Books

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BIAS CUT


What it’s about:
Ostensibly, it’s a mystery novel set in New York’s fashion world. Really, though, it’s a story about the developing odd-couple relationship between grumpy, no-nonsense, fortysomething Nicola and her flaky yet brilliant new boss, enfant terrible designer/reality star Laurie Sparks (Laurie’s a boy, in case the name is throwing anyone off), as they become embroiled in solving a decades-old murder.

Why you might like it:
Well, in general, people do seem to like it: Bias Cut was a 2012 semi-finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (that’s the top 1% of 10,000 entries) and won a silver medal in the mystery category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2013. Publishers Weekly, in a review written for ABNA judging, called it “fresh and dark” and praised it for “snappy dialogue and accomplished descriptions.” It’s my most popular book: as of right now, it has 167 reviews on Amazon. While it does go a little dark in places, it’s pretty heartwarming. Of all my books, it’s probably the most fun. Is champagne your tipple of choice? Do you have an anthropological fascination with the fashion industry? Do you enjoy giggling at Duran Duran videos? Hey, me too! This might be your book.

Why you might not:
I sometimes hear that it takes too long to get into the mystery. Fair enough! There’s a slow build at the start with lots of character moments, so if you’re expecting a zippy whodunit that kicks off with a murder on the first page, this might not be your book. (Also: I can’t imagine this would apply to anyone reading this, but it seems that even in 2016, some people have issues with LGBT characters. Example: the charmer who referred to Laurie by an antigay slur in her Goodreads review. Look, to each his/her own, but if you don’t want to read about gay characters, and yet you voluntarily picked up a book set in the fashion industry, I’m not sure I can help you.)



Lonely Satellite

LONELY SATELLITE

Kindle Price: $2.99
Paperback Price: $13.00

What it’s about:
It’s a post-apocalyptic alternate-timeline retelling of Bias Cut! No, really—in this timeline, the world was brought to the brink of destruction by a global nuclear attack in 1984. Lonely Satellite picks up thirty years later and follows Laurie Sparks (and, eventually, Nicola) as he makes his way through ruined cities, on the run from murderers and creeps while falling madly in love with his handsome traveling companion, Jonathan. As the book goes along, the plot begins to dovetail more and more with the plot of Bias Cut, until it reaches essentially the same ending.

Why you might like it:
Lonely Satellite made it to the quarterfinal round for the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Quoth one of the Amazon Vine judges, “Great voice for Laurie, very likeable and believable. Terrific language usage, word choice and sentence structure variety. Great dialogue. Really, this is fantastic.” It’s kind of weirdly decadent look at the apocalypse: a sybaritic soul at heart, Laurie yearns for champagne and bubble baths and, defying all odds, finds them more often than not. It may be the end of the world, but it sure is glamorous. If your favorite Duran Duran videos are “Wild Boys” and/or “Union of the Snake”, I’m going to point you in the direction of Lonely Satellite.

Why you might not:
My Publishers Weekly reviewer/ABNA judge sure didn’t like it—his blistering review kicked me out of ABNA contention. You know how that Amazon Vine judge I quoted above found Laurie “very likeable”? Yeah, my PW judge disagreed: He said Laurie had “no redeeming qualities.” In fact, his review said nothing else apart from how much he hated Laurie. Nary a word, positive or negative, about my writing, or my plot, or anything else. So… there’s that, I guess. For the record, I adore Laurie. While he’s frivolous and shallow, he’s kind-hearted and surprisingly resourceful in times of adversity. I feel pretty secure in stating that anyone who takes a strong dislike to him probably doesn’t have much common ground with me.

Charlotte DentCHARLOTTE DENT

What it’s about:
After years of obscurity, a youngish actress in Hollywood finally gets her big break—she’s cast in a small-yet-flashy role in a very big, very mediocre movie—and ends up having a full-scale identity crisis when the resulting blip of fame transforms her life in various ways, for good and for ill.

Why you might like it:
Much as Bias Cut would four years later, Charlotte Dent reached the semifinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2008; in the review written for judging, Publishers Weekly called it “a crisp, fun treatment of Hollywood life”. Nothing in Charlotte Dent is at all autobiographical, but parts of it are drawn from my experiences and conclusions from living in Los Angeles and working in the entertainment industry for close to twenty years.

Why you might not:
Charlotte Dent has all the trappings of a breezy, fun chick-lit novel—it features a plucky young heroine striving to make it in a glamorous field who finds and loses romance along the way—but it goes a little darker and denser than that, as Charlotte’s painful self-awareness and fear of being exposed as a fraud becomes an increasing liability when she tries to capitalize on her small burst of fame. Despite PW’s very kind review, I don’t know that I’d describe it as “crisp” and “fun.”

Wrong City 9780985976828WRONG CITY
Kindle Price: $2.99
Paperback Price: $11.00

What it’s about:
After Vish, an aspiring screenwriter, crosses paths with a charismatic yet sinister entertainment mogul named Sparky Mother, his life takes a bizarre and deadly turn, as Sparky cheerfully uses him as a pawn in a high-stakes battle against powerful supernatural forces for control of Los Angeles.

Why you might like it:
I really dig a lot of the ideas in this one—I’ve tried to create a wholly new mythology centered around Los Angeles, in which enigmatic supernatural creatures constantly fight each other behind the scenes for dominance. It’s got murderous surfers and creepy giant worms. Also, Sparky Mother is a delightful badass.

Why you might not:
Someone once thought from the description that it’d be about vampires. It is not about vampires. It’s about murderous surfers and creepy giant worms. Says so in the description and everything. She was disappointed.

DEMON CITY
Kindle Price: $2.99
Paperback Price: $11.00


What it’s about:
Set in the same universe as Wrong City (some characters cross over, though both books exist independent of each other), Demon City follows Felix, a young actor who must turn to Sparky Mother for help when his brother is targeted by a pair of lethal fire demons that have descended upon Los Angeles.

Why you might like it:
Since the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards are no longer a thing (RIP, ABNA, you served me well for many years), I submitted this one for consideration in the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. The judge was pretty tepid about it, actually, but he/she said a few nice things: “The world the writer has created is convincing in its details and vividly wrought. I appreciated the way the writer allowed the plot to unfold without explicitly explaining the supernatural aspects. I found the fire demons a really interesting innovation, and I’d be excited to read more about this world.” Demon City is one of my personal favorites; it gets under my skin a bit that reaction to it has been fairly wan. I love Sparky Mother (and his glamorous, powerful henchwoman, Poppy Kang); the interactions between the unfathomably corrupt Sparky and callow young Felix result in some really cool, surprising moments. If someone out there started writing Sparky/Felix slash fiction, I’d be very pleased, I guess that’s what I’m saying.

Why you might not:
As with Wrong City, it’s the “but I thought there’d be vampires?” problem: Some readers are really uncomfortable with subgenre fiction (in this case, contemporary/urban fantasy) that doesn’t fall into an established sub-subgenre (i.e. wizards, vampires, angels, werewolves, witches, etcetera).  I tried to be a little more on the nose with the supernatural aspect this time (the title is Demon City, which is a pretty unsubtle tip-off as to what Sparky and his cohorts might possibly be), but it’s still not a tidy, reassuring fit into a pre-set category.


THE CHANGELING

Kindle Price: $2.99

What it’s about:
A pair of adorable prep school teens get stranded in a strange, harrowing future. There are cannibalistic imps and telepathic cockroaches involved.

Why you might like it:
If, like me, you’re a fan of the late Diana Wynne Jones and her strange-ass, confusing, bizarre, amazing fantasy books for young adults, you’ll be good with this one.

Why you might not:
Some of you may remember this under its earlier title, Preppies of the Apocalypse (the book--well, a screenplay that later became a book--came first, before this website). Actually, I'm pretty sure no one remembers it, because no one bought it. At all. So I've re-titled it and gave it a facelift and a new cover to hopefully better reflect the tone of it. We'll see if it sells better this time around! I have my doubts, but hope springs eternal.


FOUR EMPERORS (as Evan Allen)


What it’s about:
Yeah, so I published a somewhat porn-y gay-themed supernatural mystery under a nom de plume. Don’t pretend like that’s never happened to you.

Why you might like it:
Have you ever watched Big Trouble in Little China while thinking, “I think there should be some hot gay sex in this”? Because if so, I think I can hook you up with some reading material. In the stream-of-consciousness words of some awesome person on Tumblr, who also described it as “hilarious and really entertaining”, here’s what it’s about: “…when Amazon knows you well enough to suggest a book about a hot young private detective by day/ridiculous party boy by night who gets entangled in the shenanigans of seven reincarnated god-like beings AND in which all the bad guys are white? THE ROBOT KNOWS YOU A LITTLE TOO WELL. ... It’s straight up porn (ok, so really not straight) but it’s still entertaining? IDK, I was just happy to find one of those books where everyone who matters is a POC [person of color] and the evilest dudes could have been a white boy band. It’s FUCKING HILARIOUS OK ~”

Also: It's $2.99 at Amazon, but if you look around, you can get it free elsewhere. Free!

Why you might not:
Look, there are those who’d be interested in reading a somewhat porn-y gay-themed supernatural mystery, and there are those who wouldn’t, and never the twain shall meet. I don't judge. You know which camp is yours.

THREE WARLORDS (as Evan Allen)

Kindle Price: $2.99

What it's about:
Yep. There's a sequel to Four Emperors.

Why you might like it:
Did you like Four Emperors? It's very much in the spirit of the first book. More sexy supernatural shenanigans in Seattle!

Why you might not:
As of this writing, it has no reviews, so I can't really say how this one will go over with audiences. However, if Four Emperors is anything to go by, there are readers out there who feel that the protagonist, detective-slash-party boy Alex Lin, is too slutty. Which... I don't know, this doesn't seem like an actual problem to me: Alex practices safe sex, and he's conscientious about making sure he and his partners are on the same page, emotionally, and he's not into cheating. To me, Alex is a good guy, even if he's got some growing up to do, and his heart is in the right place. But if you object to someone having more than one sexual partner within the same book, yeah, this series is going to be wrong for you.