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.

poorthingnogrey

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:


 

The Art of Seeing

Today all three Pulp Literature editors were treated to an advance presentation by local author and photographer, Sandra Vander Schaaf. “The Art of Seeing” ties together Sandra’s love of tango, stories and visual arts. Some topical teasers:Sandra_Vander_Schaff

  • Why an invitation to dance is like an invitation to story.
  • How the composition of a photo is like the details of your       setting, and why you notice what you do.
  • How the unexpected is the key to story.
  • How to capture and describe emotions in the flesh.
  • How to become invisible as an author, and why that’s important.

Sandra packed a lot into 90 minutes, and we encourage     everyone to attend Sandra’s workshop next weekend at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.  You won’t want to miss is it!

In related fabulous news Sandra will also be giving her workshop at  our Bowen Island Writer’s Retreat in January 2015, available through our Kickstarter rewards!

hummingbird5

Interview with a Father

This next Proust Questionnaire is a bit of a teaser, since Rob Taylor’s Hummingbird Prize-winning story “Here I Lay Down my Heart” will not be published until Issue 5.   We’re sorry to leave you in anticipation, but believe us, it’s worth the wait!

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? The past.
  2. What is your greatest fear? He pulled Mima tight and brought in only air. He reached and reached.”
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? “My child, he wanted to say, but the word wouldn’t come.”
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty.
  5. On what occasion do you lie? Whenever necessary. Too often.
  6. What do you most dislike about your appearance? How little I can change it.
  7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Bo’ee elay.
  8. When and where were you happiest? Those few weeks when Mima had gone to preschool and life had felt normal and the word normal had plumped with meaning.”
  9. Which talent would you most like to have? Invisibility.
  10. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting here.
  11. What is your most treasured possession? My dove.
  12. What is your most marked characteristic? Fear.
  13. Who are your favourite writers? Italo Calvino. Yehuda Amichai. Michael Chabon. Ernest Hemingway. Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
  14. What is your greatest regret? Oh to choose only one!
  15. How would you like to die? How matters less than that it is a long time from now.
  16. What is your motto? “Samaki, kuku, mbuzi!”
  17. What is something we’d never glean about you from Here I Lay Down My Heart? Almost everything.Rob Taylor

Rob Taylor’s  first book of poetry, The Other Side of Ourselves, won the 2010 Alfred G. Bailey Prize.  He has also published four chapbooks of poems: splattered earth (2006), Child of Saturday (2008), Lyric (2010)and Smoothing the Holy Surfaces (2012).

“Here I Lay down my Heart was the first place winner in our inaugural Hummingbird Prize for Flash Fiction, and the story will appear in Pulp Literature Issue 5, Winter 2015.  You can purchase a copy or subscribe on our Kickstarter page:

raven with branch

Contest Alert!

Pesky Summer Jobs by Tais Teng

Pesky Summer Jobs by Tais Teng

Only a fortnight until the Ravens come home to roost! Our story challenge is to write a piece to link with this painting by Tais Teng. In addition to the $500 prize, the winner will be our Issue 6 featured author, an honour shared with award winning authors CC Humphreys, JJ Lee, Joan MacLeod, Susanna Kearsley, and Eileen Kernaghan. If this sounds like good company, send us your story soon! We have a limit of 100 entrants. Your story needn’t capture all the elements in this fantastical painting, but should tie in to at least one of the visual or symbolic references.  Final judge will be CC Humphreys, so sharpen your quills and write!

Interview with a Troll Hunter

Tatterhood by Kris Sayer

Tatterhood by Kris Sayer

Next up in the Proust Questionnaire lineup is Kris Sayer’s Tatterhood, the goat riding, spoon wielding, exterminator-for-hire first seen in Pulp Literature Issue 2, and more recently in her own eponymous graphic novel.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Meat on the table, mead in my mug, a ship on the waters and an unexplored land, ya?
  2. What is your greatest fear?  I am terrified over the thought of somethin’ bad happening to my sister.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?   Alright, sometimes my temper may get the better of me and I may overreact to situations…so I guess I don’t like how I’m a little too brash at times. 
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  I hate how people can be so rude, and assumptive. 
  5. On what occasion do you lie?  Whenever I find myself in a tight situation.  Or if I’m in a negotiating situation.  Or sometimes a personal situation. But it’s not really lying. I only tell what needs to be told.unwanted visitors p 9
  6. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  What’s not to love? 
  7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  “Ya”. And I probably grunt more than I’d like – that’ll be the trolls influencin’ me. 
  8. When and where were you happiest?  Everyone keeps saying how I was just so happy when I was born. Then again, everyone says I was just so ugly too.
  9. Which talent would you most like to have?  Aw, I’d give anything to know how to use a sword! 
  10. What do you consider your greatest achievement?   I took down a Hrímþursar once by myself when I was in Ísland.  Barely survived.
  11. What is your most treasured possession?  He’s going to hate me for saying this, but it’s Bokki. He may protest and proclaim his independence, but hey, he’s my goat.
  12. What is your most marked characteristic?  My loud, undaunted spirit that craves adventure!
  13. Who are your favourite writers?  Writers? No idea. But I’m a big fan of Gunnlaugr Ormstunga.  
  14. What is your greatest regret?  I really don’t want to talk about it. It got me banished from Nóregr for a while, let’s leave it at that.
  15. How would you like to die?  With blood on my hands and my weapon in the heart of the beast that slayed me. Ya.
  16. What is your motto?  Don’t trust trolls. Don’t trust men.
  17. What is something we’d never glean about you from Tatterhood?   Tatterhood, Totra, Bergljót, Kona, Raggi, Sponhild – these titles and many more I am known and called by … but no-one knows my real name!Kris portrait

You can read more of Tatterhood in Kris Sayer’s graphic novels, available from Weald Comics.  The 5-page horror comic ‘Bait’ by Kris will be appearing in Issue 5 of Pulp Literature, followed by ‘Bite’ in issue 6.

If you fancy your portrait drawn by this talented costumer, artist and swordfighter, check out the reward on our Kickstarter page.  Hurry, only 6 of these colour portraits are available!

 

Canvention Congratulations!

Issue 5

Issue 5

Congratulations to next issue’s feature author, Eileen Kernaghan, who netted an Aurora Award for her poem “Night Journey: West Coast” published in Tesseracts Seventeen by EDGE Publishing!

The Aurora’s were presented last weekend at VCon 39 / Canvention 34 in Surrey, and it was a great weekend for Pulp Lit.   Not only did we launch issue 4 with authors KL Mabbs and Ace Baker, our issue 1 and 5 cover artist, the supremely talented Melissa Mary Duncan was an Artist Guest of Honour and an Aurora nominee.   The fact that another Pulp Lit author, David Clink (‘The Lady in White’, ‘Death Smile’, Pulp Literature Issue 2) took second place in the poem category was icing on the cake.  And to top it all off, issue 7 feature author Robert J Sawyer was one of the eight inaugural inductees into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.  Congratulations all!

Beer Fairie by Melissa Mary Duncan

Beer Fairie by Melissa Mary Duncan

It wasn’t all books and writing of course.  If you dropped into the Academie Duello demo on Saturday afternoon you would have seen the authors of ‘The Wolf’, Kimberleigh Roseblade and JM Landels, in a friendly sword and buckler match, while Susan Pieters (‘Glass Curtain’, ‘Capture of the Muse’, ‘Invisible’, ‘Below the Knee’) chatted with Stormtroopers, angels and inquisitors at the Pulp Lit table.

Rapier with JM Landels & Gareth Antle

Rapiers at noon with JM Landels & Gareth Antle

 

We had a fabulous time at VCon, and we hope to see you again their next year.  Be sure to subscribe, either here on the website or through our Kickstarter campaign, so as not to miss Eileen Kernaghan’s and Robert J Sawyer’s stories in upcoming issues!

magicforestmagpies3

Interview Behind the Barn

Our second Proust Questionnaire response comes from Uncle Sid, whom we met in Ace Baker’s Magpie Award Winning Poem, ‘Big Red Schoolhouse’.  You can find the poem in Pulp Literature Issue 4, Autumn 2014.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A little red tractor comin’ home at sunset.
  2. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Callin’ a spade a spade.  
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Not callin’ a spade a spade.
  4. What do you most dislike about your appearance? Mah missin’ digit—can’t give people the finger with that hand!
  5. What is your most treasured possession? A loop of rope.
  6. How would you like to die? With mah cowboy boots on.Baker
  7. What is your motto? “Early to bed, early to rise; men in the fields and wimmin makin’ pies.”

ACE BAKER has won the Magpie Poetry Award, the PNWA Poetry Prize, the SIWC Poetry Contest, and the Storyteller Award for Short Fiction. He maintains a website at www.fighttowrite.com and may be followed @writeracebaker

You can order Issue 4 containing ‘Big Red Schoolhouse’  as well as Ace’s award-winning short story ‘Victory Girl’ for $5 as an ebook or $15 in print (quantities limited) as well as full subscriptions and other backer rewards on our Kickstarter page: