Behind The Book: ALL THE DEVILS – Harry Shannon


By Harry Shannon

Like many authors of my generation, I grew up loving Gold Medal paperbacks, Lancer Books, Ace double-sided books, and men’s adventure magazines. John D. MacDonald was my first Writing God, and I still have every Travis McGee paperback the author released. The pulp era informs my spirit to this day. It led to my latest project, co-written with my sometime partner Steven W. Booth, a thriller called All the Devils. Here is a bit of back story.

Four years ago, when horror author Joe McKinney approached me to write a zombie tale for charity, I’d published The Mick Callahan Novels, lots of crime and horror stuff, and the thriller The Pressure of Darkness. My friend Steven W. Booth was getting interested in writing too, so we collaborated on a short story called Jailbreak. It featured a tough female cop facing the zombie apocalypse. It was reprinted a number of times and took off on Amazon. Long story short, that casual charity project quickly became a book called The Hungry, which has to date spawned five sequels featuring Sheriff Penny Miller of Flat Rock, Nevada. And a sixth novel is in the works.

For those interested in such things, our process has been the same since day one. Steven and I trade the outline back and forth until mutually satisfied, and he does the first draft. I re-write that and send it back. He does an editing pass for content, I do a polish, and then Steven and his wife Leya proof the manuscript for errors. The system has worked well for several years. You might say The Undead have been very good to us. Still, we were both feeling a bit itchy to try something new. And that’s when the idea for a pulp thriller called All the Devils comes in.

Our initial stimulus was the observation that almost everyone you meet ends up being far more complex than they’d originally seemed. Steven and I kicked around a set up based on that idea. We both liked the idea of an office worker suddenly cornered by a hit man, but then rescued by an ordinary janitor, a man (in this case) called Spider. But what if she is no ordinary female in jeopardy, and Spider is an ex-mercenary soldier under witness protection? We also thought it would be fun to place the story in LA’s San Fernando Valley, in the very heart of gang country, our local barrio. The gang members turn out to be far more than they seem, thus a lot more interesting than the usual stereotypes. The barrio neighborhood became a secret underground location for special ops people. Soon our villain had to grow in stature too, and our femme fatales, twin Thai assassins, became worthy of a James Bond film.

As you can imagine, since we started from that kind of a premise, we ended up have an absolute blast writing All the Devils. As I said at the beginning, I love pulp fiction. This novel certainly fits the term. It has numerous cliffhanger chapter endings, a rapid-fire pace, lots of sexual tension, extra-large sized violence and a huge, cinematic ending to wrap things up. The title comes from Shakespeare, who said in The Tempest that Hell is empty, and All the Devils are here.

It’s out now from Genius Books.

Harry Shannon