Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Coming of Conan Re-Read: “The Vale of Lost Women”

comingofconanBill Ward and I are reading our way through the Del Rey Robert E. Howard collection The Coming of Conan. This week we’re discussing “The Vale of Lost Women.” We hope you’ll join in!

Howard: In the essay that concludes the book, “Hyborian Genesis,” Robert E. Howard scholar Patrice Louinet gives the probable background of this tale, recounting how Howard had grown more and more interested in tales of the American Southwest. Apparently at about the time he wrote this he’d begun to exchange tales with writer August Derleth, and recounted to him the story of the abduction of Cythia Ana Parker by the Commanche. Louinet speculates that this story was the inspiration behind “Vale.”

Last week I wrote that “Vale” was a rejected Conan story, but in actuality there’s no record that it was ever submitted. It might be that REH himself understood it wasn’t up to snuff and never bothered to turn it over for consideration.

Editing Harold Lamb

bill ryan howard

Bill Ward, Ryan Harvey, & Howard Andrew Jones, World Fantasy 2010.

In February of 2011 Bill Ward interviewed me for Black Gate magazine. Back then three things I’d been involved in were coming to life within a few months of each other — my first two novels (The Desert of Souls and Plague of Shadows) and the second wave of the Harold Lamb books I assembled for Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press.

You can find the other portions of the interview at Black Gate, but given that I’m often asked how I got involved in editing the Harold Lamb books, I thought it high time to move this portion of the interview to my own site.

I’d like to thank Bill for asking such great questions. I think it was only the year before that we’d finally met in person, at Dragoncon. In the picture here we’re standing with old friend Ryan Harvey, another brilliant essayist and writer. I have a slightly glazed look because I’ve been up late at the con for several days, and we all have red eyes because we’re vampires. Ryan’s holding an anthology that one of Bill’s stories had just been printed in, Desolate Places.

Anyway, all questions are from Bill. Take it away, old friend:

Heroes of the Steppes: The Historicals of Harold Lamb

lambvol1This article I wrote some years back has been floating around on the inter web in a couple of places, and I thought it past time for me to bring it back to my own site. So — here you go!

Before Stormbringer keened in Elric’s hand, before the Gray Mouser prowled Lankhmar’s foggy streets—before even Conan trod jeweled thrones under his sandaled feet, Khlit the Cossack rode the steppe. He isn’t the earliest serial adventure character, but his adventures are among the earliest that can still be read for sheer pleasure.

He was created in 1917 by Harold Lamb, in a time when “costume pieces” provided the same kinds of thrills that fantasy and science fiction adventure stories deliver today, and he appeared in the pulp magazines.

The best remembered of these magazines today are probably those devoted to the adventures of single characters—like Doc Savage or The Shadow—or the early magazines of the fantastic wherein those we now recognize as giants were published—Weird Tales, and, later, UnknownPlanet Stories, and other science fiction magazines.

Shortly after World War I, though, there was very little to be found in the realm of the fantastic. For all their fame, the later science fiction magazines and Weird Tales were hardly representative of the content found in most pulps. The most popular of magazines tended to be devoted to westerns and detective tales. Aside from the occasional Verne reprint and a few innovators—like the fellow who’d written of a civil war soldier transported to Mars—adventure was found in more recognizable places.

And then came Lamb. 

The Coming of Conan Re-Read: “Rogues in the House”


comingofconanBill Ward and I are reading our way through the Del Rey Robert E. Howard collection The Coming of Conan. This week we’re discussing “Rogues in the House.” We hope you’ll join in!

Bill: “Rogues in the House” is a welcome return to form after a few lesser Conan stories, and once again it sees Conan run afoul of civilization’s ways. The story reprises elements of “The God in the Bowl” and “The Tower of the Elephant” to give us Conan as a rogue and outlander — indeed the story begins with his incarceration for the murder of a priest. The priest in question was a thoroughly corrupt fence of stolen goods and police informer and, like the Red Priest at the center of this story or Kallian Publico or Yara from the aforementioned yarns, a prime example of the height of civilized hypocrisy and self-interest. A distrustful Conan says later in the story “When did a priest keep an oath?” and is proven correct in his distrust. The priestly class seems singled out as a prime exemplar of REH’s critique of civilized ways.

Swinging Along

MirianI’m still swinging through a number of sites on my tour promoting the new novel. Over the last few days I’ve appeared at two sites, answering some of the most detailed questions I’ve yet been asked over the course of the tour.

Over at My Bookish Ways I talked about a whole range of topics, including how I researched the novel and what I’m currently reading (or looking forward to reading) who my all-time favorite writers are. My laudatory comments about Leigh Brackett were cut for space, but regular site visitors can find my musings on her in other spots on the web, and even in a prior blog tour post.

pool of stars coverGeekDad’s Ryan Hiller is a diver and asked a lot of great questions about how I approached the underwater scenes in the book. He also took a pretty thorough look at this web site prior to the interview so he could ask questions based on what he found. For instance, he got me to talk a little bit more about some of my writing techniques and my favorite role-playing games, even a little about some of my favorite characters. That interview is here.

So, have you bought your copy yet?

Blog Tour & Book Giveaways

20 mugI’m back from a wedding trip into the great north, where for the first time ever I visited Lake Geneva, which, for those of you not in the know, is the birthplace of Dungeons & Dragons.

That’s not why the couple we were visiting got married there, and I might have forgotten to mention it to them, so they’ll probably be mystified about why those mugs I gave them as a wedding gift were full of 20 sided dice.

Kidding — that last part didn’t happen.

Anyway, I’m continuing my blog tour recap. Here’s where I’ve been, including some book giveaways! More to come soon.

Awesome Stuff that Isn’t Conan

apeAlas, a man-eating ape in a cape absconded with our review this week. Next week we’ll be ready to go with “Rogues in the House,” by Crom.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on this grand article I wrote about the awesomeness that is the new Kickstarter for the Savage Worlds Rippers supplement. Victorian horror. Daring deeds. Things man was not meant to know. It looks pretty awesome, and I’ve signed on.

Also, here are three more links to all the places I’ve been on my blog tour.

1. I dropped by On Starships and Dragonwings Monday to answer a few frequent questions about my work.

2. Over at Civilian Reader I talked about some of my inspirations, particularly Leigh Brackett.

3. Bryan Thomas Schmidt invited me over to talk about my writing process.

Link Day

Weird Menace 1 WebIt’s been busy and sad here at Jones central. While mourning the death of an old friend my blog tour has rolled on and on, and a whole slew of folks have been kind enough to host my ramblings about my new book and the writing process. More on that in a moment.

First, I’m very excited to announce the release of a collection of grand pulpy fun featuring the work of my very good friend John Chris Hocking. As you probably know, I think the world of Hocking and his writing and wish we’d see a whole lot more of it. This collection is more than a little on the purple side, but it’s a blast, and Hocking’s tale does a wonderful job of emulating the old thriller pulps without parody.

You can find a copy and read more about it right here.

The Coming of Conan Re-Read: “The Pool of the Black One”

comingofconanBill Ward and I are reading our way through the Del Rey Robert E. Howard collection The Coming of Conan. This week we’re discussing “The Pool of the Black One.” We hope you’ll join in!

Bill: “The Pool of the Black One” closes off a trio of lesser Conan short stories written at a time when REH was absolutely in command of the character, but perhaps also a bit willing to sacrifice overall quality for a finished and saleable manuscript.