INTERVIEW WITH PULP AUTHOR FRANK SCHILDINER!
ALL PULP INTERVIEW-Frank Schildiner-Writer
AP: Frank, Thanks for stopping by ALL PULP today! Start us off with a little background, if you don’t mind.
FS: I was born on a mountaintop in Tennessee….oh wait, that’s the Davy Crockett song…okay, serious now. I’m a martial arts instructor at Amorosi’s Mixed Martial Arts in Livingston, NJ. That and writing are my true joys in life, I’m not sure I could live without either. After years of rejection, I finally found my muse and learned enough from him to be published by Airship27 and Black Coat Press.
AP: You’ve done more than dabbled in the arena of pulp. What have you written, both fiction and nonfiction wise?
FS: I’m a regular contributor to Black Coat Press’s wonderful yearly anthology, “Tales of the Shadowmen” in which I’ve written characters such as Jean Kariven, the Toff, Inspector Cramer and Kato from the Green Hornet series. My first pulp was for Airship27, Secret Agent X volume 3 “The Mask of Medusa”. I’ve also written a Black Bat mystery for them called “Claws of the Crimson Commissar”. I’m very proud of the three stories I’ve written for Jay Piscopo’s pulp hero Commander X, for his year Christmas tales aka Commander Xmas. In non-fiction I wrote an article on Hellboy and the real Nazi occult and science from the series as well as a Wold Newton article on Dark Shadows and the show’s use of Lovecraftian themes.
AP: Why do you write? And after that, more specifically, why pulp?
FS: I write because not writing is impossible for me. There were times I tried to deny my need to write, but it never worked for long. It’s really part of who I am as a person. By accepting that much, I’m far happier with life. As to why pulp, I love both the period pulp represents and the positive message the style promotes. In this day of cynical heroes who are seen as pathological cases no better than the villains they fight, pulp stands apart. Heroes are good because they choose to right wrongs and villains are horrible, twisted creatures. It’s a respite from the deconstructionist beliefs that fiction, comics and Hollywood have promoted for many years.
AP: A major part of your writing resume centers around classic pulp characters that have found their way
into the public domain. What is the appeal of writing these already established, though possibly not wide read characters as opposed to your own original creations?
FS: I used to wonder that myself, until I was given a Nero Wolfe story by Robert Goldsborough. Of course it wasn’t as well-written as a Rex Stout, few could match that man’s mastery of language. But the story brought me back to a world I loved with characters I grew up making a part of my life. I’d like to think that when I write classic pulps or public domain heroes, I’m proving some of that pleasure to my readers. That’s my hope at least.
AP: There’s been a lot of talk about pulp being relevant today, especially here on ALL PULP. Although you can comment on that if you wish, there’s another question to ask. How do you as a writer think you can make pulp readable tomorrow…in the future?
FS: By growing without losing the spirit of what makes pulp enjoyable to the readers. An excellent example of that is the Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson, a best-selling book that shows that a hero can be a good man, fighting the right fight, without being a cliche. Another illustration of pulp being accessible to the modern reader are the Pendergast tales by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. These demonstrate that pulp can be readable in the future and even be revered by those who would ignore the class heroes. Moving beyond the classics, without losing the spirit that made them legends.
AP: Talk a bit about your nonfiction work as it relates to pulp. Is there a level of academics, of scholarship to the pulp genre? What interests you enough to write articles about fictional worlds, concepts, etc?
FS: Non-fiction is very intensive and does require major research and analysis of detail. To be credible in any way, a writer needs to take their personal opinion out of the examination and learn from the results, at least in my opinion. My first non-fiction article was on the comic world created in the Hellboy comic series by Mike Mignola. I went in with definite views, but pushed them aside to learn from the actual true details from history. I believe in that case I succeeded, I was able to refute many of the more fanciful tales while presenting some pretty amazing details that astonished me in the end. And that also explains why I enjoy non-fiction, by remaining open to the evidence, I end up learning so much in the end.
AP: You’ve done quite a bit of work for Airship 27 Productions, most recently a story in the RAVENWOOD: STEPSON OF MYSTERY anthology. Can you tell us about your story and the character in general?
FS: Ravenwood was the creation of a giant in the pulp field, Frederick C. Davis, writer of many heroes such as the Moon Man, Secret Agent X and Operator #5. Ravenwood the Stepson of Mystery was a backup feature in the Secret Agent X magazines, an occult hero who was odd for the period in that he used actual magic. In pulp, magic powers tended to be reserved for villains or were scientific trickery. Ravenwood, who was raised by an Asian mystic called “The Nameless One” demonstrated true powers and were always on the side of good.
In my story, Ravenwood takes on another pulp legend, Sun Koh the Prince of Atlantis. Sun koh is called “the Nazi Doc Savage” and the comparison is apt. He’s an Atlantean prince brough back to our time, intent on returning his lost empire to greatness. The character, according to pulp scholar Jess Nevins who read the tales in their original form, was a thorough Nazi who promoted their horrific beliefs. Who better to pit against Ravenwood the Stepson of Mystery?! Oh and in my tale, Sun Koh is a follower of the terrible Lovecraftian Outer Gods…or maybe a stooge is a better way of putting it… Anyway, the story is action packed and fun, presenting my own way of writing occult, one that loses the dustiness and staid quality many occult tales seem to promote.
AP: What appeal does the supernatural have for you as a pulp writer?
FS: The supernatural is an area I love to write because it’s an area open to interpretation. As I’ve said to many would-be writers, you need to present your own view on even areas that are well-established. The biggest mistake many make when they write, say Lovecraft, is to try and present it in the same style the great man did back in the 1920’s. That’s a real mistake and results in painful copies not worth reading. By presenting your own version of the supernatural, a writer can create whole world of adventure for the reader.
AP: OK, now here’s what everyone wants to know…who are your favorite pulp/literary characters, not just those you’ve written, but the ones you enjoy as a fan?
FS:That’s a long list to say the least. Okay, here goes; Tarzan was probably my first pulp and still thrills me to this day. Doc Savage and the Avenger are the truest examples of the pulp ideal and I’ve been a fan for most of my life. Operator #5 and Secret Agent X are spy heroes I find far more enjoyable than modern spy tales and I collect their reprints. Also I’d add newspaper heroes like the Spirit, Flash Gordon, the Phantom as pulp heroes I absolutely love.
AP: Do you feel, both as a writer and a fan, that there’s a direction modern pulp hasn’t gone in yet that it needs to? If so, explain.
FS: There’s always new ground to cover, we’re only limited by our imaginations. As to what those areas are…I’m in the process of working on that myself now. Through much of 2010 and into 2011 I’ve been experimenting with form and learning the directions modern pulp can be taken by a writer.
AP: So, what’s coming up from Frank Schildiner? Anything pulp wise you want to talk about?
FS:I have an Avenger tale coming from Moonstone Pulp, I’m so happy I was given a chance to write that character. Plus it was a learning experience, Joe Gentile and Howard Hopkins taught me a lot about being a writer. I have an original occult action pulp starring a gangster turned hero named Lee Cohen. That one is being published by Pro Se Productions. Also in the works is a PD comic world called the “The Last Dominion” and an occult adventure in the period of King Henry V, to be published by Pulp Tone. Basically I’m always busy and that’s just a dream come true.
AP: Frank, ALL PULP appreciates you taking time to visit!