Frontier Publishing's doors closed on October 1, 2005.
For almost five years visitors to Frontier Publishing could find novels and short story collections, most with a strong bent toward the adventure genre. Frontier Publishing offered standalone works, as well as a "shared universe" under their Denbrook imprint.
Content is from the site's 2001 to 2005 archived pages providing a brief glimpse of what this site offered its readership.
Frontier's doors closed October 1, 2005.
At Frontier, all work is owned by that work's creator. While we hope to eventually grow into a paying venue, we're not there yet. We do this only for our own benefit and that of anybody who might get a kick out of reading our work. We're always looking for new voices. If you would like to contribute to Frontier, either as a writer or as a graphic designer, please review the Submissions Policy, and then contact the editor of the branch you wish to contribute to (see the Staff Page for email addresses).
Come See Beautiful Chimera Falls....
Take a camera. Take lots of pictures.
It's the only way you'll remember it.
Elsa Weatherly once had a burgeoning career as a pop diva, cranking out meaningless bubblegum hits. It all ended when she heard her father murdered by mobster Demetrius Black in the next room.
Elsa's father was a cop. Elsa's father taught her how to use a gun.
Elsa decided she wanted revenge.
Spurred on by her father's spirit, she tracked the murderer to an East Coast town called Chimera Falls--a city that doesn't show up on any map.
There's a good reason for that.
Chimera Falls is the kind of place you forget the moment you step outside its boundaries...which is pretty funny, considering the unofficial town historian is a human insect, the unofficial police chief is a former wrestler who won't take off his mask until he's defeated in combat and the reluctant criminal kingpin supposedly died outside a Chicago theater during the Great Depression.
Elsa Weatherly doesn't care. She's coming to town to kill Demetrius Black. And nothing--not Fillipino hitmen or bug boys or lost government agents are going to stop her until Black is staring down the barrel of her...
A Noir Anime Symphony of Bloodshed in Three Part Harmony
An assassin stares coldly through a set of inhuman, artificial eyes...but the blood that's splashed over the streets of Denbrook is all too human, and all too real. Bitter criminal rivals manipulate low-lifes and law enforcement alike to win control of the city's underworld: Everyone is owned by someone. The few good cops can't touch the underbosses, and are themselves outnumbered by the crooked men in their own ranks. But -- for all the gruesome removal of pawns on every side -- the game of organized crime in Denbrook remains a stalemate. No one faction has any hope of establishing total dominion...
Until he breezes into town.
Diamondback Vogel. If he is Diamondback Vogel. Unseen for years, believed gone for good, it's impossible that he should be in Denbrook now -- but no one can afford to pretend he isn't there. Because...if the impossible is true...then the side that Diamondback claims as his own will seize power over Denbrook.
Unless no one wants to wait and see who Diamondback picks. Unless the underworld decides it's safer to just take him out of the picture before he gets the chance to pick anybody.
And Denbrook's criminal element isn't known for its optimism...
IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME
BY DERRICK FERGUSON
Some call him Death's Best Friend. Others call him The Right Hand Of The Devil himself. But the name everyone knows him by is Diamondback Vogel, and he roams the urban frontier of Denbrook on an unguessable mission of blood and bullets. Plenty want him dead – the shadowy government forces of ORION as well as the secret rulers of Denbrook known as the The Founding Fathers. The hell's half dozen named The Pistol Men as well as the uncanny Klaus The Hunchback, and that dapper killer Sweetstick Weldon.
But now Diamondback is raising the stakes . He will test the limits of his own considerable skills and talents, and in so doing, come face-to-face with a beautiful memory from his past who will force him to confront his own passions and the implications of what he is doing.
Allies will become enemies and enemies will become allies. The just and the unjust alike will meet their bloody fates. The rich and poor will be rained on as one by storms of nightmare. Hell has come to Denbrook and no one is safe.
Least of all you.
And the Devil Will Drag You Under
BY DERRICK FERGUSON
9/8/05 Update - Diamondback Special:he Lightheart Hit
In the forbidden island kingdom of Xonira there is a legend about a great Golden Bell, the key to opening a door to a Netherworld where an ancient Lord of Chaos is imprisoned . . . and now sinister and dark forces search for it, hoping to release their infernal master from his eternal prison so that he may restore his black dominion over mankind . . . .
But standing in their way is a man of equally legendary skill and daring . . . his name is DILLON, and for the sake of a country torn apart by civil war and perhaps the future of the world itself, he will embark on a harrowing adventure that takes him from the concrete canyons of New York to the assassin haunted streets of Xonira's infamous Point Szardos and, at last into the bowels of a literal hell on earth.
DILLON AND THE LEGEND
OF THE GOLDEN BELL
BY DERRICK FERGUSON
Stranded on Mars and displaced in time, Garvey Dire has made a home for himself in the Caves of Ledgrim overlooking the Great Rift. But when his mate, Ntashia, starts urging him to take a second wife to help propagate the dwindling Muvari Tribe, his restless feet take him exploring the undertunnels of the city. Here he discovers that not all among the tribe can be called friends, and when an uprising of the cannibalistic Galbran traps Ntashia and Garvey far from Ledgrim, they find an old friend gathering exiled warriors and hatching plans to sweep the Muvari Tribe before them with steel and fire!
"I said it before, I'll say it again and I'll keep on saying it until they slam the lid shut: DIRE PLANET is the best Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian novel not written by Edgar Rice Burroughs."
- Derrick Ferguson, author of Diamondback and Dillon
EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET
Gideon Chance founded Last Chance, Inc. with one idea in mind -- helping people. He’s not interested in the money, he has enough of that, although no one knows exactly where it came from. He picks and chooses the people he helps and it’s rare for him to turn down someone in need.Porter Hingman is a businessman who lost his wife on one of the planes that struck the Twin Towers. Now he’s running for mayor of Bedford on a platform based around national security. Someone has taken offense to his strong stance and his remaining family could pay for it.
If Gideon Chance can avoid his own feuding Family, he will have something to say about the matter…
A Last Chance, Inc. Story
BY DES DAVIES
PART of CHAPTER 8
"THE MORNING BETWEEN RANGER AND PIRATE"
Morning – Hotel Room 4593 – Somewhere in Southeastern Massachusetts
Frederic Kornell rolled away from Samantha Dixon and out of bed. His whole body ached. Rising to his feet, he gingerly touched the left side of his rib cage. Nothing felt broken, but it didn't feel all that healthy, either.
A single, slender beam of sunlight streaked into the room, cutting the bed in half and drawing a line across Samantha's slim back. The light touched, ever-so-briefly, her flowing red hair. Frederic rubbed the back of his neck, his hand rubbing across a line of dried blood, causing the scabs to flake off his skin and float aimlessly towards the carpet.
He forced himself to turn away from the gorgeous college student and walk towards the bathroom. A long hot shower might help him find some perspective. There was a part of him that was ashamed at what he was doing with her. Frederic knew that the two nights he'd spent with Samantha were only possible because of the New World, because he'd been transformed into a "ruggedly handsome ranger" by the graces of the angels.
Entering the bathroom, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and flinched. His face was bruised and swollen. No, he knew there was no way a girl like Samantha Dixon would have had anything to do with a fat high school janitor who still considered his mother the greatest woman he'd ever met. Frederic turned away from his own image, knowing Samantha was sleeping with a lie.
"She is, isn't she?" he whispered to himself. "This," he looked down at his body, "isn't me, is it?" The ranger reached for the nozzle that sent hot water pouring into the small tub. Wasn't he still himself? Wasn't this image the image he'd always had? So was it still wrong to sleep with a woman who wanted him for physical reasons when he now had the physique she wanted? "So many questions," he mumbled.
Spinning, Frederic saw Samantha standing naked in the doorway. "Uh, nothing," he offered weakly.
"Nothing?" she asked, yawning, stepping inside.
"What are you doing?" he asked, reaching for the shower curtain to cover his own nudity.
Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, Samantha replied, "I gotta pee."
"Oh," Frederic replied, as if the thought that beautiful women ever had to do such a thing had never occurred to him. "Let me, er, step outside."
Samantha looked at him through hair that had fallen in front of her eyes as she sat down. "A thoughtful ranger, even at ten in the morning."
"It's ten o'clock?" Frederic asked, panic jolting through him.
"I hope you're not giving me an order."
"What? Oh. No. God no. It's just . . . we've got to get going."
Frederic felt a storm cloud roll up inside him as memories of the previous night (pre-Samantha) came rushing in. "He could come back." Beat. "The abductor."
Samantha gave him a wry smile. "Not after what you did to him, stud."
Frederic swallowed. Everywhere he looked, a lie stared back at him.
"Where are you going?" Samantha asked as Frederic made his way to the door. "You don't have to leave." She glanced at the tub, filling with hot water. "Join me."
Frederic didn't look back as he shook his head. "Gotta check on Kelly and the Young Prince."
"Don't forget to put on some clothes!" Samantha called after him, wondering if she should start to consider Kelly Reed a rival for the ranger's affections, and what she'd do if Kelly became the competition.
In the outer room, Samantha could hear Frederic following orders and throwing on some clothes, and hoped his eyes didn't spy what she'd hidden under the bed.
* * *
The Puritan – The Atlantic Ocean, off the Coast of Maine
Despite everything he'd been through in the past few days, Austin McNamara thought it was the most amazing morning he'd ever experienced. The sun was bright on the Atlantic Ocean this morning and the sea breeze was stiff and warm. Everywhere Austin looked there was the ocean. It was glorious. His back ached from sleeping on-deck, but the pain seemed to vanish a little more with every breath he took of the salt air. Combined with the excitement at what they were about to do – pirate a rich man's treasure – the entire crew seemed to be alive.
If this was a movie, Austin thought with a grin, looking out at the bustle of activity, the crew would burst into song any minute now.
The gloom that he felt was still inside him somewhere, lurking on the distant horizon of his thoughts, but Austin did his best to push it aside. There was something dark happening in the world, and, as unbelievable as it sounded, his parrot, Mollug, had something to do with it. Perhaps it was the situation with Mollug – the sheer implausibility of a talking parrot holding a key to unlocking something dark and mysterious – that helped Austin to feel better this morning, or perhaps it was that the Cottonmather was nowhere to be seen.
For the first time in this New World, the morning sun brought with it a sense of hope instead of confusion or fear. Why not enjoy the New World? Wasn't this exactly the kind of adventure he'd always read about? The kind he'd spent hours dreaming about as a kid when he'd take a blank notebook and fill it with stories? And if there was something sinister in the plans of the angels, wasn't he glad that he was involved, at least peripherally, so that he could help determine the outcome?
Austin grinned. Yeah, he was, and while there was a somber quality to what was happening, would he really rather be sitting in a committee meeting instead of aboard a pirate ship?
Not a chance.
"Someone's happy this morning."
Austin turned to see Captain Crumb's C.O., Mary Mathers, walking up the stepladder to the elevated aft deck. He shrugged, but the smile stayed on his face. "Perfect morning."
"You were raised in a fishing town, right?" Mathers asked.
"Yep," Austin nodded. "Port Gloucester born and raised. You?"
"Brattleboro, Vermont," Mathers replied easily. "Not an ocean in sight. So, what, this is some nostalgia-trip you're taking that's giving you that goofy grin?"
Austin shook his head. "Not really. Never woke up on a pirate ship."
Mathers laughed easily and Austin's image of her as Crumb's stone cold lackey began to fade – if only for a moment. "What do you make of everything?" she asked, her voice dropping low and serious. "Of this fool's quest Berathon has us undertaking?"
Austin gave a short sigh, determined not to be pulled into this conversation any deeper than he had to. "Dunno. I'm not really sure how we're supposed to figure out whatever it is Crumb's worried about. I mean, we're dealing with angels—"
"Regardless," Austin continued, looking out over the waters. "All we can do is wait and see, right? There's no way to spy on the angels or aliens. Getting into a spaceship isn't much easier than getting into Heaven, is it?"
Mathers cocked her head to Austin. She looked at him quizzically for a few moments, and then a small smile crept across her face. Crumb is right about you, she thought, sensing a sudden connection to the man she felt was more important than any of them realized. "It's going to be one hell of a day. By the way," she said, turning her body now to face him, "you've been put in charge of one of the raiding parties."
"What are you talking about?"
Mathers saw Austin wince and let her smile grow wider. "The raid on Potato Tower. Crumb's decided on a two-front attack. You're leading one of the raiding parties." She punched him gently on the side of his arm, "And I've got the other one. Be careful, McNamara," she teased, turning to walk away from him, "if you do too well I might think you're after my job."
* * *
Frederic didn't bother putting on a shirt as he exited his hotel room, needing to get out to quiet a rising panic attack. He took in several deep breaths as he placed his hands against the wall of the hallway. Lie upon lie. His running theme for the New World.
Samantha's words: "Not after what you did to him, stud."
What does she know? Didn't she see what happened?
Frederic made his way to the staircase; Kelly and the Young Prince were staying in a suite upstairs. The Young Prince had wanted a room with a Jacuzzi. The hallway and staircase were, thankfully, empty; the memories of last night were providing Frederic with more than enough company . . .
* * *
Last Night – Somewhere along I-95 – Southeastern Massachusetts
Frederic Kornell sat upon his horse behind a guardrail on Interstate-95, looking out at the carnage. In the middle of a two-lane highway, a horse whinnied in pain as it lay crippled, its back legs smashed by a Hummer. Ten feet away from the horse, its rider, a prince, lay on his stomach, his left leg twisted awkwardly away from his body. The prince had been thrown from the horse when the Hummer crashed into it, and from where he sat upon his horse, Frederic couldn't tell if the prince was alive or dead. A few hundred yards up the highway, the black Hummer that had caused the accident was turning around and coming back at them.
The ranger's heart pounded. Was it an accident? Was the driver coming back to help? Was he coming back to finish the job?
The Young Prince (Frederic was embarrassed to say he hadn't even learned the prince's name) was hurt while alerting Frederic that the carriage containing the three princesses (Kelly Reed, Georgia Mulrooney, and Samantha Dixon) and driven by the other two princes (as Frederic called them: the Blonde Prince and the Norman-Osborn-Haired Prince) had made it to safety.
The driver of the Hummer hit the accelerator. It turned to the right and Frederic felt its headlights wash over him as they centered themselves back on the highway, finding the injured horse.
Frederic tried to swallow. Couldn't.
The Hummer picked up speed.
Frederic found he was frozen in place. His horse, Alfred, wasn't, and when the horse took several nervous steps backwards, moving deeper into the woods, the ranger didn't stop him.
The voice of Frederic's father screamed in his head: "You're a goddamned pussy!"
Frederic didn't argue with his father. He never had. Not even when . . .
Frederic pushed the thought aside.
The Hummer swerved to its right – towards the other side of the highway – and its headlights left the horse, focused instead on the body of the unmoving Young Prince.
"I should move!" Frederic's panicked mind yelled. But he didn't.
Not even when his eyes noted movement at the edge of the Hummer's headlights. Not even when his mind processed that the movement was Kelly Reed, exiting the carriage and running towards the Young Prince, trying to save him before the Hummer arrived.
* * *
Now – The Puritan – The Atlantic Ocean
Captain Crumb stood on the elevated aft deck, looking down at the 107-man crew of the Puritan. The rising sun was at Crumb's back, casting his shadow across the newly-created pirates. The Navy lifer looked down on their faces, wondering if they realized what the day would bring, wondering how many of them wouldn't make it back to the ship by sundown. Crumb wondered, most of all, if they were truly ready to become pirates, and if they realized just what that would entail.
It was time to find out.
* * *
Last night – Somewhere along I-95 – Southeastern Massachusetts
Alfred wouldn't budge. Frederic kicked the side of the horse, but Alfred did nothing more than whinny in protest and shuffle in place. The irony was not lost on the ranger – finally willing to put himself in danger, his horse wanted no part of jumping the guardrail or saving the Young Prince and Kelly from the oncoming Hummer.
"No!" Frederic yelled, once again a non-involved witness to a scene that should have included a heroic ranger.
Across the highway, Kelly Reed gave neither indication she heard Frederic's yell, nor any fear at the headlights that grew brighter with each passing second. Kelly made her way towards the unmoving Young Prince as the Hummer bore down on the prone body.
"Plenty of time," she mumbled to herself, trying to believe it. Behind her, she could hear the shouts of the two princes from atop their carriage to get out of the way. Some help they are. She moved up the small incline to get on the road surface, then tripped over her dress, slamming her knee onto the pavement. Groaning instead of swearing, she pushed herself back to her feet and shuffled forward.
Looking into the headlights to locate the Hummer, Kelly's eyes reflexively winced at the too-bright lights. As her head turned slightly to the right to minimize the glare, the Hummer's engines roared wildly.
Kelly knew she wasn't going to make it.
Across and back down the highway, hidden in the dark, Frederic Kornell had come to the same conclusion – Kelly wasn't going to make it.
Imagine, then, his surprise when Kelly kept moving forward.
* * *
Now – The Puritan – The Atlantic Ocean
"You expect us to get into that thing?" Carl Yesek asked, looking at the landing boat.
"Apparently," Hector said, scratching his head and glancing towards the shore that was now within rowing distance. The two new friends stood near the starboard railing, watching as the landing boat was lowered down into the water. Behind them, the crew of the Puritan alternately milled about, waiting to board, or performed their ship duties.
"Teddy's pissed he isn't going," Carl said passively.
Hector nodded. Though they had empathized with Teddy's desire to go, they were secretly glad he wasn't coming. Friend or not, the last thing either of them wanted was a 350-plus pound guy weighing them down.
Only half the crew was going on the treasure hunt Berathon had arranged for them; Crumb was keeping the other half behind to protect the ship. Berathon had promised the Cottonmather was headed south, towards Long Island sound, but Crumb wasn't about to, in his own words, "leave my ass bent over and unguarded." Hector stole a glance back at the elevated deck, where Austin stood with Crumb and Mary Mathers.
Carl noted the glance. "Wonderin' why Austin gets to run this enterprise?"
Hector nodded slowly. "Yeah. Ever since Mollug was injured, he's been spending a lot of time with Crumb. Saw Mathers hanging around him earlier, too."
"And that bothers you?" Carl asked, running his hand through his thinning hair.
The former auto mechanic thought on it a moment, then shook his head. "Naw."
Hector let the question go unanswered.
* * *
Last night – Somewhere along I-95 – Southeastern Massachusetts
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Inside the mind of Kelly Reed, the question repeated itself. With each subsequent interrogation, the voice of the speaker changed. At first, it was her own voice asking. Then Austin's. Then her mother's. Then Frederic's. Then Brad's. She pushed them all away.
Her knee was numb, and with the numbness came a return of flexibility. Once again she was running, her hands holding up her "Snow White" gown. Kelly began to think she just might make it to the Young Prince, thankful she'd taken off her high heels in the carriage.
The Prince wasn't moving, but Kelly knew/hoped/prayed he was alive. His head was hanging off the side of the road on the small grassy incline of the median, while his legs were out in the road. Just a few more steps . . .
Across the highway, Frederic cursed his inability to act.
Atop the carriage, the Blonde Prince and Norman-Osborn-Haired Prince thanked God it wasn't them lying in the road.
Inside the carriage, Georgia Mulrooney rubbed the bump on her head she'd received when the carriage veered off the highway, knowing this was somehow her husband's fault.
Next to the carriage, Samantha Dixon began to walk in the direction opposite Kelly, her eyes locked on something she found much more interesting — the reason the horses wouldn't, at first, move off the highway and onto the median.
Behind the wheel of the Hummer, Jim Catlin bore down on the prone body of who he'd earlier thought was Frederic Kornell, furious that he'd hit the wrong person, but willing to compromise. Kornell was somewhere close by, and Catlin would flush him out. When he turned the Hummer around and started back towards the prince he'd hit, Catlin thought a direct assault on the victim would bring Kornell to him.
He was wrong.
Someone was coming towards the downed prince, but by the dress Catlin could tell it was one of the princesses. The glare of the headlights reflected off the princess's shiny, blue and purple dress, hiding her identity.
Catlin swore as the headlight angle changed just enough for him to figure out who was foolish enough to rush towards an oncoming Hummer.
Kelly Fucking Reed.
For a half-second, Catlin entertained the thought of running the bitch over and doing Brad Regent a favor. Then remembered his friend was not only King of New England, but had given him the okay to go out and murder the ranger. His "best" friend had also dragged him before the public and had him beaten because Catlin was caught doing something Regent had instructed him to do. Gritting his teeth, Catlin pushed his back into the Hummer's driver's seat, feeling the welts on his back sting and pulse blood.
No, killing the crazy bitch wouldn't be allowed.
"What the hell?" Almost disbelieving what he was seeing, Catlin almost acted too late – the crazy bitch was jumping towards him.
Swearing, almost on top of her, Catlin jerked the wheel to the left and felt the Hummer's passenger-side wheels thump over something. Panic shot through him and he slammed on the brakes, his eyes locked on the rearview mirror. He couldn't see anything, so he removed his goggles.
Nothing. He saw nothing. Slamming his fist onto the steering wheel, Catlin reached for the gun on the passenger seat and hopped out of the Hummer. "If I killed her," his mind raced, then let the thought hang in the night air as he started to walk back up the highway.
* * *
Now – The Puritan – The Atlantic Ocean
"What do you think you're doing, fatty?"
Teddy Levenson turned from his spot at the railing of the elevated aft deck to stare into the eyes of Captain Crumb. "I'm going with them," the 350-plus pound man said defiantly.
Crumb guffawed. "No you're not." He jerked his thumb to a mop and bucket to his left. "Go mop the deck like the good fat-ass you are. That's your job. Do it."
Levenson grunted, turned his back on the Captain, and began lowering the seventh landing boat into the water. "Watch me, old man."
"Fine," Crumb grunted. "I should've sent you, anyway. There's no chance you'll come back."
"Oh yeah?" Teddy asked, turning again. "What makes you so sure I can't handle myself?"
"For one thing," Crumb laughed, playing to the crowd of pirates that were now watching them, "your tubby face is already beet red, and your wheezing is strong enough that Aeolus is worried you're coming after his job."
The pirates laughed at the Captain's joke, but Teddy ignored them. There was no reason to play to a crowd of morons.
"Go ahead, Levenson," Crumb waved his hand. "Go play pirate if that makes you happy, but you know and I know that you don't have the balls to come back."
Teddy stared daggers into Crumb's back as the Captain moved towards the ladder that would take him back to the main deck. "Fuck this," Teddy thought. "Fuck him and fuck all these assholes. I'm off this motherfucker!" Breathing hard, like a bull ready to charge, Teddy saw the laughing pirates around him in slow motion. "I'm outta here!" he screamed.
"Told you you'd never come back!" Crumb yelled back without turning. "No room on my ship for fat-assed pussies! Don't know why the angels ever sent me a goddamned fatty," Crumb continued to mumble as he turned to go backwards down the ladder. When he did so, his eyes met Teddy's as his feet dropped him down, one step at a time. Even though Crumb was still fit for a man in his 70s, he needed to be careful walking down the steps. Step pause step pause . . . all the time his eyes locked on Teddy's. "Why don't you jump overboard and do everyone a favor?"
Something inside Teddy snapped. His whole life people like Crumb had been riding him. No more. Not in the New World. Not when he was a pirate. "Jump?" Teddy sneered. "That's the first good idea you've had you sanctimonious pile of shit."
Crumb paused, sensing Teddy had gone past a line he wasn't likely to come back from. In his decades in the Navy, Crumb had seen it a dozen times. Being out at sea for months wasn't easy. Stable men could snap. Unstable men . . .
Unstable men did things like Teddy Levenson was about to do.
A primal scream unleashed itself from Teddy's throat as he ran towards the Captain, only halfway down the six-foot ladder. The crew was too stunned to do anything but watch as Teddy lunged at Crumb's exposed chest. In his mind, Teddy's dive was an athletic lunge, like a puma attacking its prey. In reality, it was little more than a belly flop. Teddy's hands grabbed at Crumb's face as the heavy man's weight followed behind with great force.
Captain Crumb fell backwards towards the deck with Teddy following, falling just above him. Crumb knew he was in trouble when his hands failed to grasp the ladder. His mind, decades of naval training at the call, could only think of one thing to do – hit the deck and roll like a bastard.
"Aaaaaiiiieeeeee!" Teddy screamed, his face an enraged red.
Crumb's lower back hit the deck. "Roll!" his mind screamed. His body reacted, but too slowly. The Captain of the Puritan made it to his side, and when Teddy Levenson landed on top of him, Crumb's seventy-year old ribs cracked like kindling as 350-plus pounds tried to knock him through an unmovable deck. All of the air in the veteran's lungs was shoved violently out of his body as unconsciousness tried to rush in.
"You were right, old man," Teddy wheezed into his ear. "Jumping was a hell of an idea."
* * *
September, 2004 - Modern Noir
by Kevin McGowin
When we think of the term noir, most of us think of black-and-white movies from the 1940s and 50s, and the actors who made careers out of portraying the sometimes "stock" characters that made up the City at Night, full of booze and broads: the smooth detective (Bogart); the buxom blonde (Veronica Lake); the hard-nosed cop-type (Alan Ladd); the evil brunette (Joan Crawford, et. al.); the bumbling, naïve-yet-likeable journalist (Jimmy Stewart – and to some degree the fairy (Peter Lorre in The Maltese Falcon) and the sleazeball (Orson Welles). And the Bad Guys, of course, were more expendable, but came in all shapes and sizes.
It's strange (or maybe it's not) how many of these noted actors ended up becoming their characters, and dying as them. Noir is a way of life, even if you're not a Method actor – because all creative artists are, to some extent. Method caught on in Hollywood at the same time noir did because it's essentially common sense. Maybe in retrospect film critics can sit back and discuss the relation of noir to, say, the Cold War. And who knows, maybe that's what Welles had in mind when he first started shooting the great late classic period noir film Touch of Evil in 1957.
But our darker natures usurp the intellect, every time. Noir is a word of shadows and grays, more so than blacks and whites; it's more Jung than Freud or Lacan. It's us. Maybe that's why though noir has been successfully dome in third-person, and even tried with relative success in second, it's essentially a "genre" (if genre it is) most suited to the "I", the first-person narrative – just think of the awesome opening to arguably the last great "Golden Era" (1941-1959 or '60) noir classic, Sunset Boulevard, narrated by a dead man.
But noir of course originated in literature – in the work of writers such as Dashiell Hammett (known best for the svelte John Huston production of The Maltese Falcon), James M. Cain, and the greatest of them all, Raymond Chandler (who assisted Billy wilder on the screenplay to Cain's Double Indemnity, also 1941). Slick and at times exceedingly well-written as they are, this mostly Depression and War-Era literature found a home for its realist "hard-boiled" style in "pulp" magazines – the writing is, on the surface (doubtless somewhat influenced by Hemingway), direct, and uncomplicated. Later, as directors like Hitchcock got in on the action, more complex films emerged – but even Hitch's great noir masterpieces, Strangers on a Train (1944) and Vertigo (1958) have strong and easily traceable literary precedents.
And now, in 2004, noir is not by a long shot "dead" – just as it didn't emerge fully formed in 1941. It's always been around, in one form or other – in many novels and stories, to be sure, and in more recognizable popular culture in film: Taxi Driver (1975), L.A. Confidential (1997), and to ironic effect in the oeuvres of directors such as Jim Jarmusch and David Lynch. In music, one hears it loud & clear in the Doors' "L.A.Woman" (1971) and in plenty of heavy metal – now I hear it in hip-hop and gangsta rap. And also in Beethoven's 14th String Quartet, because noir is a state of mind and a state of being – our own.
There are books upon books and thousands or articles, technical and no, about all this. But allowing that noir is something that, being a part of us all at some level (and beyond) can never run its course but only change its conspicuous idioms and "signifiers," what are its constants? The individual, loneliness, fear and jealousy. The emphasis on the Secret. Substance abuse – mostly alcoholism in the ‘40s and ‘50s, the disease of the greatest people who wrote it. Murder, to be sure – the individual at the brink of death, even metaphorically. And, of course, sex and betrayal. (Genesis is SO noir, man.)
Finally, the backdrop: the City at Night. Why? Isolation, hidden things. Though not always, as we saw convincingly in films like Vertigo when noir went Technicolor. And . . . and . . . a hundred other major subplots running down the alleys.
So now that you have a context, don't be afraid of it – it's only you, after all.
And now Frontier has completed its Noir anthology – offering new and exciting slants and angles and mazes – and I hope you read it (if you haven't), and enjoy it.
As for me, my "Noirscape" series, one of which is presented here, is well in the works. If you read my pieces and think the narrator is me, then I, never one to offer disclaimers, will take it as a compliment – for I just finished a crucial section of one of the stories, and as I type these words, noon and lunchtime have come and gone, and the sun is bright over the pine forest where I am, leaving me alone in a bright and well-lit room, hot, without so much as a whirring fan to cool me down.
August, 2004 - Witches
My wife is a witch.
No, really . . .
I mean, what do you think of when you hear the word "witch"? Me? Honestly, the first thing I think of is green face paint underneath a really tall hat, and a cackly voice promising to get me and my little dog too. For centuries, this has been our vision of the witch – the evil hag living up on a hill, eating small children and hanging out with flying monkeys because nobody else can stand to be around her.
Nowadays, most of us are a little more sophisticated. We understand that a witch can be just a regular woman who practices paganism and certain naturalistic rituals. Witches aren't all bad, in other words. Even the Land of Oz had a good witch.
(Though I've often wondered how 'good' she really was; she showed up awfully quick to gloat when her sister from the East Side got crushed by that house, after all. Makes you wonder who was really driving that tornado, doesn't it? But I digress . . .)
Of course, we don't always call them witches. At this point, that's kind of like calling your girl dog a bitch – it's factually correct but contextually it just feels mean. No, we call them Wiccans, we call them Pagans, we call them Naturalists. Anything but what they call themselves:
My wife has practiced Wicca for more than five years now, standing in sharp contrast to her husband's areligious (new word © Russ Anderson, 2004) leanings. I've learned quite a bit about the views and beliefs of the witch in that time. Such as:
- They don't get naked and dance around bonfires together nearly as often as I thought they would.
- While there isn't room in Christianity (or many other religions for that matter) for Wicca, there's plenty of room in Wicca for the Christian and Judaic God.
- Wicca is a female-dominated and very sexual belief system (more on this in a minute); this probably explains why it got into so much trouble when it ran into the more prudish and misogynistic Western theologies.
- Many witches actually do own cauldrons, which, along with other ceremonial instruments, they use to cast spells. These spells, however, will never give a little mermaid girl human feet, nor help you shoplift a pair of ruby red slippers from your dead, evil cousin. They're rituals, and like rituals in other religions, they often only have meaning to the person conducting said ritual.
When you see modern witches in popular media today, they're often portrayed as wild-haired sexkittens dressed all in black (see The Blair Witch Project 2 – or better yet don't; that movie was f*cking awful – or The Craft). This is probably fair as far as stereotypes go, since Wicca is a popular destination for those who've passed or are passing through the Goth subculture (black outfits), it's a very sexual and female-dominated belief system (sexkitten), and baseline Wicca encourages a natural look (wild-haired . . . rrroww). Whether it's fair or not, it's a far cry from that green-faced hag carrying around a weird obsession for monkeys and Kansas farmgirls.
So what does that leave us with? As far as I can tell, it leaves us with two very different definitions for a word that's been chock-full of bad mojo for a long time. But make no mistake: in the real world, the sexpot is the more legitimate interpretation (though, as with all things, not the only one).
Luckily for you, at Frontier Publishing, we don't deal in "the real world."
Submissions are currently open for WITCHES, Frontier's newest anthology, which is set to debut on September 15th – complete submission guidelines are available here. As always, the meaning of the theme is open to the author's interpretation . . . though as the editor, I'm a bit more interested in seeing stories about modern witches. But hey, show me a story about the hag on the hill if that's what you want to do.
Just make it good. And try to have at least a little respect.
My wife is a witch, after all. And we can always find you.
RUSS ANDERSON is the editor of Frontier's Action branch, and webmaster for the entire site. He also writes MYTHWORLD for the Speculative branch. He is only a little concerned about all the ceremonial daggers his wife keeps around the house.
June, 2004 - Pictures From the Brooklyn Small Press Fair - 06/06/2004
December, 2003 - Russ Anderson
October, 2003 - Joel Jenkins
Late April, 2003 - Mike Exner III
FRONTIER EDITORIAL, By Mike Exner III
April 22, 2003
"Once again it's on. And he's the man with the master plan. They call him Sam and I think you better recognize."
The infamous Andre (Dr. Dre) Young said that. Self-proclaimed gangsta, he was. I'm just a copycat. I really don't have a master plan – my name isn't Sam, either – or anything that even closely resembles one. Or, I didn't. But I do now. Want to hear? Want me to explain? You must have patience, my sons and daughters.
I love Frontier Publishing and I enjoy working with the people I work with. Russ Anderson (the almighty webmaster), Mike McGee (the maniacal Denbrook editor), the many writers I edit and break bread with – intellectually – on a daily basis. These are all good people. But what's our direction, you ask? What's our master plan?
Well . . . what do you see, constant (if I me be so bold as to borrow the term from the venerable Stephen King for a moment) reader? I said I think you better recognize, did I not? So what do you "recognize" Frontier Publishing as?
Is it a place where you read quality serial fiction "internet-style" on a monthly basis? Or is it something more than that to you? Is it a website you visit because you're bored at your job? Or do you escape from work with Dillon at your side and the Whale swift on your heels, spitting hot lead at the both of you? Is Frontier a way for you to unwind after a busy day sitting behind a desk, working on the construction site, changing your kid's diapers? Or do you wind the tapestry of words crafted by Charlie Reese around yourself until you can barely tell the difference between the world of myth and legend, and the one you just left behind? Do you print out a story and lose yourself in the words? Or are you hoping to be found by Matthew Corrigan as he prowls the darkened streets of Denbrook?
I'll settle for the first option from some of you – we need the readers, after all. But I hope it's the second reason that brings most of you faithful (can't keep stealing from the big man, right?) readers to our door. Because that's why I'm here. That's why I read the stories that grace this wonderful website. That's why I've chosen to write here. Not because I have to and not because I want to escape the daily grind. I found the master plan while I was writing City of Redding. It's as simple as this:
I want you to escape with me, faithful reader. I want us to find William Mathis and share his journey.
We're right at the outskirts of the city now. Go ahead and grasp my hand as we take that first step. We'll do it together.
-Mike Exner III
MIKE EXNER III is the author of the newly-relaunched CITY OF REDDING and the editor of the whole dang main branch of Frontier Publishing. Proper.
Early April, 2003 - Mike McGee
March, 2003 - Tom Lynch
December, 2002 - Mikes McGee and Exner III
August, 2002 - Russ Anderson
March, 2002 - Joel Jenkins
HALCYON DREAMS, By Joel Jenkins
Most writers write because they have no choice. Their inner hunger to create won’t give them peace unless they put those words to paper. I’ve promised myself a dozen times that I’d quit writing, and do something more valuable with my time; go back to school, become a doctor, become a lawyer, become a . . . The word processor beckons me, and I can’t resist the siren call of worlds unexplored, uncreated, and unknown – at least until they come spilling from my fingers.
Though I have done technical, and corporate writing, as well as scripts for training and promotional films, it’s rarely easy to make a living with words. When the word business dried up for me, with the help of a good friend I was fortunate enough to get a job working in the concrete industry. Ironically enough, this allowed me my first glimpse of what a writer could accomplish.
Some days I spent working demolition – breaking up concrete with a sledgehammer and throwing hundred pound chunks into the back of a truck. Other days I moved dirt and sand with a shovel, or helped with the transit and carpentry work necessary before pouring concrete. Though this didn’t afford much time for putting pen to paper, I considered myself lucky to have a job at all.
Still, the creative itch nagged at me. Few people become writers because they think that it’s a great way to make a living – and if they do their illusions are quickly dashed. The chances of a writer finding a publisher for their novel is slim to none, and even if you beat the odds – the chances are that you’ll still need to hold down a day job to pay the bills. By my own generous estimate there are maybe five hundred novelists in the U.S. that actually make a living with their typewriter. If you break that down, that’s about ten per state.
In Washington State some of those ten authors includes Ann Ruehl, true crime novelist, Terry Brooks, best selling fantasy author, and even Mike Grell – comic book artist and writer, and recent novelist.
One day my concrete job called me and two others out to the Jance job – a stamped concrete drive and patio, which had been recently poured. Our task was to reinstall the remote control gate at the top of the drive. This involved drilling concrete, and bolting the heavy gate into place.
The Jance house stands in a hilly neighborhood near Lake Washington, a wall of westward facing windows overlooking the white-capped waves. Inside, a white-haired woman sat on a stool in her immaculate kitchen working feverishly over a laptop computer while she enjoyed her morning cup of coffee.
I quickly realized that this woman was the J.A. Jance – mystery author of two separate series of mystery novels; one taking place in Seattle, and the other in Arizona. Here was a writer talented, and fortunate enough to not only make a living writing, but to make a healthy living putting words to paper.
When our work was finished, Joanne Jance gave us each a couple of her paperbacks and signed them. Of course I let it slip that I had a number of short stories and novellas that were published, but that I just hadn’t figured out a way to make a living at it yet.
She smiled. “Don’t give up. It took me thirty years to start making any money.” She pointed toward a brand new 100,000 dollar Porsche Boxter sitting in the driveway. “You see that? That was my husband’s birthday present.”
Most writers don’t do it for the money. We do it for the love of our art, and J.A. Jance is no exception. For thirty years she labored in obscurity, because her soul told her that she had to write. The same holds true for the writers at Frontier Publishing. We write because our soul compels us – and if ever we grasp that halcyon dream of earning our daily bread by creating fictions spun from those gossamer threads of our imaginations – so much the better.
JOEL JENKINS is the author of DIRE PLANET.
February, 2002 - Mike McGee
January, 2002 - Derrick Ferguson
November, 2001 - Mike Exner III
Russ Anderson - Editor, Webmaster
Writer, Curtain Call
Writer, Hidden Agendas
Mike Exner III - Editor
Writer, Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell, Diamondback vols. 1 and 2
Writer, Exiles of the Dire Planet, By Sepulchral Winds
Mike McGee goes to school. Mike McGee edits every title on the Denbrook Branch of Frontier Publishing. Mike McGee wrote CHEMICAL BURN and WICKED for Frontier. He writes LUNA COURT. Mike McGee doesn't have the time to write some inane "staff bio" that nobody is going to read anyway. Bah!
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Mark Bousquet - Writer, DREAMER'S SYNDROME
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Trevor Carrington - Cover Designer, SEXKITTEN, CHEMICAL BURN, WICKED, DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL, FRONTIER Anthology, DEATH Anthology.
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Megan Curtis writes SEXKITTEN for the Denbrook branch, along with titles for various Fanfiction sites and a column for the website Heroes. She is temporarily located in the frozen wasteland of Utah trying to finish college in outdoor recreation and history. Her only goal once graduating is to leave Utah forever! Hawaii, here she comes!
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Michael Franzoni, the writer of MISSING PERSONS, hails from Columbia, Missouri and spends a great deal of his time behind the pen and/or keyboard. In between chapters of Missing Persons, he manages to leak various issues of serial fiction to sources across the web.
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Bill Kte'pi - Writer, FIERCE POP SONGS
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Tom Lynch - Writer, PLANNING FOR A LONG ETERNITY and PENTAGRAM WHISPERS.
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Kevin McGowin, writer of FLIES IN THE BUTTERMILK, has published three acclaimed online novels, known collectively as "The Benny Poda Trilogy", at Levee67. Additionally, he has published two collections of poetry, and a novella, and after many years at the ultra-hip San Francisco *Oyster Boy Review*, he is now Reviews Editor at Chicago-based *Eclectica Magazine*. His "official" homepage is located at http://www.kevinmcgowin.cjb.net. He has lived all over this great nation before finally settling down in the sweet and supportive arms of Angela Rineck, where he'll stay put. His son, Holden, will one day Please the Ladies like, say, Joe Namath. Or something.
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Chris Munn - Cover designer, LUNA COURT.
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Matthew Pierce allegedly writes OCTANE SHIV, though he is rumored to self destruct after writing the sixth issue of any title. He moonlights as a McDonald's janitor and has an impressive shrine dedicated to the people he'd like to kick in the balls for missing the toilet on a daily basis. He also spent a few hours in US Army Counterintelligence and now works as an investigator somewhere in the Republic of Korea but that's probably a load of shit.
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Josh Reynolds - Writer, THE LUCIFER MASK.
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Steve Seinberg resides in Oakland, CA, living a monastic existence, and sending creative energy out into the world as a hobby... although, since all the telepathic messages in telepathic bottles have yielded zero in the way of results thus far, he has now turned to actually writing things down. One such "thing" is MR. GRIM, his first story at Frontier, and one he hopes will turn out to be the first of many...
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Danny Souder - Writer, There Are No Tropes in San Tropez