My Bookish Ways

Nyctophobia by Christopher Fowler

nyctophobiaNyctophobia by Christopher Fowler (Solaris, Oct. 2014)-Christopher Fowler is a very versatile author. He’s well known for his Bryant and May mystery series, and he can do noir with the best of them. But, he’s also known for horror, but he’s not pinned into only one style of horror either. He can do subtle, he can do not-so-subtle (Hell Train), but Nyctophobia falls firmly between those two states, and it works perfectly.

When English rose Callie meets the much older Mateo, she’s smitten, and when they discover a beautiful, and very unique, house in the Spanish countryside (complete with a quaint, tiny village nearby), she’s thrilled. She’s a trained architect, and Hyperion House offers much to get her architectural gears going. It’s built into the side of a cliff, and is constructed to maximize the amount of sunlight in the house at all times, except for the part of the house built into the cliff. It seems like a miniature version of the main house, but is completely in darkness. The housekeeper, whose family has kept house for more than a few of Hyperion’s inhabitants (and insists that Hyperion is a happy house), also seems to be hoarding the keys. Mysterious rooms aside, Callie has to admit she’s very content in the house, even if Mateo is gone quite a bit on business, and she has his 9 year old daughter Bobbie to keep her company much of the time. With those dark, dusty rooms looming in the background, however, their sunny happiness is always entwined with a subtle sense of menace. But all subtlety disappears when Callie gets her hands on those keys, and begins her explorations of the dark rooms. This is where Fowler heads into just-plain-scary-sh*t territory.

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December 2014 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for December! Enjoy!

moriartyMoriarty by Anthony Horowitz (Harper-Dec. 9th)

Synopsis-The game is once again afoot in this thrilling mystery from the bestselling author of The House of Silk, sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, which explores what really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty tumbled to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls.

Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of detective Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty—dubbed the Napoleon of crime” by Holmes—in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after the encounter at the Swiss waterfall, Pinkerton detective agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. Moriarty’s death has left an immediate, poisonous vacuum in the criminal underworld, and there is no shortage of candidates to take his place—including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase and Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction originally introduced by Conan Doyle in “The Sign of Four”, must forge a path through the darkest corners of England’s capital—from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the London Docks—in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty’s successor.

A riveting, deeply atmospheric tale of murder and menace from one of the only writers to earn the seal of approval from Conan Doyle’s estate, Moriarty breathes life into Holmes’s dark and fascinating world.
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Interview: Erik Williams, author of Demon

Please welcome Erik Williams to the blog! His brand new book, Demon, just came out and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about it!

demonWill you tell us more about Demon and why you wrote it?
Demon started with a very basic idea: a badass demon escapes its prison and causes havoc wherever it goes. The original intention was to have it start at sea, where the demon has already possessed someone and is floating adrift in a life boat that gets picked up by a Navy ship. Then I got to thinking, how’d it get out in the middle of the ocean? So I came up with the idea that somehow it had made it onto an oiler sailing out of the Persian Gulf. But how’d it get on the oiler? So I went back further and finally said, “Well, buddy, you need to start at its prison and how it got out.” I guess I wrote it because if I didn’t, I would have eventually gone all the way back to the moment of creation when the demon was first hatched into existence, in which case I’d probably still be writing it.

You are a Defense Contractor with a Naval background, but have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a little more about that progression?
Yes, I’ve always wanted to write. Or draw. Or paint. I’ve been an artistic guy all my life, although I don’t fit the artistic stereotype (i.e., I’m not unorganized, I don’t believe in suffering for art, I’m not easily distracted, I have pretty much zero spontaneity, and I always have to have things planned out). I used to talk my teachers into letting me write something fictitious for a project (as opposed, to say, a boring essay). In high school, I wrote a terrible novel. In college, I wrote a couple of okay screenplays and some meh short stories.

While in the Navy I wrote another novel that was light years beyond the first but still not so great. Once I got out back 2005, and while I was looking for a job, I figured I’d finally sit down and try to write professionally.

Since then, I’ve sold a bunch of short stories and novellas to small press markets, along with a couple of novels. I also recently had a screenplay optioned. Not too bad for nine years of work.

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Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

wakeningthecrowWakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory- Oliver Gooch has a wife named Rosie and a young daughter named Chloe. He used to work in the mobile library, but that closed, so he’s opened a bookshop in the converted church where they live, in a suburb of Nottingham (Robin Hood statue and all), called Poe’s Tooth Books. Rosie works at a school during the day and Oliver and Chloe happily putter around their newborn bookstore, a fire crackling in the hearth, keeping the bitter cold outside at bay. Every now and then, if Oliver is feeling restless, he takes his quiet, perennially smiling daughter out on their boat, The Gay Lady, to explore the icy waters that run under the city.

That sounds rather quaint, and it is, except for a few unusual things about their arrangement. The church (which they actually share with a next door tenant), and Oliver’s relative career freedom, was bought with settlement money from an accident that left Chloe brain damaged. Rosie longs for the belligerent, sometimes shockingly mean, mouthy little girl that Chloe once was while Oliver makes quite clear to readers (but certainly not Rosie) that he loves the quiet, angelic Chloe that she is now, and is terrified of the return of the girl she once was. He’s easily able to recognize this, but it’s also something that’s caused him no small amount of guilt.

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Interview: Ilona Andrews, author of Burn for Me

ilonaandrewsPlease welcome Ilona Andrews (aka the writing duo of Ilona and Gordon) to the blog! They kindly answered a few questions about their brand new series, starting with BURN FOR ME, and much more!

Congratulations on the new book! What inspired you to write Burn for Me, and also to launch a whole new series?
I think we wanted to do a PNR set in a world very much like our own. I believe also that it grew out of earlier stories like the Edge or even the Kinsman series. We are fascinated by the idea of magic and technology existing together, sometimes struggling for supremacy like in the Kate books, or in the case of the Hidden Legacy series, co-existing so seamlessly that most people take for granted that they use both in their daily lives. For instance, Nevada playing Angry Birds on her cell phone while using her magic on the husband of a client. Yes, that and Avon offered to give us money if we wrote it. The severity of Ilona’s yarn addiction is matched only by my own affinity for collecting action figures and comics and so we needed the dough. Not sure if I’m allowed to say that but there it is, the ugly truth.

Why do you think readers will fall for Connor and Nevada? What did you enjoy must about writing their story?
I don’t know if they will but I hope they do. We tried to make them likable. Nevada is very strong, maybe not as much physically, but she’s mentally tough and very honest. She has a lot of responsibility and takes her job very seriously. She considers herself an agent of the law and is very diligent about doing the right thing. Connor is perhaps less so. He is powerful but deeply flawed in some ways. He is the head of a House but has no family to speak of. He has chosen instead to surround himself with ex-military types whose loyalty to him boarders on devotion. The law is more abstract to him. Ilona put it best I think when she said that Nevada is a Paladin and Rogan is a dragon. Forcing them to work together, playing them off of each other was probably the best part of writing the story.

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A chat with Lincoln Child about Blue Labyrinth, what’s next for Pendergast, and more!

lincanddougI’m a huge, HUGE fan of the Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (that’s him on the right), and Lincoln was kind enough to stop by and chat a bit about the newest installment, Blue Labyrinth (out tomorrow), and more! Please give him a warm welcome!

Blue Labyrinth, the 14th book in the Pendergast series, just came out, and I can’t wait to dive in! Pendergast is one of my favorite literary characters, and 14 books in, the series is still going strong. How do you keep the series fresh this many books in?
Thank you!

Having two authors at work helps. We’ve managed to build up such a rich universe around Pendergast, both in terms of his acquaintances and his own backstory, that when it comes times to plot a new novel, we’re spoiled for choice. Of course, we’re very careful nevertheless to choose the best ideas we can come up with.

What can we expect from this installment? How do you think Pendergast has changed the most since the first book?

bluelabyrinthIn many ways Blue Labyrinth is the capstone of all that has come before. We reach back all the way to Relic in order to tell this story. (We’re told no previous experience with Pendergast is necessary to enjoy the book, though.)

Over the series I think Pendergast has become more human. He’s less remote, more vulnerable—and hence, we hope, more realistic.

Did you do any particular research for Blue Labyrinth?
Yes, but to go into detail would probably give away too many spoilers!

How does your collaboration work? Will you give us a bit of an idea of your writing process, and how it has evolved over the years?
We brainstorm a long series of upcoming chapters. Then we take turns writing the chapters and revising those written by the other. These days we each tend to “champion” certain characters, or sequences, or even a particular storyline. That way we can each focus on a different thread of the novel, keep things as seamless as possible.

When did you realize you had a hit on your hands with the Pendergast series?
I think it was with Cabinet of Curiosities. We got great feedback from booksellers. Things really came together on that story, and the book seemed to generate a lot of buzz.

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We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

weareallcompletelyfineWe Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory (Tachyon, August 2014)-Dr. Jan Sayer has gathered together a very interesting bunch for her new group therapy session. There’s Harrison, an aging Monster Hunter, and Barbara, who is still struggling through life, and the trappings of a family, 20 years after the Scrimshander carved his handiwork on her bones. There’s Stan, who is missing limbs because of his ordeal with the cannibalistic Weaver family so many years ago, and Martin, who wears VR goggles that, to him, reveal the presence of shadowy lurkers (which they call “dwellers”) that not only haunt the streets but nearly every aspect of his life. And then there is Greta, covered with scars, and the quietest and most enigmatic of the bunch. Martin is convinced there’s something definitely “off” about Greta…and there is, but it’s not quite what he thinks.

The story unfolds, at the beginning, like any group therapy session would, with the telling of each individual’s story, in fits and starts, until the reader gets a pretty good idea of where everyone is coming from, at least you’ll think you do. Each story is fascinating, and certainly terrifying, but it’s all building toward Greta, whose story has never really ended, and when she finally reveals it, it’s a punch in the gut in its insidiousness, and also its potential for wide scale disaster. It’s disaster that the group will eventually attempt to avert, and watching them come together to do it is a joy to behold. I fell in love with each of these damaged people, and as fragile as they are, they’re equally heroic, and the strength they’ve found in order to keep living after such trauma is haunting, and oddly inspiring.

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A chat with Caitlin Sweet, author of The Door in the Mountain

Caitlin SweetPlease welcome Caitlin Sweet to the blog! She kindly stopped by to talk about her new fantasy, THE DOOR IN THE MOUNTAIN (ChiTeen), and much more!

Caitlin, will you tell us a little bit about your new book The Door in the Mountain, and what inspired you to write it?
I’ve loved Greek mythology since I was about five years old, when my father would tell me bedtime stories that starred a dazzling array of mortals, gods and goddesses, monsters: Perseus and Medusa; Zeus and Hera (and Europa and Leda and Ganymede and so many more); Persephone and Hades; Ariadne and the Minotaur…

In 2009, after I’d finished the first draft of my third book, The Pattern Scars, I panicked. Unlike many other lucky writers out there, I find story ideas incredibly difficult to come up with—so I spent months desperately combing through old writing notebooks. Years and years before, I’d tried to write a book set in the Bronze Age Mediterranean. I’d done all sorts of research about mainland Greece and Crete, Egypt and Anatolia (see my answer to question 3 for more on this)…but nothing came of it. Looking back, though, the world I’d tried to create still felt appealing. I was far enough away from my original concept that I could re-imagine it, think of the big picture, rather than the details that had tripped me up before. This brought me back to the myths my dad had told me, and I thought, “Okay, so it’s Greece…it’s some combination of mythology and history and fantasy…it’s…the Minotaur as a shape-shifting boy? There’ll be a girl, too—it’ll be Beauty and the Beast via Minoan Crete…??” (My actual notes look a lot like this.)

thedoorinthemountainAnd that’s pretty much what The Door in the Mountain turned out to be. What I didn’t expect was that it would end up being a story I’d tell in two books—but the lead-up to Theseus’s arrival ended up taking me far more words to describe than I’d imagined it would. And I’m glad about this. I realize that some readers will be impatient with the first book because it doesn’t include the well-known events of the myth, but I hope they’ll bear with me, and appreciate my take on the story behind these events.

Why do you think readers will connect with Ariadne? What did you enjoy most about writing her character?
I’m not sure all readers will connect with Ariadne! I started out thinking she was going to be the Ariadne of most versions of the myth: a young, beautiful, innocent princess who helped Theseus with his Minotaur-slaying mission, only to be unceremoniously dumped on the first island they came to after their escape from Crete. But once I’d written a couple of chapters, I got stuck. Ariadne was just too young, beautiful, and innocent to propel the kind of story I wanted to tell. There was nothing for it: I had to turn her into a horrible, scheming, bitchy character. But she didn’t end up being only that. I tried to work in some reasons for her horribleness, and I tried to have her show a teensy bit of remorse, on a couple of occasions. I think it’s these motivations and moments that might allow readers to get into her head and understand her, even if they absolutely can’t like her.

As for what I enjoyed most about writing her: all of the above. Unambiguously good characters can be extremely boring to write, as can unambiguously bad ones. Complexity’s much more fun—so Ariadne was a joy!

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A huge round up of ebook deals under $5 to blow up your TBR list!

Here it is, your weekly round up of awesome. A veritable cornucopia of awesome, in fact: suspense, SFF, horror, young adult…the list goes on, and they’re all $5 and under. As always, doublecheck before you click the Buy button, because sometimes the deals don’t last, and if Kindle isn’t your reading platform of choice, be sure to check elsewhere, since the discounts are sometimes universal!

For noir fans: Akashic has marked pretty much all of their Noir series down to $2.99. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get all of them, but I did my best, so be sure to explore. There are a TON of them.


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Interview: Matt Manochio, author of The Dark Servant

mattmanochioJust in time for the holidays,THE DARK SERVANT, Matt Manochio’s chillfest, featuring Krampus, is out, and he kindly stopped by to answer a few questions about the new book, and more! Please give him a warm welcome.

Also, at the tour page for the book, you can check out his other stops and there are a few awesome giveaways going on, too!

Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us a little more about The Dark Servant and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you for asking. The Dark Servant focuses on a European folk-legend named Krampus. Back in the day in Austria, Saint Nicholas (yes, Santa Claus) rewarded the good children with gifts. He farmed out the bad ones to Krampus, a huge, chain-wielding devil that kidnaps and punishes the naughty. I had never heard of this creature until a couple of years ago and loved the concept. There’s little commercially published Krampus fiction on the market (compared to numerous non-scary teenage vampires, and ridiculously hunky werewolves from the Pacific Northwest) and I saw an opening. Many in the horror community know Krampus, but not so much the general reading public. I’ve asked numerous people whether they’ve heard of Krampus, and the overwhelming answer is “no.” I hope to change that. My Krampus invades a rural New Jersey town and goes after its high school bullies. My protagonist, Billy, realizes this thing kidnapped his brother (a golden boy) and attempts to rescue him, while trying to understand what brought Krampus to town in the first place.

What made you decide to make your protagonist, Billy, so young?
Krampus, like Saint Nick, deals with children, so it made sense to make my protagonists (and antagonists) teenagers. While the novel is written for adults, I believe it has high school-aged crossover appeal.

DarkServant_The_v4 (2)I love the idea of a novel about Krampus (just in time for the holidays too!) What kind of research did you do for the book?
Internet research: great websites like helped shape my understanding of the legend. There was a wonderful New York Times story from the 1940s about fascist Austria banning Krampus for inane reasons—I worked that into the book. Good times.

Did you begin writing The Dark Servant already knowing what was going to happen?
Great question. At first, no. In general, I get a rough idea in my head about how I think a book should end, and then I write. I don’t outline. To me the fun is sitting in front of the screen and letting the words fly. As I go along the story starts to take shape and the ending solidifies.

You have a degree in journalism (and history), and spent 12 years as a journalist, but have you always wanted to write a novel? Will you tell us a little about that progression?
Yes. I think every journalist has a book in them, and my first one began taking shape in 2007. I wrote a straight crime thriller and sold it to a now-defunct publisher in 2010. I was never paid my advance and withdrew the manuscript. As frustrating as that was (it sucked) it proved to me that I could produce something that could commercially sell. And I kept at it—to the point where I got the idea to write The Dark Servant in 2012 and turned it around in very short time (five months), sent it to my editor and got an offer in May 2013. Being a municipal reporter, you understand how government, the police, and the court system all work (nothing like on television), and I tried to bring that level of reality to my book. But for the fictional horned monster that kidnaps bad children, the book is steeped in reality.

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