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
That’s what Sawney Hatton, Patrick Thomas, and yours truly discussed as we thought about ways to do dastardly things to our protagonists — teenagers all — who, as far as we knew, never did anything to us. But hey, that’s just how we roll.
For a bit of history, Sawney and I (Sawney is a pen name) went to high school together, and shared a love of movies, dark tales, and other mischievous musings, including a student film Sawney wrote and directed and I starred in (no, seriously), which, if you want a very good laugh, is available somewhere on YouTube under the title “Light Chasm.”
Meanwhile, Pat has been a pal for at least a decade out on book tour, he and I known to each other as PT! and RC! We’ve collaborated before, and decided it was time to do it again.
Which brings us to MURDER IN MONTAGUE FALLS. Our new project, published through Crazy 8 Press, is a collection of three noir-inspired novellas (no sci-fi or fantasy here, all straight crime fiction) set in the fictional American suburb of Montague Falls, wherein our teen protagonists went to the same high school — Martin Van Buren High, to be precise — albeit during different decades.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.
More than 25 years ago, while I was still in college, I had an idea for a story of some kind: two thieves who, by happenstance, happen to rob the same house at the same time.
It was an amusing scenario, and I had a few of the details filled in, but I didn’t have a full blown story I wanted to tell. It needed a hook. I didn’t have one.
The story was never far from my thoughts — I knew I wanted to do something with it — but there it lived, furtively, quietly, in a drawer, and lingering like an ancient mist in the back of my mind.
Enter Crazy 8 Press.
Enter Tales of the Crimson Keep.
The Keep has wizards and ghouls. Magic and spells. Secrets. And, of course, the Keep itself.
In a flash the story that had been percolating for all those years finally had an elixir. I was able to conjure the tale. The hook was provided for me.
And so I bring you “Thief in the Night”.
The core is still there, two thieves with the same target. But this tale being part of an anthology filled with magic, demons… and danger… their night of burglary in no way ends the way either of them had in mind.
But that’s the thing about being a thief. No matter how much you plan and plot, you aren’t the only thing that goes bump in the night.
Tales of the Crimson Keep the Newly Renovated edition will be out later this month.
The first sword and sorcery I ever read was Robert E. Howard’s Conan, in the books published in the mid-1960s in paperback by Lancer Books, with the soon to become iconic cover paintings by Frank Frazetta. My father had brought home a recently published paperback edition of Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs that someone had left behind at his office. I recognized the Ape Man from the movies I’d seen on TV, but I wasn’t prepared for what I read. It was like I had discovered the real-life version of what was, essentially, portrayed as a grunting cartoon character in the movies. It floored me. I still think it’s a great novel, as close to literature as pulp fiction got when it was published in 1912. I reread it every few years.
My next trip to the library after that included a hunt for more ERB. I was rewarded with John Carter of Mars (so…score!), which was my gateway to sword & sorcery. As I recall, it was on a later library visit that I spotted Conan on the paperback rack, where the librarian told me I might find some more ERB books. Conan was hard to miss: a dark scene of a ripped barbarian in a life and death struggle with a gorilla wearing a startling crimson cloak!
Like toppling dominos, that library paperback spinner rack Conan (the best things in my childhood were sold on spinner racks!) lead to Michael Moorcock’s Elric and Eternal Warrior and Lin Carter’s Thongor and to L. Sprague DeCamp and Andrew J. Offutt and the rest of the 1960s explosion of S&S authors, including Fritz’s Lieber’s Fafnir and the Gray Mouser.
Fafnir and the Gray Mouser stood out from the barbaric crowd. First, they weren’t exactly barbarians. I mean, technically sure, the giant swordsman and minstrel Fafnir and his partner, the diminutive former wizard’s apprentice and swordsman hailed from barbaric roots, but they were more sophisticated and cosmopolitan than their loin-cloth wearing brethren. Fafnir and the Mouser were rogues and more true-to-life, characters who acted in the world instead of just reacting. Not only were Lieber’s stories witty, his characters had senses of humor. No grim and gritty angst-filled monologues for these cheating, brawling, larcenous, wenching adventurers. Their swords were for hire and life was good.
Unfortunately, when I finally got to create my own sword and sorcery character for DC Comics in 1982, I seemed to have forgotten the wit. The very first installment of Arion, Lord of Atlantis (appearing as a back-up in Mike Grell’s Warlord #55 (March, 1982) opens with steely-eyed warriors ominously eyeing the coming storm and angsty young Arion spouting his ominous feelings in pseudo-Shakespearean tones. The series (which was co-created with artist Jan Duursema and ran for eight issues in the back of Warlord, and thirty-five issues plus a one-shot in its own title) wasn’t entirely without humor; I always had a knack for witty dialog, but the tone of the series was dry and serious.
I fixed that but good in 1992 when I revived the character in 1992’s Arion the Immortal miniseries (with art by Ron Wilson). It’s 45,000 years later, Atlantis has long sunk beneath the sea (taking all but the most minute bits of powerful magic with it), and there’s a colony of surviving Atlantean deities living in modern-day New York City. Arion is one of them, the quintessential “you kids get off my lawn or I’ll turn the hose on you!” old man, wrinkled and frail looking. He lives in a one-room apartment over Carnegie Hall and makes his living as a three-card monte dealer in Times Square. His ancient foe owns a deli on the Lower East Side that he eats in all the time. And when the magic returns, making Arion young again, well, chaotic hilarity ensued.
These days, it’s hard to keep humor out of my writing, the more cynical or darker the better. That’s why when I was presented with the world of the Crimson Keep in which to write a short story shortly after being inducted into the ranks (you don’t know how rank sometimes!) of Crazy 8 Press, I had no problem coming up with “The Wee Folk at the End of the Hall” for the 2015 Tales of the Crimson Keep anthology. The world and characters in which this was set had been created by Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, and Aaron Rosenberg in “Demon Circle,” a round-robin story written live at a convention in support of the Comic Book Legend Defense Fund.
The Crimson Keep is home to an old wizard and his apprentices, but it’s not exactly a steady home. The rooms and corridors and stairways in the Keep are constantly shifting and changing. Stray from well-used routes between familiar rooms and you can be lost for days or weeks or forever in the infinitely-possible layout. And, seeing as how my Crazy 8 comprades are no slouches at the funny themselves (except for Hauman, but we take care of him in They Keep Killing Glenn…now on sale!), there’s ample opportunities for wit built right into the concept.
Which brings us to Tales of the Crimson Keep: The Newly Renovated Edition, featuring not one but two (count ‘em, two!) new stories. The first is “Glisk of the Keep” by the newest addition to the C8 crew, Mary Fan. The second is “Poor Wandering Ones,” a poignant round-robin tale by all eight of the Crazy 8. All that…plus an eye-popping new cover by the amazing Ty Templeton.
I’ve feel like I’ve come a long way since Conan!
Tales of the Crimson Keep: The Newly Renovated Edition will go on sale later this month.