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Interview: On Writing Dark Obsession, Chatting with Author Latashia Figueroa #HookonWiHM #WIHM #Horror

Today I welcome Latashia Figueroa to the site! This amazing lady is always a breath of fresh air and positivity, so laid back –  until she’s slaying on the page! Maybe you’ve enjoyed her dark tale of obsession, Ivy’s Envy? The second in the Want & Decay series, Thomas’s Want, will be published soon.

In full disclosure, I’m working as Latashia’s editor and I love assisting her in this regard – just recently adding her to my client list as I’m editing Thomas’s Want. I can’t help but want everyone to know about her if they don’t already. She’s a great woman to round out my women in horror month tenth anniversary spots I’ve been featuring for February. I hope you enjoy learning about her as much as I did – if you like suspenseful horror, you’ll surely get along with Latashia!

Latashia

Hi Latashia, and welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so happy you’ve joined us. I should let everyone in on the fact that I’m your editor, but it doesn’t make me bias at all when I say I enjoy your work! I love how you bring suspense to your dark thrillers and horror – page turners! Come in and we’ll have drinks and a few snacks and settle in for a chat. What’s your drinking pleasure?

Latashia: Hi Erin, thanks so much for inviting me. I’m an IPA girl. Dog Fish Head or Two Hearted Ale would be nice. Thanks!

Erin: Two Hearted Ale it is! Seems legit to wrap-up February, though it has more to do with the river I think — that’s okay, I love the water too! I’m not an IPA girl myself, luckily I can make any drink magically appear! Ha! For me, I’ll go to my stand-by of rum and coke. 

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Cheers!

Let’s get started! You used to work in NYC fashion scene, so what drew you back to writing?

Latashia: Yes, I worked in NYC for years and lived there for a few years as well. I’m actually right across the river now, and I am always in the city. I consider NY my second home. But, back to your question. The NYC Fashion scene was exciting, but grueling, and often, unrewarding. When the company I worked for downsized, instead of heading back to find another job in fashion, I decided to follow my passion. I know, very cliche. I’ve been writing since I was a child. My mom reminded me of this. Yes, I knew I would not be making the money I made in fashion, but the dream is more important. My husband, thankfully, encouraged me as well.

Erin: Give me the scoop, did you meet characters in NYC that you secretly place in your books?

Latashia: Haha, no,not at all. My characters are strictly from my imagination. I did have a young muse for one of my stories. A beautiful little girl who I adore. Her eyes, lovely and haunting. She never got upset when she was disciplined, she just stared at you with those eyes. I would wonder, “What is she thinking? What’s behind those eyes?” That’s how my story Wrapped in Small Flesh and Bone, one of the stories in my short collection, This Way Darkness, was born.

Erin: Where do you get the inspiration from for your books and stories?

Latashia: Strictly from my head. A scenario will just pop in my mind and if I can’t get rid of it, that means the story wants to be heard. I simply oblige by writing it down.

Erin: That happens to me too – all the time! Ha! Your books Ivy’s Envy, and the upcoming Thomas’s Want, are derived from the darkness of obsession. Tell us about them in your own words.

Latashia: Sometimes, obsession can be mistaken for love. It is not the same thing, though people have convinced themselves that it is. Obsession is a dangerous thing, and the stories never end well. The Want & Decay stories follow the entangled lives of three people tormented by lust, jealousy, madness, and murder. Ivy’s Envy is the first installment, Thomas’s Want is the second, and Deana’s Decay will be the last.

ThomassWantFromLH

Recently revealed on Instagram – Cover Reveal for Thomas’s Want! Cover work by Lynne Hansen.

Erin: I believe you also have a short story collection, This Way Darkness? What are those stories like?

Latashia: Yes, This Way Darkness is my first debut short horror collection, and I am very proud of it. The stories are much more horror driven.

Erin: Do you feel that horror reaches into the everyday life often these days, tilting more of the thriller and suspense novels to the dark side?

Latashia: You know, horror is a genre that can be crossed with many genres. Romance, suspense, and especially thrillers. I think horror makes stories more exciting. I am not a reader or watcher of
romance (sorry guys). But add horror or thriller element to the story and I’m in.

Erin: Do you enjoy looking at the human psyche and pulling out characters and stories? I know I enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing psychology into my works.

Latashia: Yes, absolutely. The human mind is interesting and very fragile. It doesn’t take much to push someone over the edge of what we perceive as normal. I think humans are much scarier than any monster that can be thought up. And honestly, when I turn off my light at night, I’m not scared of what creature is lurking under my bed. I’m thinking about the neighbor I got off the elevator with who gives me a smile and a “have a good night,” before he slowly closes his door.

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Erin: Yikes! Haha! Yes, I agree. What are some of your favorite horror novels and movies? And why?

Latashia: Oh, wow. That’s quite a list, Erin. Here’s just a few:

Rosemary’s Baby, both the novel and the movie. Ira Irvin’s tale of Manhattan witches, and Roman Polanski’s screen adaptation, are just sensationally creepy. And it’s done without the blood and gore that horror is known for. The story is subtle and steady with a double-edged climax. *Spoiler Alert!!* Not only has Rosemary Woodhouse been right all along in her belief that her neighbors are witches and her husband has helped orchestrate the unholy contract for his own personal gain, but in the end, Rosemary is committed to becoming a mother to what she has brought into this world. *End Spoiler*

Rosemary's Baby

Burnt Offerings, by Robert Marasco. The book and the made for tv movie is a favorite of mine. A slow burn with great atmospheric tension about a house that slowly comes alive at the cost of the summer renters.

Pet Semetary by the King himself.

Halloween, by John Carpenter. This movie will always be a favorite of mine. Michael Myers represents so much. “The shape,” as he was called in the script, is a terror that stalks you and no matter how much you try to run, try to escape, he/it is there. Relentless in his pursuit of you. Terrifying.

Erin: Who are some fellow Women in Horror you admire or like the works of? What books have you enjoyed?

Latashia: I enjoy Linda Addison, Tananarive Due, Anne Rice, Shirley Jackson. I have taken a real interest in women screenwriters and directors as well. Jennifer Kent, screenwriter/director of The Babadook and Karyn Kusama director of The Invitation and Destroyer.

The-Invitation-Karyn-Kusama

Karyn Kusama on set of The Invitation

Erin: I loved The Invitation! How about overall books and movies (not just horror) you have enjoyed? Any gender or genre.

Writers: I like Liane Moriarty, A.J. Finn, Ruth Ware, B.A. Paris, Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (they make a good writing team). I also enjoy reading stories from my friend John F.D. Taff.

Movies? There are so many. I really enjoy the classics: All About Eve, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? ANYTHING Alfred Hitchcock. I really enjoy movies by M. Night Shyamalan; I feel critics give him a hard time. He’s original and imaginative. My new favorite, Jordan Peele, he understands horror. No one can dispute how terrifying and original Get Out is. I’m looking forward to his upcoming movie, Us. Mr. Peele is also rebooting Rod Serling’s classic The Twilight Zone … Yaaaay! I’m also into binge worthy series as well: True Detective, Ozark, and Sneaky Pete. I adored Killing Eve, looking forward to season 2.

Erin: Wow, we have a lot of things we like to read and watch in common! This could have easily been a good portion of my own list. I am really excited to see what Peele does with The Twilight Zone re-make on CBS.

With all women out there have to do, how do you fit writing into your life? Do you have a plan or structure?

Latashia: I freelance occasionally, my schedule is unpredictable. But, I try to just get up and write. If I’m not in front of my laptop, I carry a notebook around. I could be having lunch with a friend or dinner with my husband and I’ll just stop and write a sentence or a paragraph. It has to get written down or else, it’s gone and I’m cursing myself for not capturing it.

No, I do not plan or structure, I just write.

Erin: Me either. So many I talk to do outlines and have writing times and plans. I write when it strikes me, just as you said, whether it’s at dinner or in the car. It’s really the only way to fit it in. You know, exactly how you said with our jobs, unpredictable. But I am trying hard to make progress at my age with some planning. Haha!

This Way Darkness

Have you had any challenges as far as being a female writer? What and how did you overcome them? Or do you feel that women have challenges overall – what is your advice?

Latashia: I feel like I had more challenges in the corporate world than I do in the writing community. There will always be challenges. All you can do is put your best work forward, your best voice.

Erin: I feel some of that too, especially in the small town I’m living in. What’s next for you in the next year or two? What are your goals for 5-10 years down the line?

Latashia: I don’t plan that far ahead, life is so unpredictable. I go step by step and try to enjoy as I go. I am working on a story right now that I plan to submit to an agent. We’ll see what happens.

Erin: Living in the moment can be a good thing! What do you like to do when you’re not writing or working?

Latashia: I practice Yoga every day, the stretching and the flowing movements helps me to think more clearly. I also take a hip-hop class once a month on Saturdays. I love cooking and eating. So if I’m not in the kitchen whipping up something healthy and hearty, hubby and I are out discovering a new restaurant.

Erin: Sounds amazing! Thank you so much for hanging out with me and chatting today! It’s was fun to introduce readers to you and your thoughts. Talk soon! 😊

Latashia: Thanks, Erin. You’re awesome.

Erin: Back at you!

Latashia Figueroa, Biography –

LatashiaLatashia Figueroa began telling tales at an early age, writing short stories for her mother to read and review. She worked in NYC’s Fashion Industry for over ten years before returning to her love of writing.

She is the author of the short stories collection, This Way Darkness: Three Tales of Terror, the adult thriller Ivy’s Envy (Want & Decay Trilogy, #1) and the upcoming Thomas’s Want (Want & Decay Trilogy, #3).

Latashia is a nature and animal lover. She practices yoga daily and dreams of owning a farm someday …and skydiving over it.

Visit Latashia Figueroa on Instagram (@frayedpages), Twitter (@latashfigueroa), or her website.

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About Ivy’s Envy (Want & Decay, #1) –

Latashia Figueroa’s riveting Want & Decay Trilogy follows the entangled lives of three people tormented by lust, jealousy, madness and murder. In this first book, Ivy’s Envy, Ivy James has had a history of violence with the men she falls for. Her grandmother and parents know what Ivy is capable of when things don’t go her way.

Now Ivy has become obsessed with Thomas Miles, a man who works at her office. She is certain that Thomas loves her too. But there are people who stand in the way of Ivy and Thomas finally being together, like his wife, Deana. Determined to have the love that is their destiny, Ivy will go down a very dark and twisted road to make Thomas hers, and hers alone. But Ivy is not the only one who has dark secrets, and everyone involved will soon learn that pursuing love and passion to the extreme can lead to terrifying consequences.

“I loved this tale of familial obligations, misplaced love and failed seduction. It’s twisted and effed up and that’s how I like my horror to be. Bravo to you, Latashia, bring on the next book!”  – Char at Char’s Horror Corner

“The story was simply all-consuming the entire way through. While I’m usually “too good” at guessing the final outcome well in advance, I have to applaud the author for coming up with something so unique–yet at the same time, perfectly fitting–that I never had even a clue about what was to come. The second book in this trilogy can not come soon enough for me! I’ll be picking up everything I can from this author.” – Kim, Horror After Dark

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Purchase on Amazon (currently on sale as s 2/28/19 for $1.99)

Thanks so much to Latashia for rounding out our Women in Horror Month series for February (though there is more to come in March)! I hope you’ve all enjoyed learning about so many women in horror this month along with me!

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Interview with David Morrell, One of the Best Thriller Writers of the Last Four Decades, Talking his Delve Into the Victorian Era

Today, I’ve got a stellar interview with David Morrell, who needs no introduction. He’s been one of the top thriller writers of the last four decades, and an educator of the craft. In this interview, we talk mostly about this newest Thomas De Quincey Victorian Era trilogy, which is highly interesting, as well as how he does his research and he offers a few tips of advice for writers. You can see my review of his newest novel, Inspector of the Dead, HERE.

Hi, David! So pleased to have you back here on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! You have a long backlist of thriller titles, such as The Brotherhood of the Rose, that people love, but you’ve been making literary waves lately with your Victorian mystery series that stars Thomas De Quincey, the Opium-Eater! You’ve recently released the second novel in the series, Inspector of the Dead. How are you feeling about the success of the series?

David: De Quincey was one of the most brilliant literary personalities of the Victorian era. I’m so fascinated by him that I spent four years researching my two novels about him. It’s gratifying that readers share my fascination. My goal was to try to convince readers that they are literally on the fogbound streets of 1850s London.

Erin: I think you’ve succeeded. I certainly need to cuddle in a warm blanket when reading your books. Quite chilling in all the right ways!

It’s quite up and down with the cold here in Ohio still, so I’ll put on a pot of tea as I like to do. I know you probably rarely slow down (you’re a busy guy), so let’s relax for a few minutes and talk books and writing.

David: Great. Talking about books and writing is what I most like to do.

Erin: Ah, me too! Then let’s get started. I’ll begin with a broad question. You’ve had a lengthy publishing career. How has your craft grown or changed over time? What would you tell the 1972 version of yourself?

David: I’ve seen a lot of changes in the publishing world (back then, there weren’t any book signings or authors’ tours, and of course there weren’t any e-books), and a lot of changes in myself. For me, that’s the key. To change. My 1972 self felt the same way. From the start, I wanted to keep exploring.

Erin: Of course, you’ve published great thrillers like First Blood (which launched the Rambo craze), The Shimmer, and Creepers just to name only a few. Many have had some sort of historical, military, or government element to them. But going as far back as the Victorian Era in London is something new for you. Where did you discover your interest in the Opium-Eater and why did you decide to use him in the construction of these new mysteries?

David: I watched a 2009 film called Creation, which depicted Charles Darwin’s nervous breakdown after his favorite daughter died. He suffered from headaches, heart palpitations, insomnia, and stomach problems, to name a few ailments. Doctors of that era—focusing solely on his body and not his emotions—couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.  At the turning point of the film, a character says to Darwin, “You know, Charles, there are people such as Thomas De Quincey who believe that we can be controlled by thoughts and emotions we don’t know we have.” This sounds like Freud, but the film takes place in the 1850s, and Darwin didn’t publish until near the turn of the century. Curious about De Quincey, I looked into his background and was amazed to learn that he invented the word “subconscious” and anticipated Freud’s psychoanalytic theories by almost 70 years. I suddenly had the idea to put De Quincey in a Victorian mystery/thriller, where he would be at the start of the detective tradition and use psychoanalytic theories to solve murders at a time when no one knew anything about what De Quincey called the caverns and abysses of the mind.

Erin: That is so COMPLETELY fascinating!! I can see what hooked you. On your website you said, “His (Thomas De Quincey) blood-soaked essays and stories influenced Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes.”  He sounds like an interesting man on many levels. How did you complete your research (books, online, travel) in order to create a firm foundation of knowledge in order to write your books? Was it easy or difficult to turn up information?

David: I love research. For several years, all I read were histories, biographies, and cultural studies about 1850s London. I wasn’t satisfied until I knew how much a woman’s clothes weighed (37 pounds) and how the streets were constructed. De Quincey wrote thousands of pages that I re-read and re-read until I felt like I was channeling him. His recent biographers are Robert Morrison and Grevel Lindop. After I underlined almost every page in their books, I contacted them and asked them to read my manuscripts. They gave me notes. Robert and I often exchange emails every day, and Grevel invited me to visit him in England, where he took me on a guided tour of Manchester (where De Quincey was born) and Grasmere in the Lake District (where De Quincey lived in Dove Cottage after Wordsworth moved out).  All of the research was a fascinating adventure.

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Erin: That sounds so amazing! I know you to be someone to fully immerse in research and that really shows through in your novels. I know that you published an e-book called The Opium Eaterthat also includes a story based on true facts of De Quincey’s life and includes photographs. That’s a cool idea! I’ll include the link for those interested: http://davidmorrell.net/stories/the-opium-eater/

I’m sure all your research you accumulated helped you decide to publish this between the novels, but can you talk a little about your thoughts in sharing more of the historical background? Why was he called the Opium-Eater?

David: De Quincey’s most famous book was Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.  He was the first person to write about drug addiction. In the 1800s, laudanum was the only effective painkiller. A mixture of alcohol and powdered opium, it was as common in Victorian homes as aspirin is today. The bottles had a POISON warning, and most people knew to be careful with it. But De Quincey fell under its power. An average person would die from drinking a tablespoon of laudanum. In contrast, De Quincey sometimes drank sixteen ounces of it a day. The paradox here is that the drug affected him as a stimulant, and against expectations, he wrote some of the most amazing prose of the 1800s.

Erin: Thomas De Quincey seems like a good historical person to form a character around for a book like this. But how does his daughter, Emily, fit into the plot of the book? Was she truly his daughter? How did you construct her character and how has her role, as well as herself, grown in this second novel?

David: De Quincey’s daughter, Emily, did indeed exist. She was 21 years old, and she’s essential to Inspector of the Dead and Murder as a Fine Art. I knew that some readers might have trouble accepting an opium addict as a main character, no matter how brilliant and witty De Quincey was. So, I presented many of his scenes from Emily’s viewpoint. She’s funny and independent and irreverent. I reasoned that if readers liked her, they’d share her affection for her father. 

In the second novel, their relationship deepens. A Scotland Yard detective asks her to marry him, and she replies that she already has a great responsibility taking care of her father, that she can’t look beyond that, the point being that in the first novel we don’t see the burden of his addiction. He’s funny. He’s eccentric. He’s interesting.  But in the second novel, the cost of his addiction becomesmore evident.

Erin: Inspector of the Dead plot surrounds itself with the actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria. The murderer is clever. How much fiction do you blend with fact?

David: I tried to include as much historical fact as possible. Both De Quincey novels are based on famous crimes of the era. Murder as a Fine Art explored the Ratcliffe Highway mass murders of 1811, the first media-sensation killings in English history. The brutality of those murders literally paralyzed all of England, and forty-three years later, in 1854, De Quincey recreated them in his Postscript to “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” The plot of Murder as a Fine Art imagines that someone uses De Quincey’s essay as a blueprint for committing the murders anew.

The new novel, Inspector of the Dead, explores the astonishing eight attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria. One man even tried to shoot heron two consecutive days. I imagine that someone uses those attempts as the inspiration for a new attempt against her. He leaves cards at various crime scenes, mentioning the names of the previous men who tried to kill the queen. The idea is that when he runs out of names, the queen will be the next victim. The blending of fact and fiction was very precise and detailed.

Erin: Though this series is set in a very different time than many of your other books, you still bring a government and social aspect to them. You show the disparity between the upper European elite and those with less and how that creates a radical atmosphere. Do you feel that class struggles are always a recipe for rebellion, crime, murder, etc.? How important are these themes to you in your novels?

David:  The Victorian era was class conscious to an extreme. The difference between surgeons and physicians provides a good example. We think of surgeons as superior to physicians, but in the 1850s, surgeons weren’t respected. They actually touched their patients and, worse, dealt with blood and gore. Moreover, they accepted payment directly from their patients. In contrast, a physician never touched a patient and was paid indirectly by the druggist to whom the patients were sent. Thus surgeons were “in trade,” but physicians weren’t. A physician could be presented to the queen while a surgeon couldn’t.  The highest members of society were the peers (earls and dukes and so forth). Roughly one thousand of them controlled all of England’s wealth. The average wage for a laborer was fifty-two pounds a year. The average income of a peer was fifty-two thousand pounds a year. In 1848, revolutionaries marched on London, with the real risk that Parliament and the monarchy would topple.  The sometimes-violent tension between the social classes is a theme in both De Quincey novels.

Thomas de Quincey by Sir John Watson-Gordon/Wiki

Thomas de Quincey by Sir John Watson-Gordon/Wiki

Erin: You write with such vivid detail and description. I believe so, but plenty of others have said so as well. How do you immerse and delve so completely into an era you didn’t live in? How do you pen something that is so vibrantly authentic?

David:  I always felt that something was missing in Victorian novels, that I wasn’t getting the full picture. During my research, I realized that I was right. Authors such as Dickens didn’t explain what were to them obvious elements of their culture, but over the years, those obvious elements were forgotten until now when we almost need annotations to understand those novels. At the start of Inspector of the Dead, there’s a murder during a Sunday church service. The drama of the scene involves church pews. Today, we take for granted that pews are bench-like seats that stretch from aisle to aisle. But in the 1850s, pews were shaped like boxes with several benches in them, and a table, and probably a carpet and pillows and even curtains. These box pews had locked doors that were opened by pew openers, who made sure that only the families who rented the pews gained access to them. Dickens took this for granted and didn’t bother to explain it. Today, almost no one knows about this system, so I explain what Dickens and other Victorian novelists didn’t think it was necessary to point out. My De Quincey novels seem authentic because readers get the sense that they’re seeing the Victorian world truly for the first time.

Erin: That’s excellent, David! I can see that now you’ve mentioned it! I love how you’ve brought the era to light in such a descriptive way!

What is the number one (or two) thing(s) that thriller/suspense/mystery readers want each time they read a novel, no matter the era? What are the ingredients for a successful novel in this genre?

David: Because our world keeps changing and thrillers tend to respond to that world, the genre itself keeps changing.  Since 2003, the three biggest, most influential thrillers were Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. All three came out of nowhere. Their phenomenal success couldn’t have been predicted. In general, however, a successful thriller tends to provide an odd combination of distracting us from our troubling world while at the same time dramatizing the emotions that are troubling us. One reason I wrote my 1850s London novels is that I keenly wanted to be distracted from the modern world.

Erin: I admire your willingness to try different types of action writing as well, from these historical mystery novels to even your six-part Captain America comic book series. What is something from yourself as a writer that crosses over into each one of your works?

David: Marvel also asked me to write comic books for Spider-Man and Wolverine. It was fun to work in a different medium. In Captain America: The Chosen, I emphasize the virtues of courage, honor, loyalty, and sacrifice. Those are my constant themes—along with trying to be aware of what’s happening around us.

Erin: You’ve won or been a finalist for many various awards that most writers only dream of, like the Nero, Macavity, Edgar, and Anthony, as well as ITW’s Thriller Master Award and three Bram Stoker Awards. You’ve accomplished so much already, what keeps you writing? What broad goals do you still have for yourself in your career?

David:  I think it’s important to keep evolving and changing. Before I start a novel, I ask myself why the book is worth a year or two or even three years of my time. After all, time is the only important thing we have. There needs to be something about the theme, the research, and the way the book will be written that will hold my interest.  At the end, I hope to be a fuller person than when I started.

Erin: I know you get asked this a lot, but we all reach various readers, so what is the best advice you can give to aspiring writers that will encourage and motivate them to keep working?

David:  In terms of motivation, I think fiction writers tend to be damaged people who perform a kind of self-psychoanalysis, putting their anxieties on the page. Sitting alone in a room for hours and hours isn’t normal. So, fiction writers have a drive to tell their story and hardly lack motivation. As for building a career and going the distance, I give my writing students these two mantras.  1. Be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of another author. 2. Don’t chase the market.  You’ll always see its backside.

Erin: Is there another novel in the Thomas De Quincey series planned? I’d love to read about another murder case this team falls upon….if so, explain, if not, tell us what else you plan to write?

David: I always thoughts of this as a trilogy, so I’m working on a third De Quincey novel. Again it will blend fact and fiction and be based on a major crime that changed Victorian society.

Erin: What is the best place you’ve traveled to and what type of food would you travel the world to eat again (this is a fun question!)?

David: For research, I once went to Paris, where I found a restaurant near the Sorbonne. It served my favorite dish, cassoulet, and I went there four nights in a row, always ordering the same thing. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Erin: Thank you, David, not only for your amazing novels but also for doing this interview with me today! It’s been an honor for me.

David: Thanks for the chat. Your enthusiasm makes me smile.

Erin: That totally made my week!

02_Inspector of the Dead CoverInspector of the Dead, Synopsis~

Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 342p
ISBN: 9780316323932

Genre: Historical Mystery

GoodReads

David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London’s harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria.
The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Praise for Inspector of the Dead

“Riveting! I literally thought I was in 1855 London. With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn’t just delve into the world of Victorian England—he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man’s opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything, and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

What the Victorian Experts Say:

“Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey’s life and work. The solution is a complete surprise.” —Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

“The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing—all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book.” —Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure.” —Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

Buy the Book

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Author David Morrell, Biography~

03_David Morell ©_Jennifer_EsperanzaDavid Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement ThrillerMaster award from International Thriller Writers.

His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose, which was the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl.

A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University.

His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/inspectorofthedeadblogtour/

Hashtags: #InspectoroftheDeadBlogTour #HistoricalMystery

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @_DavidMorrell

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Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London? Inspector of the Dead: David Morrell’s Thrilling Thomas De Quincey Sequel

02_Inspector of the Dead CoverReview~

What can you really say of David Morrell that isn’t great? He’s a master at all types of suspense and thriller books that he writes, including his newest foray into Victorian England with his Thomas De Quincey historical mysteries. First publishing Murder as a Fine Art in 2013 (you can read my review of that HERE and an interview I had with him there HERE), he’s now back with a sequel called Inspector of the Dead.

Morrell features his mysteries around Thomas De Quincey, known as the Opium-Eater, a man who wrote essays during this era where the dark, cobbled streets of London were ripe with addiction, lust, and murder. It’s said that he inspired Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Arthur Conan Doyle in his creation of Sherlock Holmes. He also struggled with opium addiction (it was legal in Britain at this time, but most people kept their use a secret), which caused him much strife in his life with dreams and nightmares. Morrell obviously has painstakingly researched the man and the time period, both in the fact that is historical revelations of this man and the creation of his character seem so vivid and authentic, as well as, his time period descriptions are atmospheric and captivating.

He seemed to have a lot of Victorian Era and Thomas De Quincey scholars and educators read through his book prior to publishing, which shows that he cares very much about getting it right for readers, whether its actually fiction or not. It’s historical fiction, and he doesn’t like to take many liberties with the man himself, but creates an accurate character based on his findings, set on a case that also surrounds real historical events that entertains and absorbs the reader into the book.

This time, a murderer is killing people and leaving notes on their bodies of those who have attempted to assassinate or overthrow Queen Victoria and evidence points that Queen Elizabeth might be the final target! It’s 1855 and the English government is already weakened by war, so the murderer must be stopped. De Quincey, who’s become quite the professional sleuth, his daughter Emily, and Scotland Yard detectives are on the move in order to stop this threat.

Morrell unravels the mystery of the murder with seamless ease, giving us clues and snippets, but leaving us hanging till the end. His pace, plotting, and placement of scenes and dialogue are intricately linked, making the readability of this novel very high and quite enjoyable. We see a portrait of a criminal consumed with jealously, rage, and hurt. Through Morrell’s writing, even though we don’t know the murderer, we can feel the depth of his heart on fire with the wrong type of passion. It’s ominous and ethereal in all the right ways for a novel in this fog-laden mystery.

As always, Morrell layers within his novel the social issue of class structure, as those being murdered are from upper society, while the criminal moves around into circles of higher class victims by wearing disguises. Don’t we all sometimes put on  a “disguise” in order to fit in? Doesn’t our anger at not being included sometimes create anger or rage within us? De Quincey even tries to breaks the ideal norm by admitting his addiction publicly, as well as speaking to the point that he can do what he does better based on being in a better social station.

Morrell writes this novel from various view points of De Quincey, the suspect, Emily, and the Scotland Yard gents, Ryan and Becker. Sometimes this can catch readers off guard, but I think he constructed the novel in this vein flawlessly. He allowed us to feel better connected to the secondary characters, and sets up Emily to be a very independent heroine. As De Quincey is a bit Holmes like, Emily seems to be his Watson. She’s fierce, intelligent, and wholly my favorite character within the book.

Inspector of the Dead can be read stand alone, as Morrell does a nice joy of getting readers caught up with must know details, but reading Murder as a Fine Art will give you a more compelling view of Victorian London, where he really fleshes out the descriptions and presents the setting to us so vividly we feel as if we ourselves are hiding in the shadows. Though there are also amazing period details in the sequel, and vignettes of other new locations, such as homes of the weathly, prisons, asylums, and such. He’s also moved further past our surroundings and helped us to delve more into the characters and their relationships with each other and within society. The murders are gritty, grisly, and reminiscent of any within all those Jack the Ripper tales. Something about Victorian London is dark, grim, and creepy and Morrell doesn’t sway from that “lonely boot tap on stone street sound behind you”-type of affectation.

Overall, Inspector of the Dead’s action, details, and pace are likened to a screen script, which will leave you playing this out in your head with a clear picture. It will seep into you, making you feel frightened, quite possibly losing sleep, yet you’ll also feel part of the mystery-solving team. Have you heard of 3-D books? No? Well, David Morrell’s writing is as close as you’ll ever get.

Morrell once again mixes a recipe of authentic history, vaporous setting, refined plot, and fluid, steady action with on-point elemental social structure apportion. Highly recommended for those who like Victorian era murder mysteries like Sherlock Holmes, or possibly reminiscent Poe’s Dupin mysteries, a tad of Wilkie Collins, and the social intricacies and period details work of Charles Dickens, and yet with Morrell’s signature thriller action pacing and visual effects.

02_Inspector of the Dead CoverInspector of the Dead, Synopsis~

Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 342p
ISBN: 9780316323932

Genre: Historical Mystery

GoodReads

David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London’s harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria.
The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Praise for Inspector of the Dead~

“Riveting! I literally thought I was in 1855 London. With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn’t just delve into the world of Victorian England—he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man’s opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything, and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

What the Victorian Experts Say:

“Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey’s life and work. The solution is a complete surprise.” —Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

“The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing—all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book.” —Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure.” —Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

Buy the Book~

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
iBooks
IndieBound
Kobo

Murder as a Fine Art, Synopsis, First Thomas De Quincey Novel~

Murder as a Fine ArtGaslit London is brought to its knees in David Morrell’s brilliant historical thriller.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey’s essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.

David Morrell, Biography~

03_David Morell ©_Jennifer_EsperanzaDavid Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement ThrillerMaster award from the International Thriller Writers.

His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl.

A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University.

His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/inspectorofthedeadblogtour/

Hashtags: #InspectoroftheDeadBlogTour #HistoricalMystery

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @_DavidMorrell

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Horror/Thriller Author W.D. Gagliani Talks About Writing Like a Film Director: Does It Work?

This afternoon I welcome to my blog the great and amazing W.D. Gagliani, the author of the Nick Lupo Werewolf Detective Series. He’s a wealth of writing knowledge (and well, on most other things as well) and he’s one of my best friends in the writing business and all around for that matter. He’s a great writing teacher and this guest article will give you a glimpse…..

A Bram Stoker Award Finalist Author for Wolf’s Trap, the first book that started it all, his series has been well-received and it isn’t over yet! He just released book five this year and is working on six. If you’ve read them you know how amazing he is, and if you haven’t, then there is always time to catch-up. He also has some other hard-noir thrillers and stories out and is a man of many writing talents. Today, he’s with us to talk about writing like a film director! In the next week or two we’ll have a PART DEUX and will feature an interview. But for now, take it away, Bill…..but don’t run too far away with my blog.

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POV in the Nick Lupo Series: Using Shifting Points of View Like Movie Directors
by Bram Stoker Award Finalist Author W.D. Gagliani

BillI’ve decided I would make a rather poor film director, yet that doesn’t stop me from writing my novels exactly as if I were directing a movie.

There’s the whole “filming scenes out of sequence” trip, which is messy and sometimes gets me into trouble, but I keep doing it. I could write thousands of words about that. In fact, maybe I will. Just as soon as I get myself out of my latest trouble.

But here I just want to explain (and explore) my obsession with being a low-rent director. I’m sure that’s what I would be. Influenced by Hitchcock, but hampered by reality and limited talent. So, no, I wouldn’t be directing any classics. But that doesn’t mean I can’t steal the movie techniques that help me tell a story more effectively. Call it an obsession if you want, but I always find myself wrapped up in a directorial mess. Maybe, who knows, it’s the only way I can work. The only way I can be forced to finish, and the only way I can best tell my story.

One of the ways I follow through on my obsessive behavior is to use a variation of a movie director’s shifting points of view (POVs). It’s one thing many beginners use incorrectly. I see this all the time – the writer lets the point of view slide inadvertently and unnecessarily from character to character in the same scene until the reader can’t quite figure out who’s seeing and thinking. The key words there are “in the same scene.” I won’t lie, some of the big bestselling authors do it, too, right in their blockbuster books. But it’s still usually a bad idea, and at least they do it more carefully than the beginners who may be doing it inadvertently. Beginners want to be in everyone’s head at all times… to the point that readers will be undoubtedly confused by the action and the thoughts sliding from character to character. (Add another beginner mistake, a few overly colorful metaphors and similes in the narration, and you have the recipe for narrative disaster.)

But I will also admit that their instinct may be partly on target, because both thrillers and horror tales are best served by multiple POVs – I believe they just have to be kept under control. I’ve always enjoyed the claustrophobic feel of a strict First Person POV in thrillers and mysteries (especially in hardboiled detective stories), but one must recognize the limitations. Choosing to tell the story that way limits what the writer can do, and what the reader can see, because the protagonist isn’t privy to any information he/she doesn’t witness or experience. It’s so limiting a POV that it must be used sparingly, maybe even lovingly and in a way that embraces the difficulties. You rarely see a strict First Person POV used in a movie because you would literally never leave the protagonist’s side, which would be difficult to sustain without causing boredom.

In my Nick Lupo series, starting with Wolf’s Trap, I made a conscious decision to present multiple characters’ points of view, taking as my model, in part, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. I liked how in that classic work each chapter was narrated from a different POV, and by labeling each section with the name of the character it’s always obvious whose head you’re in. But unlike in Faulkner’s novel, I chose to present the different POVs not as separate First Person accounts, but as Third Person limited. So in essence we look into each character’s head in an omniscient way, but not into anyone else’s within the same section. The technique allows me to create a sort of quilt or tapestry, with some sections overlapping as the same action is seen and described by different narrative points of view, while other actions occur elsewhere and are experienced by different characters – all to connect (hopefully) into a coherent whole by the end.

Occasionally I’ve taken some heat from reviewers/readers who find the jumping around confusing, especially since I also employ parallel stories along two separate timelines. One reader referred to it as (paraphrasing) authorial ADD. “For one thing it jumps around from character to character too much,” another reader complained. Well, that’s certainly part of the reason I use the technique. Whenever I’m stuck or blocked, with no clear “next move” ahead, I will jump forward and take another plot point or section from farther up the timeline (or in the past) and start fresh from that point, trusting my quilting skills later on to patch the pieces together. In essence, I’m “filming scenes out of sequence” and trusting I’ll fix it in the “editing room.”

More often than not, it works. When it does, I am rewarded with the feeling that maybe I wouldn’t be so bad a film director after all. But the process can be excruciatingly painstaking, and there’s the reason I keep saying I’ll stop doing it this way. I’ll stop with the next book.

W.D. Gagliani, Biography~

W.D. Authorpicgambit-210W.D. Gagliani is the author of the horror/crime thriller WOLF’S TRAP (Samhain Publishing), a past Bram Stoker Award nominee, as well as WOLF’S GAMBIT (47North), WOLF’S BLUFF (47North), WOLF’S EDGE (Samhain), and the upcoming WOLF’S CUT (Samhain). WOLF’S TRAP was reissued by Samhain Publishing in 2012. Gagliani is also the author of the hard-noir thriller SAVAGE NIGHTS (Tarkus Press), the collection SHADOWPLAYS, the novella THE GREAT BELZONI AND THE GAIT OF ANUBIS, and the holiday-themed short stories “The Christmas Wolf” and “The Christmas Zombie,” all available for the Kindle and other formats.

A collection of collaborations between David Benton and W.D. Gagliani, MYSTERIES & MAYHEM (Tarkus Press), is available for Kindle and all other formats. Five collaborative short stories are included, as well as one solo short story from each author, and several bonuses along with a guest short story.

Gagliani is also the author of various short stories published in anthologies such as ROBERT BLOCH’S PSYCHOS, UNDEAD TALES, MORE MONSTERS FROM MEMPHIS, WICKED KARNIVAL HALLOWEEN HORROR, THE BLACK SPIRAL, THE MIDNIGHTERS CLUB, THE ASYLUM 2, ZIPPERED FLESH 2, MASTERS OF UNREALITY, DARK PASSIONS: HOT BLOOD 13, MALPRACTICE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BEDSIDE TERROR, and ZIPPERED FLESH 2 (the last four with David Benton), and more.

He has also written book reviews, articles, and interviews that have been published in places such as THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, CHIZINE, CEMETERY DANCE, HORRORWORLD, PAPERBACK PARADE, CINEMA RETRO, HELLNOTES, FLESH & BLOOD, BOOKPAGE, BOOKLOVERS, THE SCREAM FACTORY, HORROR MAGAZINE, SF CHRONICLE, BARE BONES, and others. Also published in the Writers Digest book ON WRITING HORROR (edited by Mort Castle), THEY BITE! (edited by Jonathan Maberry and David Kramer), and in the Edgar Award-nominated THRILLERS: THE 100 MUST READS (edited by Morrell & Wagner), published by Oceanside for the International Thriller Writers. In October 2011, THE WRITER magazine published his article on writing werewolf epics.

His interests include old and new progressive rock, synthesizers, weapons, history (and alternate history, secret history, and steampunk), military history, movies, book reviewing, and plain old reading and writing. He is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and the International Thriller Writers (ITW). He lives and writes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

You can find W.D. Gagliani online at his website www.wdgagliani.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

Newest releases is………..

Wolf’s Cut, Synopsis!

WolfsCut72lg-330resizeThe Nick Lupo Series Book Five.

Nick Lupo: A cop, a werewolf…and a target!

Homicide detective–and werewolf–Nick Lupo is hoping to finally have a chance to focus his attentions on the woman he loves, instead of the Wolfpaw mercenary werewolves who tried so hard to kill him. Lupo survived that battle–barely–and brought down Wolfpaw. But Wolfpaw was backed by a super secret group within the Pentagon whose sinister plan is already in motion. And a new enemy has set its sights on the local casino. Nick Lupo thought he was home free, but whenever he tries to get out, they drag him back in…

Wolf’s Cut is fourth novel following the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf’s Trap, so it is the fifth in the savage series of horror/thrillers about the werewolf/cop. These “North Woods Noirs” are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content. The next book in the series will arrive in 2015.

Wolf’s Cut is a stellar addition to Gagliani’s Nick Lupo series. An impressive and addictive read… cements Gagliani’s place at the top of the new wave of horror/crime fiction.”
–Dreadful Tales

“With his series of Nick Lupo books, W.D. Gagliani has done more than pump a little oxygen into the tired werewolf thriller. He’s resurrected the entire genre and added a rush of nitrous oxide excitement. Do yourself a favor and pick up Wolf’s Cut, a nice addition to this superior series.”
–Gene O’Neill, author of Dance of the Blue Lady

“W.D. Gagliani’s Detective Lupo series is the best of the werewolf genre. Top-notch writing, nail-biting suspense, and a ferocious mix of serial killers and werewolves… Gagliani continues to deliver fast-paced horror that will get your heart pumping. Highly recommended.”
–Brian Moreland, author of Dead of Winter and The Devil’s Woods

“Being Italian and a former cop I can relate to Lupo on many levels. The whole series is a big hit at our store with several of our staff. We can’t wait for the next book. Keep howling!”
–Tony D’Amato, Chief Armorer of The Gun Store, Las Vegas, NV

“Let out a howl, because Lupo’s back, and badder than ever!”
–John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes and NightWhere
Wolf’s Edge is an exciting page-turned full of suspense, mystery, and thrills. Don’t miss it.”

–The Horror Zine, on the 4th Nick Lupo novel

“Riveting, disturbing, gut-wrenching — and entertaining as all get-out — and I loved every page!”

–Jay Bonansinga, author of The Killer’s Game and co-author of The Walking Dead Series, on Wolf’s Trap, the 1st Nick Lupo novel

“Gagliani once more proves that werewolves are scary as hell.”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dragon Factory

“Gagliani has brought bite back to the werewolf novel!”
–CNN Headline News Book Lizard

“The best werewolf novel since The Howling!”
–J.A. Konrath, author of Whiskey Sour on Wolf’s Gambit

Buy on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/Wolfs-Cut-W-D-Gagliani-ebook/dp/B00GMKWLUE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397364156&sr=8-1&keywords=Wolf%27s+Cut

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Exclusive Interview with the Master of Thrillers, Author David Morrell

Today I have an INTERVIEW with the fabulous David Morrell, author of First Blood, and many other titles, that have given him the legacy of being the master of the action thriller. With many decades of books under his belt, he is an amazing author still to this day, writing, mentoring, and inspiring many other authors. Currently, he just published Murder as a Fine Art. Very happy to feature him today and I hope you join us for this exclusive interview…..

Murder as a Fine Art

Hi David, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of Book! I am thrilled and honored to have you stop by to discuss your writing and books with me! As one of the best loved thriller writers and trailblazers in the business, I can’t wait to delve into your thoughts. So how are you?

David: Great. I’m halfway through my tour for Murder as a Fine Art and glad for a chance to sit down and take a breath.

Erin:  In that case, by all means let’s sit down and get started…….

Q:  You’ve had quite the career, David! I love your story of how you caught the writing bug by watching the TV show Route 66 in the 1960s.  How do you think this changed your life?

David MorrellA: I was seventeen and going nowhere.  My high-school principal once told me that I wouldn’t amount to anything because I watched so much television. How ironic that television showed me the way. Stirling Silliphant’s scripts for Route 66 were a combination of action and ideas that absolutely inspired me. I sent him a hand-written letter that basically said, “I want to be you.” He actually responded and encouraged me. I never looked back. Years later, we were able to work together when he was the executive producer of the miniseries based on my novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose.

Q:  How did your writing career first get started then?

A: To the surprise of many, I decided to finish high school. Then I went to college so that I could read the best of what had been written. By then, I realized that not many people earn a living as a writer and that I ought to get a day job. I went to Penn State for an M.A. and Ph.D. in American literature—again to the surprise of many—with the intent of becoming a professor. All along, I kept writing, and finally, twelve years after I first watched Route 66, at the age of 29, I published my first novel, First Blood.

Q: You mention having some fabulous mentors, such as Philip Young who wrote the first critical study about Ernest Hemingway. How did they work with you or effect you in order to make such a profound difference in your life? What did they teach you?

A: Philip Young is important because his book about Hemingway is what made me decide to go to Penn State and study with him. Eventually I became his graduate assistant. But another Philip—Philip Klass, whose pen name is William Tenn—made the difference in terms of my fiction writing. For three years, from 1967 until 1970—he taught me the basics, not only about writing but about being a professional. I explain his theories in my writing book, The Successful Novelist. Klass had a couple of mantras. One was that everyone has a dominant emotion. He believed rightly that mine was fear, the result of a rough childhood. He encouraged me to use my dominant emotion to write a book that only I could write because of the forces that made me what I am.  He described this as “self-psychoanalysis,” and it had a powerful influence on me.

Erin Comments: Writing a novel myself, I like this advice. It’s an ever bigger step than “write what you know.” Emotions are very powerful.

Q:  Your debut novel, First Blood, which introduced the character of Rambo and was adapted into a hit film, has made you a household name. How did you first come up with the idea for First Blood, and then, its series?

First Blood coverA: At Penn State, I earned my tuition by teaching composition classes. In 1967, several of my students were veterans newly returned from Vietnam. They described the problems they had adjusting to peacetime. Nightmares, sweats, difficulty sleeping, reaction to loud noises, problems relating to people. The phrase “post traumatic stress disorder” didn’t exist then, but that’s what they had.  At the same time, the United States was experiencing massive protests against the war, coupled with hundreds of race riots (which in an indirect way were related to the war because a disproportionate number of Blacks were drafted). There seemed a risk that the country would fall apart.

One day, I had the idea of a Medal of Honor winner returning from Vietnam to the U.S. The war, it turns out, had radicalized him because his experiences had taught him that he had a talent for killing and he hated himself because of that. Wanting to be left alone, he inadvertently finds himself in a version of the Vietnam War in the mountains outside a small American town. It’s an anti-war novel that led to a series of films, the second and third installments of which had a reverse theme.  I had nothing to do with the later films, but I think that the first movie is very well made.

Erin Comments:  Amazing.

Q: Were you surprised by its reception with readers? I’m sure that having such success with a novel completely changed your world. Can you put it into words?

A: I wrote my Masters thesis on Hemingway’s style.  When I wrote First Blood, I kept remembering the way Hemingway wrote about action in novels like To Have and Have Not and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He always made it fresh. He never resorted to tired, pulp phrases like “A shot rang out.” I began wondering if it was possible to write an action book that wouldn’t feel like a genre book. In 1972, there’d never been a non-genre book that had that much action.  First Blood changed the way action could be written. Its techniques—and the timeliness of the subject—led to very positive reviews in just about every major magazine and newspaper. First novels seldom get that kind of attention. Then came a big paperback sale, and the movie sale (although the movie didn’t get made for ten years). It was all very bewildering.  Fortunately I was a professor. Teaching the great books every day put everything in perspective for me. 

Rambo

Q: Over the course of the years you’ve written many more novels in the thriller genres and even co-founded International Thriller Writers organization. Are all your books in the same genre? How are they similar, or are any different (besides Murder as a Fine Art that we’ll get to in a minute)?

A: This is my 41st year as a published author. That’s an eternity in the publishing world, where many successful careers end after 15 or at most 20 years. What can happen is that an author finds something that works and repeats it until the author and the author’s readers get tired. In contrast, I thought of my career as a way to grow and evolve, a way to find new methods of showing what a thriller can be.  In fact, I also wrote a western, and I have a large following in the horror community. My work doesn’t have anything supernatural in it, but it often has an eerie tone, which earned me three Stoker awards from the Horror Writers Association. 

In the 1980s, I wrote a series of influential espionage novels that began with The Brotherhood of the Rose. They were the first to combine the authentic espionage tradecraft of the British tradition with the action of the American tradition. I’m always looking for new ways to tell an exciting story, to the point that my friend Steve Berry keeps kidding me about how often I re-invented myself.

Erin Comments: But that is the way to keep yourself fresh and able to sell books!

Q: What do you love the best about writing thrillers?

A: I was destined to write thrillers. My father died in combat just after I was born. My mother couldn’t hold a job and take care of me at the same time, so she put me in an orphanage.  Later she remarried, but my stepfather disliked children. He and my mother fought so much that I lived in fear. I often slept under my bed. In the dark, I made up stories to distract myself. They were adventure stories in which I was the hero.  It’s no wonder that I became a thriller writer. I feel fulfilled every time I sit down to write.

Erin Comments: I am very sorry to hear this, but I’m glad that you took your experiences and used them to motivate your writing. I’m guessing you like to write Captain America comics (I know you’ve done some in recent years) since he was such a hero!

CA

Q: You might have already mentioned research. I know you’ve been able to allow yourself some extensive outside training in your research…raceways, survival training, getting a pilot’s license….what have been some of your most memorable adventures? What do you feel you gain by immersing yourself into these types of training situations?

A: Too many thriller writers take their details from movies and TV shows, which almost always are in error. In a movie, someone will shoot the gas tank of a vehicle, and the fuel tank explodes. In life, that doesn’t happen. Or a character will shoot a tire, and the tire will explode. That doesn’t happen either. Early in my career, I realized that to respect what I was writing about, I needed to have hands-on experience. I interviewed the kind of people I wrote about.

I trained in various activities, such as spending a week at the Bill Scott Raceway in West Virginia to learn how to handle cars the way the Secret Service does. For a wilderness survival sequence, I once lived in Wyoming’s Wind River mountains, receiving training from the National Outdoor Leadership School. I once broke my collarbone in a knife-fighting class. 

For the airplane sequences in The Shimmer (about the mysterious Marfa Lights of west Texas), I took flight lessons until I earned my private pilot’s license.  The research is a way of respecting my material and doing my best to make it believable.

Erin Comments: And very exciting as well! I love how you bring true details and action to your novels.

Q:  I tend to try to be humorous, but the question comes to mind—do you feel you would have been some kind of FBI, Fighter Pilot, or some other risky profession if you hadn’t gotten your break as an author? (Even your picture makes me think you might be undercover –*smiling*)

A: There’s no question that I lead two different lives. Mostly, I sit at a desk and write. But every year or two, I head off for training of various types, and often it’s dangerous.  I look like a mild-mannered professor, but someone who looks like that can be an effective, unsuspected operative. I’m reminded of training I received at the G. Gordon Liddy Academy of Corporate Security.  For three weeks, he brought in ex-government agents who taught a version of what CIA recruits receive at the Farm.  It was invaluable experience, and in our street exercises, following people etc., I was amazed by how invisible a trained operative can be.

Q:  You’ve had a busy year, besides finishing up Murder as a Fine Art, being an archivist and doing all things organizational to assist readers. Can you explain what’s been happening with your titles? Are they all available in e-book form now?

DM 2A: When the e-book revolution occurred in 2009, I started preparing some of my out-of-print titles in digital format. I’ve been publishing for so long that I have the e-rights to the majority of my books. I also began digitalizing short stories and essays that were published decades ago.  Nearly all my work is online now (millions and millions of words), with a few exceptions, such as Extreme Denial, which I’ll release this summer when I’m finished with the release of Murder as a Fine Art.

Erin Comments: That’s exciting!

Q:  Stemming from this, how do you feel that the publishing and book selling industry has changed? What do you find positive, and in comparison, negative, with all that has transpired in the last decade?

A: For most of my career, an author needed to go through the gatekeepers of an agent and an editor. I still think that this is the way to go—because the work is better for having their help. But sometimes a writer finishes something that doesn’t fit what agents or editors are looking for. It can be a beautifully written book, but it just doesn’t fit current trends. In former decades, that would have been the end, but now an author can take charge and release the book digitally. In that sense, there has never been a better time with more opportunities for authors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that some books are so poorly written that they deserve not to be published, but without gatekeepers, an awful lot of those poorly written books are flooding the e-market.

Erin Comments: Spot on. I agree.

Murder as a Fine Art

Q:  Now that you’ve tried to challenge yourself with your writing and take on a new era, how did you find it writing about Victorian England in your newest book, Murder as a Fine Art? How did you come up with the idea?

A: A 2009 film about Darwin’s nervous breakdown (Creation) had a brief bit of dialogue in which someone says, “Charles, people such as De Quincey are saying that it’s possible to be influenced by thoughts and emotions we don’t know we have.” I wondered if the reference was to Thomas De Quincey, an 1800s author whom my long-ago college professor dismissed as being a mere literary footnote. But that bit of dialogue intrigued me. It sounded like Freud, except that Freud didn’t publish his theories for a half-century after De Quincey.  I felt something tugging at my mind.

After the film ended, I opened one of my college textbooks (I still have them). I started reading De Quincey and fell down a Victorian rabbit hole. He invented the word “subsconscious.” He also invented the true-crime genre in his Postscript to his sensational essay “On Murder Consider as One of the Fine Arts,” which is about the notorious Ratcliffe Highway murders. He influenced Edgar Allan Poe, who in turned influenced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes.  This guy was major, I discovered, and I couldn’t wait to write a novel in which he appeared at the start of the detective tradition.

Q:  What kind of research did you put into Murder as a Fine Art? Certainly you didn’t become a serial killer, and likewise, it was probably hard to time travel in order to become a member of Scotland Yard. So how did you “get into costume” so to speak?

A: Again, I became a Method author. The first step was to read and re-read the many thousands of pages that De Quincey wrote. That wasn’t hard—his work became more brilliant with each reading. Eventually I felt as if I was channeling him.  Then I accumulated a vast amount of books about Victorian culture in London in the 1850s. After that, I read and re-read novels from the period. Truly, I began to feel that I was actually there, and my goal became to make readers feel the same way. The reviewer for Entertainment Weekly was especially complimentary about the vividness of the historical details.

Erin Comments:  I agree, the historical details in your novel are fabulous.

Q:  Is history something you are interested in, or was it the literary works of Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle what most influenced you?

A: Most of my novels have a strong element of history. Back in 1977, I even wrote a historical western, Last Reveille, about “Black Jack” Pershing’s hunt for the Mexican bandit, Pancho Villa.  The Brotherhood of the Rose is filled with history.  And so on. But this is easily my most historical book. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes weren’t a factor for me. I admire the character, but Holmes shows up three decades after the events of Murder as a Fine Art. In fact, the chronology is interesting. De Quincey inspired Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Holmes.  And then there’s Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, one of the first detective novels (two decades before Holmes). Its climax uses De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater to solve the crime, so De Quincey can truly be found at the start of the detective tradition.

Erin Comments: That is very interesting!

Q:  Do you feel this book also stretched your writing style beyond just the time period? How did the narrative and POV come into play?

A: In graduate school, I was trained to believe that the best novels combine form and content. That meant if I was going to set a novel in 1854 London, I needed to write an imitation Victorian novel, one that was true to the period. These days, the omniscient viewpoint is hardly ever used, but it was used all the time by people like Dickens. Every chapter of Murder as a Fine Art begins with an omniscient narrator. The technique is true to the era, and as a bonus, it allows me to explain the weirdness of Victorian culture, which I would otherwise not have been able to do.  Many Victorian novels also use first-person journals, so I used that device also. It was great technical fun.

Q: Do you have in writing process, or have you thought about, any other types of new novels?

A: The response to Murder as a Fine Art has been so positive that many people asked me to write another book about De Quincey. My publisher was very happy when I said that would be my next project. I don’t normally write sequels, but De Quincey has really grabbed me. I have plenty more to say about him and 1854 London.

Erin Comments: Wonderful news (in my review yesterday, I said I had hoped you’d be writing more)!

Q: Who are your personal favorite thriller writers? Who are your favorite writers overall? And why?

A: The thriller writer who most influenced me is Geoffrey Household, whose classic 1939 novel Rogue Male is about a British big-game hunter who stalks Hitler on the eve of WWII. That book and Household’s Watcher in the Shadows showed me what thrillers can be.

Q: Do you feel all your dreams have come true? What is one thing you’d like to do you haven’t done yet?

A: Truly, I try not to have expectations. That way I don’t have disappointments. My 15-year-old son Matthew died in 1987 from a rare bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. In 2009, my 14-year-old granddaughter Natalie died from the same disease. Only 200 people get it each year in the United States.  My many years have taught me that the only thing of value is time. When I start a project, I always ask myself, “Why is this project worth a year or two or three of your time?”  Writing fulfills me in a mysterious way. I choose projects that have something about their theme, their technique, and their research that will make me feel fuller. Murder as a Fine Art more than did that for me.

Erin Comments: I am sorry to hear that, please accept my sympathies.  I agree with you, time is valuable. Each and every minute and writing, to me, is a lasting legacy.

Q: Where can readers connect with you?

A: www.davidmorrell.net.  It’s a very informative website, with information about Route 66 and Rogue Male and Rambo and video interviews and free essays about writing.

Erin:  Thank you so much, David, for chatting with me. You are quite an inspiration and I am proud to have had this opportunity. I appreciate it and wish you continued success and best wishes!

David: I enjoyed my visit. Thanks.

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Murder as a Fine Art Review~

You can read my review of Morrell’s Murder as a Fine Art HERE!

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Giveaway~

You may enter to win one (1) copy of David Morrell’s Murder as a Fine Art by leaving a comment at the end of this blog post or on a Facebook link. Please enter by 11:59 p.m. EST two weeks from the date of this post. Open in the United States only, this time.

For +1 extra entry, follow my blog. For +2 extra entries, please “like” the Hook of a Book Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook.

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MURDER AS A FINE ART, Synopsis~

Murder as a Fine ArtPublication Date: May 7, 2013
Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 368p
ISBN-10: 0316216798

GASLIT LONDON IS BROUGHT TO ITS KNEES IN DAVID MORRELL’S BRILLIANT HISTORICAL THRILLER.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey’s essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.

Praise for MURDER AS A FINE ART

“Murder As a Fine Art by David Morrell is a masterpiece—I don’t use that word lightly—a fantastic historical thriller, beautifully written, intricately plotted, and populated with unforgettable characters. It brilliantly recreates the London of gaslit streets, fogs, hansom cabs, and Scotland Yard. If you liked The Alienist, you will absolutely love this book. I was spellbound from the first page to last.”

—Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author of The Monster of Florence

Author David Morrell, Biography~

David MorrellDavid Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.

He’s written numerous novels and been an Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a three-time recipient of the distinguished Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association. The International Thriller Writers organization gave him its prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master Award. His work has been translated into twenty-six languages.

For more information on David Morrell and his novels, please visit the official website. You can also follow David on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/murderasafineartvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #MurderAsAFineArtTour

Murder as a Fine Art Virtual Tour FINAL2

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