YEGman is a thrilling crime novel taking place in the underworld of Edmonton, Canada. Why did you want to set your story in this location?
I had several reasons why I wanted to have the story take place in Edmonton. I prefer to write Canada-based stories and I’ve spent a lot more time in western Canada than I have out east, so can craft stories in these locations easier. A second reason is the name YEGman itself. YEG is the airport code and a common hashtag for the city. It is easier to say than – for example – YYCman for Calgary.
I also have grown up in Edmonton and have seen the city change over the decades. It is a pretty (no offence Edmonton!) bland city when it comes to major issues. So it is a good thing. That raises the question, how can you make a tame city feral and gritty? This was an interesting challenge to me.
This story takes a uniquely gritty look at the Edmonton crime scene. What were some ideas you wanted to capture when developing this underworld?
For YEGman’s version of Edmonton, I wanted to paint a crime-infested city that has some similarities seen in superhero comics. Daredevil/Hell’s Kitchen and Batman/Gotham are examples. A city that is in dire need of help. It becomes a motivator for someone to become a vigilante when they feel the city isn’t making any progress.
The details of the drugs and music scene I wanted to make real by showing there are good people that get caught up in these dark worlds of gangs and violence. Either they feel trapped or do not know any better to get out and just try to keep their friends safe.
Where did the idea for YEGman come from and what were some book titles you considered?
YEGman actually was birthed from the album that accompanies the launch – Sounds of Society. Both YEGman and the album tell a story of someone who can’t handle the constraints of society and go off the deep end. They also share similar content in the lyrics. Originally I was working on this album in 2012.
The plot and character of YEGman came to me in the summer of 2015 when I was at a book signing in a comic store. It was a quiet period and was daydreaming about super heroes because of the increase in popularity due to the Marvel movies, DC movies, comic expos and I was in a comic store at the time. Personally I am not a huge comic book far so I asked myself – what type of superhero story would someone who doesn’t like superheroes read?
From there I drafted out the concept of the superhero YEGman. Quite quickly I decided against super powers and made him very earth-bound. This helped map out the ending as well. If he was just an average person, and didn’t have any tech toys, money or ninja training, he’s going to have a pretty difficult time being a crime fighter. After writing out the outline for the ending I reverse engineered the story – a process I do not normally do with writing.
In November of 2015 I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo but shelved the concept because my horror novel, Seed Me, wasn’t fully edited yet. That took a higher priority and I didn’t revisit YEGman until 2017 after doing some heavy research into police procedures and psychology. These two points of study helped craft the inner thoughts of Michael.
So overall, comic books were the inspiration and I looked at comics such as the Punisher, Sin City, The Watchmen, and Hellboy to name some.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I really need to wrap up the dark fantasy series Mental Damnation. Book three is coming out in the fall of 2018 and the fourth is in the works. I also am working on a slasher novella but it is in the early plot outline stage.
In the darkest streets of Edmonton, crime is around every corner. The police have exhausted their resources. Citizens are in a constant state of fear. The city is in dire need of justice. Someone needs to give the felons what they deserve – skip the courts and deliver their verdict with a fist full of fury!
At least that is what Michael Bradford tells himself. He struggles with violent tendencies while personally investigating the Crystal Moths, Edmonton’s most notorious gang. His vigilante methods get caught on film and are uploaded to the web with the hashtag YEGman. These videos catch the attention of a rebellious journalism student whose aspires to cover the developing story on the city’s underground hero.
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YEGman by Konn Lavery is a dark thrilling romp through the back allies and underworld of Edmonton, Canada. Michael Bradford, our hero, is a vigilante, who struggles with violence. His issues aren’t going to get better as he investigates the most notorious gang in Edmonton, the Crystal moths. His methods are caught on film and uploaded online to become viral sensations and are labeled with the hashtag, YEGman. The videos fascinate a rebellious journalist, who wishes to cover the story of this mysterious hero.
This novel is an unexpectedly gritty trip through the Canadian crime scene that I don’t find too often in literature. Most of what comes to mind may be cozy mysteries, not ultra-violent vigilantes dealing with criminals. The novel takes a fun turn with the involvement of the student, Lola and how she gives a better and deeper inside look of the gang culture. In some ways, the trope is rather familiar with an attractive journalist in training along with the brooding vigilante in Bradford. It kind of brings to mind a mix of Batman, Spiderman, and Lois Lane. It’s an affirmation of Lavery’s skill to synthesize all of this together to make a novel that engages the reader and doesn’t let up until the end.
Lavery’s style leans on description, which helps to develop the world of this noir thriller, but I felt that the characters sometimes overly explain things. The prose is decent and kept me involved, but the pacing sometimes slows because of the over explanation which left me often wandering from the story. With an action packed story like this, putting the brakes on to go into detailed explanations lowers the tension on an otherwise exciting story.
This novel is plenty gritty, with a dark narrative and the definite feel that danger lurks within every shadow. With a consistently murky tone and treacherous atmosphere to the novel I was able to sink my teeth into the dark underworld set in an alternative Edmonton. For Canadian readers and noir thriller aficionados alike this novel would be a fun read, even people who enjoy a little bit of mystery and can tolerate the violence, this is recommended reading. Overall, an exciting addition to Lavery’s body of work.
Pages: 461 | ASIN: B07B3N5S92
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Seed Me follows Logan as he tries to navigate a murder, avoid a deadly cult and try to figure out who the girl was he made out with behind the dumpster. This is a unique setup to a novel. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this story?
The concept had evolved over time through various plots while keeping the same underlining theme of cults, a dead girl and carnivorous plants. The protagonist and scenarios changed from the original concept back in 2011. In a way, Seed Me is a prequel to the original manuscript. So there may be another book in the works in the future.
A lot of the inspiration that helped create Seed Me came from my own discomforts. For example, I had bed bugs back in 2011. They were hard to kill, only fed on human blood and spread like wildfire. I found it intriguing that a creature so small could cause something so large (being me) so much grief. This sparked my research into symbiotic relationships within nature. You see this style of monsters in the horror genre all the time. Some notable ones being John Carpenter’s The Thing or Ridley Scott’s Alien. This research is where a lot of the time was invested for the novel. I wanted to create a new kind of monster for the story l I was writing. Plants often get a bad wrap in the horror genre because they are difficult to make frightening, so I decided to challenge this.
As for the cult, religious groups are a huge interest of mine – you can see this in my Mental Damnation series as well. People have done some wild things in the name of their faith. It is a strong motivator.
I enjoyed the characters in this story because they were slow to build but had depth. What was your writing plan when creating these characters?
The characters within Seed Me are pulled from my own experiences of living in Edmonton. A lot of them being mashups of numerous personalities of people I know to create their unique persona. My Mental Damnation series has a lot of characters that serve a single function in the story. With Seed Me I wanted to strip away as many characters as possible and really see how deep I could go with their personas.
An example of that would be Janet’s passion for renewable energy and her father’s work in the oil industry. This brief backstory reveals conflict within her personal life, explaining some of her choices in the story.
There is a mysterious group of people called Harvesters that may or may not be behind the murders in town. How did you set about creating this group and did you accomplish everything you wanted?
The Harvesters went through MANY revamps. Much like the plants in the story, I researched to help define who the Harvesters were. Originally they were a group from eastern Asia, since these cultures have a vast history of working with plants and using them as medicine. However, after reading about the history of Edmonton and Alberta, I learned that many of the first settlers were from Europe. Settlers from Asia came to Alberta much later. With this new knowledge I had to restructure the Harvesters’ origins. Ultimately it worked better than the original concept: druids are well known in pop culture for having strong ties to nature which supported the plants.
I would say that the Harvesters accomplished what I wanted. The reader is given enough information to know what their goals are and where they are from, while how they came to be and their inner workings remains mysterious. There’s a lot more that could be told about them, perhaps this will be revealed in a sequel.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?
Currently I am working on the Mental Damnation series again. The story hasn’t been completed and I would love to give a conclusion for the readers. I have a lot more to share regarding this in the coming months. Keep watch for early 2017 for this next novel.
One thing I’d also like to add is that Seed Me’s release was accompanied by a musical score. Some of the tracks were written by me and others by local musicians in Edmonton who based their songs on various chapters found within the novel. The 10 track album encompasses the whole story of Seed Me through dark ambient music.
You can stream the album for free on Bandcamp
If you’re reading this, then you did not take the above warning seriously. In that case, you’re probably as stupid as me. I’m Logan, by the way. I didn’t pay attention to any warning signs either. Being an unemployed deadbeat in Edmonton with no family and getting dumped by your girlfriend for her best friend can wear a guy down. All I had was my cokehead buddy, Skip, to cheer me up.
Surprisingly, my precautionary tale was not caused by either Skip or the drugs. Let’s just say a drunken make-out session with a pale girl by a dumpster, who was supposedly pronounced dead earlier in the evening, can leave you mentally jumbled up. A good motivator to figure this scenario out is having robed cultists stalk you, asking where the girl is.
Is this an ill twist of fate? Did I bring this on myself? Is there a reason behind my misfortune? Is the moral to not make out with spooky girls behind dumpsters? Hell if I know…
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