Two blogs ago I introduced to you the unique tales of a San Francisco even weirder than what most people in the great midwest, not to mention the southeast of our country, already think it is. The two books (so far) in a series cleverly titled, The Love/Haight Case Files by Jean Rabe and Donald J. Bingle create a San Francisco its natives would surely recognize—except for all the zombies, vampires, ghosts, living stone gargoyles, werewolves, and other OTs (Other Than Humans) that have taken up residence in the City by the Bay. They are not there to wreak havoc (well, most aren’t), they just want to live as normal a life (or undeath) as possible in a beautiful location for once. No dark and stormy Transylvanian castles and villages, or Gothic churches, creepy haunted houses, or desperate, flat landscapes where the zombies roam for these guys. And when they are sinned against and illegally slighted, they, like all of us, just want simple justice. That’s where lawyers Thomas Brock, a ghost, and Evelyn Love, very vibrantly alive, come in. They are advocates for this underserved (and some recently underground) community.
The Love-Haight Case Files, Book 1: Seeking Supernatural Justice won three prestigious Silver Falchion Awards. The Love-Haight Case Files, Book 2: Fighting for Other-Than-Human Rights, which is being published this week, may well gather a like number, if not more, such awards.
In my last LOVE/HAIGHT blog I reviewed Book 1.
But for Book 2,
I decided to let the authors speak for themselves by asking them some pertinent questions.
Q: Can you guys remember the moment you got the idea for the LOVE/HAIGHT stories, and how did the idea to collaborate come up?
DON: This was all Jean. She came up with the premise and characters. I was just invited to frolic in her playground. Initially, the notion was to publish each case as a separate novella, but it became clear at some point that collecting them into novels would be a better idea both from a marketing standpoint and in terms of allowing character development, a consistent timeline, and advancing the overarching plot.
JEAN: Many years ago, packager Bill Fawcett requested a proposal for an urban-romance with a dead character…sort of a Ghost and Mrs. Muir thing. I put together a pitch that included Thomas Brock and Evelyn Love set in 1960s San Francisco. I picked SF because I thought it would be a nice place to live, and the 1960s because I was attracted to Haight-Ashbury and the hippie culture. Turned out that 1960s fiction wasn’t a good sell, and I lacked the ability to spin a romance as the crux of the story. Admittedly, I write action and mystery much better than smoochy. The idea went nowhere, but some years later I decided to dredge it up again, set it in modern-day, and bring in a significant supernatural element. I just had to do something with Valentino (more on him later). I invited Don Bingle to come play, as he knows monsters and the law. I wanted to keep the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood with its Painted Ladies, and I was still determined to have a 1960s connection … hence one of the characters is a ghost-hippie who died of a drug overdose on the corner of the law office.
Q: Why did you set the stories in San Francisco? Did the LOVE/HAIGHT title come before or after you settled on San Francisco as the location?
DON: Again, this was all Jean, but I will say that the history of San Francisco lends itself quite well not only to particular stories, but to certain thematic parallels and social commentary that can be found in the stories.
JEAN: Outside of finding the San Francisco area lovely to look at it. The place has so many interesting elements to write about … Alcatraz, haunted hotels, Fisherman’s Wharf, ridiculously priced housing, earthquakes, and Haight-Ashbury. The whole Love-Haight thing was cement in my head, and I was damn sure gonna have a book with Love-Haight in the title. Evelyn’s last name had to be Love to make it fit nicely. Hmmmmm … I think the title came before the setting, actually, now that I look back on it. Love-Haight was cemented in my brain.
Q: Do you collaborate via long emails, phone conversations, or telepathy?
DON: We sometimes chat with one another about basic ideas for cases and offer some broad suggestions, but mainly we each focus in on our own cases, with calls or emails about certain issues that arise during the course of putting that together. Once one of us has a first draft, they send it to the other for an edit to deal with flow, consistency, and any world or overarching plot issues. Given my legal training, I also offer thoughts about how certain courtroom or legal theory issues work, even though I was not a courtroom lawyer.
JEAN: What Don said.
Q: How did you choose the supernatural creatures you feature? Or does the plot and themes you want to explore dictate the kind of creatures you feature?
DON: I used to play a lot of roleplaying games, including horror rpgs like Chill, so a certain amount of my horror fiction, including Love-Haight, is influenced by the monsters I am familiar with from that context. Anything that is super-nasty or obscure probably came from Jean’s research.
JEAN: For my cases in the first book, I picked the story first, worked out the plot, and then figured out which supernatural creatures would best fit. In one case I needed a defendant that was known for eating flesh, hence a ghoul. In another, a vampire seemed a natural for a story involving a blood bank. But in the second Love-Haight, I picked the creatures first and then came up with the plots. My buddy Vicki Steger had gifted me with a fantasy creature encyclopedia. Thumbing through it, I discovered some watery beasties I wanted to write about.
Q: These are not standard books of horror, but have as their themes, justice, discrimination, and _________ (fill in the last word)
Q: What, in your own lives, may have inspired these books, their characters, or particular scenes or incidents?
DON: I know that Jean has done a lot of research about certain historical events in her cases and, of course, certain situations, locations, and events are inspired by real-life counterparts. Zombie walks are a real thing, for example, and, as a corporate attorney, I have been involved in financial transactions that have influenced or inspired certain snippets of the case that deals with that world. And, though it may be obvious, Alcatraz is such a prominent landmark in San Francisco and has such a long and sad history that you just can’t help but deal with it in some way at some point. I also did a short story prequel (being released in Origins!, the 2021 Origins Game Fair Anthology) set in the world of Love-Haight which is inspired by a historical brouhaha I read about in the Wall Street Journal a decade or so ago about the opening of a bacon store in the midst of Haight-Ashbury. And, we can’t help but be affected by more major events which occur in the real world, whether that is from fifty years ago or in the latest headlines.
JEAN: I collect news articles that I think could be developed into stories. I worked as a news reporter and bureau chief for a lot of years, and so I continue to be drawn to headlines. Too, from my reporting days, I saw just how awful people can be to each other, which is why I think most of the villains in my cases are humans. My friends are the inspiration for some of the characters in the story. Val, the hippie ghost, is a meld of Valentino and Barret, two fellow journalism students during my days at Northern Illinois University. Valentino, tall, good-looking, marvelous voice, edited a campus newspaper called FREE LUNCH that was based out of his frat house. I guess he was proving that there was such a thing as a free lunch. Barret—lanky, long hair, big beard, a ‘wild man’—was a top-notch reporter who was seriously into marijuana and beer. Put the two together and you get Valentino the Haight-Ashbury ghost. Pete the gargoyle is a meld of two oldish Kenosha pals, former soldiers, who liked micro-brews, social commentary, games, and generally having a good time.
THANKS, JEAN AND DON!
You can find Book 2 here:
Get the Series: http://mybook.to/LoveHaightSeries
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And here an excerpt from Book 2 for your reading pleasure.
Thomas Brock watched the sun set the sky aflame in colors over the ocean. It had been a long day. Although ghosts couldn’t get tired and had no need for sleep, he felt weary. Everyone connected with the Law Offices of Thomas Brock had shoved their regular work aside. Instead, they spent every single moment trying to help find Kaytong’s missing zombie employees, but so far they’d been unsuccessful. Not only had they not found the missing crew, they had no leads—and they were running out of places to look. Still, it was time for everyone to report in and Thomas thought it would be slightly more pleasant to do so up on the roof with a breeze, a view, and a micro-brew (even though Thomas, himself, couldn’t imbibe). Much better than down in the office, surrounded by the same computer screens and legal pads filled with notations documenting failure after failure in their search effort.
Pete, the building’s stony gargoyle, who had spent the day using his rocky digits to peck in Thomas’ computer search requests, popped the top off a beer and guzzled it down in an impressively long swig. “I checked in with my fellow gargoyles while you all were fetching up the beer, but got nothing, ‘cept that things went down just like Kaytong said. Lights, trucks, cattle prods, blah, blah, blah. But nobody knows where the trucks went. Unless asked, keeping track of traffic isn’t what us building guardians do.” He scowled at a pigeon perched on top of a vent on the opposite side of the roof. “Aside from keeping winged rats from leaving their droppings all over the place, we’re more concerned with the comings and goings of wrecking crews than cattle trucks. Everybody looks after themselves and their respective buildings first and foremost. Just cuz we’re granite don’t mean we take our existence for granted.” Pete barked out a gravely chuckle and grabbed another beer.
Dagger McKenzie, their go-to freelance private investigator and occasional protector, scowled at Pete before turning toward Thomas with his own report. “Well, they didn’t go to the Tenderloin. I checked with every source I could find, and nobody saw anything unusual.”
“But,” interrupted Evelyn, “there are dozens of warehouses—active and abandoned—in the Tenderloin. Would six or ten trucks qualify as unusual?”
“Cattle trucks would,” replied Dagger. “Despite the name, there are no slaughterhouses in the Tenderloin district. That’s not how it got its name. And,” he added, “there’s no scent trail ... uh ... according to a source I’ve got who’s sensitive to such things.”
About the Authors:
A USA Today best-seller, Jean Rabe's impressive writing career spans decades, starting as a newspaper reporter and bureau chief.
From there she went on to become the director of RPGA, a co-editor with Martin H. Greenberg for DAW books, and, most notably, Rabe is an award-winning author of more than forty science fiction/fantasy and murder mystery thrillers.
She writes mysteries and fantasies, because life is too short to be limited to one genre--and she does it with dogs tangled at her feet, because life is too short not to be covered in fur.
Find out more about her at www.jeanrabe.com, on social media, or sign-up for her newsletter here: https://jeanrabe.com/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/
Donald J. Bingle
Donald J. Bingle is the author of eight books and more than sixty shorter works in the horror, thriller, science fiction, mystery, fantasy, steampunk, romance, comedy, and memoir genres, including the Dick Thornby Thriller series (Net Impact; Wet Work; Flash Drive), Frame Shop, a murder mystery set in a suburban writers’ group, Forced Conversion, a near future scifi thriller, GREENSWORD, a darkly comedic eco-thriller and (with Jean Rabe) The Love-Haight Case Files, Books 1 & 2, a paranormal urban fantasy series about two lawyers who represent the legal rights of supernatural creatures in a magic-filled San Francisco. He also edited Familiar Spirits, an anthology of ghost stories. More on Don and his writing can be found at www.donaldjbingle.com and on social media. Sign-up for his newsletter here: https://www.donaldjbingle.com/newsletter-sign-up
About the Book:
Supernatural beings are willing to fight for their legal rights!
Since the Summer of Love, the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco has been known for attracting weird and unconventional souls, but things got even stranger when the monsters moved in.
Magic has returned to the world and with it a host of supernatural creatures—not just vampires and ghosts, but sentient gargoyles, ghouls, sprites, faeries, and more. The frightened citizenry, holier-than-thou bigots, headline-seeking reporters, and harried police refer to them as OTs (Other-Than-Humans), but Thomas Brock and Evelyn Love believe even supernatural creatures have legal rights.
Delve into their case files for a genre-bending mix of mystery, horror, suspense, thrills, courtroom drama, and romance. The city’s OT element is sometimes malevolent, sometimes misunderstood, and often discriminated against. Brock and Love represent them all, dead, undead, or alive—whatever the case, whatever the species.
**Winner of three prestigious Silver Falchion Awards **
for mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels: Best Fantasy, Best Urban Fantasy, and Best Multi-Genre Novel.
Publisher: Craig Martelle, Inc (September 20, 2021)
Publication date: September 20, 2021
Genre: Paranormal Mystery Thriller
Check it Out on Amazon: http://mybook.to/LoveHaightBk2