Quick Fire At The Slaughterhouse: Interview With John Lescroart


John Lescroart is a New York Times bestselling author known for his series of legal and crime thriller novels featuring the character Dismas Hardy. His novels have sold more than ten million copies, have been translated into twenty-two languages in more than seventy-five countries, and fifteen of his books have been on the New York Times bestseller list. In addition to more than twenty novels, Lescroart has written several screenplays, and appeared as a contestant on the game show Tic Tac Dough in 1979, as well as on Joker’s Wild, Blank Check and Headline Chasers. Under Crow Art Records, Lescroart has released several albums, including a CD of piano versions of his songs performed by Antonio Gala. He has for some time been writing and living in Davis, California. He is an original founding member of the group International Thriller Writers. He has a new novel out, ‘Poison’ and it sounds like another great one.
John met me at The Slaughterhouse, where we talked about his new release and crime fiction.

Tell us about Poison

LESCROART-POISON- 350x231px-QF-09-2018

After FATAL, a stand-alone book with all-new characters, I felt I was ready to return to my old friend Dismas Hardy. When last seen, he was recovering from a couple of gunshot wounds, and so it didn’t make sense to me to jump from his active life in THE FALL to another adventure. So I gave Diz a year off. And — as often happens in these kind of situations, suddenly I discovered that Hardy was ready to get back in the game, but with some growth issues to deal with. His son, Vincent, was by now a functioning adult, working at Facebook, and very much into the millenial lifestyle. Also, having nearly lost Diz to a disgruntled client in THE FALL, Frannie’s patience has grown very thin around Hardy’s job as an attorney. She wants him to quit the defense world, and sooner rather than later. And Diz is inclined to agree with her — enough of this living in danger all the time. Who needs it? It would be far better to simply retire.

But of course, being Dismas Hardy, he can’t really justify turning down a former client of his, LESCROART-FATAL-350x231px-QF-09-2018Abby Jarvis, when she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her boss, Grant Wagner. And almost before he realizes it, Diz finds himself knee-deep in intrigue with Mr. Wagner’s family — four children (the “G-team”) and one step child. As Hardy closes in on what appears to be the truth behind Grant’s poisoning, several other apparently unconnected murders raise the stakes dramatically, until Frannie issues an ultimatum that Hardy has to bail out on his client Abby . . . now! And meanwhile, Vincent”s circle of friends seem to draw him into the vortex of Hardy’s investigation. Which is not a safe place to be.

POISON gave me the opportunity to go back to my roots in terms of murder mysteries. I winnowed out much of the courtroom stuff and instead followed the trail of clues and alternative suspects, and mixed in a lot of the “family stuff” until I felt I had all the ingredients for a classic whodunnit. I really loved writing POISON, and hope readers will enjoy every page, as I did.

How would you like to be remembered as an author?

I would like to be remembered — if it’s still a bit premature to ponder this issue! — as an author who has created an entertaining and memorable cast of characters set in a fictional universe that resonates in the “real world.” My novels are very much based on real issues that continue to play out in modern life, and this is what I think makes the books compelling. As a stylist and writer, I would hope that my books would somewhat blur the line between literary work and mystery fiction, fun to read and yet with something — if it’s not too grand a word — important to say.

Is crime fiction too narrowly categorized by the industry?

Actually, I think that crime fiction has very much found it’s place in the publishing world. It is thriving now as never before. There are those who contend that there is a chasm between “serious” literature and crime stories, but these nay-sayers are refuted by the skill and talent of today’s mystery practitioners, many if not most of whom write with elegance and elan, and manage to throw in moral concerns, terrific plotting, suspense, and fantastic character development. Crime writing, in short, is here to stay. And this is how it should be.

What else is on the cards for you?

I’m very much looking forward to the next Dismas Hardy/Abe Glitsky book, THE RULE OF LAW, which is being published by Atria in January, 2019. Beyond that, I’d like to keep my readers in suspense as to what comes next. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Thank you John for giving an informative and great interview.

LESCROART-auth img-350x249pxGet a hard copy of POISON at Amazon US and UK, Barnes & Noble, Simon & Shuster, Indiebound, and BAM

Get POISON eBooks at Apple, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, Simon & Shuster, and Google Play

And POISON audio books at Amazon US and UKBarnes & Noble, and Simon & Shuster

John’s stand-alone, FATAL, can be found at Amazon US and UK, Barnes & Noble, Simon & Shuster, Indiebound, BAM and for a signed edition go to VJ Books

Click HERE for eBook and Audio book buy links for FATAL.

Visit John’s website for information on all of his books and current events
Find him on Facebook and Twitter

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Quick Fire At The Slaughterhouse: Interview With Jack Ketchum


JKETCHUM-250x175_SECRET LIFE OF SOULSJack Ketchum is an author who has changed the face of horror. His first novel, Off Season (1980), certainly set the cat among the slow and lazy pigeons, and Stephen King heralded it as a ground breaking work, saying of Jack Ketchum, that together with Clive Barker, he has “remade the face of American popular fiction”, he also said, “Who’s the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum.” The Girl Next Door (1989) is a modern classic, while Right To Life (1999) should be compulsory reading for those deluded critics who expect moral resolutions in a territory which precludes them. Jack met me at The Slaughterhouse, where we talked about what he has been up to, and predation and identity.

Tell us about what you have been writing since last we spoke.

JKETCHUM_250x175_Book-EphemeraSince we last talked I guess the main thing is that Lucky McKee and I did deliver on that promised new novel. It’s called THE SECRET LIFE OF SOULS, about a little girl, a dog, show business, and a wildly disfunctional family. It’s scary, sure, ’cause it’s us! But it’s also about connections that last a lifetime and beyond. That’s from Pegasus Books. Borderline Press have also brought out A LITTLE EMERALD BOOK OF EPHEMERA — me, musing on my books and life in general.

The Secret Lives Of Souls is described as ‘a terrifying, can’t-put-it-down narrative of a family on the verge of disintegration.’ Disintegration features as a major theme in much horror literature, from Edgar Allen Poe to Stephen King, and it is tied to the idea of identity. To what extent do you see the vulnerabilities if identity to attack from either an alien parasite or social JKETCHUM_250X175_35TH-ANNIV-OFF-SEASONmanipulation as a source of horror fiction and also a reality?

In horror, whether it’s big in-your-face horror, or the little horrors of everyday life, there’s always disintegration. “Things fall apart. The center cannot hold…” We all know this deep inside — and it’s the source of our greatest, nagging fears.

Addiction features in your writing also. William Burroughs saw addiction as a metaphor and in his novels he explored and dramatised other forms of addiction that that to drugs, such as the addiction to sex or violence. How much do you think we are an addictive society that enjoys the hypocrisy of judging the obvious addicts while indulging other vices, and do those addictions serve the purposes of government?
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, so I don’t know about the government, nor do I care to speculate. But we’ve all got our addictions, don’t we? From heroin to CNN. Don’t know a soul who can’t admit to something. Some are just more destructive than others.

What else is on the cards for you this year?

Well, the 35th Anniversary Edition of my first novel, OFF SEASON, complete with a new story, fine illustrations, and other bells and whistles. Amazing that I’ve been doing this for so long — 35 years! — but glad to have it. Then there’s my new story collection, GORILLA IN MY ROOM. Both due out later this year.

Dallas, thank you for a memorable interview.


Jack Ketchum
Steve Thornton Photography


The Secret Life of Souls on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

A Little Emerald Book of Ephemera signed copy at Borderlands Press
This book can also be found on AbeBooks.com and AbeBooks.co.uk

Off Season, 35th Anniversary edition preorder at Dark Regions Press

Gorilla in My Room signed limited edition hardcover at Cemetery Dance Publications

Find Jack Ketchum here: official websiteAmazon author pages, US and UKTwitter, and official Facebook page

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Quick Fire At The Slaughterhouse: Interview With Luke Rhinehart


Luke Rhinehart is the author of the ground-breaking cult classic The Dice Man, a novel that defies genres and classification, that is at once comedy and iconoclasm. He has continued to enjoy a career whose vicissitudes exemplify the ongoing need for classification driven by the publishing industry. He has a new novel out, Invasion, which I describe as incisive, iconoclastic, humane and utterly compelling. Luke met me at The Slaughterhouse for a second round of questions and we talked about Dice and Invasion.

How would you write The Dice Man today?

We wouldn’t, of course, write THE DICE MAN today. We are now many different selves, and very few of them existed back in the late 1960s and 1970 when THE DICE MAN was written. Our present selves want to write other books. And the society that we want to communicate with has changed too, although mostly for the worst. And finally, the book written back then still seems to find readers today, being published in three times as many countries in the last decade as it was in the decade of the ’70s.

Our not considering writing the book again today does not mean that we don’t find serious flaws in the book. As writers, we have dozens of revisions that we think would make it a better book. But we’re also aware that we could be wrong: that the initial burst of creativity that lead to THE DICE MAN published in 1971 might have produced something that no amount of careful editing would particularly improve upon. It is a flawed book, but who is wise enough to eliminate the flaws without also eliminating some of the virtues?

We have revised two of our other novels. We revised LONG VOYAGE BACK in the nineties for a new edition and have revised ADVENTURES OF WIM into WHIM. But we have mostly concluded that any improvements made in either book were not significant to anyone but us.

Tell us about INVASION and how it reflects modern day America.

LUKE-R-CVR_350x224_invasionMy novel THE DICE MAN and now INVASION focus in different ways on why modern human beings are less happy than “progress” would seem to indicate they should be.

THE DICE MAN dramatized and satirized the misery of humans caused by their feeling they had to have a single self and be consistent. Luke the Diceman showed some of the ways to free oneself from the grip of self, ruts, and consistency. The novel focused on individuals.

INVASION satirizes modern Western capitalist society and dramatizes some of the ways the society as a whole is sick, which, of course, makes most of its members sick. When super-intelligent aliens come to the planet they see that the way the dominant species has arranged things (modern civilization) tends to make life for most human beings and most other life on the planet more and more miserable. The phrase “most human beings and most other life on the planet” is key, because the top ten percent or LUKE-R_350x224_CVR_the-dice-manso of the humans in the richest developed nations benefit from the civilization and are mostly quite happy with it. For them progress is wonderful. But for most of the planet, industrial and technological progress is more often a disaster. The aliens, called FFs in the novel, have not come to conquer a planet nor as scientists simply to observe. They make intra-universe trips in order to find new forms of life to play with. They have come to play.

In fact the FFs see human civilization as having taken a wrong turn in becoming so ambitious, serious and purposeful. They see the playfulness of children and of young animals of all species as healthy, and the seriousness and purposiveness soon drubbed into them by their society as unhealthy.

Many of those humans alienated from their society find the FFs delightful, and many join “For-the-Helluvit” movements throughout the world to raise a middle finger to the various establishments they feel oppressing them. However, when the FFs begin hacking NSA sites, banks, corporations and the military, the U.S. government is not amused. In leaking more secret material than a thousand Wikileaks or Edward Snowdens the FFs are seen as terrorists and attacked as such. The novel climaxes in the middle of a million people protest march and dance-in, beerfest, sleep-in event in New York’s Central Park.

I finished INVASION more than a year and a half ago but see now that it foreshadows the successful anti-establishment political campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the anti-establishment Brexit vote in the U.K. Many citizens in advanced civilizations have become disillusioned with their lives and their societies, although few can articulate exactly what they are rebelling against. I hope INVASION will give a few people some ideas about what is wrong with our great modern progress.

You often refer to we rather than I. Is it your experience, as for example it was for the playwright Samuel Beckett’s, that identity as a continuum is illusory, perhaps a social construct arguably aimed at social engineering, and that we are a series of ‘I’s’? And how do the Gurdjieff, Ouspensky teachings reflect in your writing and outlook as a Revolutionary Artist?

Identity as a continuum is indeed illusory, a social construct which makes social engineering easier. We could say, and I often do, that a human being is a series of ‘I’s, but that too is a simplification. There is a flow of consciousness in which thoughts, sensations, ‘decisions,’ flow singly and in clusters and some of those flowing thoughts seem to be trying to organize the flow, but those thoughts too are simply part of the seemingly random flow. In my book “Our Autobiographies” where normally an autobiographer would use ‘I’ we use ‘we,’ as a way of acknowledging that all humans are multiple and no single self ever dominates a single day, much less a lifetime. We are not consistent, and how wonderful that is. Robots can be consistent; humans are random. They are like electrons suddenly ‘deciding’ to go off in an entirely new direction. Decisions happen. There is no decider, only the illusion of a decider.

We read widely in Gurdjieff and Ouspensky (as well as other sufis, Zen Buddhists, Taoists and ‘thinkers’ like Alan Watts and Ram Dass) in the years both before and after writing THE DICE MAN. All influenced us. One of Gurdjieff’s techniques was to force his followers to do things they’d never done before—clearly related to what happens with dicing. But what other aspects of his thought has seeped into our work none of us can tell.

How Universal are your characters?

The word ‘universal’ doesn’t mean much to me, so let me try to use different categories to classify characters in fiction.

Most fiction dramatizes the lives of ‘normal’ human beings, and this may be what is meant by ‘universal’. Several of my books are in this sense traditional fiction: WHITE WIND, BLACK RIDER (originally published as MATARI), LONG VOYAGE BACK, SEARCH FOR THE DICE MAN, and NAKED BEFORE THE WORD. In these four books the characters are all normal human beings. Although a few characters may be heroic, all are typically flawed.

But I think in THE DICE MAN, WHIM, JESUS INVADES GEORGE, and my new novel INVASION I am doing something different. Luke in THE DICE MAN is not a normal human; by the end of the novel he has become archetypal: a character no longer normally human.

And the same is true of the character of Whim in WHIM. He is not a normal human being, but rather an archetypal innocent, totally unlike any of the other humans in the book, who are baffled by him.

And I think one of the major sources of the comedy in both these two novels is the contrast between these strange, inhuman characters, Luke and Whim, with many of the people they come in contact with, who are bewildered, angered, or frustrated by having to deal with them.

JESUS INVADES GEORGE and my new novel INVASION fall into something of a third category. The humans in these two novels are normal ‘universal’ characters; but they have to deal with beings who are not normal humans: in JESUS INVADES GEORGE it is the spirit of Jesus invading the soul of George Bush, forcing the President to accommodate himself to a radically Christ-ian way of looking at things that is totally different from George’s own conventional Christianity. He has to react to the archetypal figure of Jesus, who is the driving force of the novel. And again the humor often arises from normal humans having to deal with this archetypal force.

In INVASION, the humans are all ‘normal’, but they are forced to deal with non-human super-intelligent aliens, whose mode of being is totally different from that of normal humans. Most thus end up being baffled by or terrified of these aliens.

Thus, four of my eight novels are conventional fiction using only ‘normal’ human beings as characters.

But my other four, THE DICE MAN, WHIM, JESUS INVADES GEORGE, and INVASION all involve the comedy of normal humans having to deal with characters, either human as in the case of Luke and Whim, or non-human as in the case of Jesus and the FFs in INVASION. In each case the human characters are forced to face the fact that compared to the archetypal characters, their lives are comically limited and unsatisfactory. I see now that in all four novels I am using archetypal characters to force normal humans (and my readers) to question the way they are leading their lives. I see normal human lives as circumscribed and unhappy and use my archetypal characters to show that there can be other modes of living that may be much more free-flowing, creative and satisfactory.

You can guess which group of four novels I am most happy with and proud of.

Luke thank you for a great and informative interview.



INVASION can be found via the publisher, Titan Books, and at all good bookstores. Here are a few: Amazon.com paperback and Kindle; Amazon.co.uk paperback and Kindle; Book Depsitory; and Kobo.

Read a brief description of and praise for INVASION here.

THE DICE MAN can be found at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and Book Depository among many other bookstores.

Find Luke at his website, Amazon.com author page, and on Facebook.

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