A novelist, screenwriter, television personality and half the creative genius behind the Fight Card series, Paul Bishop recently finished a 35 year career with the Los Angeles Police Department where he was twice honored as Detective Of The Year. He continues to work privately as a deception expert and as a specialist in the investigation of sex crimes. His books include the western Diamondback: Shroud Of Vengenace, two novels (Hot Pursuit / Deep Water) featuring LAPD officers Calico Jack Walker and Tina Tamiko, the thrillers Penalty Shot and Suspicious Minds, a short story collection (Running Wylde), and five novels in his L.A.P.D. Detective Fey Croaker series (Croaker: Kill Me Again, Croaker: Grave Sins, Croaker: Tequila Mockingbird, Croaker: Chalk Whispers, and Croaker: Pattern of Behavior). His latest novel, Fight Card: Felony Fists (written as Jack Tunney), is a fast action boxing tale inspired by the fight pulps of the ‘40s and ‘50s. His novels are currently available as e-books.
An old genre made brand new again …
What exactly is fight fiction? I’m glad you asked … in 2011, when fellow writer Mel Odom and I designed the format for the Fight Card series, we knew several things immediately: The books would be 25,000 – 30,000 word novelettes, designed to be read in one or two sessions, and draw their inspiration from the fight pulps of the ’30s and ’40s – such as Fight Stories Magazine, Knockout Magazine, and Robert E. Howard’s two-fisted boxing tales featuring Sailor Steve Costigan – and they would be written under the unifying pseudonym of Jack Tunney (combining the names of our favorite fighters, Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney).
Furthermore, we knew the Fight Card tales would be set in the1950s (although this later changed to include many different time periods), with a locations all over the world. We knew we wanted the prose to be hard-hitting, but still fall within a PG-13 range for language and violence. We also decided the different main characters in each tale would have a connection to St. Vincent’s Asylum For Boys in Chicago (an orphanage) where Father Tim Brophy, The Fighting Priest, taught the sweet science as a way to become a man.
But the most important element of the stories – the ingredient qualifying them as fight fiction – is their focus on boxing as their center. To meet the criteria of fight fiction, a tale’s raison d’être – its reason for existing – must be the actual fighting. The action in the ring or the cage or the back alley pit cannot be merely a backdrop, it must be an integral part of the both the story and its resolution.
The Fight Card novels are all about boxing action. Other fight fiction novels, such as Suckerpunch by Jeremy Brown, or Basement Brawl by Robert Evans, are all about MMA fight action. Like the Fight Card series, they are tales of the The Big Fight at the heart of any true fight fiction tale.
The Big Fight doesn’t have to hinge on the heavyweight championship of the world. The Big Fight can be as small as a scrap between romantic rivals in a makeshift ring in Podunk, America, a bar championship in New Orleans, a pit fight in Singapore, a battle for the pride of a Navy ship in Hawaii, or a backroom smoker with a has-been champ redeeming himself on his last stop before Palookaville – the stakes can be high or low in the big picture, but as high as life or death for the characters involved.
Fight fiction is all about the journey to The Big Fight, the bravery and redemption found in winning (or losing), and in giving the readers a vicarious experience visceral enough to get the blood rushing in their ears.
These types of stories proliferated in the sports pulps of the ’40s and ’50s and have appeared literally in hundreds of movies, best typified by the Rocky series. Today they are proliferating again in the form of Fight Card’s two-fisted boxing tales, Fight Card MMA’s more modern epics, and the new spin-off series Fight Card Romance – which has just debuted with Ladies Night.
No matter the time period or the style of fighting involved, fight fiction, as celebrated within the pages of Fight Card, gives readers the feeling of being in the ring against an overwhelming opponent, yet with the determination to never, never, go down for the count.
I savor fight fiction because, as a reader and a writer, it brings my imagination alive, it makes me want to stand up and cheer, it elevates me beyond the ordinary, and takes me into the world of one man’s determination and skill pitted against another in the brutal ballet danced in the ring or cage. The Fight Card series and associate spin-offs celebrates these stories. So, let’s touch gloves and come out reading ….
Find out more about the Fight Card series here: www.fightcardbooks.com