Sam Hawken


Thoughts on Rosie

Rosie the Ripper, by Jack TunneyI’m a pretty visual person. When I was younger, I wanted to direct movies and only gave up that dream when I discovered that making movies required large amounts of money, which I never had. Far, far cheaper to make paper movies out of words. And so it goes.

When Paul Bishop first announced the Fight Card MMA line, he posted a picture of a mock-up cover done by Fight Card artist Keith Birdsong. The cover was a dynamic image of a woman in mid-punch and the title was Rosie the Ripper. Seeing this got me thinking. It was that visual part of my brain going to work.

I’d been aware of the Fight Card series and read a few, but it wasn’t until I saw Rosie and those magic letters, MMA, popped up that I felt like I could actually write one of these things. A long-dormant novel idea about a boxer in Baltimore never really seemed to get anywhere, but Rosie the Ripper kept asking for my attention as the weeks and months went by until finally her storyline came springing into my head, ready to be written.

Mixed martial arts hits some strange, buried sweet spot that even boxing, a sport I’ve followed for decades, has never managed to touch. There’s something about the mixed part of “mixed martial arts” that really gets me interested, as there are so many technical elements that go into the execution of a successful fight. Boxing is intricate and far more complex than non-fans give it credit for, but MMA is a whole other level. Striking, clinching, grappling, submissions… it goes on and on. And for me, anyway, some of the most interesting MMA was happening with women fighters.

There have been female boxers for time out of mind, but MMA has integrated women into the sport in a much more organic way. Rosie the Ripper was my chance to translate some of that feminine energy into an action-packed fight story. But I’d go one better and place a layer of drama over the raw physicality. Drama geared specifically toward family, personal tribulations and redemption.

The very best fight movie ever made is Rocky, and though Rocky Balboa was a gofer for a small-time loan shark, his story was never about crime, but about heart. There was his relationship with Adrian and Mickey, and his struggle to actualize himself as a person. I didn’t think I could reach those Oscar-winning heights, but I could at least try to create a human portrait of a woman and her life in MMA.



Rosie the Ripper, by Jack TunneyI probably don’t need to tell you this, because you’ve probably figured it out for yourself by this point, but the titles of my entries generally have only the most tenuous of connections to the entries themselves. You can make a game of figuring out how they match up, but I will warn you that my brain is so twisted you may drive yourself mad in the process of deciphering it.

Anyway, let’s talk about Rosie the Ripper, shall we?

You already know Rosie has been pushed up from April 2014 to January 2014, and you know the reasons why, so I won’t go into them again. What you probably don’t know, however, is that promotion for Rosie has already begun. To say this is a refreshing change is understating things a bit. Paul Bishop, the grandmaster of Fight Card, spoke with me via Skype last week about all the various and sundry things he does to promote Fight Card releases, and the floodgates will open about the middle of December. But as I say, this doesn’t mean stuff isn’t already happening.

If you head on over to the Fight Card site, you will find an essay I wrote about Rosie. It’s slightly longer than the entries I do here, so it may take a couple of minutes to breeze through. To give you a little preview, it speaks mostly to my interest in MMA, especially WMMA, and the genesis of the Rosie idea, as well as how Fight Card fits into the venerable tradition of sports fiction.

I honestly don’t know how many people are going to pick up Rosie when the time comes. I’d like to say the novella will fly off the virtual shelves, but I’m acutely aware of the fact that fight fiction does not have the broad-based audience it had in the ’30s and ’40s. All sports fiction has fallen off in popularity, becoming a niche genre, and a WMMA story is a niche inside a niche.

I plan to write more for Rosie‘s promotion, including a small article on WMMA in general. I put out some feelers to UFC Women’s Bantamweight challenger Miesha Tate about having three or four questions answered pursuant to my article, but I don’t expect that will come through. She’s busy training for the PPV next month, when she’ll hopefully pummel current champion Ronda Rousey into the ground, so she probably doesn’t have time for the likes of me. Which isn’t to say she isn’t nice, because she’s interacted with me on Twitter and been extremely pleasant, but I would probably be distracted by the biggest fight of my life, too.


Coming soon

Rosie the Ripper, by Jack TunneyIf you look in the right-hand column over there, you will see a section entitled Words for Sale. Listed there is everything I’ve written for publication that’s either available or about to be available. There are a couple of new developments, as you will see.

First and foremost, you’ll notice a new cover in the mix. It’s for the Fight Card MMA line of novellas, written under the house name of Jack Tunney, and it’s called Rosie the Ripper. Yes, the MMA fight story I talked about last week is coming.

I got the word yesterday in sort of a roundabout way. I follow the Fight Card Facebook and Twitter presences, and what should pop up but an announcement that I’d been added to the Fight Card stable of writers? I hadn’t actually been told if Rosie made the grade, but there was no other reason that announcement would appear.

Shortly afterward I heard from Paul Bishop, the primary steward of the Fight Card, brand, looking for a bio and a photograph. Those can both be seen on the Fight Card site now. Today I plan to submit the short “back cover” copy for Rosie, and a 1,500-word essay on the novella, mixed martial arts and fight fiction. The ball is well and truly rolling.

As I told you last week, I had no idea if Rosie was going to pass muster. It didn’t have any crime elements at all and it wasn’t particularly pulpy. Maybe the emotions of the story are amped up a little bit for dramatic purposes, but it’s my hope that the story doesn’t cross over into melodrama. Rosie is meant to be a human story that happens to have some kick-ass MMA action in it. I suppose it’s up to you to decide whether or not I was successful in doing so.