Archive for the Sword & Sorcery Category

With my sword and my head held high…

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

renfaireknights

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…

Advertisements

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.

ouroboros

 

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

HeartofALion_Cover

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…

last-writes-3

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.

ouroboros

 

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

RaydenValkyrieTourGraphic

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.

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard

Posted in Sword & Sorcery on January 22, 2017 by Occult Detective

Robert E Howard

Robert E Howard signature

111 years ago today, in Peaster, Texas, Robert E. Howard was born. You could take every author away and leave me Howard alone, and I would be well served until my final hour.

Robert E. Howard wrote with a passion unmatched and he created some of the most visceral and dynamic characters to ever grace the page.

Not convinced? Try this on for size —

“I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”  ― Robert E. Howard, Queen of the Black Coast

He is, without question, my favorite author and today I shall honour his memory by spinning a yarn in the genre he spawned — sword & sorcery.

Happy Birthday, Two Gun, and thanks for the decades of inspiration you’ve given me. You thought yourself a failure. You were so very wrong…

 

I seen me no hobbitses

Posted in Liber et Audax, Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detectives, Sword & Sorcery, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 8, 2016 by Occult Detective

Happy Erik the Red Day!

Kim, Connor, and I spent an absolutely marvelous morning on the banks of the Mississinewa, in a spot of woods we locals call Hobbitland, for the largest War of 1812 living history event in the United States —Mississinewa 1812.

20161008_105016

We didn’t pick up much, but we really enjoyed ‘window shopping’ at all the vendor tents. Conn snagged a fox totem stone, Kim picked up some scissors, dried apples, and bought me a can of haggis, and I snatched up a little 15mm scale tin axeman.

The atmosphere was amazing but, even though the temperature barely cracked 50°, I was way too warm. I managed, however, and my spirits were doubly lifted by kilted drummers and pipers kicking up some dust through the crowd.

Few things stir the heart like the mournful wail of bagpipes.

Alba Gu Brath!

On the way out, we ran into Kim’s youngest sister with her new boyfriend and his children in tow. It was great to finally meet Tony and the boys. They looked happy together and that means a lot to me. Cassie lived with us for a number of years after her and Kim’s mom passed 13 years back. She’ll always feel like a daughter to me, so I’m thrilled to see a ray of sunshine in her life.

We hit a few rummages on the way home and snagged an antique wooden folding chair for a buck. Crafted in Ft. Wayne no less.

20161008_103544As we settle in for the afternoon, I have a lot on my mind. Conn and I have some work to put in on Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game and I was invited to write up a book proposal for something really special that, for now, I’ll have to keep in the vault.

I’d also really like to put something together for Tor’s Open Submission Call for a non-European influenced sword & sorcery novella.

Lot to do. Not a lot of room for error on any of it.

It’s also Connor’s last day as a pre-teen.

Tomorrow, October 9, Leif Eriksson Day here in the US, will be Conn’s 13th Birthday. Time has flown and my spirit has joined it.

He’s always been a special kid. Tomorrow, he’ll be a special young man.

SKELOS: THE JOURNAL OF WEIRD FICTION AND DARK FANTASY

Posted in Horror, Sword & Sorcery on May 6, 2016 by Occult Detective

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: skelospress@gmail.com

SKELOS: THE JOURNAL OF WEIRD FICTION AND DARK FANTASY LAUNCHES KICKSTARTER ON MAY 10TH

skelos

May 5, 2016 – Skelos Press is proud to announce the launch of its new flagship journal with a Kickstarter campaign that will begin on Tuesday May 10th. The first issue of SKELOS: THE JOURNAL OF WEIRD FICTION AND DARK FANTASY will feature a never-before-published fantasy piece by Robert E. Howard (Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane) illustrated by the legendary Mark Schultz (Xenozoic Tales, Coming of Conan, Prince Valiant). Also featured is a new sword and sorcery novelette by Keith Taylor (Bard series, Cormac Mac Art), a long-awaited sequel to his classic tale “Men from the Plain of Lir” originally published in WEIRD TALES. This story will be illustrated by the fantastic Tomás Giorello (Dark Horse King Conan). Another highlight of the issue will be a tale of dark fantasy from World Fantasy Award nominee and John W. Campbell Award nominee Scott A. Cupp.

SKELOS is edited by Mark Finn, author of the World Fantasy Award-nominated BLOOD AND THUNDER; Chris Gruber, editor of Robert E. Howard’s BOXING STORIES from the University of Nebraska Press; and Jeffrey Shanks, co-editor of the Bram Stoker Award-nominated UNIQUE LEGACY OF WEIRD TALES.

Editor Mark Finn stated, “I’m excited to be part of the editorial staff for this journal. We are finding and publishing material that we love to read, and read about. There’s a long-standing tradition to weird fiction, and we think we can contribute something new and exciting to it.”

The first issue will contain short fiction from such talented writers as Charles Gramlich, Dave Hardy, Jason Ray Carney, Ethan Nahte, Matt Sullivan, and Scott Hannan; a fully illustrated adaptation of Grettir and the Draugr from the Icelandic sagas by Samuel Dillon; weird verse by Frank Coffman, Pat Calhoun, Kenneth Bykerk, and Jason Hardy; Insightful essays by Nicole Emmelhainz, Karen Kohoutek, and Jeffrey Shanks; reviews by Charles Hoffman, Bobby Derie, Keith West, Todd Vick, Paul McNamee, Brian Murphy, Deuce Richardson, and Josh Adkins; and with illustrations by Mark Schultz, Tomás Giorello, Samuel Dillon, and David Cullen.

The Kickstarter campaign will run until June 10 and the issue will begin shipping in late June with an ebook version available at the same time. More information can found at the Skelos Press Facebook page – www.facebook.com/skelospress – or you can follow the project on Twitter @SkelosPress.

Happy Birthday #RobertEHoward

Posted in Archive, Sword & Sorcery, Writing in Theory & Practice on January 22, 2016 by Occult Detective

robert-e-howard

 

Today we celebrate the 110th Birthday of the man who is indisputably my favorite author —Robert E. Howard.

Born on January 22, 1906 in Texas, Howard was raised in the  small town of Cross Plains. From the bedroom of his parents’ house he hammered out some of the finest adventure yarns ever conceived, each filled with fiery and passionate prose the likes of which few have ever been able to duplicate.

From Howard’s Underwood No. 5 sprang the likes of Conan of Cimmeria, Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane, Occult Detective Steve Harrison, and so many others.

He is the irrefutable creator of the sword and sorcery genre and has influenced countless writers in the decades since his death.

Robert E. Howard was a prolific author and his tales dominated Depression-era pulp fiction magazines such as Weird Tales and Fight Stories. He was a member of H.P. Lovecraft’s Circle and their correspondences are as much required reading as any of their published works.

Howard took his own life on June 11, 1936 at the age of 30 and the world is lesser for it.

One can scarcely imagine what wonders he might have shared had he chosen to stay with us a little longer.

Happy Birthday, Two-Gun… and thanks for the stories you left us.

howard

%d bloggers like this: