The Authors From The Witch Who Came in From the Cold Talk Crime Fiction

The Witch Who Came in From the Cold is the fantasy-espionage thriller from Serial Box. This serial is collaboratively written and available in text and audio via, their iOS app, and all major ebook retailers. Lead by foreign-affairs expert Lindsay Smith (Sekret) and Urban Fantasy-pioneer Max Gladstone (Three Parts Dead), this season’s author team is rounded out by Cassandra Rose Clark (Our Lady of the Ice), Ian Tregillis (The Milkweed Triptych), and Nebula-nominated Fran Wilde (Updraft).

We asked the authors to tell us a little about how they got into crime fiction and what really stuck out for them as their favorite aspect of the genre. Read their answers below, and then make sure to sign in and comment at the bottom for your chance to win the entire 1st season of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold!

Ian Tregillis
Ian: Back when I was in the early planning stages for my novel Something More Than Night, I decided that one particular character in the story would speak like a gumshoe straight from the pulps of the 1930s. It started out as a lark but also as a way to challenge myself. In order to make it work, I had to not only read, but also actively study the works of the masters—foremost among them Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

Which is how I discovered how much I love—truly adore—the language of the hardboiled keyhole-peeper. The self-imposed homework assignment introduced me to a literature that I didn't merely tolerate or appreciate, but one which I actively devoured. Perhaps as they have for many readers, the noir greats introduced me to a slang so rich, so beautiful, so deadly sharp it could only be poetry. The use of language in the noir classics is, for me, the shining brilliance of the genre. And it makes me ache with envy.

As a reader, I'm usually not particularly forgiving of novels typified by very limited characterizations and what might be called “Lego brick” plotting (even, or perhaps particularly, when I commit those sins myself). But once Philip Marlowe gets on a roll, I could listen to him for hours.

Cassandra Rose
Cassandra: The first time I watched The Big Lebowski, I had no idea what I was looking at. The movie felt like a mishmash of references to early '90s politics, bowling, cowboys, and profanity. But I was in college, so I loved it anyway. In fact, I even had a trio of friends who looked like the Dude, Donny, and Walter and who would sit around on their ratty old couch and quote entire scenes of the movie from memory.

Now, fast forward a few years. I had decided to read Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. I was perhaps halfway through the book—the first Chandler novel I’d ever read—when it hit me like a Chandlerian metaphor: The Big Lebowski is a parody of Raymond Chandler. Well, a parody and a pastiche, really.

Chandler’s Marlowe is thrown into a situation he doesn’t understand; so is the Dude. Marlowe moves episodically through his investigation and slowly learns that things are more complex than he thought; the Dude just wanted his rug back and yet winds up involved with a kidnapping, nihilists, and a feminist femme fatale.

As I read The Big Sleep, it occurred to me that The Big Lebowski wasn’t the random mishmash that I always thought it was. All those random pieces suddenly seemed to fit together, a pattern of absurdity that could only be clarified by Raymond Chandler and his hard-drinking, tough-talking, poetry-reading private eye.

Lindsay Smith
Lindsay: Guy Ritchie’s British crime movies are like comfort food for me. Weird and wonderful characters getting in over their heads has a wonderful way of putting everything into perspective. While Snatch is probably his most popular film, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is the indie darling, my favorite is Rocknrolla.

Rocknrolla’s plotline is completely incomprehensible outside of that halcyon bubble of the mid-2000s, when real estate was climbing up the cliff and Russian oligarchs hadn’t yet found the end of their leash to Putin. And yet, that’s what I love about it. Gerard Butler and Idris Elba are decent-if-not-wholly-competent criminals out to make somewhat honest livings; Tom Wilkinson is a delightfully snaky don; Thandie Newton makes architectural sport of cold-bloodedness; and Mark Strong beautifully subverts the stodgy consigliere role, all in a painfully stylish, heavily filtered, sweet and dark and hilarious snapshot of a time that quickly wasn’t. 

Fran Wilde
Fran: I've been fascinated with invisible ink since we experimented with lemon juice and heat in grade school. The idea that something could both be there and not there simultaneously stuck with me, and it eventually led to invisible coded messages passed between my friends with much merriment—and detention.

Eventually, steganography (the practice of concealing a message within another message) fascinated me in fiction as it had in fact, and I used a game to transmit messages throughout my second novel, Cloudbound. Meantime, invisibility had become a plot element in my first novel, Updraft, as something that was both there and not there. Passing messages and codes using techniques invisible to most had to wait for my guest stint on The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, however!

Listen to an audio excerpt from Season 2 of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold!

Comment below for a chance to win the entire 1st season of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold!

To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

The Witch Who Came in From the Cold Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) February 15, 2017. Sweepstakes ends 4:29 p.m. ET March 1, 2017. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Lindsay Smith is the author of the YA espionage thrillers SekretSkandal, and Dreamstrider, all from Macmillan Children's. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and dog, where she writes on international issues in cyber security. @LindsaySmithDC.

Max Gladstone has been thrown from a horse in Mongolia, drank almond milk with monks on Wudang Shan, and wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat. Max is also the author of the Craft Sequence of books about undead gods and skeletal law wizards—Full Fathom FiveThree Parts DeadTwo Serpents Rise, and Last First Snow. Max fools everyone by actually writing novels in the coffee shops of Davis Square in Somerville, MA. His dreams are much nicer than you’d expect. @maxgladstone.

Cassandra Rose Clarke grew up in south Texas and currently lives in a suburb of Houston, where she writes and teaches composition at a pair of local colleges. She holds an M.A. in creative writing from The University of Texas at Austin, and in 2010 she attended the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle. Her work has been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award and YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her latest novel is Our Lady of the Ice, out now from Saga Press. @mitochondrial.

IanTregillis is the son of a bearded mountebank and a discredited tarot card reader. He is the author of the Milkweed Triptych, Something More than Night, and the Alchemy Wars trilogy. His most current novel is The Rising (Alchemy Wars #2). His short fiction has appeared at numerous venues including, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Popular Science. He lives in New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists, and other disreputable types. @ITregillis.

Fran Wilde’s work includes the Andre Norton- and Compton Crook Award-winning and Nebula-nominated novel Updraft (Tor, 2015) and its sequels, Cloudbound and Horizon, as well as the novella The Jewel and Her Lapidary ( 2016). Her short stories appear in Asimov’s,, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Nature. She writes for publications including The Washington Post,, Clarkesworld, and @fran_wilde.


  1. James Joyce

    That sounds amazing! “Spies and sorcerers face off during the Cold War”!

    And I’ve never heard of it. It makes me think of a kind of old movie spy serial, with magic. Cool.


    Never Heard of this, but now I am dying to get my hands on it! Sounds great!

  3. Gordon Bingham

    Wonder if they vould get Vic Flick to play the theme song for this? Or is that too “Bondish?”

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  5. John Smith

    Alas, I have not seen the complete oeuvre of M. Ritchie.

  6. L

    A pulp fiction revival. Love it.

  7. Sabine

    This sounds interesting!

  8. Deb Philippon

    I’d find this an interesting read. Wish me luck!

  9. John Quiring

    Sounds cool, count me in!

  10. Michael Carter

    Looks great!
    Please enter me in this sweepstakes.
    Thanks —

  11. pearl berger

    This captivating and intriguing. Thanks.

  12. Deborah Dumm

    Sounds amazing!

  13. Susanne Troop

    Sounds great!

  14. Susanne Troop

    Sounds great!

  15. Caren Luckie

    This sounds great. It’s going on my to read list!

  16. Caren Luckie

    This sounds great. It’s going on my to read list!

  17. susan beamon

    Sounds interesting. I’d like a real copy of the story.

  18. thegriffin

    Please accept my entry into this book contest.
    Thank you.

  19. Sharon Haas

    This sounds like serious fun!

  20. Jeffrey Malis

    Intriguing… Looking forward to learning more. Thank you for the entry opportunity!

  21. Jeffrey Malis

    Intriguing… Looking forward to learning more. Thank you for the entry opportunity!

  22. Michael Bates

    Sounds enticing. Looking forward to it.

  23. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  24. Gwen Ellington

    Fantasy & mystery! Wow!!

  25. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read the book.

  26. Susan C

    Very intriguing, indeed!

  27. Cheryl Greenleaf


  28. Clydia DeFreese

    A real copy of the book would be great. I don’t use all those other venues. I am OLD fashioned….most people just say OLD….Thanks…

  29. Alice

    Why have I never heard of this before? Want! Please!!!

  30. Theresa

    this sounds really good! would love to win this!!
    thank you!

  31. Linda A

    Rocknrolla & The Big Lebowski–favorites in my house.

  32. lindawwww

    What a great series! Thanks for the chance to winh.

  33. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    Spies for me! Yes!

  34. bill norris

    i so wanna see this, it sounds awesome.

  35. Jeana

    Sounds interesting.

  36. jac

    This sounds like the break I need in my usual reads. Refreshing! Please enter me.

  37. julie hedrick

    Want to win. 🙂

  38. Lisa Garrett

    As a child, I too was fascinated by invisible ink!

  39. Fmmarshall

    Sounds like great fun to get a story in serial form!

  40. Frances Marshall

    Sounds like fun!

  41. Laurent Latulippe

    Looking forward to eploring this.

  42. Joyce Mitchell

    Thanks for the chance to win.

  43. Don McClure

    I like the cover

  44. L Peters

    sounds like a great series – can’t wait to hear it. thanks

  45. L Peters

    sounds like a great series – can’t wait to hear it. thanks

  46. Catherine Myers

    I agree with Lindsay the British crime and for me mysteries are like comfort food.

  47. Lisa Richardson

    Why have I not heard of this before? I would love to win!!!

  48. elsie321

    Great series, thank you for the opportunity to win.

  49. Ellen

    Fantasy and crime is a fun conbination.

  50. vicki wurgler

    espionage thriller read -that sounds good

  51. ellie lewis

    What a great combo and fascinating giveaway.

  52. Kyle Johnicker

    Cool idea!

  53. Patrick Murphy

    Not my typical read, but worth checking out

  54. JoAnn Tyler

    I would LOVE to win this!!!!

  55. John Monahan

    Sounds like a lot of fun. I’d love to get this.


    Sounds Very interesting!

  57. Rebeccab

    This sounds interesting. I have not heard of it but I am going to put it on my list.

  58. Mary Ann Woods

    A fantasy-espionage thriller…what an interesting combination! Would love to read it.

  59. Daniel Morrell

    sounds like a fun one

  60. Anastasia

    I’ve love to give this a read 🙂

  61. Portia Asher

    Sounds like a fun read. Please enter me in the sweepstakes.
    Thank you.

  62. fritter

    Sounds great. Please enter me into the contest.

  63. Jeffrey Raiffe

    This looks like a thrilling book to read.

  64. Kim Johnston

    Thank you for the lovely opportunity.

  65. zarah

    I always appreciate a look inside an authors mind.

  66. Angie Simmonds

    I love espionage thrillers!

  67. Pamela Musialak

    I want this book, hope I get it 🙂

Comments are closed.