Bobby Nash: 2013 Pulp Ark Awards Winner for Best Author, and co-creator (with Sean Taylor) of Rick Ruby, the Best New Pulp Character.
Welcome to the third installment of Atomic Interviews. This time around, I’m joined by Bobby Nash, fresh off his two big victories in the 2013 Pulp Ark Awards. As you can see from the image at the top of this interview, Bobby has a plethora of books available, and we discuss his most recent works as well as his upcoming plans. I want to thank Bobby for not only agreeing to do this interview with me, but for providing such thoughtful answers.
For a complete list of Atomic Interviews, head to the dedicated Atomic Interview page. On to the interview:
Mark Bousquet (MB): First, Bobby, let me congratulate you on your two 2013 Pulp Ark Awards! You won Best Author and the character you co-created with Sean Taylor, Rick Ruby, won Best New Pulp Character. What was your reaction: excited, relieved, stunned, curious if you and Sean were going to have to cut your award in half?
Bobby Nash (BN): Thanks, Mark. Stunned doesn’t quite do justice to how I felt when I read that I had won the Pulp Ark Award for Best Author. I was stunned speechless when I read the winners on All Pulp, which, for those who know me, rarely happens. I had to read it over a couple of times before it sunk in. I still can’t quite believe it. I’m honored, of course, especially as the Pulp Ark Awards are voted on by readers and peers within the industry. Yeah, even as I type this answer, I still can’t quite believe it.
As far as the award for Best New Pulp Character, Rick Ruby, thankfully, Sean Taylor and I live close enough to one another that we can probably share joint custody. Ha! Ha! Or, maybe we can set up some kind of charity event at a local comic shop or convention and do a Star Trek style battle to see who gets to take it home. Of course, Sean would probably win that one. He fights dirty. [Laughs].
In all seriousness (enjoy that while it lasts), Sean and I are both quite excited that this character we love has been so well received. We had a blast creating Rick Ruby and his world. I’d gratifying to know that others are enjoying it as much as we are. When we were creating Rick, Sean actually predicted that this character would win a Pulp Ark Award. He was right, a fact I’m sure he will never let me forget.
MB: You had an incredibly productive 2012. Not only did you co-create Rick Ruby and contribute to the THE RUBY FILES, VOLUME 1, you published two novels (EARTHSTRIKE AGENDA and a reissue of EVIL WAYS), a novella (SAMARITAN), a collection of short stories (FRONTIER), and contributed stories to four other anthologies (LANCE STAR: SKY RANGER VOLUME 3, TALES OF THE ROOK, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF THE EAGLE, and SECRET AGENT ‘X’ VOLUME 4). (Here’s Bobby’s Amazon Author Page for information on all of these titles and more.) Before we get into story specifics, can you talk a little about the creative process between writing novels and short stories, working on your own projects versus other people’s projects?
BN: And that’s just the stuff that’s come out so far. I did a fair amount of work in 2012 that hasn’t seen the light of day as yet. 2012 was indeed a busy year for me. I always have multiple stories going. Doing anthology work and work-for-hire projects are fun, but sometimes the deadlines have quick turnarounds so I often find myself pausing a longer project, like a novel, to work on those projects that drop into the schedule. I’ve gotten to a point where there are more interesting projects out there than I can actually write stories for so I’ve had to learn how to say no to invites on occasion. It’s not always easy. There have been some really cool books I’ve had to pass on that would have been so much fun to work on. As far as problems go, I guess that’s not a bad one to have, huh?
There’s not a lot different in the way I write a novel or a short story in terms of actually writing. Shorter pieces are by their nature, faster tales without much in the way of subplots or character introspection. In a novel, you get to play around with B plots, character moments, and subplots. Plus, as it’s longer, the novels simply take longer to write.
When writing my own characters and stories, like EVIL WAYS, DEADLY GAMES! or EARTHSTRIKE AGENDA, it’s a solitary process. It’s all me. As I published these through my BEN Books publishing imprint I handle the bulk of the work beyond the actual writing of the novel. I designed the covers, created the ads, handled layout and production, uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, wrote press releases, etc, etc, etc…
Working on projects that are not wholly mine, I’m basically handling the writing only. The publishers handle the cover, layout, ads, art, and the like. No matter what project I work on, however, I always do marketing. Even if the publisher provides marketing, I also help out to hopefully maximize the book’s potential reach. Part of my job is to get the word out to potential readers.
MB: Did your role on THE RUBY FILES include being editor or creative overlord?
BN: Not really. Sean and I created a series bible with information on Rick Ruby’s world, the man himself, and a few of the recurring characters we saw as part of the book’s main cast. The bible then went to Ron Fortier at Airship 27. He liked what we had come up with and made it available to interested authors who wanted to take a shot at a Rick Ruby story. Ron edited the stories that I, Sean, Andrew Salmon, and William Patrick Maynard turned in. Rob Davis handled the design work and coordinated with interior illustrator Rob Moran and Mark Wheatley on the cover. Beyond co-creating the characters and writing my story, all I had to do was help promote the book once it came out. I also turned in my story for THE RUBY FILES, VOL. 2 last week so we’ve got that coming down the pike as well.
MB: Do you have a preference or do you like the variety 2012 brought you?
BN: I enjoy the variety. Sometimes stepping away from a novel to work on a short story in a different genre offers a much needed break to invigorate my creativity and give the story a little extra time to breathe.
MB: Let’s get into your stories. Talk about Rick Ruby, if you would. Who is he and how did you and Sean go about creating him? Why do you think he’s resonating with the New Pulp audience?
BN: Rick Ruby is a down on his luck private detective operating out of 1930’s New York. Orphaned as a boy when his father was killed in the war, Rick eventually joined the police force in his 20’s. Five years later he walked away from it when gangsters killed his girlfriend while gunning for him. Rick spent the next six years inside a bottle until an old friend pulled him out and helped him find his way again. Now, Rick does double duty as a p.i. for hire and as the house detective for Belle’s, a seedy dive that also happens to be one of the best jazz clubs in the city. Rick’s apartment and office are above the club, where he spends most of his time. Rick’s a decent detective, but he doesn’t look the part. The bad guys quite often underestimate Rick Ruby at their peril.
MB: THE RUBY FILES has stories from you, Sean, Andrew Salmon, and William Patrick Maynard. Talk about these authors and their approaches to Rick Ruby. How much detail did you give them about the character?
BN: All of the writers started off with the series bible and ran with it from there. The beauty of featuring multiple authors working on the same cast of characters is that each one brings a unique view to the word the characters inhabit. Each writer approached the character from different angles. That’s how you end up with four unique cases for Rick to solve as told by four distinct voices, but yet retaining the similarities that make Rick Ruby the same man in each. It’s amazing how well it came together because the authors did not confer with each other as we were writing our stories.
EXCERPT FROM “THE CASE OF THE WAYWARD BROTHER” FROM THE RUBY FILES VOL. 1 – PUBLISHED BY AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – NOW ON SALE.
The office that housed his private investigation business was just upstairs, but it wasn’t all that unusual for Rick to conduct business while sidled up to the bar as the sweet jazz music serenaded him. The laid back atmosphere of the club had also eased a client through bad news on more than one occasion. After downing his first two beers quickly, the P. I. nursed his third while Evelyn Johnson belted out a throaty jazz standard on the stage. As usual, when Evelyn sang, he got lost in the sound of her angelic voice and the world around him vanished in a smoky haze. However, it was when she was offstage that he got lost in the rest of her. Rick could easily drown in Evelyn’s deep brown eyes as he caressed her long, slender legs that felt like satin to the touch. Rick would buy her a drink once her set was finished, if he was still sober enough.
Rick liked to sit at the far end of the bar. He told everyone it was his favorite seat, but the truth of the matter was that it was the best seat in the house because from that perch he could easily see the entirety of Belle’s main room. In his line of work you weren’t considered successful unless you made yourself an enemy or twelve.
And Rick was quite successful.
Except for those odd occasions when he shared a private booth with one of the ladies or a client, Rick Ruby took up his normal perch at the end of the bar. There were far more comfortable places to sit, but he believed it would look pretty bad on his resume if he got caught off guard while crying over a beer. Such a thing would be bad for business so he never sat with his back to the room. Any room. Even the desk in his office was situated so he had a clear view of the outer office door. He was a cautious sort.
Rick pulled a hard drag off of a filtered cigarette while nursing his third beer of the evening. He had a headache that threatened to make his eyeballs explode. He was pretty sure that his sore eye would be a slightly darker shade in the morning and his lip would probably double in size, but at least he had gotten some satisfaction. His last client had stiffed him when it came time to settle his bill so Rick decided to go over and see the man and offer him payment options and discuss the penalty for non-payment.
Despite a lengthy discussion that left Rick with scrapped knuckles, a possible black eye, and a split lip, he still hadn’t retrieved the money he was owed. Rick very much doubted that payment for services rendered would be forthcoming without a follow up reminder to his client about honoring ones commitments. Even though his former client hadn’t faired much better in their discussion, Rick decided that their next conversation would include a third party, a Louisville Slugger that Rick kept in the corner of his office for just such an occasion, just within arms reach of his desk. The rent was due and he needed a paying case soon or else his landlord was liable to have him kneecapped.
Rick swore, as he often did when he was broke, which turned out to be more often than he liked, that he should simply move into his office and be done with it. He spent more time there anyway.
“You’ve got a visitor, Rick,” the bartender told him as he pointed toward the entrance where a woman stood, looking around the room. She was a vision in white, decked out in a floor-length black dress with a slit up one side that revealed shapely legs barely concealed beneath dark stockings. A white fur coat hung off of her shoulders like a cloak. Her demeanor spoke of money and status. While it was not unusual to see people of influence inside Belle’s, they were usually a bit more discreet when they entered. That meant she wasn’t here for pleasure, seeing how the other side lived, but on business as Broom Stick predicted. When her eyes fell on Rick she made a beeline for his end of the bar, which only cemented his read on her. Broom Stick was good at reading people, which was probably why he and Rick got along so well. He could see through Rick’s B.S. with ease.
“Thanks, Broom Stick,” Rick muttered to the bartender around the butt of the cigarette clenched between his lips. The last thing Rick was in the mood for was dealing with a client, but it had been awhile since he had any actual coin in his pocket that he could ill afford to turn away potential paying clients. Not for the first time, Rick was glad he got to drink for free at Belle’s, one of the perks of his arrangement with May Belle. Rick wasn’t just Belle’s favorite customer, but he was also the house dick, the detective on call anytime trouble brewed or whenever May Belle Williams had need of his unique services. That meant he drank for free, which even he had to admit was a better deal for him than for the house. She was also his landlord and rented him an office and an apartment dirt cheap.
Rick’s potential client was stunning; not just her movie star good looks or her tight sculpted frame, but even her clothes hung on her every curve as if it had been sculpted to fit her and only her. This lady was dressed to kill. Even though she was trying hard to blend in, everything about her announced just how out of place she was in a dive like Belle’s. If there was one time when attractive people tried to hide their beauty, it was when they were hiring someone like Rick Ruby. Unfortunately for her, there was no way she was not being noticed in that dress. She wore a sweet, floral fragrance that arrived ahead of her. Rick didn’t normally like such a strong perfume on a woman, but she made it work.
Like every other man in the bar, Rick watched her glide across the floor in her shiny, unscathed high heels, her tight blonde curls bouncing with each elegant step. She had the walk down pat, allowing just enough wiggle to arouse without taking away from her high-class image. Rick had to guess that this was a woman more accustomed to gala premieres and social events than hanging out in a place like Belle’s. With her looks and grace she had power over the male of the species, no doubt.
And she knew exactly how to use it.
“I’m Marilyn Carlyle,” she said with a demure demeanor.
“Hi,” Rick said, offering his best professional smile.
“You’re Mr. Ruby?” she asked, which he found amusing. She had obviously done her homework since she had zeroed in on him as soon as she stepped through the door.
“Yes,” he said, keeping it simple. “What can I do for you?”
“Mr. Ruby, I need your help.”
MB: EVIL WAYS is also a Crime story, but set in the present. How does EVIL WAYS and Harold Palmer compare to THE RUBY FILES and Rick Ruby?
BN: Two completely different animals. THE RUBY FILES is a pulpy yarn with twists, turns, and action. While EVIL WAYS also has its shares of twists, turns, and action, it’s more of a horror/suspense/thriller than a pulp story. There’s also a mystery there as you have to figure out who the killer is along with the characters. One of the coolest things was having people come to me with their guesses to the killer’s identity while they were reading it. Of course, I would never confirm or deny their suspicions. That would spoil the fun. I’m currently in the middle of a new thriller for FBI Special Agent Harold Palmer called EVIL INTENT. DEADLY GAMES! is somewhere in between the two titles in terms of its pulpiness.
MB: Moving from Crime to Science Fiction, EARTHSTRIKE AGENDA presents a universe in which humans have colonized space and Earth has been terraformed by corporations into a natural paradise and decided to keep humanity away from their homeworld. Talk to us about what’s going on in this world. What’s the story of EARTHSTRIKE AGENDA?
BN: After being uninhabitable for several generations, Earth has once more become a garden paradise, but no one is allowed to live there as the planet is now considered a nature preserve. Earthstrike Agenda starts when newly promoted starship captain Virginia Harmon, anxious to begin her new career, steps onto her new ship a few days early. Once there she finds herself in the middle of a plot by a group of terrorists/freedom fighters whose goal is to reclaim the planet Earth for colonization. With rampant overpopulation leaving many humans homeless across the quadrant, the Earth Liberation League plans to reclaim the Earth for those people who have no home of their own. Unfortunately for all involved, this is also the day an old enemy, one long thought destroyed, returns with a plan of their own.
EARTHSTRIKE AGENDA was actually the very first novel I ever wrote, before I started EVIL WAYS. Granted, that original novel is a far cry away from the novel that eventually saw print became. I did a major overhaul on that one, but the core of the story is still the same as when originally written. EARTHSTRIKE AGENDA was planned to be a one time stand alone novel, but a few months back I came up with a plot that would work really well in this universe. It’s not on my schedule at this time, but those ideas never really go away. You never know when it’ll pop back up again.
MB: You also published a space-based novella this year. In SAMARITAN, a science ship finds a solitary survivor in the wreckage of another ship. The survivor wants to get home, which seems like a reasonable enough request until it’s revealed her home is at the center of a black hole. How excited is the crew of the Aquarius to get her home?
BN: Not very excited at all, I’d imagine. This was a fun little one-shot to write. Like EVIL WAYS, SAMARITAN is a re-issue of a story from a few years earlier. Originally published in STARTLING STORIES #3 by Wild Cat Books in 2007, Samaritan is my attempt to write a Twilight Zone style story. I love those marvelous twists and wanted to see how those played out in this story, which was originally conceived as a comic book script. I was thrilled to get Samaritan back in the hands of readers who might have missed it the first time around.
MB: Your most recent release is FRONTIER, a collection of 9 short stories. Talk to us about this collection – are these stories new? Reprints? Is there a connecting theme between them?
BN: A little of both. The aforementioned SAMARITAN headlines the book and is also the longest piece in it. The rest are an assorted collection of sci fi themed stories I’ve written over the years, some published and some seen here for the first time. All of the stories included are presented as originally conceived. I was tempted to go in and do extensive rewrites on a few of them, but I decided against it. With Frontier I want to show a progression of the work. A couple of the stories in this collection were written when I was in high school, which was more years ago than I sometimes like to admit. I’d like to think I’ve learned a trick or two since then. I’ve been planning this collection for quite some time and was finally able to make it happen in 2012.
MB: If that wasn’t enough, you also contributed stories to four other anthologies. What’s your approach to writing for other people? Do you actively search out collections to contribute to, or do you wait for publishers to come to you?
BN: In the past few years I’ve not really sought out anthologies looking for story contributions. I count myself extremely fortunate that editors, publishers, and other creators ask me to participate in their anthologies. It’s an honor to be invited to play in these sandboxes. Sometimes I have to say no because my schedule is pretty full, but some of the projects are just too much fun to not be involved. Writing characters that I didn’t create offers interesting challenges, but it works different creative muscles. I enjoy taking these characters out for a spin. The trick is making sure you return them to their rightful owners in pretty much the same shape you found them. You have to respect those characters and their creators. I couldn’t chop off Green Hornet’s hand, for instance. He might need it in another story.
MB: It’s reasonable to expect that your Pulp Ark Awards might increase the interest you’ll receive from publishers and editors. How full is your 2013 writing schedule and do you have any concerns about over-committing yourself in the coming year?
BN: One can only hope. [Laughs] I like the fact that I can add the 2013 Pulp Ark Award Winner– Best Author tag before my name on my bio now. This is actually the first award I’ve won as a professional writer, which makes it doubly sweet. If it increases my visibility and helps me continue to pick up writing work that’s a great bonus.
I always over-commit myself. No matter how much I tell myself I won’t, I always do. My schedule is pretty packed for the year, doubly so since I rejoined the corporate world back in late January and started a new day job. Losing that 55 – 60 hours a week has slowed my productivity down a bit, but thankfully, all of the publishers waiting on work from me were very understanding and allowed me to adjust deadlines accordingly.
I just turned in my story and essay for THE RUBY FILES, VOL. 2 to Airship 27. Now, I’m working on a story for a White Rocket Books anthology that hasn’t been officially announced yet so I can’t spill the beans on that one yet. After that I step into the ol’ square circle for FIGHT CARD: BAREFOOT BONES for Fight Card Books. Then I revisit an old friend (along with a new one) for a Domino Lady/Honey West novel for Moonstone Books. Once that’s finished I get back to work on EVIL INTENT, the sequel to EVIL WAYS. Other novels already in progress that I have on my plate are LANCE STAR: SKY RANGER: COLD SNAP, BLOOD SHOT, and DEADLY HEARTS!, the sequel to 2011′s DEADLY GAMES! Plus, there are a few short stories and comic book projects in there as well.
Plus, I’ll be doing promotion on already completed projects that will be released this year. The 2 issue Domino Lady/Sherlock Holmes comic book with Nancy Holder starts in April. THE AVENGER: ROARING HEART OF THE CRUCIBLE also debuts in April, followed by THE SPIDER: EXTREME PREJUDIC in May, and a Domino Lady thriller novel called STRANGE BEDFELLOWS later this year. All of those are from Moonstone Books. Plus, volume 4 of the LANCE STAR: SKY RANGER series is in the pipeline from Airship 27. There’s also other projects coming (I just don’t know when yet) from IDW, Pulp 2.0 Press, Pro Se Productions, Radio Archives, Airship 27, Moonstone, White Rocket Books, New Legend Productions, and New Babel Books, plus a few others I can’t say yet.
Yeah. 2013 is definitely going to be a busy year.
MB: I guess it will! Good luck keeping your head above water! Changing subjects, you and I have appeared on an EARTH STATION WHO podcast together and you are active with both ESW and EARTH STATION ONE. How enjoyable do you find podcasting?
BN: Although I hate the sound of my own voice when it’s recorded, I love podcasting. We do Earth Station One every week and I have an absolute blast hanging out with my co-hosts; Mike Faber and Mike Gordon. The three of us really have a great chemistry, I think, and we genuinely enjoy getting together to talk about our geeky interests. If we didn’t have the podcast, we would probably still have the same discussions, just without the audience. Plus, we have a number of guests and Friends of the Station who stop by regularly, not to mention the occasional celebrity guest, and it’s great chatting with all of them. I was reluctant to join the podcast as an official co-host when the Mikes (Faber and Gordon) invited me, but I couldn’t be happier that I did. It’s one of the highlights of my week. I’ve only missed a handful of episodes since my first visit as a guest way back on episode 27 (we just released episode 155 as I type this). It’s just too much fun.
Earth Station Who is fun as well, although I’ve not been on as much since I started the new day job because my publishers like it when I spend my nights writing. I’ll probably be back on once new episodes of Doctor Who start back up next week. Oh, and just to make sure I get the plug in there, you can listen to any of the podcasts on The ESO Network, including ESO and ESW, at www.esopodcast.com.
MB: Who is Bobby Nash and what’s next for you? When is your next release due to hit the shelves?
BN: Bobby Nash is a tired, tired man. While that is a true statement, especially of late, the truth is I am a writer. Or author. I guess I have to get used to calling myself an author now, especially after the Pulp Ark Award win, huh? I write novels, short stories, comic books, graphic novels (yes, there is a difference between those), and also dabble in screenplays from time to time.
Up next is THE AVENGER: ROARING HEART OF THE CRUCIBLE from Moonstone Books. Barring any unforeseen delays (that’s publishing), it hits stores (physical and on-line) in April.
MB: And finally, where can people go to learn more about you and your books?
BN: http://www.bobbynash.com is my home base. If there is news to be had, it’s there. I am all over social media as well. Here are a few places you can easily find me:
MB: Thanks, Bobby!
BN: My pleasure, Mark. This was fun. Thanks for inviting me to be part of it.
MB: You’re very welcome! Here’s hoping we can talk again in a couple months when your next slate of projects is available to the public! And maybe then we’ll have the time and space to talk about your experience on the set of FOX’s The Following!
And that’s a wrap on another Atomic Interview. I want to thank Bobby again for agreeing to chat. If you like what you read, please feel free to check out the other Atomic Interviews.
When he’s not talking to other writers, Mark Bousquet is doing some writing himself. He is the author of multiple novels and collections, including the recently released The Haunting of Kraken Moor, Gunfighter Gothic, Stuffed Animals for Hire, Dreamer’s Syndrome, Harpsichord and the Wormhole Witches, and Adventures of the Five. He has also published a review collection entitled Marvel Comics on Film, which covers every cinematic and TV movie based on a superhero from the House of Ideas. A complete listing of all his work can be found at his Amazon author page.