The Way of the Word

7. July 2010

Mad Pulper Project: Return to Grover Springs

As mentioned, I have decided to write 12 novellas of between 25,000 and 30,000 words. Each of these 12 novellas will be of a (more or less) different genre. Or mix genres. They will all be nicely pulpish. I’m going to write until I’m comfortably ahead (meaning 5-6 complete manuscripts) before publishing the first one. From then on, I will publish them on a regular schedule once a month. The plan here is to self-publish them for the Kindle. If it turns out that there is demand, I would consider adding a print edition. (Actually, I might do that anyway — I don’t read e-books, and I might like a copy for my own shelf. We’ll see.)

The first of these is a western. We have our own pulp culture, and westerns are huge in it. Return to Grover Springs will be a classic western. I had the idea several years ago, but there was a major stumbling block that kept me from actually doing this. The story in a nutshell: When Jake McFadden hears that a rich rancher in his hometown Grover Springs wants to hire the infamous outlaw Jerry Lassiter for an unspecified job, he decides to return and see if he needs to help his family. He discovers that during the 10 years that he was away, his father climbed up from the dirt-poor farmer he used to be to the rancher who now hires gunfighters. The McFaddens own Grover Springs now. And Jake has to decide whose side he’s on.

This story needs to be done in prose. There’s no other way to properly tell it, because it has a major twist that would not work in any other medium. What had kept me from starting is this: I couldn’t figure out why Liam McFaden, Jake’s father, might want to hire gunfighters. That is, I could think of several reasons, but none that hadn’t been done to death already. That changed last month. For some reason, it popped into my head that the railroad would come to Grover Springs, and Liam doesn’t want that. It works.

This was actually what sparked the entire Mad Pulper Project. If these solutions to story problems keep popping into my head anyway, there’s no way I can restore my sanity unless I actually use them. But none of the ideas that I have here are actually big enough for their own novel, so…

I have a lot of ideas that almost made it, or were never submitted for some reason.  The Mad Pulper Project will very much be a catch-all for old ideas. Old but not forgotten…

Since solving the villain’s motivation for Return to Grover Springs was what set things in motion, I intend to burn that story out of my system first. Once I’m done with that, I’ll pick and choose which of the other ideas I will tackle next.  I’ll give an occasional pice of background, talk about what inspired a certain story, why I’m doing things the way I am… and I’ll try to avoid spoilers.


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