Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Special X Thrillers

I met James Garcia Jr. on a vampire/horror writer's social network sponsored by Vamplit Publishing. His first published novel, Dance on Fire, revolves around the premise of a Christian vampire. Here's the short description about the book from the publisher's website:

Two Kingsburg police officers have been butchered in an attack as ferocious as it is mystifying. Now two detectives and their families are being drawn into a battle that threatens to destroy them and those around them. In a marriage of horror and Christian themes of good conquering evil and redemption, Dance on Fire is the fictional account of characters drawn into the fire by supernatural forces.

I'm pleased to have this talented writer blog with us on our weekly topic. Please read on to see who's work inspires this novelist to re-read books again and again.

“The body hung upside down from the ceiling by nails driven through both feet. The head was missing, the neck severed to expose vein and muscle, artery and bone in a circle of raw flesh. What was left of the man was still dressed in bright scarlet tunic of the Northwest Mounted Police, the arms with their sleeves decorated with gold braid, now dangling down toward the plank and sawdust floor.  A pool of blood as red as the tunic spread out beneath the corpse. There was blood dripping from the tips of the dead man’s fingers but the splash of each drop as it hit the pool was drowned out by the slow, incessant, monotonous thud of a drum beating overhead. The drumbeat came from up on the roof beyond the trapdoor in the ceiling.


Wicked Writers and Readers, it was with this beginning that my worship of Michael Slade began.

Okay, perhaps worship is a bit much.

I find it difficult to believe that very few have heard of Michael Slade. I cannot think of one friend or acquaintance in my forty-one years who has confessed to being a fan. Since I began blogging this past February I have not seen his name mentioned once, nor have I seen any of his novels listed in any “favorites” category. I don’t know whether I can do much to correct this grievous omission, but I aim to make one hell of a shot at it.

There have been thirteen Special X thrillers: Headhunter, Ghoul, Cutthroat, Ripper, Evil Eye, Primal Scream, Burnt Bones, Hangman, Death’s Door, Bed of Nails, Swastika, Kamikaze and Red Snow.

Well, did I pique you interest yet? Consider the following:
“Would make de Sade wince.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Will raise hackles, eyebrows, and blood pressure everywhere…Give you real shock value for the money…the most gruesome I have ever read.” –Robert Bloch, author of Psycho.

“Slade is warped and I love it! He builds suspense like a Chinese water torture.” – Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.

How about now?

First of all, his name is not Michael Slade, but Jay Clarke. He has written with others, most notably his daughter Rebecca. He is a Vancouver-based trial lawyer, specializing in cases for the criminally insane. He writes about the Special X division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It is dark material because it exists in the real world. Because of his profession, he has no doubt seen the worst that there is. Yet, his writing is not splatter-porn. It isn’t Marilyn Manson. It doesn’t exist to make you sick or to push your boundaries. He simply takes you on a roller-coaster ride that will at times quicken your pulse; at others cause you to add another light to the room, rather than continue reading him in the dark; he will most definitely force you to spend more time checking that noise that you just heard.

If you thought Michael Crichton’s bibliographies were extensive, then you haven’t seen anything yet. Slade’s are often five pages long. He is well-read and well-researched, using history, forensics and science, extensively. He alludes to the most infamous serial killers of our time as he paints his own brutal and diabolical fiends; killers who take no prisoners and very often take out major and minor characters alike.

Just as Crichton had us accepting that dinosaurs could be brought back to life through DNA, Slade will have you believing that Jack the Ripper has come back from the dead. Like Dan Brown, he’ll have you flipping pages and, in fact, entire chapters, regardless of the late hour. And unlike any other, I guarantee that you will come back for more.

I really cannot believe that more people do not know about his body of work.

Headhunter by Michael Slade literally changed my world and helped to set me on the path that stands before me today. I recently began re-reading it and I cannot wait until this post is published, so that I can get right back to it.

I hope you will join me.

Thanks so much for joining us this week, James. Your enthusiasm for this series is clear - and if I can get past all the blood and gore, while still being able to sleep at night, then I'll be reading it soon (but if not, don't hold it against me. I get scared easily!)

Please check out James on Facebook and stop by to see his work as well.


  1. Wow. I am definitely needing to look into this series. I have been working on an article on Christian vampire writers but I missed James. I will definitely need to learn more about him and his series.

    Thanks for coming

  2. Count me as part of the crowd who never heard of Michael Slade. Reminds me a bit of Koji Suzuki, author of the Ringu trilogy. So many people knew the movie but didn't know it was from a book series.

    But, now, maybe Slade will get his just due, as Suzuki has. Thank you for the insight, James.

  3. Thank, Bertena. If you find me over on the Facebook author's page, you may have some answers as to how Christian vampires could possibly come from mind to paper. Either way, I would be happy to share the process that took me there. I welcome your comments and interest.

    You're welcome, Gregory. As long as you can stand a little darkness, I assure you that you will not be disappointed.


  4. Hey Jimmy -- great to see you here today!! I don't know if I could handle Michael Slade -- the gruesomeness sounds a bit much for me, but perhaps, maybe one day when I'm brave enough, I'll check it out. I loved how Fire melded so many great themes, goriness was one of them, but it wasn't overdone. Take care and see you 'round the 'sphere!

  5. Thanks, Nikki! I've still got that space on my bookshelf reserved for that paperback...

  6. Great post, James. Thanks for appearing with us.

    I do like to read insights into other genres, though I don't always go there myself! (I'm not the best read of authors!)

    It is amazing how the smallest of recollections can contribute to our thinking at any time... Who knows, upside down headless vampires in red tunics might one day be written about in the Tower of London! Then, maybe it has already happend... :)

  7. Thank you, Sir. It was great to be here, and great to get to know the good people here. Thanks for the welcome.

  8. And I've never heard of the Ringu Trilogy - was the movie called something else?

  9. You're welcome back anytime, Jimmy. We should have done a contest with a giveaway for your book - dang! Wish I'd though of it sooner. You'll just have to post with us again so you can give a copy away. Freebies always get readers to comment ;-) I know it works on me (I just rarely win)!

  10. No, the movie is also called "Ringu." That's the Japanese title (you probably know it as "The Ring" with Naomi Watts).

    Both movies are excellent, but the original Japanese version is better. Both movies detour from the book in that they make the reporter female (because women in danger sell more tickets than guys in peril).

  11. [...] brings us to Michael Slade. I did a guest post on this subject just recently (, so I will not bore the Wicked Readers with a rehash; however, I will say that he should be given [...]