A Nonfiction Writing Update

My writing life isn’t entirely focused on the arrival of Turn Over the Moon in November. Some shifts have occurred in my nonfiction work. Most of my recent nonfiction has been for this blog—and I wish I had more time to dedicate to making the stream of new articles into a steady one. But I do have some updates about my nonfiction articles; some is not new, but it is something I haven’t discussed until now.

In 2018, which was five hundred years ago as measured in pandemic time, I made the exciting announcement that I was writing articles for a new website, Perilous Worlds, the official web presence of the company that owns author Robert E. Howard’s characters, such as Conan and Solomon Kane. It was not only an important outlet, it was a paying outlet, something I’m not used to when it comes to my nonfiction. Thrilling news, and I launched into the assignment with the aim to write the finest, most professional, most entertaining articles I could.

The endeavor lasted six months. 

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My History With Conan Pastiches; Plus: Conan the Bold

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Fans of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian have little affection for the Conan pastiches, i.e. any Conan story by another author. I can’t blame them—few of these short stories, novellas, and novels are much good. Howard was singularly suited to writing about the barbarian hero, and without his peculiar combination of skills and his relentless authorial drive, it’s tough to capture anything matching the same excitement. Non-Howard Conan is just another muscular fantasy barbarian who’s really good at splitting open skulls and drinking. That can be fun, but it’s not really Howard’s Conan.

But I owe some of where I am today to the Conan pastiche novel, specifically the long series Tor Books published from 1982 to 1997 (with one extra book popping up in 2003). I got my start as an online writer and book/movie essayist by writing about the Tor Conans—because nobody else apparently wanted to. In the early 2000s, while wasting time at a mind-killing day job at a commodities firm, I often posted on some of the Conan forums. I noticed other posters occasionally asking if anybody could recommend some of the Tor novels, which usually got the response of, “Don’t know, I haven’t read them.”

I thought I might make a name on the forums and have some fun as “The Guy Who Reads the Conan Pastiches So You Don’t Have To.” It was enjoyable for a stretch, and it was how I met John Chris Hocking, author of one of the Tor novels, Conan and the Emerald Lotus. He wrote to me saying he liked my reviews and wondered if I had read his Conan novel. I hadn’t, but I answered that I’d take care of this oversight immediately.

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My First Perilous Worlds Articles Are Live

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Update: The original Perilous Worlds website no longer exists. I am going to repost these articles on the blog and will link to them from here as they go live. Currently, the Leigh Brackett article is on Goodman Games.


My first three articles for Perilous Worlds, the new publishing imprint and website, are now live. Presenting, for your enjoyment:

  • “Inside a Song” A Plea the Read The Silmarillion The Silmarillion is the third stool leg of the J. R. R. Tolkien’s classics—but many people are still afraid to give it a shot. Here’s why The Silmarillion is worth your time.
  • The Hour of the Dragon Welcomes You to the Hyborian Age –Interested in reading the Conan stories by their original author, Robert E. Howard? Start with Howard’s only Conan novel, The Hour of the Dragon.
  • Leigh Brackett: Planetary Romantic – Leigh Brackett broke ground as a woman in male-dominated field of 1940s science-fiction. She also pioneered a type of space adventure that still dominates pop culture.