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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Interview with Craig Schaefer (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Long Way Down 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The White Gold Score 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Redemption Song 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Living End 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of A Plain-Dealing Villain
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Killing Floor Blues
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Winter's Reach 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Instruments Of Control 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Harmony Black
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Red Knight Falling
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Craig Schaefer

Craig Schaefer is an author who's surely zoomed on to the top of my favorite lists. His Daniel Faust series has become a favorite of mine. The Harmony Black series is a spinoff to it but with the release of three books so far, it's hard not to be enamored of it. Craig was very kind to answer a few questions and with the release of Glass Predator (book 3), this series is definitely something to watch out for. Read ahead to know why and what fans can expect from Glass Predator.

Q] Welcome back to Fantasy Book Critic. With the release of Glass Predator, you are now more than 50% through with the backstories of the Circus team. Could you tell us about the inception of Glass Predator & why you choose to highlight Jessie with it?

CS: Each of the first four books was designed to focus on one of the main four characters, as they deal with some piece of unfinished business from the past. In Harmony's case, it was the murder and abduction that shaped her life from an early age. In book two, it’s Kevin’s unresolved desire for a former teammate.

Jessie is the team’s leader and its muscle, thanks to the legacy of her father, a dead serial killer. Her father worshiped an entity called the King of Wolves, and performed occult rituals to infect her with its energy when she was a child. The process left her with enhanced speed and strength – as well as a craving for violence and the tendency to go feral when she lets her powers out to play. As Glass Predator begins, those feral bouts are coming on faster and becoming harder to control, and that’s when the team meets their new targets: a band of murderous bank robbers who have the exact same abilities as Jessie.

So, problems. The physical threat (Jessie is a wrecking ball – four people with her speed and strength are a nightmare) is made worse by Jessie’s loss of control. She’ll have to go all-out to face these killers down, at the risk of losing touch with her humanity forever. Oh, and of course they’re not just simple bank robbers. I mean, c’mon, that’d be way too easy.

Q] For your debut series, the tagline I’ve come up with is “Featuring a cast of anti-heroes and with a magician con-man as the protagonist, the Daniel Faust series is Richard Stark's Parker crossed with The Dresden Files and set in Las Vegas.” What would be your elevator pitch for the Harmony Black series?

CS: I believe the actual pitch to my publisher included the phrase “Men in Black meets Hellraiser, with a dash of James Bond.” I gotta say, several books in…yeah, that still works.

Q] For some authors the POV characters often speak to them in their head. Was this the case with any of your POV characters?

CS: I’m grasping for a way to say “I have extensive conversations with my characters while I’m outlining” in a way that doesn’t make me sound a little crazy. I’m just gonna have to roll with that. They call me on the phone, we drink, we go bowling, good times. Good times.


Q] I believe the fourth volume is tentatively titled “Cold Spectrum"? Could you please give us an inkling about it? 

CS: The mystery of Operation Cold Spectrum has run through the background of the series so far. The protagonists know that it was a black-ops program, that it was sanitized, and that elements inside the government are actively working to suppress the story (and kill anyone who gets too close to the truth). In Glass Predator, another key part of the mystery will be uncovered.

And in Cold Spectrum, the truth will come out. It’s an old comic-book cliché to say “nothing will ever be the same!” …but this time it fits. Book four will be a game-changer that shifts the entire scope of the series and changes the heroines’ lives forever.

Q] When you first made the decision to self-publish the Daniel Faust series you must have had some apprehension about the whole endeavor. But now looking back at the spectacular reception the books have received as well as the hard work you’ve put into making these books as fine a product as traditionally published work. What do you think are some of the highlights in your achievements?

CS: My most proud achievement is earning the trust of my readers. When I hear from readers who enjoy my brand, as it were – that they look forward to reading my books because they’re confident they’re going to have a good time – that’s the best feeling in the world. It makes me really want to bring the quality and deliver the best experience I can, each and every time, so that people know seeing my name on a cover means their money and time will be well-spent.

Other than that, the Faust books being optioned for TV was a pretty fantastic highlight. There’s a great team involved, and a collective determination (if we can make the show happen – it’s Hollywood, so no guarantees) to bring it to the screen with all the adult content and overall feel of the books intact.

Q] Harmony & Jessie have a strong bond which is expanded upon in this volume. After reading the three volumes, it was good to read their friendship tested in this way? Is this something which you have done on purpose?

CS: I see Harmony and Jessie’s friendship as the emotional core of the series. There aren’t nearly enough series focusing on female friendship (and I mean actual friendship, not some love-triangle BS where they mostly end up competing for a guy’s affections). They’ve got chemistry, and their banter is always a treat to write.


Q] So far, with each volume you have shone a light on the pasts of Harmony, Kevin, & Jessie. Why did you choose April for the fourth volume and as the end of the first arc?

CS: April has admitted that she’s never been a paragon of medical ethics. Her particular past business, though, poses a greater danger than anyone could expect – and ties directly into the mystery of Cold Spectrum.

Q] Following on from that question, it seems that you have purposefully shied away from revealing anything in Dr. Cassidy’s past? Why is that? What makes her such an enigma?

CS: April is a very closed-off, private person. She’s spent the bulk of her life learning to read people, to profile them and pry into their minds. She’s very sensitive about anyone doing it back to her. Of course, book four is coming…

Q] In Glass Predator, I would have loved to see Jessie in her teens but we only get a very, very small look into her psyche back then? What made you not choose to go down that route?

CS: It was a matter of pacing and flow. The outline originally had an extended video flashback to her childhood and how April raised her (after a childhood of being trained to kill by her father). While a shorter version of that scene made it into the book, the chapter-long one just killed the pacing and I couldn’t find a way to make it work. It remains in my notes and will, like most of my snippets, probably eventually make it in somewhere else.

Q] Please tell us about the Harmony Black series and the world/universe within. So far I believe you have four books set & if given the opportunity to write to your heart’s content. How many volumes do you think you will need to completely tell Harmony’s tale?

CS: All of my books (Harmony Black, the Daniel Faust series, and the Revanche Cycle) take place in a shared multiverse. It isn’t a happy one. God and Lucifer are missing. Hell exists, but no one knows if heaven does – including the demons. Criminal cartels use black magic to enforce their will, Earth has been secretly colonized by the courts of hell, and humanity is a tiny guppy in a vast, merciless ocean.

But in a universe that dark, hope becomes all the more powerful. And the bonds of love, loyalty and friendship can get us through the worst of times.

How many books? Well, book four will mark the end of the first major story arc for Harmony and her team, and radically change the status quo. After that, we begin a new adventure. I couldn’t put a number on it, but I will say the series won’t be ending anytime soon.


Q] Each volume of the Harmony Black series has been a different sort of thriller so far. HB had a definite horror aspect to it. RKF had an adventure feel to it and this book felt more akin to a chase thriller? How are you able to give each book a different feel while making the story flow seamlessly?

CS: Planning, planning, and more planning. I’m a little obsessive about plot threads and seeding things for future books, and I absolutely hate “make it up as you go along” plotting where the author obviously had no idea what was going on. (For instance, I had the big Cold Spectrum reveal hammered out before I wrote the first paragraph of Harmony Black. If I hadn’t, I never would have been able to parse out the clues along the way or – hopefully – make it all come together in a satisfying way in book four).

I also like to keep things fresh. When I first proposed the series to my publisher, I made it clear that I didn’t want to do a “team of monster hunters goes to Place A and fights Monster B then rides off into the sunset every single book” kind of thing. Rather, the idea was to take the core concept of black-ops demon hunters and use that to propel all kinds of related stories. I think mixing things up is more fun to read, and definitely more fun to write.

Q] Thank you very much for your time and for answering these myriad questions. What would like to pass on to your fans both old and new? And what should they look forward to in the future books?

CS: Here’s some survival tips, in case you find yourself in my neck of the woods. Never play cards with Daniel Faust. Never challenge Jessie Temple to an arm-wrestling match. Always bring magic to a gunfight, and guns to a magic-fight. Never break your word to a witch. And never buy appliances from Diehl Innovations -- but if you do, get the extended warranty.

As for what folks can look forward to? Hell has a new competitor. The Network is coming, fueled by the power of alien kings and mind-searing magic, and their presence will be felt in both the Harmony and Faust novels. Their reach isn’t merely global: it’s interdimensional.

And in Glass Predator, Harmony has to go shopping for a dress. So that’s a thing to look forward to.

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