Sunday, April 29, 2012

Back to the Beginning -- Pulps

executioner 110: trojan horse
So after floundering for a decade in my half-assed attempt at a writing career, I find myself following the call to write pulp fiction.  It's like I've come full circle, creatively speaking.

I was telling Ron Fortier today at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Con about how I first knew I wanted to be a writer was when I was twelve.  And the stuff I was reading back then, the books that first inspired me, was Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan.  More specifically my favorites of the series were the ones ghost written by Stephen Mertz.

By the time I got into it, the war on the Mafia era was over and The Executioner had become a paramilitary spy thriller.  But it was still a modern day pulp; balls out, wall-to-wall action with a hard assed hero who was anything but a saint -- but still unmistakably a hero.  Those are the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.

But I got sidetracked by life, as so many of us do.  Flash forward to today.  I'm 60,000 words into my first novel (based on the original plot notes of a story I started when I was 12).  I had every intention of writing it as a pulp, but I end up creating so dense a backstory that it becomes more of a crime drama.  I'm still happy with it, but when you go more than three chapters without a gun going off or someone getting slugged, it just ain't a pulp.

Pulp 1
Meanwhile I am seeing a revival of sorts in the "genre" (style, theme, genre, whatever).  They never really died, but there are certainly a hell of a lot more of them these days then I remember seeing ten years ago, when Grown-Up Lance first started thinking seriously about writing.

And not just detectives and spies.  There's urban fantasy, jungle adventure, explorers.  And hot chicks.  Lots and lots of hot chicks.  Hell even Zorro's a chick now, apparently.  I'm all about girl power.  Strong female characters are the best to write.

Then out of nowhere, I am invited to contribute to a superhero pulp anthology.  Talk about the best of both worlds for a comic book fan.  It was fun, and definitely got the creative juices flowing.

So now I've got a writing sample.  Not an unfinished fanfiction.  An honest-to-golly (soon to be) published story with my name on it.  With that sample I got another gig, and the way recent conversations have gone, I think I'm actually going to get a couple more.

Here's the kicker.  I spoke to a couple independent publishers about my writing style and without me even asking(!!) they tell me they are looking for contributors.  I ask if they can send me a story bible of their character/setting.  They say sure!  Wai-Wha?  Just like that.  I've been banging my head against the wall for ten frickin years in the comics world with little more than a "good luck kid".

There is an adage that society does not let you really succeed until you're 40.  Although I am surrounded by exceptions to that rule, perhaps I am evidence of it being true for the rest of us.
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