So, I’ve long been a fan of your Holmes on the Range series. Two weeks ago over at BlackGate.com, I did a deep dive into it for my weekly Monday morning column. Last week, it was a spoiler-free, comprehensive chronology of the series. Along with a publication timeline. I think it’s the only all-inclusive, current one out there. Thanks for your input.
And you’ve agreed to a Q&A to wrap up our coverage of the series. Thanks again!
QUESTION – You wanted to sell more stories to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and you saw the annual Sherlock Holmes issue as a way to do that. But you didn’t want to ‘just’ write more standard Holmes. How did you hit on the idea of Gustav and Otto?
Before I start blathering on about myself, I want to pause to thank you for all the attention and positivity you’ve been lavishing on the Holmes on the Range books. It is much, much appreciated!
Now — on to me!
I love Sherlock Holmes, but when I was thinking about writing something Sherlockian for Ellery Queen I just couldn’t get comfortable with the idea of a Holmes pastiche. So many other writers do them so well. Did the world really need me to give it a try? Especially when what I think are my strong suits — my voice and humor — feel so very American. So I tried to think of American characters who’d be inspired by Dr. Watson’s stories about Holmes. And when you’re thinking about fun, interesting, late 19th century Americans, naturally cowboys come to mind sooner or later.
John R. Fultz is no stranger to Black Gate having published in the hardcopy magazine and hosting his Skulls graphic story plus two of his short stories on our website. We recently highlighted a 2017 interview with the author on his approach to creating weird worlds that are both beautiful and dark (reposted on Black Gate Dec. 2023). I was honored to provide the Foreword and Interview for the re-release, and share those here to reveal what you should expect, and why you should read, The Revelations of Zang!
John R. Fultz has a burgeoning library. His published novels include Seven Princes (2012), Seven Kings (2013), and Seven Sorcerers (2013), as well as The Testament of Tall Eagle (2015) and Son of Tall Eagle (2017). His short stories have appeared in Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Weird Tales, Black Gate, Weirdbook, That Is Not Dead, Shattered Shields, Lightspeed, Way of the Wizard, Cthulhu’s Reign, and plenty of other strange places. His story collections include World Beyond Worlds (2021), Darker Than Weird (2023), and The Revelations of Zang (re-released now, 2023)! Now, we will reveal to you the secret arcana of that last volume…
JRF has deep roots in the weird fiction community and especially Black Gate, and you can learn about those in this post. We recently reviewed his collections Darker than Weird and Worlds Beyond Worlds which were published after I interviewed the author in 2017 for my Weird Beauty interviews series (right before Black Gate began hosting them; see the listing of those interviews below).
This reposts that interview and teases an updated one specific to Fultz’s Zang Cycle (to be posted in the coming weeks as The Rogues in the House Podcast, publishers of the Sword & Sorcery anthologies A Book of Blades Vol I and Vol II relaunches The Revelations of Zang collection). I was honored to write the foreword for the re-release. When preparing that I interviewed John R. Fultz a second time, but focusing on the Zang Cycle. Sharing the announcements for the re-release begs to have the 2017 version detailing his creative process and the history of SKULLS available here. Enjoy this prelude and keep an eye out for the announcement.
In the first of an occasional series, I interview the Bing AI about high fantasy. The AI’s responses have not been edited.
What is high fantasy?
High fantasy, also known as epic fantasy, is a subgenre of fantasy defined by the epic nature of its setting or by the epic stature of its characters, themes, or plot. High fantasy is set in an alternative, fictional (“secondary”) world, rather than the “real” or “primary” world. This secondary world is usually internally consistent, but its rules differ from those of the primary world. By contrast, low fantasy is characterized by being set on Earth, the primary or real world, or a rational and familiar fictional world with the inclusion of magical elements.
High fantasy stories often feature world-threatening forces, fantastic creatures, historic or unusual technologies, magical elements, and other unearthly elements. The story might also include characters from royalty and be seen through the viewpoint of one hero, an underdog.
Some examples of high fantasy literature include J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea, and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.
How does high fantasy differ from sword and sorcery?
It seems nearly impossible for even me to believe, but in going through twenty-three years of Black Gate archives, I realized I have never interviewed a medium. Guys who made lamps out of old doll heads? Check. The kid who played “Newt” in Aliens? You betcha. A goth boy band? More times than I can count. But someone who communicates with the dead – for real? Never until now.
I wasn’t aware of what now seems like a glaring oversight on my part, until I made the acquaintance of Ms. DeEtte Ranea at the last show of the spooky season, Days of the Dead. Though in my head I was expecting a much older woman of some vague Slavic descent, likely wearing an earring and a headscarf, DeEtte in no way fit my mental image of a medium, and once I got used to that, I realized I had oodles of questions. DeEtte was gracious enough to agree to answer them and I managed to whittle them down to thirteen, which seemed like an appropriate number given the topic.
Moses Ose Utomi is a Nigerian American fantasy writer, who weaves his unique cultural heritage with the academic chops an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and a dash of the wandering martial artist, living extensively across the US (most recently Honolulu). His work has been published with Tor and Fantasy Magazine, among others, but his most successful work to date has been his debut novella, Lies of the Ajungo (which, I recently reviewed at Black Gate), and is the first part of a trilogy of exploring his unique secondary world, the Forever Desert. Moses was kind enough to meet up for a long, rambling Zoom interview, where we discussed everything from the novella and its sequels, to identity, the role of violence as means of society change, world-building, and how Moses ‘signal-switches’ in his mind when writing adult vs. young adult fantasy. There was a lot of great stuff, but I’ve tried to pair it down to the most best — suffice it to say that, as shows in his fiction, Moses’s thoughts range wide and deep and it was a great chat!
GM: Moses, thanks for doing this and thanks for writing such a great novella!
MU: I’m glad to be here and glad you enjoyed it!
So let’s get to it… there’s a lot packed into 88 pages including not one but two twists, the second ‘reveal’ which, I confess, hit me in the gut.
The NeoG trilogy, published by Harper Voyager: A Pale Light in the Black
(March 2020), Hold Fast Through the Fire (July 2021), and The Ghosts of Trappist
(June 27, 2023). Covers by Vadim Sadovski and Reginald Polynice
K.B. Wagers is one of the most exciting of the new crop of space opera writers. Their first novel, Behind the Throne, appeared in 2016 from Orbit Books, and it kicked off what eventually became a popular six-volume series featuring Hail Bristol, a runaway princess who becomes one of the most fearsome gunrunners in the galaxy. Packed with alien gods, centuries-long conflicts, treasonous plots, interstellar civilizations, invasions, intrigue, diplomatic missions, a spaceship with a motley crew, and full-scale galactic war, the Hail Bristol universe is terrific rest stop for anyone who enjoys space opera and political intrigue.
K.B.’s new NeoG series, set in our own solar system, follows the adventure of the Near-Earth Orbital Guard, a military force patrolling and protecting space. The first two volumes, A Pale Light in the Black and Hold Fast Through the Fire, will be followed by The Ghosts of Trappist, arriving in hardcover from Harper Voyager on June 27, 2023. Lara Báez, the Publicity Manager at HarperCollins, was kind enough to arrange an interview with K.B. before the release of the new book. The complete text of our email discussion, which took place between May 31 and June 5th of this year, is below. It has been lightly edited for clarity, and to correct the worst of my spelling mistakes.
Hunter Ninja Bear, Volume 1: Provenance from Fenom Comics
As I told you back in April, Black Gate photog Chris Z and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2). During that adventure we crossed paths with brothers Joe and Tom Fenoglio, founders of the indie comic company Fenom Comics. They were promoting their graphic novel Hunter Ninja Bear, Volume 1: Provenance, which caught our attention due to the incredible illustrations.
I was lucky enough to be the recipient of a copy and having had a holiday weekend to devote to reading it, I must admit I’m now kind of obsessed with this story of three forces of nature (a hunter, a ninja, and a bear). I had to know more, and Tom indulged me with a quick response to all my questions as well as some juicy graphics.
So, Tom meet everyone. Everyone, meet Tom, cofounder of Fenom.
Inspired by the release of Nightborn: Coldfire Rising (July 2023, see Black Gate’s review for more information), we are delighted to interview C.S. Freidman! Since the late 1990’s she has established herself as a master of dark fantasy and science fiction, being a John W. Campbell award finalist and author of the highly acclaimed Coldfire trilogy and This Alien Shore (New York TimesNotable Book of the Year 1998).
Let’s learn about C. S. Friedman’s muses & fears, her experience with art, and tease a future TV series!
MichaelHarrington is a writer and course designer living in the Fort Collins Colorado area of the United States. Here we post Michael Harrington’s interview of OliverBrackenbury who is an author, screenwriter, podcaster, and now a magazine editor. In fact, this interview highlights the release of Brackenbury’s new magazine New Edge Sword and Sorcery Magazine (released Sept. 30th, 2022. Hardcover $11.99usd, softcover $3.99usd, and the ePub free)!
Read on to learn more about Oliver Brackenbury, his blog, and New Edge!