Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pulp Ark 2011 Spotlight - Andrew Salmon

Andrew Salmon received a 2011 Pulp Ark Award Nomination in the catagory of
"Best Short Story" for his work "Run".
"Run" was published in
Pro Se Presents Masked Gun Mystery #1 

Andrew, Share a bit of background about yourself if you would.  Sure thing. I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada and grew up in the same neighbourhood as William Shatner although in different decades. Ha! He and my Dad went to the same school though and I’ve got the graduating yearbook with both of them in it.

I grew up flat out refusing to read prose. I spent my youth reading comics instead. Spider-Man was my favorite although I read a lot of the hero stuff from Marvel. Seeing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in June of 1982, when I was 16, changed all that. The film, literally, changed my life. It transformed me from someone who wouldn’t read a book if you paid me to someone who desperately wanted to write one. Watching the film, I could just suddenly see the elements that were making up the story. I could see behind the curtain and watch the story gears turn. So naive was I at the time that I thought story elements like pacing and foreshadowing were exclusive to Star Trek. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered they weren’t. This lead to a lifelong love of reading and writing that continues to this day.

My wife and I currently reside in Vancouver, Canada and life is good on the wild and wacky West Coast.

I discovered Doc Savage about 10 years ago and was instantly hooked and added The Shadow, Secret Agent X, The Spider and Operator #5, Max Brand and others to my list of favorites. From there I was fortunate enough to hook up with Airship 27 about four years ago and now pulp is booming. I’m just happy to be a part of it! Wahoo!

Your short story is one of the nominees for best of 2010. Just what is 'RUN' about? I’m thrilled to bits to be nominated for a Pulp Ark award! Blown away! Over the moon excited! And want to thank everyone who nominated the story. Also, win or lose, I want to thank anyone in advance who votes for the tale! Deepest thanks from the bottom of my heart!

Being nominated is a thrill that does not fade with time. My short story, “The Adventure of the Locked Room” (Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Volume One from Airship 27) won a Pulp Factory award last year for Best Pulp Short Story and I’m still aglow whenever I cast my eye to the trophy sitting next to my computer!

As for “Run” there’s one thing I’d like to mention right off the bat. Before we get to the plot, I’d like to throw in a little bit about how the story was written. A few years ago, “Run” was my first attempt at a pulp tale. Being new to the genre as a reader at the time, to say nothing of wanting to write pulp, I really had no idea how to go about coming up with my own stuff.

Well, pulp is all about action and pacing so I hit on the idea of writing for 15 minutes a day. With no plot, no concept, I sat down every day and wrote pulp action for 15 minutes. I used a timer and when it chimed, it was pens down. Even if I was in the middle of a sentence, I put the tale away until the next session where I’d take it up again. Eventually I had a narrative which I honed down to the version that appeared in Masked Gun Mystery #1. This is why I’m doubly excited the tale was nominated! What began as experimental scribbling fashioned itself into a story that I’m quite proud of and it’s wonderful to know that readers seem to positively respond to it.

As for the plot, “Run” is, as the title implies, a chase story. Clark Logan, recently discharged, finds himself seeking escape from the horrors of WW2 in a small town where he is a stranger. Suddenly, in the dead of night, he finds himself running for his life, the peace he craved nothing but a memory, until he has to make a choice about how he wants to live his life. Short, to the point, like a punch in the face. In other words, pulp.

Some say the art of the short story is a lost one, yet it seems to thrive in the pulp genre.  Why do you think that is?  I think it comes down to the simple truth that there is not a lot of room for characterization in a short story. You’ve got to get in and get on with it. Pulp is often criticised for portraying one-dimensional characters and there’s a lot of truth to that. However, thin characterization is accepted because pulp is about the plot, more so than the people. Because of this, pulp naturally lends itself to the shorter form. My stories generally are novellas, although “Run” is not, and, believe me, there’s a lot of room for action in the limited space a short story or novella allows for when you don’t have to get bogged down in a lot of characterization. You can just let ’er rip! And good pulp will rip your guts out. If you’re lucky.   

What makes pulp a genre that even merits awards?  This is a great question. Pulp is its own unique entity with a distinct voice. There’s the pace I mentioned earlier and, even though it covers every genre you can image from Westerns to Romance to Science-Fiction and Horror, a keen-eyed reader knows when he or she is reading pulp, especially good pulp. Along with the pace comes over the top action, hair-breadth escapes and a general sense of good and evil, right and wrong.

What’s more, thanks to the internet, there are more and more talented writers and artists creating knew pulp works for a bevy of pulp publishers. Truly great work that not only entertains but carries the genre forward for readers today and in the future. All of the greats – Lester Dent, Walter Gibson, Robert E Howard, Frederick Faust and countless others – have shuffled off this mortal coil. They left us a tremendous, priceless legacy in their vast works but they are gone and a genre, any genre, in my opinion, can’t survive if it does not progress. Just look at sci-fi and how far it has come since Edgar Allan Poe first took a crack at it. What it boils down to is this: how many times can you read the same Secret Agent X or Spider story from the 30s or 40s before you get tired of it no matter how well written it is? Twenty times? A hundred?

This is what led to fan fiction. How could it not? This army of pulp characters was so great, so much fun and so inspiring that fans could not help but want to continue the heroic exploits of the timeless heroes. Now with these wonderful characters in the public domain, writers and artists are free to add a page to the great book of pulp, contribute the story they always wanted to see Jim Anthony or the Black Bat or any other of a host of characters get caught up in. They are also free to create new characters and are doing so in spades! It’s wonderful. Years ago, these stories, good or bad, would moulder away in desk drawers until they crumbled to dust. Now, thanks to the internet, pulp publishing is back with a vengeance. People have been writing stories for decades since the pulp magazines disappeared off newsstands but now these stories can be presented to long-time fans and new readers of pulp. Every year it seems the number of pulp publishers doing new pulp books and magazines as well as houses issuing reprints grows and grows. It’s a full-blown pulp revolution! It’s amazing! Now anyone with a pulp tale to tell has a chance to get that story into the hands of pulp readers and readers in general. Incredible!

Which brings up the subject of awards. I mean, why not? There have been awards like the Lamont for contributions to preserving the wonderful tradition we, as pulp fans, cherish and that’s as it should be. However, with more than a dozen publishers issuing new stuff by so many of the best writers and artists of the day, why not have awards like the Pulp Ark Awards and Pulp Factory Awards to acknowledge the current crop of creators slaving away at the genre they love? It makes perfect sense and shows not only the pulp community, but readers in general, that pulp is not an art form of the past. That it is still relevant and is ongoing. The awards are something for every pulp creator to shoot for. They can inspire and motivate and the genre benefits as a whole because of them.

Lest I forget! My sincere congratulations to all of this year’s Pulp Ark Award and Pulp Factory nominees! Good luck, everyone! It’s going to be a hell of a ride!

What might be coming up that could get you back on the Pulp Ark Award list for 2011?  I should be so lucky! With all of the fantastic creators I’m up against this year, who knows what talented, award hungry folks are coming down the pike! But here goes:

First up will be my novella in Mars McCoy Space Ranger Volume One. Mars is a new character with his own unique supporting cast and one heck of a fun universe to play around in. I’d like to say I had a hand in creating it but I didn’t. I watched from the sidelines as sharper brains than mine did the heavy lifting. My tale in Volume One is called “Mars McCoy and the Invasion From Beyond” and should be out soon in both a print and e-versions from Airship 27 and Cornerstone Book Publishers.

Also a sci-fi novel of mine, The Dark Land, is currently in the production stage and should be out soon. Not pulp per se although pulp inspired, it is a near-future detective story from Airship 27 and Cornerstone Book Publishers. The goals here were action, suspense and ideas to ponder and I think the novel has all three. Pulp Factory Award winner and current nominee Mark Maddox is doing the cover and everyone at Airship 27 is holding their breath in anticipation. Mark is one of the best artists in the business and I can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve! We’re talking print and e-books here.

I had the good fortune to collaborate with long-time pulp fan Mark Halegua on the first story featuring his very own creation, the Red Badge. This is a great character and it was a lot of fun fleshing out the tale with Mark. It’s scheduled to appear in Mystery Men and Women Volume Two, which should be out sometime this year from Airship 27 and Cornerstone Book Publishers. Again in both print and e-form. I’m curious to see what readers will make of the mysterious identity of the Red Badge. Who is this guy! I know, and I ain’t telling! The story is a ton of fun.

My third Sherlock Holmes story for Airship 27, “The Adventure of the Towne Manor Haunting” is scheduled to appear in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Volume Three. Keep your eyes peeled for that one!

Currently I’m up to my eyebrows writing a novel featuring German pulp characters, a German hero team. It’s called All-Men: The Shadow-Line. I spent more than a year researching the book and the writing has been intense to say the least. I’m more than 40,000 words in and I can guarantee, even at this point, that it’ll be a pulp reading experience readers aren’t likely to forget. For the curious or those eager for a sneak peek, one of the team members appears in my story “Death Rides the Valkyrie” from Black Bat Mystery Volume One. The tale was just nominated for a Pulp Factory award in the category of Best Pulp Short Story! A thrill beyond words!

I’m also kicking around ideas for Secret Agent X, Sherlock Holmes and Three Musketeers novels but will have to finish up the German team book first. Master of all things Lama, one Adam Garcia, has asked me to contribute a tale for a Dock Doyle anthology he is putting together. Doyle is a Garcia original who will also make his debut in Mystery Men and Women Volume Two.

Plus I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for anyone out there looking for tales of daring-do.

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