Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Periodic Update Post

Hey, again, my fellow travelers!  Sorry for the radio silence.  Here's what's going down....

First off, I want to thank everyone who picked up New Roads To Hell.  The first adventure of The Shadow Legion spent the entire month on Barry Reese’s New Pulp Best Seller list, and contributed to one of the best months in the history of Airship 27!  If you’ve already read the novel, why don’t you take the time to leave a brief review on Amazon to help other people find the book.  Hell--over the next two weeks, I’ll randomly choose a reader who places a review on the Amazon page and gift them with a sampler that contains excerpts from three of the four novellas that will make up The Shadow Legion Casebook!  Just be sure to leave a link to your review in the comments below.

As for The Shadow Legion Casebook itself....a few weeks ago, my present laptop had a bit of a coma (the Best Buy Geek Squad member who helped me called it ‘the Blue Screen of Death’), and had to have its entire hard drive replaced.  This resulted in my losing a slew of data, including 6000 words of ‘The Ascension Of Indio Blaque,’ the Black Talon novella.  I’m presently doing a rewrite of the 9000 words I still have in anticipation of trying to recreate the rest of the story.  Finishing up this book so that it can be released sometime late in 2014 is one of my primary goals.

Remember--members of The Shadow Legion will be appearing in Mystery Men and Women 4 and 5, so if you’re still hungering for more Ferryman, Dreamcatcher and Nightbreaker, be sure to pick those books up.

Then it’ll be time to gear up for writing the next full length Shadow Legion adventure, Machina Ex Deus.  What’s it about?  Maybe knowing a little something about Greek Theater may give you a hint!

I’m presently at the end of my publicity podcast tour.  If you’re not tired of hearing me talk about the novel, you can hear me on The Gentleman’s Guide To Midnite Cinema, Earth Station One  and Dread Media!

There are, of course, other things I’ve been hard at work on.  My new Don Cuevo story, ‘Sit By The Fire,’ will be featured in the third volume of How The West Was Weird, available in 2014.  I also just submitted the first draft of ‘Giants of Industry,’ my contribution to Monster Earth 2, forthcoming from Mechanoids Press.  And I’m going to begin doing research for a novella that will witness my return to writing a blonde daredevil doll I had so much fun writing before!  And that’s just the most immediate stuff.

I hope you’ll keep following the Travel Agency to learn when these and other projects come out.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Secrets Of The Shadow Legion: Their Police Ally's Inspiration Retires!

By now, I'm sure a lot of you have read some, if not all, of New Roads To Hell. 

And I'm sure some of that lot have encountered, at least partially, Detective Munchen, who becomes a friend to The Nightbreaker and an ally to The Shadow Legion in their battle against Rose Red.

And I'm sure some of that smaller sub-group might have a suspicion that our urbane detective is based on another, more famous urbane detective who holds the record for appearing in more television shows than any other television character.

You'd be right.

Today, on the day of Detective John Munch's retirement from his present home as a supporting character on Law And Order: SVU, I can reveal that Detective Munchen was based on Richard Belzer.  I've been a fan of Belzer reaching back to his comedian days, and followed his career as a character actor.  Back when I was writing fanfiction, I needed a detective character based in Baltimore for GREEN LANTERN: YEAR ONE.  Since Belzer was playing John Munch in Homicide: Life On The Streets, I choose to create Munchen as a not-very-subtle tribute to the Belz.  And when I wrote FURY OF FIRESTORM for DC Legends and needed a detective character, it made sense to have Muchen transfer to New York as Munch transfered to L&O:SVU.

Of course, sending my own version of Belz back in time and relocating him to the New Orleans manque that is Nocturne is probably the most audacious thing I've done.  But it seemed right, given that Belzer had appeared on two super-hero shows in the past (Lois And Clark and The Flash), to place him in my own super-hero universe.  And I admit, he seemed to work real well with The Nightbreaker; so much so that he makes an appearance in 'Ghost of Steel,' the Nightbreaker novella that'll appear in The Shadow Legion Casebook V. 1.

I don't know if Belzer is aware of his alternative literary version of himself; I hope that if he is aware, he'll realize it was meant as a fond tribute to a performer I love, and look upon it as further proof that John Munch is the glue that holds the pop culture multiverse together.

Happy retirement, Munch!  Hope you enjoy your new posting in Nocturne!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Travel Agency Travels To...ZONE 4

As part of the NEW ROADS TO HELL Podcastapalooza, I appeared on Zone 4's most recent episode, where John, Ron and Gordon interview me about the book, the city of Nocturne, The Shadow Legion, and writing in general.  Check out Episode 238 here!

Also, in case you missed it, I talked with Ric Croxton and Lee Houston, Jr. on Ric's Comics here, and did a little prose back and forth with my BETTER IN THE DARK partner Derrick Ferguson here.

Coming up...I'll be talking about the 20th Anniversary of THE X-FILES with the crew of Earth-Station One, and talking about the horrific elements of NEW ROADS with Des Reddick at Dread Media!  And there's more coming soon!  So don't miss out on a single stop on the Nocturne World Podcast Tour!

(And maaaaaybe, if you're in the general New York City area, there might be a chance to meet me in person and get a signed copy--keep watch for more developments!)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Behind The Scenes: The Original Character Notes For The Shadow Legion!

Hey, gang. Since the book is now out (and if you haven’t picked up your copy, why haven’t you)?, I thought I’d share part of the original proposal document I sent to Ron Fortier back when he offered to publish New Roads To Hell. This section outlines our quartet of heroes, and presumed a modern day setting for the novel. As you’ll see, some of these characters went through some pretty radical changes as they made their way to the page; there’s even a reference to two who didn’t make the final version of the novel but might debut in the future.

Hope you enjoy this little behind the scenes glimpse, and don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon if you liked the book!


Isaiah Copper, The Nightbreaker

Isiah Copper begins his road to being a hero by being what he is not. As a light skinned black man, Isiah passed himself off as white to gain better access to what society could offer him. As a voice actor, Isiah pretended to be The Nightbreaker, a pulp hero who thrilled the children of Nocturne every Wednesday and Friday night on WDSK.

And his practice of wearing social masks worked; WDSK's owner, Alan Dennings, was planning on exploring the idea of syndicating the Nightbreaker show...and to publicize the move, the station threw a charity ball...

And that's where everything went to Hell.

For you see, the ball was targeted for the debut of the woman calling herself Rose Red, obstensively a robbery, but in reality a distraction for the desperate woman to test her abilties. Just as Alan Dennings was blinded attempting to save the life a family, Isaiah was murdered by the ruthless killer in the second between 11:59 pm and midnight...

And Isaiah discovered that, since he died in the literal ticks between days, he was not going to die ever. He slipped out of phase with reality, neither dead nor alive, a physical being who might as well be a ghost. People on the other side of this schism didn't even recognize he existed unless he concentrated, and even then that recognition would fade the moment he left their presence.

Most people would go insane. But Isaiah chose a different method of coping--by becoming something akin to the mask he hid behind professionally, acting to right wrongs an repel evil in a continuing crusade to prove to the world that yes, he still exist. This has been an uphill battle, although recent innovations in video technology has enabled him to be caught on camera as a smudgy, ill-defined the story of man dressed as an old-time radio hero has been added to the library of weird and mystical stories that make up Noctune's heritage.

Luckily, there is another group of people who can perceive and interact with. Those people who are sensitive to mystical energies are able to perceive Isaiah's presence constantly. This is an island of relief to our friend, knowing there are people out there who do recognize he exists as more than a legend. He may become the one member of this Legion who actually thinks this is a formal Legion.

Alan Dennings,The Ferryman

Even though he was left alive after trying to prevent the death of occultist Maybelle Tremens (the grandaunt of April, and maybe one of the reasons her descendant has become the equivalent of a mystical bug zapper) at that Halloween Charity Ball, but Alan Dennings might as well have died.

Yes, he attempted to carry on with his career in spite of his blindness...but the voices started. Voices that registered in the back of his head, voices telling their stories and demanding he deliver vengeance. There were so many, and when Alan tried to ignore them, they just got louder until he couldn't hear what was going on in the real world. Alan quickly was ousted by his investors from WDSK, was evicted from his home and took to wandering the streets....

...where he was found by the retired Black Talon, Colin Palmersdale. Having struggled with the Talon's own curse, Colin was able to train Alan to master his condition, and endeavored to bring him back from the brink of insanity.

Colin Palmersdale failed. All he succeeded in doing was give Alan the means to transcend his mortal form and become something greater...something that allows him to assuage those voices. With each transgression he avenges for them, he lives a little longer, his body held in a sort of mystically sanctioned stasis until every last one of these voices are satisfied.

Alan is...well, he's not well at all...

April Tremens, Dreamcatcher

To the Narrow World, April Tremens is a mentally ill young woman who suffers from one of the most extreme forms of Disassociative Personality Disorder known to man. Psychiatrists have mapped out a staggering amount of personalities in April, almost all of them malevolent. Even with heavy medication, these personalities manifest--but they are at least managable.

The Wide World, the world that the Shadow Legion operates in, know better.

April Tremens' codename is equal parts sarcastic and ironic. Just as a dreamcatcher is supposed to catch nightmares in its web before they get to the dreamer, April Tremens is a giant paranormal scoop, catching demons and other malignant supernatural entities inside her corporeal form before they can manifest on our plane and wreck havoc. Having all these monstrosities rattling around inside her head has driven her hopelessly insane, and only a heroic effort on her part allows her to retain control of her body the majority of the time.

Oddly enough, April is a vital resource to the Legion, as she has a unique insight into the way evil works. I envision her allowing one of the myriad entities to surface so her fellows can gain knowledge that will help them in their battles. Also, I figure having mystical creatures literally dwelling inside her has given April a working practical knowledge of magic. She can do minor spells at will...and as she gains a modicum of freedom through her association with the Legion, those abilities will grow.

I also envision a sort of strange, symbiotic relationship between April, mentally disabled by the constant war she wages in her mind against these unwelcome lodgers, and Playmate, drawn to the delicate young woman due to its instinctive motivation to protect children. This might be what keeps the strange creature around, cooperating with the adults it usually shuns.

Oh, and sadly, Ron--April will most likely be the one Legionnaire who will not have a costume or unform...although I imagine Playmate might try to make one for her, and fail, down the line.

Mawbry Palmersdale, The Black Talon

For centuries, the Black Talon has been the enforcer of The Circle, the strange morphogenetic field that binds all life of earth. The Talon wears a ceremonial tribal mask that allows him to tap into the Circle's abilities, borrowing specific animal traits to give him special abilities. A Talon can briefly become as strong as an elephant, agile like a cheetah or blend into the background like a chameleon. However, accessing a single ability for too long allows the Circle's representative to leave a little of itself in the user, resulting ultimately in physiological changes in the wearer. Each Talon ultimately has to be put down when his body becomes twisted into an impossible patchwork of animal traits.

For the last two hundred years, the custodian of the Talon legacy has been the Palmersdale family, and for the last eighty of those years the Palmersdales have called The City That Lives By Night home. And the Palmersdales have had a rather unique hand in shaping the Legion through the years...

It was a Palmersdale who tried to save Alan Dennings from becoming the Ferryman. It was a Palmersdale who gave shelter to the Tremens family when they fell on hard times in the 80's. It was a Palmersdale sponsorship which allowed Tsura Boswell to go to law school, and a Palmersdale who suggested she use her pyrokine abilities to benefit others. One would almost think that the Circle wants there to be a unified force of protectors in this small Gulf Coast city....

Monday, September 16, 2013


Just in time for the release of New Roads To Hell, I sit down with the man behind Airship 27, Ron Fortier to talk about his distinguished career as a comic book writer, author and publisher! Listen to it here!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

NEW ROADS TO HELL is finally here!

Airship 27 Productions is excited to debut the first of a new line of pulp-superhero books with, SHADOW LEGION – New Roads to Hell as written and created by Thomas Deja.
“Thomas proposed this idea to me last year,” explains Airship 27 Managing Editor Ron Fortier, “and I thought it contained fascinating perspectives on the whole idea of supernatural beings.”

“Every sci-fi, pulp fan knows comic book superheroes evolved from the pulps heroes,” Fortier goes on to say. “The idea of turning the tables and doing prose stories of superheroes isn’t anything new and there have been several publishers who have explored that hybrid world recently. We didn’t want to copy what others had done; which is why SHADOW LEGION appealed to me in the first place.  In creating the city of Nocturne and its unique characters, Thomas has put a decidedly fresh spin on this genre and we think our readers are really going to enjoy these adventures.”

There has always been something strange about Nocturne, Florida; the City That Lives by Night.  It is an entertainment nexus luring tourist from around the world to its night clubs, music venues and other, more adult entertainment venues. But there is a darker side to which these carefree revelers never see; one of dark doings, violence and eldritch evil.

Now a new sinister force threatens Nocturne and only a handful of unique, gifted beings can protect the city’s innocent.

Nightbreaker; a radio star turned vigilante, he exist in a strange limbo world.

The beautiful Dreamcatcher who bends all magic to her will.

The mysterious Ferryman, a living conduit to the world beyond!

And their leader, Black Talon, the embodiment of the unfettered fury of the African Veldt...stalking a jungle of concrete and glass!

Together they are The Shadow Legion, a secret alliance of mystery men and women who battle the fantastic threats that can tear apart the metropolis they call home!

Their saga begins here in New Roads To Hell, a gripping novel by Thomas Deja that reveals the secret origins of Nightbreaker and Ferrymen, and features the menace of Rose Red, a crimson haired devil with a talent for murder!  The book features interior illustrations by Chris Kemple and a cover by Pulp Factory Award winning artist, Mike Fyles with designs by Rob Davis, another PFA art winner.

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – New Pulp Fiction for a New Generation!

Now available at & on Kindle.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Be Ready On September 16th....

....because what you've all been waiting for will finally be here.

(And trust me, by 'you' I include me.  Hell, I think I'm the most anxious of all).

See you in about a week.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sorry For The Delay....

Here’s why I’ve been silent for a while.

Over the last few weeks, I turned in both ‘Sit By The Fire’ and Amazing Alternity Stories to Pulpworks Press.

‘Sit By The Fire’ is a new Don Cuevo story told from a unique viewpoint.  If you liked 'Don Cuevo’s Curative,’ from the first volume of How The West Was Weird, you may enjoy the further clues this story gives as to the nature of our frontier exorcist and his comely assistant.   I think I may make one of my goals for next year to write a few more Cuevo stories with an eye towards compiling a collection of them for 2015 when I’m not working on my next novel; hell, a third tale formed so quickly in my mind I’ve started writing down the initial licks.

I personally am relieved that Amazing Alternity Stories has been delivered to its publisher.  There have been nights I’ve had dreams of me and Harlan Ellison sitting on a bench in the afterlife with manuscripts chained to our spirits--his being The Last Dangerous Visions, and mine being Amazing Alternity Stories.  I am so grateful to the quartet behind Pulpworks Press for their patience when it came to this anthology, and am so glad that all the writers who showed faith in my for all these years will finally see their work brought to the public.

(And I think this book will mark the end of my career as an editor....)

As for other things...well, ‘The Town That Hated Santa,’ the Doc Thunder story for this year’s Pulpworks Christmas Annual continues apace.  I’m still working on ‘Giants of Industry,’ the story for Monster Earth 2.  I’ve started work on that story for that project I’m not allowed to talk about juuuuust yet.

That leaves The Shadow Legion stuff.  I think I can safely announce that one of the stories that will ultimately appear in The Shadow Legion Casebook Volume One, the Ferryman story ‘A Waltz In Scarlet,’ will be featured in Mystery Men And Women Volume Four...and another of the stories might appear in the fifth volume of that series from Airship 27.

Right now I’m holding off on finishing the Dreamcatcher story for the Casebook.  Part of that is because of the more pressing deadlines for Monster Earth 2 and the other project...and the implied short deadline for the Doc Thunder story.  But the other reason is that I realized that ‘Amongst Monsters,’ which I was over halfway done with, is going to make a much better fit for what I want to do with the second novel.  My intention is to focus primarily on the legacy of Black Talon in that novel, as well as some new additions to the cast, and the threat for the story works much better in concert with that.  That means it’s back to square one for my Dreamcatcher tale.  I think I have a good idea for a replacement tale that will hit the same beats as the story it’s replacing, but I’ll only know until I start back up.

Incidentally, the Dreamcatcher story has proven to be the most difficult.  There are story fragments from two, maybe three previous attempts.  Maybe if Airship 27 is willing to do it, I’ll provide some excerpts as a ‘CD Extra.’

Keep an eye on this blog, folks.  There is going to be a very, very big announcement coming up very soon.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Periodic Update Post

Sorry for the delay, my fellow travelers, but trust me...I have lots to tell you about.

First off, I’m roughly five thousand words away from closing out The Shadow Legion Casebook Volume One.  The last story to be completed will be ‘Amongst Monsters,’ which sees Maybelle Tremens, the psychic detective known as Dreamcatcher, comes to the aid of a brand new hero whose encounter with a hideous creature has led them to a veritable house of horrors!  You will learn a lot about Maybelle and what sets her apart from her fellow Shadow Legionnaires mentally, emotionally and physically while also getting more glimpses of the menace that will be looming over the city of Nocturne in the next two novels, which are tenatively titled Machina Ex Deus and Urban Inferno!

I also recently finish the preliminary draft for ‘Sit By The Fire’ (the title may change), the first new Don Cuevo story in years.  An old man is visited by our frontier exorcist and his beautiful assistant during one of the nastiest snowstorms in memory.  The old man serves them some food and is willing to let them warm up....but Cuevo has some suspicions about the man’s hospitality and a mission he must carry out.  I know where I’d like for this story to go, but I don’t want to jinx it by saying much more.

Now onto things still being worked on...

You’ve probably already seen the announcement that I am the one new author to play in the worlds of Monster Earth for it’s second collection.  The story I’m working on is called ‘Giants of Industry,’ and I’ll tell you more as we get closer to completion.

Then there’s ‘The Town That Hated Santa Claus,’ the new Doc Thunder story that’s slated to appear in this year’s Pulpworks Press Christmas Annual.  I’m roughly two thousand words in, and the story might be self-explanatory from the title, as Elias Thunder responds to a curious letter to Saint Nick from a child, teaming up with a mysterious stranger to visit a small town that shuns the holidays.

There’s also a third project that I was just invited to.  I can’t go into details just yet, but I will say it plays into one of my great passions (one that I devote an entire blog to, in fact) and it’s one I’m looking forward to letting loose on!

Since these three projects have roughly the same deadline (October or thereabouts), I’ll be focusing on them before returning to The Shadow Legion Casebook and The Adventures of Tao Jones.  Plus, there’s the other project that needs a little explanation....

Several years ago, I proposed a short story anthology to Pulpworks Press called Amazing Alternity Stories, a collection of tales in alternate universes where famous personages took very different paths.  Amongst the tales pitched to me and turned in were ones where Abraham Lincoln was a crime-busting boxer, Charles Darwin was an intergalactic lawman; Winston Churchill was a spy; Barack Obama was a masked avenger; and a number more (although I will admit I regret that the writer who pitched the story featuring George Carlin as a Vietnam-era fighter pilot never submitted anything).   I asked for a few rewrites....

And then I stalled.  I can’t honestly say why the progress on the anthology stopped so dead for so long.  When I got the opportunity to write New Roads To Hell, the collective brain trust behind Pulpworks Press took the project off their production slate and asked me to concentrate on the novel.

Well, the novel’s been finished for a while.  The second book is just about done.  I had an idea for what will become my second novel I was looking for a home for.  Pulpworks Press wanted to do it, but we both knew there was a big ol’ elephant in the room that needed to be put behind us....

Thus, Alternity Lives!

I am in the process of compiling the stories into the final manuscript.  God willing, you’ll see it this winter!

So yes, it’s true.  I’ve got a lot on my plate.  And hopefully, you’ll all enjoy what I serve up in the coming months!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Coming Soon....

As we get closer and closer to the release of New Roads To Hell, the first Shadow Legion novel from Airship 27, a bunch of my friends and I got together and made an old-school audio promo!  You can download it here!

I want to thank my cast for stepping up.  To wit:

Narrator: William Robinson
Gunsel: Paul Herrman
Black Talon: Kelen Conley
Gloria: Rachel Bailey
Nightbreaker: Michael Bailey
Ferryman: Desmond Reddick
Dreamcatcher: Trelina Gonzalez Anderson
Rose Red: Megan Reddick
Johnny Seven: Andew Leyland

Kelen Conley also provided the musical bed.  Let's all give them a round of applause!

I'll have more goodies for you to enjoy as we get closer to the release stay tuned!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Coming To Crush A Major City Near You!

I've got a fuller update coming later this week, but this makes one of the things I was waiting to announce official!  I am really jazzed to be participating in this anthology series.  Check This Out (and keep an eye out for an episode of Nocturne Travel Agency Podcast where I sit down with James Palmer to discuss Mechanoid and the Monster Earth timeline!)

Monster Earth 2 Is Coming!
Atlanta, GAMechanoid Press, a small imprint specializing in science fiction, New Pulp and more, returns to the exciting world of their popular giant monster anthology MONSTER EARTH with MONSTER EARTH 2.

 Returning to the helm of this mammoth (pun intended) undertaking are editors James Palmer (Mars McCoy: Space Ranger Vol. 2) and Jim Beard (Captain Action and the Riddle of the Glowing Men).

“This is going to take the monster action to a whole new level,” explains Palmer. “I thing fans of the first book are really going to love this one.”
MONSTER EARTH 2 will bring the action closer to the present day, with the nations of the world experimenting with genetic manipulation of the various beasties. Add a secret death cult trying to herald the end of days, and you’ve got a volatile recipe for mayhem and destruction as only some of the hottest writers in New Pulp can bring it.
 Returning for this volume are Edward M. Erdelac (Mighty Nanuq), Jeff McGinnis (The Beast’s Home) and Fraser Sherman (Peace with Honor). Joining them will be Thomas Deja (How the West Was Weird). Just as in the previous anthology, Beard and Palmer will also contribute stories.

 “Jim did a great job with the bible on this one,” says Palmer. “Between that and all the readers who have asked about a sequel, I knew we just had to do another book.”

MONSTER EARTH 2 is scheduled for either a late December or early January release, and will appear in both Kindle and trade paper formats.
About James Palmer
James has written articles, interviews, columns, reviews and fiction for Strange Horizons, Tangent Online, The Internet Review of Science Fiction, and New Pulp Publishers Airship 27, Pro Se Productions, and White Rocket Books. His books Slow Djinn and Four Terrors: Weird Horror Tales are currently available in PDF and Kindle formats. He also has a story in Mars McCoy: Space Ranger Vol 2. from Airship 27. For more, visit or follow James on Twitter: and
About Mechanoid Press

Mechanoid Press is a new imprint specializing in science fiction, New Pulp, and steampunk ebooks and anthologies. For more, visit or follow the robot revolution on Twitter: You can also like Mechanoid Press on Facebook.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


AIRSHIP‭ ‬27‭ ‬presensts
‭(‬Portion of Profits Goes to‭ ‬Boston Red Cross‭)

Airship‭ ‬27‭ ‬Productions has once again teamed with Redbud Studio comics to release the second in their on-going pulp comics anthology.‭  ‬The first giant issue in this series won the coveted Pulp Ark Award for Best Pulp Comic of‭ ‬2010.

Volume two of the series,‭ ‬co-edited by creators Ron Fortier and Rob Davis,‭ ‬is even bigger than that stellar premier issue.‭  ‬Contained here are eight stories featuring both modern and classic pulp heroes‭; ‬Ki-Gor the Jungle Lord,‭ ‬the Black Bat,‭ ‬Cain,‭ ‬Robin Hood,‭ ‬Lance Star,‭ ‬Brothers Bones,‭ ‬Dillon and Domino Lady.‭

The cover is by Will Meugniot and features Ki-Gor’s lovely mate,‭ ‬Helene,‭ ‬battling back to back with Derrick Ferguson’s modern day adventurer,‭ ‬Dillon.‭  ‬Other creators represented are Russ Anderson,‭ ‬Fortier,‭ ‬Davis,‭ ‬Ian Watson,‭ ‬Thomas Deja,‭ ‬Michelle Sciuto,‭ ‬Sean Taylor,‭ ‬Aaron Meade,‭ ‬Todd Jones,‭ ‬Lee Oaks,‭ ‬James Gaubatz,‭ ‬Van Plexico,
Andrew Salmon and Kelly Everaert.‭

The book is available from Indy and part of the proceeds are being donated to the Boston Red Cross.‭  “‬We were the last stages of assembling the book,‭” ‬explains Editor Foriter,‭ “‬when the Patriots‭’ ‬Day bombings occurred in‭ ‬Boston.‭  ‬All of us,‭ ‬like the rest of the country,‭ ‬were in shock and felt helpless to do anything.‭”  ‬It was writer Van Plexico who contacted Fortier about possibly offering some of the sales proceeds to help those injured in the terror attack.‭  “‬The second Van brought up,‭ ‬I knew it was something we had to do,‭” ‬Fortier continues.‭  ‬He contacted Davis and all the creators and the decision was made to take all the profits earned by the book during its first six months in print and donate them to the Boston Red Cross.

‭“‬We truly hope our fans,‭ ‬when they learn of this idea,‭ ‬will want to rally around a truly good cause and help us put sales over the top,‭” ‬adds co-editor Rob Davis.‭  “‬We really want this to be the best selling title Redbud Studio has ever produced.‭”

The issue is now on sale at‭ –(‭=‬8450‭)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pssssst....Wanna See Something Cool?

Remember a while ago, when I revealed that California-based artist Chris Kemple was going to be providing the interior illustrations for New Roads To Hell?

Well, yesterday, Captain Ron Fortier lit down from good ol’ Airship 27,  and he was bearing this gift--one of the nine illustrations that will add heat to the Shadow Legion’s initial adventure.  Here we see his version of Nightbreaker going all Babe Ruth (or maybe I should say Jackie Robinson?) on a couple of thugs with a handy tree branch!

We’re well on track for the release of this novel (and I’m 10,000 words away from finishing up the second book in the series, The Shadow Legion Casebook Volume One), so there will be more news and goodies in the near future.  Keep an eye on the Travel Agency, Airship 27, and the Nocturne Facebook Page to get in on everything about The Shadow Legion, Tao Jones, the Pulpworks Weird Western Heroes, and more!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Nocturne Travel Agency Podcast Episode One: Richard Lee Byers Talks THE IMPOSTER

In association with Tricycle Offense and Burning Talking Points Productions, I've converted my old 'Elsewhere In The Multiverse' series into a podcast called The Nocturne Travel Agency!  Come join me as I talk with Richard Lee Byers about his self-published super-hero prose anthology series The Imposter.  It's  an hour of discussion about pulp, heroes, licensed properties and the creative process.

Listen to the episode here, and check back soon for more visits to The Agency!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome To Nocturne Facebook Page!

As we get closer to the publication of New Roads To Hell--I've been told that the illustrations are close to being done--I've set up a Facebook page for people to follow news on the Chimera Falls Universe, as well as something else really exciting that's coming up soon.

Just go here and sign up to see artwork, news and fun!  See you there!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Periodic Update Post

Hey, again, my fellow travelers!  Here's what's going down....

Two more of the three stories for The Shadow Legion Casebook Volume 1 are done.

One is 'Ghosts of Steel,' the Nightbreaker tale, which is going through its polish phase before I send it off to Cap’n Ron at Airship 27.  This has shaped up to be both the most pulp and the most superheroic of the four stories, as our pistol packing protector comes to the aid of a young heiress is the target of a decade-long vendetta.  This is going to be pure action with Isaiah Copper fighting all sorts of mechanical horrors manufactured by the insidious Dr. Creole.  Plus you’ll learn more about the history of vigilantes in Nocturne’s past and see the debut of Nightbreaker’s signature weapon, the Multi-gun!

More importantly, however, is that ‘Ghosts of Steel’ gave me a chance to fill in something I had to leave out of New Roads To Hell.  You’ll learn how Nightbreaker gained control of his powers and developed the fighting style that will become his signature. I originally had scenes addressing this in the initial draft of the novel, but cut them due to flow and time constraints.  Now, through this story, I get to share this angle with you.

The other completed story is ‘The Ascension of Indio Blaque,’ which will be the Black Talon story in this volume.  In this tale you’ll see Talon at the mercy of a cult headed by the titular Indio Blaque.  Talon will find himself without the powers given him by The Circle as he combats the sinister cult leader and his crusade to stave off a disaster by killing off every superhero in Nocturne!

You’ll notice that I’ve not used the original subtitle for the Casebook, Four For Danger.  That’s because I’ve experienced another happy accident.  Namely, I’ve noticed how even though each story can be read on its own, certain elements carry through the stories that will give you a greater sense of the world The Shadow Legion will exist in.  You’ll see the creation of the fifth (and the seeds for the sixth!) member of Nocturne’s heroic community, the introduction of the threats that will plague the Legionnaires in the next two novels, more about the history of the city, and other goodies.  My goal has always been to create a fully realized world which authors--both myself and others--can tell super-hero stories, and a lot of what you’ll learn goes to bringing Nocturne and its environs to vivid life.  But that means that the collection needs a title that ties into the theme a little more.  And once I have it, I’ll announce it right here.

Once I finish the final story in the collection, I’m going to concentrate on a few other things, primarily The Adventures of Tao Jones for Pro Se Press and the new Doc Thunder story for Pulpworks Press.   I do want to write something else before beginning the second Shadow Legion novel.  I don’t want to say much, as it’s still coalescing in my mind, but I will say this...if the Legion is my tip of the hat to The Defenders, then the new project is my way of genuflecting towards another famous Legion.  More as it develops!

I’m now going to go and do my final prep for the first Nocturne Travel Agency podcast, where I sit down and talk with famed fantasy author Richard Lee Byers about his super-hero e-book series, The Imposter!  Talk to you soon!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Elsewhere In The Multiverse Part Five: Meet Jeff Deischer!

Somehow, I think Jeff is older now...

Many writers have looked at the various super-heroes that have entertained them throughout th years and desired to make something of them.  For the majority of people who have this desire, the path leads to fanfiction.  Some people actually get entrance into the hallowed halls of Marvel or DC and get to guide the lives of present day heroes.  Some, like myself, Van Plexico, Lee Houston Jr. and others who have graced The Agency, have created their own super-heroic universes to play with.

And then there’s Aurora, Colorado’s Jeff Deischer.

In Deischer’s new novel The Golden Age, now available from Van’s White Rocket Books, Jeff has taken the entire Standard/Bettor/Nedor stable of super-heroes that battled evil from 1939 to 1956 and built an entire super-hero universe from the ground up in an adventure with WWII as the backdrop.  Jeff finds ways to connect such disparate characters as Major Wonder, The Sphinx, The Crusader, The Black Terror, The American Eagle, and Pyroman to create a coherent world that was anathema in the Golden Age of comics.  This results in a super-hero novel that is true to the Golden Age while also having the feel of a modern continuity-heavy super-hero comic universe.

So let’s take a few minutes to learn about Jeff Deischer and The Golden Age!

Jeff, welcome to The Agency!

Thanks for having me!

So tell us about how you got into comics, and what led you to write THE GOLDEN AGE....

I started reading comics about 1970, though I have a very few from before that. I was exclusively a Marvel fan, reading a combination of new stuff and Lee-Kirby reprints.

I'd being done mostly pulp stuff, both fiction and non-fiction for a few years and really wanted to do something with superheroes. After a couple of false starts, I decided the best way to market a superhero prose novel might be do use public domain characters. So after making a survey of 1940s defunct comics companies, I decided that Nedor would be best, mostly due to the large number of characters they had.

Why do you think more writers don't plumb the depths of public domain characters?  There's literally hundreds, maybe thousands of characters a writer can make something out of lying around for the asking!

I don't know. It hadn't seriously occurred to me until I'd read Dynamite's Project Superpowers series, which I thought was the most interesting comics idea in some years. The current trend of comics mostly turns me off. It seems like it's all about a new idea and a quick buck, rather than good, old-fashioned storytelling.

The thing I loved about your mining of Nedor is the sheer width and bredth of the characters you unearthed--I mean, who could believe that there was a character as oddball as The Reaper running around in the Golden Age of Comics?

Yeah, thanks. From the start, my intent was to introduce and entire universe of characters, not just one and then explore his milieu through only his eyes. I think that's what intrigued me about Project Superpowers, to some degree -- there's all these different characters, from diverse companies and background. It was like opening a present every issue! I didn't really think of this on a practical level, but one advantage is that there must be some character that a reader will like, with all the variety.

Yeah, and I liked how you made some connections between them-particularly how you kind of put Major Wonder. Pyroman and The Crusader together as one branch of the Nedor family tree.

Given that so many of the characters you were working with were tabula rasas--being in some cases a costume, a power set and a secret identity--how much did you add to the way the characters were presented to flesh them out?

 To begin with, I started with very few preconceived notions. Originally, I knew very little about any of the characters. I found a few online sources (Wikipedia being one of them, and maybe International Heroes), which gave only names, maybe a civilian name, maybe a photo of a costume and maybe a foe. So I basically filled in everything else in most cases. Then, when I was about 3/4 of the way through the manuscript, I found Comic Books Plus website, which has many, many issues of the old Nedor comics. I spot-checked some stories, and made a few changes based on when I found, but not many -- I liked what I'd developed and didn't want to rewrite the manuscript from the start. And because the Golden Age stories what they were -- long on plot and short on characterization  I really didn't have to change much. Introducing so many characters didn't allow me to get into supporting cast, which is really what the comics turned up more than anything.

Speaking of your cast--it is MASSIVE!  How did you keep track of everybody while advancing the plot of the Gold Dragon Society's creation of Project: Sakura?

I used 22 characters, not counting 2 sidekicks. I started with the overall progression of the Dragon Society's scheme, and then plugged heroes in as I felt they could fit. For example, having the villains arrive on the Wesrt Coast (as might be expected), allowed me to use West Coast heroes. Ditto the Africa and European locales. With most of my heroes in NYC, that's where things got a bit tricker. But I had a master list of characters I wanted to use, so had something to work with there. You might notice that Doc Marvel gets a chapter and half that has nothing to do with Sakura -- but I wanted to include him in the book, so found a way to tie him in. It was easier than you think, probably. Characterization was just as important as plot to me.

Was there any character who 'broke out' as you wrote him or her, someone who ended up with a larger part to play in the story?

Until I got to plotting the finale, I didn't who it would star. In the first draft of the plot, it was just "some heroes".  But as I got to outlining the ending -- the outline containing specifics of who does what, for those who don't know the difference between a plot and an outline -- I saw that I could keep using Major Wonder and Pyroman, who'd starred in the previous two chapters, and then logically tie them to the Crusader -- thereby giving symmetry by ending the story with the hero who had begun it. But the breakout "star" to me is the Reaper, whom several people have told is their favorite character. He's mine, too, if I had to choose one.

He's just so....weird, although I suppose he falls into the tradition of The Psychic Detective that includes Dr. Occult on one side and Kolchak and John Constantine on the other....

So since you wanted to give these characters actual did you approach making each of your Terrific Two Dozen distinctive for the readers?

Weird "good", I hope. The only description I had for the character upon whom the Reaper is based was something like, "wears plainclothes, possesses superstrength which seems to be supernatural". So I had a lot of room to work with. I thought, maybe it would be interesting to make him a mystic bloodhound that doesn't really know what he's doing. In this way, he wouldn't be invincible, like some mystic characters ought to be based, on their powers. It was an interesting take to me, anyway, and that's were things begin: If I'm not interested in my characters, how can I expect readers to be?

To answer your other question, what I tried to do with each and every character was to figure out what I thought made them who they were, that is, unique as a character, then build upon that. I tried to make them more realistic, more logical. So a lot of the minor changes I made I'd probably have made even if I'd had access to all the stories before I started the project -- maybe they'd be different, as I try to use as much of the original material as possible for inspiration (in later volumes that I've been working on), but I'd still discard or rearrange bits that I feel don't fit. Readers are more mature today than they were 60 years ago, and they expect characterization and realism.

How realistic did you want the WWII backdrop of the story, given that some of these characters have real life events like Pearl Harbor as part of their origin?

I'm no expert on the period, but I'm knowledgeable. I used what I knew, then did research to fill in the blanks for what I didn't know.  I used a lot of real-life material in small ways.

I'm assuming the Hood and the Golden Dragon were two separate personages in the original stories--what made you fuse these two villains into one?

Neither appeared in the original stories. I hadn't read any of the original stories until the first draft was 3/4 finished. So all of the villains with the exception of the Tankonaut, are my own creation.

And the Hood was a Black Dragon, not the Gold Dragon.

And I would have thought the Tankonaut was the original one...he seemed like a take-off on the Juggernaut!

"He" started off as a flying tank in the original story, and I wanted an honest-to-god supervillain, so I spruced him up a bit.

The Tankonaut does provide a moment of comic relief during a period where the book is getting kind of grim...

That was on purpose, of course.

Now at the end of this novel, you have an entire, coherent super-hero universe.  Did you do this with the idea of taking your characters further down their timeline, maybe even past the 1956 date when Nedor ceased publication?

Yeah, there will be many, many future volumes. I have about 30 planned, some which will take raeders to other times and other worlds, but most will occur in the "golden age" -- 1939-56.

I know that a rare handful of the Nedor characters have had previous revivals--I'm reminded of the Beau Smith Black Terror, for example. What do you hope readers coming to your novel will get from your versions that others haven't provided?

Well, it's both authentic pulp and authentic superheroes. I haven't read the BT you mention: I read the Chuck Dixon version and liked it -- but he wasn't a superhero. So the book should appeal to anyone who likes pulp adventure or superheroes.

That's the great thing about the novel--the way it successful straddles both genres--and both the 'golden age' and silver age' sensibilities--while seeming thoroughly authentic.

Thanks. I started with the idea of comics coming out of the pulp era, and wrote it like it was being told in the Silver Age, (as far as plot and characterization) when I read comics, but with a pulp narrative.

And it does come off as very silver age--sort of like reading an issue of THE INVADERS did back in the 70's.  

Give the massive cast you've fleshed out, have you thought about letting other writers play in your toybox, writing stories of some of the characters who were more in the background of this story?

I have, particularly the other worlds stories, so that they will have a different feel from "my" Earth. Also possibly the other time period books, so that I can concentrate on the golden age. I'd have no objection of stories by other writers, if there was an interest for it, and Van [Plexico, publisher] wanted to ride herd on such a project.

Speaking of Van--he has his own little super-hero universe...have you talked about, somewhere down the line, a...ahem...Crisis on Two Earths?

Nope. I think we're both much too busy to think about that now. But I do have the history of the Auric Universe worked out from millions of years ago to 500 years in the future.

You say you've got thirty new stories to tell--want to give the readers of The Agency some hints as to what lies in the future of the Auric Universe?

Future volume will focus on characters who either didn't get much space in TGA, or who are popular. I know that the Black Terror is popular and he's set to star in at least two novels set in 1949. The second volume, Mystico, should be out next month, and starts the AU's mystic heroes, who team up to fight Nazis looking for a mystical object in the US in 1940. Volume 3 (Dark of the Moon) stars fringe characters who weren't seen in TGA; these are civilian heroes and has very strong ties to earlier popular fiction. It is connected to Lost World, First Men in the Moon, Frankenstein, and others.

I'm working on volume 4 now, Crusader, which covers the first year of the Crusader's career

So we'll be seeing more of The Sphinx, The Scarab and the other mystic characters we meet in the second act of THE GOLDEN AGE?  Dare I hope for a Reaper solo book somewhere? 

The Scarab debuted after the events of Mystico. It stars Haldor, the Sphinx, the Reaper, Theseus, the Oracle, the Ghost and Spectro the Mind Reader. And one of the enemies ... super Heydrich! It starts in ancient Spain, with Percival encountering Klingsor, from "Parzifal".

 A Reaper novel? No plans at this time.

That's okay...the idea of The Reaper interacting with Theseus, who is...odd...should be fun enough!

Each character gets their origin told. It also covers the Knights Templar and there's a lot of weird, true stuff in it.  It's sort of the AU verion of The Da Vinci Code.

Jeff, is there anything else you'd like to alert the denizens of The Agency to?

In addition to future volumes of The Golden Age series, I'm working on two other superhero books this year, one set in the present and the other using more public domain characters. I'm acting as editor and plotter of that book, which will be three parallel, concurrent comic book series in prose form.

Cool.  hopefully when these new projects reach fruition, you can return to our humble abode....

Be glad to. I'm glad you liked the book and thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about it.

You’re welcome, Jeff, and thank you so much for stopping by The Agency!  THE GOLDEN AGE is available through Amazon, and White Rocket Books.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

First Glimpse Of...The Multi-Gun!

Hey, gang...if you remember, I mentioned in my last update how my friend David Lugo is designing and building props for all the weapons in the Shadow Legion series.  Well, last night he (with help from his son, Matthew), sent me this schemata!
You won’t see the Multi-Gun until the Nightbreaker story in The Shadow Legion Casebook Volume One: Four For Danger, but I hope you’ll find it one cool weapon.  Incidentally, David has broken down the name into an acronym; the Multi-Gun stands for The Multi-Lateral Tri-Yield Gun.  Why?  You’ll find out soon!

I expect to be posting an update soon, followed by the long-awaited visit to the Agency from Jeff Deischer, writer of the epic novel of the Golden Age of heroes called...well, The Golden Age!  And wait until you see who I’ve got lined up for our next visitor!

More later, amigos!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Periodic Update Post

Hey, folks--I got some crazy stuff for you this time around...starting with this photo.

Yes, that's me.  I'm posing with sword and gun props designed by my dear friend Dave Lugo.  Dave's passion is munitions, and he specializes in creating these cool pulp weapon props...and he's going to be making props of such key weapons in my stories as The Nightbreaker's Multi-Gun, and Tao Jones' exotic blades.  I'll be sharing his progress with you as he moves forward on this, and if I come to a show in your town, you might be able to see them up close and personal!  Check out Vortexx Press, the site Dave runs with his son, and take a look at some of his props and sculpture.

What's that you say?  The Multi-Gun?  Well, in the last two weeks I've been riding a real creativity tsunami surrounding the Nightbreaker story, which I'm now calling 'Ghosts of Steel.'  And it all began when I realized that the story I was struggling with was also the story I had started out to write, 'The Tick Tock Men.'  The biggest flaw with that original version was that I had our hero in the status quo I wanted him in, and didn't realize the story was about how he got to that status quo.  The Multi-Gun is a key part of that movement to where I want Isaiah Copper to be when I begin writing The Devil's Toybox, and it'll make its debut in this very same story!

(and because David Lugo's knowledge of weaponry is the best, bar none, he's been giving me some good background on how the Multi-Gun could work, and what parts would be used to build it...I hope this will create a veracity in future Shadow Legion stories and novels that will wow the fans!)

I'm also making slow progress on The Adventures of Tao Jones, my contribution to the Sovereign City I'm working on two new short stories for each of my Weird West characters, Doc Thunder and El Cuevo.  You'll definitely be seeing the Doc Thunder story at the end of this year...and as for the El Cuevo story, well, you'll know as soon as I do.

And, as with last time, let me direct you to some coolness I've been listening to and reading of late.

The 'listening to' is John Anealio, who writes these cool science fiction and geek-related songs.  John's been doing a project he calls '23 in '13,' where he vowing to write a new song every two weeks for the whole year--and these songs are free to download and listen to!  Check out his blog.

As for what's been occupying my Kindle, let me direct your attention to Monster Aces, a quartet of stories about a mysterious group of monster hunters roaming the Earth and...well, hunting monsters.  Two of the writers involved in this project are Ron Fortier, whose Airship 27 will be publishing the Shadow Legion novels, and Barry Reese, whose Lazarus Grey walks down the mean streets of Sovereign City over at Pro Se Press.  If you love old school movie serials and classic monster movies, this book is for you!

I've also been reading Lords Of Fire, the first of a science fiction series by Van Allen Plaxico, who I had the pleasure of interviewing in the very first Elsewhere In The Multiverse.  There's a unique mix of space opera and mysticism that reminds me a bit of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels, only with a lot of military Sci-Fi thrown in.  If you're looking for a good solid epic, check this book out.

Finally, in the nonfiction groove, I've been digging Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame and The History of The Worst Thing Ever by Mark O'Connell, a discussion of how we tend to obsess over examples of unintentionally awful art, from the world's worst novelist to Rebecca Black's amatuer teen pop.  O'Connell is a very engaging writer who has a lot to say about this recent phenomenon--and how that phenomenon is not so recent after all.  It's a Kindle Single, which means it's a short and entertaining read....and it's only two bucks.

Well, time to get back to to you soon!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Learn About The Origins Of The Shadow Legion--And Hear The Sound Of My Voice!

My dear friend John S. Drew has been the host and head mover and shaker of the long running science fiction podcast (and before that, science fiction public access television show) The Chronic Rift.  Late last year, John agreed to help ease me into the idea of being in the spotlight as a creator and interviewed me about the origins of The Shadow Legion for the show.  Join him for an hour discussion as we talk about the genesis of individual characters, the direction of the series, the state of comics. and other fun stuff on the Chronic Rift website!

And check in regularly on the site for other great podcasts and content!  His stuff is amazing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Shadow Legion's New Artist!

For those of you who have been waiting for The Shadow Legion: New Roads To Hell, I do have some good news for you--namely, that Captain Ron Fortier has finally signed Chris Kemple to join cover artist Mike Fyles in bringing the world of Nocturne to life!  Kemple will be providing the interior illustrations for the book, adding his visual flair to our quartet of crusaders....oh, and our very, very wicked bad girl.

(Incidentally, it seems that those people who have gotten a glimpse of the Legion have been really taken with Our Murderous Fairy Tale much so, I'm beginning to wonder if she should play a bigger part in what is going to be our second full-length novel, The Shadow Legion: The Devil's Toybox!)

Chris is working hard on those illustrations and I hope to share with you some goodies from him--maybe even have him sit down with me here at the Agency--once we're done and we move closer to the release!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Elsewhere In The Multiverse Part Four: Lee Houston, Jr.

If you yearn for the Silver Age, when heroes and villains were easily defined, Project: Alpha is for you.  If you miss the old-school space operas where dashing men and beautiful women had two-fisted adventures on strange planets, Project: Alpha is for you.  Lee Houston Jr.'s second series character (The first, Hugh Monn, is a hardboiled detective who plies his trade on a distant planet) is a super-hero/sci-fi mash up that will be a delight for those who want a gentler, less dark adventure for their heroes.  I sat down with Lee to talk about the series, writing and how the face of mainstream comics has changed since we both were younger.

Lee, thank you for stopping by the Agency to talk space opera and super-heroes with us!

Thanks for inviting me. Nice place you have here.

So what inspired you to create Alpha, Aldous, Conalaric and all the characters who appear in PROJECT: ALPHA?

I have been a reader, and I do stress the R word, of many things well back into my earliest childhood memories, and one of the things I have really enjoyed over the years has been comic books. In time, once I discovered what a writer was, I started dreaming of being on "the other side of the page" someday creating the stories that I loved, and the characters developed from that dream.

I found a lot of old school, Julie-Schwartz-style Silver Age DC in the world of Alpha....was that intentional?

Planned? No. Inspired, yes; because my very first comic book was Action Comics #434, circa May 1974, back in the heyday of Schwartz's editorialship at DC.

I thought I saw a lil' Superman in Alpha!  What is it about the silver age that is so inspiring to you?

Not many comic book fans may agree with me, but it was definitely a more inspiring period creatively. Heroes and villains were more defined. Multiple issue stories were rare, and good always triumphed over evil in the end, whether it took 8 or 20 pages to do so.

I think that the idea of 'decompression' and 'writing for the trade' has damaged comics--you look at those classic ACTIONs, and you get two complete, compact and plot-filled stories in one issue!

True. When I started reading, comic books were 20 pages for 20 cents! Now it's at least $2.99 to get the same 20 pages, and you don't even get a letters column anymore!

I first started reading them when they were 15 cents!

Then you probably got some of those 52 and 48 page issues for a quarter first run. I've managed to acquire some via back issues over the years. Those, along with the 80 and 100 page giants are collectors items today, because E. Nelson Bridwell chose some great reprints to include in each issue!

Yep!  I think I stil have a GREEN LANTERN 25 center, and a JLA one around here somewhere...that's where I was exposed to two  of my favorite comic teams for the first time--the JSA and the Doom Patrol.

Oh, those were great series! Especially pre-Flashpoint!

Now when you started creating Alpha, did you have in mind the idea of expanding the universe down the line to create more of a feel like DC and Marvel back then?  Are there other heroes floating around we might meet in future installments, for example?

Well, I've certainly considered the idea that two or three novels down the road, Alpha's presence in his new home (which will be established when I write his upcoming second book: Wayward Son) inspires other people to attempt following his career path, but he will be the only super powered one. For now?

What motivated you to place Alpha in the stone age for this first book?  Are we going to see him move through time, maybe have adventures in other great epochs of human development?

Who said the first book took place in the stone age on Earth? Seriously, Regardless of what planet Alpha actually hails from, you have to admit that was a great starting point for a superhero. If it's been used before, I can't swear to it off the top of my head.

The only times I can think of it being used is for villains--Vandal Savage in regards to DC, and The Master of The World for Marvel.  This is the first time it's been used for a super-hero.  I have to admit--I also felt a lot of a Saturday Morning Space Opera vibe in the book, especially when we deal with the Shamballan rebellion in the later half.

Knew about Vandal Savage. That Master is a new one on me, but there definitely hasn't been a superhero starting from that point in time. And when I was growing up, back in the pre-cable days, local stations would spend Saturday afternoons with such great stuff as Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and other classics. Of course I've also watched a lot of animation since I've first figured out how to operate a TV set, including all those great shows of my youth like Jonny Quest and Space Ghost.

Why do you think there's such an interest in super-hero prose fiction amongst the New Pulp writers?  So many of us--you and I, Van Allen Plexico, Jeff Deischer, and more--have been finding their ways to telling stories about men and women with extraordinary powers serving justice behind a mask....

The only reason(s) I can think of is that we grew up with the medium, loved the great stories, are not too crazy about some of what is being presented as comic books today, and can't land a writing gig with one of the established houses to begin with, so we're going our own way presenting our own tales the way we remember them and how they should be told. Or at least, all of the above is the situation in my case.

Well, I think that's the great thing about super-hero prose fiction--we get to create our own universes and do the things we've always wanted to see you think that the dissatisfaction with this post-Civil Wars/Post-Flashpoint world is what has brought readers to check out these books?

Definitely. I've been with DC since long before the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, but in all honesty, saw no reason for Flashpoint at all; and am reading nowhere near the number of DC titles I used to. But Marvel for me were going down hill long before Civil War, with the mistreatment of Steve Gerber, Jack Kirby, et. al; along with trying to tell me that the Peter Parker I'd been a fan of since Amazing Spiderman #180 was actually the clone when they started all that Scarlet Spdier nonsense. And don't even get me started about One More/Brand New Day!

See, the irony of the Flashpoint mess is that Marv Wolfman wanted to do this same thing after Crisis--and Karen Berger refused to let it happen!  She said it'd be 'too confusing' for the fans!

Well, I had no problem with the multiple Earths to begin with, although I feel the JLA and the JSA should have been on the same one from the very beginning, instead of doing it post Crisis. The one problem with comic books that developed over the decades from their Golden Age beginnings was that no one in the publishing world foresaw long term fans, let alone continuity minded ones. The companies thought there would be a turnover in readership every 10-15 years, which is why stories from one decade echoed events from the previous decade(s) from time to time. Whether or not it would have worked if Wolfman won the argument is left for more more experienced theorists than me to ponder.

Now, as a comic must enjoy the idea of a larger universe and crossovers....does that mean there might be a possibility of seeing Alpha and Hugh Monn teaming up for an adventure?

I've certainly given it some serious thought, although it will easier for Alpha to visit Hugh than vice versa. But to do any team up, you need a more valid reason for the characters to meet than just "Wouldn't it be neat if..." The why, if it happens, still eludes me at this time.

Are they both in the same 'universe' in your mind?  The Lee houston-verse?

Oh definitely. Different corners of it, but still part of my "verse".

You've done a lot of editing work, both for PRO SE MAGAZINE and THE FREE CHOICE...has being on the other side of the writing life helped you develop to be a better writer?

I like to think so, but that's ultimately the readers' call.

What do you think is the most important thing for an aspiring writer to do to move from 'aspiring' to 'published'?

Don't be afraid to go back over your first draft and correct any mistakes. I've seen too many stories over the years that could have used a little more polish before being submitted. But the moment they type those last words ("The End"), they think they're done and ready to go on to the next project. The published versions of any of my material are far from what they were at their first drafts. The chapter in Project Alpha where Aldous explains to Alpha what he is capable of had eight rewrites before I was happy with it; because I not only wanted to explain the powers, but also make them believable, as well as present a good chapter instead of just a massive, boring "info dump".

How do you make the more fantastical parts believable?  Do you do a lot of research?

I try to research what I can. There were some major acknowledgements at the end of Project Alpha. But any work of (superhero) fiction requires some suspension of disbelief. My (super power) theories may not be practical in real life, but they do sound plausible enough so that the reader will accept the possibilities.

What is, in your mind, the most important thing to take care of to make sure your super-hero feels real and plausible to your readers?

I think the first step is not to make any character too powerful. If there is no problem they can't solve, if there is no villain they can't defeat, then why read that character's adventures to begin with? After all, DC has had to depower Superman a few times over the course of his career. Yet there still has to be challenges to face, whether physical or dramatic. Writers walk a very fine tightrope in regards to superhero characters because of this.

So you're presently working on PROJECT ALPHA BOOK TWO: WAYWARD SON.  What can fans look forward to seeing as our hero's saga unfolds?

Actually, I'm honoring my short story commitments to Pro Se first, so work on Book 2 will begin in earnest this Spring. But when I do turn to Wayward Son, Alpha will be trying to figure out his place and purpose in the universe. At best, you can call his debut mission a draw, considering how things turned out. So now Alpha is trying to basically pick up the pieces of his life and wondering "What's next?" But I do want to assure Alpha's fans that the series is currently plotted through Book Five!

Cool!  What else would you like to tell people at the Agency about?

Well, besides being the editor for the monthly Pro Se Presents magazine, I am also the writer/creator of another series entitled Hugh Monn: Private Detective. I took all the basic trappings of the private detective genre and placed them on another planet in the far flung future. The second book in that series Catch A Rising Star, is due out later this year from Pro Se, and will be Hugh's first full length adventure.

How does writing long form differ from short form for you?

It takes more time obviously. ;) Personally, I prefer to let the story dictate its course and word length whenever possible. In this case, while I was intentionally trying for longer Hugh centerd stories, Catch A Rising Star kept growing and growing on me, until it reached the point where it became a novel unto itself instead of just the opening story within a second anthology of Hugh Monn tales.

Well, Lee...I want to thank you for taking the time to talk shop with us here at the Nocturne Travel Agency.

No problem. Thanks for inviting me.

Project Alpha can be purchased here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Periodic Update Post

Hey, pals and gals...welcome to 2013!  Hope your holidays went well and January finds you healthy and happy.

I'm still hard at work on The Shadow Legion Casebook V.1: Four For Danger, and have reached the halfway mark on the book.  'The Ascension of Indio Blaque,' the Black Talon tale that sees our Predator of The Concrete Jungles of Nocturne reach back into his childhood knowledge to battle a sinister cult leader with lethal designs on the superhuman population of The City That Lives By Night, is halfway finished, and should be next to be done.  Of course, the most fun I'm having is with 'Final Innings,' the Dreamcatcher story, which sees our Sexy Sorceress trying to determine who is using magic to wreck the season of Nocturne's resident baseball team.  It's one of the reasons why I wanted to alternate between novels and antholgies for The Shadow Legion--the anthologies give me a chance to do different styles of stories with different tones and feelings to them.  And I hope that all of these stories will give you new insight into our heroes and heroines, and a greater concept of Nocturne and the world around it.

Also moving along is The Adventures of Tao Jones.  I've been concentrating on 'The Damocles Gun,' the story that will see Tao and her ally Mike Townsend trying to reclaim a weapon that kills with a thought before all Hell breaks loose in Sovereign City.  That one's still a ways away, but if you want to learn more about Sovereign City--and read some cracking stories in the pulp tradition--go to Pro Se Press and purchasing Derrick Ferguson's The Adventures of Fortune McCall and Barry Reese's The Adventures of Lazarus Gray and Lazarus Gray: Die Glocke!

There's something else I just signed on for--something from Pulpworks Press you won't see until the end of this year.  But that'll be something we'll discuss as it takes fuller shape.

Before I do close out this update--and hopefully the next time I'll finally be able to get you that long-promised interview with Lee Houston Jr. about his super-hero/space opera mash-up Project Alpha, also available from Pro Se Press--I want to alert you to two New Pulp Books I've been grooving on lately.

Ed Erdelac's Merkabah Rider: Tales of A High Planes Drifter(Damnation Books) is an excellent collection of four weird western stories featuring a Jewish mystical gunfighter known only as The Rider.  Ed is an excellent writer whose evocative prose mingles a number of different genres.  As for the Rider himself, he's a great addition to the New Pulp canon, the sort of figure that fans of Solomon Kane and Jonah Hex would feel right at home with.  Hell, any of these stories could have easily been retrofitted to become the Jonah Hex movie I really wanted to see!  And the best thing is that there are two other books in the series, and I can't wait to read more of The Rider and his quest to right wrongs and track down his mentor and betrayer, Adon.

I'm a sucker for alternative history novels, and Wayne Reinagel's Modern Marvels: Viktoriana (Knightraven Studios) posits a doozy of an alternative history--one where literary figures Mary Shelley, H. Rider Haggard, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and others are part of a secret order that wages war against a vampire army headed by Countess Elisabeth Bathory.  Wayne's got a tendency for epic storytelling, and it is a Big Read--we're talking almost five hundred pages.  But it is a Big Read of wonderfully gothic setpieces, great characterization and lots of action and intrigue.  If you, like me, long to read stories where vampires are treated as monsters and not boyfriends with interesting dentition, this book is for you.

So check these two books out.  I'll alert you to other great new pulp reads as I get to them.  Come back soon for some interview-y goodness with Lee Houston Jr.!

(Oh...and if you're a writer or publisher who'd like to see me talk about your books in future Agency updates, please contact me through my Facebook page....)