Mindbreaker: James Bond vs. Cthulhu Coming Soon!

bondunknowncover

Coming late August from April Moon Books, my novelette Mindbreaker, side-by-side with William Meikle’s Into The Green in BOND UNKNOWN – two tales of 007 facing off against elements of the Lovecraftian mythos. Peep the cover by Mark Maddox!

In Mindbreaker, British agent James Bond (yes, that James Bond) finds himself seconded to a classified subsection of MI6 itself, assigned to track down a pair of missing field agents and stop a sinister occult organization from using the blood of a kidnapped royal to activate an ancient weapon of mass destruction.

Watch this space for more.

Published in: on July 7, 2017 at 4:33 pm  Comments (1)  
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What’s Coming In 2016

Happy New Year All. Just a swift post to let you know what to expect from me this year writing-wise.

First off, I’m experimenting with Patreon, so head over to here and check that out. Five bucks a month gets you a brand new never before (or very little) seen short story from me. This month it’s a little story called The Mound Of The Night Panther about the secret history of the mound city of Cahokia and how it was brought down by weird happenings.

Next up will likely be my short novel Perennial, appearing in Emergence, the first of Ragnarok Publications’ new shared world superhero universe, Humanity 2.0. It’s about a man who gains incredible abilities but also has his physical aging process halted at age fourteen. That’s him on the cover, Pan. It features a scenario that is basically Die Hard with a skyscraper full of supervillains.  You can read more about that here. 

pan

At some point early this year I’ll be sharing novel space again with author Willie Meikle in Canadian publisher April Moon Books’ new James Bond pastiche series, Bond: Unknown. Entitled Mindbreaker, this one’s a 1960’s era Lovecraftian mashup with Bond being seconded to an ultra secret branch of the service to chase down the abducted Princess Royal and stop an obscure Corsican cult’s plot to activate a prehistoric weapon. I’m an immense Bond fan, so this is one I’m looking forward to you all reading, as despite the Cthulhu stuff, it’s very much written with Fleming in mind. Were you aware the 16th century mystic philosopher and mathematician John Dee signed his letters to Queen Elizabeth 0-0-7? Ian Fleming was. You will be too…

007dee

I’ll have a few short story appearances scattered throughout the year, in books from Golden Goblin Press and possibly Chaosium, and, if things work out, a new Star Wars story (keep your lightsabers crossed for that).

Then in the last part of the year you’ll see my Arthurian fantasy debut The Knight With Two Swords again from Ragnarok, which is a high fantasy retelling of the story of Balin Le Savage from Mallory and a slew of other sources.

I’ve also dipped my toes back into the screenwriting waters this year, with the hopes of putting out a short film at some point. We’ll see how that goes.

Hasta pronto!

Philopatry Appearing In Flesh Like Smoke from April Moon Books

April Moon Books’ latest anthology Flesh Like Smoke is out now.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0993718043/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_d0ZLvb1QTWDK9

wolfmanWerewolves are probably my favorite classic monster. I’ve been enthralled by them since Lon Chaney Jr’s two memorable turns as ‘the Wolfman.’ I was also a tremendous fan of Fox’s Werewolf TV series, especially Chuck Connors’ turn as Janos Skorzeny, a salty old one-eyed shapechanging sea captain who made the main character’s life a living hell.

Werewolf_by_Night_Vol_1_4In my middle school years of (appropriately?) middling grades my parents picked up a near complete run of Marvel Comics’ Werewolf By Night at a flea market and used the single issues as a kind of incentive to get me to do my homework. I eventually earned them all, so I guess it worked, but I’ve probably retained more about Jack and Lissa Russell, Topaz, and their best friend Buck and the Darkhold than I ever did about math or science.

When Neil Baker put out the call for a shapeshifter anthology, I whipped up Philopatry, a tale of a South Boston Irish priest who calls on a notorious hitman and ex-altar boy to take out a vicious serial murderer plaguing the neighborhood. The bare bones of this story originated way back in high school, when I wrote and lost a story called The Hit with a similar premise, though set in my native Chicago.

Yuhanna-MercuriusThe story draws inspiration from the hagiography of St. Philopater Mercurius, a Roman soldier who fought the Berbers under Emperor Decius. When Decius saw the numbers of the Berbers, he was afraid, but Mercurius prayed to God and saw a vision of the Archangel Michael bearing a sword, which he then gave to the saint. Mercurius wielded the sword to great affect and routed the Berbers utterly.

It also refers to the ancient Greek writings of the Cynocephalae, the Dog Heads, and proposes that what Michael gave to Mercurius was not a literal ‘sword’ at all.

It’s also a return of sorts to the Gate Of Heaven parish, which featured in my last published story, Thy Just Punishments, in Ragnarok’s That Hoodoo, Voodoo, That You Do.

Here’s an excerpt….

Outside it was still cold but the rain was dying off. The cars swished through the leavings and the gutters gurgled as they sucked the streets down to a tolerable level.

Their breath puffed out like fog as they talked.

“What do you know about the murders at Gate of Heaven last week?” Father Mike asked.

Terry had seen it on the news. A pair of teenaged girls had been found in the alley behind the church on East Fourth Street. The dee-techs were out all over asking questions. You could tell them from the real people by their cheap shoes and neat hair. They looked like wannabe FBI. A little too eager, or a little too old. Kid table feds. Anyway nobody knew enough to tell them.

“Couple of hoodies out after dark,” said Terry. “News said they got done same as that gook kid over on Washington two weeks ago.”

“Do you know what happened to that boy?”

“Somethin’ bad I heard. O’Malley says some sicko cut him up. I don’t know the particulars.”

They stopped at the traffic light, watching a Honda full of drunk townies swerve into the turn. A beer can rattled and spun in the gutter.

“He was torn to pieces, Terry,” said Father Mike, his lips trembling, and not just with the cold. “Like a piece of tissue paper somebody wiped their ass with. His liver and his heart were torn out. They were eaten.”

“Fuck,” said Terry, appreciatively.

Father Mike turned to him as the light changed, splashing his skin red as the Devil’s.

“And I know who the skid is that’s doin’ it, Terry. I know!”

Father Mike looked ready to blow his top. His fists came out of his pockets shaking. One gripped a little brown pill bottle, which he rattled and wrestled with for a minute before Terry reached over.

“Here lemme get that, Fadder.”

Elderly woman opening bottle of cholesterol pills medicationHe twisted the child proof cap. It was a bitch, even for him, let alone an old guy with failing bones in the cold and a weight like he had bearing down on him. He handed it back.

Father Mike turned the bottle over and shook a pill into his quivering palm. He slapped his hand to his mouth.

“What’s that, for your blood pressure, or something?”

“Yeah,” said Father Mike. “I gotta get out of this cold.”

They double timed it up the block to Dunkie’s. Terry sprang for a pair of regulars and skipped the honey dip, but got a box of munchkins for home. He didn’t think he’d have the appetite for it, but who knew what he’d feel like tomorrow.

They took a quiet corner booth and sat holding the coffees between their hands, feeling the warmth radiate. It was bright white in there, like a hospital.

“You zooin’ on me about this, Fadder?”

“God’s honest truth,” Father Mike replied, staring into his coffee but not drinking.

“How you figure you know who the nutjob is doin’ this?”

13_12_20_confessionalThe old man’s eyes flitted up, the steam ascending from the bottom of his face, dissipating in his white hair, a wispy mask of fog.

“The bastard told me as much in the confessional this past Saturday. He told me everything. How he follows them, stalks them, like an animal. What he….does to them.”

He made a rapid sign of the cross, put the hot coffee to his lips. He winced, but kept drinking.

Terry leaned back in his chair.

“Ain’t it a sin for you to be tellin’ me this? I mean, ain’t you got some kinda confidentiality rule about the booth? Like a lawyer?”

“Don’t you think it’s a sin to just let it to go on?” he said, putting the half empty cup down.

“So don’t I,” Terry said, nodding, rubbing his eyes. “So don’t I.”

“Terry,” whispered Father Mike, leaning across the table. “I was told….I asked around. And I was told that you….that you’re….”

Terry gave him a stony look and held up his hand.

Everybody knew Terry Dunne around the parish.

They knew about the shootout in Mattapan back in the 90’s, where four trigger happy micks who’d robbed an armored car and killed the guards under the nose of the Winter Hill outfit had been left bleeding in the gutters and how Terry Dunne started driving a Lincoln after that. Everybody knew who put the body of the wiseguy in the shipping container at Conley’s yard; the one that rotted in there all summer, froze, and blew up in the spring, so the cops had to pour what was left through a colander to find the bullet.

southbayThey knew how Pat Lonnigan, who’d stuck up a Cumbie’s just to get pinched so he wouldn’t have to pay all the horse money he owed Mickey O’Callahan, had somehow rolled out of the top bunk in the cell he shared with Terry at South Bay and busted his head wide open on the floor in the middle of the night. Everybody knew about the Jamaican nurse that had moved into Terry’s ma’s place that week and took care of her till they carried her out.

“If you’re gonna preach to me now….”

“I wouldn’t Terry,” Father Mike said. “Bless you, I wouldn’t. But somebody’s got to put a stop to this.”

Terry shifted in his seat.

fleshlikesmoke

Art by Neil Smith

Art by Neil Smith

Flesh Like Smoke Up For Preorder from April Moon Books

April Moon Books, who put out the great Dark Rites Of Cthulhu anthology a while back and will be publishing my ninth novel, Mindbreaker, is set to publish their lycanthropy anthology Flesh Like Smoke, which includes my short story Philopatry, in which a Catholic priest enlists the help of an ex-convict to stop a streak of serial murders in his south Boston neighborhood after hearing the murderer’s confession.

fls

Also featuring –

Her Father’s Skin – Christine Morgan
Chaney Jr. Overdrive – Glynn Owen Barrass
Blood and Bone – Tim Waggoner
Bruce, Waking Up – Paul McMahon
Purity Ball – Cody Goodfellow
Were…? – Darrell Schweitzer
Scoop – Sam Gafford
Hunter’s Moon – Don Webb & D.A. Madigan
The Abraxas Protocol – Scott R Jones
Claw and Fang, Stone and Bone – Konstantine Paradias
The Weathered Stone – William Meikle
Survival of the Fittest – Sam Stone and David J Howe
Things Change – Pete Rawlik
Though It Be Darkness There – Damien Angelica Walters
Blood and Dust – Brian M. Sammons

And here’s a preview of the illustration accompanying my story, drawn by Neil Smith.

philopatry

Preorder here –

http://www.aprilmoonbooks.com/#!flesh-like-smoke/c1x91

Black Tallow In The Dark Rites Of Cthulhu

darkritesI’m very proud to have my story BLACK TALLOW appearing in the inaugural book from Neil Baker’s April Moon Books, THE DARK RITES OF CTHULHU.

Neil is a fellow Star Wars What’s The Story alumn and Mythos enthusiast, and he’s wrangled some great talent for his house’s first book, including editor/author Brian M. Sammons, Glynn Owen Barrass, John Goodrich, Scott T. Goudsward, T. E. Grau, C.J. Henderson, Tom Lynch, the ever lovin’ William Meikle, Christine Morgan, Robert M. Price, Pete Rawlik, Josh Reynolds, Sam Stone, Jeffrey Thomas and Don Webb.

Lovecraft Ezine just did a midnight chat on the book which you can view here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRjmMBp7kw0

Unfortunately I had some technical issues and wound up missing it, but here’s what I WOULD have talked about –

Brian pitched Dark Rites to me as a Hammer Studios style take on the ritualistic aspect of the Lovecraftian Mythos, akin to Dennis Wheatley’s fiction (like The Devil Rides Out) and Curse Of The Demon. I latched onto the idea immediately (and had a hand in naming the book).

My story BLACK TALLOW is about a rare book translator and lapsed occultist who is called to the house of an old friend who claims to owe all his substantial worldly success to the pursuit of ritual magic. And yet, the wealthy practitioner is as yet spiritually unfulfilled, until he comes across a rare tome whose ultimate purpose is said to be to grant the occultist the greatest desire of his heart.

blacktallowThe story incorporates The Infernalius, a book which readers of my Merkabah Rider series will recognize.

Perhaps I share my character’s love of physical books, but I have to take a minute and talk about how impressed I am with the look of this anthology. As you can see, Neil distressed the cover image to give the book a very 1960’s paperback feel which I love. He’s also crafted a series of minimalist representational images for each of the stories.

Here’s an excerpt from BLACK TALLOW.

He moved to the book and removed the covering.

I leaned in close.

bookIt was an ugly little thing, less than a hundred pages. It was bound in mottled, flaking, pale leather, and rather inexpertly, I thought. Some of the pages did not quite fit, as if they were mismatched, or taken from disparate sources.  I squinted hard at the cover, which bore no markings. It was old, whatever it was.

“Anthropodermic bibliopegy,” he mumbled, very close to my ear. He was standing near, hovering almost.

“Binding in human skin?” I wrinkled my nose. Claims of book jackets made from human skin usually turned out to be unfounded. Pig skin was often mistaken for human. I had once seen a copy of deSade’s Justine et Juliette with a human nipple on the front board below the title, and another time, Carnegie’s biography of Lincoln bound in a black man’s hide.  “Not very well done, is it?”

“It was stitched together by hand. By the same hand that did the fleshing and tanning.”

“Whose hand is that?” I asked, reaching out to thumb the pages.

“No, don’t open it!” he snapped. Then, more gently, “Let me.”

There was no title, only page after page of densely inscribed text, all in various hands, languages, even hieroglyphs on what looked like brittle papyrus. There were strange diagrams inside. I knew it was some kind of grimoire, but it was impossible for me to guess where it originated from.

“What is this, Paul? Some kind of scrapbook?”

“Sort of. Have you ever heard of the Infernalius?”

“It sounds….familiar.”

“Think back to the books we heard talked about in our college days, Raymond. The books your own grandfather had from his great uncle.”

That was Great Great Uncle Warren, the man family history had always told me I’d inherited my love of languages and old books from. He’d been a Classical Languages professor in Arkham, Massachussetts in the old days, and a chum of the somewhat notorious occult scholar Henry Armitage. Upon Warren’s death in 1931, most of his books and papers had been donated to his university, though a few had been passed on to his brother.

It was the revelation that I was Warren Rice’s great great grand nephew that had started off Paul’s fascination with me in school. He seemed to buy into the old story about how Warren and Armitage had had some strange mystical dealings in Dunwich in 1928 or so.

The books my grandfather had let us peruse in his study one summer that had belonged to Warren were mainly scholarly treatises, such as Copeland’s Zanthu Tablets: A Conjectural Translation, Casterwell’s Kranorian Annals, and von Junzt’s Nameless Cults.

Then I remembered.

“The Book of Books?”

Paul smiled.

“The Book of Books. Not some idle boast, but a literal description. A book hidden among the pages of seven other books.” He held up his hands and ticked them off, finger by finger. “The Book of Eibon, the Book of Karnak, the Testament of Carnamagos, the Ponape Scripture, de Vermiss Mysteriis, and the Scroll of Thoth-Amon. Each one a rare treasure in their own right.”

“Come on, Paul. It’s a fantasy,” I laughed. “The timeline’s all wrong. How could something be hidden in an ancient Egyptian scroll and a book written in 1542?”

“You know of the Akashic Record. The ethereal library of all knowledge written and unwritten which men may tap into. And the history says that The Dark Man entity dictated The Infernalius to the Hyborean wizard Gargalesh Svidren, who dispersed the knowledge through time. Abdul Al-Hazred hid the assembly instructions in the original, unexpurgated Arabic Kitab al-Azif. They’re only visible to those who already know it’s there. A book which rewards the practitioner with ultimate knowledge of the universe.”

“I thought it was supposed to end the world,” I said, pursing my lips. “How much did you get fleeced for buying this, Paul?”

“It’s the genuine article,” said Paul. “Dr. Francis Morgan recovered it from Old Noah Whateley’s personal library in Dunwich after the affair with your uncle and Professor Armitage.  It’s been in a private collection since 1966, along with Whateley’s diary.”

“Noah Whateley kept a diary?” I said, incredulous.

Whateley’s reputation as a sorcerer was renowned, but like my own as a translator, only among certain circles. As students, we’d spent our junior year spring break in Arkham and Dunwich trying to learn all we could about him and run into a wall. I’d chalked it all up to being folklore. Paul had insisted the locals had protected us from the true knowledge.

“He did, and related his assembly of the book in 1882.”

“Finding the right copies of those books, unaltered by translation….it would’ve been impossible for one man,” I said.

“He was hired by a cult, the Order of The Black Dragon. You remember them.”

I nodded. Von Junzt had mentioned them, some sort of apocalyptic cult with origins in ancient Israel and adherents all over the globe.

“Their members gathered the required books and brought them to Whateley. He assembled them, and once the Order had performed the ritual and taken what they wanted from the book, he was sent back to Dunwich with it. Apparently it was their intention to call something forth, something that should have ended the world.”

“Well, so the book’s a fraud,” I said. “Obviously the world didn’t end.”

“The book’s purpose isn’t to end the world, but to grant the ritualist his heart’s desire. The Order wanted the end of the world. The book gave them the means. The book changes to fit the magician’s desire.”

“A book that changes? That’s crazy….”

—–

Black_candles_Speyer_1THE DARK RITES OF CTHULHU is available now in Kindle, and for preorder in paperback. Neil’s made some cool perks for the special edition of the book too, so check them out here.

http://www.aprilmoonbooks.com/#!the-dark-rites-of-cthulhu/c1q0a