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The Disapearance of Lynette Dawson

Sep 24, 2012 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

Oceans, hearts and ghosts.Twenty-eight years ago, a young mother disappeared from her home in Sydney’s northern suburbs, leaving behind two daughters and a handsome football star husband.

 Lynette Dawson, a nurse and childcare worker, has never been seen since, but the mystery of her fate continues to haunt her family, friends and neighbours. It also provided the seed for bestselling author Michael Robotham’s thriller, BLEED FOR ME, now available in paperback in bookstores everywhere. Here, he explains how …

I was a young journalist working for an afternoon newspaper in Sydney when Lynette Dawson disappeared in January 1982. It didn’t make the headlines or cause a ripple of publicity, because nobody reported her missing at first.

Her husband, Chris Dawson, was a PE teacher at Cromer High School, on Sydney’s northern beaches. He was also a champion rugby league star for the Newtown Jets, playing alongside his identical twin brother Paul, who coincidentally taught at the same high school.

Former students say they were the coolest, most popular teachers and parents remember them as being incredibly charming and handsome. Both men had done modelling work and moved on to play rugby union.

According to his police statement, Chris Dawson dropped Lynette off at Mona Vale shopping centre on the morning of January 9, 1982. She had organized to meet her mother at Northbridge Baths that day, but didn’t show up.

Chris called his mother-in-law and said that Lynette ‘needed some time on her own’ and had gone off for a few days. On that same day he also called his 16-year-old lover, Joanne Curtis, and said, ‘My wife has gone away. She’s not coming back.’ Continue reading ›

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Read an Excerpt of Incognito: The Classified Edition

Sep 19, 2012 in Comic Books, Excerpts

Want a sneak peak from the Classified Edition of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ INCOGNITO, but can’t make it out to your local comics store? Marvel was kind enough to provide us a few pages below–now go grab yourself a copy! You won’t regret it.

Continue reading ›

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An Interview with Ed Brubaker

Sep 18, 2012 in Comic Books, Writing

This week, our friends at Marvel publish the Classified Edition of Incognito, collecting, with bonus material, the first two volumes of the acclaimed, hard-boiled series Joe Hill describes as “what the albums of the Black Keys are to rock and roll and the pictures of Quentin Tarantino are to film.”

Our celebration of this truly bad-ass bind-up continues with an exclusive interview with writer Ed Brubaker. Check back tomorrow for an excerpt!

The idea of a bad guy disguised in plain sight is something that is universally frightening, is this where the idea of Zack Overkill came from?

I think part of it actually came from trying to figure out what the flipside to my and Sean Phillips’s series SLEEPER would be. That was about a good guy pretending to be a bad guy, so this would be about a bad guy pretending… something. I wasn’t sure yet. I came pretty quickly to the idea of supervillain Witness Protection, which to me, seemed like for some of these guys would be worse than prison.

Megan Abbott said recently that the line from Double Indemnity “I did it for the money and the woman. I didn’t get the money. I didn’t get the woman.” sums up noir. Incognito certainly adheres to this formula, what it is about noir that is attractive to you?

I’m not entirely sure. I guess because all of us, at some time or another, feel like everything could just fall apart. Or feels desperate. And I like stories that play into that. And there’s a certain mythic inevitability to noir stories. You watch all the parts of the story moving, and you know they’re going to end somewhere bad, but you can’t look away. You hold onto some desperate hope that your “hero” will somehow get out alive, if not intact.  I think Double Indemnity is the perfect example of why noir works — at the beginning of the movie (I can’t remember if it’s the same in the book) you already know everything has gone wrong, and yet you just want to see what happens anyway.  So much of film and tv and books and comics these days are about attempts to surprise readers or viewers, and while that can be fun, showing the aftermath first removes that, and allows you to just write from the characters, if that makes any sense.

One of the great things about the INCOGNITO series how well it incorporates the shades of grey between “good” and “evil”—something quite rare in comics even today. Where on the spectrum would you place Zack at the beginning and the close of the story arcs in Incognito: The Classified Edition?

I think at the beginning of the story, he’s a bad guy. An amoral prick at best. It’s a black comedy in some ways, so I played it for humor, but he’s not a guy you’d want to know. His best friend is the office drug addict and thief, after all. I think by the end, he’s been dragged through the wringer to the point where he feels just used by everyone on both sides — the good guys and the bad guys.

You’ve said elsewhere that you’re a big Hammett and Chandler fan—what’s your favorite of each of their novels? Did you draw on these writers or the work of other novelists in writing INCOGNITO?

I think the only conscious influences on INCOGNITO would be old pulp mags – Doc Savage and the Shadow — and Philip Jose Farmer’s A FEAST UNKNOWN.

My favorite Hammett and Chandler — Hammett it’s probably the Continental Op stories, and I love Red Harvest, of course. With Chandler, probably the Long Goodbye, although they’re all good. I even love his letters, which have so much of his dark humor in them.

When we first meet Zack Overkill, he’s powerless—just another office drone fighting boredom. What was it like to write a character with a life so run-of-the-mill, yet capable of such extreme superhuman acts without the restraints placed on him?

A lot of fun, really. I loved making a normal life feel like a trap. And I loved that even after he got his powers back, he still had to go to the office everyday, which made it even worse. I think that’s what makes these stories work, in the long run, is seeing him in his “secret identity” in both lives. Like in Bad Influences, when he has to live in an apartment building and deal with nosy neighbors.

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Under the Influence

Sep 17, 2012 in Comic Books, Guest Posts

This week, our friends at Marvel publish the Classified Edition of Incognito, collecting, with bonus material, the first two volumes of the acclaimed, hard-boiled series that Joe Hill describes as “what the albums of the Black Keys are to rock and roll and the pictures of Quentin Tarantino are to film.”

Hill’s essay on INCOGNITO follows. Go check out INCOGNITO now! We’ll have more from Brubaker and the INCOGNITO series as the week continues.

I hate it when comic creators get bitching and moaning about how their art form doesn’t get the respect it deserves, isn’t honored the way theater or painting or mainstream literature is honored, and all that blah-de-blah-de-fucking-blah.

Oh, go cry a river somewhere over your twenty-year-old copies of Maus and leave me alone.

Then there are these card-carrying boys of Fanboy Nation who want to establish a “read-comics-in-public” day, to make comics seem more socially normative.

Fuck that.

I don’t want comics to be respectable. I don’t want everyone proudly looking at them in public. I want reading comics to feel dirty and unhealthy and transgressive, to feel like sin, like a visit to the whorehouse, or a secret fight club, or maybe both at the same time.I don’t read comics, I do comics, like shots, four-color grain alcohol slurped out of the White Queen’s dainty navel; afterwards she can slap me around  a little and tell me how she’s going to punish my wrongdoer. I didn’t put my money down for a moving literary epiphany. I dropped my cash to see badass women cavort in fetish costumes while fighting evil, to watch brutal men strangle monsters with their bare hands, to see a city block leveled (if not a whole city), and to have a front-row seat as malformed monsters of evil are sliced in half by their own death ray machines.

Don’t get me wrong. I am often engaged, enthralled, and moved by the redemptive experience of high art, as it is found in films like “Rules of the Game,” a book like Malamud’s “A New Life,” or a comic like “Fun Home.” It’s just that I don’t seem to be compulsively drawn to that kind of thing. What really gets my pulse jacked are stories of grime and punishment, lawlessness and disorder, the bad and the ugly(hold the good).

Stories of this ilk grab me like a magnet grabs iron shavings. The creators of such work are blood-slicked  MMA fighters, in a world where to fight at all is increasingly seen as barbaric, and embarrassingly out of step with the times. If I was a more sensible man, governed by more sensible, forward-looking notions, I’m sure I would invest my time in better mannered, more tasteful art forms. But my deepest enthusiasm has always been reserved for the creators that speak to my nerve-endings.

I suppose it’s a failing; I have always had compassion for the wrong people. Continue reading ›

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Jim Thompson: An Appreciation

Sep 12, 2012 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

The e-book Jim Thompson’s THE KILLER INSIDE ME, the novel Stanley Kubrick deemed “probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered,” is on sale for just $2.99 for the Nook, Kindle, and the iBookstore. Now is the perfect time to introduce yourself to one of the great classics of twentieth century crime fiction–at a bargain price, and including an intro from Stephen King.

Looking for even more of an introduction? Check out the below essay on Thompson from our very own Joe R. Lansdale.

Jim Thompson has been called a dime store Dostoevsky, but an oil field Faulkner might be more accurate. He wrote not only about the common man, he wrote like the common man, with words full of raw truth mixed with sweet and sticky lies; wicked stories written with a glass of whisky at his elbow.

I had never heard of Jim Thompson growing up. And this surprises me. I read all manner of novels by all manner of writers, and a writer like Thompson was just my meat, but it wasn’t until Stephen King commented on him, that he hit my radar.

Not long after that, I saw Thompson’s work everywhere, and I dove in. As a fellow Texan, same as a I had with the work of Robert E. Howard, another Texan, I recognized people I knew. Howard gussied them up in loin cloths and gave them swords, made them melancholy heroes, but Thompson’s characters were contemporary, and though melancholy for the most part, were considerably short on heroics. They were the dregs of society; little people with dreams too large for them to hold; dreams they drove all over the highways of their ambitions like a drunk at the wheel of a muscle car with bad tires.

There is no one quite like Thompson in low or high literature. He was his own man, and stories like THE KILLER INSIDE ME, THE GRIFTERS, and, well pretty much everything he ever wrote, are as unique as the pattern of a snow flake. They are his snow flakes, and they are soiled and stink of cheap liquor, but you will find no other like him. Many have tried to imitate him, but have only brought the literary equivalent of loud horns and dirty laundry to the game.

Thompson was his own man. Sad and dark, oozing rotten sex and rotten dreams, all of it touched with a kind cheap carnival atmosphere; the kind where the bolts on the rides shake and it‘s best to keep your hand on your wallet. A writer primarily confined to the literary back alleys of cheap paperbacks written in bursts as dynamic as the spewing of an oil gusher.

He was, for better or worse, the great and unique, Jim Thompson.

Joe R. Lansdale

Nacogdoches, Texas

Joe R. Lansdale is the author of more than a dozen novels, including THE BOTTOMS, A FINE DARK LINE, and LEATHER MAIDEN. He has received the British Fantasy Award, the American Mystery Award, the Edgar Award, the Grinzane Cavour Prize for Literature, and eight Bram Stoker Awards. He lives with his family in Nacogdoches, Texas. Mulholland Books will publish his next novel, EDGE OF DARK WATER, in March 2012.

Over the next year, Mulholland Books will be publishing Jim Thompson’s entire body of work in e-book format for the first time. THE KILLER INSIDE ME, THE GRIFTERS, AFTER DARK, MY SWEET, A SWELL-LOOKING BABE and THE NOTHING MAN are now available–look for the next batch on Christmas Day.

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The Assumption

Sep 11, 2012 in Excerpts, Fiction, Guest Posts, Popcorn Fiction, Short Stories

Dresden to go (cc)Via Popcorn Fiction, a superstar actor has big secrets in his past in this touch of noir from Ralph Pezzullo, co-author of HUNT THE WOLF: A Seal Team Six novel written with Don Mann.

He saw her face in his mind’s eye and there was no mistake. Pale and pleading. Desperate. A ghost with pale red hair floating to the surface of his consciousness.

More like an ache. An awful reminder.

Gil Naylor cranked up the stereo in his vintage Mercedes coupe as it climbed the narrow streets of the Hollywood Hills.

Then he saw her again. This time, smiling. Teasing. Beckoning him further like a siren. “Help me, Gil. Please, help me.”

Entering through the elaborately carved Spanish door, the ruggedly handsome forty-nine-year-old actor crossed directly to the bottle of Asombroso Reserva Del Porto, poured a shot and downed it.

Beyond the patio and pool he watched the sun drop like a mustard-colored fizzy into the blue ink ocean. The tequila slammed down his throat like a fist.

And the image vanished.

Replaced by familiar sounds and faces as the house came to life like it always did when he entered. Jagged sparks of energy ricocheted off the terracotta tiles and yellow stucco walls, into the lavender tiled kitchen, and beyond.

Jenny, his live-in girlfriend, responded, hurrying in from the gym in a black tank top and shorts, abs taunt and glistening, nipples at attention. Tara, his personal assistant stuck her head out of the upstairs office and called from the balcony. Continue reading ›

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The Lineup: Weekly Links

Sep 07, 2012 in Weekly links

Contrasted ConfinementIt’s been a great summer summer at Mulholland Books, and we topped it off with our August publication, SHAKE OFF by Mischa Hiller, which received glowing praise from the likes of Kirkus, PW and Booklist, as well as great reviews from blogs like the Murder By the Book Blog, BestsellersWorld.com, Tzer Island, and The Review Broads.

Now that Labor Day is behind us, BREED has hit bookstores! The perfect literary chiller to kick off the fall season, written by National Book Award winner Scott Spencer under the pseudonym Chase Novak, BREED has been getting strong reviews from the likes of Janet Maslin in the New York Times, who proclaims the novel “reads like the work of a serious writer with keen antennas for sensory detail,” Brian Truitt of USA Today, who calls the novel “a thrill to read.”

Transit ads for BREED are now featured in New York City subway cars! We like the look of them so much we can help but share them…

In wider news, the Toronto International Film Festival has been taking place this week, and LOOPER, which arrives in theaters across the country later this month, recently kicked off the proceedings in stellar fashion. Check out this talk with writer/director Rian Johnson (also the writer/director of BRICK, a Mulholland favorite) and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis if you’re in the mood for a good conversation (just skip to the twenty-minute mark!)

Speaking of films, it’s been a minute since we shared trailers of films we’re looking forward to–are you following THE MASTER, or Tarantino’s latest, DJANGO UNCHAINED?

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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The Real Cats Behind the Ridge

Sep 06, 2012 in Uncategorized

Today we celebrate the publication of Michael Koryta’s THE RIDGE, now available in paperback in bookstores everywhere, with the below essay from Koryta included as bonus content in the new edition.

Don’t miss the novel that James Patterson calls “one of the scariest and most touching horror tales in years!”

One of the truly wonderful things about the business of writing is getting the chance to step into a different world and see it through the eyes of those who inhabit it. The Ridge was already written and nearing publication when I went along as an observer on a big-cat rescue, largely out of curiosity. It was an experience that left me wanting to step out of the observation role and lend some sort of help, because the animals are amazing to be near and the people affiliated with the center are compelling to work with. Over the course of a year I had the chance to participate in several rescues, offering the kind of involvement for which I am qualified: grunt labor, frequent mistakes, and a plethora of dumb questions.

Along the way, over several thousand miles and through several states, I gained hands-on experience with one of the most impressive animal-rescue operations in the country. I have just come back from helping with the rescue of a pair of lions from a refuge in the Kentucky mountains. Talk about full circle. I haven’t heard reports of any blue torches nearby. But I kept my eye out, I assure you.

The big-cat rescue depicted in The Ridge is a fictional recreation  of the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, Indiana. The center is currently home to cats of nine species, ranging from six-hundred-pound tigers to a six-pound Asian leopard cat. “Home” is the key word, because that is the main purpose for the center’s existence. Founder and director Joe Taft, who opened the center in 1991, wanted to provide a permanent home for big cats who had been abandoned or abused or were otherwise in need. At the time, he thought his mission would be a success if he could provide homes for 100 cats. He estimated there might be that many needy cats in the country.

He was wrong.

The current number of cats at the center is 227. In 2011, the rescue center took in 25 cats from six states. Reviewing my notes from the year, I estimated that for each cat that was taken in, at least five more requests could not be met due to limits of budget, time, and space. Taft guessed it was closer to ten, and I’m sure he’s right. It’s his phone that rings, and it rings often.

The center only takes in cats who are in need of a home. These situations are varied. Some cats have been confiscated by law enforcement; others come from refuges that have exceeded their capacity or their ability to deliver care; and some are personal pets, their owners overwhelmed by the reality of caring for a huge, hungry, potentially dangerous animal. Continue reading ›

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Genesis

Sep 05, 2012 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

Scott Spencer wrote BREED under the pseudonym of Chase Novak. Keep reading to find out why.

When, after writing ten novels, a writer decides to publish under a different name, there will inevitably be some curiosity about what is behind the sudden change.

Thinking about my becoming Chase Novak, three things occur to me.   The first is, I have always (and I mean always) wanted a second identity.  I could go on and on about why, but, really, isn’t it more or less self-explanatory –and practically a universal fantasy?  (In other words: wouldn’t you like to be someone else, and also remain yourself?)

The second thing that occurs to me is that I have been assuming new identities my whole writing life.  Especially when I write novels in the first person, in which the narrator does all he can do to make a reader believe that “I” have burned down my girlfriend’s house, or run for Congress, or that someone very much like Bob Dylan is “my” father.

And, finally, Chase Novak stepped forward because “he” was willing –and eager! –to go places in a novel that Spencer would not have been able to reach.  Spencer is limited by the fact that he stands atop (or perhaps is buried beneath) the high, tottering stack of pages he has already written.  Novak has nothing on his mind but a mania to follow the nightmare logic of his most troubled thoughts and memories.  In other words, Spencer could not have written BREED.  It was up to Chase.

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, praised by Janet Maslin of the New York Times as “a foray into urbane horror, chicly ghoulish, with a malevolent emphasis on family values, is his debut novel as Chase Novak.

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Dark Inspiration

Aug 29, 2012 in Books, Guest Posts, Writing

Echo Railroad Bridge over Sabine River, north of I-10, Orange, Texas 1031091315BWI can’t think about Edgar Allan Poe without thinking about my life, because he was there in dark spirit, in my room and in my head. He was out there in the shadows of the East Texas pines, roaming along the creeks and the Sabine River, a friendly specter with gothic tales to tell. It was a perfect place for him. East Texas. It’s the part of Texas that is behind the pine curtain, down here in the damp dark. It’s Poe country, hands down.

These thoughts were in my mind as I toured the Harry Ransom Center’s current exhibition, From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe. The Center, at the University of Texas at Austin, is celebrating the bicentennial of Poe’s birth with an exhibition that includes original manuscripts and illustrations. Looking at these artifacts, it occurred to me that Poe reached out from the grave and saved this East Texan from the aluminum chair factory. I know there are those who will say working in an aluminum chair factory is good honest work, and I’m going to agree. But I will say without hesitation and with no concern of insult that it damn sure wasn’t work of my choosing, and that it takes the skill of a trained raccoon and the I.Q. of a can of green beans, minus the label, to get it done.

Like Sisyphus forever rolling his rock uphill, I feared I would spend my time on Earth matching up aluminum runners, or linking chain to be pinned together by hissing and snapping and cutting and crimping machines, which in turn would be forklifted away in shiny piles of bent rods and flexible seats. Something to be sold and brought out on hot days at barbecues, and on hot nights to give mosquito-attacked, beer-drinking drive-in theater patrons a place for their butts to nestle.

Continue reading ›

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