It’s been a while since I had a chance to catch up with one of my favorite authors, Stephen Blackmoore, and am so happy to have him back to talk about his brand new book, BROKEN SOULS. Please welcome him back to the blog!
Can you believe that the last time we chatted was 2012? We’ve got some catching up to do, especially now that BROKEN SOULS, the sequel to DEAD THINGS, just came out. What can we expect from Eric Carter this time around? He went through so much in DEAD THINGS…
When BROKEN SOULS opens Carter is a mess. Well, he’s always been a mess, but he’s even more so now.
On getting back to Los Angeles in DEAD THINGS he’s managed to screw things up worse than how he found them, getting his best friend murdered, alienating his ex-girlfriend, who already wasn’t crazy about him popping up again, and getting entangled with the Aztec death goddess Mictecacihuatl in her modern guise as the Mexican folk saint, Santa Muerte. He’s pissed away whatever minor goodwill he’s built up with pretty much everyone.
In BROKEN SOULS he’s trying to get out from under Santa Muerte’s thumb, fix some of the mess he’s created. But life isn’t exactly making that easy.
How do you think Eric has grown since DEAD THINGS?
I don’t know that he’s grown so much, but he’s definitely changed.
His certainty about how things worked has been shaken by what happened to him in DEAD THINGS, not to mention the physical marks his connection to Santa Muerte has left him. He thought he understood necromancy. After all that’s kind of his bag. But then he ran into things he didn’t understand and everything got tossed on its head.
He’s more desperate now, more paranoid. There are plans that have been set in motion that affect him and he doesn’t know what they are. Makes a guy a little touchy.
But he’s still the same acerbic, angry, jackass he was before.
The baddie in BROKEN SOULS is…very bad (skin suits!!!) Can you tell us more about him?
Oooh. Huh. That might be kind of spoilery.
Let’s say that he’s mostly a problem of Carter’s own making. In DEAD THINGS he brought down a magical criminal organization, not because he necessarily wanted to, but mostly because the guy who ran it pissed him off.
So now there’s a power vacuum and the cockroaches are coming out of the woodwork to take charge. This guy’s one of them. He’s just got a little extra oomph nobody was expecting.
Did you do any additional research for BROKEN SOULS?
I’m trying to tie more of the Aztec mythology in to the storyline and set up a few other things for the future. So there was more research on that front and also into some things on local L.A. history that I wanted to pull in.
I’m expecting more research for the future. I like the idea of cities having their own mythologies, anything from urban legends to twisted history and L.A. has a lot of that. So many cultures have been coming here for so long that the city’s bones are steeped in it.
This city has so many stories and so many hidden places it’s a joy to dig around and explore them.
What’s been one of your favorite things about writing this series?
Being able to put in all these things I feel about Los Angeles, the good and the bad. I hate/ love this town, like a lot of people who live here. Carter’s views of it mirror my own in a lot of ways, though I think (hope) he’s more screwed up than I am, and examining it through his eyes has been a lot of fun.
One thing I love about your books is they are a perfect blend of multiple genres. What are a few of your favorite genre bending books?
I like urban fantasy in general for that. I enjoy straight crime and I enjoy fantasy, but being able to bring the two together really works for me. It’s more accessible to me because it’s more modern and I can understand the motivations of the characters more, and at the same time it feeds my desire for weird shit.
The books that really scratch that itch for me are the ones by Kat Richardson, Kevin Hearne, Jaye Wells, Greg Van Eekhout, Lilith Saintcrow, Seanan McGuire, Richard Kadrey, ML Brennan, and Charlie Huston. I know I’m forgetting a bunch of others.
What are you currently reading? Is there anything that you’re particularly looking forward to this year?
I haven’t had a chance to read too much, this year, unfortunately. I just finished Tobias Buckell’s HURRICANE FEVER and before that Greg Van Eekhout’s CALIFORNIA BONES. Both are fantastic books and very, very different. HURRICANE FEVER is a near future espionage story that reads like a Caribbean James Bond and CALIFORNIA BONES is a kind of alternate history / urban fantasy set in Los Angeles where magic exists and mages get their power from eating the bones of magical creatures, which includes other mages. Amazing books.
You’ve seen three books come out in less than two years. That’s quite a whirwind! What do you know now, that you wish you’d know then, since becoming a published author?
Thanks! Is that a lot? I look at writers like Kevin Hearne, or Chuck Wendig and think, goddamn, I’m a slacker. You blink and they’re popping out word babies like they’re trying to repopulate the world.
I wish I’d known not to take it so seriously. It’s easy to get caught up into this idea that it’s all so goddamn important. Like our words are so precious and then you get a bad review and you find yourself thinking things like, “YEAH, WELL YOU’RE JUST AN IDIOT!” only it’s not true. The problem isn’t that someone didn’t like my book, it’s that I took it so seriously that I got upset that they didn’t like my book.
Books are collaborative things. Yes, they’re my words, but they’re YOUR imagination. You’re the one doing the heavy lifting. I’m giving you a rudimentary sketch and you’re filling in the blanks. That’s some magical shit there, by the way. I make little black squiggles on a screen and you make goddamn unicorns come out of it.
Once my book gets out there in the wild it’s not mine, anymore. It’s yours. And there’s no wrong opinion on it. What you see might not be how I intended it. It might not be what I was going for, or, hell, it might not even be what I wrote. I can’t expect a reader to remember every line of dialog. I can’t even keep track of that. So if someone takes something from the book that I didn’t put there, that’s fine. The hell am I going to do about it? If it enriches their experience of it, great! If it makes them upset, sorry!
There’s only so much I can do and getting worked up and freaked out about it is something I really try to avoid now. It still happens, of course. I don’t want to put across some idea that I’m all enlightened and shit, because I am so not. I’m just medicated. But remembering that it’s a long game and that there’s really fuck all I can do about almost anything beyond what I put in the book itself helps me a lot.
Learning not to care is one of the most important things a writer can do for themselves, I think.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a couple of things right now. There’s the next Eric Carter book, which has bounced around about half a dozen titles so far and I’m not sure which one’s going to win out, yet.
Then there’s MYTHBREAKER, which is a continuation of the GODS AND MONSTERS series by Abaddon Books started by Chuck Wendig. That should be out at the end of the year.
That all’s shot through with short story and game work, some of which I hope people will be able to see this year.
About BROKEN SOULS:
Sister murdered, best friend dead, married to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte. Necromancer Eric Carter’s return to Los Angeles hasn’t gone well, and it’s about to get even worse.
His link to the Aztec death goddess is changing his powers, changing him, and he’s not sure how far it will go. He’s starting to question his own sanity, wonder if he’s losing his mind. No mean feat for a guy who talks to the dead on a regular basis.
While searching for a way to break Santa Muerte’s hold over him, Carter finds himself the target of a psychopath who can steal anyone’s form, powers, and memories. Identity theft is one thing, but this guy does it by killing his victims and wearing their skins like a suit. He can be anyone. He can be anywhere.
Now Carter has to change the game — go from hunted to hunter. All he has for help is a Skid Row bruja and a ghost who’s either his dead friend Alex or the manifestation of Carter’s own guilt-fueled psychotic break.
Everything is trying to kill him. Nothing is as it seems. If all his plans go perfectly, he might survive the week.
He’s hoping that’s a good thing.