Saturday, June 8, 2024

Milton Davis - Meeting a Role Model


I have a mission to meet the authors my stories share anthologies with ("selfie" tag), and for Perseid Presses' Heroika and Heroes in Hell Series, I've cornered a bunch in Chicago, Indianapolis, New Orlean, Norman OK, and now Atlanta!  Beth PattersonCharles GramlichJoe BonadonnaJack William FinleyTom Barzcak  ... and now Milton Davis!

Just ran into one of my inspirational role models for writing and publishing Milton Davis (in this case, I was in Atlanta for an American Chemical Society Green Chemistry convention...which is cool because Milton has been a formulation chemist for decades).

Grateful to chat about storytelling and chemistry. Grabbed an extra signature for Changa and the Heroika Dragon Eater anthology (we both have a story in that) and on Eda Blessed II, which I was honored to provide a cover blurb for. Thanks for your time, Milton!

Blurb on the back cover for Eda Blessed 2:
"Omari Ket is a rogue warrior, not a spy, but he is as suave, cunning, and as lethal as any Secret Agent Man. ‘Agency’ is a term for the capacity of a character to act independently, and Omari is an Agency onto himself: he reports to no one. Omari is a ladies’ man in a dog-eat-dog world. If you like a cut-throat, libertine, action-oriented protagonist, then you are ‘Eda Blessed.’"

Milton and I share a few table-of-contents too:

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Horror and Beauty in Edgar Rice Burrough's Work: An Interview with Robert Allen Lupton


We have an ongoing series at Black Gate on the topic of “Beauty in Weird Fiction” where we corner an author and query them about their muses and methods to make ‘repulsive things' become ‘attractive to readers.’ Previous subjects have included Darrell SchweitzerAnna Smith SparkCarol Berg, C.S. Friedman, John R. Fultz, and John C. Hocking (whose Conan and the Living Plague novel is finally due out this June 2024, so you should read that too to get psyched).  Anyway, see the full list of interviews at the end of this post.

This interview focuses on the legendary Edgar Rice Burroughs and an aficionado of his work, Robert Allen Lupton. The latter has published an amazing 2000 articles on, the Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site. Robert Allen Lupton is also a writer of 200 short stories, four novels, and six collections of adventure fiction, so this forum serves as a great opportunity to learn about past and present storytelling with a touch of horror in it.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

2024 Gen Con Writers Symposium Programming - S.E. Schedule


2024 Gen Con Writers Symposium (GCWS) Programming (Aug 1-4) was just unveiled, so you can add events to your wishlist for purchasing (which opens Sunday May 19th). Check out the broader details on my last post and Black (see the end of this post for key registration links for each track). The GCWS website has even more to offer.

This post focuses on my schedule:

Genre Panels with S.E.

Writing the Beautiful Nasty     Saturday 3:00 PM EDT

[this feeds into my BlackGate/com interview series on "Beauty in Weird/Horror Fiction"]. Join our panel of experts as they explore writing scary or repulsive matters in attractive and beautiful ways within the complex realms of horror. Featuring: S.E. Lindberg, Akis Linardos, C. S. E. Cooney, Jason Ray Carney, Jeri "Red" Shepherd 

Sword & Sorcery for Contemporary Audiences   Friday10:00 AM EDT

Join our panel of writers as they discuss Sword & Sorcery for a modern world: what does it look like, what could it look like, and what's out there to devour.  Featuring: S.E. Lindberg, Dedren Snead, Howard Andrew Jones, Jason Ray Carney, Sarah Sharp

Pulp Fiction for Contemporary Audiences   Friday 11:00 AM EDT

Join our panel of writers as they discuss pulp fiction for a modern world: what does it look like, what could it look like, and what's out there to devour. Featuring: S.E. Lindberg, Gini Koch, Howard Andrew Jones, Jason Ray Carney, Richard Lee Byers 

New Book! New Games! New Release Panels with S.E.

Join our panel of authors as writer and host S.E. Lindberg asks each about the inspirations and challenges behind their new books, games, and works. This fun experience back from last year by request! 

(Session A) Thurs 12:00 PM EDT Annye Driscoll (Maker Fishmeal), Briana Lawrence, Gini Koch 

(Session B)  Thursday 1:00 PM EDT   J.D. Blackrose, Lyndsie Manusos, Chris A. Jackson

(Session C)   Thursday2:00 PM EDT   Howard Andrew Jones, J. B. Garner, Matt Forbeck

(Session D)  Thursday3:00 PM EDT  Karen Menzel, Dedren Snead, Sarah Hans

(Session E)   Friday12:00 PM EDT E.D.E. Bell, Gregory A. Wilson, Jesse J. Holland

(Session F)  Friday1:00 PM EDT Anthony W. Eichenlaub, Bryan Young, Jennifer Brozek 

(Session G)  Friday2:00 PM EDT Cat Rambo, Erin M. Evans, Kwame Mbalia

Writers' Symposium 2024 Programming

If you have already purchased your ticket to Gen Con, you can now select which events you would like to attend. Our Gen Con Writers’ Symposium events are designed for writers, but everyone is welcome, and we hope you will consider our events. The opportunity to hear the perspective of writers of games, roleplaying, books, multimedia – we think is core fandom. We are offering over 170 events, including ~80 free panels, ~60 classes (workshops), >20 signings, and special and interactive Events (like an open mic poetry event, a D&D session and Meet & Greet with the authors).

Download the Full Program in PDF here (link).

Interested in a specific topic? Sign up for them all, as many will fill up quickly! Prefiltered GenCon-Registration Links for each track (hashtags) are below:

#gcws – All our events
#writing – Nuts and bolts of the craft
#editing – Perspectives on editing work, designed for writers
#worldbuilding – Crafting the space for your words
#writerlife – About being a writer, as a person
#genre – Discussion on specific genres
#career – Managing business elements of writing over time
#videogames – Topics related to digital games
#tabletop – Topics related to tabletop gaming
#poetry – Topics related to speculative poetry
#visual – Graphic writing
#tech – Technical tools related to writing
#publishing – Topics related to publishing
#nonfiction – Topics related to nonfiction
#marketing – Promoting your work
#classroom – Instructor-led, classroom-type events
#event – Featured GCWS events
#qna – Question & Answer (Q&A) events
#signing – Signing opportunities
#interaction – Interactive opportunities
#experience – An immersive experience with writers

Register Now!

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Gen Con Writers' Symposium 2024 Special Guests and Programming


Gen Con Writers' Symposium

This post announces our 2024 Special Guests and the reveals the Program. May 19th is the official registration day, but attendees can wishlist their events now!

Gen Con is the largest tabletop gaming convention in North America. In 2023, they welcomed over 70,000 unique visitors and offered over 19,000 events. By its nature, Gen Con attracts a large number of attendees who enjoy speculative fiction across formats. Gen Con 2024 will be held August 1-4 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Gen Con Writers’ Symposium is a semi-independent event hosted by Gen Con. It’s focused on writers of games and speculative fiction of all experience levels, but with as much fun and interest for gamers, readers, and fans. All registration is handled through the Gen Con website.  In the past 28 years, the Writers’ Symposium has grown from a small set of panels over a day or two of the convention to one of the largest convention-hosted writing tracks in North America, offering hundreds of hours of programming from 70+ authors, editors, agents, and publishers to nearly 3000 unique visitors per year on average.  We’ll be on the second floor of the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott (i.e., not the adjacent JW Marriott ). Head to our event at 350 W Maryland St, Indianapolis, IN 46225. The Black Gate Convention report for last year's symposium gives a good flavor of what to expect, and the planning committee's website at has all the details.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Lovers in Hell - Book Tour and Giveaway

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Charles Gramlich of The Swords and Planet League highlights Dyscrasia Fiction

Author Charles Gramlich just posted a Dyscrasia Fiction highlight in the Facebook Group: The Swords & Planet League on Feb 17, 2024

Link to post (click here)

One of the most unique voices working in Sword & Sorcery today is S. E. Lindberg. I met Seth a few years back and we’ve corresponded frequently as well as running into each other at such sites as Black Gate and Goodreads. Lindberg has put together a unique setting for what he calls “Dyscrasia Fiction.” Dyscrasia means “a bad mixture of liquids,” which is related to the Greek concept of the four “humors” of Blood, Phlegm, Black Bile, and Yellow Bile. In Dyscrasia fiction, these humors are sources of magical power and often soul and body corrupting influences.

The three novels available now are Lords of Dyscrasia (2011), Spawn of Dyscrasia (2014), and Helen’s Daimones (2017). Although Helen’s Daimones was the most recently published, Lindberg suggests new readers start with it since it sets the tone for the other books. Wherever you start, though, you’ll find a combination of beautiful language and powerful imagination. These works are hallucinogenic, dream-like, full of wraiths and apparitions—and sometimes horrors. Ideas and images pile one on top of another with an intensity that is far from common in fantasy literature. I admire the author’s ability to maintain that intensity throughout his works; his world-building never stumbles, and the result is a unique fantasy vision that rises to the level of art.
A word about the covers for these books. The first was created by Lindberg himself, who also has other artistic skills in addition to writing. Spawn of Dyscrasia has an amazing cover by Ken Kelly, and Helen’s Daimones has a great cover by Daniel Landerman.
There are also a number of short stories tied to the Dyscrasia setting. For more information, check out Seth’s webpage at: or his facebook page

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Gen Con 2024

I'm on the committee, but not chairing as I did in 2023.  The team just announced the guest list and special guests Linda D Addison and Mikki Kendall

Gen Con 2024 will be held August 1-4 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

We’ll be on the second floor of the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott (i.e., not the adjacent JW Marriott ). Head to our event at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott @ 350 W Maryland St, Indianapolis, IN 46225.

The Gen Con Writers’ Symposium is a semi-independent event hosted by Gen Con and intended for both new and experienced writers of speculative fiction. All registration is handled through the Gen Con website.


Monday, February 12, 2024

WFC 2010 - Reflections on Convention Attendance and Networking

McKiernan was a draw for me to attend World Fantasy Convention 2010 in Columbus OH (I had seen him in WFC1996).  Also, a draw for me was S.T. Joshi, writer of weird fiction and nonfiction. I tracked him down to sign a copy of Atheism; he was walking with Darrell Schweister in the vendor room. At that time I didn't know who Darrell was. It was years later when I learned to love his weird fiction (he eventually ran the programming for WFC 2016 and got me to moderate a few panels, and I interviewed him too in 2018)

I discovered Howard Andrew Jones here as he talked on a panel about Black Gate Magazine. He got me hooked on it, but it ironically was nearest the end of its print era. I got HAJ to sign a copy of Issue 15 2011 when I met him at GenCon 2017.  HAJ encouraged me to get involved with the GenCon Writers Symposium (I volunteered since then, even chairing the event in 2023) and interned with HAJ's Tales from the Magician's Skull.  Via GenCon and several connections with John O'Neil and HAJ, I took on an editing role at the Black Gate website in 2019.

John R. Fultz was there, but I didn't know him at the time. Fast forward to 2024 and I'd write a foreword to his re-release of The Revelations of Zang.  Found some recordings of his panels (here)

At the time I was beginning to look for markets for my Dyscrasia Fiction worked. I was eyeing ChiZine Publications and EDGE -Tesseracts; the latter invited me to hear readings from their authors. 

Michael Stackpole and Dennis L. McKiernan

S.T. Joshi 

EDGE and Tesseracts reading

Sunday, February 11, 2024

WFC 1996 - Selfie with Dennis L. McKiernan


Reflecting on my first literary convention, the 1996 World Fantasy Convention.

I was able to have Dennis McKiernan sign my copy of The Dark Tide (Book #1 of the Iron Tower Trilogy).  I'd get to meet him again in Columbus OH at the WFC 2010, where he spent a good portion of his life.

The Alan Lee covers really drew me into that series, as well as the Foul Folks, especially the Ghuls. I read that series before Toliens Lord of the Rings (which inspired McKiernan to write his work).

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

“The Magical Power of Art” - Foreword and Interview for The Revelations of Zang


The Revelations of Zang by John R. Fultz. The Rogues in the House Podcast (2023). John Molinero cover art.


The Rogues in the House Podcast, publishers of the Sword & Sorcery anthologies A Book of Blades Vol I and Vol II, now bring us a re-release of John R. Fultz's The Revelations of Zang (available now in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover). John R. Fultz is no stranger to Black Gate having published in the hardcopy magazine and hosting his Skulls graphic story and two of his short stories on the website. We recently highlighted a 2017 interview with the author on his approach to creating weird worlds that are both beautiful and dark (reposted on Black Gate Dec. 2023). I was honored to provide the Foreword and Interview for the re-release, and provided those here to reveal what you should expect, and why you should read, The Revelations of Zang!

John R. Fultz has a burgeoning library. His published novels include Seven Princes (2012), Seven Kings (2013), and Seven Sorcerers (2013), as well as The Testament of Tall Eagle (2015) and Son of Tall Eagle (2017). His short stories have appeared in Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Weird Tales, Black Gate, Weirdbook, That Is Not Dead, Shattered Shields, Lightspeed, Way of the Wizard, Cthulhu’s Reign, and plenty of other strange places. His story collections include World Beyond Worlds (2021), Darker Than Weird (2023), and The Revelations of Zang (re-released now, 2023)!  Now, we will reveal to you the secret arcana of that last volume...

“The Magical Power of Art” - Foreword and Interview for The Revelations of Zang

The uninitiated may ask: who the hell is Zang? What is s/he going to reveal to me? Well, Zang is not human. It is the larger portion of the ‘Continent,’ a forest mostly; but the land is so rich in character, it might as well be sentient. This foreword reveals what to expect in The Revelations of Zang collection, avoiding spoilers, and it showcases the behind-the-scenes context of the stories and the author’s rich history with creating illustrated and fantastical worlds.

If Karl Edward Wagner rewrote The Worm Ourborus (E.R. Edison, 1922) for fans of The Dark Crystal (Jim Henson, Frank Oz, 1982) you’d get the Zang Cycle experience. It is tough to blend action-packed adventure with weird milieus, with doses of royal intrigue and epic, elder lore. Wagner delivered this well with his Kane character; i.e., in Darkness Weaves (1978), and “Lynortis Reprise (1961). Fultz excels at this too. The Revelations of Zang is an epic fantasy delivered in pulpy bites. All episodes share a single, coherent story-arc; each successive tale unearths a layer of Zang’s history with a single primary protagonist who performs as a lone-wolf or general in a world war. Each sortie radiates heroic-fiction vibes. Indeed, seven of the twelve were written as standalone stories and published in esteemed journals such as Weird Tales and Black Gate print magazines. Each episode delivers a wondrous ‘wow’, so expect twelve climaxes, not one (as one would with a novel).

This collection follows this tradition with seven of its twelve tales published in magazines. Conversely, there are five tales that are only available in the collection and the sequence is greater than the sum of its parts. The pages are saturated with sorcery and fantastical elements, but do not expect classic tropes likes orcs and elves. The creatures here are freshly crafted, often from corpses or alchemical elements. Lending awe to the world’s gods and monsters is Fultz’s style, which portrays them with accessible, poetic flare–descriptions reminiscent of Tanith Lee or Clark Ashton Smith. The pacing is rapid, akin to Michael Moorcock’s Elric tales, who had a knack for creating novels out of his short stories with his Eternal Champion cycles; Sword & Sorcery readers will sense echoes of the Melnibon√©ans’ adventures as Quill and Taizo, the two main protagonists, journey across the Continent. Incidentally, there are some powerful, ancient jewels herein that reminded me of Elric’s “Jade Man’s Eyes” (1973) journey, or even Kane’s titular Bloodstone adventurehence the call out to The Dark Crystal above. You’ll learn more about the mystery of sacred, divine gems soon enough.

In The Revelations of Zang, Artifice the Quill (writer of the End of Sorcery) and Taizo (a thief of weird renown) are your tour guides, both depicted by cover artist Josh Finney for the first publication of this collection (2013, Fantastic Books). For this 2023 edition from Rogues in the House Podcast, cover artist John Molinero focuses on Quill and beautifully amplifies the demonic conflict the book delivers on. Meta-themes on how art (theater and books) can affect the outcome of warring civilizations are spotlighted–but don’t expect any less bloodshed and horror that one would get while reading Robert E. Howard. As Don Webb notes in his hilarious foreword to Fultz’s Darker Than Weird - Fourteen Tales of Horror (2022) where he terms the Fultzian approach as being a one-two punch combination: “Come for the horror, leave with deeper questions about history and metaphysics”, expect the same from Fultz’s Zang Cycle.

The back cover blurb hints at the deep undercurrents: “The exiled author [Quill]… learns the magical power of art and the art of magical power.” In the opening chapter, the royal sorcerers arrest Artifice the Quill because of his book The End of Sorcery by sending out their Vizarchs (humanoids with silver masks reminiscent of Fultz’s Skulls graphic novel 2010 Black Gate website). Then characters in “The Liberation of Lady Veronique” story explain the power of the written word; first, Veronique explains: “What is the power of a mere fiction that it can inspire such hatred among the powerful and such passion among the powerless”; and Arfos adds later, “The book [The End of Sorcery]… is a tool… to free mens’ minds. To wake them from the false dream woven about their hearts and minds.” Literally, both speak of Quill’s banned tome, but figuratively the fourth wall is breached: by reading The Revelation of Zang we are promised access to arcane secrets.

Well, it would be evil to disclose actual spoilers ahead of the stories, but we can gain a larger appreciation of the muses motivating the tales, and perhaps enjoy the stories even more, knowing context. As I prepared for this Foreword, I took notes with journalistic fervor, reading this collection, and delving into my 2017 interview-with-Fultz and my review of his World Beyond Worlds. Instead of reporting those notes directly, I used that material to craft intense questions and re-interview the author. We’ll have the embodiment of Artifice the Quill, Fultz himself, disclose over a dozen secrets:


 Kent Burles' illustration for Black Gate's presentation of "Return of the Quill" depicts a performance of Artifice the Quill's Glimmer Faire, an event that prepares the City of Narr for a mystical rebirth.

SEL: Let’s discuss the origins of the Zang Cycle. The story “The Persecution of Artifice the Quill” (Weird Tales #340, 2006) opens the Zang Cycle. In our 2017 interview (link), when asked about your ‘Weird Fiction role models’, we learned this story catalyzed your publishing journey. Witnessing the Zang Cycle, and your portfolio, grow is exhilarating. Please share insights about this catalyst.

JRF: “The Persecution of Artifice the Quill,” which begins this book, was my first professional sale. Not only did the story appear in Weird Tales #340, but I’m pretty sure it got the cover illustration. A dark and menacing piece by the great Les Edwards, which seems to capture the look of the undead Vizarchs chasing after Artifice in his debut story. So, it’s a milestone story for me. I had been trying for many years to sell a story to Weird Tales, so mission accomplished. They bought two more Zang stories before the mag’s management changed, and the next two were not published there after all. Luckily, I moved the Zang series to John O’Neil’s Black Gate, where he published several more stories. About half the stories in The Revelations of Zang were never published outside of its pages—they were new to the volume when it was first released ten years ago. That includes the climactic novella, “Spilling the Blood of the World,” which winds up thematic threads sewn into the first ten stories. I’m forever grateful that I got to be a part of Weird Tales magazine, even if it was only a single story. It opened a gateway to the rest of my career as a writer.

SEL: Is ‘Zang proper’ just the forest, or the whole Continent? I initially interpreted it as the latter, but I wanted to be sure.

JRF: Zang is one half of a mega-continent, and this half is largely dominated by the ancient Zang Forest (hence the name). The other half, Zin, lies beyond the north/south running mountain range known as the Spine. There may be one or more sleeping gods lying beneath those mountains…but no spoilers. Heh-heh. Most of the stories in The Revelations of Zang take place in the Zang area of “The Continent”—but when Artifice travels abroad with the Glimmer Faire, they do a nice tour of the Zin regions. Only one story in Revelations takes place in Zin, and that is “The Bountiful Essence of the Empty Hand.” RoZ focuses mainly on what’s happening in Zang, including the mystical advance and expansion of the Zang Forest. [However, there is one more story set in Zin, “Where the White Lotus Grows,” and it appears in the Worlds Beyond Worlds collection.]

SEL: To follow that, is “Yael of the Strings” (2014, Shattered Shields; 2021, Worlds Beyond Worlds) a Zang Cycle tale?

JRF: Well, it is a tale set in the World of Zang. So is “The Penitence of the Blade” in that same collection. Neither of these Zang tales is related to The Revelations of Zang story-cycle, they simply share the same world or universe. And you could also consider “Where the White Lotus Grows” to be a Zang tale, although it’s set on the other side of the Continent in Zin (as I mentioned above).

SEL:  Sticking with digging into origins, let’s hit on the bonus tale: “The Vintages of Dream” (first published in Black Gate #15, 2011). This twelfth story is the only one not explicitly in chronological order or even part of the canonical Zang Cycle; it is a fun piece that reveals how elements of Zang (i.e., carnivorous flowers, thievery of magical potions, etc.) developed. It is dedicated to Brian McNaughton (Throne of Bones, Word Fantasy Award-winning book, 1997) whom you must have corresponded with. Can you explain your interaction with him?

JRF: I’m sure I’ve told this story before, but let me just say that Brian was a huge fan of this story. After reading his World Fantasy Award-winning collection The Throne of Bones, I became an instant super-fan. At some point I tried to get “Vintages” published but nobody wanted it. I ended up sending it to Brian, and he even called one mag’s publisher and asked them to buy my story. It didn’t work, but I was astounded that he spoke up on my behalf. Brian said my writing reminded him of Robert E. Howard, which was a huge compliment for a young writer just getting started. When you’re first starting out, you run on pure enthusiasm, and a kind word from an established writer can really keep you going. Such was the case with Brian’s championing of “Vintages.” It would be many years later when the story finally saw the light of day in Black Gate. I really wish Brian had lived a few decades longer so he could give us more stories of his wonderfully weird world Seelura. He was a true modern master of the weird tale.

SEL: McNaughton’s Throne of Bones sequence is ostensibly ghoul-focused but has omnipresent themes regarding being-an-abject-person and misunderstood-artist (perhaps offering more depressing versions of your Quill who instead leans toward being an action hero). As an artist yourself, creating protagonists who are also artists, please discuss how you see artists as heroes?

JRF: Great question. Artists ARE heroes. Like heroes, they have fans. Like heroes, they perform feats of wonder, courage, and bravery. My heroes have always been Artists. (Sorry, Cowboys!) With the Zang stories, I wanted to explore the link between Art and Sorcery. I believe that writing IS magic—I teach writing, and I tell my students the same thing—I believe that all art forms have the capability of altering reality in significant ways that we mostly take for granted. Whether it’s a great novel sweeping you away to another world, a film that transports you somewhere you’ve never been, or simply a painting you could stare at all day, Art is a form of magic. It’s no coincidence that when you write, you have to “spell” each word out. It’s no coincidence that wizards “sing” their spells because music is a power all on its own. Writing itself may be the Original Magic, so wizards draw runes and sigils to concentrate their power. In the Zang stories, Artifice transitions from an ivory-tower “scribe” to a wandering playwright whose sorcery manifests in the transformational performances of the Glimmer Faire. I believe in the power of Art to rewrite reality—to make it better—to transcend the mundane, the organic, and the commonplace. To instill wonder, evoke awe, and elevate human existence. Stop me before I get too deep… Heh-heh. I also have to mention that the other “main” protagonist in Revelations is Taizo of Narr, who is not an artist but a smuggler and a thief. At least that’s how he starts…but again, no spoilers.

SEL: McNaughton intentionally avoided making a map for his Seelura milieu; there was no map for the Zang Cycle/Continent in its first two printings, but there was for your Books of the Shaper trilogy. Given your artistic skills and creativity, you are likely to have had one. Did you have a map of the Continent? If so, do you have thoughts on sharing maps for fantasy worlds?

JRF: Nice of you to point that out! I hadn’t realized it, but I guess I did the same thing that Brian did with Seelura: no map. I have this “mental map” of the World of Zang in my head, but I’ve never drawn it out on paper. With the Books of the Shaper trilogy, the publisher (Orbit) asked me if I wanted to do a map for the novels, so I did a rough and they hired a professional artist to do the final version. It looked great. But I don’t think a map is actually needed for Zang. As Brian said of Seelura, the lack of a map keeps the invented world more mysterious. It’s more like wandering through a dark and shimmering dream without any guideposts or direction. I dig that.

"Oblivion Is the Sweetest Wine" introduced the Zang series secondary lead, a clever thief named Taizo. Black Gate magazine commissioned two great interior pieces by Mark Evans to accompany the story. (left) Syyra, Taizo's erstwhile love interest. (right) The catacombs beneath the spider-worshipping city of Ghoth.

SEL: I’m curious about inspirations for the story  “When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye” ( 2013, available online) that involves Quill adventuring with a troupe of powerful, weird actors led by the stage master & sorcerer Mordeau; they venture into a haunted city with lofty goals and the reaction from the crowd/world is beyond epic. Loved this story. The last time I remember a troupe in adventure fiction would be the Grillards featured in James Silke’s Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer novels (Old Brown John being the stage master); note, the Glimmer Faire is magnitudes more powerful and exciting than the Grillards. Anyway, can you discuss your motivations/muses for creating a theatrical group of heroes?

JRF: As mentioned previously, I wanted to explore the link between Art and Sorcery. So, when Artifice learns to be a playwright (and simultaneously, a sorcerer), it allowed me to explore how the magical power of Drama can literally change the world. I’ve always been a big fan of Shakespeare, and I’d have to say one of the influences for The Glimmer Faire was A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The parallels are obvious, what with the Woodfolk musicians being part of the troupe. I wish I could remember more about what inspired the Lonely Eye concept, but I think the title came first, then the plot. I can’t recall anything beyond that, except that I wanted this story to really show how the Faire’s performance could work miracles and wonders—how their High Art transforms an entire community. But in my ongoing quest to avoid spoilers, I will say no more. Except this: Right around the same time I came up with the Glimmer Faire concept (2003), I saw an excellent historical-drama film called The Reckoning that sort of confirmed and inspired my approach. It stars Willem Dafoe and Paul Bettany as members of a medieval troupe of traveling actors. Fascinating movie. highly recommend it.

SEL: In your World Beyond Worlds collection, you have a story dedicated to Kung Fu actor David Carridine, “Where the White Lotus Grows” (Monk Punk, 2011), that harmonizes demon-killing with the ambiance of TV series. In the Zang Cycle, “The Bountiful Essence of the Empty Hand” features a culture seemingly inspired by Kung Fu too. Any connection there? Do you have martial art muses?

JRF: Absolutely. I grew up watching Kung Fu in the 70s. Revisited it in the 90s, and eventually collected all three seasons on DVD in the 2000s. Immensely inspiring show, and it introduced my young mind to Eastern philosophy. It’s still one of my all-time favorite TV shows. I do sometimes wonder how different it would have been if Bruce Lee (who co-created the show) had been allowed to play the main role. That went to Carradine instead, but he knocked it out of the park and became one of the biggest TV stars in the world during the 70s. The tragedy is that David walked away from the show after season three, when its popularity was white-hot, and he would never find that kind of widespread audience again. At least not until 2004, when Quentin Tarantino cast him as “Bill” in KILL BILL. But I also love old-school Shaw Brothers Kung Fu films, and many other directors in the genre. The Five Deadly Venoms has always been a favorite, and a few years back I discovered the seminal genius of Come Drink With Me. I could go on and on about martial arts cinema, but I prefer the movies that are set deep in the past. They could very well be fantasy films set in alternate worlds, and they inspire me in that way. In “Bountiful Essence” I got to explore the Zin side of The Continent, and I wanted to explore a culture somewhat akin to the Shaolin monks of ancient China, but not be limited to historical accuracy or concepts. So, the residents of the Invisible City in “Bountiful Essence” are visited by the Glimmer Faire in its tour of the eastern realms. Later, I wanted to explore the fate of Kantoh, one of the monks introduced in “Bountiful Essence,” so I returned to Zin and wrote “Where the White Lotus Grows.” It only seemed right to dedicate the story to David Carradine, since he inspired me at such an early age with his portrayal of Kwai Chang Caine. I love the martial arts films of Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, and Yang Lu. I also find the show Warrior to be fantastically good and totally inspiring. It’s almost like an answer to my above question since it’s produced by Bruce Lee’s daughter and based on his writings. I can confidently say it’s the best martial arts show since the original Kung Fu, and it’s set in the same time period. Great stuff.

SEL: There seem to be crossovers or tie-ins, such as the Ghothian spiders (that have a dominant focus in “Oblivion Is the Sweetest Wine (Black Gate #12, 2008), but also appear in World Beyond Worlds - ‘Yael of the Strings” (originally published in Shattered Shields (2014)). Less explicitly, the nine Sorcerer Kings and Divine Council of the Zang Cycle seems to resonate with the Seven Sorcerer Kings from the Books of the Shaper trilogy. Does the Zang Cycle spill over to other Fultz Universes?

JRF: No, no—very different concepts, and very different stories. The kings in the novel Seven Kings are not all sorcerers. In fact, only a couple of them are sorcerers if I recall correctly; they are the kings of various nations allied and/or divided by a coming war. That book is a completely different universe, totally unrelated to Zang in any way—except that I wrote both of them. In The Revelations of Zang, there are nine Sorcerer Kings who rule a single city (Narr the Golden) and its surrounding empire. They are “the enemy” of our protagonists because long ago they cast down the Gods of Zang and all their temples, replacing the worship of gods with the worship of themselves. They even refer to themselves as the Divine Council. So, a part of the journey in RoZ is the idea that you can’t really kill the gods, so what if they decide to come back? That’s the kind of thing we call an apocalypse…

SEL: Your Moroquin creatures remind me of fleshy versions of the Garthim (Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s 1982 Dark Crystal movie) which are giant clawed, exoskeletal elite guards/warriors serving the antagonists. Did the Garthim inspire the Moroquin?

JRF: No, but I do enjoy the original Dark Crystal film. At the time there was nothing else like it. I just wanted the Moroquin to be absolutely disgusting brutes—the tools of blind fascism and decadent sorcery. Grotesque and demonic.

SEL: You are an accomplished illustrator. Early in your storytelling career you wrote Primordia for Archaia Studios Press and wrote/illustrated the graphic novel Necromancy/SKULLS, available on Black (table of contents here: link). Have you ever drawn Moroquin, Vizarchs, or anything else for the Zang Cycle? Please discuss how drawing informs your writing now. If you have illustrations, can we share?

JRF: Well, thanks for the kind words, but actually I’m an amateur illustrator. I don’t have the skill to do professional illustration, but I’ve always loved to draw. So, I indulge that fancy sometimes. In the case of Primordia, I got the great Roel Wielinga to draw it and he did an amazing job. In the case of Skulls, that was back when I was trying to break into the comics industry and got tired of artists bailing out on pitches and projects. So, I started drawing and inking myself. I learned a lot from doing that, and I think my inking worked better than my pencils. Later, I re-envisioned that story as a web comic and repurposed it to run at Black Gate. I don’t really draw comics anymore. I’d love to write them, however, if the opportunity arises.

SEL: Any other behind-the-scenes context you’d like to share about the Zang Cycle?

JRF: Just that I’m so grateful that the Rogues in the House Podcast crew have decided to publish this second edition of Revelations of Zang. It’s been out of print for several years, so it will be great to make it available again for new readers. The Rogues also found a terrific artist, John Molinero, to paint a brand-new cover for the new edition. It rocks!

SEL: We hope that this collection can be an entry into published Fultz works, or perhaps future ones. On social media, there was a tease about two new novels called the Scaleborn series. Can you discuss future Fultz endeavors?

JRF: All I can say at this point is that the Scaleborn series is looking for a home, and I’ve got the first two books already completed. I’m hoping it will find a publisher before too much longer.

#Weird Beauty Interviews on Black Gate

  15. John R Fultz  BEAUTIFUL DARK WORLDS: AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN R. FULTZ (2023 report of 2017 interview)
  16. John R Fultz “The Magical Power of Art” – Foreword and Interview for The Revelations of Zang (2024 Interview)
  17. interviews prior 2018 (i.e., with Janet E. Morris, Richard Lee Byers, Aliya Whitely …and many more) are on S.E. Lindberg’s website

S.E. Lindberg is a Managing Editor at Black Gate, regularly reviewing books and interviewing authors on the topic of “Beauty & Art in Weird-Fantasy Fiction.” He is also the lead moderator of the Goodreads Sword & Sorcery Group and an intern for Tales from the Magician’s Skull magazine. As for crafting stories, he has contributed six entries across Perseid Press’s Heroes in Hell and Heroika series, has an entry in Weirdbook Annual #3: Zombies  He independently publishes novels under the banner Dyscrasia Fiction; short stories of Dyscrasia Fiction have appeared in WhetstoneSwords & Sorcery online magazine, Rogues In the House Podcast’s A Book of Blades Vol I and Vol II, DMR’s Terra Incognita, and the 9th issue of Tales From the Magician’s Skull. For several years he has played leading organizational roles for the Gen Con Writers’ Symposium.