Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Saw The Future At Windy City Pulp Con by Len Levinson

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Len Levinson served on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1954-1957, and graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Social Science. He relocated to NYC that year and worked as an advertising copywriter and public relations executive before becoming a full-time novelist. 

Len created and wrote a number of series, including the Apache Wars Saga, The Pecos Kid, and The Rat Bastards. He has had over 80 titles published.

After many years in NYC, he moved to a small town (pop. 3100) in rural Illinois, surrounded by corn and soybean fields, a peaceful, ideal location for a writer.



I live in a small town (population 3000) way out here on the great American prairie. Therefore I have little contact with the wider world of publishing although I’ve written 83 published novels to date.
Last Sunday (4/23) I attended the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention in a Chicago suburb called Lombard, and became aware of the future of fiction publishing. Many of you probably have come to this awareness already, but it was a major revelation for me.
I realized that there is a huge, growing indie publishing movement fully underway, and has come into being because traditional publishing has narrowly focused on conventional “safe” fiction, and tends to reject anything new, weird, crazy or bizarre.
This policy has left a huge vacuum now being filled by the new indie press which operates under a different business model. They don’t have offices in Rockefeller Centre in NYC like Simon and Shuster. They operate out of home offices, barns, or other low-cost spaces. Everything is handled over the internet. And they don’t pay advanced. Authors receive royalties only, as in the early days of publishing. And they produce GREAT eye-catching covers that are works of art on their own.
During the convention I spoke with Ron Fortier, publisher and editor-in-chief of one of the larger indie publishers, Airship 27. He said that famous authors sometimes call him about books of theirs that were rejected by their usual publishers, because those books were considered too far out. But nothing is too far out for today’s indie publishers who market, among other items, novels about vampire cowboys, lesbian werewolves from Mars, hard boiled crime-fiction, other action-adventure novels including traditional Westerns, and all kinds of sci-fi, fantasy and sword and sandal fiction. They also publish new novels about characters in the public domain such as Sherlock Holmes. It’s called “the New Pulp Movement.”
I also spoke with Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, which is also a major indie publisher marketing hundreds of titles. He told me that the big five publishers are buying up some indie publishers, because they can see where the business is going. But Tommy isn’t interested in selling out. His main interest is exciting new fiction.
Evidently there’s a whole new publishing world out there of which I was unaware, although some of my old books have been republished by indie publishers such as Piccadilly, Destroyer and Blackstone. But I never realized how important this New Pulp Movement is becoming. It is wildly creative, fully energized and intensely ambitious, the new kid on the block fighting for a bigger slice of the pie. The welcome result is more choices for readers and hopefully more income for writers.


50 New Pulp Books To Get You Started

I get asked a lot of questions due to my affiliation with New Pulp and I'd have to say that the #2 question I get asked about it is: “Where do I get started? What should I read first just to see what it's all about? What writers should I be reading?”

I can understand the confusion. More than you know. There is a whole lot of New Pulp out there. Some of it is excellent. Some of it is downright astonishing. Some of it is good, some of it okay and a seriously depressing amount of it just plain flat out no good at all. And those of us who write/read and/or review New Pulp feel the crush of recommending books and writers to those of you unfamiliar with the genre but are desperately eager to know more.

That's why back in June of 2014 I put together a list of “25 New Pulp Books To Get You Started.” The purpose and intention of the list was simply to give New Pulp virgins a place to start getting their brains wet and see if they liked these waters.

Since then, a lot more New Pulp books have been written and I saw the need to add more books to the list and so I did, continuing to add to the list each succeeding year, with assistance from my Advisory Board consisting of Lucas Garrett, Barry Reese and Andrew Salmon. My intention is to keep adding to the list until I get up to 100 and then call it quits. After all, if you can't find something worth reading in a pack of 100 books then maybe you just don't like to read.

Again I feel compelled to remind one and all that this list is not intended to slight anybody as many of you have egos as fragile as spider webs (you know who you are) and are more than capable of taking it as a personal insult that your book isn't on the list. Such is not my purpose or pursuit. This list is intended only to be a helpful starting point for those who have no idea where to start reading New Pulp. And if there is a New Pulp book that you feel should be on the list feel free to contact me at DerrickFerguson@gmail.com and what I'll do is hold onto your suggestion until this time of year in 2018 when it is once again time for me to add to the list.

Okay? We clear on that? Good. Then let's get on with it. If you've never read any New Pulp and are anxious to find out for yourself what it's all about then here are 50 NEW PULP BOOKS TO GET YOU STARTED:





HELMET HEAD by Mike Baron
SGT JANUS, SPIRIT BREAKER by Jim Beard
FIGHT CARD: FELONY FISTS by Paul Bishop (writing as Jack Tunney)
LIE CATCHERS by Paul Bishop
THE REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden
ADONIS MORGAN (NOBODY SPECIAL) by Frank Byrnes
NICK NOMAD AND THE HAMMER OF LEMURIA by Myles Campbell
THE MYTH HUNTER: THE LOST CONTINENT by Percival Constantine
DOC ARDAN: CITY OF GOLD AND LEPERS by Guy d'Armen. Adapted by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier
DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN by Derrick Ferguson
BROTHER BONES by Ron Fortier
TAURUS MOON by Keith Gaston
GREEN LAMA UNBOUND by Adam Garcia
THE GREEN LAMA: CRIMSON CIRCLE by Adam Garcia
YESTERYEAR by Tommy Hancock
TALES OF THE VAGABOND BARDS by Nancy Hansen
TO BATTLE BEYOND by C. J. Henderson
HUGH MONN-PRIVATE DETECTIVE by Lee Houston, Jr.
DIRE PLANET by Joel Jenkins
THE BONE QUEEN by Andrea Judy
SILENCED by Nicole Kurtz
SIX DAYS OF THE DRAGON by Roman Leary
GHOSTS OF MANHATTAN by George Mann
MYTHICAL: HEART OF STONE by C.E. Martin
PROHIBITION by Terrence McCauley
CREEPING DAWN: THE RISE OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE by Chuck Miller
SNOW FALLS by Bobby Nash
FIGHT CARD: THE CUTMAN by Mel Odom (writing as Jack Tunney)
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AFRICA by Balogun Ojetade
THE STEIN AND CANDLE DETECTIVE AGENCY Vol. I by Michael Panush
HAWK: HAND OF THE MACHINE by Van Allen Plexico
SENTINELS I: WHEN STRIKES THE WARLORD by Van Allen Plexico
THE OLD MAN Series by William Preston
THE PEREGRINE OMNIBUS VOL. I by Barry Reese
RABBIT HEART by Barry Reese
PULP HEROES: MORE THAN MORTAL by Wayne Reinagle
THE VRIL AGENDA by Joshua Reynolds and Derrick Ferguson
THE WHITECHAPEL DEMON by Joshua Reynolds
THE LIGHT OF MEN by Andrew Salmon
DAMBALLAH by Charles Saunders
IMARO by Charles Saunders
SUN-KOH, HEIR OF ATLANTIS by Arthur Sippo
THE AUSLANDER FILES by Michael Patrick Sullivan
BASS REEVES, FRONTIER MARSHAL VOL. I by Various Authors
BLACK PULP by Various Authors
DOCTOR OMEGA AND THE SHADOWMEN by Various Authors
HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD by Various Authors
LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION by Various Authors
ROCOCOA by Various Authors
THE RUBY FILES by Various Authors



Monday, March 13, 2017

The Secret Origin of Diamondback: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

This may take us a while so if you want to go get yourself a snack and a nice cold beverage before we start, go right on ahead. I'll wait. Matter of fact, think I'll go grab myself a Coke and a sandwich as well. See you back here in ten.



You back? Solid. Get comfy and we'll get started.

The Secret Origin of Diamondback begins with my desire to write what I have since come to describe as an “Urban Western.” Which simply means that everybody drives cars and uses automatic weapons instead of riding nags and firing six-shooters. But with some industrious rewriting, “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” could be told as a straight-up western. Matter of fact, there's a lot of Sergio Leone's “A Fistful of Dollars” in the DNA of my story. But the concept of a mysterious stranger who comes to a town ruled by warring criminal gangs and by pitting the gangs against each other through cunning, ruthless manipulation comes out the winner goes back further than that. There's Akira Kurosawa's “Yojimbo” from 1961 which many believe was inspired by Dashiell Hammett's classic “Red Harvest” written in 1929. “Red Harvest” also generally considered to have inspired Walter Hill's “Last Man Standing” which is basically “Yojimbo” set during Prohibition. “Lucky Number Slevin” and “Sukiyaki Western Django.”




Okay, so you get the basic idea, right? I had this idea to tell a western in modern-day drag. Not a terribly original idea, I agree, but one that I wanted to do and that's all I need to get me going. The only criteria I have for any project I take on is that it excites and intrigues me. I have to live with the characters and invest a lot of time in them and the story I'm telling and life is too short to spend it writing about about characters I don't care about. So, I conceived the story of Diamondback as one spanning three novels that was intended to be a further homage to Sergio Leone's “Dollars” Trilogy:

Diamondback I: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time
Diamondback II: And The Devil Will Drag You Under
Diamondback III: Once Upon A Time In Denbrook

Only one novel got published, the first one:


It sold about as well as ice makers in Norway. Which kinda left me bummed out. I dunno why it didn't sell. Maybe because Diamondback Vogel was a completely different protagonist from Dillon, which is the character that most people associated me with. The philosophy of the concept behind the Diamondback character is simple and can be summed up in these lyrics from Billy Preston's “Will It Go Round In Circles?”:

I've got a story ain't got no moral,
Let the bad guy win every once in a while

Which is exactly what Diamondback Vogel is and I make it very clear: he is a bad guy, a right proper villain. In fact, it can be said that everybody in that first novel is a bad guy. I did that on purpose as I wanted to see if I could write a novel where every single character was a low-down, no-good unrepentant, unapologetic mean-ass bastard or bitch and still make the story entertaining and fun. The (very) few people who did read It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time let me know that I did succeed in that as they enjoyed it tremendously. But at that time (we're talking around 2008 or '09) I considered the book to be a failure, put away my ideas for the trilogy and moved on.

So why am I now revisiting Diamondback and rewriting the first book with an eye to completing the trilogy at last? Ten more years of experience and confidence helps, lemme tell you. I recently re-read the book in one sitting and saw where I could improve upon the story, expand some scenes, increase the level of characterization and action. It short, I could write a better book.

And I did write a book where every single character it was a low-down, no-good unrepentant, unapologetic mean-ass bastard or bitch and that one sold a bit better and everybody who's read it has indeed described it as entertaining and fun. I'm talking about my homage (some would say outright theft) to Hammer horror films:


I could also restore some stuff I had originally written but was persuaded to take out. The original version of It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time had a lot more violence, some pretty racy sex scenes and harsher, rougher language. But by taking all that out it meant that it wasn't the story it wanted to be. It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time wanted to be raunchy, profane, deliriously violent and madcap in its exploitation sleaze and I had taken all that away from the book and on that level, it deserved to fail. Because it wasn't the story it was supposed to be.

But if we're good and faithful, we sometimes get a second chance and so I'm going to take another crack at Diamondback: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time. And you'll be able to accompany me on the rewrite as I intend to present the story in serialized form, just as it was originally presented long ago on the much beloved Frontier original fiction website. Details will be on my Patreon page if you're interested (and I hope you are) but if you're not, that's okay as well. We'll still be friends.

As always, I thank you for your kind attention and your tolerance in putting up with my ramblings and as always I urge you to keep track of what I'm doing both here and over at Usimi Dero which I where I spend much of my Facebook time. You can also friend me at my personal Facebook page. I'm a pretty friendly guy.


Peace!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...NICOLE KURTZ

Derrick Ferguson:Who is Nicole Kurtz?
Nicole Kurtz: I'm an educator, an author and a mother.



DF:What do you tell The IRS you do for a living?
NK: The IRS identifies me as an educator. I've been in the public school system for 15 years.

DF:Tell us about your background. As little or as much as you want.
NK: I'm originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, but I've lived all over the United States, from South Carolina to California. I have a bachelor's degree in Writing and a Master's degree in Education. I have been writing my whole life and can't remember a time I wasn't writing stories either on paper or mentally.

DF:How long have you been writing?
NK: I've been writing since I was 11 years old. My first payment for writing was an essay contest I won in 11th grade. I realized then, “Wait, I can make money from this?!”

DF:What's your philosophy of writing? Do you think that writers should even have a philosophy about the act/art of writing?
NK: My writing philosophy is simple—write your truth. Honor the story only you can tell. Don't worry about sales and genre when writing. Worry about those things after the story is written and done.

DF:Do you enjoy writing?
NK: I love writing! I write all the time, on notebooks and napkins, on the backs of bills and along the edges of envelopes. Writing is how I communicate best and how I process information.

DF:Do you write for yourself or for your readers?
NK: I primarily write for myself when writing fiction. When writing non-fiction (i.e., essays and blogs) I focus on the audience and how my thesis is supported.

DF:What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Nicole Kurtz?
NK: Great question! I write futuristic thriller, so my audience are readers who enjoy those types of adventures.

DF:Tell us about Mocha Memoirs Press
NK: Mocha Memoirs Press is a small press that publishes speculative works by authors of marginalized groups.

DF:Who is Cybil Lewis?
NK: Cybil Lewis is a professional investigator in the year 2146. Independent. Focused. Committed. She investigates violations in post apocalyptic D.C. Think “Blade Runner” with a female protagonist.


DF:How long has Cybil Lewis been with you and where can we expect her to go in future novels?
NK: Cybil has been with me for over 20 years. In the future, expect Cybil to continue to solve violations in her unique fashion and may, just maybe, get the air-conditioner in her apartment fixed.



DF:Where does the story of Cybil Lewis go from here?
NK: Cybil continues to investigate violations but her personal life becomes more of a challenge for her. In addition, her partner Jane continues to evolve and thus her relationship with Cybil will change. Those are going to be interesting interactions and impacts on Cybil's business and life.


DF:You're an outstanding voice in the field of African-American Speculative Fiction. Where do you see your place in this field and where do you want to go?
NK: Wow! Thank you. My place in the field is right alongside other authors. I've been writing Speculative Fiction for nearly 20 years. I would love to continue to write, publish and find new readers. I also like to inspire new authors of color, especially those that write thrillers.

DF:You are one of the most prominent of female African-American Speculative Fiction writers. Do you see AASF writers as creating a genre unto themselves due to their unique worldview as African-American women?
NK: I do believe that as an African-American woman, my vision is different from other authors not within that demographic. However, I don't think it is a genre unto ourselves. I write futuristic thriller, horror stories and dark fantasy. While most of my protagonists are black women, the story is still good and worth reading.

DF:Are there any drawbacks to being a AASF writer?
NK: There are drawbacks to being an AASF writer in that I find some readers who proclaim they can't identify with my protagonists. Yet those same readers can identify with a shape-shifting tiger or a blue-skinned alien. I write speculative fiction, which is still a predominately white male dominated genre. So my work is subjected to misogyny and racism in the genre as I am in every day life.

DF:And what are the positives?
NK: The positives far outnumber the drawbacks. The excitement I see on readers' faces when they see a protagonist that looks like them. Or the relief when they see that I, a fellow African American or POC wrote something speculative is more than worth the occasional racist. I enjoy sharing my stories with others and I love getting feedback on those stories from readers. Those are the positives that buoy me when writing gets tough.

DF:You've hosted a lot of panels. In your opinion what are the qualities one needs to have in order to moderate a successful panel?
NK: Moderating a panel successfully is hard! LOL! It is important to give each author or panelist an opportunity to speak. Equity of voice is key when moderating. If one can provide the discussion topics ahead of time, that makes for much more thoughtful discussions.



DF:Do you like hosting panels? Why?
NK: It depends! If it is a topic I am passionate about, I do not want to moderate because I want to talk! LOL! Otherwise, I don't mind hosting panels.

DF:What are your dream projects? If you had unlimited time and money, what would you want to do most?
NK: If I had unlimited time and money I would spend time writing Cybil Lewis novels and promoting her throughout the U.S.

DF:What is A Day In The Life of Nicole Kurtz like?
NK: In a word: Chaos!

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?
Nicole Kurtz:I love to laugh and I'm not nearly as serious as Cybil is about things. Your readers can find me online at Twitter (@nicolegkurtz), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/nicolegkurtz, and at Other Worlds Pulp (http://www.nicolegivenskurtz.com).







Tuesday, March 7, 2017

In Which I Get Smacked Around

Tommy Hancock interviewed me for his online magazine BIBLIORATI and I think it's a pretty good one that you can read and enjoy HERE.






Monday, January 30, 2017

February 2017 Update

Hello, one and all and Happy New Year! I trust that all of you came into the New Year healthy and happy and my fondest wish is that nothing but continued health and prosperity will fill your respective houses with many bright blessings.

A lot of things have been going in recent months both personally and professionally. Before we get to the professional let's get the personal out of the way. Some of you I've told about my recent weird ailment via Facebook or phone but for the rest of you who haven't heard the grisly yarn, here 'tis: What happened was that out of nowhere I developed this really funky rash on my hands. It manifested itself as dozens of small blisters between my fingers and on my palms. No pain but they itched like hell and they would break open, releasing clear fluid.

I slathered my hands in hydrocortisone and that worked for two or three days and then the rash came back with a vengeance. I stopped messing around and went to a dermatologist who claimed I was suffering from something called scabies which are basically dust mites. I myself don't think that's it as Patricia and I got rid of the basement carpet last summer and that thing was a dust magnet. if I was going to be attacked by dust mites, wouldn't that have have happened while we had the dust attracting carpet that was a natural home for dust mites?

In any case, he gave me scripts for some kind of cream I was to use all over my body and on my hands and come back to see him in three weeks.

Well, I used the cream and again it worked for three or four days then returned and this time actually seemed to be spreading to other areas of my body and no, I ain't gonna tell you where.

Know what finally worked? Both my wife and my mother suggested sulfur soap. So I ordered some from Amazon and started washing my hands twice a day with it and damn if the rash didn't start to clear up right away! I even started to shower with the soap and those spots on my body where it started to spread disappeared like that *snaps fingers*

It took some time but my hands are just about back to normal and so I've been able to resume writing with regularity. Not that I couldn't before and I did so with plastic gloves on as I didn't want to take the chance of spreading whatever it was I had to the keyboard but it felt funny and just darned uncomfortable.

So I'm back to work on the Dillon serial for my Patreon page: "Dillon and The Prophecy of Fire." And there's another Dillon project I'm working on. But then again, when am I not working on a Dillon project?

But something happened recently that spurred me back into full tilt boogie action into once again working on "The Return of Fortune McCall" and that was the release of the audiobook version of "The Adventures of Fortune McCall"


I'll tell you something; as special as it is to hold an actual printed book that you've written in your own two hands, it's even more special to listen to an audiobook of a book that you've written and hear dialog and description that you've written with your own two ears. And Calvin Worthen as Narrator does an absolutely mind-blowing job as such. I found myself listening to the thing on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen to next as if I didn't write any of the stories and therefore knew what was going to happen.

But in a way, it was me rediscovering these stories all over in a new way, interpreted in a different way and as such, it made Fortune McCall, his supporting cast and his world new and fresh all over again and I couldn't wait to get back to work on the sequel.

There are also audiobooks available of THE VRIL AGENDA, BASS REEVES FRONTIER MARSHAL, Vol I. which contains my story "A Town Called Affliction" and SINBAD: THE NEW VOYAGES Vol. I which contains my story "Sinbad and The Voyage to The Land of The Frozen Sun"




What else am I up to? I wrote a story for "Bass Reeves, Frontier Marshal Vol.2" so you need to keep your eyes open for that. I wrote a story for Balogun Ojetade's upcoming black superhero anthology which introduces a superhero I created named Regency. I've got four or five more complete stories about this character so if you enjoy his appearance in "Black Power" let me know and I'll see what I can do:


So as you can see, just because I've been quiet doesn't mean I haven't been busy. And you know me. I'd rather post something meaningful here every couple of months that won't waste your time instead of posting something every week or two just to fill up space.

What else? Oh, yes, the writer interviews will definitely be continuing. Not only will I be catching up with writers I've interviewed before to see what they're doing now but I'll be interviewing writers I've never interviewed before. Especially African-American female writers of speculative fiction which is a project that Nicole Kurtz (a formidable writer herself) and I have talked about in the past that we were thinking about launching as it's own blog. But I don't have time to keep up with yet another blog. It's enough work keeping up with the three I got now.

I really didn't want to do those interviews here as I didn't want folks to think I was just using the interviews to get more traffic for my blog but then it struck me that people have long accused me of doing that anyway so what's the diff? So that's something else you can look forward to here.

And I think that's enough of me running my mouth for this session. As always I thank you most sincerely and with all my heart for your continued support and kind attention to my ramblings. I appreciate each and every one of you who have stuck it out with me this long and I look forward to all the fun and excitement we'll share in 2017.

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.

DF: Tell us about AZIERAN ADVENTURES PRESENTS ARTIFACTS AND RELICS: EXTREME SORCERY


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.


Derrick Ferguson Is Trapped In Mike Baron's DOMAIN

Paperback:  342 pages Publisher:  Expanding Realms; 1 edition (July 23, 2017) Language:  English ISBN-10:  1944621164 ISBN-13:  9...