We’re so pleased to welcome to author Jon Wilson to TNA today! He’s dropping in to chat with us about his latest release, Club Arcana: Operation Janus, from Bold Strokes Books, and he’s also offering one lucky reader the chance to win an eCopy of the book, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for entry details!
I woke up a few weeks ago to discover that my latest book, Club Arcana: Operation Janus had been selected by the Gay Roundtable of the American Library Association as a 2018 Recommended Read. They were even kind enough to write a terrific blurb for the book (which is way better than mine!):
“Magic is afoot, and no one is who they seem to be, when librarian Angus McAslan secretly writes a book that echoes a twisted reality. Creatures of dream and nightmare come to life, relatives turn out to be witches and life-stealers, unexpected romance and peril confront him at every turn… in the end, nothing is as he thought it was, as he fights for his life and his love against the treachery of trusted ones and the summoning of an ancient god.”
For comparison, here’s the official book blurb:
Beneath librarian Angus McAslan’s respectable demeanor thrums the heart of an adventurer. He dreams of traversing the globe, exploring ancient ruins, and discovering amazing scientific breakthroughs. And unbeknownst to even his dear devoted mother, he’s just put the finishing touches on his own epic novel about a swashbuckler on Venus—complete with illustrations! But after inadvertently reciting a summoning spell, Angus finds himself thrust into an adventure beyond even his own wildest imaginings.
Suddenly, demon-possessed pupils try to kill him. Half-human creatures stalk him. His mother reveals herself as a witch, and his wizard uncle proclaims it high time Angus join the family business. Complicating matters: the exquisitely handsome young man—bearing an uncanny resemblance to the aforementioned Venusian swashbuckler—sent by his uncle to collect Angus, and the suave, aristocratic warlock who materializes with dire warnings of a resurrected Elder God.
Needless to say, that got me smiling for the rest of the day. And I want to pay a bit of my giddiness forward by offering a giveaway of the book here at The Novel Approach.
To whet your appetite, I’m sharing a small excerpt from the early middle section.
A bit of set-up: the year is 1912. Librarian Angus McAslan has been unceremoniously whisked from his home to board a train bound for Chicago where he is expected to join The Arcane Brother, currently run by his uncle (also called Angus). Accompanying Angus (the librarian) is a mystery man, Ernesto Caldera, who claims to represent the Brotherhood. However, drawings have been discovered in Angus’s pocket which…well, let’s just say, he shouldn’t have drawings of people he claims never to have met. Ernesto has seized the drawings, and, after an interruption, Angus has determined to get them back.
He clears his throat, then nods toward Caldera’s pocket. “That’s my private property and I demand you hand it over. At once.”
“Oh, yeah.” Caldera sits, withdrawing the drawings and spreading them across his knee again. “Where did you get these?”
Angus lifts his chin. “What do you mean, where did I get them?”
But Caldera leafs through the portraits, unaware of or at least indifferent to Angus’s distress. He comes back to the drawing of Lombardi. “I mean I’ve never met anyone named Uriel Lombardi.”
“Of course not.”
“So how does he manage to draw me so well? And what is this get up he has me in?”
Angus notes that Caldera’s faux-British accent has given way to the common inflections heard round the New York streets. And the man smokes with the same nervous energy he channeled into tapping his feet. In fact, though the initial impression he’d given was one of cool, calm confidence, he’s actually proving a bit twitchy.
When Angus doesn’t reply, Caldera looks up at him. “Well?”
Angus swallows. “As I said, those are mine and I want them back.”
“But why do you even have them? Where did you get them?”
Angus can not bring himself to respond. How does one explain possessing a drawing of a man one’s never met? And, worse, how might one account for the fact that said stranger has been rendered somewhat scantily clad? More than ever, Angus is seized by a desire to climb through the window and take his chances tumbling across the landscape speeding by outside. “Please. Give them to me.”
Caldera only sits forward, shuffling the portraits until the likeness of Count Asa LaFontaine is topmost. “Explain this, then. Why do you have a drawing of Zavy?”
“Zavy?” Angus’s voice has deteriorated to a mere squeak.
“Have you communicated with him? Do you know where he is?” The volume of Caldera’s voice increases. “Are you in cahoots?”
Caldera suddenly lunges forward, grabs Angus by the lapels and yanks him to his feet. The drawings flutter to the floor. “Listen, my good man,” Caldera growls, mere inches from Angus’s face.
But Angus, noting for the first time how many inches taller he is than Caldera and how similar they are in mass, finds the disparity reassuring enough to ball his hand into a fist and strike the other fellow across the jaw. And, after all he’s gone through, all the helplessness he’s experienced, the confusion, humiliation, the outright horror, it feels grand to finally assert himself again.
But his exultation is short-lived. His blow barely seems to register with Caldera and before Angus knows what’s happening, he’s spun around, slammed face first against the window, and pinned with his arms behind his back.
“Tell me what you know!” Caldera demands. “Where is Lewis? Where’s Devlin? Have you killed them all? Like you butchered McMartin?”
Angus can barely speak, his lips stretched across the hot glass of the window. “What are you talking about? I don’t know anything!”
“Bull!” Caldera slams his fist into Angus’s kidneys. “Talk you fiend!”
The pain proves blinding, and Angus’s legs give way. Even with the intense pressure trapping him against the window, he sinks slowly toward the floor. He groans until Caldera releases him, then falls against the bench he’d been seated on, grimacing.
Caldera, standing over him, hands on hips, smirks. “Don’t be a nance.”
“You go to hell!” Angus manages to pry his eyes open and glare. “I’ll call the porter. Have you arrested.” Between the pain and anger, he can barely speak.
Caldera gathers up the drawings and drops back down onto his own bench. “Not until you explain these.” He holds up Count Asa’s portrait. “Who is this Asa LaFontaine?”
“That is Asa LaFontaine!”
Caldera looks at the drawing as if he might have missed something. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that is a drawing of Count Asa LaFontaine.”
“No,” Caldera says slowly. He holds the drawing forward as if to offer Angus a closer look. “That is Xavier Marquardt.”
“I’ve never heard of anyone called Xavier Marquardt.”
Caldera lays the drawing back atop the others in his lap. “And yet you have an exact likeness of him in your pocket. How?”
Angus, having landed on his hip, works his way over onto his backside. He leans heavily against the bench seat, unable as yet to lift himself up onto it. “I also had an exact likeness of you in my pocket, but we’ve never met.”
As if stumped by this riddle, Caldera pulls out the portrait of Lombardi and examines it again. “I never sat for this. I’d never wear that.” He peers closer. “What is it?” Then, shaking his head, he sets the drawing aside. “So, who drew them?”
Having come this far, Angus concludes there is nothing for it but to confess the truth. Can it sound any more fantastic than the rest of what he’s heard? He announces with perhaps more gusto than intended, “I drew them!”
“It isn’t. They’re characters from my novel.”
“Novel?” Caldera looks confused. “I thought you said you were a teacher.”
“I’m a librarian.” Angus grimaces again, another jolt of pain stabbing upward from the small of his back. He hooks his elbows up onto the bench and begins the slow, anguishing process of rising.
Caldera, uttering a sound of disparagement, sits forward and helps Angus back up into his seat. “Good God, you’re brittle.”
“You hit me!”
“You hit me first!”
But Angus, who has taken exactly two boxing lessons and read another three instructional booklets on the sport, tells him, “Yes, but mine was sporting. Yours was quite unfair.”
“We weren’t dancing the cotillion. In the Brotherhood, we’re trained to fight properly. To win.” He chuckles, watching Angus try to get comfortable. “I can’t wait to see you in the gymnasium.”
“Yes, well…” Angus, rather than being offended, considers this yet another on the long list of reasons he shall not be accepting his uncle’s offer.
“So, what’s this nonsense about a novel?”
“It’s not nonsense. I’ve been working on it for two years. Longer.”
“And these?” Caldera shakes the portraits in Angus’s direction. “You’ve worked me and Zavy and Uncle Max into your story? How? You say yourself we’ve never met.”
“How? How should I know how? Before yesterday I’d no idea any of this madness was even possible. I’d never heard of your rockshakers and, certainly I didn’t believe in witches and demons and wizards! Why are you laughing?”
Caldera, leaning back and lighting another cigarette, explains, “It’s Rakshasa.”
“Oh, go to hell!” Angus twists uncomfortably in his seat, trying to look out the window.
“Now, now. You have to admit it sounds incredible.”
Angus can only shake his head in disbelief. “More incredible than the fact that you claim membership in some vile cabal of wizardry?”
“Vile cabal?” Caldera clearly takes true offense. “The Brotherhood is often all that stands between mankind and the forces of darkness!”
Angus sighs, continuing to shake his head. But then a thought occurs to him. “You said one of the drawings was your uncle?”
Caldera shuffles through the portraits again, working Lord Niedermeyer to the top. “Sure. Not as close as the others I’d say, but definitely him.” He looks up and over at Angus. “You must have seen our photographs.”
“Well, if you’re telling the truth and not working with Zavy. But—”
“Coconut.” Caldera makes a face. “Reynard used to get visions sometimes. In his dreams.”
“I haven’t had any visions,” Angus declares with certainty. The very idea.
Caldera looks up again. “How would you know? You’d merely think them dreams, wouldn’t you?”
Angus considers that a moment, but finally has to shrug. Logically the argument is unassailable. He would merely think them dreams. And he has had some fantastic dreams over the years. Can they have been visions? Portents of things to come? His mother is a witch, after all. Is magic hereditary?
“This Reynard you mentioned. How did he stop them?”
“You said he used to have visions. Did he learn to control them somehow?” Finally a potent argument in favor of accepting his uncle’s offer. Might the Brotherhood train him to control any latent magical abilities?
“No.” Something about his voice begs the subject be dropped.
But Angus can’t help himself. “Then how did he stop them?”
Caldera, setting the drawings aside, stretches his legs and sighs. Finally he shrugs, looking over at Angus with a blank expression. “He died.”
Angus finds himself forced to momentarily redirect his gaze out the window.
The train charges onward. Wickford flashes by. Soon they will pass New London. On the other side of a very thin pane of glass, the world he once knew scurries on unabated. He, meanwhile, careens helplessly into a strange new life he can hardly begin to believe. A life riddled with magic and mystery, danger and death.
More information on Club Arcana: Operation Janus can be found HERE.
More information on the Author can be found at his Website.
|Jon Wilson is the creator of gay PI Declan Colette. The first entry of that series (Cheap As Beasts) was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award Best Gay Mystery of 2015. He’s also dabbled in westerns. He lives and works in Northern California, where he often worries he should be writing more…But then he remembers one of his programs is on tonight.|
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11 thoughts on “Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway: Club Arcana: Operation Janus by Jon Wilson”
Congratulations on your new release the book sounds very intriguing I’ve added it to my wish list.
Thanks! Hope you enjoy it!
congrats on the new release…sounds intriguing!
Congrats on the new release!
Congratulations on the release. A librarian turned adventurer… That’s exactly my kind of story. I’m sure I’m going to love it! ;)
Congratulations on your new release. Looks good…the blurb hit me kind of like a mix of high fantasy with film noir.
Congrats on your new release, Jon. I’m new to your works and this looks like a really interesting story. :)
A new-to-me author I will be defnitely checking out. I look forward to reading the book, sounds intriguing.