Tuesday, December 9, 2014

THE EXECUTIONER is Back!


I have made my love for Don Pendleton's Executioner series well known over the years. Without Pendleton, Fleming, and Ludlum, there probably wouldn't be a Brian Drake (well, um....there would be, but I wouldn't be a writer, hahaha; I'd be making serious money as a used car salesman).

With the news breaking last week that the current publishers of the Executioner series, Gold Eagle, will cancel the series on December of 2015 and close its doors as part of the Harlequin sale to NewsCorp, we can report that on Dec. 16th of this year, you will be able to get your Bolan fix from the original creator himself. All 38 Pendleton books are back in electronic format thanks to Don's widow Linda and Open Road Media; we also can share that efforts are moving forward on a Bolan movie, which is very exciting as well.

I asked Linda if she would sit for an interview and she was gracious enough to answer some questions:

Brian Drake: Other action series from the '70s and '80s (and westerns, too) have been re-released as
ebooks over the last few years. What took the Executioner so long to follow?

Linda Pendleton: Brian, thank you for the opportunity to do this Blog interview. I am always happy to talk or write about my late husband, Don Pendleton and his books.  For several years, especially over the last four years, I had given a lot of thought to bringing the original Executioner Series out as ebooks.  I first planned to do them myself, knowing it would be a lot of work and time.  I even designed a cover along with my cover designer, Judy Bullard, who has done my book covers for more than a decade.  Then along came Open Road Media who wanted to publish the complete series all at once. They had been interested in doing the ebooks for some time.  Therefore, it was easy for me to say yes to their offer, and the family agreed.  

BD: The covers are terrific and really bring attention to the books. Who designed them?

LP: I'm glad you like the covers, Brian.  We have had a good response to the design.  Open Road Media decided they did not want to use my cover design and the editor had me discuss with Open Road cover designer, Mauricio Diaz, what I hoped for in regards to a Brand Identity.  I also supplied Mauricio with city locations for each novel, which he used for the backgrounds.  I'm delighted with his cover design and I believe they are branded well and are exactly what I was looking for.

BD: Will the new collection include The Executioner's War Book?

LP: The Executioner's War Book is part of our licensing agreement with Open Road Media but I don't believe they are planning to publish it at this point. 

BD; Back in the '80s, Don wrote a terrific introduction to an anniversary reprint of War Against the Mafia. Is that included with the first book?

LP: No, this is Don's original edition with the theme quotations that were missing in some later War Against the Mafia editions.

BD: Will we see paperback versions? Perhaps an omnibus of the first three books?

LP: I would love to have print books at some point.  We hope a publisher will come along with a good deal for print books. Time will tell.

BD: With social media and the internet (such as the Mack Bolan page on Facebook and the MackBolan.Com website), are you seeing a stronger level on interest in Bolan than before, or does it match the days when you depended on snail mail for reader feedback?

LP: I think social media has given fans and the authors a nice opportunity to express and share their interest in the series.  I've had the donpendleton.com website online for nearly 15 years now, and recently added a new website,   executionerseries.com, that presently has additional information on the movie deal and the ebooks.  Over the years with Don's website, I've received lots of fan emails and guestbook postings, but not the amount of snail mail that Don received in the early 1970s and into the early 1980s.  The interest has always been there, and now we're 45 years and 3 or 4 generations into it.  I don't believe the Gold Eagle books have had the international exposure that the original books have had. The originals have been published worldwide in more than 30 foreign languages.

BD: Don once said, and I'm paraphrasing here, that the main theme of the Bolan books was that something important is happening on earth, and we need to participate in our own way. The values associated with Bolan, the moral attitudes, the need for courage under pressure, and the general pro-living message, are needed now more than ever, but how do such values find a place in a society that is increasingly nihilistic and seemingly adverse to such things?

LP: Don Pendleton considered his Executioner books to be a study in the metaphysics of violence (the reasons for it) and the books have a subtle metaphysical theme to them.  I've often said that I believe the popularity of Mack Bolan has to do with the essence of a true hero that Don created in Bolan.  That essence appeals to both men and women, young and old.     

Don said this:  "The violence in the Executioner books is merely stage-dressing for dramatizing the commitment and dedication Bolan has to his ideals and the lengths to which he will go to honor them. We can learn this message of love and commitment and carry it into our own lives without the violence and bloodshed, and of course it is this wish that fuels the writing. I do not want my readers to pick up a gun and follow Bolan's example; I want them to be stirred by his commitment and to find ways to meet the same challenges without resort to violent means."

In his nonfiction book for writers, The Metaphysics of the Novel, Don wrote:  "I do believe that I live in a universe of uncommon magic. Everything I have ever written is framed about that central assumption. Life, to me, is a beautiful adventure and a meaningful experience. I am not sure as to exactly what is going on here but that mystery only adds beauty to the game, and it is the mystery of life that fuels my novels. Every book becomes a search, a quest."

Social media, and the news media, may be one reason we at times feel overwhelmed by what seems to be happening in our society, with the increase of violence and disrespect for life, and the seemingly loss of values.  That sadly becomes a focus, rather than the goodness of people and the positive acts of kindness and heroism that occur every day.  Values are still present.  

BD: I'm a little skeptical about Bradley Cooper playing Bolan in the film project that has been announced, but I've been wrong about casting choices before. What can you tell us about the film option and how it came about after so many years?

LP: This film franchise option by screenwriter/producer, Shane Salerno was a GO from the first day he contacted us!  Of course, it took some time to handle the legal details, but it was right from the beginning.  Other offers in the past have not been that way, for one reason or another.  First off, Shane Salerno was himself an Executioner fan as a kid, and it has been his dream for years to bring Bolan to film. He's been a successful Hollywood screenwriter for years and has done excellent work.  We had the deal for a while and right after Salerno announced it publicly in August 2014, Bradley Cooper and director, Todd Phillips, jumped on it with Warner Bros. We're pleased to have a top quality actor lined up to play Bolan. Cooper and Phillips will be producing along with Salerno's production company, The Story Factory.  As readers, we've probably all had our own vision of Mack Bolan in our minds, and even helped by the great cover art of artist Gil Cohen, but a good actor can make us forget our "mind" image.  By the way, Gil Cohen's cover art has always been my favorite, and obviously very popular with fans.  

BD:  We hear from the current crop of Bolan writers that Gold Eagle is closing down as of December, 2015, thanks to the Harlequin sale to NewsCorp, and 2015 will be the last year for Bolan under the Harlequin/Gold Eagle banner. It seems big business has done to Bolan what the mafia and countless terrorists never could. Some have talked about how the series might continue, but now that the originals are available, do we really need a continuing and modern interpretation of Mack?

LP: Apparently, Harlequin is closing the Gold Eagle imprint but we have not been notified of that.  Big business is big business and I have to say I'm not surprised that Harper Collins found it best to shut down Gold Eagle and do their own publishing program the way they choose.  That normally happens when businesses are sold.  Of course, it would be nice if Harper Collins decides to publish more of the Executioner series, especially with the upcoming film.  I would like to see the original series in print and new Bolan books every few months.  There is no reason that Bolan could not continue, as other series of past days have.  The Executioner is a classic, and Mack Bolan still has a place in action/adventure literature.  After all, Don Pendleton is the "father of the action/adventure genre," and his Mack Bolan character should continue as a part of that genre.

BD: Is there anything else you would like to add?

LP: More than once Don said about the Executioner novels, "My biggest job throughout writing the series was to keep faith with Bolan–that what he's doing is right.  I wanted an enemy beyond redemption–an enemy that all civilized procedures had failed to put down.  The Mafia was ready-made.  They embodied all the evils of mankind."  

I hope the Bolan fans and new readers enjoy the original 37 ebooks of The Executioner Series and Mack Bolan's war against the mafia.  We're excited to have the ebooks available this month.  Mack Bolan not only lives large, but also lives on!

Thank you, Brian.  

Linda Pendleton,

www.lindapendleton.com

@waragainstmafia

@mackbolanfilm

BD: Thank you, Linda. It's very exciting to see this happen, both the original books and the film, and I hope a new generation of Bolan fans will find as much inspiration and entertainment in the series as I have.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Titles Done Be Importante

With all due respect to Tom Clancy and all that he accomplished, I can't help but feel underwhelmed by the titles he chose for his last novels, and the title of the new one, continued by another author, which you can now pre-order and use as a doorstop when you're done because the goddamn thing is almost 700 pages, is so....odd....you have to wonder who came up with it.

What happened to the poetry and the thematic elements of his old titles? THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and THE CARDINAL OF THE KREMLIN, and even pithy titles like WITHOUT REMORSE and the never-equaled RED STORM RISING that were intriguing and eye-catching, have been replaced with LOCKED ON and DEAD OR ALIVE and THREAT VECTOR that leave you thinking,
WTF does that mean???

None of those titles inspire any interest. They frankly sound like they were selected by monkeys taking a break from writing Shakespeare. They are titles that would fit an Executioner novel, and, frankly, be more of a fit there, albeit just as bad. There's no Clancy magic in them.

Maybe it doesn't matter anymore because Clancy is dead, apparently assassinated by Obama's Secret Police because he knew too much (I read that on the Internet!), and the publisher knows Clancy's name will sell more copies than the title will. The downside is they just slap a few apparently unrelated words on the cover and head off to the pub.

The newest is the worst. FULL FORCE AND EFFECT. What they did here, you see, was take four words out of the middle of a sentence. The manuscript sat without a title for months and then the editor read a line that said, "Ryan and his team planned to hit the enemy with full force and effect, from which none would escape." The editor spit out his coffee, not even realizing the line made no sense....would the enemy not escape or would Ryan and his team not escape or would both the enemy and Ryan's team be killed? Who cares! He shouted, "That's it! My degree from American University has paid for itself again!" and had the cover made up.

Big 5 publishing at it's finest, folks.

I hope the content between the covers is better. Of course, it's written by Mark Greaney, and he can't be any worse than Clancy was. But at almost 700 pages....I have my doubts. I'll read every word, though.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

BITE HARDER + An Interview with Anonymous-9

If you're looking for a crackin' good read, look for further than BITE HARDER by Anonymous-9. It's the sequel to her widely-acclaimed HARD BITE, which you also should have read, and in this case the sequel is quite good. It picks up right where the original left off, and we reunite with old friends and old enemies in a very exciting fashion, and we even get a tease for what HARD BITE 3 will be about, should A-9 ever get around to writing it.

The stories follow a paraplegic vigilante, who does the hunting, and his helper monkey, Sid, who does the killing. Imagine a psychotic Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin combo. Of course, Sid doesn't talk, but, like Archie, has a way with the ladies.

I asked A-9 a few questions about the new book and here they are:

1) HARD BITE ended with a certain sense of finality. Did you have a sequel in mind from the beginning?

A-9: Not at all. I only decided to do a sequel when Allan Guthrie from Blasted Heath sent me an email and said, "We're really interested in doing a series." So I sat down and figured out how to spool out the yarn.

2) You have at least two dream sequences in BITE HARDER. Do you attach significance to dreams? If so, what do you think dreams can tell us? Or was that just a convenient plot device?

A-9: I see that as two separate issues. Personally, I think dreams are our subconscious talking to us and trying to send a signal. When I write a dream sequence for a book it's always a plot device to telegraph information in a different and surreal way.

3) You've been busy with other projects, too. Can you tell us a little about CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS and JUST SO YOU KNOW I'M NOT DEAD?

A-9: CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS is my latest and it's a noir novelette set in music-industry L.A. True to my nature, it's action-packed, can be read in about an hour, and delves into a sensitive and verboten subject. I'm gratified that readers really like the characters and are calling for a novel. No matter what I write people say they want it to be longer. Which is a lot better than closing it up because it's boring, I guess.

JUST SO YOU KNOW I'M NOT DEAD is a collection of three short stories that I issued as an e-book to tell readers that I was still alive and kicking. It's a writing "sampler" and I frequently give it away for free. But even at full price (which Amazon makes me charge) it's only 99 cents.

4) What's next from Anonymous-9?

A-9: DREAMING DEEP is one of the stories in the JUST SO YOU KNOW I'M NOT DEAD collection. It was originally published in a HORRORFACTORY anthology and is a tribute to H.P. Lovecraft who is widely accepted as one of the grandfathers of modern American horror. I pitched DREAMING DEEP as a novelette to Andrew Byers of Uncanny Books, who was looking for just the right project. Uncanny runs along the fantasy, sci-fi, horror lines. The fact that the story already had a track record and great reviews was a factor in the sale. The project was contracted and I had an advance check nine days after my pitch.

5) If there was one question you'd like to be asked in an interview, what would it be, and what's your answer?

A-9: Here's a first class ticket to Las Vegas. Can we finish this interview over cigarettes and a Polynesian Piledriver at Frankie's Tiki Room?

BD: Hahaha, thanks, but I'm a cigar guy. Cigarettes will kill you. I'll bring some Montecristos for you to try.

You can buy CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS here.

You can buy BITE HARDER here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Back in the USSR

I'm developing the plot for The Rogue Gentleman #3 and focusing on the return of the USSR, which, as I compile sources, seems to be what Putin is pushing for, and he's made no secret of saying so. He's made pacts already with three former Soviet satellites as well as the Chinese, all of which consolidates territory and resources under one umbrella.

My story deals with Putin stealing high-tech weapons to move forward even further, but what started as speculation has turned into a definite possibility. It's a little scary. We've thought for so long that the Cold War was over; the commies were gone; let's everybody party and try a little socialism here in the U.S., and now we may end up back in the bad old days all over again.

October 2017 is the anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution. I'm wondering if that's when Pooty-Poot will make some kind of grand gesture restoring the old system, and, based on where the U.S. is right now, I'm wondering how impotent we will be to stand in the way.

Either way, it's going to be a crackin' book.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scott Steletto is Now Available!

Here's the blurb for my new spy story, The Termination Protocol:

All CIA agent Scott Steletto had to do was bring captured terrorist Brendan Miller to the U.S. He even had extra security to make sure nothing went wrong.

But something does go wrong. Another terrorist group, seeing Miller's value to the CIA, snatches him in a blinding fast raid that leaves four agents dead and Steletto wounded.

The New World Revolutionary Front demands a ransom, and if the CIA doesn't pay, they're going to shoot Miller and ruin any chance the Americans have of extracting information valuable to the War on Terror.

The NWRF doesn't count on Miller having a few tricks up his sleeve, or Steletto's relentless determination to complete his mission. And when Miller gets away and the two team-up to fight their common enemy, the NWRF faces the wrath of two men who are deadlier together than they are separately.

Check it out!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Introducing Scott Steletto

Here is the cover for the first installment of my new spy series, a series totally different from The Rogue Gentleman. This one is straight-up secret agent pulp, featuring CIA operative Scott Steletto. The manuscript is in the final editing stages and I only need to write the description, which is always tough, but somehow, with a little help from my friends, it always comes out OK. In this first adventure, Steletto must rescue a terrorist from other terrorists and then the two team-up to fight the common enemy. I think it provides a nice twist to the usual hokum and I also think you'll like it.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Hangman#1 by Jack Badelaire -- Great Beach Read

If you're looking for a quick, entertaining read for anytime, and like high-octane thrills and shoot-em-up action, look no further than Jack Badelaire's latest, Hangman#1: San Francisco Slaughter.

Here he serves up another adventure in the Lynch Saga (if I may call it that) featuring, this time, Jamie Lynch, whom you might remember from a bit part in Jack's other book, Killer Instincts. This time he gets his own adventure, fresh from Vietnam and bored with beach life, so he makes a call and gets a job as a trouble shooter for a high-tech firm in San Francisco.

Set in the 1970s, Jack captures the time and place fairly well for somebody who didn't live there. I should know--I do live there, and did so in the years following he setting of the book but not much had changed. I recognized many landmarks and descriptions that really brought the place to life as much as my fuzzy recollection allowed. That was a nice touch.

Jaime works with another merc/soldier/lone gunman named Richard (there's a mystery about him) as the pair race to discover the location of a missing engineer who knows way too much; along the way they tangle with gangsters and the usual assortment of no goodniks. A few twists and turns and you have an excellent action story that doesn't demand much brain work on your part. That's a good thing. It's perfect for the beach or your back patio after work, a cold one or cigar in one hand and this ebook in the other. (That's how I enjoyed it, by the way.) It's also available in paperback.

Jack writes in a crisp style that reminds me of Jack Higgins' early work, and that's a good thing, too. I'm not a guy who likes to read a lot of words, especially the useless words writers often throw in for color. That crispness really let the story shine and it moves along at a quick pace. Nothing boring here, but how will Jamie and Friends come back for more? They part ways at the end of this story, so I guess we'll have to be surprised when book two comes out and we pick up where this left off. I think I know what Jack has in mind and I'm eager to see if I'm right.

Give Hangman #1: San Francisco Slaughter a look. I think you'll like it.