Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw’s The Dead Take the A Train, about a freelance psychic operative tracking an ever-morphing supernatural serial killer in New York City, will be published by Nightfire in Summer 2022!
The Dead Take the A Train is the first book in the Carrion City series—a fast-paced dark fantasy that combines Kadrey’s flair for the supernatural and dark humor with Khaw’s gift for twisted, Lovecraftian horror.
Julia Crews—Julie to her friends—packs a lot of magic into her small body. She’s smart, tough, stubborn, and consumes enough drugs and alcohol to stun a rhino. She’s trying to establish herself as a major Psychic Operative in the New York magic scene, but unlike the other Ops she’ll work the worst, the grubbiest, and scariest jobs the city has to offer.
But while Julie is good at her job, she can’t seem to catch a break career-wise. That’s why she decides to find herself a guardian angel. But when the angel is actually an elder god gone mad, the body count rises rapidly…
Here’s what Richard and Cassandra have to say about the genesis of this project and collaboration:
Cassandra and I would probably have never collaborated on The Dead Take the A Train if someone hadn’t stolen her Kindle. I heard about it from a somewhat angry, somewhat bewildered post she made on Twitter. We knew each other in the vaguest way back then. I’d read Hammers on Bone and enjoyed it immensely, and she was a fan of my novel, Butcher Bird. And that would have been the end of it, except for the damn thief. We expressed our mutual outrage over the kind of lowlife who would steal someone’s entire library of books, and plotted various methods of death for them.
After running through a variety of human and inhuman tortures, we began chatting about our work. (The Kindle, as though propelled by the fear of an errant thief convinced of his own creative end, manifested with an apology note.) It was all very casual at first. What are you writing now? What do you have coming out? Along the way, we gave each other suggestions about our works in progress, and tested the other’s mettle for fun. (Richard lives for inducing the @_@ face when he sends snippets. You should ask him about that.) It didn’t take long to see that, while we shared a lot of fiction sensibilities, we came at things from different angles—which is how The Dead Take the A Train came about.
At some point I told Cassandra about Julie Crews, a character I was building a book around. I had a number of character sketches and a basic plot. But there were still plenty of holes in the project. Then, over several online conversations, we started throwing ideas back and forth. While we have a lot in common in our approach to writing, we come at stories from different angles. In the case of Julie Crews’ tale, I had a handle on the thriller aspects and the basics of the magic systems. But I lacked a lot of the background mythology that would make the book come alive. Not a problem. This is Cassandra’s specialty. She eats six gods before breakfast. Cassandra quickly reeled off a whole pantheon of mysterious deities—their rise and fall, the numinous cannibalism of it all— and quickly added so much background and depth to my original idea that it made perfect sense for us to simply write the book together.
The Dead Take the A Train is the story of freelance psychic op, Julie Crews, and one of her most dangerous cases. The book is set in NYC, a town Cassandra knows well (ask her about her time busking) and where I was born.
Julie is a good operative, one of New York’s best, but she can’t catch a break, especially when her ex-lover Tyler has taken credit for some of her biggest cases. He ends up with a Wall Street office and an expense account and Julie ends up with a bad attitude and a taste for good whiskey. And cocaine. And opiates. Really, anything that might help to take the edge off because Julie is made of edges.
The Dead Take the A Train is about Julie getting her life back on track, all while tracking an ever-morphing supernatural serial killer—one she was tricked into conjuring and now has to put down. And she has to do it while watching her back until she figures out who hated her enough to put her in such a grotesque position.
It’s also a story about difficult women, women who won’t be erased, women who’ll make clear-eyed bargains with demons and laugh all the way down to damnation. If you have to deal with the otherworldly forces, you should optimize the loss of your soul.
Cassandra and I hope that you’ll take a trip with Julie through the underbelly of the underbelly of the underbelly of New York City’s strange magic world. The denizens aren’t always friendly, but the drinks are good and, if they like you, death is often quick.
RICHARD KADREY is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim supernatural noir series. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime,” and is in production as a feature film. Some of Kadrey’s other books include The Grand Dark, The Everything Box, King Bullet, and ButcherBird. In comics, he’s written for Heavy Metal, Lucifer, and Hellblazer. He’s currently partnered with Winterlight Productions for his original horror screenplay, Dark West.
CASSANDRA KHAW is an award-winning game writer, and currently works as a scriptwriter for Ubisoft Montreal. Her work can be found in places like Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. Her first original novella Hammers on Bone was a British Fantasy award and Locus award finalist, and her forthcoming novella, Nothing But Blackened Teeth, will be published by Nightfire in September 2021.
The Dead Take the A Train will hit shelves in Summer 2022!