Sign up for the latest Michael Koryta news.

Featured Blog

AP: Rise the Dark is “Filled with Suspense”

In the Associated Press’ review of Rise the Dark, they say “Koryta has a gift for terrific suspense that immerses the reader while also delivering prose that almost reads like poetry.”

Here’s the full review by the AP from the Star Tribune :

‘Rise the Dark’ by Michael Koryta is filled with suspense

Mark Novak, seen previously in Michael Koryta’s “Last Words,” is still seeking answers regarding the murder of his wife in “Rise the Dark.”

Garland Webb, the man responsible for killing Lauren Novak, walks away a free man on a technicality. Mark knows Garland is responsible, but can he prove it? The words “Rise the Dark” were written in Lauren’s notebook prior to her death, and the cryptic message has been elusive.

In a small town in Montana, Sabrina Baldwin watches her husband, Jay, head out to repair a downed power line. She showers, and when she steps out, she’s shocked to see a man waiting for her. Garland shoots her with a tranquilizer dart and his bold plan begins.

Mark visits the site of his wife’s murder and learns that he’s a pawn in a game where his survival is doubtful. Garland knows every move Mark is going to make, and the truth behind Lauren’s cryptic message will ruin the lives of many people. Jay learns of his wife’s kidnapping and realizes he will have to betray everything he holds dear in order to win her freedom.

Koryta has a gift for terrific suspense that immerses the reader while also delivering prose that almost reads like poetry. Some of the answers that Mark finds are a bit hard to believe, but that’s a minor bump in the road that should definitely be traveled.


Michael’s Rise the Dark Playlist

Rise the Dark
Rise the Dark

Music is a huge part of my writing process, and certain songs and artists seep into the individual books and characters. This is never more important than in the middle of a book, or during the first rewrites, when fresh energy is critical. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a few of the artists who consistently inspire me – Matthew Ryan, Josh Ritter, and Joe Pug, to name a few – and I’ve been able to see countless others – Brian Fallon, The National, and so many more– perform live (although Lord Huron still eludes me, and as far as I’m concerned they wrote most of Those Who Wish Me Dead).


I’d never heard or read anything about The Ballroom Thieves until one bogged-down day when I gave up on writing a coherent sentence and went music hunting on iTunes. Their song “Archers” hooked me, and much of their album became a part of my “soundtrack” for the book, and whenever I lacked creative energy, that music kept providing it.


This summer I got to see The Ballroom Thieves at a wonderful venue in Maine, and they played exactly one cover song – a Joe Pug number – while working with a sound tech who used to work for Josh Ritter. Joe Pug and Josh Ritter both graciously provided lyrics for my novel The Ridge. The whole night created a fun and intriguing sense of shared creative circle.

Here’s the bulk of the playlist for Rise the Dark:

  1. Archers, by The Ballroom Thieves
  2. Lantern, by The Ballroom Thieves
  3. Hard Time, by Seinabo Sey
  4. Pistols at Dawn, by Seinabo Sey
  5. Edge of the River, by Jenn Cristy
  6. Windfallen, by Joe Pug
  7. Work Song, by Hozier
  8. The Blacker the Berry, by Kendrick Lamar
  9. Write Them Down, by The Wooden Sky
  10. Top Shelf Drug, by Ryan Bingham
  11. Gun Fightin Man, by Ryan Bingham
  12. God’s Not Here Tonight, by Matthew Ryan
  13. Heaven’s Hill, by Matthew Ryan
  14. Speed Trap Town, by Jason Isbell
  15. How to Forget, by Jason Isbell
  16. Homecoming, by Josh Ritter
  17. Seeing Me `Round, by Josh Ritter
  18. Phantom, by Shirt
  19. Frozen Pines, by Lord Huron
  20. Cursed, by Lord Huron
  21. Dead Man’s Hand, by Lord Huron
  22. Anchors, by The Ballroom Thieves
  23. Cold Wind, by The John Butler Trio
  24. Beggar in the Morning, by the Barr Brothers
  25. The World Ender, by Lord Huron

Michael’s Q&A with the Portland Press Herald

Wondering how Michael spent his summer? He sits down with the Portland Press Herald and talks about his influences, his summer in Maine, and his research for the book following Rise the Dark. Read the full Q&A below or check it out here

Best-selling author Michael Koryta dives into Maine

He talks about his influences, including Stephen King, while living near Camden and researching his next book.

As visitors flock to Maine for summer vacation, Michael Koryta is here to work. The 33-year-old Indiana native has rented a place near Camden, where he’s researching his next book. The critically acclaimed bestselling author of 11 thrillers and suspense novels, Koryta (rhymes with “margarita”) wants to experience Maine in a way that eludes most tourists. He plans to interview fishing guides, historians and other local experts for a plot line that takes place on the Maine coast. It’s part of the immersion-style research for which he’s become known.

“I found a way to be a perpetual child and come up with uses for hiking, caving, camping, fishing – and claiming that they’re research,” said the one-time journalist and private investigator. “It’s worked out really well for me.”

Koryta’s latest thriller, “Rise the Dark,” hits bookstores Tuesday. The author spoke recently from the midcoast about his literary idols, the craft of writing, his playlist and his cat, Marlowe. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Your books are very good at scaring readers and keeping them on edge. What scares you?

A: Oh, so many things. That’s a fun thing about the books: I get to take all of my own fears and transport them to other people. I love that Gothic sense that the past is always affecting the present. I’m fascinated with the idea of the day you make a left turn that redirects things, when you could just as easily have made a right turn.

Q: What is the difference between the category of suspense versus thrillers, or is that just a marketing term?

A: To me, that’s more of a marketing term. There are lots of sub-genres. I think of suspense as sort of the big house, and there are different rooms in the house. There’s the ghost story room, the detective novel room, the chase-thriller room and the family drama room. I’ve done all of them. To me, they all seem to follow within the same general working territory.

I grew up reading mysteries. My dad was a huge film noir guy. I like not knowing what’s going to happen. I love the emotion of suspense.

Q: Critics have praised your work for its inventiveness and writing style.

A: From a very early age, I was brought up on Strunk and White (“The Elements of Style”) and William Zinsser, and the idea that every word counts. You could have a great story, but if you are not paying attention to the craft and language, you’re going to under-deliver on it. I had a chance to work with some really great writing teachers. Putting together a nice sentence – that’s the thing that hopefully elevates the story. I’m a fan of writers who care about craft as much as they care about story.

Q: Safe to assume that you’re a Stephen King fan?

A: Yes, absolutely. In fact, his book, “On Writing,” came out when I was 18, and that was a defining point for me. I had always wanted to be a writer, but that was the book that really made it feel possible.

Q: It seems that King has been penalized, in a sense, for being so prolific. What is that stigma, and have you encountered it?

A: Yes, it’s definitely around, and I’ve encountered it. It’s always amused me because, in many professions, if you do consistent work, you’re praised for work ethic and effort. But if you’re in the arts, the idea of putting out consistent work is viewed almost with skepticism. “Oh, it can’t be that good.” Or: “He can’t care that much.” There’s nothing that you, as a writer, can do about that.

I write because I love it. It’s not as if being prolific is really a choice so much as I have a lot of stories that I want to tell, and time is finite. I’d rather not waste it.

Q: Given your level of productivity, writing roughly a book a year, you must have near-military discipline.

A: I think that’s the thing that comes with wanting to be better. I spend a lot of time trying to measure up to the writers I consider really great in terms of language and getting things across with clarity, originality and economy. There’s a level of insecurity, where I’m never pleased with a book when it’s first published; I need a couple of years of remove to really enjoy it. But I’m always over-the-moon excited about what I’m working on.

Q: Who are the writers you’re competing with mentally, who set the gold standard for you?

A: Daniel Woodrell of “Winter’s Bone,” Dennis Lehane, Stephen King. There’s a fearlessness to Pat Conroy. He did not shy away from melodrama or big moments of emotion. I don’t distinguish in the least between writers in the genre and writers outside. The most dangerous thing a writer can do is read only in his or her genre. Rule No. 1 is read widely.

Q: Tell me about your writing routine.

A: When I’m working on a new book, I try to do a minimum of 1,500 words a day. I never outline a book. I feel like the first draft is where I’m sort of interviewing the characters and getting a rough sense of the story. In the rewriting, I have the chance to actually tell that story well; the rewriting is where I discover the book. It’s a messy process, but I honestly think I have more joy in that process than if I had an outline where I was just writing to get from A to B to C.

Q: In your Maine office, what are the essential ingredients?

A: I have to have music. I have a playlist that feeds the story. So I try to build soundtracks around the characters’ different moods – that’s a critical ingredient. I always want a nice view, but then, when the writing is going well, I realize that I never really look up, anyhow. Also, I drink an enormous amount of iced tea – that’s my go-to fuel during the day.

But the key ingredient is a stray cat that I took in the year that my first book was published. He has lived in my office in Indiana, Florida, Maine. His name is Marlowe, as in Detective Philip Marlowe. He’ll jump up on the desk and howl in my ear. He lets me know that I’m not working hard enough.

Q: How does Maine factor in to your next book?

A: I have characters in the next book who are lifelong Mainers. To write about a place, you really need to spend some time in the place and talk to people who are experts at what they do. I’ve been coming up here for seven or eight years. But I’ve only been here for a few weeks at a time, so I really only have a tourist’s sense of the state.

Again, all of this is sort of an excuse for me to have fun. What I loved most about being a journalist was talking to people, hearing stories that might be overlooked otherwise. That’s really where I draw a lot of inspiration. I always go back to that reporter’s instinct.

Q: No doubt, you’ve learned the difference between real Mainers and people “from away.”

A: I have to continually point to my wife: “No, no, she’s a fifth-generation Mainer!” Now that we’ve leased this place for the year, I’m really hoping to be here all summer. There’s something about Maine that seems to feed readers and writers. And I’m actually eager to spend as much of the winter as possible up here.

Q: Have you been warned about winter in Maine?

A: That’s why I think I need to spend time here!

Joan Silverman writes op-eds, essays and book reviews. Her work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune and Dallas Morning News.

Early Reviews Are Coming In

Rise the Dark releases in less than a week, and the reviews already are starting to come in. Here are a few of the early thoughts about the book:

The Washington Post:

This book arrived with high praise from several stars of the genre — “A master,” says Stephen King; “Outstanding,” adds Lee Child — and they’re right. “Rise the Dark” is both first-rate entertainment and an unusually interesting thriller in terms of its characters, its plot and the ideas it explores, which include the electrical grid, Tesla’s history, spiritualism and the nation’s possible vulnerability to a right-wing takeover.

The Chicago Tribune:

Among his many gifts, Michael Koryta is a virtuoso in his use of outdoor settings…his thrillers present the great outdoors in their most frightening aspects. The book’s atmospheric power and strong cast of supporting characters make “Rise the Dark” compelling from the get go.

Library Journal — starred review:

A compelling narrative, relatable characters, and action scenes that play out like a blockbuster film, Koryta has written his best book to date. Highly recommended for fans of the author and readers of Dan Brown and Dennis Lehane.

Publishers Weekly:

“Pulse-pounding…the dramatic conclusion does justice to the suspenseful setup.”


Rise the Dark Pre-order Giveaway!

To gear up for the release of Rise the Dark, we are doing a special pre-order promotion! Between now and August 16, if you send a receipt or photo of a receipt for a pre-order of Rise the Dark to, and share the contest post on Facebook, you’ll be entered to win signed copies from some of Michael’s favorite authors. We will have three winners:

Third place: a signed hardcover copy of Michael Connelly’s novel The Crossing, one of Michael’s all-time favorite writers.

Second place: a signed hardcover of Joe Hill’s novel The Fireman, Michael’s favorite novel of the summer so far.

First place: A signed and limited edition copy of Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, a modern crime classic in a gorgeous edition done by Cemetery Dance, who also publish Michael’s limited editions. This is a one-of-kind collectible. Here’s a description of the book, and an example of the quality that Cemetery Dance brings to their work:

Slipcased Hardcover Limited Edition:
• Personally signed by the author on a unique signature page
• Bound with leather and full-cloth
• Featuring hot foil stamping on the front boards and spine
• Stylish black and white marbled endpapers
• Smyth sewn binding
• Housed in a hand-made slipcase

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender (2)FullSizeRender (1)

Rise the Dark & a Cooke City Inscription

FullSizeRender-2Michael signed a book or two yesterday at the Hachette Book Group distribution center! He says many of the books were filled with valuable Pokemon Go creatures, but that you must purchase the books in order to capture them. If that isn’t reward enough, some of the books are inscribed with the phrase “Cooke City,” a central location in both Rise the Dark and Those Who Wish Me Dead. Buy one of those, send us a private message with a photo, and we will send you a full set of all 12 of Michael’s signed hardcovers.