Satanic Prey

Satanic Prey!
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"His was the first crime. The first rebellion. The first fall from grace. But fallen or not, he had a grand role to play in the coming conflict. This... this was not it."

Jesus has returned, but it's not the Second Coming. At least, not yet. Something's gone awry in the Divine Plan, and none of the angels have a clue as to what to do about it. But they know someone who does.
Lucas isn't especially religious — he considers himself a lapsed Catholic — but when Jesus Christ shows up on his door with a request, Lucas can't turn it down. Because it seems that before the End of Days can well and truly begin, there's one more crime to solve. One more murder to be avenged.
Because Satan has been killed, betrayed by one of the endless hosts of Hell, and without an Adversary, the Final Battle can't proceed. And so Lucas is tasked to descend into Hell, to find the being or beings responsible, and to take whatever actions necessary to set things right.
But Hell isn't known to be a nice place to visit. Some of the residents there know Lucas from when they were alive. Some of them were killed by him. And they're all waiting for another chance to drag him down...

April 1, 2018

Explaining the Joke Ruins the Joke
by Roswell Camp

I was surprised by this one. Not by what I did, mind you, but by the reaction. This was, far and away, the most popular of the April Fools' covers for 2018 [1]. And here I was, afraid it was going to offend people.
The problem is that people can be amazingly touchy about religion. I regularly get hate mail from people who feel that some book or other has offended their religion, and thus offended them, on a deep and personal level [2]. It seems that religion, like politics [3], is an arena where everyone's opinion is completely and utterly correct while simultaneously being at odds with everyone else's opinion [4].
Seriously, people have quit John Sandford books entirely because of a throwaway line making fun of Bill Clinton [5], or Bush Jr. [6], or Trump [7]. People have quit because the author had a character say "Goddamn" in a book involving multiple murders and incredible violence [8].
As I say somewhere else, if you get upset about people's language in a book that's primarily about murders, your priorities may be in the wrong order [9].
But anyway, of the six books for this year, this one was the one people wanted to see. It's interesting enough, I suppose, maybe a more modern take on Dante's Inferno or something [10]. Maybe a touch of Neil Gaiman's American Gods in there as well [11]. I don't know. But whatever the reason, people liked it, and they weren't offended, and I was genuinely surprised [12].
The cover... still bothers me. Not the background art, which is (again) a Shutterstock cover, but my simple text layout and design. It's meant to be reminiscent of any number of James Patterson covers, but I could never quite get the colors to look right, or for it to feel like a real thing. Design-wise, this is probably the weakest cover of the bunch [13].
Nothing else to say about this one, really. It was popular, I don't know why, and that's it.

Footnotes

1. I'm going entirely by people's reactions on Facebook. That's probably not the best way to judge people's reactions [14], but it's almost the only feedback I get about these any more. The website email consists almost entirely of questions or complaints about the books [15], but never anything about the April Fools' stuff.

2. The author screwed up in the Virgil Flowers series. In the first book, Virgil's father is a Presbyterian minister, while in the rest, he's a Lutheran minister [16]. I've gotten a lot of email demanding to know which one is "right". Never mind that it's a fictional character, and that the author screwed up — it's somehow important to know if Virgil's father has the "right" religion or the "wrong" one.

3. I sort of want a bumper sticker that says "Religion screws up everything / Politics screws up everything else". But (a) I'd have to put a bumper sticker on my car and I'm really not that invested, (b) it'd offend practically everyone, and (c) I don't even believe it [17]. While I'm familiar with the "trolling for trolling's sake" mentality, I don't support it.

4. I'm reminded, in a way, of the I Am Very Smart behavior exhibited by a intelligent people... specifically, by members of Mensa. Mensa is a group for people who have been verified as "intelligent" by some test or other — they're supposedly in the top 2% of the general population — and when you get a lot of "proven" smart people together, all of whom disagree with each other, you get huge, huge fights. Nobody backs down, because they are smart and therefore correct, while everyone else... well, they can't possibly be as smart as they think they are. They probably cheated to get in to Mensa. They're just subhuman idiots. That sort of thing.

5. As referenced in The Devil's Code and The Hanged Man's Song. People quit reading John Sandford forever because Kidd used a Bill Clinton mask as a disguise.

6. In Broken Prey there's one line how even George W. Bush probably knows about DNA at this point. People quit the series because of that one line, and wrote in to tell me so.

7. In Deep Freeze, there's a reference to the infamous "Grab 'em by the pussy" remark attributed to Trump. People quit the series because how dare the author make fun of Trump like that. And they wrote in to tell me so.

8. I've noticed a few things about the swearing in the novels. Or rather, about people's reaction to the swearing. Most are more-or-less fine with it, some think it's way too much, but some are fine with it except for the use of "God" or "Jesus". Vulgarity and obscenity are fine, but blasphemy is unforgivable.

9. I also say that that's shorthand for "You are a sociopath."

10. And now — right now — I realize I should have called it Infernal Prey and I'm kicking myself for it. Make the co-author Dante Alighieri instead of Aleister Crowley, change the emphasis to be more about the descent into Hell... it works so much better. Oh well.

11. I like Neil Gaiman's writing well enough, but I think — personal opinion here — that his short stories are much better than his novels. I can't even say why. It might be sort of like the Saturday Night Live effect is in play: something that works well — or even really well — for a five-minute skit is intolerable as a 90-minute movie. Whatever the case, I love his short stories but was just lukewarm about American Gods [18].

12. It might also be that the people who are offended are still foaming at the mouth, rolling on the floor in an apoplectic fit, in such a rage about the cover that they have yet to write in. If that's the case — unlikely, but possible — my reaction will probably be, okay, there we go...

13. Again, one cover had to be the weakest, just because that's how numbers and sets and stuff work, but that doesn't get rid of the "I could have done better" feeling. It's weakest, but it shouldn't have been.

14. It sort of self-selects for terrible people. Most social media sites do that now, I think.

15. Oh, and requests for money and/or free books. I get a lot of those.

16. A weird little aside. I was going through the digital copies of Dark of the Moon to see what exactly Virgil's father was in the first book, and the original files all have him as Lutheran. I went to the hardcover, and it says Presbyterian. So somewhere after all the editing was done, the author changed it from Lutheran. I don't know why.

17. I mean, the math doesn't work out at all [19].

18. Sorry, Neil.

19. Okay, it technically does, but only in a degenerate-case sort of way. Like how a circle is really a cylinder of zero height. That sort of thing.