Thursday, 21 February 2019

Guest Interview: Russell James

This week on the blog, I'm talking to my fellow Flame Tree Press author Russell James about his new release The Playing Card Killer, which looks something like this:

Brian Sheridan may be losing his mind. It’s getting hard to know what’s real.

He’s plagued by dreams of women strangled with a red velvet rope, their corpses left with a signature playing card. And while awake, he’s hallucinating a strange man who appears to be stalking him. Brian hopes all this is driven by his sudden withdrawal from a lifetime of anti-anxiety medications.

Then the victim from one of his nightmares shows up on the news. She’s been murdered and Brian immediately fears he may be the unwitting killer. Detective Eric Weissbard thinks the same thing, and starts to build a case to get Brian behind bars and stop the string of horrific murders by the man the press have dubbed The Playing Card Killer.

Can being proven innocent be worse than being found guilty? That may be the case as the truth about The Playing Card Killer sucks Brian into a whirlpool of kidnapping, torture, and death.

And without further ado, here's the interview...

- How much of yourself and your own life went into The Playing Card Killer? Do you like to draw on what you know or would you rather make it up from whole cloth?
I am proud to say that nothing about being a serial killer sprang from any real life experiences. And I’m going to stick to that story.

However I will admit to spending a lot of time in the story’s location, Tampa, Florida. It’s a great city and the varying locations make it a super background for the novel. Selecting the locations to wrap the story around grounded the tale in a level of reality and forced some of the storytelling into directions I hadn't specifically planned on. But I think that sparked more creativity, which probably gave a better result than if I’d just invented a convenient city from scratch.
- Do you have a favourite character in The Playing Card Killer? Who was most fun to write and are they the same person?
The killer (to be vague and avoid spoilers) was a fascinating character because of the twisted process that made him who he ended up being. But I really like Detective Weissbard. He’s a fish-out-of-water in his new job with the Tampa PD. Being a good detective, he’s dedicated to finding the truth, and follows the leads where they go. He gets to be almost as confused about the killer’s identity is as poor Brian is. I also got to give Weissbard more depth through his interactions with his wife, and that was fun.
- Did you have an elevator pitch, and would you be willing to share it?
Could discovering you aren't a serial killer be worse than discovering that you are?
- What most motivates you to hit the keyboard and get writing? If you had to pin your impulse to tell stories down to one thing, what would it be?
There’s always an itch to get a story down on paper. An idea I think is interesting or a certain storytelling twist that I want to incorporate into a novel. But the real kick-starter to writing it is getting some positive feedback from readers. Sometimes it’s a review, sometimes an email. The best is when I meet someone at a convention or signing who really enjoyed what I’d written.  Knowing that what I’d written made an impact on someone makes me want to stop whatever I’m doing and get back to work. 
A great example was when I got a note from a man who’d read my novel Sacrifice. In that novel, a bunch of high school friends get together after thirty tough years to vanquish a demon they thought they’d killed decades ago. He said it inspired him to look up all his old friends and get caught up. That made me very happy.
Q Island spawned a lot of other examples. I got a lot of positive feedback from parents of autistic children very satisfied with how I portrayed Aiden, the autistic child in that novel.
- You've worked across quite a range of genres. Was that a conscious decision or simply a case of telling the stories that came to you?
An idea tends to suggest a genre, and that’s the way the writing goes. I did specifically seek out a genre with the Grant Coleman adventure series through Severed Press. Some of my horror novels would earn a hard-R movie rating, and at conventions I would have to steer parents away from them when their kids asked them to buy it. But I had nothing to steer them to. So I decided that I wanted to write some monster books like the ones I loved as a kid, keep any sex out of them, and tame the language down to what can pass on network television. The writing style and plot twists aren't dumbed down, though. Severed Press has a fantastic fan base for giant creature books, and I specifically wrote one to try and crack that market. Lucky for me, and Professor Grant Coleman, I did.
- Do you have a dream project? Are there tales you've been itching to tell but not quite figured out a way into?
I have a story about  a teenager and an old priest who are battling demons across France and Italy to keep Lucifer from enslaving the world. The Exorcist meets The Da Vinci Code. Still trying to pull that one off.
- Of everything you've written, what would you most like to see made into a mega-budget Hollywood movie? And what are your thoughts on dream casting and an ideal director?
I’ll officially go on record and offer ANY of the stories I've written up as a movie or mini-series.
I’d really like Q Island to make it to the screen. In it a virus breaks out on Long Island, New York that turns people into crazed killers. The government quarantines the island. A woman is trapped there with her autistic son. He gets infected, but he does not get sick, and his autism gets better. She realizes he could be the cure to two things, if she can get him off the island. She had to get past the government, past the crazies, and past the gang leader who has his own plans for the miracle boy.
I think this would be a great miniseries with the big cast of characters, After seeing Bird Box, I cast Sandra Bullock as the hero mom. And put anyone who directed any Avengers movie in charge.
- You've written three books now following your paleontologist hero Professor Grant Coleman. Is that a profession that particularly interests you?
I've loved dinosaurs since I was a kid and thought it would be amazing to discover the fossils of ancient animals. When I needed a continuing character for my adventure tales from Severed Press, palaeontology seemed like the profession that could get wrapped up in a bunch of stories like that. So through Grant I could vicariously pursue a career that I could never do in real life.
- What’s up next? What are you working on and what’s in the pipeline that you’re allowed to talk about?
I have a short story coming out in March in the Flame Tree Publishing American Gothic anthology.  It’s wedged in there between Edgar Allen Poe, Ambrose Bierce and a bunch of excellent contemporary authors. I feel like a weekend jogger suddenly running the hundred meter dash in the Olympics.
The next novel is about two National Park Service rangers at Fort Jefferson National Park, out west of the Florida Keys. They encounter rogue spies, a conspiracy dating back to the 1960s, and end up in the fight of their lives with giant crabs. It’s the start of a new series set in our wonderful National Park system. I also have a couple of novels and a novella out making the rounds, and we’ll see what happens with those.

Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching late night horror. After flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales, including horror thrillers Dark Inspiration, Q Island, and The Playing Card Killer. His Grant Coleman adventure series covers Cavern of the Damned, Monsters in the Clouds, and Curse of the Viper King. He resides in sunny Florida. His wife reads his work, rolls her eyes, and says "There is something seriously wrong with you."

Visit his website at, follow on Twitter @RRJames14, or say hello at

THE PLAYING CARD KILLER is available at:

...and everywhere else!

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Drowning in Nineties Anime Review Index (By Date)

Gundam-W: Endless Waltz ***
Silent Möbius The Motion Picture 2 **1/2
Lupin the 3rd: The Hemingway Papers ***1/2
Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie **

Megazone 23: Part 3 ***1/2
Devil Hunter Yohko ***
Lupin the Third: The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure ****
Gall Force: New Era *1/2

Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies ***1/2
Dragon Ball: Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle ***1/2
Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure ***
Dragon Ball: The Path to Power ***

Nightwalker: The Midnight Detective **1/2
Legend of the Dragon Kings **
Metal Fighter Miku ***
Key the Metal Idol ***1/2

Yu Yu Hakusho The Movie: Poltergeist Report ***1/2
Video Girl Ai ****
Jungle Emperor Leo ****
10 Tokyo Warriors **1/2

26th April 2020

Legend of the Last Labyrinth **
Time Bokan: Royal Revival **1/2
Sword for Truth *
Spirit Warrior: A Harvest of Cherry Blossoms **1/2

31st March 2020

Toward the Terra **1/2
Birth: A War of Two Worlds ***1/2
Area 88 ****1/2
Devilman: The Birth ****

23rd February 2020

Golden Boy ***
Megazone 23 Part 2: Please Give Me Your Secret ***1/2
Marriage *
Harlock Saga ***1/2

2nd February 2020

Sailor Moon R: The Movie: The Promise of the Rose ***1/2
Sailor Moon S: The Movie: Hearts in Ice ***
Sailor Moon Super S The Movie: Black Dream Hole **1/2
Sailor Victory ***

19th January 2020

Gall Force: Eternal Story ***1/2
Gall Force: Destruction ****
Gall Force: Stardust War ****
Rhea Gall Force ***

8th December 2019

The Tokyo Project **
Bastard!! ***1/2
Megazone 23 Part 1 ***1/2
Tenamonya Voyagers ***1/2

23rd November 2019

Dirty Pair: Project Eden ****
Dirty Pair: Affair of Nolandia **1/2
Dirty Pair: Flight 005 Conspiracy ***
Dirty Pair: The OVA Series ***1/2

6th November 2019

Crimson Wolf **
Grappler Baki: The Ultimate Fighter ***1/2
Ayane's High Kick **1/2
Tekken *1/2

23rd October 2019

Like the Clouds, Like the Wind ***1/2
Jewel BEM Hunter Lime **
Garzey's Wing **1/2
Hyper Speed GranDoll *1/2

21st September 2019

Dallos ***1/2
Crusher Joe: The Movie ***
Garaga *1/2
Fist of the North Star: The Movie **

7th September 2019

Spirit Warrior: Revival of Evil **1/2
Spirit Warrior: Regent of Darkness ***
Earthian **
Goku Midnight Eye ***1/2
Mobile Suit Gundam F91: The Motion Picture ****

21st August 2019

Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie ***1/2
Idol Project ***1/2
Kekko Kamen **
Cleopatra D.C. ***

8th August 2019

Spring and Chaos ****
Psychic Force *
The Weathering Continent ***1/2
Judge ***

24th July 2019

Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 1 ***
Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 2: Soldiers of Sorrow **1/2
Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 3: Encounters in Space ***1/2
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack ***

1st July 2019

Alien Defender Geo-Armor: Kishin Corps ***1/2
Legend of Crystania: The Chaos Ring ***1/2
Jungle De Ikou ***
Violence Jack 1/2

18th June 2019

Perfect Blue ****1/2
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise ****1/2
Ghost in the Shell *****
and Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade ****

10th May 2019

Cybernetics Guardian ***
Kimera **
Spectral Force *1/2
Assemble Insert ****

3rd April 2019

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki ***1/2
Tenchi the Movie: Tenchi Muyo in Love ***
Tenchi the Movie 2: Daughter of Darkness **
Tenchi the Movie 3: Tenchi Forever ****

22nd March 2019

Gundress *1/2
Saber Marionette R ***
Detatoko Princess ***
Vampire Princess Miyu ****

14th February 2019

Eight Clouds Rising **1/2
Babel II **
Please Save My Earth ***1/2
My Dear Marie ****

23rd January 2019

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket ****
GoShogun: The Time Étranger ****1/2
Lily C.A.T ***
Arcadia of My Youth ***1/2

6th January 2019

Ellcia **1/2
Super Atragon ***1/2
Robot Carnival ****1/2
Master of Mosquiton ***

9th December 2018

Agent Aika: Final Battle **
City Hunter: The Motion Picture ***1/2
Rei Rei ***
Kite ***1/2

11th November 2018

Photon: The Idiot Adventures ***1/2
Domain of Murder ***
Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture *1/2
Agent Aika: Naked Missions **1/2

28th September 2018

Queen Emeraldas ****
Samurai: Hunt For the Sword *1/2
Black Lion *1/2
Maze **1/2

2nd September 2018

Pokémon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back **
A Chinese Ghost Story ***1/2
Colorful *
Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland **1/2

19th August 2018

City Hunter: Secret Service *1/2
Wrath of the Ninja: The Yotoden Movie ***
The Cockpit ****1/2
The Dagger of Kamui **1/2

19th July 2018

Voogie's Angels **
Legend of Crystania: The Motion Picture ***1/2
Magic User's Club! ****
Battle Skipper **

27th June 2018

RG Veda *1/2
City Hunter: .357 Magnum *1/2
Urusei Yatsura: Inaba the Dreammaker ***
Adventure Duo: Yôjû Sensen **

11th June 2018

Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma ***1/2
Ninja Resurrection **
Spirit Warrior: Castle of Illusion ***
Guardian of Darkness ***

17th May 2018

Samurai X: The Motion Picture ***
Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge ****
M. D. Geist II: Death Force *1/2
Darkside Blues ****

9th April 2018

Ninja Cadets *1/2
Burn Up! ***1/2
Wild Cardz *1/2
Shinesman ***

19th March 2018

The Humanoid *
Odin: Photon Space Sailer Starlight ***
Harmagedon **1/2
They Were Eleven ***1/2

27th February 2018

3X3 Eyes: Legend of the Divine Demon ****
Phantom Quest Corp **1/2
Ys: Legacy (Book Two) **
Elf Princess Rane ***

10th February 2018

Gestalt **
Madara ***1/2
Urusei Yatsura: Ryoko's September Tea Party *1/2
Sol Bianca: The Legacy ***1/2

18th January 2018

Geobreeders 2: Breakthrough ***1/2
Battle Arena Toshinden *1/2
Ys: Legacy (Book One) *1/2
Big Wars ***

18th December 2017

Iria: Zeiram ***
Silent Service ***1/2
Spirit Warrior: Festival of the Ogre's Revival **
Mask of Zeguy **1/2

17th November 2017

Lupin the Third: The Secret of Twilight Gemini *1/2
Urusei Yatsura Movie 5: The Final Chapter ****
Knights of Ramune **1/2

21st August 2017

Green Legend Ran ****
Urusei Yatsura Movie 6: Always My Darling ***1/2
Moldiver **
Tokyo Babylon **1/2

11th July 2017

Urusei Yatsura Movie 4: Lum the Forever ***
Wizardry **
3X3 Eyes ***1/2
Otaku no Video ***

12th June 2017

Battle Angel ***1/2
Urusei Yatsura Movie 3: Remember My Love ***1/2
The Heroic Legend of Arslan **1/2
Venus Wars ****

15th May 2017

Shamanic Princess ****
Digital Devil *1/2
Virgin Fleet **
Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer ****1/2

27th April 2017

Black Magic M-66 **1/2
Urusei Yatsura Movie 1: Only You ****
Project A-Ko: Uncivil Wars **
M.D. Geist 1/2

23rd March 2017

Sakura Wars: The Radiant Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms ***
The E.Y.E.S of Mars *
Legend of Lemnear ***
Project A-Ko 2: Love & Robots **1/2

10th March 2017

Sakura Wars: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms ***
Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie *****
Angel's Egg ***
Armageddon **

13th February 2017

Doomed Megalopolis ****
Slayers Gorgeous ***
Bubblegum Crisis ****
The Five Star Stories ***1/2

1st February 2017

Project A-Ko ***1/2
Psychic Wars 1/2
Golgo 13: Queen Bee 1/2
Slayers Great **1/2

1st December 2016

Slayers Return ***1/2
Cyber City Oedo 808 ****
Plastic Little: The Adventures of Captain Tita ***1/2
Ruin Explorers: Fam and Ihrie ****

10th November 2016

A Wind Named Amnesia ***1/2
Dirty Pair Flash: Random Angels ***
Slayers: The Motion Picture ***
Street Fighter Alpha: The Movie ***

23rd October 2016

Pet Shop of Horrors **1/2
AD Police ***
Demon City Shinjuku ***1/2
Riding Bean ***1/2

17th September 2016

Ranma 1/2: Nihao My Concubine **1/2
Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal ****
Sol Bianca ****
Silent Möbius ***

28th August 2016

Dirty Pair Flash: Angels at World's End **
Vampire Wars *
Gunsmith Cats ****
Ranma 1/2 The Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China **1/2

29th July 2016

Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again ***
Dirty Pair Flash: Angels in Trouble ***
Red Hawk: Weapon of Death **1/2
Memories ***1/2

10th July 2016

Burn Up W **
Urotsukidôji II: Legend of the Demon Womb *1/2
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku ***
Tokyo Revelation **

26th June 2016

Dominion Tank Police ***
Twilight of the Dark Master **
You're Under Arrest: The Complete OVAs ****
Twin Signal **1/2

22nd May 2016

You're Under Arrest: The Movie ***1/2
Oh My Goddess! ***1/2
Wicked City ***1/2
Shadow Skill ***1/2

11th March 2016

Patlabor 2 *****
Madox-01 **
Zaion: I Wish You Were Here *1/2
Psycho Diver **

24th January 2016

Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend *
New Dominion Tank Police ***
Street Fighter 2: The Movie **1/2
Appleseed **

11th December 2015

Macross Plus (Movie Edition) ****
Armitage III: Polymatrix ***1/2
Bio Hunter **1/2
Gunbuster ****

30th August 2015

Adventures With Iczer 3 **1/2
Black Jack **
Ghost Sweeper Mikami **1/2
Dragon Half ****

31st July 2015

Patlabor: The Movie ****1/2
Casshan: Robot Hunter **1/2
Geobreeders ***1/2
The Dark Myth ***1/2

28th June 2015

X: The Movie ****
Spriggan ****
New Gall Force ***
Zeoraima - Project Hades **

29th May 2015

Vampire Hunter D **1/2
Dangaoih *1/2
Orguss 02 ****
Roujin Z ***1/2

8th May 2015

Bubblegum Crash! **1/2
Virus Buster Serge **
Amon Saga **
Rayearth ***1/2

29th March 2015

Ninja Scroll ****
Detonator Orgun **
Landlock ***
Macross Plus (OVA) ***

[Reviews arranged By Title / By Rating]

Drowning in Nineties Anime Review Index (By Title)

10 Tokyo Warriors **1/2


AD Police ***
Adventure Duo: Yôjû Sensen **
Adventures With Iczer 3 **1/2
Agent Aika: Final Battle **
Agent Aika: Naked Missions **1/2
Alien Defender Geo-Armor: Kishin Corps ***1/2
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku ***
Amon Saga **
Angel's Egg ***
Appleseed **
Arcadia of My Youth ***1/2
Area 88 ****1/2
Armageddon **
Armitage III: Polymatrix ***1/2
Assemble Insert ****
Ayane's High Kick **1/2


Babel II **
Bastard!! ***1/2
Battle Angel ***1/2
Battle Arena Toshinden *1/2
Battle Skipper **
Big Wars ***
Bio Hunter **1/2
Birth: A War of Two Worlds ***1/2
Black Jack **
Black Lion *1/2
Black Magic M-66 **1/2
Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma ***1/2
Bubblegum Crash! **1/2
Bubblegum Crisis ****
Burn Up! ***1/2
Burn Up W **


Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie ***1/2
Casshan: Robot Hunter **1/2
A Chinese Ghost Story ***1/2
City Hunter: .357 Magnum *1/2
City Hunter: Secret Service *1/2
City Hunter: The Motion Picture ***1/2
Cleopatra D.C. ***
The Cockpit ****1/2
Colorful *
Crimson Wolf **
Crusher Joe: The Movie ***
Cyber City Oedo 808 ****
Cybernetics Guardian ***


The Dagger of Kamui **1/2
Dallos ***1/2
Dangaoih *1/2
The Dark Myth ***1/2
Darkside Blues ****
Demon City Shinjuku ***1/2
Detatoko Princess ***
Detonator Orgun **


Odin: Photon Space Sailer Starlight ***
Oh My Goddess! ***1/2
Orguss 02 ****
Otaku no Video ***


Patlabor: The Movie ****1/2
Patlabor 2 *****
Perfect Blue ****1/2
Pet Shop of Horrors **1/2
Phantom Quest Corp **1/2
Photon: The Idiot Adventures ***1/2
Plastic Little: The Adventures of Captain Tita ***1/2
Please Save My Earth ***1/2
Pokémon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back **
Project A-Ko ***1/2
Project A-Ko 2: Love & Robots **1/2
Project A-Ko: Uncivil Wars **
Psychic Force *
Psychic Wars 1/2
Psycho Diver **


Queen Emeraldas ****


Ranma 1/2: Nihao My Concubine **1/2
Ranma 1/2 The Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China **1/2
Rayearth ***1/2
Red Hawk: Weapon of Death **1/2
Rei Rei ***
Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie *****
RG Veda *1/2
Rhea Gall Force ***
Riding Bean ***1/2
Robot Carnival ****1/2
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise ****1/2
Roujin Z ***1/2
Ruin Explorers: Fam and Ihrie ****


Saber Marionette R ***
Sailor Moon R: The Movie: The Promise of the Rose ***1/2
Sailor Moon S: The Movie: Hearts in Ice ***
Sailor Moon Super S The Movie: Black Dream Hole **1/2
Sailor Victory ***
Sakura Wars: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms ***
Sakura Wars: The Radiant Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms ***
Samurai: Hunt For the Sword *1/2
Samurai X: The Motion Picture ***
Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal ****
Shadow Skill ***1/2
Shamanic Princess ****
Shinesman ***
Silent Möbius ***

Drowning in Nineties Anime Review Index (By Rating)

Metal Fighter Miku
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack
Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 1
New Dominion Tank Police
New Gall Force
Odin: Photon Space Sailer Starlight
Otaku no Video
Rei Rei
Rhea Gall Force
Saber Marionette R
Sailor Moon S: The Movie: Hearts in Ice
Sailor Victory
Sakura Wars: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms
Sakura Wars: The Radiant Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms
Samurai X: The Motion Picture
Silent Möbius
Slayers Gorgeous
Slayers: The Motion Picture
Spirit Warrior: Castle of Illusion
Spirit Warrior: Regent of Darkness
Street Fighter Alpha: The Movie
Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again
Tenchi the Movie: Tenchi Muyo in Love
Urusei Yatsura Movie 4: Lum the Forever
Urusei Yatsura: Inaba the Dreammaker
Wrath of the Ninja: The Yotoden Movie

7/10 (Very Good)

3X3 Eyes
Alien Defender Geo-Armor: Kishin Corps
Arcadia of My Youth
Armitage III: Polymatrix
Battle Angel
Birth: A War of Two Worlds
Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma
Burn Up!
A Chinese Ghost Story
Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie
City Hunter: The Motion Picture
The Dark Myth
Demon City Shinjuku
Dirty Pair: The OVA Series