We’ve got a real treat for you, readers! As part of December’s Bloodlight, author Ian Rogers has penned a fantastic guest blog. Find out more about Ian’s signature supernatural-detective fiction.
Of Wraiths and Wandering Daughters by Ian Rogers
For me, the occult detective has always been the Reese Peanut Butter Cup of literature.
It may sound silly, but it’s true. Combining the private investigator with ghosts and ghouls is truly akin to the meeting of peanut butter and chocolate. Since they’ve been brought together, it’s hard to imagine them apart.
The idea of crossing detective fiction with other genres isn’t a new one. What else is Batman but a cross-genre p.i.: detective meets superhero. Personally I never saw the occult detective as an attempt to cross genres as much as it was an inevitable mutation of the detective story, or the supernatural tale, depending on your point of view. While other authors have made entire careers out of combining one genre with another, sometimes because the story demands it, sometimes merely to turn a buck on a gimmick, the occult detective has always been lurking in the shadows.
Mystery stories practically beg to be crossed with horror. For example, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found the phrase “locked-room mystery” to be incredibly creepy. While it serves as a description for a specific type of mystery story, for me it’s always conjured images of ghosts drifting through walls and tentacled beasties slipping in through the air ducts.
Even though my background is primarily in horror fiction, my series of Felix Renn supernatural noirs – or “supernoirturals,” as I call them – actually owe more to detective fiction than horror. My two primary influences were Dashiell Hammett – specifically his stories featuring the nameless Continental Op – and Ross Macdonald, author of a series of books featuring private detective Lew Archer. As much as I enjoy the work of both authors, I’ve often wondered what would have happened if either of them had ever decided to pit their respective detectives against adversaries of the paranormal variety. Unfortunately they never did.
While Hammett and Macdonald may have been reluctant to tread beyond their well-known playgrounds, other authors, including Sax Rohmer, Robert E. Howard and Margery Lawrence, were more than willing to send their detectives into the supernatural wilds.
Today, the occult detective has become a popular character in literature, from Tanya Huff’s series of Blood Ties books to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Even TV shows like Kolchak the Night Stalker and The X-Files, while not featuring actual private investigators, owe a great deal to the union of the detective story and the supernatural tale.
The occult detective lurks in the shadows, but that’s where he belongs. That’s where the work is, after all, and where the monsters live.
It’s no coincidence that the motto of the Pinkerton Detective Agency is “We Never Sleep.” The authors of occult detective stories tend to make their readers feel the exact same way.
I want to thank Ian for spending December with us! I strongly encourage you to check out Ian’s website to find out more about his writing. He has many new releases on the horizon that are sure to make you an instant fan!