Showing posts with label Fight Card. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fight Card. Show all posts

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.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Derrick Ferguson Battles The BRIDGEPORT BRAWLER!

I think it’s safe to say that the FIGHT CARD series of books are not only a success but a validation of something that New Pulp writers, editors and publishers have been saying all along: it doesn’t matter what you call it. If it’s written well and professionally packaged, people will read it. By the end of 2014, there will be thirty-six FIGHT CARD books, all unique in their own way and touching on various aspects of the fight game. FIGHT CARD has evolved enough to now boast romance, luchadore and MMA novels as well as the core group of FIGHT CARD books which take place in the 1950’s.

For those of you unfamiliar with the traditional FIGHT CARD books, here’s the set-up: the protagonists are orphans that grew up in Chicago’s St. Vincent’s Asylum For Boys where Father Tim Brophy, a battlin’ priest of the real old school teaches boxing to his boys as a way to help them grow up and be men. At 25,000 words, the novelettes are designed to be read in one or two sittings. Having contributed to FIGHT CARD myself I can testify to the fact that it’s a genre that’s a lot of fun to work in and really put me in touch with the spirit of being a real pulp writer.

BRIDGEPORT BRAWLER by David White (writing under the FIGHT CARD house name of Jack Tunney) is a little different from other FIGHT CARD books in that it sometimes reads more like a character study than a boxing novel. Don’t get me wrong now. There’s boxing action. Plenty of it. In and out of the ring. But I can’t help but wonder if David White was more concerned in his story in trying to show us how sometimes the best thing in the world we can do can also be the thing that leads to our downfall. Our protagonist Pat White is simply not smart enough to do anything to solve his problems except use his fists. And using his fists only gets him into deeper and deeper trouble. Asked by his best friend and manager Homer to throw a fight because of a heavy debt he owes the mob, heavyweight boxing champ Pat “The Hammer” White is understandably upset, to put it mildly. 

And even though he agrees to do so, his pride and his anger gets the better of him and he reneges on the deal. A decision that has the expected result. But it doesn’t end there. That decision not to throw the fight results in Pat White descending into a black hell of alcoholism, depression and petty crime. It seems as if no matter what he does to try and pull his life together, things just don’t go right for Pat. And as usual in these kinds of story, the hero is redeemed by the love of a good woman and reaching deep inside himself for that reservoir of hidden strength he never knew he had, brought out by a wise old mentor. And as in every FIGHT CARD novel, the hero must step into the ring one more time to prove to himself that he’s worthy enough to call himself a man.

BRIDGEPORT BRAWLER is a good fast read. Maybe too fast in spots. There were some sections where I wished David White had taken more time with the characters and firmed up their relationships. There are several parts where characters make life-changing decisions on the spur of the moment and it’s in those parts where I can see the wires being pulled by the writer. It doesn’t feel as if the characters are making the decisions organically and naturally. The last thing you want as a writer is for the reader to be able to see you working the story from backstage.

But there’s no doubt that David White knows how to keep a story moving. There’s absolutely no fat or padding here and if you’re looking for a quick yet solid read to entertain you a couple of hours then you should pick up a copy of BRIDGEPORT BRAWLER and enjoy.

File Size: 2216 KB
Print Length: 80 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Fight Card Books (July 9, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: ANDREW SALMON

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Andrew Salmon?
Andrew Salmon: Andrew Salmon is a pop culture junkie with occasional deep thoughts. He loves his wife, football, hockey, great movies, books and comics, nature and writing.

DF: Where do you live and what do you tell the IRS you do for a living?
AS: I currently live in Vancouver, BC. Hey, I'm Canadian! I don't have to tell the IRS anything. Ha! Seriously though, I work as an extra in the film industry here as well as being a full-time writer.
DF: Tell us a little something about your background.
AS: I was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, which is not a good thing if you're English. They've got a few hang ups about French there and the discrimination is palpable. I graduated from Loyola High School, an all boys school and, yeah, that sucked. Got a BA in Creative Writing from Concordia University, which allowed me to work in a cabinet factory (because I didn't speak French) where I somehow managed to become head of my department. With no desirable future in Quebec, the wife and I went West for greener pastures, no winter, and plenty of opportunity.
DF: What are your influences?
AS: My Holy Trinity of writing influences consists of Charles Dickens, Rod Serling and John D. MacDonald. Great TV like the original Star Trek, Babylon 5, 24, The Shield, The Wire, The Twilight Zone all push me to create. Classic literature helps as well as dozens of great writers past and present. Crime fiction, hardboiled fiction, pulp - these are my reading passions.
DF: How long have you been writing?
AS: I began writing before I knew I was a writer. Back in grade school, we'd be asked to write a half-page story based on an image or idea and I'd write 12 pages without batting an eye! I didn't know I was a writer until June, 1982 when I went into Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as a fan and came out a writer. The movie changed my life as, for the first time, I saw the machinery that drove storytelling. I got a glimpse behind the curtain and instantly understood how it was done. Of course learning to do it oneself takes a little bit longer. But that day in '82 was the day I became a writer so we're looking at 32 years! Yikes!
DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?
AS: Make it good. Know the clich├ęs and don't use them. Drop into the text what John D. MacDonald called a little unobtrusive poetry so that the prose is a pleasure to read. Create interesting characters or if you're using someone else's, do so with respect.
DF: You a plotter or a pantser?
AS: Bit of both. I'll start out with the overall plot concept, then just wing it on that first draft to see what happens. I don't know what any of my stories are about until I've finished that first draft. This is why I suffer the woes of Job when I have to pitch. "So, what's your story about?" "I don't know! I haven't written it yet!" Just letting it happen for that first draft works well for me because the story is at a point where it can go anywhere. Revising the first draft, the story and its meaning slowly rise out of the mire and I shape the revised versions of the work accordingly. I wrote once from a detailed outline and, I have to tell you, it was boring as hell! Each day was, okay, I have to do this, then this, then this. Ack! I went nuts!
DF: You write in a variety of genres. Which one is your favorite?
AS: I love writing historical action. I'm a research guy. Hey, I'm nuts for research! I love digging into the past for those entertaining, thought-provoking or just downright fun elements of yesteryear and weaving those into my tales across genres ranging from detective, hardboiled and hero pulp. Detective fiction seems to be my meat and potatoes these days, which makes sense since I've been reading classic hardboiled fiction for decades. So, yeah, it's detective fiction for me.
DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Andrew Salmon?
AS: I hope so or I'm out of a job! I'm trying to reach an audience who likes a good tale. Historical fiction really strikes a chord with many readers and I'm with them so that seems like a good enough answer so far as an audience goes. Of course historical fiction must resonate with today's reader and that's a challenge I find invigorating. As for a specific audience for what I do, I don't think I've done enough stand alone work to determine that. I've been so busy working on classic, public domain characters that I haven't had a chance to create enough of my own work. That's going to change though, soon.
DF: You've had Sherlock Holmes stories in Volumes 1 to 5 of airship 27’s SHERLOCK HOLMES-CONSULTING DETECTIVE anthology series. And you've written a FIGHT CARD novel featuring Sherlock Holmes. Obviously you like the character. What is it about Sherlock Holmes that fascinates you?
AS: That I'm able to write him! Seriously, that fascinates and mystifies me. When Airship 27 first tossed out their offer, I said no simply because I hadn't read the tales and had seen the bare minimum of the endless adaptations on TV and for the movies over the years. I knew only what had seeped down through pop culture so who was I to write a Holmes tale? Only thinking about it later, did I realize that I couldn't pass up the chance to write, arguably, the most popular character in the history of pop culture so I grabbed the last opening for that first anthology, then tried to figure out how the hell I was going to write the story. Bring on the research! 
When that first tale won an award, I knew I was on to something. What came out of that first experience was a fondness for Watson and now, with 7 Holmes tales under my belt to date (multiple nominations and two awards), that fascination hasn't faltered. I like Watson and his voice. From that my obsessive research into Victorian times and trying to get at the heart of Holmes keeps me on my toes. Doyle created characters for the ages and doing them justice is important to me. Holmes and I seemed to have found each other - and things are getting freaky. Fooling around with those stupid online quizzes recently, I learned that I'm Arthur Conan Doyle (What Famous Classic Author Are You?) and that Doyle should be writing my biography (Which Author Should Write Your Biography?) so things are getting a bit weird.

DF: For those reading this who may want to write a Sherlock Holmes story of their own: how do you construct a proper Sherlock Holmes mystery true to the character and his method of solving mysteries?
AS: For me, it begins and ends with the canon and getting the characters right. This is the foundation on which to build. Read through the canon, and only the canon, to get a handle on Holmes and Watson, how they think, how they speak, the whole nine yards. Once you have an understanding of who they are - and that will grow with time - then you have to come up with something to get Holmes off his butt. There are examples of his solving cases Nero Wolfe style. It takes something of great interest to get him on his feet and working. And here's where the understanding of the characters comes into it. This 'something' can't just be of interest to you, the writer. No, it's got to be something that piques the interest of the greatest fictional brain that ever lived. For me, that's the hardest part of writing a Holmes tale. 
I've gotten to the point where Holmes and Watson will have discussions in my head when I'm not writing so I've developed an understanding of who they are. It's the damned case that's the challenge. What can be so important, mysterious or challenging that Holmes would want to look into it? You've got to impress Holmes! That ain't easy. This is why it takes me longer and longer to write my Holmes tales. After that, you've got to make the detecting difficult, throw in things that only Holmes could uncover. If your reader has it figured out before Holmes does, you're in trouble.
DF: Did you have much of a problem selling the idea of a FIGHT CARD novel featuring Sherlock Holmes to Paul Bishop and Mel Odom?
AS: Actually it was the reverse. Fight Card came to me. The way I heard it, it went like this: Paul Bishop was at the Pulp Ark convention and a bunch of the creators in attendance were sitting around shooting the bull when someone mentioned doing a Fight Card Sherlock Holmes. The assembled liked the idea and the question of who to approach to write it came up. My name was thrown out there and was met with some enthusiasm so when Paul returned home, he got in touch. The funny thing was that I had been thinking for awhile that I'd like to be part of the Fight Card team and was going to approach them when I'd finished the tale I was working on at the time. So Paul's call to me was met with considerable excitement. I said yes right off and was honored that the folks at the con gave me the thumbs up. Of course after we'd ended the call, I was left trying to think how to write the thing. Ha!

DF: Are you working on a sequel to SHERLOCK HOLMES: WORK CAPITOL?
AS: Yup. The working title is Sherlock Holmes: Blood to the Bone and it's for a December release. Unlike Work Capitol, this one won't be a Christmas tale but will still make a great stocking stuffer regardless! The going has been tough this summer as the last few months have been marred by personal tragedy but the work progresses. The idea was to top the first one, which was very well received. So far so good but there's still a long row to hoe.
DF: Tell us about THE DARK LAND.
AS: The novel was a long time coming. I got the idea during the Clone Saga in the Spider-Man comics back in the 90s. The name of the lead, C-Peter Reilly, should be a tip-off there. The first Clone Saga, from the 70s, was and still is my favorite Spider-Man story and I loved the conundrum of how do you prove you're you? Then, during the terrorist attacks in 2001, I was struck by the tragic loss of so many police- and firemen who were killed en masse while doing their jobs. Taking this a step further, I wondered what would happen if disasters killed these first responders on a global scale? Who would be left to maintain order? This lead to the idea of gifted police officers having their DNA and minds preserved for future catastrophes where billions of people perished and chaos resulted. 
The idea that a ready-for-the-street police force could be produced quickly via cloning with digital mindfiles inserted into the new-grown clones seemed like a strong premise. Instant experienced law enforcement rather than rookies overwhelmed by what was going on around them. When a clone dies or is killed, you just grow another one and insert the updated mindfile if it can be recovered. For the novel, the disasters have already happened, and C-Peter Reilly is grown to do his part. 
In this world, clones are given computer-generated, random names and all of the personal memories of the original officers have been deleted from the mindfiles. So why does C-Peter Reilly have the memories of his Source? His search for the truth while hunting a killer in the ruins ensues. Although this one tells a complete story, THE DARK LAND is the first of a series. The next two books are mapped out. I've already written a short story that is the last C-Peter Reilly adventure, jumping 100 years into the future. I want to return to the world again. However a certain Victorian consulting detective is taking up a lot of my times these days...

DF: How come we haven't seen a sequel to GHOST SQUAD: RISE OF THE BLACK LEGION yet?
AS: Ask Ron Fortier. I had a lot of fun working on the first one. Ron's the plot-master here and he's been kicking around an idea for a few years. And it's a good one. But he's a busy guy. When he's got it locked up, I'll get an email, I'm sure. Hey, if there are any Ghost Squad fans out there, start a sequel campaign and we'll make it happen. I'm game.

DF: THE LIGHT OF MEN is probably your best reviewed book and one you obviously invested much of yourself in. What was the initial idea that spurred you to write the book?
AS: Well, that horrible chapter of human history has always fascinated me as much as it repelled. Reading through the history, I found I was more overcome with anger than sadness. I would become furious that such a abominable situation would ever arise and that no one could do anything about it. Then while reading an account of people who had visited Auschwitz, I learned that visitors tended to burst into tears upon first passing through the gates, as if the very ground was steeped in sadness but, upon leaving, they were angry, furious. I had never visited any of the camps still standing but shared the same feelings towards them as those who had. So I decided to channel that, empower the powerless while trying to come to some personal understanding of how and why these camps happened and the effect they had on survivors.

DF: THE LIGHT OF MEN is a unique book. Was the writing of it equally unique?
AS: Thanks! I lived with this book for 12 years. Researching/writing the novel while working on other things. I started out on the novel having barely written anything and one reason the book took so long to write was because I wasn't a good enough writer to write it. There was so much I wanted to do with the story. It was beyond my abilities. So I kept researching while I wrote other things, kept honing the plot. Then when the time came to sit down and do it, I still didn't know if I was up to the task. The novel kept changing and evolving. The last chapter, set in stone for 12 years, suddenly had a new ending WHILE I WAS WRITING IT! 12 years of getting to this point just flew out the window and what took its place was infinitely better. The writing process was difficult as well because I had to reconcile whether or not to present the history or shape it and tone it down for fiction. I decided to go for accuracy because it seemed to me that the camps have faded into history. People know the basics of course, but the details have been glossed over by time. Believing that nothing about the camps should be sugar-coated, I set out to place the reader in one so they could experience it first hand and KNOW what such a camp was like. But did I pull it off? Even after the novel had been accepted for publication and was released, I still didn't know. 
It was only after reading positive reader reviews, receiving thanks from the 761st Tank Battalion (the African-American unit that had liberated a camp only to have their name scrubbed from history), having the book included in the Holocaust Memorial Museum Library, a nibble of interest from the film industry and seeing the novel become the subject of book club readings/discussions that I was assured I had done the material and the history some justice. Sadly the book has yet to find a wider audience but I'm hoping the Kindle version will encourage readers to give it a try without breaking their wallets. It's not for the squeamish but it'll stick with you. I guarantee it.
DF: I’m fascinated with your BERLIN NOIR website. For those who are unfamiliar with the genre, explain what Berlin Noir is and what you accomplish with your website.
AS: Berlin Noir began with Philip Kerr's initial trilogy of books: MARCH VIOLETS, THE PALE CRIMINAL and A GERMAN REQUIEM. These were released as separate novels before being collected in an omnibus entitled BERLIN NOIR:

The genius of the set up was to have the novels follow a police detective, Bernie Gunther, from the early days of Nazi rule (March Violets) when Germans had just begun to learn and deal with the fact that the Nazis weren't a joke, then move on to 1938 for THE PALE CRIMINAL when the Nazis had a stranglehold on Berlin, and the rest of the Germany as war loomed before jumping to REQUIEM where it's 1947 and Germany is a graveyard. The collection proved so successful that the title became the name for this type of fiction. Kerr went on to write more successful Bernie Gunther novels, which inspired others to write tales of crime and espionage with this fascinating historical setting and a new genre was born. From series to stand alone novels set during the Nazi regime, the books kept piling up. 
But when you google Berlin Noir or punch it in at Amazon, you get Kerr's collection for the most part and it's hard to find the others entries in this burgeoning genre. As a fan, I thought a one-stop place to learn about the books would be a great help. I read the books anyway, so why not review then for the blog? This way fans, new and old, can see what's out there, read reviews, see the cover art on the various editions and from there, hopefully, decide what their next Berlin Noir fix will be. I've heard from visitors to the blog who were unaware there were so many Berlin Noir books (29 reviews to date) and have been grateful for the blog. More than 9000 visits later and the blog is still going strong.
I have had to cut back on the reviews because I'm running out of books! Ha! Turns out reviewing them takes less time than writing them. Who knew? So to give the various authors time to add to the genre, I've slowed things down to once a month or so. That seems to be working and it gives readers time to find the blog and read the reviews before the next one comes along.
DF: What are your future plans for your writing career?
AS: More Holmes! The idea is to do one more Fight Card Holmes after this year's to make three entries overall. After that, unless I get an idea for a fourth, it'll be time to move on. Ultimately it'll depend on the readers. If they really like the books, that fourth idea might come a little more easily. We'll see. I've got a Holmes book to do for Pro Se Press as well as a Moon Man story for them. I've got an idea for a Holmes novel I've been toying with and I hope that will come together. There's also my own Berlin Noir entry that's been simmering for a few years now and looks to be about ready to serve. Other than the above, I'll see what comes along. Earlier this year, I was offered a chance to contribute to a different type of Holmes anthology and that was a lot of fun. Can't say more about it just now but the news will be breaking soon. That invite was out of the blue so I'll keep my eyes and ears open for more of those should they come down the pike. 
Hint to publishers: I'm always open to hear what's cooking so don't be shy. I've got a Secret Agent X idea I'm going to develop once more of the stuff mentioned above is in the can. And I want to give Mack Bolan a try. There's more but who wants to hear about vague stuff in the works? I'll be keeping myself busy at any rate.
DF: What’s a Day In The Life of Andrew Salmon like?
AS: Just the typical glitz and glamour of a writer's life. I run errands in the morning to get the blood going, then it's keyboard time followed up by research then more keyboard time and revisions. Added to that is beating the drum online to get readers interested in what I do. And all this between film gigs. Not terribly exciting stuff. Unless you're a writer, and then you know just how exciting all this can be. I love what I do.
Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?
Andrew Salmon: Well, I think it's all about covered. If anyone's interested in my stuff, they can look me up on Amazon. And the BERLIN NOIR blog can be found here  Thanks for getting this far, dear readers. And thanks to everyone who has tried something I've written. I hope you enjoyed it. Much appreciated!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Derrick Ferguson Boxes With BAREFOOT BONES

File Size: 469 KB
Print Length: 110 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Fight Card Books (August 14, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

If the daytime Soap Opera ever makes a comeback, Bobby Nash could give up writing thrillers, New Pulp action adventures, science fiction and make a good living writing for them. Before you laugh yourself into a heart attack, let me explain. Soap Operas were excellent at making sure their characters were constantly miserable and unhappy with their lot in life. If anybody in a Soap Opera had so much as a minute of happiness, you knew it wasn’t going to last long.

Now, I don’t mean to call BAREFOOT BONES a Soap Opera at all. But what I am saying is that Bobby Nash (writing as Jack Tunney) does an outstanding job of making his hero miserable. Matter of fact, the first half of the book the protagonist is hit with one emotional sucker punch after another. This is a guy who’s life is so bad that it actually gets better when he enlists to fight in the Korean War.

James Mason is a broomstick thin kid living on the wrong side of the tracks in a small Georgia town. He and his mama are so poor he can’t even afford shoes. That and his painfully thin appearance earns him the nickname of “Barefoot Bones” and it’s a name the town bullies love to yell in his ears as they’re beating the living daylights out of him.

Things change when James is taken under the wing of Old Man Winters who teaches him how to box and control his temper, make it work for him in a fight. previously, James had thought of Old Man Winters as being just the town recluse who kept to himself. But James soon learns that there is far more to him. James and Old Man Winters even become friends and since James is now able to successfully defend himself against the bullies, his life starts to look a little better.

But that’s before James experiences several devastating tragedies and is forced to go on the run, living as best he can by stealing and begging until making his way to Chicago. And it’s when he meets Father Tim Brophy, the Battling Priest of St. Vincent’s Asylum For Boys that his story really gets going.

Bobby spends a considerable amount of wordage dealing with the sad childhood of James Mason and that might disappoint those who want to see more action in the ring. Oh, there’s plenty of that, don’t worry that you won’t get your share of boxing action in the ring. This is a Fight Card book after all and when it comes to depicting fight scenes in the ring, Bobby Nash delivers the goods. But what I think he’s going for here is telling the story of a young man whose real opponent is the crummy life he’s been given, a life that he fights every day. Compared to that, stepping into the ring with a flesh and blood opponent is gravy.

And to tell this story, Bobby does it in simple, uncomplicated prose. Since BAREFOOT BONES is told in first person, Bobby tells it in simple sentences, using simple words. It’s a very appropriate storytelling technique as our narrator is a boy/young man of limited education.

So should you read BAREFOOT BONES? Sure you should. If you’ve been reading the Fight Card series of books then you don’t have to be sold on this one. If you’ve never read a Fight Card book, this is a good one to start with. If you’re a fan of Bobby Nash who has read his other books then by all means read this. One of the pleasures of reading a Fight Card book is that you get to read a story by a writer like Bobby Nash who might never have written a boxing novel, or even thought about writing one. It’s a win-win situation all the way around for both the writer and the reader. He gets to stretch his creative muscles in a new direction and we get to read the results. Enjoy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Yes, It's Three Months Late (Not That Anybody Knew It Was Due In The First Place)

I actually was supposed to have this thing written months ago, y’know.  I mean, BROOKLYN BEATDOWN has been in print for about three months now.  And Paul Bishop had mentioned to me prior to the book’s due date that he’d like to have a short essay from me on the how and why I wrote this particular FIGHT CARD novel as it’s a first for the series; the first FIGHT CARD to feature an African-American protagonist.

So why didn’t I write the thing when I was supposed to? Didn’t I take it seriously? Well, of course I did. There are other African-American writers Paul could have gone to. Writers who easily leave me in the dust when they stomp on the pedal and get their word engines cranked up to where she’ll run like that black Trans Am from “Smokey and The Bandit.” No, I took it very seriously that Paul came to me and asked me to contribute a book to an excellent series of novels that certainly didn’t need me to help it.

Maybe I’m just lazy? Hardly. I think my output proves that despite all other evidence to the contrary, I’m not a lazy guy.  Not when it comes to writing at least.  So what was the holdup? To be honest; I felt like a fraud much of the time while writing BROOKLYN BEATDOWN.  Really.  I mean, I’ve got no boxing background at all. I’ve been in some fights in my time.  You didn’t grow up in Bed-Stuy during the 1970’s without getting into a fight on occasion. But that hardly qualifies me as a boxing expert. And prior to doing research for this book I hadn't watched a boxing match in quite some time.

I was a big fight fan during the 1970’s and 80’s, though.  Thanks to my father.  And I feel very lucky to have grown up during a time when boxing was so vibrant and alive with such personalities such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Joe Frazier, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler. And this was during the glory days of ABC’s Wide World of Sports which would show a lot of boxing matches on Saturday afternoon. This was before the rise of cable which jumped on sports programming, boxing especially and took it away from the networks.  So I got to see a lot of these classic boxers do their thing during their glory days. But what I always took away from them was not only their phenomenal skill but their larger-than-life personalities.

That was my hook for the character of Levi Kimbro. I wanted him to be a personality with dreams and hopes and ambitions outside of the ring.  The ring wasn’t his life. It was a tool to get where he wanted to go in life. The clincher was that everybody else except for Levi knew that being in the ring was the thing he’s best suited for. So that was my inspiration for Levi. As for the rest, I watched a lot of boxing matches on YouTube and Warner Brothers fight films I borrowed from the library. In my head I saw BROOKLYN BEATDOWN as being a homage to not only those great old Warner Brothers fight films but also blaxploitation films of the 70’s. I doubted my ability to pull it off but I hiked up my pants and took my best shot at it.

But again, that specter of being a fraud nagged at me. What business did I have writing a boxing novel? But then again, I write novels about mercenary adventurers, spies, superheroes and supernatural gunslingers and never lose any sleep over it. So why was I chewing my toenails about this particular book?

In my gut I knew why: for the first time in my career I was being asked by a professional writer/editor to deliver a book about real people in a real world. No falling back on tricks like bringing in fantastic superweapons, diabolical supervillains or mythical martial arts. In the popular vernacular: I had to keep it real.

And I guess that’s why I didn’t get around to writing this when it was supposed to be written: I didn’t feel as if I had kept it real. I felt like I had made it all up. And that’s when it it hit me:  That’s what you do anyway, stupid. You make up stories. The good news is that you make up stories people like to read. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

And so I wrote BROOKLYN BEATDOWN and it was published and apparently a few of you think it’s a good story and that’s all that matters.  Still doesn’t explain why I didn’t write this essay when I was supposed to write it.

Maybe I am lazy.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fight Card: Brooklyn Beatdown

Brooklyn – 1954. Bare knuckler brawler Levi Kimbro battles his way through the bloody backroom ghetto bars of Brooklyn in pursuit of his dream of owning his own business. It's a hard and vicious road he walks and it becomes even more complicated when he falls hard for the electrifying Dorothea McBricker.

Dorothea's brother, Teddy, has fallen under the influence of notorious gangster Duke Williamson – a powerful man who is pressuring Levi to join his stable of fighters or face off against the human killing machine, ‘Deathblow’ Ballantine.  A knock-down, drag out, Brooklyn Beatdown is brewing, and Levi will need every ounce of his fighter’s heart if he wants to save not only himself, but the woman he loves ...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fight Card: Brooklyn Beatdown

If you've been hanging around the New Pulp community for a significant amount of time then you've probably heard of the FIGHT CARD series of books. And if you haven't then trust me, you've been missing out on some really good reading. Here’s where you can find my review of "The Cutman" my favorite of the three FIGHT CARD books I've read so far. And I've got two more on my Kindle waiting to be read.

Short and simple the FIGHT CARD books are monthly 25,000 word novelettes, designed to be read in one or two sittings, and are inspired by the fight pulps of the ’30s and ’40s – such as Fight Stories Magazine – and Robert E. Howard’s two-fisted boxing tales featuring Sailor Steve Costigan. For the full lowdown on the entire FIGHT CARD story, bounce on over here and check it out. You can thank me later.

So what has this got to do with me? Paul Bishop, the co-creator of the FIGHT CARD series and I have been in touch ever since I co-hosted an episode of PULPED! where he was our guest. Paul and I briefly discussed the possibility of my writing a FIGHT CARD book. A few days ago, Paul emailed me and basically said; “It’s time and I'm not taking no for an answer.” And seeing as how the man’s a decorated veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department and I believe in co-operating with the police, what else could I do?

After a few details were worked out and Paul read my pitch, gifts were exchanged, promises were made and so FIGHT CARD: BROOKLYN BEATDOWN was placed on the schedule for February 2013. And as an added treat here’s the pitch I threw at Mr. Bishop. Read and enjoy:

Levi Kimbro, like most of the other FIGHT CARD protagonists went into the Army after he was too old to continue living at St. Vincent's Asylum for Boys in Chicago. Like all the orphan boys living in St. Vincent’s, Levi learned “the sweet science” from Father Tim Brophy. The fact that Levi was black made no difference to Father Tim. He treated all his boys the same no matter what their ethnic background and instilled in them all the values of respect for themselves and others and in the ring gave them all the tools they needed to become men that could stand on their own two feet.

Levi returns to his old Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and gets a job at Napoleon "Nappy" Johnson's gym since during his time at the orphanage he learned how to take care of boilers and do maintenance work from Cholly Dougan, the alcoholic black janitor who lived in the basement. The janitor also instilled a love of reading and education in Levi that inspires Levi to go to school on the G.I. Bill, taking courses in Business Administration as he wants to own and operate a boiler repair business.

Levi's saving up money for his dream and he's doing so the best way he knows how: illegal bare-fisted brawls held in the backrooms of ghetto bars, poolrooms and abandoned warehouses. Levi's made something of a reputation for himself, gaining the nickname of "The Dancer" due to his extraordinary light-footedness in the ring. Nappy Johnson acts as he corner man. He's trying to push Levi into legitimate boxing but Levi insists he doesn't want to make a career out of boxing. he just wants to get enough money so that he can start his business up and not owe anybody. And Levi does make a lot of money...enough to attract the notice of “Duke” Williamson,  a Brooklyn gangster who thinks he can make some really big money with Levi in his stable of fighters who battle champs of the other NY boroughs and then even go on the road to fight the underground champs in other cities.

Levi's not interested in any of that that. At least not until he meets Dorothea McBricker, a mocha skinned knockout that he falls in love with at first sight. Nina's kid brother Teddy "T-Bird" McBricker is a snot-nosed punk definitely headed down the wrong path and looking to hook up with Duke Williamson.  

Duke’s chief enforcer “Deathblow” Ballantine  is also his best fighter and it soon becomes apparent that in order to save T-Bird from his influence, Levi is going to have to take on this mass of killing muscle in a good ol’ fashioned, winner-take-all BROOKLYN BEATDOWN.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Derrick Ferguson Has THE CUTMAN In His Corner!

Back during the heyday of the Classic Pulp era there were magazines devoted to just about every type of genre you could think of or that publishers thought they could sell to the entertainment hungry public.  Most of us are familiar with the hero pulps, the western pulps, the science fiction pulps, the horror pulps.  But there were far more than that.  You had your spicy pulps which was the safe name for what was pretty much soft core porn.  There were gangster pulps, railroad pulps and sports pulp.  And a sub-genre of the sports pulp was boxing pulp stories.

If you’re at all familiar with the boxing pulp genre it’s probably because of Robert E. Howard and his champion boxer character Sailor Steve Costigan.  Even though Howard is best known as the creator of Conan, King Kull and Solomon Kane he wrote more stories about Sailor Steve Costigan. 

It’s probably inevitable that in the New Pulp Renaissance we’re enjoying right now that the pulp boxing genre should also enjoy a revived popularity and it’s a genre that’s well represented by the the Fight Card series of books in general and THE CUTMAN in particular.  It’s the second book in the series but you don’t have to have read the first one in order to enjoy it.  The books are credited as being written by Jack Tunney but that’s a “house name”.  The first book “Felony Fists” was written by Paul Bishop and THE CUTMAN was written by Mel Odom and it’s a terrific read.

First off, it’s set in Havana, Cuba during a period of history that fascinates me; the period when American organized crime worked hand-in-hand with the Batista regime, turning Cuba into a playground of illegal activity.  It’s here that the cargo ship Wide Bertha docks and it isn’t long until one of its crewmen, the two-fisted Irishman Mickey Flynn runs afoul of the henchmen working for small-time gangster Victor Falcone.  And this in turn leads to Mickey having a beef with Falcone himself who has aspirations of moving into the big time by currying favor with Charles “Lucky” Luciano.

The boxing angle comes into the story due to Falcone’s sponsorship of savagely brutal  backroom boxing matches which is dominated by his fighter, the human buzzsaw “Hammer” Simbari.  Simbari is a bloodthirsty sadist who derives extreme satisfaction from beating men half to death in the ring and the inevitable battle between Mickey and Simbari is written with a great deal of tension and suspense as we’ve seen what Simbari can do and so has Mickey.  And he’s not all that sure he can take Simbari.

Not that he has any choice.  In a series of plot twists I wouldn’t dare reveal here, the fate of Wide Bertha and her crew rests on Mickey’s exceptional boxing skills, skills learned from the legendary Father Tim of St. Vincent’s Asylum For Boys in Chicago.  Mickey’s got no choice but to climb into the ring with this near unstoppable fighting machine. 

THE CUTMAN has got a lot going on besides the boxing.  There’s a whole host of supporting characters that added greatly to the flavor and atmosphere of the story.  Colorful, delightful characters that reminded me of those great supporting actors in those classic black-and-white Warner Brothers crime/gangster movies of the 30’s and 40’s.  In fact, that’s exactly how THE CUTMAN reads, like an old fashioned Warner Brothers movie.  The crime elements are interwoven with the well written fight scenes and there’s even a romantic subplot with Mickey and a lusty gorgeous Cuban barmaid which doesn’t go the way romances in this type of story usually go.

So should you read THE CUTMAN? I certainly would recommend it.  It’s a solid page turner that does exactly what I think a pulp story should do; keep you asking; “what’s going to happen next?”  It’s very well written with snappy, slangy dialog and good descriptions of the fight scenes.  At all times we know exactly what’s happening and why.  I’m most certainly going to be keeping my eye out for future volumes in the Fight Card series which are available as e-books only and you should too.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 299 KB
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Fight Card Productions (November 11, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B0066E93MK

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 ...