WAYNE REINAGEL, AUTHOR OF EPICS, INTERVIEWED!
AP: Wayne, thanks for stopping by ALL PULP once more! Your interviews in the past concerning the first two books in your epic PULP HEROES trilogy still pull the viewers in! Before we get into what you have happening right now, remind us what PULP HEROES is about.
WR: The original concept of Pulp Heroes was to involve all the greatest heroes of the pulp era in one gigantic epic story, traveling around the world and backwards through time 150 years utilizing a series of flashbacks. The overall story would explain the beginning, middle, and end of the pulp era, roughly 1931 to 1949.
Chronologically, Khan Dynasty is the first part of the epic. It introduces one of the main characters from More Than Mortal and takes place seven years earlier, in 1938, during a period where our heroes are above reproach and filled with the unbridled arrogance of youth. They were still considered supermen by the adoring general public, and respected and trusted by the authorities. My first novel, More Than Mortal, is actually the middle of the epic, although I didn’t realize this when I was writing it. It marked an age when mankind stood on the brink of destruction during the final days of WWII, in 1945. A time when a large number of people sacrificed everything they had to make the world a better place and defeat the Axis forces. The final novel, which I’m writing now, is Sanctuary Falls. In takes place in 1949 and the Cold War is in full swing. The hard years of the Depression are a thing of the past. Joseph McCarthy, communism, and Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent loom large on the horizon. The entire outlook of the world was altered after the war because it marked an end to an age of innocence, especially after Pearl Harbor, the battles in the South Seas, and the bombing of Japan. And as one of my characters noted, some things, once done, cannot be undone. And because of all of this, the world has changed and moved on. Our steadfast heroes are no longer desired by society and some are even branded as vigilantes. And so, these mystery men are forced to adapt to this strange new world. And, just as the pulps ended in 1949, so too will the story of our heroes.
AP: You have a new work coming out very soon that is set in the same universe as PULP HEROES, is that right? Share what you can about MODERN MARVELS.
WR: Modern Marvels – Viktoriana takes place in the darker corner of the Infinite Horizons universe and is set exclusively in 1888. August 8, to be precise. (8/8/1888) The story revolves around the concept that every 111 years a planetary alignment takes place that allows beasties, ghoulies, and things that go bump in the night to invade our planet from adjoining dimensions. This explains why London burned in 1666 and why certain unexplained events occurred during the Revolutionary War in 1777. And thus, a fellowship of nine unique individuals gather together to combat the forces of evil. To add to the confusion, our heroes find themselves trapped in a battle between this ancient evil and the vampire nations, lead by illustrious Count Dracula.
AP: You have some definite historic powerhouses in MODERN MARVELS. Why these particular figures from history? What makes them just right for this story?
WR: As I mentioned in a previous interview, when I briefly hinted at this project, the novels I read as a youngster would greatly influence my casting call for Modern Marvels. When I first started reading for recreation at age seven, I began with Dracula, Frankenstein, War of the Worlds, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Time Machine, The Lost World, and many other classics from the previous century. So when I came up with this concept of gathering a group of writers together, I naturally thought of the authors of the novels I loved as a child. And the setting of Victoria era England was perfect. And what is more natural than to tie each writer to their own greatest creation? Which means H.R. Haggard is the hunter/warrior of the group. H.G. Wells is the scientist. Conan Doyle is the doctor and forensic expert. And so on. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a more interesting and diverse group of people. And, since Shelley and Poe are supposed to be dead in 1888, I had to explain why they are still above ground and walking around.
AP: In PULP HEROES, you used largely your take on fictional characters. Although you do some of that in MODERN MARVELS, you rely much more on your take on actual once living real people. Why the shift between the two series? Which is easier for you to write?
WR: Well, Pulp Heroes was my homage to the pulp characters of the 1930’s and 1940’s that I spent most of my teens reading and enjoying. Modern Marvels is my personal adoration of the people who wrote the classics before I discovered the world of pulps. One day I simply realized, that if it weren’t for this group of Victorian writers, the pulp writers would have lacked the enormous inspirational wellspring from which the pulp world drew its wealth and endless source of material. These were the unique men and women, an entire generation of idealists and thinkers of the 19th century, who inspired the great pulp writers of the 20th century, such as Dent, Gibson, Howard, Burroughs, and so on. You probably couldn’t throw a stone and not hit a writer who didn’t grow up reading these classics and wasn’t somehow influenced by them. I dare say that nearly the entire pulp genre drew from this group of writers, whether it was gothic horror, heroes and adventurers, lost civilizations, or even space travel or time travel. These guys are the progenitors of the pulp genre.
I’m referring to Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne, the men who first developed the theory of a Hollow Earth. Henry Rider Haggard, the original discoverer of the lost worlds and lost civilizations genre. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, the founding fathers of science fiction. Mary Shelley, John Polidori, and Bram Stoker, the progenitors of modern Gothic horror. Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle, the intellects behind the first forensic detective characters. Harry Houdini, the greatest escape artist of all time. And Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating electrical current. These are men and women who shaped generations to come and even the world in which we currently exist. And without their visions, the pulp world would not have been the same.
These wonderful men and women are responsible for thousands of books, millions of written pages, spanning a period of over one hundred years. And many of their works are still in print today. Hollywood movies constantly tie into these timeless classics. The story of Frankenstein, where scientists who don’t respect the power of their own creations, has been used and adapted thousands of times. Shows like Twilight and Vampire Diaries owe a huge debt to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. (By the way, vampires in Modern Marvels – Viktoriana don’t sparkle. They are referred to as the ‘infected.’) The ever-popular CSI TV shows began their origins with Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Allen Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin. Then there’s King Solomon’s Mines, War of the Worlds, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Time Machine, Allan Quatermain, The Lost World, and the list goes on and on.
In response to the second question, Pulp Heroes was much easier to write, simply because I had already read so many of the pulps. With Modern Marvels, I not only had to reread many of the classics, but also intently studied biographies and autobiographies of every one of the characters. I spent every morning for five months writing the story and every evening reading additional research material.
AP: Why epics? What appeals to you about the grand sweeping tale more than short stories?
WR: I love the concept of the grand, heroic journey, battling overwhelming odds. And I believe a good story should not only entertain, but also allow the reader to get to know each character in the story intimately. It should make them laugh, cry, adore the heroes, and boo the villains. Going an additional step further, I try to give the villain enough character and charisma that the reader feels a connection to them as well. They might be bad, but it’s understandable why they are who they are. Sometimes, they’re not truly evil. They merely have their own agenda.
AP: Is there a theme or themes within MODERN MARVELS, a greater lesson or moral beyond the action and adventure? If so, what is it?
WR: Any time you gather together a group of individuals to accomplish a goal, there will be conflict. Each person must adjust to the group dynamic in order to contribute. For instance, in real life it’s rumored that Poe might have been murdered by members of the Freemasons, because he publicly spoke out against the organization. But several of his companions in Modern Marvels – including Verne, Doyle, Stoker, and Haggard – were members of the secret fraternity. Is this a conflict of interest? You bet. Patience and tolerance must be practiced between members to succeed. And I like to believe all my novels have themes and lessons for the reader. Events that take place that will make them think for a while, even after they’ve finished the book.
AP: You provided your own artwork for the PULP HEROES books. Will you do the same for this novel? If so, can you describe your artistic process in creating the images?
WR: As before, I’ve painting the cover, several advertising posters, and a handful of interior illustrations. This way, both the writer and artist segments of my brain get to contribute to the final product. I do all of my artwork using Photoshop and Illustrator. To use these programs you must still have the skills, but they simply make the job cleaner, faster, and easier. In writer terms, it’s the difference between using a typewriter and a computer program like Microsoft Word.
AP: There’s definitely an increase in pulpy goodness these days with various publishers and writers throwing their fedoras into the arena. What do you think is the draw for a creator toward pulp fiction?
WR: Mmmm. Pulpy goodness describers it to a ‘T.’ Fast-paced excitement and breath-taking adventure. Traveling around the globe to distant lands. Battling the bad guys and stopping those insane plans for world domination. Saving the beautiful damsel in distress and keeping the world safe for democracy. Heck, what’s not to love? Honestly, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather write.
AP: OK, sort of an extension of that last question. What do you feel pulp creators as a whole need to do to not only maintain, but increase the fan base for pulp tales? Should they change anything or focus more on something than on other things?
WR: If you are searching for a perfect example of the right way to do things when dealing with pulp-related characters, see what Ron Fortier and Rob Davis are doing over at Airship 27 Productions. These are authors and artists who are also loyal fans of the genre, writing stories about the characters they love and enjoy. The wrong way? Check out the recent Doc Savage comic series by DC Comics, where they randomly altered everything interesting about Doc and his amazing five. He was completely homogenized. In my opinion, if the initial goal is to completely change everything about a character, just create a new one.
AP: MODERN MARVELS, stand alone or the beginning of another series? If it’s the kickoff for more, can you give any hints of what’s coming?
WR: Oh, there will be more, I assure you. I really enjoyed working on this novel. I have two more novels already outlined. The first one is called Modern Marvels – Gothika. And a few of the main characters in Modern Marvels – Viktoriana will also show up in Pulp Heroes – Sanctuary Falls. That’s one reason I did this novel before finishing the third book of the Pulp Heroes Trilogy.
AP: What else is happening in the world of Wayne Reinagel writing wise in the near future?
WR: Next up will be Sanctuary Falls and then a series of art books loaded with various pulp hero short stories, including the long-awaited Hunter Island Adventure.
AP: Thanks, Wayne!