Showing posts with label Paul Bishop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul Bishop. Show all posts

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.