In 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.