Archive for May, 2018

My interview with Depths of Night author Stephen Zimmer

Posted in Sword & Sorcery with tags , on May 23, 2018 by Occult Detective

I had a chance to chat with my friend, author Stephen Zimmer, about writing, inspiration, and his latest release, the novella Depths of Night. You can read my review of the book here.

For me, the one place I would love to visit before I shuffle off this mortal coil is Robert E. Howard’s house in Cross Plains. Tell me, have you ever undertaken a literary pilgrimage?

Though I have traveled quite a bit over the years, I have not been able to make too many trips that I could deem as literary pilgrimages, with the exception of a trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland that I made a few years back in the company of my mother and sister.   Many of the sites and lands I had studied when writing the first few titles of my epic fantasy Fires in Eden series were finally able to be experienced in person.  Seeing those places carried with it a surreal feeling.

I soaked up everything that I possibly could, to the point I made a bus of folks wait so I could walk around the base of one of my favorite castles of all time, located in Wales,Caernarfon.   Going to the Viking museum in York, and the Viking section of the history museum in Dublin, Ireland, seeing the Book of Kells, Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the White Tower in London.

I could go on and on about individual highlights,but suffice it to say that it put added depth and a deeper appreciation to everything that I had studied from afar.  It was a very profound personal experience that I will never forget.

DepthsofNight_CoverArt_1200X800I think your travels are reflected in your writing. It’s obvious that worldbuilding is very important to you. In that sense, do you see each book as its own thing, or are those connections intricate to the narrative you’re creating?

In regard to the releases like Depths of Night, these novellas are intended to be stand-alone tales that build a body of work centering around the Ragnar Stormbringer character.  Some of the tales will have expansions on things referenced in others (and in future novel sets that I have in mind), but any reader can enjoy them in any order that they would like.  Eventually, I would love to see the body of work collectively tell the Ragnar Stormbringer story, in the same way that I’m building a body of work for Rayden Valkyrie.

As each of us gets a wee bit longer in the truth, a certain amount of wisdom comes with that. Are there any hard earned lessons you wish you could have imparted to your younger self?

Run … run fast, and take the broadcasting job out of college, haha!  OR, stock up on bourbon, lots of it, and take the path that I chose to take!  In all seriousness, I would definitely tell my younger self to gird for the long haul and be prepared for the seismic changes in the industry that have made it very challenging for writers to raise awareness of their work today.  It can be very frustrating at times to consider the amount of work that is put into being a writer (all aspects, including marketing/PR tasks and everything else beyond writing itself) in relation to the often painstaking progress made on one’s career path.

Some friends and I, all fellow writers, were chewing on this one the other day — what was the best money you ever spent as a writer? For me, it goes all the way back to my first word processor. What do you think?

The best money I ever spent was setting up a separate office space from where I do my writing.  Having a dedicated writing space has been invaluable to me over the years.  It has kept a host of possible distractions away from my writing sessions and has also been of great benefit in keeping me in the right mindset, or zone, when creating written works.  Sometimes I joke that I have developed my own Pavlovian response, in that when I sit down in my writing space, my brain kicks into writing mode immediately!

Whenever you ask someone what their favorite novel is, you tend to see certain books turn up over and over again, is there a book you love that you feel is maybe under-appreciated?

legendI would have to say David Gemmell’s Legend.  I think it is a heroic fantasy masterpiece that has not gotten near the recognition that it deserves.  It features a great hero at a more vulnerable stage of his life, a fantastic supporting cast, and a great “against all odds” kind of plotline.  Beyond the action, twists, and turns, there is a big heart behind it all, and the glimpses of life’s bigger picture shine through in a way that few authors are able to do.  Gemmell walks this fine line in a brilliant way and I truly would love to see this novel adapted to the big screen to gain more awareness for Gemmell’s work.

Aleister Crowley famously said, “To me a book is a message from the gods to mankind; or, if not, should never be published at all….” I have always viewed writing as a very spiritual exercise? Do you feel the same?

I definitely do.  Writing to me is an active engagement in subcreation and envisioning different possible realities.  It can also be, if you let it, be a deeply meditative and self-reflective kind of practice.  I do allow myself to immerse into those kinds of things, to the point that I feel renewed and often reinvigorated when I walk out of the room after a writing session.

Writing allows me to constantly examine and think the flaws, virtues, values, and attributes of various characters, which can be used to gain further understanding of morality.  Being a speculative fiction writer, I am also able to explore themes regarding the spirit and spiritual realms, in an abundance of forms.

Writing offers a wonderful avenue for spiritual practice, if you let it.

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoI have a particular fondness for Easter Eggs and liberally sprinkle them throughout my stories. Does your fiction have any tucked away fro devoted fans to ferret out?

They end up being there whether I intend for them or not, I believe.  There have been several times when those who know me well, who have read my work, will comment on a certain character’s outlook and values, their actions, or other elements that have a connection with something powerful in my own life.

Consciously, I do enjoy leaving some subtle things here and there for the keen-eyed reader, especially those who have read all of my work in a given series or franchise.

Thanks for stopping by, Stephen. It was a pleasure to get a chance to touch base with you. And for those of you who joined us, be sure to check out my review of Stephen’s Ragnar Stormbringer tale, Depths of Night, for sale now wherever ebooks are sold.

Now Available — Occult Detective Quarterly (Spring 2018)

Posted in Occult Detectives on May 9, 2018 by Occult Detective


OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY returns with it’s 4th issue and is available via Amazon. I was honored to offer up an illustration for Aaron Vlek’s tale (as well as performing a bit of graphic design assistance). Editors John Linwood Grant and Dave Brzeski continue to do God’s work (just don’t ask which one). It’s another issue of the best in Occult Detective fiction and not to be missed!

Freeman, ODQ Vlek

Someday… #RobertEHoward

Posted in Liber et Audax with tags on May 5, 2018 by Occult Detective

howard days

Unless I happen to win the lottery in the next couple of weeks this will be yet another year I won’t be attending Howard Days in Cross Plains.

I keep telling myself that I’ll make it “someday”, but we all know that someday never comes. So I’m making myself this promise, if not before, then I will attend Solomon Kane’s 100th Birthday Event. That will be 2028. I’ll be 62. Absolutely. But I’m hoping for before…

May the 4th Be With You…Always

Posted in Liber et Audax on May 4, 2018 by Occult Detective

Star Wars is not what it once was, at least for me. There was a time when it was everything to me. Like most pre-teen kids in the late 70s, I was well and truly obsessed.


Turn back the clock forty years  and Star Wars was almost a year old. Marvel was knee deep into the comics and really hitting their stride. That run of issues throughout 1978 was a real highlight for me and now, in the order of my ranking all-things Star Wars, it is those comics that come in second only to the first film.

1978 also was the beginning salvo of Kenner toys.While I really waish MEGO would have gotten the license, my love and affection for those toys was boundless. Unfortunately they came just I was nearing the age when I would be too cool to play with them, but there was a brief window there when they were the subject of countless hours of fun for me and my kid brother.


And then, there was the Holiday Special.

The Star Wars Holiday Special aired on November 17, 1978 and, somewhat blissfully for me, tv reception on CBS that night was abysmal. We lived in the country and received our television via a thirty foot tv antennae with a rotor attached. Often times tv reception was pretty bad and this night, at least as far as CBS was concerned, was about as bad as it got. But my little brother and I still watched. Even through the crackle and snow and rolling picture, I could tell this show was a disaster. Its one saving grace was the introduction of Boba Fett.


The animated segment, during which was the clearest the tv got that night, thankfully, was pretty solid. While I didn’t love the animation style (it’s grown on me through subsequent viewings) it did feel like a continuation of the movie universe and was akin to the comics I was reading.

The rest of the program was ridiculous. I don’t know what CBS was thinking. I can only hope that Lucas was paid well for allowing his characters to be so soundly abused.

Star Wars turns 41 this year. It’s been a bumpy ride. Like I said at the beginning, Star Wars as a whole doesn’t mean the same to me as it once did, but I have never lost the sense of wonder and excitement that I felt when the opening scrawl debuted back in 1977.

No matter where the franchise goes, the Star Wars of my childhood remains firmly entrenched in my mind, untouched and unsullied…



Happy #NationalParanormalDay

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detectives with tags , on May 3, 2018 by Occult Detective

In honour of National Paranormal Day, I thought I’d share a pic of my favorite familiar, Boo. Boo was named after a friend of mine who passed back in 2007, Bruce “Boo” Smith. Just before he shuffled off, he sent me a “going away” present — an officially licensed Hellraiser cube. The least I could do was pay homage to him in some way, hence Landon Connors’ lifelong companion.

We later named a stray cat that was hovering around the house, one of many black cats that seem to take an interest in our country home, after Connors’ familiar. He was a special cat and we really took a shine to him and he to us. Boo hung about for several years and he is sorely missed.


Another black cat has taken up residence of late, a young lady we call Tiny, but we recently learned our neighbors call her Magic, so now, Tiny Magic it is. I like to imagine she is one of Boo’s offspring.

Anyway, rather than wax poetic about a litany of paranormal cases I’ve experienced or a list of paranormal books or movies I adore, I bring up Boo, because he was a good guy, a good cat, and, fictionally speaking, a spectacular familiar.

Happy Paranormal Day.


My review of Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on May 2, 2018 by Occult Detective

fahrunNot exactly my cup of tea, or aperitivo if you will, but I found Italian Folk Magic a fun and insightful read just the same. Mary-Grace Fahrun has a terrific authorial voice — deadpan serious when she needs to be, but mostly energetic and humorous, perfectly capturing the essence of what one would expect from someone completely immersed in the kitchen witchery of her ancestors.

You’ll find recipes and rituals, spells and meditations that encapsulates the folk experience. This is “the craft” in its most simplistic and sublime. What you have is a fine and glowing example of “real magic”, that is, everyday magic, the magic of the folk, looking to make their lives more manageable, more productive, and, overall, safe and protected from outside forces.

The author has a gift for weaving the story around each bit of magic, making it personal and evocative, which is the heart of the country craft. I believe you’ll find Italian Folk Magic a wonderful journey, filled with Old World charm mixed with modern sensibilities…

Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery by Mary-Grace Fahrun is well worth the price of admission and readily available wherever books are sold. I leave you now with this obligatory link to amazon, but challenge you to instead purchase from Red Wheel/Weiser if you can. While the price might be slightly askew, supporting the publisher direct is an altogether different kind of magic…

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