Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Frank Schildiner?
Frank Schildiner: Oh jeez, start with a hard one why don't ya? That's something I've been wondering for 49 years and I'm still figuring it out. Well, I was born in Queens, NY, raised in New Jersey and at night I fight crime under the name...oops, slipped into my own reality for a minute there...
DF: What do you tell the IRS you do for a living?
FS: Senior Probation Officer for the State of New Jersey, Martial Arts instructor for Amorosi's Mixed Martial Arts and writer. They also wonder if I have time to sleep.
DF: Tell us a little something about your background.
FS: That'd take a while, but I think I can sum up. I had amazing parents who managed to deal with a slightly demented child by channeling him (i.e. me) into useful areas. I grew up reading classics, both the fun variety like Burroughs and Doyle, and the serious kind you were forced to read in school. They loved all types of films and I got to see some of the best and worst old films as I grew up. This fostered my imagination and made me the rather crazy person I am today. But it wouldn't have gone anywhere if I hadn't been encouraged to take up martial arts in my mid-thirties. There I learned discipline and so much more, channeling what was inside me into a more productive direction.
DF: How long have you been writing?
FS: All my life, but I wasn't published until I was 40. This was a good thing. I look back at my earlier work and shudder. I was really bad and it took me that long to learn the basics of storytelling. But thanks to some amazing teachers/editors, I'm slowly getting there (I hope).
DF: You a plotter or a pantser?
FS: Pantser, totally and completely. I tried forever to be a plotter and all my stories were horrific, stilted and stiff. Then I read Stephen King's “On Writing” and he explained he wrote his books the way I wanted to do it. I figured if one of the bestselling authors on Earth, one of my heroes, did it that way, I could avoid outlines.. .
DF: What writers have influenced you?
FS: Oh man, so many! Lovecraft, Howard, Ernst, Jack London, Walter Gibson, Bram Stoker, Jack Kirby, Harlan Ellison, Philip Jose Farmer, Will Murray, Win Scott Eckert, JM Lofficier, David Gerrold, Clark Ashton Smith...I could be doing this for a very long time...
DF: Are you interested in critics or professional/amateur criticism of your work?
FS: In a small sense, I think we all are to a degree. I hope everyone likes my work, but I'm not going to worry about it overly. I do prize and listen to my editors and friends who give me honest constructive criticism, that’s how I learned to become a better writer. But a bad review doesn't shake me. A writer needs to be immune to worries like that one.
DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Frank Schildiner?
FS: Hmm, that's a good one. Well, I think my two audiences are pulp and occult/horror adventure. My main work is, surprising to me, very much in the weirder end of the horror universe. My latest novel seems to cover both areas, but time will tell if I actually have anyone reading me LOL!
DF: Do you consider yourself to be a New Pulp writer? If so, why? And if not, then why not?
FS: Very much a New Pulp writer. That's where I got started, writing French pulp crossovers for Black Coat Press and Secret Agent X for Airship27. I love that period of writing and the fact that it returned to the publishing world in the last ten years or so was a gift from heaven, so to speak.
Also I love the amazing work New Pulp writers produce regularly. There are so many great new characters coming out these days, Pat Wildman, Dillon, the Royal Occultist, Sgt. Janus...it's an incredible time to be a writer or a reader.
DF: How important is it to follow your instincts while writing?
FS: 100% importance. At times I find myself writing entirely different directions than I imagined a scene or a chapter would go in a book. It’s a surprising moment, an internal and unconscious decision that makes the writing process all the more enjoyable.
DF: Tell us about THE QUEST OF FRANKENSTEIN.
FS: This is the story of the French version of the Frankenstein monster. The creature is a lethal and terrible monster, an evil being who meets up with the American monster maker, Herbert West, in his quest for a mate. To get his mate, West requires a list of items, most living and terrible beings themselves, and the creature, known as Gouroull, wanders around the world to obtain these items. It’s a sweeping story, introducing monsters, many of whom were forgotten by horror/occult fans.
DF: This is a different Frankenstein Monster from the one that most of here in America are familiar with. Can you go into the origins of this Monster and why you chose to use him for your novel?
FS: Oh yes, this is a truly amazing story. Back in the 1950’s a French pulp paperback publisher had on staff a man named Jean-Claude Carriere. He was asked to write a series starring the Frankenstein monster, though he remade the creature. This is not the tormented Byronic monster of Shelley, the allegorical Whale version or the brutish version that followed when Whale stopped making the films. The creature, named Gouroull, is a giant, chalky skinned, yellow-eyed, nigh-invulnerable fiend. He’s nearly bulletproof, unafraid of fire and possessing an alien intelligence.
Carriere wrote Gouroull in a series of novels that ended in 1959. He then went on to become an Academy Award winning screenwriter whose work with Luis Brunel and others has made him one of the legends in the film world. In 2014 he was also given a lifetime achievement award by the Academy, which is quite a heavy legacy to follow.
I learned of Gouroull through my friend and mentor, JM Lofficier and his company, BLACK COAT PRESS. I’m proud he accepted the book and thus THE QUEST OF FRANKENSTEIN was born!
DF: Tell us about TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN and how you got involved with that anthology series.
FS: TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN is a yearly publication by the amazing JM Lofficier and his company BLACK COAT PRESS. In these anthologies, a writer takes a French character and writes them in a story with heroes or villains they normally would not have encountered. It’s a marvelous idea, a mean of introducing the world to the vast French literature unknown to many.
Characters like Doctor Omega, Fantomos, Judex, Lemmy Caution, Harry Dickson, Nyctalope and so many more have become popular thanks to this incredible series of books. Major writers like Michael Moorcock, Brian Stableford and Terrence Dicks contributed and writers like myself and many others got their fiction writing start in these anthologies.
I was brought in because I wrote a short story for JM, an archaeologist named Jean Kariven who was involved in ancient alien adventures. I’ve written Kariven several times and also wrote my first Gouroull tale in the Shadowmen books.
DF: You’ve written quite a few Classic Pulp heroes such as Thunder Jim Wade, The Black Bat, Secret Agent X and The Avenger among others. Which one was your favorite?
FS: Thunder Jim Wade has become my favorite over the years. He was a Doc Savage knockoff that was done by a great writer, Henry Kuttner (best known for the short story, “The Graveyard Rats”). Kuttner, though an excellent tale spinner, didn’t seem interested in the character or action hero pulps. He created a great origin for Wade, being raised in a lost city in Africa, but the stories were bland at best. I’ve taken the character a unique and fun direction and really love the plans I have for the hero in the future.
DF: Any other Classic Pulp characters you’d like to write?
FS: Operator #5. Love the idea of a spy fighting lethal hordes who are trying to take over the United States. I doubt that I ever will write the hero, but we all have dreams.
DF: Tell us about BIG OL’ SCORPION.
FS: BIG OL’ SCORPION harkens back to my upbringing. I was blessed with parents who loved old films, good, bad and otherwise. They showed me the old 50’s sci-fi films when I was young and I fell in love with the ones starring giant monsters rampaging across the USA. “EARTH VS THE SPIDER” “THEM!” and oh so many more were available on weekend TV when I was growing up, so I got to watch them and imagine a world where this happened for real. I always wanted to write short stories or novellas on these creatures, even did a few team up tales when I was little. Happily none of those embarrassing efforts survived, but I came up with the idea of a rockabilly guitarist who encounters a giant scorpion in a town in the Midwest. It was a major pleasure to write and seemed to work for many readers, I’m happy to say.
DF: What are your plans for your writing career? Is there anything you’re working on now that we should know about?
FS: I’m working on a Thunder Jim Wade novella for Pro Se Publishing right now and have a possible series of novellas in the pipeline with another publisher. I’ve also got two possible short story collections in works as well as a pulp novel series. Also coming soon is a short story collection I’m in called THE LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION with Airship27. It’s an anthology book with a total of 62 writers and 38 artists and being used as a fundraiser for Tommy Hancock and his health problems.
Derrick Ferguson: What’s a Typical Day In The Life Of Frank Schildiner like?
Frank Schildiner: Up at 6am, at work by 8. Work until lunchtime, where I do a little writing if I can. Work until 4:30 and then rush off to my dojo, AMOROSI’S MIXED MARTIAL ARTS. I train and teach until 9 or so, then home and write a couple of hours before bed. It’s a non-stop life, I’ve turned into a triple A personality at nearly 50, which is shocking for me to say the least!