Thursday, October 30, 2014

In Time for Halloween: THE NAKED AND THE UNDEAD - A Novel of Hardboiled Horror

Just in time for Halloween, the busy hands at Bil-Em-Ri Media have regained the rights to this novel that I wrote some time back and had published under the title NIGHT SPOOR. The title was mine but, in retrospect, I think it was a lousy one that played a big part in the book's resounding thud clear down to the bottom of the sales barrel. The previous publisher (whom I won't name, not for lack of gratitude but so as not to embarrass them) did a very nice job with the cover and promotion, so I can't blame them. Still, for whatever reason, NIGHT SPOOR not only never took off, it barely even wiggled its wings in the nest.
But we authors (at least this one) are a stubborn bunch. The things we write are like our little offspring that we trot out into the world and push for them to do well. To others they may appear homely, ungainly, buck-toothed little gremlins, but they are ours, damn it, so we keep pushing and believing ("Look, everybody in the marching band is out of step except my kid!").
For me, so it is with THE NAKED AND THE UNDEAD (aka NIGHT SPOOR). Darn it, I still think it's a pretty decent tale and I believe there is a reading audience for it, out there somewhere. So, with a title change, a couple minor revisions to the content, and a jazzed-up cover, I am once again nudging the offspring to the edge of the nest and hoping this time that it flaps its wings a little stronger than before …

Story-wise, THE NAKED AND THE UNDEAD is a hardboiled crime fiction approach to horror lore. This method has been done before, of course, but my first exposure to it --- and, admittedly, a primary inspiration for me to eventually try my hand at it --- was Jeff Rice's initial novel, THE NIGHT STALKER. I read the book long before I ever saw the famous TV movie and all that it has since spawned.
Basically, my tale is that of a cynical hit man hired to kill a vampire. He doesn't for a minute believe in nonsense like vampires, but for the right price he'll kill anybody he's hired to go after and, for a little extra, even do it in a prescribed manner ("Hell, I'll snap 'em to death with a rubber band, if that's the way you want it"). Wrapped around this premise are various subplots and a cast of other characters --- on both the Good and Evil sides --- who provide some unexpected twists and motives along the way. Giving it all added impetus is the realization soon arrived at by the hit man that his target really is a vampire and that there is evil loose in the world far greater than anything he represents!

As far as the title, it is, of course, a play on Mailer's famous THE NAKED AND THE DEAD. I originally came up with my variation at a time when I was contemplating --- since I couldn't seem to be able to sell anything anywhere else --- trying my hand at a book for the porn novel market that was going pretty strong back then. Hustler, for one, had a line going that incorporated all sorts of other genres (everything from pirates to the science fiction) as long as the tales were heavy on graphic sex. Since writing private eye fiction was my ultimate goal, THE NAKED AND THE UNDEAD was originally planned as having a cynical PI (Mike Rex, I believe I named him) hired to hunt down a vampire. Much later, when the concept again rolled to the front of my consciousness, I'd already established a pretty solid PI in Joe Hannibal, so I brought in the hit man angle instead. And, although the resulting book contains plenty of sex and sensuality, it is not of the overtly graphic nature I first contemplated for the Hustler-type market.

Anyway, THE NAKED AND THE UNDEAD is now available via Amazon Kindle at the bargain price of only $0.99. It is fitting for the Halloween mood and beyond --- an exciting, suspenseful, romantic (yes, romantic) tale of things that go bump in the night and unlikely forces aligned to bump back. I call it "a novel of hardboiled horror" because everything I write has a hardboiled edge to it.
I hope you give it a try.
I think you'll like it.

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