Tag Archives: Crime

The opening of As Above, So Below

A bunch of great people entered a contest here recently and three won places as characters in my next novel. It’s going to be a fun book. I’m almost 50,000 words into it now and wanted to share the first chapter (about 2,600 words). I figure I’ll finish the novel and have it to my beta readers in the next two weeks. I hope you enjoy it. The premise is pretty simple: 

Jon Recluse, a detective when he’d been alive, wakes up in heaven and quickly (within the first few chapters) notices several things that disturb him. He learns that he committed suicide (and there are other Suicides there, all outcasts); that there are shadows there and they eat men whole; that there are trees bearing fruit with the knowledge of Good and Evil but anyone who eats them will die a second death; that among the millions lining the shores of eternity there are no boys (someone has been taking them); and although he had grown accustomed to being alone in life, he cannot do so here, not when so many quickly depend on him

One

Franklin Jon Recluse was fifty-five when he died, but had never really felt over forty, so when he came into a new form of existence, he wasn’t too startled to find himself much younger.

First his parents, and then classmates, had called him Frankenstein since the time he was a child. When he’d told them—in his overly large body, his misshapen head wobbling on his muscular neck—that they meant Frankenstein’s monster, they’d slap the bald, swollen lump on the right side of his skull and call him hideous, a freak. He would end up in the locked basement again, the small, wet room without light or warmth, and he’d curl there in the corner and listen to the rats scampering about the rock walls and high above in the ceiling rafters.

All through his childhood and his teens he’d found solace in living a double life.

The better of the two was the one in his head, where he was, at age seven, a handsome and rugged cowboy who saved small-time ranchers and rode off into the sunset on a horse he called Ghost. And then by fifteen, being a cowboy and getting shot at seemed like too much work, so he lived in his fantasies as a star quarterback and he drove a muscle car and people were always flocking about him because to be seen near Franklin Jon Recluse was like being seen with Elvis…

But then, shortly after graduating high school, he decided he wanted to be a policeman, or more accurately, a detective. His nature seemed to lend itself to such a dream, one that if he thought hard and long enough on, it might manifest in reality. But the boys in blue—although he was sure they shouldn’t, or couldn’t—discriminated against him and the way he looked and they cut him out and pushed him away. He told himself he was fine with that, that he didn’t need them like they’d needed him. Their loss, that’s what he told himself.

After he turned twenty-one, lost for a short while in the nectar of gods and devils, he began to go by his middle name, not that anyone addressed him often. He cut all ties with his parents and the community in New York that had judged and belittled and misunderstood him.

When he’d become a grown man, twenty-five, nearly seven feet tall, he’d still had a passion for investigative work, mostly because it allowed him the freedom of moving by night, unseen and therefore unbothered. He launched his own private agency, manned by one, and he loved it, despite his lack of clientele.

Jon battled insomnia and walked the streets late at night, and sometimes felt a tinge of jealousy when he looked in lighted windows and saw happy families gathered around their kitchen tables, playing cards and laughing. The few clients he’d found—mostly those wanting to catch a cheating spouse; it was boring, mind-numbing work with very little reward—never referred him to others for his expertise, his thoroughness, and his professionalism. He knew they did not want to draw attention to why they’d hired his services in the first place.

He took it in stride. There were many times when he’d been a child, when he wasn’t crying or afraid, that he would wonder if the strange mass on his head might one day offer him a special power. He liked to believe that there was more than ugliness to the ugly. He’d never truly felt inside like he looked outside, and as he grew into a formidable man, most people thought of their own health and chose to leave him alone.

And when he died, and woke again in this other place, he thought at first that he would like heaven. That first morning, in the strange, long bed fitted for his gigantic frame, before he discovered he had a mission there and a quest he must fulfil even if it meant being exiled or dying a second death, he wiped his eyes tiredly and yawned like an old bear waking from winter’s hibernation, and there was a hunger inside him of him that he couldn’t explain.

Next to the unfamiliar bed in which he laid, an old man, narrow of shoulder but wide across the hips like a fleshy pear, tugged at his long white beard. The old man’s sparkling eyes appeared mad with glee. Jon Recluse found the man and the strange room both disconcerting, but he was used to waiting for answers to come to him, and slow in making his decisions, normally, unless angry, and being that he was a guest in a new place, he stifled his annoyance.

The old man said in a high-pitched voice that grated on the ear, “How are you, boy?”

“Where am I? Who are you?”

The old man leaned back into the chair and rubbed a meaty hand over his bovine belly. “You’re dead, lad. You’ve moved on.”

“Am I?” Jon said. He did not feel dead. He felt very much alive, groggy, sore, unaccustomed to his own mass.

“You wouldn’t be here if you were alive. We have strict policies.”

“And this place is…”

The old man’s chuckle boomed off the room’s narrow walls. Jon’s head felt as if it would cave beneath its force. It pushed at his chest like aggressive fingers. He rubbed a hand over his shirt. It was an old shirt, one he’d had for nearly a decade, a button up flannel of dark blue with faint yellow stripes. The room contained only the bed, a mirror, and the chair the old man occupied. The old man said, “You wonder if you’re in heaven or hell?”

“Yes,” Jon said, studying his face. “Which one is this?”

“Some people say that either one is what you make it.”

“Meaning?”

“A person who carries a lot of guilt could make heaven into hell. It’s what guilty people do, young man. It’s best just to accept that you’re here and try to fit in.”

“I’m not guilty of anything.”

The old man’s eyes twinkled. “There’s no need to convince me.”

Jon said, more firmly, “I’m not guilty of anything.”

“I’ll leave you to your non-guilty party,” the stranger said. He stood, stretched his back, his face reddening considerably. He exhaled noisily and said as he neared the door, “Be careful where you step out there, boy.”

“Pardon me?” Jon said.

“Shadows out there that swallow guilty men whole.” He winked and waved and left, shutting the door softly behind him. Jon sat up slowly and found that he was breathing hard. His head felt light, his shoulders tense. He had a difficult time opening and closing his hands since his knuckles were swollen. He whispered to no one (although he had the suspicion someone was watching him): “I can’t be dead, I’m hurting too much…”

He had been dealing with arthritis for a few years preceding his passing. He could still feel it and the pain was constant and brought tears to his eyes. He thought about the way his head felt again—so light—when his entire life his head had felt like there was a cinderblock growing out of the right side. His neck was exceptionally thick and well-developed. But now it felt as if someone had cut that misshapen, swollen right side of his head away. It generated a sense of loss he didn’t know what to do with, so he raised his giant hands to his skull and probed at it gently, already aware of what he’d find, and the tears spilled down his cheeks when his hands traced the round, normal smoothness, the hair there now that had never grown on that part of his scalp when he’d been living. His skull felt round, symmetrical, beautiful.

He felt it for what he assumed hours—there was no clock in the room—and after a while he stopped crying, and he set his feet on the floor—a highly polished wooden floor—his knuckles hard against the soft mattress. He pushed himself up. He stood and stooped, used to normal ceilings, but the ceiling above him was almost double his height, the room as tall as it was wide or deep.

I’m in a fourteen-by-fourteen-by-fourteen-foot box, he thought.

There was a mirror in the corner of the room, hanging on the wall. He hunched in front of it, and it was heartbreaking in a way, how he looked at his reflection. In life he had had a sunken, blunt face, one marred by acne scars and an almost scaly skin and if his tongue had not been so short and fat, people may have called him The Lizard instead of Frankenstein, or maybe they would have just killed him so that no one had to look at him.

Now his age did not show at all. He looked thirty, not over fifty, his complexion was clear, nearly glowing, radiant, and the sunken appearance of his face (his parents had always joked about hitting him in the face with a sledgehammer when he was an infant) was gone, and his face was average—neither freakish nor handsome, he thought, but one with character.

It was a face he thought he could love, although he barely recognized himself. He first thought after spending ten minutes of being unable to think due to shock, was that God had played a cruel life-long joke on him. Anybody he’d ever met had to have known how lonely he’d been.

Even a hooker—Chalice—he’d frequented had made him cover his head with a pillow case, although she had let him cut holes in the fabric for his eyes, and being that she was black and he was white, and in a way, he was assaulting her with sex, he always felt like even more of a monster than he appeared. But he liked her not only because he thought she was beautiful, mostly because she was nice to him and listened those rare times he found the courage to talk instead of just leaving her fee on a scarred motel nightstand.

Now that he looked normal he could find a girl who might see him for who he was instead of with dread, or that strange kind of embarrassment the sympathetic had for not only him, but for those who had lost limbs, and those who had been burn victims, and those with some disease that left their bodies wasted and nearly unrecognizable as human.

But he doubted he could find love in heaven. Not female love that could fulfill the parts of him he’d always longed for and never once held; although Chalice, the hooker, had treated him with something like a motherly gentleness and patience.

He missed her, he realized, and he laughed loudly, what sounded to his ears, madly. When he stopped, he inhaled deeply, uncertain if he even needed to breathe, or if his body simply carried on involuntarily with what it had known. Looking around the room, he missed his old living room, his bathroom, his dog, and he missed ice cream, and watching television. He said, “There isn’t going to be any ice cream ever again. I might be in hell.”

Jon listened for early morning sounds: of birds in the trees outside the door, of morning rush hour traffic, of a random crying child, or the sporadic, intense cursing of someone who was in such a rush they nearly lost their heads.

It seemed like early morning there. Long gray shadows were nestled deeply into the corners of the door-side wall. He checked the door to see if it was locked. His breath felt caught in his throat. The metal was cool to the touch. He let his hand rest on the knob for a minute, uncertain what he’d do if he was unable to walk outside, to come and go freely (that had been something he’d loved about living: he could always leave his office and walk through the park and watch mallards in the pond, and he could feel the sunshine and ignore the people who ran the other way when they saw him tromping clumsily forward under his own momentum, looking as if he’d fall on his face and crush anything he might land on whether it be child, adult, or military tank.)

He somehow found the strength to twist the doorknob. It turned easily and he felt the cool eternal morning air as the door cracked open and he closed his eyes, tilted his head back, opened the door wider and inhaled deeply. He could have stood there with his head tilted back and his eyes closed for hours or days. There was no sense of time other than that single second of existence that had neither beginning nor ending.

Jon listened again for the sound of birds, but heard none, although he could hear people singing in the distance—a chorus of men and women and girls, what sounded like thousands of them, or tens of thousands, the reverberations of their voices subtly shaking the floor and tickling the soles of his feet. He opened his eyes and stepped outside.

The place he figured he’d call home from now on was one tiny door in a tower of them that spanned as far as he could see to the left or the right, and the building stretched into the whiteness of sky above him. There were crisscrossed walkways on every level like steel veins on the colossal building’s flesh. The walls and doors looked to be freshly painted in a baby blue. There was no sun that he could see, only the white light, and the ridge it illuminated, and as he turned, he looked at the valley down below. A river ran through the heavily wooded areas and the open pastures and men, women, and young girls idled along the bank nearest him. Their limbs, their white gowns, their smiling, angelic faces, dotted the bank like sand. There were millions as far as the eye could see and the river ran into the horizon, carrying the people with it. They all sang a song, a simple melody without words, and it sounded like the wind across the craggy peaks and, listening to them, Jon shuddered.

Having lived his whole life as an outcast, he had a deep fear of becoming one of the masses. They had never offered him a place, and secretly he hated them for it, and he hated himself for the things he’d lacked that would have enabled his acceptance among their ranks. But here, he thought, I many not have a choice at all. Can man be aloof in paradise?

He scanned the people in the valley. From a distance they looked like tiny figurines and he had the urge to trample them like a bear might, figuring that as he approached he’d see that they were tiny figurines, small as pixies and just as fleshly soft, their fragile limbs like gossamer wings. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to kill them all other than they looked perfect and they buzzed with a hive-like hysteria. But he was a gentle man for the most part and had never seriously hurt anyone. 

It was his first, and what would be his last day there, all wrapped in one seamless breath. He had a nose for trouble, one he developed while watching what one spouse would do to another after he validated their worst fears, and he could sense it there, that reckless anger, that need for violent expression to consume one’s misery.

He breathed deeply, and then frowned.

The disturbing scent of murder permeated the air.

On a Few Year’s Best Lists

Very happy to see my heartbreaking novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL on a few Year’s Best Lists. Thanks to Peter, Brett, and Steve! 

 

On Horror Talk…

On Brett J. Talley’s List…

On Literary Mayhem…

 

Plus I’m the guest author over at Horror Aficionados, a Goodreads Group, for the month of January. Where they’re reading and discussing When We Join Jesus in Hell. It’s only the second day but it’s been very fun! Come join us!

My Favorite Reads in 2012

Here is the best of the best of what I’ve read during 2012. Thanks to the friends who recommended or sent me some of this stuff! Read ‘em!

Novels

 

Grendel by John Gardner

The Wreckage of Agathon by John Gardner

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

The Last Kind Words by Tom Piccirilli

The Burning Soul by John Connolly

The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke

Heaven’s Prisoners by James Lee Burke

Light in August by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill

Only Child by Jack Ketchum

The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta

 

 

 

Novellas

 

The Night We Buried Road Dog by Jack Cady

By Reason of Darkness by Jack Cady

Reign of Blood by Sandy DeLuca

Wood by Robert Dunbar

Without Purpose Without Pity by Brian Hodge

The Rapist by Les Edgerton (forthcoming)

 

 

Collections

 

Falling Idols by Brian Hodge

Beautiful Sorrows by Mercedes Yardley

 

 

Non-Fiction

 

Becoming Faulkner by Philip Weinstein

The Faulkner-Cowley Files: Letters & Memories 1944-1962

Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass

Books to Die For by John Connolly and Declan Burke

 

 

And for my 2012 Year in Review… Go here! It blew 2011 to bits.

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Interview and Giveaway: Michael Stanley (Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip)

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. I met these wonderful and talented gents briefly at Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland where they won the Barry Award for Best Paperback with the third novel in the Detective Kubu series.

Once I returned home I bought the first Detective Kubu novel—A CARRION DEATH—liking the sound of the premise, and a promising, unique story. I read it quickly, enjoying the characters, loving the setting and atmosphere, gripped by the intricate plot, and by the time I finished the first novel I was ready for more.

While they were working on this interview I read the second novel THE SECOND DEATH OF GOODLUCK TINUBU (2009), which was excellent! Today (yesterday now) I ordered the third in the series: DEATH OF THE MANTIS (2011). Really looking forward to diving into it as soon as it gets here! They write intricately, beautifully and savagely, and Kubu and the supporting cast are such wonderful characters.

A big thanks to Michael and Stanley for their kindness at Bouchercon and for taking the time to answer some questions. Enjoy!

Lee: Welcome gents! What first inspired each of you to write fiction?

Michael: We had the idea for the start of the first book watching hyenas on a Wildebeest kill in the Savuti area of Botswana.  They consumed basically everything over a period of hours.  It struck us as a great way to get rid of a body!  The perfect murder.  No body, no case.  Then we spent the next thirty years talking about writing a mystery around that premise!

Stanley:  Michael’s response above shows the wonderful benefits of collaboration. What he wrote is correct – at least nearly!  We only spent twenty years talking about writing a mystery.  Without my input, your readers would have thought that we took a really long time to get organized – as some would say is the habit of academics.  Now your readers know we only took a long time.

 

Lee: That’s great. How has your friendship influenced writing the series? Do you draw out the best in each other?

Michael: I think we bring different things to the table and that does generate a better result.  But the main thing is that we have great fun doing it together.  We’ve both enjoyed collaboration a great deal, and this project gives us an opportunity to work with each other.

Stanley:  We certainly enjoy the process of writing together a great deal, but being friends brings other things to play as well.  Because I have such respect for Michael, I listen very carefully to what he says about pieces I have written.  If he were just another collaborator, I may be more inclined to blow some of his criticisms off.  Being friends, I think we are more open to compromise than we may be if we weren’t.

 

Lee: Well put! Where did the idea for Detective Kubu originate? Even in the first novel he seems very fleshed out.

Michael: It’s strange.  Kubu wasn’t even meant to be the protagonist.  We meant the smart ecologist, Bongani, to solve the mystery.  Since we have both been academics, we thought we should have someone in a lifestyle we understand as the hero.  But clearly we needed a policeman to investigate the murder.  So Kubu climbed into his Land Rover with his sandwiches and his music and took off into the bush.  By the time he reached the crime scene, he was in charge of the book!

As to being fleshed out, I think you must thank his eating habits for that!

Stanley:  What more can I add?  Perhaps to say that Kubu’s take-over of the book was my first experience in realizing that the author is often not in charge of what happens.

 

Lee: I suspect that most readers have no idea how easily that can happen!  But thank the gods for it. Has your love for creating new adventures for Detective Kubu only grown stronger with each project?

Michael: I think so.  We feel that each book is a bit better than the previous one.  (Well, we would, wouldn’t we?)  And we’ve tried to use a different backstory for each one, which gives us an interesting canvas for each story.  In A CARRION DEATH it was blood diamonds, THE SECOND DEATH OF GOODLUCK TINUBU deals with the decline of Zimbabwe after the vicious bush war, and DEATH OF THE MANTIS concerns the Bushman peoples of the Kalahari, their past and their future.  Our new book – DEADLY HARVEST – has the use of body parts in black magic potions as its backstory.  These are all real contemporary issues in Southern Africa.

Stanley:  Not only has our love of creating new stories for Kubu grown with each story, but so has our attention to detail and our desire to tell a better story.  We have learned a great deal from each book which, we hope, improves the subsequent one.

 

Lee: I’ve read the first two and think you’re hitting your goal. Can’t wait to read DEATH OF THE MANTIS and DEADLY HARVEST!

What challenges do you face writing a series character?  Can you give us an example and what you did to overcome the challenge?

Michael: The books are stand alone, but, as you say, Kubu and his family and colleagues in the Criminal Investigation Department carry through the series.  A challenge is that one needs to inform the new reader about Kubu, his name, family, and background, without irritating readers of the previous books.  We try to do it quickly in a slightly different way in each book.  That seems to work okay.

Stanley:  A different issue in writing a series is keeping track of what has happened before.  In each book, we add details, sometimes incidentally, about the main characters.  Even though we may forget such detail, we have been amazed by how many readers let us know about even small anomalies.  The readers keep us on our toes.  We are thinking of hiring a student somewhere to write a biography of the main characters so we know their birthdays, their habits, their ages, their looks, etc.  Having such a biography would be a great help.

Lee: I can see how both of those difficulties would take time to master. I felt you handled the backstory between the first and second novels very well. And I’m sure no matter how much you learn there will always be those sharp readers who still catch things from time to time. What do each of you bring to the collaboration table?

Michael: We do have different areas of expertise.  I know remote sensing and did work for De Beers at some point; Stan is a pilot and studies human factor issues.  But I think it is the combination of the two of us through brain storming and the like which is the major advantage of a collaboration.

Stanley:  Another difference between us is that I have now lived in the USA for more time than I did in South Africa.  So I have good insights into American ways, traditions, and most importantly, language.  We write our books first in American English, which I know better than Michael, then translate them into English English for our UK publisher.  Michael knows that language better than I do.

 

Lee: That sounds like a wonderful combination. What advice can you offer to writers who are considering collaborating?

Michael: You have to be willing to take blunt criticism and have your favorite writing ripped apart! If you can’t face that, don’t collaborate.  (But your editor will do it to you anyway!)

Stanley:  I would recommend that everyone should try it, subject to what Michael wrote above.  People ask us how we can write fiction with someone else.  We retort that the question is wrong and should be rephrased as ‘How can people write fiction alone?’  It must be an incredibly lonely experience to be a solitary author, with no one to bounce ideas off, to share successes and have a great deal of fun with.

 

Lee: There is only one writer I’m close enough to who I can handle their blunt criticism, and a lot of that is due to an unwavering respect for each others work and as personalities. And I agree and think it is a lonely profession for a lot of writers despite the social media they use to stay connected. What are your favorite parts of the process?

Michael: Probably the actual writing.

Stanley:  There are times I can write for hours on end.  When I stop and read what I have written, I sometimes wonder who has written it – it often seems to come from a different part of me that I am not in conscious touch with.

 

Lee: Very interesting! What are the biggest rewards for you #1: during writing, #2: after the sale, and #3: after publication?

Michael: #1 is the brainstorming I’ve mentioned before. #2 is that we can work in tandem to produce corrections and modifications to match the editor’s input and ideas. #3 is that we have fun doing book tours together.  Hopefully people enjoy our presentations more because there are two of us and we can add variety to the process.

Stanley:  I agree with #1 and #2 above.  An additional reward after publication is getting to meet many interesting people, both readers and other writers.  The mystery/thriller community is wonderful, filled with laid-back and generous people.  We feel very privileged to be a part of it.

 

Lee: I’m sure people love the two of you touring together. There’s a very warm dynamic you create. What do you wish you knew when you started that you’ve had to learn through experience?

Michael: Very interesting question.  Of course, like most things, you really learn something by doing it.  We started writing and then read books about writing and the like.  We were quite ignorant about the process too.  But if we had realized that writing fiction as a team was so unusual, we might never have started at all!

Stanley:  Although I don’t think it would have stopped us from writing A CARRION DEATH, knowing how much authors have to do with respect to marketing would have at least prepared us for that enormous effort.  It would be very foolish for a new author to think that being an author only involves writing.  At least the same amount of time will be needed for helping build a readership.

 

Lee: I for one am glad you started! I was also ignorant about so many things when I started but learning is an everyday thing. Marketing takes so much time and effort. One of the things I found very interesting, and really liked about A CARRION DEATH, was the respect and dynamics in Kubu’s marriage. Is that based off your personal relationships with your wives, or is it typical in Botswana?

Michael: I think we’ve tried to show the traditional aspects of a Batswana marriage, but Joy is actually much less traditional than Kubu in many ways. One of the nice things about a series is that you can watch their relationship develop over time.

Stanley:  One of the interesting aspects of writing this series has been the realization that as time passes for our characters, so must their relationships with each other evolve.  In A CARRION DEATH, Kubu and Joy have an almost idyllic relationship, perhaps a bit over the top, which our readers have really liked.  With each book, the relationship has had to endure different stresses and strains which, we hope, mirror, a typical marriage.  In addition, Kubu’s relationship with his parents is also about to undergo some major stresses – as happens in real life when parents age.

 

Lee:  Agreed! I was pleasantly surprised to see that upon reading the second novel. It adds extra depth and really mirrors a real relationship. Gentleman, thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions for us! I can’t recommend the Detective Kubu series highly enough, people. Give it a go!

Michael: Thanks very much for the opportunity to chat about our books!

Stanley:  Thanks very much indeed.  We would like to invite your readers to find out more about Detective Kubu by visiting his web site http://www.detectivekubu.com.  You will have the opportunity there to join our mailing list – we send out three or four newsletters a year to apprise readers of what Kubu is up to.

We’re also doing a beautiful giveaway and everybody should enter!

All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment below. In a week I’ll snag three random winners and send them either a paperback or digital edition of the first Detective Kubu novel A CARRION DEATH. It’s good fun! Thanks again to Michael and Stanley for sharing about their characters, themselves and the creative process! 

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When We Join Jesus in Hell (Book Trailer)

I can’t sleep so I made a book trailer for my upcoming (September 25th) release of When We Join Jesus in Hell. Check it out! This is the one my hero Tom Piccirilli read pre-publication and another hero is going to read as well!

You can join the party once it starts on Goodreads next month, too. Hop over here.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 16: The Collected Songs of Sonnelion

Up to chapter 16 already! About 12 more chapters to go! Thanks to everybody who has been following along!

If you know anyone who enjoys FREE dark fiction please let them know about the serial. A new chapter is going up every Friday, I’m pouring my soul into it, and it’s going to end up being a very special story. If you have fallen behind you can read all of the chapters on Issuu as well.

In this Division Mythos novel, which is being serialized on Darkfuse’s website, Red Piccirilli has known madness and magic. They’re in his blood and bound to his soul as much as love and loss are. But when his family moves to the town of Division, Pennsylvania, his father grows distant, his mother troubled, and a murderer roams the countryside.

He searches for meaning and truth while battling his own darkness and rage and despair, but corpses whisper answers the dead only share with one another.

 

 

A few questions with author John Connolly

 

NY Times Best-selling author John Connolly was kind and generous enough to answer a few quick questions for us. A huge thanks to John for that as well as a huge thanks to Clair Lamb for arranging it. John is one of my biggest influences so this means the world to me. His work is always emotional, insightful, entertaining, and razor-sharp.

THE BURNING SOUL is out in paperback on June 21 in the UK and June 26 in the US.

 

THE WRATH OF ANGELS will be out on August 30 in the UK, and we’re waiting on a final date in the US.

 

John is also co-editor, with Declan Burke, of an anthology called BOOKS TO DIE FOR, coming on August 30 in the UK and on October 2 in the US. There’ll be a signing event for BOOKS TO DIE FOR at Bouchercon.

 

Me: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions, John! Who were your biggest writing influences?

John: In the genre, probably Ross Macdonald and James Lee Burke: Macdonald for his compassion, and Burke for the sheer quality of his prose, and the way in which he describes the natural world. I doubt that I’d be writing what I do had I not read those two. Mind you, Ed McBain’s Let’s Hear It for the Deaf Man was the first mystery novel I ever read, I think, so I owe the late McBain too. But most of my reading is outside the genre, and more and more so as I get older. I think Bleak House by Charles Dickens is the greatest novel in the English language, although interestingly Sara Paretsky chose to discuss it as a mystery novel for an anthology that I’m co-editing later this year, so I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Me: Excellent. I’ve yet to read Bleak House so will move that to the top of my TBR pile. Whose writing do you enjoy most out of your current peers?

John: That’s a bullet I’ll have to dodge, as there are just too many of them to mention, and I risk leaving someone out. I do think that the growth in Irish mystery writing in recent years has been remarkable, and there is such an array of tone and style among the writers who have emerged. Declan Burke’s blog is a good starting point if people want to find out more about Irish mystery writing.

Me:  Thank you. What was the impetus for creating Charlie Parker?

John: I’m not sure that I thought in those terms when I began writing the books. The first piece of fiction that I wrote – almost eight years after I left school – was the prologue to Every Dead Thing, so he pretty much arrived with his baggage in tow. Like most writers, I simply wanted to write, and mystery fiction seemed like the form that would best allow me to explore the subjects and themes that interested me. But I suppose Parker now is not Parker as he was, just as I’m not the same writer who created him, as nearly two decades have passed since I began writing that first book. He’s more complex and nuanced, I hope. Then again, people still come up to me and say that Every Dead Thing is their favorite of my mystery books, which possibly suggests that it’s all been downhill ever since…

Me: Lol. You have definitely not gone down hill ever since.  Thanks so much for your time, John. And thanks again to Clair. Can’t wait to read the new novels coming out later this year!

Happy Memorial Day to everybody! If you haven’t read any of John Connolly’s work I strongly urge you to give it a try, whether you pick up the Charlie Parker series, The Book of Lost Things, his collection Nocturnes, or the YA books featuring Samuel Johnson. Find out more at John’s website.

 

Immersion from Thunderstorm Books giveaway!

 

I should have my author copies of Immersion (a stand-alone novella from Thunderstorm Books) next week. To celebrate that and all of the other awesome things going on I’m going to giveaway 3 paperback copies. But there is a catch! Since I’m a shitty self-promoter I need you to spread the word about my serial novel THE COLLECTED SONGS OF SONNELION (use this link that goes directly to the page on my publisher’s website) either on your blog, on FB, G+, or Twitter. Post where you shared in the comments of this post and in two weeks I’ll draw the three winners! Thanks to everybody who participates!

Chapter 14: The Collected Songs of Sonnelion

 

 

 

 

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Up to chapter 14 already. Time is flying. One more chapter and we’ll be to the halfway point of what will end up being a 90,000 word novel. I’m super proud of it and appreciate all who have followed along so far and those who have stumbled across it late in the game. There are dark times ahead for little Red Piccirilli and a lot of layers that play into the Division Mythos. If you know anyone who enjoys FREE dark fiction please let them know about the serial. A new chapter is going up every Friday, I’m pouring my soul into it, and it’s going to end up being a very special story.

 

In this Division Mythos novel, which is being serialized on Darkfuse’s website, Red Piccirilli has known madness and magic. They’re in his blood and bound to his soul as much as love and loss are. But when his family moves to the town of Division, Pennsylvania, his father grows distant, his mother troubled, and a murderer roams the countryside. 

He searches for meaning and truth while battling his own darkness and rage and despair, but corpses whisper answers the dead only share with one another.