Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Promo + Guest Blog: Bookburners Serial + Margaret Dunlap

This September, new publisher Serial Box is bursting onto the scene and bringing the TV model of media production and delivery to the book world with Bookburners, an urban fantasy adventure following a black-ops anti-magic squad backed by the Vatican. Wandering from police procedural to New Weird and dabbling in most genres in between, Bookburners will keep you hungry for more, week after week.

Written by a team of authors including Margaret Dunlap (Eureka), Mur Lafferty (The Shambling Guide to New York City) and Brian Francis Slattery (Lost Everything), the group is led by rising genre star Max Gladstone (Three Parts Dead and the Craft Sequence).

Magic is real, and hungry—trapped in ancient texts and artifacts, only a few who discover it survive to fight back. Detective Sal Brooks is a survivor. Abruptly thrust into the battle between nefarious forces trying to unleash this power onto the world and those trying to stop them, she joins a Vatican-backed black-ops anti-magic squad: Team Three of the Societas Librorum Occultorum. Together they stand between humanity and magical apocalypse. Some call them Bookburners. They don’t like the label.

Bookburners and all future Serial Box serials will be available on the site, in the app, and on iTunesAmazonKoboGoogle Play, and B&N.

Chapter 1: Badge, Book, and Candle
NYPD Detective Sal Brooks is no rookie—but even the most hardened cop would think twice when they see their brother open a book and become…well…something entirely not their brother. When her attempts to solve the case cross paths with a mysterious team led by a priest, she starts to realize that the world is far more than what is seems, and, just maybe, magic is real—and hungry.

Thus begins the 16-part serial, Bookburners, presented by Serial Box. From a team of writers, this collaborative effort will unfold an epic urban fantasy narrative across an entire season in weekly installments.

Follow along as Sal learns the life changing lesson: some books have teeth.

The series officially launches on September 16th with the release of Episode 2, but the first episode is up for all to enjoy on


Book, Badge, and Candle
Bookburners: Episode 1
By Max Gladstone, Brian Francis Slattery, Margaret Dunlap, and Mur Lafferty

Monitors illuminated the unmade bed, the bare bookshelves, the piled clothing. There should have been sunlight, but the Halloween-store spider hung outside Perrys window blocked the sun.
And Perry himself sat in ripped jeans and bloodstained shirt, curled like a shrimp over his keyboard, unblinking eyes inches from his central monitor. Barefoot. Hair tousled. One-day growth of beard. Jaw muscles snaked, relaxed, snaked again as he rocked in his chair, typing.
Detective Brooks, a lawyer might ask someday, how did you know the person sitting in the chair was not your brother?
And shed open her mouth before the courtroom but no words would come out. An audience would stare at her. The judge would drum her fingers. The lawyer would lean forward. Any time, Detective Brooks.
The clothes were Perrys, the body language ditto.
But still, when she said, Perry? the second time, her voice was uncertain.
He stopped typing, uncurled himself vertebra by vertebra from the keyboard, and turned to her. His eyes focused on the wall behind her. He smiled woodenly. Sal. Sister. Im sorry you had to come here.
Perry. Shed imagined hugging him when she saw him again, imagined hitting him too. Neither seemed possible now. Perry, youre here. As if saying that would make it true.
I am. And you should go, Sal. What a reasonable suggestion. I have work to finish, if you dont mind.
She didnt. But her not-minding was strange. Wasnt it? Perry, what happened last night?
Nothing, he said. I was pushed, you see. The Bookburners chased me, and I took help where I could find it. Im perfectly fine. Better than Ive been in a long, long while. Youre a . . . police officer, he said, as if hed just looked the fact up in a large and fine-print list. His words didnt match the movements of his mouth. She focused through the fear—and why fear? He was her brother.
But maybe he wasnt, right now.
His mouth was not moving in time with his words, because the words he spoke were not English, even though that was the language she heard. It must feel like this when you solve a case. When the whole world makes sense at once. Ive been working on a puzzle for a long time, and I just needed the right push.
He reached for her.
There seemed to be a great deal of space between them all of a sudden, but his arm grew longer to bridge the gap. A finger of ice pressed against her skin above her heart, so cold it burned. As the hand approached it no longer looked like a hand at all, not like a hand of flesh. Torn corrugated tin twisted around paper and woven plastic bones, forming fingers. Black oil
dripped from ragged joints. The arm was a length of rebar wound with trashbags and shredded cloth. Bottleglass eyes reflected the monitors blue glow. Thin lips parted to reveal metal teeth, wet with more oil.
But some traitor impulse still insisted this was Perry, her brother, there was no reason to pull back from him, there was no reason to run, she should let this thing touch her, that the oil on its metal skin was not oil in fact but a whisper, a voice that might help her if it only got inside—
The cold fire against her chest was real. Her skin seared, froze, cracked. She followed the pain back to her body and retreated, unsteady, as if her legs belonged to someone else. She staggered out into the hall. The arm stretched toward her, impossibly long.
She slammed the door shut on the things hand.
The Perry-thing didnt seem to care. It kicked the door open. Mangled fingers clicked back into place. Its smile split as it widened. It didnt need a face anymore. Just teeth.

Serial Box aims to bring book lovers everything they like about television: 

- New episodes each week
- Series are produced by a team of writers collaborating to create the most exciting, dynamic stories
- Episodes are easily ingestible with a 40-minute average read-time
- Each episode is an exciting adventure but together they build into a complete narrative—just like your favorite shows


UFI welcomes Margaret Dunlap. Thanks for Joining us!!

There are many reasons why I'm glad that what I write is fiction. Especially when I'm working on a serial like Bookburners about a group of top-secret operatives working for a black-budget department of the Vatican who try to prevent demons from using books (and other artifacts) as gateways to enter our world.

Looking at my shelves, there are many books that I am very glad definitely do not secretly harbor demons. Here are five examples:

The Riddlemaster Trilogy by Patricia A. McKillip

Small paperbacks, so they probably don't contain very large demons, but this is a trilogy and three against one aren't great odds. I think my best chance of survival would be to trick the demons into challenging each other to a riddle game to determine who gets to eat my eyes out first. Then, while they're busy with that, I can make a run for it. The problem with that strategy is that they might try to rope me into the game as well. I might know who Thanet Ross was and why he played a harp with no strings, but I'm under no illusions that would get me very far against three demons who have the knowledge of all the masters of Caithnard at their disposal.

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Thanks to these books, I know what happens to hapless humans when magical creatures decide to take an interest in their affairs. Next thing you know it's blood and roses everywhere and—if you're lucky—the Sea Witch wipes your memory and your only souvenir of the experience is a lifetime of unexplainable nightmares. I would not want anything from Toby's world coming through into mine. Unless it's a rose goblin. A rose goblin would be okay.

Goes to crack open the book to see if a little thorny cat will come out. No dice. Darn it. 

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

If there were actually a demon living in a book about wizards who gain their power by taking fictional items out of books, I am pretty sure the universe would collapse under the weight of the meta-singularity. Which, on the bright side, would probably solve the demon problem. So, maybe not so bad? Well, except for the whole destruction of the universe thing. Probably better to steer clear, just in case.

Echoes by Joshua Hale Fialkov

This is a spectacular graphic novel about a man suffering from hereditary schizophrenia who learns that his father hasn't only gifted him with a brain disorder, he was also a serial killer. Or is that just his own paranoid delusions talking?  This book is so creepy I don't like to read it after sunset. I certainly don't want to think of the tiny demon inside whispering sweet nothings to me as I sleep... Er, excuse me a moment. Gets up, moves book to living room.

Okay, where was I?  Right, last but not least, the fifth book I own that I am grateful does not harbor demons is...

Which Lie Did I Tell? More Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman

A little off-topic for this blog, I know, but I've lived in the Los Angeles area for more than ten years now, and wrote my first produced episode of television in 2008. At this point, you would think that the dark arts of the entertainment industry would hold no fear for me. But all I can picture is an agent demon, oozing out of the memoirs of the great man who brought us The Princess Bride, and demanding his 10%...of everything.

How about you? Anything in your library that you suspect might be demon-infested? Comment below, or ping me on Twitter @spyscribe. Or you can find the Bookburners at

Before joining the Bookburners, Margaret Dunlap wrote for Eureka (SyFy) as well as ABC Family’s cult-hit The Middleman. Most recently, she was a writer and co-executive producer of the Emmy-winning transmedia series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and co-created its sequel Welcome to Sanditon. Her short fiction has previously appeared in Shimmer Magazine. Margaret lives in Los Angeles where she taunts the rest of the team with local weather reports and waits for the earthquake that will finally turn Burbank into oceanfront property. She tweets as @spyscribe.

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