So you can read my books

Saturday, October 24, 2015


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 first place.

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."



I have the eye-aching habit of writing long posts, so out of compassion for your eyes, 

I will leave that sign post to another day.
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 the next 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 sketchbook.}


  1. Hi Roland. These are super powerful images to leave us with. I'm sure our reading influences inform our writing today. It isn't hard to see where your influences lie.

    Thank you for buying my novella. I hope you can see the Magic, Horror, and Otherworld Beauty that influenced me also.

    Denise :-)

    1. Young as I was, I was attracted to magic, myth, and otherworld beauty. :-) I was glad to buy your novella.

  2. I remember Frazetta, but he didn't have the impact on me that he did on you. We each have our role models for images that imprint our minds. Mine was Michelangelo, Rafael, and Leonardo (and I mean the artists, not the mutant ninja turtles.) For writing, the Paris intelligentsia and Kafka made an impression on me. After that, science fiction grabbed my attention. . .

    1. It was only when in college that I became interested in Michelangelo and Leonardo -- William James, Freud, Maslow, and Albert Ellis -- the psychologist in me. :-)

      Twain and Zelazny have been twin beacons in my writing, too.

      Hemingway, Chandler, and John D MacDonald came later.

      We are shaped by so many influences, don't you think?

  3. You are one of the most interesting people I have met, well met in spirit, if nothing else, in my life. I'm so glad you are my friend. My first post back, I'm also writing about some who influenced me when I was young. More D.G.'s kind of authors than yours. It's good to be back, but I'm having problems with my modem, the system part. So I better go now, while the going is good, so to speak.

    1. That is so nice of you to write. :-)

      I am so glad to see you here again! I hate to hear about your modem problem. Thanks to Hurricane Patricia triggering pouring rains even way over here, my own computer is acting up too.

      Tomorrow the police have asked no one to go on the roads, but sadly, I am doing solo duty tomorrow and must "enjoy" deadly flooding to get the rare blood where it must go.

      Life seems to always fluctuate between extremes. I just want a happy medium: you know become a successful self-supporting author with reams of fans -- ah, that does seem extreme, doesn't it? :-) Have a lovely Sunday.

  4. First of all, Roland be safe and alert, not so much for yourself, but for others, who aren't paying attention on those flooded, steamy deep southern Louisiana Bayou laden highways. I have been to 42 states, and have never seen rains like those from New Orleans to Houston, of course your smack in the middle. Blessings for your safety, Legions of Angels, to ensure such.

    I will never forget your strong influential recommendation(s), to investigate Frank's book- Legacy. You had a single copy in your book store in 98, of which I have in my vaults. Your unique capability to know the heart, soul, 'likes or dis-likes' of Your Clients and Friends, was like a Magi telling ones fortunes.

    You being so well versed on works of Literature and Art, revealed to me, way back then, your keen intellect, and eye for Classical works, of which locating such individuals like yourself, are like finding a needle in a barn full of hay stacks. You enabled many Roland, to pursue their inner callings. You were and are much like a Conductor Directing a great Mozart Symphony.

    You were the main inspiration, in aiding each person to explore and find new resources in pen and paint brush. You definitely influenced; enabled my own Quality of art and writ. To this day, many of Your recommendations, are still, amongst my favorites books, paintings, drawings, and Illustrated Novels. You fed the fire of my Love for Alan Moore's work, Neil Gaiman, (you gave me a copy of 'American Gods'); Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Alex Ross, Mark Waid, and many many others. To this day, I am forever grateful to have your guiding hand. Roland. You introduced me to some great works of Art and Writ. From The Trenchcoat Brigade, to Alan Moore and Neil Gaimans, many infamous works; of which You always had available.

    To this day, Your trace and mark on Our Lives remains present. A Frazetta-Vampirella Lithograph, as well as Alex Ross' Litho's hang from Ken's walls. In my study, a display of Steam-Punk sits on my desk. Batman- "No Man's Land" store display sits on top of my PC. I scanned every pic in 'Legacy,' and 'Icon' to create a Frazetta Screensaver of 250+ very unique drawings/art.

    In 2004, I purchased 'Icon' and saw for the 1st time, the fabulous Documentary - 'Frazetta: Painting with Fire' (released in 2003); which includes rare family film footage, one on one interviews with Frank and some of his closest friends.As well as a deep look into the paintings and mind of a Legend.

    Thank You my Dear Friend.
    2004 was a crazy year, beginning with the release of Frazetta's book 'Icon' followed by the Documentary noted herein. I met Michael Turner, and spent 30 undisturbed minutes talking with Him, at the Local Comic book store. MIchael was never a victim of his sudden infamy; and was as down to earth a people person, as any famous person I have ever met. Mike asked me to sit next to Him, as he signed comic books. During a lull in customers, Mike picked up his briefcase, and showed me Pencil Drawings, one of 'Witchblade', that was almost finished, and appeared as a Centerfold in Wizard Magazine. His meticulous nature with his detailed oriented art was breath taking. This was but a year or so, before Jim Lee put Turner to work on Covers, and let Mike draw the Superman-Batman Story. While the Year would be interrupted by a horrible Spinal Discectomy in months to come. You also made that 1 year of being bed ridden, as pleasant as possible, with your gift of "Tales of The Otori", to this day still one of my favorite stories, no doubt....!!!

    1. So far the truly deadly pouring rains are holing off ... but eventually they will come like a monsoon. Sigh.

      It was a two way street with our far-roaming conversations, my friend. :-) I'm glad you enjoyed the artwork of Frazetta and Alex Ross. In fact, I am looking at an autographed Frazetta portfolio cover of FIRE AND ICE and on the wall in front of me is the Alex Ross autographed virgin cover of SHADOW: YEAR ONE -- have to love Margo Lane shielding the Shadow!

      Michael Turner left us much too soon, but he stayed a kind, compassionate man all through his illness.

      Oops, I spoke too soon. The rains are hammering now. Wish me luck. I have to secure all the windows and doors. Louisiana. Always a challenge! :-)