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.



Key Seattle Sites in Im Zweifel für das Monster / Im Zweifel für das Monster Cover

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.

Royce Writes: My Medieval Roots

I grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons. This is my original Players Handbook. It got a lot of love when I was a kid.

And these are my two best childhood friends, Mike Francis & Eric Yatabe. We get together every few years.

We played many hours of D&D growing up–sometimes a single game would last for weeks–so we decided to dig out our D&D supplies and play over the weekend as 50 year olds.

I volunteered to be Dungeon Master, selected a classic dungeon module from my original stash (Hall of the Fire Giant King), and studied it. My sons created character sheets. We took over the dining room table. And we played.

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Being Dungeon Master is lot like being a storyteller. The Dungeon Master sets the scene and guides other players through the dungeon, always revealing just enough about what monster, trap, or treasure might be lurking or hidden around the next corner to keep them hungry and surprised. On this occasion the players broke into the castle with a spell that created a hole in the wall, and they trapped the Fire Giant Queen in her chambers. One player died in the fracas, and there was much debate about, well, everything. It was just as intense as when we were kids.

When I write, I tell stories the same way–set the scene, reveal enough to make the reader want to know more, and let the tale unfold naturally according to what the characters would do. I also think its infinitely more fun to show readers what’s going on than telling them–a mantra pilfered from my creative writing instructors in days of yore.

So…the game was still awesome. And relevant. I highly recommend a reboot for you elders who grew up with it. And, for my younger fans, it’s never too late to pick up the dice!

Where would you live in the City of Filth?

My new novel, Die Klinge des Waldes, Blanvalet-Germany, is set in the City of Filth which has 35 districts with very distinct personalities. Take the personality quiz to find out which district is yours!

Click on the image below to get started.

City of Filth
© Andreas Hancock, Bielefeld

Book Review: Die Rubinrote Konigin (Red Queen and Dark King)

Thanks to Google searches and online translators, I get to see what German readers are saying about my stories. I recently found this little gem shared on the German Fantasy Review Site, fantasybuch.de for Die Rubinrote Konigin (The Ruby Red Queen). For English readers, Die Rubinrote Konigin is books 5 and 6 of The Mapper SeriesRed Queen and Dark Kingnow available in the U.S.

Below is the review…just in case there is any trouble with the link. 

When the veil Villagnan and Adara spit out, they do not know how much time they have lost. While Adara is still trying to kill her archenemy, who has slapped her family, even her whole people bestialized, Vill. He can hardly convince Adara that he has changed and is now one of the good guys. And good can Abrogan need now. After the Red Army has rolled over it, now a black man is ready to wipe out the survivors’ remains.

The cover shows Skye, the capital of Abrogan. The picture is a mixture of painted map and built city. I find it wonderful for the book chosen because it shows for me a mixture of unreality and tangible. A mixture that perfectly mirrors the event.

The Ruby Queen is part three of a wonderful series about the chart writer Wexford Stoli and the country Abrogan. With every band I thought that Royce Buckingham could not possibly improve, but somehow he managed to do it again and again. Perhaps it is because he has remained a child deep inside him and shares this with his readers. He takes us into a world that could not be more fantastic. Playful yet serious, light and yet thoughtful, fantastic and yet real. If Buckingham understands one thing, this is definitely a way of living life and amusing me.

His writing style is characterized by exciting tension, which keeps the entire book high. One event chases the next and leaves me hardly resting. Not only that, but also permanent change of scenery kept the tension upright and made it difficult for me to put the book aside. In addition, there were also the pictorial descriptions of the author, which let his world Abrogan arise before my inner eye. Abrogan is a world that is similar in many respects to ours and yet quite different. The buildings are slightly different, just like the forests and mountains, the people, beings and animals. A completely new and very lively world that captivated me and which I was very glad to kidnap.

The plot is hard to describe, because it is incredibly diverse and always new directions, with which I had never expected. War, feuds, personal destinies, myths and magic; Everything is represented and yet the event does not seem unstructured or confused, but comically, straightforward and goal-oriented. Again, a mixture that the author seems to love.

Villagnan and Adara are at the center of the events. Both of them had been trapped in the veil for a long time, and suddenly faced their home, which had developed without them. Friends, family, and acquaintances have died, and nothing else but the connection with the past. However, while Adara is only eating her hatred for Villeneuve, since he has slaughtered her people, a new life begins for Vill. For in the time before the shadow, he was a mass murderer and butcher. But when the darkness released him, she also let the shadow of his soul be lifted, and Vill returned his humanity. The development and how he is with all the knowledge of his atrocities, came close to me and I could build a deep connection to this truly extraordinary character. Adara also liked me very much, seemed alive and alive, but I believe that Royce Buckingham has laid all his heart blood and abilities in Villmagnan.
My little personal highlight was, of course, the reunion with the card writer Wexford Stoli and his cows. In the first part he stole my heart and since then he has taken a place that no one can take him anymore.

My conclusion

The Ruby Queen is a true masterpiece from the first to the last page!

New Releases for Fantasy Lovers by Royce Buckingham

Enter a world of uncharted lands, fantastic creatures, emerging civilizations and the darkness that will define it all. Enter Mapper – Royce Buckingham’s best selling German series, today! Download yours – Click Here!

 

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The Demonkeeper Series

Demons are all around us – most of them relatively harmless, like ones that go bump in the night. But some are dangerous – some can kill. Since orphaned as a boy, Nat Grimlock has been trained by his aged mentor Dhaliwahl to be a demonkeeper controlling a menagerie of demons in their rickety house in Seattle. but now Daliwahl is gone, and Nat is on his own.

When Nat goes on a date with Sandy, a librarian’s assistant, it’s a disaster in more ways than one – a very scary demon called the best escapes. Can Nat get the Beast back to the house and make things right with Sandy?

With its fast-paced action, slapstick humor, and a winning, unlikely hero, the Demonkeeper Series is a high-spirited romp that will keep readers glued to the page!

The Great Cover Design

Designing book covers is fun! I’ve always thought so but have not been so intimately involved in the process until recently. I’m working with ePublisher Gere Donovan Press to bring my best selling German series, Mapper, to the United States. We decided to expand the three book series into six parts for U.S. readers. Here’s the visual process we went through to come up with our final (and awesome) designs!

In August, Gere Donovan sent me this image with the idea that the cover would stay the same for all six books but with different titles.

Clansmen Cover Idea 1

It didn’t win my team over – spoiler, there is no giant spider in my story – it was a little busy for the eye, we wanted different cover images for each book, and there was something oddly familiar about the illustration. Upon some research, I discovered that it was the same image used for Author/Illustrator Walter Moers’ book, A Wild Ride Through the Night.wild ride through the night

 

 

The illustration is in the public domain, as it’s one of hundreds of engravings created by Gustave Dore. That got me thinking…

….I looked up Gustave Dore and found other images. Did I mention there are hundreds?

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Hello, Photoshop!”

Blackpool Cover Idea 3

While I messed around on Photoshop, I conducted a highly scientific survey of friends (a one-line Facebook post) about the proposed book cover from Gere Donovan. Many liked the artistic look of Dore’s work. But my team and I wondered…”will it sell books?” I recalled once talking books with THE buyer for a major retailer who said definitively, “I can tell if a book will sell by its cover.” 

2014 Washington State Sasquatch Award Winner for Middle Grade Books
2014 Washington State Sasquatch Award Winner for Middle Grade Books

She then looked down at the copy of my soon to be released book The Dead Boys. Let’s just say she did not immediately place a big order. (Insert sad face here and shameless plug – if you loved the new series Stranger Things, you will also love The Dead Boys.) Anyway, back to the Mapper Series covers. My team decided to experiment with something more modern-looking.

 

We raided iStock and other photo sites to find some images with cool looking knights and came up with these.

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We kind of liked them. But some of our friends from the follow-up Facebook survey thought they were boring. Too traditional.

We probably spent way too much time on this process (but hey, I was having fun) and then decided we should have a conference call with Scott from Gere Donovan. We fretted about letting them know that we weren’t sold on their first idea (the Gustave Dore image). But we shouldn’t have been so worried. Five minutes into the call, Scott said he was really happy that we didn’t like the cover! Upon reflection, he had already decided he didn’t like it either. Phew! After further discussion, Scott suggested that we could use more modern images and cited some trends he’d recently noticed in book covers. We liked his thoughts and, after several rounds of shuffling images between six books, Photoshopping, and further extensive surveying of our beta viewers, we loved what they came up with!

Oh…and by the way, they are Kindle-ready by by clicking here!

Enjoy!

 

 

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