Science fiction and classic crime novels have long been favorites of author K.C. Sivils. The combination of film noir and science fiction in director Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep into the masterful Harrison Ford vehicle Bladerunner encouraged him to consume as much of both genre’s as possible.
A fan of past noir masters such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, Sivils also enjoys the current generation of storytellers like Renee Pawlish and Alex P. Berg.
Author of over twenty non-fiction books, including an Amazon Best Seller, Sivils has now ventured into the realm of fiction with his Inspector Thomas Sullivan series. Married to the former Lisa Green and the father of three children, Sivils is a dog lover and a fan of Classic Rock bands like The Rolling Stones and New Wave rockers The Cars.
An Innocent Man, the latest installment in the Inspector Thomas Sullivan Thriller series, is available for pre-order on Amazon.
500 years in the future, technology has changed. Humanity has not.
One man’s fate lies in the hands of a team of corrupt prosecutors bent on making their prosecutorial mark for personal gain. Standing in the path of injustice is Inspector Thomas Sullivan and an acquaintance from the past.
Murder, political corruption, greed, and scandal combine for danger in Capital City on the frozen world of Beta Prime. At stake is a man’s life, the very souls of others, and the integrity of the entire Planetary Alliance’s justice system.
Join Sully and his team as they try to free An Innocent Man!
Unlike the nosy neighbor who snoops into everyone’s business or the ultra observant detective who knows endless amounts of minutia, the hardboiled detective doesn’t usually solve cases with nothing more than his wits. To be sure, sleuthing is involved, but unlike the aforementioned crime busters, the cynical detective is willing to get his hands dirty.
Less concerned with the law and more concerned with justice, the hardboiled detective doesn’t live in a cozy house or in an estate manor. The detective lives in the city, often in the underbelly where crime and violence are a part of daily life. He might frequent nice parts of town and often does when the sordid events of urban life pay visit to those less familiar with the pain these events bring with them.
Life has been the detective’s most valuable teacher. Events have taught the detective life is neither fair nor just and it most certainly has damaged him in profound ways. But life has not broken him and nor will it. He spends his days risking his life to bring justice to those who cannot find it any other way.
Unlike the puzzle-solving investigator of cozy mysteries and cerebral detective stories written the British style, the hardboiled detective lives life in a very real way. His haunts include dirty city streets where the lowly people live, dive bars, seedy hotels, and the industrial district. He knows people in low places as well as the upper crust of society. His acquaintances include bar keeps, prostitutes, petty criminals, and corrupt politicians. Friends are few in number and having them comes with a high price.
Writing hardboiled crime fiction, often known as crime noir, requires a different perspective than required to write other styles of mystery fiction. Violence is ugly. It knows no limitations, visiting the poor and the rich alike, shattering lives. This very ugliness is part of the appeal of hardboiled detective stories. The story is real life in all of its sordid ugliness.
In his essay, The Simple Art of Murder, Raymond Chandler writes at some length about writing mysteries and the differences the author must cope with when writing the hardboiled detective. The likes of Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and the Continental Op are a different breed of man. So much so, Chandler felt it necessary to write about the qualities of such fictional men.
In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things.
He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks—that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.
The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in (Chandler).
My own Inspector Sullivan possesses many of the qualities Chandler believes to be essential in the hardboiled detective. It is unlikely, authors of such caliber as Chandler and Hammett could foresee things like a cybernetic eye and hand or crime on an alien planet. Nonetheless, Sully, were he an Earthbound detective, should fit easily into the cities where Spade and Marlowe practiced their craft.
It is good to have something to aim for. One of my own goals as an author is for my stories somehow to approach the quality of Hammett and Chandler, two of my literary heroes. For that to happen, Sully must bear some resemblance to Spade, Marlowe, and the Operative.
Chandler, Raymond. The Simple Art of Murder (Kindle Locations 262-276). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
My wife and I spent the morning at the Museum of Natural Science in the Houston Museum District. We ponied up the money to see the International Sherlock Holmes Exhibition. It was worth every dime!
Upon entering the exhibit a member of the museum staff provides you with a small book to record clues you come across. Be forewarned should you visit the exhibit! The minute you set foot in the exhibit, “the game is afoot!”
The exhibit begins with some history about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his life and education, and of special importance, the medical professors who trained Doyle. Of particular interest is the photo of Dr. Joseph Bell, the man who taught Doyle how to practice the art of observation.
The display includes several of the original handwritten pages of the classic Holmes story The Hound of Baskervilles. Of the original 178 pages only 30+ pages still exist.
Also on display is a copy of The Strand
The exhibit is filled with displays of artifacts depicting the forensic and scientific knowledge of the times. A trained medical doctor, Doyle was up to date on the latest discoveries and used them to great advantage in the telling of his stories.
If you live in Houston and love detective stories, you’ll want to take in the exhibition. If not, you’ll want to visit the Exhibitions website for details of where the exhibition will appear next. In fact, I suggest visiting the website regardless. It’s filled with more interesting material for fans of the great detective!
Libraries in general do not purchase books written by indie authors. They have their reasons and like many bureaucratic institutions are slow to change. With all the changes in technology and the decline in reading among younger citizens libraries truly have their hands full.
None of this stops indie authors from wanting to get their books into local libraries.
The sale of a single copy of a novel or non-fiction book is not really the goal for most indie authors. Exposure to readers is.
One of the biggest challenges facing all authors is being discovered by readers. Throw in factors like the author’s genre might be narrow, it is a first book, and the seven million or so new books published every year and you can start to grasp the challenge.
One of the best ways for indie authors to get a foot in the door with libraries is for local patrons who frequent the library to request copies of the author’s work to be added to the collection.
Almost all of the paperback copies of my Inspector Sullivan Series that have been sold have been a result of readers asking their local library to add the book(s) to the library’s collection.
If you enjoy the Inspector Sullivan books, please consider asking your local library to add them to the library’s collection.
In fact, if you have other indie authors you enjoy, do the same for that author. We all need to be discovered!
Have you read a hard boiled detective story set in the countryside? Watched a classic crime noir film set in a rural area?
Crime noir stories are set in a city. Not just any city, a large, crowded, gritty city. It’s inhabitants range from the innocent to the most evil criminals an author can imagine.
Not just any city will do.
Most often the cities used in these stories are Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, London, and sometimes Chicago. Sometimes the city is fictional, often bearing no name.
A well written noir makes the come alive for the reader. So much so the city itself can seem to be one of the characters.
Capital City on Beta Prime is meant to be a character of sorts. It is a cold and inhospitable place, dangerous, dirty, and crowded.
It is also a diverse city. It’s humble beginnings were that of a mining colony using the shipping containers used to bring necessary supplies to the planet. In the better parts of town the architecture is modern and elegant. Suburbs for the middle class have sprouted up. Bad neighborhoods can be found adjacent to middle and working class areas.
Transportation is a mess. Just what you would expect from any large urban city. It ranges from individual hovercars to old fashioned but modern subways. Taxis can be found to take you anywhere.
What makes Capital City unique is the people. Spread throughout the millions who inhabit the futuristic city are characters who make the city what it is.
Joe Maynard for example. The proprietor of Joe’s Place, an Old Earth comfort food joint with great ambiance and music. A place to eat, relax, and do business, legal usually but not always.
There’s the crooked (bent) cop Markeson. A strange duck if you ask me. Markeson’s as bent as they come but he’s a skilled detective who periodically takes great offense to other criminals breaking the law in his city.
Weather makes a city unique. Chicago is the Windy City. It rains in San Francisco and the fog rolls in. Capital City is the frozen city. The fog in Capital City is a bit different though. When it’s a bluish green, evil lurks.
Everything necessary for a thriller can be found in Capital City. Transportation to get away, goods and property to steal or smuggle. Innocent people to be murdered and plenty of not so innocent people to do the killing. Corruption is everywhere and so are people who hate it. Most of all, there are plenty of people who just want to take care of their families and live their lives.
Capital City is also home to many who wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It is more than just the backdrop for a story. It’s integral to it.
Social media can eat up a lot of time. There aren’t too many people who would disagree with that statement. Many avid readers who enjoy social media find it necessary to choose between reading and engaging with others via social media.
Social media designed for avid readers!
There three easy methods to connect with other readers and favorite authors:
Amazon Author Central
Goodreads is essentially Facebook for readers. Fans who open accounts on Goodreads are serious about reading. There are lot of cool features for the avid reader. Here’s a few:
1) Asking the author questions: Authors have to give their consent to participate in this feature so they tend to answer.
2) Updates on the author and upcoming new work: These come in the form of an e-mail. I know, another e-mail. Having said that, the subject line informs you the e-mail is an update from a favorite author. I open these.
3) Reading groups focused on specific topics or genres: I belong to a couple of these and they’re fun. One of the groups has a monthly group read of a book the group picks. You can participate in the discussion on line. Reading groups are also a way to discover new or obscure authors.
4) Book Giveaways: Goodreads runs book giveaways. You can win Kindle or paperback copies of books directly from the authors. I’ll be honest, some of the paperback copies are likely drop shipped directly from CreateSpace or IngramSpark (POD services). But some authors sign the copy for you and mail it directly to you.
Note: You don’t provide the author any of your information to enter the Giveaway. The author is notified by GoodReads when the Giveaway is over and provided contact information to the winners.
Each Giveaway has some restrictions and there are limits to the number of winners in each Giveaway.
5) Access to reviews: GoodReads users are all avid readers. Most of them at least rate the books they read and many write detailed reviews. I find the reviews and ratings to be more just and accurate than those I find on Amazon.
6) Friends that are readers: Like Facebook, you can have friends. GoodReads will communicate updates to you if desired about what your friends are reading. These are avid readers who love books. Not just reading books but discussing them as well.
If you love an obscure author or genre, here is a way to find like minded readers!
Unlike other forms of social media I actually enjoy the time I spend on GoodReads.
The pitch: Amazon owns GoodReads and it’s slowly becoming a way for authors to connect with and find new readers. The more followers authors have, the larger an audience they can reach.
How to follow an author: It’s easy. First you have to have a Goodreads account.
If you find an author you would like to follow, search for one of the author’s books. In the image above you’ll see the listing for my own The Predator and The Prey. Beneath the title of the book you will find the author’s name listed. Place your cursor on the author’s name and click.
The gentleman depicted above is none other than the famous Ed McBain, author and creator of the 87th Precinct series of novels. Bellow the image you will see a button labeled “Follow Author.” Simply click on the button and you are now following that particular author.
Amazon Author Central is just as easy to join. You can click on the author’s name as it is listed beneath the book title. In addition to announcements and updates about the author’s books and new releases (Amazon wants to sell you books) you can keep track of all of the author’s blog posts without leaving the Amazon website.
In the image above, you’ll notice beneath the small image of the book cover a caption asking you to follow the author of the book. Usually you’ll see a tiny image of the author and a button to click labeled +Follow. Just click on the button and Amazon does the rest. You’re following the author now.
BookBub is one of the most popular places for readers to find books and learn about deals on ebooks. Like Goodreads and Amazon, you’ll need an account.
Once you have opened an account and logged in, following an author is easy. You can use the search feature to look up an author. In the example bellow, I did a search for Rex Stout, the creator of the Nero Wolfe series.
In the top right corner is the familiar Follow button. Click on it and you’re now following the author.
If you don’t know who the author is but love a particular book and want to either learn more about the author of follow the author, do a search for the book.
In the image below you’ll see the page for The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout. In the lower right corner of the image is the Follow button.
I am working to grow my list of followers on all three of these platforms. If you already have accounts with them, please take a minute and add me to the list of authors you follow.
If you don’t utilize any of the above three, consider creating a Goodreads account. As I said before, it’s social media for avid readers.
It’s taken awhile, but finally, the first box set in the Inspector Thomas Sullivan Thriller series is available for pre-sale on Amazon. On August 2, the Box Set will go live!
From the Amazon Product Description:
Now in a single box set – the first three hard hitting and action-packed Inspector Thomas Sullivan Thrillers – Hardboiled Noir from the Future!
Fans of classic pulp detective stories from the pens of Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler will enjoy Sully’s deadpan banter and the assorted villains and corrupt officials the Inspector must contend with. Bladerunner fans will enjoy the setting in Capital City, a character itself, set on the frozen world of Beta Prime.
Follow Inspector Sullivan, a man with a harrowing past, as he struggles to clean-up the crime and corruption of Capital City.
The Predator and The Prey (Book 1)
The challenges start before Sully even sets foot on the planet Beta Prime. caught up in a conspiracy while hunting a sadistic serial killer, Sully tries to find the beautiful young woman whose presences is a haunting reminder of a past tragedy.
Last Train To Nowhere (Book 2)
A hated authority figure from Sully’s past reaches out and asks for the Inspector’s help in solving the murder of a military policeman. The enigmatic Sarah struggles with reality as the bodies began to pile up, bodies of clones that is.
Join Sully as he and his associates work to stop a cartel trafficking in human clones.
Grey Sky Blues (Book 3)
No Alliance prison is as tough as Graham Correctional located on the moon Persephone. Sent to investigate a pair of bizarre murders, Sully and friends uncover a sinister criminal enterprise within the walls of Graham. It doesn’t take long for Sully to realize nothing is as it seems.
Excerpt from The Fractured Man (prequel to The Predator and The Prey)
Six short stories
Background history and information to the Inspector Sullivan Universe
E-mail from readers can be interesting for an author. I particularly like e-mails that ask specific questions about why a character did this or why did your story line take this twist, etc. I’d like to use this newsletter to answer one reader’s question in particular.
Why did you give Sully a cybernetic eye?
It’s a good question. At least I think so.
Once I made the decision for the Inspector to not be completely human, to have a few parts that aren’t human attached, I could have given Sully just about anything. Legs that would allow him to run super fast or jump over buildings. Arms that have multiple types of weapons built in. Armor beneath his skin to protect his vital organs. The sky was the limit.
But I chose to give Sully a cybernetic eye.
I based my decision on two primary reasons. Not that I intend to fill my stories with deeply profound hidden meanings, but there are things I build in for readers to catch and ponder. If a reader doesn’t pick up on it, it’s not a big deal. If a reader sees the hidden gem, great!
Sully sees the universe differently. Using his robot eye and not a human one to tell that part of the story brings attention to what Sully sees and thinks. He’s a damaged individual who sees things differently. Being a cynic, he trusts little of what he sees and hears. Actions and motives are what Sully looks to see.
More important than a story telling device is the fact I love the first two Terminator films! My kids and I also loved the short lived television franchise Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
I am convinced the show’s short run was due to the fact the writers and producers did not understand one very important fact. Sarah and John Connor are key elements of any Terminator story. But let’s make one point clear. They are NOT the stars
The Terminator is!
Summer Glau, who brought Cameron to life in the TV show, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who brought the first Terminator and Uncle Bob to life, were the stars of the franchise. Miss Glau did a wonderful job as Cameron and the show would have been better served had the story line evolved around Cameron more.
One of the features I found fascinating was the HUD Terminators used within their cybernetic eye, or optics if you prefer. Terminators can replay old memories, access data files, call up protocols, identify objects and individuals, and most importantly, select whether not to terminate a human.
In one episode of TSCC Cameron dressed up in an enticing outfit and visited a bar frequented by employees of a nuclear power plant in order to obtain the bar codes the Connor’s needed to gain access to key parts of the plant. Acting like a naive and unknowing young woman, she flirted with a pair of males from the plant who happened to be playing pool.
It didn’t take Cameron long to get invited to play a game she “didn’t know how to play” and wager money. Like fools the men let Cameron break. She promptly pulled up her HUD, used her targeting software, calculated the optimal break point, and sank four or five balls in the break.
I follow developments in robotics and artificial intelligence. Both technologies are coming whether we like it or not. In some ways these new technologies will be of great benefit to mankind. I can also see the potential for evil and great harm to society. All too often we as humans never stop to ask the question should we. We just plunge ahead and focus on “how do we?”
Given how fast technology advances, I don’t think it’s far fetched for Sully to have a cybernetic eye. I’d even venture to say within a hundred years humans will have the ability to replace a damaged biological eye with a cybernetic eye with some of the same features Sully possesses in his replacement eye.
So now you know.
If you have any questions about any of my characters that you would like to ask, please do! Just drop me an e-mail (SciFiThriller@kcsivils.com) and ask. I might even include the answer in a future issue of The Inspector’s Report.
This was first published in The Inspector’s Report, Volume Two, Number Eight.
The first of two prequels to the Inspector Thomas Sullivan Thriller Series will be released this March! The Fractured Man tells the story of Sully’s days as a Space Marine, an SP, and his early days as a civilian inspector. Written it the style of classic pulp crime stories with a crime noir flair, readers will enjoy this futuristic thriller.