Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Vlog post with Michael F. Haspil

Photo Content from Michael F. Haspil

Michael F. Haspil is a geeky engineer and nerdy artist. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he had the opportunities to serve as an ICBM crew commander and as a launch director at Cape Canaveral. The art of storytelling called to him from a young age and he has plied his craft over many years and through diverse media. He has written original stories for as long as he can remember and has dabbled in many genres. However, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror have whispered directly to his soul.

When he isn’t writing, you can find him sharing stories with his role-playing group, cosplaying, computer gaming, or collecting and creating replica movie props. Lately, he devotes the bulk of his hobby time to assembling and painting miniatures for his tabletop wargaming addiction.

Michael is represented by Sara Megibow of the KT Literary Agency and Adrian Garcia of the Paradigm Talent Agency.

He has collected and made replica movie props for over twenty years and enjoys the way a particular collectible lets an individual connect with a meaningful story.

He spends entirely too much time gaming or thinking (some might say ‘scheming’) about strategies and tactics in all kinds of gaming be it board games, computer games, or his passion, tabletop wargaming. He devotes the largest share of the gaming pie to Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game. He has collected and played Grey Knights, Space Marines, Tyranids, Dark Eldar, Necrons, and Space Wolves. Michael is a regular contributor to “The Long War” a premiere podcast and webcast dedicated to tabletop gaming, but especially to Warhammer 40,000.


Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (July 18, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765379627
ISBN-13: 978-0765379627


“Gritty urban fantasy and hard-boiled noir packed into a hand grenade of awesome!” —Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

“Those who enjoy police action mixed with urban fantasy may want to try this series launch.”—Library Journal, starred review

“The buddy-cop formula gets an undead twist with Alex—also known as the pharaoh Menkaure, reanimated to carry out an eternal duty—and Marcus, his vampiric colleague, who serve as cops in a special paranormal unit. Between the two of them, they have several thousand years' worth of superpowersand martial aptitude. The action is gritty, cinematic, and unrelenting...the worldbuilding is intriguing (as a figure drawn from Egyptian mythos, Alex injects fresh blood into undead tropes), and the reader runs no chance of growing bored during the tense race to the finish, in which a confrontation with an old enemy lays the groundwork for a potential sequel. Fans of urban fantasy, noir, and tightly choreographed action scenes will enjoy the blood and bullets in this adrenaline-heavy ride through crime scenes and secret societies.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Inventive and cleverly crafted with a unique premise, Haspil's urban fantasy is absolutely gripping. With strong, intelligent storytelling, distinctive, vivid characters, and gritty, edgy dialogue, Haspil will capture readers. Alex is a compelling, powerful hero and Marcus, his partner, is astrong and enthralling counterpart. With an intricate plot filled with actionand intrigue, Haspil lends a fresh voice to urban fantasy with his exciting and riveting debut.”—RT Book Reviews, four stars

Alex manhandled the dark blue Explorer into a parking lot on the western end of the shopping plaza. In front of him, half a dozen cruisers formed a makeshift cordon, roughly twenty- five yards from the entrance of a small market and its shattered front window. 

A gaggle of uniforms took cover behind their cars— a jumble of green- and- white Miami- Dade Police cruisers mixed in with the City of Miami Police’s blue- and- white livery. They pointed trunk guns— AR-15s and Mini-14s— and pistols at the doors. Off to the side, several cops held the press and other looky- loos at bay. 

It was the standard goat rope whenever a vampire might be involved. The odds were low that there really was a bloodsucker around, since the sun was already beating down with full late- summer fury and it wasn’t even midmorning. While it was true that sunlight wasn’t as deadly to vampires as the myths implied, at the very least it made most of them severely uncomfortable, and some suffered third- degree burns with only slight exposure. 

Alex parked the SUV and killed the cherry lights. He stepped out into what felt like an impossible hundred- and- fifty- percent humidity with heat to match. It wasn’t as oppressive as Kemet at this time of year, but Kemet’s was a blistering, drier heat. 

Egypt, he reminded himself again. That was what they called it now. It had been more than two thousand years since the Greeks had renamed his homeland after a mispronunciation of a misunderstanding, and it felt almost as long since he’d been there. Re beamed overhead, charging Menkaure’s body with His invigorating light. The power coursed through him, raw and unchecked. As long as Re held vigil overhead, Menkaure was nearly invincible. It was darkness that held weakness for him. 

Alex ran a hand over his dark, bald, cool head, wiping away a thin sheen of moisture, due solely to humidity, since he didn’t sweat. He wasn’t a vampire, but his body, like a vampire’s matched the ambient temperature, in this case that of the air- conditioned interior of his SUV. He suppressed the urge to slam its door. Charged up as he was now, if he did, it might never open again. 

“Who’s the primary?” He projected his voice, and with it, his authority, but it took an effort to keep the annoyance out of it. 

One of the Dade cops muttered, “Guess the nocturn squad finally decided to show up. Took your sweet- ass time.” 

Alex ignored the man and walked nearer to the line of police cars. 

Ah, irony. 

Once, Menkaure had been the Morning and the Evening Star, He of the Sedge and the Bee, Pharaoh of the Two Lands. Few men would have dared to speak to him without awe in their voices. Now, he walked the Path of Asar as penance, and though all of humanity owed him innumerable debts, he found naught but scorn in their tone. 

Alex asked his question again, louder this time. “Who’s the primary?” 

A middle- aged man with salt- and- pepper hair stepped forward. He wore the taupe uniform of the Miami- Dade Police and had a paunch that pushed his gun belt low. 

“Right here,” he said. “I’ve got men watching the back of the store. It’s not coming out of there.”

“It?” Alex asked. 

“Yeah, the vampire. I mean, the um, nocturn.” 

“I’m fine with ‘vampire.’ Are you sure? Seems a bit early.” Alex pointed at the sun.

“Yeah, we’re sure,” the cop answered. “We’ve got four officers down on account of going in there and trying to deal with it— him. Couldn’t make an ID. He’s probably an undocumented nocturn. We think he’s in a blood frenzy. I’d just as soon not take chances.” 

“What’s the deal with Miami PD responding?” 

“New rules. Overwhelming force, plus they were close enough to augment. The way things are going, orders are we’re supposed to show the city no one’s sitting anything out.”

Alex shook his head in disagreement. This was all wrong. The leaders were making things worse. They should have been doing business as usual, telling everyone there was nothing to get worked up over. Instead, they were ignoring the storm surge that preceded the hurricane.

A younger cop spoke up. Alex made him for a boot— a rookie— instantly.

“He threw two officers right out the front window. At least twenty yards. The other guys barely made it out.” 

Twenty yards? More like twenty feet. Maybe. With a running start and if the wind was right.

“Did they get bitten?” There would be some extra complications if they had. Mountains of paperwork. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would have to get involved. After the Reveal, ICE had caught the responsibility of keeping track of the newly turned. It was yet another impossible law to enforce, but looked good on paper, and politicians could jabber about it as if it would make a difference. 

“No,” the senior officer answered. “We had a squad take them over to Hialeah to get checked out.” 

“So they got lucky,” Alex said. “The guy in there is probably a good guy. Solid.” He didn’t keep the admiration from his tone. 

“Wait, what? He almost killed them,” the rookie said. 

“No, you’ve got it wrong. He saved their lives. He had enough control left to get them away from him.” Alex made the decision that killing this vampire wasn’t going to be an option. 

“What do you have going for response?” Alex asked. “SRT on the way?” 

“Just Nocturn Affairs— you guys catch all these calls now. Director’s orders,” the primary answered.

Alex sighed. One Nocturn Affairs cop instead of a Special Response Team. In his case, that certainly measured up, but they had no way of knowing that. 

“Is he armed?” 

“He’s a vampire,” the rookie said. 

Alex let his annoyance show through. “Does. He. Have. Any. Weapons?” 

“Not that we know of,” the primary answered. 

Alex considered the men taking cover behind the police cars. The sun was doing more for them than those cars ever would if a blood- frenzied vampire decided to have a taste.

He looked around. Press trucks with long- distance mics listening to every word. That was a problem.

“So it’s my scene, right?” Alex made a show of surveying the area. “See you guys later.” Alex walked back to the SUV. 

“Whoa, you’re not going to deal with this?” the rookie shouted after him. 

“In about eight or nine hours. Sun’s up. Even in a blood- frenzied state, he’s not going anywhere. That’s probably the only thing his brain can even understand right now.” 

Let the press weigh that. Was it really worth sitting around all day to get some B roll of cops waiting out a vampire? 

The younger man trotted after Alex. “Um, he might not be alone.” 

Alex whirled back to the senior officer. “You didn’t evacuate the area?” 

“The surrounding buildings, but not—”

“The store itself.” Alex shook his head in disbelief. “CCTV?” 

“Nothing we can tap.” 

Alex looked over at the press. They weren’t going anywhere. Time to get a bit fascist.

Alex raised his voice so everyone on the line could hear him. “Does anyone know if there are still civilians in the building?” 

The response was a bevy of shaking heads and shrugging shoulders. 

Alex clapped his hands over his face and rubbed his eyes. 

“Unbelievable,” he muttered through his hands. 

Menkaure could easily take a metaphysical look, but that took time, and there were too many eyes on him right now. 

He remembered Salbatore, the man who had named him Alejandro and taken him in after he’d reawoken. Salbatore’s advice sounded as clearly in Menkaure’s mind now as it had one hundred seventy- odd years before. 

Do what they do, talk like they do, think like they do. Or they will destroy you out of ignorance and fear. Salbatore had been right, and the locals in Cartagena had nearly gotten Menkaure because of his carelessness. 

A duality flowed within him like the Asian concept of yin and yang. Alex was modern, a skilled operative who could kick ass and take names against the best wetwork teams the world had to offer. But he was also Menkaure, son of Khafre, son of Khufu. An ancient pharaoh who’d taken it upon himself to stand between humanity and the most terrible evil he’d encountered in all his long years. A king who’d made a pact with incalculable powers from far beyond the mortal realm for a chance to walk in Asar’s footsteps and wield immortality as a weapon. 

He was Alex, a man shaped over nearly eighteen decades— vintner, explorer, scholar, soldier, spy, enforcer, assassin, and cop. He was the once time pharaoh Menkaure, a has- been deity. Now intimately bound to his direst foe, reliant on his brother god Re and the Path of Asar until his ultimate task was complete. 

“Shit.” He pressed his hand against his forehead in frustration. 

He was burning daylight. The sooner he was done with this, the faster he could get back to his own business. 

“Okay, first things first. Get the press out of here. I don’t care how. We can’t have our TTPs showing up on the evening news. Next, get me a blanket out of one of the cruisers.” 

“What? TTPs?” The younger cop looked perplexed. 

“Don’t they teach you anything anymore? Tactics, techniques, procedures. Now, get them out of here.” Alex pointed at the press trucks and the civilian spectators. 

“Um, they’re not going to want to go,” the young cop answered. 

“If they’re not out of here in the next few minutes, you’d better be. Got it? Now, one of you get me a damn blanket.” 

Alex stalked back to his SUV and opened the rear door. A blood- frenzying vampire was going to be a hardcase. No way to reason with it. Alex needed to take him down a notch. 

Nocturn physiology precluded the use of a direct sedative. However, there was a loophole. The same traits that made a vampire immune to diseases and drugs also made the creature incredibly efficient at processing blood. And extremely fast at it, too. While the loophole wasn’t effective with diseases, blood collected from a human under the influence of some substances might have a similar effect on any vampire ingesting that blood. Bottom line, while a vampire couldn’t dope up on its own, a vampire drinking blood from a dopedup human would feel the effects of the drug. That fact alone had given rise to all the illegal blood clubs that dotted the city. With the help of vampiric sources within UMBRA, it hadn’t taken operatives long to use this trait to their advantage. 

It wasn’t exactly on the up- and-up within the eyes of the law, post- Reveal, but then again, Nocturn Affairs, which was full of ex- UMBRA operatives, tended to fall on the shady, gray side of Legal Street in almost everything it did. 

Alex opened a refrigerated case in the back of the SUV and pulled out a small vial. Its blood product had been extracted from a human who’d nearly OD’d. Alex slid the vial into a small handheld syringe gun, the same type used to administer vaccines to cattle, and loaded it with a CO2 cartridge.

He walked back toward the barricade and the primary. 

“Do you have my blanket?” 

“Sure do. Much good it will do you.” The cop handed him the blanket. 

Alex started walking toward the grocery store. 

The older cop put a hand on his shoulder. “ You’re not going in there, are you?” 

“Sure am.” 

“What exactly do you think you’re going to do with a blanket? Against . . . a monster?”

“Use his survival instinct against him. If he’s truly frenzying, there’s no talking to him. His cognitive mind is gone. It’s something they teach us over in Nocturn Affairs. It’s like bullfighting.” Alex nearly laughed. It was complete horse shit. 

“ You’re crazy.” 

Crazy is a requirement for Nocturn Affairs. Well, crazies and vampires. You ought to put in. Strikes me, you might be qualified.”

The older cop scowled and waddled back to the cover of his squad car. 

Alex stopped at the entrance. The trumpets from a Celia Cruz salsa version of “Guantanamera” blasted their way through the otherwise silent store. The savory smell of fresh pastelitos mixed with the coppery scent of Hemo- Synth greeted him. If it weren’t for the Hemo- Synth, there’d have been no Reveal, and vampires would still be wetwork, covert ops, instead of a law- enforcement problem. If this blood frenzy was anything like the other two recent cases, it was likely this vampire had consumed some tainted blood product. If that was true, it wasn’t just a theory anymore. Someone was poisoning the artificial blood. If the vampires couldn’t trust the Hemo- Synth, then . . . 

He stomped his way in, kicking around the broken glass and generally making his movements as loud as possible. He crossed the first aisle and knocked some cans onto the ground. There were no civilians. It looked like the store had emptied out the moment the vampire started to frenzy. Lucky.

Suddenly, streams of water burst from the ceiling, and the fire alarm began blaring.

Alex stopped and tightened his hand on the vaccine gun. Flashes of memory assaulted him. Cartagena. He really didn’t need a fire right now.
Forget flames. The vampire was overhead, crawling along the ceiling.
Alex pretended he didn’t know where it was. He moved halfway down the aisle, then bent over to examine the broken bottles of Sangri and Hemotopia that littered the ground. Both were popular Hemo- Synth products, and they came from different distributors. The contents formed a large pool of artificial blood. The combination of the store’s fluorescent light and the sprinkler water bouncing off the pool of Hemo- Synth made it look like it was raining blood. 

Alex splashed down the aisle, continuing to make as much noise as he could. The forensics team would be hard- pressed to get much of anything from the mess on the tiled floor, especially now that it was watered down. 

A slight rush of wind whispered next to him, as he’d expected. He turned, in time to catch one of the vampire’s arms as the creature pounced on him. The vampire reacted as Alex thought it would, lunging for his throat, piercing him with its fangs. It suddenly recoiled and gagged.

“Too bad, amigo. No lunch for you. I’m already dead.” 

The vampire hissed and pushed at him in an effort to escape. Alex slammed the vaccine gun into the vampire’s neck and squeezed the trigger. There was a sharp pop- hiss as the device delivered its payload. The vampire reeled in surprise, but didn’t go down. Alex dropped the vaccine gun and grunted as he held the vampire with one hand and tried to maneuver the blanket into position with the other. The cops outside had been right. This guy was strong. 

Alex flapped the blanket out onto the ground and switched his grip on the vampire. He pinned it to the floor with one hand and used the other to wrap the blanket crudely around it. It wasn’t pretty or neat, but it was good enough. 

He grabbed the bundle of struggling vampire in a bear hug and shuffled to the front of the store. In the short time it had been on the ground, the blanket had absorbed a surprising amount of the Hemo- Synth, which was now seeping into Alex’s clothes. 

Day ruined, shirt ruined. That was never going to come out. 

Swearing under his breath, Alex reached the front of the store and tossed his burden out into the sunlight. 

Immediately, the vampire freed himself from the blanket and stood transfixed, caught in the sun’s rays. It took some time for the pain to penetrate the fog of the blood frenzy and sedative. The creature screamed and darted back toward the front of the store. 

Alex blocked his path and pushed him back into the sunlight. The vampire whirled, looking for any escape from the pain. Then he noticed the blanket.

“That’s right, buddy, there’s shade under there.” 

The vampire snatched the blanket and wrapped himself in it. Before the nocturn could move again, Alex knocked it back to the ground. 

“Get me some ties!” he shouted at the police line. None of them moved. Slack jaws gaped at him.

“Hurry up!” 

Two of the braver officers responded, tossing him the plastic zip- ties they used to restrain problem suspects. 

Alex linked some together and tied the straps around the blanket while the officers kept their distance. He could feel the vampire weakening, as the sedative finally kicked in. 

“I’d have never believed it if I hadn’t seen it,” one of the officers said. 

Alex affixed another strap. “Yeah, well, don’t try this at home, kiddies.” 

“What now?” the same officer asked. 

“I’m taking this big boy to holding so he can sleep it off and we can ask him some questions.”

Copyright 2017 by Michael F. Haspil

Police procedurals go supernatural in this gritty urban fantasy debut 

Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, who was born in ancient Rome, once hunted evil vampires for UMBRA, a super-secret unit of the NSA. That was before the discovery of a blood substitute and a Supreme Court ruling allowed thousands of vampires to integrate into society.

Now, Alex and Marcus are vice cops in a special police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes.

When someone starts poisoning the artificial blood, race relations between vampires and humans deteriorate to the brink of anarchy. While the city threatens to tear itself apart, Alex and Marcus must form an unnatural alliance with a vigilante gang and a shape-shifter woman in a desperate battle against an ancient vampire conspiracy.

If they succeed, they'll be pariahs, hunted by everyone. If they fail, the result will be a race-war bloodierthan any the world has ever seen.

You can purchase Graveyard Shift at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MICHAEL F. HASPIL AND TOR for making this giveaway possible.
5 Winners will receive a Copy of GRAVEYARD SHIFT by Michael F. Haspil.
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