Greg van Eekhout’s California Bones generated a lot of excitement when it came out last year. Now that the sequel, Pacific Fire, is out, Van Eekhout is doing a “mini book tour.” He stopped in Petaluma, California, at Copperfield’s Books, to talk with horror editor Ross E. Lockhart about the trilogy, writing for adults versus middle graders, his love of the band Rush and his opinion about the need for a Black Widow movie. I was in the audience and made a few notes from their dialogue. I also picked up a couple of signed books to give away to one of our readers. Comment on this post to be entered to win a signed copy of both California Bones and Pacific Fire.



Greg van Eekhout (left) chats with Ross E. Lockhart at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma, CA

Since California Bones and the OSTEOMANCY TRILOGY grew out of a short story, van Eekhout talked about his own transition from successful short story writer to novelist.

“I thought I would always be happy writing short fiction, working in 2,000-5,000 word increments. My favorite writers are short fiction writers; Ray Bradbury wrote some novels but his best work is his short stories. All my friends and peers were writing, selling and publishing novels, so I felt left out. After I wrote one, I said to myself, ‘I will never give up short fiction, it’s the purest expression of the art, etc, etc,’ and now I almost never write short fiction.” He will, however, have an invitational short story in an anthology based on songs by Rush, because, “I’m kind of a Rush nerd.”

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsVan Eekhout is currently completing final revisions to the third book in the OSTEOMANCY series, Dragon Coast, which is due out in September, 2015. Lockhart asked him if Tor was a house that engaged in heavy editing or light editing. “They are light editors. My editor’s philosophy is that a flawed book that is the writer’s vision is better than a perfect book that is not your vision.”

He said he didn’t intend for his story, “The Osteomancer’s Son” to evolve into a novel, but book editors asked him about it. When he completed the book and sent it to Tor, Patrick Neilsen Hayden asked him if it was a trilogy.

“And I said, ‘It’s totally going to be a trilogy.’ I decided the next book would be about Daniel [Blackland’s] daughter, you know, like ‘The Osteomancer’s Granddaughter’ and Hayden said, ‘Daniel’s going to be a strong character throughout the trilogy, right?’ I said, ‘He’s totally going to be a strong character throughout!’”

California Bones takes place in an altered Los Angeles. Lockhart and van Eekhout discussed world-building. Van Eekhout did not want a “one thing different” world; “You know, like it’s this world only there’s vampires.” He imagined a magical force based on eating bones of magical animals (the eater absorbs the magical power of the creature). From this he evolved a landscape that does not look like modern 21st century USA. As a secondary magical system, he uses water. “To me, the biggest landmark of LA is the freeways, and I wanted to change that, so that’s how I got the canals.”

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsAfter Dragon Coast, van Eekhout said his next book will also be for adults rather than middle-graders. “Now that I’ve written a trilogy, I’m hungry to write a standalone. It’s difficult because as you know, trilogies are a commercial unit now. They’re like, the ‘unit of book.’ It’s the same way with movies. ‘Franchise’ is the unit of movie. And that’s why we don’t have a Black Widow movie! The studios are afraid they can’t sign Scarlett Johannson for that many movies… so instead we get Antman!” He paused. “I have strong feelings about this.”

He and Hartman talked a lot about the books and the characters, and I’m not going to include much else here because there were spoilers.

Lockhart has edited several high caliber horror anthologies including The Book of Cthulhu. He was thoughtful and well-prepared, and the “interview” was very relaxed. Because the two are friends, that relaxation did lead to more revelations about California Bones and Pacific Fire than strictly necessary, but it moved me along on the reading scale from “I’ll read it someday” to “must read soon,” so that wasn’t a bad thing. Greg van Eekhout comes across as an open, friendly, wildly imaginative guy, and that’s what I like to see in my fantasy writers. I was thrilled to find out he visits Fantasy Literature and likes the site! The feeling’s mutual, Greg.

Readers, don’t forget to comment on this post to enter to win a signed copy of both California Bones and Pacific Fire.


  • Marion Deeds

    Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town.