Posts Tagged ‘diaspora’

Our third special Spyfunk! agent will take us to the 1970s and beyond.

File #3’s contact:

Gavin Matthew

See the full mission briefing below...

  1. Where did you get the idea for your story and your character?

My story was inspired by my love of 70s Black action films and my fixation with train rides. Part of it is also a nod to how espionage-like the Black Power Movement conflicts had been.

2. What is it that’s making your hero and/or villains tick? Motivations, plots, decisions etc.

The two protagonists are motivated by a loyalty to the Black community. One has dedicated her life to the fight for freedom against oppression. While the other is forced into action for survival. The glue that binds them to their heroic goals is the sacrifices others close to them have already paid in pursuit of their mission’s success.

3. What’s your favourite spy movie?

The Spook Who Sat by the Door

4. Do you have any stories from real life you find especially memorable in the world of espionage? Why so?

The entire list Civil Rights and Black Power cloak & dagger conflicts. It is interesting and maddening how hard a whole government fought to abuse, control, and profit from an entire people despite there having never been a threat from them. Then the resilience and intelligence of our people to overcome such an enemy is simply invigorating.

5. So from this, are there tensions between what is believable in fiction and what we have learned recently from real life cases such as the Snowden revelations in the US or the Salisbury poisonings in the UK?

Of course. In reality the idea of good guy is murky in espionage. Weatherman committed terroristic acts but they also stole and leaked evidence that shined a light on countless government sanctioned acts of violence and surveillance. Then, at the same time, fiction breathes life to events that could have happened, allowing us to paint an idea about situations we may never know the truth about.

6. Best spy hero?

Dan Freeman

7. …and favourite spy villain?

Dr. Kananga

8. Scenario question: your protagonist is deep undercover and ends in a relationship in order to keep cover, what is their ethical approach to this? Have they got rules, or would they do anything they had to for their chosen allegiance?

My protagonist weighs the relationship partner’s ethics and then gambles with telling them the truth. They then deal with either a new ally or a new enemy.

9. Talk is resurfacing about Idris Elba perhaps being the next James Bond. What’s your thoughts on this?

I would watch it with hopes that is well written with cultural ideas woven amongst its classical tapestry.

10. Any questions you want to ask me?

Do you have any pointers on how to secure life as a full-time writer and novelist?

[Russell – as I’m not at this point a full-time writer or novelist; in fact more of a full-time student these days, I may not be the absolute best person to ask this one! That said, I’ve seen enough of it to know one or two things. The main one in this case is there’s a difference between full time and what I’m doing that everything else you’re doing is depending on it, income, timetable etc. but the fundamental matter of that is that you need the output to get the input. So you have to be actually writing very often. Sounds obvious, but at that level it’s like an exercise regime, that you have to keep up at least a basic level of fitness to be able to do it. It isn’t how much you’re doing; it’s that you’re frequent, and that makes the rest easier for you.

I’ve another completely converse point there, in that given you’re centring your occupation around that, you’ve got to be prepared to do other things which *aren’t* writing in order to get yourself where you’ll want to be. Some of these are fun. Some will not be. But just be ready for that aspect too.

Are you ready for an excerpt from Gavin’s story, Train, Pain & Naturals? Of course you are.

Gavin Matthew is a writer known for his unique characters and lively dialogue. His projects are rich with culture and tend to have feature strong images of women. He is a screenwriter and a novelist, having a deep love both the creative mediums. With his belief that writing can be another form of freed fighting, he seeks to inspire any and everybody who reads his work. Gavin Matthew is the writer of the short story Train, Pain, & Naturals which is one many tales found in MVmedia’s Spyfunk! Anthology.

Spyfunk! Author Interview subject:

Joe Hilliard.

Known Aliases:

El Originario Extraño del Kalypso Kid

  1. Where did you get the idea for your story and your character?

 When we moved from rural Michigan to Los Angeles in the early-80s, one of the big connection points to the other kids was lucha libre (Mexican wrestling), comic books, and tokusatsu. That was my youth. Lucha libre became a real cornerstone when I started writing, the masks, the milieu, that feeling of anything is possible. Watching the 60s and 70s films where Santo or Blue Demon could go from spy to vampire killer to Nazi Hunter to time traveller to solving the Bermuda Triangle, with a, “¡Vámonos! Let’s go!” and out the door. When Milton Davis pushed out the original Spyfunk call in 2017, I wrote “Dory Dixon” in a notebook, and printed out some research on the 1954 Caribbean Games. That initial draft played on a defection and hidden staircases and double crosses. Real Cold War tropes. While that draft “An Incident at the Embassy” never came to fruition, the true life story of Dory Dixon (noted in the coda to my piece) kept haunting me. It wasn’t until post-COVID when I started going to live lucha libre again here in SoCal and saw local guys like Mike Cheq that I realized I was looking, even in a Cold War setting, to capture that hype of live lucha, and the theatrics of those films. Milton reopened the call for stories, and Dante Davis leaped out as a reluctant hero caught up in intrigue, and finding his place in the world. He’s a bit of Dory Dixon, a bit Blue Demon, working on his Napoleon Solo.

Dory Dixon
  1. What is it that’s making your hero and/or villains tick? Motivations, plots, decisions etc.

Like a lot of us, Dante Davis is driven by a few different engines – loyalty, doing what is right, and yes, a desire for excitement, for an adrenalin rush. We all know having those engines driving in all directions, especially when we are young. As the titles says, this is his origin. He is coming to terms with who he is, what those drives mean. How he can live with them? How can he change to fuel those engines? Should he change?

  1. What’s your favourite spy movie?

Just one? Ah! While far from traditional, Bernardo Bertolucci’s THE CONFORMIST (1970) is as intriguing a betrayal of loyalty as you will see. More traditionally, Fritz Lang’s MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944), Carol Reed’s THE THIRD MAN (1949), and Peter Glenville’s THE COMEDIANS (1967), all based on Graham Greene novels really kill it, and I will watch them over and over again. Or, it’s simply JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN, fight me on the brilliance of Rowan Atkinson in that!

  1. Do you have any stories from real life you find especially memorable in the world of espionage? Why so?

I’m a sucker for the oddness of  Wild Bill Donovan’s OSS, the World War II precursor to the CIA. There’s something about the wide net of recruitment, this throw it all at the wall and see what sticks. Moe Berg the baseball player. Julia Child. Who is hiring these people? How is this real? I think of the opening sequence to the film THE RIGHT STUFF where they talk about hiring circus performers and barnstormers to be astronauts and you have this same feel. It’s what backgrounds the end of my story, where you have a wrestling promoter running your spy ring. It’s real, it’s not believable. It’s “¡Vámonos! Let’s go!,” which is pretty amazing in real life.

  1. So from this, are there tensions between what is believable in fiction and what we have learned recently from real life cases such as the Snowden revelations in the US or the Salisbury poisonings in the UK?

I think the tension is, no matter how crazy you think your storyline is, there is someone attempting something that much crazier in real life, which should give anyone pause. Look at all the Fidel Castro assassination plots that the CIA cooked up in the 60s. It’s been going on forever. Never underestimate the human capacity to concoct means of violence and subterfuge on his fellow man…

  1. Best spy hero?

I have a soft spot in my heart for Mickey Spillane’s Tiger Mann. They are some of the first spy novels I remember reading as a teen, even before Ian Fleming. My love for Fawcett Gold Medal 60s spies knows no bounds though. The “Assignment” novels by Edward S. Aarons starring Sam Durrell – 125 pages, no waiting. So, so good!

  1. …and favourite spy villain?

Michael Dunn as Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless from the “Wild Wild West” tv show. So diabolical, and so fascinating!

  1. Scenario question: your protagonist is deep undercover and ends in a relationship in order to keep cover, what is their ethical approach to this? Have they got rules, or would they do anything they had to for their chosen allegiance?

Dante Davis is not the James Bond/Napoleon Solo lothario. He would undoubtedly look to an alternative. We see that he lives in a crazed Cold War place, but the underpinning for him was much more of the straight-forward character. The impetus for this was the Santo/Blue Demon films of the 60s/70s where the hero is “noble” in the traditional sense. Even when spying. And the tokusatsu heroes like Kamen Rider or Ultraman. Not that they are childish, or naïve, but that’s not the main impetus here. Perhaps a little more pulpy than saucy. That’s our Dante. But some of the other rogues that show up in this piece? They would have no such compunctions.

  1. Talk is resurfacing about Idris Elba perhaps being the next James Bond. What’s your thoughts on this?

I was a little crushed Elba didn’t get the Doctor Who gig actually. I love me some science fiction Elba more than anything. Bond still is an intriguing thought. His Luther was (still is), so compelling, I think it would be tempting to compare any Bond appearance by Elba negatively in that light. Much like how Roger Moore’s work as Simon Templar influences my view of his James Bond performance. Or Remington Steele invades Pierce Brosnan’s Bond for me.

  1. Any questions you want to ask *me*?

Who’s your go-to wrestler, when the chips are down? And, when can I come visit you in London???

(Well, there are many fine choices. But if we’re talking in their prime, I tend to look no further than the Deadman. To this day I don’t remember a debut impacting me quite like that one. These days I’m loving Blackpool Combat Club. The latter would depend upon when I’m actually *in London these days, which is not always easy to know! See the introductory post 🙂 – Russell)

Joe Hilliard. Writer. Luddite. Teller of Tales. Michigander by birth, in the wilds just outside the World’s Largest Walled Prison. Misspent teenage years in Los Angeles on a diet of Blue Demon, Chester Himes, Philip K. Dick, the Circle Jerks, Judge Dredd, and This Island Earth, on the fringe of 80s Hollywood. Graduate of the University of Michigan, which only added Kawabata, Tsui Hark, Krazy Kat, and William S. Burroughs to the mix. Marks time as a paralegal in sunny California.

Besides, SPYFUNK!, his short stories can be found in DIESELFUNK! from MVmedia, THE LEGENDS OF NEW PULP from Airship 27, HARD-BOILED SPORTS, SHUDDER PULP, JAMES R. TUCK’S HEROES OF HOLLOW EARTH, and ORIGINS AND ENDINGS VOLUME 1 from Pro Se Productions; AUTUMN PAINTED RED from Asylum Ink; MEAT FOR TEA: THE VALLEY REVIEW; and BLUE COLLAR REVIEW. His non-fiction comic book work can be found in APB: ARTISTS AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY from Rosarium Press and COLONIAL COMICS VOLUME II: NEW ENGLAND 1750-1776 from Fulcrum Publishing.

I don’t have an online thumbprint these days. Just LinkedIn for the day job. Find me there!

In conjunction with the imminent release of Spyfunk! I’ve managed to get hold of some of the authors in order to ask a few questions and find out more about the authors. Your first mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out more about Napoleon Wells. See below for answers, and in addition, you can read an excerpt from his story entry...

  1. Where did you get the idea for your story and your character? 

My story exists in a larger world of Black Speculative Fiction, and I like to think of some of my imagery as Blackanime/Africanime where the world, concepts, conflicts and characters are all Black and fully realized. The world around those characters is always dangerous and my main character, Bul, has constant purpose and complicated motivation. He came from my need to see characters like him in stories, but finding few.

  1. What is it that’s making your hero and/or villains tick? Motivations, plots, decisions etc.

 My hero is probably closer to an antihero and sometime mercenary. Still, he will do his job and try and save the world he knows. My villain’s motives are murky past, gaining enough power to tear this world apart.

  1. What’s your favourite spy movie?

I’d have trouble picking between Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tenet, From Russia with Love and Our Man Flint.

  1. Best spy hero?

Considering his relative clarity and absurd luck, I’d say Ethan Hunt.

  1. …and favourite spy villain?

I prefer rich, layered villains, with a bit of style, so Bond’s Silva edges out Blofeld.

  1. Scenario question: your protagonist is deep undercover and ends in a relationship in order to keep cover, what is their ethical approach to this? Have they got rules, or would they do anything they had to for their chosen allegiance?

 Bul would do just about anything to see the mission completed, as long as the mission runs close to his own ends. Relationships, like weapons, his nanos and his power, would have to be a means to an end. They are a distraction he can’t afford while working, otherwise. Outside of work…

  1. Talk is resurfacing about Idris Elba perhaps being the next James Bond. What’s your thoughts on this?

My thinking is that we need our own iconic Black characters in all areas of storytelling, so we don’t have to marvel at the novelty of a “Black Bond.” There are many richer Black/African world’s and stories to pull titans from, and we should start there. A film or series following the trouble of my character Bul would be dope, given the world around him, the stakes, it’s centering on Black characters and the peril.

Here’s an excerpt of his Spyfunk story, A Bullet From A God’s Gun.

Napoleon Wells is a Clinical Psychologist, Professor and author of Black Speculative Fiction. He focuses on stories that center Black lives, mythologies and experiences. His works tend to incorporate the Psychology of Black/African experience across the diaspora as a means of building rich, fully realized frameworks for stories centered on Black heroes, villains and worlds. He believes that the erasure and exclusion of Black existence from many genres can be directly and necessarily defeated by the stories being brilliantly told by Black Griots and artists. He builds stories based on the magnificent reality of Black futurism which he already sees in daily life. If he isn’t busy writing something strange and beautiful, he is likely treating patients, writing a social justice column or watching a rap battle. You can find and follow him on social media at:

https://napoleonwellsphd.medium.com

https://www.instagram.com/napoleontheblerdpsychologist

https://twitter.com/napoleonbxsith

Hey everyone!


This is a good time to dust off this here page and apologise for not being around in a while. Things have been very busy, and in a really good way, though this has of course affected other things. I’ve not had any novels out that I haven’t told you about or anything; the last tale I had out was in The Elementals, where I had a fun time telling the tale of a young East London witch just trying to hang out with her cousin and being thwarted at every turn. If you happen to still be after a copy of this doorstep of an anthology, do get in touch – might be able to help you out there!


Meanwhile, I’ve been busy retraining somewhat as a historian as well as a writer. There have been reasons, and I’ll probably report more on that when I get the chance, though mostly spending time elsewhere on that front. If you want to know more about what I’ve been doing with that sort of thing, I can point you at some volunteering work with the RAF Museum in London which I have been up to in the last year. I should also probably tell you that I’ve additionally been busy taking a History M.A. at the University of Leicester but when I’ve finished that – this is happening:

https://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_851573_en.html

Back on the writing; I’ve had a fantastic return to Milford, this time for a retreat on which I got back to one of my favourite places which recharges me like little else. It’s taking time, but I’m working through an Arthurian tale I would really like to tell, though I’m hopeful it will be worth the wait to release it to you all.

However, I’ve been enjoying working on some shorter stuff in the meantime which I’ll keep ensuring sees the light of day. In fact one of the things here is to let you know there’s another story coming very soon, if you didn’t know already. This time, it’s a step into the murky world of espionage as the legendary Milton Davis has compiled a collection of fine spy stories from past, present and future eras centring characters of African/African Diaspora descent, including my own, Rundown in Jamdown. We’ll come to that in one of the future posts but for now, I’m starting with this here intro to what sort of thing to expect and a link to the excerpts up so far. Also, where you can order, because obviously we’d all love you to read the rest! All that remains is to begin introducing you to some of our authors, which will of course begin imminently!

https://www.mvmediaatl.com/product-page/spyfunk


Stay tuned; however be reassured that these messages will not self-destruct.