Showing posts with label Pulpwork Press. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pulpwork Press. Show all posts

Thursday, October 2, 2014

15 Months Later With JOEL JENKINS

It’s been a while since the original Kickin’ The Willy Bobo Interview with Joel so I thought it about time we caught up with what he’s all about and what he’s doing 15 MONTHS LATER..

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

Joel Jenkins: Most of the major changes are family oriented. I've got one twin daughter going to the University of Washington now, and another heading out for an 18 month mission in San Antonio with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And I've got a son who is now driving not just my car but the cost of my auto insurance to astronomical levels.



DF: Tell us about SKULL CRUSHER

JJ: Skull Crusher is a continuation of a short story I wrote a couple of decades ago, and which was published in Pulp and Dagger. This short fantasy story featured Prince Strommand Greattrix, a great warrior who is seduced, drugged, and captured so that he cannot bring his great sky ship, The Skull Crusher, into play to defend against the surprise attack against his city and family.


The short story ended with Greattrix plunging off the side of the enemy's sky ship. The novel includes this short story and follows Greattrix as he swears an oath of sobriety and celibacy until he can gain vengeance and retake his realm.

Strommand is a very powerful warrior, but he also has a high estimation of himself and a weakness for women. Besides all the sword fights and bloodshed, writing the story was an interesting journey. I was curious to see if Strommand could keep his baser instincts in check or if he would again succumb to the folly that had caused the downfall of his kingdom and the death of his clan.

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

JJ: I think I've been letting the stories go to some darker and grittier places than I have in the past. I'm tackling protagonists with greater flaws and letting them suffer the consequences of their poor decisions.

DF: Do you think that you have found an audience? Or has your audience found you?

JJ: It's more like a cult following than an audience. Maybe I'll hit critical mass after I write another 18 books, or so, and I'll gain enough readers to call them an audience.

DF: Have any of your attitudes about your work or your style of writing changed complete or modified in any way?

JJ: Yes, I've been able to nearly double my productivity by keeping a tighter focus, and having a brief outline to guide me through the day's writing (and by day, I mean 2 hours each morning before my work day begins). As a consequence, I've got two Barclay Salvage space opera novels written for release in 2015. I've also finished 72,000 words of Sly Gantlet/Dillon team up stories for release in 2015 with Derrick Ferguson's much anticipated “Dead Beat in Khusra”.

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?

JJ: I would see if it can be done on a lesser budget. The expectations of a big budget movie are so outrageous that they're almost impossible to fulfill. Maybe I could get John Woo to film a Monica Killingsworth film. That would be cool.

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

JJ: I happen to be of the opinion that the PulpWork Press stable of authors include some of the best in the world. I'd recommend trying The Vril Agenda by Josh Reynolds and Derrick Ferguson or Dragon Kings of the Orient by Percival Constantine.

The last movie I saw was The Expendables 3 and you couldn't wipe the grin off my face. It was everything I loved about 80's movies, just with a few more lines and creases in the faces.

As far as TV, any recommendations I might proffer would be 3 to 5 years out of date, since I don't even have an active TV feed coming into my house. I enjoy watching a handful of series, but since I detest wasting time on commercials I wait until they are on DVD, pick them up and watch them at my own leisure.

DF: What are you working on now?

JJ: I just started a Damage Inc. story called “The Madagascar Hole”. With this and the previously published novellas “On Wings of Darkness”, and the infamous “Sun Stealer”, I should have enough to publish a Damage Inc. collection next year.

For those not familiar with Max Damage he is my take on Doc Savage...if Doc Savage had a flaw for every magnificent ability. Max Damage is incredibly strong and heals quickly, but his metabolism is so fast he has to eat like a horse. He has amazing eyesight, but bright light blinds him, so he must wear sunglasses any time he is in the daylight. He has a photographic memory, but he is dyslexic. With his cohorts, the genetically engineered Minnie Zhinov, and the diminutive accountant Seth Armstrong, they encounter all kinds of strange doings--mostly on account of Max's dead father and his vast and shady business dealings.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?


Joel Jenkins: Check Amazon later this month (October 2014) for The Coming of Crow, which features the Native American supernatural investigator and gunfighter Lone Crow. Anyone who thinks that a mélange of Western and Horror sounds interesting, might enjoy this collection of stories.








Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: RUSS ANDERSON JR.

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Russ Anderson Jr.?

Russ Anderson Jr.: I'm a 30-something father of two who likes pie, bicycling, and writing stories.




DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?

RAJ: I live in the suburbs of Baltimore. By day, I'm a technical writer for a company you've probably heard of.

DF: In the interest of full disclosure we should let the good folks at home know that we’ve known each other for quite a long time now. Care to tell the readers the circumstances of how we met and our past creative endeavors?

RAJ: You and I were part of a distinct wave of fan-fiction writers back around the turn of the century. We ended up writing at the same sites because we both have the same fantastic taste in source material (Marvel and DC Comics, mainly). I think the first time we talked was when I wrote a favorable review of a series of stories you'd written about a Legion of Super-Heroes character named Mon-El, but I might be misremembering that. It's been almost 15 years, after all.

We really started working together-together when you co-founded Frontier Publishing, which was a site that used the model of monthly serial releases we'd all been using for fanfic, but applied that to our own original works. I came along a couple months later and was one of the lead editors on the site until Frontier finally folded a few years later. One of the things I got to do at Frontier was be the main editor on Dillon and the Voice of Odin, and to help get it into print the first time around. Nowadays we're both part of the Pulpwork Press collective.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, you became a close friend. I've been to your house, you've been to my house. I've met your wife, you've met my wife. Also, we were in a zombie movie together. There's nobody else in my life I can say all those things about.

DF: When did you know that you were a writer?

RAJ: When I was in first grade, I wrote a short story about Spider-Man saving me from the Green Goblin, and then giving me a radioactive spider so that I could be his sidekick (because of course he just carried them around in his pocket). My first story AND my first fanfic! I showed it to my mom, and went and hid behind a chair while she read it, sure that she was going to tell me it was stupid. Since my mom isn't a monster - she's pretty great, actually - she did not tell me it was stupid. She told me she loved it. My course was pretty much set after that.

There were some dry spells between then and my early twenties, most of them having to do with girls and my discovery of various aspects thereof, but what really brought me back to writing was the fanfic community you and I were lucky enough to be a part of. Fanfic is a great training ground for original writing - it gives you a premade pallete to work from so that you can concentrate on things other than creating, things like dialogue and pacing and characterization and putting your butt in the chair on a regular basis. In my case, it also introduced me to a community of like-minded writers that helped me stay focused and motivated. I haven't written fanfic in over ten years, but I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now if I hadn't been part of that group back in the day.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?

RAJ: My favorite quote is by Pablo Picasso. "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."

Basically, no matter how much of a "pure" artist you are, sometimes you have to show up for work when you don't feel like it, when your muse simply isn't talking to you. I think this is especially true for writers, because I don't care how inspired you are - inspiration alone is not going to carry you all the way through writing an 80,000 word novel.

Waiting to be in the mood is the best way to never finish anything. I think this is the case for pretty much anything in life.

DF: What’s Anderfam Press?

RAJ: Anderfam Press is an LLC my wife and I started to encompass all of my writing activity. It's also a creator-specific imprint that I can use for things that don't necessarily fit at other publishers.

DF: You’ve published a number of short stories as Ebooks. Tell us about them. And why as single Ebooks? Why not put them all in an anthology?

RAJ: A couple of years ago, I made a resolution that I was going to publish something new every month. If I didn't have something coming out from another publisher in a particular month, I would just self-publish one of my short stories as an Ebook. The resolution only lasted until April - I was working and going to school full-time that year, so it was a classic case of biting off more than I could chew. It did leave me with four short stories with my name on them in the Amazon store, though.

They were published singly in order to keep up with the resolution. I never collected them because they don't really fit together thematically. WE KEEP THE CARS RUNNING is sci-fi noir, A BEER AT THE END OF THE WORLD is drama with a pinch of Where's Waldo-style humor, THE NURSERY is mystery-horror, and THE ORIGIN OF FLIGHT is a straight-up teen superhero adventure.





DF: I have to ask you how you came up with “The Nursery.” That was a story I couldn’t get out of my mind for two or three days after I read it.

RAJ: Innsmouth Free Press was taking submissions for an anthology that year, the theme of which was "fungi" (that also ended up being the name of the book). That theme intrigued me. I had no idea what I could possibly do with it... until the moment came when I knew exactly what I could do with it. I mean, you're probably not going to write a romance story about fungus, right? You're going to make it a horror story. So I started wondering what the most messed-up thing I could do with that theme was, and the answer is in the last thousand words or so of THE NURSERY.



In order to get to those last thousand words, I created Arnold Cheek, a private eye on a missing persons case, a black man living in New York in the 1970s. (I don't usually share in-progress work, but I remember that I sent one of the opening scenes to you to see if I got the feel of Times Square in the '70s right.) Arnold's world is a lot like ours, but the fungus is a lot more aggressive there, bursting up through concrete and taking root in human skin if it's not carefully controlled. I added that setup to the punchline I'd already developed, and there was my story.

Innsmouth passed on the story, but I thought it had merit, so I self-published it. I'm really glad you liked it! I'm still pretty proud of that one.

DF: Tell us about the HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD anthologies.

RAJ: Back in 2009, I had just started going to school full-time on top of my regular 9-to-5 job. My oldest daughter was also born that year, so 2009 started a 4-year drought for me writing-wise. I recognized that I wasn't going to be able to write anything substantial for a while, but I still wanted to be part of the fun with you and Joel Jenkins and Josh Reynolds over at Pulpwork Press, so I decided I'd put together a themed anthology. I could contribute a story under a pseudonym and fill the rest of the pages with other peoples' work.

I was reading a lot of Joe R. Lansdale at the time, so weird westerns were kind of on my mind. I also didn't see the genre being serviced much, so I thought it might be suitably different to find some sort of toehold in the market.

Getting a good cover is probably the biggest challenge of being a publisher. For the first How the West Was Weird, I decided I was really going to invest in the covers, and I approached one of my favorite comic artists, Jim Rugg. Fortunately, Jim was game. He was completely professional, and speedy like you wouldn't believe. Later, he came back and did the cover to volume 2 (one of my favorite covers ever... I still feel like we got robbed at the Pulp Ark awards that year), and he's signed up for volume 3 too. All three volumes will have a cohesive look.



DF: What’s been the most rewarding thing about working on those anthologies?

RAJ: The first collection was basically an excuse for me to work with my friends. It was invite-only, and since I wasn't in the mood to have to reject anything, I only invited people that I knew could turn out a quality story. I've often said that I didn't edit the first volume of HTWWW so much as I hosted it, and I still think that's true.

With the second and third volumes, I opened the submissions up, and that has surprisingly been the best part of the experience. I enjoy the process of editing, of working with a writer to find the best way to tell their story. It means that I've had to reject some stuff that wasn't quite ready - never fun - but it's also introduced me to a bunch of new writers and allowed me to be part of their journey through that work.



DF: The rumor is that the next HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD is going to be the last. True?

RAJ: Yes. The series was originally conceived as a way for me to be part of Pulpwork Press without actually having to write very much. Now that I'm finally finished getting my degree, and therefore have time to write, it's time to focus my energies on getting my own words out there. So we're going to wrap it up.  Also, I think three volumes is a good stopping point for this sort of thing.

DF: You’re going to drop a novel on us soon: MYTHWORLD. Tell us about it.

RAJ: Mythworld was my contribution to Frontier Publishing back in the days of yore. It's about a young architect named Charlie Reese who ends up working for a billionaire businessman who turns out to be the Greek god Hermes. Hermes wants to return the worship of the Greek gods to the world, and he's enlisted the help of Aphrodite and Pan to get it done. Along the way, Charlie meets a handful of other gods and goddesses in their modern aspects, learns the true nature of the world around him, and finds out that Hermes' motives might be a little more far-reaching than the messenger god is letting on. It's a little bit “AMERICAN GODS” and a little bit “THE MATRIX.”

Also, it's got a sweet cover by my buddy Steve Criado. I've had this book done and stored on various hard drives for almost a decade now, but could never figure out what I wanted to do with the cover. Steve nailed the perfect design after only a couple of phone calls.



DF: You’ve been working on MYTHWORLD for a very long time. What is it about MYTHWORLD that won’t let you go?

RAJ: Mostly that it's finished! I'm not a big fan of writing for the drawer, and even though I would not write MYTHWORLD the same way now as I did ten years ago, I think it's still a good story and that it deserves to be seen.

DF: What other projects do you have planned?

RAJ: HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD VOLUME 3 will be out as an Ebook in May, and as a print book in June.

Starting in August, I have a series of Ebook novellas coming out from Pro Se Press about a female character in the style of The Shadow or The Spider. It's set in the early 1950s, right in the middle of the Red Scare, and called BEWARE THE FURY. That'll run for six monthly installments and probably take up most of the rest of my writing year. BEWARE THE FURY is part of Pro Se's massive Signature Series line of Ebooks, and I'm sure you'll be hearing more about that soon.

I've also got a story in Pro Se's MAN IN PURPLE anthology, which should finally see the light of day in the next month or two.

And I'm sure I'll be contributing to the Pulpwork Press Christmas Special again this year. That's always a lot of fun.

DF: What’s A Day In The Life Of Russ Anderson Jr. like?

RAJ: I have two daughters under the age of five, so my days of chasing terrorists on jet skis and playing Poker for the fate of the free world are, unfortunately, behind me. But that's cool. Being a dad's a lot of fun too.

I generally try to get up early enough to get a half hour or so of writing in before everybody else starts getting up. Then I go to work. I try not to let the job take any more than the requisite 8 hours out of any given day, so that I get home early enough to spend some time with the family before the girls have to take their baths and go to bed. Afterward, if I haven't gotten my word count in for the day yet, I'll get it done, and then spend an hour or so with my wife before hitting the hay and doing it all again the next day.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?


Russ Anderson Jr.: I'd like to apologize to Willy Bobo for all the kicking. I'm sure you're a good person, Willy.




Monday, September 23, 2013

Keepin' Stuff Straight

Hey, there!  Welcome back and thank you for stopping by once again to see what’s going on in my precious little corner of the world. This time I hope to clarify the purpose of the collection of blogs and Facebook pages I have or am affiliated with as some people have emailed me or contacted me via Skype or IM to ask me exactly how many blogs/FB pages I have and why I have ‘em. So without any more delay...

First there’s my Personal Facebook Page. I used to just dump everything here but I found that after a while even I was getting confused as to what was posted on there and when and why and important stuff like new book releases and movie reviews was getting mixed up with personal stuff and whatnot and it just got to be an unholy mess (is there such a thing a holy mess?)  So gradually I’ve been steering my personal FB page back to what it should be: a personal page. Oh, you’ll see announcements about new books I’ve got coming out and new movie reviews and such as those spheres of interest tend to overlap but I’m going to try and keep my FB personal page personal.  At least that’s the idea.  Moving on…

Usimi Dero.  This Facebook page is named after the birthplace of my most popular character, Dillon.  This is where I’m going to steer most of of my writing business/interests to.  Slowly but surely, but yonder lies The Promised Land and we’ll all get there eventually, I promise. The emphasis here is not only promotion about my work but that of others. So if you’ve got something you’d like to promote, (within reason of course) feel free to sign up. Discussions about anything and everything to do with writing is also encouraged. Digressions into other topics are not only welcome but encouraged.

The Better In The Dark Facebook page is one I administrate/maintain along with Thomas Deja, my On Air Partner, Our Musical Director Kelen Conley and Our Webmaster Kelly Logue. It’s the main method of communication by which Tom and I stay in contact with those with those who listen to and enjoy our podcast, Better In The Dark.  Here’s where I dump all my movie reviews, old and new and where we discuss movies, TV shows, animation, pop culture and a whole buncha other stuff along with our 193 members. If you like movies then this is the place to be.  We’ve got a wonderful and knowledgeable crew of movie fans and I can guarantee you’ll not only be entertained but educated as well.  

And finally the Dillon Facebook page page is alive and well. I actually began that because it was suggested to me by some pretty influential people whose opinion I trust and value me that Dillon should have his own FB. Hey, it doesn’t cost me a thing to maintain and so far it’s been fun interacting with folks who have read the books.

That covers the Facebook pages. Now mind you, I’m not that much of an egomaniac that I expect you to be interested in or join with up with all of ‘em. But if you’re interested in what I do, now you know which ones cover which particular aspect of my career.  Okay? Okay.  We continue onto the blogs…

BLOOD & INK is where you are now. Here is where I cover everything that isn’t Dillon or movie related.  Here’s where I  do the essay thing when I'm in the mood, throw in book reviews now and then, provide you with updates on what I’m working on or what I’ve got coming up.  I also do a series of interviews with writers, artists and various creative types I call “Kickin’ The Willy Bobo With…” mainly I do ‘em as a sneaky way of getting to know more about people I’m interested in.  And there are a lot of folks I know who are doing some serious cool stuff I want to share with you and others.

The DILLON blog has in-depth information on Dillon and his universe.  There are essays written by talented writers such as Percival Constantine and Brent Lambert, reviews of the various books and stories, behind the scenes stuff.  In short, if you’re at all interested in Dillon, this is where you should be. I regularly add to pages such as the Casting Call where I indulge in casting actors as the various characters and pretty soon I’ll be putting up a comprehensive chronology of the order in which the stories and novels should be read.

THE FERGUSON THEATER is where I house all my movies reviews.  I think I’m up to around 400 now.  Or pretty close to that in any rate.  Why movie reviews? Well, people constantly ask me my opinions of movies so I figured if I started writing reviews I could just simply point them to the review. It’s also good for me as a writer, I think. Writing reviews of movies (and books) are an exercise in taking apart a story and finding out what makes it click for me. Taking apart the stories of others helps me take apart my own stories and figure out what works and what doesn’t work.  It’s also just a lot of fun to write about movies.  And if you do drop by to check out my reviews and find them fun and informative there’s a handy dandy Paypal link (“Tip Jar”) by which you can demonstrate your appreciation with filthy lucre.

And PULPWORK PRESS is the imprint under which most of my work has appeared in print. So it's someplace you need to bookmark and stop by there for information on where to purchase not only my books but those written by my extraordinarily talented partners, Joel JenkinsJoshua Reynolds, the aforementioned Percival Constantine and Russ Anderson,


And I leave you with my second favorite quote from my twenty-first favorite book just because it’s my blog and I can. Until we get together again, read some good books, watch some good movies and get plenty of rest.  Peace!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: JOEL JENKINS

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Joel Jenkins?

Joel Jenkins: I'm a husband, father, ordained elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, writer, musician, and firearm enthusiast.


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

JJ: I am a resident of the heron-haunted and misty-mountained Great Northwest.

The IRS doesn't much care what I do for a living, they just want their increasingly exorbitant cut, to support an unwieldy central government that has unconstitutionally usurped authority over welfare, health care, and education. According to the Constitution, these are powers which are NOT designated to the Federal government and reserved for the states, if they so choose to exercise them. By usurping these powers the federal government becomes unduly influential over the states, and the citizen has less ability to effect change—not to mention the fact that the federal government absorbs much of those tax dollars just to support its corpulent bureaucracy, and a relatively small portion actually returns to the people for which those dollars are designated.

DF: How long have you been writing?

JJ: I started writing shortly after I learned to read. At age eight I sent my first manuscript into Highlights for Children. It was a story of time travel and dinosaurs. I received a kind and encouraging letter back from the editor explaining that manuscripts should be typed instead of handwritten.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?

JJ: First, I want to tell an imaginative, rousing and vivid story that entertains. Second, even if the protagonist has few or no redeeming qualities, I want to illustrate that good will triumph over evil. Sometimes this may be illustrated by showing the long term consequences of evil actions, even though it may seem that evil has temporarily won the day. I hope to inspire people to good and selfless action through my writing.

DF: When it comes to genre there’s no way to pin you down. You’ve written westerns, blood-n-bullets action adventure, children’s books, heroic fantasy…is that a conscious choice or do you just write what you like?

JJ: I've made a conscious decision not to limit myself to any specific genre. Other than that, I write where my muse takes me, and she takes me in any number of odd directions—some of which I never anticipated.

DF: You wear several hats; small press publisher, writer, editor…which one brings you the greatest satisfaction?

JJ: The hats of small press publisher and editor stem from, or facilitate, writing.  I enjoy these other hats, but if they take too much time I start to resent that they are stealing away from time I could be writing something.

DF: You were writing New Pulp long before there was a New Pulp Movement. How does it feel seeing the explosion of pulp influenced writing and characters springing up in recent years?

JJ: It used to be that a reader who enjoyed highly imaginative fast-paced, and action packed stories had limited options in modern fiction. Now, we are seeing a wealth of options, and a lot of great fiction is coming out. I think it's a great thing.

DF: The organizational structure of Pulpwork Press is somewhat unique. Can you describe it and how it works?

JJ: I can't describe it great detail because some of the shadowy figures behind Pulpwork Press are actually members of the Twelve Unknown Men, who for reasons known to them alternately work for nefarious and noble purposes.

DF: There are plenty of New Pulp publishers out there now but Pulpwork Press was around long before some of them were even thought of. Do you feel that sometimes Pulpwork Press gets overlooked by the community and readers?

JJ: The New Pulp community is an awesome group of creative individuals, but there's little point in getting competitive or jealous about getting the lion's share of attention within a relatively small community. The key is to attract readers from the market as a whole and the New Pulp community, including Pulpwork Press, has a lot to learn as to how to accomplish this.

DF: Where do you see Pulpwork Press in five years?

JJ: On the run from the law and uploading our latest manuscripts via encrypted connections.

DF: Let’s talk about your work now…in particular, Lone Crow who has been showing up quite a bit in recent years. Who is Lone Crow and why the fascination with him?

JJ: Lone Crow is an infamous Native American gunfighter who roamed the wild west earning respect with his pistols. In my stories, he tends to encounter the weird, strange and supernatural, and he's been one of those characters who I haven't been able to stop writing stories about. Next year we'll see a book called Lone Crow Collected, which is a collection of quite a number of those stories which have been published elsewhere, and a good chunk of them which have have never been seen before.



DF: Tell us about STRANGE TRAILS.

JJ: Strange Trails is the brainchild of James Palmer, the head editor at Mechanoid Press. He decided to gather a group of weird west adventures and asked me to contribute a story. I wrote The Steam Devil, where Lone Crow finds himself in the company of the much-feared lawman Bass Reeves. They explore the wreckage of a derailed train and find more than they bargained for.

DF: Tell us about THE WEIRD WORLDS OF JOEL JENKINS

JJ: This is my most recent book and is a collection of short stories and novellas that range over nearly a 25 year period of my published writings. We've got western gunfights, vampire hunters, ghost impersonators, the rock vocalist Matthias Gantlet taking on the heavyweight champion of the world, the assassin Monica Killingsworth doing an interview, and even an audacious sequel to a post-apocalyptic romance story that you wrote. Before each story, I provide a bit of background information, just in case the readers might find it of interest.



DF: There have been PULPWORK CHRISTMAS SPECIALS for the past two years. Are we going to see one for 2013? And is this going to be an annual event we can look forward to?

JJ: Since we give away the Pulpwork Christmas Specials for free, we depend upon the charity of talented and in-demand writers. They have to be willing to contribute work that normally they would be getting paid for doing. Thus far, in the tradition of Christmas, they've been very magnanimous and have offered top-notch Christmas fiction.  I've completed a quite lengthy Monica Killingsworth tale for this year's Christmas Special, and I hope to be receiving some further contributions soon.



DF: ONE FOOT IN MY GRAVE is a book you’ve lived with for a long time. Tell us about the background of the September Peterson character and why this novel is so important to you.

JJ: September was a friend of mine since my youth. He suffered from a lung condition called cystic fibrosis, which makes life hard and generally short. On his death bed he requested I write his life story … and he had quite an action-packed story to tell.  So bringing this project to fruition had a very personal meaning to me.



DF: Tell us about THE GANTLET BROTHERS: SOLD OUT.

Sold Out will be published later this year and is the third in the Gantlet Brothers series: the first being The Nuclear Suitcase, and the second The Gantlet Brothers Greatest Hits. The Gantlet Brothers escaped across the Berlin wall in the 1980's and proceeded to become one of the world's premiere metal bands, but they also had a penchant for violence and it seemed that trouble often crossed their path … either that or they went looking for it. My regular readers know that I've never shied away from killing major characters, and they'll likely see at least one major character meet a grisly end in this thriller.

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Joel Jenkins like?

JJ: I like to get up early, eat, write, hit the punching bag and lift weights before heading to work. This summer we've had particularly good weather and a few mornings I've been able to write while enjoying the sunshine on the balcony.  Things have been slow at the day job, so I've had extra time in the morning, making it a particularly lazy summer. As a result my writing output has more than doubled.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?

Joel Jenkins: I've already divulged far too much for my own safety.




Monday, March 5, 2012

Derrick Ferguson Travels To The City of Bathos THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH




THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH: A TALE FROM THE CITY OF BATHOS
By Joel Jenkins
Pulpwork Press
ISBN-10: 1450505112
ISBN-13: 978-1450505116

I suspect a lot of you reading this that were around in the 70’s got turned onto the sub-genre of heroic fantasy called sword and sorcery the same way I did: The re-discovery of Robert E. Howard thanks to the Lancer Conan paperbacks with the exquisite Frank Frazetta covers. I devoured all the Howard I could get and once I was through gobbling all of his stories I quickly moved onto Charles R. Saunders, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance and Lin Carter. Carter was a little bit too slavish in his homage to Howard with his Thongor series, though. But still, at that age I didn’t care. If it was sword and sorcery, I wanted it.

Never got into J.R.R.Tolkien, though. To me, Tolkien was all about the world building and creating a mythology and he’s certainly done that as “The Lord of The Rings” is still going strong to this day. Not that I have anything against that kind of fantasy. I would just rather read about working class barbarians and warriors who hack and slash their way through the day and spend their nights wenching and partying.

Which is probably why my interest in sword and sorcery dropped severely once the popularity of Tolkien style heroic fantasy seemed to me to have taken over. Nobody really was writing meat and potatoes sword and sorcery and the trend appeared to have swung over to what I call, for lack of a better way to put it; more ‘literate’ high fantasy. None of which appealed to me as I simply can’t slog through 1,000 page books that really have just enough story and plot for 150/200 pages.

Knowing Joel Jenkins as I do I think he misses that kind of straightforward, testosterone laden sword swinging tale. And Joel’s the kind of guy who doesn’t lay back and wish somebody would write the kind of story he wants to read. He goes ahead and writes it himself. And in his two books set in the legendary City of Bathos that’s exactly what he’s done: write about blue collar, working class barbarians and warriors in “Escape From Devil’s Head” and THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH.

Both books, but especially THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH aren’t ‘novel’ novels. Instead, they’re like a sword and sorcery version of that old television series “Naked City” that always started off with the narrator saying that “there are eight million stories in the naked city”. I don’t know how many inhabitants of Bathos there are but they include courtesans, thieves, disgruntled godlings, out-of-work mercenaries, farmers, innkeepers, outlaws, priests, schemers, cowards, cutthroats and they all have their own stories to tell.

And by this method of telling various stories set within this city, with some characters occasionally crossing over from one story to another, Bathos itself becomes a character in its own right. A marvelously decadent city that at once and the same time is wonderfully sleazy as well as gorgeously thrilling.

A large part of adding to the City of Bathos taking on a life of its own and becoming a character is Joel’s lush descriptions and dialog. One thing that turns me off from a lot of modern day fantasy is that the writers will have the most amazing characters populating their stories but those characters talk as if they’ve been watching MTV and CNN for the past 10 years or so. Joel’s characters have a richness to how they speak and how they phrase their sentences that immediately let you know that you’re reading about people who live in a mythical place and time.

And these are people, no doubt about it. Nobody’s going on some impossible quest to save the world from an all-powerful wizard or to save the world from an ancient evil. Bathos isn’t that type of city and the people who inhabit Joel’s story are just trying to get through another day without getting killed. For the most part, a lot of the characters in THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH are minding their own business when they get caught up almost without knowing it into a wild adventure. And they rise to the challenge with an enormous amount of well written fight scenes in which Joel runs riot with the description. I strongly suspect Joel has just as much fun writing those scenes of carnage as I did reading them.

And Joel does go in for world building just as much as Tolkien or Stephen R. Donaldson or Robert Jordan. But he doesn’t give you these honkin’ huge pages and pages of back history or have characters relate what you need to know through info dumps. Joel weaves and integrates the geography, history and political dynamics of Bathos into the story and into the dialog of his characters. It’s an effective technique that I really like to see writers use.  All too often with a lot of fantasy writers the story itself is put on hold while the writer attempts to impress with how much effort he’s put into thinking out this imaginary world. And in fact, I’m of the school of thought that says if you’ve put enough into this imaginary world then the information can’t help but find its way into the mouths of the characters. Which is where it should be in the first place.

So should you read THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH? I don’t see why you shouldn’t. If you like Old School sword and sorcery like Robert E. Howard used to make then I heartily recommend this book as well as “Escape From Devil’s Head”. Joel has a sincere love and respect for this genre and if you’ve read Joel’s other books set in the modern day then here’s an excellent chance for you to experience another aspect of the marvelous talent of Joel Jenkins.

THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH is available from Amazon.com as a paperback or ebook for your Kindle or through Pulpwork Press http://www.freewebs.com/pulpworkpress/

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