eSpec Books interviews Russ Colchamiro, 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 about your story.

RC: My story, Irradia’s Gauntlet, takes place in a bar called Mila’s. It’s neutral territory between Heaven and Hell. An angel, Irradia, and a demon, Darius, are both there for personal reasons, and while they await their fates, challenge each other to a few games of pool. Only, instead of wagering money, they wager grains of their souls, although their true intentions become clearer as the story progresses. The Hustler and its sequel, The Color of Money, are some of my favorite movies. The chance to write a pool hall-themed story was too good to pass up.

eSB: Angels and Devils are a common theme in fiction. How did you make yours stand out? How much of a challenge was it?

RC: Since angels and demons are such powerful creatures I wanted my characters essentially trapped in a confined space, where every move they made had to be considered carefully. For me it was about an angel and a demon taunting each other as a means of probing what they believed in, and why, and if their beliefs would hold up under scrutiny and pressure.

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

RC: I’m a huge fan of the Hellblazer comic books, which heavily influenced my approach to Irradia’s Gauntlet. I was only interested in a story in which the main characters are constantly tempted—or are tempting others—to break the rules. I was after bad that feels good, and all that comes with it.

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

RC: Irradia’s Gauntlet is an original story with its own rules and characters.

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

RC: I’d certainly be up for revisiting this world again. There’s still so much good fun to be had being bad.

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

RC: I’ve written for—and served as editor for—several themed anthologies. I like playing in a sandbox with other writers because it’s a chance to dive into other worlds, have some fun, and then move onto the next. Writing novels is a longer process, in seclusion. Anthologies are a great way to mix it up a bit and collaborate with other great writers and editors.

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

RC: It would be a sin to tell.  

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

RC: Even though I sometimes write in darker worlds I tend to be more of an optimist. I have never written a dystopian story, nor do I intend to. For me, it’s about writing mysteries, whether it’s mystery genre or not. I like the path of exploration, surprise, and fun.

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

RC: My new novel, Crackle and Fire, is the first in a series starring Angela Hardwicke, my hardboiled intergalactic private eye. A cross between Doctor Who, Blade Runner, and Philip Marlowe, Hardwicke is enlisted by a galactic accountant to find an intern with stolen corporate files but winds up embroiled in a deadly game of lies, intrigue, and murder.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

RC: You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my Website

Read an excerpt of Irradia’s Gauntlet here.

Russ ColchamiroRuss Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking time travel/space adventure, Crossline, the SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, editor of the SF mystery anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, and co-author of the noir anthology Murder in Montague Falls, all with Crazy 8 Press.

His newest novel, Crackle and Fire, the first in a new scifi mystery series featuring his intergalactic private eye, Angela Hardwicke, launched in September 2020. He has also contributed short stories to more than a dozen anthologies.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself.

For more on and Russ’s books, you can visit, follow him on Twitter @AuthorDudeRuss, and ‘like’ his Facebook author page.

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