Friday, July 7, 2017

TO HELL WITH WRITING -- Part One #OurAuthorGang




Joe Bonadonna

Yes, you read those words correctly, but it's not meant to be taken literally. In a literary way, of course, because I’m talking about my involvement with the long-running, legendary series, Heroes in Hell™ , created and published by acclaimed author, Janet Morris.

First, let me tell you a little about Heroes in Hell:

The series is often called “Bangsian fantasy,” a genre of fantasy which concerns the use of famous literary or historical individuals and their interactions in the afterlife. It’s named for John Kendrick Bangs (1862 –1922), an American satirist who often wrote such tales. Heroes in Hell itself is an epic series of shared-world novels where the famous and infamous throughout history all wind up together in Hell, where they virtually pick up right where they left off when still alive — but now with a diabolical twist: Hell may give you what you want and what you need, but these things are never quite what you asked for. Hell is not what you’d expect, so always expect the unexpected. Things are broken in Hell, things malfunction, and there’s always a grand touch of irony to everything that happens. Hell gives and Hell takes away, and in Hell the Damned get just what they deserve. Each individual story in each book reads like a chapter in a novel, and each story/chapter bears the unique touch and personality of its author.

Now, several long years ago, I was asked by my friend and fellow author, Bruce Durham, if I would write a review for the then-newest volume in the "Heroes in Hell" series, Rogues in Hell. I said sure, I’d be happy to, even though I was in the middle of writing my second novel at the time. I remembered the original Baen Books Heroes in Hell series, having enjoyed a number of those, and I was familiar with Janet Morris from her work in Thieves World™ and many of her own novels. But it had been years since I read those; and I’d been so long away from the fantasy genre that I had no idea that Heroes in Hell had continued on past the four or five volumes I had read, which started up way back when in 1986. 

So I read Rogues in Hell, loved every word of it, wrote my review, and then bought the previous and first volume in the new 21st century series, which is now published by Perseid Press, Lawyers in Hell. Now, while lost somewhere deep in the nether regions, I get contacted one fine day by none other than Janet Morris herself, who read my review, was very pleased with it, and liked the way I wrote it.

She then read my story of Dorgo the Dowser, “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum” that I had posted on Black Gate e-magazine, and liked it. Then she read more of the Dowser’s stories in my award-winning Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, and invited me to write a story for the then-forthcoming Dreamers in Hell.

To say that I was excited, flattered and a little intimidated would be the understatement of the year! I was totally overwhelmed! Naturally, I said I would love to give it a try. But I waited. I took my time. What I wanted to do first was read and write a review of Dreamers in Hell, and then go back to re-read the first few Baen Books editions, and read some of the stories in the other volumes, the ones I had not read in the 1980s and 1990s. I felt that this was crucial to my understanding of how Janet's creation, how her concept of Hell worked. I had to learn the rules.

So another year goes by and I still haven’t written one word for her. But I was in constant touch with Janet and her Hellions, as her band of Hell writers call themselves, and thoughts and ideas began to whirl about in "my little gray cells," as Hercule Poirot would say.

Stay tuned, for in Part Two I'll tell you the rest of the story, and a little more about Hell, too.

To read for free my Dorgo the Dowser, The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum, please click on link that takes you directly to that specific Black Gate e-zine page.

You can find all the volumes in the Heroes in Hell™ series on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other online book store.

#Bangsianfantasy  #horror  #history  #mythology  #supernatural  #adultfantasy