For years, I was a genre orphan. What I mean by that is that for years, people would ask me what genre was my favorite to read. They knew I loved books…knew I loved to read, so obviously, I had a favorite genre. Any bibliophile does, right? Well, I never could answer that question for the longest time. I mean, I loved this particular author in one category. But I’d equally enjoy a second author from another. I loved Lord of the Rings, but I really wasn’t a fan of mainstream fantasy. Sherlock Holmes was my hero, but most mysteries just sort of bored me to tears. Thrillers by Jeremy Robinson left me panting for more, but others by different authors were as flat as a two year old Pepsi. I felt deprived. All the other kids had special genres but me. It just wasn’t fair. Then, something amazing happened. I read a book by an author that introduced me to a world of fantasy like I’d never seen before. Oh, there were the typical fantasy stuff populating the fictitious world…elves, wizards, fairies, and all manner of especially nasty beasties…but this new style fantasy was like nothing I’d ever seen before. You see, this fantasy took place in our modern day world, with modern day problems. This genre, I soon discovered, was known as Urban Fantasy. After reading this one author’s book, I was hooked. I had to read more! And since, as most of you know, only the most prolific of writers produce more than one book annually, it would be a whole other year before I could read his next adventure. So, I scoured the bookstores. I hunted. I scraped. And then…I found Dead to Me by Anton Strout. And my avid interest to Urban Fantasy turned to full blown addiction…like a supernatural crack addict looking for his next hit of Fairy dust.
Anton Strout first published Dead to Me in 2008. The beginning of a series of books featuring paranormal super-sleuth Simon Canderous and the supersecret agency he works for known as the Department of Extraordinary Affairs. You see, the DEA is a special organization in New York City that handles all the nasties that go bump in the night. And they’re very good at their job. The only thing they can’t seem to handle is the incessant paperwork that keeps piling up and the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo that keeps coming down from City Hall. But Simon and his mentor/partner Connor Christos are the best of the best. And seem to have the biggest piles of paperwork as a result.
Simon Canderous isn’t your typical supernatural good guy. He’s a normal schlub. Nothing really special about him at all…except for his extraordinary powers of psychometry, or the ability to read the history of any object he holds. Handy when you’re trying to solve a series of bizarre murders…not nearly as handy when the killer is a fanged creature from the underworld. Of course, that’s why Simon carries his super-handy retractable bat! Pretty handy in a fight with the undead.
Recently, I had a chance to ask Mr. Strout some questions about his newest book, Dead Matter, as well as some general things his readers always want to know. So, here’s what I found out:
What gave you the idea for Simon and his intriguing psychometric powers? Of all the wild powers you could give someone, what made you choose such a non-offensive ability?
I was a huge fan of the old British series Lovejoy Mysteries, starring Ian McShane. He could use divination to help score antiques and I liked the idea of a guy who could read an objects history. As far as having a non-offensive ability, I like the idea of a fairly normal guy struggling with his abilities. There are plenty of obvious kick ass heroes/heroines out there, and I find them a bit boring, almost as if their adventures aren’t interesting to me because they’re too powerful. I have the same problems with reading Superman because of it. I’m more of a Batman reader. He’s just a guy, at the end of it… very mortal, but smart as hell. I find the bat far more interesting than the alien.
How long have you been writing? Has any one author influenced you and your style?
I’ve been dabbling since I was little, but I don’t think I took it as a serious endeavor until I was in my mid-20’s and even then, not until I was 30 did I think I might try to get published. If I had to go with one author who influenced my style, it’s a tight race between Joss Whedon and Stephen King, but since Joss doesn’t do books, King wins. I’ve read him forever and he taps into a human universality in his books that a lot of people really identify with. I’m striving for that, along with mixing great characters with a bit of creepiness to it.
One of the last names of your characters is Clayton-Forrester, a nod to the cult Comedy Central TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000. Are there any other MST3K influences in your series that might have slipped my notice?
I don’t think there’s too much else from them. I reference a lot of things, not just MST3K. For instance, Simon Canderous’ last name comes from a Mandalorian warrior from the Knights of the Old Republic Star Wars video games… Director Wesker of Greater & Lesser Arcana Division comes is a nod to the Resident Evil games, of which I am a big fan. Also, the movies that play in the Lovecraft Cafe often have a hidden meaning as far as how events in the story will play out. I like to add a little bit of making all those connections to my books… keeps it fun for me as well as my readers.
Anton’s newest book, Dead Matter, was just released yesterday (02/23/2010) in bookstores every where. If you’re looking for just a super fun, really exciting fantasy adventure sprinkled with a nice, fattening portion of supernatural mystery…I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy today!