Well, it is September 2013. It’s even September 24, 2013, and you know what that means? Only that Justin Robinson’s latest comic noir epic, City of Devils, is now available for you to buy and devour it. It’s already getting some amazing reviews. Justin was kind enough to settle in and answer some heavy-hitting questions I threw his way. I hope you’ll enjoy his answers. And read further to see how you can win a DRM-free digital copy of City of Devils.
Hi, Justin! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about your new book, City of Devils. I hope all’s well on the Left Coast?
It’s been hovering around 100 degrees for a little over two weeks now. I’m about a day away from sacrificing someone to Huitzilopochtli.
Yikes! I hope it cools down soon (and I’m suddenly happy I live on the opposite coast from you).
Since I haven’t read City of Devils yet (I’m waiting for the amazing paperback to arrive), I did a little research on the book and you (totally not stalking) to prepare for this interview. I was tickled to discover that besides loving old monster movies, you’re also a big Dashiell Hammett fan. So am I! What are some of your favorite stories of his? What of his writing would you say has influenced you the most?
The Thin Man is the perfect novel, full stop. I love everything of his I’ve read, but that one stands head and shoulders above pretty much everything. I didn’t consciously name Nick Moss, the protagonist of City of Devils, after Nick Charles, but I can’t speak for my subconscious.
In City of Devils, will there be monsters other than those from the Universal canon? Will we get to see a giant Venusian cucumber, for example? Or Slime People? Personally, I’m hoping for the giant octopus from It Came From Beneath the Sea, but I’m guessing that would be a little destructive for your purposes, wouldn’t it?
Killer vegetables have a proud history on the silver screen, from The Thing from Another World all the way up to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. And yeah, there are a bunch of monsters not specifically from Universal. I started there, but quickly expanded, only chopping a couple ideas out because they were blatantly anachronistic.
It’s good that you’re looking forward to giant monsters.
I always look forward to giant monsters!
One of the best descriptions of City of Devils I found was a review on Goodreads suggesting that the novel was “Philip Marlowe meets HP Lovecraft channeling Abbot and Costello.” Would you agree? How would you describe your book?
That’s actually really good. I might sub out Lovecraft for someone like Tod Browning, but Lovecraft has better name recognition. And the gill-men have some Innsmouthian influences.
Oh, cool. Can’t wait to meet them!
In your last book, Mr Blank, you have another character who deals a lot with monsters. Is there any kind of connection? How did that book influence this book?
They’re both comic noir novels written in the first person, but that’s pretty much the only similarity. With Blank, I had a mandate for my hero: that he would never win a fight. With Nick, he’s a veteran of both WWII and the following Night War. He’s also a bit of a nervous wreck, so he’s at once better able to take care of himself, but less confident in that ability. Plus, you know, there’s like monsters everywhere.
In terms of influence, I think Blank helped give me a road map for the kind of book I wanted to write. I could look where I went right and where I went wrong, and kind of correct for that. I was also more confident in my worldbuilding, so I really tried to create a different version of Los Angeles, that was both internally consistent, and consistently bizarre.
Mr Blank and City of Devils are definitely the closest of my books to one another.
On another topic of mutual fandoms—at least according to the little bird I talked to—I hear you’re also a Vincent Price fan. Is there any chance that a vengeful sculptor/Shakespearean actor/concert organist might show up in City of Devils’ sequel?
Heh heh. You’re not going to have to wait very long at all for crazy musicians…
Thanks again, Justin, for sharing your thoughts with me and my readers. Good luck with CIty of Devils!
As for that contest, if you’re interested in winning a DRM-free digital copy of City of Devils, just comment below. It’s that simple. I’ll pick a random comment by next Tuesday (Oct. 1) as the winner. Comment away! You’re not going to want to miss this.