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Monday, 14 March 2011

The Good Old Stuff

The header comes from the great John D McDonald's title for a collection of his pulp writing, energetic, reader-centred fiction of which he was particularly proud, and it seemed like an appropriate way to introduce this guest post from Lee Goldberg.

I've met Lee in person, so I can testify that there's only one of him. Though you'd never guess it from the sheer variety and energy of his output; novelist, TV writer, tie-in champion, film-maker, blogger, leading commentator on the developing (exploding?) eBook market... Lee is also closely involved with the Top Suspense group, a cadre of experienced writers who have banded together in a branding operation that I suspect is going to become more common as readers seek some kind of guidance and filtering for eBook titles.

More on that subject soon. The venture he describes here is in the McDonald spirit, and sounds like a lot of fun.

The Dead Man: Face of Evil is the first in a new series of ebooks and paperbacks that we like to think of as cross between Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, George Gilman’s Edge, and Don Pendleton’s The Executioner... and a blatant attempt to recapture the flavor of those “men’s action adventure paperbacks” of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Those paperbacks were short and tightly-written, with hard-boiled heroes, outrageously sexy women, and gleefully over-the-top plots. Nobody would ever mistake them for great literature, but they were enormous fun to read...and to write. I know, because I broke into publishing in the mid-1980s writing one of those series - 357 Vigilante by "Ian Ludlow" - while I was still in college.

Sadly, the "men's action adventure" genre is virtually extinct now, an early victim of the narrowing of the paperback marketplace. But I’ve never lost my affection for the genre... and the Kindle is the perfect medium for it. So, I figured, why not try it again?

Which is where The Dead Man comes in.

The idea actually began as a TV series that Bill Rabkin & I started pitching around Hollywood over 20 years ago. The pitch went something like this:

There is good, and there is evil.
On November 12th, Matthew Cahill died, buried in an avalanche of snow.
On February 20th, Matthew Cahill came back to life.
Nothing has changed.
There is still good, and there is still evil.
Only now... he can see it.

Each day has becomes a journey into a dark world he knows nothing about...a quest for the answers to who he is and what he has become...and a fight to save us, and his soul, from the clutches of pure evil.

Execs always seemed to love the pitch, but we were never able to clinch the sale, and gave up on it a few years back. But lately I’ve had some success reviving my out-of-print books on the Kindle – particularly The Walk – and it occurred to me that The Dead Man would make a kick-ass series of “men’s action adventure novels.”

It took me 30 seconds to convince Bill to go along with idea...and I even managed to cajole a bunch of other writers to pen future novels in the series. Not just any writers... but some of the very best western, horror, mystery, and science fiction scribes out there, including Marcus Pelegrimas, Joel Goldman, Bill Crider, James Reasoner, David McAfee, Matt Witten, Burl Barer, James Daniels, Matthew P. Mayo, Jude Hardin, and Harry Shannon.

The first book, Face of Evil, is out now in the U.K. and will soon be followed by Hell in Heaven by Bill Rabkin and me, Ring of Knives by James Daniels, The Dead Woman by David McAfee, Crucible of Fire by Mel Odom, Lust for Blood by Harry Shannon, and many more, a new book in the series coming out every month or so.

We are all having a great time writing these books and indulging our great affection for the genre. Hopefully, The Dead Man can be the gateway drug that gets you hooked on it, too.

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