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Volume 7858

How Did You Discover Edgar Rice Burroughs? ~ Part III

Some of the books by Den Valdron

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How about your non-fiction books, you mentioned Doctor Who?
A trilogy - The Pirate Histories of Doctor Who.   It started with reviews of Doctor Who fan films.

Did you know that the first woman to play the Doctor wasnít Jody Whittaker.  It was Barbara Benedetti, a stage actress out of Seattle. When the BBC had its cancellation crisis and put the show on hiatus in the mid-eighties, she was part of a group that started making their own.  Their first story was shot on film, back when the BBC show was on video - they actually had higher production standards. She starred in four stories.

Technically, theyíre fan films. But you have a professional actress playing the Doctor in a high quality production better than the BBC at the time, sheís playing a new unique Doctor, sheís playing the Doctor in a series of four half hour adventures. All this when the show is off the air, or at its lowest period. Sheís not official? So what? She is the Doctor of the Gap.

From there, I got interested in fan films, a lot are terrible of course. Enthusiasm is no substitute for skill and talent. But there are some interesting ones, and the best ones are amazing.  From there, I got interested in the history of the show, some of the backstage skullduggery, then stage plays, animated versions and the audio stuff, gray market, copyright, missing episodes.

Honestly, the thing with fan films, with the animations, and audios, the reconstructions, all these things that fans do... The thing is, thereís no money in it for them, no fame, nothing really.  Theyíre doing it out of love.

Isnít that wonderful. Isnít that best reason to ever do anything?  Out of love.

I thought I would do one book - The Pirate History of Doctor Who, but there was too much material, so Another Pirate History of Doctor Who, and eventually, The Last Pirate History of Doctor Who.

I think Iíll stop there.  But thereís amazing stuff there. This is a thing I love.  Finding these secret corners no one has peeked into, finding the lost, the overlooked, the hidden gems, the secret delights, and sharing it with people.

The world is full of all these wonderful things that are everywhere, that we miss. I like to track these down, explore them, discover.  We live in an amazing world with wonders around every corner. We need to appreciate it more.

And you mentioned LEXX?

Yes.  The great LEXX book. What did I say?  I wrote the book I wanted to write, exactly the way I wanted to write it, and then I put it away.

I actually thought it was long gone.  Since I wrote it, Iíd a basement flood, marriage breakdown, I moved three times, two hard drive crashes, career change, and sundry other disasters.

As it turns out, I was visiting my Dad, and he had upgraded his computer, and he needed an external device to read floppy disks.  So I found him one, and then as an afterthought, I got one for myself.  I had a ton of floppy disks, including all my stories, so I figured I should salvage my story disks at least.

Anyway, after Iíd salvaged my stories and novels and essays, I had a lot of old business disks that were basically junk. Most of it was just surplus, I was getting rid of stuff, didnít even bother to look at half of it.  But I happened to check one unmarked disk before I tossed it, and lo and behold, there it was. Lost for ten years, and now it was found.

What I discovered was that when youíre writing the book you want, exactly the way you want it, it gets long.  A few hundred thousand words.

So to release it, I broke it into four books, one for each season.  That worked because the show changed radically every year.  Released one each year.

Itís a shame. There really isnít much of a market for a book or a book series about a cult television show thatís been gone fifteen years.

But it doesnít matter.  Iím very proud of the work, and Iím glad that theyíre out there in the world.  Iím proud of all my books.

Thatís what really matters to me.

Having the books out?

Yes.  I mean look, I donít have children, I donít have a spouse, or family or anything.  Iím it.  One day, Iím going to die, and then what?

Someone will clear out my home, some of it will go to the goodwill, some of it just to the dumpster. My affairs will be tidied up.  My computer will go into electronic recycling. Iím a writer, my lifeís work is in a hard drive, it goes into electronic waste, and everything I did, everything I meant, it all just gets wiped away.

Iím not maudlin, thatís just how it is.

I would like that work out in the world.  I donít want it to just sit and gather dust in the hard drive until I die, and it gets wiped away.  So, Iím making the effort to get it out into the world.

I donít know if it sells. I donít know how much I care. I just want it to be out there in the world, and not gathering dust.  People can read it, people can not read it, but this way, they have the option. Thereíll be something after Iím gone.

Thatís not morbid is it?  I donít think itís morbid.

So have you completely emptied your hard drive?

ot even close.  Iím actually behind schedule.  Iíve got four or five more books I wanted to work on this year.  Well, maybe next yearís the charm.

Iím thinning it out, but I think Iíve got at least another ten or twelve books.  Maybe more.  I figure maybe another five years?

Thatís not even counting the Burroughs stuff, if Bill ever gets tired of hosting me.

Why so long to get it all out there?

Well, I actually like to write new things.  And Iíd like to work on getting traditional publishers for my novels.

What Iíd like is for publishers to take my novels once Iíve written them, give me money and then they do all the rest of the work. Thatís the plan.

So I have novels and stories, and I want to keep writing more.  I have scripts that I work on. Iím doing some adobe videos.  I have these things I want to write for ERBzine. Thereís going to conventions, making contacts.  Iíve published other people.  Thereís the day job. All that kind of eats into time.

And in terms of emptying out the hard drive, itís not as easy as just uploading. You have to design and compile.  Incomplete work needs to be finished, rough drafts need to be finalized. A lot of stuff needs revision, editing, formatting, cleaning up.  Then thereís book formatting, registration, cover design, metadata.  Thereís a lot of work involved.

A lot of whatís left in the hard drive is in rougher shape.  Itíll take a bit more polishing to get out.  Thatís all right. I have time.

Honestly, I think maybe self-publishing is taking up a little too much time from trying to break through into commercial publishing. But itís tricky finding a balance.

You publish other people, you mentioned that before?

Iíve published two other writers.

Scott Ellis, a friend of mine and a brilliant, brilliant writer who is mostly unknown.  Iíve known him for years.  Heís done these wonderful stories - funny, sublime, touching.

I had this idea that Iíd publish a collection of his. That turned into a couple of years of work - nagging and pushing him to pull it all together.  His stories were all over the place, it took him a long time to dig them all up. Heíd be sending me these files he couldnít open in some weird obsolete format, or from some almost defunct online site, or old email.  Iíd have to try and open them.

Eventually, we had enough material for two collections - Benny the Antichrist and Crawling to the Moon. I held a book launch for him.  That was the first time I did one, it was for Scott.  Drunk Slutty Elf came second.

Iím very proud of publishing him, his work is great, the stories are wonderful, even the covers are terrific.  Sadly, single author short story collections donít sell very well.  Iím not very good at marketing. I wish I was, Iíd like to push his books harder.

But at least his work is out there.  Maybe heíll be discovered and get rich and famous, who knows.  At worst, I like that his stories are out and available for people to find, rather than gathering dust sitting in his hard drive.

If he ever pulls enough together for a third volume - heís got a lot of poetry, essays, maybe more stories, Iíll publish that for him too.  I just hope it will be easier this time around.

The other is R.J. Hore.  Heís a local writer. I knew him from around. He asked me to help him get his rights back from a Zombie publisher. We did it.  So he had four books back.  I told him he could go to another publisher, or self publish. He asked me to do it for him.

R.J. is a really good guy, so I said okay.  It was a fair amount of work, but it turned out well.

This was a little easier than with Scott.  I wasnít trying to open documents from arcane forgotten word processors. I just had to reverse engineer manuscripts from pdf, format documents for print, design covers, etc.  What am I saying?  It was still a lot of work.

I did my third book launch this year, for R.J. Hore and his books.  It was his first book launch. Heíd written fourteen books and never had a book launch, isnít that tragic?  Iím glad I could do it for him. His whole family was thrilled, his daughters and granddaughters came out for it.  Itís nice to see someone get some respect.

Itís funny, Iíve run three book launches, but only one was for myself.  The first and last were for other people.  I think if I hadnít ended up doing it for them, I probably wouldnít have bothered for myself.  I just donít seem to think that way for myself.  They were all interesting experiences though, and I think they went well.

R.J. Horeís books are novels.  Thereís one stand alone novel - Weíre Not in Kansas, a straight up adventure; and a trilogy - Toltec Dawn, Toltec Khan and Toltec Noon, about the American Toltec empire conquering England in the Knightly era.

Iím interested in seeing how they do. As I said, collections donít sell well, so thatís it for Scott.  And my projects were deliberately non-commercial, so thatís it for me.

But novels, those have a fighting chance in the marketplace. Iím finally publishing something that might actually have legs, that has a chance to actually find an audience, that might sell in the marketplace?  Iím very interested in seeing how we do with his books.

I kind of wish I was better at marketing and promotion, just to experiment with giving those a push.

He has another book, a long lost, much loved manuscript.  His daughter re-discovered it, and we learned about it at the book launch.  Apparently, itís a favorite, a local publisher sat on it for a year, and then it got lost.  But now itís found. We might publish it next year.

Do you think youíll continue to publish other people?

I wouldnít rule it out. Iíve offered to help some people, but itís funny. People say that they want to be writers, or want to write a book. But even if I offer to help, they donít follow through.

Iíve always thought the tough part was getting published. But for a lot of people, the tough part is actually writing.

Still, I think Iíd do it.  Has to be someone close, or someone whose work I really love and want to get out into the world.

Iím not going it for the money - thereís no money in writing or publishing - or at least not the way Iíve been doing it.  And itís really a lot of work. So I really have to want to do it.

I did some workshops for the writers guild - five sessions, three hours apiece, hands on work, teaching people to self publish themselves.  Iíve done a lot of presentations and workshops to help writers.

Iíd rather people follow their own stars.  I think itís more satisfying for them to self publish themselves, to own every part of it.  I try to encourage and help anyone who reaches out.

Personally, I donít know.  I find itís a huge amount of work.  I think this year Iíve spent more time being a publisher, than a writer.  And more time being a writer than actually writing.

I want to get back to writing, thatís where I live.

How are you doing on mainstream publishing?

Well, as Iíve said, I was published by Five Rivers out in Ontario.  They published the Mermaidís Tale and contracted for another novel, The Luck.  Then a month before The Luck was supposed to come out, they shut down and rights to both reverted back to me.

The Mermaidís Tale sat around for a few years out of print. I had some hope of finding a regular publisher, but it was kind of burned as previously published.  So once I confirmed that, I re-released it through Fossil Cove.  Itís back out in the world.

Itís set in this fantasy world, in a multi-racial city, the titular mermaid has been slaughtered in a horrible way, and her people summon an Orc to find the killer. It takes a monster to catch a monster, that sort of thing.  As the Orc hunts, she discovers something no one has ever seen before, their worldís first serial killer, but she canít get anyone to care. Itís a murder mystery, but also a personal journey.

Iím very proud of it.  I think itís a damned good book.  Itís actually very well received.  I just found a review on Youtube that came out when the book was re-released.  My first Youtube review - ďUtterly unique and underrated dark fantasy.Ē


The Mermaidís Tale has gotten a lot of good reviews, crazy good reviews. Itís flattering, maybe itís not a best seller but the people who read it, loved it.  Axis of Andes, someone said it was the greatest alternate history they ever read. I try not to let reviews go to my head, but itís nice to hear that someone enjoyed it now and then.

I have a book with At Bay Press coming out - Twilight of Echelon.  Itís a collaboration with Robert Pasternak. Basically, he did a series of paintings collectively called Echelon, and I and a few other writers wrote stories inspired by the paintings.  It was supposed to be out this year.  Iím hearing next year.  Iím just waiting. I have huge hopes for this. Ground breaking, award winning, or at least I hope. Weíll see.

Five Rivers and At Bay Press gave me confidence.  I know that Iím good enough to be published by real publishing companies. Thatís been established. Those and good reviews, and pro and semi-pro short story credits kind of allow me to feel Iím okay at this, maybe even good at it.

With writers, thereís a lot of self doubt, even self loathing. So itís nice to have real credits, and even nicer to have good reviews. It can be scary to put yourself out there, and itís crushing to be rejected or ignored or not to make any impact at all. So these little pieces of affirmation keep us going.

Mainstream publishing is slow. Self-pub, nothing holds me back. I can do a book in a few months, release a few books a year. But if youíre dealing with a regular publisher, it takes a year or two.
Anyway, as Iíve said, I have five novels in circulation, and Iím working on a few more.  A couple of my completed novels, apart from Torakar, are Burroughs inspired, as is one of my upcoming projects.  And Iím working on short stories. As I said, I try to keep busy.

But itís tricky.  You can query small presses directly, but for a major publisher, you need to go through an agent.  Agents get hundreds of queries a weak, small presses get dozens of submissions.  So if youíre just querying blind.... well, itís incredibly uphill, almost impossible.  You need a lot of luck.

You do better by going to conventions, making connections, either directly or for referrals. That guarantees that when you submit, they know who you are, and theyíll give you an honest look.  But you have to spend a lot of time and money going to conventions.  Iím not good socially, so itís exhausting.  I usually sign up to give a lot of workshops and panels, Iím very good at doing programming, and it ups my profile. But that takes a lot of work.

This year, I really hit conventions hard, made contacts, got referrals, so Iíve actually got irons out in the fire with a decent chance.  Weíll see what happens.  If nothing, Iíll just write more and try again next year.

I donít know, maybe Iím just going through the motions.  Iíll keep at it. I know Iím a good writer, but thatís not necessarily what counts.  So I may break through, or I may not.  If I donít, well, I still have the self-pub option for my Ďcommercialí projects.

Iím at the point in my life where Iíve realized Iím not going to be the next J.K. Rowling, or Steven King.  Donít get me wrong.  It would have been nice, it would have been really nice, particularly the readership and especially the money.  I could still break through, but I donít know how realistic it is.  The big time fame and money is out of reach, I think.

But I still think Iíve got a shot, maybe at mid-levels, or a very well respected small press. Iíd like to walk into bookstores and see a little bit of shelf space for myself, I have modest dreams. Maybe that will happen. Maybe not.

But thatís okay. I have a decent day job to take care of my needs.  I donít have much else in my life. I love writing, it makes me happy, it balances me, it completes me.  So I write, and Iíll keep on writing. I think thatís worth it.

If you can spend your life doing something you love, thatís worthwhile.

I think thereís maybe a lot of people out there that donít get that chance.

Maybe youíll be discovered after you pass on, and then youíll be famous?

Honestly. That would annoy the living hell out of me.  Who wants to be successful when you canít be around to enjoy it?

I just want my stuff to be out there, hanging around after Iím gone.

Where can we find your books?

Oh thatís easy.  My books are available online, either as ebooks or print books on a variety of platforms.  Off the top of my head, you can find me or my books on Google, Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Ingram-Spark, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, Drivethrough, Biblioteca, Vivlio, Scribd, Palace.

Hereís my Amazon Authorís page:

Smashwords Author page:

You can look me up on Google, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, I believe theyíll take you to my author pages, which will take you to the books themselves.

Or you can look up individual titles.

Also, keep an eye out for At Bay Press.  Feel free to harass them. Demand they publish Twilight of Echelon.

Seriously, just google ďD.G. ValdronĒ that should get you on the right track to find my books, the free stuff I put up on the internet, and hopefully, eventually my commercially published novels and stories.

You can also look me up on Facebook - Den Valdron, my facebook picture is a giant rock that looks like a Buffalo.  Iím a little camera shy.  Itís actually an Archway rock from Fossil Cove in my home town.  Itís big enough, you can walk right under it.  It means something to me, so I took the name and used it for my publishing Imprint - just a nod to my roots.

And you can also look up my website at denvaldron.com.  I have a blog that I try to update regularly, filled with interesting stuff (I hope), as well as pages for my books, and even some free work.

Thatís about it.  Iím a writer, I have books, I hope youíll buy them.  This turned out to be a long interview for such a simple message.

BOOKS BY D.G VALDRON, currently in print

The Mermaidís Tale
Axis of Andes, part one
New World War, Axis of Andes, part two
The Bear Cavalry, the True (not) History of the Icelandic Bear
. .

Drunk Slutty Elf and Other Stories
Drunk Slutty Elf and Zombies

Giant Monsters Sing Sad Songs
There Are No Doors in Dark Places
What Devours Also Hungers
. .

The Dawn of Cthulhu
The Fall of Atlantis

The Pirate History of Doctor Who
Another Pirate History of Doctor Who
The Last Pirate History of Doctor Who

LEXX Unauthorized, Series 1 - Backstage at the Dark Zone
LEXX Unauthorized, Series 2 - The Light at the End of the Universe
LEXX Unauthorized, Series 3 - Itís Light and itís Cold
LEXX Unauthorized, Series 4 - Little Blue Marble


Benny the Antichrist and Other Stories, by Scott Ellis
Crawling to the Moon and Other Stories, by Scott Ellis

Weíre not in Kansas, by R.J. Hore

Toltec Dawn, by R.J. Hore
Toltec Khan, by R.J. Hore
Toltec Noon, by R.J. Hore

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