How about a little humor?

C.S. Boyack wrote a short mystery for MURDER THEY WROTE that tickled my funny bone at the same time it had a great murder plot. I fell in love with his Jason Fogg and wanted to know more about him. So he agreed to a Q & A to satisfy my curiosity. Please welcome Craig to Mystery Musings:

I was thrilled for the invitation to submit to this anthology. I feel like I’m standing among giants here, and am truly honored.

When Judy asked me to participate, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. I’ve included some murders in my fiction, so I’m no stranger. Murder kind of has its own genres, but it also shows up in speculative fiction, like I write. My request was for a piece of science fiction to include in the book.

I was right in the middle of drafting two different novels, but anthologies have deadlines. I needed to restructure a few things, and needed a bit of luck. Luck showed up in the form of Jason Fogg, a character I have a long history with.

I think the idea of these author interviews are wonderful, and am excited to participate in these, too. I’ll let you learn more about Jason through Judy’s questions.

1.  You wrote a speculative fiction story for the anthology MURDER THEY WROTE.  Jason Fogg is your detective.  You’ve written other stories featuring him, haven’t you?  Would you tell us about them?

Sure. Jason started off as a supporting character, with a different name, in an old trunk novel of mine. There’s a reason it’s locked away in a trunk, but the character stuck with me. I finally decided to include his origin tale in a collection of short stories called, The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.

Since he proved popular, I gave him a second story in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II.

I always intended to keep these collections going, but haven’t had the time. If I ever get around to a third volume, Jason will get a place in it.

Then I came up with this almost paranormal superhero story. It proved to be my most popular work. A big part of its appeal is the corniness that went into it. I decided to turn this into a series. At about that time, theaters were bursting at the seams with superhero team-up adventures.

It seemed like a tongue-in-cheek way to do the same thing, but with the corniness of my series. My paranormal avenger needed some other characters to team up with, and Jason Fogg was first in line. If anyone is interested, that one is called Viral Blues.

2.  I loved the relationship between Jason and Riley.  His wife?  I really liked her.  Did he meet her in a former story?  You gave a little of her background.  Is there more?

Jason started out life as a bit of a pervert, to be honest. He misused his special abilities early on, but came to find a higher purpose. The target was always Riley, a cute redhead who worked at a chowder house Jason frequented along the Oregon coast.

They’ve developed a relationship across the stories, and even got married along the way. Riley probably gets more page time in Murder They Wrote than any other story so far.

3.  Jason and Riley were gifted a house in this story.  How did that happen?  And why did you choose Seattle as the setting for From the Files of Jason Fogg?

With Jason popping up from time to time, he’s gained fans along the way. It’s important to keep some continuity to his bigger story. Believe me, you can jump right into Murder They Wrote and not miss a thing. The Seattle house is a nod to his longer term fans.

The nutshell version is that the secret society all my heroes were working for in Viral Blues paid the heroes off in different ways. The society occasionally cleans up haunted houses, and uses them to recruit observers into their programs. A couple of newlyweds needed a house.

Jason’s special abilities almost require him to live in a humid environment. Moving from the Oregon Coast to the Seattle area seemed to work, and it’s a bigger city for him to find more trouble in, should he get the call again some day.

4.  How did Jason come by his special talents? 

Maybe we should have asked this one first, but here’s the deal. Jason has the ability to dissolve into fog and reconstitute at will. He can fly along in his cloud form, but not like Superman or anything. He’s a cloud, so it’s kind of deliberate and slow. It’s also handy for slipping through keyholes and window screens as he’s trying to solve a mystery.

Jason was on a crew that strung high-tension powerlines from the hydroelectric dams in Oregon. It was just before dawn on a night the fog was so thick you couldn’t see a thing on the ground. It was clear up on the poles, and the fog spread like a blanket beneath him when he started his shift.

That was when a bit of NASA debris decided to crash back to Earth. There was a growth on the outside, and it puffed up like dough in a hot oven during re-entry. This debris clipped the power line a few miles from him, and a charge travelled along the wire.

Jason was instantly evaporated and dissolved into the fog bank below him.

5.  I really enjoyed the humor in your story.  A few of the drawbacks of being Jason Fogg made me chuckle.  Can you share them?

I don’t like superheroes that are too super. I’m down for special abilities all day long, but not to the point that my heroes don’t have to try.

When Jason fogs out, it’s just him. No clothes, no hair products, not even after shave. I never did buy the heroes who also turn their clothing invisible and such. So Jason has a bit of a problem when it’s time to reform.

He has to reform to accomplish much of anything. He can’t even turn pages without reforming. About the only thing he can do is fog glass and leave messages. Other than that, he has to take physical form to do anything.

He’s become a regular at Goodwill and keeps a stockpile of clothing he can plant nearby the places he’s working.

I admit to turning more to humor in the last few years. I believe even the most serious story can benefit from a light moment, but you have to keep that tension on simmer. Jason’s “limitations” give me the opportunity to have a laugh or two at his expense sometimes.

Would you share your media links with us? Anything else you’d like us to know?  And thanks for visiting my blog.

I’m thrilled for the invitation, and hope the interview nudges a few people to give Murder They Wrote a chance.

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

BlogMy NovelsTwitterGoodreads | FacebookPinterestBookBub

A new cover!

I’m trading back and forth, working on Lux #2 and a new Muddy River short fiction.  I’ve surprised myself, and Lux is getting close to done.  Then I can spend all of my time on Raven and Hester while my critique partners mark up Heirlooms To Die For before giving it back to me.

For Muddy River, this time, I’m trying a different type of cover.  So far, I’ve used images of people with a background I hope hints at magic.  This time, I found an image that I think captures the theme of the story.  See what you think:


And since I’m sharing the cover, I thought I’d share the opening scene of SURVIVAL, too:

Muddy River’s spring vacation usually brings bad weather.  I never schedule coven meetings during that time, so that I’m free of all responsibilities.  I love my young witches, but by early April, I’m as eager for a week away from them as they are to be free of lessons and me.

Days can be almost balmy right up until students leave my classroom on Friday, but that’s just to tease us.  Soon, clouds gather to deliver torrential rain, blinding snow, or hail.  It’s as though the heavens don’t condone our week off.

This year, we were supposed to get lucky.  According to Meda, one of my coven, her bespelled weather vanes predicted the sun would shine the entire month and the temperatures would be mild. I hummed as I waved my hand to lock the school before crossing the field to my yellow Victorian house.  A week of good weather.  A miracle.

Claws ran ahead of me, only stopping to check both ways before crossing the street.

“Don’t go too far!” I called to him.  “We’re leaving as soon as Raven gets home.”  My fire demon had decided that we should spend the week at the lake cottage he’d bought for getaways.  He was craving a little privacy.

His Lamborghini wasn’t in the drive, so I kicked off my shoes and headed straight to the kitchen.  I poured a glass of wine, ready to celebrate my last day of school.  Looking out the kitchen window, I saw Claws prowling the river bank that bordered the back of our property.  He could burn off some energy before we made the hour drive to our cottage.

I was sipping pinot grigio, letting my mind drift, when I heard Raven’s car pull into the garage.  A minute later, he pushed through the kitchen door.  Six-five and corded with muscle, with black hair and amber eyes, he locked gazes with me, and his look sizzled.  “Is everything packed?” When I nodded, he grinned.  “Brown’s covering the office while I’m gone, and Strike’s promised to help out if needed.  We have an entire week to ourselves, just you, me, and Claws.  I have plans for you, witch.”

It was about time.  Raven was Muddy River’s enforcer.  Between his job and mine, it was hard for either of us to get away.  I pointed to the suitcases and coolers sitting in the corner.  Swallowing the last of my wine, I stood.  “Let me change, and I’m ready.”

He licked his lips.  “Need any help?”

“If you want to get to the cabin by supper time, it would be safer if I did it myself.”

“Right.”  His expression turned lascivious.  “Everything in due time.”  He went to start loading my SUV.  Twenty minutes later, Claws curled on the backseat and I rode shotgun, wearing my worn jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt.  Raven turned away from Muddy River, and we headed north to enjoy ourselves and each other.


Hope you enjoy these.  I still have a decent amount to write for Raven and Hester.