Posts Tagged ‘psychological thriller’

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Book Description

Book II of the Huntress/FBI Thrillers

Twenty-five years have passed since a savage killer terrorized California, massacring three ordinary families before disappearing without a trace.

The haunted child who was the only surviving victim of his rampage is now wanted by the FBI for brutal crimes of her own, and Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on an interstate manhunt for her, despite his conflicted sympathies for her history and motives.

But when his search for her unearths evidence of new family slayings, the dangerous woman Roarke seeks – and wants – may be his only hope of preventing another bloodbath.


Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon DE

My thoughts…

This novel was a hell of a ride. Sokoloff has a gift for creating engrossing plots and heart-racing thrillers. I read the first book in the series, Huntress Moon, and although I loved that first instalment, this second one was even better.

First of all, the whole thing about the female serial killer–actually, a vigilante–is quite compelling, especially because our protagonist, Roarke, develops torn, conflicting feelings toward her. And we can’t help but do the same! Sokoloff has done her research well and she incorporates lots of information about the mind of the serial killer. She does this skillfully, however, without including long information dumps like some other authors do. Roarke is a sympathetic hero with a high sense of honor and justice. There are lots of twists and turns, yet the story evolves organically, with the right balance of quiet moments between the thrills. Lots of atmosphere, lots of interesting setups.

If you haven’t read Sokoloff’s novels yet, I highly recommend you do. She’s one of my favorite authors these days and her stories never disappoint. One more thing, although Moon Blood is the 2nd one in the series, it holds well as a stand-alone book, as the author incorporates bits of backstory here and there to quickly draw readers right into the central plot of the series. In sum, if you’re a fan of suspense and thrillers, I strongly recommend you pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.

Read my interview with Alexandra Sokoloff HERE.

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It’s a thrill to have here Alexandra Sokoloff as my guest today, not only because her books are awesome, but because she happens to be one of my favorite writers. Needless to say, I’ve read all of her books.

Alexandra is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill award-nominated author of multiple supernatural thrillers, and the Top Ten Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI thriller series (Huntress Moon, Blood  Moon), which has also been nominated for a Thriller Award for Best E Book Original Novel.

alexs-bw-200The New York Times Book Review has called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”

As a screenwriter, Alexandra she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written two non-fiction writing workbooks: SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS (highly recommended, by the way!) and WRITING LOVE, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog, and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, west and the Board of the Mystery Writers of America.  

Find the author: her websiteblog, on Facebook Twitter andPinterest.

Q: Hi there, Alexandra. Thanks for stopping by The Dark Phantom. Tell us why readers should buy BLOOD MOON.

A: If you’re at all interested in unusual psychological crime thrillers, this one will probably grab you. The main character is an FBI agent who is on the trail of what looks like a female serial killer, which Agent Roarke knows very well doesn’t occur in real life.  So there’s a real psychological mystery about who this female killer is and why she does what she does. Readers find their expectations challenged and their sympathies conflicted, just as Roarke does.

Q: What makes a good thriller?

A: I think different people are looking for different things in thrillers. There’s such a wide variety of experiences and sensations available from different books in the genre. Personally I am bored senseless by car chases and gun battles and international intrigue. What I love in a thriller is nail-biting suspense and psychological game playing and sexual tension and mystery and moral dilemmas and twists. So that’s the kind of thing I write, of course!

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?

A: I start by seven or eight a.m. and write for seven or eight hours a day, much more if I’m on an intense deadline. Some of those hours are business, of course. But I’m a full-time writer, I treat it like a job because it IS my job.  One thing that is not like a regular job is that I change clothes a lot during the day.  Some days I am quite dressed up. I need to entertain myself some way other than eating!

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A: Without question, having readers read my books and experience the world and the characters just as if they’re caught up in a film. And then being able to dialogue with them about the story and characters and their experience of the story. It’s such an intimate relationship. Incomparable.

Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received that you’d like to pass to other authors?

A: For aspiring authors, “Find a small room in a big city and sit down at your desk in front of the window. When you stand up ten years later, you will be a writer.” That’s from Saroyan.

And for authors in general, “E-publish.”  It’s more complicated than that, of course, but you asked for the best advice!


Blood Moon.jpg 250 x 375

Book II of the Huntress/FBI Thrillers

Twenty-five years have passed since a savage killer terrorized California, massacring three ordinary families before disappearing without a trace.

The haunted child who was the only surviving victim of his rampage is now wanted by the FBI for brutal crimes of her own, and Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on an interstate manhunt for her, despite his conflicted sympathies for her history and motives.

But when his search for her unearths evidence of new family slayings, the dangerous woman Roarke seeks – and wants – may be his only hope of preventing another bloodbath.


Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon DE


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I’ve been asked why I write about the darker side of life, involving subjects like drugs, personality disorders, abuse, neglect, and violence. My work is fiction but it’s based on a lot of things I have personally experienced, and the characters in “Vida Nocturna” come from vampires I have known.

I wrote “Vida Nocturna” in a two-year graduate workshop at the University of Chicago, where people from the industry sometimes visited to show us how publishing worked. It became clear to me that books weren’t getting published because they were good. They were getting published because they were predictable sales and the publishing companies could go back to their stockholders to report that they’d placed safe bets, which very often meant that they closely resembled earlier work. Books were chasing the market in a death spiral of creativity.

My daughter was reading “Twilight” at the time, and this, to me, was a prime example of what was happening in publishing. Vampires sell, and romances are half of the fiction market, so it wasn’t surprising that publishers were climbing all over each other trying to put out the next series about vampires in love. Meanwhile, the book my daughter was reading seemed to be telling her to date the spookiest, creepiest guy she could find.

My book, “Vida Nocturna,” is a response to that. Sara’s narcissistic father and borderline personality disordered mother left her helpless, drained and afraid, turning to horror and fantasy stories to escape her real life. In college she fantasizes that her spooky new boyfriend is a vampire because he’s pale and slender and stays up all night with a strange dark energy. By the time she realizes he’s a cocaine addict, she’s been “bitten” by the drug and become addicted, herself.

Sara has always escaped her real-world fears by reading fantasy and horror stories. Now, as a social-phobic college freshman, she enters a dark world where horror is not supernatural and fantasy is a trap.

Evil is contagious. Victims become predators, and every predator was once just like Sara. Imagining she’d be different was her first step toward them. Now, draped in the decadent ‘80s subculture, she’s rendered helpless by powers she never imagined.

Mark D. Diehl has lived and worked in five countries. He met his wife Jennifer in South Korea and was chased out of the country by her powerful family and the police, and together they were stranded in Hong Kong with no income and no way home. (Read about this in the “Our Story” section of his blog at http://www.markddiehl.com.) Eventually he became a trial lawyer at a multinational law firm in Chicago, escaped that pitiful existence by attending a fiction writing program at the University of Chicago, and now lives and writes in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. 




More videos of author reading in Freeport, ME, with 40 attending:


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Don’t forget the Mad Motor City. Detroit, Michigan. USA. A place in the Fourth World where the lines between common sense and criminal behavior blur. This is a story about an ex Vietnam veteran and retired Detroit cop who specializes in school security systems. He works for a private firm that plans to launch a series of coordinated school shootings that will boost revenues. When he uncovers the plot, nobody believes him except for some old friends. His victory to thwart the scheme costs him the lives of his wife and daughter. One good hearted, battled hardened veteran of mean streets and battlefield moments, the protagonist constantly slips between good and evil, day and night, angels and demons, friends and enemies, until he ends up dead center–crying bullets.

Author’s bio: John H. Byk, who writes under the pen name of Conrad Johnson, was born and raised in Detroit. After honorably serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, he returned to Michigan to obtain his Masters in English. Still wanting to see more of the world, he worked in the Merchant Marines as an Able Bodied Seaman aboard freighters, tankers and tugs around the world. He then returned to Detroit to teach high school English and Spanish. Now he lives in Michigan’s upper peninsula and writes crime fiction and is the host of the increasingly popular podcast blog, 2012writersALIVE.

Link: http://johnbyk.blogspot.com

Link to purchase page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005GOX2Q4

Link to book trailer: http://youtu.be/ksuO4XPtx-M

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Novelist, poet and short story writer Christopher Conlon is the author of the debut psychological thriller, Midnight On Mourn Street, just released by Earthling Publications and described as a "masterfully moving tale" by Booklist. Conlon's work has appeared on numerous publications such as Poets & Writers, America, Filmfax, Poet Lore, The Long Story, and Tennessee Williams Annual Review, as well as in such anthologies as Masques V and September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond. I recently had the pleasure of reviewing his novel for Blogcritics, and found it a haunting, beautifully written work.

Thanks for being here today, Christopher. When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I never decided I wanted to be an author—to be honest, I’m not sure what an “author” is. It sounds stuffy and pedantic to me—I picture someone wearing a smoking jacket, pipe in hand, looking a bit like Somerset Maugham. No, I never wanted to be an author—I wanted to write. There’s a difference.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

Oh my God, yes. And I still am. I started with the usual people kids find first—Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack London. Mystery and adventure classics. Poetry, too, started for me then, with Poe—“Annabel Lee” was my first favorite poem. Eventually I found my way to science fiction and horror with people like Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Clifford D. Simak. Oh, and I must have read every Alfred Hitchcock anthology ever published. I loved those kinds of stories. Still do.


Tell us a bit about your latest book.

Midnight on Mourn Street is a short novel, what might be called “psychological suspense,” focusing on the relationship of a middle-aged man and the teenaged runaway he meets one rainy night. They seem to be strangers to each other, but in fact the young girl knows exactly who he is, and she pushes her way into his life with a very specific, destructive agenda. The slow revealing of the secrets of these people—and how they are connected to each other—is what drives the story forward. I’m happy to be able to say that the early reviews have been mostly excellent—Booklist has called the book a “masterfully moving tale” and a “top-drawer first novel.” That’s a little embarrassing for me to quote, but there it is.

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?

That’s a good question. Hmmmm. I believe that the answer is about ten years. You see, I wrote an earlier version of the manuscript back in about 1997, 1998. It wasn’t bad. It had an agent for a while, and there were a couple of nibbles from publishers, but in the end nobody bought it. I eventually retired the thing to a desk drawer, and ultimately to my basement—that final stop of all failed projects! For years I thought nothing about the novel; I all but forgot I ever wrote it. But a couple of years ago I began to have some success in dark fiction—an anthology I edited, Poe’s Lighthouse, came out in 2006, along with a little collection of my gothic stories, Thundershowers at Dusk. I wanted to capitalize on the little bit of attention I was getting as a result of these projects, and I knew that the thing to do was to get a novel out—but I had no novel, especially not one in the suspense or horror genres, which was where my reputation was growing. But then I remembered that failed manuscript from the 1990s and realized that, though I hadn’t written it as a “genre” novel, it certainly had the elements of a suspense story.

Well, I dug it up and read it straight through—which was both a gratifying and a humbling experience. Gratifying because, you know, it was pretty good, really. But humbling because I could see obvious mistakes I’d made—mistakes I was unable to recognize back then. The language was wrong—the book was overwritten. The structure was sometimes wonky. Parts were repetitive. So I took most of a summer and completely overhauled the book, using the original manuscript as a template but rewriting it completely, from first word to last.

When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?

I don’t feel passionate about themes, which arise organically from the subject matter and which a writer is better off not thinking about at all. What I feel passionate about are characters. I get terribly wrapped up in them, in their lives, their troubles, their aspirations. I suspect all writers do. Flaubert claimed to do all his novel-writing in a state of cold objectivity, but I’ve never believed him. “I am Madame Bovary,” he said—well, he must have cared quite a lot about her to identify himself with her in that way. No, I’m emotionally invested as I write. Very much so. Revision, now, that’s another story—in revision it really is best to be objective.

Do you have an agent? How was your experience in searching for one?

I’ve had four agents over the years, all of them hard-working, honest, non-fee-charging men and women who never managed to sell a single word I ever wrote. Maybe once a writer is worth something monetarily an agent might be useful to negotiate contracts and such, but for small fry like me, agents are useless—or at least they have been for me. I find it best to talk to editors and publishers myself. Friends who are writers can be helpful too—Gary Braunbeck, who wrote In Silent Graves and several other well-regarded horror novels, was invaluable in helping get Mourn Street published, talking it up to people, pushing it wherever he could, because he believed in it. He was a far more effective agent for me than any of my actual agents have been.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

No. Never. I don’t even know what that is, really. Now, I go long periods—many months, in fact—when I write nothing at all, but that’s not writer’s block; that simply my natural rhythm. I’m not a crank-it-out kind of writer. I only write when I feel that I have something that’s ready to write. It’s perfectly okay with me if I don’t write a word for half a year. It always comes back. And when the story or novel or poem is ready for me, well, I’m ready for it too.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

That would be www.christopherconlon.com. Cruise on by!

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

Well, I have another editing project forthcoming—another fiction anthology. Titled He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson, it features original stories by some of the biggest names in horror, mystery, and suspense, including Stephen King. (Yes, that Stephen King.) The book is due out from Gauntlet Press in February 2009. As for my own writing, I’ve finished another short novel, A Matrix of Angels—I have no idea who, if anyone, will publish it. I’m shopping around my fourth poetry collection, Starkweather Dreams, as well. And I’m beginning work on a stage adaptation of Midnight on Mourn Street—a small professional theater in the Washington, D.C., area, where I live, has agreed to give the script a staged reading. Beyond that, who knows?

Good luck with all your projects, Christopher!

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Midnight on Mourn Street
By Christopher Conlon
Earthling Publications
Copyright 2008
ISBN: 0-9795054-3-7

Midnight on Mourn Street is a haunting, exquisitely written novel of secret guilt, regret, and revenge.

Reed Walters is a lonely, quiet, middle-aged man who leads a lonely, quiet life. He has a secret, and everything he does in life is geared toward keeping that secret safe. Though he’s well off thanks to an inheritance from his father, he lives in a rundown apartment in a seedy part of town. His only friend is a young black student who dreams of education and culture. Together they spend many enjoyable hours talking about classical music, art, and literature.

Then one day Reed meets a teenaged runaway named Mauri. Mauri is everything Reed is not—flashy, volatile, impetuous and unpredictable. Since she’s in pretty bad shape when they meet—ill, dirty, pale and hungry—Reeds invites her to stay with him for a few days. His intentions, however, are totally innocent. Mauri, having nowhere else to go, accepts. From the bizarre chemistry that develops between Reed and Mauri, we know something more sinister is at work in their relationship. On the surface, Mauri seems happy and warm around him and he in turn appears delighted with her company, especially when Reed’s student friend joins them for lively discussions. However, there’s always that underlying cold edge to Mauri.

Who is she? Why did she suddenly ‘appear’ on Reed’s life? Does she have a hidden agenda? What are Mauri’s and Reed’s secrets?

I found this book to be a compelling psychological thriller, but the best part is, the prose isn’t written like a regular commercial novel but like a literary novel instead. The dialogue is darkly engaging, with just the right amount of delicately suggested menace, and Conlon does a great job creating an atmosphere of threat and anticipation. We know there’s something odd going on, but what? I found Reed to be a very sympathetic character. Mauri, on the other hand, is hard to come to terms with—that is, until the shocking conclusion, when we find out the reason for her mean and explosive behavior. The pace is a bit slow at times, but I don’t see this as a weakness; some novels are meant to be savored slowly, and, as I mentioned before, this isn’t your regular commercial thriller. The story slowly ascends until the terrible, heart-wrenching climax. Also, this is one of those novels that only have a couple of characters. Apart from Reed, Mauri, and Reed’s friend, there are practically no other characters in the novel. Conlon’s writing style is evocative and elegant, and his prose flows with a lot of personality and pulse. In sum, this is an engrossing, gripping novel that will satisfy the most sophisticated readers.

–The Dark Phantom

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