News & Blog

The Scariest Part: Max Turner Talks About NEW ORDER

new order cover

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is Max Turner, whose latest novel in the Night Runner series is New Order. Here’s the publisher’s description:

How can a guy who can’t find two matching socks be qualified to lead anyone?

An ancient prophecy declared that Zack Thomson, orphaned son of a great vampire hunter, would come back from the dead and either lead humanity into the light—or destroy it. Now the End of Days for vampires is here, the old order is eroding, and from the ashes of that ruin a new world will arise. Will Zack become the great leader the new order so desperately needs? And which of his friends, allies and enemies will survive to learn the answer?

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Max Turner:

Every writer has to be a sadist. We have to make our heroes suffer. It’s the only way to show what they’re made of. As a consequence, whether you read horror or not, you should at times, in any story, find your hackles rising in anticipation of something awful. Depending on your genre of choice, the nature of that awfulness will vary, but it must be present in some proportion for a story to move you. When writing my first novel, Night Runner, a YA coming of age story with elements of fantasy and horror, I was mindful not to go over the top when constructing my hackle-raising scenes. Now that the narrator, Zack, has suffered through two novels and grown up a bit (and my audience along with him), I thought I could take some chances in book three, New Order, and write a few scenes that were darker and more frightening than any I’d tried before.

This was a challenge. I do not live a terrifying life. My kids are well behaved. My wife is nice to me, even when I don’t deserve it, and I work in a high school, which hasn’t been scary to me since they got rid of the strap. I only experience horror in movies, print and in dreams.

I have nightmares. Dreams of apocalypse. They are not pleasant. Still — in terms of producing sheer terror, none rival a dream I had often, starting when I was a young teenager and continuing into my mid twenties.

It only happened in my parent’s home. I would experience a ‘false awakening.’ (I believed myself to be awake, but was still asleep and dreaming). From my bed, everything would look normal, my maps and Star Wars posters hanging where they should be, my desk, books and collectables all shelved and in order. But something was wrong. A sense of unease would settle in. I would try to sit up, then discover that I couldn’t move. No amount of concentration would change this. I couldn’t even close my eyes. At the same time, I’d become aware that something was approaching the door to my room. I can only describe this as an evil presence, a malicious entity whose intent was to take full advantage of my inexplicable paralysis. The slow tension and my growing sense of helplessness created a fear so visceral it easily eclipsed any terror I’ve experienced in real life (for which I am extremely grateful). Then I would wake for real, and relief would tingle through every muscle fibre in my body.

The evil presence never revealed itself. Still — it got the better of me every time.

I wanted to mimic that distressing combination of realism, powerlessness and fear in a scene involving Zack. This required a few changes, most notably how to properly represent the evil presence. Something so vague had the power to terrify me in a dream, but in print, a more concrete villain was needed.

I drew upon images of Cenobites, Giger’s aliens, cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers (yes, I suffered the indignity that was C.H.U.D.), John Carpenter’s Thing, the aliens of the Mos Eisley Cantina, and even the late, great Vincent Price. The result was Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a pale, self-mutilating, spidery-limbed vampire with a corpulent face and body, covered head to toe in leaking pustules. Not the kind of guy you want to bring home to your parents. (The Addams Family being the pleasant exception).

In my scariest scene, Zachary’s dream is invaded by Pestilence who takes control of the dreamscape, renders Zack immobile (I can relate), then tortures and drowns him. Not a pleasant experience, but Zack has to suffer… Then he gets to show us what he’s made of.

Max Turner: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

New Order: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Book Depository / Books-A-Million / Kobo

Max Turner is an author of urban fantasy, and a science and phys-ed teacher. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and three kids. He is a lover of games, history, art, music, sports and all things creative. His first book, Night Runner, was a Red Maple Honour Book and was shortlisted for a Sunburst Award. The sequel, End of Days, was shortlisted for an Ottawa Book Award. The third book in the series, New Order, hit store shelves in 2015.

My Readercon 26 Schedule

Readercon is just a couple of weeks away! If you’re wondering where to find me, here’s my schedule (barring any last-minute alterations):

Friday July 11

11:00 AM    F    Mystery and Speculative Crossovers. Meriah Crawford, Chris Gerwel, Greer Gilman, Nicholas Kaufmann, Adam Lipkin (leader). There are many books that draw from both the speculative fiction and mystery toolboxes, in both macro ways (China Miéville’s The City & the City and Peter F. Hamilton’s Great North Road are catalyzed by hard-boiled murder investigations) and micro ways (urban fantasy was initially defined by its relationship to noir, now often more evident in tone than in plot). Where is this crossover most satisfying? How do magic and advanced technology open up new avenues of investigation or methods of befuddling the detectives? How have trends, tropes, and developments in each genre influenced crossover works?

1:30 PM    EM    Reading: Nicholas Kaufmann. Nicholas Kaufmann. Nicholas Kaufmann reads an excerpt from a new story.

6:00 PM    CL    Kaffeeklatsch. Elizabeth Bear, Nicholas Kaufmann.

Saturday July 12

12:00 PM    EM    ChiZine. David Baillie, Elaine Chen, Gemma Files, Nicholas Kaufmann, Yves Meynard, Paul Tremblay. ChiZine Group Reading

As you can see, Friday is going to be a very busy day for me! I look forward to getting to know my fellow panelists on the “Mystery and Speculative Crossovers,” most of whom I don’t know, and talking with them about one of my favorite subgenres. (Or is it a genre in itself? I don’t even know!) It should be a fun and informative time.

For my reading, I’m going to be reading from a brand new, not even sold yet story! I’m excited to have two readings this year, one solo and one with the ChiZine Publications gang. I have it on good authority that fellow CZP authors Karen Heuler and Chandler Klang Smith will also be at Readercon, so I’m hoping we can squeeze them in, too.

Kaffeeklatschen are always a risk. I did one last year and had a modest turnout, for which I was grateful because modest is better than none at all. I also didn’t share the room with anyone. I don’t think I have to worry about anything this year, though, because I’m sharing the room with Elizabeth Bear, who is an absolute powerhouse of an author (and a swell person, to boot). So if my kaffeeklatsch is measly or a bust this year, we can just join Elizabeth’s!

So that’s my schedule, folks. If I don’t see you at any of the above events, I’m sure I’ll cross paths with you in the lobby or the bookshop. Feel free to say hello, and I’ll do the same!

Pretty Monsters

Pretty Monsters: StoriesPretty Monsters: Stories by Kelly Link

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another winning collection from Kelly Link, as full of wit, charm, and sophisticated storytelling as her others. The stories skew a bit younger here, but Link’s trademark surrealism and underlying darkness are still present, which means adults will enjoy the collection as much as young adults. Shaun Tan’s illustrations add a nice touch. Choosing a favorite story in a Link collection is always hard, but the title story, “Pretty Monsters,” really blew me away. It’s a tour de force. The similarly named “Monster” and “The Wizards of Perfil” both stuck with me as well. Now that I’ve read and loved all four of Link’s collections, I find myself impatiently awaiting a fifth.

View all my reviews

R.I.P. Patrick Macnee


Patrick Macnee has died at the age of 93. Damn, this one hit me hard. Maybe even harder than Christopher Lee, who passed away a couple of weeks ago. You see, The Avengers, the British TV show that starred Macnee as the dapper secret agent John Steed, was a huge part of my childhood. So much so that I now proudly own the 16-disc DVD collection The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset. (Diana Rigg’s Mrs. Peel, seen above with Macnee’s Steed, was my favorite of his three female partners during the original run of the series. Between The Avengers, Doctor Who, and The Tomorrow People, I learned a lot about rotating casts in British TV shows!)

Back in the early to mid-1980s, MSG — the Madison Square Garden network on then-fledgling cable TV in New York City — showed reruns of The Avengers late on weeknights. I don’t really remember why it was on MSG. Maybe back then they only had enough sports programming to fill the daytime hours and at night they went to syndication. Whatever the reason, I watched The Avengers religiously, all the way from Diana Rigg’s first episode to the final episodes with Linda Thorson’s Tara King, whom I never liked as much as Mrs. Peel. And then the cycle would start over again, and I’d keep watching until all the episodes became indelibly etched in my mind. To this day, I count The Avengers among my all-time favorite television shows. On occasion, I’ll pop in one of those 16 DVDs, watch an episode, and be that young boy again staying up way past his bedtime to catch Steed and Mrs. Peel’s adventures. I still get a thrill whenever I hear Macnee say, as he did at the start of most episodes, “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed.”

Macnee wasn’t only in The Avengers, of course. He was a welcome presence in many a film and TV show. I love him as George Waggner in The Howling, the kind-hearted, tragic leader of the werewolf colony. He played Sir Godfrey Tibbett in A View to a Kill, arguably one of the worst James Bond movies, but it was awesome to see him in it because Roger Moore’s portrayal of Bond was clearly deeply influenced by Macnee’s John Steed. Macnee did voiceover work and had an onscreen role in the original Battlestar Galactica. And of course he was Sir Denis Eton-Hogg in This is Spinal Tap.

But man, John Steed was where it was at. He was effortlessly calm and collected, never lost his cool, had an inimitable style, and best of all, got to hang out with Mrs. Peel. I wanted to be him when I grew up — three-piece suit, (steel-lined) bowler hat, (sword-hiding) umbrella and all. Part of me still wants to be him, although I don’t think I’d look as good as he did in that getup.

Rest in peace, Patrick Macnee, but I’m sorry to see you go. I know I speak for legions of fans when I say you’re still needed.