If you survived the great vampire boom of the 90s and early 2000s (Twilight, Pure Blood, The Lost Boys) you lived to tell the tale. We seem to be going through a similar thing with werewolves. All the tropes are being reexamined. Lycanthopic romance is a thing (seriously, a lot of women are hot for Lycans. It’s also big in gay erotica), legends are updated to a thoroughly modern world like Steve Morris’ Lycanthrope series (you can read the interview here), and some for a mix of humor, detective noir and horror like Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk. But if you never thought of Northern Ireland as werewolf territory, you need to meet Iain McLachlan.
Iain, what’s you’re story?
Well, I live south of Belfast in Northern Ireland, I was raised here and moved back home three years ago from living in London. I started writing my first book back in 2008, but work kept me away form it so it was 2017 when I went back to it with the decision ‘right, I WILL do this’ and I have not looked back. I love traveling, and apart from one, all the locations in my stories are all real and I try as best as I can, to do them justice. I love it when I get feedback from people who know the locations who tell me that they can picture exactly where the character is standing at the point in the story.
What’s the story behind The Moon Dancing series?
I have looked at the genre of ‘werewolves’ but from a scientific point of view and not a ‘myth and fantasy’ one. I spent eighteen months before I started writing volume one doing research to see if this was possible in nature, and I discovered that theoretically, DNA can change shape, but (very big but) if this was real, what we see in stories and films would take nearly eight months for a person to change into a lycanthrope, not sixty seconds! So, I did take a bit of literally licence
My story in Moon Dancing Volume one is about a pack of werewolves in modern-day Northern Ireland, they have done a very good job at hiding from modern society when (in volume one) a small pack of wolves from a different pack arrive .. and start to cause trouble.
I look at how the pack reacts to more wolves in their territory, how the police would have to investigate a series of brutal murders and the evidence that they gather and how a local journalist reports what she is seeing and discovering through her job.
The story was first going to be a trilogy but I am now looking at at least six books over the story line.
What is it about werewolves that is so fascinating? Belfast doesn’t seem like prime loup-garou territory.
I have always loved the idea of werewolves, but when I look at them in legend, I spotted major differences between central Europe and here in Ireland, for example, the witness descriptions from central Europe, drooling mouth, blood shot eyes, rage … I spotted that these were also the signs and symptoms of the disease RABIES. There has never been rabies in any of the British Isles (Ireland both north and south, and Great Britain) and the descriptions of werewolves in Irish legend were all of tales of ‘protectors’ and good tales. I found several legends that pointed to tales of the old kings of Ireland, that in times of war, would hire the clan of werewolves (or dogmen as they were also called) as bodyguards. They were known as fierce warriors and very loyal, totally different to Central Europe.
I’m always interested in who you read for fun.I get the sense you are kind of old school.
I have always loved reading, my list is varied and includes, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Keri Arthur, Patricia Briggs, Maya Angelou, David Niven, Claire Savage, Ernest Hemingway just to name a few.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
One of my musical heroes announced this week he’s retiring from the stage. Kris Kristofferson is hanging it up at the age of 84. But what does a handsome, successful, talented and (when he was sober) well-loved artist have in common with Johnny Lycan, who is a 30-year-old werewolf?
Kristofferson has been a lot of things: Singer, actor, songwriter, poet, chopper pilot, Army Ranger, West Point Instructor, and Rhodes Scholar. For what it’s worth, Janis Joplin said he was the best sex she ever had. He came from (although he largely rejected) a family with a long traditional military tradition and became a vigorous peace activist. So where’s the similarity to Johnny Lupul and my silly little novel?
Like a lot of artists, Kristofferson has always been more than a little in touch with the darkest part of his soul. He understood all too well the many sins,(Silver Tongued Devil) betrayals (Darby’s Castle), and just plain bad behavior humans indulge in (too many to count but you have to add in Beat the Devil and You Show Me Yours) if left unchecked. He also related more than most to the desire to do better, (Why Me, Lord?) and how isolating it can feel to fail and have no one to blame but yourself. (Sunday Morning Coming Down.)
And for all of that, he frequently lost the battle with his demons. They might not have been lycanthropic with teeth and razor-sharp claws, but they were big and scary and chased him for most of his life. If he’s not completely beaten the Devil, in his own word he drank his beer for free and then stole his song.
Johnny Lycan is not as smart, certainly not as handsome, and can’t sing to save his soul, but he’s a good man wrestling the werewolf inside him. Kristofferson probably had a name for what was buried in his soul, too. Lord knows he sang about his devils often enough. If you’re not familiar with my own struggling hero, check out Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk. There’s a lot of me in him. That battle to control what’s inside me/him/us is what I think Lycanthrope fiction is all about. But maybe that’s just me.
Growing up when Kris was all over the radio I appreciated him on a surface level. As I got older his music began to mean so much more. Help Me Make it Through the Night was every relationship you know is coming to a bad end. The Pilgrim is my friend Kenny Robinson, and I have my own list of others it could be dedicated to, just as he had Billy Swan and Funky Donnie Fritts.
I saw him in concert once, a night with too much tequila that ended with a public shouting match on a wintry sidewalk between me and a paramour, and I was lucky enough to be an extra on the set of “Amerika,” where he walked past me 14 times until they got the shot they wanted.
I met him one time. He was walking back to his hotel alone, hugging himself in a coat not quite up to the March weather and I was headed to the subway. We both stood at the traffic light, waiting to cross Queen Street. I manned up and told him I’d seen his show the night before. His eyes brightened and he gave me that trademark crooked smile. “Yeah,” he said. “That was a good’un wasn’t it?”
Yes. Yes it was. He wished me a good day, and headed off, alone, seemingly happy.
Rumors of his decline have circulated for years, and he’s made it one year longer (so far) than my father did, and I don’t even know what the odds were of that.
Canada is underrated for scariness. You think everyone’s nice (which is a great cover for a serial killer if you think about it) and it’s all outdoorsy and stuff. But if you’ve ever been alone in the woods at night, there’s a high creep factor. A writer from my home province of British Columbia has it figured out. I came across Katie Berry’s book Clawand figured I should introduce her to you so…
Katie, been years since I spoke to anyone from Castlegar! What should we know about you?
First of all, thank you so much for having me here today. It’s great to have a chance to speak to everyone and let them know a little about myself. Where to start? I am from Ottawa, Ontario, originally. Moved out west in a family migration when I was young. We ended up in the Okanagan in what was then called Westbank. After moving around the province several times over the years, I have settled down finally, and now live and write in the beautiful West Kootenays of British Columbia.
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. My first story was written in grade three. It was a four-page murder mystery. My teacher wanted the class to write a short story. Mine was the only story with a hand drawn cover. It really stood out, since it was hand-typed (thanks to my dad’s assistance) and had a lovely colourful cover: a large pool of bright-red blood lay on a sidewalk next to a vibrant green lawn surrounded by a white picket fence. I was a regular Rembrandt. ? Got an A- on it, too!
Canada has plenty of scary critters, but CLAW goes way above and beyond. Tell us about it.
CLAW is about a small town in BC that has several problems. Right about this time of year, they suffer a major earthquake, the town’s sole mountain pass cut off from the world. The other problem is with the ‘wildlife’ that keeps eating people wandering around in the local forests. Finally, there is a greedy cartel of murderous morons trying to hide a massive gold strike recently discovered in the area. The main protagonists, Austin Murphy and Christine Moon have been well received, with Christine being called a ‘kick-ass conservationist’ by one reader. I have had many people write to me telling me that they know these people, or people just like them in their own communities, and how the novel all seemed very real to them.
I always feel that the more you can ground your story in a realistic world that surrounds the reader, the easier it can be to introduce the more unbelievable elements. I recently heard from a zoologist who teaches at a university in the UK who just loved the book, saying it has everything he looks for in a novel, from story, action and characters, all the way to the title cryptid villain, who is actually not called CLAW, interestingly. It’s nice to have the scientific community at your back, I must say.
As someone who grew up in a hub for Sasquatch sightings (Bigfoot is so American), I love me a good cryptid. Where did the story come from?
The roots of the story. I had a dream. After that dream, I got to wondering about certain things in my area, and it all just sort of fell into place (eventually). It was a four year journey from that dream to reality, but I feel it was worth it. I am truly proud of that novel, and especially so when people tell me they rank it right up there with stories by King, Koontz and Crichton. I truly feel blessed to have done so well. CLAW has been in the top 5,000-10,000 on Amazon.com since just about a month after its release in December 2019. As of yesterday, I have sold just a little over 10,000 copies and counting. And the two new prequel novelettes I have recently released are also doing quite well. Another aspect of the novel was that I wanted to write something like a big-action blockbuster monster movie set here in the mountains of BC. With CLAW and its upcoming sequel and prequel, I think I have achieved that. CLAW is also available in paperback and audiobook (14.5 hours of fun!)
What is it about this kind of story that appeals to you?
I have always had an affinity for the horrific side of movies and television, and especially things that go bump in the night or with monsters in them. I remember watching the old Universal horror movies with my mom, such as the Wolfman, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man, etc. One of the things we also watched were reruns of Kolchak: The Night Stalker with Darren McGavin. It was that show that inspired me to be a writer. I actually wanted to be an investigative journalist like Carl Kolchak and bust monsters each week like he did. Hey, I was only ten at the time.
(WAYNE HAS TO INTERRUPT>>>LOVED Night Stalker! I actually had a dream the other night I got a TV deal to write a reboot of Night Stalker with Randall Park as the reporter. How do we make that happen?)
But that set me up with the writing bug and I never looked back. I actually did study journalism in college for a while along with abnormal psychology. Personally, I like things with the unknown in it. But unknown of the fantastic nature. I know that some people love a good psycho killer novel, but with all the horror in the world these days, I like to escape when I read, or write. Man’s inhumanity against man is something that holds little appeal to me, but nature’s inhumanity to man, or the supernatural’s, well, that’s another thing.
Where can we learn more about you and your work?
For any reader that would like to keep up with my writing, my website is always up to date with links to all of my books at https://katieberry.ca.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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.