4-Question Interview: Loren Rhoads

present-tensionsIn a recent online discussion, I tried to boil down the difference between occult detective fiction and urban fantasy to simple math: “5 vampires per 7 billion humans = occult detective. 1 billion vampires, 1 billion werewolves, 1 billion zombies per 4 billion humans = urban fantasy. There’s an error margin of + or – 17.”

Loren Rhoads is blurring that formula — as well as the division between those genres — with her occult detective fiction. On her website, she explains that she’s written “a series of urban fantasy short stories about Alondra DeCourval, a young American witch who grew up in London. Alondra travels the world, battling monsters.” But the author’s take on urban fantasy doesn’t seem quite so monster-heavy as my formula suggests. She explains this while answering the 4 questions that I’ve asked of many writers keeping the occult detective tradition very much alive today. Continue reading “4-Question Interview: Loren Rhoads”


4-Question Interview: Tony Walker

present-tensionsWhile hunting for ghosts on the Web, I came across a site titled simply: Ghost Stories. It’s “a blog to discuss, present, curate and review classic ghost stories, Gothic fiction and Weird Tales,” and it’s managed by Tony Walker.

Tony is also a writer, and the plot of his novel Unreal City is introduced this way: “Hard-boiled detective Christian Le Cozh is hired by a man who thinks his wife was killed by a vampire.  Le Cozh is sceptical but he needs the money. He accompanies his client to a graveyard at midnight to persuade him to get medical help. Then things go wrong and he has to hunt the beasts, before they hunt him.”

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4-Question Interview: C.A. Verstraete

present-tensionsI met author C.A. (Christine) Verstraete during the October Frights Blog Hop of last year. I quickly ordered her new book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, intrigued by the notion of turning the most famous matricidal/patricidal figure in American history into an occult detective. Though I admit I haven’t yet read the novel, it seems like a very promising next step from — and a clever spin on — Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) and his Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2010).


A mystery runs through Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, a sinister puzzle that Borden must solve. As I say, she’s presented as an occult detective, and as I do with my Vera Van Slyke chronicles, Verstraete interweaves historical fact with supernatural fiction in this novel. Her other work has been published in various anthologies and magazines, including Mystery Weekly, Siren’s Call and Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime. She’s also the author of a young adult novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie.

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4-Question Interview: John Linwood Grant

present-tensionsAs one gets to know John Linwood Grant, one learns certain canine-related words. Lurcher, for instance. And since looking that up, I now know what a sighthound is. I’m a better man for it.

Really thin dogs — think greyhounds and whippets — appear a lot on John’s website, greydogtales, which is dedicated to “weird fiction, weird art, and even weirder lurchers.” There’s a lot of information about authors working in the occult detective cross-genre and related areas of supernatural fiction. Like myself, John both writes about the stuff while also writing the stuff. His The Last Edwardian series is rooted in the same era as my Vera Van Slyke chronicles, but his stories are based much more on a cast of characters. He’ll introduce you to them.

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4-Question Interview: Brian P. Easton

present-tensionsBrian P. Easton grew up on the south end of Illinois — with its corn and coal. He writes about werewolves. I grew on the north end of that state — with its corn and cows. I write about ghosts. And, of course, Abe Lincoln was a vampire-hunter. We’re pretty much ready for any supernatural contingencies in the Prairie State.

Brian has written a trilogy of novels about a character named Sylvester L. James: Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter, Heart of Scars, and The Lineage. A prequel is nearing completion. I asked Brian to answer my four usual questions to introduce us to his werewolf hunter. Continue reading “4-Question Interview: Brian P. Easton”

4-Question Interview: Robert Valentine and Jack Bowman

present-tensionsAbout the time that I was writing scripts for Marvellous Boxes, my Twilight Zone-ish audio drama anthology, Robert Valentine and Jack Bowman were already winning awards for their work on The Springheel Saga. This audio drama series is told as a trilogy of trilogies: three episodes establish The Strange Case of Springheel’d Jack, three more continue The Legend of Springheel’d Jack, and the final three episodes reveal The Secret of Springheel’d Jack.

It’s a series I’ve been enjoying and recommending for a few years now. Yes, it features a distinctive occult detective character named Jonah Smith. However, I’m more drawn to the high quality of the writing, the cinematic feel of the production, and the performances of the actors — most all of them with lengthy and impressive credentials.

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4-Question Interview: Josh Reynolds

present-tensionsI 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.

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4-Question Interview: Bob Freeman

present-tensionsI do a lot with early occult detectives and ghost hunters here at The Merry Ghost Hunter. I want to make space for new authors, too. Along with reviews of recently published adventures, I plan to include interviews. These interviews will pose the same four questions, which leads to the ingenious title for the series: 4-Question Interview.

It makes perfect sense to start with Bob Freeman. His excellent website, after all, is Bob Freeman: The Occult Detective. There, one can find not only original occult detective fiction, but also a good deal of information about the cross-genre in general. Bob also posts many of his impressive illustrations. And, each year, he gives virtual awards for novels, short stories, comics, television shows, meritorious service, and more. Though he’s created several fictional characters and worlds — including those found in the realm of federal agents, Wolfe & Crowe  — I asked Bob to focus on his other occult detective character, Landon Connors.

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Review: J.L. Bryan’s Ellie Jordan: Ghost Trapper

present-tensions“Showing fear to a ghost is like feeding a stray cat — once they get a taste, they’ll never leave you alone.” — Ellie Jordan

Reading J.L. Bryan’s Ellie Jordan: Ghost Trapper (JLBryanbooks, 2014) got me thinking about what monsters really want from us. Zombies, generally speaking, want to eat us, often with a (dangling) eye on our brains. Vampires also see us as a meal, but the better class of them at least make the evening feel like a third date. The Frankenstein monster, according to the novel and according to the creature himself (but do you trust him?), is “acting out” his pain at not being loved enough. Similarly, werewolves and Mr. Hyde give into their rageaholic tendencies. All of these creatures embody our base impulses: hunger, lust, venting pain, rage — and stories about mastering the monster remind us to master those urges.

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Review: John Linwood Grant’s A Study in Gray

present-tensions“If your man is more dangerous than the late Professor Moriarty, or than the living Colonel Sebastian Moran, then he is indeed worth meeting. May I ask his name?”

— Sherlock Holmes

Before one reads John Linwood Grant’s A Study in Gray (18thWall, 2016), one might want to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Illustrious Client” (1924). It’s among the last of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales, the one from which my epigraph comes. Grant continues Doyle’s story in A Study in Gray, using that earlier, loosely resolved case to pull the great detective out of apiarian retirement and into Grant’s own world of supernatural espionage. This more occult realm of intrigue — along with its lead characters: Captain Redvers Blake, Abigail Jessop, and Henry Dodson — exist in Grant’s The Last Edwardian series.

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