Here’s the thing; I love The Internet. I truly do. Yes, there’s a lot crap out there that gets in the way of the good stuff but the good stuff is there. It just sometimes takes me a while to get around it. Take for instance the webcomic WARBIRDS OF MARS that has been around for a goodish amount of time now. I, however have been woefully ignorant of it until I was made aware of the anthology WARBIRDS OF MARS: STORIES OF THE FIGHT and while it’s a hefty introduction to the situation and principal characters at the heart of the series it is one well worth reading due to the interesting mix of talent involved.
The set-up is fairly easy to get hold of: Invaders from outer space attack The Earth while it’s engaged in World War II. The alien invaders actually aren’t Martians but what the hey, WARBIRDS OF MARS is a great title so let’s not spoil it with minor details. The Martians have chosen this time to invade as for years they’ve had agents on Earth, half-alien/half-human fifth columnists working behind the scenes to make the invasion easier. And with the world powers fragmented and not able to work together it’s not long before many major cities and nations are conquered and under control of the invaders. But there’s still hope: human resistance forces are fighting back with every weapon and resource at their command to take back the planet.
The core characters of WARBIRDS OF MARS: STORIES OF THE FIGHT! are an elite cadre of resistance fighters known as The Martian Killers. The leader is Hunter Noir, a fedora wearing, trenchcoated man of mystery who keeps his face bandaged. Jack Paris is your typical wisecracking, two-fisted pilot/adventurer. Josie Taylor is the team’s femme fatale and Mr. Mask is a human/alien hybrid who has joined the resistance, proving to be a valuable asset to the the team due to his having been trained by a samurai master.
These characters all get plenty of time to strut their stuff both in solo stories and in stories where they work together but WARBIRDS OF MARS: STORIES OF THE FIGHT! also takes the opportunity to show what is going on with other people trying to survive in this hellish brave new world in various locations around the globe and through the eyes of characters both human and alien.
“Hunter Noir” by Scott P. Vaughn leads off the anthology with the origin of the leader of The Martin Killers and how the invasion began. It’s a good origin story with the only bump in it for me is the sudden decision by the protagonist to become a masked man of mystery while being hunted by the enemy and whipping up a costume and new name for himself in no time flat but y’know what? That’s just me. It’s that kind of story and you either go along with it or not. It wasn’t enough to make me stop reading the story and that’s the main thing.
“In The World Today” by Megan E. Vaughn is one of my favorite stories in the anthology as it concerns a small-town movie date and the effects the Martian Invasion has on it. It’s a short slice of small town American life kind of story but it doesn’t skimp on the characterization.
I love the weird western comic book “Desperadoes” written by Jeff Mariotte so it’s no surprise that I loved “Southern Cross” even though it wasn’t set in the Southwestern United States as I might have expected. (Ron Fortier takes care of that part of the country…we’ll get to it soon…be patient) No, Jeff takes us out to the South China Sea for this one as Jack Paris gets involved in Oriental skullduggery.
“The Deadly Triad” by Alex Ness is a nifty little look into what’s going on with the Chinese and Japanese and I greatly appreciated the break from the slam bang adventure of the previous story to take time out to see what was going on elsewhere in the beleaguered world.
Sean Ellis has long been one of my favorite writers who never fails to disappoint and he doesn’t do so with “The Farmboy’s Adventure” which has an ending that I truly did not see coming and when it did I immediately went back to the beginning of the story to see if there were any clues that I had missed. I’m betting you’ll do the same.
“The Bitter Edge” is by Kane Gilmore and is another origin story. This one concerning Mr. Mask, so called because he wears a German gas mask constantly. He’s a lot of fun to read about as I kinda get the idea that Kane’s inspiration for the character was G.I. Joe’s Snake Eyes. But with Mr. Mask being a Martian/Human hybrid training how to be a samurai warrior brings an added dimension to the character that moves the story into an exploration of identity and self-respect that lifts it a notch above just another action/adventure entry.
As promised, Ron Fortier serves up a wild west romp with “The Monsters of Adobe Wells” which takes The Monster Killers way out west to team up with Sioux warrior Charlie Three-Feathers, a character I wouldn’t mind seeing more of if there are future WARBIRDS OF MARS anthology. And again, the changeup in setting provides readers with another aspect of the war against the invaders. The international aspect of this anthology is one of the best things about it and a western story fits in here just fine.
Megan E. Vaughn returns for “The Skull of Lazarus” which is a story that makes me wonder if Megan is a “Thunderbirds” fan as her Lady Doyle and Jerry reminded me strongly of Lady Penelope Creighton and her bodyguard/chauffeur Parker. This is an adventure built for nothing but sheer thrills and like Ron’s Charlie Three-Feathers, I hope to see more of Lady Doyle.
“Red Sky Phoenix: The Rise of Free Russia” is another snapshot from Alex Ness as to what’s going on in yet another part of the world. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have even more of these prose postcards in future anthologies.
“Human Guile” by Chris Samson is where I finally hit a major bump. I’ve read this story twice and still can’t quite wrap my head around what the story is about. It just seemed to me like there was way too much plot and way too many characters doing things I just didn’t understand why they were doing them. For me, motivation is a Big Deal in my fiction. It’s not necessary for me to like or dislike the characters but I do demand that the writer establish why they’re doing what they’re doing and I simply didn’t get that here.
“Surprise” by Stephen M. Irvin is indeed that as I didn’t expect to find a hard-boiled noir story in here but I as I continued reading more and more into this anthology it soon became apparent to me that this concept could and did support a variety of genre stories very well indeed such as J.H. Ivanov’s “The Road Out of Antioch” and “Shipwrecked” by David Lindblad, both of which are out-and-out horror stories with “The Road Out of Antioch” approaching Lovecraftian proportions of cosmic dread. It’s that good, trust me.
“Refined Elegance” by Scott P. Vaughn takes us home and if I had to make a choice between this one and “Hunter Noir” I’d have to go with this one, much as I liked “Hunter Noir.” It’s told from the point of view of Josie Taylor. The Martian Killers have been doing that for quite a while now, the war appears to have no end in sight and Josie is starting to ask herself and her teammates some hard questions the dangerous missions they routinely go on.
The stories are complimented by strong, solid artwork from Jean Arrow, Adriano Carreon, Mike DeBalfo, Bill Farmer, Matt Goodall, Christian Guldager, Robert Hack, Rob Hicks, John Lucas, Paul Roman Martinez, Nathan Morris, Dan Parsons, Nik Poliwko, Richard Serrao and Jason Worthington that serve the needs of the stories they were drawn for, successfully evoking the mood and tone of the prose.
So should you read WARBIRDS OF MARS: STORIES OF THE FIGHT? I certainly think so. One of my concerns about New Pulp is that it not fall into a rut. Masked avengers of the night and scientific adventurers are cool as hell, no doubt about it. But New Pulp can’t survive on a steady diet of those. Stories such as the ones in WARBIRDS OF MARS: STORIES OF THE FIGHT! that gives us mashups of war stories mixed with science fiction, horror, day in the life, hard-boiled noir and other genres provide a refreshing new dish for the palate of our imagination to taste and savor. It’s a solid package as you get a lot of story and art for your money and time. Enjoy.
Every field of work, every career, every fandom, every anything that catches peoples’ interest and involves creative types producing works comes with its own mysteries. Obscure players and disregarded pieces that get lost to history and end up nearly completely forgotten, except for whispers of ‘Do You remember…?’ and tales of ‘Someone told me about…’
Such are the rumors of Vincent St. Germain and his nearly literal flash in the pan self-named pulp publishing company-St. Germain Publishing. Pro Se Productions announces that after exploring the nearly unknown stories and whispers about this extremely short lived publishing outfit, it has licensed from the owner and potential creator’s estate all characters featured in five apparently and two unpublished magazines.
“As little is known about the man St. Germain as is about his alleged almost momentarily St. Louis, Missouri based magazine publishing concern,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions. “I have uncovered no written records confirming his existence, except potentially a few pieces of paper held dearly by reclusive collectors of such ephemera. No copies of signatures, of his own handwriting, not even of checks issued by his company. This last matter has led to speculation among the few who still discuss St. Germain that he may not have had many employees beyond what it took to physically publish magazines. In other words, there is a belief that Vincent St. Germain, ‘Vinny’ to a very few apparently, may himself have written every story that his company published, all of them under a variety of pen names. This is further potentially supported, based on lists of the works he published, each story by an author that had not published before or since St. Germain Publishing’s one month rise and fall. It is curious, though, that a Vincent St. Germain died in New Orleans, Louisiana in late 1938. Also, other than supposedly eyewitness encounters with the man, the only possible proof that he ever lived are two images, taken a few years apart apparently, that, based on my own personal deductions, are likely Vincent St. Germain.”
“There is even less available evidence of the five single issues, each one the first of a hopeful magazine within the St. Germain line, that the company allegedly released on the same day in the first week of April 1938. I have been allowed access to information and such surrounding the characters and contents of each magazine, six stories in each issue, all intended to be the first in series within each title. If the magazines ever existed, actual issues are either in the hands of the very protective collectors I mentioned earlier or hiding possibly in someone’s basement in a box thrown in the corner. Fortunately, the creator, if St. Germain, or creators, if multiple writers, made detailed notes and character descriptions and synopses, all supposedly at the direction of St. Germain, another way that he stood out from other Pulp publishers of the era.”
Also, there were allegedly two magazines prepared to debut the month after the first five. Though they were reportedly never published, Pro Se does have access to purported notes and details of these two books, and they will also be a part of this project, meaning that there will be seven anthologies featuring new stories starring these characters alleged to have appeared in St. Germain’s works.
The magazines that were supposedly published included ENDLESS MYSTERY, EVERLASTING TERROR, IMMORTAL ACTION, FOREVER WESTERN, and TIMELESS TALES. UNDYING LOVE and ETERNAL FANTASY were the two unpublished magazines. All these titles indicate that Vincent St. Germain was aware of the folklore associated with his surname and the infamous Comte de St. Germain, possibly a relative.
Based on a few notes left by St. Germain, it was intended that every story in each magazine would continue as a series. This did not occur, however, because there was no second issue of any of the five periodicals, or anything else ever published by St. Germain Publishing. The characters in St. Germain’s magazines at least on the surface resembled types made popular in other Pulp magazines. But, upon closer review, it turns out that Vincent was not only revolutionary in how he chose to do business, but he attempted to be tremendously forward thinking in both style of storytelling and crossing certain boundaries.
This has been,” Hancock states, “more than just a research project for a curious publisher, though. In the weeks I’ve invested in putting together the scarce remains of St. Germain Publishing, I have made progress that I did not expect. Pro Se Productions has licensed the characters believed to be included in St. Germain’s seven magazines from the person who currently owns them. To this end, Pro Se intends to bring all seven magazine titles back initially, each one as a book, an anthology. Each will feature a story for all the characters that reportedly debuted or would have debuted in the original pulps in the order in which they first appeared. The intent is to publish these seven new collections over the next twelve to eighteen months, twelve being the target. Following this ‘re debut’, we would then most definitely do novels, anthologies, digest novels, and even standalone digital short stories of the characters and expand them in their own series, hopefully as St. Germain might have intended.”
Pro Se Productions proudly announces that artist Kristopher Michael Mosby has agreed to provide a cover fore each anthology, each one bearing the title of a St. Germain magazine. Also, 42 writers have signed on to be a part of this project. The writers involved are-
Ron Fortier, Melinda Lafevers, E. W. Farnsworth, Adrian Delgado, Ariel Teague, Joshua Pantalleresco, Troy Osgood, Atom Mudman Bezecny, Andrew Butters, Rich Steeves, Raymond Embrack, HC Playa, Davide Mana, Quenntis Ashby, Paul Brian McCoy, Richard B. Wood, Colin Joss, Mark Bousquet, Derrick Ferguson, Sean Taylor, Neal Litherland, Susan Burdorf, Gary Phillips, Barry Reese, Frank Schildiner, Rob Howell, Gordon Dymowski, Richard C. White, Ernest Russell, Thomas Fortenberry, David Farris, Barbara Doran, Aaron Bittner, David White, Erik Franklin, Mike Hintze, Guy Worthey, Emily Jahnke, Mandi M. Lynch, Derek M. Koch, Aubrey Stephens, and Dewayne Dowers.
The reinforced door of the Chief’s main laboratory was thrown open with a resounding WABOOM! and the entire cavernous room shuddered with the force of the impact. Cliff Steele stood in the doorway and he cranked his voice amplifier all the way up as he shouted; “This had better be really important!”
He stalked across the concrete floor. The sight of a robot dressed in ragged jeans with shiny metal knees showing and a sleeveless Miskatonic University sweatshirt might have been bizarre anywhere but here in The Doom Patrol’s headquarters. Robotman teammates were used to Cliff’s habit of dressing in human clothing on his days off.
Cliff stopped in front of Niles Caulder’s wheelchair. The red-headed scientist intently read his Palmer Technologies computer tablet and seemed oblivious to the imposing orange-gold robot towering over him.
“Bad enuff you an’ Will Magnus gotta be scannin’ and examinin’ me all up the wazoo and whatnot. I finally get you to finally give me a day off to try an’ watch a lousy ball game in peace and the priority alert goes off!” Cliff whirled on his teammate Larry Trainor who stood off to one side, quietly amused. “An’ what’re you smirking about, mister?”
“Admiring your choice of wardrobe. You think you might want to take up modeling for a career?”
“Gentlemen, please.” The Chief sighed and placed the tablet in his lap. “Cliff, I’m truly sorry to have interrupted your day off, but a pressing matter that needs our immediate attention has come up.”
Cliff folded his long arms and his hinged square lower jaw dropped open an inch as his artificially created voice grumbled; “So what? Jeez, ain’t there anybody else out there who can handle these things? It ain’t like they’re shy when it comes to takin’ bows in front of the cameras.”
“Cliff, I think when I tell you what’s going on, you’ll agree with me as to the importance of this mission.”
Larry interrupted, rubbing his freshly bandaged hands together. “Chief, if this is a mission briefing, then where’s Rita?”
“She’s not going on this mission.”
Cliff’s jaw dropped all the way open and Larry’s face under the bandages twisted in alarm and dismay. “What’s happened to Rita?”
“She’s fine, Larry, she-”
“Lissen, Chief, you tell us straight and fast what’s happened to Rita. Is she hurt? Did Dayton do something to her?”
The Chief was rapidly losing patience with his teammates which they plainly heard as his voice became sharp and clipped as he answered, “Rita is just fine. She is attending to a personal matter that she consulted with me about a few days ago and I assured her she had my full support. Unfortunately, this matter has come up and we shall have to deal with it without her.”
Larry shook his head. “It’ll be weird with just Cliff and I going into action….”
“You’ll do no such thing.”
“But you just said-”
“I said that we would deal with this situation without her. I never said you and Cliff were going alone.”
“Hiya boys,” said a familiar, most unwelcome voice from the door. Cliff and Larry whirled to see a wickedly grinning Steve Dayton standing there, his newly redesigned Mento helmet in one hand and his costume thrown over a shoulder. “The kid and I figured we’d lend a hand since the missus is tied up elsewhere.”
From behind Dayton, a green kangaroo bounded into the room and in mid-bounce turned into Gar Logan who landed in Cliff’s arms. “Didja miss me, Uncle Cliff?”
Rita Farr Dayton looked at the address on the card in her hand and matched it up to the one on the door. 119 MASTRION DRIVE.
Rita rang the bell and shortly it was answered. The slim dark-haired woman with a rather narrow face ending in a pointed chin and wearing granny glasses perched on her small nose smiled. “Mrs. Dayton? So glad to meet you at last. I’m Dr. Jacqueline Ascher. Please come in.”
Dr. Ascher led Rita through a small foyer and a modest waiting room into her office which boasted a fireplace and a view of nearby Oceanside Park. The thick brown French carpeting and rich dark wood of the walls made Rita feel more at ease and she was beginning to think maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“Would you like some coffee, tea?”
“Only if it’s decaffeinated, please. Either one will be fine.”
“I’ll join you. And while I’m making it, perhaps you’ll start by telling me why you feel you need psychoanalysis.”
“Oh NO!” Cliff roared, dropping the startled youth on his butt. Gar yelped in shocked surprise as he hit the floor. In a burst of emerald energy, he changed into a green rabbit and hopped out of harm’s way. “There’s no way I’m goin’ anywhere with him!” A long metal finger stabbed in Dayton’s direction. ” Chief, what the hell’s comin’ off here?”
“Niles, I’m with Cliff on this one.” Larry said firmly. “First to tell us Rita’s not coming with us with no warning or word of explanation and then to hit us with Dayton as a partner…”
“Don’t forget me!” the green rabbit squeaked. Beast Boy was ignored as the four men argued.
“It’s not like Dayton hasn’t gone on missions before, Cliff,” Niles Caulder said.
“Yeah, Cliffy…you’re treating me like a red-headed stepchild when I’m practically a bonafide member of the team. A member who’s saved your shiny metal butt more than a few times as I recall…”
That was enough for Cliff. A quarter ton of furious Robotman lunged at Dayton. Hands powerful enough to rip a tank in half aimed right for his throat.
Fast as Cliff was, Dayton was faster. He clapped his Mento helmet on his head. The helmet amplified Dayton’s latent mental abilities, such as telekinesis, to incredible levels.
Cliff stopped as if he’d slammed into a solid titanium wall. He fell backwards, sounding like a dump truck unloading scrap metal as he hit the floor. Dayton stood behind his invisible mental shield and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Want to try again?”
“That’s enough!” Niles Caulder roared. “Dayton! Take that helmet off and Cliff, get up and control yourself! I swear, the boy acts more like an adult than the pair of you!”
“Wow…thanks, Chief!” Gar said from Larry’s elbow. Larry bent down and whispered in Gar’s ear, “Don’t push it, kid.”
The Chief rolled his wheelchair in front of Mento and Robotman and his booming basso voice echoed in the huge lab like the rumble of a war chariot’s wheels. “I don’t remember inviting debate or discussion about who and who isn’t a member of this team. I say who goes on a mission and who doesn’t and I will not have my decisions questioned by any or you at any time! Is that crystal clear to all of you?”
There were quiet nods of assent. Eve in a wheelchair, Niles Caulder could command attention like few men could. “Then I want everyone over by the conference table right now. Dayton, I’ll want a word with you in private right after the briefing.”
Larry fell into step next to Cliff. “You okay?”
“Hell, no…Larry, what’s going on around here?”
“Your guess is as good as mine, pal. All I know is, Rita’s got some explaining to do.”
Rita put down her empty Duvynchy china tea cup and sat back in the leather chair. “I suppose that’s all I have to say, Dr. Ascher.”
The psychoanalyst tapped a red-nailed finger against her chin. “So. You wonder why it is that even after achieving a measure of fulfillment and success as a member of The Doom Patrol and marrying a wealthy and handsome man, you still feel…’freakish’…that is your term, is it not?”
“Yes…yes…I just want to understand what it is I’m feeling about all this. I’m practically still a newlywed and while I should be building a life with my husband, I’m gallivanting around the world with my friends fighting all manners of bizarre enemies….”
“You love your friends very much, don’t you?”
“I consider Larry and Cliff my brothers and Niles…under that cold intellectual shell, he’s got a heart warmer and more caring than anyone could imagine. I can’t picture leaving them…but is there any reason I should stay?”
It was three hours later when Larry Trainor landed The Doom Patrol’s customized Summers XM5 helicopter on the landing pad of the NovaTech BioResearch Complex located some ninety miles north of Midway City.
Spread over two hundred acres, the research complex boasted cutting edge work in the rapidly growing field of nanotechnology and its applications in medical procedures.
The main building was a dome some fourteen stories high and the foursome walked toward the main entrance.
Steve Dayton yanked at the tight collar of his Doom Patrol uniform. Both Cliff and Larry insisted that he abandon the garish purple costume he normally favored and wear a Doom Patrol jumpsuit like Larry and Gar. Steve was beginning to think maybe this was a bad idea after all. He’d never gotten along with Trainor and Steele and maybe he’d been a fool to think that he ever would. If Rita hadn’t made him see how important it was to her and Garfield, he wouldn’t even be here.
They were met at the door by a smiling, barrel chested man with thinning blond hair atop his blocky face. “Hi! I’m Dr. James Fynes. I’ll be your liaison while you’re here to help us with our little problem.”
Larry made the introduction and after hands were shaken, he got right to the point. “Dr. Caulder said that you were afraid some experimental nanobots had infected some of your test animals?”
Fynes nodded. “Come along, we’ll head for the animal habitat and you can see for yourself. Mr…Mento? Or do you prefer Mr. Dayton?” They all stepped on a slidewalk that took them deeper into the complex.
“Whatever,” Steve grunted.
“Could I please ask you not to use your mental abilities until asked? We’ve got literally trillions of nanobots of many different kinds and we’re still not sure how many of them react to psychic talents.”
Fynes seemed a bit perturbed by Steve’s attitude but he appeared satisfied enough with the answer and started his explanation.
“About eleven months ago, we created a totally new breed of nanobots using alien technology brought back by a member of the Justice League, The Atom. Not only was this technology alien, but it was also from a microscopic culture that only he has visited. Well, to say that we were excited is putting it quite mildly. Using this technology, we’ve made extraordinary leaps that might have taken us another seven or eight years to reach.”
“According to The Chief, ” Cliff said, “these new nanobots have somehow taught themselves to shrink like The Atom does? How’d they pull that off?”
Fynes shrugged and spread his hands. “That’s what we were hoping you could tell us. Mr. Dayton has the best chance of finding them with his considerable mental abilities and you, Mr. Steele can be able to confine them within your robot body. I believe Dr. Caulder has incorporated nanotechnology into your systems?”
Cliff nodded. “The Chief’s reprogrammed the nanites that act as red and white blood cells for my artificial nutrient fluids. Once Mento here locates ’em and zaps ’em into my system with his TK, my nanites will latch on and reprogram ’em to behave.”
“Quite…quite…” Fynes fished for a keycard and slipped it into the lock. The door irised open and the slidewalk continued on.
“Now how exactly do these animals fit in?” Dayton asked. “Seems kinda screwy to have these nano things near animals that can be infected by them.”
Fynes turned around and the change in his face was frightening. His skin had suddenly turned a shade of purple and his eyes bulged out as if about to pop from the sockets.
“Quite…quite…” he said just before he exploded.
Steve Dayton didn’t know exactly how long it was before he regained consciousness. His Mento helmet was gone and he lay spread eagled on a metal table, held down securely with metal binders. “Garfield!” Dayton turned his head frantically from side to side. On identical metal tables on either side was Larry, unconscious as was Cliff and Garfield.
“You worry for your friends?” a screeching voice like rusty tin cans rubbing together asked from above. Steve looked up and wondered if he had lost his mind.
A giraffe was talking to him. But not like any giraffe he’d ever seen. This was was covered in greyish, moldy skin with patches of nanobots that moved and writhed with independent life. The giraffe had triangular metal teeth that gnashed and rubbed against each other with painful sounds.
Between the animal’s front legs, Dayton could see a transparent section where something moved in a thick golden liquid. Even as he looked on in horror, rubbery golden hued three fingered hands flowed from the transparent section to pick up Dayton’s Mento helmet and hold it before him.
“What in God’s name are you?” Steve asked.
“Call us Te Ukiri…and if you do not do exactly as we say you can call us the executioner of your friends.”
This is a work of fanfiction. It has not in any way been authorized by DC Comics, DC Entertainment or Warner Brothers. The characters in this story are the property of their respective creators and there is no intent to make any financial profit whatsoever from this work. It has been written for entertainment purposes only. If this work is deemed an infringement of copyright by the legal owners of said copyright, contact the author and distribution of this story will cease and desist in accordance with the wishes of the copyright holder.
In other words, folks. It’s just for fun. Enjoy.
Chapter One: “ALL TOGETHER NOW”
The bars in Midway City’s downtown area were soon packed on a Friday afternoon promptly after 5PM. Filled with the workers from the multitude of office buildings and shops in that bustling, hustling business district. The mood in those bars were usually that of merriment and celebration as the end of another work week was celebrated. But not this Friday. The bars were packed as usual, yes. But the mood in each and every watering hole was that of grim tension. Every eye focused on the huge flat screen televisions. Drinks were ordered quietly and every boisterous newcomer that entered was promptly admonished to shush and take a seat.
The popular Feria Bar located on the corner of Davis and Nero Avenues was well known in Midway City as the favorite watering hole of the city’s artistic and entertainment community. Novelists, playwrights, actors, directors, poets and various practitioners of the arts gathered there on a regular basis and on Friday it was a place of grand storytelling and good times. The usual crowd was unusually quiet, hanging onto every word of the pretty, petite blond woman on the 40-inch television screen.
“…and we’re into the third hour of the hostage situation here at the opening of the new Midway City Technological Center. Quite frankly, it seems to this reporter that the police are stumped as to how to take the building without jeopardizing the lives of the innocent hostages within. To recap for those of you who have just joined us: The Midway City Technological Center has been taken over and everyone inside held hostage by the notorious international terrorists known as Monsieur Mallah and The Brain.”
The picture split-screened showing Monsieur Mallah on the left, a savage looking giant gorilla with bristling, spiky silvery black fur and The Brain on the right. A human brain suspended in a clear tank of nutrient fluids atop a tombstone gray pedestal disturbingly fashioned in the shape of a cylindrical skull.
“Monsieur Mallah is an African mountain gorilla whose intelligence was increased to genius level thanks to genetic modifications performed upon him by The Brain. There’s very little information on The Brain’s origins but it cannot be disputed that its intellectual power has few rivals on the planet. The pair have been wanted for years by law enforcement agencies in just about every country on Earth as their crimes are too numerous to mention here.”
The picture returned to the woman and the logo at the bottom of the screen read:
Channel 6 BSY NEWS
“The opening of the Technological Center was attended by the cream of Midway City’s political, artistic and scientific communities. Among the notables here; Mayor Matthew Bell and his wife. Members of the Vauciss family. The publisher and Editor-In-Chief of the Midway CityHerald, Gregory Dunn. Carter Hall, world renowned archeologist and curator of the Midway City Museum of Natural History. Dr. William Milton Magnus, creator of The Metal Men. And Dr. Niles Caulder, the founder and organizer of The Doom Patrol, that world-famous team composed of whose members have all suffered terrible accidents that in the eyes of some have made them ‘freaks.’ The genius of Dr. Caulder enabled The Doom Patrol to utilize the abilities they acquired in these accidents in the service of mankind. The Doom Patrol is based right here in Midway City so it isn’t too far of a stretch to surmise that the attack by Mallah and The Brain has something to do with Dr. Caulder’s presence here at the Technological Center.
“The entire building is encased in a strange, transparent substance that to my eye looks for all the world like…well, like Jello. All efforts by police to break through the substance and enter the building have been futile. Repeated requested for assistance from The Doom Patrol have not been answered and although contact has been made with both The Justice League and The Justice Society, they have informed authorities that they continue to monitor the situation but will not take action as yet until all options have been exhausted.”
The five hundred hostages were gathered in the Reception Hall of The Technological Center. Only three hours ago they had been dining on lobster and caviar, steak and shrimp, sipping the finest champagne and cognac. Now they were a cowed, terrified mob, shrinking in fear from the hideous creatures surrounding them.
The beings were humanoid in shape, five feet tall all of them. Their transparent limbs and torsos rippled as they walked. In consistency they appeared to be constructed of the same jelly-like material that encased the entire building. Inside some of them could be seen half-digested flesh, bones and clothing which were the remnants of the few poor damned souls who tried to put up a fight. There were maybe seventy of these beings. After the initial demonstration of their deadly speed and abilities nobody else wished to test them.
A small group of special hostages were separated from the others and sequestered at the end of the hall furthest from the exits. They were guarded by four gibbering chimpanzees brandishing AK-47’s anytime the humans made even the slightest move.
One of these special hostages sighed, removing his unlit Dunhill pipe from his mouth. “If the situation wasn’t so desperate, I’d probably give myself an aneurysm from laughing so hard.” He whacked his pipe against his right leg, provoking a shriek of alarm from one of the chimps. It scrambled closer, thrusting the muzzle of its weapon upwards at the man’s groin. Dr. Will Magnus frowned and said; “Take it easy, Cheetah. I’m not doing anything.”
The tall man standing at Magnus’ side cautioned, “Just don’t make any sudden moves, Will. It’s a sure thing they’ve had their intelligence modified by The Brain but not to the degree of Mallah’s. That makes them dangerous and unpredictable.” Carter Hall looked positively regal in his black tuxedo with a paisley vest, his golden hair slicked back tightly against his head. But then again, Carter Hall always looked like royalty, no matter what the circumstances. Six foot six and impossibly handsome with diamond blue eyes and the hawkish, well-sculpted features of a prince, he appeared completely unruffled by the events of the past couple of hours.
Magnus stuck his still unlit pipe back in his lipless slash of a mouth. “Forgive me for not wanting to be stuck up by a band of refugees from ‘Planet of The Apes’, Carter! If Mallah hadn’t taken my communicator, my Metal Men would have been here by now to deal with this.”
Another of the special hostages spoke. This man sat in a custom designed wheelchair capable of smooth independent movement simply by moving his finger on the left armrest’s touchpad. Swept back virile red hair crowned his slightly larger than normal head and he favored wearing a thick crimson beard and mustache. All of which gave him a majestic, leonine aspect. His eyes were deep pits of lethal genius that burned with laser intensity.
“Unless I’m way off the mark, William, that would be the last thing you would want to do.” Niles Caulder said. “You’ve been careless again or I’m no judge of your work.”
Magnus frowned at Caulder. Few men were as close as these two. They’d been friends for years, way before the set of freakish circumstances that had deprived Caulder the use of his legs. But they were also professional rivals.
“How so?” Magnus demanded.
Caulder gestured at the transparent creatures. “Unless I miss my guess, these things are constructed of a variant of the polymer you used to create your Metal Men. Look at the neutronic filaments running through their limbs. Look at their throats and midsection…aren’t those biostatic carrier arcs?”
Magnus bit down on his pipe so hard Caulder heard it crack slightly. “Dammit, Niles…do you honestly think I’m that careless or that lazy? Biostatic carrier arcs have been a standard component in commercial robotics for the past dozen years or so.”
“Yes, but your unique innovation on that technology is unmistakable to those familiar with-”
“Gentlemen,” Carter Hall said softly but forcefully. He had been associated with the two of them for more years than he cared to admit and knew that if allowed to go on, they’d argue even as innocents were being machine gunned to death around them. “You can play your private game of Can You Top This later. We can’t count on The Metal Men. Will’s got them too intimidated to take independent action without his say-so. And both The Justice League and Justice Society are going to wait for Niles’ team to take action.”
“Why is that?” Magnus asked.
“An agreement among what the press has dubbed ‘the superhero community.'” Hall’s lips quirked as he said the phrase. Superhero. The word always sounded so juvenile to his ears. “The Doom Patrol and Hawkman are based here in Midway City, therefore they have jurisdiction here. Both The Justice League and The Justice Society will wait a few hours before they move in.”
“But they’ve killed people already!”
“Nobody on the outside knows that. But once that information is made public or if a significant amount of time has passed and they hear no word The Justice League will move in and take charge of the situation.”
“How can you know that?”
Carter Hall smiled. “A little bird told me.”
Back in Malachy’s, discussion on who would save the hostages inside the Technological Center raged in various passionate tones.
“Hawkman and Hawkgirl will show up anytime now and give them the what for. You’ll see”
“Isn’t she called Hawkwoman now?”
“If she isn’t, she should be. Did you see that picture of her in NEWSTIME? Man, if I was partnered with her, I wouldn’t need wings to fly.”
“The Doom Patrol will take out the monkey. They fought before, right?”
“Prob’ly. The Doom Patrol always gets to fight them weirdos…but, hey, birds of a feather, right?”
“I never did take to them freaks. That girl is a looker, though. She didn’t do too bad marrying that rich guy. What’s his name again?”
“Dayton, I think. How much is he worth, anyway?”
“I dunno, but I hear that him, Bruce Wayne, Simon Stagg and Bill Gates get together to play Monopoly with real buildings. The guy don’t even know himself how much he’s got.”
“That mummy guy’s still on the team, right?”
“He saved my little girl a couple years back. He’s nice enough, but them bandages are creepy as hell.”
“Remember when the robot guy went on a rampage a few years back? Didn’t they drop the charges?”
“You think it’s true he’s got a human brain in there? I never bought that yarn, meself….”
A black Ford Expedition SUV stopped some three blocks north of the police perimeter surrounding The Center and three figures disembarked. All were garbed in identical black leather dusters. The driver got out first. Tall for a woman at about five ten, with thick auburn hair kept back from her narrow face by a white bandana. She had the feistiness and mannerisms of Sandra Bullock and indeed, based on their resemblance, Bullock had played her daughter in one of her last films before her accident. Back when she was a major Hollywood star. An entire lifetime ago.
She sized up her companions. One of the men appeared to be a mummy as his head and hands were completely covered with blindingly white bandages, a pair of stylish nylon frame sunglasses covering his eyes.
Her other companion climbed out of the SUV slowly and as he did so, the vehicle lifted a good three feet higher, the specially re-designed suspension hissing with an almost human sigh of relief as it was relieved of nearly a quarter ton of weight. His feet clanked on the pavement as he took his place next to his friends. As he turned and moved, they could hear the hum and whirr of servomotors and the quiet trill of microhydraulics. The woman spoke to the bandaged man; “Larry, we need recon. That’s your department.”
Larry Trainor nodded and bent his head in silent concentration. His body convulsed as a dark man-shaped figure tore itself free from his body. It stood next to its host. Black as intergalactic night and outlined in a crackling, snapping, fizzing azure aura of electromagnetic energy. It looked at the woman, nodded and flew off toward the captive building.
Negative Man flew into the building, disrupting the jellylike substance as it did so, causing it to flow like water. Negative Man flew through the Center, passing effortlessly through walls and floors, until coming to the Reception Hall, where it stuck only it’s head through the floor, noting the number of creatures, the location of the hostages….
Where was Mallah and The Brain? Negative Man could feel the thoughts of his host, urging him not to allow himself to be seen. But it was vital that they knew where…ah! There they were!
The huge gorilla shambled into view from an office, following the pedestal floating on a doughnut shaped crystal blue anti gravity field. Monsieur Mallah had a red bandana tied around his head with bandoliers of ammo criss crossing his massive, silvery-black chest. A machine gun of his own design, one that no human could possibly lift, let alone fire slung from a shoulder.
The gorilla and his master approached Caulder, Magnus and Hall. Negative Man had seen enough. It was time to return to his host. He could feel the urging of his host to return quickly. Negative Man dived back through the floor and flew at dizzying speed back to where his host lay. Larry looked up at the crackling energy being. He smiled weakly and nodded. Negative Man slipped back into Larry’s body as easily as he left. Larry Trainor, once more filled with vitality and energy, got to his feet. He informed his partners of what waited for them inside. “The Chief and the others look okay. But those Jellymen…there’s an awful lot of them.”
Rita Farr Dayton looked thoughtful as she stroked her chin with a white gloved hand. “Negative Man disrupted the jelly covering the building, right? Then we’ll just have to gamble that he’ll have the same effect on The Jellymen. Cliff, you run interference. I’ll grab Mallah. Once he’s out of the picture, The Brain’s no problem.”
As one, they shucked off their black dusters. Larry and Rita wore form-fitting jumpsuits of red with a white triangle insert on the front. Their partner was revealed as an orange-bronze statue of metal. Cliff Steele, dubbed Robotman by the press was the ultimate product of bionics currently in existence. A living, functional human brain in a mechanical body.
The Doom Patrol moved as one, running toward the Technological Center.
In the SUV, a cat peeked out of the open left rear passenger door. A most unusual cat, since it was lime green in color. It hopped out of the van and in a burst of emerald energy, turned into a fifteen-year-old boy, garbed in a uniform identical to Larry and Rita’s. And his skin and hair were still lime green. Closing the door, he muttered, “And they call me irresponsible.”
The vehicle secured, the boy grinned and leaped into the air. Again, energy burst from his body and now he was a lime green hawk that flapped furiously after The Doom Patrol, striving to catch up before the action started.
“If you’ll end this madness right now, Brain, you have my word I’ll use my influence to make sure you get the help you need.” Niles Caulder, The Chief of The Doom Patrol sat nose to dome with the bubbling tank that contained The Brain.
<Caulder, Caulder, CAULDER!> said the electronically enhanced voice of The Brain. <When will you learn that there is nothing you can offer me that will satisfy my cravings? Except perhaps your life and that of your Doom Patrol?>
“Refuse to end this and you’ll get my Patrol sooner than you expect. I suspect that the reason the lights were flickering a minute ago was due to Negative Man’s disruption of the Center’s electrical systems.”
Carter Hall sighed wearily. The sheer arrogance of the man never failed to amaze him.
“What’s the real reason behind this, Brain?” Caulder insisted. “You must know you’ll never get away with this.”
Magnus rolled his eyes and whispered to Hall, “I can’t believe he said that.”
Mallah roared, “ENOUGH! Master, we have the building and we have the ones here who betrayed us! Let us have done with this useless baiting of Niles Caulder and slay the ones we came to slay!”
<I will say when the time is right, Mallah. And the time has not yet come.>
One of the far windows exploded inwards. A massive white glove hand and arm thrust inside the Reception Hall to grab Mallah in a firm grip. The gorilla cursed in French and tried reach his machine gun.
And the same time, the modernistic glass doors were smashed inwards by the entrance of Cliff Steele. Moving with a speed that belied his metal weight, Cliff grabbed up one of the Jellymen and flung him into his brothers. They slammed together and oozed into one single form that grinned at Cliff.
“Damn,” Cliff said. He turned his head to Larry, who was right behind him. “You wanna call out the calvary before-” a gang of Jellymen swarmed over Cliff, cutting off his words.
Larry took a step back as the rest of The Jellymen advanced on him. Once Negative Man left his body, he was bereft of strength and vitality and would be at their mercy. Larry watched one Jellyman as it reached inside itself. With a disgusting sucking sound, it pulled free a half-digested head and threw it at Larry. He ducked, resisting the urge to vomit. He’d done it before and it was no fun having to walk around in vomit-soaked bandages until he could get back to headquarters and change them.
The hostages dashed for the exit, screaming and stampeding each other in their mad scramble to escape. Magnus and Hall both attempted to push The Chief to safety, but he put the locks on his wheels.
Rita yanked her arm out of the Center. She had expanded to almost three stories tall and Mallah was a toy in her gloved hand. The genius gorilla promised all sorts of dire threats in English, French and now, Mandarin as he tried to reach his gun. Rita sighed and called down to the waiting police. “I’m going to give him to you now. Think you’re ready to handle him?”
Larry decided to make a try at freeing Cliff when a lime green Arabian stallion galloped into the Hall and stopped in front of him. “Get on, Uncle Larry!”
This was no time to wonder just what the hell Garfield Logan was doing here. The irrepressible Beast Boy always showed up where he wasn’t supposed to be, but Larry was grateful for his appearance right now. Larry swung up on the horse’s back and Beast Boy galloped away.
The chimps fired their AK-47’s wildly at any and everything that moved. Several of the hostages were hit and lay on the floor in pools of blood, moaning. “Gar! Put me down somewhere safe and then get those monkeys!”
“Why can’t we ever fight demons or Earth devouring aliens?”
“Okay! OKAY!” Gar bucked, sending Larry flying into a nearby Internet access kiosk. Larry closed the door, concentrated and Negative Man burst forth.
Cliff, thrashing around inside the giant Jellyman, opened a panel on the inside of his left wrist and pressed a button, sending an electromagnetic pulse through his metal skin. As the Jellyman collapsed in a gelatinous pool, Cliff thought that he would never again complain about The Chief’s endless seminars on how his robot body worked.
Negative Man streaked around the huge hall, right through the bodies of The Jellymen, collapsing them where they stood.
Gar Logan transformed himself into a lime-green octopus and with all eight arms plucked the automatic weapons from the paws of the chimps and snagged said chimps all the same time. The triumphant Beast Boy held monkeys and guns up in the air, yelling, “Eight is most DEFINITELY enough!”
Rita ran into the Hall just as Negative Man returned to Larry’s body. “The police have Mallah. Where’s The Brain?”
Larry got to his feet. “He’s right over…” His voice trailed off. “Well, I’ll be damned. Where’d he go?”
Cliff walked up to his partners, his metal steps echoing on the marble floor. “He couldn’t have moved by himself. Unless he grew feet when we wasn’t lookin'” Cliff slammed a fist into a palm, producing a sound not unlike a giant gong. “I hate it when he does that!”
Rita looked at Gar, still in octopus form, juggling the chimps and their weapons. The chimps screamed in fear as they arced through the air. “GARFIELD!”
Cliff looked from Rita, running over to the green octopus juggling monkeys, to The Chief arguing with Will Magnus and looked down at the marble floor, now sticky with the residue of Jellymen. He looked up at Larry and sighed. “I’m pretty sure this never happens to the Justice League.”
“…despite the fact that The Doom Patrol did indeed save a majority of hostages, there was loss of life which Mayor Bell states could have been avoided if The Patrol had acted sooner. The Justice League and Justice Society have both refused to issue statements on the incident. Sources have said that Hawkman himself endorsed The Patrol’s handling of the entire matter and filed his report of same with The Committee On Metahuman Activities in Washington.
“However, that still leaves a larger question…what happened to The Brain? I’m Tammy Albright for Channel 6 News. Have a good night and I’ll be seeing you.”
“Off.” The Chief commanded and the 65-inch flat screen television obediently obliged and turned itself off. The Chief swiveled his chair around to face his team.
The Doom Patrol’s headquarters were located in the northern section of Midway City. Most of that part of the city was given over to industrial parks and they made their base there, in a city block of warehouses converted to their use.
“Yes. That’s my question. What did happen to The Brain. Why didn’t one of you capture him?”
Cliff, sitting in a chair designed to support his weight said, “I dunno, Chief. Maybe we were too busy working to save your life. By the way, don’t thank us.” It was amazing how much sarcasm Cliff could put in his artificial voice. But of course, they had all been together long enough that his partners could tell. “He’ll show up again, you know that as well as we do. And when he does, we drop the hammer on him once and for all. Now, if you’re finished with the TV, Larry and I want to watch.”
Larry pushed himself off the couch. “Not me. I’m for bed, man. I’m bushed.”
Cliff waved his shiny metal arm. “Ahhh, c’mon, man…Harris and Roback are fighting tonight. Middleweight belt on the line.”
“I’ve had enough fighting for today, Cliff. All I want to watch is my bed as I climb into it.”
“And you’re not watching any fight, either, Cliff. Will Magnus is staying the night and we want to run some diagnostics on you. Will has some interesting ideas on how to increase the efficiency of your Plasmic Mobilizer by forty percent” Caulder looked at Rita. “Are you staying here tonight, Rita?”
Rita shook her head. “I’m taking Gar back to Steve’s mansion. You know, Niles, you should call him and thank him for using his Mento helmet to disrupt the polymer covering The Brain put over The Center.”
Caulder shrugged. “Once I realized that the polymer The Brain used was similar to Will’s polymer that he used to create The Metal Men, it was only logical that it would be subject to mental commands. And whatever else I think about Steve Dayton, his Mento helmet is the most powerful amplifier of psychic abilities on the planet. And it was only The Brain’s arrogance to think that even though he had taken my communications devices from me, I still wouldn’t have a way to communicate with my Doom Patrol. You thank him for me, Rita.”
The Brain regained consciousness in a room of purest white. He sought information with his sensors and found that all his scans were bounced back, giving him nothing.
The Brain was not given to panic, but he felt fear without his loyal bodyguard Mallah at his side.
<Where am I?> He called.
Silence answered him.
And in a room not far away, General Immortus watched The Brain on a monitor and smiled with his ancient, withered face. He had The Brain. And with the power locked inside of that hideously powerful intelligence, he would achieve two goals: Life Eternal. And the deaths of Niles Caulder and his Doom Patrol.
Derrick Ferguson: We haven’t done one of these in years so we have to get the obligatory introductory stuff outta the way: Who is Mark Bousquet and why are you being interviewed here?
Mark Bousquet: I was tempted to go back and grab whatever I wrote for an introduction to the last time we did that and just paste it here, but I suppose that would be cheating, eh? Who I am is a writer. Why I’m being interviewed here is because I’m a published writer.
As we do this interview in mid-2019, I’ve recently relaunched my Gunfighter Gothic series in six new shiny editions, and just released THE MASKS OF SATURDAY MORNING, which is the first Spooky Lemon Mystery.
DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep yourself in cheese and crackers?
MB: I’m as Assistant Teaching Professor at Syracuse University, teaching writing. Not the fun writing that we’re gonna talk about in this interview, but the obligatory writing classes that students are forced to take. I try to make it fun and try to open up the student’s eyes as to what “writing” is: it’s not just the 5-paragraph research or opinion essays they likely got burned out on in high school. I try to give them assignments that have them create visual projects like comic books or infographics and “beyond writing” projects like podcasts and documentaries, where writing is a tool to get you to the end product.
I’ve recently moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania, so I’ll be looking at a 2-hour commute to and from work this fall. That sounds rough, but the nice thing about teaching college is that I’ll be able to work from home 2 or 3 days each week.
DF: How’s Darwin doing these days? What is he up to?
MB: Darwin is still going strong. He’s 12 and a half years old now, and while he can be an old man inside, he’s still his old energetic puppy dog self when we’re outside. Moving to a new city means everything is new to him and he loves little more than going someplace new. We’ve got a nice public park that we walk in most mornings that always gets his day started right.
DF: You’re still writing but it seems as if your output has decreased. Why is that?
MB: A combination of factors. My current job is way more intensive than my previous jobs, so there’s less time to write, and I found that when I made time to sit down, the stories just weren’t flowing like they used to. Some of that was because the job was leaving my brain extra tired, but it was also because I didn’t know who I was as a writer, anymore. I got myself into trouble by creating series instead of stand-alone stories and so even in creating something new, I was adding another brick onto my back, committing me to writing some future project. I needed to take some time to clear the decks and while that’s an ongoing process, I feel good about putting an editing shine to the Gunfighter Gothic books.
I’ll write more Gunfighter Gothic stories but it’s also good, as is. I haven’t left anyone hanging. I need to do the same for ADVENTURES OF THE FIVE and STUFFED ANIMALS FORHIRE, two kids’ series that each have 2 books published but need to have a third to close those stories off.
DF: In what direction do you see your writing career going?
MB: A greater balance between writing things that I’ll publish through Space Buggy Press and submissions to outside presses. I like having the control over a project that Space Buggy affords me, but I also like to be challenged by trying to write for different editors and publications.
DF: You wrote some of the best movie reviews I’ve ever read. Why did you stop? And are you ever going to start writing them again?
MB: Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say! I stopped because it was taking up too much of my writing time. When I was really cranking out the reviews, I was living in a new city, with only a few friends, no social life to speak of, and no car. I spent most of my time between walking Darwin and working. I didn’t have cable. I was doing Netflix by mail. So I had enough time to write creatively and write reviews and do some travel writing, but as the workload increased, as I bought a car, and entered into a fantastic relationship, there just wasn’t the time to produce the same amount of words. Something had to give and it was writing reviews. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to writing them full-time, but I still love talking about movies and TV shows.
DF: Speaking of movies, what are some of your favorite movies you’ve seen in 2019 so far?
MB: With the move, I haven’t watched as many movies this year as I normally do and I don’t have any lesser-known gems to herald. In fact, looking at the Top 50 films of 2019 through mid-July, I’ve only seen seven of them: “Avengers: Endgame” (loved it), “Captain Marvel” (liked it), “John Wick 3” (liked it), “Shazam” (blah), “Godzilla: King of Monsters” (loved it), “Alita: Battle Angel” (awful), and “Fighting with My Family” (pleasant enough).
I have spent more time reading for fun this year than I have in recent years. I’ve just worked through a run of Robert Parker (Pale Kings and Princes), Ace Atkins (The Redeemers), Clive Cussler (The Chase), Ace Atkins writing as Robert Parker (Lullaby), and I’m currently reading Jo Nesbo’s The Devil’s Star.
These were not random choices. Between February and a week or so ago, I binged all 20 seasons of “Midsomer Murders”, which is the kind of detective show that’s cozy instead of hard-boiled. I got the idea that I wanted to write a cozy mystery set in Middle Earth but as I started to develop that idea, I realized that I already had a main cozy character in Spooky Lemon. I also had a novel finished that had been sitting on my computer for years. When I started self-publishing, I let too many books out too quickly but in recent years, I’ve held on to them too long, tinkering endlessly with them.
I decided to get Spooky out and work on that as my cozy and then take that other character and keep it in a fantasy setting, but write it more like a crime novel than a cozy mystery. I devoured the Robert Parker Spenser books as a teenager, so I started there and reread Pale Kings and Princes (I chose it for the simple fact that it was the oldest Spenser book my local library had on the shelves). Then I read Ace Atkins’ The Redeemers because I knew he’d written a bunch of Spenser novels. Then I took The Chase off of my shelf to read Clive Cussler’s historical pulp before coming to Lullaby, to see how Atkins adapted his style to Parker’s Spenser universe. And now I’m reading Nesbo, for a touch of non-American crime.
I noticed several things that have helped inform me about my current WIP. For instance, in the Spenser novels, the focus is always on Spenser. Atkins doesn’t put that weight on Quinn Colson, and in Redeemers, he spends nearly as much time with the bad guys as he does his main character. Cussler spends the bulk of his time with Isaac Bell, but isn’t afraid to leave him out of chapters and spend time with the bad guys and (to a lesser extent) secondary characters. Atkins’ Spenser book is written in the Parker mold — in other words, it’s not Ace Atkins’ take on Spenser, it’s Atkins channeling Parker’s take.
Who to spend time with is a critical decision because it will inform what kind of crime book you’re writing. In the Colson and Bell stories, there is no mystery, at all. We know who the bad guys are. And the main characters quickly figure out who the bad guys are, too. They might not have all the pieces to the puzzle, but they can see what the puzzle is gonna look like when it’s finished. They aren’t mysteries, at all. They’re pursuits. (With a healthy dash of subplots about the protagonists’ personal lives thrown in, too.) With the Spenser stories, there is a mystery to solve, but the emphasis isn’t on solving the crime nearly as much as it is simply hanging out with Spenser and Hawk and Susan. There’s a case to solve, but I’m always amazed how much time is devoted to following Spenser doing ordinary things: making dinner, sitting in his car on a stakeout, talking with Susan, driving around Boston.
The treatment of the protagonists’ masculinity was also telling. Spenser is completely comfortable with who he is. Colson knows who he is, but isn’t entirely comfortable with it. Isaac Bell is almost comically old school masculine. Nesbo’s Harry Hole is an emotional and physical wreck.
The same goes for the style of prose: Parker is quick and light. Cussler drowns in historical detail. Nesbo is as much literary as he is case-focused. Atkins sits somewhere in the middle, writing a contemporary western inside William Faulkner’s South.
With all this swirling in my head, I sat down to bring my character to life. All I really had was an idea for an opening scene. I knew how the scene would start (“A number of years ago, a green-skinned man walked out of the Wilds to stand before the King.”) and I knew how it would end (“The green man said, ‘I want to be a cop.'”). But that was it. I didn’t know what else would happen and I didn’t know what kind of story he would be in, but I kinda thought I wanted to do a “fantasy western.” But I wasn’t sure.
So I sat down and churned out 2,500 words to find out. I lost the character’s cozy first name (Aldous) and gained a more western name (Bridger). I came up with a basic plot. I gave him deputies and a witch for a pathologist. I built him a world to work in that’s more Scandinavian than Deadwood. I think I know that I want to write a crime story that’s more mystery than pursuit, but I also want to spend time away from the main character.
But that’s what the first draft is for, ain’t it?
DF: What are you working on now?
MB: The Sheriff Bridger Skunk fantasy crime book is where I’m living at the laptop most, but I’m also plotting out the second Spooky Lemon mystery in journals and working through the details of the long-promised World War II book, BLACK RHINOS.
DF: Can we expect to see more of AMERICAN HERCULES?
MB: Yes, but not as the stand-alone episodes that I published last time. I’ll finish off the modern spin on Hercules’ labors as individual episodes, but I’ll just release them all in one collection instead of dropping them one at a time.
DF: Do you have any more children’s books planned?
MB: I’ve been trying to write the follow-up to THE BEAR AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS for a good two years and can’t seem to settle on a story that I like, so that’s back-burnered at the moment. I would like to get one kids book out in time for Christmas, but whether it will be the sequel to BEAR or an ADVENTURES OF THE FIVE book or STUFFED ANIMALS FORHIRE book, I can’t say. I’m hoping one of those stories grabs me and demands to be written.
DF: What can we expect to see from Mark Bousquet in 2019?
MB: I don’t know if I’ll have another novel published this year, but I’ll be writing like mad behind the scenes.
I’d like to do more travel writing, too, but even working on 4 – 6 hours of sleep a night, there’s only so much time in the day.
DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Mark Bousquet like?
MB: I used to be the kind of writer who did his best work between midnight and 4 AM, but now my best work seems to come in the 6 AM to Whenever I Take Darwin For a Walk AM or late afternoon. So, it’s usually get up around 6, write, go for a hike with Darwin, breakfast, work stuff, lunch work stuff, errands, reading or writing, dinner, reading or writing, and spend as much time with the partner as possible.
That’ll change once the fall semester starts up again, but for now, I’ve got time to write and I’m taking advantage of it.
Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?
Mark Bousquet: ‘ve got a website at themarkbousquet.com where people can sign up for my free newsletters: one for my kids work and another for my genre work. Signing up for each of them gets people a free digital novel as thanks.
Derrick Ferguson: It has been a really long time since we’ve done this so we have to bring folks up to speed. Let’s start off with The Basics: Who is Lucas Garrett? Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?
Lucas Garrett: I am a 40-year-old Marine Corps veteran with over twenty years of experience in the security industry, and one year of experience in building engineering. I currently reside in the Lawrenceville, Georgia area where I have lived for close to 9 years. I am a security professional working in the Midtown Atlanta area for a notable security company for the last 8 years.
My personal interests include all things pulp fiction (anything considered Classic Pulp and New Pulp), superhero comic books and movies, action flicks. I am an Afrofunk, Steamfunk, and Cyberfunk book collector. I highly recommend Dark Universe by Milton Davis and Gene Peterson.
I love cutting edge science fiction books like “Killing Time” and “The Labyrinth Key,” television shows “Fringe” “Eureka” and “Warehouse 13” and movies like “Dark City”, “The Thirteenth Floor” and “The Matrix.”
I’m a fan of Tokusatsu series like Go Go Sentai Boukenger and Kamen Rider Black, and I love Mecha and mature anime series like Mobile Suit Gundam 0079,Guyver, and Golgo 13.
Most importantly, I look for crossovers found in various forms of literature, television shows, movies, cartoons, anime, and video games.
DF: You are an astoundingly knowledgeable and enthusiastic fan of Comic Books/Movies/Science Fiction/Classic Pulp/New Pulp/The Wold Newton Universe. How did your interest in all things fun and fantastic come from?
LG: My love of reading goes back to the sixth grade when I read Isaac Asimov’s “TheFoundation”. That book did a lot to open my eyes to the imaginative worlds of literature and possible sciences on the horizon.
And I also had my love of superhero and action comics like Ron Fortier’s and Jeff Butler’s TheGreen Hornet comic book series for the now defunct NOW Comics line, as well as “Classic X–Men” that reprinted old issues from Uncanny X-Men for Marvel Comics.
I still remember when Nick Fury disbanded S.H.I.E.L.D. and Steve Rogers became Captain America again back in the late 1980s. And I remember when Bruce Wayne met Tim Drake after the tragic events of Death In The Family that saw the apparent death of Jason Todd and his mother at the hands of The Joker around the same time.
All of these characters and their stories helped to shaped my young mind.
And by the time Chris Claremont and Jim Lee revamped the X-Men in 1991 that many have come to remember and revere, I was all in.
And in 1992, I was introduced to Black Panther, the Warrior King of Wakanda, and member of The Avengers, when I saw his profile on one of the Marvel Comics trading cards my brothers and I collected in the early 1990s. And I found my hero. King of the most technologically advanced society on Earth in the Marvel 616 Universe. Yes, I was definitely all in.
And I stayed in for 18 years.
I took my first hiatus from mainstream superhero comics around the time Jeph Loeb’s Ultimatum concluded, and came back in 2010, for six years, with the release of Cable and X-Force. My current hiatus is in response to Nick Spencer’s Steve Rogers Captain America #1 and Ta Nehisi Coates run on Black Panther. You don’t make Steve Rogers a member of Hydra and you don’t turn Wakanda into Rwanda. Two big no-no’s in my book.
Now I just keep up with the latest shenanigans and story-arcs that are “so original and so edgy” from online articles that I read, and whatever praise or rants my friends post on Facebook and Instagram.
Nevertheless, there are three books that I consider required reading, and I highly recommend finding, if you want to understand the evolution of superhero comics: Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, and Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday.
And it was around the time of the release of Planetary that I realized that there was more to the modern mythology I had been reading and watching. There were stories yet to be uncovered that led to the creation of the stories I grew to love.
And as time went by, I became aware of the Wold Newton Family and Wold Newton Universe initially through websites articles by Jess Nevins, that led me to the Philip Jose’ Farmer Wold Newton Universe website ran by Win Scott Eckert. The Wold Newton Family concept was developed by the late great science fiction writer, Philip Jose’ Farmer back in 1972 and 1973 when he wrote Tarzan Alive: The Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke (1972) and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973).
The premise of this concept concerns the real-life exploits of the men who would inspire the fictional Lord of Apes and the Man of Bronze.
And here’s the thing: these men were part of an illustrious family of heroes and villains descended from a group of noteworthy historical characters who happened to be riding in two carriages in Wold Newton, East Riding, Yorkshire, England on Friday, December 13, 1795, when a bizarre event occurred that would have lasting effects for the world of literature and popular fiction.
I went in depth in my last interview, however, I would much rather have new readers find and read these books than spoil them.
Trust me, for anyone who is a fan of fictional biographies, and television series like “The X Files”,“The Pretender” and Heroes, and if they are a fan of crossovers, they owe it to themselves to read these two books, and then seek out other books in the Wold Newton series.
Part of the fun is the hunt for these books and seeing how they connect to one another. You will not be disappointed.
DF: You hit the lottery and win $100 million. What’s the one movie you would make and why?
Because it’s long overdue. And the movie will shake things up a bit. However, it will need a director like Zack Snyder, Matthew Vaughn, or Christopher Nolan to make Planetary work on the big screen or small screen.
A lot of new directors and producers will find a lot in Planetary to be problematic from their point of view. They will not have the stomach for it.
And I would have the films stream on Amazon Prime or Google Play as a series of six 90-minute films. The scope of Planetary is too big to contain in the theaters. At least, for what I would do with that particular project. And I would have Warren Ellis and John Cassaday as Executive Producers on the film series.
Unfortunately, Warner Bros. and Hollywood would need to strike the iron while it’s hot. The actors I have chosen the project are not getting any younger. And the superhero comic movie bubble is bound to burst in the near future. Many don’t want to believe it, but it’s coming. That train will not be late. So, for now, it’s best to get out as much superhero live action content as possible. Because it will be on the decline sooner than many think.
DF: What are your favorite Comic Books; past and present.
LG: Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday remains my favorite comic book series of all-time, with the recent run of The Ultimates by Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort, and the always on hiatus S.H.I.E.L.D. (2011) series by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver coming in as the second and third tier series I love to read. Right now, Mark Millar’s Prodigy series might be joining that exemplary group of excellent comic book series. The jury is still out. But it’s looking like it might be.
DF: You’ve been reading Comic Books for a long time. What’s wrong with them? How can we fix them? And does the Comic Book industry as a whole have a future?
LG: To be frank, half-ass political posturing and pandering, and the need to reboot comic book universes are becoming the death nails for superhero comic book industry at the moment.
The writer’s personal political agenda should service the story, not the other way around, as it currently is. And right now, that’s a lot of comics these days. Furthermore, I don’t think that these writers actually care for the characters they are writing about.
And sadly, I don’t see this changing anytime soon. The current crop of writers and artists are riding the wave of outrage culture, and the bandwagon they are riding on has been losing traction and is about to go over a cliff. And instead of fixing the mess they started, they reboot.
That’s why I hate trends. And I hate to say it, but it needs to be allowed to go on until it’s no longer a thing. When the readers become completely immune to these trends, then matters will correct themselves. But we aren’t out the woods yet. We have a way to go before we are in the clear. But we will get there.
The future of comic book publishing resides with the independent publishers.
Disney is going to eventually shut down publishing at Marvel Comics, and Warner Bros. will follow suit with DC Comics. And it will happen in the next few years. It’s no longer profitable for Disney and WB to keep their comic book publishing divisions going. They are losing revenue yearly, and from a financial standpoint, it is better for Disney and Warner Bros. to maintain control of the licensing for their catalog of characters than to continue publishing comics that are being bought by retailers who are having a hard time selling those comics to readers at the price tags they are currently selling them at.
That’s why smart readers, like myself, wait for the trade paperbacks of the series that interest us.
DF: Why does it seem that the Comic Book industry and Hollywood has such a problem getting Classic Pulp right?
LG: It comes down to present day prejudicial mindsets about Classic Pulp.
Some of these mindsets are justified, while others border on juvenile.
There’s a rugged no-nonsense masculinity that Classic Pulp has that, for the most part, has little traction with current generation. Some get it, while others will not only not get it, but will refuse to even look at it.
Mostly, because if it hasn’t been a thing for the last forty years, then why bother looking at it? It’s a sad way of looking at pop culture enthusiasm, or lack thereof, but that’s the world we live in at the moment. And that’s why we had a Doc Savage film planned by Shane Black who had Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the actor who would have played Doc Savage, thinking that Doc Savage is a “weirdo.” Apparently, Shane Black and Dwayne Johnson don’t understand The Man of Bronze or the world he and his colleagues inhabit.
Therefore, what they can’t relate to, they lampoon. Because lampooning is allowed and encouraged. That seems to be acceptable behavior in Hollywood for some reason. Just look at the recent Sherlock Holmes film with Will Ferrell, The Lone Ranger film with Johnny Depp, or The Green Hornet film with Seth Rogen. There’s definitely a pattern.
DF: Do you think that New Pulp is doing a good job in terms of addressing issues of race, sexism and stereotypes that Classic Pulp gets criticized for?
LG: In my opinion, New Pulp is the avenger and saving grace of Classic Pulp, cleaning up the outdated customs, practices, and prejudices that gave birth to that genre, all the while providing more depth and gravitas to Classic Pulp. Especially when you look at anthology series like BlackPulp and Asian Pulp.
People of color were more than racial stereotypes seen as either servants, savages, or nefarious. We were adventurers, explorers, inventors, detectives, soldiers, sailors, and spies. We were there when America and the world needed us. But very few back then were mindful or brave enough to translate real life heroism as pulp adventure fiction for the people to read. Finding a Black Pulp hero back then was like finding a needle in a field of haystacks. Good luck finding one.
These anthologies redress those issues and correctly brings them to light, and inspired the creation of Pulp heroes and adventurers who could have stood shoulder to shoulder with Tarzan, Doc Savage, The Avenger, The Shadow, The Spider, G-8, Operator #5, and Secret Agent X back in the Golden Age of the Pulps. No joke. I am very serious.
And some of the strong female characters I have read come from New Pulp. They are not to be underestimated. Do so at your own peril.
My advice to new readers is to search online for New Pulp books, read and enjoy these books, and go back and read the book series that made up Classic Pulp. And include international titles as well so that you understand the world of Classic Pulp. America wasn’t the only country producing pulps back then. France and Germany were big on pulp literature for a while before the Second World War.
DF: Where do you see New Pulp right now? And where should it be going?
LG: New Pulp is in Phase 3 of its development. This is an important time for the genre and the movement that brought it into existence. Where it goes next is the key.
In order for New Pulp to thrive in the new age, New Pulp needs to expand into graphic novels, comic books, video games, and tabletop RPG’s. Continue to publishing amazing stories, however, the future of New Pulp will be boundless and have a lasting impact when it branches out into these markets.
And now is the best time to start this transition.
DF: I’m still waiting to see your name on a book/novel. Are you working on anything now? What are your plans (if any) for a writing career?
LG: Projects are in the incubation phase right now.
But it’s not over. Not by a longshot.
I’m working on something that combines my love of espionage pulp, spypunk, cyberpunk, Tokasatsu armored heroes and villains, and Mecha. And it will all be set twenty-five years from now.
It’s a Hail Mary opportunity. But it’s one I have to take. And it’s a story I have to write. Now I have to make the time to truly start and finish it. And that is why, other than sending Birthday greetings, and prayers for those in need, my time on social media will be limited substantially very soon.
DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Lucas Garrett like?
LG: Mostly working, there’s a lot of hours to go around at my worksite because someone either got fired, quit, or had to take medical leave for personal or family medical emergencies.
What free time I have is spent writing, editing, researching, and assembling Mecha plastic model kits for frame of reference, 111and Facebook. I’m about to use Facebook a lot less. It’s a time waster. As much as I love using it, that’s what it is.
Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?
Lucas Garrett: I think that about covers it.
You can check out my WordPress website: Luc’s Speculations – https://garrettluc.wordpress.com/ for my fan fiction head canon crossover theories and analysis. And like my writing, I need to post something new in the very near future.
And you can find me on Facebook and Instagram.
Thanks again for interviewing me, Derrick. I appreciate your friendship and support.
Timothy Mayer: I’m a 61-year-old business owner, novelist, freelance writer, seeker of adventure, husband, father, former armored combat fighter, ex-chemist (or did I play one on TV?), former Zine publisher, past film society organizer, one-time saxophonist in a rock band, expert on obscure cinema, and did I miss anything?
DF: Where do you live and what do you tell the IRS that it is you do for a living?
TM: I live 35 klicks up the Schuylkill River from Philadelphia. I was sent here for my sins, but the place grew on me over the years. I list myself as a chemist for tax purposes because I formulated the resins my company sells.
DF: How would you describe your style of writing?
TM: Direct. I like to get into the plot right away. No reason for long, meandering openings. These days, the reader wants to know in the first sentence why he or she should buy the book.
DF: How long have you been writing?
TM: Professionally? For the past five years. As something I liked to do? Since I was 12.
DF: Have you found an audience yet? If so, how did you do it? If not, why haven’t you?
TM: I’m still working on that one. I think my Code Name Wolfgirl books are a step in the right direction. At least the letters I’ve received from the readers indicate it.
DF: I would say you enjoy writing in a variety of genres. Do you agree?
TM: Definitely. I’ve written in noir mystery, science fiction, epic fantasy, post-apocalypse, and horror.
DF: What keeps you motivated to write?
TM: The knowledge that I’ll be paid when I turn the work into the publisher
DF: What do you do with your free time when you’re not writing?
TM: I work on my yard, read, hike, hang out with some local friends, and read some more. I’m a big reader, always have been.
DF: What is the one novel or story that you would recommend to anyone who doesn’t know a thing about you or your work for them to start on?
TM: Wolf Mountain. It’s the first in a trilogy that I wrote two years ago. Charted on Amazon, too. I was hired to write a litRPG series and this one was the flag ship. I’d wanted to write that book for years. This was my excuse to do it.
DF: Drop some Words of Wisdom on all the aspiring young writers reading this and thirsting for your knowledge.
TM: Get it done. Nobody cares about your inner torment or lack of motivation. Grind that sucker out because you can’t edit a blank screen.
DF: What’s a Typical Day In The Life of Timothy Mayer like?
TM: I get up, read the news, take care of whatever I need to do for my business, and then I hit the keys. I’ll go to a coffee shop, buy some java, plug in my ear buds and start to work. My goal is always to generate 5000 words a day when I’m working on a novel.
Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?
Timothy Mayer: Find someone who’ll pay you to write. Knowing that the green will be transferred to your bank account for something you wrote is a wonderful feeling. But don’t sell yourself short. Make sure you get your name on the work. It’s alright to play Casper the Friendly Ghostwriter at the beginning for peanuts, but you need to make decent coin to survive in this world.
Want to read Timothy’s stories? I sure hope so, otherwise I’ve put in a lot of work on this interview for nothing. Go HERE to peruse Timothy’s Amazon page.
I suppose that out of the many reasons that I’m not yet rich and famous, the fact that I’m notorious lousy at promotion is either #1 or #2. I seem to have this unreasonable faith/belief that those who want to find my work will find it, one way or another. That includes my Patreon site. And while you may know I have one you may not know exactly what content is available to you there and if it would be worth your time and money. Okay, we can take care of that right now and hopefully the information I’m about to impart to you will assist you in making an informed decision as to you becoming a Patron of mine or not.
Let’s start with the crown jewel of the lot, shall we? I always have a brand-new Dillon adventure serial running as the main attraction and the one currently going full steam is Dillon and The Island of Dr. Mamuwalde. I beg your kind indulgence for a few minutes while I go into the backstory of this one:
Remember when the SyFy Channel was doing all those weird monster movies with outlandish creatures fighting each other? Like “Dinocroc Vs. Supergator”? “Piranaconda Vs. Frankenfish”? “MegaPython Vs. OctoShark”? Don’t front. You know you watched them. And if I can ‘fess up to watching them, you can. Anyway, I’m watching one of these movies one night with my wife and as I often do, I say; “I could write a better movie than that” And Patricia responded as she always does; “So why don’t you?”
And I did plan on doing one. I even had a title for it; “Flying Great White Shark Vs. Albino Amphibian White Tiger.” But outside of jotting down notes and characters sketches, I never got past the planning stages. One thing I did know that I wanted to have in the story was a mad scientist. And I wanted him to be black. I absolutely love mad scientists and since there were no great black mad scientists in popular fiction, I decided to create one in the grand tradition of Dr. Frankenstein (Peter Cushing version, natch) and Dr. Fu Manchu. I would model his physical appearance, demeanor and voice on the Great, Great Man, William Marshall and in further tribute, name my mad scientist Dr. William Mamuwalde (students, fans and scholars of Blaxploitation will know where the Mamuwalde name comes from) Clear so far? Okay. We move on.
The idea for “Flying Great White Shark Vs. Albino Amphibian White Tiger” stayed in my notebooks and subconscious for an obscenely long time, lemme tell you. The concept of Dr. Mamuwalde was one that wouldn’t go away and in my development of the character he gained a son who is a master of over 100 Martial Arts since because Dr. Mamuwalde was in part a homage to Dr. Fu Manchu then he needed a son who is a homage to Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. He also gained a nagging, shrewish, alcoholic wife always scheming behind her husband’s back to sell his inventions on the black market simply because the idea of a mad scientist with a nagging wife tickled the hell outta me.
But still, I just could not find the right story for Dr. Mamuwalde to make his debut. The problem was I was not happy with none of the protagonists for the story I had in mind. None of them were formidable enough to present a challenge to the character I conceived and I definitely wanted to have Dr. Mamuwalde to have a worthy challenge to his intellect and his talents. I knew I wanted to have a film crew stumble upon his island (in homage/tribute to 1933’s “KingKong”) but the characters that presented themselves to me didn’t turn my crank. They weren’t alive. They weren’t vital.
Until I happened to re-read “Dillon and The Bad Ass Belt Buckle.” One of the major characters in the story is Jenise Casile, an actress who has won an Academy Award and when Dillon meets her, she is in the middle of filming an epic science fiction trilogy directed by the eccentric director/producer Rigoberto Orr. Dillon and his partner Eli Creed have been hired to rescue Jenise from kidnappers and that’s all I’ll tell you about the story. You wanna know more, go read it.
Anyway, switches clicked in my brain and I realized that I could marry Jenise, Rigoberto and their current film project with my Dr. Mamuwalde character. In addition, by throwing Dillon in the mix I could satisfy my desire to have Dr. Mamuwalde go up against a foe worthy of him. And what better way for a character in my universe to make his debut by going toe-to-toe with Dillon?
There’s some other things thrown into the mix of the story such as Dr. Mamuwalde experimenting with African Cryptids which came out of when I had planned on doing “The Island of Dr. Mamuwalde” as an “Island of Dr. Moreau” homage for the “Cryptid Clash” project my good buddy Josh Reynolds is associated with and briefly talked me into it. And yes…that most definitely is a whole other story.
But once I got Dr. Mamuwalde, Dillon, Jenise and Rigoberto and the whole idea of Dillon rescuing a film crew from a war zone where they were trying to shoot authentic footage and then finding themselves the captives in a “Dr. Moreau” like situation in my brain…everything just sorta fell into place. And this now concludes my long winded Behind The Scenes of Dillon and The Island of Dr. Mamuwalde
One Night in Denbrook is a work in progress going back to 2009. The origins of the story are mainly because I wanted to see if I could do a prose version of a 1980s Action Movie. That’s all. My aspirations as a writer on this particular piece really don’t go any further than trying to put a movie on paper. Most of you who have been following me for a while and know that I usually say that I consider myself a frustrated film director so One Night in Denbrook is my shot at writing a story visual as I possibly could, throwing in all kinds of off-the-wall characters and situations.
The plot is simple: Denbrook’s criminal element is hunting for the heart of Toulon The Magician, Denbrook’s #1 crime lord and one of the main characters of “Diamondback” Some characters who appear in Diamondback also appear in this one as the events of One Night inDenbrook take place about a year before the events of “Diamondback.” The heart of Toulon falls into the hands of one J. Cadwallander, a cab driver who turns out to have an eclectic and incredibly lethal skill set that no respectable cab driver should have and he spends one wild night trying to stay alive while everybody and their mother is trying to kill him for the heart.
The city of Denbrook was created by one of the most imaginative and creative writers I know. Mike McGee is flat out brilliant. That’s the best I can say about him. I truly appreciate the fact that he created the city of Denbrook and then just turned it over to a bunch of writers to use as we please.
Shadows Over Cymande takes place in another city, one in South Carolina. And it’s something of an experiment as in this one I’m trying to mash-up my love of Soap Operas with a genre that I personally call The Little Town With A Big Secret. You know what I mean if I mention fictional towns such as Peyton Place, Collinsport and Twin Peaks. These are towns that on the surface seem like such happy, idyllic places to live and raise a family. But strangers come to each one of these towns and discover that they all have frightening, hair-raising subcultures and dark underworlds of crime, madness and even the supernatural.
In Shadows Over Cymande just such a stranger comes to Cymande in response to a very lucrative job offer. Alexandrea Ainsley thinks that Cymande is just another sleepy Southern town but she soon discovers it is home to two enormously wealthy and influential black families; the Jalmaris and the Redferns. Two families who have roots and rivalries going back to The Civil War and maybe even before then.
Growing up I got hooked on Soap Operas such as “All My Children” “One Life To Live” “Days of Our Lives” and “General Hospital” especially during that period in the 1980s when “General Hospital” was a batshit insane daily cliffhanging pulp adventure serial. And of course, I loved “Dark Shadows” which is without a doubt the greatest Soap Opera ever. I wanted to see if I could take the elements of the Soap Opera and throw in horror, science fiction, pulp, black humor/comedy and even vintage 1980s Grindhouse and see if I could make it work. Do I succeed? There’s only one way for you to find out.
So that’s it. That’s what up there right now. From time to time I throw up a short story I dig out of my digital files just as a treat and from time to time I offer a freebie just for the fun of it. By all means, if there’s something I can do that would entice you to sign up and become a Patron of mine, by all means let me know here or by email: DerrickFerguson@gmail.com
And RIGHT HERE is the link that will take you directly to my Patreon page. There’s another link here somewhere right to the right but why aggravate you by making you look all over the joint for it?
As always, I thank you for your time and kind patience. Blessings on you, your household and all that live there and I’ll talk to you again soon.