In the evenings, Eads City sparkled with hot rain. Seria brushed the heavy droplets from her eyes, trying to clear her vision. No matter how many times she blinked – or shook her head to try and dislodge the shadows in its corners – whenever she opened her eyes again she still found the world around her broken, battered, and distorted. Maybe she’d been hit in the head one too many times, she thought; they said that sometimes happened to kids, and left them all scrambled. Or maybe the world really had started to crack.
Amberle Husbands’ “The Going Rate” appeared in The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes. She returns to volume three with “Agent Midnight.” Below she responds to impertinent questions with admirable restraint.
Writing is a notoriously solitary business. What keeps you at it? The fame that constantly eludes you? Getting a lie in mornings? The rubber?
I think the Atlantic might have completely obliterated my understanding of those last two questions… At least, the two images that come to mind from them are hilarious but completely irrelevant.
What keeps me at it is that – for me – writing is one of the few hobbies left that’s simultaneously affordable, satisfying, and non-harmful to internal organs. It’s much harder to hike in ten minute increments, and veggie gardens don’t work quite right in January, so… Plus, writing is one business I feel will constantly leave me room for improvement, and a new challenge beyond each milestone.
The two characters who appear in “Agent Midnight” are a pair of my personal favourites to work with. Karl Oppum first appeared in my novel See Eads City, and quickly became a fan favourite. The story’s younger played, Seria, is actually the oldest recurrent character in any of my writings. I’ve been tinkering and slaughtering and rebirthing her story since I was in middle school, but Pulp Heroes 3 is the first time she’d appeared in print anywhere. It was an exciting experiment, letting one of my readers’ favourite characters introduce one of my favourites.
There seems to have been a shift in appreciation of Pulp Fiction. There is the so called New Pulp, but did Old Pulp ever really go away?
I don’t think so, although it’s worn a few disguises and gone by some other names. The idea behind “camp value” or behind calling anything a “cult classic” goes back to pulp, in my opinion. Whole studios are dedicated to producing B-movies, still. I don’t think our collective craving for pulp ever really faded at all. After all, Sharknado…
What sort of fiction do you prefer to read? Which are your favourite TV shows and movies?
My favourite fiction is sci-fi or horror that takes itself very seriously, but unfolds so subtly that you barely remember you’re reading genre-fiction until the mother ships are headed back home. The fiction written by artistic, classical literary novelists who somewhere along the line got possessed by genre-nerds … those are my favourites. I like documentaries that are not thinly-disguised fictions, and TV shows that regularly blow things up in the name of science.
What can you tell us about future projects?
I have several novels in the works right now, but the one nearest completion – and probably the most relevant one – features Karl and his wife Jane, and takes place chronologically before either See Eads City or “Agent Midnight”. It’s in beta-reads right now, and I’m anxious to get the carcass back and get back to work with a fresh batch of rewrites.
Tell us something about yourself no one knows (don’t worry – no one is reading this).
My first experience with anything even approaching the writing or publishing world was transcribing – and saving to floppy discs, if I recall correctly – my father’s hand-written sci-fi, mystery-action novella. It felt like a first look at the open guts of fiction, kind of a behind-the-scenes view, somehow very different feeling than just opening up a paperback and seeing the carefully shaped paragraphs there… I don’t know. I was young, impressionable, possibly very bored… It sure beat doing schoolwork.