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Friday, June 1, 2012

Author Interview + Giveaway: Justin Gustainis

Today, I’d like to welcome Justin Gustainis back to the blog. He's here to to promote the recent release of the second book in his Occult Crime Unit Investigation series, Evil Dark, which came out on April 24th. You can read my review of Hard Spell here and Evil Dark here. Justin has been kind enough to give answer some questions about Evil Dark and offer up a copy to giveaway.

Sara: How would you describe Evil Dark, for readers who haven’t heard of them before?

Justin: Evil Dark is the second book in what I call my “Haunted Scranton” series; it’s a sequel to Hard Spell, which appeared last year. The books are set in an “alternate” universe where the supernatural exists, and everybody knows it. Supernatural creatures (or “supes”) are accepted (more or less) by human society. But in Scranton, when there’s a crime involving supes, either as suspects or victims, the guy who usually gets the call is Sgt. Stan Markowski of the Police Department’s Occult Crimes Unit. He gets valuable assistance from (among others) his partner, Karl Renfer, Rachel Procter (the police department’s “consulting witch”), and his daughter, Christine, who knows quite a bit about the supernatural herself.

In Evil Dark, Stan has two nasty cases on his hands. One involves a bizarre kind of “snuff film” that has surfaced, with a Scranton connection. In each of these videos, two men are seen bound to chairs. Off-screen, the voice of a wizard summons a demon to “possess” one of the men. Once the possession takes place, the possessed man is released and commits gross atrocities on the other man, until he dies.

In the other case, someone has been kidnapping witches and burning them alive. Both perpetrator and motive are unknown, but three women are dead and Stan is determined that there won’t be a fourth –- not in his town.

Sara: Do you have a favorite character to write? Is there a character that’s a bit harder than the rest to write?

Justin: My favorite character has got to be Stan Markowski. There’s some of me in Stan –- but only a certain amount. However, since Stan is the first-person narrator of the series, I get to say and do stuff through him that I could never get away with in real life. Stan’s also quicker with a witty comeback than I am.

I suppose the hardest characters to portray in this book are the members of the Homo Sapien Resistance –- a group of thugs who think all supes are subhuman. In Stan’s world, they’re the equivalent of our neo-Nazi skinhead racists. Not only do I have trouble expressing their point of view, it’s hard to write about them without turning them into caricatures.

Sara: Will we meet any new characters in Evil Dark?

Justin: A whole bunch of them. Let’s see... there’s Sharkey, a dhampire (half-vampire, half human) hit man who’s known as “walking death.” Give Sharkey a job and he never quits –- never. Then you have Patton Wilson, shadowy head of a radical religious sect that appears to have more than prayer and preaching on its mind. There are a couple of FBI agents visiting Scranton from the Behavioral Science Unit at Quantico, who may be more than what they seem. And there are several guys dressed in black running around who have apparently seen too many Chuck Norris movies.

Sara: Can we look forward to more books after Evil Dark? Do you have a set amount of books planned for the series?

Justin: I have one more book under contract for the “Haunted Scranton” series. It’s called Known Devil and concerns (among other things) a war that has erupted in the streets of Scranton between two criminal gangs, who happen to be made up of vampires. After that, it depends on whether the publisher wants more books. If the first three have sold well, he probably will. So Stan’s future is in your hands, gentle readers. The books make great graduation or Father’s Day gifts, IMHO.

Sara: Do you have any other projects in the works? Are there any genres you’d like to branch out to in the future?

Justin: I’ve also been writing a series for another publisher, Solaris, about occult investigator Quincey Morris and his partner, white witch Libby Chastain. The last of the three novels I contracted for, Sympathy for the Devil, appeared last year. Solaris has now asked me to write two Morris and Chastain novellas (of about 50,000 words each). They will be sold separately in digital format, and collected between covers for a print edition. The first one of these, Play with Fire, should be out next fall.

Sara: What are you currently reading?

Justin: I just finished reading the new edition of Kim Newman’s The Bloody Red Baron, second book in his “Anno Dracula” series. Both the book, and the series, are terrific. Now I’m going back to Stephen King’s 11/22/63, about a guy who goes back in time to try stopping the Kennedy assassination. I had started it last fall, but had to put it aside when real life intervened. I hate it when that happens.

Thanks again for stopping by! Now for the giveaway. Justin has generously offered up one (1) copy of Evil Dark to one (1) lucky reader, their choice of a signed print copy or a digital copy. To be entered, just answer the following question:
This series is the only one I've read that was based in an alternate Scranton. Is there a city or town you would like to see showcased in an Urban Fantasy series?

Giveaway Rules:
1. Signed print copy option open to US only. Digital copy open internationally.
2. Must answer question and leave valid e-mail address.
3. Giveaway ends at 11:59PM Monday June 11th.
4. Winner will be announced on Tuesday June 12th.

Title: Evil Dark
Author: Justin Gustainis
Series: Occult Crime Unit Investigation #2
My name's Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

A series of seemingly motiveless murders of supernatural creatures points to a vigilante targeting the supe community. Markowski wouldn't normally have much of a problem with that, but his daughter may be next on the killer's list...

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Unnatural Law | Thicker Than Water | The Bite Stuff | Duty Calls ]


  1. I had never heard of this series. Sounds interesting (I think even the Better Half might find it interesting). Anyhow, to answer the question, why not go overseas. I say San Juan, PR. Or, for the Better Half, Indianapolis (she is a Hoosier native).

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  2. I live in NJ so maybe Newark or Camden.

  3. I wouldn't mind seeing Orlando in an Urban Fantasy series. I think it would be interesting to see such a sun filled city, with lots of amusement parks as the setting for a dark, gritty urban fantasy. What a combination. :D

  4. I live in San Francisco and I never get tired of seeing it as a setting, but another place that I think would be really interesting to set an Urban Fantasy in is Albuquerque, NM. It's got a great ethnic blend, and lots of Indian and Spanish mysticism in the surrounding area.


  5. I think Chicago would be great in an alternate version. I know its been featured before in UF but an alternate version would be interesting too. For a foreign country Im thinking Brazil would be cool.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  6. I live in New York City and, I have to say, I'm sick of seeing it in books. I'd like to see an alternate Pittsburgh. My family is from there and I think the bridges, Duquesne Incline and some of the older neighborhoods would make a great backdrop for a book.

    1. Whoops, sorry, I forgot my e-mail address: geoarchs(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Are there still no bananas in the alternate Scranton? ;)

    I know it's in a million books, but I love London and never get tired of reading stories with it as the setting. An alternate London would probably be just as cool!



Thanks for stopping by Sara's Urban Fantasy Blog! I'd love to here what's on your mind. :)