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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Interview with Stephen Blackmoore


Please welcome Stephen Blackmoore to The Qwillery. Fire Season, the 4th Eric Carter novel, was published on April 16, 2019 by DAW. 

I adore Eric Carter - he's snarky, reckless, a bit crazy, and my favorite anti-hero. I don't expect him to be the good guy though he often ends up that way by accident. He's really conflicted and flawed, which makes him more emotionally believable. Fire Season is the most intricate of the Eric Carter novels (so far). More is revealed about Eric's family and there are plenty of surprises. Blackmoore once again delivers a high-octane thrill ride of mayhem, magic and murder and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I highly recommend Fire Season and the Eric Carter series!



Interview with Stephen Blackmoore




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Fire Season (Eric Carter 4), was published in April. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote City of the Lost (2012) to Fire Season?

Stephen:  I think so. It's gotten, I can't think of another word for it, sloppier. CITY OF THE LOST felt like I just threw it together. In fact I did just throw it together. I had no idea how it was going to go. Pantsed the whole thing.

But with DEAD THINGS I outlined. Not one or two pages, or notes in a whiteboard. No, I made a 30 page outline and whenever I shifted a direction, I would go back and shift the outline to see if the change was going to break the story.

Then I wrote a three pager for BROKEN SOULS and that was enough.

HUNGRY GHOSTS was a Notepad file with sentence fragments and a white board with half a dozen bullet points.

FIRE SEASON I didn't even have that much. I had a couple of ideas, a few bits of scenes and lines of dialog, kind of the direction I knew it was going to go, and that there was going to be a lot of fire in it.

The one I turned in a few months ago and the one I'm working on now are pretty much the same way, only less organized.



TQWhich character in the Eric Carter series (so far) surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Stephen:  For both of those questions, it's Santa Muerte. In HUNGRY GHOSTS Eric tries to kill the folk saint Santa Muerte, who's also the Aztec goddess of the dead, Mictecacihuatl, who he's had problems with since book one. He's doing this while trying to protect her avatar, a woman named Tabitha Cheung who he's come to have complicated feelings about.

Well, he fucks that up. And though Santa Muerte is destroyed, Tabitha goes along with her in a way that (SPOILER ALERT BUT MAYBE NOT REALLY) something new is created in her stead. It's an amalgam of Santa Muerte and Tabitha, which makes things even more complicated for Eric. The thing he despises and the person that maybe he has a thing for, and he really doesn't know what to do with it.

And honestly, neither does she.



TQDescribe Fire Season using only 5 words.

Stephen:  Angry gods necromancy big fire.



TQTell us something about Fire Season that is not in the book description.

Stephen:  I kill a lot more people in the book than I thought I was going to. Like a lot more. I really crank up the death count and the Holy Shit Did That Horrible Thing Just Happen up to eleven.



TQPlease tell us about Quetzalcoatl who appears to be after Eric Carter in Fire Season.

Stephen:  He's an asshole. He's betrayed the other Aztec gods (no one's quite sure why - but there's a bit of a resolution on that in FIRE SEASON) and helped the Spanish kill all but two of them, and in that final fight he was almost destroyed. He's weak, but he's still a god. He's driven, single-minded, and like everyone else has a hidden agenda.



TQWhich question about Fire Season do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Stephen:  "Can I give you a truckload of money to make this into a TV series?" The answer is, of course, "Yes."



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Fire Season.

Stephen

"I tried idealism once. Gave me a rash."

"That's the problem with coke. It makes everything sound like a great idea. If at all possible, never make plans on coke."



TQWhat's next?

Stephen:  The next book in the series, GHOST MONEY, comes out in January. After that is BOTTLE DEMON, which I'm working on now. Besides that I've got another couple of things I'm working toward that may or may not pan out, so we'll see.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Stephen:  Thanks for the opportunity to talk about the book!





Fire Season
Eric Carter 4
DAW, April 16, 2019
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
The fourth book of this dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

Los Angeles is burning.

During one of the hottest summers the city has ever seen, someone is murdering mages with fires that burn when they shouldn’t, that don’t stop when they should. Necromancer Eric Carter is being framed for the killings and hunted by his own people.

To Carter, everything points to the god Quetzalcoatl coming after him, after he defied the mad wind god in the Aztec land of the dead. But too many things aren’t adding up, and Carter knows there’s more going on.

If he doesn’t figure out what it is and put a stop to it fast, Quetzalcoatl won’t just kill him, he’ll burn the whole damn city down with him.





Previously

Dead Things
Eric Carter 1
DAW, February 3, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 256 pages

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
Stephen Blackmoore’s dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

Necromancer is such an ugly word, but it’s a title Eric Carter is stuck with.

He sees ghosts, talks to the dead. He’s turned it into a lucrative career putting troublesome spirits to rest, sometimes taking on even more dangerous things. For a fee, of course.

When he left LA fifteen years ago, he thought he’d never go back. Too many bad memories. Too many people trying to kill him.

But now his sister’s been brutally murdered and Carter wants to find out why.

Was it the gangster looking to settle a score? The ghost of a mage he killed the night he left town? Maybe it’s the patron saint of violent death herself, Santa Muerte, who’s taken an unusually keen interest in him.

Carter’s going to find out who did it, and he’s going to make them pay.

As long as they don’t kill him first.



Broken Souls
Eric Carter 2
DAW, August 5, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 272 pages

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
Stephen Blackmoore’s dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

Sister murdered, best friend dead, married to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte. Necromancer Eric Carter’s return to Los Angeles hasn’t gone well, and it’s about to get even worse.

His link to the Aztec death goddess is changing his powers, changing him, and he’s not sure how far it will go. He’s starting to question his own sanity, wonder if he’s losing his mind. No mean feat for a guy who talks to the dead on a regular basis.

While searching for a way to break Santa Muerte’s hold over him, Carter finds himself the target of a psychopath who can steal anyone’s form, powers, and memories. Identity theft is one thing, but this guy does it by killing his victims and wearing their skins like a suit. He can be anyone. He can be anywhere.

Now Carter has to change the game — go from hunted to hunter. All he has for help is a Skid Row bruja and a ghost who’s either his dead friend Alex or the manifestation of Carter’s own guilt-fueled psychotic break.

Everything is trying to kill him. Nothing is as it seems. If all his plans go perfectly, he might survive the week.

He’s hoping that’s a good thing.



Hungry Ghosts
Eric Carter 3
DAW, February 7, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
Stephen Blackmoore’s dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

Necromancer Eric Carter’s problems keep getting bigger. Bad enough he’s the unwilling husband to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte, but now her ex, the Aztec King of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, has come back — and it turns out that Carter and he are swapping places. As Mictlantecuhtli breaks loose of his prison of jade, Carter is slowly turning to stone.

To make matters worse, both gods are trying to get Carter to assassinate the other. But only one of them can be telling him the truth and he can’t trust either one. Carter’s solution? Kill them both.

If he wants to get out of this situation with his soul intact, he’ll have to go to Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead, and take down a couple of death gods while facing down the worst trials the place has to offer him: his own sins.





About Stephen

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
Stephen Blackmoore is a pulp writer of little to no renown who once thought lighting things on fire was one of the best things a kid could do with his time. Until he discovered that eyebrows don't grow back very quickly. He is the author of the urban fantasy novels CITY OF THE LOST, DEAD THINGS, BROKEN SOULS, HUNGRY GHOSTS, and FIRE SEASON. His short stories and poetry have appeared in Plots With Guns, Needle, Spinetingler, Thrilling Detective, Shots, Demolition, Clean Sheets , Flashing In The Gutters and a couple of anthologies with authors far better than he is. You can even stalk him on Twitter (@sblackmoore) or check out his website at http://stephenblackmoore.com.




Review: Hungry Ghosts by Stephen Blackmoore - and Giveaway


Hungry Ghosts
Eric Carter 3
DAW, February 7, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Review: Hungry Ghosts by Stephen Blackmoore - and Giveaway
Stephen Blackmoore’s dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts • “Gritty, emotional and phenomenally imaginative.” RT Reviews

Necromancer Eric Carter’s problems keep getting bigger. Bad enough he’s the unwilling husband to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte, but now her ex, the Aztec King of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, has come back — and it turns out that Carter and he are swapping places. As Mictlantecuhtli breaks loose of his prison of jade, Carter is slowly turning to stone.

To make matters worse, both gods are trying to get Carter to assassinate the other. But only one of them can be telling him the truth and he can’t trust either one. Carter’s solution? Kill them both.

If he wants to get out of this situation with his soul intact, he’ll have to go to Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead, and take down a couple of death gods while facing down the worst trials the place has to offer him: his own sins.



Qwill's Thoughts

Hungry Ghosts is the third novel in the Eric Carter series by Stephen Blackmoore. Married to Santa Muerte, necromancer Carter is out to kill her and Mictlantecuhtli - the Aztec King of the Dead and Santa Muerte's ex-husband. Carter has a particular need to dispatch Mictlantecuhtli - they are swapping places with Carter becoming a more and more a jade statue when he uses the god's power and Mictlantecuhtli becoming flesh again. To achieve his ends, Carter goes on a hunt for Santa Muerte's avatar in the real world and then to Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead. On top of all this at least one other Aztec god has issues with Carter which is part of an ancient feud between those gods. Carter is juggling a lot in Hungry Ghosts and the opportunities for him to die are more numerous than ever.

Carter's approach to trouble is generally to take down whatever is in his way. It's worked for him so far more or less so why change? Carter is snarky, a bit crazy, and spends most of his time in a very dark place mentally. He's also extremely resourceful. He's been responsible for a lot of death and destruction to those close to him and many others. In Hungry Ghosts he becomes less sure of his burn it all down approach and for the first time in the series is facing up to events in his life with a bit of introspection. Trying to stay alive, fighting monsters (human and otherwise) does not leave a lot of time for this, but Carter's journey through Mictlan is both real and metaphorical.

Blackmoore brings Mictlan vividly to life and provides fascinating information about Aztec mythology and history. This is all vital to the events unfolding in Hungry Ghosts and serves to deepen the story. In order to stay alive Carter needs to understand what is going on in Mictlan and with the gods.

Hungry Ghosts is a dark, action-packed thrill ride and is Blackmoore's best writing so far. It's full of rich detail and exceptional character development wrapped in a great story. I'm truly looking forward to the next three Eric Carter novels.





The Giveaway

Review: Hungry Ghosts by Stephen Blackmoore - and Giveaway

What:  Mass Market Paperback copies of Dead Things, Broken Souls and Hungry Ghosts by Stephen Blackmoore. US / Canada Only

How:
  • Send an email to theqwillery . contests @ gmail.com [remove the spaces]
  • In the subject line, enter “Eric Carter Novels“
  • In the body of the email, please provide your name and full mailing address. The winning address is used only to mail the prize and is provided to the publisher and/or The Qwillery only for that purpose. All other address information will be deleted once the giveaway ends.

Who:  The giveaway is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address.

When:  The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on February 14, 2017. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*





Previously

Dead Things
Eric Carter 1
DAW, February 3, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 256 pages

Review: Hungry Ghosts by Stephen Blackmoore - and Giveaway
The first book in Stephen Blackmoore’s dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts • “Gritty, emotional and phenomenally imaginative.” RT Reviews

Necromancer is such an ugly word, but it’s a title Eric Carter is stuck with.

He sees ghosts, talks to the dead. He’s turned it into a lucrative career putting troublesome spirits to rest, sometimes taking on even more dangerous things. For a fee, of course.

When he left LA fifteen years ago, he thought he’d never go back. Too many bad memories. Too many people trying to kill him.

But now his sister’s been brutally murdered and Carter wants to find out why.

Was it the gangster looking to settle a score? The ghost of a mage he killed the night he left town? Maybe it’s the patron saint of violent death herself, Santa Muerte, who’s taken an unusually keen interest in him.

Carter’s going to find out who did it, and he’s going to make them pay.

As long as they don’t kill him first.



Broken Souls
Eric Carter 2
DAW, August 5, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 272 pages

Review: Hungry Ghosts by Stephen Blackmoore - and Giveaway
The second book in Stephen Blackmoore’s dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts • “Gritty, emotional and phenomenally imaginative.” RT Reviews

Sister murdered, best friend dead, married to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte. Necromancer Eric Carter’s return to Los Angeles hasn’t gone well, and it’s about to get even worse.

His link to the Aztec death goddess is changing his powers, changing him, and he’s not sure how far it will go. He’s starting to question his own sanity, wonder if he’s losing his mind. No mean feat for a guy who talks to the dead on a regular basis.

While searching for a way to break Santa Muerte’s hold over him, Carter finds himself the target of a psychopath who can steal anyone’s form, powers, and memories. Identity theft is one thing, but this guy does it by killing his victims and wearing their skins like a suit. He can be anyone. He can be anywhere.

Now Carter has to change the game — go from hunted to hunter. All he has for help is a Skid Row bruja and a ghost who’s either his dead friend Alex or the manifestation of Carter’s own guilt-fueled psychotic break.

Everything is trying to kill him. Nothing is as it seems. If all his plans go perfectly, he might survive the week.

He’s hoping that’s a good thing.

2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2014 Winner


The winner of the May 2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Path of the Dead (Hungry Ghosts1) by Timothy Baker with 37% of the votes! Path of the Dead was published by Ragnarok Publications.



2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2014 Winner




 The Final Results

2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2014 Winner




 The May 2014 Debut Covers

2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2014 Winner





Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue with voting on the June Debut covers starting on June 15, 2014.  Look for the list of June's Debuts on June 1st.


Interview with Timothy Baker, author of Path of the Dead - May 4, 2014


Please welcome Timothy Baker to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Path of the Dead, Timothy's debut, will be published on May 5, 2014 by Ragnarok Publications.



Interview with Timothy Baker, author of Path of the Dead - May 4, 2014





TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Timothy:  Thank you. Delighted to be here *looks around for snack comp table*. Back in 2010 when a writer friend enticed me to participate in that year's NaNoWriMo. I had been retired from firefighting for 5 years, had returned to college and took a Creative Writing class, got straight A's, and thought what-the-hell, I'll give a shot at a thirty day first draft. After making the last day deadline at +500 words, and looked back on what my first novel (mess though it was), I figured it might be worth taking a new career chance. I was 54 and looking for something to do, so I got in the writing game. Kind of late in life, I know, but here I am!



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Timothy:  A little of both. For short stories, pretty much panster, that is, when I'm wearing pants at my desk, but that's another tale. I get an idea that trips my trigger and where I want to end it, then sit down and jam it out. The first novel (unpublished) taught me a lot, mostly that I wasn't able to see the big picture. So the next novel, Path of the Dead, I made a rough chapter outline of the story, marking the set pieces, then pants'ed my way through the parts in between. It was good to know where I was going and seeing chapters ticked off, but leaving open places where I could let my imagination free.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Timothy:  I'm a relatively slow writer, mulling over things for long periods before I commit to the chair. I envy those writers that post their FB status with, "I wrote 35.2 bajillion words today on my new novel. Now I can get to work on the 5 short stories and novella I'm working on for tomorrow's deadline!" I also hate them. Who else is with me on this?



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Timothy:  I'm an old dude and was raised on comic books, fantasy/horror/ SF/pulp adventure fiction. Stan Lee, Poe (everything), Lovecraft (mythos stories), Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan and John Carter), Rod Serling (everything), Ray Bradbury (The Dark Country), Arthur C. Clarke, Tolkien, Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange and The Wanting Seed blew my mind), those I would say were my early influences. Later came Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, and the writers I put on my highest pedestal: Cormac McCarthy and Elmore Leonard.



TQ:  Describe Path of the Dead in 140 characters or less.

Timothy:  Damn zombies, can't get away from them, even in Tibet. They'll follow you up a mountain just to snack on you.



TQ:  Tell us something about Path of the Dead that is not in the book description.

Timothy:  It's short and it has a big kitty in it.



TQ:  Why did you set the novel in Tibet?

Timothy:  The story was written with a Buddhist POV and Tibet is steeped in it. And Tibetan Buddhism has a huge mythology to mine, with gods and demons and shape changing monks, and has been influenced by the indigenous Bon religion, which is somewhat animistic, and nature born. Nature is one of the running themes in the story and it allowed me to broaden the fantasy aspects of the narrative.



TQPath of the Dead is a blend of dark fantasy and horror. What inspired you to write a dark fantasy / horror story?

Timothy:  It's been said to "write what you know" and I have fifty years of dark fantasy/horror books and films in my head that have created nightmare ideas, twisting around like snakes, needing to escape. I write dark fantasy/horror because it's what I know--and to remain sane.



TQ:  The book description mentions a "plague of apocalyptic proportions" resulting in the dead rising - the undead. Are your undead Zombies or something else?

Timothy:  Oh, they're zombies, for sure, the classic Romero zombie. I didn't want to recreate the wheel, only take the genre where it hasn't been.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Path of the Dead?

Timothy:  Of course, lots on Tibet in general: the history, terrain, flora and fauna. And being a Buddhist student from way back, I had to go back and reread some of the Tibetan mythology and pull out their sutras (teachings) to reference.



TQ:  In Path of the Dead: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Who is your favorite good 'guy', bad 'guy' or ethically ambiguous character in Path of the Dead?

Timothy:  Easiest would have to be the female nun, Gu-Lang. She doesn't speak, so dialogue was easy for her, only facial expressions and body language. She's a soldier of sorts, a skilled fighter, an easy read when she's communicating her emotions. Very direct. The hardest was Chodren, my young (10 years old) protagonist. Getting in his child's mind and keeping it consistent without over playing it, was a bit tricky to navigate. Definitely my favorite was my main protagonist, Dorje, the Shoalin trained monk. A 'good' guy through and through, he's complex, torn, doubtful, contemplative, confident, and driven. And he can fight like the characters in an old, Chinese, kung-fu movie.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Path of the Dead.

Timothy:  Oh, this is tough. But here's a couple...
" All distilled down into a monster of infinite size, pure in its vengeful message, one in its endless clouded eyes, countless arms with grasping hands, and the gnashing teeth, driven by one singular desire—hunger for the flesh of the living."
And...
"The panther seemed to accept his point and wandered off to find prey with lesser debate skills."


TQ:  What's next?

Timothy:  Well, I'll be starting on Hungry Ghosts Book Two. And of course, more short stories (I love writing them) and I have a couple of novel ideas in mind: Dark Country, a story of a country Sheriff and a serial killer occupying the same county where strange things take place; and a yet to be titled story of a young man coming back to his old small town to live in his dead mother's old abandoned house, and three witches that wander the grounds disguised as cats.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Timothy:  No, thank you. It's been a great pleasure. Now where's the snack comp table?





Path of the Dead

Path of the Dead
Hungry Ghosts 1
Ragnarok Publications, May 5, 2014

Interview with Timothy Baker, author of Path of the Dead - May 4, 2014

Nestled on the foot of Tibet’s sacred Seche La Mountain is the village of Dagzê. The normally quiet streets are bustling with the steady stream of arrivals and preparations for the coming Festival of the Medicine King; a time of celebration, healing, and renewal. But a shadow is sweeping the world, a plague of apocalyptic proportions—the dead are rising and devouring the living, and no place is safe where humanity thrives.

As Dagzê burns, overtaken by the hungry undead, five people come together: Lama Tenzin, an elder monk; Gu-lang, the silent warrior nun and Tenzin’s protector; Cheung, a private in The People’s Army, driver and escort of the Lama; ten-year-old Chodren Dawa, witness to his sister’s death and rising; and Dorje Cetan, a Shaolin-trained hermit monk of Seche La and a dreamer of a dark portent. Together they must fight their way out of Dagzê to an abandoned Buddhist hermitage clinging to the mist-shrouded cliffs of Seche La.

With the undead following and gathering at Eagle’s Nest gate, they barricade themselves inside their dead-end haven, and are soon forced to battle the beasts without, as well as the ones within.





About Timothy

Interview with Timothy Baker, author of Path of the Dead - May 4, 2014
Timothy Baker is a retired firefighter and an aspiring, perspiring, horror writer. He is published in Fading Light: Anthology of the Monstrous by Angelic Knight Press, and the forthcoming Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker's Nightbreed from Tor. Tim has also received a commendation in the Australian Horror Writer’s Association 2009 Short Story Competition.



Website  ~  Facebook





Interview with Stephen BlackmooreReview: Hungry Ghosts by Stephen Blackmoore - and Giveaway2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May 2014 WinnerInterview with Timothy Baker, author of Path of the Dead - May 4, 2014

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