I am excited to welcome author David B. Coe, who’s not celebrating the release of one novel, but two fabulously new fantasy stories – His Father’s Eyes, the second in his The Case Files of Justis Fearsson series…
Fearsson is also a private detective, who can’t afford to take time off from his latest investigation while his grip on reality goes AWOL.
A legion of dark sorcerers has descended on Phoenix, wreaking havoc in the blistering desert heat. With the next full moon approaching, Jay has to figure out what connects a billionaire financier and a vicious drug kingpin to an attempted terrorist attack, a spate of ritual killings, and the murder of a powerful runemyste.
And he has to do it fast. Because these same dark sorcerers have nearly killed the woman he loves and have used their spells to torment Jay’s father. Now they have Jay in their crosshairs, and with his death they intend to extend their power over the entire magicking world. But Jay has other plans, and no intention of turning his city, or those he loves, over to the enemy.
and The Dead Man’s Reach, the final novel in the Thieftake Chronicles (written as D.B. Jackson).
Boston, 1770: The city is a powder keg as tensions between would-be rebels and loyalist torries approach a breaking point and one man is willing to light the match that sets everything off to ensure that he has his revenge.
The presence of the British Regulars has made thieftaking a hard business to be in and the jobs that are available are reserved for Sephira Pryce. Ethan Kaille has to resort to taking on jobs that he would otherwise pass up, namely protecting the shops of Torries from Patriot mobs. But, when one British loyalist takes things too far and accidentally kills a young boy, even Ethan reconsiders his line of work. Even more troubling is that instances of violence in the city are increasing, and Ethan often finds himself at the center of the trouble.
Once Ethan realizes why he is at the center of all the violence, he finds out that some enemies don’t stay buried and will stop at nothing to ruin Ethan’s life. Even if that means costing the lives of everyone in Boston, including the people that Ethan loves most.
The Geek In Me
This is a busy summer for me, and as all writers know, busy is good. Last week, Tor Books released The Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth novel in my Thieftaker Chronicles. This series, which I write under the pen name D.B. Jackson, is historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston; each book is a stand alone mystery set against the backdrop of some event leading toward the American Revolution. And next week, Baen Books will publish His Father’s Eyes, the second book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy I write under my own name, David B. Coe. I am proud to be a lifelong geek, and these two series reflect important elements of my geek street cred.
So what makes me a geek? Actually it might be quicker to list those qualities I possess that aren’t geeky. I mean seriously . . . I’m a writer, a fantasy/science fiction fan, I have a Ph.D. in history, my favorite hobby is birdwatching, and I can spout baseball statistics like nobody’s business. Geek, geek, geek, geek, and geek.
With the Thieftaker books, I have been able to blend my passion for fantasy and all things magic, with my love of history. My Ph.D. was in early twentieth century U.S. history (New Deal Era), but that didn’t keep me from reading extensively in Colonial and Revolutionary War history. Because, you know, I’m a geek . . . As I said before, each of these novels combines an original fictional narrative with some key historical event. For instance, The Dead Man’s Reach ties a conjuring battle between my lead character and another powerful sorcerer with the escalating cycle of conflict and violence that culminated in the Boston Massacre of March 1770. Previous volumes have blended murder mysteries with the Stamp Act Riots of 1765, the occupation of Boston, which began in 1768, and a small pox outbreak that struck the city in the summer of 1769.
Ethan Kaille, my hero, is a thieftaker, the 18th century equivalent of a private detective, and a conjurer who lives in constant fear of being hanged as a witch. So I not only get to bring in the politics of the period, but also the social history of the Massachusetts witch scares of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Historical figures, including Samuel Adams, James Otis, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, Thomas Hutchinson, and John Adams make appearances in the books. Geeky, yes. But also tremendous fun.
Okay fine, so the historical stuff has a high nerd quotient. But what about the contemporary fantasy that I’m writing under my own name? Surely that is cool enough to escape the geek trap. You’d think, and yet . . .
My lead character, Justis Fearsson is, like Ethan in the other series, an investigator. He used to be a cop, but he was forced to leave the force. You see, he’s a weremyste — a sorcerer who is affected by the full moon. Every month on the night of the full, and the nights immediately before and after, Jay Fearsson and his fellow weremystes are driven temporarily mad, even as their magical powers are enhanced. These moon phasings are slowly driving Jay permanently insane, as they did his father. Think Jekyll and Hyde meets the Wolfman meets Sam Spade, and you’ve pretty much got the idea.
So far so good, right? I mean yeah, it’s genre stuff, which is a little geeky. And it’s a bit of an homage to those older literary traditions. But still, that’s not too bad. Except that Jay lives just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, a place where I have spent a good deal of time birdwatching and hiking. And, as it happens, Jay’s father is a birdwatcher, too, and has taught Jay a lot about birds and the desert environment. Without being heavy handed, I try to bring in some of this natural history, to give a sense of the natural beauty of the place. So I manage to work in my knowledge of birds and of desert flora. Jay is also a baseball fan, and, like me, a fan of jazz. It’s possible that those realms of geekdom also sneak into the narrative now and then . . .
There’s a common saying in this business: “Write what you know.” In all seriousness, I think this advice is most helpful in an emotional sense. We writers create plenty of characters who are nothing like us, but we are able to draw upon our own emotional pasts to write convincingly of rage and fear, of grief and jealousy, of love and joy and passion. That’s where “write what you know” really comes into play. But we also want to create characters whose lives seem authentic, relatable, grounded in a reality our readers can appreciate. So, yes, sometimes it makes sense to lend our own interests and hobbies to our characters, and to use whatever arcane knowledge we might possess to give dimension to our worlds. That’s what I’ve done in both of my newest releases, and in the volumes that preceded them. Does this make me a geek? Actually no — that ship had sailed long before I started writing professionally. But creating characters, magic systems, and narratives has allowed me to fly my geek flag with pride, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Meet David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson!
David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume The Dead Man’s Reach, was released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell-Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.
Want to purchase David’s novels?
The Case Files of Justis Fearsson
Thieftaker Chronicles (writing as DB Jackson)