Had an amazing interview with fellow horror writer Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Hex, Echo) when I traveled to Munich in October.
ANDREWELTEN LIVE – Countdown to Halloween
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Im Zweifel für das Monster | Echo
Royce Buckingham, Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Rachsüchtige Berggeister und kriminelle Monster – bei diesen Romanen schalten Sie beim lesen besser das Licht ein!
Moderation: Björn Springorum
Die Fantasy-Verlage der Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe bringen bekannte Autor*innen im Livestream zu euch nach Hause – und ihr könnt live eure Fragen stellen.
Rachsüchtige Berggeister und kriminelle Monster – bei diesen Romanen schalten Sie beim Lesen besser das Licht ein!
Halloween steht vor der Tür, die Zeit der Hexen, Geister und Ungeheuer. Mit diesen Gestalten kennt sich der niederländische Horrorautor Thomas Olde Heuvelt bestens aus. Für sein Debüt »Hex« wurde er von Stephen King geadelt, in seinem neuen Buch »Echo« entführt er uns in die Schweizer Alpen, wo ein uralter Berggeist zum Leben erwacht.
Der amerikanische Bestsellerautor Royce Buckingham dagegen nähert sich den Ungeheuern in seinem gerade jüngsten Roman »Im Zweifel für das Monster« von der humorvollen Seite. Erlebt die beiden Schriftsteller im Gespräch miteinander und erfahrt alles über die vielen Facetten des literarischen Gruselns.
Wie immer könnt ihr uns eure Fragen im Chat schicken.
Super excited to be doing this in Munich, Germany…from my publisher’s offices!
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When In Doubt For The Monster | Echo
Royce Buckingham, Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Vengeful mountain spirits and criminal monsters – you’d better turn on the lights while reading these novels!
Moderator: Björn Springorum
The fantasy publishers of the Penguin Random House publishing group bring well-known authors to your home in a live stream – and you can ask your questions live.
Vengeful mountain spirits and criminal monsters – you’d better turn on the lights while reading these novels!
Halloween is just around the corner, the time of witches, ghosts and monsters. Dutch horror author Thomas Olde Heuvelt is very familiar with these characters. He was ennobled by Stephen King for his debut »Hex«, and in his new book »Echo« he takes us to the Swiss Alps, where an ancient mountain spirit comes to life.
The American bestselling author Royce Buckingham, on the other hand, approaches the monsters from the humorous side in his most recent novel »In Doubt for the Monster (Monster Lawyer)«. Experience the two writers in conversation with each other and learn everything about the many facets of literary horror.
As always, you can send us your questions in the chat.
Back to Urban Fantasy
After publishing several medieval fantasy books–five to be exact–I decided to return to urban fantasy, the genre of my very first novel, Demonkeeper / Damliche Damonen. And now I’m celebrating the German release* of my new novel, Im Zweifel für das Monster (Monster Lawyer).
So why write an urban fantasy about a lawyer representing monsters? First of all, urban fantasy is awesome! How fun and scary is it to imagine modern-day monsters among us? Answer: very fun and very scary. Also, writing Im Zweifel für das Monster as an urban fantasy was a natural fit for me—an organic choice. Im Zweifel is a marriage of two passions in my life—I’m an adult lawyer, and I have loved monsters since I was a little boy. There is nothing more “urban” than the law—modern civilizations are built upon it—and monsters are inherently fantastical, and so the natural habitat for a lawyer/monster story is indeed urban fantasy.
A Q&A with my Publisher
Auszüge aus Fragen und Antworten mit meinem Verlag
After several medieval fantasy novels, why did you decide to write urban fantasy?
When I wrote my first novel, Demonkeeper (Dämliche Dämonen), nearly twenty years ago, I was a criminal prosecutor in juvenile court. I loved monsters and fantasy, and the young criminal defendants I was seeing in the courtroom were very real and had hard, gritty lives. So I created young fictional characters and put them in a real-life setting (Seattle), and then used monsters to represent the turmoil and perils of a hard life. It felt perfect for urban fantasy.
Now things have come full circle in my writing career, and I’ve returned to urban fantasy. Crazy as it sounds, the original young fans of Demonkeeper have all grown up! And because I’m writing adult novels, Monster Lawyer (Im Zweifel für das Monster) can be genuinely horrifying, and it is! It’s also serious and fun at the same time. Like Demonkeeper, there are societal themes to give Monster Lawyer depth, but I still weave in humor whenever I can because…well, I’m me.
Warum hast du dich nach mehreren High-Fantasy-Romanen entschieden, Urban Fantasy zu schreiben?
Vor fast zwanzig Jahren schrieb ich mit Dämliche Dämonen meinen ersten Roman. Es war recht junger Urban-Fantasy-Roman, und jetzt bin ich zu meinen Ursprüngen zurückgekehrt, denn so verrückt es klingt: die ursprünglichen jungen Fans der Dämlichen Dämonensind erwachsen geworden! Diese Geschichte ist für sie. Und weil ich jetzt Romane für Erwachsene schreibe, ist Im Zweifel für das Monster wirklich gruselig! Aber ich webe immer noch Humor ein, wann immer ich kann, weil… nun ja … ich ich bin.
Demonkeeper has a lot of humor. How is this with Monster Lawyer?
The fact that Demonkeeper was both spooky and funny is a product of my personality. I like to see the humor in things, even if those things have a dark side. I think it’s good to laugh when addressing death in particular; it helps us deal with our mortality.
It’s the same with Monster Lawyer. The idea of a lawyer representing monsters strikes me as hilarious, and the situations that arise when Daniel Becker represents monsters in legal cases are delightfully ludicrous. But the idea of representing a monster has a very serious side too. I work with lawyers who represent real-life murderers, and their representation of killers can be seen as an analogy to representing “monsters.” This serious underlying theme lends Monster Lawyer depth and makes Daniel’s character arc extremely interesting, especially because of his painful childhood relationship with the monster he’s asked to defend as a grown-up. No more spoilers, but I can tell you that Monster Lawyer is funny and sad and serious and raises lots of ethical questions. It’s truly an adult take on monstrous urban fantasy, but with plenty of immature humor to make it fun too. I hope!
Additionally, writing Monster Lawyer was a real experiment for me in mixing humor and horror. One thing I learned is that the tone of the tale can be “spooky” and funny—those two moods can coexist—but when real “horror” arrives, the humor flees the page, goes into hiding, and doesn’t come back until it’s safe—usually not until the next chapter.
Dämliche Dämonen hat eine Menge Humor. Wie ist das bei Im Zweifel für das Monster?
Die Vorstellung, dass ein Anwalt Monster vertritt, finde ich urkomisch, und die Situationen, die entstehen, wenn Daniel Becker Monster in Rechtsfällen vertritt, sind herrlich lächerlich. Aber ich habe auch gelernt, dass der Ton der Geschichte gruselig und lustig sein kann – diese beiden Stimmungen können nebeneinander bestehen –, aber wenn echter Horror auftaucht, flieht der Humor, versteckt sich und kommt erst zurück, wenn er sicher ist – normalerweise nicht vor dem nächsten Kapitel.
Most authors choose a Private Investigator or a Cop as their hero in Urban Fantasy, but you chose a lawyer. Why?
Well, yes, I am a lawyer, and it is good for me to write what I know. It gives me an interesting and genuine perspective to share, and I can create scenes for my readers that are not cliché or overused. It’s true that many stories use a cop to generate situations for action on the streets, and an attorney is more of an analyst in an office. As a prosecutor I’ve never chased criminals down dark alleys. But the real-life drama of a courtroom is incredible. I’ve tried burglaries, rapes, homicides, you name it. Serious stuff. I handled a home-invasion stabbing where one of the five defendants received a sentence of life without parole. Trying a case in front of a judge and jury and waiting during those tense moments for the verdict to be announced is a heart-pounding, emotionally exhausting experience. Now imagine you’re trying a case with monsters and, if you lose, the penalty is that you get eaten. You get the picture.
Of course, Monster Lawyer’s lawyer-protagonist, Daniel Becker, also goes into the field to track down evidence, and he has a supernatural investigator to help out, so we get plenty of on-the-scene action throughout this particular story.
By the way, lawyers are a natural fit for fantasy. They are experts on rules, and well-developed fantasy worlds have well-defined rules. So do monsters. Vampires have rules—they drink blood, sunburn easily, and only die when you shove a wooden stake through their hearts. Werewolves have rules—full moon transformations, bites that cause lycanthropy, and getting shot with silver bullets really sucks for them. As I like to say, fantasy worlds and monsters have immutable laws, and where there are laws there are lawyers.
Die meisten Autoren wählen einen Privatdetektiv oder Polizisten als ihren Helden in der Urban Fantasy, aber Sie haben sich für einen Anwalt entschieden. Warum?
Nun ja, ich bin Anwalt, und ich schreibe gerne darüber, was ich kenne. So kann ich eine authentische Perspektive vermitteln und dennoch Klischees vermeiden. Im Gegensatz zu Daniel Becker, dem Helden von Im Zweifel für das Monster, habe ich aber noch nie Verbrecher durch dunkle Gassen gejagt. Reale Anwälte sind ja eher die Analytiker im Büro. Aber Daniels Fall ist von der Art, dass man keine offizielle Unterstützung anfordern kann. Also muss er die Action-Szenen selbst durchstehen.
Very excited! Here’s why…
Okay, so the Fall 2022 Random/Penguin House catalog for Germany is out. This is the catalog that goes to booksellers…like Barnes and Noble, Village Books, etc.
Monster Lawyer (by me) is the second book listed under fantasy. This is an “I’m #2!!!” victory, which is awesome by itself. But that’s not all.
Many huge titles get a full page in the catalog. I’ve shown the Game of Thrones page below as an example 10 books–one page. The Star Wars books (written by Terry Brooks, R.A. Salvatore, George Lucas and other random authors of some repute)–two pages.
And Monster Lawyer? One book–two full pages (fun pics below). Wow! Love it. Cautiously optimistic about its lauch. Aww, screw it…crazy excited for the Halloween launch. They’re calling it “Unsere gruseligsten fantasy-titel zu Halloween.” Yeah, I didn’t know either, but Google translate says: “Our spookiest Halloween fantasy title.” I’ll take it!
Looking forward to going to Germany to promote it in October. The last two times my publisher supported/marketed my books like this we ended up on the bestseller list, and so I see good things ahead (and dead people, but that’s from Monster Lawyer II, which I’m currently writing–just did a killer whirlpool sucking down a boat at Deception Pass scene…so much fun).
Cover Reveal MONSTER LAWYER
Release Date – Halloween 2022
We have a cover!
Monster Lawyer will be released in Germany this Halloween as a lead title in Blanvalet’s (Random Penguin House) fall catalog with a significant marketing campaign. This is great news! My two previous novels that had this sort of publisher support both landed on the bestseller list, and so expectations for Monster Lawyer are high. Yay!
Fun fact – the German title “In Doubt, for the Monster” is a play on the German legal phrase “In Doubt, for the Defendant.” It’s essentially the same as the US version of reasonable doubt–if you have a reasonable doubt, you must vote in favor of acquitting the defendant. This follows the great tradition of naming legal thrillers after legal phrases (Presumed Innocent, Final Argument, Double Indemnity, Mistaken Identity). Only this time we have a monster on trial…
High-powered attorney Daniel Becker is about to make partner at one of Seattle’s top law firms, but Danny’s ordered adult life is thrown into chaos when the closet monster who tormented him as a child appears in his room again after thirty-some years, plops down on his bed, and says, “Danny, I’m in a little trouble, and I need a lawyer.”
Happy Cover Day!
Cover art credit: Anke Koopmann | Designomicon
In the thick of it…judging horror.
I’m about 10 shorts into judging for the Bleedingham Horror Film Festival. There are 30 entries for me to review. Several of the entries are student entries, which are really fun. Overall, the films are technically adequate to pretty decent. The acting is generally poor to, again, pretty decent. Story is where most entries fall short. I know it’s hard to develop story with a short, but it can be done.
Additionally, a little originality goes a long way. I see too many filmmakers who just want to make a film and don’t start with a decent story, or even a premise. With that in mind, I’m gonna make some observations. Every year there are recurring set-ups, situations and elements. I’m able to group some of them for you. Here goes:
The masked killer who is going around murdering people (usually women) for no reason.
The bedroom short–I’m in bed minding my own business, and there’s something in the shadowy closet!
The “he killed my cat!” revenge short.
The couple driving into the woods, setting up camp and getting killed (usually by the guy in #1 above) short.
The “Oops, I ran over someone and left. Now I’m going to get revenge killed by a ghost who hates hit-n-runners.”
The found footage flick where they should never have looked at the film.
The brilliantly art/horror film whose intellectual title has nothing to do with the indecipherable story.
Films with “night” in a title that adds nothing to the piece. Midnight, The Long Night, Dead of Night, Beware of Night, Hey, It’ Night!
One-word titles that just sound creepy, but…add nothing to the piece. Hunger, Lurking, Insatiable, Vitals, Death.
The “This is actually a music video, but it’s creepy speed metal so that counts as a horror short, right?” submission.
The overly explained legend that then, shockingly, happens to the person to whom it was explained.
This is a partial list of minor creative crimes and things I see too much. They’re not terrible things or offensive to my sense of filmmaking, but they’re things beginners can work to avoid and make their films better.
Judging the Bleedingham Horror Film Festival
Link to festival:
I will be a judge for the Bleedingham Horror Short Film Festival again this year, and it’s pretty great! I watch dozens of films that range from one minute to fifteen minutes long. The films are submitted by filmmakers from beginners to seasoned indie pros. Procedurally, I judge on a 1-10 scale in multiple categories based upon technical aspects (sound, editing, cinematography), story (my specialty) and the all-important “scary factor.”
It’s a joy to work with Michelle, Gary and Langley, who put on a great event at the beloved Pickford Theater here in Bellingham right around Halloween.
So what sort of stuff have I seen, being a judge? Well, I’ve seen funny animation where people get eaten. I’ve seen one-room ghost tales with a someone in a sheet…that actually worked. I saw a bowling alley horror film that incorporated a local legend. Stop-motion, which is always fun. Lots of serial killers, which gets old and, frankly, is often cliche and derivative…but hey, these filmmakers are learning. My advice is usually “learn to tell a good story and try not to start filming until you have one.” That’s what’s most often missing in the pieces I see. But I know how hard it is to make a movie, and so I give a lot of slack when I’m judging works that aren’t perfect. It’s all meant to be fun and encouraging. And it is.
Sooo, I have 21 films to watch already, and I’m off to do that!
I recently went on a hike. Five miles up a mountain and then up a one-mile boulder field on a 30+ degree slope where we met mountain goats that were exhausted from the climb–at least they were resting and looked exhausted to me. And then we hiked another 15 miles. This would have been hard when I was young and spry, and I am no longer young.
Why am I blogging this on a writing site? Because these mountains are called The Enchantments (in Washington State – google them), and they looked every bit the part of a medieval story of the variety that I write. The Mapper series. Blade of the Forest. The Glorious Six. All of them could be set in these mountains, where an exhausted author slogged past crystalline lakes in which you could see the reflection of the peaks and freeze your feet in glacial runoff–though it felt great after crawling up a boulder field.
So this is the sort of place that inspires me when I write. I’m certain these images will pop up in future stories. For now I’m thinking foot massage, but in the coming year expect me to set some scenes on rock-strewn slopes with evil mutant goats watching from the cliffs, waiting for hikers to break a leg and lay helpless while they scamper up over the boulders and look down with hungry grins…
Anyway, it was awesome. And hard. And google it.
Indie Movie from Seattle Hits Netflix
I recently saw the indie movie Paper Tigers at the local Pickford Cinema.
This is a delightful little indie movie, and some people I know in the film biz were involved in its production, so…bonus! If you like an indie feel and/or martial arts comedy, this is a movie for you. Aging ex-martial arts dudes must reunite to investigate the death of their mentor. It’s funny. Just imagine dads with sore backs trying to avenge someone. Matthew Page is a riot. And I love that it was made locally in the Northwest (and because Seattle is where I set my new novel, Monster Lawyer). Paper Tigers is definitely worth a look.
Everybody was kung fu fighting.
Those kicks were age-defying…
I recently pulled the covers up and settled into bed with a spooky movie. And what’s the spookiest of the traditional big three monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman)? It’s werewolves. Claws down. Because they eat you. And there is no fear more primal to us animals than that of being eaten by another animal. It’s why Jaws is horrifying. But you can stay out of the water, and you can’t stay away from people who might become monsters at any moment.
Soooo, I pulled up the new release, Werewolves Within. Looked funny. Could be spooky. It’s night in my dark room. Plus the guy has a throwing axe in his hand. So I’m optimistic.
And I watched it.
Where to begin…(minor spoilers coming)
Opening scene is promising. I like scary. ’nuff said. Then Sam Richardson and Milana Vayntrub take over the movie, and they are fun. You might know Milana from AT&T commercials. She’s quite humorous and does a great job playing her character as plucky and attractive. Sam is super too. Funny and naturally friendly and cheerful. You gotta wonder if he is nice in real life or just darn good at playing nice. So these two carry the movie for about an hour, buoying the story for as long as they can among a cadre of characters who are so over the top they go past funny and into cliche (not so good).
The whodunnit…or whoisit…plot survives for a while, but the movie ultimately collapses under the weight of its unbelievability–both the overdone supporting characters and the decisions people make. Even in a supernatural setting, characters need to behave in a way that the audience will recognize as human nature. It’s how we connect with them. There is little connection here, and I was soon saying “no way…she wouldn’t do that…I don’t get it…say what?” Sam and Milana soldier on, but they can’t save it in the end. I’m all about story. I need a good story. And we don’t quite there here.
The movie is harmless fun (barring a couple bad stereotypes), so if you want a funny werewolf movie that has one scary scene and doesn’t require you to take it too seriously, go ahead and make some popcorn. Otherwise, I’m going to recommend rewatching American Werewolf in London.
Good job Sam and Milana, though. Keep scoring those roles.
Mapping Monster Lawyer
I have been informed by the authorities that Monster Lawyer will have a very cool map of Seattle! The above picture is a fun example of a map of Seattle, but it is not THE map of Seattle you will see in Monster Lawyer, which will highlight dark and dangerous locations in the city that the common folk do not suspect are supernatural. I am excited to see what Blanvalet’s cadre of fantasy artists come up with. I will share when my evil overlords (or my editor) give me permission.