Showing posts with label Joe Bonadonna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joe Bonadonna. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

33 Months Later With Joe Bonadonna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DF: Are we going to see more of Dorgo?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

DF: What keeps you motivated during creative slumps?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 23, 2014

28 Months Later With: JOE BONADONNA

It’s been a while since the original Kickin’ The Willy Bobo Interview with Joe so I thought it about time we caught up with what he’s all about and what he’s doing 28 MONTHS LATER…

Derrick Ferguson: Have there been any major changes in your life since we last talked?

Joe Bonadonna: Well, Waters of Darkness, my third novel, was published since then. I’m officially retired now and collecting social security. Two stories I wrote have recently been published: A new tale of Dorgo the Dowser called “The Book of Echoes”, (inspired by Mickey Spillane’s “Kiss Me, Deadly”) is featured in a Kindle-only anthology called AZIERAN PRESENTS: ARTIFACTS AND RELICS—EXTREME SWORD AND SORCERY. This was edited by author Christopher Heath and published by his Heathen Oracle press. The other story is called “The Blood of the Lion”; it’s my first sword-and-soul story and it appears in GRIOTS: SISTERS OF THE SPEAR, published by Milton Davis’ MVmedia, which he and Charles Saunders assembled and edited. I also sold my first horror story, “Queen of Toads”, to be featured in a paperback anthology coming next year.

And I sold a story to Airship 27 for a future volume in one of their ongoing series. This summer I have two stories—one a collaboration—coming out in a long-running, very popular and successful shared-world series, and I am extremely excited about that. Currently, I’m working on a couple of fantasy and sword & sorcery stories unrelated to my Dorgo the Dowser character, although I have just completed the second draft of a special project involving him and his world, a novel that I’m hoping will become a reality.

Lately I’ve taken it upon myself to review the Author’s Cut editions of Janet Morris’ novels and anthologies that she is republishing under her own house, Perseid Press. Janet is one of the few living writers whose style, philosophy and character-driven stories influenced me years ago. I especially liked her Tempus and Niko stories for Thieves World; her Sacred Band novels, many of them co-written with her husband, Chris, are among my favorites of heroic fantasy. Her shared-universe series, Heroes in Hell, has been around since 1986 and is still going strong. Had my book-deal with Bantam Books not fallen through in 1980, Janet and I would have shared a publisher. I guess I appointed myself as the unofficial chronicler of her work. My reviews have been featured on Black Gate Magazine’s website. This has been keeping me quite busy for almost a year now.

DF: How do you feel your writing has developed since we last talked?

JB: I find myself wanting to experiment with different styles, as I did in “The Blood of the Lion”. (I must thank Milton and Charles for inspiring me and encouraging me in that direction, and for the opportunity and honor to write for such a great anthology as GRIOTS.) I want to go deeper with my stories, to say something about life and the human condition, without turning the stories into diatribes, lectures or dissertations. I’ve been reading philosophy lately, especially Heraclitus, to give my characters more depth. The plots of my stories are becoming very character-driven, and I’m trying to develop different and even more serious themes and subtext, with more introspection on the part of my characters. For instance, I have a 3-part heroic fantasy novel of Dorgo the Dowser waiting in the wings. One of the stories is about the loss of a child, loss of a mother, and a father’s betrayal. I plan to write another one where Dorgo’s involved in a case of child abuse and loss of innocence; might be interesting, for a sword & sorcery tale. The overall theme of Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser is about loss of one kind or another: financial loss, loss of trust, loss of identity, loss of family, friends and loved ones; one of the novellas in that volume deals with a lost race and the funerary customs of different cultures. I also find myself going for a more colorful and even poetic style of prose.

DF: In what direction do you think your work is heading now as opposed to 28 months ago? Or is it heading in the same direction?

JB: I guess I’m now attempting to write stories that are more literary in nature, while still remaining firmly in the sword & sorcery and heroic fantasy genres. Even my pulp stories seem to be heading in a different direction; my characters want me to go deeper, to tackle some social issues, if possible. I’m more interested in writing about characters and their relationships than I am with writing the next action scene, slaying the next monster. I can sit all day and let my characters talk. But when it comes to action scenes, I’m hard-pressed and often grow quickly bored: it’s a challenge for me to write fight and battle scenes, but not the sort of challenge that inspires me. What inspires me is planting the “McGuffin,” surrounding it with as interesting a cast of characters as I can devise, and then let them do whatever they want to and for and against each other to steal and sell, use or destroy the McGuffin. 

The films of Alfred Hitchcock, and the stories of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, as I’ve said many times, are the inspirations for the Gothic-Noir tales of Dorgo the Dowser. I just want to grow as a writer and storyteller, and not stick too much with one kind of tale. In this one project I’m working on I found that I needed to tell the story from different POVs, at times. So what I experimented with is this: in scenes with Dorgo, I write in first-person, past tense; in scenes that do not feature him, I write in 3rd person, present tense. In battle scenes, action scenes, scenes that need to have a certain power of immediacy, I use present tense. And of course, I have a horror novel I’d like to write someday, as well as a novelesque—if I may be allowed to coin a word—version of a personal memoir. I might even try a romance novel or some erotica. Who knows? 

DF: MAD SHADOWS: THE WEIRD TALES OF DORGO THE DOWSER is Fantasy. THREE AGAINST THE STARS is Space Opera. Does it take two different sets of creative muscles to write in two different genres?

JB: Most definitely. Dorgo is pretty much written in first person: he’s me. So the mindset is easy, and the door to his world is always open, although sometimes he isn’t in the mood to talk. And it really does feel like I’m chronicling his adventures, more than creating them. He tells me what to write. However, he doesn’t always take center stage, and the stories are really about one or more other characters. When I need some inspiration to write a Dorgo story, I watch a lot of film noir, read some Chandler and Hammett, and another favorite, Chester Himes, and then just step into the Dowser’s world. I know his world as well as I know the one I live in, and the style I use is pretty much my/his natural voice.

As for the space opera . . . that was tough, at first. There were three main characters and one central character to deal with, as well as a number of main and secondary heroes and villains. Plus, it was an exercise in style: I had to evoke that old-school, traditional space opera feel. I watched the three original Flash Gordon serials again, plus a lot of 1950s sci-fi films, and a few Republic Pictures Serials. Then I re-read some Edmund Hamilton and Henry Kuttner, and even some old novels I had never before read.

Once I got started, I was totally lost in that world. Now, I have been battling with a sword and planet sequel to Three Against The Stars, but the characters do not wish to cooperate. I even read and re-read Burroughs, Bradley, Brackett, and a host of others, to get the feel. I want my story to be character-driven, as opposed to plot-driven, and I want it to be about something: marital problems, infidelity, child adoption, with the main plot concerned with the hunting and killing of endangered species on an alien planet, and the effect on the environment of that world. I was hoping to have the first draft completed by the end of last December, but I’ve only managed about 6000 words in in 2013. Of course, five other stories demanded to be written first. As it is, I keep falling further and further behind on this project. I really want to write this novel, but I find myself losing interest in the project. I keep hoping that something, someone’s novel or a film or TV show, will rekindle the fire.


JB: That came about because David C. Smith, author of “Call of Shadows” and “Dark Muse”, had a 30 year-old, unfinished rough draft of a sword & sorcery novel lying around: an old-fashioned pirate yarn set in the Indian Ocean, eastern Africa, and on Madagascar. I had a 30 year-old, unfinished pirate novel that bore many similarities to his. So I convinced him that I could do a mash-up of the two and create something new and different, and thus went to work. He had already done so much research that I did only a small amount for what I wanted to incorporate into the story. Dave had already had a dash of Robert E. Howard and a sprinkle of Rafael Sabatini and Alexandre Dumas in his original manuscript, and I added a bit of Lovecraft’s Deep Ones, the Philistine sea-god, Dagon, a pinch of King Kong, a drop of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, a sprinkle of Ray Harryhausen, and a lot of Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn—and then I put it all in a blender.

I did about four drafts before I showed it to Dave, and then he added more of his own to it. Matching his style was a fun challenge, and handling a large cast of characters, a lot of action scenes, and different ethnic “voices” turned into a labor of love. In the end, it’s roughly 60% Dave and 40% me. We argued over where to send it, and settled on Damnation Books because they had just published Dave’s very interesting thriller, “Dark Muse”, and they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse, even consulting with us on what we wanted book cover to look like. I’m really happy with the novel, and hope more people pick up on it. It’s dark, action-packed, and with some great dialogue and meaningful relationships. It has two romances, and a lot of tragedy. It’s bloody, it’s violent and it’s a whole lotta fun!

DF: You’ve got a story in GRIOTS II: SISTERS OF THE SPEAR. Tell us about it.

JB: It’s called “The Blood of the Lion”, and it is set in the southern rainforest of Dorgo’s world, although he’s not in it. My main character is a young black woman named Nidreva, and her voice is the one I use to tell the story in first-person; I went with a semi-formal style I thought suited her personality. It’s a pretty universal theme: the relationship between a brother and sister. Nidreva’s older brother, Vidaro, has made an unusual self-sacrifice for the good of his tribe; their father is the chief. But this sacrifice produced an unforeseen adverse reaction on his physical and mental being that will eventually affect and change his life for the worst, if not dealt with immediately. To say more about this would give away too much of the story. So I’ll just say that Nidreva and Vidaro go on a quest to find Kijazura, a powerful Juju Mother who may be able to save Vidaro. Along the way Nidreva and Vidaro battle Monkeymen, encounter racism, and become prisoners of the Tulonga K’Adru, the Men with Two Horns, before their story ends. At the heart of this tale is the love between a brother and sister, their courage, and how they risk their lives for the good of their people. In a way, it’s a family-oriented, sword & sorcery tale, and one I am very proud of and honored to be included with such a fantastic group of writers in GRIOTS II: SISTERS OF THE SPEAR.

DF: Where do you see Joe Bonadonna in five years?

JB: God, I’ll be 67! I hope I’m still breathing and in decent health. Hopefully I’ll be in a nice retirement community in Arizona, chasing women half my age on the weekends . . . and still writing during the week.

DF: Hollywood calls and says that they’re going to give you 500 million dollars and the director of your choice to adapt one of your books into a movie. What book do you choose and what director?

JB: Mad Shadows, probably, and I’d want to write the script with my friend, Ted C. Rypel, author of “The Gonji Trilogy”. Now, since John Ford, Raoul Walsh, William Wellman, Michael Curtiz, Budd Boetticher, Burt Kennedy and John Houston are dead, and they probably won’t let me direct, I’d have to think about that. Martin Scorcese, Josh Whedon, Tim Burton, Guillermo del Toro, Gail Anne Hurd, Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, if his tendency to over-indulge can be curbed, and Zach Snyder, if we can pry him away from the CGI long enough to try something old-school, I’d have to say. But I’d to hire the best British actors, and to have real sets built, to use miniatures, matte-paintings, and state-of-the-art stop-motion animation, because Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien are at the heart and soul of almost everything I write.

DF: Recommend a movie, a book and a TV show.  

JB:  I can’t recommend any recent films, because I’ve pretty much lost interest in what Hollywood is cranking out these days, and I am so burned-out on Marvel Comic films. But for genre films, I do recommend Watchmen, Sin City, John Carter, and The Avengers. I also urge people to watch any black and white film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. John Ford westerns, the great costume epics of ancient Greece and Rome, too, and for the best fantasy and sword & sorcery films, watch 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger. The samurai films of Akira Kurosawa are a must.

Novels: anything by Ross Thomas, Robert W. Campbell and Guy Gavriel Kay. For television: The Big Bang Theory, NOVA, Masterpiece Mystery, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, and the brilliant Futurama. I also like Antiques Roadshow, Louis Gates’ ancestry specials, and The Red Green Show.    

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?     

Joe Bonadonna: I lead a rather uneventful life, so there’s no drama to report. I do want to wish you well in all your endeavors, Derrick, and thank you for this nice surprise and wonderful opportunity to warp and corrupt the minds of your readers and fans. I hope I haven’t rambled on too long!
Many blessings, my friend!
Thanks, everyone!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: JOE BONADONNA

DERRICK FERGUSON: Who is Joe Bonadonna?

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

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

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

DF: How long have you been writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DF: What’s your thoughts on New Pulp?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BERTRAM GIBBS

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