I cut my teeth reading pulp fiction. You know, the dime novels of the forties and fifties. Now, the term pulp fiction is often used disparangly, but these were stories that kept you turning the page. Who can ever forget Spillane's "I, the Jury" or the action stories by L. Ron Hubbard. They might not be taught in college literature classes, but people read and enjoyed them. When I started the Al Pennyback mystery series, I initially tried for a 'literary' feel, but it just didn't 'feel' right to me. So, I scrapped the first effort, and just wrote it gritty, like I remember reading years ago. I figured that most mystery readers, like me, didn't want long, windy passages describing the weather, or the texture of cobble stones on the street; they want action, action, and more action. There's a little description - you need after all to let the reader know what time of year it is, and sometimes a description of the weather, a house, or a person, can help set the mood. But, I keep that stuff to a minimum.
I'm now working on number six in the series, "If I Should Die Before I Wake," and readers (I hope there are more of you out there) have probably noticed my obsession with death. Well, don't mysteries usually involve death, murder, or other nefarious things? I don't try to disguise what I write - it's pure pulp. Al Pennyback would be right at home in 1940, and I would be proud to be included in the company of the pulp writers of that day. I try to put the reader into the middle of the action as soon as possible. There's a little character development, especially Al's developing relationship with Sandra Winter, his lady of the moment, and he's still hung up over the loss of his wife and son in an accident. But, Al, despite meditation and martial arts, is no philosopher; he's a hard bitten PI with a finely tuned sense of right and wrong; and he's out to nail the bad guys.
If you're just starting out in this game - and sometimes I think of it as a game, just one with high stakes; your ego which is on display each time you put something out there for readers to critique; don't look down on 'pulp.' I'm convinced that many, if not most, readers just want to be entertained, and when it comes to sheer entertainment, nothing has been invented to top pulp fiction. So, break out the vodka, light that pipe, and sit back and enjoy. If you haven't read "The Day the Music Died," it's available as an e-book at http://www.lebrary.com, and in paperback on http://www.amazon.com. Anyone who happens to read any of them, starting with "Color Me Dead," which so far is only available as an e-book at lebrary, and who wants to comment, can buzz me here. Like most pulp writers I have a thick skin, and all comments are welcome. As Al would say, "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Ciao, and happy holidays to all you mystery buffs out there.