Check out the latest issue of Suspense Magazine for my interview with the fascinating author John Lansing. And be sure to read his Jack Bertolino series, available here and everywhere! Follow the link below to read the interview!
Read it here!.
Chi-Town, Handsome Man, Charlie-Town
PLACE OF ORIGIN
Dignity’s Quiet Pond of Austere Reflection
Sealed until the next millenium
Izzy, Francis Pants, Dulce, Lucy (deceased), mom, dad
Trapped in a cage, brought to a strange land of heat and pink jeeps, Charlton’s murky past is one of survival and grit. Rumors abound of his imprisonment and courageous fight for a family of his own. In the heat of Arizona, his exploits were barked about, though sadly never translated to English, leaving his first year of life a riddle the world may never solve. Charlton himself speaks little of his time behind bars at the Humane Society and what led him, a strapping specimen prone to battling mail carriers, there in the first place.
More recently, however, Charlton has grown accustomed to the powers he harnessed while on the “forever home” cell block. With a raised paw and sad eyes, Charlton (ALSO KNOWN AS HANDSOME MAN) can mentally project the song “Through the Eyes of an Angel” at will. He can speak the word treat in four languages and has super hearing, which enables him to hear both a wrapper opening in the kitchen and the mailman two blocks away at the same time.
Doolsay, Dulce Hammer, Hammer Time, Pretty
PLACE OF ORIGIN
The Frankenstein Wind
Izzy, Francis Pants, Charlton Chi-Town, Lucy (deceased), mom, dad
Never has a canine of her stature been able to blur reality with only a gentle breeze to egg her on, but this and other abilities have earned her the enduring respect of her peers. The largest of the pack inhabiting the Chihuahua Nebula (but still rated small in the dog scale), Dulce developed early on the preternatural ability to move through the fabric of time itself, running with such speed that she can appear in two places at once. While her swiftness has never been measured, she’s been heard one moment on the kitchen counter and, within the blink of an eye, found to be staring innocently from her bed two rooms away with only the dust of potato chips on her chin as proof an infraction of time and space occurred.
Dulce is the youngest of the pack, but being born of the Frankenstein Wind, she quickly asserted dominance over the pack, save the Throne Couch inhabited by her sister, Izzy (SEE KNOWN RELATIVES), and uses her wild corgi, Chihuahua, and rat terrier abilities to regularly patrol her domain and ensure her reign as the Nebula’s premier queen.
Pants, Mister Pants, Cutie Patootie
PLACE OF ORIGIN
The gates of the Aztec Empire
Dulce Hammer, Izzy Scareda, Charlton Chi-Town, mom, dad
Francis was born from mystery. His whereabouts prior to his appearance at the SPCA in Monterey will forever be regarded as one the universe’s most baffling puzzles. While he’s hinted at such things as prior knowledge of a dog door, his understanding of play is severely limited, leaving little for historians to glean. When brought to live with his relatives in the Nebula, Francis showed remarkable peace-keeping abilities. His affection for all three of his siblings (SEE KNOWN RELATIVES) has made him one of the strongest members of the pack.
While on a recent scouting mission in the backyard region of the nebula, Francis proved his worth as a protector of the pack when he chased two pigeons from the area by running nearly fifteen feet without stopping.
Iz, Izzy Izzy Izzy, Scarlett, Izzy Scareda
PLACE OF ORIGIN
The Great Iron Forge
Izquerda Frida Kahlo la’Beau
Dulce Hammer, Francis Pants, Charlton Chi-Town, mom, dad
Izzy may well be the oldest member of the Chihuahua Nebula pack, but as a three-legged teacup Chihuahua, she is also the smallest. She first appeared, as if from a bolt of indignant lighting, at the border of the Monterey and Pacific Grove Empires. There tales were told of her heroic leap from a point high as Heaven itself, a feat that ultimately cost her leg, but gained her much more in return. For Izzy is never without her miniature collection of dolls, her mighty igloo home, her entourage of trusted blankets, and the mysterious twin stairs that bookend either side of her throne (AKA COUCH).
Her dominance over the pack has never been in question, as she is both the unspoken and unheard ruler in her opinion. As others have learned the hard way, cross her and unleash her terrible motor growl- a sound like a zipper being pulled really fast-at your peril!
10. Comic Con staff
A friend of one of the con’s founders, and I never got her name (a theme for me on this trip), was one of the first people my son and I encountered in the hotel elevator. She went above and beyond in helping us navigate what could have been, for a dense man like me, a confusing morning of con registration. Instead she got us hooked up the night before with our wrist bands and gave us the rundown on what to expect once the pop culture adventure exploded in our faces. You can’t beat that kind of customer service with a barbed-wire baseball bat.
9. Oakland Marriott
Who knew the Marriott was actually connected to the Convention Center where the San Francisco Comic Con was held? Not this doofus. It was a sweet surprise when we realized we wouldn’t have to leave the building. Riding the elevator from our posh room (with paper-thin walls, however, which I discovered thanks to a lusty romantic couple next door); we were deposited right into a throng of Deadpools, Darths, and Who Police Boxes. It was the best ever. Great place, great views, great that Netflix connected to the huuuge flat screen, and great staff.
8. Golden State Sweep
Not that it has anything to do with the con, but crazy as Hell that our trip to Oakland coincided like a train wreck with the Warrior Playoff sweep over the Cavs and LeBron James! When we got there, people were just taking to the streets downtown to celebrate, chanting “Warriors!” from the windows down to the subway. Some were even holding brooms from three stories above ground, sweeping the air, because why not? So it was a good kind of train wreck. Insanity save for valet parking. Warriors!
7. The Walking Dead Guy
I may be a newbie to the Walking Dead pop culture machine (on season four, so much blood), but my son isn’t. He’s the guy who got me hooked on it, so for him to meet one of the guys who made the dead walk in the pages of the original Image comic book was incredible. Dude was super nice too (isn’t it always a good idea to mention if someone is approachable? If it is, then everyone there was just that). The worst part? Not sure of his name…
6. Ginny Weasley
Her real name is Bonnie Wright, but for most of us in line to meet her, she was Ginny – beloved wife to the wizard we all know and root for: Harry Potter (HP to us cool kids). I can’t even write the name without saying it with an English accent in my head. My son and I, besides grabbing a pic with her, heard her talk about her work in directing and with environmental organizations like Greenpeace. As HP nerds, just getting to meet her was… magical (ugh).
5. Number One (at number five)
Genres of all kinds appeal to me. As a teen, none grabbed me more than Star Trek: The Next Generation when it came to weekly television. I was reading horror, flipping through Heavy Metal and Flaming Carrot Comics, but I never missed a single TNG episode. Not a single one. Jonathan Frakes is a polite, friendly guy in person – though to be fair meeting him was uber brief. But hey, being in the presence of Number One, the guy who gave us Star Trek First Contact, one of the reasons The Orville rocks, was enough to excite this fan boy.
4. Gerry Conway
You know meeting a Marvel Comics icon would make my list. I counted myself a True Believer during the days Lou Ferrigno got himself painted green every week. I was one of the only kids on my block who knew the word, “Excelsior!” And even back then, I knew about the Punisher. Gerry Conway is one of the co-creators of the character, which he introduced in Amazing Spider-Man No. 129. He’s also the writer who (gasp) killed off Gwen Stacy back in the day. I gushed on him at the con, but he was cool with it.
3. Afterburner Comics
What’s better than going to a gigantic comic con in Oakland (yes, it’s called the San Francisco Comic Con, and yes, I know San Diego’s is bigger, but does size matter?) and straying from your preplanned itinerary into uncharted territory (yes, I make itineraries). I found something pretty damn cool in Afterburner Comics and came away with a treat I wasn’t expecting. I found a new underground comic to sink my intellectual teeth into, one full of black and white noir and adults-only pizzazz. If you haven’t come across the brilliant Robert Stewart and Afterburner Comics, you’re missing out.
2. Claudia Gray
Claudia Gray is an author everyone should read. Many of us have in fact. She’s also a joy to meet in person. Her work has been made a part of the Star Wars universe, which tells you something about her prose. Whether it’s canon, not canon, I can never keep up, so I don’t know. I’m not one to let it bug me anyway. She’s a good writer and meeting her amidst the buzz and bang of the convention was a personal highlight.
1. The Cosplay
You hear about it in secret. You read about it on the dark web. You think you’re prepared. But then you walk into a man inside an inflated Pikachu. You see cosplayers in real life and you take a gut punch in the “I’m geeked out and really amazed” region. These people are incredible. The detail, the love and giddy excitement, are evident in what they do. Without the thrill of the cosplayers, conventions like the San Francisco Comic Con wouldn’t be the blinding, shining beacon of hip absurdity this world needs. They make these things what they are.
Thank you to everyone who came out on Thursday night, April 26th, for the release of The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History! It was a fun evening and I look forward to hearing what everyone thinks of the book!
Managed to get my hands on a few images from the night too (below).
Some writers are like doctors. They have the stuff you need right when you need it most. Tom Pitts is an author like that. Having read American Static at a time when I was thirsty for a blast of literary danger, the book was like the tall beer Tom’s holding in his author photo. It hit the spot.What starts as a deadly, and compelling, crime thriller; American Static soons takes on a darker twist. The story unfolds to reveal murderous political intrigue, a savage quest for the truth, and weaves in a sweet love story – albeit in a surprising way.
When I got a chance to sit down with Tom, the first thing on my mind was all the great characters sprinkled throughout the book, so I started there…
PATRICK WHITEHURST: You have Quinn, Carl, Tremblay, Steven, Teresa, and a cast of others, nearly all a bit shady. How did you keep them straight?
TOM PITTS: If you’re referring to the juggling of POVs, it’s the only way I see the whole picture. It’s more than just a third-person perspective, it’s a lens through which we can see each character’s motivations. I took this idea a little further than in my last novel, Hustle. And I think the result is a faster moving, more exciting ride.
As far as them being shady, to be fair, kindly ol’ Carl ain’t too shady. But all characters—just like people—come in varying shades of grey. They just aren’t black or white. Mind you, some are blacker than others. I think even the most evil motherfucker in the world still likes a chuckle now and again, still likes to sit down and watch Bob’s Burgers, you know?
WHITEHURST: You’re knocking back a few at the bar and some dude asks you to describe American Static. What do you tell him?
PITTS: I tell ‘em it’s a devil-at-the-crossroads kind of tale. That’s what Quinn is. He’s that intoxicating, charismatic devil that’ll take you on a fast ride to hell.
WHITEHURST: When you gaze at the stars, thinking wistfully on those glorious days spent writing the book, what stands out? What part of American Static really turned you on?
PITTS: I was on a roll after Hustle. I marched forward on this one full of cocky confidence. The plot unfolded and the puzzle presented itself to me perfectly. I love that feeling when the pieces fit together. What I remember most—when I put together the political backstory that’s the impetus for the events—is jumping up from the keyboard and yelling Yes!
WHITEHURST: What can you tell us about an audiobook?
PITTS: I’m very excited about it. It’s the first audio book being done for one of my stories. The narrator, Daniel Greenberg, has done an excellent job. I listened to a lot of audio books during a hellish commute I endured a few years back. And I mean a LOT of audio books, and Daniel has just the even-handed style I like—not too dramatic, not too flat. I’m told it’ll be done by the start of May, so I’m hoping it’ll be available in June. If it goes well, I’m going to do one for Hustle and the new book, 101.
WHITEHURST: The movie question now: who would you cast? I could almost see De Niro as Quinn, maybe a younger version. Thoughts?
PITTS: I do hate being pinned down by this question. Once I have someone in mind it’s hard to get them out of my head, but … since you asked. I think I’d like to see Frank Grillo as Quinn. He’d be perfect for it. He’s got something scary going on just under the surface. It’d be tough for a just any old pretty boy to sell it. Frank has a bit of grit. The kind of guy you can never feel quite comfortable around.
WHITEHURST: What about bands? Who do you listen to when you type?
PITTS: Nobody. I’ve always worked in silence. I’ve gone so far as to stuff toilet paper in my ears and pump white noise through some headphones to find silence. Rob Hart recently asked on Twitter about playlists for writing, the soundtrack that a writer prepares for each novel. A light went on over my head—a playlist to block the world out? Brilliant. Maybe I’ll try it the next time around. Especially if it’s a period piece.
WHITEHURST: What’s the story these days? What are you working on?
PITTS: I just finished the final edits for my next novel, 101. It’s coming out in November from Down & Out. It takes my shifting POV philosophy even further. I’ve very proud of the book. It’s fast-moving, funny, and full of wild characters. It’s set against the backdrop of a pot farm in Humboldt County six months before it went legal in California. I spent a fair amount of time in those hills doing research—yeah, that’s what we’ll call it—and I hope it captures the tone of the hills. I’m still working on the Hustle script and doing the dance with Hollywood. Hopefully I’ll have some solid news to share about that soon. I can say things are heating up though. Then, I suppose, it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get to work on a new novel. I can’t wait to get back to that strange headspace where I spend a few hours a day in the unpredictable world of my own fiction.
Visit Tom’s website here.
Order American Static here.
April 2, 2018 – Check out today’s flash fiction entry on the Shotgun Honey website for my short story Dating Today! Be sure to leave a comment. They’re doing amazing things over there!
Read the story here!