Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ask Stan (Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis)

I recently read and loved Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis. You can see my review here. This book was quality urban fantasy with a terrific main character.

I am pleased to let Stan Markowski answer questions today (courtesy of Justin Gustainis.)


Dear Sergeant Stan

An Advice Column on Matters Supernatural
Detective Sgt. Stanley Markowski
Occult Crimes Unit
Scranton Police Department

Dear Sgt. Stan: I’m in kind of a quandary.  There’s this really hot girl where I work, and I was thinking of asking her out.  But everybody in the office says she’s a witch.  Should I stay away? 
Signed, Uncertain.

Dear Uncertain:
You’re smart to be careful when dealing with the supernatural.  But even if the lady in question is a witch (and are you sure the people you work with didn’t describe her using a word that begins with a different letter?  I’m just saying.), it doesn’t have to be a barrier to romance.

The most important question is: what kind of a witch is she – white or black?  I’m not talking about race here.  I mean, what kind of magic does she practice?  White magic gets its power from the Earth, from nature, and, some witches say, from a Goddess.  Black magic gets its mojo from Satan, pure and simple.  This is important, because followers of the right-hand path (as white witches are sometimes called) can’t use magic to hurt you.  A white magic spellbook, for example, doesn’t contain any curses – although I once heard some when a white witch I know dropped the book on her foot.  It’s pretty heavy.
On the other hand, followers of the left-hand path use black magic is used to hurt people – that’s why it exists. 

Is dating a “black” witch dangerous?  Does a vampire ever turn down a Bloody Mary?

So, you need to find out what kind of witch this lady is, before you try playing “hide the salamander” with her.  How do you do that?

You could always come right out and ask her.  But that gets complicated, because a white witch will tell you the truth, but a black witch may lie (all the better to work her evil ways on you later).  Then you’re in the middle of one of those puzzles that always make my head hurt: “Gnomes and trolls look almost exactly alike.  But gnomes always tell the truth, while trolls always lie.  So how do you ….”  I hate those things.

A better way might be to ask some casual questions, and pay close attention to the answers.  Try a few of these:

“So, been to any good black masses lately?”

“A buddy of mine wants to have his boss turned into a toad.  Know anybody who could help him with that?”

“I think Satan got a pretty bad rap from the Bible, don’t you?”

“A coven in my neighborhood is planning to sacrifice an infant under the next full moon, which is tomorrow night.  I don’t have a date yet – wanna go?”

The answers to questions like that should give you a pretty good idea what kind of magic the young lady practices.  If it’s white, then go; if it’s black, just say “No.”

A word of advice if you do end up on a date with a white witch: don’t make stupid jokes about pointy hats, cauldrons, or black cats.  She’s heard them all a million times.  And, whatever you do, don’t tell her this one: “Why doesn’t Griselda wear any underwear on Halloween?  To get a better grip on her broom.”  Just because she can’t turn you into a toad doesn’t mean she won’t throw a drink in your face.

In the soup over a supe?  Sgt Stan answers your supernatural questions every Wednesday – just write to him care of this website.

Justin Gustainis is the author of two recent novels.  In Hard Spell, Detective Sgt. Stan Markowski fights supernatural evil in an “alternate” Scranton, PA.  You can read the first fifty pages for free at the Angry Robot Books website, here:  http://angryrobotbooks.com/our-authors/justin-gustainis/hard-spell-justin-gustainis/

Justin’s other book is Sympathy for the Devil, third in the “Morris Chastain Occult Investigations” series.  In this one, occult investigator Quincey Morris and his partner, “white” witch Libby Chastain, try to stop demon-possessed Presidential candidate Howard Stark before he can win the White House and then destroy the world.  You can read excerpts by using the “Search Inside the Book” feature on the book’s Amazon page, which is here.

Justin is sponsoring a huge “Easter Egg” contest in conjunction with the book’s release (First Prize: a $50 Amazon gift card and you get a character named after you in the next Morris/Chastain book.  Details are on Justin’s website: www.justingustainis.com.

And while you’re on the web, be aware that there a site that appears to be a campaign page for a creepy guy named Howard Stark, who says he’s running for President.  But Howard is a fictional character, so this dude can’t really be … nah!  You probably should stay away from this website, www.starkforamerica.com.  The content is too disturbing.

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