I originally wrote this for Breach-Bang-Clear a while back, but it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle, so here it is. Line in the Valley is hard to categorize. It’s a crime novel, a war novel, and a psychological study of men under the highest possible stress in combat, all at the same time. It’s set against a backdrop of an invasion of South Texas, but that really only sets the background against which the events take place. The story starts off with a bang, as advance elements made up of local gang-bangers eliminate all the cops in the target border towns. It then follows the initial response, which goes very badly, before we get into the nitty gritty of the counterattack, which is where the meat of the story happens.
I’ve got a story in the new anthology, Tales of the Once and Future King. It’s a bit of a departure from what I’ve put out before, being more of a heroic fantasy/chivalric romance/bardic tale than anything else. I get to introduce Taliesin, Arthur’s bard. While the stories in the anthology cover a pretty wide range of genres, I kept mine solidly late-Roman, early medieval Britain. It’s called Taliesin’s Riddle. It is said that King Arthur will return in Britain’s hour of greatest need. That time is coming. Four travelers, searching for the Pendragon, are quickly embroiled in a plot to rescue the beloved of a banished forest lord. And while they concoct their desperate plan a Bard, the new Taliesin, regales them with stories: Tales of Knights, yes, but also tales of robots and vampires, music and monsters, airships and armies – tales to inspire heroism and hope. And when all seems lost, perhaps these tales will be their salvation. This book is an anthology. This book is a novel. This book is a romance This book is science fiction This book is a fantasy This is “Tales of the Once and Future King” It’s available for pre-order on
The weird odor in the air, that managed to smell like blood, rot, sulfur, and burned meat all at the same time, got more intense. My guts twisted and I tried not to inhale, but it seemed to reach into my nose anyway, forcing itself past my nasal passages and into my sinuses. A piercing, stabbing pain started to build behind my left eye. I heard Kolya grunt, and Eryn was panting, breathing shallowly. I spared a worried glance at her, to see that she still had her shotgun up, though she looked pale and sick. Granted, some of that might have been the green light of the candles on her already fair complexion, but whatever was happening in that room was not conducive to human life. As soon as they landed on the corpse pile, both figures went limp, though blood continued to pump from their savaged throats, coating the floor and the already bloody meat that had once been human beings. For a moment, all was still. Father Ignacio was continuing the Rite of Exorcism, but the three still-living cultists, or whatever they were, were still facing the pile of human remains, still croaking that blasphemous sound, though
I got my start as a storyteller in the dark, around campfires, up at Camp Fife in Washington State, about eighteen years ago, now. In a real way, the Jed Horn series is simply a continuation of that old tradition. There are two kinds of campfire story; the traditional ones that are passed down from fire to fire, for years, only changing in small details of the telling, flexible things that are simply the flavor the teller adds as he goes. The other kind are the ones I mostly told; the improvised scary stories. My first was pretty simple. A wisp in the woods, a curious Scout, and a game of cat-and-mouse underground with a monster that could change shape at will. It wasn’t the best spook story ever told, but I had already learned a few things from it. Between that one and a couple of the later ones, I developed a few rules.
I cannot let 9/11 go by unremarked. It is the single event that defined my adult life. While I knew no one who died that day, much of my life after was dedicated to the pursuit of those 19 hijackers’ fellow fanatics, and I have buried friends in the course of that war. It is a war that began long before any of us were born, and will likely continue. It is unpopular to say that there is a war between Islam and the West. Islam, truly devoted Islam, has been at war with all and sundry for 1300 years. Are many Muslims not at war? Of course. Far more Muslims have died to crush ISIS than Americans. But the historical record remains. Even when we are at peace, sooner or later, that peace will end. The hijackers did not choose September the 11th at random. It was not a date that simply came up in the course of planning and logistics. Like all fanatics, they sought to make a deeper statement in their act of mass murder. September 11 was the day before the anniversary of the Battle of Vienna. In 1683, the Ottoman Empire, then the Muslim Caliphate
So, the earlier poll (coupled with a mirror version on The Action Thriller Renaissance on Facebook) was pretty definitive. The votes are for the volunteer Advance Review Copy Reader List. So, since the first draft of #1 is past half-finished, as of now, I am putting out the call for volunteers who would like to receive ARCs of the Brannigan’s Bastards series. The signup comes with a caveat: continued receipt of ARCs is contingent on an Amazon review during the first week of release. A link to said review can be sent to the Contact form here on the blog, or by PM on Facebook. I’ve got to put that in there just to be sure that there is a purpose to this list, and I’m not just giving stuff away for free. Also, the list will only include the first 25-30 people who sign up. I’ve got to cut it off there. It’s possible that you might still sign up before I yank the form (since I can’t just sit here and watch it), but if you’re number 31 or higher, my apologies. Sign up here.
From a piece by John C. Wright, from a few years ago: In none of the stories I just mentioned, even stories where the image of Our Lord in His suffering nailed to a cross is what drives back vampires, is any mentioned made of the Christ. Is is always an Old Testament sort of God ruling Heaven, or no one at all is in charge. So why in Heaven’s name is Heaven always so bland, unappealing, or evil in these spooky stories? I can see the logic of the artistic decisions behind these choices, honestly, I can. If I were writing these series, I would have (had only I been gifted enough to do it) done the same and for the same reason. It is the same question that George Orwell criticized in his review of THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH by CS Lewis. In the Manchester Evening News, 16 August 1945, Orwell writes that the evil scientists in the NICE [the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments, who are the Black Hats of the yarn] are actually evil magicians of a modern, materialist bent, in communion with ‘evil spirits.’ Orwell comments: Mr. Lewis appears to believe in the existence of such