Posts Tagged ‘pulps’

Its odd to think that just three weeks ago this project didn’t exist. Since then it has all taken off; the two main character have burst to life, the world is building itself around me, the first two novelettes have been written (and are waiting on polishing/editing) and a third is in the process of having its rough draft written. There are even ideas for another seven novelettes. Not a bad effort.

It all started through reading a few things a few weeks back. I had started making my way through The Complete Chronicles of Conan by Robert E Howard again, and was also reading a few threads on some forums about favourite fantasy cities, as well as about how ebooks were a good thing for a resurgence of the shorter forms of story telling.

At the time, as mentioned in a previous post, I was thinking about my writing style and realised I preferred the shorter, pulp style. I was trying to work out a way of constructing a fantastic city that would work in a pulp series – my first thought was to slip it into the White Bull series, but I realised that it didn’t really fit the style. And so the idea came to me to start a new, proper pulp heroic fantasy series. Thus was born the setting.

It all started with the characters, as you would expect for the genre. They very quickly stabilised into view, though remained nameless for a short while. Carse, also called Blade, pretty much hasn’t changed since the first impression of him, that of a tall, languid man who was in part a dandy, but beneath that was a thief, an assassin and a dabbler in magic. Fianna, or Peregrine, did change from initial ideas. I wanted to go with a shorter warrior compared to Carse. The initial thought was to go with a dwarf, but that quickly changed as I decided to stick to a mostly human setting. The next idea was a swordmaiden who came from the wild hill tribes, a stark contrast from the civilised city dweller that Carse was.

Before I came up with their names, I was just using Peregrine and Blade to refer to them, which have remained as their nicknames. I have been waiting something like twenty years to use those names. Initially I gave them to a pair of rangers, way back in the day when I was young and ‘borrowed’ liberally from whatever at the time I was reading. Those characters vanished long ago, but the names hung around waiting to be used.

The next item was to come up with a city to act as their home base. The fist story I wrote saw the city spring to life. Much of it is yet to be explored, and I look forward to finding out more about what lurks within it as the stories write themselves. But beyond that there is the rest of the world for the duo to wander, to explore and to have adventures in.

As soon as I have the third novelette written I plan to bundle them together and make them available for people to read.

I have written two novels of what I like to think as serious fantasy, and have plans for more, but I have come to the realisation that at the moment I am a pulp writer – and I like it.

Those big, epic, world changing bookstopper fantasy series – they aren’t me. It was hard enough to finish off the two novels at novel length. It was after doing so that I realised that I prefer the short versions of stories – shorts and novelettes and novellas – and more importantly, prefer writing stories in the pulp style; action, adventure, larger than life characters etc. Nothing too serious, nor high literature, but fun to read.

I find myself even preferring to read the shorter style stories – I haven’t read one of those mega series in a long time.

For the time being I am going to be concentrating on writing pulp style shorts, working on four series mainly; The Chronicles of the White Bull, Primal Tales, The Sir Richard Hammerman Adventures and Peregrine and Blade.

The Chronicles of the White Bull and Primal Tales both have stories already written and available in the Pure Escapism collection; Primal tales is fantasy set in a primeval, low-tech world, a place of wild forests and prehistoric creatures. The Chronicles of the White Bull follows the exploits of an escaped minotaur gladiator, travelling a dying world in the search for home.

The Sir Richard Hammerman is steampunk pulp; currently with a novella and novelette half-written. Sir Richard Hammerman is a gentleman adventurer who travels with his companions who travels an Earth similar, but not exactly, to our own, a place of weird science, of pterodactyl riding pygmies, airships and odd contraptions.

Peregrine and Blade is pure pulp, inspired by the likes of Robert E Howard, Fritz Leiber and their ilk. The first novelette has been written up in rough form – and can be read here – the first of many.

I’m midway through the rough draft for the new Nhaqosa the minotaur short story, untitled as yet. The very first story I put on this website – The Pit – was about him (though it wasn’t initially meant to be so) and is still one of my favourites.

I’ve just rewatched Gladiator, and doing so reminded me of what it was the inspired The Pit – that and the D&D Dark Sun setting (which at the time hadn’t even been announced as being re-released.)

It got me thinking about Nhaqosa and his story and a few ideas sprung to mind, mostly to do with how he ended up a gladiator to start with, and his life – and fights – in the world, especially about how he came to command such respect amongst the other gladiators. So at some stage I plan to write about that, and explore more the grim nature of the setting he is in.

Failed to make the quota yesterday sadly.  Didn’t even make 1K words.  Overall for the first five days I’ve managed 9075 words, so need to put in a good day today to catch up.

The goods news is the drafts for all four stories for the second volume fo Pure Escapism are now done, ready for editting, though in the case of The Village I think it will take some major editting.

Still, hopefully by the end of next week, it will be ready to go.

The other thoughts that were going through my mind during the long drive to my parents place (as referred to in a previous post) were on the current publishing climate and the pulps.

By all reports the current publishing industry is in trouble, like most other industries at the moment. It hasn’t been helped by poor decision making – such as giving ridiculous six and seven figure advanced to ‘famous’ people for stories that normally wouldn’t see light of day or trying to squeeze too much profit out per book, far higher than historically normal – as well as a host of other issues.

The upshot is that they aren’t really taking chances on new, unknown authors, are cutting staff and other options that are making it increasing hard for new authors to break into the market, no matter how good they may be.

They want you to be established to take you on, yet how do you get to be established if they won’t take you on? Its all a bit catch-22.

This all got me thinking back to older times, to the days of the pulp magazines.

The age of the pulp magazines was from the 20’s to the 50’s, when they all but died out. Their height was in the 20’s and especially the 30’s – during the Great Depression.

This was no coincidence. The pulp magazines were exceedingly cheap, printed on cheap wood pulp paper, using cheap printing and cheap authors. They were also pure escapism – in a period of such depression it gave people a cheap outlet to escape the woes of the world.

While the storied contained within were not always of the greatest quality, they served as a launching pad for many notable authors and characters – Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan/Barsoon), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian), Robert A Heinlein, Frank Herbert (Dune), H. P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber & Isaac Asimov all contributed to the Pulps.

The pulp magazines declined when WWII came along, due to paper shortages, resulting in a rise of costs amongst other things, and by the 50s they had almost disappeared. With them went the largest outlet for sales of short stories, and authors had to turn novels for the msot part.

They never completely died – there are a few examples around, though not to the extent or the recognition of the glory days of the pulps.

It would seem to me now that there is a chance that we could see a resurgence of the pulp magazines, or at least a facsimile thereof.

While we aren’t heading to a repeat of the Great Depression (or at least we hope we aren’t), we are heading into hard times. People will want cheap forms of pure escapism, as they did in the 30s. Upcoming authors, and even established ones, are eager to be read, to become known And the internet provides a means of distribution and recognition. Could this mark the return of the pulps, and a return of the short story, not the mammoth door stoppers we have come to have foisted upon us?

I would like to think so – I may even have a shot at setting one up myself if I knew a bit more about the process.

Anyone else have any thoughts on it?