Q&A: New Pulp Publisher Jeffrey Blehar
We recently spoke with\ Jeffrey Blehar of Millhaven Publishing about his company and the new pulp stories they produce.
Can you tell us how and when your company was established?
Millhaven Press was technically established in September of 2017. I was finishing the edits to my first novel, “Nighthawks” and was weighing my options for releasing it. I chose to self-publish the work but wasn’t completely happy with the process. I decided I wanted to start an online entity for the Books of the Broken series. It started as a blog on wordpress and then I expanded to my own site with a store. The Millhaven Press online store (millhavenpress.com) came into existence right around Halloween.
The idea for Millhaven as an outlet for other writers happened between the final edits for “Nighthawks” and its publication. I had written several short stories and was in the process of submitting them to various outlets when I became disillusioned with much of the process. Most seemed to take several months before responding. Some never acknowledged the story had been received for consideration. By January 2018 I had the format in place for “Millhaven Tales” in place and started spreading the word we were accepting story and art submissions.
The first issue was published April 1st, 2018. We have just released the second issue and are hard at work on the third issue already.
What have you published so far?
So far, we have put out the first two Books of the Broken, which are a supernatural crime mystery series set mainly during the Depression. “Nighthawks” introduces the reader to the mysterious unnamed city. “Devlin” continues the story and fills in some of the gaps in “Nighthawks”.
We have put out the first two issues of our quarterly short story anthology. The spring issue of Science Fiction and Fantasy, “Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder” and the summer Crime and Mystery issue, “Millhaven’s Tales of Suspense”. The third issue for fall, “Millhaven’s Tales of Terror” is well underway and will be released October 1st.
We also have longer form story anthologies which will fall under the “Fierce Tales” title. The first two which are Heroic Sword and Sorcery themed novelettes will be released later this fall. These will have four or five lengthy entries per anthology. The third in the series will focus on “Lost Worlds” type stories and we have two story slots available for that release.
Who is writing for you?
The easy answer to that question is anybody who wants to write for us. “Millhaven Tales” is open to stories from anyone, anywhere. The first issue was mostly southeastern writers with one exception. The second issue was filled with stories form all over the United States and one from the U.K.. The third issue is half American and half European. We will accept anything well-written, previously unpublished, and fits with the theme of the issue.
Our longer anthologies, the “Fierce Tales” group is filled by proposal method. Writers submit a short synopsis and if it sounds good, we will accept it and then it is up to the author to get the completed story to us by the deadline.
We have several writers who have become regular contributors over a very short matter of time. J. Manfred Weichsel submitted the first story I accepted for Tales of Wonder and has been placing stories with several other outlets. We are publishing a novelette of his in “Millhaven’s Tales of Terror” and he has already turned in his story for the Sword and Sorcery anthology. He has a great imagination and is quite adept at dropping nods and tributes to pulp writers of the past.
Felicia Huffman is an author in the southeast who submitted in cool short story for Tales of Wonder, and a great cozy type mystery for Tales of Suspense. She will have a story in next spring’s Tales of Wonder for which she is also adding cover artist to her list of roles.
Those are just two examples of authors who have helped make Millhaven a community. Several other writers have multiple stories with us or will soon. Charlie Boyles, Mason Darling, and Sergio Palumbo all have or will have multiple works with us. Misha Burnett writes a great blog dealing with the current and future state of short fiction and he will have a story in our upcoming Fierce Tales anthology and a story in next spring’s Tales of Wonder.
The goal of Millhaven was to build an outlet where anyone could get published if they were good enough and provide readers with genre-based stories just a little out of the ordinary. We are growing a fanbase, slowly but surely.
Anyone can submit a story so long as it follows the guidelines set forth on the website. They can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which Sub-genres do the company’s books focus on?
The simple answer is a lot. Millhaven Tales changes genres with the seasons in a four-issue cycle.
Spring: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Fall: Horror/Dark Fantasy
Fierce Tales has a theme per volume. This series falls mainly along fantasy lines but may expand to science fiction with future releases.
The Books of the Broken Series is a hard-boiled Depression Era supernatural crime mystery series.
What in your opinion is the appeal of pulp?
“Pulp” is a flawed descriptor. When classifying a genre of literature by using a common physical property, it is inevitably a flawed system. “Pulp” covers too wide an area to be truly useful. There is a huge difference between Raymond Chandler and H.P. Lovecraft.
The main appeal of pulp in general is that it is geared toward the masses. With few exceptions it is pure escapism. Escapist entertainment gets a bad rap, but I mean it as a compliment. Pulp no matter the genre is meant to entertain and not let any heavy deeper meaning get in the way. The stories are a fun and often wild ride which takes the reader away to a new world for a little while. It is escapist through and through.
There is a big difference between New Pulp or Pulp Revival and Pulp-Inspired. New Pulp (Pulp Revival) takes the original ideas behind the pulp stories of yesteryear and magnifies them. It is fun and amps up the main aspects of old pulp to ten. It seems to be centered on the vigilante crime-fighter sub-genre for the most part. New versions of heroes based on Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Phantom, The Spider, The Avenger, and others have taken center stage. When done well these new stories are an action-packed thrill ride, but when done poorly, they come off as a mocking caricature of the stories.
Pulp-Inspired, which is what Millhaven Press does is an attempt to take writers influenced by the pulp writers of before, but not attempting to follow them stylistically or follow a checklist of criteria. We see it as the next step in a progression of storytellers. You can read between the lines to find the influences of the former masters of the genre without the story being strictly “pulp”.