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Title: DARK BLOOD
Author: Caleb James
Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Alan M. Clark
Release Date: 06/28/2016
Handsome, brilliant, and surrounded by good friends, twenty-three-year-old medical student Miles Fox has a secret. It’s not that he’s gay, though he harbors a crush on his straight best friend, Luke. Miles, like his grandmother Anna, possesses the healing gift, an ability she’s made him swear never to use or divulge, lest horrible things befall those he loves. It happened to her when her family was butchered by Nazis.
It all goes to hell when Miles heals a terminally ill father on a New Orleans cancer ward and wakes to find himself on a locked psych unit. Worse, news of the healing miracle has spread. For millennia, its carriers have been hunted by those who would steal it. Dr. Gerald Stangl and his teenage son, Calvin, know what Miles possesses. They, like their predecessors, will stop at nothing to take it, including kidnap, torture, and murder. As the Stangl’s noose tightens, Miles and Luke are trapped in a death match, with stakes higher than they could ever imagine.
Four A.M. Dreamspinner
The majority of my latest novel, Dark Blood (DSP Publications) was written before daybreak. Every day I get up between three and four, make coffee and tea, and I go up to my study, often trailed by two or three cats.
I click the mouse, and the screen blinks to light. I let Lulu, a twenty-plus-year-old extra-furry tuxedo cat, have a few minutes in my lap as I read through where I left off the day before. Soon Lulu senses I’m not giving her my undivided attention. She wriggles to the floor, and it’s time to start.
Most writers have similar rituals. The same time of day, the hot beverage, and what to do about the office door. Do you let the cats, children, husband intrude? Or do you impose rules like Nora Robert’s blood-and-fire rule for her children. “You know, unless it’s blood or fire, don’t bother me.”
Beyond that, I love the soft squishy feel of the early a.m.. My brain sparks to life with caffeine and whatever story I’m in the midst of. My thoughts achieve a nimble and willing quality that lets tales wander in unexpected directions. I’m not the only one to discover this magical aspect of early morning writing. Something happens. Characters say and do what they will, and it’s up to me to keep my fingers flying over the keyboard and not miss a beat.
Sure, I’m able to do this at other times of the day, but there’s a consistent ease when the moon and stars are still high in the sky and the day to come has not yet intruded. Where Dark Blood and my first Caleb James novel, Haffling, both involve paranormal and magical realism, the mystical quality I need comes easily in the dark. Oftentimes I go straight from a real dream, and less than fifteen or twenty minutes later, I’m in the midst of writing.
Sometimes I take my own dreams and given them to characters. In Dark Blood one of the creepier themes involves severed heads in jars. This comes from both a real memory and a dream I had in medical school. Here goes. In my anatomy lab in Georgia—Emory University—there was a stainless steel box that no one ever opened. One day I did. It was filled with human heads in various stages of dissection, swimming in embalming fluid.
Not long after, I had the dream. It was late at night in the lab. I was alone and had come to prepare for a test where I’d have to identify various nerves and blood vessels on the cadaver I’d been dissecting for the past several months. As I entered the hall, I heard a pulse, like the beat of a drum. I saw a janitor mopping the floor. His wash bucket was filled with chunks of human fat—did I mention this dream is not for the squeamish?
The beat grew louder as I entered the lab, where, concealed by slick, white oilcloth wraps, lay a dozen cadavers. The beat accelerated, and suddenly a half-dissected man threw off his wrap and started to sing. It evolved into quite the lively musical number, and as one would expect, the box of heads flew open and they joined in with a swinging four-part harmony. To be fair I’ve used elements of this dream in more than one book, although the characters twist it to fit their particular psyches.
Dreams are made of gossamer and are easily lost to memory in the dawn’s early light. But at four a.m., what I have discovered is that, if you let your mind stay soft and don’t call in the internal editor, magic can happen and dreams can spin from the night before into the book ahead.
For three lucky winners we have copies of Dark Blood with a 100% cotton v-neck dark blood tee in large and extra large only.
About the Author
Caleb James (pen name for Charles Atkins) is a board-certified psychiatrist, member of the Yale volunteer faculty, clinical trainer, and author of more than fifteen traditionally published books, both fiction and nonfiction. He has had hundreds of short stories and articles appear in publications ranging from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) to Writer’s Digest Magazine. His recent textbook on co-occurring substance use and mental disorders has been included in the core curriculum of multiple schools of social work. His thrillers include the Barret Conyors forensic psychiatry series (Llewellyn and Severn House), Cadaver’s Ball (St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur), The Lil and Ada series (Severn House) and the soon-to-be-released Dark Blood—writing as Caleb James (DSP Publications). Caleb’s first novel—Haffling (Initially released by Harmony Ink and now under DSP Publication) will be followed by two more in the series—Exile and Hound.
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