about your background.

BF: Here’s the part where pride and embarrassment start sounding the same. I was born and raised, and have spent my entire life, in Southern California. I’ve never lived more than a half-hour drive away from my childhood home. I graduated high school, and am currently a three-time college drop-out. I say currently because life has taught me that you can never totally rule anything out for the future. While I was on my way toward becoming a first-time drop-out, I took an English Composition class. Over the semester, I managed to turn in two of the ten writing assignments that all students were given during those 18 weeks. With three days left till summer vacation, and after the turn-in deadline had passed, my professor, Betty Dillon, informed us that if we still wanted to turn in 100 percent of the semester’s assignments, we could earn up to 50 percent grade credit on them.

After stalling for two more days, I began writing just before midnight, and finished all eight by sunrise. Later that morning, I turned them in at the final informal class meeting.

When I got the turned-in assignments back, Professor Dillon’s comments made me think she was writing about some other student. She liked them. Really liked them. Weeks later, when grades were mailed out… yes mailed, because no internet… I had gotten a C in the class. Exactly half-credit for all assignments turned in after the deadline, if all the grades were A’s.

I didn’t write again for twenty-five years.   

DF: How long have you been writing?

BF: In 2004, between jobs and spending way too much time watching Syfy Channel, I wrote a screenplay about a chupacabra, just to prove to myself I could. It was more an excuse to write out a lot of frustration in my life at the time. Looking back, it was a thinly-veiled auto-biography. I still have the script, not that it was any good. But it began to stir up a lot of what had been balled-up inside me that would end up coming out in the years ahead. Still thinking I wanted to write movies, I started and stopped a few more scripts. A couple of years later, the one I still think was some of the best writing I ever did was lost in a computer crash. I learned a lot about writing from those early years, which took another turn when I started writing online.    

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?

BF: Don’t be “superficial.” Not everything a writer writes is going to be a work of art. Some of it will be worse than your best, and there won’t be a damn thing you can do to fix it, but be true to the depth of the feelings running through you while you’re writing and, eventually everything will work itself out. 

DF: Do you enjoy writing?

BF: I suppose, as a writer, I’m required by law to answer yes. But since I’m still under oath, I’ll tell the story this way. Because my writing is so personal, as most poetry tends to be, there are times when I just don’t think I have the words to adequately capture the thoughts or feelings that gave the first spark to the poem I’m working on. That’s pretty much always how it starts, with a word or phrase that captures a passing thought. Everybody has random, passing thoughts throughout the day, but if all goes well, mine end up creating a “beginning-middle-ending, one act story.” One that usually takes up little more than a single page. And if I don’t like where it’s going, I click save and file it away to be made better later.

That’s the luxury of poetry for the writer. If something sucks, you don’t have to keep plowing through it because you’re already 50,000 words worth of invested in a character or a plotline. You just file it and move onto the next thought, and the next. 

But as far as the pure act of writing goes, I love writing so damn much, I don’t think I can even tell anyone without sounding like a crazy person. The only people who would get it are other writers. The best I can do, and as writers we do this all day anyway, is try and express that love for it as we might through the voices of our characters. Only in this case, the characters are the people in front of us who ask. And the voice is expressing ourselves in ways they would understand. Like cooking to a chef, or running to a runner. Even a baby’s first steps to a parent. Every explanation is fair game if it clicks with the person standing in front of your words.   

DF: What writers have influenced you?

BF: Another funny thing about being a poet… I really don’t like what passes for poetry all that much. When most folks think of poetry, they think of flowery words from centuries-old voices like Byron and Shelley. When I think of poetry, I think of centuries-old voices like the angry Hebrew poets of the Psalms or the epic of Beowulf, and recent angry voices like Charles Bukowski. I have poet friends who I read, but poetry, as a genre of writing, let’s just say I would rather find the poetry in other forms. When I think of influencers, I think about how many times I’ve read Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” cover to cover, or the first few novels of Stephen King. Believe it or not, I actually like reading screenplays. Everything from Billy Wilder’s “Sunset Boulevard” to Quentin Tarantino’s “From Dusk Till Dawn.”    

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

BF: Right now, I write for myself. So much so, that I’m genuinely surprised by the positive feedback I get from my writing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be someone who thinks of the reader first. The words that come out of me are still just an extension of who I am when nobody’s paying attention.   

DF: Are you interested in critics or criticism?

BF: No. And for many reasons. I guess first, because I haven’t been subjected to much criticism… yet. To date, having only been published in anthologies and online, I haven’t gotten any bad reviews, or really, any good reviews. So the first of either kind I get with the release of A DEATH ON SKUNK STREET will both be a new experience for me. I do expect that to become a thing for me in the near future, because of the plans to have four books in print by the end of 2017, two poetry and two fiction. But for now I can say that they haven’t been a factor in what I’ve written.

You’ll have to get back to me in a year from now.  

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Bill Friday?

BF: If you believe those online demographics generators, like the kind that hides in the “tools” section on your Facebook page, my following is very clearly outlined. Apparently, women read poetry 2 to 1 over men. Also, nobody under 25 of either gender is much of a fan. I could speculate on both of those metrics, but what’s interesting to me is that the audience you think you might be writing for, the one that you might have thought could relate to what you were saying through your words, is not the crowd that’s reading me. I would hope, in the future, that these disparate groups would somehow become more evenly balanced. I think my work has as much to say to those not in my demo. And as I go forward, I hope that, if anything could affect the way I tell my stories, it would be that desire on my part to say what is uniquely mine to say in a way that would be the most widely receivable to all people.

I think every good story, whether it is a 50 word poem, or a 50,000 word novella, should be universal on some level.

DF: You and I first got to know each other when we both wrote for BrooWaha. For the uniformed can you explain what BrooWaha is and what you wrote for them during the period of your affiliation with them?

BF: Oh, man. It’s time to jump in the Hot Tub Time Machine with Peabody and Sherman for that one. Back in the fall of 2006, I worked as an inventory manager for a surgical supply company. Business was interminably slow, and I already had the writing disease. As I sat at my desk with a fully filter-less work computer, I began to search the internet for “writing opportunities,” and found BrooWaha. Broo was a startup created by Ariel Vardi, a video game designer from here in Venice, California, originally conceived as a “Citizen Journal.” A way for local writers to share what was happening locally with the exploding World Wide Web. I signed up for the gig the first week of January 2007. The beauty of the early days of Broo was that there were absolutely no restrictions on what kind of writing you could contribute, everything from street-level journalism and political coverage, editorials, creative writing, comedy, sports, you name it. By the middle of 2007, after Los Angeles had become somewhat successful, an edition for New York writers was created. And within the pages of the New York edition, a movie reviewer made a name for himself among the readers on both coasts. A guy who went by the pen name, “DL Ferguson.”

I still love your reviews, by the way.

Anyway, by the end of my run at BrooWaha, late in 2011, I had been given a regularly featured column, “Friday on Friday.” After 5 years with the site, I left, realizing that those years had been like my do-it-yourself school of writing. It was also at the end of that run that I realized my writing had begun to condense and compress itself into something more closely associated with what could be called poetry. I’ve written mostly nothing else since.         


BF: In the almost 5 years since the end of my time at BrooWaha, my life underwent a lot of changes. A DEATH ON SKUNK STREET is the mirror of that time. There’s some dark, and there’s some light, and a lot of what all writers go through during times of self-reflection. But mostly, it’s what the subtitle says it is, “a life in poems.” Because when I look back on my life, I don’t remember in chapters. I remember it one poem at a time.   

DF: How personal are the poems in A DEATH ON SKUNK STREET? How deep into you did you get to bring them out?

BF: A couple of years ago, when I would post poems online, I realized that they were the ones that were only scratching the surface of what was going on in my life, or what was affecting me on the inside. When I would share these safe poems on social media, I knew there would have to be a book someday that had “all the good ones” I was hiding because I didn’t want to offend someone.  It even got to the point, when I would tweet or post status updates, I would use the hashtag #GoingInTheBook, to remind myself that one day I was not going to be able to stay safe anymore. But it wasn’t until the selection process began, and my editor and I started deciding what poems really were “going in the book” that I knew just how deep I was digging. 

DF: Why poetry at all?

BF: Writer’s block, originally. When I started writing my weekly feature post for BrooWaha, it didn’t take long for me to see that, based on quite a few circumstances, my words were drying up. It used to be easy to sit and bang out an 800 to 1,500 word post. By this time, it was hard just to scratch out a few lines. After some more time went by, some of these posts were shortening their way into just a few lines of prose. But what happened in all this drying up was, the thoughts were becoming more concise as the words became less. It became my way of not only conveying large ideas in a tight space, but it allowed me a freedom of expression that having to bang out 5 double-spaced, 12 point type pages never did.  I became hooked on what just a few sentences could do to allow me to get some thought onto the page without burying the lead under a construct that no longer suited me.

In the bio on the back of the book, one of the summary lines about me reads, “…became a poet out of necessity.” That pretty much sums it all up.  

DF: What is the difference between the creative muscles you have to use for poetry and the ones you have to use for prose?

BF: You said muscles. I believe that’s a very accurate way of looking at it. I used to think that poetry was the harder of the two disciplines. It didn’t make any sense to me, and I hadn’t written any since that one class in college. Before I wrote the unsold screenplay, I first tried writing a novel. Got 150 pages into it before my writers’ marathon muscles ran out of gas, and I didn’t try again. After that experience, and the continued shortening of my pieces until they reached the size they are now, I’m even more convinced that some writers are just born for certain types of writing. But I also believe that any writer can stretch out and strengthen their creative muscles, and conquer any length of expression. It’s all about desire and training.

In the early 1970s, there was a miler from New Zealand, Rod Dixon. Over the course of the next 10 years, he made himself into an elite marathoner, even winning the New York City Marathon in 1983. I think writing is like that. Poetry is a race that ends in almost no time. Novels are marathons. But the same principals apply. Make each step count. After A DEATH ON SKUNK STREET and its follow-up book are published, my goal is to complete and publish two, 50,000 word novellas in 2017. 

That will be my stretching out.    

DF: Can we expect to see more books of poetry from you?

BF: Now that SKUNK STREET is done, there will be one more book of poetry before the end of the year. The title of that book, A HOPEFUL MAN: a second life in poems, speaks of a realization that is summed up in a quote from Bernard Malamud, in his novel “The Natural”,

“We have two lives, Roy. The life we learn with, and the life we live after that. Suffering is what brings us toward happiness.”

After that, and after the longer form fiction coming next year, who knows?

DF: What is a typical Day In The Life of Bill Friday like?

BF: Currently, because of the wacky hours I keep for the job that keeps me in cheese and crackers, most typical days in the life are of the upside-down-to-most-people variety. I start work at 5 pm during the week, and noon on the weekends… yes, I often work 7 days a week… and most of those hours are on-call, meaning I could have a job that puts me on the road at a moment’s notice. But my days are mostly my own.

I get to sleep between 2 am and 4 am, and whenever it is that coffee finally finds me, I’m writing, until it’s time to pack it all up and get back to LAX. 

The convenient thing I’ve found about writing poetry is, there’s no right or wrong place to get your words on. Sometimes a word or phrase will hit me right in the brainpan, and I can just as easily thumb-type it into my phone, or write it down on a corner of my cargo manifest for coming back to later, as I can writing full-length pieces on my home computer. I’ve actually written entire poems, some of which appear in SKUNK STREET, while standing in an airline cargo terminal or in five spare minutes at the warehouse. It’s a discovery I came to slowly, and over time. In the same way that there is no right or wrong place, there is also no right or wrong way to write poetry. 

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know about you or your work?

Bill Friday: As far as the work? 

A DEATH ON SKUNK STREET is available this Memorial Day, May 30th through all the usual outlets like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and direct through the publisher, Hostile 17 Print.

Also, any questions about the next book, A HOPEFUL MAN, appearances or bookings for both books, and additional products from Hostile 17 Print can be sent directly to, or found on my website,

As far as me?

I’m still writing.    

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lines I Wish I'd Written #3

#21: “What always gets me in trouble,” Mr. Monster says, keeping his eyes forward, “is that I go and say something like that, and there’s a part of me that just has to know if it’s possible to literally knock someone’s nose down through their asshole.”

#22: “We live in a terrible place and time. Everything that’s not you wants to kill you.”

#23: “In all wars, whether marked by luck or by The Lord there were the saved and the unsaved and nothing else.”

#24: “Well, we hit a little snag when the universe sort of collapsed on itself. But Dad seemed cautiously optimistic.”

#25: “What is the face of a coward? The back of his head as he runs from the battle.”

#26: “Imagination is its own form of courage.”

#27: “A million bucks has changed stupider minds than yours.”

#28: ““All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.”

#29: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

#30: “As you can see, I have memorized this utterly useless piece of information long enough to pass a test question. I now intend to forget it forever. You’ve taught me nothing except how to cynically manipulate the system. Congratulations.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...LOU MOUGIN

Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Lou Mougin?

Lou Mougin: Me. Texan, Christian, writer of comics and New Pulp, and managing to get by. Comics fanatic for virtually all my life, which means just about 60 years. Writer of historical comics articles, interviewer of comics pros, and generally a pest.

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

LM: Abilene, Texas. Customer service and sales from home.

DF: Give us some of your background info, if you please.

LM: Born in Iowa in 1954, and getting born there is virtually all the time I spent there.  All my memories are in Texas. Parents and brother passed on. Worked in radio about 20 years.

DF: How long have you been writing?

LM: Probably before school and ever since then. Mom told me stories (she could have been a writer). I told her stories. I wrote and never stopped. Had my own universe of heroes when I was in junior high. Tried submitting scripts to the Big Two when I was in high school, to no avail. Many years later, circa 1978, was invited by George Olshevsky to submit articles for COLLECTOR'S DREAM. They ended up in COMIC READER in 1981 and I made my fandom bones then. Many more articles followed, along with interviews w/ pros for COMICS INTERVIEW and others.

When pro work dried up, I wrote a ton of fanfic, which is what brought us together, and many thanks for your kind reviews. A year or two back, Tommy Hancock of Pro Se was looking for contributors to an upcoming anthology. I applied. Turned out he knew my fanfic, and he liked my contribution. We've been pals and he's been my main prose market since then. I have a lot of stuff in the hopper with Pro Se, which hopefully, will start coming out later on. Also, my first prose short story, featuring a hardboiled detective computer, came out earlier in LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?

LM: Keep it interesting, keep it moving, wed action and characterization together, know pacing, write something you'd like to read, and listen to your editor. The best friend you have is an editor who will not let you put out crap.

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

LM: I'd assume for both! But I never assume the reader knows as much about the characters as I do. You have to give 'em enough info about the characters to let the readers know them and care about them.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Lou Mougin?

LM: Anybody who wants to read them! I guess anyone who likes a good action yarn.

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

LM: That's ALL you've got. Sometimes they play you false, but you learn from it.

DF: You wrote comic books for many years. Tell us how you got into the business.

LM: I was friends with Mark Gruenwald from afar. He gave me the opportunity to script some Inhumans stories for Marvel (which came out, many years later, as INHUMANS SPECIAL #1).  Also did the Swordsman origin story for AVENGERS SPOTLIGHT. Wrote some articles for Eclipse's AIRBOY, which led to me plotting 3 Heap stories. Then I hooked up with Dennis Mallonee, for whom I wrote the three-issue SPARKPLUG mini-series and tales of the League of Champions, Flare, and Icicle. I have some new stuff coming out from Heroic even as we speak.

Also I got acquainted with Roger McKenzie on Facebook, which led to my gig with CHARLTON ARROW. I've met others thru him.

Also have comic stories in at Empire Comics and another outfit, and I'm always working on other stuff.

DF: What’s the biggest difference you see in the comic book industry when you were active in it and now?

LM: A lack of heroism. We used to have characters that inspired us, who would do the right thing no matter what the cost. Now, we mostly have "heroes" who do the most expedient thing, written by people who just don't believe in heroes. I would not have Green Lantern or the Scarlet Witch go nuts and start killing people, or get Elongated Man's wife raped. Spawn was uber-popular, but how can you root for a hero who's powered by the Devil?

Decompressed storytelling, of course, is a bugaboo. So is the difficulty in keeping up with storylines these days. Of course, the generation that's the primary target ain't me, so there is that. I hope I'm not coming off as C.C. Beck.

DF: You’ve been writing for so many years…why now did you decide to write a novel?

LM: In a way, I was writing novels way back in my fanfic days. Before I did the present work, I wrote a couple of books for Pro Se that were novel length but adapted from unpublished scripts. Writing a novel wasn't too much of a jump.

DF: Tell us about MONSTER IN THE MANSIONS and how you ever got the idea to bring together two such unlikely characters.

LM: Great question, and I'm not exactly sure! What I do know is that I've long been a fan of Frankenstein by Shelley and of Green Mansions by Hudson. Loved Rima. I like the idea of crossovers if you can make them work. Also I have a habit of asking myself, "What if?", and following from there.

I wanted to see where we could go if we picked up with Frank from the end of Shelley's book, kept him in more or less the real world, and had him try to find a way of coexisting with men of his time. All of which, of course, led him to various adventures. Frank's appeal is that he is not truly evil, but a who would probably be content to live in peace, if others would let him do so. But he attracts trouble. And God help you if you make trouble for him.

Frank also has to deal with "the Beast", which is a rage that can be triggered by extreme anger. This may sound like the Hulk, but he's a lot deadlier than ol' Greenskin when he gets riled. And he usually doesn't know what he's done during it until the rage subsides.

The biggest problem with the book was the timeline, trying to fit the end of Frankenstein into the era of Green Mansions.  Don Glut helped with the Frankenstein time period. I had to do some research on the 19th Century world and on Rima's timeline as well. Reread the Hudson book, of course, and watched the Audrey Hepburn movie, which helped. I rejected several plotlines because they wouldn't work chronologically, but ended up,  thankfully, with one that worked. I hope.

DF: Do you have plans for a sequel?

LM: Yup. I left a lot of gaps in this one, some of which Frank mentions in passing. He had to work his way from the northeastern U.S. thru Mexico, Central America, and finally to South America. That took years and he did have adventures along the way. I've got ideas for a story that takes place during that gap time.

Also, there are stories that can be set after the end of this one. I'm pretty sure Frank fought in the Great War, but we'll have to see.

DF: Do you have any other novels in the works?

LM: I've got two superhero novels turned in to Pro Se.We'll have to see when those come out.

DF: Tell us about your involvement with the CHARLTON ARROW.

LM: Serendipity is the word. Roger McKenzie had been out of comics for a long time until recently. I got to be a pal of his on FB during a time in which I was really down, and he helped me out. Around that time Mark Knox started up the Charlton Arrow fanpage on FB and there were enough pros and wannabes involved for the concept of CHARLTON ARROW, the comic, to coalesce. I thought it was marvelous because it could contain all the genres of comics that aren't being treated so much by other companies...westerns, war, funny stuff, etc. Charlton had a zillion horror hosts for their books, and I've always wondered what happens to such characters after their books die. Thanks to Mort Todd, who did a great job on the story, we got a chance to find out!

The second ARROW story, "Day of Decision" stems from an idea I explored in an old fanfic:  what happens when kid comics characters find out they can't stay kids anymore? Jack Snider did an exemplary job with the art. It's still one of my favorite stories and seems to have gone over okay with the readers.

I have another story slated for a future ARROW and I'm pushing another at them as we speak.

DF: Any other projects we should know about?

LM: In prose, at Pro Se, I have the two superhero books, plus short stories in three upcoming anthologies. In comics, I have two stories in CEMETARY PLOTS, one of which, "Red Need", will be in a Free Comic Book Day version. Andy Shaggy Korty drew that one and Eric Bowen's drawing another. They're also doing a magician hero of mine who should be in an action hero anthology. For another publisher, I've got an anti-ISIS story that I'm pretty proud of. For yet another, I've scripted a retro style story of a team of 1950's heroes, which should be fun. Got more stuff coming out at Heroic, of course.

Also, I have what should be a three-volume history of Golden Age superheroes in the editing stage. Haven't heard much on that lately, but hoping to.

Derrick Ferguson: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Lou Mougin like?

Lou Mougin: If it's a work day, I get out of bed, turn on my work computer, and do my job for about 8 hours. Then I turn it off, turn on my home computer, and get busy writing and doing other stuff I like. Weekends are for more writing and catching up with stuff that needs to be done. Jaune Tom, my cat, serves as my batman.

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 ...