Each Friday in November will be Pulp Fiction Friday. Authors will contribute a post discussing the writing of pulp, mystery, spies, and whodunits in the realms of science fiction and speculative stories. Welcome to Paul Bishop to Pulp Reports!
RIPPING YARNS: PULP AND THE THRILLER
by PAUL BISHOP
Far too much of today’s fiction output is bloated filler designed to turn books into 700 page doorstops under the false assumption more is better. If you’re like me, you don’t have the time or patience to plow through 700 pages to read a story better served in 300 pages – or less.
The writers who worked on the pulp magazines from back in the day understood their audience wanted stripped down yarns filled with action, twists and turns. Thrillers actually had to thrill, and the pulp style was the way to guarantee reader satisfaction.
Hero pulps from the ‘30s and ‘40s, such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Avenger, pull major collector’s prices today. To a lesser extent so do the weird menace and aviation pulps. Western pulps can still be had for bargain prices as can many of the romance and sports pulps.
I’ve always been partial to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat presented in the sports pulps. One of the best of the sports pulps, Fight Stories magazine, now demands the same high collector’s prices as the popular hero pulps. Like the contents of Sports Stories magazine, the tales in Fight Stories were a cut above the yarns in the multitude of other sports pulps. The most collectible issues of Fight Stories contain the two-fisted tales of Sailor Steve Costigan written by the creator of Conan, Robert E. Howard.
Howard’s boxing tales, along with many others from Fight Stories, are among my pulp favorites. They have long held sway in my imagination, yet until recently, there was no modern home for their novelette length. However, the advent of e-publishing has not only provided a viable publishing platform for the 25,000 word novelette, but also a way to reach specific niche audiences still hungry for these types of tales.
The Fight Card series, created by myself and prolific writer Mel Odom, is inspired by the boxing tales from the best of the sports pulps. Told in the straightforward, hard-driving, two-fisted pulp style, Fight Card yarns written by some of today’s best pulpsters – Eric Beetner, Terrence McCauley, David Foster, Heath Lowrance, and many more – Fight Card are designed to be read in one or two sittings, while still providing major bang and satisfaction for a reader’s dollars.
Published in e-books under the unifying pseudonym Jack Tunney, and in paperback by the individual author’s name, the first two Fight Card books, Felony Fists (written by myself) and Cutman (written by Mel Odom) debuted in late 2011. It is now the middle of 2015, and Fight Card has recently published the 45th book in the series. Several authors – Kevin Michaels, David Foster, and Eric Beetner – have written multiple entries in the series. I also had a blast writing two books in the series, Felony Fists and its sequel Swamp Walloper, featuring 1950’s LAPD detective turned pro-fighter Patrick Felony Flynn.
When I began to write my latest novel – the police procedural Lie Catchers featuring top LAPD interrogators Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall – I applied several of the tenets of pulp to keep the story rolling along and filled with tension.
Pulp is more than just a style of storytelling bent to the needs of ancient, moldering, disparaged, cheap monthly magazines better known for their controversial, lurid, and colorful covers. It is a living, vibrant, modern alternative to the turgid state of modern genres providing thrillers that actually thrill.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Novelist, screenwriter, and television personality, Paul Bishop spent 35 years with the Los Angeles Police Department where he was twice honored as Detective of the Year. He continues to work privately as an interrogation and deception expert. His fifteen novels include five in his LAPD Homicide Detective Fey Croaker series. His latest novel, Lie Catchers begins a new series featuring top LAPD interrogators Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall. * WEBSITE * TWITTER * FACEBOOK * AMAZON *