Pulp Author Howard Hopkins brings his storytelling talent to bear on one of Pop Culture’s most enduring characters! Read on as Howard Hopkins talks about his ride alongside the Masked Man of the Plains as he wrote VENDETTA, a Novel of the Lone Ranger due out in February from Moonstone!
MOONSTONE: You’re the author of the upcoming Lone Ranger Novel, VENDETTA, from Moonstone. What can you tell us of the book?
HOWARD HOPKINS: You can expect the true Lone Ranger, no re-imaging and political correctness. Set in a more realistic and gritty West, dealing with authentic issues and vicious villains. The original Lone Ranger series on the radio and TV—which, make no mistake, I love dearly—was primarily intended for a younger audience. Moonstone’s series is not aimed at kids, but it is aimed at Lone Ranger fans and Western readers, as well as adventure readers and folks who just enjoy a thrilling story. The Lone Ranger and Tonto are equal parts of a whole, dealing with a West full of prejudice, sudden death and human corruption. Yet The Ranger also stands above that. He is The Lone Ranger and I have taken great pains to keep the soul and spirit of the character intact. I have a great love and respect for this character and have done my best to make sure to respect Rangers fans in writing the book. There’s nothing I hate more than seeing a cherished character so totally redone as to be not only unrecognizable but alienating. These are great, iconic characters. They were popular and loved for a reason. I see no need to change that. At the same time, the Old West is a violent, vast and even lonely place, and The Lone Ranger and Tonto are operating within it.
MS: Are you a longtime fan of the Ranger? If so, why?
HH: I am a huge fan, both of the radio and TV show, and have been since I was a kid. At a time when I didn’t even like Westerns—I loved The Lone Ranger. I loved all he stood for, his skill and compassion, his treatment of others and of course the adventure. He was a character who transcended his genre and time period. And I firmly believe he can be just as viable today as he was in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
MS: How do you make the Lone Ranger and Tonto relevant to readers today? Or is that even a concern?
HH: I honestly feel too much of a big deal is made out of making characters relevant today. In fact, I hate the word “relevant” whenever I hear it, usually applied to music. A good story with endearing characters is ALWAYS relevant. I think the new Captain America movie helped prove that. So many modern publishers and movie makers are so concerned with updating time tested characters they totally lose the “soul” of the character, and you end up with Seth Rogan’s Green Hornet. My only concerns with writing a character such as The Lone Ranger are telling the best story of which I am capable and being true to the spirit of who he is. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with some updating for the times or using the advanced mediums we now have that were not originally available. As long as you don’t take who the character essentially is and retool it so much it becomes a different entity. The Green Hornet is NOT a comedy (and neither was the Rogan movie, but that’s beside the point), and should not have been treated as such. I get the sense with some projects that the producers/writers are almost showing a sense of embarrassment with the source material. So they change it. I see it with apologies to costumes in comic books, morals in movies, whatever. What makes these characters relevant (cringe) is that they are not just products of their time—they are products of human nature and who we are at our core. That never changes. Times change. Styles change. Fads change. The essence of a great story and great characters does not.
MS: Any plans for follow up books to VENDETTA?
HH: I certainly hope there will be. I’ve written a Lone Ranger tale for the upcoming Moonstone anthology of short stories called “Denial” and I hope I will have the opportunity to pen many more novels in the line once Vendetta hits. There’s been quite a lot of prepublication interest and orders on it, so I think folks are as excited as I am to see The Ranger return to prose. It was a lifelong dream fulfilled to write Vendetta and I can’t think of anything better than to follow it up by writing a series of Ranger books. Hi yo, Silver–away!
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