Read some of your novels, Mark, always liked them!
I also find GE very interesting, as it comes across a bit faceless, considering they are the last man standing, so to speak. The last publisher on the american market doing this stuff. And I wonder every year if this won´t be the last. So of course any anecdote about the inner workings would be appreciated :-)
have to say that i found my experience of working with GE completely different to yours, Mark. far from being a mere traffic manager, feroze was very hands-on with the kind of thing he wanted from DL. apart from some early LJ titles, i only ever read one while i was working for them (as with yourself, i've just finished my last one for them, having chosen before hearing about feroze going to move on) which was sent to me so that i could include characters from it in the title i was working on at that time.
i feel ambivalent writing this, as judging from your blog i'm one of the writers you regard as 'retarded' (not sure if that was personally, for the work, or both), but the direction DL went was one that was very much dictated by the editor, who would suggest storylines, mould initial synopses, and indicate the areas required for stories (ie. natural events this year, mutation to the fore next, etc).
now whether you agree with his directions or not, that's not just traffic management. and to be honest, i had no problem with going along with him, as my view was that i was a hired hand to work to direction, just like a soap scriptwriter. it did seem to be a narrow range at times, but then i took that as being the nature of the beast.
i only spoke to eva a couple of times as i didn't start til the end of '98, but she seemed fine. i was under the initial impression she was the head ed, but she just seemed to vanish.
whatever your views of his editorial style, he did get the series back up to six books a year, so something must have been going right?
perhaps this disparity between some old-school fans and writers and those of us who came later explains why my work is loathed by some. my favourite one is on amazon, and runs something like 'i found this discarded in a box of books outside a thrift store and still couldn't finish it', which is barmy on so many levels i take a kind of pride in it.
there does seem such a gap between your experience and mine that if you like, pm me - i'd love to discuss this in private!
Yeah, my experiences with Feroze were considerably different from a lot of GE writers due to the fact that I was the only scribe who created a series who continued to write it and guide it...not to mention that I was and am the only writer with a current royalty agreement.
There were some financial issues (still unresolved and ongoing) that went beyond a simple per book rate.
As for the retarded writers you reference...here is that section from my blog in context--
My Deathlands work, although very well-received, was pretty much by rote. By the time I was asked to contribute, the series was locked into such a brain-dead formula, I could not identify with any of the characters or for that matter the ridiculous and totally unbelievable postnuke setting…it had as much relationship to a real post-nuke environment as Middle-Earth did to medieval Europe.
The emotional and mental range of the stories and the characters were stupendously shallow—far more superficial than old episodes of The A-Team. The word “backward” and even “retarded” came to mind, particularly with the fixation on biologically impossible mutations whose genus always ended in “ie.”.
I'm obviously referencing the DL series as it stood before you or I began contributing to it.
After Laurence James left the DL series in 1995, Eva determined to break the "brain-dead formula" and branch into new directions. She also wanted to introduce more legitimate SF concepts into it...which made sense for a SF series.
At the time, Feroze was occupied with the Raven House mystery reprint series and he was content to let Eva handle Deathlands (and later Outlanders) and The Destroyer while he stayed with the Executioner books.
Eva's new direction lasted only until 1998, when her termination was "arranged." Rather than replace her, Feroze's superiors just told him that he had to deal with the Axler books, The Destroyer , The Executioner as well as the Raven House stuff all on his own.
The fact that DL went to six books a year means very little...Feroze was told to get it done. It certainly wasn't his choice.
Getting the trains to run on time when you're ordered to do it isn't enough to impress me...so...no...in my opinion, he wasn't doing something right.
He pretty much turned over direct editing of DL to a freelance editor a number of years ago. She had far and away more input into the series than he did for at least the last seven or eight years...maybe longer.
As I stated before...Feroze's involvement with Outlanders was negligble.
Suffice it to say...if Feroze had left GE a year before he did, it's quite possible I'd still be writing for them. But due to a number of unresolved issues, the relationship became so toxic I could no longer tolerate doing business the same way it had been conducted the previous decade-plus.
well, it did always strike me as odd that an sf series had no sf as such, but the way i heard it, the idea was to have it as kind of medaevil society where the technology was unusuable. that kind of changed over the years. as did the formula - gradually the straitjacket eased, and the last few years i was able to vary the formula quite a lot. a homage to gene autry, some native american myths in a title yet to come.
my first DL had some sf in it, but that was discouraged from the second entry onwards. now here's the funny thing - i had no idea that a freelance editor was handling the majority of DL until you mentioned it, as i never dealt with anyone except feroze! the process was that he'd call me (later mail me when i finally went online) and ask for three synopses. these would then form the basis of the next two books after he'd mixed and matched to what he wanted. i only ever dealt with him, apart from two occasions when someone called cathy contacted me - was she the freelance ed?
the first time was to clear up some English slang terms in an Executioner, and the second was to say what a good job i'd done on 'Seperation'... which is a perfect example of how DL worked with me: feroze asked me to come up with an outline that focused on millie and was about her identity as a black woman. the seperatist community and the island setting was also a given. i pointed out that i was male and white - and also not American - but carried on regardless. cathy - who is black, Amercian and female - was impressed, and if for no other reason i felt chuffed. it felt like i'd got the viewpoint right. yet apparently it is HATED, which is a shame in my view. mind you, i was asked to shoehorn in the disappearance of dean when the book was nearly finished...
so that process was my years on DL. feroze was very hands on and i never really dealt with anyone else - the complete opposite of the way it seems to have been for anyone else! and i do wonder why that was?
my characters were consistent in themselves throughout, but i do wonder if they bore any relation to the way others were writing them? i actually have no idea! i assumed there was continuity, and that any deviations would be pointed out.
i was hired on a flat fee basis and was happy with that. i was in journalism, had done some non-fiction, and was looking to put fiction on the cv. as far as i was concerned, with my other work i got to write novels and it formed part of my living. the regular money and work that was fun meant that i was happy to follow the lead of the editor, as i was working on someone else's project. the rights owner has the right to call the shots.
but as you created Outlanders, i can see why the situation was angering, as you had an emotional investment in the work that i couldn't have on DL. hopefully you can get that property back into sole ownership.
regarding the bit from your blog - i really wasn't sure which writers you were talking about, there, so was a little wary! i don't know whether it was obvious, but because the formula i was presented with was fairly narrow, i was playing around a lot with the idea of repetition the way Stewart Home used to with the old UK pulp formulas (which, if you're not familiar with him, you'll find reference to his work somewhere on here), and i've done things like write post-apocalypse in the style of a Dornford Yates, to play with the juxtaposition. i suspect this may not have gone down too well, but hey-ho...
anyway, that's enough rambling. if your experience was the common one at GE - as it seems to have been - then i'm just puzzled now by exactly why mine was so different, and i was kind-of kept apart from the other writers and their work!
After all these years, I assumed it was common knowledge that I was the first writer to follow Laurence James and write as "James Axler"...I guess I still hold the title for writing more books as Axler than anybody.
I definitely meant that the series was backward by the time I and others came aboard. I wrote my first DL, Stoneface in the summer of 1995. In my blog, I referred only to the stultifyingly predictable formula Laurence James followed that seemed to celebrate stupidity.
I wrote two more DL novels over the next year or so with uncredited contributions to two others.
I was asked a couple of times in the subsequent years to contribute other books to the series, but I was only interested if I could sort of "reboot" the series....not to mention, I was pretty bogged down with Outlanders.
As for continuity...nah, there never was after Eva left.
She encouraged the different writers to communicate with one another so as to stay more or less on the same page... a practice that Feroze strongly disapproved of.
At any rate, my ultimately dismal dealings with Feroze is by no means a unique experience. It's shared by many others before and during my time with the imprint.
Often-times when I recollect some of the stuff I had to put up with, I get a feeling akin to wading through raw sewage.
Post by Craig Herbertson on Dec 1, 2009 13:57:30 GMT
It was the topic of the writing. I've just got a terrible habit of being sidetracked when Burroughs is alluded to. The whole pulp tradition fascinates me - not least the craft of churning out words. I equate it to my experience of the music business - putting together a good act of commercial cover versions for the general public as opposed to fine honing serious music. Both are disciplines requiring different skills and they necessarily overlap at times.
This Frazetta art is astounding. Copied countless times and never really reached.
I thought the blog interesting. I know exactly what you mean about a good workplace. Had to grin about the remark about the problem with the writer´s name in the book. It is of course a good and much needed tool to search for writers you like and avoid those you don´t.
Of course this horse has left the barn a long time ago. Even with withholding the name again today you can find the info on the net if you look hard enough.