‘Silesian Treasure’: Behind the Scenes

Welcome to this discussion about ‘Silesian Treasure’, the first story in Superversive Press’s Planetary Anthology: Earth.

We’re doing this Q&A thing again?

Yes. Yes we are.

Why?

Because you don’t like talking about yourself.

It’s a fair cop.

So, if you haven’t, go on and buy it/download it, then read it. we’ll wait….

[instrumental version of ‘Girl From Ipanema’ plays]

So, now that everyone has read we can discuss it. If for some reason you didn’t, then let this be your Final Spoiler Warning. And with that, I want to welcome the author, W. J. Hayes. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Well, I’m talking to myself, but sure, you’re welcome.

This is the second of the Planetary Anthologies to contain one of your stories.

Yes, ‘Venus Felix’ appeared in the Venus Anthology.

Did you plan on submitting a story for all of the books in the series?

Oh, good lord, no. I looked at call for submissions, which were brief, maybe a sentence or two description of the themes. And for most of them, I just shook my head, and thought, “Nope, I got nothing.”  I had an idea for Venus.

That was your ‘Venus Felix’ story?

No. It was a completely different idea than the story that I eventually submitted.

And what about Earth?

I couldn’t think of any story that would apply. When I read the original description for the book, I kept trying to think of a sci-fi, futuristic story.  And nothing came. It was the same with the guidelines for Mars. As a matter of fact, even now, I still can’t think of a Mars story.

What changed about writing for the Earth Anthology?

I think the first thing that changed was  my approach. One of the things I am conscious of is I tend to focus a lot of dialogue and less on people doing things. Early drafts of stories tend to be heavy on people talking about things instead of doing them. And as much as I enjoy banter between different characters, it does not necessarily make for a good story. Plus there is a danger of the work going from being an enjoyable read to a polemic screed.

And it happened at around this time, I discovered Kindle had the original Doc Savage novels available for cheap. So, I bought The Man of Bronze.  It is very instructive of the early 30’s pulp style. Then I went back to Kindle to buy the next novel, only to discover Amazon had pulled all of the early Dent books.

Why is that?

I have no idea. But in trying to find out why, I went down the rabbit hole that is the internet and began reading up on Dent himself. In doing so, I came across his tips on writing short pulp stories. And armed with his advice, I decide to see if I could do it.

‘Silesian Treasure’ is the result?

It’s the most polished result, but not the first. There were a couple of prior stories that I am still playing around with.

Let’s talk about the story, who is Buchanan Polk?

Buchanan Polk is the President and CEO of Polk Industries, which is primarily focused on commercial fishing ventures. He someone that women want, men want to be, and his enemies want him to be crush by space debris.

This is not Buchanan Polk’s first appearance.

No it’s not. His first and only other appearance was in Freedom’s Light: Short Stories entry, ‘Polk’s Prophetic Property’.

Had you always intended to bring back Polk?

No. When I wrote ‘Polk’s Prophetic Property’, Buchanan Polk was essentially a one-off character. His main function was that story was to defend the concept of property rights in battle of wits with Cthulhu.

What?

Yeah, I don’t write normal stories.

Anyways, I had no plans to use him again, because I wasn’t sure what I could do with him.  But as I began fleshing out the idea that became ‘Silesian Treasure’, it occurred to me Polk was the perfect pulp hero for the tale. He has the swagger and self-confidence you see in a lot of early pulp stories.

How did the story come about?

I remember thinking I wanted to drop character into a bizarre situation and team him up with someone who was taking the absurdity of it all in stride. So then it became a sequence of questions: Where were they? What was happening? Why was it happening? Slowly, the idea began to coalesce around a single scene.

What scene?

When the Dragon mentions the treasure is the drawing and cries out, “It’s a treasure to me.”

The Dragon is rather unusual.

Yeah, the idea of the Treasure and its guardian had been kicking around in my head for years. There was something about taking the phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and substituting the word ‘Dragon’ and then imaging who everyone else would react when they saw the treasure was not, well… a treasure in the conventional sense.

Once I had that, I began to work back, trying to figure out how people got to that point.

How does Enoch P. Simmons of the Royal Air Force fit into the tale.

He is the reader’s introduction to Polk and the insanity that swirls around him. I wanted someone who would be slightly perplexed as to what was happening and could occasionally ask questions the readers were probably asking. Plus, his befuddlement served as comic relief allowed me to make hamburgers out of some sacred cows.

His view of dwarves for instances.

Exactly, the idea that he has been so indoctrinated into not offending anyone that he focuses more on the correct term instead of the fact they are criminals.

The motivation of the leader of the dwarves is different.

For some reason, the idea of having a villain seeking a great power and not wanting to use it for world domination, but something smaller scale just struck me as fittingly absurd for the story. I think its something that should be used more often. The idea of the criminal mastermind always trying to take over/destroy the world/universe is one of those clichés that has been done to death.

Originally, he wasn’t an ogre, but a human. But when I got rid of the humans in the hotel attack scene, I realized I didn’t need one leading the robbery. And an ogre seemed like a more fitting substitution.

What else in the story change?

The basic outline of the story pretty much stayed the same. Once I began writing, it was always going to occur at a Seafood Convention in the Czech Republic and would result in the discovery of the dragon and her treasure.

The details changed. For example, the story originally took place in Opava, which is in the Czech portion of Silesia. Which is where the story got its name. Also, the original attackers in the hotel were humans and the dwarves didn’t appear until Polk and Simmons got to the spas. There was also for a while a damsel in distress in the spa battle.

What happened to her?

Even as I was writing that draft, I knew she was probably coming out of the story. I just couldn’t figure out what to do with her. Simmons filled the role of the companion. And so, just like poor Harry Sullivan, she was excised from the story.

Now that Silesian Treasure has been published, what’s next?

For me? Or Buchanan Polk?

Both.

Well, I waiting to hear back on a couple of short story submissions. I can say I will have a story appearing in the Pluto Anthology, ‘Pluto Invictus’.

Does that feature Polk?

No, but Cyrus Strabo from ‘Venus Felix’ returns. As for Polk, I am working through another draft of the first pulp experiment. That coincidentally featured Polk. So when that’s ready, I’ll see if anyone wants to publish it.

Beyond that, I am working on another story with Strabo that would be a sort of sequel to the Pluto tale. After that, I intend to finally work on the story I originally planned to submit for the Venus Anthology.

Which seems like a good time to stop this interview. Is there anything we forgot to discuss?

If you have read the story and/or the anthology, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. And I should probably mention the publisher has a freestartr Indiegogo* campaign to send some of its novelists to Dragon Con. So maybe check that out. Other than that, I think that’s is it.

Well, thanks for talking.

Well thank you for this opportunity to  talk to me… myself.

 

*UPDATE: See the Update I posted at the end of Midweek Housing Cleaning for an explanation

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Mid-Week House Keeping

I hope you are enjoying Planetary Anthology: Earth. If you are, please leave a review at Amazon. The more people who review the book helps get it promoted using Amazon’s algorithms.

Also, there was a livestream roundtable about the Anthology last Sunday with the Book’s editor, Dawn Witzke and A M Freeman (who edited the Venus Anthology).

Next, Superversive Press, the fine people who released the book, have a campaign on FreeStartr  Indiegogo* to have a bunch of the authors go around in a van and solve mysteries….

[looks at notes]

Sorry, that’s a Scooby-Doo campaign. My bad….

The Superversive folks are looking to send a couple of their novelist authors to Dragon-Con. There is some neat swag at different pledge levels. So, feel free to chip in for that.

Finally, this Friday, I will have a post discussing my story, ‘Silesian Treasure’, i.e. what was the genesis of the story, etc.

(And I see in my notes, I still owe one for ‘Venus Felix’ from the Venus Anthology).

So, see you all Friday.

 

 

*UPDATE: Apparently there are people out there who don’t like competition. Worse, there are people who don’t like competition if the competitors engage in WrongThinkTM. In this case, some folks decided projects funded through FreeStartr might cause people to think for themselves and got the credit card processing companies to refuse to do business with them. So, the Superversive Folks have had to migrate their campaign to Indiegogo.

Planetary:Earth Now Available

You can now purchase Planetary:Earth, the latest from Superversive Press’s Planetary Anthology series.

It is available in Kindle and Paperback. (For some reason, it takes Amazon a while to realize the Kindle and paperback versions are the same item.)

My story is Silesian Treasure. What is it about? The blurb I wrote for the book states:

RAF Group Captain Enoch P. Simmons is tasked as liaison to a business convention. He meets Buchanan Polk and the pair suddenly find themselves in the midst of a robbery. The only thing more unusual than the thieves is the treasure.

As some of you may know/recall, Buchanan Polk first appeared in Polk’s Prophetic Property in the 2017’s Freedom’s Light Anthology. When Buchanan and company appeared in that story, I did not envision ever writing another story about Polk. However, late last year, I started playing around with writing in a quasi-pulp format. The idea of the treasure and its guardian had been kicking around in my head for a while.  And when I was thinking about who the main characters would be, Buchanan Polk adjusted his cuffs and suggested he was the one with the most experience and would be happy to explain to the good Group Captain all about the wonders they would face, including those who were ‘Vertically Different’.  I hope you like it.

(And I will post something next week, expanding on how this story came together.)

And there are 17 more stories for you to enjoy:

This Planet is a Hole by Lou Antonelli – An alien teen is forced to move with her family to the worst planet in all of space and she’s not happy about it.

Extinction Point by Richard Paolinelli – Every civilized planet reaches a point when its technological advances lead to its ultimate demise. Major Adam Armstrong has just discovered that Earth has reached its extinction point and he is racing against time and space to try and warn his homeworld before it is too late.

I Hate Mars! By Arlan Andrews – An exile from Earth is sent to Mars in a robotic body. He hates the Red Planet but makes an unexpected life for himself there.

The Mantle of Gaia by Jody Lynn Nye – When Earth is under attack from an enemy force, her defender might be the one with the most unlikely of talents. College student Winston Chun is the last survivor of the programmers who can operate the planetary repulsor web against the incursion of bloodthirsty aliens, but can Colonel Fran di Palma get him to the control center before the Fangs wipe out the entire human race?

Reality Run by Alfred Genneson – A post-human discovers the world outside of the computer.

The Lamp By Which My Feet Are Guided by R. W. Ware – What’s left after a religious apocalypse? The brave men and women of the Mavericks.

Escape From The Lost Land by Nathan Dabney – Explorers Virgil Shephard and Ross Kent have discovered a tropical paradise deep in the snows of Antarctica, but beyond the flora and fauna thought to be extinct there lurks a mysterious evil from which they must escape.

Unacceptable Losses by John M. Olson – Caroline Storm is stranded in a combat zone, her team missing or dead, communications on blackout. Can she complete her mission and survive?

Climate of Change by Marie Genneson – A marital spat between Pluto and Persephone sends the world into chaos. Can Athena mend the split before the drastic temperature changes destroy the humans and kill them all?

Welcome to Mars! by A. M. Freeman – Some rivalries span over decades, but how far is too far when doing what it takes to win?

The Dawn of Reason by Dan Gallagher – At the dawn of humanity there was a choice to walk in trusting humility, or else covet equality with God as a thing to be grasped. How’d that work out?

Under A Wayward Sun by Josh Griffing – Terran Fleet Ensign Jack Williams is about to make history on Topeka-2 as the youngest officer ever to lead a survey team to a planet’s surface. But the real story of Topeka-2 is far more curious than anyone expected.

The Hidden Conquest by Hans Schantz – Faster-than-light travel is a myth, yet a invasion crosses light years of space and eons of time, employing a small but devastating secret weapon to conquer another world. Can he can stop the Civic Circle’s “Hidden Conquest,” before it’s too late?

Complicit in Their Bondage by J. Manfred Weichsel – A US Soldier discovers an ancient secret in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Ringrun by Ben Wheeler – A robotic scientist is on the run from a nanotech swarm desperate to rip out the information he holds in his mind.

Xolotl Resurrected by J. D. Beckwith – A convergence of breakthroughs in quantum intelligence and materials technology has led to the birth of matter conversion. Can the idealistic inventors prove its viability to the world, and share it, while still protecting against its misuse? They have the power to create anything, so why not start with a miracle?

We’ll Always Have Earth by Bokerah Brumley – Ilsa Land works on the R.S.S. Ether Hope, a Trans-Galactic Spaceliner. As an AA—or Aware Android, she plans to spend the rest of her life with the concierge bot, Rick Blair, another AA. When a ship-wide malfunction sends Ilsa’s plans horribly awry, she must choose between saving her future and saving an innocent life.

And please, leave a review on Amazon.

Another Foray Into Publishing

As some of the long time readers are aware, last year, I had a story, Polk’s Prophetic Property, published in the Freedom’s Light Anthology.

A new year, a new anthology.

Or Two. (Maybe more).

Tomorrow see the publication of Planetary: Venus. This is the second of Superversive Press’s anthologies based upon the planets. Planetary: Mercury is on sale now.

So, what is Venus about? Well, let’s look at the book flap:

Venus, the second planet from the sun, a world of sulfurous gas and tremendous temperatures where the landscape features—mountains and valleys—are all named for love goddesses. Venus herself is the goddess most known for allure and romance.

Here are twenty stories featuring Venus, the planet, the goddess, or just plain love—both romantic and otherwise. Planetary Fiction explores the themes associated with these heavenly bodies as well as their astronomical, mythological, and in some cases even alchemical significance.

Besides my story, “Venus Felix”, there are stories from:

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Lou Antonelli

JD Beckwith

Dana Bell

Bokerah Brumley

Misha Burnett

Amy Sterling Casil

Declan Finn

A. M. Freeman

Julie Frost

David Hallquist

Frederic Himebaugh

L. Jagi Lamplighter

Jane Lebek

Margot St Aubin

Edward Willett

Dawn Witzke

Joshua Young

So, tune in tomorrow when I post the link.

And then probably I will discuss a little about the story.

Consider it the beginning of of a Lent free of political posts.

An Important Holiday Reminder

Back in law school, I took a course on Wills and Estates. There was case we studied involving a woman asked her attorney to draft a new Will for her. This was done and the client was notified. The problem was the lawyer told the client she didn’t have to rush in to sign. She could wait until after the holiday. Just don’t die, ha ha, the lawyer told her.  Naturally (and this was why we were studying it), she died over the holiday, never signing the new Will. The Courts ultimately ruled while the new Will may have reflected the deceased’s intent, because it was never signed, it was not valid and the prior Will, which was signed by the woman, controlled.

After we finished discussing the case, the professor told us the back story. He knew some of the parties involved. Turns out, the lawyer who drafted the new Will was a functioning alcoholic. The holiday was the Fourth of July. Said lawyer was looking forward to going on a bender for the holiday, he didn’t want to waste any time he could be drinking having to wait around his office for his client to show up and sign the new Will.

The moral, the professor told us, was this:

DON’T CELEBRATE THE FOURTH ON THE THIRD WITH A FIFTH .

Have a happy and safe Holiday.

The Progressive Who Cried Racist

Once Upon a Time….

There was a young progressive who lived in a village. The Progressive’s self appointed job was to protect the villagers from harmful things, such as referring to people by the wrong gender pronouns. (This is why the progressive was known as “The Progressive”.) The Progressive was always finding something wrong with the way the village was being run and would feel compelled to lecture the villagers about it and the proper, progressive way to run a village. The Progressive was very vigilant that only the correct type of people should be in the village or have any say in its governance. And by the correct type, The Progressive meant those who agreed with The Progressive’s beliefs. While the village was nice, the Progressive always dreamed of making the village into…, well…. The Village.

The villager, while not overly happy with the young progressive, tried to humor him/her/whatever for two reasons: 1) Occasionally The Progressive was right and 2) the village as a whole was far more tolerant about The Progressive’s beliefs than The Progressive was about theirs.

Now the progressive’s mentor, an Alinskyite, had always told The Progressive that it was very important to keep the wrong people out of the village lest the Sheep be harmed by a Wolf. Though when the Mentor said “Sheep”, he meant the villagers. And the Mentor said “Wolf”, he meant  anyone who did not agree with the young progressive’s world view. And so The Progressive was ever vigilant for wolves.

One day when the village was seeking a new leader (dealing with The Progressive caused a lot of early retirements in the position),  The Progressive sat watching the Sheep and road that lead through the quiet forest, always on the lookout for people who might come to village and undermine progressive ideology. The mentor had told the Progressive, should a  such Wolf be seen, The Progressive should call for help by shouting “Racists”. “For remember,” the mentor said, Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” This would cause the Villagers would drive away the wolf because they would not want to be seen as racists. 

And on this day, an old man came towards the Village. He had the bearing dignity of someone who had suffered many hardships but was determined to put his best foot forward regardless. “Hello,” he said to The Progressive, “I’ve come about the leadership position. My name is John McCain. Here are my qualifications.” McCain handed the progressive his C.V. The progressive looked at the qualifications, looked up at McCain and then shouted, “Racists! Racists!!”

As expected, the Villagers who heard the cry dropped their work and ran in great excitement to the where the progressive was sitting and chased a very confused John McCain away. (This treatment caused McCain to become quite disordered. For he was later seen wandering the forest shouting nonsensical things such as, “Complete the Danged Fence!“).

When the villagers returned, they asked the young progressive, “What were his racist policies?”

“Well, you can tell by the coded language he uses,” said The Progressive, changing the subject by using a tone that suggested everyone should know what he meant.

The villagers were confused and there was some muttering. One asked The Progressive, “What coded language?”

  The Progressive gave the exasperated sigh one gives to a small child. “The witch hunt he incited,” the Progressive responded, condescension dripping from every syllable. “The way he talked about everyone but him. He was catering to racists and xenophobes.”

The villagers looked at one another. None of them recalled a Witch Hunt. And since they had chased off the man before they had even heard him spoke, they weren’t sure what language the Progressive meant. But even with these nagging doubts, the villagers felt good for getting rid of someone who could have been racists. Some did suggest, in the dark of night, when no one could hear them speak unpopular truths, that maybe there had been rush to judgment and that maybe the old man wasn’t really a racist.

A few days later the progressive was seated in the same place, working on plans to improve the breeding stock of the Sheep, when another man came walking towards the village. While the last man was old, this man was younger, with finely coiffed hair and had an aura of leadership. “Hello,” the man said, flashing his amazingly white teeth. “My name is Willard Montgomery Romney. Most people called me Mitt. I understand your village needs a leader. I’ve done a good job turning around other villagers. Perhaps I can help yours.” As Romney handed his resume, The Progressive shouted, “Racist! Racist!” Again the Villagers ran to help The Progressive and chased Mitt Romney away.

(Though don’t feel to bad for Mitt. While he fled that village, he enjoyed his life, taking time to vacation with his grand-kids).

When the villagers returned from chasing away the “Wolf”, they asked the progressive, “What were his racists policies?”

“Well, if he became the leader, he would literally put black people back in chains,” The Progressive said.

“He actually said that?” asked one of the villagers.

Waving Mitt’s CV, the progressive said, “His whole agenda was a dog whistle to racists.”

A villager looked at the CV and then passed it around to others. None of them could see, or hear this supposed dog whistle. “What else did he say?” another villager asked, skepticism creeping into his voice.

“He kept lists full of women and their information. Binders full of them,” the progressive said smugly.

This got murmurs of disapproval from the crowd. That was surely wrong. But then a third villager, who was looking at the CV said, “According to this, the binders were lists full of women who were capable of running major businesses and government agencies This looks like he was trying to help them, not hurt them.”

“He was a racist and a sexist,” The Progressive stated. “Surely you are not saying we should accept racists and sexists, are you?

The crowd of villagers started to shift uneasily under The Progressive’s gaze.. No one wanted to be called a racist. There were murmurs of “No, of course not” before the crowd slowly dissolved. But, as they all walked home, many villagers started to wonder about recent events. There seemed to have been a lot of cries of racism without any actual proof. Some villagers started to talk to one another about this. (Not openly, of course. They didn’t want to be seen as racist). Had the Progressive not been seated at the edge of the village drinking his coconut milk, no foam latte ( made with ethically sourced coffee beans sold by the Clinton Foundation)  with an air of superiority, the Progressive might have sensed the shifting mood of the village.

Then one evening, as the sun was setting behind the forest and the shadows were creeping out over the pasture, another man appeared. He was well dressed. The man was clearly balding but had an amazing comb-over that all but defied the laws of gravity. The man looked at The Progressive and then the village. “I’m here to run this village. This village is really bad,” the man said. “I mean, I’ve talked to lots of people and they’ve all said, ‘Donald, that Village near the woods is horrible. The Worst. A complete mess. So that’s why I’m here. I’m going to Make this Village Great Again. We’re going to start by getting rid of all of the taco wagons. Then we are going to build a wall. Because everyone knows, and I mean I’ve talked to a lot of people and they all say ‘The village needs a Wall.’ So we are going to have the yugest, most luxurious wall ever built. And we will used it to get rid of all of the undesirable people. And of course we will stop trading with the undesirable people and make everything we need right here. And we’re not going to have any of this political correctness crap. We’re going big league. Not out of my way, Pajama Boy.”

Not understanding that “bigly” was actually Trump saying “big league”, the Progressive was too stunned to move or even speak. And before he knew it, the people of the village had chosen The Donald had become their leader. The Progressive’s mind reeled. “But he’s a racist, xenophobic, misogynist,” the Progressive cried out. “And he is being supported by the Russians!” But no one was around to hear The Progressive’s whines. Being distraught, the Progressive walked into the first bar he spotted. When he opened the door, he was shocked to find a large gathering of white men. “What’s this? Who are these people” he blurted.

“Oh, they’re 199 Neo-Nazis,” said a woman.

The Progressive looked at the group. They were indeed all white men. And they were all dressed like Lady Gaga at a Hillary Clinton Rally. But they didn’t look like the pride of the Aryan Race. It was more like a room full of Joseph Goebbels impersonators. Then the Progressive did a double take. “Tila Tequila?”

“Yes.”

“But why?”

Law and order, I think that’s very important to have. Most people are so used to being all about their ‘freedom,’ so they becomes these little crybabies. They can’t live by laws and rules. Civilization needs to be civilized.

“Oh my Darwin, it’s happening,” he squeaked. The Progressive couldn’t believe racists had made it into his village. He also couldn’t believe people thought they could live by laws and rules he didn’t agree with. It was all too much for him. And he needed to warn the village of the danger it was facing.

The Progressive ran outside. “Racists! Ray-cists!” he cried.

Some of the town folk heard the Progressive. But none went to him. “We’ve been fooled too many times,” said one while another added, “It’s probably another hoax.”  A third looked out a window saw The Progressive fleeing down the street followed by Tequila and the Alt-Righters. This villager said, “Hey, it looks like Mel Brooks is doing a sequel to the Producers  starring Tila Tequila”.

And what is the moral?

The moral isn’t that there aren’t any wolves or racists.

The moral is if you call everyone a racist, no one will care or believe you when the real racists show-up.

 

(If you liked this piece, be sure to check out the Freedom’s Light Anthology, now available for pre-order: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NBAM5NG)

 

 

Naked Self Promotion: Freedom’s Light

This being the week of Thanksgiving, there will be no (overtly) political posts. So instead, I am going to plug Freedom’s Light. It is a collection of Short Stories by Libertarian and Conservative Authors. Many of them are well known. For others, like your’s truly, this is their first published work.

Any profits from the book will be donated to charity.

It will be published January 17, 2017, but can be pre-ordered today.