Friday, March 19, 2010

Meet Prolific Author Teel James Glenn

I’m pleased to welcome author Teel James Glenn to my blog today. Teel just happens to be a professional fight choreographer, jouster and veteran of fifty renaissance faires, scores of films and hundreds of T.V. appearances. He is also author of several dozen books including Death at Dragonthroat, Sister Warrior, and The Daemonhold Curse.

Today we are spotlighting Teel’s book, Weird Tales of the Skullmask. Can you give us a synopsis of the book?

Teel: Since mankind crept out of the caves, violence and injustice has been a common thread. And since those early times, the most harmed have called out for justice. For those most harmed, most in need, a strange object offers hope. Made from the skin of its first owner, the Skullmask provides its wearer with the knowledge, skill, speed, and intelligence of the countless others who have called on its power. But the Skullmask demands its price, and the Skullmask only appears when all else fails, and in those horrible cases where Revenge and Justice are one.

It follows the Skullmask from a western town where rich ranchers terrorize farmers and their Mexican-born workers, on to a Caribbean island where Voodoo Loa and zombies hold sway, then to the city-room of a major newspaper where a reporter faces off against the German-American Bund, and finally to a post-WWII drug smuggling operation. In each case, ordinary justice has failed...but the Skullmask offers hope.

Katie: You have billed this adult oriented book as a “fantasy/pulp adventure/mystery.” What is a pulp adventure?

Teel: The Pulp magazines were the most prominent form of popular entertainment from the turn of the last century until the 1950s. My favorite quote to describe the pulp style of writing is from Algys Budrys who boiled it down to “a clear cut solution to a sentimental problem.” But I think it can be whittled down even further to that to one word: Passion! Or perhaps breathtaking. Or exciting. No pulp writer ever sold a story that was boring, and that is something I try to do with my writing.

Katie: So, this story set in contemporary times (post WWII). Did you have difficulty marrying fantasy with recent history?

Teel: I think that all fiction is actually fantasy so I don’t think it’s such a jump. The stories in the first book take place from the 1870s to the 1950s so it wasn’t so hard to keep it ‘in style’.

Katie: Do you plan on making this book the first of a series?

Teel: Absolutely. I’ve got the first story for the next book done already. The concept of the Skullmask is by nature a series. Since the mask came into being in the late 17 hundreds it has been worn by countless individuals some times for only an hour sometimes for months. So there are so many stories to tell.

Katie: Have any of your other many books been a series set of books? Why or why not.

Teel: It seems I can’t write a book that isn’t part of a series—or at least potentially. Since I approach it all from characters first once I completely realize their world and lives I feel I can place them in many circumstances and sort of see what happens.

Katie: To what do you ascribe your publishing success?

Teel: I’ll tell you in a few decades if it’s success or not! Right now I think of it as a “publishing life.” I have been lucky with good editors, but more than that I love characters and I think my readers connect with that.

Katie: What kind of research did you have to do for this particular book?

Teel:I had a western to research, a Caribbean voodoo drama, a pre war and a post WWII story to research, so I just read and built on the research once I had “plot” for each.

Katie: Do you find that you have a lot of research to do for all/most of your books?

Teel: Always. I’m one of those people that yells “you got that wrong!” at the history channel, so I do research for anything, even if I make the choice to--as in my alternate world stories--change them. But period flavor is important to many of my stories so I really try to be as accurate as possible to make the fantasy more real.

Katie: To what do you ascribe the inspiration for this book?

Teel: I loved the Doc Savage books and was inspired to create my Dr. Shadows character as if he were on the newsstands in the period. I felt the same way about Spider and Shadow books and so The Skullmask is my answer to the flavor of those books without being a direct copy. It also has some the generational quality of Lee Falk’s “The Phantom,” which I always loved as a kid.

Katie: What tips would you give those writers who aspire to write this genre of book?

Teel: I think of myself as primarily an adventure writer and I soon discovered that the “pure adventure” market is very limited: if you don’t’ have vampires, zombies or romance in a story it is hard to find an audience. So I have adapted by making horror/adventure, fantasy/adventure, mystery/adventure and romantic/adventure to allow me to keep writing.

My advice would be know what you want to do but be flexible.

Katie: Find out more about Teel’s book, Weird Tales of the Skullmask, on his website at and can be contacted at It is published by “BooksForABook,” and there is a print and an ebook version available at or


Jan Verhoeff said...

Great article. I can appreciate research as an inspiration. Thank you for sharing this writer's work.

Deb Hockenberry said...

Great interview, Teel & Katie!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Nice interview, Katie.
Enjoyed learning about you and your book, Teel. Sounds like an exciting read. Best wishes to you.