Interview with JUSTIN CALL

CallJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Justin Call?

Justin Call – creator, storyteller, teacher, and analyst.

Actually, I’m not an analyst, but I spend more time analyzing things in a typical day than most analysts probably do in a week. I can’t help it. I analyze people, places, stories, games, social situations, and anything else that strikes my fancy. As a professional, I also write books, design and publish board games, and teach English to kids in China. I’m also a stay-at-home dad, and juggling the aforementioned jobs while watching my kiddos can be difficult (but rewarding).

Your debut novel, Master of Sorrows, is due to be published by Gollancz in February 2019. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It is interesting. Master of Sorrows is the first book in a tetralogy called The Silent Gods. The premise of the series is best phrased in the form of a rhetorical question (which, incidentally, is how I usually pitch the book to folks): ‘What if the prophesied hero were actually the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world… or destroy it?’ If readers think long enough about that question, they’ll discover a lot of interesting themes that keep reappearing in the series such as ‘the nature of evil’ and the concept of the ‘monstrous other.’ Continue reading

Quick Review: THE NIGHT AGENT by Matthew Quirk (William Morrow)

QuirkM-NightAgentUSA fast-paced, gripping political conspiracy thriller

To find a Russian mole in the White House, an FBI agent must question everything… and trust no one

No one was more surprised than FBI Agent Peter Sutherland when he’s tapped to work in the White House Situation Room. From his earliest days as a surveillance specialist, Peter has scrupulously done everything by the book, hoping his record will help him escape the taint of his past. When Peter was a boy, his father, a section chief in FBI counterintelligence, was suspected of selling secrets to the Russians — a catastrophic breach that had cost him his career, his reputation, and eventually his life.

Peter knows intimately how one broken rule can cost lives. Nowhere is he more vigilant than in this room, the sanctum of America’s secrets. Staffing the night action desk, his job is monitoring an emergency line for a call that has not — and might never — come.

Until tonight.

At 1:05 a.m. the phone rings. A terrified young woman named Rose tells Peter that her aunt and uncle have just been murdered and that the killer is still in the house with her. Before their deaths, they gave her this phone number with urgent instructions: “Tell them OSPREY was right. It’s happening…”

The call thrusts Peter into the heart of a conspiracy years in the making, involving a Russian mole at the highest levels of the government. Anyone in the White House could be the traitor. Anyone could be corrupted. To save the nation, Peter must take the rules into his own hands and do the right thing, no matter the cost. He plunges into a desperate hunt for the traitor — a treacherous odyssey that pits him and Rose against some of Russia’s most skilled and ruthless operatives and the full force of the FBI itself.

Peter knows that the wider a secret is broadcast, the more dangerous it gets for the people at the center. With the fate of the country on the line, he and Rose must evade seasoned assassins and maneuver past jolting betrayals to find the shocking truth — and stop the threat from inside before it’s too late.

That surprisingly long synopsis does set up the plot for Matthew Quirk’s latest fast-paced thriller rather well. Peter Sutherland is languishing in the basement of the White House, working for two prominent administration staffers, in a strange, important-yet-unexciting job. Then, with a single phone call, his job and life is thrown completely out of whack. What follows is 400~ pages of breakneck paced thriller action and conspiracy. This is an entertaining, well-written thriller. Continue reading

Upcoming: DRACHENFELS and GENEVIEVE UNDEAD by Kim Newman (Black Library)

newmank-g1-drachenfelsLater this year, Black Library is due to re-issue (for the second time) two classic novels set in the Warhammer world (pre-Age of Sigmar): Drachenfels and Genevieve Undead by Kim Newman. Originally published under the pseudonym Jack Yeovil, I read and thoroughly enjoyed both of these novels back in the 1990s. The new covers are fantastic, and I just wanted to share them on CR. If you’re a fan of the setting, as well as a bit of horror, then these should appeal.

DRACHENFELS (April 18th)

Detlef Sierck, the self-proclaimed greatest playwright in the world, has declared that his next production will be a recreation of the end of the Great Enchanter, Constant Drachenfels – to be staged at the very site of his death, the fortress of Drachenfels itself. But the castle’s dark walls still hide a terrible and deadly secret which may make the first night of Detlef’s masterpiece the last of his life.

newmank-g2-genevieveundeadGENEVIEVE UNDEAD (May 16th)

After her return from Drachenfels, Genevieve Dieudonne, the vampire femme fatale, embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery in which she must face monsters and magicians, intrigue and evil. Her journey takes her from the depths of an old theater to an accursed mansion under a deadly gothic spell, and finally to the hunt of a savage unicorn mare through haunted forests.

The final two books in the Genevieve series — Beasts in Velvet and Silver Nails — are also due to be re-issued later this year, in July. If you missed them before, then I would highly recommend you pop them on your to-buy list.

I was very lucky to meet Mr. Newman at WFC in Brighton, and he was kind enough to sign a battered copy of Drachenfels. I’m really looking forward to re-reading this excellent horror-fantasy series.

Kim Newman is also the author of (among others) the Anno Dracula and Drearcliff Grange series, both published by Titan Books.

Also on CR: Excerpt from One Thousand Monsters

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: TRIGGER by David Swinson (Mulholland)

SwinsonD-FM3-TriggerUSThe third novel in the excellent Frank Marr crime series

Frank Marr was a good cop, until his burgeoning addictions to alcohol and cocaine forced him into retirement from the D.C. Metro police. Now, he’s barely eking out a living as a private investigator for a defense attorney — also Frank’s ex-girlfriend.

Ostracized by his family after a botched case that led to the death of his baby cousin, Jeffrey, Frank was on a collision course with rock bottom. Now clean and clinging hard to sobriety, Frank passes the time — and tests himself — by robbing the houses of local dealers, taking their cash and flushing their drugs down the toilet. When an old friend from his police days needs Frank’s help to prove he didn’t shoot an unarmed civilian, Frank is drawn back into the world of dirty cops and suspicious drug busts, running in the same circles that enabled his addiction those years ago.

Never one to play by the rules, Frank recruits a young man he nearly executed years before. Together — a good man trying not to go bad and a bad man trying to do good — detective and criminal charge headfirst into the D.C. drug wars. Neither may make it out.

Frank Marr is a private investigator who is trying to do good, while simultaneously battling his various (multiple) demons. The first two novels in David Swinson’s series — The Second Girl and Crime Song — were fantastic, and I blitzed through them back-to-back. Gripping, sharply written and populated with excellent characters, they are among the best novels I’ve read in years. As a result, Trigger was one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’m happy to report that it is another excellent crime novel, and did not disappoint. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON by Mallory O’Meara (Hanover Square Press)

OMearaM-LadyFromTheBlackLagoonUSUncovering the overlooked, oft-dismissed contribution of Milicent Patrick to the development of horror cinema

The Lady from the Black Lagoon uncovers the life and work of Milicent Patrick — one of Disney’s first female animators and the only woman in history to create one of Hollywood’s classic movie monsters

As a teenager, Mallory O’Meara was thrilled to discover that one of her favorite movies, Creature from the Black Lagoon, featured a monster designed by a woman, Milicent Patrick. But for someone who should have been hailed as a pioneer in the genre, there was little information available. For, as O’Meara soon discovered, Patrick’s contribution had been claimed by a jealous male colleague, her career had been cut short and she soon after had disappeared from film history. No one even knew if she was still alive.

As a young woman working in the horror film industry, O’Meara set out to right the wrong, and in the process discovered the full, fascinating story of an ambitious, artistic woman ahead of her time. Patrick’s contribution to special effects proved to be just the latest chapter in a remarkable, unconventional life, from her youth growing up in the shadow of Hearst Castle, to her career as one of Disney’s first female animators. And at last, O’Meara discovered what really had happened to Patrick after The Creature’s success, and where she went.

A true-life detective story and a celebration of a forgotten feminist trailblazer, Mallory O’Meara’s The Lady from the Black Lagoon establishes Patrick in her rightful place in film history while calling out a Hollywood culture where little has changed since.

In The Lady From the Black Lagoon, debut author Mallory O’Meara gives us an interesting and illuminating look not only at the life of a pioneering female artist, but also a glimpse into the early years of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. A must read for cinephiles, horror fans and also pretty much anyone who likes narrative non-fiction. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Interview with GARETH HANRAHAN

HanrahanG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Gareth Hanrahan?

I’m still pretty vague on that question, to be honest. I appear to be a writer and game designer living in Ireland. A preponderance of evidence suggests I’m married with twin sons, and I have it on good authority that I’m tall with somewhat absurd legs. I hope to have a more final answer to the question “who is Gareth Hanrahan” at some point, but ideally not for another forty or fifty years.

Your new novel, The Gutter Prayer, will be published by Orbit early next year. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s a fantasy thriller set in a quasi-Victorian city, a mostly godless city of thieves and alchemists. Three such thieves are betrayed by their former boss and seek revenge using newfound occult powers; along the way, they discover the secret history of the city and their importance in a much larger play for power. It’s full of alchemy, monstrous weirdness, intrigue, architecture and stabbings.

It’s part of a series called The Black Iron Legacy, but the story’s very self-contained. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE GUTTER PRAYER by Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit)

HanrahanG-1-GutterPrayerOne of the most talked-about debuts of 2019

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

Enter a city of saints and thieves…

The city of Guerdon stands eternal. A refuge from the war that rages beyond its borders. But in the ancient tunnels deep beneath its streets, a malevolent power has begun to stir.

The fate of the city rests in the hands of three thieves. They alone stand against the coming darkness. As conspiracies unfold and secrets are revealed, their friendship will be tested to the limit. If they fail, all will be lost, and the streets of Guerdon will run with blood.

The Gutter Prayer has been showered with praise pre-publication. After reading it, I can certainly see why: it is one of the most inventive new fantasies I’ve read in a while. The novel is packed full of ideas, multiple unique and innovative twists on popular fantasy elements, and an overall interesting and action-packed story. There’s a lot to like in here, and I’m sure many readers will love this novel. Continue reading