Sunday, December 28, 2008

JANUARY mag top ten

Just got word that Sins of the Assassin was tagged as one of the top ten mystery/thrillers by JANUARY magazine, along with books by Lawrence Block, Lee Child, and James Lee Burke. Very good company and a fine way to end the year.

The third volume of the trilogy, Heart of the Assassin, comes out Summer, 2009. I'll post the first chapter in a few months.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where's my Lexus?

A few months ago I got tapped for a interesting writing assignment. Lexus magazine had selected nine writers to create a serial story of a young couple, Julia and Terrence, as they drive cross country in a new Lexus. (literary heavyweights Jane Smiley, Mary Otis, Brian Antoni among others, and yes, I have no idea how I was included.) Guidelines were minimal. They just wanted to make sure there was no car crashes, which seemed reasonable. The idea was that each writer would pick up where the other left off, without any consultation. Just wing it. Like a long drive without a map. A great gig, with lots of randomness.

My selection, called "In the Belly of the Beast," was the seventh chapter. I set it in my favorite town, Las Vegas. All the other writers, focused on the two main characters. I decided to use the point of view of an angry, sweaty man in a gorilla suit, the greeter-mascot at Me Tarzan, You Jane Wedding Chapel. He's cursing his lot in life, snarling at the fat tourists staggering down the strip, when the Lexus pulls up to the chapel. Yes, Terrence and Julia are getting married.

A good time was had.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm on NPR tomorrow

Just taped a Weekend America segment for NPR. It will be broadcast nationally tomorrow October 11. Times and stations here.

The half-hour segment was hosted by John Moe. My two co-panelists were Stacy Grenrock Woods, sex advice columnist for Esquire and Tak Toyoshima, cartoonist.

We talked about the second presidential debate, whether the US government should take over banks, and electronic eavesdropping. My favorite part was when we argued over whether, as claimed by the NY Times, calling elderly people "sweetie" and "dear" was patronizing them to death. As in, killing them. Taking seven years off their lifespan. Really. Tak said that's why he's always rude to old people. He's trying to save them. It was fun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

President Obama at the UN

Here's the link to a piece I just did for National Review Online, WORLD PHENOM, part of my Tales from the Obama Presidency series. Fun ensues.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

James Crumley Checks Out

I just got some bad news. Otto Penzler, last of the old time publishers, wrote to say the James Crumley died today after a long illness.

If you're not familiar with Crumley's work, you might check Amazon or your local bookstore. Start with The Last Good Kiss and move on from there. Here's the opening sentence of TLGK:

"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring morning."

If that line doesn't make you want to read more, get off this blog.

The only time I met Jim Crumley was when I was touring for one of my crime thrillers, The Wake Up or Scavenger Hunt. I had a Halloween reading at Murder by the Book, a great independent bookstore in Houston, and the manager, David Thompson, had called a week earlier and asked if I minded if they made it a joint appearance, me and Crumley. I told him I felt like Tiny Tim being asked to do a concert appearance with Pavoroti.

When I arrive at the store that night, the place is packed. Overflow packed. Tall Texans standing in the doorway of the restroom packed. They were all there, of course, to see Jim. I looked around, ready to bolt, when this burly guy walks over to me, puts an arm around my shoulder, tells me his name is Jim Crumley and he's a huge fan of my work. My voice cracked when I thanked him. The readings go well. Crumley announces he won't sign any of his books unless the patron also has bought one of mine. I sign books until my hand gets tired.

Afterwards, we go out to a bar, drink beer and solve the mysteries of the universe. It was the best Halloween I ever had.

God better cut Jim Crumley some slack.

Monday, August 18, 2008

President Obama talks with Justice Thomas

Posted another "Tales from the Obama Administration" piece in National Review today, this one on Obama's kneejerk smackdown of Justice Clarence Thomas for evidently not having enough legal depth to satisfy Barry O. Really. Honest. Fun ensues.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mark Steyn Marches On

I'm in awe of Mark Steyn. Not because he's a fine writer and a clear thinker, a descriptive that has never been more dangerous. Heck, I can do a bit of that myself. It's because he speaks just as sharp and insightfully as he writes. I listen to him on Hugh Hewitt's radio show every thursday, and I want to cut out my tongue. I do radio interviews and I either speak too slowly or go on too long, and my best lines invariably come after we've gone to break, and thanks for speaking with us, Robert, you'll have to come back again in a few years.

Steyn reviewed the first book of the Assassin trilogy, Prayers for the Assassin, for the Canadian weekly, Macleans magazine. It remains one of my favorite reviews. The fact that this review contributed to Steyn's troubles with the nitwits at the Canadian Human Rights Commission is proof that God has a sense of humor, but unfortunately for us, it's mostly slapstick and irony.

In a new review for Macleans, Steyn reviews Caliphate, a novel by Tom Kratman, set one hundred years in the future, when an Islamic Europe makes war on North America. It sounds good, and I appreciate Steyn's mention of my work. One hundred years...? Sounds a little optimistic.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ahmadinejad Sets Lance Straight

I have another humor piece up at National Review., wherein Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, has a heart to heart talk with Lance, the room service guy, about geopolitics, Barak Obama and the new James Bond's sixpack.

Fun ensues.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Weekly Standard review

Joel Schwartz of the Weekly Standard magazine reviews the Assassin trilogy in this week's issue. He writes it well, and likes it for all the right reasons, although, truth be told, I'll take a rave review based on the book jacket. Which is only fair, since one of my crime novels got a lousy review from the LA Times a few years ago based on the flap copy, which as any reviewer should know, is not written by the author. I actually prayed I would meet this knucklehead at a party one day, but since I don't go to LA literary parties, we were both safe.

The timing of Schwartz's review couldn't be better. I'm on a one month deadline to complete the third volume of the trilogy and I could use a morale boost. Of course, this also amps up the already considerable pressure I feel to not let readers and reviewers down.

I'm going to go back to the manuscript now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Missing Rush Limbaugh

I did a piece today for National Review Online, a political fantasy set in the future from the point of view of Bill Clinton. Figured we could all use a laugh. Here's a taste.

William Jefferson Clinton watched the two cheerleaders give him a manicure, and realized he missed Rush Limbaugh. The man was always good for a laugh, particularly when he played Hillary’s cackle over and over, or Farrakhan going off about the mothership. The reenactment of the Fairness Doctrine had closed down Rush, and the rest of the talkers who wouldn’t dance to the new tune. You could spin the dial for an hour and never hear anything that got your blood pumping.

He stared at cheerleaders, the white one sawing away at the nails on his left hand, the black one working on the left. Their tight sweaters said Ruth Bader Ginsberg High School, class of 2012. The Tennessee Education Commission had renamed the school two years ago, changed it from Ronald Reagan High and the locals still hadn’t gotten over it. Part of the reason he had been sent down here to Mecklenburg for the grin and grab. Tomorrow he hit two Baptist church pancake breakfasts, a Rotary luncheon, and a Boy Scout banquet that evening. There was an election in November and the party needed every vote to be counted.

The black cheerleader looked up as he started laughing. “You okay?”

“Just fine.”

(if you like the sample, read the rest)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

U.S. Navy Seal Michael Monsoor

Today, Petty Officer Second Class Michael Monsoor was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Ramadi, Iraq on September 29, 2006. The citation describing the events that led to his death include:

In the early afternoon (of September 29, 2006), enemy fighters attacked his position with automatic weapons fire from a moving vehicle. The SEALs fired back and stood their ground. Shortly thereafter, an enemy fighter shot a rocket-propelled grenade at his building. Though well-acquainted with enemy tactics in Ar Ramadi, and keenly aware that the enemy would continue to attack, the SEALs remained on the battlefield in order to carry out the mission of guarding the western flank of the main effort.

Due to expected enemy action, the officer in charge repositioned (PO2 Monsoor) with his automatic heavy machine gun in the direction of the enemy’s most likely avenue of approach. He placed him in a small, confined sniper hide-sight between two SEAL snipers on an outcropping of the roof, which allowed the three SEALs maximum coverage of the area. He was located closest to the egress route out of the sniper hide-sight watching for enemy activity through a tactical periscope over the parapet wall. While vigilantly watching for enemy activity, an enemy fighter hurled a hand grenade onto the roof from an unseen location. The grenade hit him in the chest and bounced onto the deck. He immediately leapt to his feet and yelled “grenade” to alert his teammates of impending danger, but they could not evacuate the sniper hide-sight in time to escape harm. Without hesitation and showing no regard for his own life, he threw himself onto the grenade, smothering it to protect his teammates who were lying in close proximity. The grenade detonated as he came down on top of it, mortally wounding him.

MA2 Monsoor is survived by his mother Sally, his father George, his sister Sara, and his two brothers James and Joseph.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Absolut Assassin

The ad for Absolut Vodka, supposedly directed at a Mexican audience, has caused a major hangover for the manufacturer. While the ad probably get the Absolut marketing department more tingly than Chris Mathews pasty thighs at an Obama speech, it turns out that gringos didn't really get the edgy frisson. And, since no one can tell the difference between one vodka and another after the first two shots... well Valu-Rite (hat tip to Ace) is a lot cheaper than Absolut and it only insults your liver.
I, of course, was stuck by the similarity in the pre-Zorro map Absolute used, and the map in SINS OF THE ASSASSIN, which shows North America 2040. The story arc of book 3 of the Assassin trilogy involves the growing expansionist demands of the Aztlan Empire, or, as Dr. Juan Hernandez, Hispanic outreach advisor to John McCaine would phrase it, "We are betting on the Mexican population within the United States will ... think of Mexico first. Third generation or seventh generation, I want every Mexican to think of Mexico first." Fun ensues. I need a drink.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

National Medal of Honor Day

Today is National Medal of Honor Day, a fact that my local newspaper, The Seattle Times, failed to note. I suspect this is true for most daily newspapers who have been filling their newsholes with breathless reports of Obama's triumphant return from his Virgin Islands vacation, Hillary dodging sniper fire and declines in the housing market, which, like sunspots and Nancy Pelosi's staccato blink rate, is George Bush's fault. In an act of heroism, yesterday, the principal of Forest Lake High School in Twin Cities, Minnesota, cancelled a National Heroes Tour scheduled to speak to a gathering of social studies classes. It seems several parents complained that such contact with military personnel would be too political. Garrison Keillor is undoubtably working on a letter of commendation.

You can find out more about the Congressional Medal of Honor Society here. If you read the stories of the holders of the Medal, you will be given the gift of humility.

One good place to start is with Corporal Tibur "Teddy Rubin, who I was directed to by an FBI agent I had the pleasure of meeting on booktour in Los Angeles a couple months ago. A selection from the citation:

Corporal Tibor Rubin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period from July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953, while serving as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely (my italics) by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8 th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit's line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese.

Sins of the Assassin is dedicated to the three men who have most recently been awarded the Medal: Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, Corporal Jason l. Dunham, and Lt. Michael Murphy. It seems to me that if we do not honor the warriors who protect us, there will come a time when we will desperately need such men and women, and they will not be there.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Interview by AUTHOR magazine

Bill Kenower, editor of AUTHOR magazine interviewed me a few weeks ago prior to a book signing. He's good, but I wish I could rewrite myself.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Good Day

Good day today.

Just did forty minutes talking with Hugh Hewitt on his national radio show, and got probably my favorite review ever of SINS today, by Dave Forsmark at

Hugh is a fine interviewer, always makes me think, and it's live radio so I have to repress the urge to say --- let me ponder that for five minutes and I'll get back to you with something clever.

Strange thing happened when I was reading Forsmark's review. He quotes from the book about the way the Old One had cracked the former U.S.A.

"It had been his money, filtered through numerous fronts, that had financed the think tanks and jihadi legal defense teams … all the useful idiots. It had been his money that had funded politicians and religious figures, compliant judges and radical journalists, billions of dollars in honoraria, with presidential libraries and foundations in particular targeted. That was the carrot. … There was also the stick. Hard-line military leaders discredited. Evangelicals mocked. Curious investigators framed or fired. Or worse."

But domestic spiritual decline was only half the cause. America also was weakened by those who held the idea of projecting power to protect liberty in contempt. In Ferrigno's future, the mainstream media's undermining of the Iraq War was a key turning point:

"The U.S. Military won every battle, but they had no voice, no message that could be heard. The Old One's servants monitored every TV station and never saw a hero, only the dead. A war without heroes, without victories. Only petty atrocities inflated for all the world to see, clucked over by millionaire news anchors and fatuous movie stars. Their president himself apologized. We must show that we are more humane than the terrorists, he said. As though the wolf should apologize for having sharper teeth than the rabbit. Good fortune beyond the Old One's wildest dreams, an enemy who wanted to be loved. Be ashamed of the war and soon you will be ashamed of the warriors — the warriors got that message soon enough."

I really like these two blocks of quotes. Really like them. It's just that Ihave no memory of writing them. This happens often when I read reviews of my books. No, I'm no plagarist, it's just that my best writing isn't formulated or constructed or measured out. I hear about pathetic MFA lit dweebs talking about their suffering over every sentence, polishing every word and I want to punch them out. The best writing emerges from a deeper and more profoundly true place than the intellect. Most of the time I don't feel like the writer of my books, I feel like the first reader. Which is great. Because I like reading a good book.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Letter of the Week

Reader David C. writes:
Totally non book related question: Are you wearing a kilt in the picture on
your bio page?
Just curious as I am a kilt wearer.
I told David that the photo on the bio page was taken some years ago on a Vegas craps binge with my Uncle Dave. I don't remember wearing a kilt, but since it was Vegas, anything was possible. However, a careful examination of my files has revealed...

Monday, March 3, 2008

I'm on the Radio, Ma!

Saturday I was interviewed by the guys at Northern Alliance Radio, which went well... meaning I only blanked out once in the half-hour. Sometimes it feels like there's bees in my head, but give a listen.

Friday, February 29, 2008

I can speak!

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 1 at 12 noon (CST) I'll be on Northern Alliance Radio Network, am 1280, out of the Twin Cities, Minnesota. To hear it live:

a podcast will be posted later at:

and Chad the Elder, who will be interviewing me tomorrow, just posted an insightful review of SINS at his blog:

more fun to come

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tour Schedule

(WELCOME NRO readers)
Yesterday was the official launch of SINS, which also happened to be Supertuesday... not the greatest day to get attention for any book, but things went well, starting with John J. Miller posting a link to his podcast interview with me.

Next I was interviewed by Kirby Wilbur, talkradio host of KVI-AM in Seattle. Kirby and company are off to Washington DC today for the CPAC conference. Kirby will be offering copies of SINS in on-air contests. If you're at the conference, stop by and say hello to him or Matt.

David Montgomery, book reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times, tagged SINS as "book of the week" at his site, Crime Fiction Dossier.

It's no secret how much I loved Robert Ferrigno's Prayers for the Assassin, last year's winner of the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller. Now Ferrigno has returned to the world of a post-revolutionary, Islamic America, and the results are just as satisfying. In Sins of the Assassin, Rakkim Epps, Muslim special forces warrior, is sent into the Christian Bible Belt (the Old South of the former USA) to retrieve a secret weapon before the Christians can get their hands on. What ensues is an action-packed and suspenseful thriller, cast against a stunning backdrop of imagination. It's early in 2008, but this is one of the best books I've read so far this year.

Timmer at The Daily Brief, a military blog, also reviewed the book. Much obliged, Tim.

I leave for a short booktour this weekend. If you're in Southern California or the Scottsdale area, I'll be reading and signing at the following locations.

Orange, CA
Sunday February 10 --- 1pm
Book Carnival
348 Tustin Avenue
Orange, CA 92866
Phone: (714) 538-3210

Torrance, CA
Monday, February 11 --- 7pm
3700 Torrance Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90503

Scottsdale, AZ
Tuesday, February 12 --- 7pm
Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Blvd. Suite 101
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Phone: (480) 947-2974

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Reader Email of the Week

Jawwad F, is a Pakistani international businessman, educated in the U.S., who returned to Karachi five years ago. We have corresponded regularly since he bought Prayers for the Assassin in a Borders in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Our recent discussion centered around the U.S. presidential election and how he and his friends view the candidates.

Historically speaking the Republicans have always had a soft corner for Pakistan, where as the Democrats have always pushed the Indian cause and played hardball with us. Geopolitical considerations aside, I am rooting for Barak Obama. I don’t have anything against Hillary and I think President Clinton was one of the sharpest presidents to take the office in recent history, but I think it will interesting to see what happens when the first African American president takes charge of the office. My worst nightmare is Rudy walking into the white house.

No nightmare ahead for Jawwad. The only way Rudy is walking into the White House is on a guided tour.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Proud to Be a Footnote, UPDATED

(a correction to this post is at the bottom)

Canada has universal health care but not the First Amendment protection afforded US citizens. Me, I’m self-insured and paid enough for shoulder surgery last year to buy a Prius, but I’ll take the First Amendment any day. I suspect so would Mark Steyn, an incisive thinker and fearless essayist who lives in the US, but publishes a regular column in the Canadian magazine, Maclean’s. That’s where the trouble started.

On Wed, Dec 5, 2007, four Muslim students at Toronto's Osgoode Hall Law School, and the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, accusing Steyn and Maclean’s of violating their "sense of dignity and self-worth”. My sense of dignity and self-worth is harmed every time I see the six-pack abs on the guy in the Bowflex ads on TV. Who do I sue? While the particular flash point for the CIC was Steyn’s article “The Future Belongs to Islam," an excerpt from his best selling book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, the full complaint made clear that it was Steyn’s body of work that was on trial.

I first became aware of the situation when a Canadian reader emailed me with the news that not only was Steyn being charged by the Human Rights Commission, but in the documentation against him was his very positive review of my previous novel, Prayers for the Assassin. Steyn's praise for Prayers, a book written by a “recognized Islamophobe” according to the CIC, was further evidence of his prejudice against Muslims. For the record, I am neither Islamophobic nor recognized.

When I heard about the complaint, I confess I dismissed it as something akin to getting a warning from a pimply hall monitor telling me that my shoes squeaked. I was wrong.

In fact the complaint seems to be part of a campaign to use the Canadian Human Rights Commission, not for redress of racial or sexual discrimination in jobs and housing as originally intended, but as a method of harassment against free speech and intellectual inquiry, particularly where it pertains to Muslims. While the Human Rights Commission’s punishment is limited to fines and orders to desist, the procedures of the commission involve steep costs for the defendants, and no cost whatsoever for the one filing the complaint. Steyn will be forced to travel to British Columbia and appear before the commission on June 3 to defend himself and his writing. He will probably chose to bear the cost of an attorney, but he will not be allowed to have the attorney present when he testifies before the commission.

Regardless of the merits of his case, if history is any prognosticator, Steyn will probably lose. In the January 17, 2008 edition of Maclean’s, Steyn points out that in the thirty-year history of the Human Rights Commission, not a single “defendant” has been “acquitted.” Not one. Even Johnnie Cochran lost once in a while.

So what exactly did Steyn say in “The Future Belongs to Islam?” that was so incendiary and damaging to the self-worth of Muslims? Steyn’s main point in the article was that the radically different birthrate between native-born Europeans and the current fifty million Muslim immigrants would lead to an Islamic continent within decades, jeopardizing its socially tolerant culture. A demographic jihad, if you will, bloodless except for the occasional infidel who mocks Muhammad or the Muslim daughter who chooses to date a Catholic.

“Every Western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children,” Steyn wrote. “Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children.” Regardless of the sensitivities of the four future lawyers who brought the original complaint, Steyn is simply stating facts. As an example, according to a 2007 study by the Times (London), Muhammad is the #2 most popular name for baby boys born the previous year in Britain, after Jack, and “is likely to rise to No 1 by next year.”

Nor is Steyn among the first to warn that the liberal culture of Europe is threatened by Muslim birth rates. Oriana Fallaci reminds us in “Islam and the West” that it was Algerian leader Houari Boum├ędienne, speaking at the United Nations in 1974, who announced: “One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.” Boum├ędienne died in 1978, but that shouldn’t stop the Human Rights Commission from digging him up. Justice must be served.

“We are witnessing the end of the late 20th- century progressive welfare democracy,” Steyn dared to write in the Maclean’s essay, “Its fiscal bankruptcy is merely a symptom of a more fundamental bankruptcy: its insufficiency as an animating principle for society. The children and grandchildren of those fascists and republicans who waged a bitter civil war for the future of Spain now shrug when a bunch of foreigners blow up their capital. Too sedated even to sue for terms, they capitulate instantly.”

Steyn is referring to the terror-bombings of Madrid commuter trains in March 2004, shortly before the Spanish national elections. One hundred ninety of their fellow citizens were killed by Islamists demanding an end to Spanish support of the Iraq war. The Spanish electorate promptly threw out Prime Minister Jose Aznar and his government, replacing him with the Socialist party candidate, Jose Zapatero. The new prime minister promptly withdrew Spain’s troops from Iraq. Peace in our time. Ariba! Except within the last few weeks, Spanish authorities said they had averted another major terrorist attack. Capitulation just ain’t what it used to be.

While I agree with Mark Steyn’s premises and conclusions, there is certainly an opposing argument to be made. What should not be in doubt is that his forced appearance before the Canadian Human Rights Commission is an affront to free people everywhere. Let these matters be argued in neutral forums: blogs, talk radio, newspaper op-eds, and university campuses. (Yes, many universities – Brandeis, I’m talking to you - have their own kangaroo courts to protect students from having their assumptions bruised, but one can hope) This is what free people do. We argue. We debate. We research. We muster points and counterpoints. We insult each other when we can’t come up with anything better. We do not forbid. We do not burn books. We do not clutch our chests because an idea has made us uncomfortable. We do not scurry off to cranky bureaucrats with too much power and tell them to make the bad man say he’s sorry.

This is the West. This is what the Enlightenment was all about. Free inquiry and no reservations is responsible for putting a man on the moon, curing polio and busting a gut to Dave Chapelle. Okay, it’s also how we got The View, bathtub crank and Saw II, but the marketplace of ideas is a noisy, messy affair, with something to offend everyone. That’s the price we have to pay for freedom, and it’s worth every penny of it.

Thanks to a most gracious correction by Steyn, it seems the Canadian Islamic Congress wasn't tarring us both with the same brush, they had actually confused the author with the reviewer.

As evidence of my "flagrant Islamophobia", (Steyn wrote in response to this post) the authors claim I "asserted" the following: 1. American will be an Islamic Republic by the year 2040 – there will be a Muslim / Islamist takeover 2. As a result of the Muslim takeover, there will be a break for prayers during the Super Bowl, the stadium will have a stereotypical Muslim name, and the fans will be forced to watch the game in a Muslim prayer posture 4. As a result of the Muslim takeover there will an oppressive religious police enforcing Islamic/Muslim norms on the population, important US icons [such as the USS Ronald Reagan] will be renamed after Osama bin Laden, no females will be allowed to be cheerleaders, and popular American radio and television talk show hosts will have been replaced by Muslim imams...

Except Steyn didn't write that. I did. It's in the opening chapter of Prayers. The authorship of which the complaintants ascribed to Mark Steyn. It's as if that hall monitor saw the two of us walking to class and decided that it was Steyn with the squeaky shoes. Sorry pal, c'est moi.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

First newspaper review

Adam Woog, writing for the Seattle Times, gives Sins of the Assassin a great review. Here's an excerpt:

Ferrigno has always had a gift for writing vivid characters, especially bad guys; his villains tend to be both really, really bad and highly charismatic. This new book has some humdingers, including the Colonel's genuinely nasty right-hand man and a shadowy, fanatical Muslim billionaire who pulls global strings from aboard his luxury yacht.Ferrigno also has an eye for the kinds of detail that bring a setting to life. Here, he has a lot of fun inventing these touches, such as the site of the Branch Davidian disaster in Waco. It's now a tourist attraction with re-enactments of the siege and plenty of souvenirs for the kids.

I salute you, sir!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Hour When the Ship Comes In

Just found out that a short story I wrote for LA NOIR, The Hour When the Ship Comes In, was selected to appear in Best MysteryStories of 2008, published by Houghton Miflin. LA NOIR editor Denise Hamilton contacted about twenty five writers who lived or used to live in LA and asked us to write a story centered in one of the many geographic pockets of the city. I chose Belmont Shore, a small beach community next to Long Beach where I lived for eight years. A mix of seedy and yuppie, where the letter carriers, male and female, where short shorts, and the Queen Mary is moored offshore as a tourist attraction. They used to have Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose parked next to it inside an enormous metal dome, but a gigantic wooden airplane wasn't the commercial draw that a beached ocean liner with lousy fish n chips is. So they cut up the plane and carted it off to Oregon and reassembled it there. Still no tourists. They should take it to the Burning Man festival and create the ultimate bonfire. But I digress... One of my most pleasant memories of the Shore was lying in bed late at night and hearing the sound of skateboards rolling down the alley. No sound of voices, just the wheels. The Hour When the Ship Comes In is the story of a very bad man who does a very good thing and pays for it. My basic philosophy of life. It's the first short story I ever wrote.

I may post it on this site in a few weeks. If it doesn't get me sued.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What fresh Hell is this?

Yesterday afternoon my chiropractor asked me what I was so stressed out about. He said my spine was stiffer than titanium, which is very good for a fighter jet but lousy for human vertebrae. I told him it was two weeks until publication... pub day. He had no idea what I was talking about, and when I explained it, he still didn't get it. "The book is already finished he said. What's there to be worried about?"

I'll explain it to you. Maybe I'll do a better job this time.

Sins of the Assassin will be available February 5. Conditions are promising. Everyone at the publisher loves it. They've spent a lot of money designing the right cover, sending out advance copies, beating the publicity drum like a monkey on crack with a Red Bull chaser. Bookstore reps have been very positive, ordering lots of copies. Pre-sales are strong. I've got national radio interviews lined up. My nine year old son just fixed the garage opener after I had given up and was ready to call in a professional. So why do I keep waking up at 3 am, feeling like there's a fat man sitting on my chest? Because Sins is my tenth novel, and I know anything can happen.

The filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock described the difference between surprise and suspense by imagining a happy fellow sitting in a train compartment, looking at the scenery rushing past. The compartment suddenly explodes into a ball of fire from a bomb placed under his seat. That’s surprise. Now let’s imagine that same fellow on the train, only this time he knows that there’s a bomb under his seat. He just doesn’t know when it’s going to go off. He can’t remove it. And, oh yeah, he can’t get out of the compartment. So he has to sit there very quietly, soaked in sweat, hoping that someone opens to door before the bomb goes off. That’s suspense.

The first time novelist is the happy fellow in the first example, enjoying the ride, blissful in his ignorance.Me, I'm the poor sap squirming in his seat, wondering if he’s going to hear the explosion before he’s blown to hamburger.

While writing a novel, the author is a god. Me, I'm often a vengeful god. Let's be honest, what’s the fun of being a god if you can’t call up death and destruction when the mood hits. Characters live and die by my whim. Love blooms and fades by my command. I decide whether the ending is happy or sad. That cough may be a summer cold or something worse. And watch out for the girl with green eyes. Ah, power. It’s nice being a god, but two weeks before pub date you get tossed out of heaven, and it's a long way down.

Now I'm worried about my author photo on the jacket. It's ten years out of date. I submitted a current photo. The house publicist sent it back with a sweet note saying everyone in the department thought the younger version “reproduced better.” I didn’t know my vasectomy showed. I'm afraid people will come to my readings and think something terrible has happened to me in the last few months that's aged me terribly.

I worry that I'll miss one of my connecting flights on tour, or get stuck on the tarmac for eight hours with people who don't read or shower.

I worry that I'll get a last minute booking on a 6 a.m. drivetime radio Morning Zoo with hosts who ring sirens and cue fart noises when they introduce me. (This happened four books ago and my ears are still ringing)

So if you liked the first chapter of Sins, buy a copy. Buy two. I need a massage.