What Is a Fight Card Romance?

Honored by her college for literary excellence, author Carol Malone has played make-believe all her life and started writing romantic tales in high school. Raised with four older brothers, sports was the center of her family’s life. To this day, she still bleeds Dodger Blue. Carol writes pulse-pounding, noir sports stories with a passionate twist, inviting fans to jump in a front row seat and cheer for the underdog.


In the world of new pulp writing, this question is turning heads …

Ladies Night

Carol Malone


Before I can tell you about Fight Card Romance, I need to explain a little about the traditional Fight Card.

In 2012, a dear friend of mine, mentor and author Paul Bishop, and his pal, Mel Odom, created Fight Card – a series of 25,000 word novellas inspired by the pulse-pounding fight pulps so popular from the ‘30s to the ‘50s.  In the 1920s, boxing as a sport began coming into its own – attracting the minorities, the Irish, the Italians, the Jews, and later the Blacks and Latin boxers – all trying to prove their metal in the toughest arena of all –the boxing ring, man-to-man.  Fictional boxing stories filled the pulps of the era with two-fisted action devoured by a rapt public. The Fight Card series was a return to this style of writing, bringing new fight stories to modern readers.

Paul and Mel established a list of writers guidelines for the Fight Card series.   Originally, all the stories were to be set in the 1950’s – though this was quickly waived to include other decades.  The stories could be set anywhere in the world (and have – from the Australian Outback, to South Africa and Ireland), and a PG-13 level was established for language, violence and sex.

The main character in the stories did not have to be a professional fighter – they could be a reporters, sailors, fight manager, soldiers, or – in the case of my novel, Ladies Night – the boxer’s lady-love. However, the biggest rule was the stories must have boxing at its heart and resolution – usually the big fight conclusion. This didn’t mean ever story had to be about the championship of the world.  The characters don’t have to be contenders, and most aren’t, but all of them are facing extremely high personal stakes, if not certain destruction, if they don’t man-up.

The boxer in each story was to have a connection to St. Vincent’s Asylum for Boys, an orphanage in Chicago. Under the big-hearted, tough-love, dished out generously by the much beloved Fighting Priest, Father Tim – also known as Tornado Tim Brophy, a Golden Gloves champion himself as a youth – each boy under his care grows up believing he’s something special. Although cursed by some nuns and loved by others, the good sisters of the orphanage pray for Father Tim who manages to keep his ruffians in check by teaching them the sweet science of boxing. Boys who come to him with no food in their bellies, no love in their hearts, and no hope for a future, find Father Tim filling up those holes.

Each story is written to be e-published via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform under the shared pseudonym of Jack Tunney for cohesiveness. I wrote Ladies Night under the name of Jill Tunney.  Paperback editions follow on the heels of the e-books, this time under the individual author’s own name.

My husband Tim and I are part of a monthly writer’s group mentored by Paul.  When he asked my husband, Tim – an end-of-the-world sci-fi writer – if he wanted to take a shot at writing a Fight Card story, Tim declined. He’s not into sports – but I am. Raised with four older brothers, sports was an obsession. When I was in high school, I started reading and writing romance, and have since then written numerous manuscripts. So, I decided to take a dare and without Paul’s knowledge began pecking out my own Fight Card tale. I didn’t start out to necessarily write a romance, but the main characters dictated their story, I simply jotted it down. A year later, voilà – Ladies Night.

In Ladies Night, Jimmy Doherty is dropped at Father’s Tim’s doorstep, all alone in the world after tragedy takes his pa in WWII, his ma to her grief, and his only other living relative, Aunt Alice, to heart failure. Angry with God, furious with his own grief and fear of abandonment, what Jimmy craves most is a family of his own. Through an uncanny ability to recognize boxing talent, Father Tim knows Jimmy’s heart beats boxing, and gives him a shot at being a contender. Since all orphans must leave the orphanage at the age of eighteen, Father Tim wisely puts Jimmy on a train to L.A. to box for an old friend.

Jimmy meets Pops Dominic, his new manager and trainer – and Pops’ beautiful daughter, Lindy, who’s sweeter than apple pie. Jimmy can’t resist Lindy’s charms. She offers him acceptance, fierce loyalty, and love. Sneaking off to marrying Lindy raises Pops’ blood pressure, but having Lindy in his corner gives Jimmy what he hasn’t had in his life for nine years – a family.

When Lindy is arrested for murdering a boxer with ties to a gangster, Jimmy is forced to join forces with the arresting detective – who would like to do much more with Lindy than put her in handcuffs – in a desperate search for the real killer. Ladies Night – boxing, suspense and romance – proves love can be murder – in and out of the ring.

When Paul found out what I was doing, he couldn’t have been more supportive.  He had already created the Fight Card spin-off series, Fight Card MMA, and had a crazy notion to widen Fight Card’s readership even further with a Fight Card Romance brand.  Ladies Night became the flagship title for Fight Card Romance, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Find out more about Fight Card Romance and other Fight Card brands here: www.fightcardbooks.com

Why Romance?

A novelist, screenwriter, television personality and half the creative genius behind the Fight Card series, Paul Bishop recently finished a 35 year career with the Los Angeles Police Department where he was twice honored as Detective Of The Year.  He continues to work privately as a deception expert and as a specialist in the investigation of sex crimes.  His books include the western Diamondback: Shroud Of Vengenace, two novels (Hot Pursuit / Deep Water) featuring LAPD officers Calico Jack Walker and Tina Tamiko, the thrillers Penalty Shot and Suspicious Minds, a short story collection (Running Wylde), and five novels in his L.A.P.D. Detective Fey Croaker series (Croaker: Kill Me Again, Croaker: Grave Sins, Croaker: Tequila Mockingbird, Croaker: Chalk Whispers, and Croaker: Pattern of Behavior).  His latest novel, Fight Card: Felony Fists (written as Jack Tunney), is a fast action boxing tale inspired by the fight pulps of the ‘40s and ‘50s. His novels are currently available as e-books.

When the tough, two-fisted, pulptastic series Fight Card softens its edges there has to be a method to the madness…

Ladies Night

Paul Bishop

Yes, I get funny looks when I use the phrase, Fight Card Romance, but I couldn’t be more excited. The Fight Card Romance novels – debuting this month with Ladies Night (Carol Malone writing as Jill Tunney) – are reaching outside of the traditional Fight Card novels  to another audience of by crossing the heart of the once immensely popular romance pulps and the current popularity of the romance genre with the two-fisted pulp boxing action Fight Card fans have come to enjoy.  While romance will feature prominently, the main story – like the original Fight Card tales – will still center on boxing, the big fight, plus a happy resolution to the romance aspects of the tales.

Inspired by the fight pulps of the ’30s and ’40s – such as Fight Stories Magazine and Knockout Magazine – and specifically Robert E. Howard’s two-fisted tales of boxing champ Sailor Steve Costigan, the Fight Card series was conceived two years ago as a monthly series of 25,000 word novelettes, designed to be read in one or two sittings.

Originally, each Fight Card story was to be set in the1950s. However, this quickly became negotiable when Terrence McCauley proposed writing a prequel to his outstanding 1920’s set first novel Prohibition, featuring Quinn, an ex-fighter turned mob enforcer.  Terrence wanted to tell Quinn’s origin story, which was firmly set in Fight Card territory, but three decades earlier.

Once the specific era precedent was broken, it cleared the way to enlarge the Fight Card audience with the advent of the spin-off brand, Fight Card MMA.  MMA savvy writers Gerard Brennan and Jeremy Brown gave Fight Card MMA a great kick off with Welcome To The Octagon and The Kalamazoo Kid respectively.

Which brings us to Fight Card Romance

Fight Card has its roots deep in the pulp genre – and so does romance.  The love pulps flourished between the ‘20s and the ‘50s, often not only outselling all of the best remembered pulp genres, but often supporting the costs of those other pulps on romance’s broad shoulders.

Street & Smith’s pulp, Love Story Magazine, founded in 1921 and edited by Amita Fairgrieve (and later the dynamic Daisy Bacon), was the gold standard.  It obtained a stunning circulation of over 100,000 copies a month within its first year of publication. Love Story created a bond with its readers unlike anything else in pulpdom. Very quickly, Love Story began publishing semi-monthly and shortly thereafter, weekly.  With its huge circulation of loyal readers, Love Story became the financial security behind Street & Smith’s complete line of pulps.

Today, is no different.  According to industry estimates, the romance genre is responsible for more than fifty-five percent of all books published yearly – showing the continued strength and loyalty of romance readers.  Other genre readers and publishers sometimes foolishly scoff at the romance genre – in much the same way as the popularity of pulp writing in general was regarded – but clearly romance, in all its many forms, is still providing much of the publishing field’s profits.

Before you get the idea the Fight Card Romance brand is just about profits remember, Fight Card is not a publishing house.  It is a new publishing dynamic, an author’s cooperative.  The money from the individual titles in all the Fight Card brands go directly to each individual writer – not to a company.  The writers bring back to the cooperative whatever skills they can offer – cover art, editing, blurb writing, website design and maintenance, publicity contacts, podcasting, e-formatting, blog tours, advertising, creation of our free quarterly Fight Fictioneers Magazine, social networking – all as part of the Fight Card team. Fight Card is first and foremost a dynamic for the writers and of the writers.

Fight Card chose to enter the romance genre excited to find new readers – individuals who, after enjoying a Fight Card Romance, may also find something they like in a traditional Fight Card tale, or a kick-ass Fight Card MMA story – good writing cuts across all genres.

The main goal, however, is that romance readers will discover and enjoy the first Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night.  The author, Carol Malone is a romance reading fanatic and a romance writer.  She worked particularly hard with this essentially new genre mash-up to provide both romance readers and traditional Fight Card fans with a knockout story.

Find out more about Fight Card Romance and other Fight Card brands here: www.fightcardbooks.com