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You’ve met all of our talents at least briefly, and Ef and Aaron in more depth, but now we delve deeper into the frenetic personality that is Keith R.A. DeCandido, the man with so many different voices in his head that I can’t even count how many books he has released anymore, or how many series he dabbles in. And you know what, all of them are delightful! You may already know this, but it bears saying, Keith is one talented writer! Here is what he has to say about Phoenix Precinct and other works he is currently working on.
eSpec Books interviews Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of The Precinct series of fantasy police procedurals, among many, many other things.
eSB: You have been writing in your Precinct universe for some time. Six novels and who knows how many stories. But my questions is, where did you get the idea for such a unique mash-up?
KRAD: The series is a mashup of two of my favorite sub-genres. I’ve been a fan of cop stories going back to my youth watching Barney Miller and Hill Street Blues, and I’ve been a fan of epic fantasy since being given J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Earthsea Trilogy as young child. I’d also had the characters of Torin ban Wyvald and Danthres Tresyllione bouncing around in my head for years—both were RPG characters I played in my twenties. I struggled for years to find a story worthy of the two of them, and I finally hit upon making them detectives.
eSB: Other than your main characters, do you have any favorites among those reoccurring, and why?
KRAD: Aleta lothLathna was just supposed to be a guest star in a single story, “Catch and Release” in Tales from Dragon Precinct. I was rather caught off guard to realize that she was going to pretty much force herself to become a major supporting character.
eSB: You have mentioned that there really is no room for expansion in your fantasy police force, no more precincts to focus on, but does that mean the tale is done after the final planned novel, Manticore Precinct? What hope can you give those who have fallen in love with these flatfeets?
KRAD: Oh, there are more stories to be told. I already have a notion in mind for the next book after Manticore Precinct. I’ll have to change the title style for the series, but that’s okay…
eSB: Law enforcement of one manner or another seems to be a reoccurring theme in your original fiction. Is there a reason for this, or is it just that they are fun to write? But if so, why do you find them enjoyable/inspiring?
KRAD: I mentioned above that I loved Barney Miller and Hill Street Blues as a kid, and some of my other favorite TV shows are The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and The Shield. There’s something about the process of solving a crime that fascinates me, as well as the politics and bureaucracy that come with having a police force. Plus I absolutely love writing interrogation scenes. My favorite part of every Precinct novel to date has been the interrogation scenes…
eSB: You have a diverse cast among your characters, with a wide range of socio-economic groups and typical challenges and conflicts found in an urban setting, which is unavoidable with any police procedural. How do you approach them to put a fresh spin?
KRAD: Honestly, one of the advantages of working in an urban setting, whether it’s Cliff’s End or New York City, is that there are tons of stories to tell precisely because there are so many types of people of different races, classes, religions, desires, jobs, etc. It’s an infinite storytelling well to dip into.
eSB: What makes Phoenix Precinct different from the other cases encountered by the Cliff’s End Guard?
KRAD: One of the things I put into Mermaid Precinct to set Phoenix Precinct up was to have a population influx of refugees from Barlin, which suffered a major fire that displaced a chunk of its population. While the difficulties in integrating the refugees into Cliff’s End was a subplot in Mermaid, it’s front and center in Phoenix, and is inspired by anti-immigrant sentiment that you’ve seen throughout history, from ancient Greeks referring to non-Greeks as “barbarians” to the way Italian, Irish, and Asian immigrants were treated in this country when they first got here (it’s not widely discussed, but the biggest single mass lynching in American history wasn’t of African-Americans, but of Italians in New Orleans in 1891) to recent poor treatments of American immigrants who are Muslim or who come from Latin America.
eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?
KRAD: When my 2006 Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel Blackout came out, I was asked by a local NYC band, the Randy Bandits, to do a joint promotion/concert thing with them. I promoted the novel, they sang a couple of songs from the Buffy musical episode as part of their set, and we even did a dramatic reading of a scene from the novel. It was probably the most bizarre book event I’ve ever done, but I sold a bunch of books, so that was cool. I also sat in with the Bandits on percussion on a couple of songs.
eSB: What is one thing you would share that would surprise your readers?
KRAD: Well, I’m a fourth-degree black belt in karate, which probably won’t surprise all my readers, as I talk about it a lot. Of course, a lot of the people I encounter in my karate teaching and training would be very surprised to learn that I’m an award-winning author of SF/fantasy/horror, so there’s that…
eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?
KRAD: I have three other original series running. One is an urban fantasy set in New York that features monster hunters called Coursers. There’s one novel, A Furnace Sealed, with Book 2, Feat of Clay, due out next year, one novella, the Systema Paradoxa book All-the-Way House, and short stories in Liar Liar, Bad Ass Moms, and Devilish and Divine. One is a cycle of urban fantasy short stories set in Key West that involve rock music, SCUBA diving, Norse gods, folklore, and beer drinking, the first batch of which were in the collection Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, and more of which will be out next year in Ragnarok and a Hard Place: More Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet. And I’ve written one novel (The Case of the Claw), three novellas (Avenging Amethyst, Undercover Blues, Secret Identities), and three short stories (in With Great Power, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, and Tales of Capes and Cowls) in the Super City Cops series, about cops in a city filled with superheroes—doing for superheroes what the Precinct books do for fantasy.
2022 has also been The Year Of The Short Story for me: I’ve got tons of stories out this year, in Phenomenons: Every Human Creature, Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, The Fans are Buried Tales, Zorro’s Exploits, Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2022, The Eye of Argon and the Further Adventures of Grignr, Ludlow Charlington’s Doghouse, and the aforementioned Tales of Capes and Cowls.
eSB: What other projects of your own do you have coming up?
KRAD: Besides the ones I mentioned above, I’ve got a Resident Evil comic book debuting in October. This is the official prequel to the Netflix animated series Infinite Darkness, and it’s titled The Beginning; it’s got phenomenal art by Carmelo Zagaria. I’ve got stories coming in Joe Ledger: Unbreakable and Phenomenons: Season of Darkness. And of course, there will be Manticore Precinct. Plus I’ve got some other stuff in development…
eSB: How can readers find out more about you?
KRAD: Click on the links below….
Keith R.A. DeCandido is a white male in his early fifties, approximately two hundred pounds. He was last seen in the wilds of the Bronx, New York City, though he is often sighted in other locales. Usually, he is armed with a laptop computer, which some have classified as a deadly weapon. Through use of this laptop, he has inflicted more than fifty novels, as well as an indeterminate number of comic books, nonfiction, novellas, and works of short fiction on an unsuspecting reading public. Many of these are set in the milieus of television shows, games, movies, and comic books, among them Star Trek, Alien, Cars, Resident Evil, Doctor Who, Supernatural, World of Warcraft, Marvel Comics, and many more.
We have received information confirming that more stories involving Danthres, Torin, and the city-state of Cliff’s End can be found in the novels Dragon Precinct, Unicorn Precinct, Goblin Precinct, Gryphon Precinct, Tales from Dragon Precinct, and the forthcoming Manticore Precinct and More Tales from Dragon Precinct. His other recent crimes against humanity include an urban fantasy series taking place in DeCandido’s native Bronx (A Furnace Sealed and the forthcoming Feat of Clay, with more threatened); the urban fantasy short story collection Ragnarok and a Hard Place: More Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet; the Systema Paradoxa novella All-the-Way House; the graphic novel prequel to the Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness TV series, The Beginning; short stories in the anthologies Devilish and Divine, Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, The Fans are Buried Tales, and in the Phenomenons and Thrilling Adventure Yarns series; and nonfiction about pop culture for Tor.com, the Subterranean Blue Grotto, Outside In, and Gold Archive series, and on his own Patreon. Among his known associates are collaborators in his crimes against humanity: Dr. Munish K. Batra (the serial-killer thriller Animal), David Sherman (the military SF novel To Hell and Regroup), and Gregory A. Wilson (the award-winning graphic novel Icarus).
If you see DeCandido, do not approach him, but call for backup immediately. He is often seen in the company of a suspicious-looking woman who goes by the street name of “Wrenn,” as well as several as-yet-unidentified cats. A full dossier can be found at DeCandido.net
Where you can learn more about Keith:
Website – Blog – GoodReads – Amazon – YouTube
And follow him on social media: