Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stars on THE RIDGE

Courtesy of Publishers Weekly!

The Ridge
Michael Koryta. Little, Brown, $24.99 (412p) ISBN 978-0-316-05366-2
A rural Kentucky community becomes the unlikely focal point for a series of enigmatic and terrifying events in Koryta's subtle supernatural thriller. When local drunk Wyatt French, who inexplicably built a wooden lighthouse far from any large body of water, calls Kevin Kimble, the county's chief deputy, and asks whether he'd investigate a suicide, Kimble, who's driving in his car to visit a prison inmate, refers French to a suicide hotline. Soon after, reporter Roy Darmus, whose newspaper has just folded, receives an unsettling call from French that prompts Darmus to go to the lighthouse, where he finds the man has apparently shot himself in the mouth. French's death may be connected with an eerie blue light seen in the vicinity of Blade Ridge, a phenomenon that riles the big cats residing in a wildlife refuge that's just set up shop on property adjoining French's. Koryta (The Cypress House) matches an original and complex plot line with prose full of understated menace.

THE RIDGE widget

The tech-savvy team at Little, Brown and Co. has created a promotional "widget" for THE RIDGE. Please check it out below -- video, essays, links to the EFRC, lions and tigers, no bears -- and, to prove to the good people at LB that their efforts were not in vain, please share said widget. That is, as I understand it, the idea. And who wouldn't want to share such a fun little guy?

Monday, April 25, 2011

THE RIDGE caption contest -- winner and new week's photo

Laura Schneider claims the win for last week with the caption of: "Mom, just because no one's around, doesn't mean you can embarrass me even more..." She will receive her signed first edition of THE RIDGE in June.

And this week we will shift from Michael's personal photographs of the Exotic Feline Rescue Center to one from a professional -- Stephen McCloud has published two gorgeous photo books about the center. You can purchase the books, calendars, and other items (proceeds go to the rescue center) at

Stephen McCloud has graciously permitted use of this photo for an e-card promotion that Little, Brown will soon release for THE RIDGE. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, let's gather some great captions for him! Send submissions to

Monday, April 18, 2011

THE RIDGE caption contest, week 3

Let's start seeing those submissions:

THE RIDGE caption contest winner, week 2

Our judges determined that this one was an impossible-to-call tie, then realized the top two submissions came from the same person. That made it easier to select the winner, though Dani, our champion for week two, still receives only one book!

"Here, Human, Human."

"Psst. Word on the street is you're the guy who helped the Bronx Zoo Cobra escape. What are your rates?"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

An enormous loss -- Bill Cook

Bill Cook, who with his wife Gayle financed and oversaw the incredible restoration of the West Baden Springs Hotel and French Lick Springs Hotel, brought Pete Dye in to create a one-of-a-kind golf course, and generally restored the beauty and life to an area that sat for decades as a crumbling relic, passed away yesterday in his home at the age of 80.

Cook's impact on the world of health care, the biotech industries, and medical devices is felt around the globe, and his impact in Bloomington and Indiana has been simply massive. I was deeply and truly honored by his support of SO COLD THE RIVER when it was released, and the resort has continued to support the book, which means a great deal to me. Paramount among those honors, though, was the chance to have lunch with Cook and his son Carl last year, when they offered me a gift of thanks for writing about a spot that meant so much to the family: it's an original, unopened bottle of Pluto water, the source of so much trouble in the novel.

It sits on a shelf above my writing desk today, where it has been positioned since that lunch, and always will. This is a true loss to the community, and I'm deeply grateful I had the chance to meet Mr. Cook.

The most meaningful thing that came up in our conversation was when Mr. Cook told me that he and Gayle had walked down to the Wesley Chapel Gulf, featured in the book's final scenes, because they were curious about it after reading the novel. Now, at this time he was not in great health, and the walk to the gulf, while not treacherous, is hardly easy, either. I was, and remain, deeply touched that he was interested enough in the story and the places to make that trip.

Below is an article from the Indianapolis Star detailing Cook's accomplishments.

Bill Cook, founder of a Bloomington-based medical equipment company and one of the richest men in America, has died.

David McCarty, director of global communications for the Cook Group, said Cook died about 4:30 p.m. Friday at his Bloomington home from congestive heart failure. He was 80.

Cook, known throughout Indiana for his philanthropy and dedication to historic preservation, had been in failing health for some time. He had been scheduled to attend an event today to celebrate Indiana Landmarks' grand opening of its new home at the Old Centrum in Indianapolis.

Those who knew Cook said he will leave a lasting legacy in the medical health field and in historic preservation.

"He was relentlessly curious and a believer in human health," said David Johnson, president of Indianapolis-based BioCrossroads. "He was a deeply ethical and honest man. He believed that he would be able to carry out business the way he wanted to carry out business by keeping the company private rather than having it subject to the whims of Wall Street."

Cook, a native of Illinois and a graduate of Northwestern University, built his wealth from humble beginnings. He developed a prototype for a catheterization process in 1963 in the spare bedroom of his Bloomington apartment with a $1,500 investment.

Cook built Cook Group Inc. into a worldwide conglomerate, with 42 companies under its umbrella. The Cook Group employs about 10,000 worldwide with sales estimated at more than $1.5 billion.

Cook's company is one of the largest employers in Central Indiana, with about 3,000 workers in the Bloomington area.

The company makes a wide variety of medical devices for surgery, urology, cardiovascular, women's health and other specialties. In recent years, Cook has developed several new products, including a mesh tube stent designed to open and treat arterial blockages.

"Bill's many contributions to the medical industry are unprecedented, and his many contributions to the community and to charitable organizations are extraordinary," Steve Ferguson, chairman of Cook Group, said in a statement. "It was through his unique vision, persistence and dedication that Cook grew into a compassionate and caring company for patients, customers and employees. He truly epitomized the meaning of success."

Johnson, of BioCrossroads, said Cook was a pioneer in the medical field who believed that with the right equipment, doctors could perform surgeries through veins and arteries without having to make large incisions on a patient.

Cook developed those lifesaving devices and used them to build a model company, Johnson said. The Cook Group was one of the founding companies of BioCrossroads, which helps foster new life-sciences and biotechnology companies in Indiana.

"He's left a strong company, a very good and profitable company and a strong management team," Johnson said. "We're very lucky to have that company here. They're a tremendous asset to the state."

Last fall, Forbes 400's annual listing of the wealthiest people in the U.S. ranked Cook 101st with a worth of $3.1 billion. That wealth also made Cook the richest person in Indiana.

Despite his success and wealth, Johnson said, Cook was always very approachable and humble.

"If you had lunch in the dining room at Cook, if Bill was in town, he'd bring up a tray and sit and talk," Johnson said. "He was there every single day. It was really his company."

Through his business activities and philanthropy, Cook received many honors and awards. Buildings at Indiana University, Northwestern and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology bear his name.

Cook was a powerful advocate for historic preservation and donated millions to charitable organizations across Indiana. Cook, his wife, Gayle, and their son, Carl, provided $10 million to finance restoration of the Old Centrum at 12th Street and Central Avenue on the Near Northside.

The red brick, 80,000-square-foot building, constructed in 1892, will become the new state headquarters for Indiana Landmarks. The building's 400-seat Grand Hall and theater will be used for cultural performances, lectures, weddings and corporate events.

Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, said Cook had a passion for turning rundown buildings into something beautiful and useful.

"Where Bill was special was that he could see the repurposing of a building into something that was not just saving a wonderful landmark but putting it to use in a positive and entrepreneurial fashion," Davis said.

Cook also helped renovate the historic West Baden Springs Hotel in Southern Indiana. The building features nearly 700 guest rooms, a conference and event center, retail shops, golf courses and the French Lick Casino.

Davis said the restoration of the hotel was Cook's "crowning achievement."

John Ketzenberger, president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute and a former columnist for The Indianapolis Star, said Cook's passion for restoring historic landmarks has left a lasting footprint. He recalled meeting Cook during the restoration of the West Baden hotel.

"We were going through the hotel, and then here comes Bill Cook shambling along," he said.

Cook invited Ketzenberger and other reporters to go on the "real tour" and took them to the roof of the building, where he showed off its magnificent view.

"He did it because he liked it. He thought it was cool, and he wanted to show it off," Ketzenberger said.

Cook recently explained his philosophy in an interview with The Star.

"Our hope would be that people get a better understanding that preservation isn't just to restore something but to preserve it with a function," he said. "It's far better to demonstrate you can generate capital and make money on older buildings. You don't need to tear them down."

Cook also was a major contributor to IU and a strong supporter of IU athletics. He had been a member of the IU Board of Trustees.

"We at Indiana University have lost a wonderful friend and partner in Bill Cook, who over the years has done so much to make IU the special place it is," IU President Michael McRobbie said in a statement. "So many of us at IU have been touched at one time or another by Bill's vision and generosity that I know I speak from the heart for all of us in conveying our profound and deepest sympathy to Gayle and Carl."

IU basketball coach Tom Crean said he was stunned and saddened to learn of Cook's death.

"It's hard to do justice to what he meant to not only this university, community and state but even the world," Crean said. "He was literally a life-changing giant of a man and leader. Not many people can say they made the world a better place because of work they did, but Mr. Cook sure can. The contributions he made will continue to impact lives forever."

Besides wife Gayle and son Carl, survivors include a daughter-in-law, Marcy, and a granddaughter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

THE RIDGE caption contest, Week 2

We expect good things from this one! Send those submissions to

THE RIDGE caption contest, Week 1 winner

We were very pleased by the amount of participation in the first week and hope it continues. Lots of good entries, a challenge for our distinguished panel of judges, but the winner, code name Gretchen, offered the following:

"Room service? Just leave it by the door, thanks."

Gretchen will receive her signed copy of THE RIDGE upon release, and we will now move on to the Week 2 photo. If you did not succeed with your first attempt, please feel free to try again!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book-buying Friday

It's a beautiful spring weekend in most places, time to drag out the patio furniture, prop your feet up, and do a little reading. Might I recommend:

1) EMILY, ALONE, by Stewart O'Nan. Novel of the year already delivered in March? Quite possibly. O'Nan, always one of the best writers we have, is taking it to new levels at this point, mining drama and story from the ordinary in a way few writers could ever hope to achieve. If you're hungry for powerhouse plotting this weekend, this one might not be for you, but if you want to see character created with depth, empathy, and realism that few writers can match, then grab this book immediately. Brilliant prose, an extraordinary ability to create characters who feel like real people, and a bold desire to stay away from the expected conventions at all times allow O'Nan to achieve unique things as a writer.

2) THE FIFTH WITNESS, by Michael Connelly. You want plot this weekend, you say? Well, if there's anyone out there who consistently creates engaging crime dramas better than Connelly, I've yet to encounter them. THE FIFTH WITNESS continues the Mickey Haller saga and brings the economy and housing foreclosure crisis into the story in an organic, realistic fashion. Great stuff, as always, from Mr. Connelly.

3) THE MATCH, by Mark Frost. If you're a golf fan, you're watching the Master's this weekend. If you're a golf fan, you also might have discovered that you can watch five hours straight and see 13 seconds of excitement. So just keep the volume on low while you read this fantastic account of an unsanctioned but classic duel between two of the game's all-time greats -- Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson -- and two talented young amateurs -- Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward -- in a book that beautifully captures time, place, and personalities while paying unique and beautiful homage to two legends then in the twilight days of their playing careers.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Win a free signed copy of THE RIDGE

We have contests planned for THE RIDGE and hope to get some great participation. Each Monday from now until release a short video or photograph featuring the cats at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center will be posted on Facebook and on Michael's blog, and we will ask for possible captions. The following Monday, the moderators and Michael will vote on the winner, who will receive a signed first-edition hardcover of THE RIDGE as soon as it comes out. Please send your video and photo captions to and do not post them directly to the Facebook page.

Winners will be asked for their address and a pristine signed copy of the book will be shipped to them courtesy of the Poisoned Pen.
Let's open the first caption contest up with this photo.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Here comes THE RIDGE

It seems kind of impossible, but publication of THE RIDGE is less than three months away. This novel marks the last of what I've considered a very loosely connected trilogy of supernatural stories: SO COLD THE RIVER, THE CYPRESS HOUSE, and THE RIDGE all feature different characters, settings, and even time periods, but they're bound together not just by the supernatural elements but also thematic tissue. The next book -- so far down the road I won't even hazard a guess at a release date -- is a return to the traditional crime novel, but I hope you will have a chance to check out THE RIDGE this June. These three books have been a lot of fun for me, a chance to do something a little different, to fuse mystery and the uncanny and up the ante of the creepiness factor. I can only hope they've been half as fun to read as they were to write. Here's the publisher's synopsis of the new book:

In an isolated stretch of eastern Kentucky, on a hilltop known as Blade Ridge, stands a lighthouse that illuminates nothing but the surrounding woods. For years the lighthouse has been considered no more than an eccentric local landmark-until its builder is found dead at the top of the light, and his belongings reveal a troubling local history.

For deputy sheriff Kevin Kimble, the lighthouse-keeper's death is disturbing and personal. Years ago, Kimble was shot while on duty. Somehow the death suggests a connection between the lighthouse and the most terrifying moment of his life.

Audrey Clark is in the midst of moving her large-cat sanctuary onto land adjacent to the lighthouse. Sixty-seven tigers, lions, leopards, and one legendary black panther are about to have a new home there. Her husband, the sanctuary's founder, died scouting the new property, and Audrey is determined to see his vision through.

As strange occurrences multiply at the Ridge, the animals grow ever more restless, and Kimble and Audrey try to understand what evil forces are moving through this ancient landscape, just past the divide between dark and light.

The Ridge is the new thriller from international bestseller Michael Koryta, further evidence of why Dean Koontz has said "Michael Koryta's work resonates into deeper strata than does most of what I read" and why Michael Connelly has named him "one of the best of the best."

Hope that has you intrigued. If not, perhaps James Patterson's perspective will interest you: “A man in love with the woman who shot him. Who could possibly resist that story? Not me. Read on, and discover one of the scariest and most touching horror tales in years.”

One of the central elements of THE RIDGE is a big-cat rescue preserve, modeled after the fascinating Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, Indiana, where more than 200 cats -- tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, ocelots -- have been saved from abusive conditions to live out the rest of their lives in a healthy, safe, and happy environment. I encourage you to visit to learn more about Joe Taft, his staff, the cats, and the incredible work being done by the rescue center.

Due to the fact that this is a two-book year, and I've been on the road pretty steadily since last winter on domestic and international fronts, the tour for THE RIDGE will be limited. Otherwise, that next novel might not be out until 2025. So, with the exception of local signings (Bloomington, Indianapolis, and yet another try at Cleveland, thinking they can't snow me out in June) I'll be making two stops where readers from around the world can have a book signed and inscribed if they so desire. Both Murder by the Book in Houston ( and The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ, ( do a wonderful job with mail-order and have for years. Just order via their sites or give them a call, and I'm happy to inscribe as you desire, and you'll never even have to leave the comfort of your couch. Although it would sure be nice to see you if I'm passing through your area! Full backlist is also available at both stores.

Signings in Bloomington (Barnes and Noble, June 6) and Indianapolis (Big Hat Books, June 7) will also be fundraisers for the EFRC. More details on those events to come.