Tag Archive for duane swierczynski

Bending Genre to Your Will

The best part of ignoring genre is the freedom to bend, fold, mutilate, and spindle it to one’s will.

Consider, for example, Duane Swierczynski’s The Blonde:

The Blonde

What a killer cover.

It’s a taut thriller which happens to include nanobots. Is it still crime, or is it now science fiction? I’m sure some crime and noir purists rolled their eyes at the high concept while science fiction enthusiasts wondered why they couldn’t find it on their racks at the bookstore.

Does it really matter? Read it, dig it, buy his other work.

Then there are your genre mash-ups, like Cullen Bunn’s The Sixth Gun:

Yeah, I linked to Volume 1. Deal.

Bask in the glory. Bask in it!

A classic Western tale that happens to include horror and the supernatural, and at the same time kick all form of ass. It’s not the first time it’s been done (see Jeff Mariotte’s Desperadoes), but I would argue The Sixth Gun has gained a lot more momentum in a shorter time and it is already spawning imitators. Western fans may turn their noses up at the ghouls and golems, and some comics fans will wonder why they should bother reading about something as stale as cowboys.

Both groups would be missing out, because here’s the trick to both:

It’s not the gimmick that makes the book.

These are both great, well-written (and, in The Sixth Gun‘s case, wonderfully illustrated) stories featuring interesting characters and engaging plots. If these books were only about the gimmick—the high concept hook—nobody would give a shit.

I’m always excited to see more of it. While Sandman Slim got a little lost in the fantasy side of its fantasy-noir mash-up, I do want to check out the sequel, Kill the Dead. And I’m really looking forward to the noir-superhero blend Paranormal*:

Paranormal

Coming at you this summer

Once again, tell the tale you want to tell. Make it good. Don’t set out to write a horror novel, a science fiction novel, or a steampunk novel, set out to write a good frickin’ story in the setting you think best accommodates it.

Let the marketing department figure out how to sell it.

*Full disclosure: Paranormal will be published by Evileye Books, the guys who brought you my own The Pack: Winter Kill.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Fun & Games & Incentives

Crime/thriller author Duane Swierczynski had a cool incentive: preorder a copy of his new novel Fun & Games and he’ll send you a goofy postcard from his cross-country road trip. I preordered the Kindle edition a few weeks back, and this week I received my postcard.

My postcard from @swierczy arrived!

Apparently someone in South Carolina thought this was a clever postcard

What a cool incentive. The postcard would make a great bookmark had I purchased a paper copy. Now it will probably get lost in the piles of crap on my desk, and then I’ll find it in a year or so and go “Oh yeah… that was cool.”

I kind of wish I’d thought of this one. But then I thought I couldn’t afford it. Of course, then I realized I’d probably only need to send out like five postcards. I could probably swing that. Well, maybe four.

If you haven’t read Swierczynski’s work, this is a good place to start as this is the first of a trilogy of books. I also highly recommend Severance Package and The Blonde.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

It’s E-book Week!

Lots happening. Things moving are moving so fast, my head is spinning. Unfortunately, none of it is of particular interest to you, so I’ll move on.

Word is this is e-book week, and folks on Twitter are recommending a lot of great books. Rather than toss out a few random selections, I thought it might be better to provide you with a quick list. Here, in no particular order, are some of my recommended e-books.

Choke on Your Lies by Anthony Neil Smith
I’m reading this book right now, and while it’s not an action-packed thriller like his Yellow Medicine, it is a strong, sordid drama filled with tension and great characters. A steal at only $2.99.

The Deputy by Victor Gischler
I read The Deputy just a few weeks ago, my third Gischler title after Gun Monkeys and Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse. Fun, fun stuff.

To the Devil, My Regards by Gischler & Smith
Come on. Two great flavors in one small package for one dollar. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s high on my to-read list.

Quicksilver by John Urbancik
Hot off the e-presses, John brings his dark fantasy work to the Kindle for the first time. I downloaded a copy today. You should, too.

Blood Feud by Cullen Bunn
Cullen is one of those writers who is about to break out in a big way. A few formatting errors aside, Blood Feud is a wild ride through a backwoods Ozark town plagued by vampires. The first-person narrative by one of the resident hillbillies really  makes the book.

The Pack: Winter Kill by Mike Oliveri
What, you thought I’d get through a post like this without plugging my own work? Guess again.

The Fever Kill by Tom Piccirilli
Another book vying for the top of my to-read list. I’ve been reading Tom since he started writing horror for Leisure, and now he takes that distinct, dark flavor into thriller territory. The guy can’t be beat when it comes to creating atmosphere.

The Blonde by Duane Swierczynski
This is one of those thrillers that demonstrated high concepts and science fiction aren’t out of the question. I started with his Severance Package (which for some reason isn’t available on Kindle), then tore through his entire catalog. That’s how good these books are.

That should keep you busy a while.

Also, a quick update: the To Fight With Monsters drawing has been extended! Response has been good, and the book’s still not quite ready to go to press, so the folks at Antarctic Press have agreed to extend the drawing deadline to March 22nd. Get your order in today!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Cheap Thrills

Have I got a deal for you.

Well, Amazon has a deal for you, anyway. Two great thrillers I read over the past year are now on sale at killer prices.

First up, Anthony Neil Smith‘s Hogdoggin’ is on sale in hardcover for just $6.71, which is more than $18.00 off. This is almost half the cost of the trade edition, folks. Hogdoggin’ is the sequel to Yellow Medicine, so I recommend you take advantage of the low price and grab both books. If you like antiheroes, you will love Billy Lafitte.

Then there’s Duane Swierczynski‘s Severance Package, a trade paperback for only $5.58. As I read it, I thought it would make a great movie. Sure enough, last I heard the rights have been sold. But why wait for Hollywood to get their act together?

I’ve been reading more crime than horror lately, and these are two of the books I’ve made the transition with.

Make with the clicky, people. You won’t regret it.

UPDATE: Today I found out another great crime read, Saturday’s Child by Ray Banks, is available in trade paperback for only $1.91. That’s the very definition of a steal. Not as action-driven as the previous two books, but you’ve got compelling characters and a seamless shift between first-person point of views of two characters. Well done.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Snow Day!

I guess sometimes the universe really does balance itself: I missed the black belt ceremony last night, but got the snow day in return. I wish I could then say I was productive today, but no such luck. I’ve been running on tilt for a while and instead had a Didn’t Do Shit Day.

It felt goooooood.

First off, I burned through the rest of The Wheelman. Talk about a page-turner! It’s been a long time since I finished a book this fast. I think I’ll move straight on to Swierczynski’s The Blonde and forego Dance of Death for now. This is a perfect example of what I’m looking for when I said I wanted to shake up my reading.

Then I remembered I had yet to watch the Sons of Anarchy season finale. I rectified that over lunch, and while it wasn’t as eventful as I had hoped, it was a good cap to this season and set the tone for next season. It’s been one of the better new shows, in my opinion, and I’ll keep on watching.

I browsed everything else the DVR has been holding for me and remembered I still had to watch this season of The Closer. I had myself a marathon, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Now I have to wait until the end of January to find out what’s going to happen to Detective Sanchez. Curse you TNT!

And I didn’t feel one bit of guilt about not writing.

Why not, you ask? Because yet another project has gone up in smoke. I had a deadline for a short story this month, but today I found out it may not happen after all. Story of my frickin’ career.

I’m sure I’ll get over it. I’ve got VisionCon coming up next month, and there’s still this comics project, but today I just don’t give a fuck.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Blizzards & Brimstone

After the rugrats woke me by pounding on my kidneys, I looked outside and saw snow. A few inches of snow, in fact, covering the ground and streets. No wonder they were so excited. I took them outside while I shoveled, then we had a snowball fight. I continued an unofficial Oliveri tradition by blasting the Squirt in the forehead with a snowball.

I didn’t think much about the weather after that. We see snow like this in Illinois all the time, and generally if there’s no wind we have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately the wind kicked in around nightfall. I was supposed to go see a kamiza (black belt promotion ceremony) at my karate school, but the roads outside of town were too dangerous and I had to turn around.

The way I see it, the weather owes me one. It can repay me by snowing all night (weatherman seems to think it will) so we have a snow day at work tomorrow. I’ve never seen a kamiza before, and it seems like every time they have one I’m either out of town or have something else going on. My own is still a few years off, but I’d really like to see one.

In other news, I finally got around to finishing Brimstone by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child this week. At the beginning of the book I said I wasn’t fond of their Pendergast character, but he grew on me by the end.

So, of course, they killed him.

Sort of. It looks that way, but he’s in the next book in the series, Dance of Death, so he must live somehow (thus the lack of a spoiler warning). I picked it up the other day, so I’ll find out how Agent Pendergast got out of his predicament after I finish reading The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski.

I’ll wait until after Dance of Death to decide whether or not it’s worth chasing down the rest of the Pendergast books. There’s a lot of hints to back story in Brimstone, and I don’t imagine Dance of Death will be any different. I do hope, however, there won’t be another monologuing villain. I know such monologues — by both heroes & villains — tend to be a staple of mysteries, but man, I kept waiting for D’Agosta to start shooting or for the villain’s cape to get sucked into a jet engine (yes, folks, it’s a The Incredibles reference). Nothing breaks up tension like a couple pages of monologue.

Note to sit and worry about whether or not I’ve done the same thing in my own work…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Shaking Up the Reading

My reading habits have been as poor as my writing habits lately.

I think part of the problem is I’ve been reading a few books where nothing happens. Sure, they’re good books, and they’re horror books, but there are several pages at a time where nothing happens. Solid writing, great atmosphere, a dash of “look at this creepy stuff!”, but no real action. It’s really starting to bother me.

As such I’ve strayed once again into the suspense/mystery section of my local Borders. Doing so was a good diversion a year or so ago, and so far it’s headed that same direction as I’ve read a lot more in the past two weeks than I have the previous two months.

I started with Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski. Brian mentioned the guy, I browsed the synopsis for Severance Package, and I decided it was right up my alley. Sure enough, I burned through it in no time. The plot is fairly simple, and it the action rolls right along from the first page to the last. The occasional humor is a nice bonus. I’ve now got his books The Blonde and The Wheelman sitting on the nightstand, waiting to be read.

Right now I’m halfway through Brimstone by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. Everything I’ve heard about Preston & Child suggests they’re mystery/thriller writers with a horror/supernatural bend, and Brimstone definitely fits the mold. I can do without all the references to previous books in the series, and I think the main character, Aloysius Pendergast, is a stuck-up douche, but I like where the story is going and I can relate to the other main character (or is it sidekick?), Vincent D’Agosta, much better. The prose is very straightforward and leads the reader through at a good clip.

It’s good to be hooked on reading again.

Even better, they’ve both given my fingers the itch to be at the keyboard, working my own prose.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.