Archive for the Sword & Sorcery Category

My interview with Depths of Night author Stephen Zimmer

Posted in Sword & Sorcery with tags , on May 23, 2018 by Occult Detective

I had a chance to chat with my friend, author Stephen Zimmer, about writing, inspiration, and his latest release, the novella Depths of Night. You can read my review of the book here.

For me, the one place I would love to visit before I shuffle off this mortal coil is Robert E. Howard’s house in Cross Plains. Tell me, have you ever undertaken a literary pilgrimage?

Though I have traveled quite a bit over the years, I have not been able to make too many trips that I could deem as literary pilgrimages, with the exception of a trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland that I made a few years back in the company of my mother and sister.   Many of the sites and lands I had studied when writing the first few titles of my epic fantasy Fires in Eden series were finally able to be experienced in person.  Seeing those places carried with it a surreal feeling.

I soaked up everything that I possibly could, to the point I made a bus of folks wait so I could walk around the base of one of my favorite castles of all time, located in Wales,Caernarfon.   Going to the Viking museum in York, and the Viking section of the history museum in Dublin, Ireland, seeing the Book of Kells, Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the White Tower in London.

I could go on and on about individual highlights,but suffice it to say that it put added depth and a deeper appreciation to everything that I had studied from afar.  It was a very profound personal experience that I will never forget.

DepthsofNight_CoverArt_1200X800I think your travels are reflected in your writing. It’s obvious that worldbuilding is very important to you. In that sense, do you see each book as its own thing, or are those connections intricate to the narrative you’re creating?

In regard to the releases like Depths of Night, these novellas are intended to be stand-alone tales that build a body of work centering around the Ragnar Stormbringer character.  Some of the tales will have expansions on things referenced in others (and in future novel sets that I have in mind), but any reader can enjoy them in any order that they would like.  Eventually, I would love to see the body of work collectively tell the Ragnar Stormbringer story, in the same way that I’m building a body of work for Rayden Valkyrie.

As each of us gets a wee bit longer in the truth, a certain amount of wisdom comes with that. Are there any hard earned lessons you wish you could have imparted to your younger self?

Run … run fast, and take the broadcasting job out of college, haha!  OR, stock up on bourbon, lots of it, and take the path that I chose to take!  In all seriousness, I would definitely tell my younger self to gird for the long haul and be prepared for the seismic changes in the industry that have made it very challenging for writers to raise awareness of their work today.  It can be very frustrating at times to consider the amount of work that is put into being a writer (all aspects, including marketing/PR tasks and everything else beyond writing itself) in relation to the often painstaking progress made on one’s career path.

Some friends and I, all fellow writers, were chewing on this one the other day — what was the best money you ever spent as a writer? For me, it goes all the way back to my first word processor. What do you think?

The best money I ever spent was setting up a separate office space from where I do my writing.  Having a dedicated writing space has been invaluable to me over the years.  It has kept a host of possible distractions away from my writing sessions and has also been of great benefit in keeping me in the right mindset, or zone, when creating written works.  Sometimes I joke that I have developed my own Pavlovian response, in that when I sit down in my writing space, my brain kicks into writing mode immediately!

Whenever you ask someone what their favorite novel is, you tend to see certain books turn up over and over again, is there a book you love that you feel is maybe under-appreciated?

legendI would have to say David Gemmell’s Legend.  I think it is a heroic fantasy masterpiece that has not gotten near the recognition that it deserves.  It features a great hero at a more vulnerable stage of his life, a fantastic supporting cast, and a great “against all odds” kind of plotline.  Beyond the action, twists, and turns, there is a big heart behind it all, and the glimpses of life’s bigger picture shine through in a way that few authors are able to do.  Gemmell walks this fine line in a brilliant way and I truly would love to see this novel adapted to the big screen to gain more awareness for Gemmell’s work.

Aleister Crowley famously said, “To me a book is a message from the gods to mankind; or, if not, should never be published at all….” I have always viewed writing as a very spiritual exercise? Do you feel the same?

I definitely do.  Writing to me is an active engagement in subcreation and envisioning different possible realities.  It can also be, if you let it, be a deeply meditative and self-reflective kind of practice.  I do allow myself to immerse into those kinds of things, to the point that I feel renewed and often reinvigorated when I walk out of the room after a writing session.

Writing allows me to constantly examine and think the flaws, virtues, values, and attributes of various characters, which can be used to gain further understanding of morality.  Being a speculative fiction writer, I am also able to explore themes regarding the spirit and spiritual realms, in an abundance of forms.

Writing offers a wonderful avenue for spiritual practice, if you let it.

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoI have a particular fondness for Easter Eggs and liberally sprinkle them throughout my stories. Does your fiction have any tucked away fro devoted fans to ferret out?

They end up being there whether I intend for them or not, I believe.  There have been several times when those who know me well, who have read my work, will comment on a certain character’s outlook and values, their actions, or other elements that have a connection with something powerful in my own life.

Consciously, I do enjoy leaving some subtle things here and there for the keen-eyed reader, especially those who have read all of my work in a given series or franchise.

Thanks for stopping by, Stephen. It was a pleasure to get a chance to touch base with you. And for those of you who joined us, be sure to check out my review of Stephen’s Ragnar Stormbringer tale, Depths of Night, for sale now wherever ebooks are sold.

Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane, & Mythic Games

Posted in Dice Upon A Time, Occult Detectives, Sword & Sorcery with tags , , , on February 22, 2018 by Occult Detective

I posted a video for Oak Hill RPG Club that certainly should be an interest to my fellow occult detective aficionados. In it I talk briefly about my love for Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane, and Mythic Games’ announcement that they’re producing a boardgame around Howard’s second most famous character.

Take a look. And if you dig games, like and subscribe. We’d appreciate it.

Kull of Atlantis!

Posted in Sword & Sorcery with tags , , on February 8, 2018 by Occult Detective

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I am thrilled to announce that I’ll be writing the introduction for Slave, Soldier, and King, a compendium of three Kull of Atlantis tales by Robert E. Howard. The collection is being published by Apollyon Press and Chance Phillips, with cover art by Marcio Moraga, interior art by Stefan Poag, and with additional art by John and Marie Severin.

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The collection will reprint Robert E. Howard’s The Shadow Kingdom, The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune, and The Phoenix on the Sword.

Slave, Soldier, and King is available via Kickstarter in pdf format for just $3 or trade paperback for $12.

 

Horror for the Holidays

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Sword & Sorcery, Writing in Theory & Practice on November 24, 2017 by Occult Detective

Have you heard of jólabókaflóð? You must have, because the Icelandic tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and then spending the evening reading, is fast becoming a cultural phenomenon around the world.

Now that’s a tradition I can get behind.

If you’ve got loved ones who love to read, and prefer something a little bit more — shall we say — sinister, might I suggest my offerings, published by Seventh Star Press.

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Available on Amazon.com Shadows Over Somerset  & Keepers of the Dead

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Available on Amazon.com First Born

Nothing says Yuletide quite like stories about occult detectives, werewolves, witches, vampires, and immortal swordsmen. Add a sprinkling of Norse Gods into the equation and you’ve got yourself one helluva Christmas Party.

 

With my sword and my head held high…

Posted in Liber et Audax, Sword & Sorcery on October 8, 2017 by Occult Detective

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This morning we travel south, across the beautiful autumn kissed landscape of mythic Indiana, until we reach the sights and sounds of the ancient world reborn for us at  Fishers Renaissance Faire.

It will be grand to be surrounded once more by minstrels, merchants and maidens fair, but we most long to hear once more the cacophony of broken lances and the roar of the crowd as the Knights of Valour demonstrate their tournament prowess.

This has become an annual affair for us, one we so look forward to. That it so closely coincides with Connor’s birthday is an added bonus.

This will be a much needed escape from our daily troubles and the incessant grind of weighty real world matters. Immersing ourselves in the medieval realm of fantasy, our attention will be drawn instead to pomp and spectacle.

I, for one, look forward to the joust and to perusing the weapon tents. Nothing better than holding a yard of well-crafted steel in one’s hand.

So, huzzah, my friends. Expect a full report when Leif Eriksson Day dawns…

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with…Stephen Zimmer

Posted in Last Writes with..., Sword & Sorcery with tags , , on August 23, 2017 by Occult Detective

Welcome to a Special Edition of The Occult Detective’s Last Writes.

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoToday’s guest-of-honor is none other than Stephen Zimmer, an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), and the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

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Before we get down to the business at hand, I thought I might share with you my thoughts on Stephen’s Rayden Valkyrie series.

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Heart of a Lion is a fast-paced sword & sorcery tale starring Rayden Valkyrie, a strong-willed warrior with a sense of justice and fair play. The author really shines when he delves into her character, highlighting her strict code of honor.

Written in a very visual style, but leaving plenty of room to breathe, Heart of a Lion reminded me of a cross between Lin Carter’s prose and Sam Raimi’s sensibilities.

It certainly had a throw-back feel, like the novelization of a Saturday Matinee cliffhanger serial with Ray Harryhausen effects.

The second book in the series, Thunder Horizon, was a stronger outing. Rayden is still ThunderHorizonCover_1200X800the same ass-kicking warrior woman you fell in love with in Heart of a Lion. You can really tell the author is inside her head. He gets her.

The big difference here are the supporting characters. While handled with skill in the debut novel, in Thunder Horizon, this cast really comes alive.

There are some real spine-tingling moments throughout, and the author deftly navigates between these larger-than-life fantasy tropes and rich, textured human elements.

He makes you feel for every character and that’s an incredible accomplishment.

With another book in the Dark Sun Dawn Saga still to come and a tv pilot in post-production, we have thankfully not seen the last of Rayden Valkyrie.

Speaking of “last”… it’s my pleasure now to draw your attention to Stephen’s responses to our morbid curiosities — It’s time for…

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The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

 

Last meal you’d eat: Would have to be a pizza, true New York-style, with at least a pepperoni topping.  Most likely double pepperoni and banana peppers, mushrooms, and olives.  But New York-style pizza is a life-long favorite of mine.  Thankfully here in Lexington we have a pizza place (Brooklyn Pizza) that does it very, very well.  I’d go with that as my choice!

Last book you’d read: Lord of the Rings trilogy compendium.  These books have had a life-long impact on me from the first time my mother read them to me at age 7.  I always see new things in the story every time I read it, and at this point I’ve read these books many times over.  They would be an appropriate final read before making the big transition.

Last movie you’d watch: I’m going to sound very single-minded, but I have to say the Lord of the Rings trilogy again.  I was so impressed with how well Peter Jackson captured the look and feel of the books.   There are major differences between the books and the movie, but the core spirit remains intact onscreen and that is what is most important to me!

Last song you’d listen to: This is a very difficult choice as I am a huge music fan.  But I’d want to end things on a positive note, so I’d have to go with a Kiss song, as I’ve been a Kiss fan since the days I was exposed to Lord of the Rings novels!  While “Rock and Roll All Nite” is not my favorite Kiss song, it does sum up the magic of Kiss and as a last song would be fitting indeed!  It’s a pure expression of living life with zest and would be a great way to cross over!

First person you’d like to meet on the other side: I cannot choose one of my folks over the other, so this is co-awarded to my father and mother.  No question they are first on my list as far as who I want to see in better realms beyond.  I miss them every single day.

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I’d like to thank Stephen for allowing Occult Detective to be one of his whistlestops on his whirlwind Rayden Valkyrie Blog Tour Celebration.

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To follow along on the tour, click HERE for everywhere Stephen’s been and where he’s headed next. You can also follow Stephen via his social media presence:

Twitter:  @SGZimmer
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stephenzimmer7
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7
Website: www.stephenzimmer.com

If you dig heroic fantasy and strong female protagonists, then I urge you to order Heart Like a Lion and Thunder Horizon. They will more than scratch that itch, believe me.

BOBOD
My occult detective collection, First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum, and both novels in the Cairnwood Manor series — Shadows Over Somerset and Keepers of the Dead — are available via Amazon and other online retail outlets in both ebook and trade paperback.

“…the lamps expire.”

Posted in Archive, Sword & Sorcery, Writing in Theory & Practice with tags on June 11, 2017 by Occult Detective

Robert E Howard81 years ago, Robert E. Howard left this world, leaving behind a legacy of visceral and kinetic prose that has inspired millions.

Howard has been my favorite author since I was ten years old. Living in rural Indiana, with a clear running stream, fields, and woodlands as my backyard, it was Howard’s tales that fired my imagination.

When I took up a stick (or hammock pole) and it transformed into a broad sword, I became Conan of Cimmeria, fighting for survival in the Pictish wilderness.

To this day, I am still overwhelmed by Howard’s words. They still speak to me in much the same way they did more than forty years ago on the edge of that small farm I called home.

Robert E. Howard was larger than life. He single-handedly created the sword & sorcery genre and left an enduring mark on fiction.

As his mother slipped into a coma she would never wake from, Howard, in the early morning hours of June 11, 1936, chose to proceed her in death, but it was his life and the yarns he spun that we celebrate.

Robert E. Howard is immortal, his words destined to be read, studied, and enjoyed for as long as there are humans to do so.

The last words he wrote — “”All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre; The feast is over and the lamps expire.” — are sad and mournful, but reflect the eternal fire lit, heralding his place in the pantheon of literary legends.

That burning pyre became a shining beacon to all those who would follow in his footsteps.

Rest In Peace, Two-Gun.

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