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City Quartet by Michael Williams - Book Tour

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We invite you enjoy a special blog tour featuring the entire City Quartet by Michael Williams, a visionary group of interrelated novels that can be read as stand-alone tales or as a group, in any order desired! It is a fascinating and atmospheric journey into the heart of mythic fiction and magical realism with an exceptional literary quality!  The tour runs from April 29 to May 6 and includes new reviews, interviews, and guest posts!


Book Synopsis for Dominic’s Ghosts: Dominic’s Ghosts is a mythic novel set in the contemporary Midwest. Returning to the hometown of his missing father on a search for his own origins, Dominic Rackett is swept up in a murky conspiracy involving a suspicious scholar, a Himalayan legend, and subliminal clues from a silent film festival. As those around him fall prey to rising fear and shrill fanaticism, he follows the branching trails of cinema monsters and figures from a very real past, as phantoms invade the streets of his once-familiar city and one of them, glimpsed in distorted shadows of alleys and urban parks, begins to look uncannily familiar.


Synopsis of Vine – An Urban Legend:  Amateur theatre director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives. Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of ancient and powerful forces.

Michael Williams’ VINE: AN URBAN LEGEND weds Greek Tragedy and urban legend with dangerous intoxication, as the drama rushes to its dark and inevitable conclusion.


Synopsis of Trajan’s Arch: Gabriel Rackett stands at the threshold of middle age. He lives north of Chicago and teaches at a small community college. He has written one novel and has no prospects of writing another, his powers stagnated by drink and loss. Into his possession comes a manuscript, written by a childhood friend and neighbor, which ignites his memory and takes him back to his mysterious mentor and the ghosts that haunted his own coming of age. Now, at the ebb of his resources, Gabriel returns to his old haunts through a series of fantastic stories spilling dangerously off the page–tales that will preoccupy and pursue him back to their dark and secret sources.


Synopsis of Tattered Men:   When a body washes ashore downstream from the city, the discovery saddens the small neighborhood south of Broadway. A homeless man, T. Tommy Briscoe, whose life had intertwined with a bookstore, a bar, and the city’s outdoor theater had touched many lives at an angle. One was that of Mickey Walsh, a fly-by-night academic and historian, who becomes fascinated with the circumstances surrounding the drowning.

From the beginning there seems to be foul play regarding Briscoe’s death, and, goaded on by his own curiosity and the urging of two old friends, Walsh begins to examine the case when the police give it up. His journey will take him into the long biography of a man who might have turned out otherwise and glorious, but instead fell into and through the underside of history, finding harsh magic and an even harsher world. Despite the story of Tommy’s sad and shortened life, Walsh begins to discover curious patterns, ancient and mythic, in its events—patterns that lead him to secrets surrounding the life and death of Tommy Briscoe and reveal his own mysteries in the searching.

Tattered Men is one of the novels of the City Quartet, an interrelated group of novels that can be read in any order that also includes Dominic’s Ghosts, Trajan’s Arch, and Vine: An Urban Legend.


Guest Post
A Place for Stories
One of the things I learned as a writer who started in speculative fiction—a thing that we attend to more consciously than, say, realist or “mainstream” writers—is the issue of place in our stories.
This is not to say, mind you, that realist writers shouldn’t be aware of where their stories take place: I would argue, for example, that a story that remains unchanged when its writer shifts the setting from, say, the Mississippi delta to Sweden…that it’s a story that isn’t yet finished, not ready to send out, maybe not even good to begin with.
But the countries of speculative fiction writers—from Tolkien’s Middle Earth to Bradbury’s Mars to Atwood’s Gilead—are characters as well as surroundings, symbols as well as settings.  When you read speculative fiction of any kind, the place in which it happens is consciously crafted, not assumed: the reader is immersed in surroundings, rather than noticing them while other things go on.
Awareness of how important place can be in all the arts—not simply in fiction—led me to think about the subject more widely.  I taught a university class last fall where, at the end of the semester, a dozen Humanities students with interests all over the artistic map (visual artists, writers, film students) journeyed with me to Italy, where we immersed ourselves in that beautiful country’s Alpine north, living daily in a small town, absorbing the landscape, the culture, the attendant history.
What we talked about in the class was largely centered on the ideas of phenomenologist philosopher Edward Casey’s focus on how the landscape painter relates to his surroundings.  Casey claims there are three levels of engaging a landscape in a painting, and it surprised me at first how much this idea applied to writing:
1. “Place at,” where the landscape is representational.  Accuracy of representation is the important thing here: you might even be able to use the painting (or the writing) to locate yourself, to get your bearings.  The obvious example for writers is the travel guide; however, we use it in fiction when we lay out a place in which readers must get their bearings.  A simple and direct example of this is the common practice in fantasy fiction of providing a map.  
2. “Place of,” where the landscape draws on representation, but uses that representation to reveal the truth or the meaning of a place.  Here I think of symbolic landscapes—Tolkien’s Moria and Lorien and Mordor, where the places embody ideas and states of mind.  For an evident example, think about the settings of gothic horror, how the writer describes the visible to get at things unseen but powerfully felt.
3. “Place for,” where the landscape, Casey says, becomes “a subject for contemplation.”  This involves how we relate with all our faculties to the surrounding environment: you enter into the world, and for a moment or minute or sometimes (if the writer is really good at it) for hours, you are immersed in the fictional landscape, you are there.  We’ve all had those moments when, reading something, we lift our eyes from the page and realize that for a time the world around us has vanished, that we have been firmly and profoundly absorbed by the place that the writer created.
None of these kinds of emplacement are mutually exclusive, and good writers know when they needs to give the reader bearings, to point toward meaning, or to open the world so that people can come in, wander around, stay there for a while.  It’s an acquired skill, this variation, but it’s not unlike the different ways and levels at which we use other characters.  It’s part of the palette.
So think about the place where your story is set.  You probably already do, but devote some time to consider it at the center of your thoughts.  It’s yet another way to make a tighter, more evocative, and better story.


About the author: Over the past 25 years, Michael Williams has written a number of strange novels, from the early “Weasel’s Luck” and “Galen Beknighted” in the best-selling DRAGONLANCE series to the more recent lyrical and experimental “Arcady”, singled out for praise by Locus and Asimov’s magazines.

Williams’ highly anticipated City Quartet was completed by the publication of Tattered Men in October 2019. The four volumes may be read in any order–four stories that intertwine, centered in the same city, where minor characters in one novel become central in another:

“Vine: An Urban Legend” is the story of an amateur stage production In Louisville’s Central Park, gone darkly and divinely wrong.

“Dominic’s Ghosts” takes up the story of a son in search of his father in the midst of a murky conspiracy involving a suspicious scholar, a Himalayan legend, and subliminal clues from a silent film festival.

“Tattered Men” is the account of a disheveled biographer, writing the life story of a homeless man who may have been more than he ever seemed.

And “Trajan’s Arch” is a coming-of-age story replete with ghosts, a testimony to hauntings both natural and supernatural.

Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent much of his childhood in the south central part of the state, the red-dirt gothic home of Appalachian foothills and stories of Confederate guerrillas. Through good luck and a roundabout journey, he made his way through New England, New York, Wisconsin, Britain and Ireland, and has ended up less than thirty miles from where he began. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities, and teaches at the University of Louisville, where he focuses on the Modern Fantastic in fiction and film. He is married and has two grown sons.

Author Links:


Tour Schedule and Activities

4/29    Marian Allen, Author Lady     https:/       Review

4/29    The Literary Underworld          Guest Post

4/29    Armed With a Book Guest Post

4/30    The Book Junkie Reads . . .           Author Interview

5/1      MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape   Author Interview

5/2      Joel Harris         Review

5/3      The Book Lover's Boudoir     Review

5/4      Sheila's Guests and Reviews     Guest Post

5/5      Jazzy Book Reviews      Guest Post

5/6      Willow Writes And Reads      Review

5/6 The Seventh Star Blog Guest Post


Amazon Links for Dominic’s Ghosts


Amazon Links for Vine – An Urban Legend


Amazon Links for Trajan’s Arch


Amazon Link for Tattered Men

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