So you can read my books

Friday, November 9, 2012


{Meilori's image courtesty of the genius of Leonora Roy}
What draws us to write?

It is a solitary sojourn. Most of us will never receive world acclaim ...

nor do we expect it.

What then propels us on this journey?

What swept you up when you first started to read for yourself? How often do you find a book which conjures that same spirit within you now?

Not often I would wager.

I believe we write to create that world which spellbound us into reading in the first place. What voices called out to us then? What lessons did they teach us?

For me the voices were :



and Otherworld Beauty

These three sirens dominated my solitary reading of choice during my high school years.

And their voices can be heard in the background of all that I write. Like the three fates, they weave the tapestry of my unconscious muse.

As a young child, I wandered alone into Edith Hamilton's MYTHOLOGY.

In junior high, I joined the League of Five and group reading with BEAU GESTE and DR. FU MANCHU.

In high school, I was alone again in my reading, open to any influence that caught my fancy.

The authors of those years were my unknowing mentors in how to write well. And oddly enough it was an artist who led me in the land where they all dwelt :

Frank Frazetta. And he painted the first road sign on my path to becoming a writer :


When I spotted the cover to EERIE#23 with Frazetta's "Egyptian Princess" in a used book store, I was spellbound. Yes, she was clothing-challenged. But it were her eyes that ensnared me. And my encounter with her made me quite a few dollars lighter. EERIE #23, even back then when dinosaurs roamed the earth, was a collector's item.

From that moment on, I noticed eyes : weary ones , dull ones, evaluating ones, and those who were black windows into the nothingness that lived in the souls of those who possessed them.

As I began to write, I realized eyes could be the shorthand definition of the characters owning them. I noticed that when the eyes of strangers boldly met mine, it often meant the same thing as when Nixon proclaimed, "I am not a crook." I started counting my silverware.

But back to Frazetta. His art was vibrant, moody, and on-fire all at once. His paperback book covers led me to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and even to H.P. Lovecraft. And those three authors sketched the second sign post :


UNDER THE PYRAMIDS by H.P. Lovecraft (with Harry Houdini)
My hands went into warp speed when I saw the Frazetta cover emblazoned with that title. Frazetta. Harry Houdini. Wow. I didn't know this Lovecraft fellow, but I had to see what kind of supernatural trouble Houdini had gotten into in his Egyptian travels.

And I wasn't disappointed :
The first sentence : "Mystery attracts mystery."

I was hooked. Then, came the terrible imprisonment within an ancient, dark pyramid. The clever escape and the final glimpse of horror :

"The Great Sphinx! God --

that idle question I asked myself on that sun-blest morning before . . .

what huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx originally carven to represent?

Accursed is the sight, be it in dream or not, that revealed to me the supreme horror—the Unknown God of the Dead, which licks its leering lips in the unsuspected abyss,

fed hideous morsels by soulless absurdities that should not exist. The five-headed monster that emerged . . . that five-headed monster as large as a hippopotamus . . . the five-headed monster—and that of which it is the merest fore paw. . . .

But I survived, and I know it was only a dream."

From Frazetta, Burroughs, Howard, and Lovecraft ... I learned how history can be made alive and alluring ... and supernatural. It is a lesson that stays with me still.


Perched in the used bookstore shelf right next to a Frazetta cover of a Conan novel was the book that was to teach me that prose could be beautiful and evocative without being stale and stiff. I picked up LORD OF LIGHT and read the first paragraph :

"His followers called him Mahasamatman, and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam.

He never claimed to be a god. But then, he never claimed not to be a god. Circumstances being what they were, neither admission could be of any benefit. Silence, though, could.

Therefore, there was mystery about him."

{It is no accident that my own hero is called Sam.}

Mystery. Evocative imagry. I was hooked.

I became his student -- through his books, his essays, and his poetry.

Some of his words :

"No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words."

"For you see, the headwaters of Shit Creek are a cruel and treacherous expanse."

"I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words,
beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is
something to hold back the shadows."

"There's really nothing quite like someone's wanting you dead to make you want to go on living."

"Occasionally as an author, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don't know which.

You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the firstplace.

Trust your demon."

"I try to sit down at the typewriter four times a day, even if it's only five minutes, and write three sentences. It seems to get the job done. I've written a lot of novels."

And Roger Zelazny led me to this quote by Ernest Hemingway years before it made its way into the latest PREDATOR movie :

"There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter."


Are you still writing in the genre or spirit that first drew you to your dream of being a writer?

And here is a glimpse of the Frank Frazetta Museum. His wife was the custodian of it. She died in 2009 after a year's valiant battle against cancer.

The children started savagely fighting over the paintings. Sigh. Charges of burglary and theft were lodged against Frank Jr. by the rest of the family on March 2010. Matters were solved on the surface. But it proved too much for Frank, mourning the loss of his beloved wife of forty years. He died this year on May 10th.

{In early 2000, he suffered a series of strokes, losing dexterity in his right hand. The champion that he was, he taught himself to paint with his left. The painting of the warrior fighting the Mastodon in the arena towards the end of the clip was done with his left hand.}

One of the prizes on my wall of Movie Memorabilia is a Frazetta lithograph of a bear {I like to think of it as Hibbs, the bear with 2 shadows, on a bad day} signed by the artist himself.


{The Frank Frazetta Estate owns all rights to Frank Frazetta's artwork.}


  1. Frazetta's artwork for Battlestar Galactica motivated me and ignited my imagination. (Even before I watched the series.) He knew how to capture passion and intensity.
    Ironically while I read a lot of science fiction when I was younger, it was Brooks' fantasy that prompted me to begin writing. Maybe one day I will attempt that genre.
    'Clothing challenged' - funny!

  2. Hi Roland
    Interesting to read about your muse and its inspiration. My own was developed from childhood by Dr. Seuss and later J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis.

    I considered other genres but in the end fantasy does it for me. I've given you two blog awards. If you have time come by.

  3. Alex:
    I was lucky enough to get a newspaper double-page spread of that first Frazetta BATTLESTAR GALATICA artwork. I think you would do great in fantasy -- your own unique taste in it, of course. :-)

    My computer acted up most of my free time this morning, so I have to shoot off to work now. But thank you so much for the awards!

  4. I like Frank Frazetta's art work but it may be an acquired taste for some. Definitely clothing challenged (you'd think they get nicks from the fangs, claws and weapons brandished).

    It's nice to know what has influenced you in your writing, especially the literary references and how you weave them into your stories.

    For me, Asimov, Herbert, and Clarke made me want to write scifi. Especially Asimov. He looked far into the future, and created worlds which I still remember reading about. (Foundation series). I read lots of fantasy before I turned back to scifi. I also read most of Hemingway novels after reading A Moveable Feast and visiting Key West. Sartre (Jean-Paul) I read with Camus and de Beauvoir in college, when one is most idealistic.

    We go along our path collecting our influences even though we may not be aware of it. (til someone asks)

    I always think it's sad when people quarrel over 'who gets what' when someone passes away. It happens, but it means they value the goods more than the person.

  5. D.G.:
    Yes, the whole Frazetta feud saddens me as well. It is interesting to read the influences of Hemingway, Faulkner, and Twain.

    Thinking individuals I believe continue to be influenced by masters as they grow. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    My non-stop war with the bed bugs which have infested my entire apartment complex has kept me from mailing the prizes to my friends like you. Sorry.