The Kindle edition has been uploaded and should be available in a few days.
It’s been an interesting process.
Generally when I write the pieces all either come together and jell right away, or they never do.
I first invented the city of Dracoheim and the Settled Lands and the Realms of Nightmare for another project altogether.
The first project that I called Bad Dreams & Broken Hearts was a novel, and it was a deliberate attempt to write a Rodger Zelazny-style mythic adventure, with an immortal character who interacted with Gods and Monsters. I had a main character who I named Sam, after the protagonist of Lord Of Light. He was the son of a Lord of Nightmare, and I was trying for a Noir/Fantasy spin on Little Nemo In Slumberland.
Well, I finished that novel, but I didn’t like it. There was too much that almost worked, and not enough that worked well.
But I found myself falling in love with the setting. Not the Realms of Nightmare, but the City–Dracoheim. It’s not like like anywhere else that I’ve run across–the closest is China Mieville’s New Crobuzon. But Dracoheim isn’t Steampunk, it’s based on the Los Angeles of the crime fiction I grew up reading–somewhere in time between Raymond Chandler and Joseph Wambaugh.
Culturally, it’s the Swinging 60’s–not the mythologized nostalgia version of Peace, Love, and Flower Power that is passed off as the 1960s today, but the working man’s view of it that you read in novels actually written during that decade, not just about it.
Dracoheim isn’t a modern decade with magic added, though. It’s world that grew up with magic. Imagine Lankhmar or the World of Greyhawk after an industrial revolution.
So I had a world I loved and a main character who I didn’t. So obviously the next thing to do was to put someone else there and see if I could do better.
Well, I tried. And I won’t say that I entirely failed, you can read the story, “An Interrupted Scandal” in Cirsova #10. I like the protagonist, Dr. Linus Fell, and his solid sidekick, Inspector Vetch. I like the concept of a detective who uses an experimental drug to become super intelligent for short periods. But… there’s something just too Victorian about the locked room mystery and the civilized calling out of the suspects. Too much Chesterton, not enough Chandler. Reviews of that issue said that “An Interrupted Scandal” was the weakest story in it, and I can’t really argue with that.
Then Lagrange Books put a call for Fantasy stories about magic shops, and Erik Rugar walked into my office and introduced himself.
I wanted to write a story in which the owner of the magic shop was the victim of a crime, and Dracoheim seemed perfect for that, and I wanted a protagonist who investigated crimes involving magic, but was not himself a magician or any kind of supernatural creature, just an ordinary cop.
And as soon as Erik pulled up in front of the burglarized magic shop in “Grand Theft Nightmare” I knew I had found my tour guide for the mean streets of Dracoheim. Working class, street smart, a career cop married to his job, struggling to hold on to his sense of right and wrong in a morally gray world where the difference between good guys and bad guys was the price of their lawyers.
So I wrote more Erik Rugar stories. And I knew I wanted to collect them into a book, not just sell them separately. Not a novel, exactly, all of the stories stand alone. But a series of snapshots taken from a career, individual cases fitting together to make a portrait of a good man who makes his living facing bad situations.
I think it works. I think it works really well, and might just be the best thing I’ve written to date. I want it do well, both for my own career and for Lagrange Books. I’ve enjoyed working with Oren Litwin, the publisher, and plan on writing more for him.