Site Update – Preview Chapters



I’ve collected the available sample chapters onto one convenient page, which is also accessible from the primary menu. (Figure that’s a bit easier than chasing down each individual book’s page to see which ones have sample chapters up right now.) I’ve also added new ones:

Prophet Chapter 2, Archon’s Queen Chapter 2, and The Summer the World Ended Chapter 1 are now readable on the site.

I’m still holding off on Division Zero 2 and 3 since even reading chapter one of these will be a spoiler to book 1 in that series. I suppose I could add a warning or spoiler alert…. Maybe I shouldn’t be the gatekeeper of reader experience, and let people who don’t care about that sort of thing merrily ruin their own fun. This is something I need to mull some more.

The preview page should see somewhat routine updates as titles age. I might even sneak some pre-release chapter ones on there as soon as covers exist. (and CQ’s attack goats aren’t on the prowl.)

Happy reading!


Edit: Okay – Considering the first chapters of Division Zero 2 and 3 are preview-able on Amazon already, I decided to put them up here as well. Spoil at thine own risk.

Author Interview | Ann Noser

Well, it’s not quite Thursday anymore, but today was busy. Sneaking in this post after finishing up a proofreading project. I recently had the opportunity to read a pre-release copy of Ann Noser’s Dead Girl Running novel, and she agreed to this interview in anticipation of the book’s October 26th release date.

A fellow Curiosity Quills author, Ann’s first book How to Date Dead Guys was a wonderful story. Though this novel isn’t within the same setting, she brings her characters to life in a genuine way that has you rooting for them as she proceeds to torture the hell out of them as soon as she gets you to like them.

Thanks, Ann, for being willing to do the interview, and may Dead Girl Running do well!


Dead Girl Running

Eight years ago, SILVIA WOOD’s father died in an industrial accident. After suffering through years of Psychotherapy Services and Mandated Medications for depression and multiple suicide attempts, she longs to work in Botanical Sciences. When the Occupation Exam determines she must work in Mortuary Sciences instead, she wonders if the New Order assigned her to the morgue to push her over the edge.

To appease her disappointed mother, Silvia enters the Race for Citizen Glory, in an attempt to stand out in the crowd of Equals. After she begins training with “golden boy” LIAM HARMAN, she discovers he also lost his father in the same accident that ruined her childhood. Then Silvia meets and falls for Liam’s older cousin, whose paranoid intensity makes her question what really happened to her father. As the race nears, Silvia realizes that she’s not only running for glory, she’s running for her life.




  • Your first novel, How to Date Dead Guys, is a contemporary paranormal story about witchcraft and ghosts. How’d you go from that to the near-future dystopian Dead Girl Running?

I do realize that it’s “recommended” for new authors to stay within the same genre (at least at first), but I simply write what interests me and what stories flood my mind. Different moments inspire me. How to Date Dead Guys was inspired by a late night NPR program on the Smiley Face Killers and my personal sadness over a friend’s recent death. Dead Girl Running was inspired by an online newspaper article about Agenda 21.

  • Give us a quick idea of the themes in Dead Girl Running.

Self-preservation, mother-daughter relationships, coping with the loss of a loved one, the mental benefits of exercise, father figures, power and corruption.

  • Hmm. Dead guys, dead Girl, I’m sensing a theme here… or am I reading too much into things?

I hope there’s not a theme! I promise to work VERY hard to stop using the word “dead” in my book titles (except for the How to Date Dead Guys series, which will continue with How to Ditch Dead Guys and conclude with How to Destroy Dead Guys). Perhaps, since I deal with life and death on a day-to-day basis as a veterinarian, some of this reality is bound to seep into my writing.

  • Running is a primary story element in the book. Did you work that into the book because you enjoy it, or are you so into running that you wanted to write a book based around it?

It’s true that I am “so into running” that this might have influenced me. (I’m running—or at least attempting to run—a 50k trail ultra this coming Saturday, for example.) I chose to use a real race as the contest to make the idea of the book very real. Although I love Hunger Games and admire the ingenuity of the games involved, I wanted something so real it was scary.

 (Good luck on the run Saturday!)

  • Dead Girl Running has some dystopian aspects to the society that seem scarily possible given the way things are going today. What do you think influenced some of the worldbuilding you used here? Would you say you drew more on satirizing real life or from other fictional dystopias?

My goals were to avoid replicating other dystopias and to use little bits of information from the news articles I’d read on various topics: Agenda 21, government involvement with birth control, government control of food and portion sizes, etc. I very much wanted Panopticus to be a foreseeable future.

  • From the mouths (or keyboards) of readers – what has been the greatest/most humbling thing you’ve heard about one of your books? And what’s been the most surprising? (E.g. ‘that molding cheese was the perfect allegory for human suffering’ [and you’re thinking: cheese is cheese.])

What makes me happiest is when a reader really loves one (or more) of my characters. I’m not sure why this makes me so pleased. Perhaps it’s because by the time I’m done torturing them, I REALLY love my characters. What surprised me the most were the people who came out for my book signings: friends from college, a high school teacher who was also my forensics coach and directed plays (she was SO GOOD at that), high school classmates, and old neighbors. I hadn’t seen many of these people in years and maybe never would have again if not for my book signing.

  • When you’re writing, do you outline or sit down at the keyboard and see where the story goes?

A bit of both. I usually know the beginning and the end of the book. I write a very loose outline—with no form to it at all. It’s just a bunch of thoughts arranged in order of where they will show up in the book. (I don’t always follow this outline, however.) When I begin a chapter, I generally know where I start and where I end. That’s when I start typing.

  • Which comes first for you, the story or the title?

The story comes first. Dead Girl Running was titled YA DYSTOPIAN for a long time. Then I spend forever trying to figure out a title. How to Date Dead Guys was entitled The Drownings for a long time, but no one liked it except for me.

  • Silvia went through some rough events at an early age, which left quite a mark on her psyche. What do you see as having helped her cope with the issues and become the strong character she is at the time of the book’s events?

Silvia took control. She saved herself and her mother. Some of this was chosen and some of this was forced on her because of the situation. She chose yoga and running, both shown time and again to be beneficial to mental health. There are plenty of articles discussing how running is just another form of addiction and helps runners cope with previous (more damaging) addictions.

  • You certainly do wear a lot of hats – Mom, Veterinarian, Author, Running, Yoga… My head spins even thinking about that. When do you sleep? Or do you? So far, your novels haven’t had animals as major characters. Do you foresee any future projects where the Author and Veterinarian spheres come together?

I don’t sleep enough, that’s for certain.

If you remember the character Bernard from How to Date Dead Guys, he was originally part of a fairy tale I wrote but was edited out. However, I loved him so much that I reincarnated him in How to Date. He was a veterinarian in the fairy tale, but a hospital manager in reincarnated form. I didn’t think pets belonged in Dead Girl Running. I snuck a cat in How to Date Dead Guys. There are lots of creatures in the fairy tale (entitled An Occasionally Grim Fairy Tale).

But, to more clearly answer your question, a topic I really feel the impulse to write about is Alzheimer’s Disease. I already write articles as a veterinarian, but haven’t felt an urge to write fiction as a veterinarian yet.


  • The ending of Dead Girl Running left me eager for the next book in this series. Can you tell us anything about upcoming projects? HTDDG 2?

I hope to get back to work on Dead Girl Fighting (temporary title for book 2) sometime in the next few months. How to Ditch Dead Guys is on track to be published March 2016. An Occasionally Grim Fairy Tale just got accepted for publication by Fantasy Works Publishing.

  • What aspect of Dead Girl Running took the most research/effort to make right? What was the most fun part about the project?]

Since I’m a mid-pack runner at best, I had to research winning times of major half marathons. I had to ask an ultrasonagrapher specialist the specific findings present in a human liver riddled with lymphosarcoma. Other than that, I just knew most everything else in the book. This is perhaps why it seemed so effortless for me to write it when compared to any other book I’ve written. I’ve done so very much more research for everything else. However, I’ll need a great deal of research before writing book 2.

  • Talk a little about the cover design. What inspired it? Is there any specific symbolism with the fireworks?

The tall buildings, the starkness of the colors, the fireworks, and the smoke are all very visual details in the book. Yes, there is symbolism with the fireworks, but talking about it would result in a SPOILER ALERT.

  • Are you superstitious about an interview having thirteen questions? (This is #14.)

TBH, I hadn’t even noticed this was the fourteenth question. Numbers don’t bother me.

  • What is your favorite Book (if you can pick one – I know I struggle with this question. Feel free to answer with a genre/type rather than a specific title if there’s no clear favorite.) Favorite movie?

Whenever anyimages-51one asks this IMPOSSIBLE question, I mumble something about The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and then Anne of Green Gables and then Harry Potter and then someone mentions Katniss and I go off on how I love The Hunger Games and then I start to think about non fiction…


My favorite movie is The Sound of Music. Judge me if you will.



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Author Bio


My to-do list dictates that I attempt to cram forty-eight hours of living into a day instead of the usual twenty-four.  I’ve chosen a life filled with animals.  I train for marathons with my dog, then go to work as a small animal veterinarian, and finish the day by tripping over my pets as I attempt to convince my two unruly children that YES, it really IS time for bed.  But I can’t wait until the house is quiet to write; I have to steal moments throughout the day.  Ten minutes here, a half hour there, I live within my imagination.

Like all busy American mothers, I multi-task.  I work out plot holes during runs.  Instead of meditating, I type madly during yoga stretches.  I find inspiration in everyday things: an NPR program, a beautiful smile, or a newspaper article on a political theory.

I’d love to have more time to write (and run, read, and sleep), but until I find Hermione Granger’s time turner, I will juggle real life with the half-written stories in my head.  Main characters and plot lines intertwine in my cranium, and I need to let my writing weave the tales on paper so I can find out what happens next.


Division Zero


Well, it’s been a bit more than a year since Division Zero #1 was released via Curiosity Quills press. March 5th 2014. I am grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read it, especially those who’ve let me know what they thought either by posting reviews or personal messages 🙂 Never did I expect such an overwhelming positive response, and for that I am humbled. (I suppose writers, as a general species, are creatures forged from self-doubt and second guesses.)

Anyway, some time ago I got asked about Kirsten’s early life and I wound up writing a short story focusing on the night she decided to run away from home and escape the brutality of her domineering mother-from-hell. This story is going to be included in my upcoming anthology (Far Side of Promise).

I’ve recently decided to start working on a fourth novel in the Division Zero series, so to celebrate, I’m posting Into the Beneath here as a sneak preview for those who’ve come to know Kirsten. Feel free to comment with your thoughts/opinions on this story if you like.

This story is set twelve years before book one, when Kirsten is ten years old. Kirsten’s mother’s increasing violence finally reaches a tipping point where Kirsten isn’t left with much of a choice: risk the streets, or risk her life. Also, if you’ve read Virtual Immortality, you might recognize a familiar name in here as well.

Into the Beneath – Click here to read

There is another short, set in the time period between book one and Lex De Mortuis. It is a little spoilery for someone who hasn’t read book one, so I haven’t posted it yet. If you have read book one, and are curious how some of the loose ends (Hint: Adrian) wind up, drop me an email (

Happy reading!


Writing | Creating Empathy with Characters


One of the first pieces of advice given to me when I started writing and looking for feedback on it involved building a sense of empathy between the reader and the character. By empathy, I don’t mean making the reader feel sorry for them—I mean making them care about what happens to that character. Depending on the individual reader, the amount of time they allow an author to get to that point varies. Some people might put down a book if they feel ‘meh’ about the main character on page one. Some might give it ten, twenty, maybe even forty pages if they’re generous.

Recently I started reading a book by one of my favorite authors, but wound up feeling nothing for the characters. I found myself fifty pages in and wondering why I was continuing (Okay, I admit – I was continuing because “I bought this book dammit; I’m going to read it.”) despite being ready to put it down. I’m not writing this post to slam the book, so I won’t mention it by title. The story opened with one character. The next chapter showed us a different character, and the third returned to the character we met in the first.

The characters, though not ‘cardboard,’ didn’t come off as all that interesting or in any particular circumstance that made them compelling. The narrative offered a sparsity of detail that left me thinking who the heck are these people and why should I give a damn what happens to them? The female character seemed bored with life, had a failed career as a singer, had written a book, and lost half her money in a market crash—but was still comfortable. She sensed (rightly so) that she’d be pressed into the employ of a man she didn’t like, and despite hating him (for reasons not yet explained) she decided to work for him anyway. Yawn. She’s comfortable, her only conflict is that she ‘really doesn’t wanna’ work for this guy… it’s like we’re expected to feel bad for a rich girl because she can’t choose one pair out of 500 shoes to wear that day.

On the other hand, the male character was doing something that at first seemed like it might be interesting: some manner of smuggling, but he wound up taking tracings of (drumroll) jeans. Apparently, the entire plot is to revolve around tracking down the source of some super-rare designer denim so a company can produce military inspired clothing for mass markets. James Bond this is not.

Anyway, by page 58, I was sorely tempted to put this thing down (if not for the aforementioned $16 I’d spent on it) plus the ‘but… but…. I like this author’ feeling.

In an early draft of Division Zero, what is now Chapter 2 was Chapter 1. I figured I’d jump straight into some action like they do on a lot of the cop shows, the so-called ‘cold open.’ I had a few people comment that they wanted to know who this woman was and why she was getting shot at so they had a reason to care if she made it out alive. So, I added the now-Chapter-One to introduce the reader to Kirsten before things get all dusty and laser-y. Without that, she’s only an unknown blonde chasing a possessed man through an abandoned asylum while telling the spirits of the long-departed everything’s gonna be okay.


Build a Connection

It’s important to present the reader with a character that they want to invest in (preferably sooner rather than later.) Many posts and articles on writing claim the first five pages are the place to make sure the reader cares about the character and wants to keep going. Not everyone is going to wait until page fifty-eight to decide if they are going to give a damn what happens. The sooner you have the reader’s attention, and empathy with the character, the better. When the reader invests, and cares what happens to the character, you’re doing it right.

Some ways to build empathy include:

Conflict ― What’s going on in the character’s life that is forcing them into a situation they don’t want to deal with but have to? Lay out the groundwork for the conflict facing the character and build that sense of endearment early. This connects also to scene setting. If the opening is vague and difficult to tell what the environment/setting is like, your conflict may lose impact. For example, a teen trying to lug a container of water home takes on an entirely different meaning if he’s in 2015 suburb normal compared to 2040 post-apocalypse Nevada with the last four gallons of water in the nearest store.

Illustrate why the character is motivated to endure the situation rather than fleeing. Is the conflict something an average person can relate to? (Some people might not grasp how critical it is that the ninth-born daughter of the Phyrrian Dynasty make it to the Centauri sector before the triad moons align right off the bat.) Is the character coping with the recent loss of a loved one? Do they have an illness / handicap? Are they in a situation that makes them a target because of who they are or what they believe in? Are they living in an abusive relationship?

Personality ― Another way to build empathy with a character is to show the reader who they are inside. Portray a character with traits that endear them to the reader (and that doesn’t mean every endearing character has to be sweet – look at House MD). If the reader can’t wait to see what your character does next, you’re doing it right. If a character feels like an archetype or a slab of cardboard… or is so ‘everyman’ or normal that they meet fifteen different versions of that character at the office every day, consider changing something.

Humanity ― One of the surest ways to lose reader investment in a character is to have them be plastic. A character that’s somber and crying over their lost family in one scene, but in the next chapter forgets they ever existed to throw herself at the male lead she’s only just met, is not going to feel like a real person. (Unless the MC has multiple personality disorder or some other mental issues.) Even if a character is superpowered well and away beyond anything normal – show a little bit of normality in them. (Maybe even Supergirl trips over her underwear sometimes in the morning while trying to get dressed.)


In short, the most important thing you can do within the first five pages of your novel is Make your reader care about the character. They don’t have to like them; they need to want to invest in them to see what happens. If the reader is ambivalent about what happens to the characters, they might not keep reading.

Author Interview | Dallas Mullican

Happy Saturday all. I’m not quite twenty minutes back in the door from attending the Collingswood Book Festival. It’s been a long day – I haven’t gotten out of bed earlier than 8 am in a long damn time. (5:14 am this morning… /shudder). The weather was meh, which forced the festival inside, but I got a chance to meet a lot of people. All in all it was a blast.

Anyway, on to the subject at hand. I’ve decided to try this whole author interview thing out for the blog, and my first guinea pig is Dallas Mullican, author of A Coin for Charon. I want to extend my thanks to Dallas for participating, and wish him the best with his debut novel. I had the chance to read this book a little while ago, and it is quite good. (Review at the end of the interview)

charon 2

A striking cover (by Dean Samed of Conzpiracy Digital Arts) sets the tone for this novel.

Book Description

Gabriel isn’t murdering anyone―he’s saving them.

The media has dubbed him the Seraphim Killer. He believes the gods have charged him to release the chosen, those for whom life has become an unbearable torment. Gabriel feels their suffering—his hands burn, his skull thunders, his stomach clenches. Once they are free, he places coins on their eyes to pay Charon for passage into paradise.

Detective Marlowe Gentry has spent the past two years on the edge. The last serial killer he hunted murdered his wife before his eyes and left his young daughter a mute shell. Whenever she looks at him, her dead eyes push him farther into a downward spiral of pain and regret. He sees the Seraphim as an opportunity for revenge, a chance to forgive himself―or die trying.

Gabriel performs the gods’ work with increasing confidence, freeing the chosen from their misery. One day, the gods withdraw the blessing―a victim he was certain yearned for release still holds the spark of life. Stunned, he retreats into the night, questioning why the gods have abandoned a loyal servant. Without his calling, Gabriel is insignificant to the world around him.

He will do anything to keep that from happening.


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  • How long have you been writing and why/how did you decide to write a novel?

I spent 20 years as a singer in bands. Once stint strutting about a stage ended, I needed a new creative outlet. I received BA’s in English and Philosophy and decided I should put all those student loans to some kind of use. I’ve always written—lyrics, short stories, poems—since I was young, so after music I simply focused on writing full time. I doodled at a novel off and on over many years and finally finished it up. It wasn’t great. Some good ideas, but I had a long way to go with structure, dialogue, pacing, you know, the little things. I learned a ton through the process and continued to develop my voice and hone my technical skills.

  • What books would you consider your strongest influences?

There are different phases that have influenced me over the years, and all remain firmly lodged in the ol’ noodle, coming out at various times. King, Barker, and McCammon from my earlier years. Poe, Lovecraft, F. Paul Wilson, Brain Lumley, from high school. Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Gabriel Garcia Marquez on the literary side from college, and on the philosophical side, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Kafka, and Dostoevsky. More recent authors who have influenced me would be Steven Erikson, Neil Gaiman, and Thomas Harris.

  • What genre of novel do you enjoy most to read? To write?

In reading, I mostly read philosophy and classical lit, but I do enjoy epic fantasy with a dark side like Erikson, Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Brent Weeks, Scott Lynch and others. In writing, I like themes with a dash of horror, but horror that takes place in the mind, which I find to be the most disturbing and frightening. I enjoy writing dark fantasy and developing new worlds and new mythologies. I don’t like to be restricted by genre, but delve into a wide array of styles and subject, yet always on the darker side of things.

  • Tell us a bit about A Coin for Charon.

The novel follows four main characters who are either haunted by pasts they can’t escape, or presently dealing with problems that seem beyond their ability to cope with. The murders of a serial killer in the city cause theirs lives to collide in a myriad of ways. Gabriel, the killer, is targeting victims who are deeply depressed and/or suicidal. He believes the gods have called him to end their suffering and usher them into paradise. The novel examines how our pasts and experiences define us, and to a great extent, dictate what we do.

  • What inspired A Coin for Charon, are any of the characters based on real people or events?

My first novel was an exercise, a weird amalgamation of existential philosophy, surrealism, and literary fiction—a bit too ambitious for a first time author still learning my chops. I shelved it and set out to write something more accessible while retaining much of my penchant for philosophy and working outside the box. Reading serial killer fiction and non-fiction in my younger years certainly influenced the decision to write a psychological thriller. Novels by Thomas Harris, Boris Starling, and John Connolly, as well as non-fiction by the likes of Harold Schechter, were among my favorites. But as is the case with most genre fiction, certain tropes become predictable and stale, requiring a new direction to freshen them up. I wanted to find that new direction and offer a different take on the subject. In an attempt to accomplish this, I focused more on the characters and their individual psychologies and the macro-philosophy tying them all together. Additionally, I tried to play with the tropes and give the killer and detective in particular, very different backstories, or twist the typical backstory in a new way.

  • What’s been the most surprising reaction you’ve gotten to your writing? Best? Worst?

Best has been the overwhelming praise for the book. Most surprising has been the overwhelming praise for the book, ha. I had no idea how it would be received, and I have been thrilled with the response. So far, I can’t cite anything all that negative. It’s a stressful process, trying to get published, then waiting and hoping readers will find it, buy it, and enjoy it. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that part of being an author.

  • What do you consider the unique touch you’ve brought to the crime thriller genre with A Coin for Charon?

The psychological and philosophical elements aren’t usually as much of a focus in the genre as I have made them. I think my use of surreal horror is outside the norm as well. All the elements of the psychological thriller are present—a creepy killer with a ritualistic MO, a detective with a troubled past—but again, I hope I have taken those tropes in a different direction and added a few new ingredients to the mix.

  • Literary works often get analyzed for ‘hidden meaning,’ whether or not these meanings were the intention of the authors. I once had a teacher who swore that the black character in Full Metal Jacket taking a bullet in the foot was meant as a deliberate reference to a Soul Brother getting shot in the sole. (No idea if Kubrick meant that or not.) Are there any intentional references/metaphors in A Coin for Charon?

I use tons of foreshadowing, symbolism, and metaphor, but I like the reader to find those and decide how they represent the action or themes. One I will share with you is the dream Max has about the crow and Pain. This dream represents Max’s struggle to go on, to face the rest of his life knowing it will be one of suffering and madness, versus his desire to end his life and avoid those eventualities.

  • Is the character of Koop at all inspired by the former surgeon general who bears the same name? (C Everett Koop)

Ha, not at all. The name is influenced by a friend of the family, a highly esteemed doctor and researcher.

  • Did you have any preconceptions about becoming published where the reality turned out quite far from what you’d expected.

After wading through the mire of niche music for 20 years, I had a good idea of what to expect. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. I accept I’m an unknown newbie, and it will take time to build a base. With that said, the reaction of those who have read the novel is beyond my expectations. I couldn’t be more pleased with how much readers seem to be enjoying it. I have a great publisher in Winlock Press, who has made the process easy, and for the most part, pleasurable. Ha. I’m a worrywart and perfectionist, so I stress over every step—is it any good, will anyone buy it and like it? It’s a constant emotional rollercoaster.

  • Did the title of A Coin for Charon inspire the story, or did you derive the title after you had the story? What thought process went into titling your novel?

Once I developed Gabriel’s MO and backstory, the fact he merges Christian and Greek Mythologies to escort the suffering into paradise, the title leapt out. He also places coins on the eyes of his victims as payment to Charon. Charon boating the dead into the underworld as a metaphor for Gabriel’s actions felt like a natural representation of the novel as a whole.

  • In A Coin for Charon, you deal with some heavy issues such as spousal abuse, suicide, and depression. Between the cop, the doctor, and the cancer patient, who do you think shows the strongest inner resolve, and which character the least? How do you think Marlowe and Becca’s lives would’ve gone if they never met?

That’s another theme I want the reader to decide. It’s a central question raised in the book. Given each character’s past and present, could they have done differently? Did they act as their experience and natures dictated? Each, in many ways, is a different aspect of the same persona, so if one changed places with another, would the outcome have been any different? I think the lives of all the character would have turned out very different if their paths had not crossed. Whether for better or for worse, I’ll let the reader decide.

  • The hallucination/nightmare scenes are exquisitely creepy and vivid. What inspired these? (And do your dreams look like this?)

Years of reading horror and fantasy, as well as being something of a horror movie aficionado, have given me a plethora of images to draw from. I have very vivid dreams, which also supply no shortage of ideas.

  • Tom Clancy said “The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.” What’s been the most difficult aspect of your story to keep plausible in the minds of readers?

It’s a fairly complex novel with a lot of story lines and themes running through the course of the book. Keeping everything straight, making certain each event has some importance toward the whole, is a constant concern. I hate filler and want even seemingly trivial events to have greater meaning down the road. I want everything, in the end, to make logical sense, and for the reader to be surprised while still understanding why/how it resolved as it did.

  • Tell us a bit about your upcoming projects. Do you have another book on the way? What’s in store for Marlowe in the future?

My next book to hit the market is the first in a dark fantasy series. Entitled Blood for the Dancer, it’s a very different take on angels and demons. I’ve just finished up the draft for the second Marlowe Gentry novel, The Dark Age, which will see Marlowe caught up in a hell on earth, dealing with a string of calamities, and of course another madman.


A Coin for Charon on Amazon –

Facebook –

Twitter – @dallasmullican

Winlock Press –

My Review

In A Coin for Charon, Dallas Mullican has created a gritty contemporary thriller with overtones of the paranormal. The author delves so deep into the head of the killer that the reader is right there with him, never quite sure if this is a madman or someone truly doing the work of God. As a delusion, it is portrayed with enough depth to the point of being indistinguishable from reality. Perhaps Gabriel really is doing the work of a divine agency?

Detective Marlow Gentry has some issues. His wife was murdered by a serial killer he underestimated, and his young daughter left a hollow shell of the happy child she had once been. His career, once promising due to his almost psychic knack for solving cases, is riding up on two wheels and threatening to run right off the rails. Between the stresses of his job, the heavy burden of guilt he feels at not taking ‘the shot,’ and his grief at his surviving-but-absent daughter leave his fuse short enough to threaten his job.

When a new serial killer surfaces in Marlow’s stomping grounds, it takes him back to the case that cost him his family. In the Seraphim Killer, Marlow sees a second chance… a way to redeem himself in his own eyes, and soon he is consumed by an unrelenting drive to solve this case.

In Gabriel, Mr. Mullican presents us with a serial killer with a deep and disturbing background that explains his particular methodology. (I’m not sure if the captive bolt gun is intended as an homage to Anton Chiurgh or a bloody coincidence though.) Gabriel believes he is doing the work of God in freeing the souls of people who have lost the will to live. I found the portrayal of his character to be simultaneously horrifying and sympathetic. Being in Gabriel’s head, one cannot help but wonder if the strange feelings, voices, and messages from the higher power are real or exist only in his imagination. The line between hallucination and reality is as Gabriel sees it.

Supporting Marlow and Gabriel is a cast of unique characters, drawn together by the events of the story. I found Koop a needed dose of humor in an otherwise heavy/dark story. Marlow’s relationship with his partner Spence is also good for a chuckle or two, but never feels forced despite what is going on around them.

With Marlow closing in on Gabriel, tensions rise as a terminally ill man who has seen news of the Seraphim killer seeks him out… and right when Marlow thinks his life is coming back together, it’s about to fall apart before his eyes–again.

This was one of those books that makes you growl at clocks because you don’t want to put it down even when you should be doing other things like… oh, sleeping or dealing with that whole ‘day job’ thing. Fans of detective stories and crime fiction will devour this book.


Emma and the Banderwigh | October 12 2015


In early 2014, Curiosity Quills (my publisher) put out a call for short story submissions to their [at the time] upcoming Chronology anthology. I figured I’d send something in, but I had too many ideas to decide on one. As those who know me will likely attest, I often have trouble making up my mind on multiple choice situations. So, I did the nuclear option: I wrote them all.

I wound up sending in about eight different stories for consideration, one of which was a short-story version of Emma and the Banderwigh. While waiting to hear back, I wound up sharing it with some people as Emma was my first attempt at middle grade fantasy (middle grade being intended for readers around 8-12 and up). One early reader, Tiffany, more or less grumbled at me that the story was too short and she wanted more.

The idea seemed to resonate with CQ, so I set about expanding the story. Originally, I got the idea for the Banderwigh while thinking up creatures to populate a fantasy roleplaying game I designed back in the 1990s. As luck would have it, the creature didn’t lend itself to the sort of stories that my group tended to play – being more of a story monster than a critter amenable to a party fond of combat. It existed, with all its lore, but didn’t much do anything until I got the idea for doing a middle grade story. The Banderwigh is a creature that preys upon the sadness of children and it offered a perfect ‘bad guy’ for a fantasy story aimed at that age group.

Meanwhile, due to the number of short stories I sent them, they got the idea to do an anthology of my short stories separately from theirs (Far Side of Promise, due out next year). The original short story form of Emma & the Banderwigh was in an early draft of this book. However, once I had a full-length novel, it bothered me to maintain two separate versions of the story.

I spent about a week mulling over if I wanted to come up with a replacement short story for the anthology or leave two versions of Emma. I tried to think of a replacement story, and kept circling back to an idea that would become the short Innocent Deception. (That one, I sent in to CQ as a ‘I want to replace the Emma short with this in the antho, what do you think’ situation – and they wound up choosing that one for their Chronology anthology too.

It felt a bit like coming within four inches of getting run over by a bus. I almost didn’t write it (to replace the Emma short) at all, and having that be the one they choose for their anthology was a O_o moment. (Granted, a thrilling O_o moment.)

Once I’d finished the Emma novel, I sent it to Tiffany as a beta reader. (Expanding the short to a novel was her suggestion after all). She shared it with her kids. A few days later, I hear that her then-four-year-old kept insisting that she check under the bed for “emery creepies” (emerald creepers). That made me smile for damn near a month, and I still think of that whenever I think of this book.

Emma & the Banderwigh is due out on October 12th, and I am quite excited for this book to finally become available to the public!

Please join me on Facebook on Monday 10/12 from 5-9pm Eastern time: here.

There are prizes to win including signed copies, ebooks, swag, and a few stuffed plush wolves. Feel free to share / invite anyone you like.

Also, enjoy a sneak peek of Chapter One: here.

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