Showing posts with label Sovereign City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sovereign City. Show all posts

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Heart of Fortune #3

By now, thanks to the relentless huckstering of myself and Tommy Hancock you should know all about THE ADVENTURES OF FORTUNE McCALL.  It’s a special book in a lot of ways.  I’ve written other stuff for Pro Se previous to this but this one here is a major deal. 

For one, it’s my contribution to The Sovereign City Project which so far has been represented by Barry Reese and Lazarus Gray.  And represented quite well, if I may say so.  Tommy’s Doc Daye is waiting in the wings for his turn in the spotlight and if plans go the way they’re supposed to, there will be an epic crossover featuring all three characters in one dynamite story.  When that will happen I can’t say as yet but rest assured that when I know, you’ll know.

So what stories are between the covers of THE ADVENTURES OF FORTUNE McCALL?  I thought you’d never ask.  Attend:

“The Scarlet Courtesan of Sovereign City” introduces Fortune McCall and his cohorts to Sovereign City and vice versa as Fortune searches the city, hunting for a beautiful friend of his who is working for the British government.  This friend has run afoul of some unsavory characters who are up to some decidedly dangerous business.

“The Day of The Silent Death” has Fortune trying to track down a killer who possesses a method of killing hundreds, possibly thousands within seconds without a sound or warning.

“The Magic of Madness” involves a husband and wife team of magicians who have incurred the wrath of a secret society and only Fortune McCall has a chance of saving them.

“The Gold of Box 850” has Fortune McCall once again getting caught up in British espionage.  But this time he’s got a reason; five million dollars’ worth of gold is up for grabs.  Unfortunately, he’s not the only one looking for it.

And I have to bring your attention to the simply stunning design work done by Sean E. Ali, Pro Se’s Art Director.  So far I’ve been blessed with truly amazing artwork on the covers of my books but the cover of THE ADVENTURES OF FORTUNE McCALL is on another level altogether.  He designed it and the actual cover was done by David L. Russell based on an illustration done by Peter Cooper.  Here, take a look for yourself:

THE ADVENTURES OF FORTUNE MCCALL is available at or through Pro Se’s  It's also available in various E-book formats from Smashwords.
            Paperback: 158 pages
            Publisher: Pro Se Press
            ISBN-10: 1468112562
            ISBN-13: 978-1468112566

So that’s enough of my beating you over the head about the book.  I consider your arm to have been sufficiently twisted and I return it to you with my blessings.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Heart of Fortune #2

Hey there, glad you could stop back by for a visit.  We never did finish that talk we were having about Fortune McCall, did we?  Well, let’s get back into it.  Make yourself comfortable.

Now, where were we?  Oh, I was talking about how Tommy Hancock had asked me to contribute to his Sovereign City Project and I wussied out by proposing a generic white 1930’s pulp hero type instead of following my natural instincts and giving him a black adventurer set in the 1930’s.

As I said earlier, I just didn’t think I could pull it off convincingly.  Tommy and I swapped emails, spoke on the phone and during the course of those conversations, I told him about Fortune McCall and he said, “That’s who you should be doing for Sovereign City.”  Again, I wasn’t entirely convinced but the more I thought about it, the more I came around to Tommy’s way of thinking.  Fortune’s being African royalty meant that he saw American culture in a totally different way than that of an American born black man.  Just that fact that his circle of friends is multinational shows he’s a character with a vastly different way of thinking and living.  But he’s still a man very much aware of the society and cultures he operates in.  Despite his wealth, his obvious intelligence and education, he has no illusions about how he is viewed.  And he knows he can’t change that.  The only thing he can do is be a man amongst men and let his deeds speak for the quality of his character.

And to me, writing has to constantly be a challenge.  It’s supposed to be a process by which every single story enables me to build up more creative muscles, do things with character and themes I’ve never done before.  I’ll be honest here; the original character I submitted to Tommy was born out of laziness and I should be hosswhipped for having tried to fast shuffle him.  But if there’s one thing I like and respect about Tommy is that he’ll call me on my bullshit and he did.

Fortune McCall is a character that I realized that I probably needed to do as I didn’t want people to think that all I could do was variations and knockoffs of my own Dillon and whatever else Fortune McCall is, he certainly isn’t that.  And as I rewrote that first story to place it in the 1930’s I found to my own delighted surprise that placing Fortune and his team in that time period actually made them more interesting and exciting to me.  I was able to strip away a lot of the high-tech gizmos and foofaraw I had been using to take shortcuts in the story and have a character that relied more on his brain, brawn and the skills of his friends than fancy gadgets.  And it’s always exciting when somebody else gives me a new playground to work in.  Especially when it’s a shared environment like Sovereign City.  You can bend the rules, break ‘em, make ‘em up and who’s to tell you you’re wrong?

And remember earlier when I was telling you that I wanted my Sovereign City character to be a Shadow-analog type to go along with Lazarus Gray/The Avenger and Doc Daye/Doc Savage?  Well, by placing Fortune McCall in the 1930’s I found that I could utilize that idea even better than I did with that crappy character I came up with and it worked far better with Fortune.

So first of all I had to establish his character and that of his team, tell how they come to Sovereign City and why he decides to stay there.  How he comes to the city and his first adventure there is detailed in his first recorded adventure “The Scarlet Courtesan of Sovereign City” which first appeared in Pro Se Presents: Masked Gun Mystery #2.  The second Fortune McCall story, “The Day of The Silent Death” appeared in Pro Se Presents: Fantasy and Fear #3.

Now here’s where things start to get interesting.  Tommy calls me up nonchalantly (as he is wont to do) and wonders how I would feel about doing a Fortune McCall book.  Plans have changed (and with Tommy that’s at least three times a week) and instead of Lazarus Gray, Doc Daye and Fortune McCall appearing in magazines, Tommy proposed that they be featured in their own anthologies/novels.  Of course this meant that I had to come up with two more Fortune McCall stories to make up a decent book and so I have: “The Sorceress of Sovereign City” and “The Gold of Box 850” are going to join the first two stories in The Adventures of Fortune McCall.  Coming soon, I promise.

So that’s the bare bones of what you need to know about Fortune McCall.  At least for now.  There’s other aspects about the character and the whole Sovereign City Project I want to get into but I know you’ve got to go and I’ve got to get back to work.  Thanks again for stopping by.  Oh, and since I know you appreciate quality artwork here’s an illustration that was done by Clayton Hinkle for “Day of The Silent Death”:

 Until we get together again, read something good, okay?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Heart of Fortune #1

Welcome back.  Hope you’ve been enjoying the discussions we’ve been having so far as much as I have.  Our next one is going to take us from Sebastian Red’s mystical Wild West for a bit.  But don’t worry; we’ll be going back there soon enough.  It’s just that I thought you’d appreciate some insight into the current project I’m working on so let’s go visit 1933 and Sovereign City, the current home of Doc Daye, Lazarus Grey and Fortune McCall

Fortune McCall is a character who, like most of my characters has been around for a long, loooong time.  More than ten years in fact.  He first found life in a fanfiction series I wrote for DC Legends entitled “Blackhawk International” where I created a 21st Century team of Blackhawks and Fortune McCall was handpicked to head up a new team by the original Blackhawk, now aged and running a worldwide multi-billion corporation.

It didn’t take me long to realize that Fortune and his team had far more potential as original creations so I requested that story be removed from the site and reworked the character.  He was still set in the 21st Century but now he was an independent adventurer, sailing around the world on his luxury gambling ship, The Heart of Fortune and still assisted by his team of six close friends, all specialists in their fields. 

And now that I had set him firmly in what my friends laughingly refer to as The Fergoverse, I reworked his background: Fortune McCall is a prince of the North African country of Khusra which I’ve mentioned in a couple of Dillon stories.  As a prince he has enjoyed a spectacularly diverse education in America, Switzerland, England and France in disciplines both academic and martial.  Equally at home in a laboratory, a classroom or a dojo, Fortune (I haven’t revealed his true name yet) is equally dangerous in a boardroom or a battlefield.

You see, his father wanted all of his sons and heirs to be equally capable of taking over as king so he never favored one over the other, making sure they all received the same education and training.  However, tradition must be observed and the line of succession goes from oldest to youngest.  And guess who the youngest is?  Yep.  Fortune.  He’s the youngest of eight brothers.

Now, while some may find this a sucky situation, Fortune saw it as a wonderful opportunity.  Enjoying considerable wealth as a Prince of Khusra, he didn’t have to worry about money.  And since there are seven potential kings, the chances of him ever having to rule were slim to none.  He could therefore enjoy all the benefits of his royal birth with none of the responsibilities.

So Fortune has his gambling ship built, takes on a whole mess’a his people to crew and work the ship and with his friends set off on adventure galore.  As a huge fan of Marvel Comics’ The Black Panther, I envisioned Fortune McCall as a seafaring T’Challa, not bound to any one country.  I could do one story with him in Italy fighting The Decided Ones and then in the next he could be in Australia hunting down packs of mutated dingoes roaming the streets of Perth. 

Cackling wildly, I set about writing a Fortune McCall novel and got about 16000 words into the sucker when I got an invitation from Tommy Hancock.  And that’s a name you’re going to hear a lot as we get deeper into this tale.  So let me give you a brief background on this chap:

Tommy Hancock is a writer, living in Arkansas who I’ve known for a good 15, 16 years, now.  We only met face-to-face for the first time at Pulp Ark but online we’ve collaborated on many a project and stayed up late many a night chatting on IM about characters, stories and ideas.  In recent years Tommy has really made a name for himself as the spokesman and spearhead of The New Pulp Movement.  But for our purposes here, we’re more concerned with his status as a publisher and editor.

Tommy and his partner run Pro Se Press which is creating quite the respectable reputation as a publisher of quality New Pulp fiction and Tommy also is largely responsible for the previously mentioned Pulp Ark. 

The first thing you have to understand about Tommy Hancock is that he gets more ideas in a week than the average person has in a month.  Even if he lived another 77 years he’d never be able to give adequate wordage to all the characters, concepts and stories packing the inside of his already full-to-busting brain.

One of these ideas is The Sovereign City Project.  Tommy contacted Barry Reese and myself and asked us to each create a character for this city, which would be a shared environment between the three of us.  The idea being that we’d lay the groundwork and foundation for Sovereign City and then after a year, the Project would be thrown open to other writers. 

Now, I originally had no idea of placing Fortune McCall into this as I already had other plans in mind for the character, including a team-up with Dillon and indeed, pitched Tommy another character who was more or less a Shadow-analog to compliment Barry’s Lazarus Gray (an analog to The Avenger) and Tommy’s Doc Daye (a Doc Savage analog)

Tommy contacted me after reading my initial pitch and said that while he loved the character, he was puzzled as to why I hadn’t created a black character.  Yeah, that’s right; the character I had pitched to Tommy was a white one.

My thing was this: at the time I’d never written a pulp character in the 1930’s.  Since then, that’s changed (Details Later) and to be brutally honest, I wasn’t confident in my ability to credibly create and portray a black adventurer in the 1930’s.  Given the climate, the culture, the racial issues…I admit it, I folded like Robert Duran in the seventh round of the Duran/Leonard rematch because I didn’t think I could pull it off.

However, Tommy had a little more confidence than I did…and we’ll talk about that the next time we get together.

Until then, feast your eyes on this: the artist is the infinitely talented Peter Cooper and I consider it the definitive look of Fortune McCall.  I dunno if you can but I see a lot of Eisner and Simonson in there.  And yeah, there will be more about Peter later on as well.

As always, thank you for your time and kind attention.  Go read something good and I'll talk to you soon.

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BERTRAM GIBBS

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