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Lauren Beukes’s Top 10 Movies About Serial Killers

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 “Lauren Beukes’s Top 10 Movies About Serial Killers”

Lauren Beukes’s Film and TV Inspirations

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 “Lauren Beukes’s Film and TV Inspirations”

As I Lay Dying

Angel Baby by Richard Lange
A number of characters die in my new novel, Angel Baby. Ooops! Was that a spoiler? Well, it’ll be the last one, I promise.

Anyway, from the beginning I knew that I wanted one particular death in the book to stand out, to resonate, to hurt. For inspiration, I returned to a few literary “last moments” that had moved me over the years.

Savage Night by Jim ThompsonSavage Night by Jim Thompson
Probably my favorite Thompson novel. The final chapters are particularly hair-raising and, at the same time, heart-rending.

The darkness and myself. Everything else was gone. And the little that was left of me was going, faster and faster.

I began to crawl. I crawled and rolled and inched my way along; and I missed it the first time – the place I was looking for.

I circled the room twice before I found it, and there was hardly any of me then but it was enough. I crawled up over the pile of bottles, and went crashing down the other side.

And she was there, of course.

Death was there.

Warlock by Oakley HallWarlock by Oakley Hall
A “literary Western,” if you’re one of those who must label. I think it’s just a great damn book, period, and Tom Morgan’s last gasp is one of the reasons why.

He fell forward into the dust. It received him gently. One arm felt a little cramped, and he managed to move it out from under his body. In his eyes there was only dust, which was soft, and strangely wet beneath him. ‘Tom!’ He heard it dimly. ‘Tom!’ He felt a hand upon his back. It caught his shoulder and tried to turn him, Kate’s hand, and he heard Kate sobbing through the swell of a vast singing in his ears. He tried to speak to her, but he choked on blood. The dust pulled him away, and he sank through it gratefully; still he could laugh, but now he could weep as well. Continue reading “As I Lay Dying”

You Are Here: Mapping Richard Lange’s Angel Baby

In my new novel, Angel Baby, Luz, the beautiful, young wife of a Mexican drug lord, makes a mad dash for freedom that takes her from Tijuana, Mexico to Compton, CA. The story unfolds in actual locations, and I’ve called out some of the more interesting sites on the map below. Body armor recommended if you’re visiting some of them.

(Tip: Zoom out on the map to view the pins. Click on the pins for Lange’s descriptions.)


View Richard Lange’s Angel Baby in a larger map

Start Reading Angel Baby

Happy publication day to Richard Lange’s ANGEL BABY! In Guggenheim Fellowship recipient Lange’s explosive new thriller, a woman on the run, a brutal crime lord, and three desperate men collide. Praised in Mystery Scene as  “a truly great read [with] the momentum of rolling thunder,” raved in Kirkus as “sharply calibrated and affecting,” and hailed by Ron Rash as “suspenseful and surprisingly moving,” Lange’s newest is a major step forward for the already much-lauded author. But don’t take our word for it–take a sneak peek at the opening pages of ANGEL BABY below…

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Luz didn’t think things through the first time she tried to get away. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. One night Rolando beat her so badly that she peed blood, and the next morning, as soon as he and his bodyguards left the house, she limped downstairs and out the front door, across the yard, and through the gate in the high concrete fence that surrounded the property.

Barefoot and wearing only panties and a black silk robe, she stumbled down the street, trying to hail a taxi. The drivers slowed and stared, but none would stop. Tears of frustration blurred her vision. She tripped and fell but got quickly back to her feet. Scraped knees and skinned palms wouldn’t keep her from Isabel’s third birthday party. She was determined to be there, no matter what. She’d appear at the front door with a giant pink cake and an armful of gifts and, oh, wouldn’t Isabel be surprised to see her?

Maria, the housekeeper, stuck her head out of the gate and shouted for her to stop. Luz tried to run, but the pills that got her through the day back then made her feel like she was slogging through mud. Maria caught up to her before she reached the corner and grabbed her by the hair. Luz fought back, kicking and clawing, but then El Toro, the house guard, was there too.

“Help me,” Luz called to a man on a bicycle. “Please,” to a woman pushing a stroller, but they, like the taxi drivers, ignored her. This was Tijuana, see, and if you valued your life and the lives of your family, you minded your own business. El Toro and Maria dragged her back to the house. They locked her in her room and laughed at her vows to get even.

Rolando killed her dog when they told him that she’d run away. He stormed into the bedroom and yanked Pepito from her arms, placed the heel of his boot on the toy poodle’s head, and crushed its skull. Then he forced Luz to the floor, twisted her arms up behind her back, and raped her there on the white shag carpet.

“Why do you make me do these things?” he screamed at her when he finished. “Why do you make me hate myself?”

It will be different this time. In the year since she last made a run for it, Luz has been putting together a plan, and now, finally, she’s ready. Isabel turns four next Tuesday, and Mommy will be there to watch her blow out the candles on her birthday cake, or Mommy will die trying. Continue reading “Start Reading Angel Baby”

The Lineup: Links for David Morrell’s Murder as a Fine Art

David Morrell’s Victorian thriller MURDER AS A FINE ART features Thomas De Quincey and his irrepressible daughter, Emily, matching wits with a killer the likes of which London has never before seen. With less than a week on sale, Morrell’s newest has been raking in amazing reviews.

Tina Jordan raved of the book in Entertainment Weekly: “MURDER AS A FINE ART is masterful . . . brilliantly plotted . . . evokes 1854 London with such finesse that you’ll hear the hooves clattering on cobblestones, the racket of dustmen, and the shrill call of vendors.” Janet Maslin of the New York Times Book Review remarked of the book: “Morrell writes action scenes like nobody’s business.” And in a rave Associated Press review that ran far and wide, Waka Tsunoda praises the novel as “shockingly real…Morrell’s thorough and erudite research of the people and culture of the British Empire’s heyday informs every page. A literary thriller that pushes the envelope of fear.”

For more MURDER AS A FINE ART, check out the lushly rendered book trailer below, created from original artwork by Tomislav Tikulen, an interview with Morrell on the writing of his Victorian thriller, and an illuminating conversation between Morrell and De Quincey biographer Robert Morrison. You’ll doubtless encounter more great reviews—and in the meantime, visit Morrell’s website to find out when the author will be reading near you!

Start Reading Point & Shoot

The day has finally come–the long-awaited conclusion to the Charlie Hardie series, POINT & SHOOT, is now on sale in bookstores everywhere. Can’t wait until the workday ends to get your fix? Take a sneak peek at the opening pages of the award-winning Hardie trilogy’s slam-bang final chapter. Then go pick up a copy already!

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This isn’t going to have a happy ending.

Morgan Freeman, Se7en

Near Brokenland Parkway, Columbia, Maryland—Seven Months Ago

A twenty-three-year-old hungover intern with a broken heart saved the day.

The intern’s name was Warren Arbona, and he was in a stuffy warehouse along with five other interns scanning endless pieces of paper and turning them into PDFs that nobody would ever, ever fucking read. The whole operation was strictly cover-your-ass. The interns’ bosses wanted to be able to tell their government liaisons that, yes, every page of the flood of declassified documents they released had been carefully read and scanned by an experienced member of their legal team.

“Experienced” = interns who’d been on the job for at least two months.

The new president had made a big deal about declassifying everything, the shining light of freedom blasting through the deceptions of the previous administration. A democracy requires accountability, he said, and accountability requires transparency. Which sounded awesome.

But before the PDFs could be uploaded, the president’s intelligence advisers insisted that no sensitive secrets harmful to the security of the United States would be leaked to the general public. This still was the real world.

So a white-shoe law firm specializing in government intelligence was retained to painstakingly review every line on every scrap of paper.

Nobody in the firm wanted to deal with that bullshit, so they put the interns on it.

And Warren Arbona, the intern in question, wouldn’t have noticed a thing if it hadn’t been for his cunt ex-girlfriend. He couldn’t help it. The name just jumped out at him.

He stopped the scan and looked at the paper again. Were his eyes playing tricks on him?

Nope. There it was.

Charlie Hardie.

No, it wasn’t Christy’s dad. Her dad was named Bruce or some such shit. Balding. Big asshole. Deviated septum and beady eyes. But this Charlie guy was an uncle, maybe? Some other relative? Warren had no idea.

And really, who the fuck cared. Christy didn’t matter anymore; he’d do best to put her out of his head and finish up with this scanning so he could go home and get good and drunk again.

They were all working inside the abandoned warehouse set of a canceled television show, Baltimore Homicide. The rent was absurdly cheap, and the set already had the delightful bonus of real desks and working electrical outlets, thanks to a subplot featuring a fake daily newspaper office.

So all the law firm had to do was arrange for the reams of paper—nearly three trucks’ worth—to be backed into the building, plug in a bunch of laptops and scanners, and then set the interns loose. See you in September, motherfuckers.

The working conditions were less than ideal. While an industrial AC unit blasted 60,000 BTUs of arctic air into the fake office via ringed funnels, the warehouse itself had diddly-squat in the way of climate management. So every time you left to drag in another set of files, you baked and sweated in the stifling summer heat. And then when you returned, your sweat was flash-frozen on your body. No wonder everybody was sick.

Warren had been fighting a cold since May, when he first started scanning the documents. He believed that if he polluted his body with enough tequila, the cold virus would give up and abandon ship. So far, it hadn’t worked.

But the tequila also helped him forget about Christy Hardie.

Almost.

Now the name popped up, and Warren couldn’t help but be curious. He started to read the document, which was a deposition.

Seems Charlie Hardie was an ex–police consultant turned drunk house sitter who was later accused of snuffing a junkie actress named Lane Madden.

Warren kind of wished someone had snuffed Christy after she confessed that she’d been blowing his best friend for, oh, the entire first year of law school.

Anyway, Warren remembered the Lane Madden story from a bunch of years ago. Apparently she’d been raped and killed by this house sitter guy who used to be a cop and kind of lost his mind. But the rest of the deposition was kind of boring, so Warren stopped reading and fed the pages into the scanner. Yes, they were all supposed to eyeball each page—even the partners weren’t foolish enough to tell the interns to actually read them. But Warren and his colleagues dispensed with the eyeballing crap somewhere in late May. If fingers touched a page, it was considered read. Osmosis, they decided.

Warren looked at the clock. Just two more hours until his brain went south of the border.

But at fifteen minutes until closing, something strange happened. Continue reading “Start Reading Point & Shoot”

J.J. Abrams’ Next Project, a Novel, to be Published by Mulholland Books

S.
A NOVEL
Written by Doug Dorst, based on a story by J.J. Abrams
J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

J.J. Abrams has created, written, produced, or directed groundbreaking television shows such as the Emmy and Golden Globe Award–winning Lost and Alias, and Felicity and blockbuster films such as Star Trek, Cloverfield, Super 8, and Mission: Impossible. His work is renowned for its sense of wonder and invention, and for helping reshape what’s possible in film and television today.

S., conceived of and developed by Abrams and written by award-winning author Doug Dorst, is Abrams’s first foray into publishing and will be released by Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company on October 29, 2013. At the core of this multilayered literary puzzle of love and adventure is a book of mysterious provenance. In the margins, another tale unfolds—through the hand-scribbled notes, questions, and confrontations of two readers. Between the pages, online, and in the real world, you’ll find evidence of their interaction, ephemera that bring this tale vividly to life.

“We are thrilled to be publishing J.J. Abrams, in partnership with someone as critically acclaimed as Doug Dorst,” says Mulholland Books editorial director Josh Kendall. “S. will be a literary event, and is truly a love letter to the printed word.”

Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot, will be promoting the book leading up to and at publication time.

The cover of S. will be released at a later date.

J.J. Abrams is a multiple Emmy Award–winning producer, writer, and director. Doug Dorst is the award-winning author of Alive in Necropolis and The Surf Guru, as well as a former Jeopardy champion, one of only two novelists in the show’s long history.

Preorder S.: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Other Retailers

Thomas De Quincey and Murder as a Fine Art: A Conversation with David Morrell and Robert Morrison

Murder as a Fine Art

Robert Morrison: I love the idea behind Murder as a Fine Art. John Williams commits a series of sensational killings in 1811. Thomas De Quincey writes his most powerful essay about the killings in 1854. Somebody reads De Quincey on Williams and decides to produce his own version of the killings, far exceeding them in terror. How did this idea come to you?

David Morrell: Robert, coming from a De Quincey scholar, your enthusiasm means a lot to me. I studied De Quincey years ago when I was an undergraduate English student. My professor treated him as a footnote in 1800s literature, giving him importance only because De Quincey was the first to write about drug addiction in his notorious Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. I forgot about him until I happened to watch a movie about Charles Darwin, Creation, which dramatizes the nervous breakdown Darwin suffered while writing On the Origin of Species. In the movie, someone says to Darwin, “You know, Charles, people such as De Quincey believe that we’re controlled by elements in our mind that we’re not aware of.”

Robert: It sounds like Freud.

David: Yes. But Freud didn’t publish until half a century later. In fact, because De Quincey invented the word “subconscious,” Freud may have been influenced by him. Anyway, I took down my old college textbook, started reading De Quincey, and became spellbound. I read more and more of his work. Then I got to his blood-soaked essay about the terrifying Ratcliffe Highway murders, “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” The idea came to me that someone would read the essay and, for complicated reasons, replicate the murders on a more horrifying scale. De Quincey, the Opium-Eater who was obsessed about murder, would then be the logical suspect. You wrote a terrific biography about De Quincey, The English Opium-Eater. What caused your own interest in this brilliant author?

The English Opium-Eater

Robert: I first heard of De Quincey many years ago when I was a graduate student at Oxford. My tutor was Jonathan Wordsworth, the great, great, great nephew of the poet.

David: What an experience that must have been.

Robert: For one of my tutorial assignments, Jonathan asked me to read De Quincey’s Confessions. I had no idea what to expect, and certainly no idea that I was going to spend the next thirty years “hooked” on him. Of course I found the drugs and addiction part of the narrative very interesting. But what really grabbed me was how well De Quincey wrote. He could be, by turns, humorous, conversational, elaborate, or impassioned. And this great ability as a stylist made it possible for him to chart his experience with remarkable depth and energy. After that, and like you, I just kept reading. One of the wonderful things about Murder as a Fine Art is how vividly it brings De Quincey to life, and how compellingly it exploits his fascination with dreams, violence, memory, and addiction. It’s not only a superb thriller, but it also packs an intellectual punch. How did you bring these two elements together so successfully?

David: A reviewer once called me “the mild-mannered professor with the bloody-minded visions.”

Robert: Ha!
Continue reading “Thomas De Quincey and Murder as a Fine Art: A Conversation with David Morrell and Robert Morrison”

The Lineup: You by Austin Grossman Edition

Austin Grossman has been all over the ‘net this past week to celebrate the publication of YOU, his new novel of mystery, videogames, and the people who create them.

Check out Austin’s photo essay “Seven Myths about Videogames and the Seven Games that Prove them Wrong” on Huffington Post for Austin’s picks on some of the most influential video game narratives of the past twenty years. Austin also has an interview up with Kotaku’s Evan Narcisse about YOU, his work as a game design consultant, and more.

For a sneak peek at the world of YOU, there’s Austin’s essay up on Kotaku re: the classic games that inspired the canon (fictional!) mid-90’s game studio Black Arts. More at Black Art’s (quite real!) website.

Austin joined the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, presented by Wired.com, to discuss YOU, his first novel SOON I WILL BE INVINCIBLE, Dr. Horrible envy, Looking Glass Studios, and more. Finally, there’s Austin’s Polygon essay on learning to write through his career as a game designer.

Still craving more? Did you get a chance to read the Boston Globe review, the Harper’s magazine review by Tom Bissell,  the raves by  i09 and Boing Boing, not to mention bloggers including Bookgasm and The Review Broads? Or go pick up YOU from your favorite bookstore or e-tailer! Stay tuned–we’ll be back with an excerpt of YOU for Mulholland readers next week.