October 1893.  The Great Hiatus.

The world believes Holmes died defeating Professor James Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, but the war to stop the evil genius’ criminal empire rages on. Dr. John H. Watson discovers a link between the murder of Birdy Edwards from The Valley of Fear and the Jack the Ripper killings that might have been known to Sherlock Holmes.  Meanwhile Holmes races to prevent the assassination of the Khalifa Abdallahi ibn Muhammad in Khartoum that threatens the world’s fragile peace.

This new short story appears in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XXIII: Some More Untold Cases: 1888 – 1894. This new edition of the popular anthology series from MX Publishing is now available and includes three volumes edited by master Sherlockian David Marcum that also covers The Great Detective’s career from 1877-1887 (Part XXII) and 1895-1903 (Part XXVI).

According to MX Publishing: “The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories burst upon the scene in 2015 featuring adventures written by many of the world’s leading Sherlockian authors, and since then its popularity has continued to grow.” All royalties from this collection are being donated by the writers for the benefit of the preservation of Undershaw, one of the former homes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, currently the home of Stepping Stones School, a school for children with special needs.

Caliber Comics is teaming with Zazzle to offer a heapin’ helpin’ of merchandise that includes Lovecraftian, Sherlock Holmes, Vanguard, Nightlinger, and more!

You can see everything being offered on the Caliber Comics Product Store on the Zazzle platform alongside other pop culture and media brands such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and Looney Tunes.

The Caliber Comics Store offers over 1100 items including face masks, t-shirts, coffee mugs, puzzles, posters and phone cases featuring images from Caliber creator properties including the ones I listed already as well as Dracula and Worlds of H. P. Lovecraft. You can even customize the images to your liking with more products being added over the coming weeks.

 

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Did Sherlock Homes really meet my masked mystery man Nightlinger?

You bet your Persian slipper he did!

And you can read all about it in “The Adventure of the Ambitious Task” available now in Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives Vol. 2 from Belanger Books!

1920 London. Nathaniel Hayes, heir of circus impresario B.E. Hayes, is dead. Scotland Yard suspects his fiance Ivy Forrester, a former ballerina with the Paris Opera House, and world-famous magician, escapologist and spiritual debunker Sheridan Nightlinger. When Nathaniel’s body vanishes from his crypt, Ivy’s grandmother Mrs. Cecil Forrester asks her old friends Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes for help, and it is not long before they are uniting forces with Nightlinger against the mysterious occultist Dr. Ianthe Hell.

Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives is edited by John Linwood Grant, who is also one of the editors of Occult Detective Magazine #7, which happens to feature my article “Dirk Pitt: Occult Detective?” along with fantastic new supernatural mysteries and terrific nonfiction from a host of wonderful writers.

 

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“Everybody got aout of the idee o’ dyin’.”

– Zadok Allen, The Shadow over Innsmouth

I am proud to announce that Caliber Comics is releasing the latest H.P. Lovecraft’s Worlds adaptation The Shadow over Innsmouth in a brand new graphic novel now available through the Caliber website as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.

Trey Baldwin’s opening page to The Shadow over Innsmouth.

This is my first new comics script in over ten years and my first new Lovecraft adaptation in over twenty. (Where does all that time time go?) Joining me is artist, letterer, and H. P. Lovecraft fan extraordinaire Trey Baldwin (Lovecraftian, The Ladies of Market Street). You are going to love him and you can take that to the bank!

Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth is considered by many critics and HPL fans as one of his best weird tales. The decaying town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts has an unhealthy reputation. Nearby citizens shun it. You won’t find it on any maps. And the denizens just don’t look right. They just don’t.

Maybe it’s something in the water?

One of Bernie Wrightson’s Shadow over Innsmouth concept paintings.

This adaptation has been a long time coming, beginning in 1991 when I read about an unproduced film adaptation by Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon in Fangoria magazine. Included in the article were concept paintings by Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing, Frankenstein) and photographs of preliminary make-up work by Dick Smith (Little Big Man, The Exorcist). With names like this involved it is obvious the film was going to be a big deal, but apparently a combination of things stymied the production, first at Vestron Pictures and then Full Moon Productions.  The budget appears to have been the biggest hurtle — this movie was going to require extensive practical effects –followed by concerns rather audiences would want to see, much less be frightened by, a film about fish people.

A close-up of one of Dick Smith’s designs for Shadow over Innsmouth.

In 1991 the question of who owned the rights to The Shadow over Innsmouth and Lovecraft’s other stories was open to debate, making it financially prohibitive for independent comic book publishers to adapt anything other than his earliest works. That is just what I had done for Malibu Graphics with H.P. Lovecraft in Color, but prior to that I had adapted Re-Animator for Malibu under an agreement with Full Moon, which got me thinking, “Why not adapt the unproduced Shadow over Innsmouth screenplay? And why not use some of Wrightson’s paintings as covers?”

So I asked Tom Mason, Malibu’s creative director and frequent sounding board for my crazy ideas like this … only this one didn’t turn out to be so crazy. Tom confided to me that the Shadow over Innsmouth film might just be on again, and, if it got the green light, Malibu had the license to adapt it into a three-issue limited series. Based on my earlier Lovecraft work, Tom was not only fine with me writing this adaptation but my getting started on the scripts so long as I understood nothing was definite.

A few days later the screenplay by Dennis Paoli (Re-Animator, Dagon) arrived in the mail and I got cranking roughing out the first script.

You probably already guessed what happened next.

A sampling of Wrightson’s concept sketches for Shadow over Innsmouth.

That was that until July 2016 and the Comic Book I-Con, where I was introduced to Trey, who was looking to get his foot in the door as a comics artist.  We talked, hit it off, and discussed working on a Lovecraft adaptation together. Unlike the 1990s the question of who owned the rights to Lovecraft’s stories was no longer a problem, so all of HPL’s weird tales were on the table. After considering several possibilities, we settled on Shadow over Innsmouth.

“Well,” I thought, “better late than never.”

Actually, I was pumped! Getting to work with Trey was awesome and I was finally going to get a chance to work on one of Lovecraft classic stories like “The Call of Cthulhu,” The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, or Shadow over Innsmouth.

Who could ask for anything more?

This graphic novel also includes Lovecraft’s 1931 novella (edited by me and appearing with permission from Lovecraft Holdings LLC) and my articles “H.P. Lovecraft: A Brief Biography” and “Lovecraft: A Look Back,” both of which have been updated for this adaptation.

And if Shadow over Innsmouth sounds great, you might want to check out my new novel Lovecrafitan with interior illustrations by Trey!

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It is that dreadful May of 1891, the start of the The Great Hiatus, and Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson find themselves dealing with some unresolved problems in “A Case of Unfinished Business.”

The world believes Holmes died defeating Professor James Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, but the war to stop the evil genius’ criminal empire rages on. Moriarty’s death triggers a plan that threatens three continents and a mysterious government agent needs Watson’s help to solve a clue Holmes left behind to prevent this catastrophe.

This new short story adapts my audio script for “A Case of Unfinished Business” that was originally broadcast by Imagination Theatre in 2014. The production was produced by the late radio personality and entrepreneur Jim French and starred John Patrick Lowrie as Holmes and Lawrence Albert as Dr. John H. Watson.

The story appears in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XX: 2020 Annual (1891 – 1897). This new edition of the popular anthology series from MX Publishing is now available and includes three volumes edited by master Sherlockian David Marcum that also covers The Great Detective’s career from 1882-1890 (Part XIX) and 1898-1923 (Part XXI) as he encounters seemingly impossible events.

According to MX Publishing: “The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories burst upon the scene in 2015 featuring adventures written by many of the world’s leading Sherlockian authors, and since then its popularity has continued to grow.” All royalties from this collection are being donated by the writers for the benefit of the preservation of Undershaw, one of the former homes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, currently the home of Stepping Stones School, a school for children with special needs.

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So here’s the dealio – you can now get debit cards from card.com featuring Lovecraftian, Sherlock Holmes On the Air, Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, and more!

Pretty cool, eh?

Want to see ‘em? Heck, want to order ‘em? Just click on the card!

You can check out the current gallery of marvelous Caliber Comics titles like The Shepherd and OZ being offered to card.com’s 1.5+ million users, with more on the way in upcoming weeks and months.

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Clive Cussler passed away on February 24, 2020.

How do you say good-bye and thank you to a writer who has been one of your major influences?

Dirk Pitt by S. Clarke Hawbaker.

Born one year after the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — the creator of Sherlock Holmes and author of The Lost WorldCussler not only carried the banner of adventure literature into the twenty-first century, garnering the title The Grand Master of Adventure along the way, he created one of the most popular and influential series heroes of the past fifty years, Dirk Pitt.

Most publishers considered the adventure genre to be passé in the sixties, but where the literati saw stagnation, Cussler saw opportunity. Cussler was an award-winning advertising copywriter — you can thank him in part for The Ajax White Knight — who did his research after he decided to seriously turn his hand to writing, and instead of being deterred upon discovering that almost no one was producing the kind of classic old fashion adventures he enjoyed reading as a boy, he decided that he had the field to himself.

It is one thing to decide you want to write a novel or series and quite another to follow though, much less get your work published, but Cussler did all that and more.

I discovered Cussler and Pitt in Raise the Titanic! (1976), arguably the greatest adventure novel of the second half of the twentieth century and the first in a string of bestsellers Cussler authored or co-authored over the next forty years. (Two earlier and less successful Pitt adventures, The Mediterranean Caper and Iceberg, were published in 1973 and 1975, and the first Pitt novel, Pacific Vortex, written in 1965, was not published until 1983.) As a sixteen-year-old tyro I devoured the book’s no-nonsense yet devil-may-care writing, got swept up in its unabashed imagination, and was captivated by its decent but dangerous protagonist. It spoke to me and I wasted no time trying (and failing) to write my own Cussleresque novel, but Clive Cussler had left his mark, and that influence is evident in almost everything I have written since.

As the years passed and I developed as a writer, I learned something more from Cussler. Research and his marketing acumen were invaluable tools when it came to getting his novels published and then promoting them, but the trait that set him (and most great popular genre writers) apart was his innate sense of what people liked to read. Maybe because of this Cussler often downplayed his writing skills in interviews, preferring instead to emphasize that he was an entertainer who took pride in giving his reader’s their money’s worth. I brought this up in a list of questions I sent him in 2009 while working on The Clive Cussler Adventures: A Critical Review (2014) and asked if he did not also take pride in the quality of his plots and characters. Cussler admitted, “Yes, that I do. The fact that so many people and children have enjoyed my books and been influenced by them is a great source of satisfaction and joy.” The quality and popularity of Cussler’s novels now stand as testaments to how much he cared and how hard he worked as a writer, something I found out the first time I spoke with him.

In 1989 I wrote Cussler to inquire about adapting his Pitt adventures into the comics medium. He was open to the idea and at one point mailed me a letter asking if I would telephone him to discuss the topic. I called the same morning I received his letter and happened to catch Cussler while he was in the middle of working on his tenth Pitt novel Dragon (1990). At first Cussler sounded dazed and did not recall my name or why I was calling — which didn’t make me nervous at all 😉 — but after a few moments he remembered and apologized, explaining that when he was really into writing a scene he forgot about everything else going on around him. There is a term for this: creative ferment, and I can tell you firsthand that it is not something you experience unless you are putting everything you have into your work.

Cussler and other writers visit troops in Afghanistan in 2011.

Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!, The Scorpion) once wrote that fellow comics writer-artist Mike Grell (The Warlord, Jon Sable Freelance) did not just write exciting action stories, he enjoyed living many of the same types of adventure his heroes did, and the same could be said for Cussler. In 2011 an eighty-year-old Cussler, himself an Air Force veteran, visited troops in Afghanistan as part of a USO-sponsored group of popular authors in cooperation with the International Thriller Writers. A lifelong marine and maritime history enthusiast, Cussler founded the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving maritime history through the survey and recovery of shipwreck artifacts.  Cussler was also a fellow of the Explorers Club of New York and Royal Geographic Society in London, and in 1997 was awarded a Doctor of Letters from the Martime College of the State University of New York.

Cussler meeting with fans at the 2012 Clive Cussler Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Clive Cussler lived the life he wanted to live. How many of us can say that? How many of even have the courage to try? Cussler also wrote the kind of stories he wanted to write and in the process delighted millions of readers like me who cannot get enough of his recurring travel-guide thrills, cliffhangers, narrow escapes, and last-second rescues mixed in with nautical settings, evil conspiracies, and search for lost treasure. Noted story consultant Robert McKee once complained that the 1992 novel Sahara has “something unbelievable happening every two minutes,” never appreciating that is the point.

The passing of Clive Cussler is sorrowful, made even more so as the news comes when I am staring down the barrel of turning sixty. I had already been wondering where all the time has gone and how much things have changed, and knowing there is no more Cussler and there will soon be no more new Cussler novels has only augmented the situation. For what it is worth, though, I find some solace in remembering one of the best scenes from the great film Rocky Balboa (2006) where the sexagenarian title character says, “You know the older I get the more things I’ve got to leave behind. That’s life.”

Yes, it is.  That is life.  So, in the end, the only thing to do is to just say it.

Good-bye, Mr. Cussler, and thank you.

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Without any intention on my part 2019 turned into the Year of the Short Story, a medium I generally avoid, and it appears this trend will continue at least into 2020 with a Sherlock Holmes pastiche and a Holmes-meets-Feril Nightlinger mash-up on slate to appear in two anthologies before the summer. I am also working on yet another Holmes pastiche that may see publication before the end of this year.

What can I say? I’ve got a Jones for Holmes.

The Holmes-Nightlinger story “The Adventure of the Ambitious Task” will appear in Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives from Belanger Books early this year. The Holmes pastiche “A Case of Unfinished Business” is an adaptation of my audio script produced by Jim French Productions and broadcast over Imagination Theater in 2014 and will appear in the spring MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XX: 2020 Annual (1891 – 1897)  from MX Publishing.  (And in case you haven’t heard the good news, as of October 2019 Imagination Theater is back on the air!  Get all the 4-1-1 or just check them out at harrynile.com! You’ll be glad you did!) A Feril Nightlinger short story as well as a Dirk Pitt review article may also be published this year, but I am still waiting to hear about those. Keep your fingers crossed!

Another big project I worked on in 2019 is a new draft of my screenplay for Max Q being represented by Caliber Entertainment. As I have written in the past, Max Q is a project near and dear to my heart. Whether this screenplay will ever see the light of day, I do not know, but it was great revisiting the series and characters.

Novels remain my first writing passion, and, as Lovecraftian: The Shipwright Circle proved in 2019, I am not forsaking this medium. (Speaking of The Shipwright Circle, one or two interesting possibilities may be on the horizon, and, if anything pans out, I will provide more information here.)

Because I just cannot seem to get enough of the Great Detective, I am writing a full-length Holmes novel set during the Great Hiatus that ties together every Holmes pastiche I have written.  I also am writing the second Lovecraftian novel, The Whippoorwill Clutch, and my plans are to have both of these manuscripts completed before year’s end.

Perhaps the biggest news for 2020 is the release of my first new comics story in over a decade and first Lovecraft adaptation is over twenty years.  As I am typing this artist and letterer Trey Baldwin is nearing the finish line on The Shadow over Innsmouth. Like my previous Lovecraft adaptations, The Shadow over Innsmouth will be released in a graphic novel format by Caliber Comics that will include Lovecraft’s original story along with some ancillary material by me. Trey is doing a fantastic job on this adaptation and I cannot wait for Lovecraft fans to see our adaptation.

That is everything on the burner right now, but if the past has taught me anything it is that opportunities and projects will arise when we least expect them, and I will let you know here if anything like that develops. In the meantime I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas and have a happy and productive 2020.

Paratus fortuna iuvat!

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THE MONSTERS WE FORGOT is a three-volume horror collection from Soteira Press that features original urban legends, folktales, and myths by award-winning writers and exciting new authors … and me.

The first volume features my short story “Expiration Date,” a nasty little Amicus inspired story about a marriage gone sour and how best not to be too clingy.

All three volumes are now available at Amazon, and I am proud to say that the first volume debuted on Friday, December 13th, as the #1 New Kindle Release for horror anthologies!

Not bad, eh?

 

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Click here to read the Publishers Weekly review of my story and this anthology!

 

Three … Three … Three brand new Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson adventures for the price of one!

You get that and much, much more in my new pastiche “The Case for Which the World is Not Yet Prepared,” and you can only find it in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XVII: Whatever Remains…Must Be the Truth!

This new edition of the popular MX anthology series is now available and includes three volumes edited by master Sherlockian David Marcum that covers The Great Detective’s career from 1880-1891 (Part XVI), 1891-1898 (Part XVII), and 1898-1925 (Part XVIII) as he encounters seemingly impossible events.

In “The Case for Which the World is Not Yet Prepared” an unexpected visit by a melancholy Holmes to Watson’s home leads to revelations about individual adventures conducted by The Great Detective and The Good Doctor at the behest of Mycroft Holmes during The Great Hiatus involving a particular Rodent of Unusual Size.

According to MX Publishing: “The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories burst upon the scene in 2015 featuring adventures written by many of the world’s leading Sherlockian authors, and since then its popularity has continued to grow. Our new three-volume set, like 2017’s two-volume  collection Eliminate the Impossible, features tales of Holmes’s encounters with ghosts and hauntings, cults and curses, mythical beasts and mediums, angels and demons, and more. The forty-nine stories in this new collection represent some of the finest new Holmesian storytelling. each one a testament to the man described by Watson as ‘the best and wisest . . . whom I have ever known.’”

All royalties from this collection are being donated by the writers for the benefit of the preservation of Undershaw, one of the former homes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, currently the home of Stepping Stones School, a school for children with special needs.

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