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Justin Gustainis
Horror Interview by The Gravedigger

Q: The book takes place a year since the events of the first novel. Why wait a year--and is this how you will have future books in the series, a year or so apart?

It's not necessarily a year. I suspect your assumption comes from when Quincey refers to Van Dreenan as "The South African cop I met last year." He's referring to the previous calendar year, not necessarily twelve months earlier. Remember that the black witches' preparations in BLACK MAGIC WOMAN are geared toward Halloween (I never specify how far away that is), and EVIL WAYS reaches its climax on Walpurgis Night, which is exactly six months away from Halloween.

I don't think you should assume a year interval between the timeframes of the stories. In fact the (as yet unnamed) fourth book in the series follows very closely upon the ending of SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, which is #3, due out in December.

Q: EVIL WAYS deals primarily with an evil wizard and his plans to do something that may make a BIG change on earth, so the book is much wider in scope than the first one, particularly in that it introduces a whole bunch of white witches. What made you decide to have the story more "epic"?

Actually, the groundwork for the big evil plans is laid in BLACK MAGIC WOMAN. If Grobius's original plans had succeeded, the big evil event would have occurred on Halloween. Because of Quincey and Libby, he had to postpone. So I would suggest that the action in EVIL WAYS is a natural extension of BLACK MAGIC WOMAN. Think of it this way: in BLACK MAGIC WOMAN, the fuse is lit; in EVIL WAYS, it reaches the powerkeg. Does it explode? Our readers can find the answer between the covers of EVIL WAYS.

Q: There's a lot of interesting characters here, particularly a mercenary named Hannah, with a traumatic "origin". She dispatches a vampire at the beginning of the story--and thoroughly enjoys it. Any chance she'll get her own book?

You know, my publisher has asked me the same question about Hannah Widmark, known in some circles as "Widowmaker." Hannah is an occult bounty hunter. For a fee, she'll track down any creature of the night you designate, and bring it back -- dead, alive, or Undead. But she prefers dead, as you saw near the beginning of EVIL WAYS. She charges a lot, but, truth be told, she'd probably do it for free. Hannah's got issues.

Q: Will she get her own book? What makes you think she's still alive? Remember, at the end of EVIL WAYS (pardon the minor spoiler), she is believed to be dead. However, her corpse is not in evidence, so you never know. As Fenton, the FBI agent, says of her, "That lady's just too damn mean to die."

I guess we'll just have to see.

Q: In addition to Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain, you have Fenton and Colleen O'Donnell, who are sort of their counterparts. Colleen is an FBI agent AND a witch-- did you create her to do some of the things you didn't want to happen to Chastain, like that part in the prison where she's willing to do anything to get information from a prisoner?

I didn't create Colleen with that scene (for which one blogger has called me a degenerate) in mind. I don't do a lot of plotting in advance. I know where the story starts, and where I want it to end, and I have a few characters in mind. The rest of the book is me figuring out how to get to the ending in a way that readers will enjoy. That scene (which is in no way intended to sensationalize the sacrifice that Colleen is making) grew organically out of the story as it developed.

Q: I liked that you have them visit Chicago, looking for help from "Wizard Harry". That's kind of a risky thing, placing your characters in the same "Universe" as Jim Butcher's famous character, because how will they measure up?

I wasn't too worried, because Jim Butcher had faith that my folks would measure up pretty well. Jim, I'm both gratified and humbled to say, is one of my biggest fans, and has been ever since I wrote my first novel, THE HADES PROJECT, and asked him to read it with a view to maybe giving me a "blurb." He liked the book -- a lot. And, as you may remember, there's a nice quote from him on the cover of BLACK MAGIC WOMAN, too. So, if Jim had faith in me, there's no reason not to have faith in myself.

By the way, that scene in a certain Chicago pub has Jim's blessing -- it wouldn't be in there, otherwise (I'm sure Jim and his publisher know some very good lawyers). I sent him the scene while the book was still in manuscript ,and he said, "Sure, go with it."

Q: Throughout the book both Quincey and Libby, at different times, tell people that they aren't a couple, when they are mistaken for one. And the last paragraph of the book suggests that they will indeed become a couple. Is this going to happen in the next book?

There is more than one way to read that line at the very end. If you take it literally, that's one thing. But if Libby is being ironic, then it means something else. You'll have to wait for the next book to find out.

Q: Who is the bad guy in the next book in the series, SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL?

The principal bad guy is named Sargatanas -- a demon right out of Hell, literally. Lacking a physical body, he has taken "possession" of one Howard Stark, a U.S. Senator who is seeking his party's nomination for President of the United States. If he wins, Very Bad Things will happen....

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