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Got Something for You: GUN MACHINE Trailer #1

Jan 04, 2013 in Uncategorized

“A pleasingly quirky crime thriller…Tallow is oddly endearing, so single-minded you can’t help rooting for him…There is nothing comic-bookish about [Ellis's] writing, which races along in crisp hard-boiled fashion.”–Charles McGrath, New York Times

Purchase it now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million |iBookstore | Indiebound | Other

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The Lineup: Gun Machine Edition

Jan 02, 2013 in Mulholland Authors, Weekly links

Contrasted ConfinementWarren Ellis’s electrifying thriller GUN MACHINE kicks off 2013 with a bang.

Arriving in bookstores on the first day of the year, GUN MACHINE has already received a glowing, three-and-a-half-stars review from Brian Truitt of USA Today, in which Truitt writes: “Ellis tackles the police procedural, although it’s bloodier and more intriguing than any episode of Law & Order or CSI, and arms it with gallows humor, high-tension action scenes and an unlikely hero.”

Over at Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow writes: “Gun Machine is a novel that never stops to draw breath. It’s a monster of a book, bowel-looseningly scary in places, darkly uproarious in others, and remorseless as the killer who hunts in its pages…[GUN MACHINE] is particularly good, even by the high standards of a Warren Ellis tale.”

C.A. Bridges of the Daytona Beach News-Journal agrees: “The dialogue is rapid and witty, the action moves along, the city and its inhabitants are wonderfully violent, and the cat-and-mouse plot is satisfyingly solid. But where the book transcends the usual crime thriller is in the killer, a psychotic and brutally effective hunter obsessed with returning New York City to its primal state…Ellis, an Englishman, completely nails New York and New Yorkers.”

“A claustrophobic pressure cooker filled with tension, and mixed with anxiety…a wonderful gift to readers,” Dan Malmon of Crimespree Magazine writes, and in a starred, boxed review for Publishers Weekly, Jason Starr raves: “Gun Machine propels the multitalented Ellis, already a household name in the world of comics, into the ranks of the best crime writers in the business.”

With great blurbs from the likes of William Gibson, Ian Rankin, Joe Hill, Lauren Beukes and more, GUN MACHINE is the perfect way to kick off the new year in style. For more exclusive GUN MACHINE content, check out ThisIsGunMachine.Tumblr.com, watch the first GUN MACHINE trailer that debuted on MTV Geek, directed by Jim Batt with art by Ben Templesmith and voiceover by Wil Wheaton, subscribe to Warren’s Machine Vision newsletter, or read this Shelf Awareness Q&A with Warren. And don’t forget to check back for more later this week as our weeklong GUN MACHINE extravaganza continues.

Did we missing something sweet? Share it in the comments! We’re always open to suggestions for next week’s post! Get in touch at mulhollandbooks@hbgusa.com or DM us on Twitter.

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Year End Review: Don’t Tell Me

Dec 31, 2012 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

Dial M

With 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!

A recent, controversial  New York Times article by Stanley Fish uses the results of a 2011 psychological study to argue readers and viewers experience no negative effects from knowing the ending of a story in advance. We asked a few of our friends what they thought–check back regularly today for their responses.

Will the hero still have a pulse at the story’s end? Will the young woman have the wit to pick the man who really cares for her? Will the professor get tenure?

These are urgent questions and as a reader I’ve never wanted to know the answers before the author was ready to tell me. As a writer, I’ve assumed other readers were similarly inclined.

But maybe not.

For example:

(1) A woman I know reads widely and ardently, but will never begin a book until she’s read its last several pages. Something compels her to read the ending first. Doesn’t this spoil it for her? Evidently not. It’s spoiled for her if she doesn’t approach it in this fashion. (This only applies, I should add, to fiction. When she sits down with a book about the War of 1812, she doesn’t have to begin by reading about the Battle of New Orleans. Unless it’s a novel about the War of 1812, in which case she does.) Continue reading ›

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Year End Review: Five Tips for Horror Writers

Dec 31, 2012 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors, Writing

With 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!

USA Today has called BREED by Chase Novak “a thrill to read [that] keep an audience enraptured.” The New York Times‘ Janet Maslin raves, “BREED is a foray into urbane horror, chicly ghoulish, with a malevolent emphasis on family values. “ Keep reading for Chase’s tips for writing a horror novel.

1. The requirements of good horror are not different from the requirements of fiction in general. Fresh language, believable characters, and a story that operates on more than one level –a story that has a meaning outside of and beyond the mechanics of the plot.

2.  If a paragraph can create that pleasurable rush of anxiety in you, probably others will get that lovely chill from it, too.

3. Sentences.  Fiction is made of sentences.  All fiction.  Building a novel out of weak or sloppy sentences is like building a house out of defective bricks.

4. Beware of concepts.  A cool idea does not necessarily lead to a good book. Figuring out the marketplace –vampires are in! no, zombies!  no, vampires!, no serial killers! –is for the marketing department, and books that begin with the writer trying to figure out what might get him or her onto some bandwagon are usually DOA.

5. Beware of formulas:  the books that last are the ones that are not really like other books.

CHASE NOVAK is the pseudonym for Scott Spencer. Spencer is the author of ten novels, including Endless Love, which has sold over two million copies to date, and the National Book Award finalist A Ship Made of Paper. He has written for Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, and Harper’s. BREED is his debut novel as Chase Novak.

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Me and Mike: Sophie Littlefield Interviews Mike Cooper

Dec 30, 2012 in Guest Posts, Writing

With 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!

Sophie Littlefield:  So let’s get the basics out of the way first. You write, I write. You’re the much, much older east coast sibling and I’m the fun-loving west coast one. We both have kids and we both grew up with our noses in books. What else should people know about us to start off with?

Mike Cooper:  We’re bicoastal now but we started in Missouri! – and in a much different time, when children were allowed freedoms that seem extraordinary to me now.  My memory, perhaps unreliable, is that we were completely unsupervised after school and on weekends.  The woods and fields just over the backyard fence were a place of fantastical play: ponds to swim in and skate on, the cemetery and the quarry, the derelict airport with runways like the Bonneville Salt Flats.  How could we not become people who live by our imaginations?

Of course, my stories involve ruthless banksters and exploding helicopters, and some of yours have decidedly noir, even dark elements.  In some ways our lives were difficult and complicated, and that’s as essential as the sunny memories.

We both came to write seriously somewhat later in our lives.  In my case it was after my daughter was born – my wife and I decided that I’d be the stay-at-home parent, and what with two naps a day, I suddenly had time to try what had been only a hobby.  (I took one of those naps myself, true.)  I recall you publishing stories, fiction and non-fiction, for many years before you buckled down to novels.  What was the impetus?

SL: I think the better question is, “What took you so long?” And the answer, of course, is fear. I’m astonished at how much I’ve given away to fear over the years. Oh well, middle age took care of that in a hurry. My first novel was tentative, limp, diluted, and derivative. But I learned something from it and from every one that followed, until I finally ended up writing a novel with teeth.

Nowadays, I seek out opportunities to be brave. Lots of extra points if someone chokes on their coffee when I propose a new project. For instance, when I first told my agent my idea for my January ’13 book (A GARDEN OF STONES, MIRA) the pitch was “Japanese internment in WWII, plus taxidermy.” I stubbornly believe there is an audience out there that longs to be challenged.

Which reminds me. Do you remember when you wrote that short story a few years ago and I read it and told you “that story’s a best-seller for sure, drop everything and turn it into a novel”? And then you spent the next few months writing and polishing and submitting it? Continue reading ›

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Year End Review: Tradecraft 101, Spy Tips from Mischa Hiller’s Shake Off

Dec 29, 2012 in Excerpts, Mulholland Authors, Uncategorized, Writing

With 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!

SHAKE OFF‘s Michel Khoury is a veritable encyclopedia of the espionage tradecraft that is essential to his life as a spy, which Mischa Hiller gleaned from access to someone with direct knowledge of the tricks of the trade. Want to learn how to become a skilled agent? Here are a few of the tips from Mischa’s novel:

Concealing documents and cash? Use a newspaper.

“They are easy to ditch, and you can carry one under your arm even as your bags are being searched.”

Know your cover.

“If you can believe just a bit of your cover story then you can convince your listener (and even yourself) that it is all true.”

Incriminating evidence to ditch? Use the restroom.

“It is easier to flush soaked paper than dry.”

Disguise yourself.

“Hospitals have no security to speak of.  You can wander almost anywhere unchallenged, particularly if you don a white coat – best acquired from the doctors’ lounge in the A&E department.  Or go dressed in a suit carrying a briefcase and pretend you are a drugs salesman.”

Watch your back.

“You should always sit at the back of the bus when you get on, because surveillance like to sit at the back to get a good view of you embarking without having to turn around.”

Beware the honeytrap.

“It is easier to believe that a woman finds you irresistible than that she is trying to ensnare you.”

Tired of looking over your shoulder?

“Take a few days off, go to the cinema, sit in the park, stay at home and read a book….Make them bored. A bored surveillance team is a careless one.”

Blend in.

“Be gray, not colorful, my trainers in Moscow had said.  I always matched my shoes to my clothes.  I’d heard that immigration officers checked for illegal immigrants by looking at their shoes.”

Finish the job.

“To kill someone you need to shoot them at least four or five times in the head, just to make sure.  And it needs to be up close with a hand-held weapon.  You have to put it right up against the head or very close to it, otherwise you could miss; some weapons give a massive kick, and any shot following the first could go wild.  If you can’t get close enough to kill the target with your first shot, then you will need to incapacitate them with a body shot first and finish the deed close up, a coup de grâce.

Mischa Hiller is a winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in the Best First Book category for South Asia and Europe. Raised in London, Beirut, and Dar El Salaam, he lives in Cambridge, England. Visit him at www.mischahiller.com.

SHAKE OFF, selected by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker as one of the best books of 2012 (“Hiller’s novel has the benefit of mining every trope of the thriller genre while being absolutely original at the same time. I will read anything by Hiller from now on”), is now available in bookstores everywhere.

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Year End Review: Defending Bill, An Interview with William Landay

Dec 29, 2012 in Guest Posts, Writing

With 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!

When you ask folks in the crime fiction community about Defending Jacob, William Landay’s new legal thriller, you better be holding a small brown paper bag – because they’re going to start hyperventilating when they talk about how good it is. Before it ever hit the shelves, it had already garnered a stunning list of blurbs, a blinding assortment of starred reviews and no shortage of industry buzz.

Since then it’s become as much of a commercial success as it was a critical one. At a time when the self-publishing evangelists are questioning whether conventional publishing is still capable of breaking out a new author, Defending Jacob has become a loud argument for the power of the Big Six. Landay’s book has set up shop on the New York Times Bestseller List, having spent the last eight weeks (and counting) there, going as high as No. 4.

Bill and I recently sat down – or at least I presume he was sitting while he wrote his half of this exchange – for a virtual chat…

You and I first met at Bouchercon last year. And I’ll admit there was nothing that impressive about you. You’re self-effacing. You’re a nice guy (especially for an ex-lawyer). You have a little bit of a beaten-down air about you. And you have a worse haircut than I do (which is saying something). I knew that an Advance Review Copy of your book, Defending Jacob, had been included in everyone’s goody bag and was already starting to get some buzz. But, frankly, I didn’t think much of you. Then I read your book and, in a word: Wow. So I guess my first question is: Will you ever forgive me for not being properly deferential to you, Mr. Landay?

It will take a lot of genuflecting, but I’m willing to consider it.

Actually, this is the great thing about writing. Only the books matter. The author’s personality will only take him so far. Yes, it probably helps to be a showman like Dickens or a self-promoter like Mailer or an egomaniac like … well, lots of writers. But you can be a recluse, too, like Dickinson, Salinger or Pynchon. In the end, you’ll be judged by the quality of your work and nothing else. That’s a comforting thought to an unimpressive, self-effacing, beaten-down sort of guy like me. (But please, a word in my barber’s defense: that’s not a bad haircut; it’s bad hair.)

Continue reading ›

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Year End Review: Triggers Down, A Social Writing Project

Dec 28, 2012 in Fiction, Short Stories, Writing

Sink Hole

Mulholland Books is looking for English and writing students to contribute writing to Triggers Down, a social writing project that will be a testament to writers building off of other writers’ work to create bigger and better stories.

The goal is to create a crime story. Here’s how it works: Mulholland Books will assign interested students specific passages, each student will write a section that branches off of the one before it (except for the first paragraph, of course), and that process will continue until students have composed a cohesive narrative.

Each passage will be posted online until completion, so students can see how the story evolves. And here’s the best part. Mulholland Books will feature the final story on MulhollandBooks.com. We want this project to not only be a testament to appropriation, but also an opportunity for young writers to publish.

How to submit: Write Dominic Viti at dominicviti@gmail.com and tell him you’re interested.

First section by Evan Walker.

Edited by Dominic Viti.

John found the body after he’d had his share of sightseeing the dune. He’d scrambled over it as he had in ‘72, sixteen and obliterated, once he’d yanked himself out of the rear window of the VW Squareback and waded through the black water to the shore.

He gave a satisfied hmph and walked the same way he’d walked that night, alongside the ditch and back to the house he’d grown up in—shallower than he remembered, dried up too. He had sloshed through the front door and the two of them just stared as he spoke. Joy riding again. Imagining the way his mother had turned back to her reading after he’d returned, soaking wet, without the car, he’d meandered back toward the edge of the ditch, and found her.

She was dumped in a pile, her sundress, black shorts and pixie brown hair  damp from the humid air, one hand slung over her side and curled up with rigor mortis except for her pointer finger, outstretched in timid protest.

Second section by Amelia Spriggs.

Edited by Dominic Viti.

John jumped to the other side of the ditch to look at her face and landed heavily, slipping to one aching knee and sending a few small white crabs skittering away. He had seen a lot of dead bodies over the decades, not a few of them young and formerly pretty. But this one pinched his sense of tragedy, niggling the worn callus of his compassion.

There was something familiar about her slim frame, even in its rigid heap. The angular jaw and the set of those large, inert eyes. He crouched down and sat on his haunches for a moment before falling back onto the sand. What felt like the vague pricking of tragedy swiftly turned into the keen piercing of horror. Lena.

Third section by Joe Oslund.

Edited by Dominic Viti.

John stumbled forward in a haze of shock that rang in his skull like the reverberating toll of a church bell, hid behind a shallow hollow of sand, and threw up. He took a few deep breaths before calling Julius, who let the phone ring six times before picking up—a subtle reminder that the old man had more important things to do.

“What is it?” Julius barked.

“They got her,” John croaked. “I mean, somebody got her.”

“Who?” Julius said. “Who got who? Use your words.”

John had no words.

“Is it Lena?” Julius said. “Did something happen to Lena?”

“She’s dead, Dad. Somebody killed her.”

There was silence on the line, and with a soft click, Julius hung up.

Fourth section by Ezra Salkin.

Edited by Dominic Viti.

John lit a cigarette and waited for his bastard father. Lena didn’t deserve this. She wasn’t a drug-addicted whore, a convict, or some train-hopping drifter who thought she had had it bad and had something to prove. John felt like crying, but the many cadavers he encountered throughout his life only made his usual sense of detachment return.

Blank faces played in a slideshow in his mind before he allowed Lena’s dirty face—half shrouded in kelp—to blot out all the others. Decomposition had set in, something he had rarely witnessed. Half hidden under her sundress, something glinted. John nudged it out from under Lena’s other cold hand, the one that wasn’t pointing, her fingers curled in a confused repose, as if undecided whether they should let go or hold on. A locket.

‘You’re different,’ he thought, flicking the half smoked cigarette, flavorless like all things had become despite this “new lease on life” the parole board had promised. He began snubbing the vermeil medallion into the ground with the heel of his sneaker. Disappearing into the wet sand, the locket winked at him with dull amusement.

He guessed it was given to her by her trust fund boyfriend, Michael, whom John had never met but had heard only good things about, though he hadn’t cared to open it so he wasn’t sure. By the time he wondered why he hadn’t, it was buried altogether in a neat pile beside the braided chain that had once held the heart shaped trinket around Lena’s bruised neck.

Snapped at the toggle, it hardly looked strong enough to strangle someone, but the bluish lines that wrapped around her neck in intermingling, jagged patterns told it different. The marks left behind were deep, a cruel mimicry of its supposed function. Her throat appeared to have not been far from bursting. John had seen people murdered with less, but he wasn’t in the Florida State Pen anymore.

He reached into his pocket, pulling the wrinkled letter Lena had left for him at the halfway house. September 4, 1992—Lena’s entreaty for John to meet her at the spot they’d enjoyed so often all those years earlier. A place where they could “clear the air.” She had still wanted him in her life.

John crushed the letter into a ball before igniting it with his lighter. He watched the black writing run from the pink stationary before the whole thing blackened and smoldered into nothing.

That’s when he heard the cancerous wheezing from behind him.

“You son-of-a-bitch,” Julius said.

Fifth section by Vivien Eliasoph.

Edited by Dominic Viti.

“How did you know I was here?” John asked, his voice muffled by the unlit cigarette between lips.

“Never mind that,” Julius said. He blanketed Lena with his camouflage jacket and tossed his keys to his son. “Truck’s at the front of the pier.”

Julius crouched down and swept Lena’s hair behind her ears. Blood trailed across her forehead.

“John, move it, goddamnit!” Julius said.

John ran as fast as he could. He inhaled deeply, his cigarette sticking to the inside of his dry lips. The craving for a deep smoke drove him forward. His calves burned and his breath was heavy in the humid night air. He wiped his dripping nose with his wrist and imagined exactly where on the console of his father’s Ford the cigarette lighter was. His sneakers pressed deep into the sand, passing wasted cigarette butts and empty soda cans, abandoned and forgotten by teenagers.

The truck was caked in mud. The interior was no better. By the time John pulled up, Julius had already made it to the end of the pier, standing by the forest green trashcan with Lena draped over his shoulder. John put the car in park and scooted to the passenger’s seat. He flung the cover off of the cigarette lighter and watched the white paper crack into lava orange. Then, a long drag.

The rearview mirror foregrounded Julius placing Lena in the bed of the truck, wrapping her in blue tarp before climbing into the cab.

“Pass me one,” Julius said. He left the door open and emptied his boots of sand. John was happy to see part of the beach left behind. He reached into his front pocket and dug out a cigarette.

Julius lit and inhaled with the same tired desperation as his son.

Neither spoke. John’s stomach grumbled. He looked at the floor and saw beef jerky and peanut butter crackers. He went with the crackers.

“We’ll have to leave her with George,” Julius said.

John choked on his crackers. “Why in the hell would we go and do that?”

“He’s just as much a part of this as we are.” Continue reading ›

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Year End Review: When Children Don’t Come Home

Dec 28, 2012 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

discovering ways of moving onWith 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!

Everyone reacts differently to the disappearance of a child. Some husbands and wives look straight into each other’s eyes without needing words, while others are like strangers lying side by side at night, still as corpses, staring at the ceiling.

There are men who want to beat someone so badly they can’t walk right for a month, while others drink themselves into oblivion or pretend nothing has changed. And there are women who can’t look at another child or family without remembering what they’ve lost.

As a journalist working in Australia and the UK, I reported on far too many stories that involved missing and/or murdered children. Right from the outset, I was thrown into the deep end by a grizzled old chief of staff, who decided to use my young, fresh-faced innocence to illicit photographs from grieving relatives. I was designated as the ‘death knock’ specialist and I once did twelve in a day after a mining disaster in Cobar in western NSW in 1979.

One of the things I discovered was that people react differently to tragedy. Some invited me into their homes, sobbed on my shoulder and took me through every photograph in the album, wanting to tell me about the loved one they had lost. Others showed no emotion at all and appeared almost detached and untouched, as though nobody had told them the news or they were in denial. Many shut the door in my face and once or twice I was threatened with violence, including have a gun pointed through a crack in the door.

Grief, I discovered, is an individual as a fingerprint. Continue reading ›

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Year End Review: A Few Thoughts on Jim Thompson and The Grifters

Dec 27, 2012 in eBooks, Film, Guest Posts

With 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!

There are those moments in life so powerful and disturbing that they defy definition.  For me, Jim Thompson’s novels provide such moments.  Or maybe it’s more fair to say they knock me into them backwards—ass over applecart.

Apparently, I’m not alone in that.  Read what’s been said about Thompson, and you see that everyone is grasping: “If Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Cornell Woolrich could have joined together in some ungodly union and produced a literary offspring, Jim Thompson would be it….His work…casts a dazzling light upon the human condition.”

This is the first quote about Thompson’s work that many readers encounter, the Washington Post blurb splashed on the back of the Vintage Crime/Black Lizard editions that came out in the 1990s, after years when it was hard to find Thompson’s novels.  It’s evocative, and for fans of hard-boiled it has a dreamlike feel.  But ultimately it’s not very helpful.

Why?  Well, the problem with any definition that works by comparison is that it can only sketch around a thing: a chalk mark on a sidewalk, it misses the heart of the matter entirely—the heart that is so raw, so terribly visible, it forces you to work through analogy in the first place. “What does Hammett have to do with anything?” you might argue.  “There is none of his carefully-controlled and sleekly-styled disillusion here.  Surely the reviewer should have said Chandler, Cain, and Woolrich.  Or better, Cain, Woolrich and Chandler, in that order.”  In no time, what is Thompson’s is lost.

Yet such an approach is understandable, for to look at the heart of Thompson’s work… Well, it’s a hard place to look.  But in the end, the only way to get at it is to read, and then live with the consequences for a while. Continue reading ›

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