Guest Post: “The Bantering Partnerships in Literature and Film” by Paul Crilley + Giveaway!

***The giveaway is now over, thanks to everyone who entered!***

department-zeroToday I am thrilled to welcome author Paul Crilley to The BiblioSanctum to talk about his latest novel Department Zero, a science fiction-fantasy adventure mash-up about infinite alternate realities and a secret society of universe-jumping agents, complete with a nice shot of Lovecraftian horror. In case you missed my review I had a blast with the book, my favorite thing about it being the wicked sense of humor to which I attribute the hilarious dialogue and many of the memorable lines. So you can imagine how excited I was to have Paul himself chime in on this very topic, giving us insight into the art of banter! Department Zero is now available wherever books are sold, so be sure to check it out. Happy reading!

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by Paul Crilley

It’s probably no secret by now that I like to have characters throwing banter at each other in my books. Whether it’s Corrigan the piskie and young Emily Snow in my Invisible Order series, Abraxis Wren and Torin the dwarf in my Eberron books, Sebastian Tweed and Octavia Nightingale in the Tweed & Nightingale Adventures, or the dog and Gideon “London” Tau in Poison City.

Give me banter and cool characters any day of the week. So knowing this it shouldn’t come as a surprise when readers find out my newest book, Department Zero, also has two characters who like to insult and throw zingers at each other. (Who’d a thunk it?)

I think it makes the books fun, it fits with the style of novels I write, and of course, I love writing those kinds of conversations. In Department Zero, the two characters are Harry Priest, a divorced dad trying to do right by his daughter while also going through a bit of a slump in his life, and Havelock Graves, the arrogant, annoying, long-winded investigator in the Interstitial Crime Department, (a rather large law enforcement agency that polices the thousands of different multiverses that are out there.)

Below is my contribution to the bantering partnerships in literature and film.


Graves looks at me. “What happened?” he asks.

Should I lie? Say the beetle-armor monster took him out? But s**t, why should I? It wasn’t my fault. The guy appeared from nowhere. With a gun. How was I supposed to know?

“I… kinda shot him. A bit.”

Graves raises an eyebrow. “You shot him?”


“A bit?”

“Well… a lot. He materialized in thin air. Right in front of me. The goddamn spider wall was closing in. I’d just shot a talking monkey with an old man’s face. I was on edge.”

“You were on edge?” repeats Graves. “That’s the excuse you give for murdering one of my top operatives? You were on edge?”

“Come on, man. I’ve had a rough day. Look, I’m sure I’ll feel terrible about it tomorrow. I’ll probably have to go for counselling. I’ll drink myself to sleep every night to try and forget the look on his face when he died. And you know what? That’s something I have to deal with. That’s my burden for what I’ve done. For the life I’ve taken. So I don’t need you on my back as well.”

Graves studies me curiously. “You really mean all that?”

“No,” I say. “The guy was an asshole. I’m sorry I killed him, but he shoulda known goddamn better than to sneak up on someone with a gun. Especially wearing that creepy-ass mask.”


Graves slides in opposite me. I stare at him, shake my head.

“You ruined my life, you know that?”

“That had nothing to do with me. You turned up at the wrong crime scene and your partner stole something that didn’t belong to him.”

“Yeah, well he’s dead, so you’re taking the rap.”

“Whatever makes you feel better.”

I lean forward. “You don’t understand.” I glance surreptitiously around. “Everything’s changed. I can’t sleep. I’m convinced I’m going to turn around and see these… things coming after me. I sit outside my ex-wife’s house all night.”

“Hey now. You can’t pin your stalking on me.”

“I’m not stalking. I’m watching. Protecting my kid. In case any of those… things turn up.”

“It doesn’t work like that.”

“Then how does it work?” I shout. “Because I don’t know!”

“Do you want to know?”

I blink.

“I mean, really want to know? Because… that’s actually why I’m here. To offer you a job.”


“At ICD.”

“Which is?”

Graves winces. “The Interstitial Crime Department.”

“You’re speaking words, but I have no idea what you’re saying.”

“It’s very hard to explain. It’s like… explaining the concept of time travel to an ant.”

“You can time travel?”

“What? No. I…” Graves sighs. The ICD is like your FBI, right? We look into crimes, but on a cosmic scale.”

I shake my head. “Not following.”

Graves sighs in frustration. “Are you familiar with the multiverse theory? That there are an infinite number of universes out there, some with only minor differences. Some with major differences. Like, there could be a dimension identical to this one, except all humans have nine fingers and toes. Or… or where dogs can speak. Or where the nazis won the war. Or where mankind all has telepathy. Or a world totally different. Where magic works and orcs and ogres exist. Where you can live you your Lord of the Rings fantasy. Or another universe where you can travel the starts in solar-powered sails barges, coasting the gases of stars through the infinite voids of space.”

“Poetic. Still don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I think you’re being wilfully stupid.”

“Nothing wilful about it.”

“You said it, idiot. But you get the idea. An infinite number of worlds means and infinite number of crimes. Which is where the Interstitial Crime Department comes in. See… a lot of people know about these shifting realities and you know what people do when they see an opportunity like this?”

“Somehow use it for sex?”

“That’s another department,” says Graves crisply.


And now as a nod to those partnerships that inspired my own writing over the years, I thought I’d list my top three buddy-up partnerships in movies. (Movies, because you don’t really see many in books, and, well, I love movies.)

First up is In Bruges. Do yourself a favor. If you haven’t seen it, rectify this oversight immediately. The film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as Irish hitmen hiding out in the Belgian city of Bruges after a contract killing goes badly wrong. Gleeson is the tired professional, while Farrell (in his best part) is the slightly naïve, terminally depressed protégé. The movie is chock full of brilliant and funny conversations.

Ken: Coming up?
Ray: What’s up there?
Ken: The view.
Ray: The view of what? The view of down here? I can see that down here.
Ken: Ray, you are about the worst tourist in the whole world.
Ray: Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.


Chloë: So what do you do, Raymond?
Ray: I… shoot people for money.
Chloë: [smiling] What kinds of people?
Ray: Priests, children… you know, the usual.
Chloë: Is there a lot of money to be made in that business?
Ray: There is for priests. There isn’t for children. So what is it you do, Chloë?
Chloë: I sell cocaine and heroin to Belgian film crews.
Ray: Do you?
Chloë: Do I look like I do?
Ray: You do, actually. Do I… look like I shoot people?
Chloë: No. Just children.

Next up is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Shane Black’s little known black comedy, detective-noir thriller. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is probably my second favorite film, mainly because of the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer. Robert Downey Jr is Harry Lockheart, a thief who’s mistaken for an actor and is flown to LA where he has to take detective lessons from “Gay Perry”. Of course, things do not go to plan and they get embroiled in a pretty complex little mystery.

Perry: We gotta move her somewhere. You got gloves?
Harry: Excuse me?
Perry: Gloves. Do you have gloves? You have to move her. If it’s a frame-up, some asshole’s probably calling the cops on you right now. Do this: wrap up the body in a blanket, a sheet, anything.
Harry: Okay, any particular kind of gloves?
Perry: Yes, fawn. Will you f***ing hurry!
Harry: Perry?
Perry: Yeah?
Harry: I peed on it.
Perry: What? You peed on what?
Harry: I peed on the corpse. Can they do, like, ID from that?
Perry: I’m sorry, you peed on…?
Harry: On the corpse. My question is…
Perry: No, my question, I get to go first: Why in pluperfect hell would you pee on a corpse?
Harry: I didn’t intend to! It’s not like I did it for kicks!


Harry: Do you think I’m stupid?
Perry: I don’t think you’d know where to put food at, if you didn’t flap your mouth so much. Yes I think you’re stupid.


Perry: Look up idiot in the dictionary and you know what you’ll find?
Harry: A… picture of my face?
Perry: No! The definition of the word idiot which you f***ing are!

And of course, my absolute favorite. Pulp Fiction, (Which I kind of reference in the opening chapter of Department Zero.), the noir, black comedy crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Pulp Fiction deals with various intersecting stories dealing with LA mobsters, small time hoods, hitmen, boxers on the run and a briefcase that may contain a human soul (or possibly just the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs.)

But the best two-piece partnership ever comes from the two hitmen. John Travolta’s Vincent Vega and Samuel L Jackson’s Jules Winnfield. Below are three quotes. I could have kept going, but it’s kind of hard to find ones that aren’t all swearing.

Vincent: And you know what they call a… a… a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?
Vincent: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn’t know what the f**k a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: Then what do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a Royale with cheese.
Jules: A Royale with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: Well, a Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it le Big-Mac.
Jules: Le Big-Mac. Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Whopper?
Vincent: I dunno, I didn’t go into Burger King.


Vincent: Want some bacon?
Jules: No man, I don’t eat pork.
Vincent: Are you Jewish?
Jules: Nah, I ain’t Jewish, I just don’t dig on swine, that’s all.
Vincent: Why not?
Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy mother***er. Pigs sleep and root in s**t. That’s a filthy animal. I ain’t eat nothin’ that ain’t got sense enough to disregard its own feces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
Jules: I don’t eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy but they’re definitely dirty. But, a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we’d have to be talkin’ about one charming mother***in’ pig. I mean he’d have to be ten times more charmin’ than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I’m sayin’?


Jules: This was Divine Intervention! You know what “divine intervention” is?
Vincent: Yeah, I think so. That means God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets.
Jules: Yeah, man, that’s what it means. That’s exactly what it means! God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets.
Vincent: I think we should be going now.
Jules: Don’t do that! Don’t you f***ing do that! Don’t blow this shit off! What just happened was a f***ing miracle!
Vincent: Chill the f**k out, Jules, this s**t happens.
Jules: Wrong! Wrong, this s**t doesn’t just happen.
Vincent: Do you wanna continue this theological discussion in the car, or at the jailhouse with the cops?
Jules: We should be f***in’ dead now, my friend! We just witnessed a miracle, and I want you to f***ing acknowledge it!
Vincent: Okay man, it was a miracle, can we leave now?

So there you have it. When people say my books read like movies it’s probably because I do write a lot of them as if they were movies. I’m a screenwriter by trade, so it’s just natural that kind of style would slip in to my prose as well.

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paul-crilleyABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Crilley is a Scotsman living in South Africa. He wrote The Invisible Order series for Egmont USA and The Adventures of Tweed & Nightingale for PYR. He also wrote the award-winning detective novels The Abraxis Wren Chronicles for Wizards of the Coast.

Paul also writes computer games, and worked on the Bioware/Lucasarts MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, and also worked for Disney on Armies of Magic.

On the comics front, Paul adapted his Eberron detective duo Abraxis Wren and Torin for IDW Publishing, and he recently planned out and wrote three issues of their six-issue crossocver series, X-Files: Conspiracy.

Paul is also a scriptwriter and has written over a hundred hours of television, ranging from drama, sitcoms, and crime thrillers to children’s shows.

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Department Zero Giveaway


Interested in checking out this book? Here’s your chance to win a copy of your very own! With thanks to the publisher, The BiblioSanctum has two print copies of Department Zero up for grabs! This giveaway is open to addresses in the US and Canada. To enter, all you have to do is send an email to with your Name and valid Mailing Address using the subject line “DEPARTMENT ZERO” by 11:59pm Eastern time on Friday, February 3, 2017. 

Only one entry per household, please. Two winners will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and then be notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winners and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all entry emails will be deleted.

So what are you waiting for? Enter to win! Good luck!

9 Comments on “Guest Post: “The Bantering Partnerships in Literature and Film” by Paul Crilley + Giveaway!”

  1. Great feature and now I’m even more excited to read this book. I ended up ordering Poison City from Book Depository because I couldn’t get it here in the states and still need to read it because I need to find out more about the alcoholic talking dog. I bet I’ll love this new book as well.


  2. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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