I first became aware of my long lost soul brother Frank De Blase via the old-fashioned way: Facebook. Well, that’s not exactly retro yet, but let’s face it: the times they are a-changin’ faster than any of us can keep up, especially when it comes to social media. But some things never age, or if they do, it’s with grace, wit, and energy that never grows stale. Not so much reinvented as reinterpreted.
Frank De Blase - whether his art, words, or wardrobe - immediately conjures up images of pulp fiction protagonists be-bopping to jukebox blues in a seedy, smoky dive bar on the outskirts of nowheresville, surrounded by adoring burlesque dancers for whom he is buying a round of shots in between stage gigs.
At least that’s how I always see him.
The objective truth is, Frank is a multi-talented guy with a fetish for vintage pop culture (which we have in common), while boasting a bold, fluid, street-poetic literary voice that is as fresh as tomorrow’s headlines. Much more entertaining and uplifting as well, no doubt.
His ultra-cool Space Age Spillane-esque private eye protagonist, Frankie Valentine, shares a surname with my own, Vic Valentine. Titles like Pine Box for a Pin-Up, A Cougar's Kiss, and Busted Valentines and Other Dark Delights evoke the era before you even start reading, with lavishly lurid cover art to match. And when you do delve into the torrid text, you'll feel mentally transported to a vividly constructed noirish alternate universe via a literary time capsule, replete with sharp fins like a '59 Caddy.
At least in conversation about himself, Frank is as succinct as he is stylish. Like, dig:
Do you identify as a “retro” author, considering your affinity for midcentury pop culture, or do you see your work as resonant and relatable to contemporary audiences unfamiliar with that period’s aesthetics?
Short answer, yes, longer, answer of course. I like what I like and don’t concern myself too much with what people think. I like to think of my endeavors as unique, classic or timeless. Cool yesterday is still cool today.
You are also a successful professional photographer and musician. How have these other talents affected your “eye” and “ear” as an author, if at all, and which do you find the most creatively satisfying?
The other artistic outputs in my life definitely color my writing. I write what I know and I’ve led an extremely colorful life so far surrounded by a gaggle of colorful characters.
You seem naturally adept at networking within the indie literary community, while also maintaining a very public persona with your other artistic pursuits. Do you consider on and off-line “schmoozing” crucial to achieving success in any or all of these fields?
As far as networking goes, I’m an outsider in everything I do. As a photographer, I’m a musician. As a musician I’m a writer. They all scratch a different itch. But I have to admit writing is my love. It’s the one thing I don’t feel like a charlatan when discussing it.
What are your influences, literary or otherwise?
Russ Meyer, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, James Ellroy, Link Wray.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on the next Frankie Valentine caper called Dead Over Heels as well as another collection of short stories, tentatively titled Switchblade Bouquet. I have a short story and a cache of pin-up prints in the January 2018 edition of Inked Magazine. I always keep an eye out for young ladies willing to dispose of their clothes and pose. Other than that i just plan on getting away with it all as long as I can. Namaste.
Same to you, brother! Cheers.
Find Frank online here: