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By John Darrinwolf's-blood.jpg

“Are you saying I look like a bear?”

That was the question Bill Gagliani asked me in response to an ill-conceived statement I’d made which he might have misunderstood.

“No, no. Of course not. Why, you remind me more of, uh, George Clooney than a bear.”

What else would you expect me to say to a rather large man who studies exotic weapons and writes books with ‘blood-drenched finales’?

These finales are included in the books of his self-proclaimed “North Woods noir” genre, a fairly narrow niche which, when pressed for definition, he describes as The Wolf-Manmeets No Way to Treat a Lady by way of Deliverance with a nod to Body Double. I picture Jack Nicholson saying, “Herrrrrre’s Johnny” through an ax-hole in a door. Gagliani takes us to the scene after he’d used the ax on, well, someone.

Narrow or not, he’s a master at it. Don’t believe me? Deborah LeBlanc, bestselling author of Water Witch, says “Gagliani takes a rehashed theme and breathes new life into it with a cast of memorable characters and relentless suspense. He masterfully weaves sensuality and horror throughout the story, taking the reader on a journey that redefines ‘love at all costs.’ ”

She wrote that about Wolf’s Gambit, the second book in the four-book Nick Lupo/Wolf trilogy. Yes, I know that a trilogy has three books, but as I mentioned earlier, Gagliani is big and he likes exotic weapons and blood-drenched finales, so go along. The trilogy part actually applies to the three books after the first Nick Lupo one, Wolf’s Trap. Wolf’s Gambit and Wolf’s Bluff are the first two, and Wolf’s Edge is coming next year. It is (supposedly) the final installment, but if there is a fourth, go along. In fact, celebrate.

Wolf’s Bluff again features homicide cop and werewolf Nick Lupo. Nick has battled other, less domesticated werewolves in the first two books, killers who have no problem hunting human prey. So you might think you know what’s coming. But as 5-time Bram Stoker Award-winner Gary A. Braunbeck says,

gagliani-wd.jpg“If you think you know what you’ll be getting, trust me, you’re wrong. Gagliani is fashioning an epic werewolf cycle here, one filled with terror, passion, violence, surprisingly affecting sensuality, and enough fantastical twists and turns to satisfy even the most jaded horror reader. Put your preconceptions aside and get ready for one hell of a ride.”

Gagliani is a first-generation American, living the first eight months of his life here before his parents returned to their native Genova, Italy. He likes the traditional, non-Americanized name for Genoa, and again, I’m not arguing. Big guy, exotic weapons, blood-drenched, you know the drill by now. He knows the North Woods because he lives there, outside Milwaukee, working as a Library Supervisor.

When he’s not writing or working or playing with exotic weapons, he’s studying Alternate History, playing with synthesizers, or taking pictures. What is Alternate History, you ask? His answer:

“Tweaking “real” history to see what might have happened “if…” – if Hitler had died in WWI, would there still have been a beer hall putsch? That kind of thing.”

History – based on a true story.

I don’t know how much time he has for all that other stuff because his bibliography takes up pages. For example, for the bargain price of 6/10,000 of a cent per word, you can download “The Great Belzoni and the Gait of Anubis” at Amazon. It is 8,600 words, so when you do the math, you can have it for 49¢. Or wait a little while and get it bundled with “The Great Belzoni and the Monster of Goa” along with Deena Warner cover art on the coming Kindle edition for 99¢.

And while your Kindle or Nook or Kobo or whatever is downloading that, include his thriller Savage Nights. According to Gagliani, “It’s like the movie ‘Taken’ on steroids – it takes you much, much farther into the darkness. And it also deals with some very bad people.” Sounds like the setting for a blood-drenched finale.

In an interview at ZombieConX (You missed I – IX?), Gagliani said he likes “the idea of ‘the beast within’ … that everybody has a dark side.” I asked him about his dark side.

“My dark side is that I like dark sides. I like fringe stuff even though I seem very conventional. I’m unshockable. I like thinking about what makes people do evil things. I’m curious about the nature of cruelty. The werewolf is a good metaphor for having a separate, angry side that wants to handle trouble in a straightforward way.”

Hey kids, remember that the next time you’re making too much noise in his library.

John Darrin