Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Genre Hopping: Past, Present, and Future by Guest Author Michael A. Black

Please welcome back prolific guest author Michael A. Black. Michael is the author of 34 books and over 100 short stories and articles. A former Army Military Policeman, he entered civilian law enforcement and became a decorated police officer in the south suburbs of Chicago. He worked for over thirty-two years in various capacities including patrol supervisor, SWAT team leader, investigations and tactical operations before retiring in 2011.

Michael has a BA in English from Northern Illinois University and a MFA in fiction writing from Columbia College. In 2010 he was awarded the Cook County Medal of Merit by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. His Ron Shade series featuring the Chicago-based kickboxing private eye, has won several awards, as has his police procedural series featuring Frank Leal and Olivia Hart. He has written two novels with television star Richard Belzer and is writing The Executioner series under the name Don Pendleton. His current books are Blood Trails, the forthcoming Legends of the West, and his newest Executioner novels are Dying Art, Stealth Assassins, and Cold Fury. His novel Fatal Prescription won the Best Original Novel Scribe Award given by the International Media Tie-In Writers Association in 2018.

You can contact Michael at: 

It has always been my goal as a writer to be published in as many different genres as I could, and recent events have worked out in my favor along these lines. Between October and December I’ll have hit three different genres, western, sci-fi, and thriller, with four published works.

On October 16th, my historical western, Legends of the West, was released by Five Star (Cengage Publishing). It’s based on an actual historical figure, Bass Reeves, who was a legendary lawman in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. I’ve long been fascinated by Reeves, who was born into slavery before the Civil War, and went on to become a United States Deputy Marshal. Reeves reported to the famous hanging judge, Isaac Parker, who was based in Fort Smith, Arkansas. During this period in our history the area that is now the state of Oklahoma was known as the Indian Territory. The various Native American Indians were relocated to this region and the territory was divided up between the various tribes. The area was policed by a group of Indian law enforcement officers known as the Lighthorse, but they only had authority to arrest other Native Americans. Consequently, the region became a haven for outlaws and Parker sent his band of federal marshals into the Indian Territory to enforce the law. Reeves was one of these men, and he would often take members of the Lighthorse with him on his missions. My story, while totally fictional, has Reeves squaring off against a limerick spouting outlaw who’s as fast with a gun as he is with a rhyme. I was able to pay homage to my late friend, David Walks as Bear, who was an expert on all things Native American. He was one of the smartest men I’ve ever known, and I gave him a role as Reeves’s Lighthorse companion. Legends of the West is available in hardcover.

Also in the western genre is Gunslinger: Killer’s Choice, which has an official release date of November 15th. It’s part of a series written under the name A.W. Hart and features fifteen-year-old twins, Connor and Abby Mack who roam the West under the guidance of wanted gunslinger, River Hicks. This gothic style western series has an intricate overall plot, but each novel in the series can be appreciated on its own. The two preceding novels, Gunslinger: Killer’s Chance and Gunslinger: Killer’s Fuse, introduce the characters and start them on their adventures. My entry has them rescuing a Chinese national from a lynching party, and coming into conflict with a power-hungry strongman who envisions himself as some sort of western royalty. The Chinese man is trying to rescue his fiancĂ©e from human smugglers, and the exploitation of the Chinese workers who built the western network of railroads in the late 1800’s is also touched upon. Gunslinger: Killer’s Choice is available in both e-book and trade paperback form.

In both of these books I tried to keep the writing historically accurate, while still embracing the traditional aspects of the western mythology upon which the western genre was built. I feel I’m in good standing to do so because famous western writer Zane Grey was purportedly a distant relative of mine.

 As I’m sure Ann would agree, writing something set in the past is always problematic. Not only did I have to do a lot of research on the time period, but language usage was also a challenge. Learning the terminology and slang terms of the era was a withering task, as was trying to come up with appropriate descriptions and metaphors. It made me realize how much has changed in today’s world, compared to a little over a hundred and fifty years or so.

I had an opportunity to leap from the past into the future when the opportunity to do a sci-fi novella arose. I set my story, “Hybrid,” in the “near future” where an alien presence has established a strange phenomenon in the African desert. The area has quickly been divided up by the major powers (The United States, China, France, England, etc.) and each is vying for acquisition of the nouveau riches the phenomenon offers. My novella is in an anthology called Star Noir, and I’m honored to be in the fine company of such well known writers as Gary Phillips, Mike Baron, Eric Beetner, O’Neil De Noux, and Jean Rabe, to name a few. The anthology was edited by Paul Bishop, whose work I’ve admired for years. Star Noir is available as an e-book.

And as the year draws to a close, I’ve been fortunate enough to have my eleventh novel in the Executioner series, Cold Fury, being released on War Against the Mafia. The protagonist, Mack Bolan, is a soldier who returns to the U.S. from Vietnam to find that his family has been destroyed by the mob. He then embarks on a campaign as an avenger, taking on the Outfit in various locations. Through the years Bolan evolved into an ageless hero who has now morphed into the American James Bond. My Executioner novel, Fatal Prescription, won the Best Original Novel Scribe Award in 2018 given by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. I am honored to be among the pantheon of writers who have worked on this series. Ironically, when I was in basic training in the army, the GI in the bunk above me was reading one of the Executioner books, and said he would give it to me when he was finished. We shipped out and I never got the book, but now all these years later, I’m writing them. Cold Fury is set in Seattle, Alaska, and Vancouver and has the redoubtable Mack Bolan battling some rogue Russians who are smuggling in a human cargo unknowingly infected with a new strain of bubonic plague. With over 500 books in this series, the publisher is now releasing them as e-books.
December 1st. The books are all written under the name of Don Pendleton, who created the series in 1969 with his novel,

I would like to thank Ann for her gracious offer to allow me be a guest on her blog. It brought back a lot of pleasant memories of our old Ladykiller blogging days.


Ann Parker said...

Hi Michael... Welcome back to the Silver Rush blog! I knew you wrote Westerns, now I'm going to read them!
One of these days you'll have to do a guest post talking about your writing routine. Four books coming out in a three-month period means you must be writing 24/7. How DO you do this??
Thanks so much for your post!

Camille Minichino said...

Hi Michael, it's so good to "see" you again. I have to smile at all the "good fortune" you've had lately in publishing everything everywhere! Like Ann, I think good fortune is actually 24/7 diligence and a megaton of talent.

I love that new photo--the essence of a western lawman (this from a New Yorker who's never met one!)


Unknown said...

Enjoyable interview. I've always had that goal as well, to be published in many different genres. It's an interesting challenge and one that I enjoy.