I’m working on a story called “The Devil’s Woodchopper.” It isn’t my story. Robert E. Howard, who died in 1936 and is best known for inventing both sword & sorcery and barbarian characters such as Conan of Cimmeria and Kull of Atlantis, left a fragment about the woodchopper that was later completed by his friend Tevis Clyde Smith. I’m going to finish the story my own way, and the rough drafting is done. Today I’m polishing.
Why complete a dead guy’s story? One reason is that I’m a big fan of Howard and I’m going to publish my version of “Woodchopper” in the 200th mailing of REHupa. REHupa is made up of folks like me who care deeply about Howard’s work and would like to see it accepted as classic American literature. We count pro writers, pro artists, and college professors among our number, as well as many Howard fans who have been reading and writing about him for decades. We even produce a scholarly journal called The Dark Man, for which I'm Associate Editor. Note for you writers out there, we’re always looking for good articles on Howard.
A second reason to complete “The Devil’s Woodchopper” is for the experience. I don’t want to make a career out of writing pastiches or posthumous collaborations, but I do want to stretch what talent I have as far as it can go. This means trying new things, trying hard things. Completing “The Devil’s Woodchopper” and trying to stay true to the tone and the level of talent that Howard brought to the tale is certainly hard. I've only written one pastiche previously. It involved a Robert E. Howard character named Sailor Steve Costigan and was called “Slugger’s Holiday.” It was hard too, but it was published, in the anthology Beacons of Tomorrow from Tyrannosaurus Press.