The City of Strange Angels by Stephen Blackmoore

Today reformed pyromaniac Stephen Blackmoore stops by to share a little about how the dark side of the City of Angels shaped his novel City of the Lost, which I’ll be reviewing tomorrow. And if you’re in the LA area, be sure to check out Stephen and a horde of other authors reading their work at Noir at the Bar on Jan 22nd.

Stephen BlackmooreIn January of 1934 G. Warren Shufelt, a mining engineer, believed that a race of lizard people were living in tunnels underneath Downtown L.A. Not only did he think these lizard people were there, but he also believed that they had gold and other treasures in their underground city. He even said he had photographed some of these treasures with “radio X-rays”. Four foot long gold tablets upon which 5000 years of ancient lizard man lore was written.

He dug a shaft on North Hill Street in an effort to find the entrance. He even made a map of it showing the tunnel locations, various rooms and their dimensions and where all the gold was supposed to be.

Could it be true? Could there be a race of Lovecraftian lizardmen living under the streets of L.A.?

Well, no, of course not, but for a while somebody believed it. The L.A. Times even printed a front page story about it. Showed the map and everything.

L.A. can be a weird, funny and truly creepy place. Lizard people, the curse of Griffith Park, haunts a-plenty. Horrors and weirdness of the more mundane variety, too. There’s The Black Dahlia, Charles Manson, The Night Stalker, The Grim Sleeper.

Hell, just the other day a couple hikers found some Armenian guy’s head in a bag in Bronson Canyon. No word yet on where the rest of him is. I don’t think they’ll find him.

This is a strange town. And when I wrote CITY OF THE LOST I tried to tap into some of that strangeness.

CITY OF THE LOST is about a thug, Joe Sunday, working for a low level crime boss until he gets killed and brought back from the dead. He finds himself in the middle of a hunt for the artifact that brought him back to life. It might grant immortality and a lot of people want to get their hands on it.

It’s as much a crime novel as it is an urban fantasy novel, but most of all I tried to make it an L.A. novel.

Sunday has to deal with the LAPD, gangbangers and traffic on the 405 as much as he has to deal with magic, monsters, and being undead. I tried to root it in as much reality as I could and still draw on some of that strange energy that this city has.

If I did it right then the magic and mayhem won’t seem out of place. It’ll just be one more weird part of an already weird town.

Stephen Blackmoore is a writer of pulp, crime and urban fantasy. His short stories and poetry have appeared in Needle, Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, Thrilling Detective, Shots, Demolition, Clean Sheets, and Flashing In The Gutters. His first novel, City of the Lost, a dark urban fantasy, is available from DAW Books. To learn more about Stephen, visit his blog, L.A. Noir.
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  • M C Funk

    January 19, 2012 - 1:14 pm

    Man, you’re the bomb when it comes to bringing the weirdest bad LA has to offer. This was both a compelling introduction, an exciting index of strange subjects and a strong shove toward CITY OF THE LOST. Keep working it.

  • Sabrina Ogden

    January 19, 2012 - 9:51 am

    Great post, Stpehen. I started CITY OF THE LOST last night and I LOVE IT! I’m looking forward to your review, Elizabeth.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      January 19, 2012 - 11:25 am

      Yet another crush for you. 😉

      • sabrina ogden

        January 19, 2012 - 4:24 pm

        Yes, the image I had of Joe as he tossed his jacket on the bar was overwhelming… even more so when he notices the waitress and her green eyes. I’m a girl with a soft spot for the bad guys!