Celebration Week Marches On


Today (6/1) and tomorrow (6/1 + 1) will be the last days of the celebration week, celebrating this week by giving away free ebooks on Amazon. I had intended to have the Complete Saxton free, too, but due to some error or another on Amazon’s end, that will have to wait for another time.

Still, you’ve got some time to get the latest and greatest in the Henchmen series: Transmute for the cost of absolutely nothing. You don’t even have to leave a review (but it would be nice if you did).

All he wants is a dinner date with his girlfriend, but there are jerks everywhere.
As if Steven doesn’t already have enough problems dealing with the Dreaming Lands actively rebelling against his rule, the freshly minted God of Dreams has to learn how to be a god, deal with overzealous followers, and generally get his head in the game. To make things worse, a powerful enemy has set its sights on Steven and Jessica, and the entire world could be at stake.
New god. New powers. New problems. At least he’s still got friends.


Get your copy here

Celebration Week

It’s gonna be a free week to celebrate, uh, this week. 5/28 & 5/29: Henchmen will be 100% free. Arise will be free 5/30 & 5/31. Transmute will be free 6/1 & 6/2. As an added bonus, from 5/29 to 6/2, the Complete Saxton will be 100%free. Quantities are limited so get ’em while they’re hot. Click the links on the sidebar and get ready to dance with your wild side, or you can grab Henchmen right here.

Join a small organization of lovable bad guys: a super villain and her henchmen. Eve, the seven-foot-tall, bulletproof blonde is their leader. Frank and Jean are a couple that can get into any computer or building unseen. Jacob is a rough-around-the-edges biker type that has a deep and abiding love of guns and explosives. And Steven? Well, he’s really good at manipulating people and pretty handy to have around in a fight. As supervillainy goes, they’re just starting out. They don’t have much of a secret base. They don’t have matching uniforms. Not a one of them owns a single pair of tights.

A chance encounter at a sushi bar has led them to a young woman with a terrifying secret she doesn’t even know she possesses. The Yakuza wants to use her to put pressure on a missing father. No one’s entirely certain exactly what the secret is, but it smells like a weapon and it might be just the sort of thing to help topple a nation.

They’re done pulling small jobs. Now they’re aiming for the top – because why bother robbing jewelry stores when you can topple governments?
Yakuza gang fights.
Incursions into high-security, top-secret government buildings.
Picking fake fights with losers in bars.
A psycho ex-coworker who has some strange friends.
And a well-dressed older gentleman who haunts dreams.
It’s all in a day’s work for Steven…one of the world’s most dedicated and dangerous…

Pleased To Announce…

If you’ve been waiting for the chance to get a good look at Wilford Saxton on his own, the Complete Saxton is now available. The stories have been available for a while, but I know some folk prefer to read a series once it’s complete. Think of it as binge reading rather than binge watching.

The Saxton spin-offs filled a void between the events of Arise and Transmute, and covered the adventures of the on-again-off-again antagonist of the Henchmen series. Simply put, he became too interesting to let go of.

This short series compiles the four complete Saxton stand-alone novellas into one epic collection that reads like a shot of whisky and a punch in the gut. At the end of Arise we find Wilford running from Eve after she threatens to pull his spine out through his nose. He’s been shot with a serum made by neo-Nazis that makes him nearly invulnerable to everything and is packing a weapon stolen from one of the otherworldly minions of Fear.

How he goes from wanting to hunt down and kill every monster to focusing on going after The Brotherhood of the Sane takes him down dark paths where bogeymen stalk him, a poof of smoke teaches a young woman to kill, werewolves stalk the Navajo reservation, and he promises a favor to the spirit of the land. In the end, he comes face-to-face with his own monstrosities and learns to accept who he is.

This collection contains the following novelette and three novellas:

  • The Hunt
  • Uneasy Allies
  • Yee Naaldlooshii
  • The Brotherhood


A unique blend of horror and adventure, the Saxton series follows the adventures of Wilford Saxton and his talking gun. He started out as a simple DHS agent, but found himself caught up in the events of the Henchmen series. After confronting gods, Nazis, and Valkyries, Saxton finds himself mutated beyond belief. Struggling to understand a world that’s not as simple as he expected, Saxton soon finds himself hunting monsters and wondering what he’s gotten himself into.
As if the monsters weren’t enough, Saxton has attracted the attention of the people that made him like he is and they’re willing to kill his only friends if he doesn’t accede to their demands.
This collection includes The Hunt, Uneasy Allies, Yee Naaldlooshii, and The Brotherhood. If you’ve ever wondered what Wilford Saxton was up to between the events of Arise and Transmute, here’s your chance to experience adventure with a new kind of hero.

Get your copy on Amazon or read it on Kindle Unlimited

Book Release: Transmute

I started Transmute a little over a year ago. It’s been a long ride to get it to the final point, but I’m pleased to announce it’s now available. If you’re looking for an amazing ride, this is your book. It’s got a new god trying to come to grips with his role, an engine who can make dreams real, a Valkyrie, and some seriously bad guys gunning for them.

It also has the best food you can find in a bowling alley anywhere.

All he wants is a dinner date with his girlfriend, but there are jerks everywhere.
As if Steven doesn’t already have enough problems dealing with the Dreaming Lands actively rebelling against his rule, the freshly minted God of Dreams has to learn how to be a god, deal with overzealous followers, and generally get his head in the game. To make things worse, a powerful enemy has set its sights on Steven and Jessica, and the entire world could be at stake.
New god. New powers. New problems. At least he’s still got friends.

 Get your copy on Amazon now


The Blurbery Revisited – Writing A Book Blurb

Show me an author that claims to enjoy writing book blurbs and I’ll show you a liar. There’s a fundamental difference between writing a book with 70k+ words and writing a blurb that needs to clock in at a few hundred. And you know what makes things even worse? You’re not even supposed to use “In a world…” to start off the blurb? How are you supposed to hook a reader without using “In a world…”?

Madness, I tells ya. Madness.

It's a Beautiful Day Now Watch Some Jerk Mess it  up Patch | Embroidered Patches

There’s always some jerk messing things up.

I’ve written a couple posts on writing blurbs in the past, but now I’m staring down the barrel of needing to write one for Transmute and decided it’s probably time to give my skills a little brush up. Just like in Kenpo where we regularly practice punching and kicking, it never hurts to shore up the basic skills of writing.

The first thing to think about is what a blurb is supposed to do. In its simplest form, a blurb is the second mechanism for getting a reader’s attention. The first mechanism is the cover. If your cover blows, no one will even take a look at the blurb. The third thing potential readers will look at is the preview – although this is optional. Of course, the final bit of attracting a reader is those precious first few lines of the book that set up the story.

I’ll hit on covers in another post and it’s really up to the author to make the book good and hook the reader with the first lines. Since I’ve got Transmute’s cover done and the first chapter kicks all kinds of mad ass, I’m going to focus on the blurb.

Transmute cover ©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover
©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

To start off, a few rules for writing your blurb, taken from various places on the Interwebs (see the notes at the bottom if you want to read the original posts).

  • Use a formula
  • Figure out how best to link to your genre
  • Show the conflict
  • Pick the best kinds of words to use. (I have the best words, trust me)
  • Use hyperbole

Things to not use

Most of the don’ts are pretty obvious and easy to follow pointers. The dos, likewise, are fairly straightforward. One thing to note is the word choice by genre. A romance blurb isn’t going to hook many readers if it emphasizes the action in the story. Unless it’s that kind of action. You know what I’m talking about. Likewise, a blurb for an action/adventure story probably won’t focus on the interpersonal relationships between the main characters. The choice of word use can have a huge impact on that. Action words like explosive, rapid, terrifying, exhilirating don’t look as good on romance blurbs unless you’re using a phrase like “She experienced rapid-fire, explosive orgasms.” And even that doesn’t sound too good. Choose words that fit the story and the genre. A book about The Cure, for instance, could use words like morose, ennui, and soul-crushing.

That leaves us with implementing a formula and using it as well as possible.

Start it all out by looking at the book and applying it to the formula. Formulaic writing is bad. Formulaic blurbs are good. A reader expects a certain amount of information in the blurb and if they don’t get it your book gets ignored.


What a bad blurb might look like.

A book blurb should consist of four things: a setting, a problem, a twist, and something that establishes the mood. Depending on the book, the setting might be a single place or a multitude of places, but it should refer to the place that the action starts. For instance, in Transmute, Steven suddenly finds himself in the middle of nowhere overlooking a small farm where every animal has been slaughtered and a woman is buried up to her neck in the sand.

The problem is the component that shifts the narrative from normal into the events of the story. It’s the part that kick starts the story and it doesn’t have to be complex. In the setting sentence above, the problem is hinted at; namely Steven suddenly finds himself somewhere else. It’s a bit worse for poor Steven, though. He’s a god now, and gods aren’t supposed to have to do anything they don’t want to do, but the rules of the universe seem stacked against him.

To make matters worse, as he tries to figure out how he got transported and why, an old enemy makes a fresh appearance. The twist isn’t so much how he got transported, but why and to what end. That’s the meat of the story.

The final thing to consider in writing a blurb is to give the reader a sense of the mood of the story. Does it have action and adventure? Is it a romance? Are there Nazis and giant snakes? Is it funny or deadly serious?

Transmute follows on to Henchmen and Arise, both of which have plenty of jaw-dropping action and witty dialogue, and is written in the same style. Most books have good guys and bad guys, but Henchmen started out with the bad guys and Arise added the worse guys. Transmute gives the bad guys a worse enemy than they imagined and sets up for the final exciting book in the series.

That’s the formula and a basic summation of the plot to Transmute. The rest of the do list needs to be kept firmly in mind while writing the blurb and the don’t definitely need to be avoided. So, here’s a first crack:

Steven and Jessica find themselves outside small farm in the middle of nowhere. One moment they were sharing dinner, the next they’re surrounded by dead animals and staring at a woman buried up to her neck in the sand. Steven’s a god now and gods aren’t supposed to get teleported all over creation against their will, let alone get called out to save damsels in distress.

As if he doesn’t already have enough problems dealing with the Dreaming Lands actively rebelling against his rule, now the freshly minted God of Dreams has to learn how to be a god, deal with overzealous followers, and generally get his head in the game. To make things worse, a powerful enemy has set its sights on Steven and Jessica and the entire world could be at stake.

An epic tale full of jaw-dropping action, powerful magic, and a cast of memorable misfits, Transmute will take you from New Mexico to the Dreaming Lands and back again. With a quick stop in the best bowling alley eatery in the world.

New god. New powers. New problems.

At least he’s still got friends.

What do you think?

Links for further reading

So Close I Can Almost Touch It

The first cut of Transmute – the 3rd book in the Henchmen series – is almost done. I guess I’m kind of unique in that my revisions and edits usually add more text, most people remove words when they edit. I add them. This is probably because I have this nasty habit of writing all over the place. I get bored with one section and move to another one, then I find the stuff I did in the new section needs some more explanation in earlier sections. So, it’s sitting at about 70k and will likely tip the scales at 80k before it’s finally done.

Coming to the end of a book is never exactly easy. When I finished Henchmen, I kind of wandered around for a while wondering what to do with myself and where my adventurous friends got off to. Turns out they were still there, lurking in my subconscious like a bunch of muggers.

To tell the truth, I didn’t exactly have any further plans for Eve and the gang when I was done with Henchmen. Spoiler alert: they won. Of course, I couldn’t let that go and knew there had to be something else going on. That something else turned into Arise and it was in Arise that I finally introduced the main enemy of the series. Transmute leaves the gang in a bad space and the final book will ultimately end the saga. I still haven’t decided how it will end, but the pieces are finally in place for that last book to go a bunch of different directions.

There will also be one last Saxton story before Transmute hits. The Saxton stories give us a look at the bad guy of Henchmen and Arise and how he comes to grips with the world. They also add hints about the main antagonist of Transmute and whatever follows it, so if you haven’t read them, give ’em a shot. At the very least a lot of stuff gets blowed up real good and there are a couple awesome car chases.

All that said, I’ve never been big on cover reveals, so here’s the tentative cover for Transmute. If that image of Eve looking like a bad ass doesn’t get you interested, you might want to check your pulse and make sure you’re still alive.

Transmute cover ©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover
©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

But wait! There’s more! Here’s a couple other ideas I’d been experimenting with, but ultimately discarded.

Transmute cover ©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover
©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover ©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover
©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Drop me a line, let me know what you think.

Kindle Unlimited and Serials – An Experiment In Exposure

Ask a handful of authors what they think of Kindle Unlimited and you’ll get a handful of different answers. Some love it, some hate it, most seem somewhat ambivalent about. We’ll never admit that, though .We’re writers, we’re supposed to be cantankerous.

So, for those who are uncertain what Kindle Unlimited is and why it’s important think of KU (as the cool kids call it) as a kind of Spotify for ebooks. Pay a small fee each month and you can read all the books you want. You can only have ten or so on your device at a time, but once you’re done you can get more. If you’re really into reading KU is a great thing. I’m a really slow reader so it makes more sense for me to buy a couple books a month and call it good.

Authors get paid for the people who read their works through KU, but it’s not as much as if someone bought a full copy. The Clock Man, for instance, is $2.99. For each sale I get 70% of the total cost which comes out to about $2.09 per sale. For each page read under KU I get about half a cent, or about $1.59-ish for the 318 page Clock Man. A little less, but at least people are reading it, so it’s all good. Henchmen and Arise, which clock in at 200-ish pages and about 270-ish pages respectively, pay less for a full read. Again, all good, people are reading and that’s a good thing.

A couple years ago I wrote a post about digital printing and binding – the kind of stuff Create Space uses to put together a book. It’s pretty revolutionary technology, easily on par with the movable type printing press. KU isn’t a new tech per-se, but it is a new distribution method. And I am going to try to take advantage of it.

In a recent book review I discussed Felipe Adan’s Lerma’s idea for a serial novel. It’s a good idea. It used to be short stories and the like were the exclusive purview of anthologies and literary magazines. KU is a game-changer, though, and new games require new exploits. Now it’s possible to put together a novelette-length story of around 15k-20k words, enough to tell a full story without delving into short-story territory but still staying away from full-length novel territory.

I’m picturing a kind of Television show level story, where each story is a complete unit, but each unit builds on the total story arc. Something that would be ideal for KU subscribers because it would be easy enough to produce a monthly installment and the shorter time to read would allow readers to cover more stories per month. It wouldn’t pay much, but it might be good exposure and it’s certainly a good writing exercise.

Now this plays right into the Henchmen universe because of everyone’s favorite go-to guy. No, not Steven. Wilford Saxton has a story that’s separate from the main Henchmen story arc but will still intersect at a later point. In the interim, he’s out building a small army and hunting monsters. I’m still working out the long-term story arc and figuring out the first tale which will take place immediately after the events of The Hunt (one of the stories in The Clock Man).

So, without further ado, let me warn you that a new hunter is coming and all the monsters of the world had best tremble.


BTW, I will never advertise this as Free on Kindle Unlimited. Nothing on KU is really free; the readers pay for it. But I am hoping to leverage KU to achieve my goals of world domination. By which I mean, selling more books. Saxton’s adventures will also be available for purchase at $0.99 and I might even compile them all into a “box set” at some point.

Expect the first one in about a month.

As Promised – First bit of Henchmen 3

Raw and uncut, but sets the stage for Henchmen 3.

There’s a girl screaming and begging at the bottom of the gully.  She’s buried up to her neck in the sand and our parent star hasn’t been kind to her.  By my estimation, and bear in mind I’m no expert at burying women in the sand, she’s been there at least since yesterday.  Her face is red and her eyes are sunken.  Heat exhaustion is a hell of a way to go.  At least they didn’t bury her in an anthill.

You’d think the guys milling around would at least give her a sip of water or cover her face from the sun but they appear to be assholes.  One of the guys is pacing and gesticulating wildly.  For all his frenetic energy he looks like the walking dead.  He’s sinewy in ways rarely seen outside of Iggy Pop’s shirtless beefcake shots and his complexion is gray and waxy.  Meth got its teeth into him and like the guy having sex with a psycho, he just can’t manage to get away.  He paces back and forth before finally walking in front of the girl and kicking sand in her face.

She coughs and chokes but keeps up a steady stream of weak cries and begging.  I can hear her clearly from up here, one of the quirks of sound in the desert.  “Pleasepleasepleaseplease,” she cries, running the words together.  “Letmego.”

A moment of clarity hits her, penetrating her sun-addled mind and she adds, “I swear to God, I won’t talk, just let me go.”

“You can swear to God when He gets here,” the meth head snarls.  “He’s a mean Dream God and He’s going to give us everything we want.”

“You’re insane,” she says, eyes going wide.  As if being buried up to her neck wasn’t sign enough, I think it finally dawned on her that these guys aren’t playing with a full deck.

“Leave her alone,” the other guy says.  He’s calm, but still skeletal.  Heroin would be my guess.  “He won’t come if she stops screaming.  He likes terror.  He needs her to be afraid before He’ll show up.”

I like terror?  News to me.

The first guy stares in wild-eyed wonder at his buddy and sways back and forth on his heels.  It’s apparent who the brains of the operation are, so to speak.  I wonder which one of them decided to slaughter the sheep.  I’ve never cared for sheep, but I certainly don’t hate them.  For that matter, I wonder which one of them figured out the exact set of things they’d need to do to get me to show up here.  From the carcasses down there – cats, dogs, sheep – my guess is they just started killing stuff and hoping something would work.

Bad news, guys.  It wasn’t the sacrifices and it wasn’t the girl that brought me here.  Right now I’m not exactly certain what it was, but in my defense I’m new to this whole “being a god” thing.  There should be a manual or something that tells you what to do and what to expect but – and don’t let the other gods know I said this – we’re just making this up as we go along, just like you are.

One second I’m enjoying a beer and burger with Jessica, the next second we’re both here looking down on a couple freaks and girl buried in the sand.

“You want her afraid?” the meth head asks.  “I can make that happen.”

He stomps off toward a beat up truck and grabs a bucket out of the back.  Methy holds it up and says, “I can make her scream like she means it.”

I’ve got a bad feeling about that bucket.

Methy’s buddy smiles and nods.  “Yeah, man,” he slurs.  “Make her scream.”

The girl starts screaming of her own accord but Methy keeps walking straight at her, muttering under his breath about power and gods and girls who don’t know when to shut up and when to scream.  He stops in front of her and shows her the bucket.  “I’ve got some new friends for you,” he says and backs up.

She stops screaming and starts panting.  Stark, raving terror is creeping across her face, the kind of terror you only get when you are absolutely powerless to stop something.  Methy pulls the top off the bucket and grins a huge, decaying smile.  The few teeth he has left are black and rotting.  “Scream for me, bitch,” he says and dumps the bucket on the ground.

Dozens of scorpions hit the ground and start heading for the girl’s face.  Her scream is a mixture of pure horror and desperation.  It echoes around the gully until it sounds like her scream is coming from the very ground itself.

“If you’re not going to do anything about this,” Jessica says from behind me, “I will.”

I think she’s still pissed that she got sucked into this mess along with me.  She had just popped the top off a beer and was about to take a sip when the world went all wonky and we left Irish pub behind.  Having dinner in Durango one second, blink and – pop – we’re here in the ass end of nowhere when our eyes open.  Jessica starts to walk down the gully but I put a hand on her shoulder.  “Wait a second.  Time is of the essence.”

A couple scorpions have almost made it the to the girl’s face and the look of abject terror in her eyes is making me nervous.  I close my eyes and reach out.  My vision changes until I’m seeing from my normal height and from ground level.  My regular eyes see the shadows crawl out of the brush like silent black blobs.  My shadow eyes see the scorpions getting closer.  The arachnids are creepy enough when you’re almost six feet tall.  When you have to look up to see their bellies and claws and barbed tails they hit a whole new level of scary.

The first shadow hits a scorpion and I feel the arachnid’s mind.  Food, shelter, scared, sting anything, sting everything.  I know the critter isn’t evil, it’s just doing what it was programmed to do and I feel bad about it, really, but I shut the thing’s mind down and move onto the next.  I sent three shadows and they took care of all but two scorpions in almost no time at all.

The meth head is jumping for joy, pointing at my shadows and screaming “He’s here, he’s here, we did it!  He’s here!”  The girl is still screaming, eyes squeezed shut, pretending if she can’t see the scorpions they can’t hurt her.  Methy’s buddy crawls out of his chair and stares.  Grins cross both their faces.  They think they just called down Santa Claus and he’s going to deliver all kinds of presents.

To begin with, I’m not that kind of god.  I’m also pissed as hell that these two numb nuts ruined my dinner.  I’ve got presents for them, though, but I doubt they’ll like them.

The shadows scurry back into the brush and the guys look around, wondering what just happened.  The girl is still screaming.  Methy leans down and slaps her, but she just screams louder.  He kicks her in the face, breaking her nose and probably knocking teeth loose.  He’s so focuses on beating her he doesn’t feel a scorpion crawling up his leg.  Methy’s just about to kick the girl again when I send a message to the scorpion.

His leg goes out from under him and he collapse on the ground screaming and cursing.  My other scorpion almost made it to the other guy but got squashed when the calm dude stood up and looked around.  “I know you’re,” he says, looking around.  “We called you; you need to do our bidding.”

I motion to Jessica and point to the guy on the ground.  She nods and closes her eyes.  I feel her mental fingers digging through my brain, dredging up horrors I’ve seen in other people’s dreams.  When she finds something she likes I can feel her grin.

Jessica can make things happen as long as someone can feed her blueprints.  I don’t pretend to know exactly how it works.  She can make things she comes up with, but for some reason they’re always small and frail.  Maybe she needs my energy to make big things happen.  A shadow, a regular shadow, forms over Methy’s legs seconds before a huge boulder falls out of the sky and crushes his limbs.

“Well played,” I tell Jessica.

She’s smiling again so maybe she’s not too pissed about dinner.  “I thought about cutting them off but this seemed like it would hurt more,” she says.

From the sound of Methy’s cries, Jessica was right.

The other guy, calm as a cucumber, pulls a pistol out of his waistband and stalks toward the now quiet girl buried in the sand.  “Come out,” he says with a little slur.  “I called you out here.  Now it’s time to do my bidding.”

“Where do these guys get these ideas and how did he know how to get you out here?” Jessica asks.

I shrug.  I’d kind of been wondering that myself.  “Internet maybe,” I say.  “I think they just got lucky, though.”

“Get out here!” the guy screams.  “I’ll blow her fucking head off right fucking now.”

He doesn’t seem so calm anymore.  The heroin must be wearing off.

Jessica starts to go down and I walk after her.  If the guy won’t back off, I’ll turn her loose on him and he’ll wish for the sweet release of death before she’s done.  She’s got quite the temper on her, this girl of mine.  Together we walk down into the gully.  I pull my own gun out of my waistband and cock the little Detonics.

The guy swings his gun toward Jessica and glares.  We stop dead in our tracks.  I may be bullet-proof, emphasis on may.  Jessica probably isn’t.  “What kind of god carries a gun?” he asks.

“Thor had his hammer,” I say, “I’ve got mine.”

“Put the gun on the ground,” the guy says.

“Eat a dick,” I reply.

“I’ll kill both of these bitches,” he says, drawing a bead on Jessica’s forehead.

I have this quick flash of terror from him.  Some kind of monster is always on his mind, a creature with a blank face and huge talons for hands.  The vision is complete down to the minute details of fluid pumping through some kind of hoses on the creature.  I can taste the guy’s mind and he tastes like mescaline.  That must be how he called me here.  He managed to hit the dream world without leaving this one.

Well, he won’t have to dream much longer.

“Put the gun on the ground,” the guy says again.

I gently place my .45 on the ground and stand back up again.  “What do you want?” I ask, figuring if we’re here I might as well learn a bit.

The guy nods frantically.  “Power,” he says.  “I want power.”

“Sorry,” I say, “I don’t own  power plant.”

His face scrunches tight.  “I WANT YOUR POWER!” he yells.

“Can’t have it,” I say.

He makes a show of cocking the gun.  A bullet flies out the ejection port when he pulls the slide back.  Either he didn’t realize it was already cocked or he was just going for effect.  Either way, I’m unimpressed.


Magical Realism

We’ve recently started watching Narcos on Netflix.  It’s a fascinating and amazing story, the vicious  tale of Pablo Escobar and his insane ability to sell cocaine to America.  Honestly, I highly recommend it.  Anyway, at the start of the series there was a definition for a genre I was unfamiliar with: Magical Realism.  It’s the idea that “magic” can exist in an otherwise mundane world.  The Harry Potter series is a perfect example of this, as are numerous other works.  Salman Rushdie did it with The Satanic Verses (and other works).  I’ve actually read The Satanic Verses (and one other who’s name escapes me at the moment).  It didn’t blow me away but I  didn’t feel the need to declare fatwa over the book.

Magical Realism is also common in Latin American literature and, I would argue, in a lot of the myths and legends that we’ve woven together to explain both our world and our place in it.  Religion makes common use of Magical Realism to inspire awe and to remind you that you’re really not that special when compared to the one true whatever.  I suppose one could make the argument that Magical Realism is very much present in the horror genre, especially in the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King.

From Rushdie to King and back again there are commonalities in the stories.  King’s stories take place in Maine and deal with the repercussions of day to day life when something outlandish is dropped in.  Lovecraft’s stories revolved around the mysteries hidden just behind the veil and the things you really didn’t want to admit.  Rushdie’s stories – especially The Satanic Verses – deal with extremely strange events set in a very real world.

That’s the kind of thing that would make the world more interesting.  It could be the lights in the sky that followed us from Durango to Farmington or the invisible person sitting on the bed or the way my dogs were always skittish in the hallway.  Sure, maybe there were rational explanations for these things but maybe there weren’t.  Maybe the only rational explanation is UFO, ghost, and God-only-knows-what-but-it-seems-to-be-leaving-us-alone.

Like I said, I hadn’t heard of Magical Realism before watching Narcos, but it struck me that I was inadvertently writing in that genre.  My goal with Henchmen was originally to bring the superhero and supervillain genres a bit closer to the ground.  It didn’t exactly work out that way, but that was the original intent.  I wanted to take the regular world we all live in and lift up the corners a bit; see what’s hidden behind the curtain.  What I found were a Valkyrie, a tentacled horror (my nod to Lovecraft), and the God of Dreams, along with a menagerie of other weirdness.

Take those things, add a dash of danger, a pinch of unbridled anger, half a cup of desperate need for revenge, and a hefty dose of the real world.  Cook for eleven months at 400 degrees. Voilà: Henchmen.

At least now I can have a somewhat snooty response handy when someone asks me what genre I write.  It’s not horror, or action, or comedy: it’s Magical Realism.

New Mexico Paranormal

Back when I was working on Arise I needed something terrible to have happened to Wilford to explain why he is the way he is.  Basically, I needed a monster, something that his DHS team stumbled upon and it shredded them.  I wanted it to be a native New Mexican monster but aside from Navajo Skinwalkers and La Llorona, I was pretty uninformed about most of the critters that roam the New Mexico darkness looking for flesh.

Believe me, when it gets dark in New Mexico it gets really dark.

I started digging around, looking up the myths and legends of New Mexico and came across the old story of Coco.  A bogeyman was a perfect thing for Wilford’s team to run into and made for a nice backdrop to the story.  I love the idea that not only do certain people know there are monsters out there, they fully understand there’s really not much guns and body armor can do against the supernatural.  That kind of knowledge drove Wilford and even though he’s portrayed as kind of a bad guy, he’s really just more of a dick than anything else.  It’s his understanding that he wants to save the world from the monsters but can’t effectively fight the monsters that causes the schism in his psyche.  He ultimately does gain the ability to fight back and begins to see everything but people as a bad thing.  He’s got a story in the upcoming Clock Man that should be out in a month or two that will serve as a setup for Henchmen 3 which will be released at some point; I’m still hammering out the plot details in my head right now.

Anyway, back to monsters of the paranormal kind.  A lot of our traditional monsters evolved from Native American myths and Spanish intermingling.  The tragic story of La Llorona is a classic example and so is the story of Coco, the bogeyman of northern New Mexico.  I’ve covered those stories in earlier blog posts, as well as a few others, but since most of the stories are oral, it’s difficult to suss them out on the Internet.  Likewise finding things at the library was difficult.  Apparently the paranormal stories of New Mexico that don’t involve aliens are considered something of a niche market.

We spent this last weekend in Taos, one of New Mexico’s many art towns, hiking and generally exploring.  While we were wandering around I found a book store and was pulled in by its gravitational field.  I find it difficult to avoid bookstores.  The one in Taos was nothing compared to the Southwest Book Trader in Durango, CO but SBT is in a class all its own.  Somewhere, buried in the depths of SBT (50000+ books in a maybe 1500 sqf store), is the recipe for the Universe.  I didn’t find the recipe for the Universe at the book store in Taos, but I did find this:


And it is chock full of stories of vampires, werewolves, La Llorona, bogeymen, brujas, and all sorts of things that go bump in the night.

If Wilford wants to rid the world of monsters (including Steven and Eve), he’s going to have his hands full.  His solution to that problem is covered in a novelette entitled “The Hunt” that will be part of the Clock Man collection.

New Mexico Book of the Undead