Charlie Fletcher’s fantastic new book, THE OVERSIGHT, is out today, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Please give him a warm welcome!
Also, we’ve got 5 signed bookplates to give away, so be sure to check out the details at the end of the post!
You have an extensive career in film, but have you always wanted to write fiction? Will you tell us a little more about yourself and your background?
Always a massive reader, read everything all the time, obsessively and indiscriminately, looking back on it. (Pro tip: you know – or I did – that your reading jones is out of hand when you catch your book-less self taking a cereal packet into the bathroom with you so you’ll at least have something to read while you’re in there). I had a truly great English teacher when I was about 16 who made me take writing seriously and suggested that doing so would serve me better than pretending to be a philistine obsessed with contact sports, which was my default school-survival position until that point. Don’t know what luck made me aware enough to listen to him, because being smart about myself was not a particularly strong characteristic of my teenage iteration, but I’m really happy I did.
Studied Literature at university in Scotland, worked at the BBC as a film editor, then went to USC Film School where I was seduced into screenwriting by another great teacher called Frank Daniel who was the Dean of the school at the time. I wrote my first book as an antidote to the development process in movies, which can be a bit spiritually sapping at times: I did it for my kids, mainly so they’d know I could tell them a story and not just spend all day writing stuff that never quite got made. (Or worse, in my case, sometimes did get made…)
Scan by Walter Jury and S.E. Fine (Putnam, May 1st, 2017)-Tate Archer is fed up. He’s fed up with what his dad puts him through day in and day out: learning multiple languages, higher math, on and on, with never any reason why he’s expected to be the perfect teen, the perfect man. He does know that his father has worked on weapons for the government, and his dad’s got a secret room full of (very dangerous) toys. One day, he and his girlfriend, Christina, discover a device that Tate hasn’t seen before. Tate, on a whim, takes it to school the next day, and that’s when everything pretty much goes to hell. He finds out that an alien race, called the H2, have actually lived among us for four centuries, and they want to get their hands on the device, but why? Soon, Tate’s father, Fred, and another man, Race Lavin, arrive at the school with the police in tow, and it’s immediately obvious that Fred and Race are not on the same team. Tate and Christina do manage to get away, but not before Fred is shot and killed. On their own, Tate and Christina have no choice but to head to Tate’s estranged mother, who will hopefully have some answers. She does have answers, in fact, and Tate learns that the struggle between humans and the H2 is worldwide, and much bigger than he could have imagined.
Love suspense? Want to win a copy of SUSPICION by Joseph Finder (out May 27th)? Courtesy of Riffle, we’ve got 4 copies up for grabs, so here’s your chance (US/Canada, ends May 27th)
In what seems like a stroke of brilliant luck, Danny meets Thomas Galvin, the father of his daughter’s new best friend, who also happens to be one of the wealthiest men in Boston. Galvin is aware of Danny’s situation and out of the blue offers a $50,000 loan to help Danny cover his daughter’s tuition. Uncomfortable but desperate, Danny takes the money, promising to pay Galvin back.
What transpires is something Danny never imagined. The moment the money is wired into his account, the DEA comes knocking on his door. Danny’s impossible choice: an indictment for accepting drug money that he can’t afford to fight in court, or an unthinkably treacherous undercover assignment helping the government get close to his new family friend.
As Danny begins to lie to everyone in his life, including those he loves most in the world, he must decide once and for all who the real enemy is or risk losing everything—and everyone—that matters to him.
An Untamed State (Grove Atlantic, May 6th, 2014)-During a visit to Haiti, the country of her parent’s birth, Mireille Jameson, her husband Michael, and young son Christophe, are just emerging from the gates of her parent’s estate, on their way to the beach for the day, when armed men surround them and take Mireille away. The kidnappers want a cool million dollars to return Mireille to her family. Should be easy, right? After all, her father, has made a fortune in construction, not only in the States, but in Haiti. Mireille tells herself that this will all be over soon and she will be back home. Her father, however, refuses to pay the ransom, triggering outrage from Michael and incredulity in Mireille that her father will not pay to get her out of the hell that she’s been thrust into. Mireille narrates most of the story, with asides from Michael’s point of view, and she makes it clear in the beginning that she’s held for 13 days. Doesn’t seem like very long, does it? Not to us, not to someone that’s never been held captive. However, to Mireille, it’s an eternity, and what happens to her at the hands of the men that hold her captive is unspeakable. Her father’s refusal to pay the ransom is infuriating and shocking. What father wouldn’t save his daughter if he had the means? Although he does have his “reasons”, which become clearer in the last half of the book, it does nothing to excuse him.
While An Untamed State reads, at times, like a thriller, it’s much more than that. Mireille’s narrative takes us from her ordeal to her childhood visits to Haiti with her family, discovering a country both beautiful and wild, and back to when she first met Michael and their unlikely, yet strangely charming courtship. Mireille’s intense love for Michael and Christophe is part of what drives her will to survive, while at the same time, she begins to emotionally deaden herself in order to endure the transgressions being committed against her physical body. Her descent into madness is near complete at the end of the 13 days, and her ordeal does not end when her tormentors release her. In fact, the second half of the novel is Mireille’s attempt to claw her way out of the dark and remember who she is, even if she can never go back to being who she was.
Please welcome Douglas Hulick to the blog! His new book, SWORN IN STEEL, will be out tomorrow, and he dropped by to chat about it. Also, courtesy of the nice folks at Ace/Roc, we’ve got a copy of SWORN IN STEEL up for grabs for one lucky winner, so be sure to check out those details.
It’s so awesome that SWORN AND STEEL hits the shelves tomorrow! Fans have been eagerly awaiting a sequel to AMONG THIEVES, so will you give us a teaser of what we can expect from Drothe this time around?
Well, if the first book had a mystery/thriller feel to it, SWORN is a bit more quest-y in nature. Not a Save-the-World kind of quest (Drothe can barely save himself some days), but more of a search-that-leads-to-redemption story. It also involves a bit of travel, which was fun because it gave me a chance to explore a couple new corners of the Tales of the Kin universe.
In SWORN IN STEEL, we open with Drothe having been framed for the murder of one of his fellow crime lords. With things falling apart around him and allies seemingly deserting at every turn, Drothe is forced to leave the empire and embark on a search for his estranged friend, Bronze Degan. This search takes him deep into the Despotate of Djan, where we get to see him operate without any kind of net. For someone who is used to relying on his connections among the Kin as Drothe is, this makes his job especially challenging.
Of course, there are sword fights, betrayals, plot-twists, and magic. But what I liked the most about this book was being able to explore the idea of obligation and what it means to be part of something greater than yourself, both through Drothe and the other characters.
I’m so thrilled to have a guest post by Elaine Viets on the blog today. I love the Dead-End Jobs Mystery series, and BOARD STIFF will be out in paperback tomorrow, as well as the newest book, CATNAPPED (Book 13). We’ve also got a giveaway of of BOARD STIFF (Book 12) to go along with Elaine’s post, so be sure to check out the details!
Scared Stiff for “Board Stiff”
By Elaine Viets
How about in nine feet of water?
For “Board Stiff,” my Dead-End Job Mystery, I learned to paddleboard in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I paddled for 45 minutes on the wide, flat board without falling down, the greatest athletic feat of my life.
Paddleboard ads show women in bikinis. Not me. I wore a T-shirt that went down to my knees. I would have worn an 1890s bathing suit, if I had one.
In “Board Stiff,” Sunny Jim Sundusky, who owns a beachside paddleboard concession, hires married PIs Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont to find out who’s trying to drive him out of business. The scare tactics turn murderous, and Helen and Phil have to hunt for a killer.
Helen’s paddleboard lesson was like mine:
The water “was a polished silver disc under a tender pink sky. Tree branches dipped gracefully into the silvery water. Helen could hear the rustling of pelicans settling in for the night. She followed Sunny Jim to the white sand crescent of beach at the foot of the trailer. A castaway’s beach, complete with broken shells and a coconut. Yellow boards floated in the shallow water near the shore, each with an orange life vest on its nose.
Jim took two black plastic paddles off the rack, and stood them up next to Helen. “The paddle should be about eight inches taller than you.”
Helen followed him into the lake. The sun-warmed water felt good on Helen’s bare legs and the white sandy lake bottom was toe-friendly.
Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez (Penguin)-When a rare film buff, Ludovic Sénéchal, sees an ad for a bunch of old films for sale, he’s ecstatic and can’t believe his luck. He finds one film that’s unmarked that particularly piques his interest, and it’s the first thing he watches as soon as he gets his stash home. He never could have imagined what would come after watching the movie, however, and ends up calling the first person he could hit on speed dial: his ex, Lucie Henebelle, a cop with an inquisitive mind, and luckily, fond memories of her time with Ludovic, even though they didn’t stay together. Ludovic has gone blind, and is insisting that it has something to do with the film he watched. He pleads with Lucie for help, and she vows to do it, even though she has a sick daughter in the hospital. Lucie herself watches the film and is left feeling disgusted and uneasy, and although the images on the film are disturbing, they don’t quite account for the deep feeling of unease that she’s left with after the viewing. Luckily, Ludovic has pointed her in the direction of another film buff that might be able to tell her more about the film, and she immediately follows up with him, as well as with the man that the film was originally purchased from. During her inquiries, she receives a mysterious phone call from a man asking about the film, and a case involving five bodies found at a construction site…
Meanwhile, Inspector Franck Sharko is investigating that very case: five bodies found buried at a construction site, their hands cut off, eyes taken, and tops of their skulls removed. Identifying the bodies will be tough, and the autopsy reveals some very odd details. Soon he’s contacted by Lucie and this is where their paths collide. Soon, the body count begins to climb with people connected with the case being killed in heinous, sadistic ways, and it will lead Lucie and Sharko into some very strange territory, and points to some people in very high places. Who was the man that made this strange film, and what does it have to do with the five bodies at the construction site? This case will take the investigation from France to Egypt, Canada, and beyond, as Lucie and Sharko attempt to get to the bottom of these horrible murders.
I’m thrilled to have Freda Warrington on the site for the first time, and today, she’s here to talk about the lovely reissue of A Dance in Blood Velvet (Titan Books), vampires, and much, much more (including the scoop on a brand new Blood Wine book)! Please welcome her to the blog!
The gorgeous reissue of the 2nd book in the Blood Wine Sequence, A DANCE IN BLOOD VELVET, just came out! Will you tell us little about it?
Aren’t the covers lovely? Wait until you see the third! Well, the first book, A Taste of Blood Wine, told the story of Charlotte and Karl, a tale of forbidden love between human and vampire, which first I wrote in the 80s and 90s, long before such romances became a staple of vampire fiction. It’s a story complete in itself – never occurred to me to stretch the “will-they-won’t-they” over several books! – so I didn’t know there was going to be a sequel…
Then a character appeared in my head one day, a beautiful ice queen with pale skin and jet black hair. I knew she was a ballet dancer named Violette, and that she had some connection to the goddess Lilith. I couldn’t stop wondering about her and the next thing I knew, I was writing A Dance in Blood Velvet… In brief, things are fine between Karl and Charlotte until Karl’s old flame Katerina reappears on the scene, determined to reclaim her old life – and Karl. In despair, Charlotte becomes obsessed with the dancer Violette Lenoir, little guessing that her connection with Lilith is going to precipitate chaos. In addition there are two feuding occultists – the story’s set in the 1920s, when such figures as Aleister Crowley were notorious – who think they can use the vampires to their own advantage. It’s quite a complex, interwoven story full of passion and jealousy, blood-letting and moral dilemmas.
Each of the three (soon to be four) books tells a separate story, with the same core characters. And there’s a lot more going on in the narrative than the sex and blood lust!
A Dance in Blood Velvet is the book I’ve had the most plaintive emails about, because it originally went out of print and became very hard to find, a collector’s item. So do grab the brand new version now it’s available again – it’s been a long wait, so I’d like to thank my readers for their patience.
I recently covered the superb anthology, THE NEW BLACK, and its editor, Richard Thomas, has helped me out with some interviews with a few of the authors (I asked the same 5 questions of everyone, to keep things neat), and also a handful of excerpts. I thought it would be fun to put some faces to the stories, and hopefully help you discover some new authors. So, since I’ll be sprinkling them throughout the month, I suppose May will officially be The New Black Month at My Bookish Ways. I interviewed Richard last week, and today I’ve got an interview with Kyle Minor, author of “The Truth In All Its Ugly”. Please welcome him to the blog!
Will you tell us a bit about “The Truth and All Its Ugly,” your story in The New Black, and what inspired you to write it?
Pinckney Benedict asked me to write a robot story for Surreal South, an anthology he was editing. I didn’t have robots on the brain, and I’d never written or thought about writing a robot story, although I did know about one masterpiece of a robot story, by Ryan Harty, titled “Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down.” That story has within it echoes of Pinocchio, and I thought I’d like my story to have within it echoes of Pinocchio. But that’s not what happened. I started writing in an old farmhouse in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest, probably five hundred feet from where my nephew had killed himself with a shotgun, and that’s all that was in my head, and that’s all that came out on the page. This was a macabre lesson: Your preoccupations follow you everywhere, even into robot stories.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I didn’t read any literature until I was about 24. I once avoided dating a girl I liked, in college, because she was going to be a writer, and I thought that wasn’t a life to share with a person like me.
It’s time for your weekly TBR buster! All of these titles are under $5 for Kindle, and all are SFF/Horror (with a few that straddle genre lines). I also threw a few YA titles in there. Do be sure to double check the price before you click BUY since I can only guarantee these prices as of today (5/2/14) Happy Friday!