Monday, October 15, 2012

On Tour With Author D.J. McIntosh

The U.S. edition of author D.J. McIntosh’s acclaimed debut novel,
THE WITCH OF BABYLON (a Forge Hardcover), is slated for release tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 16) and I’m delighted to welcome her here today.

THE WITCH OF BABYLON is an international treasure-hunting adventure of lost relics, ancient sorcery, and alchemy. The enthralling novel has an extremely successful track record. While still unpublished, it was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award in 2007 and awarded the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished Crime Novel the following year. After its release by Penguin Canada in 2011, THE WITCH OF BABYLON was named a Top Five Mystery/Thriller for 2011 by Amazon Canada, and the mass market edition was recently included in a list of summer recommendations on the site. It has since been sold in nineteen countries, and the mass market held a top five spot on The Globe and Mail bestseller list.

Thanks to D.J. and Alexis at Tor/Forge, I have a copy of THE WITCH OF BABYLON to giveaway today. Be sure to see the end of the post for the guidelines.

Here’s a brief description of the book:
John Madison is a Turkish-American art dealer raised by his much older brother, Samuel, a mover and shaker in New York’s art world. Caught between his brother’s obsession with saving a priceless relic looted from Iraq’s National Museum and a deadly game of revenge staged by his childhood friend, John must solve a puzzle to find the link between a modern-day witch and an ancient one. Kidnapped by villainous fortune hunters, John is returned to Iraq where a fabulous treasure trove awaits discovery—if he can stay alive long enough to find it. 

Gripping and thought-provoking, THE WITCH OF BABYLON is a fascinating tale rooted in little-known ancient Assyrian lore and its profound significance for the world

D.J. joins us today and has graciously answered some questions for me about her book and her writing.

Mason - I understand you first got hooked on mysteries by reading Earle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason series. Why not write about courtroom drama instead of ancient Assyrians and Babylonians of Mesopotamia?

D.J. - The Perry Mason series was one of my first introductions to crime and mystery novels; reading them made me a lifelong convert to suspense fiction. That, however, was quite long ago. More recently I’ve found I especially love reading historical novels, antiquity thrillers like those written by Umberto Eco (Name of the Rose) or Kate Mosse (Labyrinth). I like reading novels that are suspenseful and have a great story line but also offer us an opportunity to learn about some aspect of history or a new culture. When the opportunity opened up for me to begin my own novel, I naturally gravitated to what I like to read. 

Mason - Have you been inspired by other authors?

book coverD.J. - So many there isn’t space to list them all!  In the crime and mystery genre I love and admire the work of Michael Koryta, James Rollins, Ellis Peters, Daphne Du Maurier and Louis Bayard. I just finished Thomas H Cook’s  “The Quest for Anna Klein” and thought it was amazing!

Mason - What is the best advice you've been given about writing that you pass on to writers just beginning?

D.J. - Guess I’d pass along some advice that was given to me from a highly esteemed literary agent who said very well written manuscripts often cross his desk but it’s the ones with a unique premise that really get his attention. For example, serial killer novels seem a dime a dozen now but add a unique premise – like a novel I’ve read recently called the Bloodman, that is set in the midst of the worst hurricane to hit the eastern coast in decades, and you have brought something unique to the genre. 

Mason - What was research like for this book (THE WITCH OF BABYLON)?

D.J. - Very long (it took years) and intensive. I became captivated by the subject matter – alchemy and ancient Mesopotamia – but knew very little about either. In short, I was a complete neophyte. Scholarly books and especially the wealth of material available through the web were my main sources . The more I got to know and respect the subject matter, the more pressure I felt to accurately reflect those fascinating times, cultures and beliefs.

Mason - What can readers expect in Book Two of your Mesopotamian trilogy and when will it be available?

D.J. - Book Two is well underway, titled: THE BOOK OF STOLEN TALES. In it, John Madison searches for a rare 17th century book – the first anthology of European fairy tales. As his quest deepens, he finds the dark origins of these tales come alarmingly to life. He’s eventually led to one famous tale in particular with links to the Mesopotamian location of Hades, a real archaeological site.

It will be out first from Penguin Canada in late May 2013.

D.J., thanks so much for joining us today and answering these questions for me. Learning background on a book is always interesting to me. The research you did sounds intriguing.

Now a little background on D.J. She is the former co-editor of the Crime Writers of Canada's newsletter, Fingerprints, and is a Toronto-based writer of novels and short mystery fiction. Her short story "The Hounds of Winter", published in Blood on the Holly by Baskerville Books (Toronto, 2007), was nominated for the 2008 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story. "A View to Die For" appeared in Bloody Words: The Anthology, also published by Baskerville Books (Toronto, 2003). D.J. graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Toronto. She is a member of the Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies. In addition, she is a strong supporter of Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Nowadays, when not staring at the proverbial computer screen, or walking her golden retriever, D.J. indulges in the great venues that a big metropolis has to offer: films, galleries and museums and a special affection for any live music that features rock/blues guitar. In the summer, she swings to the polar opposite of this and spend four or so months enjoying the famous sunsets and wild beauty of Lake Huron shores at her cottage.

THE WITCH OF BABYLON was named one of ‘Six Historical Adventures to Get You Hooked’ by CNN. Here’s what others are saying about this fascinating story:
McIntosh combines stellar research with superb writing skills.”The Globe and Mail 

“…a book so good, everyone should buy it twice.”National Post 

Mysterious. Exotic. And even contentious. Meet The Witch of Babylon’s author D.J. McIntosh.” — Michael F. Steward, The Big Thrill

Now for the giveaway guidelines. To enter, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win THE WITCH OF BABYLON.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a copy of THE WITCH OF BABYLON (ISBN: 978-0765333667), a 416-page hardcover, will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Monday, Oct. 22.

Thanks so much for stopping by today.


  1. D.J., thanks again for answering my questions. I enjoyed meeting a fellow Perry Mason fan. Wishing you much success.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting D.J.

    D.J. - I know just what you mean about learning while one's reading. I like to do that too. And it sounds as though you really put a lot of painstaking work into the research for The Witch of Babylon. I give you a lot of credit for that. Research just makes a book more authentic. I wish you all success.

  3. Sounds like a great read. I wish you loads of success with it.

  4. Hi Mason .. DJ's "Witch of Babylon" sounds so interesting - I'd love to read it - as I'd love to learn more about Mesopotamia and alchemy - certainly one for the TBB list and then TBR list ..

    Great review .. cheers Hilary

  5. D.J. McIntosh - Thanks again for such a terrific opportunity Mason and Margot,Teresa and Hilary for your great comments!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.