Author Interview: Marie Brennan

Today I am interviewing Marie Brennan, author of the new fantasy novel, Within the Sanctuary of Wings, the fifth and final book of The Memoirs of Lady Trent series.

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DJ: Hey Marie! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with the series, what is Within the Sanctuary of Wings and then the Memoirs of Lady Trent about?

Marie Brennan: The series as a whole is about a lady adventurer and dragon naturalist in a setting based on our own world in the nineteenth century. Each book describes a particular expedition she went on to study dragons in different regions, eventually building up to an explanation for why she’s one of the most famous people in the world. The foreword to the very first book mentioned a great discovery; this is the book where that discovery happens!

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Memoirs of Lady Trent?

Marie: I’d read a fair bit about the Victorian period for With Fate Conspire, the final book of my previous series (the Onyx Court), so I very much had that in mind. In particular, there’s a tremendous number of fascinating women intellectuals and adventurers who fed into my conception of Lady Trent — Mary Kingsley, Freya Stark, Gertrude Bell, Isabella Bird, and more. I suspect some of Elizabeth Peters’ heroine Amelia Peabody crept in there, too, though I haven’t read any of those books in years.

DJ: Lady Trent is easily one of my all-time favorite female protagonists! Could you briefly tell us a little about her and your other main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?

Continue reading

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Author Interview: Bryn Chancellor

Photo Credit: Christy Whitney

Today I am interviewing Bryn Chancellor, debut author of the new mystery novel, Sycamore.

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DJ: Hey Bryn! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Bryn Chancellor: Thanks for having me, DJ! I am a fiction writer currently living and teaching in Charlotte, NC, although I grew up in California and Arizona. Sycamore is my debut novel, but I also have a collection of short stories, When Are You Coming Home? Both the novel and stories are set primarily in Arizona.

DJ: What Sycamore about?

Bryn: The basic premise of the book is that a newcomer to the small town of Sycamore, Arizona, discovers bones in a dry ravine, which Sycamore’s longtime residents fear may belong to Jess Winters, a teenager who disappeared one night some eighteen years earlier. As the police investigate, the residents rekindle stories, rumors, and recollections as they revisit Jess’s troubled history. The book in part is about what happened to Jess, but for me it’s also very much about the people who were left behind and who grappled with Jess’s long absence in the midst of their own lives and troubles.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Sycamore?

Bryn: Probably the biggest literary influences are Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, Richard Russo’s Empire Falls, Kent Haruf’s Plainsong, all of which feature small towns and multiple perspectives. I wasn’t really thinking of the book as a mystery novel, though I do like mysteries and spy thrillers as well. I grew up loving Masterpiece Mystery and the Modesty Blaise series. One of my favorite books to teach is Jane Eyre, which thrums with secrecy and mystery.

I based the fictionalized town of Sycamore on the region where I grew up: the small town of Sedona, Arizona, and the neighboring town of Cottonwood, where I attended junior high and high school. A fictionalized version allowed me some distance to rearrange/create features and timelines that I needed. As with much of my writing, I wanted to explore the lives of working people who are sometimes overlooked, both in literature and in reality.

In many ways, I see this book as a love letter to my hometown. Continue reading

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Excerpt & Giveaway: Project Mothership by Ash Gray


Rose, a sweet and kind librarian, is on her honeymoon with her goofy gym teacher husband when the trip takes a turn for the worst and she is abducted by aliens. When the spacecraft is attacked by the enemies of Empress Nashal, Rose makes it back to Earth freshly impregnated by alien royalty with said enemies on her heels. Now faced with running for her life, she is joined by Zita, a cheerful alien marine, and must make the choice between her unborn alien child and her baffled husband, who believes the child is his.





*I have thirty (30) free ebooks copies of Project Mothership to go along with this excerpt! The link and details for the giveaway are located at the bottom of the post, following the excerpt 🙂


*** Excerpt ***.


“Well, as McDonald’s says, have it your way,” said Zita with a shrug. She frowned. “Or is that Burger King?” Rose saw her reflect a moment before shaking it off. “Doubt I need to tell you that more FBI goons will be here shortly.” She glanced at one of the houses, in the window of which a woman stood gaping. “Thanks in no small part to your neighbors. The other agents spread out and were checking different houses while we were having a drink. Some are still down the street harassing people. Shooting out those tires might hold them back a while. Nice shootin’, by the way, Tex.”

Rose staggered to a stop when she saw Zita insert her key in a honda. It was bright yellow with a large pair of red novelty lips on the antennae, and considering the fact that very few people today even drove cars that ran on gasoline, it was the most screamingly conspicuous vehicle they could have used. Yet Zita slid behind the wheel without hesitation. She paused with one long, slender leg out of the car and looked up at Rose.

“What’s the problem?”

“I’m not getting into that thing,” Rose said at once. “You’re out of your mind! If we’re not stopped by every officer between here and – wherever you’re taking us –!”

“Listen, Rose,” said Zita wearily and leaned her forearm on the wheel. She stuck a cigarette in her mouth, and her bloody hand shook a little as she struggled to light it. “You listenin’?”

Yeah,” said Rose, derisively wrinkling up her nose.

“I been living here on your oblivious little planet for going on sixty years now,” Zita said.

Rose’s brows shot up.

“And you know how I was never noticed? Never caught by the feds or even got a damn parking ticket?”


With the cigarette lit, Zita exhaled smoke and smiled. “I hid in plain sight.” She pulled her leg in the car and shut the door. “Now get in.”

“Hey!” shouted Mr. Peterson. “That’s right – arrest her! We’re gonna talk about my car!”

Rose’s heart skipped a beat when she saw an FBI agent running down the street at them. She ran around the other side of the car and climbed in, and seeing her get inside with Quinn, the agent tossed his plasma rifle and ran full tilt, his face solemn behind his black glasses.

“Effing mechs,” complained Zita, watching the man approach through the rearview mirror.

With Quinn in her lap, Rose scrambled to strap the seatbelt across them both. “What are you waiting for? He’s coming!”

Paaaatience, grasshoppa,” said Zita around the cigarette in her mouth. Her hand closed on the stick shift, and she didn’t look at what she was doing, her eyes fixed instead on the rearview mirror.

“God, and it’s a stick?” Rose said in exasperation and tossed her hands. “We might as well turn ourselves over!”

“Geez, what a pessimist,” Zita muttered with a small smile. “Quiet. I’m parallel parked and I need to concentrate.”

“What? Who’s worrying about that now?”


“Oh god,” Rose moaned and held Quinn tight in her arms.

“Juuust a little closer, you sonova bitch,” Zita muttered, eyes fixed on the man in the rearview mirror.

Rose scowled. “Could you not swear in front of my –” Her voice trailed away to a scream when a giant hammer launched out of the trunk. As the man was finally closing in, the hammer came down on him, shattering him in a cartoonish spray of screws. When the hammer lifted again, the man was a metal stain on the pavement. Several neighbors screamed as they stood on their step, and Rose felt just as horror-stricken to see the man’s smashed face reflected in the metallic glasslike coating on the hammer. The hammer retracted into the trunk again, and smiling, Zita started the car up. She didn’t acknowledge it when Rose just stared at her in silent shock.

Quinn, contrary to being horrified, was smiling and clapping her hands. “The man went smoosh, Mommy!” she said happily. “He can’t hurt us. He went smoosh.”

“Yes!” Rose agreed and hated how shrill and horrified her voice sounded.

Zita laughed softly. “And off we go,” she sang as they pulled onto the street.

“Glad to see you’re so satisfied,” Rose said sarcastically. She was appalled by Zita’s casual manner but had to remind herself that the woman wasn’t just a photographer: she was a soldier.

“Why shouldn’t I be satisfied?” Zita smiled and tapped the clock on the dash with a red nail. “We made this place more dangerous than L.A. in less than thirty-six minutes. That’s a record.”

Rose rolled her eyes, but she glanced down at Zita’s hand, which was operating the stick shift expertly. On the crown of the stick was a red button with the small black symbol of a hammer on it. She swallowed hard and looked out the window, wondering what other lethal contraptions the car hid.

They slid slowly into traffic, and though Rose wanted Zita to hurry, she knew going slowly would draw the least amount of attention. At least until the police or the FBI or whoever caught up with them. She wondered dismally if some of the neighbors hadn’t been too shocked to take down Zita’s license plate.

“Smoking is illegal, you know that,” Rose scolded. “What is that, a Camel? I thought Camels crashed in the last regression. Keep the smoke over there!” She waved the smoke away from Quinn.

Zita rolled her eyes and kissed out a wisp of smoke. “Are you always such a pill?”

Rose frowned. “It’s just that smoking could get us pulled over. Why couldn’t you have just been a pothead? Weed’s legal.”

“Not while driving, it’s not,” Zita pointed out with a breathless laugh.

“Don’t you have a car seat or something for my daughter?” Rose further admonished.

Zita snorted. “What does this look like? A nanny van?”

Rose scowled. “You said you’d been searching for us for years. Seems you would’ve been prepared.”

“Eh,” said Zita with a shrug. “I said I was searching. Never said I believed I would find you.”

“Now that you have, where are you taking us?”

“To safety . . .” Zita’s voice trailed off as her eyes glanced in the rearview mirror. “Shit.

“Could you not –!”

“Quinn’s got more to worry about than swearing at the moment, Rose!”

Rose glanced in the rearview mirror as well and her heart stopped. A man in a black suit was running toward them over the top of the cars that crowded the street. His face behind his black sunglasses was coldly solemn and determined. He carried no weapons, but as he was coming, his hands started to morph into long, silver knives.

“Do something!” Rose burst.

“Do what? This isn’t Terminator II —

“Pull out the hammer thing!”

“The Smashinator 5000 –”


Zita shrugged. “I was drunk.”

Rose made an impatient noise.

Relax,” Zita said, crushing her cigarette in the ashtray. Her lips curled into a small smile. “Buckle up.”

Before Rose could question the woman, Zita’s high heel pressed slowly on the gas, and without warning, they leapt forward like a bullet. Rose felt her entire body slap back against the seat, though Zita and Quinn were sitting as if nothing had changed, merely looking through the windshield as the car rocketed forward.

The little yellow Honda dematerialized, speeding through the other cars in a blur of color. Almost instantaneously, the car stopped again, but Rose could still feel her cheeks flapping in her eyes. Very slowly, she blinked and flexed her mouth, trying to work the cold stiffness out of her face. She thought for certain Quinn would be terrified, but the girl was giggling and clapping her hands instead.

“Yay!” Quinn squealed. “That was fun! We went swoosh!” She raised her hands to the ceiling in triumph.

Zita smirked, watching Quinn as she unbuckled her seatbelt. “Maybe the kid really is entirian after all.” She glanced at Rose and snorted a laugh to see the other woman sitting in mute shock with her hair flying. “You alright?”

Rose glared sideways at Zita. “You could have warned me.”

Zita slowly grinned. “Where’s the fun in that?”

◊  ◊  ◊

*** Project Mothership is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Goodreads

◊  ◊  ◊


Please click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win thirty (30) ebook copies of Project Mothership! Good luck!:)

Runs through May 16, 2017 (05/16/2017)


◊   ◊   ◊

About the author:

Ash Gray is actually a dragon, writing her stories on a minuscule laptop in the murky dark of a silent, wet, cold, comfortable cave. Having quite large claws, she goes through laptops like tissue paper within the span of a week, but it is worth the effort, time, and money to share her stories with an audience as in-love with fiction as she.


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Author Interview: Robyn Bennis

Today I am interviewing Robyn Bennis, author of the new steampunk novel, The Guns Above, first book in the Signal Airship series.

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DJ: Hey Robyn! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Robyn Bennis: Let’s see… I’ve been a biologist for nearly 20 years now and a writer since I could first hold a pencil. That’s been the one constant in my life, even as I move from place to place and job to job. Even in school, I was always the kid who was coming up with weird tales during recess, or drawing spaceships in my notebook. I’m still that kid, in a lot of ways.

DJ: What is The Guns Above about?

Robyn: The book follows the travails of Josette Dupre, Garnia’s first and much-maligned female airship captain, and Lord Bernat, the sexist fop sent to undermine her command. Along the way, you’ll get airship combat, heroic last stands, and badass ladies who shoot people.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?

Robyn: I think readers will appreciate their wit. Although my characters are put into tough situations that might inspire sympathy, they are not fundamentally sympathetic characters. They’re bad people, perhaps made even worse by the courage of their convictions—that belief that they’re doing the right thing. But they’re funny and not afraid to bite, which can endear a reader to almost any character. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Robert Jackson Bennett

Today I am interviewing Robert Jackson Bennett, author of the new fantasy novel, City of Miracles, final book of The Divine Cities trilogy.

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DJ: Hey Robert! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Robert Jackson Bennett: I’m a science fiction and fantasy writer. I believe I have 10 books under my belt at this point… I try not to count, since I’m sure it’d just depress me. 

DJ: What is City of Miracles and then The Divine Cities trilogy about?

Robert: Think of the Greek or Norse pantheon of gods. Now imagine that those gods are very real, and their divine powers are at the disposal of one nation. You can imagine what that nation then does – empire, slavery, and hegemony. The nation essentially wields their gods much as one would a weapon of mass destruction – gods as nukes, in other words.

But then someone finds a way to kill the gods, bringing that nation to utter ruin. There’s a tremendous power vacuum, and one of the former colonies steps in, trying to fill the divine gap with trade and technology. 

Except – are the gods really gone? And even if they are – how should the world proceed? Is it possible to move past these horrendous conflicts?

The Divine Cities trilogy looks at three different characters trying to navigate these waters. All of them are involved in the shadowy, grungy work of statecraft, some utilizing the pen, others the dagger. City of Miracles is the last entry into this world, and we see how previous efforts have failed or succeeded, and where everyone tries to go from there. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Titus Chalk

Today I am interviewing Titus Chalk, author of the new non-fiction novel, Generation Decks: The Unofficial History of Magic: The Gathering.

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DJ: Hey Titus! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Titus Chalk: Sure – I’m a British writer living in Berlin, who’s spent most of the past decade or so writing about sport and culture for outlets in the UK and here in Germany. At the moment, I’m trying to work on my fiction-writing chops, whilst also doing some news writing to pay the bills. Oh – and of course, I play a highly addictive fantasy game called Magic: The Gathering!

DJ: What Generation Decks: The Unofficial History of Magic: The Gathering about?

Titus: As the name suggests it’s the story of Magic – an iconic card game that came out in 1993. But more than that, it’s also a memoir of my time playing the game. It might sound like a very specialist subject, but really it’s as much a history of the birth of the internet age as anything else, just told through a specific lens. It’s the story of how one business grappled with the rapidly changing world – and how a whole community was suddenly formed by it and thrived, myself included.

DJ: How long have you been playing Magic for?

Titus: I’ve been playing since roughly late 1994 or early 1995 – the exact date is a little foggy at this point. My family were going through a tough time, had left England and had washed up in New Zealand. I had to start at a new school – a daunting prospect when you’re 13 – and I hit upon the game as a way to make a new friends. I wouldn’t have survived that time in my life without it and in fact, I’m still good friends with one of the guys I used to play with back then. I think many Magic players have a similar experience in their past – the game helped a whole generation of awkward teens make friends, get good at something and garner a little self-esteem in the process. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Ash Gray

Today I am interviewing Ash Gray, author of the new science fiction humor novel, The Harvest, second book of The Prince of Qorlec series.

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DJ: Hey Ash! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Ash Gray: Thanks for having me for this interview. I was unhappy the other day, thinking I might lay low for a while and stop talking about my books. But talking about them actually makes me happy, so I’m glad for the opportunity.

When asked personal questions, I usually insist I’m a dragon and roll off into the dragon routine, but since I’m not in a joking disposition, I’ll answer honestly.

There’s a lot about me. There’s a lot of sadness and madness. If people want know me (lol, why?) I suggest reading my books. There I am on the page, bare for inspection.

DJ: What is The Harvest about?

Ash: The Harvest is the second book in my humorous science fiction series The Prince of Qorlec. There are six books planned for the entire series, two are published, and the third I’m currently writing. I plan to write the first four by the end of the summer, then switch over to a different series for a while. Doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the series (I always try to finish the things I start) this is just my m.o.

I was inspired to write Project Mothership, the first book in the series, back in March when I was watching alien documentaries late one night. One documentary was about a woman who told the story of getting abducted by aliens and impregnated with alien fetuses all her life and how it ruined her any chance of a marriage. I thought –somewhat guiltily – to myself, “Man, this would make a great story!”

So I started writing The Prince of Qorlec, which is a humorous series about the last princess of an alien planet. Quinn’s planet is under siege and she is placed inside a human surrogate in order to save her. The human (Rose) raises Quinn on Earth for four years, until the alien enemies of her home planet finally catch up to her.

The first book is about Quinn and her mother trying to escape Quinn’s alien enemies. It’s a very silly, nearly campy novella that somewhat lampoons Terminator, Men in Black, and a mix of my favorite sci-fi films.

The rest of the series is about how Quinn discovers she is alien royalty and rises against the zonbiri in a campaign to drive them from Qorlec, her homeworld.

The series is called The Prince of Qorlec because the many aliens featured (there are barely any humans) have a different view on sex, gender, and sexuality than humans. So while hiding, Quinn often has to pretend to be a boy, but a “boy” means different things to different aliens. For example, zonbiri women all have penises.

I’m not doing anything groundbreaking by using aliens to explore gender and sexuality (it’s been done many, many times before), so I’m often confused when people think I must be transgender or queergender myself. No. I’m a cisgender queer woman completely comfortable with exploring these themes and – not only that – but exploring them as inoffensively and responsibly as possible. Whether or not I have managed this remains to be seen. Continue reading

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Short Story Review: A Salvaging of Ghosts by Aliette de Bodard

A Salvaging of Ghosts (The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year: Volume 11) by Aliette de Bodard

Publisher: Solaris

Publication Date: April 18, 2017

Edition: ebook

Genre: Science-Fiction , Short-Story

Rating: 3/5

Xuya story.
Continue reading

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Author Interview: Cherie Priest

Today I am interviewing Cherie Priest, author of the new historical fantasy novel, Brimstone.

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DJ: Hey Cherie! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Cherie Priest: I’m a Leo who was born in Florida, on the day Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. Also, I write books. I’ve had about twenty published, mostly in sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres – though recently I’ve also begun to write for young adults.

DJ: What is Brimstone about?

Cherie: A talented young clairvoyant and a shell-shocked veteran of the Great War who came back from the front with the ghost of a vengeful German poltergeist. In a nutshell. It’s largely set in Cassadaga, Florida, a real-life historic spiritualist camp not terribly far from Orlando.

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Brimstone?

Cherie: Going down to Cassadaga for a few days, to do research and get a feel for the place. Everyone was just lovely, and I had a most excellent time kicking around with my cousin (who lives nearby – and was kind enough to let me crash with her).

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Cherie: The Chihuahua. Continue reading

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Excerpt & Giveaway: Rites of Azathoth by Frank Cavallo


“Rites of Azathoth is an occult-thriller rooted in the H.P. Lovecraft tradition, or what is sometimes called the Cthulhu Mythos. It is a book that will appeal to general horror audiences, especially any fans of Lovecraft himself, as well as fans of Clive Barker, Peter Straub and Jack Ketchum,” says Cavallo.

F.B.I. criminal profiler Diana Mancuso doesn’t do field work anymore. Not since a tragic mistake that cost innocent lives. But when notorious serial killer Luther Vayne escapes from prison and resumes his campaign of brutal murders, the Bureau convinces her to take one last case.

To catch him, she must understand him. She must delve into the arcana that fuels his madness, risking her life and her sanity to follow his twisted path.

The trail plunges her into a shadowy world of occult rituals and unspeakable horrors, leading to a secret cabal operating at the highest levels—and a plot to summon the darkest of all powers, to bring forth an evil that does not belong in our world—to enact the Rites of Azathoth.

*I have one (1) free copy (ebook or paperback) of Rites of Azathoth to go along with this interview! The link and details for the giveaway are located at the bottom of the post, following the excerpt 🙂

.*** Excerpt ***


Cleveland Police Department

Third District

2001 Payne Avenue

October 30, 1974

2:13 am


Transcript of Voluntary Oral Statement


Interrogation conducted by: Detective Edward D. Sadowski

Badge No.: 366

Suspect Name: Luther Charles Vayne

DOB: 10/16/1944

Ht: 5’11”

Wt.: 185

Eyes: None

Distinguishing Marks: numerous tattoos and brandings, scars on face and hands


OFFICER: You have expressed your desire to waive the presence of counsel and to make a full confession. Is that correct?

VAYNE: It is.

OFFICER: This is regarding the murder of Anna Dressler and Eric Dressler?


OFFICER: What is it you want me to know?

VAYNE: As I mentioned to your desk officer, I killed them both tonight.

OFFICER: What exactly did you do? Can you tell me that?

VAYNE: I have done only what I was sent here to do.

OFFICER: Sent? From where? By whom?

VAYNE: The shadows that speak to me are of no concern. All that matters for you is that I killed the woman and her child. That is enough, is it not? I have no wish to hide anything anymore.

OFFICER: Anymore? You’ve done this before?

VAYNE: Yes, many times over the last year.

OFFICER: You’ve been killing women and children for a year?

VAYNE: Patience, detective. As I told you, I have no wish to hide anything. The facts of this and every one of my deeds are yours to examine now.

OFFICER: You know who this boy and his mother were, don’t you? Mrs. Dressler was an heiress. She had quite a large fortune. That’s no accident is it? You targeted this kid, and his mother, didn’t you?

VAYNE: I know who they were, and more importantly, who they were not. I know many things about them that you do not. Believe me detective, money was not involved, in this or any other of my recent acts. These were no mere children. At least until tonight, and for that I am very sorry.

OFFICER: Sorry? Ok, that’s a start. Why don’t you tell me what you did here?

VAYNE: I would have thought the act spoke for itself. If you’d like a narrative however, I am prepared to oblige. Simply stated, I cut the woman’s head from her neck. I drove an iron rod through her body, then through the body of her child. Just before I cut out his heart. [Pause] Would you like to hear about the others as well, detective? Or shall we take a break? You look like you might need some water.

OFFICER: How many others are there?

VAYNE: The boy and his mother tonight were the thirteenth.

OFFICER: You’re prepared to confess to thirteen murders? Thirteen double murders?

VAYNE: I am. That is why I came here tonight, to confess to everything, to every killing I have committed. At your convenience, of course. This will have to be the end of it. For now.

◊  ◊  ◊

*** Rites of Azathoth is published by Bedlam Press and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads

◊  ◊  ◊


Please click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win one (1) copy (ebook or paperback) of Rites of Azazthoth! Good luck!:)

Runs through May 3, 2017 (05/03/2017)

*US residents ONLY


◊   ◊   ◊

About the author:

Frank Cavallo is a horror and dark fantasy writer. His previous works include Eye of the Storm, The Lucifer Messiah, The Hand of Osiris, and the Gotrek & Felix novella Into the Valley of Death.

He was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications in 1994 and he earned a JD from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2001. His life-long fascination with the darker side of human nature has led him to devote most of the past 15 years to a career as a criminal defense attorney, at the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office, in Cleveland, Ohio. There he has come face-to-face with some of the truest horror in this world. Murder, rape, burglary, drugs. That’s his bread and butter.

Readers can connect with Frank on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to

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