Erwin K. Roberts grew up watching western movies and television. He is particularly proud that his first ever celebrity interview was with Clayton Moore. Moore visited Kansas City about three weeks after giving up the Lone Ranger’s mask. He told the press that he would get the mask back. Took a while, but by gosh he did it. Starting about 1980 Erwin began appearing on the Public Access cable channel in Kansas City, Missouri. He reviewed movies, books, and the occasional comic. He interviewed actors, writers, artists, gaffers & grips, plus a Klingon, or two.
These days Erwin has been retired for a couple of years. He and his wife plan to travel a bit now that they have both given up the rat race. (What’s so fun about racing rats, anyway?) In the meantime he continues to pound the keyboard. Sometimes this activity even produces understandable English
Interview with Erwin K. Roberts author of Casebook of the Voice 6/06/2014
What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.
I have a story in with Mechanoid Press for their upcoming anthology titled GIANT SWINGIN’ SUPERHERO 1968 SPECIAL. If you haven’t guessed, the stories and characters are inspired by some of the, shall we say, unusual strips that popped up in the days of the hippies and the unpopular war. My story is about a guy called Changeor. The release date is yet to be set, but soonish.
On the other hand, I am still trying to whip up interest in my self-published book from last year titled Casebook of the Voice. The Voice is my signature next generation pulp hero. He is the son of one of the old timers. (Which one, I can’t say… wink-wink!) He first appeared in the novel Plutonium Nightmare where he fought to stop a series of dirty bombs. Casebook contains five stories that pretty much span his active years from the 1970’s through December, 1999. They range from five-thousand to twenty-five thousand words. Want a sample? Three of the Voice’s stories are online here, here, and here. Only the first one of these appears in Casebook of the Voice.
What is the usual process for your writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Other times I both outline and throw potential plot elements and points into a figurative bowl for possible use. Sometimes I write disconnected scenes at the beginning, and/or middle, and/or end of a story. Then I sew them together. Sometimes the sewing requires that I re-write earlier parts.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
Once the idea hits I jot down a few things so I will not forget something major. If my initial brainstorm includes real scenes I get them into my word processor post-haste. Then I turn navigation over to the muse, with an option to regain control.
I’m two years retired. Yet I sometimes feel like I fighting to find time to write. I’ve never been a high volume writer. Wish I was.
What is your daily writing time like?
Right now is kind of typical. I’m trying to write while my wife has Dr. Phil on in the background.
Can you tell us about your publishing experience? Are you Indie, Traditional, or do a bit of both?
I got into New Pulp before that name first came up. I had some stories published in Tom & Ginger Johnson’s Double Danger Tales chapbooks at the beginning of the century. Then I was fortunate enough to get in on the ground floor with Ron Fortier & Rob Davis’ imprint Airship-27. A-27 just passed one-hundred titles. My work has appeared in seven of them. I self published Plutonium Nightmare in 2005, then moved it to CreateSpace a bit over a year ago. Via the Pulp Factory mailing list I met Pro Se Productions’ Tommy Hancock. Pro Se published my villain pulp Sons of Thor, plus I chipped in a story for the first anthology featuring their Pulptress signature character.
My “box score” is currently: Airship-27…7, Pro Se…3, Self-published…2, Mechanoid Press…1 (forthcoming.)
Everyone like to know where an author gets their ideas from, but what I want to know is what is the strangest thing to inspire one of your stories?
One day I decided to write a third story about Jim Anthony, the Half Irish – Half Comanche All American hero. I picked July of 1938, about a year after the previous story I’d written, for it to happen. Then I plugged the month and year into a search engine. Tons of links showed up, of course. There were lots about unrest in Canada caused by right-wing/Fascist/Nazi groups. Jim almost headed in that direction. Then my brain formed a short circuit between two totally unconnected items. First, near Bandolier National Monument, just outside Los Alamos, New Mexico, a big rock tipped over exposing a mysterious skeleton. Second, at an airfield in the New York City area, Howard Hughes and Douglas “Wrong-Way” Corrigan crossed trails. They probably did not meet. Hughes was prepping for a much ballyhooed flight around the world, while Corrigan was about to make his namesake unauthorized flight to Ireland. Suddenly I decided that they did meet. For an earthshakingly important reason. So Jim Anthony and his Shaman grandfather headed for New Mexico near the edge of the old Comanche hunting grounds. Canada went out the window, except for a couple of Mounties I tossed in later. “Home on the Pandemic Range” became part of the Sons of Thor volumes.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing (fiction or nonfiction) and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
I’ve written numerous book, film and play reviews for various publication including one or two for the Kansas City Star. On cable TV I did hundreds of film, book and local venue reviews. Many of them were live, without script or teleprompter. My show Entertainment Spectrum visited all sorts of conventions. Once we covered the first North American Sherlock Holmes con and a Star Trek one, on the same weekend.
This year, so far, I plan to be at the Windy City Pulp & Paperback Show in April.
Well, I’m not ashamed to admit I had to look this up. I’d always assumed “author” was the fifty cent word used in place of the fifteen cent word “writer.” Sort of the prose version of the “ARTIST” vs illustrator debate.
The most common point I found in the top five results of a Google search is that the writer has not been published, but the author has. To this point I say to the soon-to-be author: One make sure you have done enough research and/or world building. Two, Find a reader who will give you their honest opinion, rather than flattery, or going easy on your writing.
Without doubt, Anne McCaffery. Strangely, I very briefly encountered her at the 1969 WorldCon before I began reading her work. A few years later, when I was in a bad place in my life I picked up Dragonflight and Dragonquest at a local library. I lost myself on Pern. McCaffrey built worlds like few others. Even today re-reading up one of her books can raise my spirits when I’m down.
For someone new to McCaffery, ask your library for a copy of The Ship Who Sang and the trilogy contained in The Dragonriders of Pern.