Spoilers ahoy!

I’ve wrestled with the idea of posting about this for a bit, but it’s something that comes up with such regularity that it just seems like something that has to happen… So…

There are a few different points that show up over and over again, whether in reviews of my books or in emails from readers (or, occasionally, direct messages on Twitter or Facebook), and it seems only fair that I just come right out and address them. If you haven’t read all of the Randall Lee books, it’s pretty likely there’s bound to be some spoilery bits ahead, so maybe wait until you’re caught up before reading any further.








First off, just to address what is, by far, the number one criticism: “Why do you have to curse so much in your books?”

I don’t have to, but given the scenarios that I write about, well, sometimes “darn it” just doesn’t cut it. 😉
In all seriousness, I try really hard to use realistic dialogue, and that takes listening to how people talk. In my experience, people in distress curse. People ragging on their friends curse. And of course it’s not every person or all the time. Cursing (and any other word choice in dialogue) tells you something about the character. If you’ve read Black, for instance, you may have noticed that Coda very rarely curses (especially in comparison to, say, Bruce…). You may also notice that potty-mouthed Randall, when meeting Tracy’s parents, wasn’t like, “Hey, bitches, what’s up?” That’s intentional. It fits the characters and their intentions in the moment.

It’s never my intention to be gratuitous, just real.


Okay, the next one is a biggie. I hear it a lot, and it always bums me out a little.

“Why do you have to slam Christianity?”

This is in reference to the big reveal at the end of Changes, so this is your last spoiler warning. 🙂

This one’s maybe my fault. Changes was my 2nd book, and maybe I didn’t lay everything out as much as I should. It was never my intention to slam any religion… and I don’t think that I do. I would say that the mastermind behind the killings in Changes is pretty far removed from being a good Christian. He’s a loon who happens to be using a religion to excuse his behavior, something that should be pretty familiar in our modern world.

Here was my reasoning, and please excuse me if it’s a little clunky: When writing Randall, I spend a lot of time thinking about Yin/Yang theory. I knew that I had a protagonist who felt terrible guilt for his daughter’s death, even though it’s really not his fault. Randall is a guy who didn’t do anything wrong, but he’s unable to forgive himself. So… the natural yin to that yang was a guy who has done really, really awful things – even to his own child – but thinks he’s totally forgiven.


And lastly, for now anyway, is a series of related questions regarding both Jianghu and my short story collection, Unknown Pleasures. There are a bunch of these, but they mainly boil down to some version of “What the hell is wrong with you?”

This has to do with the content, especially with Jianghu.

Writers write for a lot of reasons, and I’m not going to even try to write an essay about the many reasons people write stuff. I don’t even always know what drives me to write about a particular subject, so I don’t have any deep insight to share there.

But I do know what people are getting at when they write to me about Jianghu.

When I first started writing, waaaaaay back in school, I did what a lot of writers did. I modeled my work on other books I was reading, other writers I loved. I wrote really dumb horror stories about really dumb monsters who tormented really dumb people, and there was really nothing scary about any of it.

Then I had a long break from writing when a girl I was dating told me to give up that unrealistic stuff and just get a 9-5 job.

Luckily for me, I didn’t stay with her.

When I started writing again, years later (this time after marrying a woman who supported my writing), I had a very young daughter.

Now I actually knew what it was to be afraid. Because, as every new parent knows, the world you thought you knew suddenly shows its teeth. Everything is dangerous to your kid, and every stranger is a potential pervert or murderer…or both.

So a lot of the short stuff that I wrote back then was about bad stuff happening to kids. It was, and is, something that weighs heavily on me. And writing about that stuff was my way of trying to tame that fear.

When my daughter was about five, we moved out into the country. Waaay out in the middle of nowhere. A few years later, we had another child. When I started writing Jianghu I wanted it to be a way for Randall to have some closure. I wanted him to find her killer.

It was going to be a pretty basic revenge book.

Then I started doing research. All the horrible stuff in the book? I spent months researching that stuff, and it really affected me.

One of the things I found in my research was a website that lets you see if there are any registered sex offenders in your area. When I found that site, I put in our old address first, just for fun, just to feel good about our decision to abandon civilization for country life. If I remember correctly I think there were about five registered sex offenders in our old neighborhood.

Then I put in our new address.

We were safe, of course… Hell, we barely even have neighbors.

There were twenty-five offenders in our new area. And two of them were flagged because they’d assaulted girls under the age of ten.

So, yeah. The process of writing that book was not fun. It was on the second and third passes that I was able to insert in some of the usual Randall-style humor, and to inject some happiness into the third act… the first draft of the book was utterly miserable.

When people write to say that they have a hard time recommending Jianghu because of the subject matter, believe me when I say that I get it. I truly do. As I’ve said before, the good news (for the folks who are still here) is that I never intend to write a Randall book that grim again.

“Well, why’d you write it at all?” a few people have written back.

One of the problems I’ve always had with the depiction of violence in fiction is the way that it gets so normalized. Got a problem? Punch it in the face. No consequences.

Now, when you’re writing a mystery series that focuses on martial arts, people kinda expect cool fights and stuff. I get that. I love cool fights. I love action scenes.

But I also don’t want to minimize the impact of violence, the very real horror and the very real after effects of it.

When I’m working on a book, sometimes I’ll scribble a word onto a piece of paper and stick it to my computer as a very succinct reminder of what the book is all about, deep down. For Changes, that word was “Fatherhood.” For Pressure Point, it was “‘MANLINESS!'”

For Jianghu, it was “Alignment.”

(When I was a teenager, I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons.)

While writing Jianghu, I realized that the central conflict in the story wasn’t really Randall vs. Child Killers. Randall was a guy who was becoming a little too comfortable killing anybody who happened to get in his way, and I wanted Beatrix to be a kind of funhouse mirror that would show him exactly where he was headed if he stayed on that path. So if all of his actions up to that point brought Randall to the darkness in Jianghu, it’s also that book where he decides to turn back toward the light again.

Maybe it worked for you, maybe not.


Anyway, that’s all my rambling for now. I’m really not a person who gets hung up on reviews or anything, but enough people have gone out of their way to contact me about these things that I figured I owed folks a more public response.

Part of what’s cool about indie publishing is that I’m able to follow these characters wherever they may go, and you guys have really been super awesome and supportive of the occasionally kooky directions I take them. I really appreciate it.

I’m roughly at the halfway mark on The Art of War right now. If this book were a roller coaster, I’d say that I’m currently ratcheting up the biggest, scariest hill… and the second half of the book is going to be a hell of a ride. 🙂

I hope to have some other really cool news this week, including some updates on other projects. I’m also really committing to using this blog more, so if there’s something you want to know about or something you’d like me to blather on about, please leave me a comment!





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Actual news!

So… It’s a pretty well-established fact that I suck at updating this blog. It’s been nearly a year. Aaaaand I left you all on something of a cliffhanger, for which I am very sorry.
I *have* sent out a few newsletters to people on that list (Remember, it’s easy to sign up: just email me at charlescolyott@gmail.com and let me know you want in on that list) but I’m a really crappy juggler, and updating all the various platforms is exhausting.
Anyway, enough first world writer problems, amirite?
Here’s the condensed version of things: My 2016 was utter crap. Since it was utter crap for an awful lot of people, that’s not really news. I did, however, figure out a pretty good solution for my chronic back issues… which helped incredibly well with the depression and everything else. I may end up writing a book about my experience with getting my back (and brain and…life, I guess?) back in order, but a lot of people have written to me asking my secret, so I guess I should touch on it here, too.
Some of you know that I injured my back last January. What you may not know is that I was, from January to May, pretty much bedridden. The fix wasn’t medication or physical therapy or surgery… it ended up, for me, being about nutrition. I found, through some last ditch searching for anything that might help me, a video on Youtube called The Starch Solution. I followed Dr. McDougall’s plan, and by June I was able to run a 5k. So…yeah. Check it out. And, btw, I do not benefit financially from recommending McDougall’s stuff… but since I truly believe he kinda saved my life, well, I’m a fan. 🙂
Enough about me, though! What about Randall and Tracy?! What about Tommy and Coda!?!?!?! What about all the heinous monsters?!?!??!??!!?!
Well, I have good news for you!
Without the crippling pain and mind-numbing pain pills, I am back to writing daily. I’ve been making pretty good progress. So much, in fact, that I’m pretty confident in saying that both The Art of War, the fourth entry in the Randall Lee Mysteries AND Down, the looooong-awaited sequel to Black will be available this summer!
Also, paper copies of the entire Randall Lee series are now available and brand new shiny sparkling audiobooks are in production now.
(Check here for the details)
Okie doke. So I’m going to get to work!
I’ll let you know more as soon as I know something.




OH. I nearly forgot. I *do* have a new short story available. If any of you remember The Steel Church (a dystopian sci-fi/horror story originally found in The Horror Library), I’ve released a follow up story in the same story world called The Steel Church: Requiem. The original story is included, too. If you like short, nasty, depressing stories– and hey, who doesn’t?!– be sure to check it out.

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Hey all,

I wanted to put the word out that today Changes is featured on Bookbub (and if you haven’t signed up for their free email list, definitely check it out) today. It’s free from now through the 12th, so if you haven’t been formally introduced to Randall Lee, here’s your chance.
If you have read Changes, though, and you liked it, please let your friends know!
Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Changes-Randall-Lee-Mysteries-1-ebook/dp/B00771XOLC/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1457468924&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=colyott+changes+thriller

ALSO, I wanted to let everybody know that one of my absolute favorite books of the last year or so, Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts, is only $1.99 for a very limited time. It’s a fantastic book that’s gotten a ton of great reviews. Check it out. You won’t be sorry.

Here’s THAT link: http://www.amazon.com/Head-Full-Ghosts-Novel/dp/0062363239/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457468378&sr=8-1&keywords=paul+tremblay

Thanks again, everybody, and happy reading!

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Another update!

Hey, all:

I missed this year’s Chinese New Year festivities, so here’s a late 恭喜發財 to everyone in the Year of the Monkey. I’ve managed, in a boring and not at all epic fashion, to totally throw my back out. Between that and the loss of Bowie, I’m not at all pleased with how 2016 has started out… Anyway, I digress (as I tend to do).

Let me tell you about something awesome instead. If you are a fan of Randall Lee (and if you aren’t…um…not to be rude but… what are you doing here, again?) you absolutely, positively MUST check out M.H. Boroson’s The Girl with Ghost Eyes. 51roOccck0L._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_

Why? Well, ahem, listen to this:

It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes–the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father–and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.



Whether you’re totally new to the genre or the kind of mega nerd (like me) who sought out every one of the Mr. Vampire and A Chinese Ghost Story movies, you’ll find yourself completely sucked into this book. Boroson knows his stuff, and I’m not just talking about the Chinese folk lore and Taoist mysticism… the book is fast-paced, beautifully written, and totally fun.

So please check it out. You won’t be sorry.

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A reminder, on the dark days

Almost a year since an update. That’s gotta be some sort of record, eh?
Sorry, guys.
Things have been a bit weird lately, and not always in a good way.
I haven’t been in the best head space lately. I haven’t had the time to write like I should. When I do have a minute, I usually work on a bit of fiction… I’m horribly behind on about ten different projects and, if you’re waiting for one or more of them, I apologize.

On the bright side, I’ve recently learned (well, re-learned) an important lesson.

For the last few months, I’ve been dealing with some fairly serious depression. That’s not really anything new; I’ve had issues with depression and anxiety for much of my life. And yes, I’ve done all the things a person is supposed to do… the therapy, the medication, etc. Sometimes – hell, many times, I suppose – that stuff works for people. It’s never done much for me, I’m afraid.

What *did* help, more than any sort of therapy or medication, anyway, was meditation. At least until recently.

In the last few months, meditation wasn’t doing so hot anymore. Maybe because, for depression and stuff, I’d always relied on mindfulness meditation… and being mindful was only making me realize just how miserable I really felt.

So, yeah, I was starting to get a little worried. Here I was, trying to build a ladder to climb out of the hole I was in and all of a sudden I find my tools broken and unusable. It was tough to imagine things getting much worse. Then I remembered what happened the last time I’d felt so low… When things had been hopeless, I wrote. I hadn’t felt like writing. In fact, I had been dealing with chronic back pain that made sitting and focusing on anything difficult, but it didn’t matter.

I wrote.

That’s how Randall Lee came to be. Out of necessity. I didn’t know how to live, and neither did he. So, together, we figured it out.

Changes was (and still is) the fastest book I’ve written. The first draft was finished in under three months.

I’m pretty sure it saved my life. No, not pretty sure. I know it did.

And I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, even though I’m sure I probably do. The act of writing, of creating something, brought me back to who I was, outside of the pain and despair I was feeling.

I had to remember that recently with everything that’s going on now, because I have to tell you, that hole was feeling mighty deep…

So just the other day, I sat and I wrote. Not a lot. I think over the course of 90 minutes or so I probably wrote a page and a half. Was it good? Probably not. Did it somehow address the way I was feeling so I could work out my problems on the page? Not at all.

But I felt, and continue to feel, better.

It’s not all rainbows and puppy dogs or anything, but it’s something. The hole isn’t so deep anymore. Or maybe it is. Maybe it is, but I’ve found an elevator that I’d forgotten was there.

I didn’t intend to come on here today and whine about my own problems. Hell, look at the world… Look at Paris and Beirut, look at Syria… There is so much darkness, so much pain…

But y’know what? Whether it’s just me and my piddly-ass problems or it’s the whole world, I know one thing for sure: Art saves. When it seems like there’s nothing else out there for you, when it feels like you’re dying and you can’t find a way out, you can *make* a way out. You can create something when it feels like there’s nothing but destruction all around you.

Write something. A poem, a story, anything. Draw, paint, sculpt, dance. I don’t know what floats your boat. Hell, maybe you don’t either.

But it’s time to find out.

Because what the world needs now isn’t a really great hedge fund manager or a charismatic politician. It doesn’t need dogma and division and hate. The world needs art.
And that means that it needs you, too.

So get to work, and I promise to do the same.

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Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year!

Hey all,

Crazy busy here, but I wanted to drop in long enough to let you all know that the brand new Randall Lee novella, Eating Bitter, is coming out TOMORROW!!!
You can pre-order it here: http://www.amazon.com/Eating-Bitter-Randall-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B00TKM889Y/

This is a very different sort of story… no mysteries, no kung fu fights. Instead, it’s a story about how the characters deal with all the stuff they’ve been through over the course of three books. It’s also a sort of prologue to the 4th full length Randall Lee novel, The Art of War, which is likely going to be the biggest, most epic Randall tale yet.
I’m very curious to see what you guys think.

In other news, lots of projects coming down the pipeline including the second Nephilim Codex book, a teen romance novel, and two new mysteries with protagonists who are quite a bit different from our beloved bumbling acupuncturist.

More news as soon as possible!



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“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

–Douglas Adams

I’m late on stuff again, and I apologize. I sometimes make my goals a bit unreasonable in the first place but then add on the fact that I frequently forget the chaos that comes with having children (and on summer break, yet), livestock, and a new dog? Fuhgeddaboudit.
I have not been idle, though!
I’m well into the final stretch on Down, the second book in the Nephilim Codex series, and I have a decent amount done on Eating Bitter, Randall Lee 3.5. I would say that one good, solid work week would be enough to finish both, but we’ll see.
In any case, I just wanted to quickly say that I’m not dead, new stuff WILL come soon, and, hopefully, it’ll be worth the wait.
I will say this about Eating Bitter: It is not the standard Randall Lee story (whatever that is).
One of the problems I always had with some of the great ongoing mystery series is the lack of consequences. So many times you see the hero of a novel struggle and suffer and in some cases almost die… only to find that, in the next book, nothing has changed. In fact, much of the time those experiences are never even mentioned again.
That bugs me.
Eating Bitter is about consequences. Don’t expect insane kung fu fights and non-stop action because this novella is about dealing with the physical and mental trauma of the first three books. It’s about the relationships that we’ve seen forged (and tested), and how those characters will go forward.
And it leads into the fourth Randall Lee novel: The Art of War, which I CANNOT wait to get started on.

More to come soon!
(I hope)



p.s. – Regarding the new dog… Here he is: Chet the Wonder Dog:10521526_10154358117080433_5252056134317772970_n

p.p.s. If you’re at all interested in checking out what I’m listening to for writing, here’s my playlists for (Down )and (Eating Bitter).

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