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Interview with a Sleuth

The subject of today’s Proust Questionnaire is Mel Anastasiou’s wily octogenarian detective, Stella Ryman, who is trapped in a down-at-the-heels care home.  Here’s what the sleuth of Fairmount Manor has to say:stellanovella2poster

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Making myself a cup of tea, unsupervised.
  2. On what occasion do you lie?  For my dignity, or Thelma Hu’s.
  3. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  These darned fleece tracksuits.
  4. When and where were you happiest?  Thirty years back, when I was in a love affair with my no-good lodger.
  5. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  My daughter Junie. I wish we were still speaking.
  6. What is your most marked characteristic?  Two: I am intrepid, and I’ve read everything.
  7. What is your greatest regret?  Selling up and assigning every penny to come to Fairmount Manor care home.
  8. How would you like to die?  With my hands folded on my breast, like the Lady of Shalott.
  9. What is your motto?  Soldier on, Stella.

melanastasiouNot only is Mel our talent in-house illustrator and co-editor, she has also written many fabulous novels and novellas.  The Extra (aka Frankie Goes to Hollywood) is due out soon, and you can follow Mel on her blog.  You can find  the first two Stella Novellas, ‘The Case of the Third Option’ and ‘The Poison Pen Affair’ in the Winter and Summer 2014 issues of Pulp Literature. The third and fourth novellas, ‘The Four-Digit Puzzle’ and ‘The Case of the Vanishing Resident’ will appear in issues 5 and 7 respectively.  You can order back issues and one- or two-year subscriptions on our Kickstarter page:


Critique Rewards! Don’t Miss ‘em!

Having just attended the Surrey International Writers’ Conference and watched the “aha!” looks on faces after receiving blue pencil appointments, I can bear witness to the power of a good critique to enlighten a writer and transform a story.  We all have blind spots, and a gentle finger pointing out problems is a gift.

Don’t rely on your friends and family to be brutally honest with you — hire us!  On our Kickstarter page we have specials on critique packages ranging from $50 to $500.  These are half off our regular prices and include subcriptions!

If you are impressed with the quality of writing and editing in our magazine, sign up on our Kickstarter and use our skills to your advantage.  We offer editing for every level of writer for a variety of needs, from developmental or concept editing, to line by line copy editing or proofreading.

Our reward packages are

  • Mini-critique: a detailed, written critique of up to 1000 words of your work-in-progress, short story or poem.  Includes a 1 year digital subscription to Pulp Literature.  This is a $120 value.  Backer reward level $50.
  • Critique: a detailed, written critique of up to 5000 words of your short story or  work-in-progress, followed by a 20 minute Skype or phone session with one of our editors to discuss the work.  Includes a 1 year digital subscription and is a $220 value.  Backer reward level $100.
  • Hour Stories Session: got writer’s block?  Choose a private Hour Stories Session in person or by Skype where you will write approximately 1000 words.  This reward includes the mini-critique above plus a 1 year print and digital subscription.  A $270 value.  Backer reward level $130.
  • The Writer’s Package: an Hour Stories Session, a Critique of up to 5000 words of your short story or work-in-progress, print and digital subcriptions, plus a 1/4 page ad for your book or company OR a portrait of you drawn and inked by the talented Mel Anastasiou.  All this is a $500 value.  Backer reward level $250.
  • Novel Critique: one of our editors will read and critique your novel of up to 100,000 words and follow up with a Skype or phone session to discuss elements such as plot, pacing, character, structure, theme and dialogue.  Includes print and digital subscriptions.  A $1260 value.  Backer reward level $500.alexandra
  • Writing Retreat:  if you’d rather work on your edits in the peace and luxury of the Lodge at the Old Dorm on Bowen Island, join us from January 9th to 11th.  The retreat includes at least three Hour Stories Sessions, as well as critique and workshopping plus sumptuous rooms, gourmet food and good company.  This all-inclusive package, including transportation to and from Vancouver is worth approximately $1500.  Backer reward level $850.

Don’t be embarrassed when you send your novel to your agent or post it on Amazon; have us give it a once over so you can hold your head high!

Susan Pieters

Susan Pieters

Susan Pieters is a co-founder and developmental editor at Pulp Literature Press.  With a Masters in English and years of teaching, writing and editing under her belt, her keen eye polishes the stories in Pulp Lit till they sparkle.

Interview with a Thief

Issue 5 feature author Eileen Kernaghan interviewed the lead character from ‘The Robber Maiden’s Story’.  Said Eileen, “She is not an easy subject, but this is what she had to say”:

  1. What is your greatest fear?   If I was afraid of anything, do you think I would admit it?
  2. On what occasion do you lie? Whenever it seems useful.
  3. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  There is nothing to dislike in my appearance. Say there is, and you’ll feel my knife at your throat.Robber Maiden
  4. When and where were you happiest?  When  Gerda, my  little yellow-haired  rabbit,  was here with me in the camp.
  5. What is your most treasured possession?  My reindeer Ba.  Also the dagger my father stole from a prince (and I stole from my father).
  6. Who are your favourite writers?  I’m sorry, I don’t understand that question.
  7. How would you like to die? In a blaze of glory, when all my enemies are dead. 

Eileen Kernaghan lives in New Westminster, B.C. She is the author of nine historical fantasy novels and a three-time winner of the Aurora Award for Canadian speculative fiction. Her latest novel, Sophie, in Shadow (Thistledown Press, 2014) is set in 1914 India.  An associated novel, Wild Talent: a Novel of the Supernatural (2008) was shortlisted for the 2009 Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, while The Alchemist’s Daughter (2004) was shortlisted for the Sheila Egoff Award for Children’s Literature. As well, her short stories and poems have appeared in many North American literary and speculative publications.

The ‘Robber Maiden’s Story’ will appear in Pulp Literature Issue 5, due out in early December.  You can purchase individual print or ebook copies as well as subscriptions on our Kickstarter page.


Interview with an Aunty

Today we reach into the cosmic handbag and pull out an interview with Deborah Walker’s ‘Aunty Merkel’ from Issue 3.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  When you get to my age, my dear, the greatest happiness is in watching your family do well.
  2. On what occasion do you lie?  I never lie. Sometimes the world lies, but there are ways of getting around that.
  3. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  I wouldn’t say I overused any expression.  But  ‘least said, soonest mended’ is a phrase I might mention, from time to time.
  4. What is your most treasured possession?  Mr Tegmark, my darling Sphynx cat. I’ve had him forever.
  5. What is your most marked characteristic?  Fortitude in the face of entropy.
  6. How would you like to die?  I don’t really think that question’s applicable to me, my dear.
  7. What is your motto?  To know the future is to change it.finalmerkelpurse

Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration or on her blog. Her stories have appeared in Nature Magazine’s Futures, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction and The Year’s Best SF 18.

‘Aunty Merkel’ can be found in Pulp Literature Issue 3, Summer 2014, available on our Kickstarter page.


Swords at the Ready

Take a wander over to the blog of swordfighting guru Guy Windsor who is writing a book on … well, Swordfighting … and you’ll catch a sneak peak of some upcoming Pulp Lit fight scenes.  There’s part of an upcoming chapter of Allaigna’s Song (in which she meets her heart’s desire) plus some rough panel sketches of “The Ambush”, a graphic short story scheduled for issue 8.

And if you write historical fiction, fantasy or games and want to get those sword fights right,  you’ll definitely want to check out Swordfighting when it comes out!


Interview with a Saint

Next up in Proust Questionnaire lineup is St Polycarp, of Stephen Case‘s ‘Polycarp on the Sea’.  This surreal mash-up of the life of St Polycarp and an episode from the Aenied will be out in Issue 5 of Pulp Literature.  In the meantime St Polycarp’s strange and haunting responses will whet your appetite for the full story.polycarp

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A fair sea with a brisk wind at my back. Being alone in the sail’s shadow, watching the slow swing of the stars.
  2. What is your greatest fear?  To be lost on that same sea. The waves that roll up like mountains, the water grey as stone.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  The selfishness that sits in the bottom of my soul like a weight.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  I grind the palm of my hand against my eye, trying to dislodge the plank.  Through the pain, I can see nothing.
  5. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  Once I was vain about the angles of my face.
  6. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  The liturgy is still rough and new. I stumble on many of the words.
  7. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  We pushed the boats into the surf, and I heard the scratch of the sand on the wooden planks.  We left the land.
  8. What is your greatest regret?  To see the sea only once, for all the lifetime I have sailed upon it.
  9. How would you like to die?  I have answered this once before. I told them that my body was wheat to be ground on the teeth of the beasts or the breakers of the sea so that I might become true bread.
  10. What is your motto?  Soli Deo gloria.
  11. What is something we’d never glean about you from ‘Polycarp on the Sea?’ I never existed.

Stephen CaseStephen Case gets paid for teaching people about space, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever. He also occasionally gets paid for writing stories about space (and other things), which have appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and several other publications. His first anthology, Trees and Other Wonders, is available on Kindle. His novel, First Fleet, is being serialized by Retrofit Publishing. Stephen holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Notre Dame and will talk for inordinate amounts of time about nineteenth-century British astronomy.  He lives with his wife, four children, and three chickens in an undisclosed suburb of Chicago that has not yet legalized backyard chickens.

Pulp Literature Issue 5, Wintere 2015 will be out in December.  You can pre-order it through our Kickstarter campaign.

Meet Sidnye (Queen of the Universe)

Sidnye Dupree was going on thirteen years old when she broke the Bishop’s nose with a dodgeball and dreamed the dream of the shooting star. But even if she’d known then what was happening to her, it would have been far too late to stop it.Sidnye

Scott Fitzgerald Gray has created scores of memorable characters in his novels and short fiction, but Sidnye (Queen of the Universe) is undeniably my favourite.  I fell in love with Sidnye and years ago when I had the privilege of reading an early draft of the novel.  The spot-on characterization of this rebellious and compassionate thirteen-year-old and her equally outcast best friend Emmett, both stuck at boarding school in Moose Jaw, would be wonderful enough on its own.  But then things go all SF on the pair, the story blooms and expands, and the reader follows them out of this world  on a cosmic ride.  I can’t really tell you more without spoilers, but I can tell you I was entranced.

Imagine my delight last year when I learned Scott was finally releasing this gem of a novel and following up with the sequel.  I am even more delighted to be able to share it with you.  For free!

That’s right, free.  Scott will generously donate an ebook of Sidnye (Queen of Universe) to all of our first-month Kickstarter backers if we reach our mid-point goal of $13,000 by November 1st.  You can find out more about the offer here:

Share the link, and tell all your friends you want your ebook. You don’t want to miss this one!

Babbage & Co

Interview with an Agent of DIRE

Our next Proust Questionnaire is with the loquacious Jonathan Blackthorne, Esquire, Member in good standing of the Damocles Institute of Research and Exploration, Celebrated Illusionist, Master of Legerdemain and Sleight-of-Hand, and narrator of KG McAbee’s novella ‘Blackthorne & Rose: Agent’s of DIRE’, currently appearing in Pulp Literature Issue 4.

What is my greatest fear? As a not-unknown magician and illusionist — appearing nightly at the Egyptian Palace, with a matinee on Saturdays — I could perhaps suggest that failing in front of an audience would be the answer to this.  However, I am forced to admit it:  I have failed in front of more audiences than Her Majesty has had hot dinners.  No, the vast and faceless crowd spread before me — I did mention my nightly appearances, did I not? — is far from my worst fear.  Recall, pray, that I am also a member in good standing — well, relatively good — of the Damocles Institute of Research and Exploration.  The things I have seen would boggle the most un-boggleable mind, I do assure you.  DIRE members, other than my humble self, tend towards the adventurous, the investigative, the shall-we-poke-it-with-something-sharp-and-see-what-happens type.  I am not this type.  I prefer a  well-attended performance, followed by a cold bottle and a hot meal, ending with a long, restful sleep in my own bed.  Sadly, these things — other than the first, six evenings a week, in case I neglected to mention — seldom come my way. Blackthorne&Dire

The trait I most deplore in others is, without doubt, conceit.  After all, a fellow should be modest, unassuming, humble, even if he is lucky enough to possess rather impressive talents and abilities, don’t you think?  But some gentlemen tend to boast and brag a bit, simply because they’ve been off to other lands, done the odd bit of exploring, visited
forbidden cities at risk of imminent impalement, speak a dozen languages or so
and dealt with the odd wound and bouts with raging fever.  I mean to say, one
should not continually mention such things, should one?  It’s just not done,
even if your name is Captain R F Burton.  And pray, let us not bring up Mr Poe
or Monsieur Verne!  Poseurs, the pair of them!  Oh, certainly, they come up with
the odd notion or two, but really, some of the drivel they turn out is quite
out of bounds.

I have, upon occasion, been forced to lie. There; I have admitted it.  Can lying ever be the correct, the gentlemanly, the British thing to do?  Never!  However, sometimes it is the kind, the thoughtful and, in many ways and the merest physical sense, the safest thing to do.  For one example, one should never, at any time, point out to Lady Rose Blakeney-Barrington, my darling and frighteningly intelligent beloved, that perhaps she might be safer if she did not leap into the middle of anything and everything which interests her. And for Rose, that is, quite literally:  everything.  I recall with a shudder that she once threw herself, with every sign of delight and enjoyment, into the very center of a pile of pulsing, heaving matter only recently ejected by a many-tentacled creature.  Not to mention, we had only just run the thing to ground after an exhausting chase through the sewers of London. I mean, what can one do in such a situation, other than a series of hot baths and the burning of one’s attire, including boots and a favorite waistcoat? Rose, sadly, had other
ideas.  It is a constant burden to me to keep quiet in such situations, I do assure you.  But keep silent I do, in self-defense.

My greatest achievement is, without any shadow of a doubt, landing Rose as my fiancée.  Dear me, that does sound a bit, well, as if I caught her while salmon fishing in the Highlands, does it not?  Let me rephrase that at once, on the off chance that Rose herself might one day read these words.  My Rose, let me assure you, while the dearest girl in so many ways, is not one who suffers fools gladly.  Or, indeed, at all.  That is why I am
still quite astonishingly amazed that she has accepted my proposal of marriage.  I am not a fool, other opinions to the contrary.  But I would be the first to admit that I am as far below Rose in knowledge of such things as chemistry, biology and astronomy as it is possible to be, even were I at the bottom of a deep hole while she stood atop the Matterhorn.  And yet she has promised to be mine!  Though setting a date still appears to be quite beyond her ability … but hope springs eternal! KG McAbee

KG McAbee has had several quite readable books and short stories published. She writes  steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, pulp and such. She belongs to Horror Writers Association, International Thriller Writers and recently got honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. 

You can read the adventures of Jonathan and his fiancée Rose in ‘Blackthorne and Rose: Agents of Dire’, in the Autumn issue of Pulp Literature, available in ebook or print through our Kickstarter campaign.

"This Double" by Mel Anastasiou

Readers Adore a Vacuum

Nature abhors a vacuum.  Truly empty space is an aberration, something not to be tolerated.  Nature compensates by thrusting matter towards the vacuum.  That is how empty space, instead of being a powerless void, becomes a powerful force that attracts and draws in matter.  Vacuums suck.  Literally.

The application for writers?  Leave some blank spaces in your writing and storytelling. Remember that law of physics for writers, “Show don’t tell.”  Writers who explain too much fill up a scene with details, facts, or interior narration that clutters up the story.  It prevents readers from using their imagination because everything is spelled out for them, every possibility explored and catalogued.  It leaves readers bored and repulsed.  Let the readers have fun creating their own interpretation.  There’s no fun in playing in somebody else’s sandbox when all the toys have been grabbed and labelled (usually with adverbs).

A beautiful example of the power of the unwritten word is Conor Powers-Smith’s ‘Love for Sale’ in Pulp Literature Issue 3.    Read it again, and notice how the author piques your curiosity, leaving most of the technical explanation and the intentions of the main character unsaid.  Even the ending is defined by what’s not there, rather than what is.

The best writers use blank space to draw in the reader, and the best readers can’t resist filling in the gaps of a story.  Don’t put off readers with too much information.  Welcome readers to your door, open it wide, and stand back.  Let them enter the room and explore your world for themselves.  Let their curiosity pull them inside because … (wait for it)…
a good story sucks.


Interview with a Daughter

The protagonist from KM Vaghela’s beautifully haunting ‘Poor Thing’ in issue 2 doesn’t have a name.  We know her only as ‘girl’.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t live, breath, and feel with her long after the story is finished.poorthingnogrey

  1. What is your greatest fear?   My mother’s stare.
  2. On what occasion do you lie?  When my mother has the stare in her eyes.
  3. Which talent would you most like to have?   Rock climbing, or better yet, tree climbing.
  4. What is your greatest regret?  Never telling Nirav that he’s my one and only crush.
  5. How would you like to die?  Old age, in my sleep.

KM Vaghela, who holds a MFA in Fiction, and teaches writing at the university of Maryland, tells us this about the story:  ‘Poor Thing’ originated from a phone call. I was thirteen and my mother was habitually twirling the curly, long cord connected to the head piece while watching something on the stove. It was her voice that made me lift my head from my work and listen. There were too many exclamation marks in her breath. When she hung up, we children gathered around curiously. The story she told clung to us for weeks. It was a story we could not understand, living in America where 911 was the answer for all trouble. How could there be no 911 solution in our mother country of India? I wrote the first draft at fifteen, and it has evolved slowly into a piece which I hope will touch any who read it.

You can find ‘Poor Thing’ in the Spring 2014 issue of Pulp Literature, available as ebook or in print on our Kickstarter page: