Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A Message from Len Levinson

The author of THE SERGEANT series, Len Levinson, dropped us a note when he was shown the first cover by Tony Masero (see post below), and we thought to share it with you:

"...I wanted to tell you that I thought it was great, because it promises all the violence, blood and guts that one can reasonably expect from a Len Levinson extravaganza.  It's interesting to compare your cover with the ones concocted by Audio-Go for my "The Rat Bastards" series.  Those covers have no bizaaz.  Covers are very important.  Back in the day, I became friendly with Walter Zacharius, prez of Zebra books, who published "The Rat Bastards" and some of my other books.  He was a marketing genius and put a lot of effort and money into covers.  Because covers matter, which evidently you understand.  - Len"

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Sergeant comes to Piccadilly!

Piccadilly Publishing is delighted to announce that they have acquired the ebook rights to one of the great series of the 1980s -- THE SERGEANT by Gordon Davis. Beginning in 01 October 2013 we'll be issuing all nine books in the series, this time under the author's real name, and all featuring covers painted by Tony Masero.

The series consist of 9 books over a 3-year period beginning in 1980. Mahoney, we learn, has often been promoted and busted in his long career. During the period of the Novels, May 1944 to December 1944, Mahoney is a Master Sergeant, that serves in special missions with the Rangers, and as a Company Sergeant, Platoon Leader, and Squad Leader in the "Hammerhead" Division. Mahoney, with his always present side-kick, Corporal Edward Cranepool, become involved in several of the key battles for the liberation of France, and invasion of Germany. Mahoney, as a US Army Ranger aides the French Resistance before, during, and immediately after the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasions of France. Later, tired of always finding himself involved in "suicide" missions, Mahoney and Cranepool transfer to the "Hamerhead" Division in General George S Patton's 3rd Army. With the Hammerheads, Mahoney participates in the battles of the hedgerows after the Normandy invasions, the liberation of Paris, the crossing of the Moselle and battle for Metz, and the defense of Bastogne.
In the first book in the series, Death Train, which takes place in the summer of 1944, Mahoney is a US Army Ranger working behind German lines with the French Resistance, "maquis", to disrupt a rail-road line that will be essential to German troop and supply movement after the D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach. The book establishes Mahoney as a tough, career Army, individual, and an experienced combat veteran that had seen action since the initial US amphibious landings in 1942 at Morocco.
The series ends with Book 9, Hammerhead, circa late December 1944. Mahoney, disgusted by all the death he has seen, and killing he has done, is praying in a small Catholic church. Facing the altar, with his back to the church, he is nearly killed, before two of his arch enemies end up shooting each other. After determining that one of the men has died and the other likely did as well, Mahoney returns to his prayer.
  • Death Train
  • Hell Harbor: The Battle for Cherbourg
  • Bloody Bush
  • The Liberation of Paris
  • Doom River
  • Slaughter City
  • Bullet Bridge
  • Bloody Bastogne
  • Hammerhead
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Len Levinson served on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1954-1957, and graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Social Science. He relocated to NYC that year and worked as an advertising copywriter and public relations executive before becoming a full-time novelist. Len created and wrote a number of series, including The Apache Wars Saga, The Pecos Kid and The Rat Bastards. He has had over eight titles published, and PP is delighted to have the opportunity to issue his exceptional WWII series, The Sergeant in digital form. After many years in NYC, Len moved to a small town (pop. 3100) in rural Illinois, where he is now surrounded by corn and soybean fields ... a peaceful, ideal location for a writer.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Angus Wells on Characters

Angus Wells
A youthful looking Angus Wells and an even more younger Dave Whitehead.
or how the books get filled with all those oddballs
EXACTLY whore a characters comes from is pretty much anyone’s guess, and the sources will change with the technique and temperament of the individual authors. Personally, I don’t keep files, preferring to rely on the resources of’ my imagination and memory — a proud boast that means I don’t have to bother making notes.
Chiefly, they do come straight out from the fantasy land inside my skull, springing up in accordance with the demands of setting and general style of the book I’m writing at the time. For instance, the characters in a BREED tend to be more grotesque than those in a PEACEMAKER, simply because the basic approach of the BREED series is more flamboyant. It was planned that way from the start, when — forno particular reason — I decided a half-breed Apache hero was a good one. Nolan, Christie and all the rest followed on: I wanted to start on a revenge theme, and they just came into my mind (and took over). PEACEMAKER, on the other hand, was (as well as being a joint venture with John Harvey), conceived on entirely different lines.
We started out with the deliberate intention of producing a gentler Western, and hit on the development of a town as a central them by a mixture of design, accident, and watching CENTENNIAL on TV. In sequence, McLain was somewhat gentler than other of our central characters, and that decided the development of the peripheral folk. We dreamed up Alice and Shawn because someone had to run the saloon, and we both fancied the idea of using a woman as a strong character. The others followed on. The various inhabitants of Garrison came with the narrative development of the town; Janey Page came in because we wanted some kind of feminine interest for McLain, though we’ve always planned to offset that with another lady of, perhaps, more direct intent.
It tends to be a question of balancing personal tastes with narrative direction. Loner heroes allow for broader characters; indeed, the very fact that they are loners — and so wandering from town to town without establishing firm roots anywhere — tends to embellish the secondary characters of the story. PEACEMAKER allows for a gradual development of several running characters, whereas a BREED or a HAWK needs characters who establish themselves instantly — and in consequence they tend to be more grotesque, or at least more dramatic.
Something like GRINGOS is a different kettle of fish altogether, or a different plate of tamales. John and I got the idea of doing a Mexican Revolution series first (all right, sales show it wasn’t a very good one, but it was interesting) and that led — inevitably as we’re both avid movie fans — to thoughts of THE WILD BUNCH. We decided a team would be more plausible and so set out to create one. Cade Onslow was made deliberately older than usual and put into the Army because we wanted someone with leadership abilities and military knowledge. Jonas Strong came in because we thought a giant black guy would be a nice idea. Then to offset the altruism of Onslow and Strong, we wanted two weaker characters. It was John’s idea to have a scar-faced drug addict and I think it was mine to bring in Yates McCloud. It’s always easier to dream them up with a co-author as you can bounce ideas off one another. They don’t always work, but the bouncing is fun. Hiram Bender came in because our editor at the time wanted a political element and we got to discussing CIA-type operations. Pancho Villa, of course, is straight research. And that was how GRINGOS got its characters. It allsounds easy on paper. But they really don’t come as readily as it may sound. There are times you sit around pounding your brain for an idea that won’t come; and others when a character just springs naturally to mind.
The big difference, I suppose, is in the nature of the characters themselves. Not as in the books, but as in the need of the idea. Obviously only then central character has to be strong enough ‘to retain interest, which often as not leads to him having some kind of gimmick. Breed is half Apache; Hawk has a crippled hand; Jubal, is a doctor; and so on. If you’ve got any running characters (Marshal Nolan in GUNSLINGER, for example) they also need some personally identifying element. Villains require strong characterisation, which is one reason for the crazed Rebel colonels and the sadistic Mexicans.
And they need to come from somewhere.
Mostly, the leading characters ore all predictably fictitious. They are tailored to meet the requirements of the book, and only once in a while are based on real people.
The fillers are much easier There’s a kind of group imagination which Icreated a stock of minor characters. Barkeeps and desk clerks are almost uniformly smug and rather greasy; bankers are either fat or very thin and usually prove nefarious table hands are unctuous, usually grizzled, and usually greedy hotel owners are Laurence.
Friends get inserted as a compliment and a joke. So long as potted descriptions helps to carry the narrative along it doesn’t really matter how many people know you’re describing a friend. Any more than the musicians whose name we all use: that’s a little homage, too. If you can do it without that particular character seeming out of place why not? Just as there’s no reason why cinematic characters shouldn’t swap over I was three quarters through my very first Jubal before I realised the rancher I was describing was Charles Bickford, though mostly it’s far more conscious than that. In BLOOD DEBT, for example, I decided right from the start that Breed’s path was going to intertwine with that of Ethan Allen, out of the all-time great THE SERCHERS. That was my tribute to John Ford and John Wayne, and I had a lot of fun doing it
So, they come from movies; from books read and admired; from records; from friends; from the repertory company of the group mind. But mostly they come from the imagination. Out of whatever mental processes (weird mind?) they are that make us writers. Imagination is such a big word: in this case it encompasses the whole process bf conception through development to definition on paper. But it’s the only word that describes the indefinable process that lets us do that. Half the time I don’t know where they come from — they’re just lurking around here someplace.
And I’m grateful they are.

Tony Lewing aka Mark Bannerman R.I.P.

Very, very sorry to have to post this sad news about PP author MARK BANNERMAN (aka Tony Lewing), received this morning: "Dear David, I am Francoise, Tony's wife. I am very aware of the many times you and Tony were in contact regarding his books and Kindle and of the huge amount of help you gave him. Sadly I have to tell you that Tony died in hospital on Monday morning (June 17) unexpectedly after an angiogram on the Sunday. Our son and daughter are with me to give their support. We are devastated and finding it difficult to accept that he will not finish his latest novel amongst many other things. I know he was so grateful for your time and expertise and would like me to express thanks on his behalf. He was so enjoying his success with e-books and was amazed by it. It had given him a new lease of life. Once again, many thanks, and I am only sorry that a developing friendship is now at an end. May I wish you all the best, Francoise Lewing." Tony was a great guy. All our writers are, of course, and I like to think that we all enjoy a unique friendship and camaraderie. Certainly this was the case with Tony. Rest in peace.