When Lee and Bill, the originators of the Dead Man series, asked me to be part of it, I was honored and fired up. After all, I cut my teeth on the horror genre as a young writer in the 90s. It was a blast for me to get back in touch with my bloody roots and pay homage to the Spatterpunk writers I'd read and loved as an angst-filled teen. Besides, any series that allows me to use the word "ichor" is aces in my book.
My not-so-secret past as a Fangoria subscriber aside, I've always felt that gore is pointless without emotional depth, kind of like showing off a mouthful of chewed food in the school lunchroom. If you don't care about the characters, then chainsawing them to pieces becomes cartoony and meaningless. The same is true for action. If you don't care about the people running around shooting each other, then it's just a two-dimensional video game.
One of the things that appealed to me about the Dead Man series was that it wasn't just empty meaningless gore. Sure it's violent, but it also explores the psychological repercussions of that violence, delving into the darker side of love, loyalty, and friendship. With that in mind, I wanted to use my own uniquely female perspective to highlight the complex emotional depth in the character of Matt Cahill without sacrificing the kind of gripping action that the series is also known for. And combining emotion with action has always been at the heart of my own hardboiled crime fiction. It was a perfect fit.
In The Death Match, I wanted to create a story in which physical trauma and emotional trauma are so deeply intertwined that they are essentially inseparable. To explore what it really means to love someone, and how far someone might go for love. I chose female MMA fighters as the lynchpin of my story because they seemed to embody the perfect fusion of the physical and the emotional.
I also had a chance to work closely with Lee and Bill in defining and revealing glimpses of the larger meta-story behind the Dead Man series, weaving connections between the events in past books and focusing on the underlying motivations of Matt's supernatural nemesis, Mr. Dark. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that fans of the series are in for some exciting and surprising revelations with this latest book.