Post-Modern Pulp: Speaking With Indie Action Writer Jack Badelaire

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

COA_SmallToday we’re talking to Jack Badelaire, author of numerous action books in the tradition of the 70s “Men’s Adventure” genre. His best known work is his Commando series of WWII action novels. Jack reflects on indie publishing and the state of the genre.

Full Disclosure: Jack is a critique partner of mine. He’s also a fellow member of the secret commando group Sicko Slaughterers (“SS,” we really need a new acronym), which goes after terrorists and human traffickers. So far I’ve killed 1,487 sickos, while wimpy little Jack has only killed 1,059. He gets props for killing that ISIS commander in Raqqa with a blender, though.

Anyway, on with the interview.

The Men’s Adventure fiction of the 60s and 70s is obviously a huge influence on your work. You’ve mentioned that you think there’s a lot more going on in these books than many people think. Could you expand on that?

This genre of fiction was brewed up during an especially turbulent period of history. The Cold War, Vietnam, rejuvenated organized crime syndicates, the rise of international terrorist organizations, the War on Drugs… and those are just the chart-toppers.  These post-modern pulps of the period were a direct reflection of, if we want to get Freudian for a moment, society’s collective Id. The Executioner went out and slaughtered Mafiosi because we wished someone would, and Phoenix Force obliterated terrorists because we wished someone would. Even today, the modern successors to these stories feature ex-SEALs and former Delta Force operators hunting terrorists and organized crime syndicates, stories little different than those written thirty or forty years ago.

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Patrick “Not the Starfish” Samphire on His Novel, Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, Building a Career as an Author, and Supporting a Family in an All Author Home

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 | Posted by Emily Mah

patrick-samphire-author-photo-3-col-290x406Patrick Samphire has already had a long and impressive career as a short story author. Now he’s got his first novel out, Secrets of the Dragon Tomb. This pulp adventure is set in the Regency era, in a British colony on Mars. It’s got high adventure, action, mystery, dinosaurs, and of course, dragons. What more do you need?

These days both Patrick and his wife, Stephanie Burgis, work full time as authors and support their young family in Wales.

He and I sat down to talk over Skype about his new book, and also about building a life as an author. In this interview, he details his journey from his childhood in Africa, to his earning a doctorate in physics, to his being accepted to and attending Clarion West.

I’ve been reading Patrick’s work for over a decade, now, and highly recommend it to anyone!

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Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Pro-Tip From Craig Shaw Gardner

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016 | Posted by Tina Jens

Craig Shaw Gardner-smallOur Pro-Tip author this week is the prolific and funny Craig Shaw Gardner. Perhaps best-known for his humorous fantasy, he also writes horror and science fiction. Craig sold his first short story in 1977, and began writing full time in 1987. He’s written six or seven trilogies and a whole bunch of stories and novelizations. (At least 34 novels and two collections, and still going strong.) His trilogies include The Cineverse Cycle, Dragon Circle, and Arabian Nights.

Critique Groups and First Readers: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Most writers (myself included) have something of a Love/Hate relationship with their prose. Often, when I start writing a story, I think “What a great idea! What a clever approach! This will be my best story ever!” And then, somewhere in the middle of the process, doubts creep in. “This is too long! No one will ever read this! I could have done a better job of characterization/ plot/ suspense/etc.”

Chances are, neither one of these visions of your work, both the high and the low, are entirely true. It’s hard to get the distance from your own prose to seriously judge yourself mid-story. This is where other readers come in. Many writers (myself included) depend on a writing group or first reader to give them perspective on what works and what doesn’t. A good writing group can gently tell you about the good and the bad in your story. You may not always agree with their proposed solutions, but their critiques will help you write a better story.

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SyFy’s The Expanse Exclusive! An Interview with Actor Elias Toufexis

Sunday, December 13th, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

394e3f_4525ea3eb84a46d083f3453fe1be86bfSo, yes, I was a lucky dog and got to visit the set of The Expanse while they were shooting Season One, and I recently attended the cast and crew premiere of the show here in Santa Fe.

Given my good fortune, it seemed only right that I find some exclusive content to share with readers of Black Gate, so here it is.

Elias Toufexis plays Kenzo, a character that has a lot of fans concerned because he’s not in the books. In the interview we discuss how this character was developed especially for Elias by James SA Corey.

We also say as much as we can say about the show, which is mostly stories and anecdotes of what was going on behind the scenes. This is content you won’t get anywhere else!

While I had him on Skype, we also discussed his career as a video game actor in franchises such as Deus Ex and FarCry. To finish off the interview, I asked him all sorts of basic questions about how one builds a career as an actor, and he gives some excellent advice.

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Taming the Massive Beast of Pathfinder: An Interview with F. Wesley Schneider

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Pathfinder Tales Bloodbound-smallF. Wesley Schneider has had a fascinating career. He was the former assistant editor of Dragon magazine, and co-authored Complete Scoundrel for Dungeons & Dragons. He is the co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and over the last seven years has produced dozens of Pathfinder adventures and accessories, including Hell Unleashed, Artifacts and Legends, Varisia, and Rule of Fear.

He’s currently the editor-in-chief at Paizo, and in that capacity has overseen the entire line of Pathfinder Tales, including novels by Howard Andrew Jones, Tim Pratt, Dave Gross, and many others. His first novel, Bloodbound, was released this week, and we had the chance to chat with him about this exciting change in his career.

You’ve been writing and designing game supplements and adventures for over a decade. What’s it like to get behind the wheel of a novel instead? How are the challenges similar, and how are they different?

Honestly, after spending so much time working on roleplaying games, writing a novel felt sort of self-indulgent. Working on Bloodbound was far more like the act of playing a roleplaying game than writing an RPG adventure actually is.

For anyone not familiar with roleplaying game adventures, they’re essentially giant outlines that allow a Game Master to tell a particular story without having to do much preparation. An RPG adventure provides the script for a story, descriptions of the settings, and game rules for all the various threats.

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Heather Hildenbrand on Her Path to Becoming a Hybrid Author, Resources for Authors, and Hot Guys on Motorcycles

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

downloadHeather Hildenbrand began as a self published author and quickly advanced to the point that she could live off her income. These days she’s a hybrid author who coaches others who want to follow in her footsteps.

Even her publishing company, Elephantine Publishing, shows new authors the ropes to better equip them for self-publishing or finding a good traditional publishing deal.

She is the author of The Dirty Blood Series (fantasy) and The Imitation Series (science fiction) and primarily writes young adult and new adult fiction.

I had the pleasure of chatting with her over Skype on her career to date, how she got where she is, and what advice she has for others starting out.

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Monstress: An Interview with Marjorie Liu

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Marj-Monstress-Issue-1-Cover-smallOn November 4th, Image launched a new comic series called Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. Liu is already well known as a New York Times Bestselling novelist, and from her work on Marvel titles such as Wolverine, X-23, Dark Wolverine, and Astonishing X-Men. I had a chance to interview Marjorie about Monstress.

Derek Kunsken: I read Monstress, and I have to say I was absolutely floored by how beautiful it is. I’ve seen Sana Takeda’s work with you on X-23, but it seems like all the stops were pulled out here. Not only that, the setting is original and the theme of inhumanity reminds me of Scott Snyder’s Wytches.

Marjorie Liu: You’re so kind. I’ve also been floored by Sana’s work on this book. I had a vision, I knew what I wanted Monstress to look like — but Sana took those ideas and just made them explode on the page. Her character designs, too, totally altered the story. I had one idea of what the book was going to be about — and then I saw what the monster looked like — and everything changed in that moment. For the better.

The revelations in the world of Monstress feel both fast and slow, drinking from the firehose, but piling up the questions on the side. Maika seems to be neither fully human nor Arcanic. Can you talk about Maika as an outcast character?

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Finding One Girl in the Whole Solar System: Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance

Sunday, November 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Radiance Catherynne Valente-smallCat Valente changed the way I collect books.

Actually, there’s a bit of a story there. I first met Cat at the World Fantasy Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2005. We had tiny side-by-side booths in the back corner of the vast Dealer’s Room. I was hawking the first few issues of my fledgling adventure fantasy magazine, and she was selling her first books, including her novel The Labyrinth, and her poetry collection Apocrypha. We hit it off immediately. At the end of the con I bought a copy of The Labyrinth, and she autographed it for me. “I’ve only signed a few of these,” she admitted. “And I never know what to write.”

Fast forward to 2006, at the World Fantasy Convention in Austin, Texas. Cat’s fourth novel, In the Night Garden, had just been released, and everyone was talking about it. It would eventually receive a World Fantasy Award nomination, and win the Tiptree Award. I bought a copy, and asked her to sign it. “I still don’t know what to write when I autograph books,” she confessed. “What should I say?”

“Well, if you’re leaving it up to me,” I said, “I think you should write, ‘To My One True Love, John.'” Cat laughed, scribbled something in the book, and I left happy.

Now, I bring a lot of books home when I go to conventions. I mean, a lot. Boxes filled with books. I sit in my big green chair and unpack them happily, humming to myself. Sometimes my wife Alice will come and watch disapprovingly, and comment how some of the money I used could also have come in handy feeding and clothing our children. Rarely, as she is going on in this manner, a book will catch her eye. Even more rarely, as happened in this instance, she will open a book. And it just so happened that this time she opened my brand new copy of In the Night Garden.

“Who is Catherynne M. Valente?” my darling wife asked, in a casual voice that ten years of marriage had taught me was absolutely not-at-all-casual.

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Hearing Gulf: A Conversation With Allyson Johnson

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 | Posted by Julie Czerneda

This Gulf of Time and Stars-smallI’m delighted to have the chance to introduce you to the voice of the audiobook edition of This Gulf of Time and Stars, as well as the Trade Pact trilogy. Hi Allyson!

Allyson: Hi Julie! It is truly a pleasure to be having a conversation with you about the Trade Pact world. Ordinarily, the only person I’m able to speak with about a book is the engineer who’s recording me. So this is a real treat!

For me too. I didn’t expect to be involved with the audiobook process at all, let alone meet the actor! You and I have had a few phone calls to discuss vocabulary over the four books. Anyone who clicks on the sample of the latest will know at once what a wonderful job you’ve done, Allyson. I know you prepared well in advance. You told me you listened to your own recordings of A Thousand Words For Stranger, Ties of Power, and To Trade the Stars before you tackled Gulf. What did that help you accomplish?

Thanks so much for your kind words. To be honest, although I tuned into a few choice sections of the other two titles, I only had time to listen to Trade all the way through, prior to recording Gulf. But I always take copious notes about character descriptions, vocal characteristics, accent choices, pronunciations, etc. whenever I prep a book. So I was able to refer back to the index cards I’d previously created for the trilogy and create a spreadsheet that would allow for quick and easy reference in the booth. It had, however, been three years since I’d last entered Trade Pact space, as it were, and there’s nothing like hearing long passages of dialogue to refresh my mind. Listening also reminded me of plot points I hadn’t thought about in a long time, which allowed me to pick up where the story left off once I actually began narrating Gulf. I try to be mindful of the fact that listeners sometimes elect to hear books in a series back-to-back. So I need to make the transitions between those stories as seamless as possible.

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Making Comics and Animated Shorts: Ian McGinty and Welcome to Showside

Saturday, October 24th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

welcome-to-showsideComic artist Ian McGinty has worked on Adventure Time, Hello Kitty, Fraggle Rock and many other titles, for publishers such as Archaia, BOOM!, Dynamite and now Z2. Ian is making his creator-owned debut with Welcome to Showside at Z2 Comics 28 October, 2015.

Not only that, but Welcome to Showside has also been developed into an animated series, with McGinty serving as showrunner and one of the voice actors. I wanted to e-interview Ian to chat about his successes.

Thanks for the chance to chat, Ian! You must be crazy busy in these last days of October!

Haha, yeah it’s definitely been pretty insane on this end, but it’s also been super rad and exciting to see everything coming together. A lot of hard work on many people’s parts have gone into Welcome to Showside, both the comic and the animated show, and to finally be seeing the end result, it’s like, damn, you know? I never expected such a great response from people, and it’s still sort of sinking in.

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