Monster Earth (2013) – Written by James Palmer, Jim Beard, I.A. Watson, Nancy Hansen, Jeff McGinnis, Edward Erdelac, and Fraser Sherman – Published by Mechanoid Press.
Hello, once again, and welcome to the fourth installment of our new Interview feature here at the Anxiety. We’re joined this time by James Palmer to talk about his new publishing imprint, Mechanoid Press, and the company’s initial release, MONSTER EARTH. I want to thank James for joining me to talk about his work. For a complete list of Atomic Interviews, head to the dedicated Atomic Interview page. On to the interview!
Mark Bousquet (MB): Thanks for joining us, James. Let’s start by talking about your latest release, MONSTER EARTH, on which you are co-creator and editor (along with Jim Beard) and also one of the writers. What’s the premise of this universe and how did the world of MONSTER EARTH come about?
James Palmer (JP): MONSTER EARTH is an alternate history giant monster anthology in which the Cold War was fought with the threat of giant monsters instead of nuclear weapons. It came about, as such things often do, almost by accident. I am a huge daikaiju (giant monster) fan, and I had toyed with the idea of doing a anthology of giant monster stories, but I knew I wanted something to tie the stories together, some kind of arc that would make this book different from the other daikaiju anthologies out there.
That’s where Jim Beard came in. We started talking on The Pulp Factory, a Yahoo! group for writers, artists and fans of pulp fiction, and he had a great unifying concept for the book, so I brought him on as co-editor and the rest, as they say, is history.
MB: In the book’s Introduction, you write that “with these tales, we highlight the human element, to show how ordinary people live their lives in the shadows of these colossal beasts.” Why did you make the decision to focus on the people and not the monsters?
JP: Monsters are great, but there’s only so much stomping around and demolishing buildings we can take. In the Godzilla films, there’s always a cast of human characters who are trying to stop whatever menace is threatening Japan, be it aliens or Godzilla himself, and I’ve always thought that was part of what was cool about those films. There’s this great scene at the end of The Terror of Mechagodzilla, where it switches back and forth between Godzilla fighting Mechagodzilla, and a scene where the human characters are fighting the aliens. The monsters are always represented as sort of mindless forces of nature. Sometimes their tools the humans can use to achieve their own ends, or sometimes they’re the threat. I really wanted to take this angle with MONSTER EARTH.
MB: You’ve got a fantastic line-up of writers involved in MONSTER EARTH: you, Jim, I.A. Watson, Nancy Hansen, Jeff McGinnis, Edward Erdelac, and Fraser Sherman. How did this roster come together? What kind of guidelines did you give them in creating their corner of your world?
JP: Jim created a detailed story bible, and each writer got to pick what decade they wanted to write in. Jim’s story came first, and really set the tone for what was to come. With the exception of a monster or two, we let them make up their own creatures, and they had free reign when it came to the methods of controlling those creatures. With such a skilled cast of writers, it was easy to just turn them loose and see what they could do within the loose confines of the world, and every single one of them knocked it out of the park with their story.
MB: What are the stories of MONSTER EARTH. Are they tightly connected? Completely stand-alone? Is there a thread that runs through them?
JP: Jim’s story and I.A. Watson’s story are the most closely tied. Ian’s story references Jim’s monsters. There are a couple of stories that use Johnson, the American monster, but other than that the stories aren’t really interrelated that much.
MB: Your story is called “Some Say in Ice.” What’s it about? What’s the relationship between humans and monsters in this story? Did you write it first so the other writers would have an idea of the kind of story you were looking for or did you write it alongside everyone else?
JP: I wrote this story dead last. “Some Say in Ice” takes place in the 1980s, and is about our government’s “monster czar,” who has designed an experimental ship based on an old science fiction story and designed to capture a mysterious seafaring beast known as Titanicus, that no one knows too much about. After they capture the beast, another monster shows up, and a monster melee ensues onboard the vessel. The story explores the overall mystery of the monsters and how they came to be while examining human relationships and the attraction between the main character and a female photojournalist brought along for the ride.
MB: You’re also the publisher of MONSTER EARTH. Talk to us, if you would, about Mechanoid Press.
JP: Mechanoid Press is my imprint I created for bringing out my own stuff. I also thought, while I’m doing that, I might as well follow in the footsteps of people like Van Allen Plexico (White Rocket Books) and bring out anthologies and work by other authors. With the upheaval going on in traditional publishing, I don’t believe it’s safe for the writer to remain complacently just a writer anymore. We are also entrepreneurs, content creators, and when the situation warrants it, publishers. At the end of the day, it’s just a fun way to publish the kind of stuff I want to read.
MB: What are your goals for the company? Do you intend to concentrate the bulk of your writing “in house,” or do you see your roles of publisher and writer disconnected?
JP: My goals are simply to publish work that people want to read, in the formats they want to read them, at prices they can afford to pay. Some of it will be my own work, while some of it will be the work of others. I don’t think the roles of writer and publisher are disconnected at all. Thanks to ebooks and print on demand technology, writers can publish their own work themselves, reach their readers and keep all the money. It’s a fascinating time to be a writer.
MB: Late last summer you released SLOW DJINN, a novella featuring Sam Eldritch, “Occult Investigator for Hire.” Who is Sam Eldritch and what kind of cases does he get himself involved in?
JP: Sam Eldritch is a ’40s private eye who gets involved in some weird horror type cases. I bill it as Lovecraftian noir. He used to be a cop, working the Chinatown beat with a partner. Then a Chinese demon shows up. Its icy touch kills Sam’s partner, but it gives Sam the gift/curse of second sight. Now he can see all the ghosts, demons, and even worse things that lie just under the surface of everyday New York. Laughed off the force, Sam now makes a living as a private eye, taking on all the unusual cases that no one else will touch.
MB: Are there plans to bring Sam back anywhere?
JP: I had originally intended to release SLOW DJINN (www.amazon.com/Slow-Djinn-ebook/dp/B008ZI2BV0/) as a collection of Sam’s adventures, but SLOW DJINN took me such a long time to write that I just wanted to get it out there. I have a few more stories in progress, but nothing completed as of it. SLOW DJINN has gotten some good reviews on Amazon, and I would like to return to his world at some point and finish the tales I started. I’ll release another ebook of Sam Eldritch stories, and he might just show up in the pages of Pro Se Presents again as well. As Sam would probably say, he’s like a bad penny. He always turns up.
MB: Now that we know something about your writing and your company, tell us something about James Palmer. What do you do when your not writing or editing or publishing?
JP: I am a recovering comic book addict, and I live in Northeast Georgia with my wife and daughter. When not writing, editing, or publishing, I am usually spending time with them, reading voraciously, and thinking about writing, editing, or publishing. I also blog once in a while for Amazing Stories and my own website, which is at www.jamespalmerbooks.com. I also have personal and author pages on Facebook, and I’m active on Twitter (www.twitter.com/palmerwriter).
MB: What’s next for you? When is your next project due to be released?
JP: As always, I have several irons in the fire. I just finished a weird western short story that will be first in a series I’m calling WEST OF OBLIVION. I’m going to release each story one at a time on Kindle. I’m also going to edit and publish a weird western anthology called STRANGE TALES, as well as an ebook-only collection of three stories about robots called ROBOT STORIES.
I’m also working on a space opera novel and the next WEST OF OBLIVION story, and I have a finished novel in severe need of editing that I need to get back to at some point.
As for my work with other publishers, I have upcoming stories from Pro Se Productions and Pulp Obscura, and two stories from Airship 27 Productions, the first of which should be for MARS MCCOY: SPACE RANGER VOLUME 2, made up of one story by me and one by Van Allen Plexico.
MB: What’s next for Mechanoid Press? Are there plans to do MONSTER EARTH 2, or is it too soon to make that call?
JP: All the stuff I mentioned above will come out through Mechanoid Press. And yes, there will be a MONSTER EARTH 2. People are clamoring for it, and everyone who has reviewed it so far expressed their hope for a sequel. Plus, the book has done pretty well, and Jim Beard came up with a great concept for the sequel, and is going to start working on the story bible as soon as he is done with some of his own writing commitments. It’s very pulpy, and I think readers are going to love it.
MB: And finally, where can readers go to learn more about you and Mechanoid Press?
And that’s it for another installment of Atomic Interviews! Thanks again to James for chatting with me and go check out MONSTER EARTH!
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.