Wednesday, January 25, 2017
An Interview with Ron Fortier
Ron Fortier is a busy guy. He has one heck of an impressive resume! Over the years, he’s worked in comics (Terminator, Green Hornet, the Incredible Hulk, Popeye, among others), written novels, and edited. Besides all of this, he is founder of Airship 27, a leading voice in the New Pulp Fiction movement. Plus, he’s an all-around nice guy and I’m pleased to present this interview with him. I’ve left my questions identified as “Q” rather than “RF” since Ron and I have the same initials. Y’all enjoy!
Ron, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I know you’re very busy as you’re a man who wears many hats in the publishing industry. I’ll keep it brief and we’ll get right down to it.
Q: Airship 27 seems to be the leader in publishing new pulp fiction. I guess I should start at the beginning and ask, how do you personally define “pulp fiction?”
RF: Any fast-paced action-adventure fiction that has larger than life heroes and totally evil twisted villains. Genre is unimportant, be it a crime story or pirate yarn, the pacing has to be lightning fast and never bogged down with introspection or other such boring prose. Readers want pulp to entertain them, not educate them.
Q: Have you always been interested in pulp fiction? What started your love of the genre?
RF: I got my writing start in the comics feel and over time began to understand how comics, especially in the 30s were inspired by the hero pulps of that era. Characters like the Shadow and Doc Savage would later be the molds from which such comic favorites as Batman and Superman would spring. Curious about this history, I slowly began researching the history of American pulps until in the end I was a bonefide fan.
Q: Did you know, even in childhood, that pulp would be your career? How long have you been a full-time writer?
RF: The above answer deals with some of that in that I first grew up as a dedicated comic book fan. I sold my first story in the early 70s but writing was always a part time job while I worked a 40-hour week at a local GE Factory which provided my family in regards to educating five kids and keeping them fed and insured. In 2004 I retired and then devoted my time to writing one hundred percent.
Q: You’ve worked in comics, novels, short stories, and a variety of other mediums. Do you have a favorite?
RF: Although I do love all three forms, I have to confess comic scripting is still my favorite. Prose is a solitary endeavor and though it does have its own rewards, there is nothing like working with a talented graphic artist to bring a tale to visual life. I've been blessed with working with some of the best in the business such as Gary Kato, Jeff Butler, Rob Davis and of course Alex Ross.
Q: You seem to spend a lot of time editing. Airship 27 publishes so many other authors’ work, not just your own. Would you say you spend more time writing, editing, or an equal amount of time on both?
RF: Oh yes, the Catch-22 of being an editor. With the success of Airship 27, more and more talented new writers are coming to us and in the past few years I've found myself doing lots more editing and having to push aside my own writing goals. I recently finished my fifth Captain Hazzard novel, which I had started three years ago. That's primarily because editing just took over my life. I hope to be able to balance it a bit more evenly in the future. If that is at all possible.
Q: When you’re writing, what is your process like? Do you keep set hours? Do you have a minimum word count for the day that you won’t stop until you’ve reached?
RF: I'm a free-wheeling writer as I've never been able to conform to any routine. Generally, I spend several hours editing at the start of the day. Then I'll take a break to do the normal every day errands, like grocery shopping, going out to a movie or simply sitting down to read a book. Then by late afternoon I'll get to my own writing. I tend to see stories in my imagination in scenes, one following the other in the narrative. Thus, my aim when I do write is to tackle the next scene and get it completed. Doesn't matter if it is a short or long section and once finished, I'm done for the day. I'm comfortable with building a story like this, scene by scene until I reach the end.
Q: What does the future of pulp fiction look like? Are there enough authors to keep it going?
RF: I think the future of pulp fiction is better than ever as more and more writers are discovering it. And by that, I mean young college age writers. Back in the 40s and 50s there was some kind of stigma put on populace literature. It seemed academia, for whatever highbrow reasons, labeled all pulp fiction as junk and not worthy of critical attention. But the truth was most of the famous big name authors, ala Erle Stanley Gardner, Bob Silverberg, Isaac Asimov and so many others actually had their start in the pulps. So pulps evolved into the 60s and 70s paperbacks producing such renown writers as Clive Cussler, Stephen King etc. Today, with their successes, the literary community has finally come around to recognizing the significant contributions to our culture that pulps have made and today writers don't shun the word, they are actually flattered to be known as "pulp" writers.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring pulp authors? What could you say to them that you wish someone would have told you?
RF: When you write anything, better make sure you are having fun while you are at it. Because if you aren't having fun writing it, how do you expect your readers to have fun reading it? Simple advice and one I learned to take to heart over the years. Write what you love and what excites you and most likely you'll entertain lots of other people along the way.
Q: Finally, what are some of the upcoming titles from Airship 27 that we can look forward to?
RF: Well, it's a new year and we just kicked things off with a great western, "Comanche Blood" by R.A. Jones. We'll be following this up with a pirate adventure, "Queen of Anarchy" by Nancy Hansen and after that, a book I'm really excited about, "Holmes & Houdini" by I.A. Watson. So, as you can see, as ever, lots of great books in lots of genres. And all of them pure pulp fiction.
Ron, thank you again! You’ve always been very kind and gracious with your time. Thank you for all the entertainment you’ve given readers like me through the years. I can’t wait for Airship’s future titles!
For more information, check out Airship 27's website!