Tag Archives: Pulp

An Interview with Scott Oden, Author of A Gathering of Ravens

231755

Scott Oden is a historical fantasy author, a fan of the Sword and Sorcery genre, and an avid gamer since 1979. Publisher’s Weekly called his work “…complex as an old tree’s roots, and a pleasure to read,” in a starred review. He’s gained a reputation for combining historical fact with fantastical elements more commonly seen in a Tolkien or Dargonlance book, yet his stories are grim, gritty and frightfully realistic. I reached out to Scott to get the scoop on his books, as well as his thoughts on historical fantasy, getting published, and the works of Robert E. Howard.

MARTIN: So Scott, can you tell us a bit about your writing journey? What led you to become an author, and who or what are your biggest influences in your genre?

SCOTT: I first got it in my mind that I wanted to write as my profession back in 1981, at the age of 14. I recall seeing something in an old issue of my brother’s Writer’s Digest about authors being paid and I was, like, “say what? People pay you for that?” My brother was already a journalist with dreams of writing the Great American Novel, so he had a few books on craft; the rest I gleaned from skimming WD and from emulating my favorite author — Robert E. Howard. I embarked upon a thoroughly inconsequential short story career, after that, ultimately writing 30-odd short stories that earned me nothing but rejection slips over the years. I turned my hand to novel writing, choosing as my debut a pastiche Conan novel I intended to write for Tor Books (they were unaware of my intent, by the way; younger Scott was all about asking forgiveness rather than begging permission). A friend had recently hit the big leagues with his third or fourth novel, so I harassed him for feedback on my three Conan chapters — which had been endlessly written and rewritten over the past years. He took me to task: “It’s decent, but what will you do if you can’t sell it to Tor? Write your own characters, man!” He said a lot more, but that was the gut punch.

So, I regrouped. I went back to the drawing board, and in December of 2000 I started writing what would become Men of Bronze — which is barbarian fiction in the guise of a historical novel. A string of bad life events had left me extremely depressed at the time, so my motivation was literally “write or die”. I do not recommend this route, by the way. It is neither glamorous nor romantic. It is asking for trouble, really. Somehow, though, I pulled it off. Wrote my first novel by Spring of 2002, had an agent by 2003, and sold it in early 2004 to a small start-up publisher called Medallion Press. I have been under contract to various publishers since.

Continue reading

My Thoughts on the Upcoming Conan Show from Amazon

So Conan’s getting an Amazon Prime series, and here’s my two cents on that as an avowed Conan and Frazetta fan:

Overall I’m cautiously optimistic about this. Conan adaptions have been pretty garbo overall (yes, including the Arnie one a bit, though they are the least bad and James Earl Jones is stellar in it), and I think a TV show would do wonders to help flesh out the Hyperborean world and show off aspects of Conan’s character only the books touched on. I want to see Conan the King, the Tactician, the Pirate, and all the different aspects of his personality, especially his cunning and wit. Because in the end, that was what made the books really kick ass.

My hope with this show is that it has the budget and vision to accurately replicate the look and feel of the classic Frazetta paintings rather than hop on the “Game of Thrones-esque fantasy” bandwagon. Because the thing I really like about Conan is it’s NOT medieval/viking/d&d stuff. It’s weird, pulpy, bronze age and wholly unique. And it’d really be a crying shame it they tried to Game-of-Thrones-ify it by downplaying the bronze age stuff and focusing more on Norse-inspired adventures like The Frost Giant’s Daughter.

Also on that note, I’d be nice to actually find a guy that looked the part. While many were fond of Arnie in the role, I honestly want either a buff Native American-looking dude or Jason Momoa to play Conan. Again, we’re likely gonna get a flood of western fantasy titles in the near future, and I’d really be disappointing if a proper Conan adaption of all things just blended in with the post-GOT fantasy adaptation crowd. When I think Conan, I think this:

conan-face-97529965

Not this.

684a65f87cfb7a50850cc01023d3003d
I dunno, I just think Option B, while looking pretty cool, looks like he’d fit in more as a Game of Thrones wildling. Although to be honest, if they got the personality down (and a sun tan) It’d still be better than most Conan adaptations IMO. But yeah, give me Bronze Age, Frazetta Conan over Generic D&D Barbarian #1266 any day. And I want towering elephants and bronze-age cities of wonder, eldritch horrors and giant apes, dammit! Seriously, I’ll do Amazon Prime again if it means proper pulp Conan on the screen, my dudes.

That’s not to say I’m not also looking forward to the Wheel of Time and Kingkiller Chronicles TV Shows. It’s just that Conan is an entirely different beast altogether, and I’d honestly hate it if boardroom execs tried to “make it like that show with the titties and the dragons.” It is its won beast and ought to be treated as such.

As long as they get those character details down and make it like the books though…yeah, this could kind of rock.

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard!

quote-civilized-men-are-more-discourteous-than-savages-because-they-know-they-can-be-impolite-robert-e-howard-13-72-30

So today is the birthday of pulp fantasy titan Robert E. Howard. One of my personal literary heroes and monumental influence in genre fiction, Robert E. Howard is the creator of Conan the Barbarian, Kull the Conqueror, and Solomon Kane. As you may have gathered, I’m a bit of a fan.

While Robert E. Howard isn’t as popular or ‘academic” as J.R.R. Tolkien, there’s a lot to be said about his more working-class, American style of fantasy prose. One that eschews Elvish linguistics and epic backstories for bare-knuckled grit and bronze-age spectacle, and made fantasy lit accessible to millions. On top of that, he inspired the kick-ass paintings of Frank Frazetta, basically the entire Sword and Sorcery genre, Khal Drago, Barbarians and Fighters in your favorite RPGs…the list goes on and on…So happy birthday, Robert!

If you’d like my personal breakdown of why you should absolutely check out his Conan stories, here’s a handy link to my post on the subject. And by Crom, give these stories a shot, you won’t regret it!