A few years ago, I got back into writing (before making God in Black Iron) on a regular basis after having stopped for a period of time. I jointed an online writing group. I started writing flash fiction.
I started submitting work… and getting published. All the time, I was less interested in having it fit into a certain genre, or writing for a certain audience, or even writing for a certain market. What I did have was an abiding love for the old style action adventure stories known as the pulps.
As a result, my friend Cameron Mount and I decided to launch the new pulp ‘zine Broadswords and Blasters, which we ran more or less successfully for three years, publishing twelve issues that were a grab bag of genres but with the unifying thread of high stakes action and adventure. At the same time however, I was still writing my own brand of stories, delving into horror, crime, cyberpunk, and what’s probably my favorite, sword and sorcery.
As a result of publishing BS & B, I was fortunate to connect with other voices in the indie fiction scene, especially crime and horror writers.
For a few years, I kept saying how I should sit down and gather what I’ve written and put it into one collection. “God in Black Iron and Other Stories” is the result. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I refer to it as twenty pieces of genre trash, a collection of work resultant from about eight years worth of work.
Some of the stories have seen publication elsewhere, some of it was flash fiction I pulled from my website, but the bulk of long pieces had seen publication in places such as the now defunct New Realm, as well as the indie mags SWITCHBLADE, PULP MODERN, and ECONOCALSH. Rather than trying to get bogged down into any one genre, the stories run the gamut, and a few are definitely crossbreeds between genres.
“Sword of the Legion” for example, sees a captured centurion thrown into a brutal gladiatorial game with a bit of black magic thrown in. Tremblay, the private investigator in “Hello, Scum” and “Galatea in the Garden of Eden” wouldn’t be out of place in a hard-boiled crime piece, but he hangs close to the bottom rung in a cyberpunk society. Then there’s whatever “Ashton and Marcus: The Mead Trap” is, a reality tripping action adventure with a dash of cosmic horror wrapped in a buddy movie.
This collection is me playing with genre and convections and tropes where the most I had to worry about was it not getting picked up by a publication. The flash fiction pieces in particular are small self-contained experiments in form. If I was going to try and come up with a unifying idea behind the stories, it is my love letter to action adventure.
I, Matthew X. Gomez, was fortunate enough to engage Luke Spooner on the cover, as his work had previously graced every cover of Broadswords and Blasters. I also worked with Ran Scott to provide interior illustrations for a handful of stories which I felt helped add a different spin from the usual all text anthology.
These are stories designed that you can pick up the collection and have a quick five to ten minute read, and hopefully a reader will be able to come back and discover something new. The is my love letter to the fiction of Robert Howard, Fritz Leiber, Clark Ashton Smith, and Dashiell Hammet.
So what’s next? What comes after God in Black Iron? I’m currently working on an urban fantasy novella and a longer sword and sorcery piece as well.
The collection can be found on Amazon:
Matt Gomez can usually be found haunting twitter here: https://twitter.com/mxgomez78