I’m a 62-year-old man with a good job and a grown family. Why do I write silly, scary stories about werewolf detectives? Since the thought of using TikTok makes my skin crawl, I thought I’d just share my thoughts.
Why are we so fascinated with Lycans? Take a look. Let me know if you agree.
Johnny Lycan is a unique blend of werewolf story and Jack Reacher style detective thriller. There are demons and haunted relics, good old-fashioned clue-following and punching (and worse) bad guys.
The final book in the series, Johnny Lycan & the Last Witchfinder, comes out May 2, 2024 from Black Rose Writing.. If you’d like to get on the email list, let a brother know. Use the contact form on the left-hand side of the screen.
I am a sucker for a good heist story. That’s especially true when you throw in exotic locations and fantastic McGuffins. I really enjoyed The Medina Device and thought I’d talk to fellow Black Rose Writing author, T J Champitto.
T.J. What’s your deal?
I’m an award-winning fiction author with two novels currently on the market. My debut, The Medina Device, was given a 2020 PenCraft Award for Best Action Thriller and my latest novel, The Shadowmaker, recently won a Literary Titan Gold Award and is the first book in a new series I’m working on. Before I became a published author, I spent many years working as a travel writer and media buyer, and I now reside in the United States with my beautiful wife Tisha. I enjoy traveling, discovering new things, and seeking inspiration from all forms of art and culture.
Tell us about the Medina Device. What’s it about?
The Medina Device follows former Navy SEAL, Cameron Lyle, who’s trying to adjust to life as a husband, a father, and a government contractor. Along the way, his thirst for adventure gets the better of him and through a series of high-stakes robberies, Cameron has caught the attention of a fledgling FBI agent who is drawing dangerously close to putting the pieces together and solving these crimes. The story gets even more interesting when an ancient piece of technology is discovered in the mountains of Bolivia and Cam and his team are hired to steal it. As the plot presses on, the mystery surrounding the device begins to unfold in dramatic fashion. This novel has a ton of great settings, suspenseful action sequences, and fascinating characters.
I love the idea of a team pulling off international heists, and this one has some interesting twists. Where’d it come from?
I think the crime thriller genre has always appealed to me, and when I wrote this novel I was really inspired by authors like Dan Brown and Steve Berry, so the whole ancient brotherhood element along with mysterious technologies and fringe sciences really pulled at my creativity. I set out to write something that pushed the bounds of reality—something that would challenge the reader’s imagination. The roots of the story itself began with the concept of a good guy gone bad. I wanted to tell a classic heist story from the perspective of the bad guy, and play with some darker themes along the way. There’s a lot to like about Cam, and as his character begins to develop on the pages, you start to understand that, like many of us, he’s sort of going through a quest for self-discovery. And I think that’s a very relatable theme for most people.
Who did you read when you were younger, and who are you reading now?
Growing up I read a lot of George Orwell, John Steinbeck and Hunter S. Thompson. As I learned to appreciate the art of suspenseful storytelling, I drifted more towards authors like Tom Clancy, Paula Hawkins, Lee Child and some of the other commercial greats. These days, I’m really into Olen Steinhauer. His Tourist series is one of my absolute favorites and I’m constantly inspired by his pacing and plot sequences. The guy’s truly an amazing writer.
Where can we learn more about you and your work?
You can learn more about me and my books on my website at tjcauthor.com, as well as Goodreads and Amazon. You can also find promotions and announcements through my Facebook and Twitter pages, and for a tiny glimpse into my life as an author you can check me out on Instagram.
If that title didn’t catch your attention, why are we even friends? You know my first novels were historical fiction. Now add the fact that growing up in BC we used to play “Sasquatch Hunters” at recess in the woods behind the school in Mission BC. So I was thrilled to hear about fellow Black Rose Writer David Buzan’s book In the Lair of Legends.
David let’s start with who the heck you are.
I’m a late-to-the-party author who didn’t even begin writing my debut novel until the end of 2020. Although I had started selling short fiction in high school and early into college, I found myself exclusively pursuing screenwriting after graduating from the Vancouver Film School in 1994. It was a wild ride! Fifteen years, three agents, a half-dozen spec scripts, two options…and plenty of heartache. In fact, I had become so disillusioned with the entire process that I found myself walking away from it entirely. I had truly convinced myself that I was a failure, and turned my back on any new creative writing for over a decade.
There was a distinct moment in October of 2020 when everything changed. It was in the midst of the worst wildfire season in Oregon’s history. The sky had been choked with smoke for endless days, and several close friends and family members had to be evacuated from their homes. While this was happening, the whole world was dealing with Covid-19. Being a manager for an essential business, I was working right through the treacherous smoke and the threat of the virus. One afternoon at work, strong emotions totally overwhelmed me. I remember walking outside and staring up at the dark skies. I thought about my writing and was instantly filled with regret.
There’s a moment in ROCKY BALBOA when Rocky explains that his desire to step back into the ring was akin to feeling “something in the basement.” It’s a compunction to return to a past dream and finally prove something to yourself. That’s certainly the way that I felt at that moment. Before I walked back inside that day, I had made the unwavering commitment to start writing again. And so I did.
I did the spec script thing back in the 80s and 90s, and am working on a Johnny Lycan script, so I feel ya about coming back after so long at the day job. What’s your book about?
“In the Lair of Legends” centers around a Native American Civil War veteran who finds himself battling a unit of Army traitors and a legendary monster in a desperate fight for survival. The story itself is a unique genre mishmash: action-adventure/historical fiction/western/horror. It’s got the large-scale stunts of a James Bond picture, wild Schwarzenegger-esque one-liners, and the bone-crunching action of a “Die Hard” film. But at its center is Jolon Winterhawk, an honorable and moral indigenous protagonist whose spiritual journey is every bit as difficult as his physical one. Plus, the book showcases a pair of Sasquatch maneaters!
Shut up at take my money! What are the roots of the story?
As a writer, heroes that are on some sort of redemptive journey always appeal to me. In this instance, there was a man straddling two vastly different ideologies: the Nez Perce tribe he’s fighting to defend, as well as the nation he’s sworn to protect. The dichotomy of that was the fertile soil that Winterhawk grew from. In terms of history, most of us are ignorant of the fact that nearly a quarter-million Native Americans fought during the Civil War. With certain aspects of this story, I wanted to show how they were treated not only on the battlefield by fellow soldiers but also how they were ultimately received after returning home to their tribes. Added to this is the relatively unknown aspects of the Army Balloon Corps during that era, whose last remaining aeronauts are the book’s duplicitous human antagonists.
As for the ravenous monsters, I wanted to reframe the idea of Bigfoot in the imagination of my readers. Growing up in Oregon, you see Sasquatch images everywhere: bumper stickers, candy wrappers, jam bottles, and t-shirts. Bigfoot is very much like our state animal! Of course, he’s always portrayed as some sort of gentle giant. That definitely wasn’t my intent here. With “In the Lair of Legends,” I wanted to make the Sasquatch into a terrifying defender of his forest domain. In this book, Bigfoot is much more reminiscent of “Jaws” than “Harry and the Hendersons.”
Who are the authors you enjoy?
My favorite author is David Morrell. His work (especially the groundbreaking “First Blood”) created entire genres and subgenres in the thriller category. I’m also an avid reader of Stephen King, Tana French, and Matthew Reilly. All are different writers with totally opposite styles. But they each have a unique voice that sets them apart from everyone else.
Where can we learn more about you?
You’ll find me interacting a lot on social media, especially on the platform-formally-known-as-Twitter. I enjoy talking about a myriad of topics with people, especially movies and film score appreciation. There are links to follow me on various social media platforms found on my website: www.davidbuzan.com.
Someone pointed out recently that I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet. (It should also be noted they weren’t complaining about that.) That’s because I’ve been very busy in the real world, but I figured it was time to update you about my foolishness.
Johnny Lycan and the Last Witchfinder is now safely at Black Rose Writing. The publication date is May 2, 2024. Now, if that seems like an eternity away, you’re not kidding. The wheels grind slowly in the publication world. But I have been getting people to read advance copies… here are a couple of the nice things they’ve said:
“Turmel’s latest is full of the punchy, fast paced prose I’ve come to expect from him. It’s delightfully gritty from beginning to end, and Johnny Lycan is that sort of old school PI Urban Fantasy hero that’s grown increasingly rare these days. My only complaint is that this book wraps up the trilogy, meaning I’ll just have to reread them to get more Johnny.”
– Bob McGough author of the Jubal County Saga
“Johnny Lycan is a fantastic gritty story about a werewolf enforcer for various crimes that sometimes solves crimes. Wayne Turmel has created a unique world that is seedy, supernatural, and alive.”
CT Phipps, The Rules of Supervillainy
Adventure, supernatural beings, mystery, and tough choices wrapped up in a PI’s fur coat. Johnny is at it again!
Johnny is at it again!
Madilynn Dale, The Chapter Goddess
Could We See Johnny Lycan: the Movie?
Years before most of you knew I existed, I dreamed of being a hot Hollywood screenwriter. In fact, I had two screenplays optioned, although they never saw the light of day. Now I’ve got a sad, quivering little first baby draft of a screenplay for Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk. I’m in the early stages of having other humans look at it. Here’s how you can help:
If you have screenwriting experience, would you be willing to take a look and give me feedback?
When you’re an indie author, you get told constantly that you need a newsletter. How else will people know about what you’re doing? How can you tell them about your new books?
The problem is that I hate bothering you unless I have something to say. That disclaimer out of the way, I’m seriously going about rebuilding my reader list. I’m looking to not only update you on publication, but also let you know what I’ve been reading and who you might want to read as well.
If you’re on my list, you’ll be receiving an email in the next week or so. All you have to do is tell me whether you want to remain on the mailing list.
If you’re not on the list and would like to be, let a brother know. There’s a sign-up form on my website ( look halfway down on the left), or just drop me an email. I promise not to make your life miserable.
Enough for now! Enjoy. There are more author interviews on the way. Thank you for your patience and for supporting my work!
What is my author brand? When you think of what you’ve read from me, what do you think of?
Most of you reading this are not writers, so you probably don’t know what I’m about to tell you. In December, I had a book come out. Last week, I had a second. You’d think as an author that would be a very good thing. Everybody who bought the first book would buy the second, right? Guess again.
The thing is, readers who enjoy silly thrillers about Lycan gumshoes are not necessarily the same bunch who are reading serious books about making their remote teams work. That
doesn’t even include my short fiction, which has been published all over the world and in every conceivable genre. In fact, if you think about my work, including historical fiction like Count of the Sahara and the Lucca Le Peu stories, the Venn diagram of possible readers looks like this:
What I”m trying to say, is if you read my work, you are in very elite company, and I appreciate you. If you enjoyed The Long-Distance Leader, maybe take a chance on Acre’s Bastard or Count of the Sahara. The same brain, for good or evil, created all of them, and I hope you find, read and enjoy my work.
Plus, you’re in an exclusive club, and that’s kind of cool, right?
I can’t even remember how long ago I wrote “Stuffed Pikachus.” It was a writing experiment to see about creating a traveling carnival world that may or may not be a setting for a future longer work. I like it, even though it defies categorization. Maybe that’s why it took so long to place.
This is a lovely way to start 2023. 2022 was a mix of highs and lows both personally and for my writing. Yes, I managed to take The Duchess to Paris and London, which was quite literally the last major thing on my bucket list. It was also kind of a crap year financially, for the dreaded day job, but sales is cyclical and the training business is as well. That also explains that I am behind on Johnny Lycan 3 but hard at work, and it will be worth it, as Cthulu is my witness.
There were lovely visits with old friends, balanced out by Covid and a lovely case of shingles on my face (fortunately, my least valuable body part.)
Writing-wise, 2022 saw the launch of Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker, from Black Rose Writing. It’s off to kind of a slow sales start but people seem to really like it. (Reviews, people. If you’ve read it and liked it please share!) It’s also wound up on a couple of best-indie book review lists, and I’m deeply grateful.
I also had two short pieces published (if you don’t include Stuffed Pikachus which technically came out in 2023). A flat-out horror piece called The Voyeur appeared in the aptly named Horror Sleaze Trash mag, and my very personal flash piece, A Simple Purse, not only appeared in 300 Days of Sun, from the folks at Nevada State College, but it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, for which I am proud and grateful.
Thank you for joining me on my writing journey so far, here’s to more good stuff in 2023 and I wish you success and happy reading.
Recently, as part of a price promotion, I came across a few fantasy authors I really enjoyed. One is LS O’dea and her Lake of Sins series. It’s a unique combination of the races in the Time Machine meets Doctor Moreau. Figured you might enjoy meeting her…
Okay, lady. Tell us about you.
Hmm. I hate this question because I’m not very exciting – on the outside. Inside my head is where the excitement happens.
Internal conversations are a constant for me. They aren’t always stories but there’s always talking going on in my head. When I started writing, almost everything was dialogue. I had to go back and add description and scenery. I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but those parts of the stories don’t come easily for me. Dialogue, on the other hand, just flows.
Because of these conversations, I was an odd-ish child. Even my mom said so. ? Like most people, I didn’t realize I was odd because I am who I am. It’s normal to me. When my mother mentioned that I was a bit different as a kid (I was an adult when she said this), I was surprised, but I believe her. She had seven kids, so she knows what “normal” children do, and that wasn’t me.
Unlike my annoying (my words not my mom’s) siblings, I entertained myself. I’d sit for hours and play, talking to myself. What she didn’t know was that I was actually talking to the characters in my head. I never realized that everyone doesn’t do this until she mentioned that. I’d be so lonely without those voices.
So…besides for being an odd child, I was also a tormented child. Growing up the youngest of seven in a time before 24/7 TV, computers, the Internet and video games, kids had to be more creative in their entertainment. Unfortunately for me, that meant teasing and tormenting me. In some ways I can’t blame my siblings. One of them was always stuck with me tagging along. I’m four and a half years younger than my closest sibling. That means nothing as adults, but as kids…that’s a lot of years.
The easiest way for them to not have to watch me was to get me to go home on my own. That always meant teasing me until I cried and ran home.
One would think that they would’ve gotten into trouble for this, but this was also before there were pre-made meals, fast food five minutes away, and dishwashers. My mom was busy. Really, really busy. Unless we had a broken bone or we were bleeding profusely she didn’t deal with our tears. Plus, if she’d punished my siblings for making me cry, she would’ve had to make them come home and then she would’ve had more kids under her feet and in her way.
Instead, when I came home crying my mother would make me take a bath and then I was in for the evening. The good thing was that when my siblings did come home, they still had to take a bath (we didn’t have a shower) and they always missed some of whatever TV show we were watching before bed. It wasn’t much, but I relished that small vengeance.
The other good and bad things were that I learned to deal with their teasing because I didn’t want to go home and take a bath. That was good because I was well prepared for life. The bad thing was that they had to escalate the torment in order to get the result that they wanted. It was kind of a vicious cycle.
With all that being said, I get along very well with all of my siblings. We are a close family. Was I teased and tormented? Yes, but they also played with me, and I knew that they always had my back against anyone outside of the family. Inside of the family it was every kid for themselves. Lol.
What is your series about?
I’ll tell you about Escape, which is the first book in the Lake of Sins series.
This book takes place on the earth of the future, but instead of a story filled with new technology, this world is more forest than city. It starts hundreds of years after the Great Death ravaged the world, killing most humans, all domestic animals, and most other animals. The humans who survived had to rebuild and in doing that they changed – genetically.
As far as the characters know, the only descendants of the human race are the Almightys. The other classes are something else, but the characters don’t know what they are. Just like a dog doesn’t know it’s a dog; it just is who and what it is.
The first book gives a very narrow view of the world of the Lake of Sins because the story is told from the point of view of two Producers. The rest of the books build on that world view with new POV characters.
The two POV characters in Escape are in the class of beings that produce all the food for the other classes. Every year after harvest, the teenage Producers are either chosen to stay and assigned a mate or removed from the encampment. Trinity knows she’s not going to be picked to stay because she’s not a good specimen. She’s not even all Producer. Her father is a House Servant, but that secret will get them all killed.
Trinity escapes into the forest one last time, hoping to find her friend who was taken last year. She has a good idea of where her friend might be, but she doesn’t plan on being chased and hunted by Guards and predators that shouldn’t even exist. When she’s surrounded by a River-Man in the water, a team of Guards in one area of the forest and an unknown predator in the other direction, she must choose which enemy she thinks she may be able to escape.
Where did this come from? What are the roots of your story?
The roots of my stories vary. I’m not one of those writers who has trouble coming up with ideas. I am flooded with ideas from things I see, articles I read and many other things that happen in my daily life.
The roots of the Lake of Sins series goes back a long, long time to the movie Soylent Green. I saw the movie when I was a kid. I don’t remember much about it except the horror of the main character finding out what Soylent Green was.
Add to that, my personal decision to become vegetarian and you have the beginning of the main theme in the Lake of Sins series. I began to ponder what us humans would do if some catastrophic event killed all domestic animals and all other larger animals.
I’m also fascinated and a bit horrified with our tinkering with genetics. These things were tossed together in my cauldron of a brain and the Lake of Sins series was born.
The Chimera Chronicles series is a spinoff of the Lake of Sins series. There was a lot of interest by readers in the Rive-Man character in the first book of the Lake of Sins series, so I decided to tell his story. Rise of the River Man is Mutter’s story of how he is genetically modified and turned into a River-Man.
Once that book was written, I realized that I had to tell the stories of the other “monsters” that appear in the Lake of Sins series.
I’m not positive how the Immortal Defiance series came about. It probably stems from my love of Greek mythology. One of my favorite things to read as a kid were the various stories of the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology. I started to wonder how they felt about going from being revered and worshiped to being nothing more than a myth. These thoughts rolled into A Demon’s Gift.
Iatee is a Punishment Spirit who refuses to conform with the times. He has no interest in becoming a kinder, gentler spirit, and he is punished for his disobedience to the gods. When the story starts his spirit is trapped inside a stuffed teddy bear.
Where can people learn more about you and your books?
I’ve created a series page that will give you an idea about the books in that series. The Chimera Chronicles and the Immortal Defiance series are standalone. The Lake of Sins series needs to be read in order.
When you write historical fiction, it’s easy to get caught up in the history part of things and forget that you’re telling the stories of real people. They have lives. And families. And grandchildren, as it turns out.
That brings me to something I haven’t shared with many people. Earlier this year, I received a lovely email from a woman in South Africa, named Genevieve Manderstam. Turns out, she’s Byron’s granddaughter.
Her mother and aunt were taken away from their father when they were very young and even had their names changed, so Genevieve knew only the tiniest amount about her famous grandfather, and not much of that was nice.
Here’s the kicker. She thanked me for telling his story, warts and all. It meant a lot to her. Given it wasn’t a completely positive tale, that should tell you where my boy stood in relation to the family.
Recently she sent me this hand-written note which means a lot.
She also sent me a picture holding my book. Look at that smile.
As a writer, this kind of stuff makes me happy. Certainly happier than if Johnny Lupul ever has kids. Them, I’m not sure I want to meet…..