Thoughts on biases and manuscript reading from the other side of the Atlantic

Via one of the blogs I follow (Amatopia), I found this interview with veteran author Paul Clayton. He talks a bit about his life and work and then he is asked about where he believes publishing is going and how his late works, most of them self-published, tie with that.

Clayton claims traditional self-publishing is too slow and that the selection process has become incestuous, compromised by what I guess could be described as either identity politics or just a very homogenous editorial class.

But I was never one of these dominant, mega-selling, white males. I was a “mid-list” author, as my first agent told me. But now, anybody that looks and sounds like me, is, in my opinion, wasting their time trying to get past the 20-year-old female, or feminized male, junior acquisition editors and interns. Especially if they write about what I would describe as “traditional America and Americans.”


But along came eBooks and they have given my writing career, such as it is, new life, although not as vibrant and visible as traditionally published books. You CAN publish without waiting five years, but so can everyone else.


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November 15 story: Twenty Feet, Part III

Part I, Part II

“Who is, or was, this Bardo?” Corin asked.

“Is, he is still alive as far as I know,” Dolman said and a faint smile crossed his face. “He was discharged. His place wasn’t the army. Oh, he was pretty good, but…” his voice trailed off and the smile became a chuckle.

“He was one of von Strab’s Morons,” one of the hunters explained.

“That’s uh… an officer?” The scribe ventured.

“No, those were von Strab’s Idiots. The Morons were then brain-scrambled boys they grabbed when the war got really nasty.”

Continue reading “November 15 story: Twenty Feet, Part III”

November 8 story: The Dork Knight

The businessman shot off to nearest alley, loudly cursing the sudden downpour. There, in the recessed doorway of an old building, decorated by the grotesque, jutting moldings that were a fashionable feature of the Old City district, he found shelter. And other men were looking for the same thing, or at least that’s what he thought at first.

The four men didn’t seem worried by the rain, and they walked his way with an almost casual pace. He didn’t like how they were dressed, or how they looked (and looked at him,) but he repressed the thought since he was a tolerant fellow.

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November 7 story: The Dreadful Writer, Part II

The second half of the interview with the fictitious writer James L. Cunningham. Part I is here.


Weber (editor): Does that come from your years in the army? You fought in Sudan, correct?

Cunningham (writer): Yes, against the Mahdists. Although ‘fought’ is not the best word for what happened there. Keep in mind that, when I was young, I read stories and tales of our Empire’s wars in the Far East. The ones from the Indian Rebellion of 57 were my favourites. Soldiers still fought duels back then. Not many, true, but it was not unheard of for men of both sides to single each other out for combat. But when I fought in Sudan… that was not the era of the duelist anymore, but the era of the Maxim gun. The closest I ever got to an enemy was perhaps thirty meters, a very angry Dervishe who became the inspiration for my first published story and, I guess, the original seed for many other.

Continue reading “November 7 story: The Dreadful Writer, Part II”

November 6 story: Twenty Feet, part II

Part I

“Let’s go back to your military… insights,” Corin said. “You are known for your unique tactics. Is there something you believe the standard troops could learn from your experience against the green horde?”

The man with the nose bone scratched his chin and then grinned malevolently with his black teeth. “Fire,” he said. “You need a lot of fire.”

“Firepower?” Corin asked

“No, I mean fire, literal fire. Even the orks are not stupid enough to walk through a blaze.”

Continue reading “November 6 story: Twenty Feet, part II”

November 4 story: The Dreadful Writer, Part I

This is the full interview with the British-American writer James L. Cunningham. It first appeared on All-Men’s Adventure Magazine in 1935. The original interview was half as long and its most “juicy” aspects had been cut off, probably out of fear of upsetting the moral authorities that back then were keeping a close eye on this kind of magazines. The writer died later that year from cancer, which could explain his strangely forthcoming and open answers. After Monroe Webster, the editor and interviewer, died in 1965, the original interview with lines marking the parts to cut out was found among his papers.


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November 3 story: The Battle of Hanel

The town of Hanel had once been known for its vineyards, and for the first months of the war, their inhabitants still thought they would be able to go on with their lives as always. But the Germans advanced with surprising speed, the war front grew, first from the south and then to the north, finally growing into sprawling trenches.

The Germans on one side and the English on the other, tried to outdig one another in their march to the English Channel, and the trenches squirmed upwards, finally leaving the small French town on the German side. Although they were gentle with the local populace, war has its priorities, and the town infrastructure fell in disrepair, then most of its inhabitants left, and finally, in the pull and push between the Germans and the British, the town was all but destroyed.

Continue reading “November 3 story: The Battle of Hanel”