If you’ve read my review of City of the Lost, you know how much I loved it (it’s the awesome)! If you haven’t and are curious, go right ahead, I’ll wait) Much to my delight, Stephen Blackmoore, the author of said awesome, agreed to answer a few of my questions, and he was kind enough to offer a signed copy of City of the Lost to one lucky, lucky winner, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post, and please welcome Stephen to the blog!
Stephen, your short stories and poetry have been included in quite a few publications, and your dark urban fantasy, City of the Lost, just came out. Have you always wanted to write? What inspired you to take the plunge into writing a novel?
I’ve wanted to write since I was a kid. Wrote stick figure Zorro comics when I was in, like, third grade, or something. Did some really horrendous stuff in high school.
Seriously, I found some of it a little while ago and it made my eyeballs bleed it was so bad.
I decided I wanted to do a novel a long time ago but I never thought I’d have the chops to pull it off. But that kind of thinking is paralyzing. Believing that you can’t do something is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Eventually I just had to take the plunge and do it.
Technically, CITY OF THE LOST is the second novel I’ve written. The first will never see the light of day. I did that for NANOWRIMO in 2002 to prove to myself that I could belt out the wordcount. That I could create measurable results, which is different from actually writing a story.
That was an exercise in keeping my ass glued to a chair and doing the work. If I hadn’t done that, hadn’t proved to myself that I could do that, I don’t know that I’d have ever written CITY OF THE LOST.
Can you tell us a bit about City of the Lost?
CITY OF THE LOST is a dark urban fantasy novel about Joe Sunday, an enforcer for a small time crime boss in Los Angeles. He knows all the places to dump a body where nothing will find it but the coyotes, that brutality and a kind word will get you more than a kind word alone, and that the best way to get a person to open up is with a pair of boltcutters and a Zippo.
He’s not a nice man.
He gets murdered and brought back from the dead, finding himself caught up in the search for a stone that was used to bring him back. It might be able to grant immortality and a lot of people would love to get their hands on it.
Things go downhill from there.
Is City of the Lost the first in a planned series, or will you just see where Joe Sunday takes you?
CITY OF THE LOST is the first in a series, though I’m doing it a little differently than most. The focus is on the world, rather than just on Joe Sunday. I like the idea of telling different stories in this setting. I think it’s got a lot of potential.
The follow-up, DEAD THINGS, is about a mage whose particular knack is communicating with the dead. He left L.A. years before because Bad Things happened and comes back only when he finds out his sister has been murdered.
This isn’t to say I won’t revisit Sunday. I have plans for him. Just not immediate ones. I’m working on a pitch for a third novel in the series now called FIRE SEASON that focuses on a side character from CITY OF THE LOST and I expect Sunday will make an appearance.
I personally love my urban fantasy infused with a healthy dose of noir. What are some of your favorite authors or novels?
We could be here all day. But here’s a short list in no particular order.
GUN MONKEYS by Victor Gischler
CLEA’S MOON by Edward Wright
FEED by Mira Grant
L.A. REX by Will Beall
BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig
THE CLEANER by Brett Battles
KISS ME JUDAS by Will Christopher Baer
SATURDAY’S CHILD by Ray Banks
SLAMMER by Allan Guthrie
NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman
SOUTHERN GODS by John Hornor Jacobs
THE WHEELMAN by Duane Swierczynski
BURN by Sean Doolittle
I could go on for days, but I’ll stop here.
If you could read a novel again for the first time, which one would it be?
God, that’s a tough one. I think I’m going to go with ALICE IN WONDERLAND. But only if I could grab that same sense of wonder I had when I read it as a kid.
As an adult, especially as a writer, it’s hard to just experience a book. Especially one that’s so rooted in childhood as ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
I actually had a class in college where we broke down ALICE (that sounds so rude) , and though it gave me a greater appreciation of it and its particular form of perfectly logical illogic, it definitely changed my experience of it.
What are you reading right now?
At the moment, a few different things. I tend to hop around from book to book. EMPIRE STATE by Adam Christopher, ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS by Anthony Neil Smith, THE HEDGEWITCH QUEEN by Lilith Saintcrow, DOVE SEASON by Johnny Shaw and TRICKS OF THE TRADE by Laura Anne Gilman.
What’s one of your most unusual writing habits?
I never learned to touch type. So I only use six fingers. Four on my left hand and two on my right. And I’m still faster than a lot of people.
When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I read and play a disturbing amount of video games.
Is there any piece of advice that you would give to struggling writers?
The people who tell you that you can’t write are not your friends. They’re ass-anchors and you should ditch them as the discouraging dead weight that they are.
You can write. You learned how in Kindergarten. You might suck, sure, but then you need to find the people who can tell you what to do about it.
Don’t mistake discouragement for healthy criticism and vice versa.
Is there any news of upcoming events or projects that you’d like to share?
I’m doing a couple of signings at Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach (1/6) and Mysterious Galaxy San Diego (1/7) and a signing at Borderlands Books in San Francisco in early February. We’re still finalizing the date on that one.
On top of that I help organize an event every couple of months out here in L.A. called NOIR AT THE BAR. We stole the idea from Scott Phillips and Jed Ayres who are doing it in St. Louis. But since none of us can afford to go to St. Louis we figured we’d start our own.
Anyway, it’s pretty simple. We get some crime fiction writers together, some well known, some not so much, all amazing writers, and have them read their work out loud to a bunch of drunks in a bar.
We’ve done two so far with Duane Swierczynski (FUN AND GAMES, HELL AND GONE, POINT AND SHOOT), Christa Faust (MONEY SHOT, CHOKE HOLD) and others and we’ve got one on tap for January 22nd where I’ll be reading something from CITY OF THE LOST and we’ll be having one in March with Hilary Davidson when her novel THE NEXT ONE TO FALL comes out .
So if anyone is in LA and wants to hear some kick-ass crime fiction we’re going to be at The Mandrake Bar in Culver City, Sunday night 1/22 at 8pm. We’re trying to make it a regular thing, so if you miss this one, we’ve got ones lined up for March and May.
Keep up with Stephen: Website | Twitter
**GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER**