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Dystopia Central: Meet Author Frederick Crook

I’ve always been fascinated by how others see the future, particularly the future of only a few generations past our own. I bumped into the works of Solstice author Frederick Crook not too long ago, and fell headlong into his captivating  and disturbing world. He very kindly spent some time with me recently to discuss his latest novel, Campanelli: Siege of the Night Hunter.

Hi,  Fred! Thanks for the interview. One of the things I noticed about your work is that you seem fond of exploring dystopic themes. Why is that?

I think a lot of us are fascinated with the idea of what would happen to this wonderfully intricate world of ours if we as a species suddenly disappeared. There is a series of documentaries out there that focuses strictly on that and it’s fantastically well thought out. I think it’s called, “Life After People” or something like that. There are tons of books and movies dedicated to the idea of the complete failure of civilization, and even the current zombie craze serves as a catalyst for such apocalyptical circumstances. I think I’ve approached dystopia from the most positive angle possible, as the “Great Exodus” is a period of fifty or so years of humans departing Earth for a colony planet named Alethea. My books focus on smaller groups of people that choose not to go.

Do you feel as if we would be better off if there were fewer of us? Would the world be a safer place, or would it be open season for predators such as Elliott?

Only during rush hour. Ha! Kidding. While I believe that a smaller population would be easier on our planet when it comes to sustaining life, I think that the threat of overpopulation may very well be what governments worldwide would need to get off their asses and put some money into space exploration. Like it or not cats ‘n’ kittens, we need to find another rock to perch on if we are to continue as a species. From a predator’s standpoint, I do believe we’d see the number of serial killers increase, perhaps even to the point of them becoming organized in some fashion. Let’s hope not.

 Elliot and Frank Campanelli are fabulous foils for each other. One is anarchical in the worst sense of the word; the other lives in a limited world but tries to better it as he can. What inspired them? And why does only one of them evolve?

Elliot Three-Seven is the perfect predator, but that, in addition to the sense of brotherhood when it comes to his fellow soldiers, is all he knows. He is, for the most part, free to explore a land of low population and hunt to his heart’s content, but he is haunted by the memories of the circumstances that led to this way of life. Frank, on the other hand, has enjoyed civilization and freedom since birth, but has seen some pretty nasty crimes and has suffered some tremendous personal losses. Campanelli is motivated to maintain civilization in the City of Chicago while the world beyond falls to anarchy. Elliot has never experienced such a struggle, so he cannot possibly understand what it’s like. It is Frank that must evolve a little bit every day, in response to the challenges he faces.

 Do you feel that either of them fits the model of a modern archetype?

Wow. Good one. I had to look this one up. Ha! I think that Frank Campanelli fits well with the gentleman or the intellectual, as he is trying to maintain right. To label Elliot simply as a rebel is an understatement, but it fits best.

Sounds like a great read!


ABOUT Campanelli: Siege of the Nighthunter

June, 2110. A serial killer strikes the populace of the City of Chicago. The first victim is a wanted man by Detective Frank Campanelli’s Sentinel Division. His body had been mutilated and, from the evidence uncovered by forensic genius, H. Lincoln Rothgery, it has been partially consumed. The unknown invader leaves a trail of corpses behind in short order, including that of a homicide detective.

To add to the mystery, the DNA evidence retrieved from a stolen vehicle indicates that the killer is former military, but special encoding prevents the murderer from being identified. Frank’s partner, Marcus Williams, seems to know more about what’s going on than he lets on, until the former Navy SEAL calls in a friend from the FBI to help.

“The Nighthunter”, as the media has labeled him, instills terror and virtually shuts down Chicago. Together, Campanelli, Williams, and the agent must work to capture the enigmatic and frighteningly efficient cannibal.

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EXCERPT: “Campanelli: Siege of the Nighthunter

                Lincoln caught Frank’s gaze. “We found two different types of blood, two sets of DNA in the car.”

“Go on,” McLain prompted.

“Herman Werner’s and the killer’s. No ID’s been matched to his,” Rothgery stated and stood from his chair. He stepped between the two detectives and stepped casually toward the sedan. “The killer’s DNA has been engineered, as has the blood, but there’s no identification to be found in the cells. He is a he and appears to be of military origin, but it goes beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”

“So, you’re telling me that the killer is a soldier. American?” Frank asked as he stopped next to Lincoln and stared at the driver’s seat of the ruined car.

“I can’t even determine that without a serial number, Frank.”

“Soldier or not, Mister Rothgery…how the hell did he get outta that?” McLain asked from Lincoln’s other side. The big man waved his hand over the wreckage as he spoke. “That should’ve been fatal…engineered genes or not.”

“I agree.” Rothgery slid his glasses from his Roman nose and rubbed his eyes with his free hand. “Gherling is still researching the DNA and the blood while Teri is carrying out more tests.”

“You said Werner’s blood was in the car,” Frank stated.

“Yeah,” Lincoln said then nodded. “Not much of it, though. A lot of the DNA we found in it was from hairs in the carpets and seats. My opinion is that he used the car for some time. Months, perhaps close to a year.”

“So, Werner was cut out of the seatbelt…then thrown through the air.” Kirby stepped up to the side of the car and studied the sliced seatbelt. In the bright light, the precision cut was much more impressive.

“Definitely,” H. Lincoln affirmed as he replaced his eyeglasses. “And…before I forget…there are teeth marks on the body.”

“We saw those,” Frank said. He leaned back on the workbench behind him and crossed his arms. “The bites on the shoulder.”

“I’m not talking about those, Frank.”

This took Kirby’s attention from the wreck to the forensic genius. “What are you trying to say, Mister Rothgery?”

“I’m saying he had a little nibble on some muscle tissue while he cut out the heart and liver. It’s also confirmed that the heart and liver were eaten.” Lincoln met the eyes of McLain then looked to Campanelli.

“God,” Kirby uttered and stepped away from the sedan as if it exuded heat.

“How do you come to that, Lincoln?” Frank asked.

“Pieces of both organs were left behind in the car. Nothing more than shreds, really. Seems he had to pick them out of his teeth as he drove.”

Frank lifted his right hand to his chin and rested it, keeping the left arm tucked. “You’re telling me that we have a soldier of unknown origin turned cannibal, running around the streets of Chicago.”

“From everything we’ve gathered so far, Frank, that’s about the size of it.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR.  Frederick was born in Chicago in 1970 and now lives in Villa Park with his wife, Rae and their three dachshunds. He began by writing fictional works all through high school, but didn’t take himself seriously until 2009, when Frederick began writing his first novel, The Dregs of Exodus, which was self-published in late 2010. This was followed up with another novel, The Pirates of Exodus in 2012.

Throughout that year and 2013, he continued writing and published four short stories in eBook form for Kindle. Runt Pulse, The Fortress of Albion, Lunar Troll, and Campanelli: The Ping Tom Affair.

                 His third novel, Campanelli: Sentinel, was picked up by Solstice Publishing in late 2014. The novella, Minuteman Merlin, was released for the Kindle by Solstice Publishing in March of 2015 and followed up by his fourth novel, Of Knight & Devil in September. His fifth novel, Campanelli: Siege of the Nighthunter was released by Solstice in March, 2016.

He is currently an editor for Solstice Publishing and working on novel number six, a paranormal historical fiction.

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Rumors of my demise…

have been greatly exaggerated. Real Life imposed the necessity of taking several months off, and things are still a little frantic. Thank you, kind readers, for sticking it out with me.

I haven’t had a lot of time to write these past months, but did have two short stories published  through Solstice Publishing–which, by the way, was voted the top independent publisher of 2015! Check them out at They handle both print and ebook formats. If you’re a writer, they’re great to work with; if you’re a reader, you’ll find a lot of diverse and excellent entertainment material here. Like my stuff–LOL!!

My two latest stories are BUMP, a horror story that demonstrates that our biggest fears really are in our heads, and SWEET DREAMS, which has been described as a “creepy sweet love story.”

More stories are coming soon. Happy Spring, everyone!