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The Prophet Playlist

I write to music, and below are some of the songs that made the regular playlist while I wrote The Prophet. Although always influenced by music, I felt this novel was perhaps unusually connected to certain songs, and I’m grateful to the artists who provided them.

 1) Juarez,  Augustines

A dark rock number with lines like “Tell my sister I’ve gone to find someone, and I won’t come back no more” that felt surreally close to my fictional world.

 

2) Return to Me, Matthew Ryan 

I’ve never felt such a strong connection between a song and a novel as I did with this haunting number by one of our most talented songwriters. It seemed to be Adam Austin’s personal anthem to me.

*Not available on the Spotifiy playlist*

 3) Free Fallin’, Tom Petty

One for Marie Lynn Austin. Provided the inspiration for what became one of the turning-point scenes in the book, the scene when the police search Marie’s childhood bedroom.

 

4) No Harm, The Boxer Rebellion 

Look close enough and you’ll find the phrase “no harm” in a critical moment of the novel.

 

5) After the Storm, Mumford & Sons

Plenty of tracks from this standout album lived in my headphones during the writing, but none made more frequent appearances than this number.

 

6) Bloodbuzz, Ohio, The National

A favorite song from a favorite album, I saw The National play live at a point when I was struggling with the book, and this song connected that night and many times after.

 

7) I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together, The Horrible Crowes

If Matthew Ryan provided the theme song for Adam, then The Horrible Crowes provided the bulk of the soundtrack. The album “Elsie” arrived when I was nearing the homestretch, and I felt as if it had been written by the characters in my book. In this song’s case, by Chelsea and Adam. “I think that your trouble and my trouble shook hands…”

 

8) Blood Loss, The Horrible Crowes 

9) Ladykiller, The Horrible Crowes 

And the beat goes on…with lines like “I can leave the wound wide open, and maybe see if I can tough it out” you’ll understand why I was feeling this album. A haunting but propulsive rock ‘n roll masterpiece, these are songs that Brian Fallon seems to sing from his bones.

 

 10) Carolina, M. Ward 

This would be the Kent Austin anthem of the mix, I believe. The story of a man divided, walking backward to the place where he’s come from, “but that ain’t enough, no, you want me to run.”

 

 11)  Lines on Palms, Josh Pyke 

Another one of the “Kent” tunes, and one of the few upbeat, pop numbers in the dark mix! Josh Pyke is a wonderful Australian talent, and this is a lyrical gem. The opening lines defined Kent Austin to me.

 

12) Goodbye, The Drive-By Truckers 

Patterson Hood just doesn’t miss with me much, and he sure doesn’t on this country-tinged rocker.

A Great Review From Across the Pond

12042777_10153603929309244_4264373295063852405_n“A thriller has to be fast-paced and tense, but to stand out there has to be more to hold your interest. Koryta delivers it in spades. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into this book – the claustrophobic setting, a strong likeable protagonist whom you want to succeed, and a solid mystery that keeps you guessing right up to the end.”

 

Read the full post from Crime Fiction Lover: http://bit.ly/1iKwFaS

 

Behind the Book: A Look into Private Investigation

My history with this week’s Behind the Book interview goes back to high school — Don Johnson gamely agreed to mentor me in an independent study program in private investigation. Later I began part-time work with him, and when I graduated from college  moved to full-time. To say that Don has been an influence on my life and writing would be a gross understatement. He gave me numerous opportunities that I didn’t deserve, always supported my writing interest even if it meant less convenient schedules for him, and always answered questions. He’s also an excellent investigator — once honored as national private investigator of the year — and is currently the director of the National Association of Legal Investigators.

Behind the Book: Caving Realities Part 2

After spending so much of LAST WORDS demonstrating what one should not do in a cave, it seemed prudent to speak to an expert about the realities of caving. Anmar Mirza was a generous resource during my research, and his work should make anyone who goes underground feel a bit safer — as national coordinator of the National Cave Rescue Commission, his focus on educating cavers and first-responders has saved numerous lives. In this video, Anmar talks a bit about rescue operations, exploration, and the allure caves have held for him since childhood. Watch part two of the interview below.

 

Behind the Book: Caving Realities Part 1

After spending so much of LAST WORDS demonstrating what one should not do in a cave, it seemed prudent to speak to an expert about the realities of caving. Anmar Mirza was a generous resource during my research, and his work should make anyone who goes underground feel a bit safer — as national coordinator of the National Cave Rescue Commission, his focus on educating cavers and first-responders has saved numerous lives. In this video, Anmar talks a bit about rescue operations, exploration, and the allure caves have held for him since childhood.

Behind the Book: Hypnotized for the Cause

I love the field research process (it’s the reporter in me that refuses to die) and LAST WORDS led me to some stranger places than even I’d anticipated. The caves, I thought I was ready for. I had not anticipated undergoing hypnosis, however. But the more I read about memory, the more interested in it I became.

 

There are a few case studies that inspired the hypnosis elements in LAST WORDS, in particular an investigation where a woman who’d been abducted was adamant that she couldn’t recall anything about the vehicle she’d been in, despite numerous rounds of questioning and numerous approaches. Then, in hypnosis, she not only came up with a clear memory but drew a picture of the vehicle that allowed it to be identified. A famous case is the Chowchilla kidnappings in 1976, when 26 children and their bus driver were kidnapped. Later, the bus driver recalled almost all of the license plate of the suspect vehicle – but only under hypnosis, and then he remembered the numbers in reverse because he’d seen them in a mirror. That case ought to give skeptics pause. (The hypnotist in this case, Dr. William Kroger, is a fascinating story himself).

 

At times, police departments in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston had dedicated hypnosis units. RimaThose times are mostly gone. The debate over whether hypnosis can be used effectively to recreate a lost memory and the legal risks of using hypnosis in the courtroom or for investigation has greatly reduced its use in law enforcement circles. I spoke to one veteran prosecutor who was candid about his belief in the validity of hypnosis as a tool in major crime cases but said he is reluctant to use it because he feels doing so is teeing up a reversal upon appeal. His written arguments both for and against the admission of hypnosis evidence in criminal cases were great fodder for LAST WORDS, but there’s no substitute for experience, so I sought out a hypnotist to give things a whirl.
I told Rima Montoya, of Bloomington, IN, that I had two concerns: I was skeptical that it would really work, and, if it did work, I was afraid she’d pull the wrong subconscious wire and it would mess up the book.

 

The experience only helped the book, and as for my skepticism, that vanished pretty fast when I heard a voice counting upward to 10 and my only memory was “hang on, a minute ago we were going down from 10.” That minute had actually been an hour.

 

Initially, I wanted to conceive of a memory test – to give an account of a remembered event under hypnosis and then see how it matched up with reality. The problem there was in coming up with an event I had recorded, one that had an indisputable reality, as opposed to just conflicting memories. When I went looking for a video record, I couldn’t find anything more interesting than interviews and panel discussions, though. I searched for courtroom transcript of a time I testified in a criminal case during my PI days but couldn’t locate it. Even that felt a little too tame. The type of event I was most interested in was one where there would have been a good amount of adrenaline – let’s see what I remember about the time I had to tranquilize that leopard (no, really, that incident was my first idea…read THE RIDGE for further explanation). But I didn’t have a recorded version of such an event, so it wouldn’t have been an accurate test. I can’t personally vouch for hypnosis as a tool in memory recovery, but what I can vouch for is hypnosis as a tool for insomnia. I’d been taking Ambien for a full decade when I asked Rima to focus the hypnosis sessions on sleep. I promptly began sleeping quickly and deeply, drug-free, after the first of three sessions, which was absolutely astounding to me. Now…it didn’t last. Three weeks, maybe a month, and then my old habits crept back in. But those weeks of easy sleeping were pretty remarkable, and I got some great background for the book out of the experience. I suspect if I returned to the approach it would work again, and perhaps for a longer period. But you can sleep when you’re dead, as they say…

 

My deepest gratitude to Rima, as she changed the book, endured a plethora of ridiculous questions with grace and patience, and helped me sleep! I would enthusiastically endorse hypnosis for any fellow insomniacs. Worst case, I think you’d emerge with the equivalent of a mental massage, and that ain’t bad.

 

I have two audio clips with Rima – the first a short interview about her approach, and the second a reading from LAST WORDS, her own take on the hypnosis induction scene I wrote. I’ve included the text so you can see what the words are and how she reads them. Very, very different, and, as she explains in the interview, very carefully designed. The clips are audio and not video because that’s how I want them experienced, as if from behind closed eyes, nothing but the voice out there.

 

You may close your eyes, if you wish…