The Black Hand, vol. 13
Crime-y stuff in a weird world
It feels really weird, talking about crime-y stuff while there’s a war happening, plus so much other stuff in the world. But I find myself needing distraction while all this <waves hands at all this> is going on – so here I am pondering why a bloodthirsty psycho squirrel went on the rampage in a Welsh town (they don’t really know why? But it attacked 18 people, which is a lot for a squirrel), and how even neo-nazis eat kosher in prison (by choice! Apparently it has to do with a lot of things, including the desire to exercise personal choice, but y’know, neo-nazis are also strange).
So yes, my distraction preferences run to the macabre.
I guess, as my kids are always saying, I’m built different.
The Killing Code preorder
I confess, I have always wanted to sign preorder copies. Help me achieve my dream!
No, seriously, preorders are a cool thing to jump on – I guess because they’re a concrete signal to the publisher that people are excited for the book.
I am excited for the book! I’ve just finished giving approval for the final final proof pages of THE KILLING CODE, and we’re at the stage of asking about blurbs, and designing character art, and planning for the promo campaign, and checking out cool swag items. I have also made my US publicist very exercised by hinting that I might actually be in the USA to launch the book (I wanted to be in NYC for the NONE SHALL SLEEP launch, but – well, covid).
Anyway, September feels so far away, but I know it’ll be on top of me before I know it. And if you’re a US reader and you’d like to share some of the excitement pre-release, I’d be delighted if you would preorder, which you can do right here – for a currently discounted price!
What I’m watching
REACHER – omg it is so good. I’m not kidding. I am a hard-core Jack Reacher/Lee Child fan, and the show really hit all the spots. Alan Ritchson is a giant, and also conveys intelligence - which is exactly Reacher, who is basically a cross between a WWE wrestler and Sherlock Holmes, with military smarts. I was also really impressed with the casting generally. I thought Willa Fitzgerald was great as the tough, no-nonsense Roscoe, and I particularly loved Danish-born actor Maria Sten as Neagley – I’m completely fascinated by Neagley, and Sten was perfect. Anyway, I inhaled the entire show in a single week, so I rec it.
I’ve also been watching the very strange and dystopian Ben Stiller show SEVERENCE, which is a kind of psychological thriller about a tech company employee who agrees to undergo the ‘severence’ procedure, which surgically bifurcates his non-work personality and memories from his work persona. It’s weird and confronting and beautifully put-together – check out the trailer here:
Thank you to everyone who participated in THE KILLING CODE giveaway competition! You are all extremely lovely, and it was wonderful to see these little seeds of book-love blowing wide on the winds of social media… 😊
I’ll be in touch with the winner this week, so I can send out the prize.
What I’m doing
Well, last month was really busy – with school starting back and book deadlines happening, life felt pretty jam-packed.
So what have I been doing? I’ve signed off on the final proof pages of THE KILLING CODE. I’ve also been looking at the character art – which is being created by the amazing @unukapartizana on Instagram who creates incredible artwork of WWII anti-fascist Yugoslav Partizan rebels (I thought that was pretty appropriate, given that my girl gang are fighting fascist powers through codebreaking).
So…what should I make with the upcoming character art? Would you like character cards and stickers? Bookmarks? Prints? Other swag? Let me know in the comments below 😊
I’ve also <DRUMROLL> finished writing the NONE SHALL SLEEP sequel – and there is news rumbling on the horizon, which is very exciting. Paid subscribers, I have an update for you coming this week! Keep an eye out for it.
Finally, in ‘what Ellie’s been doing’, I’m…resting. Yep, now books are written and proofs are done, and before I jump headfirst into new projects, I’m going to rest. Remember rest? Where you just lay on the couch and read a book and do nothing? I’ve got a little bit of that lined up in my immediate future, before things get bonkers again.
Now for another weirdo spot - I applied to be on ALONE Australia.
Okay, so I know this might seem really off-base, even for me. But I’m completely fascinated by the show, and the prospect of applying and potentially being a participant was too tempting to ignore.
Some of you may already know that my family and I live off-grid. So - no mains power, no postal service, no town water, no town sewage, and (until quite recently) no garbage disposal. Yep, we do most of our own stuff here. I also lived in Indonesia a long time, where I spent some years in a remote village in West Sumatra – again, no power, no post, no running water, no medical. I washed clothes (and myself) in the river, cooked on an open fire, gathered food with local women, killed and butchered meat animals, learned how to speak two languages (Indonesian and Minang), got good at using a machete.
So I’ve got some of the skills I might need to survive in a difficult environment. I’m probably not the most qualified person to apply to ALONE – my bush tucker skills are limited, and it would be a massive challenge. But hey, I’ve always been up for a challenge. And I’m a writer – I spend a lot of time in my head, so the prospect of being alone doesn’t scare me. It kind of excites me, tbh.
Anyway, I think it’s very unlikely I’ll be chosen (there are a bunch of amazing bushcrafters and survival experts on the east coast of Australia, and I think First Nations competitors will knock everyone out of the park), but it was a wild experience just doing the application! I’ll let you know if anything comes of it.
Our March title for bookclub is ONLY A MONSTER by Vanessa Len, and I am really looking forward to getting my hands on it. You can join us in bookclub anytime (we’re a very relaxed bunch) here on the FB page.
What I’m reading
I finished Murderbot – wahhhhh! What am I going to read now?
I am actually bereft. I don’t usually get so invested in a book series, but goddammit, Murderbot is so special. I am deeply invested, okay? I actually can’t tell you how relieved I was to hear that Martha Wells is contracted to write three more books in the series. Bring ‘em on.
Until then, I will retire to my sadness with a Lee Child book - unless someone has a new horror novel they can recommend? If you’ve got a rec, stick it in the comments.
FAMILY OF LIARS – no, it’s not out yet! It’ll be here in May. But I read an advance copy, and if you loved WE WERE LIARS, then you’ll love this too. E. Lockhart is amazing.
THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY – another book that’s not yet out, but if you like adult murder mystery fiction, you should warm up for it. The author, Sulari Gentill (Rowland Sinclair Mysteries), is a friend, and I’m thrilled that this book will be out soon! Keep an eye open for the release in June.
THOSE WHO PERISH – erm, hello, this is the fourth and final Caleb Zelic mystery by Emma Viskic, and I am a bit desperate to get a copy, because the other three slayed me. It’s out soon, stay alert.
LEAGUE OF LIARS – at last, a book you can actually buy now 😆. Astrid Scholte’s newest release is a rollicking fantasy story that melds murder and magic, and the launch was just last week – enjoy!
That’s it from me for this month – but if you’re a paid subscriber, stay on our toes, there’s something coming for you soon. And if you have ideas for horror book recs, or the kind of book swag you’d like to see for THE KILLING CODE, please @ me in the comments.
I hope you’re all happy and healthy, and life is going okay for you. Spare a thought for the folks who are living through war or flood disaster, and help out by clicking on the links if you can. Otherwise, may your month be relaxing, your weather calm, your books enthralling – I’ll see you again soon 💗