2018 Colorado Book Awards finalist for Science Fiction/Fantasy
What inspired you to write this book?
This is going to sound clichéd, but I actually had the idea from a dream. When I awoke, I remembered the world almost exactly as it appears in the novel, but only one line: “I used to kill vampires for the NSA, now I work Vice.” From there, everything sort of fell into place.
Who are your favorite authors and/or characters?
That’s a tough one to answer. Howard Pyle and J.R.R. Tolkien will always hold a special place in my heart. I adore Elmore Leonard and I’ll admit I have something of a man-crush on his character Raylan Givens, as portrayed by Timothy Olyphant on the television show Justified. Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive books have sucked me in as well.
Why did you choose this excerpt to feature in SunLit?
Well, there’s a lot going on in this excerpt. I chose it because I think it establishes the world of GRAVEYARD SHIFT rather well, even if it does toss the reader into the deep end without a life vest. At its core, the novel is a police procedural, but it is also a noir mystery, and a sort of conspiracy/espionage story, and then there are the supernatural aspects, the vampires, the shape-shifters, and, of course, a very disenchanted immortal pharaoh. Somehow, I felt this excerpt managed to capture all of that as succinctly as it could.
What was the most fun or rewarding part of working on this book?
I think the most fun was delving into the backstory and the character of Alex, who is really the Egyptian Old Kingdom 4th Dynasty Pharaoh Menkaure. Other than Edgar Allen Poe, I can’t think of a story where an awakened mummy is a protagonist. So I had an absolute blast coming up with the mythology and how his abilities would work and how he might be forced to hide himself to try to blend in with the modern world.
What was the most difficult section to write in this book? Why?
Due to the illicit nature of the blood trade the vampires deal in, large sections of the book deal with human trafficking. As horrible as that is, I had to contemplate how much worse it would be if the world were populated with supernatural predators. I did more research than I wanted to on the realities of human trafficking and the impact on law enforcement and the victims, and I did not tread lightly in the novel. Some passages were very difficult to write.
What was one interesting fact you learned while researching this book?
The best fact I learned while researching the book had to do with the fate of the Pharaoh Menkaure’s sarcophagus aboard the ship the Beatrice. The sarcophagus was sort of smuggled out of Egypt in 1838 and the Beatrice was sailing with it to the British Museum, when the ship was caught in a storm and never heard from again. Real “Curse of the Mummy” kind of stuff and while it doesn’t play into this novel that much, except in passing, I’ve written a significant portion about it in one of the other books in the series.
What project are you working on next?
Currently, I’m working on a novella (which is quickly growing into a novel) about an Army Captain trying to keep her company together in post-apocalyptic Colorado. I’m also working on another Novella featuring the earlier adventures of Alex and Marcus, the principal characters of GRAVEYARD SHIFT. Sort of an interstitial adventure that occurs between the other books in the MENKAURE SAGA series.
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