Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Note from Tangor:

I have been collecting commentary from living authors regarding their works that embrace the Adventure and Romance of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Jessica Amanda Salmonson has graciously offered the following thoughts regarding her 1982 adventure published by ACE BOOKS. Author of many short stories and novels, Ms. Salmonson operates an on-line book store that caters to the fantastic, fantasy, and adventure and romance.


Jessica Amanda Salmonson

That hoary query "why write" is at once too broad and too philosophical to inspire an easy answer, and my best answer to it is in a collection of surrealistic prose THE ELVENTH JAGUARUNDI, in the introduction entitled "Why Write, White Rye?"

As for "why write THE SWORDSWOMAN," it's still too unspecific a query, and I probably have readier answers for "where do you get your ideas." But I'll give it a try.

It's a while back by now, yet I remember one motivation was that I wanted to make more credible the Earthling-transferred-to-planet-of-adventure thing. Most John Carter inspired books assume some geeky earthling if waking up on some adventure-planet would not only fit in very easily, but would become a Hero among Heros, and whoever was the Alpha Female of the planet would kiss his feet. Yet most of these fellows arrived prepared by nothing but chauvenism and it seemed to me such dumbass "heros" couldn't've lasted a week. Even if someone helped them enough that they didn't die outright, they'd be considered mentally retarded for comprehending none of the touchstones of an alien culture, and end up at best a shit-shoveller in some stable.

So in my version the character of Erin Wyler really did train as swordfighter before ever being transferred to Endsworld, and even then was confronted by incomprehensible cultural differences so that for some while she lived as a homeless looney under a bridge.

And that longer period of adapting to a strange culture was just one important issue overlooked by most such stories. The second issue of Earthling as Hero instead of weirdo misfit I believed would require a greater rational underpinning, and so enters a trainer-of-warriors from out of Greek mythology, and a period of training which permitted me to write what many have recognized as "the Zen chapter" somewhat in imitation of the warrior training manual Hagekure.

There were other things about the John Carter Goes To Mars theme that I wanted to treat either whimsically or more realistically. Partly in jest, then, the Busty Green Princess a la Otis Adelbert Kline novels becomes the teatless Insect Queen; & her desire to be dominated by a heroic male a la the Gor variant had the element of a Preying Mantis added so that fulfilling her desire to be dominated could end in death.

But overall the answer to "why write" is unanswerable. It can't be for the money since even as a relatively successful book sales-wise, writing adventure fantasy just doesn't pay all that well. Most people write this stuff because we're all of us nuts.

-Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Violet Books

3214 Preble Street

Bremerton, Washington 98312 USA