Friday, October 5, 2012

Death of Jack Nylund by David F Porteous: Interview and Excerpt



The Death of Jack Nylund
Gods and Monsters Book One
By David F Porteous

Genre: Urban Fantasy

ISBN: 978-1-291-03025-9

Number of pages:127
Word Count: 37,000

Cover Artist: Rob Moran

Book Description:

America, 1922. Ten years have passed since The Lines went up, dividing the States and the world into isolated pockets. The oligarchs are gangsters, titans of industry, monsters – the secret masters of mankind. They have endured a decade of cold war stalemate – but with forces equally weighted, the life of one man might be enough to change the fate of all men.

US Federal Marshal Clay Falk must bring Jack Nylund to New York. For the Marshal and his deputies the financial rewards are enormous, but in a landscape of shifting loyalties Falk is soon made a counter-offer he can’t refuse. The war can be ended in a single night – the price is the honour of a legend and the life of a god.

Private Investigator Walter Black has no idea his latest missing person’s case is the balance on which the world rests. Jack Nylund’s sister is dying and Walter must track Jack’s scent across America, through ruined lives, secret addictions and unforgettable pasts. The enemy he must overcome is one he’s all too familiar with. The cost of his failure would be the death of Jack Nylund.
 Kindle  |  Paperback  |  Goodreads  |  Nook

“This is a picture of him from 1919, just after the war, looking like he slept in that uniform all the way from France. He still had that face, but he wasn’t the same. I know there’s men who came back changed: the Paterson boy up in Brownville hung himself that summer. Nobody talked about it much, and I suppose that was for the best. But Jack wasn’t like that; it hadn’t been a terrible thing for him, I don’t think. Or if it had been, then it was one of those terrible things you get through and it sets you free.” She said it in a deliberate, emotionless voice and finally passed the small black and white photograph to Walter Black.

Mary Howard’s hands and the photo smelled of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Ivory soap.

“I knew the truth before he did,” she said. “About this place. About him. He’d come back from the war having seen the world and, well, I can’t imagine what else. He’d grown a head taller, but Auburn was still a small town; too small for him. Sure enough, he was gone before the winter set in.”

“This is your only picture?” he asked.

“It’s the most recent one. I have couple of older photos of him with our mother. I don’t suppose those would be much use to you. I hope he still looks like this: can’t imagine him as anything else. Is it enough?”

“You said he wrote to you,” he reminded her.

“From hotels. I think only because there was paper and he had nothing to do. Backwards, forwards, ‘cross a dozen states: as far east as Chicago and then three months later Baton Rouge and Beaumont, Texas. I kept all of them, wrote back the day I got each one, but I doubt he saw more than a handful of my replies. And so what? What stories did I have to tell him? Then a year ago the letters stopped. It was just after the baby came and before Arnold – that was my husband – before he passed away. For a couple of months I’d wait for the postman every day and some days he even had a letter for me. But it was never from Jack. His last one was from the Ramsay in Des Moines. I wrote there so many times the hotel manager wrote back asking me to stop.”

“Can I see the letters?” Walter asked.

“Of course, let me—” She was cut-off by the sudden, sharp cry of the baby in the other room. “Like as not, he’ll need changing. Can you give me a few minutes?”

He waited at the table and took another sip of the cheap, bitter coffee. The kitchen was clean, and worn from use and cleaning. The stove was older than the house around it, cannibalised from another home no grander than this one. A sink of similar ancestry was attached to the wall by iron bolts and stained with tears of indelible orange rust.

Mary Howard returned with a shoebox of letters under one arm and a wide-eyed child pressed to her side by the other. Her son – whose looks strongly favoured his mother – was Arnold Jack Howard.

“Pleased to meet you Mr Howard, I’m Walter Black,” he said and extended his hand. The boy grabbed the top half of his thumb and beamed a toothless smile. “That’s quite a grip you have there.”

Mary sat back down and placed the collection of letters on the table. “You have a way with children Mr Black; little Jack doesn’t usually take to strangers.”

He asked, “May I see them?”

Her eyes followed his and with surprise she noticed the hand perched on top of the box, its fingers gripping the cardboard, like something precious beyond value, like a handhold on the edge of a precipice. Recognising the hand was hers, she exhaled and let go.

“I don’t know what use they’ll be. But if you need them, that’s fine. I have most of them memorised.”

He sorted the envelopes by eye. Four different sizes, eleven different shades of cream and white, one blue. Postmarks from fourteen states; nothing east of Chicago, Illinois, nor anything west of Grand Junction, Colorado. They smelled of the house and the shoebox and woman who had read them uncounted times. A handful were from Des Moines, but he lifted three others that looked the same and found a return address pre-printed onto the flap of each: Savoy Hotel, Kansas City.

As tactfully as he could, Walter Black said, “You should prepare yourself for the possibility—”

“That he’s dead? I know.”

“You should prepare yourself for the possibility that he’s alive and doesn’t want to come back.”

She replied in that same flat voice, “I need you to find him Mr Black. If he’s dead then I don’t know what I’ll do, but if he’s alive he’s got no choice. My son is all that matters to me now and he’ll need someone when I’m gone.”

Mary Howard’s heart would not last the year, so the doctors said. Her mother died of the same thing at thirty-seven, though Mary was only twenty-eight. Stress, they called it; stress had cut her years as a grown woman in half, cut her time as a mother to nothing.

Walter continued, “This isn’t as simple as making a few calls or writing some letters.”

She held herself straight-backed as he explained his terms.

The blue cotton dress she wore had a small mending stitch at the shoulder. He’d seen this dress a hundred times on as many women. Such as it was, it was certainly the nicest thing she owned and she had worn it as much for herself as for him.

“I know the price,” she said, “and I will pay it.” Her desperation and the defiant setting of her jaw was a promise she couldn’t break. They didn’t discuss payment again.

“I’ll leave in the morning for Kansas City and call you if I find anything there.” He stood and picked up his hat from the table, taking the photograph and a selection of letters, as many as he could fit in a pocket.

“I don’t have a telephone,” she said.

“I’ll write you, unless I can bring him back with me faster. Or unless it’s not news you’d want to get by letter.”
She rose to show him to the door and replied, “I’ll wait for your letters, then.”


Welcome David!  I love the cover of your new book, The Death of Jack Nylund.  Thanks so much for stopping by to chat a bit.  Sooo...what more can you tell us about your current release?

The Death of Jack Nylund is the first book in the Gods and Monsters series. My intention is for the series to be read as one continuous work that may be around 400,000 words in length, but for each novella in the series to have its own sense of resolution. The first book is strongly rooted in its setting – 1920s America – which is also where many of the stylistic influences on the series originate.

What part does travel play in the writing of your books?

I actually have a map set up on my website that shows a handful of pictures of me on my world travels alongside quotes from my books, linked to the places they refer to. As the Gods and Monsters series continues, I’d expect that map to become much fuller.

I’m Scottish and my first novel – Singular – was set in Edinburgh, though it was not a significant part of the plot. I’ve been to America four times, to half a dozen states and every time I try to go to New York, which is one of my favourite cities. Jack Nylund is set largely in America’s north-east, but even the portions that are set in New York owe more to a shared vision of what New York is – the city as a cultural icon – than to my personal experiences of the place.

Rooting a story in reality is very important – especially when that story is fantastical. I’m very careful to ensure that buildings that I reference, roads that my characters travel on are real and existed at the time my story is set. Practically that isn’t always possible, but it’s what I aim for.

How do you research your books?

I’ve found the internet invaluable. While I’ll head to a library to read through authors of the time – or writing in the genres I’m interested in – this research is purely about mood, tone and style. The facts I tend to research online. To give you an example – several major scenes in Jack Nylund are set in a hotel in Chicago. I know this in advance and so I scout locations as a modern film scout would. I search for hotels that were famous in the city in 1920, I look for pictures of the hotel to find out how high it was, I look for the streets that rooms would look out onto.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned?

I think it’s been reconciling the 1920s with modern geography. Most people don’t get a hundred year perspective of change and I think people probably imagine most things are static. When I came to place Jack Nylund’s quotes on my map, I discovered that one of the most famous and architecturally significant hotels in Chicago had encountered a rather sad decline and had been demolished some years ago to build a convention centre. So the series of pulp, noir, horror stories will very likely never be adapted into a walking tour.

Plotter or Pantser?

My editor – Caroline Smailes – said that you need to read Jack Nylund twice to appreciate how intricate it is. I spend most of my time in very small revisions, the significance of all of which won’t be obvious until later in the series.

Also the whole book takes place over the space of a few days and each chapter follows on in time from the last – though the characters and settings may be thousands of miles apart when the events happen. It’s something I’ve done before and for me this creates momentum and velocity in a story – and that requires that you know where everyone is and what everyone is doing all the time.

In the introduction to his Dark Tower series Stephen King said that he has to write to know what happens next. I always know what the final destination is going to be, but I rarely know how I’m going to get there and how the characters are going to change between the beginning and the end of the story.

What book are you reading now?

I have actually just started the Dark Tower series, which was why Stephen King’s remark was in my head. In much the same way as King was keen not to reproduce Tolkien in his work, I’d consciously held off from reading the Dark Tower until I’d started Gods and Monsters. I’m reading it on Kindle – so I’ve no idea how far in I am.

Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?

Sometimes I imagine myself in a movie or a book and think about how I would react to those characters and events. I’ve never wanted to be someone else, in someone else’s imagination. I try to write characters who do “something smart” based on their own principles and information because I most often imagine myself in films and books saying “build the shield generator on the death star” or “let’s not open the army-destroying Ark of the Covenant in front of our own army” (Yes, I am a Sith and a Nazi, respectively, in those examples).

Have any of your characters been modelled after yourself?

In my first novel, Singular, everyone was a different aspect of me. In Jack Nylund I don’t think anyone is. Obviously it’s my creation and you can’t be entirely separate from it, but I don’t see myself in any of the characters.
That's it from me for now.  It's been great talking to you and I wish you every success! Thanks again!

David F Porteous is a social research consultant and author of the novel Singular and the forthcoming Gods & Monsters series. The following are randomly selected biographical details about David - hit refresh to learn more. 
Early Life
David attended Cockenzie and Port Seton Primary School where he learned to spell and write his name in cursive. The value of these once impressive skills has been substantially undermined by subsequent technological developments.
His favourite authors include Iain Banks, George V. Higgins, Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
Other Interests
In his teens and early twenties he used to write poetry. People shouldn't try to find it; none of it was good.
Professional Work
In 2002 he graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a degree in Marketing Management. His honours dissertation asserted that there was a bright future ahead for DVD rental stores. Over time this assertion proved to be both wrong and stupid. (He is not giving back the degree).
Connect with David:
 Website  |  Twitter Facebook  |  Goodreads


October 5 Interview
Laurie’s Paranormal blog

October 5 Guest blog
Claire Ashgrove

October 7 Review
Bookworm Babblings –

October 9 Interview
Books, Books, The Magical Fruit

October 15 Interview and review
Booked & Loaded

October 15 Bewitching Magazine Feature
Exclusive excerpt and interview
Tour wide giveaway
10 signed copies of David's debut novel – Singular  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Bewitching Banner


Paranormal Dream Writer said...

Thanks for the giveaway and interview ~ Felicia Starr said...

i would oh so love to win this would love to be able to read it

Books 4 Tomorrow said...

Oh my gosh! This book looks fantastic!! Thank you so much for this amazing giveaway!! :D (Angie Edwards)