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In Conversation with George Pelecanos and Richard Lange

Jul 15, 2013 in Mulholland Authors, Television, Writing

It’s a rare pleasure to be a fly on the wall during a conversation between Richard Lange and George Pelecanos, two crime fiction masters. Below is our transcript of their exchange, which ranges widely and rivetingly across such subjects as empathy, prisons, the writing process, and why vets make ideal detectives.

Angel Baby by Richard Lange is available now as a hardcover, eBook, and downloadable audiobook. The Double by George Pelecanos will be available as hardcover, large print book, eBook, and audiobook on October 8th.

Richard Lange: First off, let me say that I’m a huge fan of your work from way back, and it’s a real honor to engage in this kind of dialogue with one of my heroes. I especially want to thank you for all you did to spread the word about Dead Boys, my first book. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they read it because you mentioned it somewhere or recommended it to them. I’m forever in your debt for that.

Now, to the questions. I’ve tried to keep them brief and pertinent but haven’t always succeeded.

The Double by George PelecanosThe Double is the second book featuring Spero Lucas. Why did you choose to start another series, and what are the major differences between this one and your earlier series? Were you looking to explore new kinds of stories and characters in this one?

George Pelecanos: I never plan on a series. When I finished writing The Cut I felt like there was more to explore with the character of Spero Lucas, so I went after it.  Some of the things I only hinted at in the first book come to the forefront in The Double.  Lucas’s war experience in the Middle East has impacted him deeply, and the darker aspects of his psyche have bubbled up to the surface. It’s a harder, more violent, and more sexually explicit book than The Cut.  Also, I liked writing about a young, physical guy who has a young man’s appetites.  I’d been writing about middle-aged guys for awhile, and switching up helped me cut loose.  The Lucas books have a certain kind of drive and energy.

Richard, you made a positive reputation early on with your short story collection, Dead Boys, which you know I enjoyed a great deal. When I read Chapter 6 of your new novel, Angel Baby, I was struck by how complete and polished it was. Detailing the prison life of Jerónimo Cruz, it stands on it own. Is it accurate to say that you craft each chapter in one of your novels with the care and precision that you would in one of your short stories? And which form of fiction do you prefer, both as a reader and writer?

Angel Baby by Richard LangeLange: Maybe because I started as a short-story writer, the individual chapters of the novels sometimes have a self-contained feel to them. They’re almost slices of the characters’ lives. It’s at odds with the narrative demands of the plot, I suppose, but it’s the way I tell my stories, through discrete scenes. I’m a slow, careful writer, even in first drafts, and I spend a lot of time chipping away at things in order to get them to my liking. As you know, what looks simplest is often most difficult to achieve.
As far as what I prefer, short stories or novels, as a reader, I love both equally. When it comes to my own work, stories is where I feel most comfortable, but I’m learning to love the expansiveness of writing novels—which is good, because you can’t make a living writing short stories. Continue reading ›

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What Booz Allen Has to Do with Weaponized

Jul 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

nullSome background on Edward Snowden: when he leaked details of mass surveillance programs to the press, he was employed not directly by the National Security Agency, but by Booz Allen Hamilton, an NSA contractor.

How did a third-party contractor get involved with top-secret government programs to intercept telephone and internet metadata? You can get your explanation from The Atlantic . . . or from Nicholas Mennuti and David Guggenheim’s debut thriller, Weaponized, which goes on sale July 30th:

  • “Eavesdropping was privatized, outsourced to my boss” —Kyle West, a contract programmer on the run in Weaponized
  • “We have vastly over-privatized, and in the process lost control over swaths of important policy areas while allowing unaccountable and even outlaw behavior to expand.” —The Atlantic on Snowden’s work for Booz Allen
  • “Countries, nations—all outmoded terms now. We’re talking about corporations. Corporations taking the place of nation-states. Corporations paid to watch you, because they’re better at it than the government.” —Kyle West
  • “As government has been squeezed and public employees vilified and cut back, the only feasible way to hire competent people who are needed to fill important functions is to do it through the back door.”—The Atlantic on the privatization of federal functions
  • “Private contractors know the game well; they can recruit top government employees and then effectively lease them back to the government, where they do the same jobs and stick taxpayers with much higher bills.” —The Atlantic
  • “The [eavesdropping software] program’s a violation of constitutional law if Chandler took any tax money to develop it.” —Kyle West on Christopher Chandler’s company in Weaponized, effectively a Booz Allen stand-in

Regarding that last quote, should we expect next week’s headlines to discuss the constitutionality of Booz Allen’s wiretapping technology? And what else have these two debut novelists predicted? Preorder Weaponized to find out!

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The Lineup: Links for Charlie Huston’s Skinner

Jul 09, 2013 in Mulholland Authors, Weekly links

Contrasted ConfinementCharlie Huston‘s magnum opus SKINNER hits bookstores today, and we’ve known here for a while Huston’s first book with the imprint was going to be a game-changer. First there was the amazing trade coverage: Booklist gave SKINNER a fabulous starred review, saying, “This tour de force features two of the most interesting characters we’ve seen in years….Add Huston…to the A-list.”  Publishers Weekly raved of SKINNER, in an amazing starred, boxed review, “Stunningly original characters, wildly surprising twists, and an ending that’s both unexpected and moving make this an extraordinary genre stand-alone.”

Then came the Summer Reading Picks, in papers such as the Los Angeles TimesPlayboy, which wrote of the novel “Charlie Huston writes crime fiction for a new century but does so in the tradition of the masters;” and The Tampa Bay Examiner, which picked  SKINNER as one of its Top Five “Must-Reads” for Summer 2013, saying, “SKINNER could easily be credible as pages ripped from the latest newspaper headlines….This book will leave you breathless.”

Now, in the Age of Snowden, with books just hitting shelves, Huston is being profiled in some of the nation’s top papers. The Wall Street Journal runs a great feature on Huston, calling SKINNER “a thriller for the Edward Snowden Summer,” and praising Huston saying, “Mr. Huston is renowned for making the fantastic believable, whether he’s writing about New York City neighborhoods controlled by gangs of vampires, the zombies who populate his 2010 novel, Sleepless—or an off-the-rails intelligence operative who was raised inside a Skinner box.” The Los Angeles Times has also run a feature on Huston, praising SKINNER as “of the moment….While SKINNER has its share of bone-crunching fight scenes, Huston channeled…anger into a book with a highly complex picture of how people live at opposite ends of the economic spectrum.”

Trailer follows–now go pick it up at your favorite bookstore or preferred e-tailer! For more on SKINNER and Huston, check out CharlieHuston.com, and check back here for more great content as the week continues.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Other Retailers

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Real Life or Weaponized?

Jul 03, 2013 in Books

Weaponized by Nicholas Mennuti and David GuggenheimGuess which of the quotes below were said by journalist Glenn Greenwald about Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks and which quotes are from Nicholas Mennuti and David Guggenheim’s uncannily prescient new novel, Weaponized? Highlight the space after “Answer:” to reveal the source.

“What we’re really talking about here is a globalized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without its being stored and monitored.”
Answer: Glenn Greenwald

“It’s a system that sucks up everything around the clock. All communication. World wide. Twenty-four seven.”
Answer: Weaponized

“I’m already wanted in two countries, and considering I’ve been instrumental in violating privacy worldwide, I don’t have to worry about protecting my reputation.”
Answer: Weaponized

“He judged his life not by the things he thought about himself but by the actions he took in pursuit of those beliefs.”
Answer: Glenn Greenwald

Weaponized goes on sale July 30th. Read an excerpt and preorder it today.

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Rachel Knight’s LA: Killer Ambition Edition

Jun 19, 2013 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

Killer Ambition, the third novel in Marcia Clark’s Rachel Knight series, is just on sale. Celebrate with a tour of District Attorney Rachel Knight’s Los Angeles, as depicted in the thriller that the Hartford Books Examiner raves is “both a criminally entertaining read and an intimately informed exposé of celebrity and crime.”

God's Seat
God’s Seat: The towering rock formation that looks down upon Malibu provides a startling backdrop for the prologue of Killer Ambition. A legendary symbol of Los Angeles, it received its moniker because of its throne-like shape.

Teddy's
Teddy’s: The hotspot club frequented by the Hayley, the missing daughter of a famous Hollywood director, and Mackenzie, her best friend. Teddy’s is located in the Hollywood Roosevelt Club and is filled with “long sparkling earrings and sequined minidresses on spray-tanned body beautifuls.” A famous celebrity haunt, Teddy’s is notoriously selective about its clientele. Once inside, it is a showcase for L.A. style and glamour.

Russell's Party House
Russell’s Party House: Her father’s hidden enclave in the Hollywood Hills was one of Hayley’s favorite hangs. “A low-slung Spanish-style with tilted roof and arched wooden door,” the house was her last known whereabouts.

Continue reading ›

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Start Reading Marcia Clark’s Killer Ambition

Jun 18, 2013 in Excerpts, Mulholland Authors

Marcia Clark’s third Rachel Knight novel KILLER AMBITION is now on sale in bookstores everywhere! Read on for an excerpt in the novel which the Hartford Books Examiner calls “the best entry yet in a young but exceptionally strong series”  and which caused Booklist to declare, in a starred review:”Legal thrillers don’t get much better than this.”

2

Bailey got off the 405 freeway and headed east on Sunset Boulevard. I was about to ask where we were going when she turned onto Bellagio Road—which led to the heart of Bel Air. If I were a billionaire director I’d live there too.

Bel Air is in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, and it’s the highest of the three legs known as the Platinum Triangle—the other two being Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills. The most expensive homes in the world occupy real estate in that wedge of land, and most of those homes are in Bel Air. The biggest and most lavish are usually closest to Sunset Boulevard, but you’d never know that, because massive trees and dense shrubbery hide all but the gated entries, and even those gates are tough to find, hidden as some are by deliberately overgrown leafy climbers.

Which explains why Bailey was frowning and muttering to herself as she scanned the road for house numbers. But when we reached Bel Air Country Club, she made a U-turn and pulled over. “Do me a favor and look for this number. The navigation says we’re there, but I don’t see a damn thing.” She handed me a scrap of paper with an address and headed back down the road. One minute later I told her to stop and peered closely at a set of massive black iron gates that were almost completely obscured by towering elm and cypress trees. The tops of the gates met in an arc, and there in the apex, woven into the iron scrollwork, was the number.

“This is it.” If I hadn’t been parked in front of it and looking hard, I’d never have seen it.

I pointed out a discreet black metal box mounted on an arm in the brick wall and Bailey pushed the button. A voice that sounded like a British butler’s said, “Yes?” Bailey identified us, and he told us to hold out our badges. I couldn’t see any cameras, but I didn’t imagine he’d have asked us to do that just for giggles, so I held them outside the window, not sure where to aim them. After a couple of seconds the gates swung open, and Bailey steered up the brick-lined road.

Los Angeles has some of the most outrageously opulent manses in the country and Bailey and I had seen our share over the years, but nothing compared to this. The road opened to a bricked-in area that was the size of half a football field, in the middle of which was a massive Italian Renaissance–style fountain, complete with cherubs’ and lions’ heads that spewed water. Towering over the grounds was a palatial two-story Tudor-style house all in that same matching brick. It was tastefully covered in ivy that obediently climbed where it best accented the archways and latticed windows and formed a large L around the perimeter of the front area. Judging just by what I could see from the outside, that “house” was at least thirty-five thousand square feet if it was an inch.

Bailey parked and we both stepped out of the car and took in the view.

“Damn,” said Bailey under her breath.

“A quaint little ‘starter.’”

By the time we’d made it up to the arched brick entry, the door was open and a slender man in his fifties, with thinning hair combed neatly back and dressed in a cardigan and dark slacks, beckoned us in.

“Right this way, please.” Continue reading ›

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Lauren Beukes’s Top 10 Movies About Serial Killers

Jun 14, 2013 in Film, Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

The Shining Girls by Lauren BeukesLauren Beukes is the author of The Shining Girls, a novel about a time-traveling serial killer…who’s being stalked by his sole survivor. The genre-bending thriller has earned raves from Entertainment Weekly, who calls it “a heart-thumping tale,” and The New York Times, who deems it a “strong contender for the role of this summer’s universal beach read.” Below is Beukes’s Top 10 list of movies about serial killers. How many have you seen?

1. The Silence of the Lambs

2. Se7en

3. Zodiac

Continue reading ›

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Lauren Beukes’s Film and TV Inspirations

Jun 07, 2013 in Film, Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors, Television, Uncategorized

The Shining Girls is a mash-up of a thing: part serial killer thriller, part old-fashioned romantic buddy caper, part time-travel twister. The TV shows and movies that had a major influence on me generally, which I think played into the writing of this book, are:

Memento for its twisty out-of-order storytelling

Memento

True Grit for a young bolshy heroine set on justice

Continue reading ›

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Canceling “Dead Pig Collector” by Warren Ellis

Jun 06, 2013 in eBooks, Mulholland News, Short Stories

It is with regret that we announce that we’re canceling our publication of Warren Ellis’s digital short story, “Dead Pig Collector.” We were and continue to be very excited about the story—it’s brilliant, savage, and funny, and we hope you will have the opportunity to read it soon. However, we will not be coordinating its release with Mr. Ellis.

To the readers who have already preordered “Dead Pig Collector,” please accept our apologies for this cancellation. The vendor with which you placed your order will reverse the transaction.

Keep an eye on Warren Ellis’s many online platforms for developments about the story’s release. We wish Mr. Ellis the best on his future projects.

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Rogue Review: Angel Baby by Richard Lange

Jun 05, 2013 in Guest Posts

Today we welcome Ro Cuzon, a contributor for The Rogue Reader, as he reviews Richard Lange’s critically acclaimed new novel, Angel Baby.
Angel Baby by Richard Lange
There may be more talented crime fiction authors working today than at any time in history, and I enjoy reading the great varieties of books they produce. Much too rarely, though, do I stumble upon that novel which seems to have been written especially for me. Stories where Voice, Character, Plot, and Setting, all combine to create a perfect, elating cocktail that instantly catapults me to the white-hot center of the narrative, messing with my mind and body as if I was personally involved in the events on the page, triggering heart palpitations, dry mouth, clammy hands, etc.

These novels all tend to be about criminals or people who have committed a crime (there’s a difference, I think), and the intensity of my reactions to their protagonists’ predicaments is always directly related to one thing: the degree of realism that the authors bring to their stories.

Enter Angel Baby by Richard Lange.

The novel opens with Luz, a beautiful Mexican young woman running away from her husband Ronaldo, a powerful and sadistic Tijuana narco known as El Principe. Her plan: cross the border and reunite with her daughter Isabel whom she left behind three years earlier. She crosses paths with Kevin Malone, an alcoholic drifter from San Diego with a tragic past, and together they set out for the border.

After learning of Luz’s escape, El Principe sics one of his most ruthless enforcers on his runaway wife. Jerónimo Cruz, aka El Apache, was planning to go straight and take care of his family once he got out of prison—that is, until El Principe pulls him out and orders him to bring Luz back, making him an offer he can’t refuse. Meanwhile, Thacker, a crooked Border Patrol agent, gets wind of the cash Luz is carrying and wants to steal it from her.

Angel Baby is a straightforward chase story, masterfully executed and beautifully written. It’s the complexity of each character, however, and Lange’s empathy for each of them (even the most depraved), that makes the novel such a unique read, pushing and pulling you in all directions. You root for Luz to be reunited with Isabel, of course, but also, maddeningly, for Jerónimo to catch her, because the alternative for him is simply too horrible to contemplate.

Many Mystery/Thriller/Noir authors’ insights into crime come from other books and movies of the genre, as well as news events and research on the Internet or at the library. And there’s nothing wrong with that. God knows writing is hard and time-consuming enough without having to risk one’s life going on a nature walk across gang territory to scope out a drug corner just to get it right on the page. But we are talking about crime here, so there is something to be said about the value of firsthand interaction with (or at least observation of) certain people and settings, and what the thrill or fear associated with that lifestyle can do for one’s writing.

I was never a violent criminal but I did spend the first half of my adult life gravitating toward trouble and the type of people who caused it. This shaped both the way I write today and the way I read, especially crime fiction. I didn’t know anything about Richard Lange when I opened Angel Baby but his true-to-life writing was instantly familiar to me, as was his vivid portrait of the seedier side of the world we live in, evoked with the dead-on ease of Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, Richard Price, or George Pelecanos.

While Lange may not have actually served time in Tijuana’s La Mesa—he is a recipient of a Guggenhein Fellowship, after all—he has most definitely roamed the gritty streets of Compton and felt the grimy TJ sun beating down on his back, and interacted with gang members and illegal immigrants alike. His keen observations of Southern California’s have-nots on both sides of the border, combined with a complete understanding of his characters’ motivations, make Angel Baby as brutal and real a novel as you will read this year, a fantastically paced page-turner with prose that both sings and cuts.

Ro CuzonNamed by George Pelecanos as a “rising stars of the new generation of noir novelists,” Ro Cuzon is the author of Under the Dixie Moon, a Library Journal Staff Pick for Best of 2012, and Under the Carib Sun. His third book in the Adel Destin crime series, Crescent City Stomp, will be published later this year by The Rogue Reader. He lives and writes in New Orleans.

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