Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Flame and Crimson has won the Atlantean award from the Robert E. Howard Foundation

When I started writing Flame and Crimson in 2014 I had no expectations. I did not think I was worthy of the attempt, nor did I know where it was headed, precisely, even with a detailed but tenuous outline to guide me. And for some time, at least two years, I suspected I would never finish. I kept waiting for my motivation to dry up and blow away, as it is wont to do, or I figured I'd hit some impasse in the story of sword-and-sorcery from which I would see no way forward, a sheer wall without hand or toe hold, and I'd be left stranded, with nowhere to go but back down. 

Many times I thought, well, at least I can take what I've got and spin it into a couple substantive essays, or blog series. Yeah, that's a better fit anyway. Who are you to write a book? Again and again, the voice of what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance (capital R) whispered in my ear, telling me to give it up.

I pressed on, through peaks and valleys, some small, others dramatic. Somewhere in 2018 I knew I was going to finish.

I'm going to bare my soul for just a moment and admit that I got a bit emotional when that realization struck me, like a thunderbolt. I knew, for better or worse, with or without a publisher, I was going to write a book, this book, and it would see the light of day, even if I stuck it in a .PDF without formatting and offered it up here.

From that point, my work intensified, and I finished the writing in 2019. 

I want to thank Bob McLain at Pulp Hero Press for publishing the book, and getting me in touch with Tom Barber for that striking, old-school cover.

I want to thank all my early readers, and reviewers, dudes like Deuce Richardson, Paul McNamee and Davide Mana and Scott Oden, and later the likes of Bill Ward and David C. Smith and Jason Ray Carney, and many others. As of today it's gotten over 100 ratings, between Amazon and Goodreads, averaging in the mid-high 4 stars out of 5. The reception has been better than I ever anticipated, or hoped. 

A couple months ago Flame and Crimson received a nomination from the Robert E. Howard Foundation, and now after receiving definitive word from Rusty Burke I am over the moon to announce that it won the Atlantean award, for Outstanding Achievement, Book (non-anthology/collection, substantively devoted to the life and/or work of REH).


I thank everyone who has helped me along the way, with advice and critique, or contribution (they are listed in an author's note in the book). When you write (quasi academic) non-fiction you are standing on the shoulders of many others who have paved the way with research, including books, articles, essays, letters, and introductions. I drew upon hundreds of sources to write this book, cited them, then tried to give the story of sword-and-sorcery a coherent narrative, and my own spin. 

I hope you've enjoyed it.

As for what is next for me as a writer, I have no idea. I have a demanding, full-time job. Family, friends. Those things, and reading and blogging, fill my time. Writing Flame and Crimson was a substantial sacrifice. Can I muster that type of effort again? Perhaps. If I could make writing a full-time gig I would do it in a heartbeat, but alas, sword-and-sorcery does not pay the bills. I feel a bit like a sword-and-sorcery hero who has survived a great adventure, spent his meagre coin in the local tavern, and now has the prospect of the next hair-raising scrape.

We'll see.


Matthew said...


I really enjoyed Flame and Crimson and think it is well worth the effort you put in it. There is not another book that is the history of sword and sorcery.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Congratulations! Well earned!

jason said...

Congratulations! Well-deserved.

Cora Buhlert said...

Congratulations! That's a well deserved win.

Brian Murphy said...

Thanks all, appreciate it, more than you know!