Another Great Review!

Check out this great review from author Patrick Dorn!

Matt Kincade’s breakout novel doesn’t just kick butt in the action scenes—all writers in this genre had better know their way around describing exciting murder and mayhem—the story goes DEEP and BROAD in creating a believable world where society’s outcasts and outlaws have formed a community to defend the world from equally established criminal organizations of fanged, undead predators.

I’ve gotta say, after living for quite some time with this bizarre fantasy world churning around in my brain, it feels pretty darned good to get it out in the world and have normal people not think that I’m completely insane. Thanks for the great review, Patrick! Check out out Patrick’s website, and of course pick up a copy of The Devil’s Mouth!

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Review Trade, Anyone?

So hey there, authors. I’m getting set to release my urban fantasy thriller, The Devil’s Mouth, on the Kindle store in about two weeks. I’m looking for reviews, and the book review blog scene seems to be pretty well saturated with manuscripts. Is anybody else out there looking for advance reviews? Want to trade? Comment on here or look me up through the contacts page.

Also, if you’re an avid reader who posts reviews on Amazon or Goodreads or you happen to run a book review blog that I somehow missed, and you think the book looks awesome, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Books that stole my heart, part 3: The Tomb, by F. Paul Wilson

It was just one of those random drug-store bookshelf finds. I needed something to read on my lunch break to avoid talking to my co-workers. I rifled through the paperback rack, back when regular stores still sold paperbacks.

Fourteen Stephen King novels, (read ’em) three Michael Connelly, (read ’em) two Lee Childs (read ’em) twenty-seven romance novels featuring shirtless cowboys, a dog-eared copy of Chicken Soup for the Teenager’s Soul, four Dean Koontz, six Robert Patterson, and…hello, what’s this?

The Tomb? Who the heck is F. Paul Wilson?

thetombThat was my introduction to F. Paul Wilson and the world of Repairman Jack. Sixteen books later, I guess you could say I’m a fan. I suppose I should also mention Midnight Mass, F. Paul Wilson’s excellent book about a vampire apocalypse, with which I am also in love. But that’ll have to wait for another blog post.

Repairman Jack, the protagonist of The Tomb and its fifteen sequels, is a fixer. But he doesn’t fix appliances. He fixes situations, the kind of situations people can’t take to the police. If you need stolen property recovered, if you need someone found, if you need bones broken, he’s your guy…as long as it’s for the right reasons. See, Jack isn’t just another thug. He’s a good guy. He’s got a code.

Officially, Jack doesn’t exist. He doesn’t have a social security number. He doesn’t pay taxes. He doesn’t even have a last name. He’s a modern day ghost, living off the grid in the heart of New York City.

Maybe Jack would just be another hard-ass, just another criminal, if not for Gia, his girlfriend, and her young daughter Vickie, whom Jack loves with all his heart, and will do anything to protect.

Oh yes, and did I mention the monsters? Somehow, Jack always manages to get tangled up in something supernatural. Strange monsters. Warp-holes to hell dimensions. Men in Black. Ancient organizations. Mysterious women who know more than they should. As the books progress, Jack finds out that he’s a part of a conflict bigger and more ancient than he could have imagined. It’s wonderful, coherent supernatural world-building, and I can never wait to find out what happens next.

Don’t get me wrong. F. Paul Wilson isn’t Cormac McCarthy or John Steinbeck. The Tomb isn’t a work of staggering genius. It’s just good, pulpy fun, which most of the time is all I’m looking for. They’re fast-paced, action-filled books with a loveable protagonist, plenty of plot twists, and plenty of fist-pump moments. For example, there’s always that moment when you’re like, Uh-oh bad guys, you shouldn’t have messed with Vicky and Gia. Now Jack is going to have to get medieval on your asses. And then he does. And you’re like, fist-pump!  Jack is a badass, always wins the fights, and he’s the master of elaborate revenge plans that somehow always seem to work out perfectly. His inevitable victory might be boring, if not for the elaborate schemes he comes up with, and Wilson’s skill at making you really dislike the bad guys, so you really enjoy it when they get what’s coming to them.

Repairman Jack books are some of my go-to reads, books I can come back to again and again. They’re just fun. I can never find them at the used book store, because people don’t get rid of them.

I just now realized that I haven’t really mentioned the plot of The Tomb at all. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter. It’s good fun. Go read it.

F. Paul Wilson and the Repairman Jack series is just the sort of thing that might inspire a young author to try his hand at writing a fun, fast-paced, genre-bending action horror thriller with a supernatural twist…oh wait. That’s me.

 

 

Books That Stole My Heart, Part Two: John Steakley’s Vampires

 

john-steakley-vampiresDid you ever read a book that was so good it made you angry? Where you finish a chapter, or a paragraph, or even a sentence, and you have to pause for a moment, thinking what the hell, man, what the hell?

It happens more often than I’d like to admit. But as somebody who just finished writing a pulpy action horror novel about a vampire hunter, I got to experience that very special mixture of envy and awe that occurs when somebody else already did what you’re trying to do, but better. It’s like if you’ve been trying to get the lid off a pickle jar for an hour, and somebody just walks along and nonchalantly twists that sucker right off. What the hell, man?

Vampires by John Steakley is the story of Jack Crow, the leader of Vampire$ inc, a team of mercenary bad-asses who kill vampires for a living. The book was adapted into the movie John Carpenter’s Vampires, but as always, the book was better.

The novel begins with Crow and his team plying their trade, clearing out a nest of vampires in a small town in the midwestern United States. Then they get really drunk. In the midst of their celebration, they’re ambushed by a master vampire who slaughters all but Crow and one other member of his team.

To fill the gaps in their roster, they recruit a young priest sent by the Vatican (I prefer to write about secular vampires, but the religious element was very well done in this book. The Pope is a supporting character, and that’s all I’m going to say) and a deadly gunfighter named Felix.

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John Carpenter’s Vampires. A decent flick, but read the book.

Crow, broken and tortured by the loss of his team, continues on a near suicidal pursuit of his mission. Armed with crosses and silver bullets, they go out and get revenge.

Steakley writes like the bastard love-child of Ernest Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy. His writing is Spartan: spare, terse, and punchy. Never a wasted word. He has a knack for pacing, his restrained use of punctuation turning his action scenes into pure stream-of-consciousness bad-assery.

Felix’s first two shots, like the deputy’s, struck Roy. But while Kirk’s hit Roy’s Chest, Felix’s slammed into his forehead. And while Kirk’s were .44 magnum hollowpoints, they were only lead. Felix’s were nine-millimeter silver blessed by the Vicar of Christ on Earth and they tore half-inch-wide holes through the skull. Roy shrieked and smacked his hands over the wounds and fell writhing to the pavement.

What the hell, man.

Steakley’s characters, his tortured, flawed, terrified crew of vampire hunters, go past action hero cliches. He nails their inner conflict, their fatalism, their hopelessness coupled with their sense of duty and righteousness as they carry on with a mission that they know will probably kill them in the end.

John Steakley unfortunately only wrote two novels in his lifetime, Armor and Vampires. I read Armor first, and was utterly blown away. I will put my right hand on a copy of The Forever War and swear that Armor is one of the finest works of military sci-fi I’ve ever read. Despite that, I didn’t even know Vampires existed until the name ‘Steakley’ jumped out at me from the spine of a book at a used bookstore. Imagine my excitement.

 

 

Books that stole my heart, part one: Dune

Frank Herbert’s Dune, fifty years after its first publication, still stands as one of the giants of science fiction, and rightly so. I could go on at length about the social and political import of this book, but others have done it before me, and better. So I’ll share my more personal experience.

duneA long, long, long time ago, when I was in high school, my experience with science fiction was largely limited to Star Trek on TV, Star Wars paperbacks, and Voltron. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Star Wars. Except for the prequels. I digress.

In my sophmore English class, there were the remnants of a class set of Dune books. These four or five identical paperbacks had been coated in contact paper and stamped on the inner cover with the high school’s name. They were falling apart, and had been repaired several times over with tape. Unfortunately, whatever English class they were for, it wasn’t my English class. These books sat unused on the back shelf, very near where I sat.

One day our teacher, Mr. Phillips (whose awesomeness deserves a whole separate blog post) wasn’t there, and we had a substitute. Whatever we were doing that day was horribly boring, so out of desperation I picked up this tattered old paperback with a funky seventies cover. Those first words caught me like a marlin on a gaff hook.

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every sister of the Bene Gesserit knows. To begin your study of the life of Maud’Dib, then, take care that you first place him in his time; born in the 57th year of the Padishah Emperor, Shaddam IV…

I’m sorry, Mr. Phillips. I stole that book. I stole it so hard. I still had it until just a year or two ago, when it finally disintegrated. I think I read it in three days, skipping minor annoyances like schoolwork and sleep. Then I went to the library and found the sequel.

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Dune the movie was…entertaining… but doesn’t hold a candle to the book.

Dune was my gateway drug into the best of Golden Age sci-fi, the world of Heinlin, Asimov, Clark, and Philip K. Dick. Dune hit me like a brick upside the head. It was so… grown up. The intelligence of the plot, the subtlety of the character’s interactions. (a feint within a feint within a feint) Superheroes whose powers came from nothing more than discipline and training. The massive, coherent, sprawling galaxy, so different from the laser-pistols-and-warp-drives fare I’d known until that point, so intricately layered, so flawlessly executed. Its portrayal of a deep, nuanced interstallar economy, and subtle galactic feudalism that Star Wars could only pretend to. And yet, unlike many other intellectually rich sci-fi novels I’ve come across, it was still a damned page-turner.

I’m realizing that I could go on for far, far longer about how much I love this book, and how it shaped my views of so many things: economics, ecology, politics, power… but I’ll end now, with one of the many gems that have stayed with me through the years.

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife – chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: ‘Now, it’s complete because it’s ended here.’