Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ascent of Evil by Michael Goldcraft - Interview, excerpt, Giveaway

Anthropologist Steven Atticus found more than a preserved Viking corpse in that cold Canadian lake. He found the progenitor of the vampyre race. And now he and a special task force, including the FBI, race to prevent the unthinkable from happening in a city by the sea -- because vampyres are real, genetically-altered predators. Harrison Van Gilter is one of those predators, and now Panama City, Florida is his for the taking!

From the Canadian savannah to the Netherlands; and from Florida to Suriname -- the hunt is on. A hunt for victims, a serial killer, and a global race of predators. Predators whose prey is the dominant species on earth!

This isn't a vampire story for teenagers or young adults. It's a "thinking reader's" descent into a world of real vampire predators: an entire global race that has been responsible, for hundreds of years, for millions of unsolved crimes. It's a contemporary tale set in Panama City, Florida, Massachusetts, Romania, The Netherlands, and Suriname. But it's mostly in Florida. A small coastal city is threatened by a psychotic, egotistical, charming, cunning, cold, calculating vampire killer: Harrison Van Gilter. It's everything an intelligent reader wants, while gripping the arms of his chair and also trying to still hold the book in place.

Vampires are real, genetically-altered predators. Predators that evolved one thousand years ago. They are not mythology, they are real. Lt. John Willoughby, PCPD Homicide and Special Agent Mark Pierce, FBI have to find a way to capture and control Harrison Van Gilter, before more blood is drawn away and more lives fade into a predatory oblivion. And time is running out.


June 4, 1016   Latitude 49 N, the New World

IN THE SCINTILLATING bright light of a raging bonfire the Norsemen pushed the small replica of a Viking warship out onto the water.  Its sole occupant, their once-revered holy man, and his earthly possessions, glided off into the darkness, a fading image in the flickering light.  A gentle breeze pushed the ship-coffin eastward toward the center of the lake.  As the fire's power to illuminate the watercraft diminished, the brilliant full moon reflected light through the clear cold air, and the warship seemed an eerie apparition.  Soon small waves found the holes near the water line and the coffin gradually began to sink.  Icy water caressed the corpse and the written record embraced by rigid arms.  The lake slowly covered the body in a wet, dark shroud and eventually flooded the sockets of the burnt-out eyes.
Halvdan, brother of Eigil the lost one, watched his priest entombed within the Viking replica as the vessel's pale image shrank in profile.  He felt a strange loss, a confusing frustration. What form of change, what spirit of Loki, had invaded his priest and stolen his brother?  Anger grew like a fire in his breast.  Halvdan was a man accustomed to profane slaughter. A man who had raped and pillaged without thought of remorse.  But now, he could do nothing to avenge his priest or his brother.  Both were gone, their entrance into the realm of Valfather denied, for they had not died in glorious battle.  Instead, they were condemned to an unknown spirit world of endless torment.  Halvdan gripped the hilt of his sword, wanting to lash out at something, someone.  His jaw muscles tightened like cords of torture.
Finally, the floating apparition disappeared into the black water.  The surface of the lake became smooth again, except for small wind wavelets.  The little ship, and the priest within it, sank thirty feet below the surface to the soft mud bottom.  It would be days before the vessel would immerse completely in the lake's deep sediment: organic-rich silts and clays slowly oozing in and forcing the water out.  And then a process of preservation would take place.  The temperature of the lake's water would seldom rise above fifty degrees; most of the time it would be just above freezing.  And the biological blueprint of the man-beast would be preserved within the sediment, locked away within the nuclei of each body cell for a thousand years.  But the priest's progeny, spawned among the wanton maidens of the North American Viking colony, would live almost forever.  This was his legacy to the world – and his curse.  A curse inadvertently cast upon his cherished brethren – and upon the entire human race.

Grayton Grove, Florida – 1968

THE TALL IRON gates stood open as if to welcome her.  She drove between them and part way up a circular drive that had once encompassed manicured grounds.  Tiny seashells crunched under the tires until the vehicle stopped.  Beneath the blazing Florida sun the spacious lawn was dried out and lacked care.  The only shade on the property was beneath a few wind-sculpted scrub oaks.
Helen Drake stepped out of her BMW for a moment and stared at the house. It was an imposing, two-story structure, much wider than high.  Gray framing covered horizontal cypress timbers, each a square foot thick.  When interlocked the timbers were as strong as granite. The structure rested on a massive rock and mortar foundation.  High on a bluff above the beach, the Van Gilter house was a stolid fortress hunkered down in the dunes, ready to challenge wind and sea. And from the peak of its roof a dark cupola jutted arrogantly skyward.  It was guarded by four gargoyles; each beast facing a separate wind but all bearing the same defiant evil glare.
Helen studied every aspect of the house. All the windows had sturdy black shutters to protect the interior during harsh weather.  The roof extended out beyond the walls and provided cover for a perimeter porch with ornate iron railings.  Built in 1907, the house had survived six decades of humid weather typical of the northeast Gulf of Mexico.  It had endured scorching summer days and suffered through two unforgiving hurricanes: one in 1926; another ten years later.  During both of the huge storms the town of Grayton Grove had nearly been torn apart.
Helen got back into her car and continued around the drive to the front door. She parked, gathered her things, and walked up the steps to the porch.  The main entrance was secured by a massive oak door adorned with an anchor-shaped knocker.  Here, in this grand old domicile above a beautiful beach, Helen Drake would spend a quiet weekend.
Cliff Robinson, her boss, had supplied only scant information about the house. Most of the information had been provided by a verbose octogenarian named Abel Peck, who had lived in Grayton Grove forever.  According to the old man, whose memory was actually quite keen, the house had originally belonged to a Dutchman named Edward Van Gilter, before he suffered an unusual demise in 1915.  One of his sons had occupied the home for years afterward. According to the old man, Van Gilter had come to the tiny village of Grayton Grove during a dark and driving rain in October, 1908. He was then about thirty.  At least that's what he told several nosey old women who enjoyed any gossip Grayton Grove could provide.
The people of the town had been expecting him for at least three months because mail for Edward Artimus Van Gilter III had been arriving at the post office for at least that long.  Most of it was business correspondence of various types, but there were also several publications with strange names.  And because of them, Van Gilter had been linked with the occult. All the mail bore stamps of central Europe.  By the time he actually arrived, wild rumors were burning in anxious ears.  Fuel was added to the fire when one woman, Abel Peck's aunt, observed that the mysterious Mr. Van Gilter entered their town in his long, silver vehicle “on the 13th of the month, at precisely 1313 hours nautical time, on the very afternoon preceding the full moon!” Such was recorded in one of the volumes of her many annual diaries.
But the initial gossip about dark subjects subsided when Van Gilter donated a hundred dollars to the building fund of the local Presbyterian Church and another hundred to the town's County Sheriff's Office.  The rest of 1908 slipped away as usual and Grayton Grove experienced a pleasant, traditional Christmas; it was almost the conclusion of what would have been an uneventful year.
But one event took place.  It was an unsettling story Cliff had passed on to Helen. According to old man Peck, two days after that Christmas a young woman was found in the beach dunes. Her throat had been hideously ripped open.  A deputy discovered the body at dawn, and noted in his report that the night wind had apparently smoothed the fine sand, because not a single footprint of either the victim or an assailant could be found.  By mid-morning old doc McKee had arrived from his office in nearby Destin to perform the autopsy.  After the examination, he told the deputy that the woman had lost a great deal of blood and conjectured that the crime scene must have been a hideous sight.  When the deputy informed him that the sand around her was as clean and untainted as the finest white sugar, the perplexed doctor shook his head.  He argued that such a situation was impossible, considering the type and severity of the wounds.  At this the law enforcement officer could only shrug; he knew what he had seen.
Cliff had also learned that from time to time tourists who visited the small town didn't return to their homes.  And in winter, transients occasionally wandered in. Some apparently vanished shortly after their arrival.  And fatal accidents, mostly unexplained, seemed to occur in Grayton Grove oftener than would be expected.
Helen unlocked the heavy front door and pushed it open.  From a hundred yards away, near the iron gates, he watched her.  And he heard the soft click made by the turn of the lock.


How did you start your writing career?

        It began with my graduate thesis about the sharks of Great South Bay, Long Island.  Subsequently, I wrote a lot of reports as a marine biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  I also wrote  some articles for Florida Sportsman.  And then, about ten years ago, my wife and I were talking one evening...about vampires.  That led to my trilogy and launched my career as a fiction writer.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

        My favorite character is the antagonist of my Darke Lyfe Trilogy, Harrison Van Gilter. He’s a vampyre – a real one – and a complex individual.  Harrison is handsome, strong, and intelligent.  He is also a cold, cruel, calculating, charming predator.

        Born in the 18th century, he finds himself in present-day Panama City, Florida.  Besides his predilections for seduction and predation, he loves to play cat-and-mouse with the authorities.  However, his strongest motivation is revenge; he wants to kill every member of his vampyre family.  I won’t tell you why.

        Harrison is smart, but he’s psychotic.  He is a serial killer.  I have spent a lot of time and energy attempting to understand how his mind works and how his biological makeup as a vampyre drives him to do the things he does.  One particularly powerful  component that  pushes him is his ego.  His goal is to go down in the history books as the paramount evil being…second only to Satan.

        Near the conclusion of Ascent of Evil, Harrison’s mate, Ingerid DeVore, makes this observation: “What you really want, then, is to become a greater legend that even Dracula himself.”

        Harrison’s reply reflects his ego: “Dracula? Who is Dracula?

        In Harrison I’ve tried to create one of the quintessential bad guys of the literary world and I’ve had fun attempting to do so.

Tell us about your current release.

        Currently, I’m promoting the entire Darke Lyfe Trilogy.  I’ve just completed the three novels, so it’s the collective work that is important.  The trilogy took about eight years to write.  It begins with Ascent of Evil which won First Place in the Horror/Dark Fantasy published category at the 2010 Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards.  The second novel, Inherited Evil won that same award last year (2011).  I’ve just completed the third novel, Arcanum of Evil, which will be entered in the 2012 RPLA competition.

        The trilogy is a biologist’s interpretation of vampires and vampyres.  By the way, there is a distinct biological difference between the two types.  One of my strongest characters is the anthropologist and biochemist, Dr. Steven Atticus.  Steven discovered a Viking priest corpse that turned out to be the first vampire.  Because of his discovery, he ends up involved in a government task force that attempts to hunt down Harrison Van Gilter and stop the killing in a quiet, coastal community, Panama City.

Tell us about your next release.

        I’m working on a novel with the theme of faith in God or the lack thereof.  The principal character is complicated.  He is an astronomer who loses his wife and baby daughter in a tragic automobile accident on Christmas Eve in Park City, Utah.  Later, when a televangelist explains the winter storm in which many people died, he interprets the human lose as the consequences of materialistic greed: wicked people shopping for material goods.  The victims were people who had to pay God’s price for their actions. The televangelist even names the winter blizzard: The Wrath of God Storm.
        The astronomer watches the broadcast and becomes enraged.  Because God did not protect his family, and because the televangelist places blame on his wife and child, the man is driven to strike back.  Under his psychologically-unbalanced condition, he swears vengeance on all those religious…and particularly upon televangelists.  Thus, a crazed but intelligent serial killer is born.

How do you describe your writing style?

        I don’t know if I have a style, except to take all the necessary components and create an interesting tale.  But my approach is to spend a lot of time reflecting about the storyline and considerable time researching the details.  I also create character profiles (background; physical attributes; motivations; values, etc) so that each character’s actions are consistent with his or her values and capabilities. Then, when I place a character in a particular set of circumstances, I  know how my character is likely to feel and think, and therefore, I know what actions the character is likely to take.  Finally, there is the careful introduction of critical pieces of the storyline early on, so that the surprises that come later are justified, but not expected.  I suppose my “style” is aimed at being a writing craftsman.  I always try to improve in every area of the writing arena.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

        We all have lots of scary moments, so I’ll just recall one that got my undivided attention.  As a brand new graduate student, I was in a wicked storm at sea, at night, in a 40-foot Nova Scotian lobster boat when the engine quit and one of the two radios went out.  In the black night, huge waves crashed across the bow and pitched the boat. Inside the cabin, I was tossed completely across the engine housing.  I made up 50% of the crew and it was my first time at sea.  The thought crossed my mind that, if this was a typical experience for a marine biologist, then...I had probably chosen the wrong profession.  As it turned out, we were able to repair the engine during the storm, the experience was atypical, I survived, and subsequently I enjoyed a wonderful career.

Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.

        Believe in yourself.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

        I have friends and family who have volunteered to be members of the Michael Goldcraft Reading Group.  They receive the almost final draft and provide invaluable critiques.  With their detailed comments, suggestions, an identified errors, I go back to work and finish the project.  Without their help, I could not come close to producing the quality I need.

What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing?

        I like to have free time to spend time with my wife, family and friends.  Mostly lounging on the beach, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, bike riding, and – oh yeah – watching college football.

Who is your favorite author?

        I have ten of them: Doug Preston, Lincoln Child, Michael Connelly, Truman Capote, James Michener, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Ray Bradbury, David Baldacci, and Vincent Bugliosi.

Giveaway #1:  Signed Print copy of Ascent of Evil
(Open to US shipping only)

I will mail a personalized, autographed, trade paperback copy of my novel, Ascent of Evil, to the someone who emails me the correct answer to the following question:

What character in what movie said:

            “I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

If there are multiple correct answers, the winner will be randomly selected from amongst all entries with the correct answer.  Please mention “Giveaway #1-US” somewhere in your email to me.  Please DO NOT include your guess in the comments for this post. However, commenting on something else related to this post will earn you a bonus entry.

"the winner of the signed copy of my novel, Ascent of Evil, is Nedra Whittemore. She was drawn out of five equal entries." 

Giveaway #2:  Digital PDF copy of Ascent of Evil
(Open to Intl shipping)

I will email a PDF copy of my novel, Ascent of Evil, to someone who emails me an answer to the following question:

What character in what movie said:

            “I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

If there are multiple entries with correct answers, the winner will be randomly selected from among all entries with the correct answer. If no one guesses the correct answer then a winner will still be chosen from amongst all entries.  Please DO NOT include your guess in the public comments for this post. However, commenting on something else related to this post will earn you a bonus entry.

Both Giveaways will end January 31st .  The Winner(s) will be notified a day or two later.   The winner of the Print book must reply back with their physical Shipping address within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.

Hint:  It’s a western.  Name the character (not the actor) and the title of the motion picture.  Only one entry per person.  Send answers to:


Michael Goldcraft lives in Panama City, Florida. He received a degree in biology from the University of Utah and a graduate degree in marine environmental studies from the State University of New York. After thirty years as a marine ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he retired to accept the position of executive director for the St. Andrew Bay Environmental Study Team, Inc. He also served for twelve years on the adjunct faculty of Gulf Coast Community College teaching marine biology, human biology and zoology.

His first novel, Ascent of Evil, won First Place for the Horror/Dark Fanstasy category of published work at the 2010 Royal Palm Literary Awards of the Florida Writers Association, Orlando, Florida. His Darke Lyfe Trilogy also includes his second published novel, Inherited Evil and the final book Arcanum of Evil

 His books are available in trade paperback or ebook editions via The ebooks are also distributed via, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook publishers. Michael Goldcraft lives with his wife and their pets in Panama City, Florida.

Goldcraft is also at work on a thriller novel about a psychopathic astronomer. It's a case of knowing too much, and losing everything that was important to this once-decent man. For Special Agent Mark Pierce of the FBI, it's one of the most baffling cases of his career. It's a mystery, thriller that's hard core crime, relentless passion, and a twisted tale that will keep readers guessing and flipping the pages, praying to get to the end before daybreak and they have to go to work.

Goldcraft is a member of the:
Horror Writers Association, Florida Writers Association, Panhandle Writers Guild, and the Gulf Coast Writers Group

Social Links!!/BRIMBOOKSdotCOM


Amazon Buy Links:

Darke Lyfe Trilogy
Book 1  Ascent of Evil
Book 2  Inherited Evil



Lexi said...

Nice interview, this book sounds good. A well written bad guy.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree! I have read all three books and I have to say, they are very good! Certainly worth reading! Great interview!
Lisa at ECO

Darlene said...

Enjoyed the interview! Thanks for the giveaway!!

Nedraw said...

I enjoyed reading the interview and will definitely be getting copies of these books. I'm definitely ready for a vampire story with an evil vampire.
Thanks for the giveaway!!