You may be asking yourself, how did I just pick 25? It was super, super hard, but I buckled down and did it (a few are missing, since I’ve already reviewed them.) September is a great month for new releases, and these are just the tip of the iceberg!
What are YOU looking forward to in September??
Something Red by Douglas Nicholas
During the thirteenth century in northwest England, in one of the coldest winters in living memory, a formidable yet charming Irish healer, Molly, and the troupe she leads are driving their three wagons, hoping to cross the Pennine Mountains before the heavy snows set in. Molly, her lover Jack, granddaughter Nemain, and young apprentice Hob become aware that they are being stalked by something terrible. The refuge they seek in a monastery, then an inn, and finally a Norman castle proves to be an illusion. As danger continues to rise, it becomes clear that the creature must be faced and defeated—or else they will all surely die. It is then that Hob discovers how much more there is to his adopted family than he had realized.
An intoxicating blend of fantasy and mythology, Something Red presents an enchanting world full of mysterious and fascinating characters— shapeshifters, sorceresses, warrior monks, and knights—where no one is safe from the terrible being that lurks in the darkness. In this extraordinary, fantastical world, nothing is as it seems, and the journey for survival is as magical as it is perilous.
Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
When Nowhere is Safe
Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?
Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.
Clean by Alex Hughes
A RUTHLESS KILLER—
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars.
My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary.
Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.
Shift by Kim Curran
When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.
Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.
The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm
Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.
Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight and narrow.
Safekeeping by Karen Hesse
Radley’s parents had warned her that all hell would break loose if the American People’s Party took power. And now, with the president assassinated and the government cracking down on citizens, the news is filled with images of vigilante groups, frenzied looting, and police raids. It seems as if all hell has broken loose.
Coming back from volunteering abroad, Radley just wants to get home to Vermont, and the comfort and safety of her parents. Travel restrictions and delays are worse than ever, and by the time Radley’s plane lands in New Hampshire, she’s been traveling for over twenty-four hours. Exhausted, she heads outside to find her parents—who always come, day or night, no matter when or where she lands—aren’t there.
Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire
It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.
To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.
Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.
In a Fix by Linda Grimes
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiance is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated. Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years – both skilled adaptors – step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended. Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.
Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp
Something has happened in Spokane. The military has evacuated the city and locked it down. Even so, disturbing rumors and images seep out, finding their way onto the Internet, spreading curiosity, skepticism, and panic. For what they show is—or should be—impossible: strange creatures that cannot exist, sudden disappearances that violate the laws of physics, human bodies fused with inanimate objects, trapped yet still half alive. . . .
Dean Walker, an aspiring photographer, sneaks into the quarantined city in search of fame. What he finds will change him in unimaginable ways. Hooking up with a group of outcasts led by a beautiful young woman named Taylor, Dean embarks on a journey into the heart of a mystery whose philosophical implications are as terrifying as its physical manifestations. Even as he falls in love with Taylor—a woman as damaged and seductive as the city itself—his already tenuous hold on reality starts to come loose. Or perhaps it is Spokane’s grip on the world that is coming undone.
Now, caught up in a web of interlacing secrets and betrayals, Dean, Taylor, and their friends must make their way through this ever-shifting maze of a city, a city that is actively hunting them down, herding them toward a shocking destiny.
The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.
Sacrifice the Wicked by Karina Cooper
Parker Adams has always done what’s expected of her . . . until a double agent with nothing to lose ignites a passion she doesn’t dare give in to.
Mission Agent Simon Wells is everything Parker Adams has been trained to fight: manipulator, murderer, spy . . . witch. But for her, what makes Simon most dangerous is his mesmerizing sexual magnetism, powerful enough to tempt even the famed ice queen of the Mission. Though she knows better, each encounter with the deceptive agent leaves her craving more.
Simon isn’t a man to let go of what’s his, and his pursuit forces Parker, a woman he can’t get out from under his skin, to make a stand that could destroy her. If they can work together, they might survive the politics that has enslaved their devastated world—or fall victim to the pitfalls of desperation, bone-deep mistrust, and a hunger that threatens to consume them.
Blood Riders by Michael P. Spradlin
The Western Territories, 1880. For four years, Civil War veteran and former U.S. Cavalry Captain Jonas P. Hollister has been rotting in a prison cell at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His crime: lying about the loss of eleven soldiers under his command . . . who he claims were slaughtered by a band of nonhuman, blood-drinking demons.
But now a famous visitor, the detective Allan Pinkerton, has arrived with an order for Hollister’s release. The brutal murder of a group of Colorado miners in a fashion frighteningly similar to the deaths of Hollister’s men has leant new credence to his wild tale. And suddenly Jonas Hollister finds himself on a quest both dangerous and dark—joining forces with Pinkerton, the gunsmith Oliver Winchester, an ex-fellow prisoner, a woman of mystery, and a foreigner named Abraham Van Helsing, who knows many things about the monsters of the night—and riding hell for leather toward an epic confrontation . . . with the undead.
School’s Out Forever by Scott K. Andrews
“After the world died we all sort of drifted back to school. After all, where else was there for us to go?”
Lee Keegan’s fifteen. If most of the population of the world hadn’t just died choking on their own blood, he might be worrying about acne, body odour and girls. As it is, he and the young Matron of his boarding school, Jane Crowther, have to try and protect their charges from cannibalistic gangs, religious fanatics, a bullying prefect experimenting with crucifixion and even the surviving might of the US Army.
Incarnation by Emma Cornwall
In the steampunk world of Victorian London, a beautiful vampire seeks out the author of Dracula–to set the record straight . . .
If one is to believe Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire tale, Lucy Weston is Dracula’s most wanton creation, a sexual creature of the night who preys on innocent boys. But the real-life Lucy is nothing like her fictional counterpart—and she demands to know why the Victorian author deliberately lied. With Stoker’s reluctant help, she’s determined to track down the very fiend who transformed her—from the sensual underworld where humans vie to become vampires, to a hidden cell beneath a temple to madness, and finally into the glittering Crystal Palace where death reigns supreme.
Haunted by fragmentary memories of her lost life and love, Lucy must battle her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike. Ultimately, she must make a choice that illuminates for her—and for us—what it means to be human.
Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson
It’s not easy being a girl. It’s even harder when you’re the only girl in a family of werewolves. But it’s next to impossible when your very existence spells out the doom of your race… Meet Jessica McClain — she just became part of the pack.
The White Forest by Adam McOmber
In this hauntingly original debut novel about a young woman whose peculiar abilities help her infiltrate a mysterious secret society, Adam McOmber uses fantastical twists and dark turns to create a fast-paced, unforgettable story.
Young Jane Silverlake lives with her father in a crumbling family estate on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Jane has a secret—an unexplainable gift that allows her to see the souls of man-made objects—and this talent isolates her from the outside world. Her greatest joy is wandering the wild heath with her neighbors, Madeline and Nathan. But as the friends come of age, their idyll is shattered by the feelings both girls develop for Nathan, and by Nathan’s interest in a cult led by Ariston Day, a charismatic mystic popular with London’s elite. Day encourages his followers to explore dream manipulation with the goal of discovering a strange hidden world, a place he calls the Empyrean.
A year later, Nathan has vanished, and the famed Inspector Vidocq arrives in London to untangle the events that led up to Nathan’s disappearance. As a sinister truth emerges, Jane realizes she must discover the origins of her talent, and use it to find Nathan herself, before it’s too late.
Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry
Reeling from the devastation of Dust & Decay, Benny Imura and his friends plunge deep into the zombie-infested wastelands of the great Rot & Ruin. Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong journey through a fierce wilderness that was once America, searching for the jet they saw in the skies months ago. If that jet exists then humanity itself must have survived…somewhere. Finding it is their best hope for having a future and a life worth living.
But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. Fierce animals hunt them. They come face to face with a death cult. And then there’s the zombies—swarms of them coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. And these zoms are different. Faster, smarter, and infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?
The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.
But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.
When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.
You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.
The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Concludes the popular, genre-crossing, epic trilogy of a war between vampires and humans
A war to the death.
Empress Adele has launched a grand crusade against the vampire clans of the north. Prince Gareth, the vampire lord of Scotland, serves the Equatorian cause, fighting in the bloody trenches of France in his guise as the dashing Greyfriar. But the human armies are pinned down, battered by harsh weather and merciless attacks from vampire packs.
To even the odds, Adele unleashes the power of her geomancy, a fear- some weapon capable of slaughtering vampires in vast numbers. However, the power she expends threatens her own life even as she questions the morality of such a weapon.
As the war turns ever bloodier and Adele is threatened by betrayal, Gareth faces a terrible choice. Their only hope is a desperate strike against the lord of the vampire clans—Gareth’s brother, Cesare. It is a gamble that could win the war or signal the final days of the Greyfriar.
Be My Enemy (Everness #2) by Ian McDonald
Everett Singh has escaped with the Infundibulum from the clutches of Charlotte Villiers and the Order, but at a terrible price. His father is missing, banished to one of the billions of parallel universes of the Panoply of All Worlds, and Everett and the crew of the airship Everness have taken a wild Heisenberg jump to a random parallel plane. Everett is smart and resourceful, and from the refuge of a desolate frozen Earth far beyond the Plenitude, where he and his friends have gone into hiding, he makes plans to rescue his family. But the villainous Charlotte Villiers is one step ahead of him. The action traverses three different parallel Earths: one is a frozen wasteland; one is just like ours, except that the alien Thryn Sentiency has occupied the Moon since 1964, sharing its technology with humankind; and one is the embargoed home of dead London, where the remnants of humanity battle a terrifying nanotechnology run wild. Across these parallel planes of existence, Everett faces terrible choices of morality and power. But he has the love and support of Sen, Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, and the rest of the crew of Everness as he learns that the deadliest enemy isn’t the Order or the world-devouring nanotech Nahn—it’s himself.
Dead Mann Running by Stefan Petrucha
Just because a bullet has your name on it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t duck…
Either I’m stubborn, or it’s rigor mortis, but being dead didn’t stop me from being a detective or finding my wife’s killer. But it’s tough out there for a zombie, and lately it’s been getting tougher. These days the life-challenged have to register and take monthly tests to prove our emotional stability. See, if my kind gets too low, we go feral. I’ve been feeling a little down lately myself…
So when a severed arm—yeah, just the arm—leaves a mysterious briefcase at my office, my assistant, Misty, thinks figuring out where it came from will keep me on track. But this case goes deeper and darker than I imagined, and my imagination gets pretty dark. Turns out the people after it know more about my past life than I can remember, and even more about what I’ve become.
Slow Apocalypse by John Varley
Despite wars with Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 9/11, the United States’ dependence on foreign oil has kept the nation tied to the Middle East. A scientist has developed a cure for America’s addiction—a slow-acting virus that feeds on petroleum, turning it solid. But he didn’t consider that his contagion of an Iraqi oil field could spread to infect the fuel supply of the entire world…
In Los Angeles, screenwriter Dave Marshall heard this scenario from a retired US marine and government insider who acted as a consultant on Dave’s last film. It sounded as implausible as many of his scripts, but the reality is much more frightening than anything he could have envisioned.
An ordinary guy armed with extraordinary information, Dave hopes his survivor’s instinct will kick in so he can protect his wife and daughter from the coming apocalypse that will alter the future of Earth—and humanity…
Undead by Kirsty McKay
Out of sight, out of their minds: It’s a school-trip splatter fest and completely not cool when the other kids in her class go all braindead on new girl Bobby.
The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty.
Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back.
But they’ve changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they’re zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin’ fast, because that’s the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates’ next meal. It’s kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late.
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
A HIDDEN GIFT
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
Please welcome GT Almasi to the blog! He’s the author of the brand new cyberthriller Blades of Winter and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions!
You have a background in graphic design, and copywriting. What made you finally decide to take the plunge and write a novel?
I’d had a few ideas kicking around in my head for years, and I was at a place in my life where I was ready for a new challenge. But the most immediate catalyst that got me started was reading Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash one right after the other. I’d always figured writing a novel would be tedious and unpleasant because you’d have to use, you know, good grammar and all that nonsense. But the romping prose of these two books showed me that writing a novel could be a fun as reading one.
Your new novel, Blades of Winter, is cyberthriller at its best! What do you like most about writing in this genre?
I love how I get to mash-up all sorts of things; advanced electronics & old-fashioned bullets, carbon fiber & rusted metal, skinny geeks & beefy thugs, futuristic capabilities & ancient anxieties.
I just got a new smartphone, and the first thing I did was put a full-resolution copy of Blade Runner on there, just to see how it looked. It looked fantastic, but I couldn’t make myself turn it off and I wound up watching the whole thing and loving that juxtaposition of past and future. Something that strikes me as another example of this kind of mash-up is the Millennium Falcon, with its souped-up, hot-rod, hyper-space engines all banged into place with an old hydro-spanner.
What would be your elevator pitch for Blades of Winter?
“It’s a fast-paced, espionage cyber-thriller set in an alternate history where the Germans win World War Two.”
Alix Nico, your heroine, is quite young (19). Why did you decide to make her so young and was it tough writing from a female point of view?
Alix’s youth was inspired by watching the athletes at the Olympics, especially the gymnasts and figure skaters. Those kids are amazing, and I thought that if kids can do those acrobatics there isn’t much they can’t do.
Writing Alix isn’t like writing a “normal” female character because Alix is so enmeshed in the masculine world of being a covert-action agent. Another question might be, “was it tough writing from a sociopathic point of view?”
Where I tried to retain more of Alix’s femininity are the scenes she has with her mother. While nothing in the books actually happened to me or my family, these scenes are informed from when my sister and I were teen-agers and I was watching her and my mother learn the lessons a lot of girls and moms have to learn together.
A further source could be the brief but close friendship I once had with someone I was working with. She and I spent a lot of time talking together because we had a big thing in common; we both dated women and they were driving us nuts. What was most interesting to me was that her perspective was exactly the same as mine. It gave me the idea that the gender gap may have been purposefully manufactured to distract all of us away from things that actually matter. Maybe Mars and Venus are a lot closer to each other than we’ve been sold.
Did your career in graphic design help you visually in writing action scenes for Blades of Winter?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a kid, and that translated into my graphic design work. I’ve got a really visual sense of things, and pretty good recall. One of my college friends still remembers the first time she saw me successfully paint a sky from memory. Perhaps a corollary here is that I remember a lot of the action scenes, fight scenes, and martial arts scenes I’ve watched in movies or played through in video games.
But mostly I think what makes my action scenes fit together is that I act them out when I write them. I move around the room and brandish pretend weapons at pretend adversaries. Then I do it again from the other side. For driving sequences I call upon my vivid memories of driving like Bo and Luke Duke with my high school friends. I pretend to act these out too, which is why my characters get thrown around inside a wildly swerving car because that really used to happen to me. This play-acting may help me capture the details of what’s happening to the characters. Plus it’s totally fun.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
I did a ton of research for this book. I came to writing with a decent foundation in history, but everything else — science, espionage, all the locations, in-depth details about historical events — saw me starting at square one. Half my time on this book was spent doing research of one kind or another.
I know that some of your favorite authors include Robert Ludlum, Neal Stephenson, and Hunter S. Thompson. Which one of their books (or another’s) would you like to read again for the first time?
Cool question! The two books I mentioned for sure, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Snow Crash. I’d love to re-live that sensation of being blown away by something I’d never seen before. Like when I first listened to Nirvana’s Nevermind, or the first time I saw Star Wars.
If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
If someone were just dipping their toes in the sci-fi / thriller genre, where would you personally recommend that they start?
The Matrix, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and Virtual Light by William Gibson, in that order. Then Blade Runner, Frederick Pohl’s Gateway and Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, and then Neuromancer by Gibson.
What’s one of your favorite lines from a book or movie?
I absolutely love quoting movies and books, so I can’t stop at just one:
One of all-time faves is, “As your attorney, I advise you to drive at top speed,” from Fear and Loathing. My friends I still say this to each other, especially when we’re running late for something.
I once got to say “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges,” in a context where it really made sense! It was one of my movie-geek highpoints.
When my wife or I aren’t very impressed with something we do our Colin Firth-Mr. Darcy impression and say, “It’s tolerable, I suppose. But not handsome enough to tempt me.”
So, so many more, but I’ll stop here.
Casablanca, La Femme Nikita, The Professional, Blade Runner, Moonstruck, Godfather, Apocalypse Now, My Favorite Year, Racing w The Moon, Matrix, Bourne Identity, Daniel Craig’s Bond movies, Blazing Saddles, Aeon Flux, Stalingrad, Cabaret, Singin’ In The Rain, and many more. I love movies
If you could pick anyone alive or dead to have coffee or drinks with, and pick their brains, who would it be?
It’d be Jesus. So much stuff has sprung up around his life and teachings that I’d love to get the straight dope from him and find out what really happened. I must admit part of me hopes he’d say that Christopher Moore’s book Lamb is completely true.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
During the day I like to go out to breakfast with my wife, get together with friends, or take our dog for a walk in the woods. At night we go see one of friends’ many bands, or I catch up on my reading while my wife noodles around on the Xbox (or vice versa).
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
The second book, Hammer of Angels, will be out in Spring of 2013, and I’ll be at NYC Comic-Con on October 13th and 14th (the Saturday and Sunday). The author-wranglers at Random House will set up my schedule for me, so I have no idea what I’ll be doing besides trying to get my picture with Mad Moxxie and Predator.
Keep up with GT: Facebook | Goodreads
Purchase Blades of Winter: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
About Blades of Winter:
Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, a self-described “million-dollar murder machine,” is a rising star in ExOps, a covert-action agency that aggressively shields the United States from its three great enemies: the Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels.
Alix is one of the hottest young American Levels. That’s no surprise: Her dad was America’s top Level before he was captured and killed eight years ago. But when an impulsive decision explodes—literally—in her face, Alix uncovers a conspiracy that pushes her to her limits and could upset the global balance of power forever.
About the author:
G. T. Almasi graduated from RISD and moved to Boston to pursue a career as a graphic designer. While he built his design portfolio, he joined a band as the bass player, and wrote and designed the band’s newsletter. Once his career as an art director took off, he continued to supplement his design talents by writing copy for his clients.
As a novelist, his literary influences include Robert Ludlum, Neal Stephenson, and Hunter S. Thompson. He also draws inspiration from John Woo’s movies and Todd Howard’s videogames. Almasi lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with his wife, Natalie, and their lovably stubborn dog, Ella.
Breed by Chase Novak
Publisher:Mulholland/Sept. 4th, 2012
Kind thanks to Mulholland for providing a review copy
Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives-fabulous jobs, a luxurious town house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a passionate marriage. What they don’t have is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after the next, yearning turns into obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood come true, Alex and Leslie travel deep into Slovenia, where they submit to a painful and terrifying procedure that finally gives them what they so fervently desire . . . but with awful consequences.
Ten years later, cosseted and adored but living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked into their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents’ bedroom getting progressively louder, more violent, and more disturbing.
Driven to a desperate search for answers, Adam and Alice set out on a quest to learn the true nature of the man and woman who raised them. Their discovery will upend everything they thought they knew about their parents and will reveal a threat so horrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.
When Leslie meets Alex Twisden, it’s pretty much love at first site. 17 years her senior, Alex is everything Leslie wants in a man: successful lawyer, wants a family, and absolutely adores Leslie. Leslie is quite capable on her own, working for an up and coming children’s publisher, and quite frankly, she’d have married Alex if he was cab driver (or other such blue collar profession.) But he’s not, and they’re deliriously happy, comfortable in the luxury of Alex’s family brownstone, with portraits of his ancestors looking down on the hopeful lovebirds. Only one thing is missing from Alex and Leslie’s bliss: a baby. After countless fertility treatments, medical tests, and ultimately, numerous forms of quackery, “guaranteed” to increase fertility and give them the child they so desperately want, they turn to Dr. Kis, a supposed miracle worker in Slovenia. He is recommended by a neighbor and lawyer that, in exchange for information about the doctor that resulted in his wife’s pregnancy, demands to be given a job at Alex’s firm. Alex acquiesces, and learns about Dr. Kis, who supposedly performs miracles of fertility on his patients. When Alex pitches the idea to Leslie, she’s less than thrilled, having tired of the endless stress and strain put on their marriage by their efforts to conceive. She realizes how important this is to Alex, though, and agrees to go, after extracting a promise that this will be the last effort. So, the couple makes the journey to Slovenia, to the office of the strange, abrupt Dr. Kis, where a slavering pit bull stands guard, and where, little do they know, they’re about to undergo a very painful procedure. Said procedure surely achieves what Dr. Kris promised, but at what price? Turns out, it’s a big one. Huge. Soon the couple begins undergoing some terrifying changes, and by the time the twins are born (early), their lives have already become very different.
Cut to 10 years later: The Twisden house is in decline, falling to ruins, and twins Adam and Alice are kept to a very strict schedule. Dreaded are the nightly dinners where they watch their parents consume meat so rare that it’s blue and swimming in a puddle of blood (what Alex and Leslie call “gravy”). They are locked in their room on a nightly basis, and the noises that come from their parent’s room (of which Adam hears through a purloined baby monitor) are terrifying. The twins are loved, however, and Alex and Leslie haven’t harmed a hair on their heads…yet.
Adam is convinced that his parents are going to kill them, and is determined to take his sister and escape. He runs to a trusted teacher first, but his parents prove to be talented trackers, and he doesn’t remain hidden for long. Meanwhile, Alice has met a group of feral kids in Central Park that will reveal much more about their condition and what their parents may be becoming.
At first blush, Breed is pure horror, but it’s the author’s wry observations on elitist society and also Alex and Leslie’s slow loss of humanity that elevates this to something much more. Alex and Leslie adore their children, but cannot fight the changes taking place within them, and their struggle against those changes (in particular Leslie), is heartbreaking, and horrifying. The author turns the creep factor up to about 11, and it’s the first time in a while that after putting the book down, I may have been a little afraid of the dark for a few nights. By turns very scary, and heart wrenching, Breed will take you for a ride you’ll never forget, all the way to its shocking conclusion.
This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova
Publisher:Tor/Sept. 4th, 2012
Kind thanks to Tor and NetGalley for providing a review copy
Linnet Ellery is the offspring of an affluent Connecticut family dating back to Colonial times. Fresh out of law school, she’s beginning her career in a powerful New York “white fang” law firm. She has high hopes of eventually making partner.
But strange things keep happening to her. In a workplace where some humans will eventually achieve immense power and centuries of extra lifespan, office politics can be vicious beyond belief. After some initial missteps, she finds herself sidelined and assigned to unpromising cases. Then, for no reason she can see, she becomes the target of repeated, apparently random violent attacks, escaping injury each time through increasingly improbable circumstances. However, there’s apparently more to Linnet Ellery than a little old-money human privilege. More than even she knows. And as she comes to understand this, she’s going to shake up the system like you wouldn’t believe….
When Linnet Ellery begins working at the White-Fang (yep, vampires) law firm of Ishmael, McGillary, and Gold, she realizes rather quickly that her professional life may be a bit boring for a while. Taken under the wing of lawyer Chip Westin, she’s recruited to help out on a case that’s been in litigation for many years. Stagnation seems inevitable, until a werewolf invades the law firm one evening, brutally murdering Chip, and nearly killing Linnet. Who would have wanted to kill the gentle,kindly Chip? And why?
I really enjoyed this fun, unusual urban fantasy! The alternate world the author created is just to the left of ours, and vampires, werewolves, and the fae (the Alfar) have revealed themselves and are collectively thought of as the Powers. It’s a boy’s club, however, at least when it comes to vamps and werewolves. You see, they’re not allowed to turn women, under any circumstance, under the penalty of death. Linnet was, in fact, fostered by a vampire liege from the age of eight, with whom she’s still very close to, so she’s sensitive to the discrimination that they sometimes face. Working at a White-Fang law firm doesn’t intimidate her, but knowing that she, and the rest of the women in the office, will never make partner, can be bothersome. As she follows the clues to find out who killed Chip, with the help of handsome PI (and Alfar) John O’Shea, she finds herself in danger more than a few times over, but she’s determined to get to the bottom of it. A shadowy firm called Securitech and its head werewolf, Deegan, seem to have something to do with his death, but she’s not quite sure what. She does know that Deegan is perfectly capable of tearing her limb from limb.
This book is described as Anita Blake meets The Firm, but I’d describe it more like Stephanie Plum meets The Firm. Linnet has the charm of Plum, but is plenty capable in her job, and I loved how the author actually gives her a life in between the werewolf attacks and law office politics (of which there are plenty). Linnet is an accomplished horsewoman, and I loved the passages that involved the ins and outs of competitive riding. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the action, but woven in with traditional urban fantasy themes are explorations of gender equality, and a rather sweet romance. It also wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the author is very fond of New York City, since it’s almost a character unto itself. I highly enjoyed This Case is Gonna Kill Me and I’ll be crossing my fingers for more adventures with Linnet!
The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter: Malniveau Prison (Book 1)
Publisher:Hard Case Crime/August 7th, 2012
Kind thanks to Hard Case Crime for providing a review copy
The body found in the gutter in France led the police inspector to the dead man’s beautiful daughter—and to her hot-tempered American husband.
A hardboiled private eye hired to keep a movie studio’s leading lady happy uncovers the truth behind the brutal slaying of a Hollywood starlet.
A desperate man pursuing his last chance at redemption finds himself with blood on his hands and the police on his trail…
Three complete novels that, taken together, tell a single epic story, about an author whose life is shattered when violence and tragedy consume the people closest to him. It is an ingenious and emotionally powerful debut performance from literary detective and former bookseller Ariel S. Winter, one that establishes this talented newcomer as a storyteller of the highest caliber.
1931: When a dead man washes up in a gutter of the provincial town of Verargent, the local police think it’s just a drunk, drowned in the downpour. The dead man has actually been stabbed to death, and it’s discovered he’s recently escaped from prison. Chief Inspecter Pelleter and Verargent chief of police Letreau team up to find a killer, which leads to something much bigger than one dead convict. The body count soon starts to rise, children go missing, and seemingly at the center of it all, is a child killer, imprisoned at Malvineau. When the dead man’s daughter (and wife of American novelist Shem Rosencrantz) goes missing, Pelleter knows that time may be running out, and is determined to find the truth.
The Twenty-Year Death is made up of three complete novels, spanning three decades, in the style of three great mystery writers. Connecting these three novels is the “great American novelist” Shem Rosencrantz. I thought it might be fun to do the review in three parts, so of course this review focuses on the first novel, Malniveau Prison, written in the style of the legendary Georges Simenon (Commissaire Maigret series 1931-1972). Centering on Pelleter, the story follows his investigation into the questionable deaths of several prisoners at Malniveau. Dogged to the end, Pelleter follows the clues by the book, seeing things through even as he misses his wife, and quite a bit of sleep, respectively. I enjoyed this seemingly straightforward procedural. I say seemingly because while it rarely veers from the investigation, when it does, the insights into its characters are illuminating and striking, perhaps because of the straightforward nature of the writing. This was a strong start to what promises to be a fascinating crime novel. More to come!
I’m thrilled to have Paul Tremblay on the blog today! Paul is a two time Bram Stoker Award nominee, and his brand new book, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, just hit the shelves. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, so please give him a warm welcome! Also, be sure to check out the book trailer below the post!
Paul, you have an amazing list of publishing and editing accomplishments behind you, including two Bram Stoker Award noms AND you have a master’s degree in Mathematics! Whew! Did you always want to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about your journey?
Thank you! And no, I didn’t always want to be a writer. While I had an inkling I might like teaching, I spent most of my youth not knowing what I wanted to do or be. I was good at math, so I just kept taking math classes in college and then in graduate school.
But Second semester of my senior year in college I took Lit 101 to fulfill part of my humanities double major alongside the math. I ended up loving the class. I remember writing a paper about the threat of violence in “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?,“ by Joyce Carol Oates and TC Boyle’s “Greasy Lake,” that I was inordinately proud of, especially considering I was a know-nothing math major. In grad school I read all the Oates, Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Clive Barker I could get my hands on. So while spending two years earning my masters in mathematics, I also fell in love with reading.
I didn’t think about trying to write my own stories until after I got my first high school math-teaching gig. My first story attempt was terrible (and is safely hidden in the trunk): Death confronting a serial killer who had messed up the grand plan. But I enjoyed the process and kept at it off and on for a few years until I made my first story sale in 2000. With the small sale I was hooked and threw myself into writing whole-hog. Or whole-donkey.
Your brand new novel, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, just came out. Can you give us your elevator pitch for it?
Oh, man, I hope it’s a long elevator ride.
*Tremblay slaps the emergency stop button so we’re all stuck between floors on the elevator. It’s good place to be for our collective frame of mind going forward*
Okay, okay, picture this (Tremblay makes a movie screen with his hands): Animal Farm meets Giliam’s Brazil meets Chuck Palahniuk!
What? Not enough pizzazz?
How about Meet the Feebles meets Citizen Kane! (nah, too obscure, and while there’s a kernel of truth to that pitch, it’s not one-hundred percent accurate. I love that pairing though. I’d be willing to bet no one has elevator-pitched with those two films)
Or: (Tremblay now speaking very fast) SaDE’s narrator is a nameless drone stuck at the mega-conglomerate Farm for the next six years of his life when he finds out that his mother, whom he left back in technocratic and corrupt City, might be homeless and soon to be deported below City to eke out her remaining existence in the Pier. (Pause for breath) The narrator decides to do something about it and hilarious, poignant, and emotionally devastating dystopian political satire ensues with people in chicken and duck suits, a mayor who write letters about outlaw campaigns and magic refrigerators, and a priest with ESP who swears like the proverbial sailor (although there are no sailors in this book).
What did you enjoy the most about writing Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye?
Generally, I enjoy the challenge of creating characters first and foremost. But with this book, more than any other I’ve written, I think I had the most fun with world building and the setting of the various insane scenarios.
That said, it wasn’t an easy book for me to write. It started as me taking the snippet of a Neutral Milk Hotel song title and trying to come up with a short story. This was sometime in 2005, I think. The short story became the opening of a novel. I worked on the book off-and-on for a little over a year and completed an early draft that I tinkered with and re-wrote, again, off-and-on, for a few more years.
On one hand, it was nice to have so much time to work on the novel. It’s a luxury that most writers don’t have as most 21st Century novelists are expected by the publishing world to pump out a new book every year or so. On the other hand, I worked on this so much it got to a point by the end of the process where I think I lost almost all objectivity concerning the book’s merits or demerits. Heh.
But don’t worry! I promise the book is aces. Plus donkeys.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I hope it’s not too obnoxious to say that I have ginormous (little known fact: that’s a secret number we mathematicians keep to ourselves) amount of influences. I try to steal from everyone. As a frustrated musician myself, music has been a very important in my development as a writer. Most of my books have titles that refer to songs, and more than a handful of my short stories have been directly influenced by music.
As far as other writers go, I already mentioned Joyce Carol Oates, and without her work, I’m not sure I would’ve tried my hand at writing. Other favorites (ie. writers who I will/do re-read and who never fail to make me want to steal from them want to write better) include in no particular order early-Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Clive Barker, Aimee Bender, George Orwell, Shirley Jackson, Mark Danielewski, Will Christopher Baer, Stewart O’Nan, Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Lethem, Raymond Chandler, Chuck Palahniuk and Joe Lansdale.
I could go on if you’d like. There are so many writers doing interesting, daring, important, work right now, which is somewhat ironic given how messed up publishing is.
In your own reading, do you prefer books that have a “message”, something fantastical that you can get lost in, or both?
I think as long as a book plays fair by the set of rules it sets itself, I can enjoy the novel, and the novel almost by default will have a message or something to say whether it be personal or social.
However, I tend to be a style monkey, and love me an innovative or interesting style/narrative. Novels that do not show empathy (not sympathy, empathy; there’s a huge difference) toward all of its characters I tend to toss into the will-not-finish pile. It’s a big pile.
What makes you want to toss a book aside in frustration?
I sort of gave a preview in the previous answer, but to build on sympathy vs. empathy. I really don’t care if I sympathize with the characters. (another parenthetical aside: I want to eat the spleen of readers who complain of a book, “I didn’t think the main character was sympathetic.” Grrr. What they really mean to say is that the character wasn’t enough like them so they couldn’t feign interest in someone else for 300 pages…anyway, I angrily digress) I don’t care if they’re like me. In fact, I’d prefer if they weren’t like me. I just want to understand why they say they say, why they make the decisions they do. The characters who do unseemly things but for whom we feel empathy are always the most realistic and interesting.
All of which is to say, yeah, lame-ass characters make me throw books at walls.
If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Let’s call it a three-way tie. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five, Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves, and Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I’d be a happy donkey reading and re-reading those three books in a constant rotation.
When you manage to carve out some free time, how do you like to spend it?
No, seriously, I hate beets. Icky. Not as icky or hate-worthy as pickles. Though pickled beets are probably the second most hate-worthy food imaginable.
Besides reading, teaching, hanging with the family, I enjoy sports. Something simple like playing catch with a baseball is something I’d love to do everyday. My son is at the age now, though, where I have to beg him to play catch with me now. Sniff, sniff…
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events?
As far as upcoming projects go, I’m excited that a YA novel co-written with Stephen Graham Jones was recently accepted by CZP. Also, I have a short story in the upcoming FUNGI anthology (edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Orrin Grey).
As far as events go, I’ll be doing donkey readings/signings in September:
-12th, Providence, RI, the Brown Bookstore, 5:30 pm
-19th, New York City, NY, KGB Fantastic fiction series, 7:00pm (will be reading alongside Alma Katsu)
-29th, Worcester, MA, Annie’s Book Stop, 2-5pm
*Thanks for the interview, and I hope everyone reads the donkey and reviews online even if they don’t find the main character sympathetic!
About Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye:
Join Farm today! It’s only six years of your life! Farm is the mega-conglomerate food supplier for City, populated with rabidly bureaucratic superiors, antagonistic and sexually deviant tour guides dressed in chicken and duck suits, and farm animals illegally engineered for silence. City is sprawling, technocratic, and rests hundreds of feet above the coastline on the creaking shoulders of a giant wooden pier. When the narrator’s single mother, whom he left behind in City, falls out of contact, he fears the worst: his mother is homeless and subsequently to be deported under City to the Pier. On his desperate search to find his mother, he encounters ecoterrorists wearing plush animal suits, an election that hangs in the balance as the City’s all-powerful Mayor is infatuated with magic refrigerators and outlaw campaigns, and a wise-cracking, over-sexed priest who may or may not have ESP, but who is most certainly his deadbeat dad. Whether rebelling against the regimented and ridiculous nature of Farm life, exploring the all-too-familiar and consumer-obsessed world of City, experiencing the all-too-real suffering of the homeless in Pier, or confronting the secrets of his own childhood, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye’s narrator is a hilarious, neurotic, and rage-filled Quixote searching for his mother, his own dignity, and the meaning of humanity.
Mockingbird (Miriam Black #2) by Chuck Wendig
Publisher:Angry Robot Books/August 28th, 2012
Kind thanks to Angry Robot for providing a review copy
Miriam is trying. Really, she is.
But this whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around.
Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis–who’s on the road half the time in his truck–is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.
It just isn’t going well. Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability–to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them–in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.
Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.
REVIEW (No spoilers, but assumes you’ve read Blackbirds)
Working the checkout line at the grocery store is no place for Miriam Black. Little acts of rebellion like staring into the laser light of the scanner just aren’t doin’ it for her. Of course she finally runs her mouth and gets herself fired, but gets an itch that she just needs to scratch. That would be touching the woman that fired her and finding out how she dies. The only problem is, when she does that, she finds out death isn’t far off at all, quite possibly for all of them. This incident prompts Miriam into packing up and attempting to leave the trailer that she shares with Louis. Feeling smothered and panicky, she sets off on foot, but Louis tracks her down. He always does. Louis talks Miriam into using her “talent” to help an English teacher at a school for troubled girls, which leads to visions of a serial killer. Let the descent into crazy begin…
If you’ve read Blackbirds, you’re already somewhat familiar with Miriam’s personality. She’s rude, mouthy, insensitive, blunt, extremely foul mouthed, and really, really hard to like. Ok, now set that stuff aside for just a minute. Bear with me. Yes, Miriam isn’t the most charming girl, and if anything, she’s even more abrasive in Mockingbird. Seriously, the girl would begin trying my patience in about 2 minutes. However, all of that crappy stuff is mostly a defense mechanism. Mostly. Her ability allows her to see horrible stuff, and the events at the girl’s school are just about as bad as it gets. Our Miriam, foulmouthed, childish, and surly, will put herself in the path of a Mack truck if it means saving an innocent life. She reminds me a bit of a zombie, without the whole rot and braaaaaiiiiiins thing. She will keep coming, until the job is done, and she’s dead. And poor Louis feels like he must protect her. Needless to say, I don’t envy Louis the job he’s assigned to himself. A killer is indeed cutting a swath through these girls, one that dons a plague mask and uses barbed wire for restraints. The situation is much, much worse than Miriam initially thinks, though, as hard as it is to believe, and she’ll need every bit of grit she has to get through this one. Dark forces are rallying against Miriam, because she’s been messing with fate, and fate is a fickle, vengeful mistress. Chuck Wendig’s mind is a terrifying, twisted, fascinating thing, and thank goodness he puts this stuff down on paper for the rest of us. Darker than dark, Mockingbird will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget, so fortify your stomach and settle in, because you’re going to want to read this one in one sitting. Can’t wait for the next one!
Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman
Publisher:Harper Voyager/August 21st, 2012
Kind thanks to Harper Voyager for providing a review copy
Watch out for the hidden things . . . That’s the last thing Calliope Jenkins’s best friend says to her before ending a two a.m. phone call from Iowa, where he’s working a case she knows little about. Seven hours later, she gets a visit from the police. Josh has been found dead, and foul play is suspected. Calliope is stunned. Especially since Josh left a message on her phone an hour after his body was found. Spurred by grief and suspicion, Calli heads to Iowa herself, accompanied by a stranger who claims to know something about what happened to Josh and who can— maybe—help her get him back. But the road home is not quite the straight shot she imagined . . .
When Calliope Jenkins gets a call very early in the morning from her ex and work partner, Josh, she’s not sure what to think. He’s obviously following a lead, but what? And why did he tell her to watch out for the hidden things right before hanging up the phone? These are certainly the questions that are on Calliope’s mind when she gets the news the next day that Josh has been found dead, and she’s the last known person to have talked to him. Dealing with the aftermath of Josh’s death is enough to handle, not to mention his wife’s grief and bitterness, but there’s also the mysterious figure (with rather big feet) that keeps showing up at the most inopportune times. As Calli sets out to find the truth about what really happened to Josh, she quickly realizes that reality seems to be slipping, and things are never quite what they seem.
What a gem of a debut! At the start of the novel, Calli’s pain where Josh is concerned isn’t entirely evident, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clearer and clearer just how much she cares for him, and her grief is a tangible thing, interspersed in interludes that complement, but never interrupt, the action. Twists and turns don’t even begin to describe this one. Calli’s journey back to Iowa is fraught with danger, so good thing she has a guide in the form of Vikous. He would be the one with the big feet, that looks suspiciously like a clown. He’s grumpy as hell, but there’s a certain charm to him. A certain odd, creepy charm. Calli is snarky and confrontational, and I adored her. Strangely enough, she and Vikous made a pretty great team. Lest you think that this book is about finding Josh’s killer, it sort of is, but really, it’s about Calli’s journey back to the hometown, and family, that she thought didn’t want her anymore. And what a journey! It turns out that you can go home again, but to tell you more would be to reveal much of the awesome that this book is made of. The cover will give you a hint, and I dare you to get through this lovely, soaring book without at least tearing up a little (I may have teared up a lot.) You also may find yourself with a huge, silly grin on your face at the end. Testerman writes with a fluid, sure hand, and your brain will rebel at the thought that this book is a first novel. Can you tell I loved it? I did, and I can’t wait for more from this author!
I was pretty excited that Nick Mamatas agreed to answer a few of my questions, because he’s a pretty busy guy. He’s also got a brand new book out, Bullettime, and he was kind enough to talk about that, and other rather cool stuff, so please welcome him to the blog!
Nick, as the author of five novels, including your newest, Bullettime, and numerous short stories and non-fiction novels, you’ve managed to cultivate a very wide range of work. What makes Bullettime different from your previous fiction?
All of my novels so far have been first-person stories of outsiders dealing with some sort of supernatural or superhuman perception. Jack Kerouac and his enlightenment in Move Under Ground, Herbie’s telepathy in Under My Roof, the near-omniscient collective intelligence and Julia’s bizarre understanding of world systems in Sensation, and Uncle Lono’s insights thanks to his drug use in The Damned Highway. And now, in Bullettime, we have Dave Holbrook, in a place beyond space and time called the Ylem, from which he can observe all his possible existences based on decisions he’s made (or that others have made).
But, at the same time, the range is pretty wide. Move Under Ground is Lovecraftian, Roof a parody of a YA novel, Sensation an avant-garde satire I tried to make read as though the reader is looking at a desktop with a web browser and IM chat windows and such, and Highway is a crazed jeremiad. It’s also a collaboration with Brian Keene, which is itself a significant difference from my solo work. So the books feel different when people are reading them, and they feel different when I’m writing them for that matter, but when I look at them as a whole I guess I’m pursuing a single project. Which each book, or story for that matter, I think formally. What structure should the story take—the POV, average sentence and paragraph length, that sort of thing. Then I fill it in with characters and plot. Luckily, not all my short fiction is in the first-person. Indeed, a few recent stories have ended up being fabulist, avuncular, third-person omniscient stories.
Bullettime is different because it’s about a teen and an adult, skirts the edges around fantasy and horror and confessional fiction, and takes place in Jersey City. I lived in Jersey City for years, from 1997 to 2003, but never really placed any fiction there. I’ve written plenty about Manhattan and Long Island and Cambridge and Somerville and Salem, MA and Vermont, but never about Jersey.
In Bullettime, you explore alternate universes and fate (among other things). Do you believe in fate?
I believe that all actions are caused actions, but ultimately I’m a compatibilist. World forces structure, condition, and limit our actions, but they don’t determine them. So we can act as agents within those constraints, and often those constraints are at least partially imaginary. They’re ego-forces we think of as world forces or, worse, natural facts. A lot of my work is about suggesting a desire for more freedom than we currently have from our objective conditions.
What, or who, was your inspiration for David Holbrook?
For about a year I lived across the street from a high school in Jersey City. I worked from home, so got to observe the kids pretty closely, at the beginning of the day, at lunch, then in the afternoon. Of course, bits of my own childhood are in David, but I’m in Erin and Oleg and the other characters too. So are friends of mine from junior high and high school, stories I’ve heard from other people about their own teen years, you name it.
Is there any particular thing you’d like to see readers take away from Bullettime, or do you like to leave things open for interpretation?
When I was editing Clarkesworld Magazine, we’d often get submissions of all-but-identical stories. One sort of story was something I like to call “the child molester story.” In it a creepy, ugly, bum, corners a pretty young blonde girl with curls and threatens her with rape. Then the girl turns into some sort of supernatural horror and consumes the child molester. The moral of the story is—DON’T MOLEST CHILDREN.
Now, who needs to read such a story? Most of us would never dream of molesting children, and no child molester would be persuaded by the story to stop. So, really, who needs a lesson that would listen to one? What message could Bullettime have? Don’t drink sizzurp? Don’t shoot up schools? Surely, most of us already know!
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Hmm, Kurt Vonnegut, Ira Levin, William S. Burroughs, Harlan Ellison, Kathy Acker, Joseph Heller, Paul Heyman, (yes, the pro wrestling booker), Victor Serge, William Browning Spenser, Kathe Koja’s early horror novels (horror novels could be smart??), whatever was being published in Omni in the early 1980s—Howard Waldrop especially, Shirley Jackson, the non-narrative avant-garde short films of the 1940s-1960s I watched in college in the 1990s…and dog’s breakfast, I guess.
If you could read one novel again for the first time, which one would it be?
That’s a good question. A really good one, since I decided years ago to never re-read. I know that a lot can get gotten from re-reading books, and really it’s not worth writing if the end product isn’t worth re-reading, but there’s just too much to read. I can’t spare the time. I guess I’d say Picture This by Joseph Heller. I would like to read that again for the first time, or for a second time, really.
I get the impression that you’re a pretty busy guy. When you do manage to carve out some downtime, how do you like to spend it?
I don’t have a lot of downtime. I have a full-time job, teach part-time at two MFA programs, a writing organization in Berkeley, and UCLA’s Extension School, and write books and stories and essays and such. I practice Chen taijiquan for between one and four hours a day. (Four hours on Sunday.) I do most of my reading on my commute to work, which is about ninety minutes each way.
What’s next for you?
I have a novel, The Last Weekend, which is basically a confessional fiction about an alcoholic in San Francisco, with some zombies milling around the background. That should be out in 2013. My first crime novel, Love is the Law, may also be out in 2013. And I have a number of stories coming out—”Willow Tests Well” will be in Psychos, a phonebook-sized omnibus anthology edited by John Skipp, and a story called “The Shaft Through the Middle of it All” will be in Fungi, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Orrin Grey. Those will be out by the end of this year.
Keep up with Nick: Website | Twitter
David Holbrook is a scrawny kid, the victim of bullies, and the neglected son of insane parents.
David Holbrook is the Kallis Episkipos, a vicious murderer turned imprisoned leader of a death cult dedicated to Eris, the Hellenic goddess of discord.
David Holbrook never killed anyone, and lives a lonely and luckless existence with his aging mother in a tumbledown New Jersey town.
Caught between finger and trigger, David is given three chances to decide his fate as he is compelled to live and relive all his potential existences, guided only by the dark wisdom found in a bottle of cough syrup.
From the author of the instant cult classic Move Under Ground comes a fantasy of blood, lust, destiny, school shootings, and the chance to change your future.
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More about Nick:
Nick Mamatas is the author of the Lovecraftian Beat road novel Move Under Ground, which was nominated for both the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild awards, the Civil War ghost story Northern Gothic, also a Stoker nominee, the suburban nighmare novel Under My Roof, and over thirty short stories and hundreds of articles (some of which were collected in 3000 Miles Per Hour in Every Direction at Once). His work has appeared in Razor, Village Voice, Spex, Clamor, In These Times, Polyphony, several Disinformation and Ben Bella Books anthologies, and the books Corpse Blossoms, Poe’s Lighthouse, Before & After: Stories from New York, and Short and Sweet.
Nick’s forthcoming works include the collection You Might Sleep… (November 2008) and Haunted Legends, an anthology with Ellen Datlow (Tor Books 2009).
A native New Yorker, Nick now lives in the California Bay Area.
If you haven’t discovered Dave Zeltserman yet, you’re in for a treat! Dave’s wonderful new novel, Monster, based on the story of Frankenstein’s monster, just came out, and it’s a perfect place to start. Dave was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome him to the blog!
You’re the author of more than 13 novels, most of them of the crime/noir genre, with a dash of horror thrown in here and there. You’re a math and science guy, so what made you sit down and write for the first time? What inspired you?
I’ve always read a lot. As a kid I started with the pulps ; Robert E. Howard and HP Lovecraft, then moved on to science fiction, and eventually to crime and mystery fiction, while at times reading the classics. At different times in my life I’d be drawn to writing. My early stuff wasn’t very good—a lot of my writing when I got out of college was trying to ape Ross Macdonald, and doing a pretty bad job of it. Then sometime in the early 90s I discovered Jim Thompson and it was like a religious experience. The first book of his I read was Hell of a Woman and I’d never read anything like it before. He broke every rule in that book that I thought I needed to follow, and it gave me a completely different outlook as to how crime fiction could be written. At the time I was struggling with a book that would become my first novel, Fast Lane, and reading Thompson showed me a completely different way to go with it, and helped me find my own voice.
Your newest novel, Monster, is based on the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his creation. Has the story always been one of your favorites?
I grew up thinking Frankenstein the novel was like the Boris Karloff movie, and when I was in high school I heard how the novel ends up in the Artic and that the monster is not the lumbering Karloff creature, but instead an intelligent and eloquent being, and I had to read it. The first half of Shelley’s novel has some sections that can be tough to get through, but once the creature and Frankenstein are in the French Alps and the creature is telling Frankenstein his tale, the book becomes absolutely riveting. In a lot of ways it’s a very noirish book with the creature having every right to make the demands that he does on Frankenstein and Frankenstein realizing this but also understanding the potential catastrophe if he does as the creature is asking, with both of them then being doomed. It’s a great book, one that I’ve read several times.
For those that haven’t read Monster yet, can you give us a bit of a teaser?
With Monster I play the following what-if games. What if Victor Frankenstein didn’t create the monster out of a misguided obsession, but was in league with the Marquis de Sade and had a far more sinister
purpose. What if everything a dying Frankenstein told Captain Walton aboard his ice-bound ship were lies to protect his reputation. What if the monster gets to finally tell the true story.
There’s a lot going on in Monster, everything from the Marquis de Sade and one of his more infamous works, to Satanists, vampyres, London sex clubs and much more. The feedback I’ve gotten is that the book can be enjoyed whether or nor you’ve read Shelley’s Frankenstein beforehand.
You mention a love of crime writers like Hammett, Chandler, and Ross McDonald. Do you have any favorite horror writers?
When I was a kid I loved the creepiness and eeriness of HP Lovecraft. Later when I went to college my school’s library had a complete set of Edgar Allan Poe, which I devoured. Just very imaginative works. The best horror novel I’ve read recently was Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND, which is the best zombie/vampire book I’ve read. There’s such a tragic futility and sadness to that book. A more recently written collection of short horror/speculative fiction I’ve read that I thought was absolutely great is The Mean Time by Paul Tremblay.
If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
What makes you want to toss a book aside in frustration?
Bad writing will stop me, but also if a book feels fake. For example, if characters act in an unnatural way to move a scene forward or to do something that the author thinks is cool. Fake dialog is just as bad for me.
What’s one of your favorite lines from a book or a movie?
Well, my absolute favorite line from a movie is the last line in I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, but I’d ruin the movie giving it away that line. So instead I’ll give the line from Casablanca when Captain Renault is ordered to close Rick’s immediately: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.” (right after that he’s handed his gambling winnings).
When you manage to carve out some free time, how do you like to spend it (when you’re not practicing Kung Fu, of course)?
I spent 25 years as a software developer. Now I’m leading a more relaxed life where I spend 4-5 hours a day writing, some time practicing Kung Fu, reading, occasionally going to Maine or into the North End in Boston.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects and events?
Monster is the big thing. I do have film deals for Outsourced and A Killer’s Essence, and with some luck they’ll go into film production soon.
Keep up with Dave: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
The supernatural, unmissable new novel by the ALA Best Horror award nominee. In nineteenth-century Germany, one young man counts down the days until he can marry his beloved . . . until she is found brutally murdered, and the young man is accused of the crime. Broken on the wheel and left for dead, he awakens on a lab table, transformed into an abomination. Friedrich must go far to take his revenge —only to find his tormentor, Victor Frankenstein, in league with the Marquis de Sade, creating something much more sinister deep in the mountains. Paranormal and gripping in the tradition of the best work of Stephen King and Justin Cronin, Monster is a gruesome parable of control and vengeance, and an ingenious tribute to one of literature’s greatest.
Purchase Monster: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound