Moorcock at 75

Author Stuff

I’m going to range a bit, so let’s not bury the lede: today is Michael Moorcock’s 75th birthday. The image topping this post is a random assortment of covers for books that he has written. Books that were highly influential to me as a kid. That are still influencing me now. Thank you, sir. I hope there are many more to come.

I’ve been wanting to write something about the pulps for a little while now. Dean Wesley Smith wrote a blog post a little while back called “Pulp Speed,” wherein he breaks down some numbers for varying speeds of what he calls pulp writing. Let’s be honest. Anything these days that is falling into the category of Indie Publishing Put Food on the Table can probably be short-handed as “pulp.” And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Food on the table is a good thing. When all is said and done, my recent forays into traditional publishing haven’t been stellar in getting more contracts to fall into my lap, but that’s probably due to my lack of eager follow-through as much as anything else. (And I’ve been busy with bootstrapping Resurrection House over the last year.) All of which is to say: yes, pulp writing; let’s do some of that.

Michael Moorcock, over the years, has been outspoken about the pace at which he wrote some of his early books. Many of those haven’t aged well for me (rather, I think I’ve aged out of them), but there is undeniably a time and place and audience for those sorts of books. The fact that they’ve managed to survive at all (and still be in print) is certainly a testament to the underlying energy of Mr. Moorcock’s writing and imagination. Did you know that the origin of the names for the ancient gods of Granbretan (from the Hawkmoon books) are none other than the Beatles? Yeah, totally missed that when I was a kid. Now? It strikes me as a funny riff grabbed out of the ether by a writer who is plowing hard on a deadline. Like, “started on Friday, done by Sunday” sort of deadline.

They call this a working job, I hear. The sort you show up for and spend eight hours or more a day for. Crazy talk, I know. But hours worked = content created = money from readers. It’s pretty straight forward, isn’t it? Once upon a time, we used to ask ourselves whether we’d want be read in academia or be read by millions of paying readers. I was young then, and answered that I’d prefer the recognition offered by academia. So young; so foolish. Nowadays, the lure of the paying reader is mighty strong.

On this occasion of Mr. Moorcock’s 75th birthday, it’s worth noting that this is nothing new. The Paperback Fanatic, a zine out of the UK dedicated to the pulps of the ’60s and ’70s, has been cataloging the back in the day equivalent to the frenzied ebook market of these last few years. It’s still a content creator’s market, really. The trick is, as always, making content.

I’d like to do a little of that in 2015. It seems like a good year to make some books. I’ve got some good role models to follow.

The Immortality of Storytelling

Friends

My dear friend Mark Lewis passed away last Sunday. I wasn’t aware that he was anything other than healthy, and so the news has come as quite a shock. I’ve known Mark for . . . a long time now, and he is—was, Goddamnit—a storyteller by profession and inclination. Hell, go read his obituary at the Eugene Register-Guard. They run down who he was (is! Goddamnit!) better than I can.

He officiated my wedding. Probably the only man qualified to bless the union of a Jewish empath and a pragmatic occultist. On the Winter Solstice, no less.

He believed in the power of narrative, in the eternally magical gift of storytelling. I recall visiting he and his wife, playing Scrabble (and making up words), and listening to him talk about being true to that spark in your soul. He fought hard over the years to do what he wanted as a career, and it wasn’t always an easy path, but he did it. At the time—I was such a young fool—I would occasionally think him a bit mad to hold so tight to that belief. But you just have to look at the list of things that he accomplished to know, without any doubt, that he made a life out being a storyteller.

It is not lost on me that I’ve made some career choices in the last few years that sync up pretty well with that burning passion I saw in Mark. And I don’t find them the least bit mad now. He’d laugh about that. He was right more often than not about the important things.

He played Santa Claus on an episode of Leverage. Though, technically, he played a mall Santa who was unjustly shown the door. The Leverage crew helped out—like they do—and, well, you should go watch it for the last few scenes. Especially with the holidays upon us.

One of the characters in the ETERNAL QUEEN project is the immortal pirate captain, Lucian Moore. Modeled in one part on Francis Drake. I realize now that quite a few other parts are modeled on Mark. And that’s what immortality is, isn’t it? How those dear to us find themselves never forgotten.

Get Your Reindeer

Book Talk

I’ve been remiss to talk up Rudolph! because I’ve been waiting for all the various format releases to get lined up, and that’s taken much longer than I ever anticipated. Now that we’re actually within spitting distance of Christmas, it’s probably time to start that machinery. So, yes, Rudolph! is out. You should go buy a couple of copies because it’s the best damn Christmas present you can get for those in your extended circle of friends.

In fact, it’s available as part of the Holiday Storybundle. Kevin J. Anderson has this great little platform where he offers bundles of ebook content in a very “pay what you will” manner. In this case, you get ten ebooks for around $20, which should be enough Christmas cheer for anyone. I was delighted to be asked to participate in this bundle, more so because, you know, Rudolph!. And it tickles me to no end that one of the other participants in this bundle is Dean Wesley Smith, who actually bought the original version of the opening section of Rudolph! many years ago.

If you prefer to keep your Christmas reading to a manageable level, you can get copies of Rudolph! at just about any retailer you like, physical or virtual. Everyone has copies, so don’t be shy.

If you’re the type who really prefers an audio book, well, you’re on hold. Sorry. ACX has been taking their sweet sweet time. It’s been uploaded and in the channel for nearly two months now, and we’re assured it is “headed to retail,” but that’s nearly as nebulous as “waiting for QA.” I’ll be sure to blast out a note when it is actually available, but trust me, we’re just as frustrated about the delay as you are. Especially since Emil Nicholas Gallina utterly rocked the reading.

Here’s a sample of his work on Rudolph, in fact.

Rudolph! is the first book to be released under my own banner at my own publishing company. This is the first step in the creation of a sustainable revenue stream that is distinct from all the travails and headaches of the traditional publishing models. It’s also an important part of how I get to keep writing as a career option. When folks ask how they can help, this is the answer. Buy an author’s books, especially the ones that generate real revenue for them.

Liking and retweeting and all that social media stuff is great to get the word out, and I love every bit of it that my own extended circle of friends does for me, but likes and tweets don’t pay my mortgage. People buying, reading, and sharing my books does. I appreciate all of your support, and I hope that Rudolph!–as quirky as it may seem–brings you some joy this holiday season.