I was floored to find out that FLASHMOB was named one of the Best Books of 2017 by Publishers Weekly in mysteries and thrillers. I'm honored to be included with some amazing authors and books, and very grateful to PW for including me.
Today's the day. FLASHMOB hits stores everywhere.
You can read the first four chapters and order your copy here. You can also listen to the great Bronson Pinchot read the audiobook version here.
Publisher's Weekly called it "brilliant... intelligence and knuckle-biting suspense. Many will want to read this novel in one sitting.” Booklist said, "Farnsworth is a genuinely gifted storyteller, able to take a fantastic premise and build onto it a story that feels not just plausible but completely natural... A fine genre-bender." And Kirkus Reviews said it's "a smooth, assured effort... another entertaining performance by Farnsworth, who brings an edgy sense of humor to the proceedings."
And if you want to pick up a copy in person, come to one of my events, and I'll sign it for you at no extra charge.
Once again, thank you all for reading my books. I am very lucky -- and very grateful. Hope you enjoy the latest adventure.
“The main elements of Farnsworth’s brilliant second thriller featuring the man known as John Smith would individually be enough to sustain interest; the combination of a telepathic lead and a terrifyingly plausible effort to use the Internet for social manipulation produces intelligent and knuckle-biting suspense… Farnsworth credibly ups the ante for his hero and makes accepting his paranormal abilities easy. Many will want to read this novel in one sitting.”
You can read the entire thing here.
Booklist gave FLASHMOB an excellent review as well. (Not online yet, but here's the highlights.)
"Farnsworth is a genuinely gifted storyteller, able to take a fantastic premise and build onto it a story that feels not just plausible but completely natural... A fine genre-bender."
Kirkus Reviews also had some kind words for FLASHMOB:
"A smooth, assured effort... another entertaining performance by Farnsworth, who brings an edgy sense of humor to the proceedings."
About once a day, I get an email or a message over social media from someone I’ve never met before. It’s always the same question, phrased in different ways.
“Hey, when are you going to write another book about Nathaniel Cade?”
“When are you going to tell us what happened to Cade and Zach?”
“When are you going to do the next book in the President’s Vampire series?”
And I’ve always had the same answer: Eventually.
It's incredibly flattering that so many people like my vampire so much. And I've wanted to write more about him. But Cade was stranded several years ago when I switched publishers, and I’ve been busy writing other books since then. I always intended to get back to him, but I didn’t know when it would happen.
Lately, however, I’ve been getting a lot more questions about Cade. For some reason, the last election inspired a lot of people to start thinking about monsters in the White House again.
It’s inspired me, too. I’ve written a new short novella about Nathaniel Cade: DEEP STATE.
It’s been four years since a new president ascended to the White House. Zach Barrows has not seen Nathaniel Cade, the President’s Vampire, since being fired from his position as Cade’s handler and sent to a small, cramped office in a government building in Nebraska.
Once, he and Cade fought a shadow war against the monsters, spies, and demons that threatened the United States. Now Zach pushes papers and listens to conspiracy theories from people who have no idea how dark the real world can get.
Then Zach is summoned to the Situation Room by President Lester Wyman, who is both the commander-in-chief and a possible traitor.
But he and Cade are bound to follow Wyman’s orders. They are told to find out why a top-secret missile silo has gone offline. If they fail, a nuclear warhead will launch, and the world will die in a hail of fire.
In other words, it’s just another night on the job.
After a long absence, Cade and Zach are back in action together — for what might be the last time.
So, everyone who wanted Cade back? Well, he’s back.
HERE'S HOW YOU GET HIM.
DEEP STATE is not available in stores or on Amazon. There’s only one way to get this ebook: it’s free to anyone who pre-orders my next John Smith novel, FLASHMOB.
Arriving at the wedding of Kira Sadeghi, a reality television celebrity he recently saved from kidnappers, Smith witnesses a group of gunmen open fire, hitting the bride and others. Though he’s unarmed, Smith cripples one of the killers and is able to pry one word from his mind: "Downvote."
Eager to learn more, Smith hacks into the brain of an FBI agent to discover the Bureau has been investigating a nefarious new threat called "Downvote," an encrypted site on the dark net that lists the names of celebrities and offers a hefty bounty for anyone who can kill them—unleashing an anonymous and deadly flashmob with a keystroke.
Finding a mastermind on the internet is like trying to catch air—unless you’re John Smith. Motivated by money and revenge, he traces a series of electronic signatures to a reclusive billionaire living at sea, accompanied by a scary-smart female bodyguard who becomes Smith’s partner in his quest. The hunt for their prey will lead from Hong Kong to Reykjavik to a luxury gambling resort deep in the Laotian jungle. Yet always this criminal mastermind remains one step ahead.
The only way Downvote’s creator can stop Smith is to kill him . . . because while this diabolical genius can run, there’s no hiding from a man who can read minds.
All you have to do is email me a copy of your receipt at email@example.com, and you will be on the list for DEEP STATE. On June 27, when FLASHMOB is released, I will email you a copy of the ebook in PDF format, which is readable on any device or computer. You can even print it out on actual paper if you want to go old-school.
But wait, there’s more. You’ll also get excerpts from the CODENAME: NIGHTMARE PET briefing book, a historical timeline of the secret history of the United States, and “Cade vs. the Bloody Benders,” a deleted scene from Red, White, and Blood where Cade battles an infamous family of serial killers in the Old West.
You can pre-order FLASHMOB from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, iBooks, Kobo, and from your local independent bookstore through IndieBound. A receipt from any one of those sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will qualify you to get the free ebook of DEEP STATE.
To my UK readers -- the same offer applies to you, but for a different book. Over there, FLASHMOB is titled HUNT YOU DOWN. Pre-order HUNT YOU DOWN and I will send you the free ebook of DEEP STATE. Again, send your receipt to email@example.com.
This free ebook giveaway lasts until June 27, 2017 in the United States, and until November 2, 2017 in the United Kingdom.
Please share this with anyone you think would like to see Cade again.
I know a lot of you have missed him, and I hope you'll be happy to see him back in action. I know I am.
Thanks so much.
It is a big damn week here at Secret Farnsworth HQ.
FIRST, I was at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books all weekend, thanks to the grace of the incomparable Maret Orliss, who runs the whole thing. I got to shake the hand of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was very gracious despite my squealing like a little schoolgirl. I saw friends and family moderate panels on literary families and prisons and punishment. Then I signed books at Mystery Ink before sharing a panel with big damn heroes Lee Goldberg, Eric Jerome Dickey, Gregg Hurwitz, and Daniel Suarez. We had a great time. Hopefully the audience had some fun, too.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, my first comic book, 24: LEGACY -- RULES OF ENGAGEMENT from IDW Publishing will be out. This is a prequel to Fox's hit series, and basically tells the origin story of Eric Carter, the man who has to fill Jack Bauer's shoes. You can get a copy at any comic book store or at Comixology.com. If you'd like to see a free preview, check it out here.
And FINALLY, as if that wasn't enough, later this week I will make an announcement about Nathaniel Cade. Not too huge, but it should be welcome news for anyone who's missed the President's Vampire... So stay bloodthirsty, and stay tuned.
The secret is out now. As told in the Hollywood Reporter today, I will be scripting the comic book prequel to 24: LEGACY for IDW Publishing.
This is my first published comic book, and it's a pretty big deal for me. I love comics. I learned to read from them. And after five novels, multiple screenplays, and countless news articles, I'm finally getting to write one. Lifelong dream unlocked.
I'm very grateful to Ted Adams, Chris Ryall, Denton Tipton for letting me do this. And of course, to the legendary Beau Smith for opening all the doors.
Look for the first issue in April. Antonio Fuso's art is going to be amazing. And I hope my writing will live up to the TV series.
I’m pleased to announce my next book, KILLFILE, is available for pre-order now. Here’s the description:
John Smith possesses a special gift that seems more like a curse: he can access other people’s thoughts. He hears the songs stuck in their heads, knows their most private traumas and fears, and relives their most painful memories. The CIA honed his skills until he was one of their most powerful operatives, but John fled the agency and now works as a private consultant, trying to keep the dark potentials of his gift in check — and himself out of trouble.
Unfortunately, John is plunged into dangerous waters when his latest client, billionaire software genius Everett Sloan, hires him to investigate a former employee — a tech whiz kid named Eli Preston — and search his thoughts for some very valuable intellectual property Sloan is convinced he’s stolen. But before John can probe Preston’s mind, his identity is compromised and he’s on the run for his life, along with Sloan’s young associate Kelsey Foster.
Hunted by shadowy enemies with extensive resources and unknown motives, John and Kelsey must go off the grid. John knows that using his powers to their fullest potential is their only hope for survival — even if it means putting his own sanity at risk.
I know I’m not supposed to have favorites among my books, but this was the most fun I’ve had writing since my first novel, BLOOD OATH. I hope you enjoy it just as much.
KILLFILE will be released August 9, 2016 in hardcover and ebook from William Morrow. You can pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or from your local bookstore through IndieBound.
I also wrote a couple new blog posts:
At The Page 69 test, I wrote about what happens on page 69 of the novel, and what it means. Fortunately, it’s a pretty important page.
Today’s the day: my latest book, THE ETERNAL WORLD, is on sale everywhere from William Morrow. If you haven’t already, you can get your copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, or from your local bookstore through IndieBound.
But if you prefer the personal touch, you’re in Los Angeles tonight, come on by Barnes & Noble on the 3rd Street Promenade at 7:00 p.m. and you can get your very own hand-signed copy.
Here’s a brief synopsis:
Five hundred years ago, a group of Spanish conquistadors searching for gold, led by a young and brilliant commander named Simon De Oliveras, land in the New World. What they find in the sunny and humid swamps of this uncharted land is a treasure far more valuable: the Fountain of Youth. The Spaniards slaughter the Uzita, the Native American tribe who guard the precious waters that will keep the conquistadors young for centuries. But one escapes: Shako, the chief’s fierce and beautiful daughter, who swears to avenge her people—a blood oath that spans more than five centuries. . .
When the source of the fountain is destroyed in our own time, the loss threatens Simon and his men, and the powerful, shadowy empire of wealth and influence they have built. For help, they turn to David Robinton, a scientific prodigy who believes he is on the verge of the greatest medical breakthrough of all time. But as the centuries-old war between Shako and Simon reaches its final stages, David makes a horrifying discovery about his employers and the mysterious and exotic woman he loves. Now, the scientist must decide: is he a pawn in a game of immortals. . . or will he be its only winner?
And here are the early reviews:
Kirkus Reviews: “A fantastical witch’s brew of Spanish conquistadors, biotechnology, and hubris . . . with cinematic pacing and colorful action scenes, Farnsworth blends a unique premise into fun summer reading . . . entertainingly explores the border where science fantasy meets reality.”
Publishers Weekly: “Excellent fantasy thriller . . . The realistic approach is one of this inventive novel’s major strengths.” (Starred review)
Luxury Reading: Marcus Hammond gave the book an incredible review, saying “Farnsworth has blended history, espionage, suspense, science, and even a bit of romance so well that it’s hard to place this novel within a specific genre and even harder to put it down…. Farnsworth’s characterizations are perfect.”
If you want to know what was going through my head when I wrote the book you can check out this interview I did with PW. Or you can read this piece I wrote for THE BIG THRILL.
Finally, to all my friends and family, everyone who’s already bought the book or spread the word, thank you. I am a very lucky man, and I appreciate you more than I can ever say.
The discovery of the fountain of youth kick-starts this excellent fantasy thriller from Farnsworth… Each man is obsessed with living forever, yet exhausted from the lies and hiding they’ve done for centuries and bored by life’s pleasures. “To live forever, you have to have something to live for,” one of them thinks. The realistic approach is one of this inventive novel’s major strengths.
This is a pretty huge deal for a book nerd like me. And this was only the third or fourth best thing to happen in the past few days. So, yeah. Having a pretty good week, thanks for asking.
David Carr died yesterday. He was a great writer, a fearless critic, and by all accounts, a great friend and mentor.
I’m not going to say I knew him. There were a lot of people who did, including some friends of mine, and as Hamilton Nolan writes at Gawker, Carr apparently had the gift of making everyone feel he was their close personal friend.
He could also be incredibly kind to complete strangers. When I was a reporter just starting out at Boise Weekly, I sent roughly a million résumés out into the ether, looking for my next job. One of them went to Carr, who was then the editor of the Washington City Paper. (This was back in the previous century, before you could read any paper in the world on the Web. Alt-weeklies used to send copies to one another as a courtesy, and I remember how much I looked forward to tearing through the City Paper when it showed up.)
He was one of the few editors who called me back. Many smaller papers ignored me completely, but Carr took the time. As I remember it, he told me right off he wasn’t going to hire me. I needed more experience.
But he still spent an hour on the phone with a dumb kid in Boise, Idaho, giving me advice and encouragement, when he could have been doing literally anything else.
So like almost every other writer in the world, I am mourning Carr. There are a lot of great writers and outsized personalities in journalism. But he believed in the craft and the calling of the job, even now, when it looks more endangered than ever. And he was generous.
That’s so goddamn rare. And it just got a little bit rarer today.
By this time tomorrow, there will be thousands of remembrances, and I am certain that adding mine to the pile won’t mean much. But I used to listen to “A Night At The Met” with my friends Randy and Joe the way other people listened to Bon Jovi. Comedians were my rock stars. Robin Williams was Springsteen.
Williams struggled with depression and addiction his entire life. There was never enough fame, never enough money, to heal that anxiety and insecurity inside him. This is from Wired, Bob Woodward’s biography of John Belushi, Williams’ friend. It’s 30 years old now, but it could have been written a week ago:
That’s the thing about working in what we call Hollywood, or anywhere in the arts: there is always the pressure to prove yourself, to perform again, to repeat the lightning-in-a-bottle trick you pulled off the last time. For some people, it is almost a physical weight, and it crushes them.
I’m not going to claim I have some special insight into what went through Robin Williams’ mind. This is just to say that I will miss him despite never knowing him, because I still have the greatest admiration for anyone who can be funny on demand, over and over. We need people who can make us laugh, and the world is missing another one today.
(On May 17, I was honored to speak to the graduating class of the College of Idaho, where I graduated myself in 1993, and the students were kind enough to sit there and listen. I’ve had a few requests for the text of the speech, so here it is, slightly edited. Twenty-one years ago, I gave the student graduation speech to my own class, called “The End Of The World As We Know It — And I Feel Fine.” As my brother pointed out, I basically gave the same speech again, only updated. But at least this time, I went from REM to Elvis Costello. I also managed to quote Douglas Adams, Jim Harrison, Flaubert, and Warren Ellis. The College has promised me a video of the speech, so when I get that, I’ll post it, mainly for the benefit of my mom and other relatives.)
Stress, as Douglas Adams once wrote, is recognized as a serious problem throughout the galaxy. I know you have a lot on your minds right now: you’re facing graduation, packing up all your stuff, dealing with your parents and families, and wondering when and if you’re going to get a job.
So to quote Douglas Adams again: don’t panic. You will find a job. The world is not going to end. I promise there will be a uplifting message and a moral before I’m done, and we’re all going to leave here feeling hopeful and ready for the future that’s out there waiting for all of us: you, me, everybody. I promise you: you are going to be excited for tomorrow, and all the tomorrows that come after that.
But first, we’re going to talk about the end of the world and zombies, since that’s what I do for a living.
In the twenty-one years since I last stood up here and talked to my graduating class, I have not seen a future that doesn’t involve at least one Apocalypse. It seems like every movie, every book, and every TV show includes at least one version of the end of the world.
Right now, we have our choice of Armageddons: the Zombie Apocalypse, where the dead walk and go on an all-protein diet; the Flupocalypse, where some unknown disease jumps the species barrier and we all discover firsthand what the Black Plague looked like in Europe; the Peak Oil Apocalypse, where we run out of gasoline and everyone has to cut their hair into mohawks and join Mad Max style biker gangs to survive; the Nuclear War Apocalypse, which, like many other fashions from the 1980s, is coming back into style now that Vladimir Putin is annexing Crimean real estate; the Genetically Modified Apocalypse, the Vampire Apocalypse; the Nanotech Apocalypse; and many more.
You can tell a lot about a culture by its stories, and it’s pretty clear that many of us are waiting for the end of the world.
This leads to a lot of otherwise smart people looking for ways to distract themselves. We’ve made billionaires of the people who put the equivalent of a junior high yearbook online, send naked pictures over phones, and let us play Angry Birds.
As Jim Harrison once wrote, when distraction is at the center of the world, we have to look very carefully at what we’re being distracted from. I learned here, a long time ago, that apocalypse is also the word for revelation. Our visions for the Apocalypse reveal a lot about our fears, but they also reveal our hopes.
When I was a kid, our future included cities on the moon, space hotels, and flying cars. Somehow, we stopped shooting for that. We settled. We got small. It’s even become a slogan: “If this is the future, where’s my jetpack?”
That’s because it’s easier to be scared of zombies than to build jetpacks. Because it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than build a better future.
When I look at zombie movies and disaster movies, I see all the myriad ways we’re rehearsing for the end of all things, I think we’re waiting for our whole culture to hit rock bottom. For there to be a definitive end, some explosion that will level the world down to its foundations, so we can finally start rebuilding things the way they are supposed to be.
All of these Apocalypses have the same message whether they know it or not: they are mourning the end of the world as we knew it. It is an admission of a failure of imagination. My generation and the ones before it are having trouble thinking of anything beyond what we knew. So we imagine the end of history.
But history’s not done with us yet.
We have all these prodigious fears out in front of us despite the fact that, in many ways, the world is the best it’s been since a group of primates stood up on the African Savannah. More people are literate than ever before in history. Billions of people have, in their pockets, a computer that connects them to a global network with access to every bit of knowledge ever recorded by humans. Since 1900, we have almost doubled to the human lifespan through medicine, sanitation, and the complete elimination of some diseases. Two hundred and fifty years ago, it was still okay to buy and sell human beings in this country, and a hundred years ago, it was still okay to murder them for having the wrong skin color. And just this week in Idaho, a brave judge once again upheld the simple idea that all men and women deserve the equal benefits of the law, despite the pressures of prejudice and bigotry.
Flaubert wrote that our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times. The world, according to the research of Steven Pinker, despite all appearances, is less violent than it has ever been, with fewer of us murdering each other or slaughtering ourselves wholesale in war.
Every day, in spite of our worst instincts and our basest selves, the world is getting better.
Admittedly, there are some things to be genuinely frightened about now. I’m not actually worried about a zombie outbreak in our lifetime, but the thought of global temperatures increasing by four degrees celsius genuinely keeps me up at night.
But we have to stop waiting for Armageddon to get us off the hook. If everything is doomed, then we are free from any responsibilities. But everything is not doomed. Our greatest fear is not that the world will end, but that it won’t, and that we will have to live with the consequences of our actions.
This means we can’t wait for the big revelation or the final battle. It’s like waiting for a heart attack before you finally start using your gym membership. By then, it’s too late.
This is where you come in. (Remember, I promised. Get ready. Here it comes.)
I believe there is a solution. I believe that we are capable of finding answers to any problem we create. That we have within us the capacity for the same kind of greatness that put human footprints on moon rock, that turned polio into the answer to a trivia question, that tamed lightning and used it to teach silicon to think.
Most of you belong to one of the first generations to live the majority of your lives in the 21st Century. You have in front of you an epic call to adventure. It’s time to come up with a future that’s worthy of us. I might not be able to see it clearly, but I’m betting one of you can.
And yes, I know, it’s a huge job. Look, our grandparents and great-grandparents didn’t know they were going to save the world when World War II hit. They were scared, too. But they found it in themselves to dream of a better future, despite the horrific death and destruction that they witnessed and endured.
I’m sure they were scared. They did it anyway.
Because the only thing we know for certain about the future is that we have to live there. We can be as scared of that as we want, but it’s inevitable. There is literally no alternative. So I choose to believe that the future is, as Warren Ellis once said, an inherently good thing, and we advance into it one tomorrow at a time.
The only choice we get is what kind of future we want to create. Zombies or jetpacks. It’s up to you.
This is where tomorrow begins. Right here. Right now.
It’s time to stop waiting for the end of the world, and start working to save it.