Thursday, November 12, 2015

Strange Magic: A Yancy Lazarus Novel Interview & Excerpt

Strange Magic:
A Yancy Lazarus Novel
Pilot Episode
Yancy Lazarus Series
Book One
James A. Hunter

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Shadow Alley Press, Inc.
Date of Publication: January 16th, 2015

ISBN: 978-1507706923

Number of pages: 221
Word Count: 75,000

Book Description:

Yancy Lazarus is having a bad day: there’s a bullet lodged in his butt cheek, his face looks like the site of a demolition derby, and he’s been saran-wrapped to a banquet table. He never should have answered the phone. Stupid bleeding heart—helping others in his circles is a good way to get dead.

Just ask the gang members ripped to pieces by some kind of demonic nightmare in LA. As a favor to a friend, Yancy agrees to take a little looksee into the massacre and boom, he’s stuck in a turf war between two rival gangs, which both think he’s pinch-hitting for the other side. Oh, and there’s also a secretive dark mage with some mean ol’ magical chops and a small army of hyena-faced, body-snatching baddies. It might be time to seriously reconsider some of his life choices.

Yancy is a bluesman, a rambler, a gambler, but not much more. Sure, he can do a little magic—maybe even more than just a little magic—but he knows enough to keep his head down and stay clear of freaky-deaky hoodoo like this business in LA. Somehow though, he’s been set up to take a real bad fall—the kind of very permanent fall that leaves a guy with a toe tag. Unless, of course, he can find out who is responsible for the gangland murders, make peace in the midst of the gang feud, and take out said dark mage before he hexes Yancy into an early retirement. Easy right? Stupid. Bleeding. Heart.

Available at Amazon

"Move over Harry Dresden because there's a new wizard in town. Yancy Lazarus a chain-smoking, take no prisoners S.O.B. with a heart of gold and a fistful of primal power. A stellar debut novel from James Hunter, the next big name in Urban Fantasy."  —Rick Gualtieri, Author of Bill the Vampire (The Tome of Bill)


The piano keys bobbed and danced under the pressure of my fingers. Music—low, slow, and soulful—drifted through the club, merging and twirling with wandering clouds of blue-gray smoke. So many places have no-smoking laws these days, it seems like there’s nowhere in the country where a guy can take a drag from a cigarette in peace. Everyone is so worried about their health, they make damn sure you stay healthy by proxy.
Not Nick’s Smoke House, though. Nick’s—like some rare, near extinct animal—is the kind of bar where you can die unmolested by laws or ordinances. You can burn yourself up with cancer, drown yourself into liver failure, or binge on a plate of ribs until a heart attack takes you cold, and no one will say boo. And you can die to music here: the beautiful, lonely, brassy beats, of the like only ever found in New Orleans.

About the Author:

Hey all, my name is James Hunter and I’m a writer, among other things. So just a little about me: I’m a former Marine Corps Sergeant, combat veteran, and pirate hunter (seriously). I’m also a member of The Royal Order of the Shellback—‘cause that’s a real thing. And, a space-ship captain, can’t forget that.

Okay  … the last one is only in my imagination.

Currently, I work as a missionary and international aid worker with my wife and young daughter in Bangkok, Thailand. When I’m not working, writing, or spending time with family, I occasionally eat and sleep. Strange Magic is the first novel in the Yancy Lazarus series—the third, full-length novel, Wendigo Rising, just released on November 3rd, 2015.

Hey folks, my name is James Hunter and I’m a former Marine Corps Sergeant, combat veteran, and pirate hunter (seriously). I’m also an Urban Fantasy writer—not that you’ll catch me making that confession in public. I’m the author of the Yancy Lazarus series, which revolves around the adventures and various shenanigans of Yancy Lazarus, a magical, wet-works man turned rambling blues hound.
Where are you from?
Originally, I’m from beautiful, sunny Colorado, though I currently reside in Bangkok, Thailand—a crazy-pants city with a population of approximately 14 million.
Tell us your latest news?
Well, I just released my third Yancy Lazaus novel, Wendigo Rising, which hit the number one spot in Amazon’s Dark Fantasy category, which is pretty exciting. I feel like the third book is definitely the best yet and I’m excited to get back to the ol’ inkslinger-grind.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
For me anyone who enjoys writing—whether published or not—is a writer. Poems, short stories, flash fiction, novels. Whatever. If you write then you’re a writer. Period.
What inspired you to write your first book?
The first book I ever wrote took a grand total of four years; it was a terrible high/epic fantasy novel, which will never, ever, ever see the light of day. Suffice it to say, my first full-length novel was a great learning lesson in how not to write good fantasy. Mostly, that book was inspired by Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. The Wheel of Time was my first true exposure to the high fantasy genre, and it left me with a writing itch that just needed to be scratched.
How did you come up with the title?
All of the titles for my other books came pretty naturally, but Strange Magic took some serious thinking. Ultimately, I went with that because I thought it sounded cool while also capturing the mood and feel of the book.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think there are a few themes underlying the narrative, but I like to let readers find them (or not) for themselves. Any theme that does exist, however, exists in the background, well behind the story itself. Generally, my books aren’t high literature, not even close. They’re shoot-‘em-up, magic-slinging, roller coaster rides that are high on entertainment and that’s the way I like ‘em.
How much of the book is realistic?
The book is urban fantasy, so realistic is a little blurry to say the least. But wherever the book does overlap with reality (Yancy’s time as a Marine, say) I diligently try to make sure I get things right. Also, many of the strange creatures populating my novels do have some basis in reality—at least in the sense that they’re predominantly derived from real (though often obscure) mythologies.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Each book, to a certain extent, has elements of my own life and experiences woven throughout. There’s an old writer’s axiom, Write what you know, and I think that shines through in my work. My main protagonist, Yancy Lazarus, is a travelling bluesman, a trait he happens to share with my father. Like me, Yancy is also a former Marine, and though he served in Vietnam (well before my time), my time in service—especially my deployments in Iraq and Africa—shaped much of his service history. 
What books have most influenced your life most?
I’d like to shout out to my top three most influential authors. First, J. K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books: this series, more than anything else, influenced me to start reading as a young teenager and got me hooked on the fantasy genre. Stephen King, and pretty much every book he’s ever written, has had a huge impact on me as a reader and writer. And, of course, Jim Butcher and the Dresden Files. These books introduced me to the Urban Fantasy genre and made me want to write in this genre, abandoning my original calling as a horror author. 
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Tough call—probably a photo finish draw between Stephen King and Jim Butcher.
What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Craig Schaefer’s Redemption Song (Daniel Faust Book 2), another in a long line of very well-written, urban-fantasy novels with a noir feel. If you’re a fan of gritty, fun Urban Fantasy, then I’d highly recommend the Daniel Faust Series.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
A couple of newer authors in the urban fantasy field worth checking out are Sam Witt (author of the Pitchfork County Series) and Domino Finn (Sycamore Moon Series and Shade City). 
What are your current projects?
Currently, I’m working on a new Urban Fantasy series—a spin off novel that takes place in the same “universe” as the Yancy Lazarus series. The book is called “Mud-Man” and I’m hoping to have it out by the beginning of February. Here’s a little teaser:
Levi Adams is a soft spoken, middle-aged, Mennonite man—at least he tries to be when he’s not murdering people.
Levi’s a Golem, a Mud-man, crafted from the muck, mire, and corpses of a World War II concentration camp—killing is just a part of his DNA. He doesn’t like it, but unfortunately he’s been saddled with a divine commission to dole out judgement on those who shed innocent blood. After a lifetime as a cold-blooded, murder machine, however, Levi’s trying to change his grisly nature. And the AA meetings and church services are helping. A little. But when he runs across a wounded girl during one of his “hunting expeditions,” he realizes self-help may have to go on the backburner.
Someone is attempting to revive an ancient godling and the road to rebirth is paved with dead bodies. Lots and lots of them.
Now, Levi must protect the girl—the key to an unspeakable resurrection—and defeat a Nazi Mage from Levi’s murky past. But the shadowy Mage holds a terrible secret about the Mud-man’s unorthodox birth, one offering insight into Levi’s morbid compulsion for blood shed. It’s a secret Levi would pay anything to discover: maybe even the innocent girl in his care. If Levi isn’t careful, though, he may end up as the Mage’s final sacrifice.

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