Saturday, September 17, 2011

Paul Malmont

Paul Malmont is the author of three novels re-imaging the lives of early 20th century pulp writers, including The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown.

From his Q & A with Thomas Mullen, author of The Revisionists, at the Mulholland Books blog:

TM: I’ve written two historical novels, but I’ve chosen to create my own characters whole cloth. You, however, have written about actual historical figures. I’m curious about some of the struggles and tough decisions you might have to make, as far as determining what real-life events or personality traits to use vs. not constraining your imagination with too many facts.

PM: I didn’t actually start out to write three books about writers–it’s kind of a rabbit hole I fell into. In doing the research for the first one, I learned how much Jack London had contributed to the birth of the American pulp magazine scene, so I began learning more and more about him, and suddenly found gray spots in the biographical record which seemed ripe for fictionalization. The same research led me to the facts about Heinlein, Asimov, and L. Sprague de Camp at the Philadelphia Naval Research Center in WW2. Knowing that there are legends about the Philadelphia Experiment from the same time and place, the pieces just kind of fell together.

The challenge each time is to help the reader realize that I’m not writing a biography about someone they may or may not know. I’m writing a fictional story with a character who shares the same name and some historical traits with a person who once lived. What I really dig is looking at my characters and trying to find those puzzle edges that will fit in nicely with what we know about them through history, but more importantly, their work. I like trying to show how the fictional person I’ve created is poised to create Stranger in a Strange Land, or Foundation, or, for that matter, Dianetics. That’s what has to be believable.

Then there are the details we know, such as who was where at what time, and who wrote what, and I’ve given myself the leeway to be a little less strict about those. But sometimes, those are inviolable. For instance, the date of the Philadelphia Experiment. I had to have everyone present and accounted for. Also, I can’t really have Heinlein writing at that point, because he’d pulled a Michael Jordan and...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Paul Malmont's Jack London in Paradise.

My Book, The Movie: The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown.

--Marshal Zeringue