eSpec Books interviews John L. French, contributor to the anthology Horns and Halos edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: Please tell us a little something of your story.

JLF: The story is called “Let’s Make a Deal” and it is set in Clancy’s Pour house, a bar in Baltimore. One night a stranger in black walks into the bar and offers to provide its patrons with whatever they desire – for a price of course. And the bigger the ask, the higher the price.

eSB: Is your story based on a particular lore or legend, or did you take the broad concept and run with it?

JLF: I took a much-used concept and added what I thought was a unique twist to it.

eSB: Is your story set in an existing universe or fresh and new for this collection?

JLF: It is the second story set in Clancy’s Pour House, the first of which made its debut in The Santa Heist and other Christmas Stories. A character in “Let’s Make a Deal also has ties to my Simon Tombs series.

eSB: Are your characters here ones that you plan to revisit?

JLF: Definitely. I’ve already used one of the characters in two other stories and hope to use them again.

eSB: Is this your first time writing for a themed anthology, or have you done so before? What draws you to such projects?

JLF: No, I’ve written for and edited several themed anthologies, both for eSpec Books and other publishers. The draw of themed books for me as a writer is that it gives me a starting point. It also challenges me to do something different with a well-known theme.

eSB: What devilish thing have you done as an author?

JLF:  If we’re talking “devilish” as meaning “impish” I like to sneak in Easter eggs such as references to TV shows, movies, and cartoons. If we’re talking “devilish” as in dark and evil, I’ve had my villains kill pets and children. (Don’t worry, folks, they were punished.)

eSB: What angelic thing have you done as an author?

JLF: Most of my books have a theme of redemption, either the main character’s or someone else’s

eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?

JLF: Not so much “amusing” but surprising. My novel The DEVIL OF HARBOR CITY is done in the pulp style, “Devil” being the nickname of the cop who is the lead character. The character’s tag line is “Ready to pay for your sins?” When signing books I will sometimes inscribe it then write “Always pay for your sins.” One day someone who bought this book, on reading the inscription, came back to me and said, “I just stole a lot of money from my sister and now I’ll pay it back.” It’s not often you’re the hand of Fate.

eSB: What is one thing you would share that would surprise your readers?

JLF: As a CSI for the Baltimore PD I have helped catch serial killers. That, and I was a character in three Batman comics.

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

JLF: My most recent books are THE SANTA HEIST, written with Patrick Thomas (Bold Venture Press) and THE MAGIC OF SIMON TOMBS (Padwolf Publishing). The latter is my tribute to Leslie Charteris’s The Saint and features both angels and demons.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

JLF: One of my first books was PAST SINS, stories about a CSI who becomes a private eye. The sequel, MORTAL SINS, will (hopefully) be published early 2021. I’m am also involved in Patrick Thomas’s AGENTS OF THE ABYSS series which features a variety of classic monsters. My contributions will be “Baker Street Abyss” stories as well as a retelling of the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creation. It will focus on how monsters are made (and redeemed).

John L. French

JOHN L. FRENCH is a retired crime scene supervisor with forty years’ experience. He has seen more than his share of murders, shootings, and serious assaults. As a break from the realities of his job, he started writing science fiction, pulp, horror, fantasy, and, of course, crime fiction.

John’s first story “Past Sins” was published in Hardboiled Magazine and was cited as one of the best Hardboiled stories of 1993. More crime fiction followed, appearing in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, the Fading Shadows magazines, and in collections by Barnes and Noble. Association with writers like James Chambers and the late, great C.J. Henderson led him to try horror fiction and to a still-growing fascination with zombies and other undead things. His first horror story “The Right Solution” appeared in Marietta Publishing’s Lin Carter’s Anton Zarnak. Other horror stories followed in anthologies such as The Dead Walk and Dark Furies, both published by Die Monster Die books. It was in Dark Furies that his character Bianca Jones made her literary debut in “21 Doors,” a story based on an old Baltimore legend and a creepy game his daughter used to play with her friends.

John’s first book was The Devil of Harbor City, a novel done in the old pulp style. Past Sins and Here There Be Monsters followed. John was also a consulting editor for Chelsea House’s Criminal Investigation series. His other books include The Assassins’ Ball (written with Patrick Thomas), Souls on Fire, The Nightmare Strikes, Monsters Among Us, The Last Redhead, the Magic of Simon Tombs, and The Santa Heist (written with Patrick Thomas). John is the editor of To Hell in a Fast Car, Mermaids 13, C. J. Henderson’s Challenge of the Unknown, Camelot 13 (with Patrick Thomas), and (with Greg Schauer) With Great Power …

You can find John on Facebook or you can email him at

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