Sunday, October 30, 2016

Grim Dark Western Films

I'm hard at work on my western series the Dark Trail Saga, and I'm at least halfway done with the first Scavengers - (Cold Slither will fit into this but more as a collection of shorts that pertain to it at large as opposed to the rest which will be novels).

So besides just my readings - (I'm enjoying Killing Trail - Charles) I'm also watching some iconic westerns for that feel. I want to capture the great american mythology of the west and a lot of what I enjoy is the revisionist western.

So I'm catching up on a few that you all may or may not have seen.

The Hateful Eight

I like a lot of Tarantino's work (not everything but you know). With this one I have found myself thinking a lot about it the next few days afterward. If there is one thing I'd like to take away from this is how great Tarantino's dialogue is. The essence of capturing character and slick reveal of motivation is a lot of fun.
I definitely liked this more than Django Unchained as this seemed a lot more realistic and had better reveals.

Slow West 

I had seen ads for this and I wasn't sure I was interested despite Fassbinder's great performance in another weird west role in Jonah Hex.
Then I listened to the Weird West Radio podcast and was impressed by what they had to say about Slow West. It is a pretty gritty western, not so bloody as say a Tarnatino pic or Bone Tomahawk but still, it has a bang to it.

What I liked was the world weary wisdom of Silas (Fassbinder) and the blind optimism of the kid he has been hired to help out. There were  a lot of little asides where you thought something would happen and then great surprises, sometimes with grimdark laugh out loud surprises. There were also a couple of things that reminded me of a classic horror western Blood Meridian. For a new European/New Zealand depiction of the American west this was a great outing.

Bone Tomahawk 

In a way I have certain expectations for Kurt Russell in a western movie but both Hateful Eight and Bone Tomahawk give some character surprises while still allowing Russell to be that tough guy. I wanted to see this for awhile especially considering that the creator behind it is doing weird west books - S. Craig Zahler and his Wraiths of the Broken Land is coming to film soon too.
This one has interesting characters and great play back and forth between the dandy gunfighter and crippled husband and ne'er do well deputy. In some respects I had reservations about the cannibal tribe, it is cool that it is something different from others westerns but in that there were just a few f them made it a little hard to believe they would be that feared by other tribes etc. I did like their body modifications - that was a nice creepy touch.
My one reservation about it was I thought it was overly gory for gores sake. Just my opinion but still it was a compelling story.

The Wild Bunch 

This is another I had meant to see forever and it opens in an epic way, Peckinpah's imagery of the children having the scorpions fight the ants is so telling of our characters and the world they live in.

I loved the premise of the outlaws being a part of the Mexican revolution while still being hunted by  their former partner. betrayal is a powerful theme in this one and what's not to love about Ben Johnson mowing people down with a Maxim machine gun. This one like Tarantino has a pretty bloody ending without feeling over the top gross like Bone Tomahawk. Still I find myself comparing it to the Lee Marvin pic The Professionals which I still think I like better.

A Fistful of Dollars

I grew up watching Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns ( I also recently rewatched The Good The Bad and The Ugly and Outlaw Josey Wales just because) but it had been a long time since I had watched this western reworking of Yojimbo/Red Harvest. It stands up, its one helluva movie.

In my wondering about how to paint the western world I'm writing you can't go wrong with the classic Eastwood films.

I loved seeing the final showdown and Clint's reveal on his invulnerability.

There are a lot of elements in these that I'll sift through and percolate into the upcoming project.

What are some of your favorite western films, scenes etc?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


This has been a long time coming and I gotta tell you it feels pretty damn good!

I was first published in April of 2010. Since then I have had twenty five more Amazon related products released and numerous non-commercially available material and finally today I hit the #1 bestseller list in something! Western Horror to be precise. It is a niche market but as of the last check (because I am compulsively looking) I was at 6,298 overall on Amazon books and even made it into the top 100 Westerns category at slot 78, and slot 175 in Horror.
That little orange badge thrills me to no end.
I believe this is the highest I have ever had a book rank that is mine alone. I did do quite well with the first Space Eldritch collection but even that only ever got to #2 in Space Opera because we couldn't unseat OSC's Ender's Game.

So this is a big deal for me and I am riding high. Cold Slither was already doing relatively good by my standards so I'm keeping on with what I was already planning and having some Porter novel's coming down the pike soon.
Think spaghetti westerns, Peckinpah and a lot of Tarantino grit and wit, along with my own voice and stylings based on this real person I love to make stories up about.

Thanks to everyone who has grabbed a copy for getting me there!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Utah Halloween Expo

I'm a special guest at the Utah Halloween Expo this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Sandy Utah at the Southe Town Expo Center. I'll be at booth 139  - signing books and speaking on the awesome nature of fear in writing on Saturday at 3:00 on the DIY stage.

They'll have a lot of horror related guests and what I'm sure will be some of my kids favorites some of the folks from SyFy's Face Off. My kids do love making masks.
Plus I'll get to hang with some good friends and hopefully make some new ones.

It promises to be a scary good time!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Pulp's and Pixelry

I've got a few scattered thoughts I thought I'd jot down here while it was fresh on my mind. Partly inspired from a  couple of conversations and blogs posts from friends - like Paul McNamee and Jay Barnson  but its also something I've pondered for awhile now.
As huge fan of the old school pulp fiction I pay attention anytime I
hear someone say something like a resurgence is coming like say in perhaps the sub genre of grimdark or new collection like Skelos magazine - which I heartily approve of. But while grimdark is just a new repackaging of sword and sorcery its not quite what I'm thinking of today.

The "pulps" were pulps by the very nature of being printed on cheap materials as opposed to the "slicks" with their fancy glossy paper.

We don't have that anymore - what do we have - what has exploded in say the last five years? The ebook.

I've been listening to a lot of marketing podcasts lately especially the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast - loads of great thoughts - I caught upon an episode from almost a year ago with Moses Siregar and he mentioned how back in 2009 some of the bigger names he rubbed shoulders with at conferences said that ebooks wouldn't amount to anything. Kinda funny and shortsighted now but that was the attitude of BIG 5 or 6 writers and publishers just a little while ago.

I remember when I got my first publishing contract I asked about ebook rights and was told they wouldn't even bother with it. They later amended the contract (very good rates by the way) and nowadays anytime I get a royalty check from them its from ebooks sold. At the time I didn't want to try and do the ebook by myself either - hindsight is worse than 20/20.

In any case it got me to thinking that the real revival of that pulp stigma was the despised delivery method. Cheap pulpy paper back then and nowadays the independent writers pixel.

So many ebooks are being uploaded and you don't have but to turn around and careen into a dozen terrible titles - and by terrible titles I mean poorly made covers, horrendous descriptions and wretched grammar - and I am by no means a grammar nazi I'm pretty loose with the rules myself.

The challenge then is to find the diamonds in the rough. They are there but it can take some looking and of course the tried and true friends recommendation. On the plus side NOTHING should be out of print anymore, its surprises me when something actually is unattainable even in in ebook. But anyone can share their book and ultimately that's a good thing.

This may be a whole lot of scattershot thinking on my part but I thought I'd put it down somewhere.
What do you all think?