Each Friday is 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 Sean Taylor to Pulp Reports for some Q&A!
What is pulp? What makes it different from other genres?
Pulp is about writer’s shorthand. It’s a way of bypassing the intellect and going straight to the gut. It’s about impact, not thought. It’s about action and characterization more than it is about symbols and deeper meanings. That’s not to say that pulp doesn’t have symbolism and deeper meaning and thought and intellect. It just doesn’t wear it on its shoulders like a club membership patch. Pulp hides it hoity-toity in its back pocket and decides to speak to the common man and woman instead.
Why do you write pulp? What do you enjoy about it? Love about it?
At the heart of it, I like to tell stories about people doing things. Pulp is a logical extension of that for me. It takes all the stuff I learned from reading Hemingway as a literary major in college and smashes it up with all the sci-fi and adventure reading I did as a kid. Because of my background, I probably approach even pulp with a broader literary sensibility, but I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive. Writing pulp just gets me closer to the reader ultimately, and as a writer, that’s where I love to be.
Who inspired you to write?
Writers who have influenced and inspired me to write are numerous and varied, ranging from the folks like C. Lewis to Shūsaku Endō to Annie Dillard, but the one’s I’ve learned the most from would be Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, and H. Rider Haggard.
As for who really and truly inspires me, it would have to be my wife Lisa. She has always believed in me, and even convinced me to write early on, championing me into my first few writers awards for fiction at the college level (I was a non-traditional student when I graduated.) Between her support and my own ego—that demands I keep going in order to justify it—I have no choice but to keep creating and telling stories.
What’s next in terms of pulp fiction? Where does the genre go from here?
I think for starters the genre has outgrown being simply a genre. I think pulp is a style of writing, a way of thinking about storytelling, and that because of that, it has already infiltrated almost other genre already. Where would summer thrillers be without pulp storytelling? Dead in the water. And your favorite sci-fi stories? Same fate. The pulp sensibility to cut through the 30 pages of describing the beautiful mountains, and the 16 paragraphs of how warm his hand felt on her shoulder… that way of thinking about stories has gone viral inside other stories to the point that it no longer can be constrained by the term genre.
Who is your favorite pulp character? Why?
I’m going to have to answer this one two ways. My favorite classic pulp character is probably the Golden Amazon or Armless O’Neil. And boy, are those two vastly different characters. What attracts me to the Golden Amazon is that she’s in a position to do the right thing for the whole world, whether people like it or not. She has to deal with issues of dictatorship and wondering is a benevolent dictator is just as bad as an evil one. As for O’Neil, he’s a quintessential grumpy ol’ drunk with a solid hook for the bad guys who get in his way. He’s the classic white man lost in another culture without all that Tarzan BS to deal with.
As for my favorite newer pulp character, I’d have to go with ego here and say it’s Rick Ruby, the private dick Bobby Nash and I created for The Ruby Files. Rick’s a throwback in a lot of ways, but he’s also a way of dealing with some current issues in an older setting. He’s also one of the most complicated “heroes” I’ve every had a hand in creating because he’s not out to be a hero as much as to get the job done and get paid and get back to taking care of the people he made his family.
Find out more about Sean Taylor here:
d. Website-www.taylorverse.com and seanhtaylor.blogspot.com