Sunday, 17 March 2019

Wherein I find myself ill and unable to type...

(This is not at all what happened to me.)

I feel that I owe you, my most esteemed followers, an explanation for the lack of blogging these past few weeks.

Please do not think that I have been neglecting this blog, though I am still not quite sure how all this works. However, it turns out that I have been ill.

More precisely, I have been recuperating from a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Nothing serious, I assure you, just a graze. However, typing with one arm in a sling is no fun and I still have deadlines to meet and stories to deliver to my editor. If if you'd ever met Jake Levonsky, trust me, you would not want to keep him waiting.

For the record, my injury was due to an unfortunate accident while cleaning the pistol I keep for target shooting. I was stupid and incautious, that's all.

Oh yes, and my injury has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the Silencer has apparently been involved in a shootout with the infamous Switchback Gang recently. I'm just a writer, not a crimefighter, and I wasn't even anywhere near Manhattan when the Switchback Gang chased the Silencer across the roofs of Hell's Kitchen.  

Friday, 22 February 2019

The Birth of Thurvok

I have been told that readers would be interested in how the Thurvok series came to be. So let me explain:

It is my view that as a writer, a large part of your job is reading. After all, you need to know what other writers are doing, take inspiration from their triumphs and failures. I am a pulp writer, therefore I read a lot of pulp magazines.

I have subscriptions to some two dozen magazines and buy the occasional issue at the newstand of at least a dozen more. Of course, I read the general interest magazines like Argosy and All-Story. For crime fiction, I read Black Mask, Detective Story Magazine, Thrilling Detective and True Detective. For hero pulps, I follow The Shadow, The Spider, Doc Savage, The Avenger and Operator 5. For westerns, I follow Western Story Magazine and Ranchland Romances. For science fiction, I read Astounding Stories and Amazing Stories. For weird menace, I read Dime Mystery, Terror Tales and Horror Stories. And of course, I read the crown jewel of the weird menace pulps, the unique magazine itself, Weird Tales.

Weird Tales is truly unique among the weird menace pulps, since they do not just publish the standard horror fare about vampires, werewolves, mummies, vengeful ghosts and scantily clad damsels. No, they also publish the occasional science fiction stories as well as thundering adventure tales featuring fighting men and the occasional woman having fantastic adventures in lands that never were.

Chief among those writers of fantastic adventure tales is the late lamented Robert E. Howard, creator of such inspiring heroes of Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane, the Puritan avenger, Bran Mak Morn and of course the king of them all, Conan of Cimmeria. Meanwhile, Clark Ashton Smith, another frequent Weird Tales contributor, pens beautifully written and evocative tales about Zothique and the Hyberborean age. And a talented young lady named C.L. Moore created Jirel of Joiry, an heroine whose brawn and skill matches those of her male peers.

It was those heroes and heroines and their fantastic adventures which were at the back of my mind, when my publisher Jake Levonsky called me into his office one day and showed me the cover painting for a new magazine he was about to launch.

"It will be called Tales of the Bizarre..." Jake told me, "...and it will be a bit like - what's it called again? - Weird Tales. You know, the one with the weird stories and sexy covers. So, can you write me anything for that? I'll even given you the cover, if you write me a story that matches the painting."

It was a challenge to be met and so I returned to my home on Long Island, set down at my trusty Underwood, the evocative painting that Jake Levonsky had shown me still fresh on my mind, and started typing.

And so Thurvok was born, a brawny and bronze-skinned barbarian and sellsword who offers his services to the highest bidder. I sent him travelling across the landscape from the evocative painting or one very much like it and introduced him to some suitably bizarre monsters. The result was "The Valley of the Man Vultures", which eventually appeared in the very first issue of Tales of the Bizarre.

Thurvok proved to be popular and the readers loved him, hence Jake Levonsky commissioned me to write more stories about him.

By the end of his very first adventure, Thurvok encounters a fellow traveller, Meldom, who introduces himself as "thief, cutpurse, assassin, whatever they pay me to do". I initially introduced Meldom only because I needed someone to resolve the mystery of the man vultures. But I liked him and so he stuck around.

Bob Howard's heroes are usually loners, but I like giving my characters someone to talk to and share their adventures. And so I sent Thurvok and his new friend Meldom on a quest to loot the lost tomb of a long dead king. True to form, they encounter more than they bargained for and escape with their lives, though without the treasure.

Weird menace fans love damsels in distress, the more scantily clad the better. So, for that matter, do pulp cover artists. And so I introduced Thurvok and Meldom to just such a damsel for their next adventure. Though Sharenna proves to be far more than just an damsel in distress.

It turned out that Thurvok was quite taken with Sharenna, the flame-haired sorceress, who joins Thurvok and Meldom on their adventures. But now that Thurvok had found a love interest, Meldom needed one as well.

And so I sent Thurvok, Meldom and Sharenna back to Meldom's old hometown and introduced yet another damsel in distress - Lysha, Meldom's childhood sweetheart, who's about to face the gallows - for a crime she has not committed, of course. Meldom, Thurvok and Sharenna rescue her and the quartet travels on to have adventures, search for treasure and fight witches and dragons.

So, dear readers, I hope that you will accompany Thurvok and his companions on their many exciting adventures...

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Wherein I embark upon my Twitter journey

I seem to have acquired an account at something called Twitter.

As far as I can tell, it appears to be a sort of telegraph, which allows you to broadcast your thoughts to the world and talk with other people all over the world doing the same.

I've been told that everybody who is anybody is on Twitter these days. My good friend and editor Cora Buhlert is there (and helped me to set up my account). My publisher Pegasus Pulp is there. The New York Times is there. The New Yorker is there. The President of the United States is there (the president of 2019, that is. Some fellow named Trump, apparently related to the real estate magnate). Even God is there.

Apparently, lots of writers are on Twitter as well, but so far the only familiar names I have found are Edgar Rice Burroughs, Norvell Page and H.P. Lovecraft. I also found someone named Lester Dent, but it seems to be the wrong person, unless Lester has suddenly started talking about politics all the time.

Anyway, this Twitter thing all very fascinating and very strange to me. At times, the future truly is a weird place.

If you wish to follow me (I'm told that's the correct terminology to use), you can do so here.  

Thursday, 14 February 2019

A Happy Valentine's Day and an Interview Elsewhere

It is Valentine's Day and I am having a romantic dinner with my beautiful fiancée, Miss Constance Allen, later tonight. Therefore, this is just a brief post to share some news.

While we're on the subject of Valentine's Day, my good friend, editor and fellow writer has posted a list of the best Valentine's Day mysteries and crime novels by indie and small press author over at the Indie Crime Scene, a blog for all things mystery, thriller and crime fiction. The list includes also includes a Silencer adventure entitled fittingly enough A Valentine for the Silencer.

In other news, I have recently been interviewed at a place called Smashwords. Apparently, it is some kind of publishing company crossed with a bookseller. They're also kind enough to sell my books.

I cannot say that I have ever heard of them before, but the interview, conducted via mail, was certainly interesting. Though some of the questions were very strange indeed. For example, I still don't quite understand what an "e-reading device" is. Apparently, it's some kind of gadget that people in the future use to read books, which seems like science fiction to me.

Anyway, you can read my interview here.

And that's it for today. I hope to have more news for you soon.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Two Short Films

I have been informed that there are two short films about The Silencer currently playing on a service called YouTube, which appears to be some kind of television channel.

As a technically inclined person, I believe that television has a lot of potential. I have been lucky enough to see some test broadcasts here in New York. And across the pond, in London and Berlin, there is already a regular television broadcast service, though subscriber numbers are still very low. Nonetheless, I believe that television is a medium of the future and therefore, I'm glad that the Silencer is part of it.

You can view the two movies below. They're both animated and quite interesting.

There are some nice drawings of myself, my beloved Constance as well as my good friend Captain Justin O'Grady of the NYPD and even my publisher Jake Levonsky in the film below. Though once again, I am not the Silencer. I only write about him.


 The second film is animated as well. It appears to be some kind of news broadcast, in which two people discuss the late unpleasantness. And for the record, it was all just a misunderstanding and I was eventually acquitted.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Repost: Meet My Character: Richard Blakemore

In 2015 - that is either three years ago or 79 years in the future (remember that I live in 1936, whereas this blog apparently appears in the far off future of 2019 - and no, I have no idea how this works either), Miss Cora Buhlert, who is apparently my editor in the future, posted a feature called "Meet My Character: Richard Blakemore" on her own blog. Apparently in the future, everybody has one of those blogs.

This feature is reprinted below with permission and with some corrections added. Though Miss Buhlert is mistaken and I would emphatically like to stress that I am not and have never been the Silencer.

Meet My Character: Richard Blakemore

And now it’s time to meet my character:

Countdown to Death cover1) What is the name of your character? Is he fictional or a historic person?

His name is Richard Blakemore and he is entirely fictional.  

[Correction: I am not fictional. I am very much real.]

2) When and where is the story set?

The story is set in New York City in the 1930s.

3) What should we know about him?

Richard Blakemore is a pulp fiction writer in Depression era New York. Just why he chose this particular profession is unknown. It’s certainly not for the money, because Richard is independently wealthy. No one is quite sure where that wealth comes from. He certainly didn’t earn it by writing pulp novels, because half a cent per word doesn’t make anybody wealthy.

Like most pulp writers, Richard can write pretty much every genre (though he does feel a bit awkward about writing romance), but his main work is a series about the adventures of the Silencer, a masked crimefighter who takes on the underworld and protects the downtrodden, motivated by the urge to make up for a criminal past.

However, Richard doesn’t just write about the Silencer, he actually dons the Silencer’s cloak, steel mask, fedora and silver-plated twin .45 automatics and goes out to fight crime.

[Correction: I am not and have never been the Silencer. How many times must I repeat this?]

The Spiked Death cover4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

The main source of conflict are obviously Richard’s nocturnal activities, because normal and well adjusted people don’t become costumed crimefighters. Plus, there is the pressure of living a double life and keeping it hidden from everybody except for those closest to him.

What is more, his nocturnal activities bring Richard to the attention of both the criminals the Silencer busts and the police who don’t take too kindly to a guy with a mask infringing upon their territory. Even worse, in his pulp writer persona Richard is close friends with Captain Justin O’Grady of the NYPD, who suspects that Richard might be the Silencer and is only too eager to prove it.

But Richard’s activities don’t just put himself at risk, but also those who are near and dear to him such as his butler/chauffeur/friend and occasional helper Neal Cassidy and his fiancĂ©, socialite Constance Allen. Constance and Richard fell in love, after the Silencer saved her from a villain known as the Scarlet Executioner, and she is one of the very few people who know the Silencer’s true identity.

Finally, Richard is a pulp writer and trust me, deadlines in the pulp era were brutal.

At one point, Richard actually finds himself unmasked and accused of a murder he did not commit (for once, because the Silencer has few scruples about killing, if it cannot be prevented). He is even found guilty and finds himself facing the electric chair, but is saved at the last minute by… – well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

[For the record, I was aquitted and cleared of all charges. And I'm not the Silencer, no matter what Justin O'Grady believes.] 

Flying Bombs cover5) What is the personal goal of the character?

Richard wants to fight crime and injustice and protect the poor and the downtrodden whom the police cannot or will not protect.

Living in Depression era New York, Richard sees poverty and desperation around him every day. And he sees criminals preying on hardworking people who only want to make a living and provide for themselves and their families. Many people see what Richard sees, but unlike most he doesn’t want to look away.

At first, he thought that writing about what he saw and writing about it in the pulp magazines that people are actually reading instead of leatherbound tomes that few can afford would be enough. But it wasn’t, so he donned the mask and costume of the Silencer to go out and do something about it.

Richard always operates out of a sense of guilt to atone for sins of his past, which he won’t talk about, not even to Constance. There are hints that he wasn’t always fighting on the side of the angels and that he was once a criminal very much like those he is fighting now.

[For the last time, I am not and have never been the Silencer. As for my past, that's none of your business.]

The Great Fraud by Cora Buhlert6) What is the title of the novel, and where can we find out more?

It’s not a novel, but a series of stories, the Silencer series. The first story, in which Richard faces the electric chair for a crime he did not commit and has to clear his name is called Countdown to Death. Further stories in the series are Flying Bombs, The Spiked Death, Elevator of Doom, The Great Fraud and Mean Streets and Dead Alleys with more stories forthcoming. The next one has the working title Crossroads of the World. The books are available at all major e-book stores and there’s also a handy bundle available exclusively at DriveThruFiction.

[I have been asked to let you know that three more Silencer adventures have appeared since then, namely Fact or Fiction, St. Nicholas of Hell's Kitchen and The Milk Truck Gang. You will have to ask Miss Buhlert about whatever happened to Crossroads of the World.]

7) When was the book published?

The first Silencer novelettes were electronically published in 2011, the last one to date came out in the summer of 2014. Some of the stories are reprints of stories published in various magazines in the early 2000s.

[Actually, The Silencer magazine debuted in April 1933.]

Monday, 4 February 2019


Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Richard Blakemore and I am a writer, more specifically a writer of pulp fiction.

I'm not quite sure what this newfangled blog thing is all about, though it appears to be a cross between a personal journal and what we call a fanzine in my day. But my editor insisted I should give this blogging thing a try, because it is apparently the new way to sell stories.

Oh yes, and this blog thing apparently appears in the far off future of 2019, whereas I live in the year of the Lord 1936. And no, I have no idea how this works either, though I suspect that the boys over at Amazing Stories or Astounding Stories might have a theory or two. 

Anyway,  I write for the various pulp magazines put out by Levonsky Publishing. I'm the headwriter - well, only writer - for The Silencer magazine. Every month, I chronicle the exploits and adventures of the Silencer, New York City's own steel-masked avenger, scourge of crime and protector of the innocent.

I also created the sellsword Thurvok and his companions for Tales of the Bizarre, Levonsky Publishing's newest magazine venture. Follow Thurvok's adventures every month in the latest issue of Tales of the Bizarre.

Oh yes, and just in case you're wondering about the persistent rumours that I am the real life Silencer who prowls the streets of New York City to fight crime, well, there's nothing to those rumours, absolutely nothing at all.

I am not and have never been the Silencer. I am merely the man he has chosen to chronicle his adventures. And that's all I have to say about that.