I have a special fondness for the characters and world that Josh Reynolds has created for this Royal Occultist series. Its interplay of history, mystery, supernatural chills, and a good bit of humor, I hope, are key ingredients of my own Vera Van Slyke ghostly mysteries. And while Vera, no doubt, would have much to discuss with Charles St. Cyprian, the spotlighted holder of the position of Royal Occultist, I’d much rather see her share a beer with Ebe Gallowglass, St. Cyprian’s snarly assistant.
But I’ll let Josh clarify what I’m talking about.
#1 – Using three similes—and as many sentences as you like—describe your occult detective character(s).
Charles St. Cyprian, who’s best described as Rudolph Valentino by way of Bertie Wooster, is the Royal Occultist. His assistant, Ebe Gallowglass, is Louise Brooks by way of Emma Peel. St. Cyprian is the brains, and Gallowglass is the muscle; he likes to talk things out, and she likes to shoot things until they die. Together, they defend the British Empire against a variety of gribbly monsters, secret societies and eldritch occurrences.
#2 – While reading about a fictional world where a vampire travels to, say, a city that is recognizably Victorian London or small-town Maine, a reader might look up suddenly and wonderwhat was that noise? However, while reading about a fictional world where a vampire enters a tavern that’s frequented by zombies, werewolves, and ghosts, a reader escapes to far-flung fantasy-land and probably ignores that noise altogether. How close is your fictional world to the world of reader?
Fairly close, I think. Albeit several decades out of date. The Royal Occultist stories take place in Jazz Age England (or the Interwar Period, the Roaring Twenties, whatever you prefer), and my characters have interacted with historical personages both real and fictional. Arthur Conan Doyle, Oswald Mosley, and even Harry Houdini have appeared in the Royal Occultist stories, alongside literary characters like Baroness Orczy’s Lady Molly of Scotland Yard and Saki’s immature werewolf, Gabriel-Ernest. It’s a familiar world, filled with familiar names and faces, woven together in a different way (I hope!).
#3 – I see occult detective fiction as a cross-genre of mystery and supernatural fiction. Do you agree with this, and if so, do you lean more into one genre than the other? If you don’t agree, what’s your problem?
I agree. I tend to go back and forth between the genres depending on what sort of story I want to tell, however. I usually try and pay at least lip-service to the mystery genre with my Royal Occultist stories, but sometimes I just go all in on the supernatural. I even dabble in urban fantasy, for some of them. I tend to be a kitchen-sinker when it comes to the cross-genre game…why stop at two? More genres means more tropes, and more tropes means more options. Mo’ genre, mo’ better.
#4 – What are your plans?
Well, I’m gonna try and finish this answer up. Then I might have some dinner. I think I’m having gnocchi tonight. I need to pick up some tomatoes though. Some bacon. Little basil? I dunno. Maybe I should get some wine. Does wine go with gnocchi? I’ll put wine on the list. Man, I should really just go to the store…
Oh. Wait — did you mean plans for the Royal Occultist? Oh yeah, I got plans for him. The third Royal Occultist novel, The Infernal Express, should be out sometime in 2016. I need to start work on the fourth book, tentatively titled The Royal Occultist, which finds St. Cyprian and Gallowglass dealing with the sinister schemes of a former Royal Occultist…schemes which threaten to drown England in blood and fire.
I’m also hoping to put together the first collection of Royal Occultist stories, which is probably long overdue. There’re around forty of short stories floating about now, with more to come this year in anthologies such as Spawn of the Ripper (April-Moon Books), Children of Gla’aki (Dark Regions Press) and Gaslight Ghouls (Chaosium).
You can find out about all of this stuff, as well as the world of the Royal Occultist at https://royaloccultist.wordpress.com/ There’s also plenty of free fiction, including serials, downloads and audio-plays, if that sort of thing interests you.
My thanks to Josh Reynolds. Click here to explore his author page at Amazon.com.