THE EXECUTIONER INTERVIEW PART II
Last week, I began my interview with the widow of Don Pendleton, who created The Executioner: Mack Bolan series. It bridged the gap between the hard-hitting pulp magazines of a prior generation and the paperback original format of a more modern – et still story hungry – audience.
Linda Pendleton has masterminded the first e-book release (via Open Road Media) of the original thirty-seven titles in The Executioner: Mack Bolan series. Originally published from 1969 to 1980, these books are the beating heart of The Executioner canon, which spawned uncountable imitators in the men’s action adventure genre.
Reflecting on his creation in 1973, Don Pendleton – now universally acknowledged as the father of the modern action/adventure novel – stated, “…styling of the Mack Bolan stories requires a structure for carrying fast-paced hard-hitting action sequences. The writing is punchy, declarative, stirringly graphic. The reach is toward the reader’s belly, designed to evoke visceral response and rousing empathy. This is heroic fiction.”
Here is the conclusion of our interview:
THERE IS A STRONG MORAL THREAD RUNNING THROUGH THE ORIGINAL EXECUTIONER BOOKS. HOW MUCH DID THIS REFLECT DON’S OWN WORLD VIEW?
It very much reflected his world view. Readers often wonder how much of the author, himself, moves onto the pages of his book. A part of us always does. Don had this to say, “Every writer is always working from his own individual world view, and that can become as characteristic as a fingerprint, whatever the subject, so an honest writer cannot conceal himself in the work no matter how hard he may try to do so. So in essence, Mack Bolan is me, operating from the same world view.”
IN SOME OF HIS OTHER WRITINGS, DON DISPLAYED A STRONG SPIRITUAL SIDE. HOW IMPORTANT TO HIM WAS THE EXAMINATION OF THE METAPHYSICAL SIDE OF LIFE?
He considered himself a life-long metaphysical scholar. He loved the wedding of scientific understanding and mystical thought. He explored philosophy, science, the paranormal, including spirit communication, which is the subject of our book, To Dance With Angels. His Ashton Ford Psychic Detective series gave him the opportunity to explore the paranormal in a fictional way. The flip-side of that, is his nonfiction book, A Search for Meaning From the Surface of a Small Planet.
Don even considered his Executioner novels a study in metaphysics. He said, “Some people may say that these books are not examples of metaphysical thought, but they are. Metaphysics grapples with the nature of reality and the Executioner books undertake an examination of the essentially violent nature of nature.”
Personally, I’ve always felt it is the underlying metaphysical theme of Mack Bolan that has kept the readers following Bolan’s war.
THIS IS AN EXCITING TIME FOR THE EXECUTIONER SERIES. HOW LONG HAD YOU BEEN WORKING TOWARD THE E-BOOK RELEASE OF THE FIRST THIRTY-SEVEN BOOKS?
I know how much Don’s work meant to him, so we are very excited to have the original series available as e-books. The last print editions of the original series were done in 1988-1990. For several years, I had wanted to do e-books of the series. Early this year, I had decided to do e-books myself, even knowing it would be a lot of work and time consuming. Open Road Media had been interested in the series for some time, and in July when they inquired again of my publishing attorney, Frank Curtis, and with the idea they would bring them all out at once by year’s end, we went for it. Open Road has been great to work with, and within a short time they had all 37 books ready to go, as promised. I discussed with Open Road cover designer, Mauricio Diaz, what I hoped for with a branded cover, and I’m pleased with his cover designs.
OVER THE YEARS, THERE HAVE BEEN OTHER ATTEMPTS TO BRING THE EXECUTIONER TO THE BIG SCREEN. WHAT IS DIFFERENT THIS TIME?
In the past, twice, Writers Guild strikes interfered with progress and it was shelved and options not renewed. About a decade ago, one deal that sounded good on the surface, was not, and after preliminary negotiation we walked away. Then screenwriter, producer, Shane Salerno came along, not only with a nice deal, but just as importantly from my point of view, with enthusiasm and determination. It was the right deal from the beginning. Salerno also has been a fan of the Bolan books since he was a teenager, and had this dream to one day do Mack Bolan films. He’s now had a lot of Hollywood success as a screenwriter, and a producer, and I also saw his determination in doing the J.D. Salinger project, in which he had a similar long-held dream.
We were also surprised how fast after Shane Salerno’s August announcement that Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips, and Warner Bros, jumped on it.
IF THERE WAS ONE THING DON WANTED HIS READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM HIS BOOKS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I believe when you read Don Pendleton you feel his multilayer reach for his reader’s mind. That was his goal, his hope, that when a reader finished the last page and closed one of his books not only would the reader feel entertained, but would be left with something to think about, some new idea to ponder. A meeting of the minds: a meeting of his, the author, with each and every one of his millions of readers all around the world.
He said, “I try to entertain myself with the adventures of my characters, hoping that what entertains me may also entertain others. I am simply a storyteller, an entertainer who hopes to enthrall with visions of the reader’s own incipient greatness.”
Paul, thank you for your interest in Don’s work, and for this opportunity to do this interview.
Thank you, Linda, for taking time from your busy schedule.
For more information on The Executioner, and his creator Don Pendleton, check out the websites below…