WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

A one item, abbreviated WEDNESDAYS WORDS. Enjoy :) :

Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury: A Critical Edition : 1938-1943

Book Description
Publication Date: February 21, 2011 | Series: Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury
Inaugurating a critical edition of one of America’s most popular storytellers

In the past, collections of Bradbury’s works have juxtaposed stories with no indication as to the different time periods in which they were written. Even the mid- and late-career collections that Bradbury himself compiled contained stories that were written much earlier–a situation that has given rise to misconceptions about the origins of the stories themselves. In this new edition, editors William F. Touponce and Jonathan R. Eller present for the first time the stories of Ray Bradbury in the order in which they were written. Moreover, they use texts that reflect Bradbury’s earliest settled intention for each tale. By examining his relationships with his agent, editor, and publisher, Touponce and Eller’s textual commentaries document the transformation of the stories–and Bradbury’s creative understanding of genre fiction–from their original forms to the versions known and loved today.

Volume 1 covers the years 1938 to 1943 and contains thirteen stories that have never appeared in a Bradbury collection. For those that were previously published, the original serial forms recovered in this volume differ in significant ways from the versions that Bradbury popularized over the ensuing years. By documenting the ways the stories evolved over time, Touponce and Eller unveil significant new information about Bradbury’s development as a master of short fiction.

Each volume in the proposed three-volume edition includes a general introduction, chronology, summary of unpublished stories, textual commentary for each story, textual apparatus, and chronological catalog. The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury is edited to the highest scholarly standards by the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and bears the Modern Language Association’s seal of approval for scholarly editions.

I have my doubts in regards to people dusting off early, arguably rough draft versions of Bradbury’s stories and compiling these as if they are offering something significantly new. However the statement that these stories, have not been collected before is intriguing.

Though perhaps the reason they have not been collected is because, they were the imperfect forms of stories that Ray Bradbury went on to perfect.

So beyond the obvious… he got better, I’m unsure what, of value, can be mined from this approach. And what critical analysis one can offer on Bradbury’s stories, that are not inherent in a/the stories themselves or b/ Bradbury’s discussion of his stories that thankfully the great man left us with, in multiple forms, from books, radio, television, and even film. Bradbury being perhaps one of the most consulted and interviewed writers of our time.

Rather than a best of compilation, or even a chronological compilation, the selling point of this book would seemingly be… this is the rough draft compilation.

I’m not sure if that’s the collection, that any writer wants of their work.

But this is all guesswork. I’ll withhold final judgment till I can get a reading copy. And the fact that I’m intrigued enough to give this a look means it is… WEDNESDAYS WORDS material.


The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Sponsored by Ebay Store: Deals of the Day!

RATING THE DOCTORS: The Best & Worst Doctor Who Companions Pt. 2 of 2!

While picking the companions I disliked was easy. Narrowing down my five favorite companions is a LOT more difficult, because in 30+ years there have been some great companions. On the whole the good companions far outweighing the ones I dislike.

So narrowing down all those great companions to my five favorite, very difficult, and very subjective. But as stated, having recently watched all 30+ seasons of the show, you can call my choices informed subjectivity.

So without further ado:

I have some issues with Russell T. Davies as discussed in my worst companions posting, but one thing you can’t fault him with is in building up the dynamic/relationship between the Doctor and his female Companion, and doing a great job of casting that companion role… well, and writing it… well.

I think one of the common complaints many actresses who played a companion to the Doctor had, was in the writing of their roles. Davies with the characters of Rose and Martha created companions who had it all, beauty, brains, guts, and adventuresome spirit, and a personality, an aura… magnetic. And roles that complemented the Doctor.

So while I really love a lot of the companions that have been in and out of the ship of time, the two I come back to the most, which is a way of saying the two who are great characters, brought to life by great actresses, and they have great stories under their belt, and a great complement to the doctor… in other words they have it all…

Martha Jones played by the stunning Freema Agyeman and Rose Tyler played by the effervescent Billie Piper. They get the one, two spot.

Sarah Jane- I don’t think any list of best companions would be complete without Sarah Jane, played by the fantastic Elisabeth Sladen, who brought such a caring, and humanity, and belief to her role, and whose tenure bridged both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

Liz Shaw, played by Caroline John, acted opposite Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. And she brought beauty, brains, wit, sophistication to the role, and at the time they thought that was too much. She was too capable, and she was replaced in a single season, with a dumbed down companion Jo Grant(that’s not a kick against Kathy Manning, who played Jo Grant, she quite made that role her own, and made that dynamic work, and became a great, woman of action companion for the bulk of Pertwee’s run). However, it was still an unfortunate replacement because she was a fantastic companion. And you look back at the handful of stories she did and they all stand out as fantastic Doctor Who episodes.

The last spot is a tie between Leela and Ace.

Leela- I really liked the character of Leela, playing opposite Tom Baker’s Dr. Who. Played wonderfully by the beautiful Louise Jameson, I thought she was a very interesting character, but her relationship with Tom Baker’s Doctor, and seemingly Tom Baker himself, was seemingly frictious and dismissive. Possibly because she was such a strong and striking character, and a strong and striking actress, and Tom Baker at the time wanted no competition for the spotlight. But despite the less than stellar dynamic between them, they still were in 2 or 3 of the best story-lines in the history of the series.

And tying her for fifth place was Ace played by Sophie Aldred. Ace was just a fantastic companion, and had a great relationship/chemistry with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. And they were in some amazing stories together. Their REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS being easily in the top ten of any list of best Doctor Who stories.

Honorable mentions are:

Ian Chesterton – played by William Russell from 1963 to 1965 with William Hartnell
Barbara Wright – played by Jacqueline Hill from 1963 to 1965 with William Hartnell
Susan – played by Carole Ann Ford from 1963 to 1964 with William Hartnell
The first companions, if they had failed, if their chemistry had failed, we wouldn’t still be talking about the show.

Jamie – played by Frazer Hines from 1966 to 1969 with Patrick Troughton
His chemistry with Patrick Troughton, was a great, almost vaudevillian dynamic.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – played by Nicholas Courtney from 1968 to 1989 with all the “old” Doctors apart from Colin Baker.
While not a companion, Nicholas Courtney’s reoccurring role as Brigadier Stewart, head of the UNIT, was a great addition to the Who mythology, particularly during the earthbound Pertwee era. He’s just a fantastic straight man for the Doctor’s craziness.

Jo Grant – played by Katy Manning from 1971 to 1973 with Jon Pertwee. She took the ditzy role she was given, and made it into a courageous character who would risk anything for the Doctor.

Peri – played by Nicola Bryant from 1984 to 1986 with Peter Davison and Colin Baker.

Let’s be honest, Nicola Bryant was brought in, by hit-and-miss producer Nathan Turner, for T&A… to sex up the show in hopes of salvaging the lackluster Peter Davison years. She was brought in for her huge breasts, and they were paraded prominently.

(Oh come’on don’t get offended, we’re all adults here, and that’s absolutely the truth. They were real, and they were fabulous. :). Oh, I’m joking! )

With the exception of Davison’s last episode, the only thing that was watchable about his tenure, was Nicola Bryant. But surprisingly enough, she was more than just a pretty face and a stunning body, she was a solid actress, and she was exceptionally likable, and this became very obvious during the Colin Baker Doctor years.

Colin Baker off-putting pompous portrayal of the Doctor, only made somewhat palatable because of Nicola Bryant’s Peri. I quite liked her, and unfortunately she was saddled with questionable characterization by the writers of her and her Doctors. But despite that she does manage to be part of 2 or 3 stories that transcended those issues, to be quite entertaining.

So that’s it for this installment. Five favorite companions and the honorable mentions! Feel free to mention your favorite companions.

RATING THE DOCTORS: The Best & Worst Doctor Who Companions Pt. 1 of 2!

Update:

Okay waiting for my trusty photographer to send me the pictures from Wizard World Philly, and then the 2nd and final part of that convention coverage will go up. Part II of the Pulp article, and the Charles Saunders MONARCH OF MAYHEM are both being worked on.

And working on WEDNESDAYS WORDS for tomorrow, Have not missed a Wednesday yet! (Knock on pixels)

So in the interim of all that heavy lifting I’m doing, here’s an easy, breezy post…

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THE BEST AND WORST DOCTOR WHO COMPANIONS

This year I made it through watching all 30+ seasons of Doctor Who, counting the old (with the exception of lost episodes) and the new.

I first ran across Doctor Who as a kid watching the Tom Baker episodes on PBS. Incredibly low budget even by my childish standards of the time, it was okay. Quirky, not something I really made a point of following, but would watch if nothing else was on.

Re-watching the entire 30+ year series in a matter of months, I have a far better appreciation and understanding of the series as an adult.

There were some really smartly written and exciting and imaginative episodes in the show’s 30+ year history, and we’ll get into those. But in this post I wanted to discuss the barometer for what is best and worst in Doctor Who… namely the companions.

If you dislike the companion, or find them annoying, or their dynamic with the Doctor just doesn’t work, the show seldom rises above your assessment of them. ie bad Companions translating to bad and annoying episodes. This is very subjective of course, but informed by the context of watching 30+ seasons of Dr. Who. So informed subjectivity if you will. :)

So without further ado the five best and worst Dr. Who companions:

We’ll start with the negative in this post, and do the best next time at bat.

WORST

Adric – played by Matthew Waterhouse from 1980 to 1982 with Tom Baker and Peter Davison – The character of Adric was an annoying whining and joy eroding albatross stuck on the end of Tom Baker’s tenure and throughout Peter Davison’s tenure by the long running and both creative and stifling producer, John Nathan Turner. John Nathan Turner was a hit and miss producer, responsible for an equal share of Doctor Who successes as he was missteps and failures. His choice of companions being one of his most obvious. Adric being the worst of Nathan Turner’s lot of disagreeable companions. “Wow we are getting to travel in space and time, so instead of being thankful or awed let’s just bitch and be upset all the time, and wear the same stinking clothes for no apparent reason”. The reason for wearing the same clothes, was another Nathan Turner misstep, wanting the companions to wear a consistent uniform, which just came off as stupid, and eschewed the fun brilliance of the first companions who every episode carried over pieces of clothing and garb from their adventures through time and space. Quite a fun idea if you think about it. So the character of Adric, was the most egregious of Nathan Turner’s bad decisions, but not, unfortunately, the only flawed bit of casting and character.

Turlough – played by Mark Strickson from 1983 to 1984 with Peter Davison, along with the characters of Nyssa and Tegan and Adric, he was part of Nathan Turner’s whiny, unlikeable companions. Which is a dig against the producer and writers rather than the actors. Despite Tegan being written unnecessarily combative and whining, and the character of Nyssa being completely underwritten, I didn’t find them too grating, or ‘turn off the show to avoid’ bad. However I did feel that way to a great degree by the character of Adric, and to a lesser, but still unsatisfying, degree, Turlough. So hence him making my worst list.

Mel – played by Bonnie Langford from 1986 to 1987 with Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy- In her defense she’s bubbly. But beyond that she just seems an odd choice that never quite works for me. She is not as bad as the others listed, I don’t dislike the character, I just don’t care for the character.

Amy Pond & Rory- I found her from the first incredibly annoying and uninteresting. Her whole pouty thing, and the Rory/Amy show… not remotely interested. Stopped watching after the first season with them.

Mickey Smith- Ugghhh. A Shakespearean trained actor and you have him doing a bitchy step&fetchit neutered character. Just annoying from the first episode of the revived Doctor Who series. I disliked the character so much, that it would not be until many years later, when given the chance to view the whole series cheap, that I would go back to Doctor Who. A character that defines the negative connotations of the term ‘Black faces, White messages’. Russell T. Davies who is to be applauded for reviving Doctor Who and making it a world-wide phenomenon had some very negative uses of male characters of color in his first few seasons, and Mickey Smith was that dynamic at its worst. Ironically with the character of Martha Jones, he would introduce a fantastic female companion, and a fantastic character of color; Davies issues relegated seemingly only to the male. Whatever the reason Mickey Smith was an awful character, redeemed only marginally in his last few appearances.

Those are the five worst companions in no specific order, though I think you can tell by my descriptions, my personal ranking of them. See my rating for the five best companions here!

Recommended Writers and their most celebrated work: HUGH HOLTON and his Larry Cole Series

Proof positive I do this blog to educate myself as much as entertain anyone else, is this post on Hugh Holton.

I knew Hugh Holton was a high ranking, highly decorated Chicago Police Officer.

I knew he was a fantastic writer from owning and reading three of his books.

I knew he had passed in 2001.

I did not know he had as many books, above and beyond the ones I own. Given his responsibilities as one of Chicago’s Top Cops, that he was able to be as prolific (and going by the novels I’ve read, as consistently good) as he was, is quite amazing.

So without further ado, today’s Recommended Writer is HUGH HOLTON:

Police Lieutenant Hugh Holton was a twenty-nine year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. He authored several bestselling novels, including, Time of the Assassins, The Left Hand of God, and Violent Crimes. At the time of his death, at the age of only 54, Hugh Holton was the highest ranking active police officer writing novels in America.

1994. Presumed Dead
1995. Windy City
1996. Chicago Blues
1997. Violent Crimes
1998. Red Lightning

1999. Left Hand of God, The
2000. Time of the Assassins
2001. Devils Shadow, The

The following three titles were published posthumously, which is why they came as a surprise to me when researching this post. I’ve heard REVENGE was an early discarded rough draft of his, so it’s not up to Hugh Holton’s high standards. It’s something he would have tweaked/perfected had he known it was being published. So take that into consideration when reading it. It’s basically just an early draft, the publisher decided to put out there, so judge it as such, and not as representative of Hugh Holton’s usual great work.

2002. Criminal Element (Amazon – Alibris)
2005. Thin Black Line, The (Amazon – Alibris)
2009. Revenge (Amazon – Alibris)

I was turned onto Hugh Holton’s fantastic Larry Cole mystery series a while ago, and they are pulse-pounding procedurals and thrillers, grounded by the experience of someone who knows intimately the facts behind the fictions… he writes about.. My personal favorite of the three novels I’ve read so far is the juggernaut-like TIME OF THE ASSASSINS. In terms of pacing, and just keeping you racing till the end, it’s the strongest [the others I own are WINDY CITY, and VIOLENT CRIMES].

It was a great starting point for me to the excellent body of work Hugh Holton left us with, but I think I’ll now go back, pick up all the books I’m missing and read them all chronologically.

REVENGE, by all reports should not be considered part of the chronology, it’s something that (again according to reports) was not ready for publication, and was put out as a cash grab by the family and the publisher. It’s a curio, at best, and I would have less problem with it if the family had put their name on the novel(his Daughter I believe signed off on this version), rather than just Hugh Holton’s.

Being a writer, the idea of assigning sole responsibility to me, for something I didn’t have the chance to proof/edit… well that would bug me even in the grave. A writer’s books are his reputation.

And Hugh Holton has a well earned, and well deserved reputation as a great writer. Try the books for yourself at the links below! And tell’em HT sent ya!!!

The Thin Black Line: True Stories by Black Law Enforcement Officers Policing America’s Meanest Streets
Presumed Dead (Larry Cole)

Windy City

Chicago Blues (Mysteries & Horror)

Violent Crimes (A Larry Cole Mystery)

Red Lightning (A Larry Cole Mystery)

The Left Hand of God (Larry Cole Mystery)

Time of the Assassins

The Devil’s Shadow

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Pic courtesy Planet Preset

See more on this writer at SciFan.
As well as an informative interview with him, done shortly before his passing, here!

SPIDER CITY OF DOOM – Update

SPIDER CITY OF DOOM- I am four chapters into the first book, and my gosh is it good! It is just cinematic, nailbiting writing. I rocketed to the end of the 4th chapter and could perfectly see this played out as a huge budget movie.

You want to test a director you give him these four chapters, and let him go to town.

So far I’m really enjoying Norvell Page’s THE SPIDER: CITY OF DOOM!

The Spider: City of Doom (Spider (Baen Books))

MONARCHS OF MAYHEM: AN INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD GAVIN

“It is only proper for a man to taste misery in his thirty-third year, Nathaniel decided. While waiting in the airport lounge Nathaniel realized that, in some small way, he was approaching his own customized Golgotha. Though he doubted that the effects of his journey would ever equal those of the messiah, he nonetheless found himself wondering whether Venice would bring him peace or a sword.”
—’Strange Advances’ by Richard Gavin

Omens[Hardcover]Richard Gavin- Omens is a collection of twelve haunting tales by Richard Gavin, whose work is reminiscent of the subtle supernatural tales of Robert Aickman, and also of the eerie and unsettling tales of Thomas Ligotti. — I like collections. I think the short story format can, when done well, offer variety and freshness, that can sometimes be hard to sustain over the course of a novel. Some of our most acclaimed writers, those who remain relevant generations on, Poe, Lovecrat, Howard, etc., do so because of their short stories. Because of their ability to in scant words get to the heart of a story and of ourselves. Richard Gavin does that in these stories, that while it has beeen alluded to Aickman or Ligotti, the stories are more visceral than Aickman and more satisfying than Ligotti, are uniquely Richard Gavin.

 

If you’ve been coming to this blog in the last month you can not help but see how enamored I have been with Richard Gavin’s short story collection, OMENS. His Sophomore collection, the 2nd in now four collections, was my introduction to the writer. Based on the strength of which, all of the writer’s works are now on my radar.

Whether it’s the Gothic meets ghostly underpinnings of ‘Pale Lover’ or the implacable, creeping horror of “The Bellman’s Way” or subtle and sumptuous tales of the existential and the lost such as ‘Strange Advances” you will find it all in Gavin’s OMENS. But mostly you will find a use of language that cradles you like a lover, before riding you like a fiend.

And this writer of the strange and the dessicated and the boundless loss, was kind enough to consent to some words and some time. The reason I do this MONARCHS OF MAYHEM segment is because I think it is endlessly fascinating not just how the most imaginative people think, and their loves, and influences, and challenges, but the differences in their views and passions when contrasted with their peers. Richard Gavin brings a rich, depth to his responses that I think will both enrich and enliven you, as much as it did me. Again it comes down to that term, endlessly fascinating, and Richard Gavin… is that. Enjoy.

MONARCHS OF MAYHEM: AN INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD GAVIN

HT: We’ll start with an easy one. What is your favorite genre or genres?

RG: The Gothic and weird strains of the Horror genre, followed closely by 19th century Decadent literature.

[for those of you like me who want to read more about 19th century decadent literature, this GUARDIAN article and the comments are intriguing.]

HT: What is the favorite thing you’ve written (both long form (novel) and short form (short story) and feel free to do detail and discuss why if you choose)?

RG: Probably my novella THE ELDRITCH FAITH, which will be published in my forthcoming collection. I consider it a very “pure” work because it was written with no public considerations whatsoever. I wrote it for myself.

It’s a 25,000-word meditation on a nightmarish reality. Consequently, some readers may roll their eyes and dismiss THE ELDRITCH FAITH as an over-the-top mood piece, but so be it.

HT: Name 5 classic or genre writers who inspire or impress or influence you?

RG: I will cheat a little here by listing five authors from history and five contemporary ones:

Past masters: Algernon Blackwood, Hanns Heinz Ewers, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and Comte de Lautréamont.

Maldoror and the Complete Works of the Comte de Lautréamont

André Breton wrote that Maldoror is “the expression of a revelation so complete it seems to exceed human potential.” Little is known about its pseudonymous author aside from his real name (Isidore Ducasse), birth in Uruguay (1846), and early death in Paris (1870). Lautréamont’s writings bewildered his contemporaries but the Surrealists modeled their efforts after his lawless black humor and poetic leaps of logic, exemplified by the oft-quoted slogan, “As beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella!” Maldoror’s shocked first publisher refused to bind the sheets of the original edition… and perhaps no better invitation exists to this book which warns the reader, “Only the few may relish this bitter fruit without danger.” This is the only complete annotated collection of Lautréamont’s writings available in English, in a superior translation.

“Lautréamont’s style is hallucinatory, visionary… this new fluent translation makes clear its poetic texture and what may be termed its subversive attraction.” — New York Times

“Alexis Lykiard’s translation is both subtle and earthy… this is the best translation now available.” — Washington Post Book World

Contemporary masters: Thomas Ligotti, Clive Barker, Gemma Files, Ramsey Campbell, and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

HT: Name some current or new writers, whose work you’ve recently read or discovered and blew you away.

RG: In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I am irritatingly picky when it comes to modern fiction, genre or otherwise. I read very little of it because a lot of contemporary writing leaves me cold for various reasons; the most common being lifeless, pedestrian prose. The modern writers I mentioned in question number three are ones I consider exceptions because they produce daring visions and, more importantly, unique and rich language.

Many current writers seem too plot-minded. Atmosphere and startling word-selection take a back seat to rollicking story-lines, or worse still, to postmodern genre mash-ups (werewolf detectives, love-starved vampire spies, etc.) I’ve spoken to a lot of genre writers who believe that unusual words (by which I mean words that one might not use in the course of everyday conversation) are simply pretentious, silly, or are distractions from what must always be a rip-roarin’ read. None of this resonates with me. My tastes run to the Decadent and the grotesque and the weird, to fiction that doesn’t read like fiction but rather like a lost account of some truly awesome occurrence.

Beneath The Surface

Nightingale Songs

Bearing all this preamble in mind, I would say that Simon Strantzas is a writer who with each passing year needs less of an introduction to readers who love moody, enigmatic short stories. Laird Barron creates Horror fiction that is deeply atmospheric and genuinely frightening. I’ve also been delighted by the extraordinary work I’ve read from Livia Llewellyn, Daniel Mills, and Orrin Grey.


Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors

HT: Going along with the above, name an author(s) (either new or old) who you think does not get the attention they deserve, and everyone should be reading.

RG: There are plenty of writers who are now all but forgotten because their work is no longer en vogue. On the one hand this is sad, but on the other hand, for the die-hard connoisseur there is a singular joy to digging into the genre’s past and “unearthing” these obscure writers. It’s akin to wandering in a foreign land and suddenly encountering someone who speaks your language. Such discoveries keep people seeking for rarer and rarer treasures, so I’ll leave the reader to unearth these old companions on their own. Obscurity in the contemporary field, however, is a different animal. This kind of attention-deficit can do real harm to a writer’s sense of self-worth. I know a little something of this myself. One current writer whose work is criminally overlooked is Matt Cardin. His short stories and essays are superb examples of the kind of thoughtful, deeply textured Horror that I personally love. Matt’s collection DARK AWAKENINGS was one of the best I’ve read in years.

Dark Awakenings

Revenants

HT: Name 2 or 3 of your favorite horror, fantasy, genre, etc., short stories

RG: “Professor Nobody’s Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror” by Thomas Ligotti, “The Hound” by H.P. Lovecraft, “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood.

[ The wonderful folks at Lovecraftzine have an audio reading of 'The Hound". Swing by and give a listen here.]

HT: Anthologies are usually theme based, so you have your Poe anthologies, or Lovecraft etc. If you could do a short story for such an anthology, if you could decide/choose, what would the anthology be about.

RG:I would love to see a hefty anthology that features not short stories, but accounts from various writers, past and present, detailing their most vivid, unworldly nightmares. It would be a kind of frightening and intimate dream journal, but by many dreamers instead of one.

HT: Name 5 Favorite films, horror or otherwise.

RG: I’ll squeeze in six titles if I may. Films that have had a lasting impact on me are BEYOND DREAM’S DOOR, BORN OF FIRE, DIVINE HORSEMEN: THE LIVING GODS OF HAITI, ROSEMARY’S BABY, MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MEN, and Carl Dreyer’s VAMPYR.

Divine Horsemen:The Living Gods of Haiti: A Film by Maya Deren

Beyond Dream’s Door (Special Edition)

Vampyr (The Criterion Collection)

HT: What do you think can or should be done to get more writers producing genre fiction, and more importantly to get more of the public reading genre fiction

RG: Nothing whatsoever. In fact, I don’t want ANY writers producing genre fiction. This may sound hypocritical coming from a writer who has always identified himself as a Horror writer, but the Horror fiction that is most valuable to me is the kind born of Horror writers, not of writers who sometimes wrote Horror as a mere literary convention.

The Horror-as-genre mentality creates a very tepid construct, one that overflows with cliches and stock images. A great deal of Horror is unreadable to me because I can tell when it’s been written by a jack/jill-of-all-trades writer who paid a quick visit to that dark country for whatever reason (to amuse themselves, there was an open market, they just need to write every day, etc.). They write something “scary” (often
trying to achieve little else) and then they leap back to space operas or social realism or dragon fantasies or what have you. It’s all just genre-jumping. Many writers are praised as being diverse for doing this,
but I don’t care about diversity. I want a singular vision. I don’t want to hear from the tourists of Horror who found the setting strange or quaint. I want to hear from the lifelong residents, the ones who were born there.

Personally, I don’t toy with genre elements or try my hand at dozens of styles as a creative exercise. When I write, I am conveying reality as a I see it. Period. Yes, of course there are obvious dramatic embellishments, and yes, I have the same drudgery in my day-to-day routine as you do, but ultimately I view the world through a glass darkly, if you will. For as long as I can remember, my psyche has resided in the Underworld. I’m quite happy this way. My stories are a manner of “dramatic footnote” to my life experiences; a more public communication perhaps, but not fundamentally different from the diaries and dream journals I keep.

I never try to “write dark.” I experience the world in a Gothic manner and I write what I find moving and beautiful and eerie. Therefore, the writers with which I feel the strongest resonance are the ones who spent their lives conveying *their* vision of reality — Lovecraft, Baudelaire, Ewers, Maupassant, Ligotti, et. al. Thomas Ligotti once referred to these writers as “mutants,” which is as good a description as any. I don’t care if your personal vision is scary or not. Just don’t be ordinary.

The Nightmare Factory

Of course this is not the best stance to adopt if one hopes to strike it rich as a Name Author. The less conventional your fiction, the greater your chances of professional disaster and heartache. But I honestly have no interest in producing fiction simply to entertain. There should be engagement and pleasure, yes, but not pat amusement. If there’s no fire behind the story, I simply won’t write it.

In short: I’m glad I have a day job.

HT: While book sales have been steadily declining, specialty presses such as subterranean and centipede press continue to sell out of their lavishly illustrated, high quality tomes/reissues of writers of weird fiction. Proving that even in the age of ebooks there is an un-lessened demand for collectible books with spot illustrations and art-books.

So keeping this in mind a/what are some of your favorite book covers and b/what artist would you like to do a cover and spot illustrations for one of your books?

RG: I’ve been extremely fortunate as far as cover art goes. My books have been graced by the work of two of my favourite contemporary artists: Harry O.Morris and J.K. Potter. Harry has actually done two of my books and we just may be pairing up yet again in the near future.

In terms of other artists, I’d love to collaborate with the American baroque painter Michael Hussar one day. His work is stunning and I think we share a similar aesthetic.

HT: And finally in closing with less than 9 months left in 2012, a/What can we look forward to from you this year and b/what are you looking forward to this year(could be anything, your call)?

RG: This fall Hippocampus Press will release AT FEAR’S ALTAR, my fourth full-length collection of fiction. The book is being edited and Introduced by the preeminent weird fiction scholar and critic S.T. Joshi. To be working with S.T. is definitely a watershed moment for this writer.

I’ve stories coming out in the Lovecraftian anthology AKLONOMICON, a Thomas Ligotti tribute anthology called THE GRIMSCRIBE’S PUPPETS, and another entitled SEASONS IN CARCOSA, which is an anthology of stories set in the
mythos of Robert W. Chambers’s THE KING IN YELLOW.

[Go here to read the writer who influenced Lovecraft or buy the books here: The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories

The King in Yellow (Mystery & Supernatural) ]

There are a few other pieces in-progress, but I’m a very slow writer, so I don’t think there will be much more to add to the list for this year. Anyone who is interested in my comings and goings can visit my website at www.richardgavin.net.

Thanks for letting me blather on like this.

Charnel Wine – Memento Mori Edition

Omens

The Darkly Splendid Realm


I want to thank Richard Gavin first for his time, and second for the depth and richness of his responses. He has given me and, I believe. you dear reader… much to explore, to discover, to enjoy. Pay it forward by running out and supporting the writer’s past and upcoming books (definitely frequent his website as his upcoming work isn’t on Amazon yet, so keep checking his website), and feel free to use the attached links and treat yourself to books and films and the languid fictions that this week’s Monarch of Mayhem recommends.

MONARCHS OF MAYHEM: AN INTERVIEW WITH DERRICK FERGUSON


“Fortune nodded pleasantly at those who acknowledged his presence. There were many who did not. A significant number of who had enjoyed the hospitality of Fortune’s gambling ship and had drunk champagne with him and laughed at his jokes. But here, they looked right through him as though he simply were not there.

Fortune wasn’t offended. Despite his wealth, his obvious culture and intelligence, he was still a Negro and therefore, even though his wealth afforded him access into company such as this, he would never be truly accepted by them.

And showing up at a function such as this, even though he was invited…well, most here would treat him as a novelty and others as a bounder. And as for having a white woman on his arm…there were some here in their finery and jewels and aristocratic bearing who cheerfully would have hung Fortune from the nearest tree for such an insult to their delicate sensibilities. But the bottom line was this: he was providing them a service. An outlet to indulge themselves at night but deny in the light of day. And providing that service discreetly was armor more protective than any forged by the finest of iron workers.”
The Adventures of Fortune McCall

Derrick Ferguson hails from Brooklyn, NY which as all right thinking people know is the true and proper Center Of The Universe. The son of Leroy and Corine Ferguson, he was introduced by them to movies and books which soon became the twin passions that ignited his desire to tell stories of his own. Inspired to become a rule-breaking writer, he dedicated himself to learning the rules so that he might break them more fully and artistically. Derrick’s manic obsessions are carefully monitored by his wife, Patricia.–Bio


What impresses me about Derrick Ferguson is just the broadness of his interests and passions, and how all of that informs his work.

With interests that range from old radio shows to classic pulps to comic books to science fiction to movies, as well as being a pioneer in the fields of pod-casting (as co-host of the fun film pod-cast BETTER IN THE DARK with Thomas Deja) and E-books, Derrick Ferguson is a writer and creator who combines the best of the old, with the sophistication of the new.

And I was honored to have him consent to the following. He is a wealth of knowledge, and it all comes across in the great answers provided below. Check the links as he gives a clinic on great writers, books, and films for you to search out and get. Enjoy!!

“Written in the fashion of the classic pulp novels made popular by characters such as Doc Savage and The Shadow, author Derrick Ferguson has created a new adventure hero whose toughness and bravado will be long remembered after you finish reading this book.”- GOOD READS on the Dillon Books

HT: What is your favorite genre or genres?
DF: Well, quite naturally, given the stuff I write my favorite genre is pulp action adventure. I’m also a lover of science fiction, western and detective/spy fiction.

HT: What is the favorite thing you’ve written?
DF: Right now I’d have to say that “Dillon and The Judas Chalice” which is in the anthology FOUR BULLETS FOR DILLON is my current favorite. I’m usually not entirely satisfied with my work but that story I point to with pride and say without any hesitation that it’s a damn good story.
Four Bullets for Dillon

HT: Name 5 classic or genre writers who inspire or impress or influence you?
DF: Lester Dent. Robert R. McCammon. Charles Saunders. George C. Chesbro. Robert E. Howard.

[Lester Dent created and wrote pulp hero DOC SAVAGE, some books by or about him are:

The Revised Complete Chronology of Bronze

Doc Savage Omnibus, Vol. 1: The All-White Elf / the Running Skeletons / the Angry Canary / The Swooning Lady

Honey in his Mouth (Hard Case Crime)

George C. Chesbro is known for:
Shadow of a Broken Man

And for more Charles Saunders greatness see our coverage here!-- HT]

HT: Name some current or new writers, whose work you’ve recently read or discovered that impressed you.
DF: Wayne Reinagle: He’s emerged as one of the truly distinctive voices of New Pulp. He writes truly epic stories spanning generations of adventure. He writes the New Pulp equivalent of “Gone With The Wind” and as good as the books he’s already written are, I believe that he’s got even better books ahead.

Paul Bishop and Mel Odom: These two gentlemen are singlehandedly bringing back the boxing pulp genre with the FIGHT CARD series. When most people think of Pulp, they think of characters such as Doc Savage, The Spider, Conan or The Phantom Detective. But a multitude of genres came under the umbrella of pulp adventure and boxing pulp was one of the most popular.

Milton Davis: a writer and editor of enormous drive, talent and passion who I feel is the natural successor to Charles Saunders in the field of Sword and Soul. For those of you who don’t know, Sword and Soul is heroic fantasy fiction based on African culture, history and mythology. In recent years Milton Davis has been tireless in expanding this genre and bringing it to mainstream attention.

Meji Book One
Meji Book Two
Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology

Valjeanne Jeffers: she’s an important voice that has brought me back to reading science fiction which I’ve been neglecting for some time now. But her work isn’t just science fiction. She blends fantasy and horror in a wonderful mixture of truly well-written and compelling prose.
Immortal

HT: Going along with the above name an author or authors (either new or old) who you think don’t get the attention they deserve, and everyone should be reading?

DF: Robert R. McCammon has never gotten the credit he deserves. He is quite simply one of the most amazing writers I’ve ever read. His SWAN SONG is easily just as good as Stephen King’s THE STAND. STINGER is a book I’d have sold a kidney to be able to write. And THE WOLF’S HOUR is one of the best pulp adventures written in the past fifty years.

Swan Song
Stinger
The Wolf’s Hour

George C. Chesbro is a writer who through his own work which blends the hardboiled detective/spy genre with mysticism, science fiction, mystery, martial arts and the supernatural taught me not to be afraid of mixing genres together.

Charles Saunders is a creative powerhouse that I frankly am in awe of. His IMARO series should be required reading for anybody who wants to write heroic fantasy/sword-and sorcery.

HT: Name 2 or 3 of your favorite horror short stories.
DF: Robert E. Howard’s “Pigeons From Hell”
Stephen King’s “The Jaunt”
Ray Bardbury’s “Mars Is Heaven”

HT:Name 5 Favorite films, horror or otherwise.
DF: I’ll give you my five favorite horror films first:
“House on Haunted Hill” (1959)
“The Haunting”
“Night of The Hunter”
“Angel Heart”
“Phantasm”

And here’s my five favorite films. At least for right now. Ask me the same question a couple of days from now and you’ll probably get a completely different list. Here goes:
“The Ten Commandments”
“Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom”
“Once Upon a Time In The West”
“Blazing Saddles”
“Jackie Brown”

HT: What do you think can or should be done to get more writers producing genre fiction?
DF: First and foremost, writers should write whatever they feel compelled or driven to write. To do otherwise would not be true to the desire of their particular creative muse. And there is a considerable number of writers… who are producing genre fiction. It’s just that readers aren’t reading it. And that’s not an indictment against readers at all. Money is tight and times is even tighter. Writers… are struggling against other forms of entertainment such as video games, the Internet, cable/satellite TV with 500 channels, Netflix, Hulu… you get my point.

HT: And finally in closing with a little less than 11 months left in 2012, what are you looking forward to?
DF: Sleeping less and writing more.


I want to thank Derrick Ferguson for some excellent insight into the medium, and introducing myself and others to voices we might otherwise have missed. And please show your support as well, by using the links and treating yourself to some great films and books including the following:

Dillon and the Voice of Odin

The Adventures of Fortune McCall

Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell

MONARCHS OF MAYHEM: AN INTERVIEW WITH L.R. GILES

L. R. Giles is a three-time contributor to the Dark Dreams anthology series edited by author Brandon Massey for Kensington Publishing (Dark Dreams, 2004; Voices from the Other Side, 2006; Whispers in the Night, 2007), a recipient of the 2006-2007 Virginia Commission for the Arts Fiction Fellowship, and a Top 10 finalist in the 2009 Tor UK and SciFiNow War of the Words competition. He resides in Chesapeake, VA with his wife.

L.R. Giles is also one of the authors paving the way for this new e-book phenomenon. Specifically I’m speaking of his support of the e-book format. You can find his e-books available on SMASHWORDS (which supports the popular and industry standard Epub format) as well as on AMAZON.

Or if you are like me and still enjoy having the real book in your hands go here.

Okay enough with the public service announcement :) onto the interview…

HT: Hi LR, First Welcome to Heroic Times. And second, a big thank you for taking the time out of your booked schedule to answer these crazy questions. So taking that into consideration, we’ll start with an easy one. What is your favorite genre or genres?

LRG: This one is tougher than you think, so I’m going to cheat a little and say it’s a tie between fantasy and horror. I grew up on both, and a bit of science fiction, too. See how I snuck a third one in?

HT: What is the favorite thing you’ve written?


The Shadows Gallery

LRG: There’s a story called “The View” that’s part of my indie published short story collection THE SHADOWS GALLERY. It’s about a man who opens a window to Hell so he can confirm his wife’s dead murderer is being properly punished. I wanted to play with the idea of divine justice and pose a question. Can a need for vengeance ever be truly satisfied? It’s one of my darker stories. Difficult to write. That’s probably why I like it so much.

HT: Name 5 classic or genre writers who inspire or impress or influence you?

LRG: Poe (for “The Tell-Tale Heart), Shakespeare (for many works, but *MacBeth* in particular), Lovecraft (mostly for “The Dunwich Horror”),Nathaniel Hawthorne (for “Young Goodman Brown”), George Orwell (for ANIMAL FARM). With the exception of Lovecraft, I think I just gave you the reading list from my sophomore year of high school. Nevertheless, that was a formative time for me and those writers/stories stuck.

HT: Name some current or new writers, whose work you’ve recently read or discovered and blew you away.

LRG: Tananarive Due & Steven Barnes, they’re a husband and wife team who write an incredible mystery series starring a former male prostitute turned detective named Tennyson Hardwick. The first book in the series is called CASANEGRA and I HIGHLY recommend it.


Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel (A Tennyson Hardwick Story)

Charlie Huston’s fiction really impresses, particularly THE SHOTGUN RULE.

And I recently read DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor; it’s incredible and I can’t wait for the upcoming sequel.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone

HT: Going along with the above name an author or authors (either new or old) who you think don’t get the attention they deserve, and everyone should be reading.

LRG: I have to go with Tananarive Due & Steven Barnes here. They’re veteran genre writers (horror, fantasy, and sci-fi), but people may not know how incredible their mysteries are. Reading their series inspired me to take a crack at the mystery genre, the resulting novel is WHISPERTOWN, a book I sold to HarperCollins last year. I can’t sing their praises enough.

HT: Name 2 or 3 of your favorite horror short stories

LRG: I’ll try not to borrow from my previous answers, though I certainly count those. For the sake of freshness, let’s say “The Barrens” by F. Paul Wilson, “The Man in the Black Suit” by Stephen King, and “The Yattering and Jack” by Clive Barker.

[I couldn't find any of these stories available online, but you can listen to a different F. Paul Wilson short story here.--- ht]

HT: Anthologies are usually theme based, so you have your Poe anthologies or Lovecraft etc. If you could do a short story for such an anthology, if you could decide/choose, what would the anthology be about.

LRG: Lovecraft, for two reasons. 1) The concepts of the Old Ones and universes running parallel to our own fascinate me, and I’d love to play in that sandbox. 2) Given some of Lovecraft’s musings on (human) races different than his own, I’d like to think that if he were still here, I could help show him we CAN have mutual respect for one another despite having different backgrounds.

[I love that take on Lovecraft. A writer I myself have very little love for :). But I do acknowledge his imagination and influence.--ht]

HT: Name 5 Favorite films, horror or otherwise.

LRG: I could probably give you 50, but here we go:

BLADE – Say what you want, Wesley was a badass and, sadly, one of the few heroes of color to grace a genre film and survive. This will always be at the top of my list.

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION – I could recite lines from this film all day.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS: DREAM WARRIORS! Don’t wanna dream no more!


Nightmare on Elm Street Collection

TERMINATOR 1 & 2 – Cameron just knows how to make entertaining films. Period.

SEVEN – I still squirm at the end, and I KNOW what’s in the box.

HT: What do you think can or should be done to get more writers of color producing genre fiction:

LRG: I think the first thing we need to do is keep discussing the image systems that dominate novels, comic books, and scripts that become television shows/feature films. Writers of color* producing genre fiction?
Believe it or not, there are tons of them. The problem is there are few opportunities for them to showcase their talents when they’re writing about characters *who look like them, *particularly lead characters.

This is nobody’s fault, per se. There’s nothing productive about pointing a finger at Hollywood, or Big Publishing, or ‘The Man’. Numbers talk, and major successes for writers/characters of color have been few and far between.

If we want more writers of color making names for themselves in genre fiction, we have to reach a point where the general buying public is more open to the variety of stories such writers bring to the table and start voting with dollars. The great thing is, I think we’re getting closer every year.

Time will fix this. I want to be clear, when I say color I don’t just mean black writers. There are many stories to be told, and many writers who want to tell them.

HT: And finally in closing with a little less than 10 months left in 2012, what are you looking forward to?

LRG: Other than THE AVENGERS? :) I’m just looking forward to finishing up a couple of writing projects and meeting more authors and readers. That is, by far, the best part of this gig. I hope to be doing it for a long time. 10 months +.

HT: LR, Those are great answers! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to introduce me and the HEROIC TIMES readers to not only your work, but great work from writers old and new. Thanks again!

****

Well I hope everyone enjoyed that! Please swing by LR’s blog here and support and purchase his current work and upcoming work WHISPERTOWN (I’ll post a link when available)! Thanks!

MONARCHS OF MAYHEM: AN INTERVIEW WITH MAURICE BROADDUS

Maurice Broaddus is the editor of the acclaimed DARK FAITH anthology (Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Black Quill nominated, with the 2nd one on the way)as well as the writer of the THE KNIGHTS OF BRETON series. He in addition is a prolific short story and non-fiction writer. And given all his responsibilities he was kind enough to play hooky long to provide the following great answers to my inane questions. Enjoy!
— HT

And for those of you new to Maurice Broaddus he has a pretty wild bio. It’ll put a smile on your face. Here’s part of it:

“Maurice Broaddus is an exotic dancer, trained in several forms of martial arts–often referred to as “the ghetto ninja”–and was voted the Indianapolis Dalai Lama. He’s an award winning haberdasher and coined the word “acerbic”. He graduated college at age 14 and high school at age 16. Not only is he credited with inventing the question mark, he unsuccessfully tried to launch a new number between seven and eight.

When not editing or writing, he is a champion curler and often impersonates Jack Bauer, but only in a French accent. He raises free range jackalopes with his wife and two sons … when they are not solving murder mysteries.

The way he sees is, as a fiction writer, he’s a professional liar.”


That’s only the beginning, it gets a lot better, read the whole thing at his website bio link listed at the bottom of this post. It’s hilarious. Now without further ado, onto the questionnaire…

HT: What is your favorite genre or genres?

MB: I’m a huge fan of the crime genre. Walter Moseley, Elmore Leonard, George Pelecanos, when I’m reading for fun, this is typically what I’m reading.

HT: What is the favorite thing you’ve written?

MB: The favorite thing that I’ve written might be a story called “Dream Weaver”. It was among the first five stories I ever wrote. It’s completely unpublishable. I’d have to rewrite it from scratch for it to even see the light of day. But I have an odd fondness for it. As for stuff actually published, it’s all upcoming. A three way tie between “The Cracker Trap” (in an upcoming issue of Shroud Magazine), “Under a Concrete Hill” (in an upcoming issue of Bull Spec magazine), or Lyta’s Dance (a children’s fantasy book that is currently being illustrated).

HT: Name 5 classic or genre writers who inspire or impress or influence you?

MB: Toni Morrison. Neil Gaiman. Michael Chabon. Kelly Link. Jeffrey Ford.

HT: Name some current or new writers, whose work you’ve recently read or discovered and that blew you away.

MB: N.K. Jemison. Saladin Ahmed. Ekaterina Sedia. Genevieve Valentine.

HT: Name 2 or 3 of your favorite horror short stories.

MB: Jack Ketchum’s “The Box”. Gary Braunbeck’s “Rami Temporales”.

[I had never read either of these stories, but you can read Gary Braunbeck's story here!]

HT: Anthologies are usually theme based, so you have your Poe anthologies, or Lovecraft etc. If you could do a short story for such an anthology, if you could decide/choose, what would the anthology be about?

MB: I actually have the luxury of doing an anthology. Dark Faith (Apex Books) explores the intersection of faith and genre as I had fantasy, horror, and science fiction authors write stories that turned on the idea of faith (no matter what that looked like). After the success of the first one, I’m currently putting together Dark Faith 2.


Dark Faith: Price Your Copy Here!

HT: Name 5 Favorite films, horror or otherwise.

MB: Do the Right Thing, Pulp Fiction. L.A. Confidential. Big Fish. Blazing Saddles. Amelie, Good luck trying to piece together my personality based on that list!

HT: What do you think can or should be done to get more writers of color producing genre fiction?

MB: I think we’re on an exciting cusp of writers of color exploding on the scene. As I was coming up, I could point to Chester Himes, Charles Saunders,Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, or Tananrive Due. But as I look around, we see the success of N.K. Jemison, Chesya Burke, Wrath James White, Nnedi Okafora, L.A. Banks, Linda Addison, Kaaren Lord, Nisi Shawl, (and I’m just scratching the surface). As more folks see that it can and, more importantly, IS being done, more will pursue it.

HT: While book sales have been steadily declining, specialty presses such as Subterranean and Centipede Press continue to sell out of their lavishly illustrated, high quality tomes/reissues of writers of weird fiction. Proving that even in the age of ebooks there is an unlessened demand for collectible books with spot illustrations and/or art-books. So keeping this in mind a/what are some of your favorite book covers and b/what artist would you like to do a cover and spot illustrations for one of your books?

MB: I’ve been blessed to have artists like Steve Stone (the Knights of Breton Court urban fantasy series) and Steve Gilberts (my horror novella, Devils Marionette, as well as the art accompanying my story “Rainfall” in the recent issue of Cemetery Dance) illustrate my work. That being said, I’d love to have a cover done by John Picacio.

[Steve Stone's cover for KNIGHTS OF BRETON COURT III is fantastic!!]

HT: And finally in closing with a little less than 11 months left in 2012, what are you looking forward to?

MB: I’m such a fanboy, I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers movies!

MB, Great answers! Thanks for taking the time to provide these informed and insightful responses. Lots of stuff even I haven’t tried. But I’ve created a bunch of links to get myself and other interested readers up to speed. Thanks and look forward to reading your upcoming stories and books!

Oh and one more bit from MB’s bio:

“Speaking of which, he’s married to the lovely Sally Jo and spends as much time possible with his two sons, Maurice the Second (giving him an excuse to retroactively declare himself “Maurice the Great”) and Malcolm X (named before realizing his son would be blond and blue eyed).”

Come on! That’s hilarious! :)

To read his complete bio, and more hilarity go here!

And to purchase any of his books in e-format go here!

Unless you’re an old fashioned paper guy like me, in that case go Here to buy his books!

And tell’em HT sent ya! And HELLS COMING WITH ME!!! oh… sorry. Just re-watched TOMBSTONE and I’m all hyped up! :)

p.s. the schedule for the other MONARCHS OF MAYHEM has changed because these posts take a LONG DARN TIME to do! So yeah will need to space these out a bit more. But keep your eyes peeled (what exactly does that saying even mean?!) for the next wacky, fun, hernia inducing installment!!

Later Gator!!!