Team Writing, Series, and Furious Claws with Ben Zackheim

One of the trends in e-books, especially Urban Fantasy, are series that are co-written with others. That’s how some of these folks crank out multiple books in a year, as opposed to some of us (ahem) who are trailing on book two. John P Logsdon (who you met a couple of weeks ago) is one such practitioner, Michael Anderle is another.

Apparently, I’m the only UF writer still doing it solo these days.

Donald has paired up with someone who also writes books on his own, Ben Zackheim. I came across him and his RELIC series a while back. His latest book is with Logsdon; Furious Claws.

Ben, what’s your deal?

I’m a recovering author whose recovery isn’t going too well, so I still write. A lot.

Well, a lot as far as I’m concerned. 

As far as my peers are concerned, I’m slow as hell. 

I write in the Urban Fantasy genre, which has readers who ask a lot of authors, including daily book launches of new 300 pagers. I got into the business of telling stories after leaving a koosh corporate job. It was 2011, around the time the Apple App Store was really taking off. I noticed small devs selling their $1 games and thought, “I wonder if this Kindle thing could be the same kind of opportunity for writers.” I did some research and found that, indeed, Kindle authors could do very well. So the first chance I got, I quit the job. Would I do it again? Hell no. Not without some more planning. It’s a tough biz with huge ups and downs. Writing full-time actually means marketing full-time, and writing when you get the chance. It may sound like I’m complaining, but I love it. 

I hear ya. I like the marketing but it’s for smarter brains than mine apparently. I originally reach out about the Relic series and was surprised to find you working with John P Logsdon. What’s Furious Claws all about?

My latest book is Wild Claws, book 5 in a series I’m writing with John. P. Logsdon. It’s part of the Paranormal Police Department series, which includes other authors like Orlando A. Sanchez. It’s been a blast to write. This will be the last book in the story, so it’s a bit bittersweet. I’ll move on to my own series next, which is the RELIC series of Supernatural Thrillers. That series is up to book 9, with a planned 10. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop there, though, because I love the two main characters so much. Kane and Rebel are a motley duo. He’s a sharp-shooting relic hunter who is charged with tracking down supernatural treasures before the vampires do. Rebel is Kane’s partner. She’s a Magicist who provides the spells and the sass. 

They are a great pair. What is it about the magic or style of story that drew you to RELIC?

The magic in RELIC is part of the plot. What I mean by that is magic is being defined a bit more in each book. It’s a risk, of course, because sticking to the rules of magic is a big part of making a story read well. But I wanted the main adventure to include revelations about how magic works. This has led to some plot twists that were tough to write because they broke the rules of magic as I’d established them. But I think the payoff will be worth it. We’ll see within two books! RELIC includes humans, supernatural beings like vampires, Magicists (my word for beings with magic abilities) and gods. The way magic is used and impacts each of these parties will play a big part in the finale. I have strong feelings and philosophies about magic. RELIC is my attempt to suss that out in a fantasy setting. I plan to write a sci-fi series that tackles magic from a different pov. It’s an obsession of mine, frankly.

Who did this to you? What have you read and who do you read for pleasure?

I consumed everything with Stephen King’s name on it when I was younger. He showed me I could play around with the language more than my teachers were telling me I could. His strong characters and moments of horror really resonated with me. There was a hot steam to his stories that made me uncomfortable, but entertained me, and stuck with me for a long time after I closed the book. These days I’m reading a lot of books by people in my genre. Hunter Blaine, Kimbra Swain, Orlando A. Sanchez. These authors are such gems. I love being in on the ground floor of careers that are going to go BOOM. I’m also waiting for Patrick Rothfuss to drop a story bomb on us. C’mon Patrick! 

Well, if you’re bored I have a book for ya. How can people learn more about your work?

You can find me at benzackheim.com and on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6434226.Ben_Zackheim

My Amazon Profile is here https://www.amazon.com/Ben-Zackheim/e/B0087OYFVG

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/benjaminzackheim/

Furious Claws (Book 4 of the New York Paranormal Police Department) can be found here 

Relic: Spear (book 8 in the RELIC series) can be found here 

Not to be THAT GUY, but if you are interested in the debut of an Urban Fantasy Series full of violence and snark similar to the Paranormal Police Department books, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk fits the bill. “Like Dresden Files with teeth,” they say…

Send in Your Johnny Lycan #Bookselfie and Win

If you’ve bought your copy of Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk since pub date, you’re probably in the middle of it now. Send me a selfie with the book (or your Kindle, I trust you!) and you might win one of 3 “Don’t let Shaggy run the show…” coffee mugs.

Adam Larson and Astrid are reading in Minneapolis

Of course, you can always send a pic AND leave a review as well, like Ariana in Las Vegas did…

The deadline to enter is December 11th. Don’t delay.

You can order it anywhere books are sold online, but here’s the purchase link to Amazon and to Black Rose Writing.

If you want a SIGNED copy of Johnny Lycan, drop me an email and we’ll hook you up.

Today is Publication Day for Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk

“If Raymond Chandler wrote werewolves–and why hasn’t he?”

“If you like The Dresden Files, you’ll love Johnny Lycan”

“Turmel’s move from Historical Fiction to Urban Fantasy is a howling success

Today is the day that the world finally gets to meet Johnny Lupul, a young wannabe detective with a monstrous secret. Huge thanks to the team at Black Rose Writing for seeing what I saw in him.

To all my loyal readers, how can you help?

Buy the book at Amazon or through Black Rose Writing

Leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads or wherever you find good books.

Tell your book buying friends, and if you know any bloggers or reviewers, let me know.

Take a selfie with your copy of Johnny Lycan, and let me know where in the world you are. You can win a genuine “Don’t let Shaggy run the show…” coffee mug. Just like Bryan from Las Vegas:

I hope you all enjoy this tale, it’s the first of a few. Don’t let the weasels get you down, and don’t let Shaggy run the show.

Chicago, The Ghost of Jamie McVay, and Ray Ziemer

Whoever said writing is a solitary activity is doing it wrong. Yeah, I said it. Typing, actually putting the words on paper or the screen is a lonely business but writing activities like getting feedback, brainstorming ideas, and hanging with other smart people is social. One of my favorite writerly people is Ray Ziemer. He’s a teacher, poet, novelist and all around good egg.

When I still lived in the suburbs of Chicago, we were both members of the Naperville Writers Group and I was lucky enough to see this book, The Ghost of Jamie McVay being workshopped. Now it’s out in the world. Any excuse to talk to a buddy.

Ray- tell folks what they should know about you.

I’m South Side of Chicago born and bred. Funny when I look back and realize I’ve spent most of my life now in the suburbs, but my youth in the city left me with an accent, an attitude, and a certain psychological shape. When I left the south side, I grew in many ways – in liberal views, intellectual range, hunger for landscape — but at my core, there is always the bungalow under the elms in the old neighborhood near Marquette Park.

Ghost of Jamie McVey is a good YA read. What’s the book about?

The Ghost of Jamie McVay is a classic ghost story of redemption and atonement, set in a contemporary suburb of Chicago, a world of young adult tribulations — bullying, first love, family dysfunction. The narrator uncovers family secrets,  weathers father-son conflict, and clue by clue unravels the mysteries of the ghost of Jamie McVay.

You really capture the Western Suburbs of Chicago in it. Where’d the story come from?

The story came out of regular bike rides and walks with my sons on the Illinois Prairie Path, a disused railroad right-of-way turned bike trail. I fantasized about old railroad disasters, which led to stories about ghost trains and hauntings along the path. When I first conceived the story, I was teaching junior high English, and I always felt there could be more and better novels for adolescent boys to read. So I tried to imagine a first-person narrator for that audience to relate to, and a strong female character everyone would like. Some might suspect there’s a dash of autobiography in there somewhere, too.

Totally unfair question. What’s your favorite scene?

Through multiple rewrites and revisions, two things that never changed were the beginning and the ending. The most dramatic scene is the climax at the end, when the main characters — and the ghost of Jamie McVay — confront each other on Halloween night, with explosive action and (I hope) satisfying resolution. 

That’ll work. You’re a poet and short story author as well as a novelist. Where can people learn more about you?

My author web page, with samples of my poetry and other fiction, is https://rgziemer.com

The book is for sale on Amazon.com  and Barnes & Noble.com. I also have a Goodreads and Facebook author pages.

SHAMELESS PLUG FOR MYSELF: So I am hanging tight for more reviews of Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk, which I’ll gladly share. But if you want to help spread the word, I’m having a contest. Send me a picture of you with your copy of Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk and where you’re at. You’ll enter a drawing for a Johnny Lycan, “Don’t let Shaggy run the show…” coffee mug. (Yeah, I know, it’s missing an apostrophe. Call it a collector’s item…)

Advance Word for Johnny Lycan & The Anubis Disk

Turmel manages to thoroughly explore the detective, mystery, supernatural, and horror genre conventions. With some thrilling gore and satisfying werewolf violence, Turmel imbues his storytelling with a sense of humor and edge.

Jose Nateras, Windy City Reviews

When you send a book out into the world, you never know how people will respond. I’ve said before it’s like telling a joke and waiting a year for the laugh. So with the November 19 Launch Date for Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk rapidly approaching, some of the advance reviews are starting to come in. It’s possible people like it.

Windy City Reviews (quoted above) was very kind, and you can read the entire review here. I love that they picked up on the “Chicago-ness” of it. In fact, you can purchase a copy pre-pub date at Centuries and Sleuths in River Forest. Augie and the team have been supporting my work for years.

Over at Books Delight, author Jeanie Roberts even awarded it a Reader’s Choice. “Turmel’s leap from historical fiction to fantasy is a howling success!”

There have also been plenty of interviews, with more to come. Teri Polen and I had a great time on her Bad Moon Rising blog, where we talked writing, haunted houses and tequila.

And my good friend Vital Germaine and I talked about creativity, getting older, and making relationships last on his video blog, Another F Word.

Praise from other authors is always appreciated, and if you read the post and review of This Ragged, Wastrel, Thing by Tomas Marcantonio you know we admire each other’s work. This is what he said on Goodreads: “The gritty Chicago setting, with its cast of well-rounded, down-to-earth likeable characters, feels entirely real, and by the time the plot is in full swing you find yourself checking the phase of the moon through the window and half-expecting it to affect the behaviour of your loved ones.”

So I am hanging tight for more reviews, which I’ll gladly share. But if you want to help spread the word, I’m having a contest. Send me a picture of you with your copy of Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk and where you’re at. You’ll enter a drawing for a Johnny Lycan, “Don’t let Shaggy run the show…” coffee mug. (Yeah, I know, it’s missing an apostrophe. Call it a collector’s item…)

Two weeks to go. I’ll be very grateful if you’ll spread the word on Goodreads (add it to your “To Read” list) and however you share what you read with others.

Don’t let the weasels get you down, and whatever you do, don’t let Shaggy run the show.

Want to win a Johnny Lycan coffee mug?

I’m having a bit of fun with the launch of Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk. Launch date is November 19, and here’s the kicker: Everyone who lets me know they purchased on that date will enter a drawing for one of 3 Johnny Lycan coffee mugs. Specifically this one:

Yeah, I know there’s an apostrophe missing, but the important thing is not to let Shaggy run the show. If you don’t know what that means, you’ll have to read the damn book. Trust me, they’re words to live by.

How will you let me know? Maybe post a picture of you with the book (or your e-book reader) from wherever you are in the world to social media and tag me. Or email me a receipt from Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, Chapters or Black Rose Writing.

To learn more, sign up for my newsletter on the left hand side of this page.

Turmel’s leap from historical fiction to fantasy is a howling success!

Jean Roberts, Books Delight Reader’s Favorite Award

Storm’s Child with John Ortega

Everyone has their thing, especially in genre fiction. I’m going to be honest, one of my least favorite groups of characters in Urban Fantasy are the Fae. Fairies, Pixies, all that stuff. That said, they are important to the world of UF like spunky female detectives and magical runes. It can’t all be werewolves and ghosts and hot vampires, and if you like Irish music and culture even a little, then they are just part of the landscape. Some people get it right. John Ortega has successfully tackled the whole Faerie thing head-on in his latest novel Storm’s Child.

John, tell us about you.

My love for fantasy started at a young age. To be honest I never liked reading, hated it to the point where I asked my mom to read my school assignments and give the bullet points later. Then one day I walked from a movie into borders and saw the Percy Jackson Series and it blew my mind. It was a complete change from running like hell from a book to devouring three and four a day. My mom thought I had been switched for a pod person. One thing led to another and soon I found myself reading about every mythological creature and story out there. From Greek to Norse to Celtic. Then as I got older my appetite got bigger and I would read Sci-fi, crime. Basically fantastical or magical that would catch my eye I would buy.

During the day I work in the customer representative department for a health insurance company and every other hour of the day I spent it either writing, reading, or looking up stuff that sparks my imagination.

What’s your book (and future series) about?

Storm’s Child is an urban fantasy novel where we meet Nathan, the owner of an inn for supernatural creatures in Portland, Oregon. He lives a quiet life with his dog Sabine until one of his employees is found dead under strange circumstances that prompts Nathan to do his own investigation that leads him on a collision course with the Fae. An ancient magical race that has a sordid history with Nathan and thinks he is dead. So he has to make a choice to risk exposure or let the killer go free.

Despite his troubled past, Nathan is optimistic at heart and likes to see the bright side of life but also its not above getting his hands bloody if the situation calls for. I’ve always been fascinated by the original version of famous fairy tales, The Grimm’s Brothers, Edmund Spencer, William Shakespeare and that led me to create a fae-centric world with a characters that had intimate knowledge of the fae, what they’re really like and what we humans have gotten wrong at the behest of the rulers of their race. You’d be surprised how much of our knowledge has been molded by them. 

But while the fae are an integral part of the world, we see magic everywhere. I wanted to explore a rich magical community so we see mages, shifters, nature spirits and how they interacted with the world around it. Storm’s Child is an urban fantasy story but it has elements of a murder mystery and a smidge of romance. So while we only explore a bit of the world as we follow Nathan in his investigation you get the sense of the larger world or worlds I should say.

Running a hotel is a great hook for a series like this since you need a good reason for all these creatures to cross paths. Where did the idea come from?

The basis of the story comes from the Irish myth of Tír na nÓg, the land of young. I was driving in my car one day and was listening to Youtube and the song Tír na nÓg by Celtic Woman came on and the story sang impacted me so much I researched the myth behind it and it’s the love tragedy that this human falls in love with a fae woman and goes to the land of the fae but after years he wants to go back and his love tells him that the world has forgotten him but he insists and goes back to the mortal world where centuries had passed and he dies as time catches up to him. So I asked myself what would happen if a mortal that lived with the fae for so long escapes to the mortal world and doesn’t die. What would that do to their psyche? Would they consider themselves human or something else? All those questions came to mind and the road to the story just appeared on my mind. 

Since you weren’t much of a reader as a kid you’ve obviously changed your ways. Who do you read that people should know about?

As I mentioned before, I started with Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and while I go back to him at times. I immensely enjoy Ilona Andrews (a must read for any Urban Fantasy fan) as well as Patricia Briggs, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jeaniene Frost, Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Kevin Hardman and Peter Clines. 

Of course I can’t leave the Bard out as well as Spencer and the Brothers Grimm whose stories I’ve read time and time again. 

Not to hijack the interview, but if folks love Jim Butcher, you’ll probably enjoy Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk, which is like Dresden Files with no Fae and more teeth. (It’s available for preorder now, just saying.)

Where can folks learn more about you and your work?

Storm’s Child is my debut novel and you can find it on Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Kobo.

As for the easiest way to find me would be: 

Amazon Author Page: 

Goodreads: 

Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is coming out November 19TH. Join my newsletter now to win a fabulous prize. Also, if you are a reviewer and want an advance e-copy of the book, drop me a line and let a brother know.

Fantasy and SciFi from Bangladesh- Saad Hossain

I love my Kindle. It allows me to consume books like jelly beans; the price is low and if I don’t enjoy it there’s another book waiting. An advantage of this is to try Urban Fantasy from unlikely sources. On the more well-known side, there’s Nigerian author Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s David Mogo, God Killer. It was great fun, but he’s been getting a lot of love in the press. One of the more pleasant surprises was an author from Bangladesh (and if you didn’t know they had sci-fi fans in Bangladesh you’re a stupid Westerner like me.)

Saad Hossain lives in Dhaka, and writes in English. His novel, The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, leans on South Asian fantasy- Djinn (Genies to most of us) and Gurkhas (the fierce soldiers made famous during the British Colonial times) and yet has great science fiction elements. Killer AI, the city of Kathmandu, Nepal, is one of the last bastions of civilization after a worldwide disaster… there’s a lot going on. It was crazy, inspired, and completely unexpected. I needed to ask him a few questions…

Please introduce yourself to the readers, Saad.

I think I’m pretty much an accidental writer. I live in Bangladesh, I write in English, there’s a very small readership at home, and when I started out, no publishers who wanted English fiction. The odds of anyone outside Bangladesh wanting genre fiction from me was slim to none, so it really took a series of lucky breaks and accidents to even get published. I feel like I get to write with a lot of freedom because I have no target markets to deal with or any expectations. For example, my first novel was about two Iraqi black marketeers in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam, and my next one was about Djinns in modern-day Dhaka. Gurkha of course, is about djinns in the future. Other than writing I have a full-time job. I inherited a factory from my dad, so I basically manufacture yarn and export it to various places around the world. It’s not as fun as writing but it definitely pays the bills. 

I was taken by surprise by the book. You can probably describe what it’s about better than I can…

This story is about a djinn who wakes up and finds the world wholly different to how he left it. In a way, its like leaping from a fantasy setting to a science fiction one. I enjoyed writing this one. The djinn is bombastic, he talks a great game and he is in fact very powerful but he’s actually not ambitious at all and if left alone he would be quite satisfied eating, drinking and carousing somewhere. 

It’s the humans around him who goad him into action, forcing him to escalate the situation until he ends up changing the very nature of the City he’s trying to rule. This is part of the djinn universe I’m working on, so some of the characters are recurring from my earlier novel Djinn City, as well as the sequel to it which I am currently working on. 

What is it about that magic or the story that drew you to it?

I always start with a character first. I have no idea what kind of story it will turn out to be, I never outline, and I very consciously avoid thinking about the ending because I find that plotting out everything kills my motivation to actually write the damn thing. So for me, the first step is always the main character and the story sort of accretes around them. The Djinn’s nature, his predicament, his dire threats against everyone he comes across, his bewilderment that force alone is not enough to dominate his environment–all these things were interesting to me, and everything else just kind of fell into place. For example, it was natural for him to meet a Gurkha as he was coming down the mountain, but other than general background information on the legendary soldiers, I did not really have a role for in mind. It kind of developed organically, that the main story hinged on this old retired Gurkha eventually, that the human element of the story is what forced the djinn into taking part in life. 

Growing up in another part of the world, who are the authors that inspire you?

Neal Stephenson, the Baroque Cycle, as well as Snow Crash, pretty much everything he wrote.

William Gibson: I love the older stuff, Pattern Recognition is my favorite, but again, I’ll read anything by him.

Terry Prattchett: Love the guard sequence, but all of discworld is amazing. If i had to live in a fantasy world I’d take discworld.

Iain Banks: Culture series. Love the utopian thing, and the ship names.

I love rereading the Count of Monte Cristo every few years, and also Jane Austen. My favorite is Persuasion, but normally I’ll read Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Persuasion in a row. 

Where can we find you?

The easiest way is on Goodreads

And my Amazon Author Page

Not to crash the party, but Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk is coming in November. Order now by clicking here and going to Black Rose Writing. Use the promo code: PREORDER2020 to receive a 15% discount. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle and Audible coming in November. And look to the side of the page to sign up for my newsletter.

The Glass Star Trilogy with Elle Lewis

One of the great things about writing fantasy and horror is worldbuilding. Unlike historical fiction, where you need to be faithful to the 1920s or make the Crusades feel like the Crusades, when you’re creating a world, you make the rules. Whether it’s an almost-regular Chicago with some magical elements, like in the Johnny Lycan stories, or you’re starting almost from scratch, like this week’s author Elle Lewis.

Elle is a fellow Black Rose Writing Author, and the creator of The Glass Star trilogy, beginning with the first book, Dark Touch and the latest installment, Genesis Rising.

Okay, so let’s start at the beginning. What’s your story?

I am a nurse by profession, but my heart belongs to monsters and imagination. While I enjoy the medical field, my true passion lies in the literary world. I began reading SF/F at a young age and was utterly captivated. These days I try to balance my career and my passion, but it is extremely difficult. I always want to be writing or collaborating with other authors on projects. I would like to go back to school soon, to obtain my masters in English/Creative Writing, so that I can spend my days talking about books and helping others create stories. 

What is the Dark Touch and your trilogy about?

The Glass Star Trilogy takes place in an alternate reality, similar to ours but also vastly different. The nature of the Universe is based on original lore that I created for the series. Readers will be introduced to many sentient beings, all powerful and complex. The main character Sloan, crosses paths with one of them- Darrow, a Dark One. Her interaction with him sets off a catalyst of events of cosmic proportion. Sloan is drawn deeper into their world with each book. As the story progresses, she learns the significance of her own power and also her true role within the Universe. Each book is a fast-paced read. The series is filled with action, suspense, and a touch of romance. 

What is it about the magic and world you write about that appeals to you?

Despite the cosmic scale of the series, the roots of the story are very human and relatable. Sloan has a tangled past, one that is painful and complicated. She is a character that is strong yet vulnerable. So while these big events are happening around her, internally she is struggling. Healing. Growing. Her character arch is inspiring and remarkable. But that’s what draws us in to SF/F isn’t it? The characters. Watching their journey. Recognizing something in them that is in us. It’s that moment that gives you goosebumps, when a character you love is beaten down, pressed into the dirt, and all hope is lost.

But yet…their eyes raise, their chin lifts, and determination makes them get back up and continue fighting. That was my greatest goal with this story. To reach out to readers that have a similar past to Sloan. To encourage them and root for them, and whisper through the pages that they are not alone. Our future is not our past. And we can change our stars. 

Who are you reading, or have read that corrupted you and made you what you are?

Of course the fantasy greats- Tolkein and Lewis. Orson Scott Card is also an author I greatly admire- Ender’s Game is one of my all time favorite books. Simply phenomenal. I have discovered some really outstanding authors recently. First and foremost- Martha Wells, the author of the Murderbot series. WOW. I’m so in love with every book in this series. To me it is SF perfection.

I have also been branching out to Horror lately, and I adore Grady Hendrix. His book- The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is one of the best books I have read this year. I also LOVED Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I gushed over every single page of this book. It is so wonderfully gothic and the ending was excellent!  

Small world! I just finished Mexican Gothic this weekend. The first 2/3 was just another haunted house novel with some fun Mexican twists, but the last hundred pages kicked my butt. Where can people learn more about you and your work?

My books are available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Dark Touch is the first in the series. The second is Genesis Rising. The third-Warrior of The Stars-releases 12/30/20! If you would like to follow me on social media, my Facebook Author page is- Elle Lewis@glass.star.trilogy.

Twitter @Elle_Lewis2 

IG ElleLewis5. You can follow my author page on both Amazon and Goodreads by searching Elle Lewis. And also my blog authorellelewis.blogspot.com – I post a lot of short stories here as well as some fun author/reader interviews! 

Not to crash the party, but Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk is coming in November. Order now by clicking here and going to Black Rose Writing. Use the promo code: PREORDER2020 to receive a 15% discount. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle and Audible coming in November. And look to the side of the page to sign up for my newsletter.

An Intriguing Asian Dystopian Debut- Tomas Marcantonio

One of the best things about being a writer in these weird times is the chance to build an online network. I’ve connected with a lot of writers from all over the world, many of them connected to Storgy.com. The guys there have published a number of my stories, and I’ve had the chance to read great work from writers I would otherwise never have been introduced to.

So when Storgy decided to publish a novel, and it was written by Tomas Marcantonio, whose work I’ve admired for a while, I knew I had to read it. I wasn’t disappointed. Surprised, and absolutely delighted. It was a great find.

This Ragged, Wastrel Thing is as if Blade Runner met Frank Miller’s Sin City–it’s a cool, gritty, noir crime thriller set in a dystopian world set somewhere between Korea (where Tomas works teaching English) and Japan. Here’s my conversation with him:

Alright, tell us your deal.

A lot of my friends call me a caveman. I’m really not a technology person at all. I carry a phone around for emergencies, but I don’t even have a phone number. Maybe it’s an introvert thing; phones are so intrusive. I did a lot of traveling in my twenties – Africa, Asia, South America – and I always loved the freedom and anonymity of living without a phone.  

I still love to travel, but I’m a lot more settled now. I’ve been based in Busan for the best part of ten years. It’s one hell of a city – mountains, sandy beaches, neon mazes, incredible food, but I still visit the UK when I can. I’m still very close with my family and friends in Brighton, my hometown.  

Your novel, which smells like the first in a series, is unlike anything I’ve read before. What is it about?

This Ragged, Wastrel Thing is a bit of a mongrel, really. Put simply, it’s a mash-up of things I love: dystopian fiction and hard-boiled detective noir; Korea and Japan; neon-lit backstreets and basement bars; corruption and redemption; a future world without smart phones!  

It’s all set on a fictional island city called Sonaya, the history of which is based on a small island called Dokdo (or the Liancourt Rocks). The Sonayan government uses drones to watch over the population, and that’s bad news if you get caught up in a murder case as soon as you’re out of prison. Our protagonist, Dag, is in some ways a classic anti-hero, a loner saddled with regret.  

Where did the idea come from?

It all started with my first ever short story – It’s Not a Party Until Someone’s Dead. It was inspired by some of the policies and issues around Korea and Japan, especially the problem of aging populations. I did some research and came across some interesting ideas, including a handsome tax for overachieving men. I wanted to play with this idea and came up with the character of Dag, who has to deform himself to make his way in Sonaya.  

I made most of it up as I went along, it was so freeing, and Storgy agreed to publish it on their website and even encouraged me to write more. Eventually, I decided to turn it into a novel, and the Storgy team was incredibly helpful with ideas and pointers. They were with me from the start, really. Then I set about creating the world in much more detail, writing a history for the island, researching policies in the region, before delving into characters and plot. It was a blast to write.  

The guys at Storgy have created quite a tribe. What was it like publishing with them–this is their first novel?

I can’t say enough good things about the Storgy team. There are some wonderful literary journals and indie publishers out there these days, but Storgy has to be right up there in terms of love of the craft and support for the writing community. They genuinely care about their writers; I never thought when I submitted that first short story that I’d end up having such close relationships to the team (let alone get a novel published!).  

Ross Jeffery, Storgy’s Head of Books, is well known within the writing community now, not only as an avid book reviewer, but also as an excellent author in his own right (if you haven’t read his novella Juniper, or his novella-in-flash Tethered, you’re missing out!). Behind the scenes, Head of Film Anthony Self does amazing work with the short fiction submissions, while Managing Director Tomek Dzido has been a joy to work with. As head of publishing, and also as my editor, he’s been with me every step of the way and This Ragged, Wastrel Thing would be a poor specimen without him. People won’t see how much work these guys put into Storgy. It’s a real labour of love, and nothing short of inspiring.  

Who do you read?

I’ve been reading a lot of detective and noir books over the past few years. People will probably recognize flavours of Raymond Chandler in This Ragged, Wastrel Thing, but I’m also a huge fan of James Lee Burke, Dennis Lehane, Walter Mosley, Rachel Howzell Hall, and several others in this genre. I was always a big admirer of Hemmingway’s terse style, and I think you see shades of that in noir fiction. These writers are all capable of such vivid writing; even when the prose seems hard and simple, suddenly you get these stunning moments of beauty that leap off the page.  

In fact, I love evocative writing of any genre. Annie Proulx, Virginia Woolf, and Laurie Lee are three writers who always leave me spellbound no matter what they’re writing about. More recently, Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucie McKnight Hardy was a wonderful read – every sentence was perfection.  

Where can we find more about you and your work?

I recently set up my author website here: https://tommarcantonio.wixsite.com/author.

You can contact me on Twitter @TJMarcantonio, and you can check out some of the early reviews of This Ragged, Wastrel Thing here on Goodreads

Not to crash the party, but Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk is coming in November. Order now by clicking here and going to Black Rose Writing. Use the promo code: PREORDER2020 to receive a 15% discount. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle and Audible coming in November. And look to the side of the page to sign up for my newsletter.