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Mulholland Books at Bouchercon 2017

Bouchercon 2017

We’ve packed our passport and our favorite mysteries, because this year’s Bouchercon is taking place in Toronto, Canada! Here’s where you can find our authors at the convention, along with special signings and exclusive giveaways:

Wednesday, October 11
9-12am – Noir at the Bar with David Swinson at Rivoli (332 Queen St W)

Thursday, October 12
8-10am – New Author Speed Dating with Felicia Yap, author of Yesterday; Laura Benedict; and Allen Eskens in Grand East

10-11 – Heroes and Antiheros with David Swinson, author of Crime Song, in Sheraton A

2:30-3:30 – Best First Novel with Joe Ide, author of IQ, in Grand West

2:30-3:30 – Books Adapted to Film with David Morrell, author of Ruler of the Night, in Sheraton E

2:30-3:30 – Digging in the Dirt with William Shaw, author of The Birdwatcher, in Sheraton C

4:20-4:40 – 20 on the 20 with Karen Ellis in VIP Room, Concourse Level

5:30-6:30 – Honoring Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine with Laura Benedict in Grand Centre room

7:30-9:30pm – Opening Reception, featuring the Barry Awards, where we have IQ and The Second Girl as nominees!

Friday, October 13

7:30-9:30 – Meet the Author Breakfast with Joe Ide and Felicia Yap in Grand East

8:30-9:30 – Beautiful Brutality with Chris Holm, author of Red Right Hand, in Sheraton C

10-11 – A Symbiosis: Narration and Plotting with William Shaw in Sheraton A

11-11:30 – A Map of the Dark galley signing with Karen Ellis at Mystery Mike’s table in the book room

11:30-noon – Righteous galley signing with Joe Ide at Mystery Mike’s table in the book room

3:30-4:30 – Canadian authors who don’t live in Canada with David Morrell in Grand West

6:00-7:30 – International Reception with Felicia Yap in Grand East

9:30-11pm – Crime Writers of Canada Pub Quiz with David Morrell in the Grand Foyer – sign up in advance at the Crime Writers of Canada Table!

Saturday, October 14

9:30-10 – Galley signing of Salt Lane with William Shaw at Mystery Mike’s table in the book room

10-11 – Meet your Best Novel Anthony nominees with Chris Holm in the Grand Centre room

10-11 – North vs. South with Allen Eskens in Sheraton A

10-11 – Plotting, how to keep them interesting…and guessing with Felicia Yap in Grand West

1-2pm – Writers Under 40 with Felicia Yap in Grand West Room

4:30-5pm – Galley giveaway of Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley at Mystery Mike’s table in the book room

Sunday, October 15

11:45 – 1pm – Anthony Awards – Nominees include Red Right Hand for Best Novel and IQ for Best First Novel!

I Worked for a Duck

Joe Lansdale in 1973. Credit: Dan Lowry

Once upon a time, in the early 1970s, I worked for a duck. He was a nice duck and owned a flower business. What he did was he hired people like me, and other long-hairs and down and outs to stand on street corners in Austin, Texas and sell flowers. Ducks make nice employers.

People bought a lot more flowers than you might think. Austin was a pretty cool place back then. At the end of the day, the duck had a good return on his flowers, and I, and those doing the same kind of work I did on different street corners, got paid. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it wasn’t bad money for a part time job for someone not yet twenty, or maybe just turned twenty. I’m a little uncertain how old I was then, and it lacks importance.

The duck had a yellow van, and he drove us to our street corner in it and let us out, along with our cache of flowers. I would sometimes try and get people’s attention by doing a little dance on my street corner, and it worked. A lot of folks said they were buying flowers from me because I entertained them.

One time I was finishing up my dance and a beer bottle whizzed by my head, having been thrown from a car by a bunch of rednecks. I was mad and wanted a piece of them, but they raced away. They may have been rednecks that thought they were tough and were going to mess up a hippie, but I most likely looked crazy in that moment and that might have temporarily scared them out of their redneck credentials, or maybe they had some place to go and were short on time to be there.

Whatever, they went away fast. I didn’t dance anymore that day and kept an eye peeled in case they returned. I was at an intersection, and I hoped they’d catch the light. They didn’t come back though. And that’s good. I was young enough and hot-headed enough, I might be serving time in prison.

I got a little sick about it for a while, thinking I might have lost an eye or ended up with a brain injury, or at best a black eye. That bottle thrown from a car had some real speed on it.

I really had it in for rednecks after that, and part of the reason is that I had grown up with just their type. Couple of days, and I pretty much got over it, but thereafter I danced very little and continued to keep a sharp eye. No one threw anything else at me, and I never saw the rednecks again.

Okay. I’m not completely over it. Continue reading “I Worked for a Duck”

Start Reading THE BRIDGE by Stuart Prebble

To him, she seemed perfect. But what is Alison hiding?

THE BRIDGE, Stuart Prebble’s “brilliantly executed” (Dayton Daily News) new thriller, goes on sale today. It’s a gripping novel (with a stunning cover, if we do say so ourselves!) that asks the terrifying question: what if the woman of your dreams is not what she seems? Get started into the mystery with this exclusive excerpt.

IT WAS A sunny Saturday afternoon, and sightseers and tourists from all parts of the world crowded onto the South Bank, streaming in both directions across Waterloo Bridge. Some were walking to or from Covent Garden or the theaters; others stopped to admire the spectacular London skyline. At first glance the Madman seemed harmless enough, just a little the worse for wear from alcohol perhaps, or maybe celebrating a victory by his football team. Dressed in blue jeans and a gray hoodie, he muttered to himself and danced light-footed as he progressed, lifting his legs high like a week-old pony. Once or twice he paused and bent his knees to speak at eye level to a child, but later no one could identify the accent or decipher the words. Parents kept a watchful eye, but there seemed to be no reason for alarm. Then, with no warning, in a single sweeping movement and before anyone could intervene, the Madman scooped up the first tiny child, a four-year-old boy apparently selected at random, and swept him over the barrier.

There was a momentary snapshot of paralysis. The boy had made no sound. Was it some trick? Had the man switched the real boy for a dummy in some bizarre and ill-judged entertainment? Before anyone could take a breath the Madman had run half a dozen steps farther towards the next child, a three-year old girl in a pink dress with birthday ribbons in her hair. Once again he gripped the child under the arms and swept her up and over the barrier, her legs suddenly pedaling through nothingness. Even now, shock and disbelief immobilized bystanders. He darted forward again and grabbed another, and yet another. Each child was seemingly as light as a wafer, flicked up to shoulder height and thrust out into emptiness. Four small people, infants and toddlers, lifted up in the space of twelve or fifteen seconds and thrown over the wall before the Madman took to his heels and vanished like a phantom into the holiday crowds.

A mother fell to her knees, cracking bones against pavement, and shuffled towards the wall as if drawn towards it like a magnet. It took more moments for the screams from the bridge to catch the attention of people below on the South Bank, and fuller realization of what had occurred spread through the crowds like waves of poison gas across a battlefield. Scores of people held their heads and covered their ears as if to prevent the news from penetrating. Eyes were turned upwards towards the sound of the cries and then followed the pointing arms into the water below. Desperate and still confused, one father jumped from the bridge and hit the surface with the slap of raw meat against concrete, but even as he submerged, already the bobbing heads which were still visible had traveled a hundred yards in the churning foam. Another brave man jumped into the water from the riverbank and struck out with an urgent stroke in the direction of the fast-moving shapes. Both were overwhelmed within moments by the strength of the swell.

The first police officers arrived on the bridge within two minutes and began trying to calm the hysteria sufficiently to understand what had happened, but it seemed that no two accounts from among the many were sufficiently similar to produce a consensus. He was variously described as eighteen years old at one extreme to about thirty-five at the other. He had brown hair or black hair or auburn hair. He was tall, medium, and short, and had an athletic build or was running to fat. The only clear agreement was about the jeans and the gray hoodie, which made him a match for about two hundred other young men in the vicinity that afternoon. CCTV recordings examined later lost track of him minutes before the incident and lost him again as a pinprick in the crowd within seconds after it.

Continue reading “Start Reading THE BRIDGE by Stuart Prebble”

A Soundtrack for Walk Away

Walk Away by Sam Hawken

Whenever I’m working up a new book, whether it’s during the concept phase or during outlining, I start making a playlist to go with it. Eventually I start calling it a “soundtrack,” but it’s really only a playlist. I can only imagine how much I’d have to pay in licensing fees to make an honest-to-goodness soundtrack for every book I’ve written or published. But whatever the case, Walk Away is no exception.

The soundtracks never come together in exact order. They start with a seed song or two that capture a specific character or moment. Walk Away started with the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” because I knew the book would climax with a slam-bang action sequence, and when I thought of it “Sabotage” leapt right into my head. Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” followed quickly thereafter, signifying a critical moment toward the end of the book following the action, but you’ll notice it isn’t here. About midway through the editing process on the book, I realized Willie Nelson’s “The Maker” better fit the characters in the scene and the message I wanted to convey. So Dylan was out and Willie was in. I consider that a good trade.

It’s rare that I call out a song in the text itself, but occasionally I want so much for a reader to hear what I hear that I’ll name-check the artist or the title so the scene unspools as I imagine it. Such was the case with the Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba,” which is something of a douchebag anthem, but irresistibly catchy. It seemed like the perfect song to accompany Camaro beating the holy living s— out of someone, and so you’ll find direct reference to it in the book. Sorry for being so pushy.

Many of the songs you’ll find on this playlist become totally obvious in the context of reading the book. They are indicative of a place — like “Going to California,” or “All the Small Things” — or they attach directly to a character. I don’t think anyone can read Walk Away and not realize how George Thorogood’s “Who Do You Love” connects to the book’s primary antagonist, Lukas Collier. Similarly, when the playlist opens with Larkin Poe and “Trouble in Mind,” you know that’s Camaro to the bone.

I chose some songs because they spoke the same language as Walk Away. Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” is a sorrowful tale of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, and Walk Away addresses this issue head-on. The victimized woman in “Better Man” has a far less salvific fate than Camaro’s sister, Annabel, but we can hope. And when you hear Tracy Chapman lament in “At This Point in My Life,” you know you’re hearing the interior voice of Camaro more clearly than she would ever allow. It is in these and many ways that I prime myself to tell the story I want to tell, the way I want to tell it. If there’s an emotion to strike, sometimes there’s need of a boost to get there.

Of all the songs on the playlist, though, I think the one that communicates a sense of hope better than anything is the closing track from Everclear, “Santa Monica.” In Walk Away, Camaro goes through a serious grinder, not only physically, but emotionally. “Santa Monica” talks about coming into your own in a way you haven’t before, and I like to think the final moments of Walk Away convey that to the reader.

Enjoy listening once you’ve read. Tell me what you think.

A Letter of Introduction from Federico Axat

Kill The Next One by Federico AxatI am writing these lines a long time after the last page of Kill the Next One. The book is no longer the same, and I am no longer the same. The life of a book in the outside world commences with the word “fin,” and a number of things have happened since then: translations, events, and many readers have had the opportunity to read it. I have had the great joy of exchanging views with readers, and it has been revealing; Kill The Next One is a labyrinth whose passages have not yet been fully explored, I fear, not even for me.

I knew the book would start with a strong event, that it would lead to a maze of repetitive cycles and some lineaments, rather than saying too much.

One afternoon at the beginning of the writing journey, I went to visit my mother, who has always been interested in the course of my literary career. I do not have the habit of talking too much about works in progress; however, this time I forgot that rule and talked about the idea I had in mind. It would draw on possible plots, hypothetical characters, and situations that support what I want to tell. She made me a coffee with sugar and sat at the table willing to talk with me as we had done so many times before. I stood next to an antique piece of furniture that had belonged to my grandmother. This cabinet is covered at the top by a plate of marble, and it has wooden ornaments in the corners. The marble slab became the main timeline, and the ornaments were the cycles. I slid my finger forward and backward along the edge of the marble, explaining the operation of the novel, where the surprises were, how the cycles worked…just as a professor explains a complex theory to the discomfiture of his students. Permit me to use this analogy not because I think I have the lucidity of a professor, but because my mother, who is a highly intelligent and lucid woman, did not understand a word of that first sketch of Kill The Next One. And that was logical! For there was nothing to understand.

Still.

This strong start was the key to shaping the plot itself. I remembered a story I had begun writing a long time ago in which a man was about to take his life in his home office. His doorbell rang, and the man had the choice to answer or not. When he finally decided to open the door, he met a mysterious man who made him a proposition that was difficult to refuse. The story wasn’t there. I had not even figured out what was so compelling about the proposal. I returned to the story, reread it—there were only about three or four pages—and I knew that was the opening I was looking for, that the elements I needed to develop the plot had been drawn in the marble furniture inherited from my grandmother Anita.

Ruler of the Night: Malvern’s Bizarre Water-Cure Clinic

David Morrell’s Ruler of the Night is set on the harrowing, fogbound streets of 1855 London. A gripping Victorian mystery/thriller, its vivid historical details come from years of research. Here are photo essays that David prepared about the novel’s fascinating locations. Read the first essay about Euston Stationthe second essay about Wyld’s Monster Globe, and the third essay about Dove Cottage.

The hydropathy craze of the mid-1800s began when Vincenz Priessnitz, the son of a farmer, with no medical training whatsoever, established a water-cure clinic in the town of Gräfenberg, located on an Austrian mountain that’s now part of the Czech Republic. The clinic became so popular that British doctors replicated it in the area of Malvern Hills in the West Midlands of England.

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Included in T.S. Oliver’s Taking the Cure

The springs at Malvern were renowned for their purity, but the quality of the drinking water was only part of the reason that well-to-do patients paid large sums to seek treatment there for arthritis, gout, kidney ailments, and nervous disorders. Although there wasn’t any scientific basis for using water as a physical therapy, guests became convinced that it helped them.

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The wet-sheet treatment, the upper and lower douches, and the plunge bath were only some of the therapies that doctors at Malvern’s hydropathy clinic recommended. In Ruler of the Night, Thomas De Quincey becomes subjected to the extremes of the wet-sheet method as a way of curing him of his opium addiction. Meanwhile, a killer stalks one of the clinic’s guests.

A Soundtrack for The Highway Kind

The Highway Kind edited by Patrick Millikin

It was a thrill and an honor to work with such an exceptional group of writers for The Highway Kind, and, as music plays such a vital role to the theme and mood of the book I wanted to put together a soundtrack that captured its eccentric spirit. What I didn’t want was a collection of the familiar road songs that we all know; my hope was to take listeners on an interesting and fun musical journey. Whenever possible I matched songs with particular stories, and I made sure to take suggestions from the contributors. For instance, Joe Lansdale suggested Woody Guthrie’s “Car Song” as the perfect companion to his Depression-era tale of two East Texas kids on the road. Wallace Stroby suggested Dave Alvin’s wonderful “Interstate City,” while Gary Phillips contributed Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive.” Jim Sallis reminded me to include Robert Johnson’s seminal “Terraplane Blues.” Robin Trower’s “Daydream” features in George Pelecanos’s story and perfectly evokes its mood. Two of the contributors, Willy Vlautin and Patterson Hood, are also well-known musicians and songwriters, and I couldn’t resist giving them both a serious shout out here: Vlautin’s “Stateline” from his band The Delines’ sublime “Colfax” album perfectly fit the vibe I was looking for, and Hood (The Drive-By Truckers) graciously suggested his band mate Mike Cooley’s “Zip City.”

For better or worse, most of the other selections were my own. I hope you enjoy the playlist. I sure had fun putting it together…

Ruler of the Night: Illustrious Dove Cottage

David Morrell’s Ruler of the Night is set on the harrowing, fogbound streets of 1855 London. A gripping Victorian mystery/thriller, its vivid historical details come from years of research. Here are photo essays that David prepared about the novel’s fascinating locations. Read the first essay about Euston Station, and the second essay about Wyld’s Monster Globe.

At the start of Ruler of the Night, opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, are rushing from London to Grasmere in England’s Lake District. To his alarm, De Quincey has learned that a collection of rare books he stored in a house there is about to be auctioned because he failed to pay the rent for the house. This in fact happened many times in De Quincey’s life. Often the houses were so filled with books that they were uninhabitable.

One of these houses was among the most famous literary dwellings in England—Dove Cottage—where William Wordsworth lived from 1799-1808 and De Quincey lived from 1809-1820.

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The story behind the intersection of the two authors is fascinating. In 1803, when De Quincey was 18, he wrote a fan letter to Wordsworth at a time when critics ridiculed Wordsworth’s poetry. Delighted by De Quincey’s enthusiasm, Wordsworth sent a letter in return, suggesting that if De Quincey were ever in the Lake District, he should drop by for a visit.

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Twice—in 1805 and 1806—De Quincey journeyed to the Lake District to pay that visit, but in both cases, he stood on a ridge, stared down at the white wall of Dove Cottage, and suffered such nervousness that he turned away. Continue reading “Ruler of the Night: Illustrious Dove Cottage”

Character Building: Melina Marchetta on Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina MarchettaMelina Marchetta’s Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is “an electrifying contemporary detective thriller” that “explores Europe’s simmering anti-Muslim sentiments” in the aftermath of a bus bomb, writes Australian reviewer Fiona Hardy. She spoke to the author.

Hardy: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is set in Calais and England. What compelled you to set your book in Europe instead of Australia?

Marchetta: I really needed the English Channel because of the short distance between two countries and the fact that, on a good day, you can see all the way across. An image from my childhood bible was of Moses sitting on a rock looking across to a land in the close distance. He’d been instructed to lead his people to the Promised Land, but as a punishment, he knew he’d never reach it himself. So the first mental image I had for this novel was of Jamal Sarraf looking across the channel towards Dover, knowing he’d never be permitted to return to his homeland.

Another reason I set it overseas was because of the Australian character Violette. I wanted her “Australianness” to stand out. I wanted her journey to be epic. I’ve referred to the difference between a trip and a journey in a previous novel. Violette doesn’t go on a trip from the country to the city, or from one town to the next. She goes on a journey to the other side of the world, and only one person knows why. There are many characters in this novel, and I had to distinguish Violette from the rest.

Hardy: Your books frequently depict racial tensions while revealing the humanity of those subjected to the media’s misplaced scrutiny. Do you deliberately set out to create these situations?

Marchetta: I don’t feel as if it was deliberate. It all comes down to characterization. I have this wonderfully strange relationship with my characters. When they nudge at my psyche, I allow them in, but they have to tell a pretty good story for me to let them stay. Of course, those stories are part of my family’s early days in this country, or they’re a combination of what I’ve witnessed, experienced and been a part of.

Australia is a paradox. It has embraced diversity, but scratch the surface and racism is there. We’ve seen it when a footy star and Australian of the Year walks onto an AFL ground and is booed, when badly behaved tennis stars are told by a respected Australian sportswoman to go back to the country of their parents’ birth, and it’s there in the rhetoric that comes from our politicians when speaking about refugees. Ultimately, I wanted to scratch the other surface, and explore what makes us stay human and united when acts of terror, and the media’s response to it, gather enough power to challenge our ideology. Continue reading “Character Building: Melina Marchetta on Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil”

Ruler of the Night: Wyld’s Monster Globe

David Morrell’s Ruler of the Night is set on the harrowing, fogbound streets of 1855 London. A gripping Victorian mystery/thriller, its vivid historical details come from years of research. Here are photo essays that David prepared about the novel’s fascinating locations. Read the first essay about Euston Station.

Wyld’s Monster Globe was constructed in 1851 to take advantage of the millions of curiosity seekers who traveled to London for the first world’s fair—the so-called Crystal Palace Exhibition. (See a separate photo essay about the amazing Crystal Palace.)

Sixty feet in diameter, one of the tallest buildings in the West End, the Monster Globe occupied much of Soho’s Leicester Square, a formerly pastoral area that had degenerated into weeds, trash, and dead cats. An entrepreneur named James Wyld persuaded the square’s owners to lease it to him, promising to improve the area immensely. To their dismay, they discovered that his idea of improvement was to fill the Square with his Globe.

Artist: Thomas H. Shepherd

For the price of a shilling, visitors could step inside and admire plaster models of the world’s continents, oceans, rivers, and mountains. As many as three million people did so, and none seemed to think it bizarre that they viewed a world turned outside in, where mountains that normally rose toward the sky now pointed inward toward the Earth’s core. In Ruler of the Night, this inverted world parallels Thomas De Quincey’s inside-out opium logic in which there are many realities. Lord Palmerston visits the Monster Globe for a crucial meeting with one of his spies.

Illustrated London News, 7 June 1851

As the attraction’s popularity diminished, Wyld allowed the building to deteriorate. When his lease expired in 1862, the owners of Leicester Square reclaimed the property and ordered Wyld to demolish the huge structure. Restoration of the gardens took several years, but by 1874, the area had indeed been improved immensely. The unusual building in the background is the Alhambra Theater, which remained standing until 1936.

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