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The Nightrunners by Joe Lansdale is Back in Print!

The Nightrunners by Joe LansdaleIs your copy of The Nightrunners falling apart? Or have you—gasp—not yet had the pleasure of reading one of Joe Lansdale’s earliest horror novels? Fortunately for all of us, this book is back in print, thanks to the efforts of Behooven Press.

In The Nightrunners, a ’66 Chevy hurtles through the countryside, bearing a carful of vicious teenagers and evil of Biblical proportions. It’s a morality tale of sex and violence that showcases all the hallmarks of Lansdale’s evocative storytelling that I loved in his later novels like Edge of Dark Water and The Thicket.

Scott Montgomery of BookPeople in Austin, Texas (and one of Muholland’s favorite people) has this to say: “I forgot who said it, but there was an author who claimed there was no such thing as a horror novel, just novels with horror elements, because a writer cannot sustain mood and terror at book length. The Nightrunners challenges and defeats that thought. So glad this is back in print.”

Click here to read more about this exciting reissue, and order your copy today. As Tim Bryant of Behooven wrote me, “You haven’t completed your Lansdale Merit Badge until you’ve read this one.”

Fund a New Novella by Joe R. Lansdale

Black Labyrinth Book IIDark Regions Press has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the creation of a new novella of psychological horror from Joe Lansdale, author of The Thicket and Edge of Dark Water. This novella will be the second book in Dark Regions’s Black Labyrinth series of handsome illustrated hardcovers. Not only do we know that Lansdale is the best writer for the job, but the proposed novella will also feature artwork by Santiago Caruso. Any contribution to the cause will earn you a copy of the book.

Here’s Joe Lansdale on the project:

“I’m currently working with Black Labyrinth to create a book of psychological horror, and well, a little bit of overt horror as well. It’s a novella, not a novel, but there will be plenty of room for shadow and sounds, and for whatever it takes to scare a reader. What if there is a prison graveyard on an island for the worst of the worst? A place where the unclaimed go? Those who have been executed or died by disease or old age would end up on this island. Taken there by ferry in the middle of the night to be deposited in the ground like rotten rutabaga seeds. And what if on that island are two caretakers, a gravedigger and the ferry man? And with the remains of all that evil there in this dark, lost place in the middle of a great bubble of sea and wind and starry night sky, something goes way damn wrong.

And it isn’t at all what you think it is.

That’s the premise of my novella for Black Labyrinth. The money for the writing of the book, the artwork by Santiago Caruso, and the actual construction and publication of the novella will be, hopefully, provided by a Kickstarter campaign run by Chris Morey, the editor of Black Labyrinth’s novellas.”

Can’t wait to get your hands on a copy? Only you can make this project a reality! Check out the Kickstarter page for Black Labyrinth for more information.

Mulholland Books at Bouchercon

If you’re as deep in the world of mysteries as we are, then you already know what Bouchercon is: a convention for crime fiction readers, writers, booksellers, publishers, and more. It’s basically a festival of thrillers and suspense novels, and it’s taking place in Albany from September 19-22.

For those of you planning on attending the convention, don’t forget to add our authors’ panels to your schedule! We also urge you to drop by our table in the Dealers’ Room for exclusive samplers from our authors’ books and advance reader editions of our forthcoming titles.

Thursday, September 19

2:40-3:35pm
The Ballad of Billy the Kid: Writing characters that do what they want
Featuring Joe Lansdale, author of The Thicket, and Duane Swierczynski, author of Point & Shoot,, with Sandra Brannan, Sasscer Hill, and Tricia Fields. Moderated by Sarah Byrne.
Room 3

4:00-4:55pm
An Innocent Man: Making the law thrilling
Featuring Marcia Clark, author of Killer Ambition, with Matthew Quirk, Jeanine Pirro, Adam Mitzner, and Laura Caldwell. Moderated by Ken Isaacson.
Room 2

Friday, September 20

10:20-11:15am
Night is Still Young: The New Noir
Featuring Duane Swierczynski, with Todd Robinson, John Rector, Dick Lochte, Jason Starr, and Hilary Davidson. Moderated by Reed Farrel Coleman.
Room 1

1:15-2:00
Meet the Mulholland Books and Little, Brown authors
We’re hosting a special group signing with Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, Marcia Clark, Joe Lansdale, Matthew Quirk, and Duane Swierczynski. Bring your books and say hi!
Dealers’ Room

Saturday, September 21

9:00-9:55
Big Man on Mulberry Street: Creating the perfect villain
Featuring Joe Lansdale, with Michael Dymmoch, Steve Hamilton, and John McFetridge. Moderated by Barbara Fister.
Room 6

10:20-11:15
Say Goodbye to Hollywood: Authors take us behind the scene in Hollywood (and still find time to write books)
Featuring Marcia Clark, with Clyde Phillips and Lee Goldberg. Moderated by Johnny Shaw.
Room 7

11:30-12:30
Lawrence Block: Thoughts, Q&A, and signing with a master
Room 6

3:10-4:05
Careless Talk: Interacting with fans on social media
Featuring Marcia Clark, with Joe Finder, Lisa Lutz, Matt Hilton, and Lee Goldberg. Moderated by Chris Holm.
Room 2

For the full line-up of Bouchercon activities, check out the schedule on the Bouchercon 2013 site.

Start Reading Darwin’s Blade

This week, Mulholland is proud to introduce our second reissue of a classic Dan Simmons suspense novel, DARWIN’S BLADE. Hailed upon publication by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as “a literary thriller like no other;” by the Denver Post as what might have happened “if Donald Westlake, John Irving, and Robert Parker had sat down to collaborate on a novel,” and by the Houston Chronicle as “an exciting novel full of shoot-outs, computer-aided investigations, duplicity and humor,” DARWIN’S BLADE is classic Dan Simmons in top form, now available in trade paperback for the first time ever. Start reading it right here! Then head out to your favorite bookseller or e-tailer for a copy of your own.

1

“A Is for Hole”

The phone rang a few minutes after four in the morning. “You like accidents, Dar. You owe it to yourself to come see this one.”

“I don’t like accidents,” said Dar. He did not ask who was calling. He recognized Paul Cameron’s voice even though he and Cameron had not been in touch for over a year. Cameron was a CHP officer working out of Palm Springs.

“All right, then,” said Cameron, “you like puzzles.”

Dar swiveled to read his clock. “Not at four-oh-eight a.m.,” he said.

“This one’s worth it.” The connection sounded hollow, as if it were a radio patch or a cell phone.

“Where?”

“Montezuma Valley Road,” said Cameron. “Just a mile inside the canyon, where S22 comes out of the hills into the desert.”

“Jesus Christ,” muttered Dar. “You’re talking Borrego Springs. It would take me more than ninety minutes to get there.”

“Not if you drive your black car,” said Cameron, his chuckle blending with the rasp and static of the poor connection.

“What kind of accident would bring me almost all the way to Borrego Springs before breakfast?” said Dar, sitting up now. “Multiple vehicle?”

“We don’t know,” said Officer Cameron. His voice still sounded amused.

“What do you mean you don’t know? Don’t you have anyone at the scene yet?”

“I’m calling from the scene,” said Cameron through the static.

“And you can’t tell how many vehicles were involved?” Dar found himself wishing that he had a cigarette in the drawer of his bedside table. He had given up smoking ten years earlier, just after the death of his wife, but he still got the craving at odd times.

“We can’t even ascertain beyond a reasonable doubt what kind of vehicle or vehicles was or were involved,” said Cameron, his voice taking on that official, strained-syntax, preliterate lilt that cops used when speaking in their official capacity.

“You mean what make?” said Dar. He rubbed his chin, heard the sandpaper scratch there, and shook his head. He had seen plenty of high-speed vehicular accidents where the make and model of the car were not immediately apparent. Especially at night.

“I mean we don’t know if this is a car, more than one car, a plane, or a fucking UFO crash,” said Cameron. “If you don’t see this one, Darwin, you’ll regret it for the rest of your days.”

“What do you…” Dar began, and stopped. Cameron had broken the connection. Dar swung his legs over the edge of the bed, looked out at the dark beyond the glass of his tall condo windows, muttered, “Shit,” and got up to take a fast shower. Continue reading “Start Reading Darwin’s Blade”

Terror Begins at Home

Breed by Chase NovakBreed by Chase Novak is now available as a trade paperback, and to mark the occasion, he gives us a few words on Breed and its forthcoming sequel, Brood.

It could be—and has been—argued that television is a kind of unwitting enemy of reading. And surely anything that gets in the way of reading hurts writers, too. But the current renaissance in long-form television, in which writers, directors, and actors have weeks and even years in which to develop and deepen the characters they have created serves as a kind of inspiration to writers who have created stories (and characters, and worlds) that take more than one book to fully explore.

I was not more than half way through Breed before realizing that whatever happened to Adam and Alice in that novel would not be the end of their story. Breed begins with the (extremely privileged) journey of Alex Twisden and Leslie Kramer as they struggle with their infertility, and spare no trouble or expense to have a child—a desire that begins with longing and soon becomes an obsession. Once pregnancy and birth are achieved, the novel turns its attention to the business of actual parenting—something, of course, hundreds and millions of people experience, though most of them without the added challenge of having been genetically altered and driven quite mad by uncontrollable cannibalistic urges.

The primary (and primal) terror of Breed is a child’s fear of her or his own parents. But once that story came to its climax, the further story of what would become of Alex and Leslie’s twins began to occupy my mind, and Brood was born. Brood asks: what can we do to keep the beast within in check? Brood explores how nurture will fare in a struggle with nature. And what do you do when your wishes are fulfilled and you realize you have wished for the wrong thing? In Brood, as is generally the case in life, terror begins at home.

—Chase Novak, September, 2013

Start Reading The Thicket

Today we celebrate the publication of THE THICKET, the newest novel by Joe R. Lansdale, Edgar Award winner and eight-time Bram Stoker recipient. Ron Rash says THE THICKET “earns a place on the same shelf as Charles Portis’s True Grit and Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses;” Michael Koryta calls it “Nuanced, compelling, darkly humorous, and remarkably vivid;” the Houston Chronicle says THE THICKET “reads like a dark version of The Adventure of Tom Sawyer and feels like a Coen brothers movie” and is “the perfect mix of light and dark, with plenty of humor mixed in.”

Start reading Joe’s newest below, then pick up a copy at your local bookstore or by visiting your favorite e-tailer! THE THICKET is now available in bookstores everywhere.

(1)

I didn’t suspect the day Grandfather came out and got me and my sister, Lula, and hauled us off toward the ferry, that I’d soon end up with worse things happening than had already come upon us, or that I’d take up with a gun-shooting dwarf, the son of a slave and a big angry hog, let alone find true love and kill someone, but that’s exactly how it was.

It was the pox got it all started. It had run through the country like a runaway mule and had been especially unkind to the close-by town of Hinge Gate. It showed up there as a bumpy, oozing death, and killed so many it was called an epidemic. Two of the ones that died were our Ma and Pa, and neither of them had ever been sick a day in their lives. I on the other hand was sickly all my early life, up until the time I got my health, and Lula had been kind of scrawny her whole time, but neither of us took it. I was by this time a healthy sixteen year old, and she was fourteen, and right on the verge of her bloom. That ole pox passed us by as if it was blind in one eye. It crept up on Ma and Pa, fevered them up, covered them in blisters, and made it so when they tried to breathe, it sounded like a busted squeeze box. The worse thing was we had to sit and watch them die, and there wasn’t a damn thing we could do about it. We couldn’t even touch them for fear of coming down with it. Continue reading “Start Reading The Thicket”

Hard to Shake Off: In Conversation with Mischa Hiller

This week, Mischa Hiller’s SHAKE OFF, picked by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker as one of 2012’s Best Books, hits paperback! The following is a conversation between Mischa and his editor at Mulholland Books, Wes Miller. SHAKE OFF can now be foudn at bookstores across the country.

Wes Miller: Let me start by saying SHAKE OFF was one of those novels I just knew we needed for the Mulholland Books list as soon as I started reading it. The degree to which you bring readers into Michel’s world—a world in which almost anything is either a weapon or a tool, in which everyone Michel meets may be trying to lead him astray—is just astounding.

One of the things I’ve noticed about SHAKE OFF, rereading that evocative first chapter, is how absolutely chock-full of seemingly genuine tradecraft the opening section is. Had you done deep research into the tricks of the espionage trade in writing SHAKE OFF? Were there books or individuals (whether you can tell us about them or not) that were particularly useful in crafting such an air of authenticity? And did you always know you’d start the novel with what is practically a how-to on the art of subterfuge, or was this something that came later as you were figuring out how to introduce Michel’s world to readers?

Mischa Hiller: Well, let me start off by saying how proud I am to be published by Mulholland, whose list includes some great writers. To answer your question: yes, I did a lot of research, but was also lucky to have access to someone who had gone through this kind of training. There are books you can buy that detail surveillance and counter-surveillance but it’s the little insights that make it real, like trainee surveillance officers using dead letter drops to get their paychecks.

I felt the training was an integral part of the book in the sense that it is part of what makes Michel and explains his paranoia. A lot of spy books imply that this sort of constant subterfuge can be lived with easily, without any effect. My premise was that actually the whole idea of living a lie is quite damaging.

I should add here that it’s not just the tradecraft that’s written with such command in SHAKE OFF—it’s the sense of alienation with which Michel views his surroundings. It’s something I personally responded to in an unexpected way. You and I have never actually discussed this before, but we are both mixed race—you’re half Palestinian, half British, and I’m of Chinese, German, and Irish descent. I’m not sure if your heritage was something I knew about you when I started reading SHAKE OFF, and Michel himself is not biracial, but at least to me, the way Michel describes his sense of not quite belonging to his surroundings (something I know I’ve at times struggled with) was extremely well-taken and quite emotionally accurate.

Was cultural alienation something you’d known you wanted to write about, or a theme that grew naturally out of the genre as seen through your own particular cultural perspective? (Did you begin wanting to write a spy novel, or by wanting to write about a Christian orphan from the Sabra refugee camps?)

That’s an interesting question. This idea of belonging and identity is something that interests me, no doubt, and I recently wrote an essay on what it means to me to be of mixed race, and the challenges this poses (in terms of belonging and acceptance) and the advantages it can provide, especially as a writer, in terms of being able to look at things ‘from the side’, as it were. I mentioned in a previous blog post about how I drew on my own feelings when imparting the alienation Michel felt in the book, and of his being a fish out of water. One could say that this was a theme I wanted to explore to some extent, and indeed the outcome of the book is his way of addressing this loss of identity. As for wanting to write a spy novel or a book about someone from the camp I think both came to me simultaneously. What would happen, I thought, if an orphan was groomed for espionage and placed in an alien environment? Also, I did think, how great it would be to have a Palestinian protagonist in a thriller.

 I’ve given much thought to genre and subgenre in the years I’ve spent working exclusively with suspense fiction since the launch of Mulholland Books. I’ve heard it said that it’s often those moments outside of those expected from the conventions of the form that affect you the most strongly.  (Michael Connelly and Mark Billingham touched on this in their conversation on the MulhollandBooks.com earlier this summer—the “looking out the window” moments from Connelly’s Bosch novels being some of Billingham’s favorites—and there’s a TED talk with JJ Abrams where he mentions subgenre in discussing the unspoken reasons a film like Jaws becomes part of the cultural lexicon.)

SHAKE OFF does this better than most in the slow introduction of Helen, Michel’s flatmate, into Michel’s otherwise almost hermetically sealed life—their budding romance is the reason that suddenly this nail-biter of paranoia, dead drops, and clandestine missions becomes an almost lyrically-written love story as well. Many, many writers struggle with the idea of sub-genre and romance in particular—do you have any tips to share with any colleagues who might be reading? What would you (humbly) say about writing Helen and Michel’s story makes their relationship seem more genuine than most? And are Helen and Michel based on any people in particular or serve as amalgamates of people you’ve known?

I am pleased, as reviews and readers have suggested, that I have managed to escape the confines of the genre. To me this is the greatest compliment I can be paid as a writer. Genre can be limiting (both in terms of writing and what people will read), so if, as a writer, you can fuse more than one genre, or transcend the genre you are ostensibly writing in, without pretension or creating a horrible mess, then you may be onto something. You can appreciate this effect better in great films, as you mentioned; they are about something greater than the plot, which is often incidental.

For me, SHAKE OFF could easily be about Michel and Helen’s relationship, with some spying and politics that get in the way, rather than the other way round, and my only advice would be to give as much thought and weight to one aspect of a book as you do another. Unfortunately a lot of books, and films, bolt something on (usually the ‘love interest’) rather than weave it in, but it is obvious and therefore unsatisfying.

Michel and Helen are not based on particular people but there are aspects in each that I have observed in others and myself.

Your earlier novel SABRA ZOO focused on the Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982 in Beirut, Lebanon.  SHAKE OFF is also Michel Khoury is a survivor of the Sabra massacre, an event that haunts him throughout the novel.  I believe you were living in Beirut at the time of the Sabra and Shatila massacre—what was it like, being in Sabra then? How would you describe living in cities torn apart by sectarian violence to Americans, whose almost sole point of reference would have to be the events of 9/11?

It is difficult to explain what it is like to people who haven’t experienced it, which I guess is why some of us write books about it. I suppose, therefore, people could do worse than read SABRA ZOO to get a feel for what it was like in Lebanon at that time.  But there are other fine books that deal with conflicts in a serious and sensitive fashion. A couple of years ago, after SABRA ZOO was published, I read HALF OF A YELLOW SUN by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche which is set against the Nigeria-Biafra war of which I was completely ignorant. It is a powerful book that I felt had effectively tackled the Nigerian Civil War in a way that I had aspired to do with SABRA ZOO for the Lebanon Civil War.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a crucial part of the drama of SHAKE OFF. While in a less astute writer’s hands, treatment of the conflict might have seemed more didactic and overtly polemical, because of the work you’ve done in crafting Michel as such a seemingly real and empathetic character, the Palestinian perspective (and the Israelis’ as well, through Michel’s reading and education) comes through in remarkably nuanced fashion. For me, those sections of SHAKE OFF that address the conflict head-on reminded me in a way of some of Dave Eggers’ later work—another testament to SHAKE OFF’s complexity.

Given that you’ve done such great work in depicting the nuances of the conflict—to such a degree that you’ve made even this self-professed Apathetic American feel deeply for the plight of Michel and those like him—what is your view of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict?  Fully realizing what an impossible question this is, what do you think it would take for a solution to be reached—and would there ever be one that will satisfy both ends of the negotiations?

Well, I am pleased that it has had this effect, and I’ve had emails from people expressing similar sentiments. Fiction is a great way to give narratives that are rarely heard an airing, and I thought Eggers did that brilliantly with ZEITOUN.

This is probably not the forum to propose a detailed solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, but I would start with the naïve and basic premise that everyone living there should have equal rights.

 The PLO is still active and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still unresolved. Given this, why did you decide set SHAKE OFF in 1989 before the end of the Cold War instead of the modern day? Other than the later historical landmarks that would influence parts of the story (the Madrid conference of 1991, the Oslo Accords, etc), would you say that this novel could at least in spirit be set in modern times?

Yes, it could be set now, but that was such a fascinating time – a year that culminated in the fall of the Berlin wall – with the PLO still being supported by the Soviet Union and its allies within the context of the Cold War. Also, the spying game was a lot more interesting then because it was still people-driven rather than technology driven. Intelligence officers today spend more time in front of a screen than talking to agents. A contemporary book would therefore look different, but there is certainly still plenty of political intrigue to mine.

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.

Wes Miller is a Mulholland Books editor who has been at the imprint since the launch of its first list. You can find more of his MulhollandBooks.com posts here.

SHAKE OFF, which has been praised by Charles Cumming as “a spy thriller of the highest class” and by David Morrell as “smart and tense and real enough to be scary,” is now available in bookstores everywhere.

Hey, Sinner Man, Where’d You Go?

Today marks the three-year anniversary of MulhollandBooks.com! To celebrate where we’re going with where we’ve been, we’ll be re-featuring our very first guest posts throughout the day. Some authors we’ve gone on to publish; all of them we’ve continued to admire. What’s next? You never know what’s coming around the curve…

You’ve probably heard the song. It’s a spiritual, and it starts out something like this:

Hey sinner man, where you gonna run to?
Hey sinner man, where you gonna run to?
Hey sinner man, where you gonna run to?
All on that day . . .

In the verses that follow, we learn that ol’ Sinner Man has run to the north, the east, the south, and the west, to the rock and to the hill and to any number of other sites, and nowhere can he find a place to hide from divine judgment. Then he runs to the Lord, and that turns out to be the answer.

When you look at it like that, it sounds pretty lame, doesn’t it? I’m reminded of the truly awful actor in the truly dreadful showcase production of Hamlet. When some audience members walk out during the famous soliloquy, he breaks character and cries out, “Hey, don’t blame me — I’m not the one who wrote this shit!”

What I did write, however, was a crime novel I called Sinner Man. It was my first crime novel, though it was a long way from being my first published novel. (And it was also a long way from being my first published crime novel, as you’ll see.)

If memory serves (and I might point out that, if memory truly served, there’d be no need for me to write this piece or for you to read it), I wrote Sinner Man sometime in the winter of 1959–60. In the summer of 1957, after two years at Antioch College, I’d dropped out to take a job as an editor at Scott Meredith Literary Agency. I was there for a year and wrote and sold a dozen or so stories of my own during that time. Then I dropped in again, or tried to; I went back to Antioch, but by then I was writing books for Harry Shorten at Midwood and had sold a lesbian novel to Fawcett Crest, and I had more books and stories to write, and what the hell did I care about Paradise Lost or Humphry Clinker, let alone The Development of Physical Ideas? So at the end of the year, I went to New York and took a room at the Hotel Rio, where I wrote another book for Midwood and, as my first for Bill Hamling’s Nightstand Books, one I called Campus Tramp.

Continue reading “Hey, Sinner Man, Where’d You Go?”

Weekly Links: Weaponized Edition, Part II

Contrasted ConfinementWhat better way to cap off a great launch week than with a roundup of the fantastic features and amazing content to date for Nicholas Mennuti and David Guggenheim’s Weaponized?

Us Weekly included Weaponized on its Buzz-o-meter of the top five things that have them talking this week! And US Weekly isn’t the only one talking—on Barnes & Noble, one reviewer raves, “Thrilling, exciting, could not put it down. There is one twist after another, and the action never lets up. This has movie potential.” On Amazon, another reader adds, “The fact that I am writing this review so soon after this book came out is saying something! I started it yesterday and literally could not put it down. The action scenes were insane and the story kept throwing curveballs at me. It reads like a really fun action movie!”

Good news for all those reviewers noting Weaponized‘s cinematic quality: as Deadline noted, film rights have been acquired by Universal Pictures, which means Weaponized: the Movie can’t be far behind!

On pub day itself, “11 Movies that Inspired Weaponized went live on the Scott Moyer’s Go Into the Story, the official screenwriting blog of the Black List—if you’re looking for some great film recommendations, look no further.

Right here on MulhollandBooks.com, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting Mennuti in conversation with Alan Glynn, author of Graveland and Limitless, adapted into the film of the same name. It’s a true meeting of the minds as two of our best paranoid thriller writers come together for one epic conversation.

For more, check out the WEAPONIZED Spotify playlist, or start reading the novel right here. And if you’ve got questions for Nick on Weaponized or anything else, ask him at the discussion group on Goodreads!

More: The Lineup: Weaponized Edition, Part I

Tune In to Weaponized

Weaponized by Nicholas Mennuti with David Guggenheim

Nicholas Mennuti and David Guggenheim’s globe-trotting suspense novel about a government contractor in exile went on sale this week, and if you were one of the book’s early readers, you know why Universal Pictures snapped up the film rights so quickly: Weaponized is a lush, rollicking tale, just as much immersed in the exotic cities of Cambodia as it is in the troubling consequences of government surveillance gone awry. It’s a story that begs to be seen as much as read. But what would the soundtrack for that movie be? Here to offer a playlist is none other than Nicholas Mennuti himself. You can listen to some of these songs through the Spotify player above.

Depeche Mode – “Barrel of A Gun”
Depeche Mode has always been one of my top five bands and their Violator album has exalted status on my list of desert island discs. “Barrel of A Gun” actually comes from their Ultra album—which, in my humble opinion, is their best after Violator, and may also be their darkest album overall (which means it’s dark). “Barrel of A Gun” will put you in the right frame of mind for Weaponized before you even crack the spine.

UNKLE – “Lonely Soul”
One of the greatest songs about isolation ever recorded. The beat is all jangly electro and the vocals by The Verve’s Richard Aschroft are haunting. One refrain sums up Weaponized better than I ever could: “I’m gonna die in a place that don’t know my name.”

Planningtorock – “I’m Your Man”
Planningtorock is actually just Janine Rostron, an experimental British musician who distorts the vocals in her songs to play around with gender identity and to better suit the mood of each individual track. It sounds heavy—it isn’t; you can dance to it. She’s done some softer beats, but “I’m Your Man” is pure paranoia all the way. It’s not easy listening, but neither is Kyle’s journey in Weaponized, and this track helped me set the mood for his inner monologues.

Jerry Goldsmith – “Basic Instinct – Main Title Theme”
After Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith—to me—is the greatest Hollywood composer of all time, and Basic Instinct has one of his signature scores. If Robinson ever had theme music, this would be it: slinky, seductive, and dangerous as hell. Also, bonus points to this score for having the second greatest simulated orchestral orgasm after Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde”.

Chemical Brothers – “Container Park”
Film music has undergone many metamorphoses over the years, but hiring Daft Punk to score Tron:Legacy was a big one. Hollywood has never known what to do with electronic music, even when it embraced the synthesizer in the 80’s, but Daft Punk changed that. Since then, Orbital, Hybrid, M83, and others have made excursions into film scoring—but none with the force of The Chemical Brothers in the score for Joe Wright’s Hanna. Try listening to “Container Park” and not feel the danger.

Muse – “MK Ultra”
I don’t want to call Muse a guilty pleasure, but I kind of have to. It’s the best arena rock of the 2000s. I unabashedly love this song and can’t decide whether it’s because of the song itself or just the title—but either way I listened to it fairly regularly while writing the CIA sections in Weaponized.

David Bowie – “I’m Afraid of Americans”
Earthling was Bowie’s big late-90’s comeback album wherein he fully embraced electro, sort of like Madonna’s William Orbit–stamped “Ray of Light.” No playlist I construct would lack Bowie, but this song’s special even for the master himself and really contributed to the paranoid lost soul quality of Kyle in Weaponized.

John Murphy – “Mercado Nuevo”
In my opinion, Michael Mann’s Miami Vice is the most underrated film of the 2000s, and by extension, so is John Murphy’s propulsive score. Murphy’s done memorable work for Danny Boyle—28 Days Later and Sunshine—but his work for Mann really shines. “Mercado Nuevo” is the perfect music for driving into denied territory, exactly what Kyle and Lara spend a lot of time doing in Weaponized.

Public Image, Ltd – “The Order of Death”
Public Image Ltd was John Lydon’s (Johnny Rotten) first band after the Sex Pistols ended and is considered by many—me included—to be the first and potentially the best “post-rock” band. This particular track may be their crowning achievement and sets the mood for the last few chapters of Weaponized—that’s all I can say.

Tangerine Dream – “Thru Metamorphic Rocks”
I’ve got a serious spot in my heart for 70s and 80s Krautrock, and it doesn’t get much more epic than Tangerine Dream. This track is close to fifteen minutes long—my favorite part comes in at around five minutes in. I listened to it obsessively while writing the first time Kyle and CIA agent Tom Fowler encounter each other in a hotel room. Read the chapter and you’ll see why…

Thievery Corporation – “The Forgotten People”
Choosing a Thievery Corporation track is as much about celebrating how much all their music contributed to Weaponized as it is a public service announcement. No band has gotten me laid more consistently than Thievery Corporation (maybe Massive Attack did, too, I have to think). So listen to this track, which I did, while writing the early Phnom Penh scenes in Weaponized, or just buy the whole album Radio Retaliation and thank me later.

Wang Chung – “City of the Angels”
This is another epic action track, over nine minutes; my favorite part kicks in just over one minute in. This was Lara’s theme music for me, particularly when it came time for her to start shooting people. Also To Live and Die in L.A., directed by William Friedkin, is one of my favorite films ever. Don’t let the 80s prejudice you or the fact it’s by Wang Chung dissuade you—this is film scoring of the highest order.