Thursday, January 31, 2013

All the Devil's Creatures by J.D. Barnett: Character Interview and Excerpt


A lynching on a secluded bayou. A strange boy with supernatural powers. Rogue science.

It falls to small-time environmental lawyer Geoff Waltz to unravel the deadly conspiracy that connects these mysteries. Withdrawn from life and work since the death of his wife, Geoff wants only to secure a quick settlement from a petrochemical company he has sued for polluting a fragile bayou along the Texas-Louisiana border. But the lynching victim worked for him. And the odd, beautiful boy is his client’s grandson. Soon, with the help of private investigator Marisol Solis, he learns that there is something more sinister going on at the bayou than a chemical spill—secret work at a hidden facility that stretches the bounds of known science.

Secret work worth killing for.

But who is behind the conspiracy? And what is its ultimate goal? Mad science for mere profit? Or do the shadowy figures at work in the facility have a grander aim—to transform the world into a dystopian nightmare?

Geoff and Marisol’s race to answer these questions takes them to New Orleans, a maniacal hit man on their trail. As the conspiracy nears fruition, the boy—the special, unearthly boy—emerges at its epicenter. And could be its next tragic victim.

All the Devil’s Creatures is a thought-provoking, fast-paced paranormal thriller that does not shy away from issues of race, class, and environmental degradation in the American South. It is J.D. Barnett’s first novel. An earlier version, under the title China Island, won the 2011 Writers’ League Texas of manuscript contest in the thriller category.

Jimmy Lee Monroe panicked. He didn’t move or make a sound, but his stringy hair felt slick with cold sweat, his gut sank like lead, and his pulse reverberated in his head like a death metal bass line.
He sat in his truck parked in front of the courthouse, watching the door to the sheriff’s office across the street, knowing the Speaker was in there. He tried to relax by imagining what he would do to the Speaker if the Speaker didn’t pay him—various horrors gleaned from his collection of snuff films on VHS. But in truth he was scared.
Scared of what the Speaker would do to him. Scared of the Shadow People.
He needed to talk to the man; he needed reassurance. But the Speaker had always contacted him, not the other way around, and had been vehement that they should meet as seldom as possible, and always on the Speaker’s terms.
 When he saw Duchamp emerge, he took his chance, rushing across the street on foot into the little parking lot behind the annex. He got there just as the Speaker turned the corner into the lot from the opposite direction. For a moment their eyes met, the Speaker’s cold and deadly. Then Jimmy Lee’s boss and benefactor smiled and walked toward him, hand outstretched.
They shook hands beside Duchamp’s Hummer. When the Speaker spoke, his voice was quiet and intense, but his smile never faltered.
“What are you doing here, Jimmy Lee? You know where you’re supposed to be. You’re not getting stupid on me, are you?” The Speaker did not let go of the younger man’s hand as he scanned the parking lot, bounded by the backs of county buildings, two narrow alleyways, and railroad tracks running between the lot and a stand of loblolly pines. They were alone.
Jimmy Lee felt regret hit him like a wave of nausea. Not for what he had done, but for ever doubting the Speaker’s wisdom. He shifted his feet and failed to meet the Speaker’s stare. “No, Speaker, but I know you were talking to the sheriff—”
“Which is what you’re supposed to be doing, right Jimmy Lee?”
“I … I don’t know.”
The Speaker’s grip tightened as his left hand moved to clutch Jimmy Lee’s shoulder, and his voice turned to a snarl as his smile twisted. “Don’t cross me, son.”
The Speaker’s eyes seemed to penetrate his soul. Jimmy Lee trembled.
After a long moment, the Speaker released him and stepped back. “Now, I don’t have a clue what you’ve been up to.”
“But you said …” Jimmy Lee trailed off as his confusion gave way to embarrassment—a common occurrence for him that he often masked with rage or bullying violence. But not with the Speaker. With this great man, he hung his head like a dog.
The Group … the orders came down from the Group. The Speaker was with the Shadow People; they brought me in.
Jimmy Lee began to doubt his own memory, to doubt his own mind. His mother’s voice came to him, laughing: Shadow People? Are they for real, Jimmy Lee, or just another of your foolish imaginings? But his mother died years ago, long before the Speaker took him on. He felt for a moment like he had when his cousin from Waco had come to town and cooked up a batch of 'shroom tea, when reality twisted into a nightmare world with colors too bright and where everyone—even strangers, even dogs and babies—laughed at him.
            “I’m scared, Speaker. Jail … I don’t know.”
“I don’t know what you did. You got some notion; maybe you took it too far. But whatever it was, you need to own up to it. It’s too late for second thoughts. Now, if you play it right, you might get off easy. And come out a rich man.”
“I know, I know.”
“Otherwise, you’re liable to wind up on death row.”
 “I gotta go. Gotta think.” He turned without waiting for a response and went around the corner out of the parking lot back toward his truck.

Today, I'm so excited to introduce Geoff Waltz. He's making a special appearance with me today so we can find out a little more about him.  Geoff is a character in J.D. Barnett's debut book -

What was the scariest moment of your life?


It could have been when I received a call informing me that my wife, who was eight months pregnant, had been in a serious accident and no one could tell me if she was alive or dead. There was also the time a drug-addled, psychopathic hit man pointed a .45 semi-automatic at my head in a crowded New Orleans bar. Or when I had to face down a 120-year-old Nazi madman imbued with supernatural powers.


I guess a lot of scary stuff has happened to me. Luckily, it’s all written down, so you can take your pick.


What book are you reading now?


Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen. The protagonist, Walter Berglund, is an environmental lawyer like me, so I figured I needed to check it out. Walter’s a little more earnest than I am, even when he’s selling out. And he’s lucky—his cases involve straight science. None of the paranormal hocus pocus that seems to follow me around like a distorted shadow.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?


I got really into World War II as a kid, especially the European theater—the North Africa campaign, D Day, all that. So I wanted to be a Marine Corps officer. But I ended up not being much of a jock, and by the time I started college, the career-military life didn’t seem so appealing. And anyway, World War II was long over.


Who knew I’d end up fighting Nazis in the 21st Century?

What songs are most played on your Ipod?


I play a lot of classic jazz—Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Coltrane. Lately I’ve been listening to a Herbie Hancock album from a couple of years ago; he’s interpreting Joni Mitchell’s songbook. It’s sublime.

What are you passionate about these days?

The environment. I’ve made a career of going after polluters. So I may come across as a cynic, but I’ve seen things—rogue science, sinister technology—that make me worry about what humans are doing to the planet. It’s our only home.


Who should play you in a film? 


Owen Wilson, in a dramatic turn. Now, my story is pretty dark, and he’s a comedic actor. But he’s got his demons—I’d love to see him stretch himself. Plus, I’ve been told I have a goofy sense of humor that comes out whenever I get a chance to relax. And he’s from Dallas, my home town.

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?


I’m such a night owl that I’m a perverse kind of morning person. I peak around 2:00 a.m. When I don’t have to be in court or otherwise presentable before noon, I usually turn in around dawn.


Tell us about your favorite restaurant.


It’s an Italian-Creole joint above a dive bar in the Faubourg Marigny section of New Orleans. The atmosphere is relaxed but romantic. The food, exquisite. Like the sort of Parisian café you might luck into finding in Montmartre that’s not in any guide book.


I took a private eye named Marisol there once. In fact, it was the night I met her. Maybe I fell in love with her there. You can read all about it.


The author is an environmental attorney, father, and Texan by birth but New Orleanian by heart.  He can most often be found curled up with a book, preferably one that can scare the living daylights out of him.  He is also keenly interested in history, and has read all of Robert Cairo's books on Lyndon B. Johnson.


$25 Amazon Giftcard
Digital copy of All The Devil's Creatures
(Mobi, ePub, or PDF available)
Ends March 2nd 11:59PM (Central)


NatashaMay said...

Such a great interview and awesome excerpt. :) Thanks for the giveaway! Mobi for Kindle would be my choice.

Anne Consolacion said...

I would love a mobi version. :)

Cayce said...

Thank you for the giveaway!
And mobi, please :)

Aly C. said...

PDF would be great!

Dovile said...

Mobi will be fine. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I prefer mobi :)

Thank you for this giveaway!

Kirsten! said...

pdf for me :)

Bethie said...

Epub please.

Anonymous said...

mobi. Thanks for the giveaway!
~Lesley D

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I have an amazon kindle, not sure what is best to use.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Mer said...

Interesting excerpt! If I'm the lucky winner, I prefer epub.

Jennifer Haile said...

I'd choose PDF!

-Jen Haile

VampedChik said...

Sounds very cool! ePub please! :)

Karen Arrowood said...

What an interesting except. Now I am intrigued...
Thanks for the intro, and the giveaway. I prefer mobi, please.