Monday, February 28, 2011

Reasoner's Reasoning

There's a great interview at the Tense Moments blog with the amazingly prolific James Reasoner, who is writing one of the DEAD MAN books. Here's an excerpt from the interview:
What are the triumphs and trials of writing a series?
I like the way a series allows the characters to evolve over a longer period of time.  I’ve always enjoyed thinking in the long run and planting seeds of plot developments that won’t grow into anything for several books down the line.  Obviously, these plans can change over time, too, as the characters do, but when I start a series I have a general idea of what happens not only in the first book but in later books as well.  The difficulty in writing a series is in not repeating yourself but coming up with fresh ideas instead.  Of course, that’s true of non-series books as well, but I think it’s an easier trap to fall into when you’re writing a series.
Why do you write westerns?
Although I’ve always read and enjoyed Westerns, I didn’t set out to be a Western writer.  My goal was to write mysteries, and I was somewhat successful at that.  But I also didn’t want to tie myself down to one genre, so when an editor asked me to write a Western, I jumped at the chance and found out that I was good at it and enjoyed it.  Since then I’ve written more Westerns than anything else, although I’ve turned out quite a few books in other genres, and as long as the opportunity is there I’ll continue to write Westerns because I love them.  Simple as that.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Writing The Dead Man: Hell In Heaven

This was my one rule when Lee and I started the Dead Man series:
No safety net.
That is, no outline. No planning. No plan.
In other words, everything I tell my students never to do.
But I had a couple of reasons for this. One is I’ve done hundreds of outlines over the years. Every TV episode has had a long and detailed one. Even on my Psych books, which were pretty loose, I had ten or more pages to guide me. I figure that after a quarter century doing this, I’ve got a pretty good feel for when a story is working and when it’s not.
But the more important reason was this:
I wanted my work on the Dead Man to come unfiltered through my subconscious. I wanted to go places I’ve never gone before. Places I’d never visit if I had to think about the story rationally, which is what an outline forces you to do.
The Dead Man – straight from the id.
Now it’s true that The Dead Man: Hell in Heaven did start with a story idea. It went like this:
Matt meets up with a man who has been chasing Mr. Dark for decades and has now become so crazy he may be just as dangerous as the man he seeks. But the insane man could have the answers to the questions plaguing Matt: Are they the foot soldiers in the battle between good and evil? Is Matt immortal? Or is this all a dream?
That’s what I started with.
And then I shoved it in the back of my head and started writing. And some odd things started happening.
First, I began to think that maybe this plot synopsis would belong to the next book instead of this one. Because there was a different book in my head, and even though I couldn’t tell exactly what it was going to look like, some part of me did.
What I did know was this:
The second Dead Man would be structured in three parts. The first would be told from outside Matt’s POV, as he is found wandering in the woods, insane, and hauled into jail. Where he would meet someone who would or would not have been chasing Mr. Dark for decades.
Part two would flash back to Matt’s first adventure after leaving home… and take us through the hideous experiences that were going to drive him mad.
Part three would start back in the cell, with Matt overcoming his insanity with the help – advertent or in – of the guy who might or might not have been chasing Mr. Dark for decades.
This all came to me as I started typing the book’s second page.
As I went on, I could see the story beginning to unfurl in front of me. For every chapter I wrote, two or three more revealed themselves. And I was pretty happy with where it was going. It was solid, it was fun, and it seemed to live up to what we’d done in the first book.
Then a strange thing happened. I was writing a simple expositional scene, one that was “laying the pipe” for the big setpiece that would send Matt over the edge.
I typed a line. And then another line. And then the scene went insane.
First it started getting sexy. And then it started getting weird. Really weird. And gross – disgusting. And scary. And did I mention weird?
It blasted through the walls of the reality I thought I was working in and took me places I never would have dreamed of going.
Took Matt places I couldn’t have imagined he’d ever go.
The next day I was kind of scared to read what I’d written. It had come in a flurry, and I didn’t think I had any control over it.
But it worked. I did some rewriting, even expanded it a little to make things harder for Matt. But it opened up the entire series to me, showed me directions we could go I never knew about.
And I still have no idea where it came from.
That’s why I’m working without a safety net on these books.
It’s why I love them…

Men of Action

The folks over at the Permission to Kill (one of our favorite blogs, by the way), get exactly what we are trying to do with THE DEAD MAN series. They say, in part:

The old ‘Men of Action’ books are all but extinct now – of course you can find them in second hand shops, but possibly younger generations have replaced them with video games, which provide them with more immediately thrills. I for one, kind of miss them. But it seems that I am not alone. Thankfully, a group of talented authors are coming together in a project aimed at reviving the spirit of the ‘Men of Action’ books in a new e-book series. The series is called The Dead Man, and the first book is Face of Evil written by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin. But this new series isn’t just retreading old ground, or presenting more of the same. The story tellers have added a paranormal, horror element into the mix. SoFace of Evil presents a story in a style that you may be familiar with, but mixed with some other elements to bring the reader something new.
The enjoyment, most evident in the in-jokes, is palpable when reading the story. [...]Face of Evil is only a novella, around 80 pages, which creates its own little duel edged sword. In many ways, I was happy that it was short, as the twists had me eager to know whats happens next. Therefore, I could finish the book in one sitting, rather than pressing on into the wee small hours and turning up to work bleary eyed the next morning. On the flip slide, I was enjoying it so much, I didn’t want it to end so abruptly. I guess I have to wait for the next installment in The Dead Man series  
They were so enthusiastic about the book, they even did their own retro take on the cover, making it look like a well-worn "men's action adventure" paperback from the 1980s. We hope we live up to their high expectations for the series.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hell in Heaven Cover

THE DEAD MAN #2 HELL IN HEAVEN is still a few weeks away...but we love Carl Graves' cover for the book so much, we just had to give you an early peek. We'll have more details about the plot to share with you very soon.

Action on the Range

We weren't the first guys to think of reviving the "men's action adventure series" for the Kindle & Nook -- the immensely talented Colby Jackson beat us to it with his RANCHO DIABLO series of original ebook westerns, starting with Shooter's Cross. But we're big admirers of Jackson...who is actually the "house names"" for three writers of upcoming DEAD MAN tales...Mel Odom, Bill Crider, and James Reasoner. Pulp Serenade has a great interview with Bill discussing the evolution of the series. Here's an excerpt:

Pulp Serenade: Can you tell us a bit about your cohorts in Rancho Diablo and how you all came together?
Bill Crider: The Rancho Diablo crew is me, James Reasoner, and Mel Odom. Mel is the driving force. He's very into the e-book market, and he thought we should get into it as soon as we could. He thought it would be fun to do something in the spirit of the old pulps. Instead of, say, THE RIO KID WESTERN MAGAZINE, we'd have RANCHO DIABLO WESTERN MAGAZINE, and instead being a print magazine, it would be an e-publication. Mel knew that James and I were big fans of the fiction in the pulps, so he asked what we thought. We thought it was a great idea, and we jumped at the chance to be part of it.
PS: How did you all come up with the main character of Sam Blaylock?
BC: This was a group project from the beginning. We used e-mail to bat around ideas, and everybody contributed. Mel originated the concept, and then we hashed things over until we had characters and a setting that everybody liked. I think I've saved all the e-mails for posterity.
PS: How are you all splitting the writing duties for the Rancho Diablo books?
BC: Mel wrote the first one, James will do the second, and I'm in line to do the third. The idea was that sometimes we might do just a short story instead of a novella, and who knows what might happen as we go along? I'm eager to read James's contribution. After I do mine, we'll see where we stand, and if things are working out, we'll keep going.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Story You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

David McAfee's supernatural thriller 33 AD has been burning up the Kindle bestseller lists for almost a year, and for good reason. It's a bloody thrill-ride through biblical Jerusalem that pits Jesus Christ against vampire assassins. What’s not to like? It's a kick-ass, violent and highly-imaginative tale that will give you taste of what you're in for when he turns his considerable talents towards his DEAD MAN adventure.

Redemption for DEAD MAN author

James Reasoner, author of an upcoming book in THE DEAD MAN series, has resurrected DIAMONDBACK, one of his long-lost "action adventure" novels on the Kindle. He writes:
this is a novel that I wrote back in the Eighties for a men's adventure line that collapsed before any of the books ever came out.  (Livia and I wrote a romance novel that suffered the same fate, but it's lost now and will never see the light of day.)  DIAMONDBACK has never been published until now, so it's a new book and a historical document at the same time.  In going back over it to prepare this edition, I could see how much my writing has changed in some ways during the past thirty years, and how in other ways it's still very much the same.  The most important thing, though, is that I still found this to be an entertaining, enjoyable book.  The Kindle edition features a new introduction by Bill Crider and an afterword by me.  I've always liked this novel, and I'm glad it's out there in the world at last.
So are we. He's also winning praise for his newest western, REDEMPTION KANSAS, from acclaimed author Troy D. Smith who says, in part:
This is the first new western to come out from James Reasoner under his own name for a while. He writes well no matter what name is on the cover, but I’m glad to see him getting full credit for this one. The name “James Reasoner” popped out at me in the ‘90s when I read several short story anthologies in a row that had tightly-written, powerful tales of his –“Wish Book” stands out particularly in my memory –and those, plus the classic Under Outlaw Flags, quickly made him one of my favorite writers. Reading his new book makes me remember why. If you want to read a good traditional western, I give this one a strong recommendation.
 Reasoner is one of the hardest working, and most prolific writers in the business, and it's great to see him getting some attention lately.

Notes to the Dead

The early response to THE DEAD MAN has been enthusiastic and extremely positive. Here's a sampling from the blogosphere. The Post-Modern Pulps blog says:
 Mix one part lurid crime thriller, one part Stephen King-esque weird supernatural horror, add in a dash of colorful sex and a few sprinkles of gratuitous violence, then shake well over ice and pour into a tall frosty mug of icy death. You've just mixed up Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin's new short novel series, THE DEAD MAN.
The Man-Eating Bookworm Blog says:
THE DEAD MAN: FACE OF EVIL is a tight, well written, supernatural thriller. Right from the first page I was hooked, drawn into an intriguing story that kept me turning the pages until I was finished.[...]FACE OF EVIL satisfies all on it's own, while being a terrific opener that promises a epic tale to come. I'm excited for the next book
Right What You Know blog says:
This was another book that I read during my lunch break. Please don't tell my boss, as I read more of this on the first day than my lunch break technically allowed. Needless to say this book is far too engrossing for its own good. I highly recommend reading it when you have more than a half hour lunch break. Face of Evil can be regarded as a stand-alone novella, but it does set things up nicely for more to come. This is primarily a thriller with aspects of horror, with a generous smattering of the paranormal. I'm not really a horror fan, I don't really need those details, but here it isn't overriding and the paranormal/horror aspects add nicely to the tension. [...]I can't wait for the rest of this series.
And Jaime Anastasiow blogs:
This was a hold your breath, fly by the seat of your pants, page-turner. And every time I turned the page there was a new surprise. Very much in the style of Stephen King: the natural and supernatural exist in the same realm.
Thanks to all of those bloggers, and to the many others I didn't mention here, for your great reviews!

The Dead Man LIVES!

From Lee Goldberg... bestselling author of THE WALK and the MONK novels...and William Rabkin, author of the wildly successful PSYCH books... comes THE DEAD MAN: FACE OF EVIL,  the first in an original ebook series of short novels that blends the horror of Stephen King's THE GUNSLINGER with the action/adventure of Don Pendleton's THE EXECUTIONER...

Matthew Cahill is an ordinary man leading a simple life...until a shocking accident changes everything. Now he can see a nightmarish netherworld of unspeakable evil and horrific violence that nobody else does..

For Cahill, each day is a journey into a dark world he knows nothing about...a quest for the answers to who he is and what he has become...and a fight to save us, and his soul, from the clutches of pure evil.

The second book in the series, HELL IN HEAVEN, will be out next be followed by more all-new adventures in THE DEAD MAN saga by some of the most talented and successful mystery, western, horror and sci-fi authors out there today... including Bill CriderJames Reasoner, Matt Witten, Joel Goldman, James Daniels, Burl Barer and David McAfee.

The book is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For those of you without e-readers, trade paperback editions of the book will be available soon.