Before we get to this final interview, let me just say a big thank you to everyone who has participated in and supported these interviews (26 in total!). I hope that the interviews managed to highlight each writer respectively, and their work. Somehow everyone has pulled together to make Kindle All-Stars Present: ‘Resistance Front’ work, and pretty soon (a matter of days!) we will have a book available that truly bears the fruit of our labors.
Over the months Bernard and Laurie have brought us all together and got us working together, and I think real friendship has developed between all of us that I hope will continue beyond any Kindle All-Star activities and projects.
Sorry. I didn’t mean to say “I Hope”… I meant to say “I Know.”
It’s been an absolute pleasure everyone. Now what do you all say we drive Laurie fucking nuts with Kindle All-Stars 2!!!!!
BERNARD SCHAFFER AND FRINGE SCIENTIST: ROUND THREE
Over this past year Bernard has been extremely busy. He’s published Whitechapel, a tale pitting The Great Detective against Jack the Ripper. He’s also written and published The Guns of Seneca 6, a sci-fi western with flavours of Firefly, Wyatt Earp, Star Trek, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Cowboys & Aliens. It’s a terrific yarn, and he’s even gone so far as to post the first 100 pages of it FREE on wattpad so that you can take it for a test drive before buying.
But a project far bigger than any of these, in comparison, is the Kindle All-Star project. It’s a collection of short stories from a wide-ranging and diverse bunch of writers (30 all told) including legend Harlan Ellison and the renowned Alan Dean Foster. Bernard conceived of the project, has served as ‘El Presidente’ of it, steering it towards completion and publication with dogged determination. To round out a month of Kindle All-Star interviews, I spoke with Bernard about the project and other things he has in the pipeline.
FS: Kindle All-Stars was inspired by Dangerous Visions… how do you feel this first anthology compares?
Bernard: Hi Tony. Thank you for having me back again. DV is a seminal work of art that has inspired countless speculative fiction authors. Ellison had superstar wattage to draw from the best in the business and all of the resources available to mainstream publication.
This is just me and my friends, giving it our best shot, trying to create something that has never been done before.
My description as us being the punk rock of literature is an accurate one, and I think much more so than that of DV. This is the effort of an underground garage band. You might see some bumps and bruises along the way, but we are giving it our all. You will either be rocked out of your mind or die.
FS: I thought it was an interesting anecdote from Alan Dean Foster when I interviewed him, when he told of his own small involvement in the original Dangerous Visions. It really hit home how all of those big-name writers weren’t such big-name writers when they submitted work to Ellison for DV, but that they all found success in their own ways afterward. What would you like to see Kindle All-Stars doing for those who have contributed to it?
Bernard: There are Kindle All-Stars who will go on to be best-sellers. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind. Some have such strong voices that it is immediately apparent that this is just a platform for them to launch forth from. Others have swung for the fences because this is one of the few chances they’ll ever get to be in front of such a large audience.
Some contributors really had to bust their humps to get in. I put them through their paces, which is evident from the responses you’ve gotten in your interviews on this site. I hope they take that work ethic, that absolute refusal to half-step anything, and continue with it.
Now let me go back and answer your question: I hope the contributors to the Kindle All-Stars project walk away feeling that they can accomplish great things as long as they are willing to work their asses off.
FS: How did you come up with the title ‘Resistance Front’ ?
Bernard: Independent authors are facing enormous obstacles, in terms of financing their books and making sure they are edited and formatted correctly. Always, there is the threat of mainstream publishing, with its unlimited resources, to wash us all away.
The Resistance Front is a small cell of guerrilla fighters who are taking the fight to them. Anyone who wants to join is welcome to jump in, but you’d better have the skills and commitment to survive. I heard the guy who runs the thing can be a pain in the ass.
FS: There’s been some trial and error in getting this anthology together. Is there anything you wouldn’t do the next time around? Or anything in particular that you thought was a resounding success?
Bernard: The next book will definitely be smaller. When I saw the 500 plus page count I was flabbergasted. Also, I’m going to give people a lot longer to get their stories ready in hopes that they arrive ready to print. Many of the stories written for RESISTANCE FRONT were written on the spot and showed up as early drafts. The flurry of editing and rewriting that went on behind-the-scenes was dizzying.
Also, I’ll be setting specific guidelines in terms of the format and style guide I want to see. It’s mind-boggling the amount of people who don’t know the difference between a single and double quotation mark.
FS: We know there will be a KAS.2 What are your plans in terms of the next one? And are you eyeing any big names to approach to contribute? Remember my comment about doing a KAS every quarter…
Bernard: Truthfully, I’m not going to be doing much with KAS.2 for the next year or so, but that is not to say that there will not be a lot happening. After the book is released, I am going to tell people what the theme of the second book is and tell them to start getting their house in order. They don’t need me looking over their shoulder while they write.
I’ll be doing my own thing in the meantime, because I have some very large projects in the near future that I need to concentrate on. Once they’re squared away, I’ll open up submissions for KAS.2 and see what shows up.
I think it’s premature for me to start eyeing up big names at this point, because honestly, who the hell ever thought Harlan Ellison and Alan Dean Foster would jump on board for this? I am sure if the book sells well, I’ll have a better leg to stand on when I ask Stephen King and Clive Barker to pitch in. If the book tanks, it will just be me and you, buddy. I’m okay either way.
FS: You mentioned once about offering editorial services at some point in the future. Can you elaborate on that? Do you plan on doing something like what the Carricks are doing, offering copy-editing, kindle formatting, etc?
Bernard: Damn. Whenever people ask me a question about something I’m unfamiliar with I feel like I’ve been caught with my pants down. Honestly, I don’t know who the Carricks are, but my idea is this: Authors need services that they can afford in terms of all of the things you just described. I’d like to provide them those services and help improve the quality of their products. We have an incredible assortment of talent in the Kindle All-Stars. Whatever you need, we can get it done for a decent price.
The truth is, there are a lot of nasty, greedy, unreliable people in this industry. I’d like to give people a safe alternative to them.
FS: Let’s talk about your own work. A “Gentlemen’s Edition” of Whitechapel is now available for people to buy. Tell me about it.
Bernard: Whitechapel is a very graphic, historically-accurate telling of the times. I did not pull any punches. It is not for everyone, and in fact, I forbid my own mother from reading it. I created the “Gentlemen’s Edition” to give people an alternative. The GE has no profanity and much less gore, but it retains the story of the original.
FS: And you’ve offered to send a free copy to those people who initially reviewed Whitechapel in a negative light, haven’t you?
Bernard: There were four reviews on Amazon that were written by readers who could not get past the first forty pages. All of the gore and shock of the Ripper’s crimes was just too much for them to take, and they bailed. Not only did they bail, but they felt strongly enough to write and post a review saying so. I felt bad that they’d spent their money and not had a chance to enjoy the rest of the book. Since I now have a version might be a little more suitable to their liking I am trying to square up with them.
FS: Obviously being able to take a knock or two comes in handy when publishing a book. You can’t please everyone. You never respond via comments to a bad review. But I like the fact that you’ve considered what they’ve said and are going back and offering a free version of Whitechapel that has had the explicit material edited to those who didn’t like the original. I think it’s a good idea because it shows how important your readership is to you.
Bernard: It feels like good business. At the end of the day, I am an author first and a publisher second, but I try to be as professional as I can at both.
FS: You mentioned before that a sequel to Seneca 6 may well be titled The Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6. I have to say that The Magnificent Seven is one of my favourite films, and it was that film that made me seek out Seven Samurai and Battle Beyond the Stars. Much like the western lore present in Seneca 6, it’s classic stories like The Magnificent Seven that transfer so well to any medium or setting. What other westerns have you been influenced by?
Bernard: The Wild Bunch, Tombstone, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Hands down. Also, Westworld. Rio Bravo. Christ…probably even The Lone Ranger movie I saw in the theater as a little kid. Let’s just say lots of them, and lots of Western writers as well.
FS: We’re on the very cusp of Resistance Front being put to pasture, so to speak. Hence these interviews. Do you have anything you’d like to say to those involved?
Bernard: I am proud of each and every one of you. The Resistance Front will be one of those moments in time I always look back on and am proud to say I was a part of. I hope they all feel the same way.
FS: As always, it’s a pleasure to interview you Bernard. I hope we’ll chat again soon.
Bernard: Tony, I can’t wait. Thanks for all you’ve done.