Greetings, Loyal Reader!
I want to introduce you to another of my longtime imaginary friends, Jack Scarlet. You can read about Jack in two short–and free–ebooks I posted on Smashwords:
Jack is the second of the “Big Three” I created in my long ago youth and have written about or developed off and on for the past quarter century. The first is Jason Cosmo, hero of my published Non-Trilogy and of Hero Wanted in the rebooted Jason Cosmo fantasy adventure series. Jason, as you probably know, is my satiric/comedic take on the classic heroic fantasy or swords & sorcery genre.
I created Jack Scarlet not long after coming up with Jason Cosmo, in the early 1980s. The first Jack Scarlet story was not quite as silly as the Jason Cosmo series I was writing then, but was nevertheless a bit over the top. Jack was inspired by the action films of the day, comic book characters like Tony Stark/Iron Man, the James Bond films and the Doc Savage pulps, among other fairly obvious influences. “Jack Scarlet, Freelance Adventurer” was originally an independent hero for hire (much like the original handwritten Jason Cosmo) but has evolved into something else as I have continued to develop and update the character and his expanding universe ever since.
Yes, I do spend an excessive amount of my free time world-building and character-developing background for stories I never quite get around to actuallly writing.
I did circulate a proposal for a Jack Scarlet novel at one point in the mid-to-late 90s, after the Jason Cosmo series ground to a halt. Several publishers passed. Re-reading that proposal today, I can see why. It didn’t quite gel. I sent Jack back to the Idea Development Notebook for a few years more. In the Early Internet Period I wrote a couple of short Jack Scarlet adventures, intending to launch episodic serial that I would distribute by email or on one of those new-fangled “web sites” but I never quite had the time or energy to follow through. So Jack continued to languish and I continued to add new world details or story ideas to the notebook as they occurred to me.
In early 2001 the Taliban regime in Afghanistan destroyed the ancient Buddha statues at Bamiyan. Few people, at least in the US, were paying much attention to Afghanistan or knew what the heck a Taliban was. They seemed like good villains and the incident gave me a great idea for a Jack Scarlet story, which I started writing over the summer. Then the September 11 attacks happened — and writing a breezy action-adventure story didn’t seem so cool anymore. Back to the notebook for Jack.
The whole idea of the larger-than-life Rambo/Arnold/Die Hard action-adventure hero is in some ways dated and obsolete given the state of the world today. We’ve got real “action heroes” fighting real wars right now and their courage and sacrifices make fictional gun-blazing heroics seem trite. That is one perspective, and one that has led me to keep this character in mothballs for a long time. I just haven’t had the urge or inspiration to write such tales.
So why now? Well, in truth, I haven’t written anything new yet. I dug up those short episodes I mentioned, dusted them off, updated a couple of stale topical references, and posted them on Smashwords. Whether I’ll finish any of the other two dozen or so incomplete Jack Scarlet tales in my Story Vault or write new ones, I don’t quite know yet. My commitment to relaunching the Jason Cosmo series takes precedence. But I felt that Jack Scarlet, having been rattling around in my head almost as long as Jason, deserves at least an introduction.
I think that Bullets for Breakfast and A Cold, Cold Place to Die give you at least a flavor of the character, and a small glimpse into the world around him. I may post some more Jack Scarlet adventures, time and reader interest permitting. Hope you enjoy!