With a new year comes a new sci-fi mystery from Crazy 8 Press inmate Russ Colchamiro, featuring his intergalactic hardboiled private eye Angela Hardwicke. Part Doctor Who, part Blade Runner, part Philip Marlowe, Hardwicke is back again in Fractured Lives.
As Hardwicke gears up for another mystery, we sat down with Russ to discuss this noirish sci-fi tale and his long-range plans for the character:
Crazy 8 Press: You say Angela Hardwicke is an intergalactic private eye. What’s her turf?
Russ: Hardwicke’s turf is Eternity, a galactic realm in service of the design, maintenance, and construction of the Universe. Eternity—or E-Town, as it’s known—is to the Cosmos what Hollywood is to the movie business. At street level, Eternity looks and feels much like our Earth, but a bit more futuristic. Not quite Blade Runner, but not entirely modern Earth either. Somewhere in between.
C8: What was the inspiration for Hardwicke?
Russ: I’ve always loved private detective stories and noir. And I love science fiction and fantasy. Hardwicke first appeared in two of my previous novels Genius de Milo and Astropalooza. I immediately fell in love with her and knew we’d be together for a long, long time.Continue reading
I love private eyes. Always have. Part detective, part crime stopper, part secret agent. And lots of mystery.
And yet Angela Hardwicke, my hard-boiled PI who has now appeared in eight of my books through Crazy 8 Press, seemingly came out of nowhere.
Then again, doesn’t that sound like a private eye?
An amalgam of Doctor Who, Blade Runner, and Philip Marlowe, Angela Hardwicke first appeared in Genius de Milo, the second in my Finders Keepers sci-fi comedy backpacking trilogy, which might seem an odd place for a private eye to show up in the first place.
Loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand with a buddy of mine, Finders Keepers is a Bill and Ted-style romp about two loveable knuckleheads running around the globe having zany adventures, while simultaneously mixed up in a quest for a jar containing the Universe’s DNA.
Finders Keepers was supposed to be one and done, but I left it open-ended, and ultimately followed up with the sequels Genius de Milo and Astropalooza, with the scope of the three-book narrative far exceeding my expectations.Continue reading
Nearly a decade after making his debut, author and Crazy 8 Press member Russ Colchamiro has gone back to the beginning with a new and updated version of his first novel, the wild scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers.
Crazy 8 Press: Finders Keepers is one of the novels you are most known for. What inspired you to issue The Definitive Edition?
Russ Colchamiro: Haha fair enough! When I first published Finders Keepers back in 2010, it was intended to be a stand-alone tale of cosmic lunacy in the vein of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, with a complete, self-contained story I very much wanted to tell—and in the way that I wanted to tell it.
But when I expanded the adventures into a three-book series, which include the sequels Genius de Milo and Astropalooza, I wanted the first book to more closely match the tone, pacing, length, and style of books two and three, so the entire series feels more cohesive.
Our new Crazy 8 Press anthology — Love, Murder & Mayhem — came about for purely selfish reasons. And her name is Angela Hardwicke, but I’ll come back to that.
It was my turn among us Crazy 8 Press authors to run the new anthology. My theme was that each story (there are 15 total) had to include at least one act of love or romance, at least one murder, and mayhem welcome … with every story set within a science fiction setting.
I also opened up the doors (as we have been doing) to outside author friends of ours, and I insisted that the lineup include about an equal mix of male and female writers.
The stories are all one-shots … so there are no interlocking characters or inter-connected narratives. Each author delivered his or her own story, in their own distinct Universes.
But why this theme?
For the uninitiated … among works of fiction, I am the author of the three-book scifi backpacking comedy series that includes FINDERS KEEPERS, GENIUS DE MILO, and ASTROPALOOZA (the final book in the series, which launched earlier this year).
In the second book, GENIUS DE MILO, I introduced a new character, although just as a cameo. Her name? You guessed it. Angela Hardwicke.
She’s a private eye, envisioned in that classic Sam Spade style — trench coat, fedora, and all, the kind of character I’ve always wanted to write.
I upgraded Hardwicke in the series finale, ASTROPALOOZA, where she plays a fairly prominent role. But I knew early on that I eventually wanted to give her a stand-alone series, where she becomes the central figure. The star.
Going forward my plan is to give her at least three books of her own, which will include her origin story, at least one key nemesis, and a long and tortured journey which helps drive her underlying motivations.
But before I dive into an entire series, I wanted to do a test case with Hardwicke. So I figured, what better way than through a short story, with her in the lead, as a way for me to get a better sense of who she is, how she operates, and what the future holds for her.
Thus, my tale in this anthology is entitled: The Hardwicke Files: The Case of My Old New Life and the One I Never Knew. The narrative has Hardwicke investigating a mysterious fire at a music club in E-Town (the realm where the Universe is created), where a body turns up dead, and with a tangential connection to Hardwicke herself.
Another confession — when I set this anthology in motion, in my mind’s eye I thought I’d get nothing but detective stories. And I did get a few others. But I also got stories with superheroes and supervillains. Stories set off-world and in space cruisers. Plus artificial intelligence, a monster mash and (for good measure) … one DuckBob!
Did I have my own motivations to set this anthology in motion? You bet.
But like any great mystery, this collection of love, murder, and mayhem stories had me starting off in one place, taking me across the Universe and back, and ending up in a way—and in places—I never saw coming.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Love, Murder & Mayhem from Crazy 8 Press will be on sale both in print and digital formats in July. Stay tuned for updates!
Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem. He is a member of Crazy 8 Press.
Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.
There’s a tendency among us humans to exaggerate. Just a wee bit.
Things like … I’ve been doing this half my life!
Yet in my case … in this particular case … it happens to be true.
ASTROPALOOZA is not just my newest novel. It’s also the third and final entry in my SciFi backpacking comedy series, which started with FINDERS KEEPERS, continued with GENIUS DE MILO, and now concludes with ASTROPALOOZA.
I have to say … whew! What a journey it’s been.
For the uninitiated … FINDERS KEEPERS is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I personally took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA.
When we first start our gonzo tale … bumbling backpackers Jason Medley (from New York) and Theo Barnes (from Auckland, New Zealand) meet in Europe and become fast friends. Their biggest worries include … can I get the hot girl? Can I make my train to Amsterdam? I’m hung over … again.
Meanwhile, as they fret over their ability to pay off student loans and eventually become full-fledged adults … the galaxy is about to be wiped out of existence as a motley crew — from Earth and a galactic realm — chase down that missing jar of the Universe’s DNA, because they all think the boys have it.
Our heroes are at the center of the action only … they don’t know it. So as the reader you’re in on the joke … and they’re not.
Throughout FINDERS KEEPERS, GENIUS DE MILO, and now ASTROPALOOZA, the boys somehow stumble their way into saving the Universe, only … every ass backwards solution they come up with sets in motion an even bigger, more complicated problem.
And so it goes, raising the stakes with each new adventure.
In ASTROPALOOZA, there are two massive energy waves barreling towards one another, and if they collide in space before the boys save the day one last time, the waves’ll smash together, initiating the next Big Bang, wiping out Existence as we know it.
Which brings me back to the beginning.
I took my first backpacking trip to Europe back in 1994. This was at a time in the world where, if you were stranded in the middle of Romania in the dead of night with a crazed, drunken madman on the loose with armed soldiers about to knock on the door — which in fact happened to me — you couldn’t Google where to go next because … there was no Google. There was no Internet.
You had to rely on guide books, whatever knowledge you could pick up, people you met along the way … and your ability to adjust on the fly.
Since then I’ve been around the world and back, including New Zealand, which motivated a lot of the action in these three books.
I’m almost 46 now. Yet I’ve been living, thinking, and writing about these guys and their adventures for the past 23 years.
Half my life.
It’s a symphony of emotions to have spent so much time and effort with Jason, Theo, and the gang, to finally see their journey come to an end. Well … this journey, anyway.
ASTROPALOOLZA is the culmination of it all.
And now that I’m here, I can say this: the boys did right by me.
I hope you have just as much fun with them as I did.
Enjoy the ride.
ASTROPALOOLZA is available for sale in paperback and e-book.