Strange Country


Coming soon: The third novel in a stunning “rural fantasy” series

The third novel in the sequence that includes Wide Open and Deep Down, Strange Country will be published on May 27, 2014.

In Strange Country, Hallie is settling into life in Taylor County, South Dakota. She’s survived a trip to the underworld and she has a ranch to run, and she’s waiting, not very patiently, for the other shoe to drop. Death will return. He always does. And Hallie knows that this time could be the final meeting she dreads.

Meanwhile, deputy Boyd Davies gets a late night call to investigate a prowler. An hour later, a woman is dead, shot and killed by a bullet from a high-powered rifle. It soon becomes clear that the killing is far from over, that ever small town has its secrets, and that Taylor County’s secrets are stranger than most.

Coming home isn’t easy. When you combine your home coming with harbingers, ghosts, strange magic and Death, it can be downright deadly.

Deep Down


Out Now!        

Death stalks the haunted, windswept prairie in this chilling sequel to Wide Open.

Now that she’s solved her sister’s murder, Hallie Michaels has left the army and isn’t sure what to do next. Her relationship with deputy Boyd Davies is tentative, there’s still distance between her and her father, and she needs a job. The good news is, she hasn’t seen a ghost in weeks.

It turns out, though, that ghosts aren’t the only things haunting Hallie.  Or Boyd either, for that matter.  When she’s asked to help a neighbor who’s being stalked by black dogs, Hallie finds that everything’s connected, it all has consequences and the past never really dies.

Stalked by a reaper and plagued by dark visions, Hallie finds she must face her fears and travel into Death’s own realm to save everyone she loves.

Deep Down is available now.  You can order it here or here or buy it at your favorite bookstore.


The Book Smugglers


Above all, I adore the series’ protagonist, Hallie. I love her arc and I love her resolution and fierceness. She is taciturn (like many of the characters in the series) and often hasty but never stupid. I appreciate how her arc was about choice and about coming to understand her place in the world…Read the rest here.

Publisher’s Weekly


Serial killings and macabre motives are the order of the day in this solid third adventure (after Wide Open and Deep Down) featuring psychic Hallie Michaels, whose return from the land of the dead has opened her life up to a plethora of supernatural incursions… Read the rest here.

Strange Country is out today

Strange CountryMy third novel, Strange Country, is on bookstore shelves today.

Here’s the description:

After facing Death himself and banishing a reaper bent on the destruction of Sheriff’s deputy Boyd Davies, Hallie Michaels had hoped things would finally settle down; that she and Boyd would find more time to spend together, and that the ghosts she attracts would stay in the cemeteries where they belong.

But on a wintry night in mid-December, a woman is murdered with a high-powered rifle. Not long after, another of West Prairie City’s citizens is killed in exactly the same way, drawing the attention of state investigators. But the connection between the victims is not easily uncovered.

Meanwhile, Hallie finds a note tied to post outside her home. “What do you fear most?” it asks, accompanied by a set of map coordinates. Over the next few days she receives an anonymous phone call, and a letter left for Hallie at the local ag supply. All pose the same question and offer the same set of coordinates. The mystery deepens, and Hallie must solve it before the body count rises again, in Strange Country by Deborah Coates.


What I’ll say: Strange Country is about Hallie and Boyd, about a killer, about the past and the present, about dogs, both supernatural and non-, about place and family and friends and community, about figuring out what you want and about holding onto it.

I hope it sounds like something you’d like to buy. But more than that I hope it sounds like something you’d enjoy.

Deep Down Out in Paperback

Deep Down cover


Deep Down, the second book in my three book contemporary fantasy series set in western South Dakota, came out in trade paperback on February 11th.

About the story:

All that changes when she gets a call asking her to help an elderly neighbor who is being stalked by black dogs, creatures from the underworld that are harbingers of death. When a black dog appears, Hallie learns, a reaper is sure to follow. And if the dark visions she’s suddenly receiving are any indication, it looks like the reaper is now following her.

Meanwhile, strange events herald the arrival of ghosts from Boyd’s past, ghosts the young deputy isn’t ready to face. Refusing Hallie’s help, Boyd takes off to deal with the problem on his own, only to find that he’s facing something much larger and more frightening than he’d imagined.

Stalked by a reaper and plagued by dark visions, Hallie finds she must face her fears and travel into Death’s own realm to save those she most loves.

What other people say:

 From The Gazette:

This may sound like a fantasy thriller — and it is — but it’s also a story about  the sense of community and steadfastness present in the Midwest. When Hallie finds herself caught in a riddle, she turns to a neighbor. When she’s facing down an angry ghost, the county sheriff stands by her, even though he has no  idea what’s happening. In times of trouble, we turn to one another and show our true (and hopefully best) selves. Coates captures this beautifully.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

Supernatural-sensitive Hallie Michaels returns for a thrill-packed adventure in this solid follow-up to Wide Open.


With Hallie Michaels, Coates has given us an interesting character with a compelling voice. The friendship between her and Boyd Davies—the developing relationship—feels real, honest, textured. Nuanced, the way real relationships are. Her interaction with the supernatural is a combination of eerie and well, shit matter-of-fact. I particularly enjoyed the fact that one of the black dogs just decides to follow Hallie around. Because it thinks she’s interesting.

 To buy:


Billie (February 26, 2001-June 4, 2013)

Billie B&WThe bad stuff: Billie had been having real problems getting around the last week and a half.  I thought it was a reaction to the antibiotics she’d been on for a UTI but when I came home on Tuesday she was lethargic, not really unconscious, but not able to rouse and her rear legs were cold.  Called the vet, they said bring her in.  There was a mass, which, on ultrasound looked like it was not on her spleen, but was, nevertheless, clearly Not Right, her liver didn’t look good, she still wouldn’t really rouse up, and her front feet as well as her rear were now cold.

She was twelve.  She had a lot of issues.  I opted not to do exploratory surgery and let her go.

Billie rachel VIThe slightly less bad stuff: I asked them to do an autopsy and they found that the mass was indeed on the spleen, just oddly positioned and her liver was, to quote her vet, a mess.  There wasn’t one nodule that wasn’t compromised in some way. Some sort of fast developing cancer, possibly hemangiosarcoma.  I feel lucky, in a way, that she was as good as she was for as long as she was, that I did the right thing for her, that I got to say goodbye and all those things you hope you get to do.  She was an awesome dog and I had her a long time and I miss her.

The good stuff:  I lost Riley (my very first Rottweiler) in August, 1999 and for awhile there was just me and John Henry, but I knew I wanted another dog eventually and when Ruth Vogel told me she was planning a litter, I knew I wanted one of those puppies.  There were nine puppies in the litter and I remember that I kept looking for a puppy that would be just like Riley until I realized that there would never be a puppy just like Riley, so I let Ruth pick my puppy.  And I didn’t know for sure until the day before I picked her up that Billie (who, of course, didn’t have a name yet though we called her ‘Dot’ or ‘the dotted ribbon girl’ because of the dotted ribbon around her neck to tell her from the other puppies) would be my girl.

the I litter


This was the ‘I’ litter and Billie’s full registered name is Vogelhaus I’m A Charmer or Charming Billie or Billie.  And she was, always, a charmer (at least in my opinion).  She and John Henry got along well in that loud way that Rottweilers get along.

Billie and John Henry


She was little by Rottweiler standards and would always be little.

Billie yard Billie yard III






But mighty.






At least in her own mind.



Billie TD



She had one of the best noses of any of my dogs, but also one of the most difficult to read so that when she finally got her TD in Omaha, it was a BIG deal.




She had idiopathic seizures from the time she was four and a half and for seven and a half years she was on phenobarb and potassium bromide.  These drugs helped but in the beginning she had a pattern of being fairly well controlled and then having breakthrough seizures that got closer and closer together until we upped the dosage and would go through it again.  I was terribly afraid we’d reach a point where we couldn’t increase the dosage any more and there would be nothing to be done.  Fortunately, before that point we tried acupuncture, which helped tremendously.

A little over six years ago, the Ames hospital started a pet therapy program so Billie got her TDI and we started visiting and kept visiting nearly every week right up until two weeks ago.  She was especially fond of depressed teenaged girls, but, really, I’m pretty sure she believed that people came to the hospital not because they were sick, but to see her.

Billie sad photoShe was an incredibly hard dog to take a picture of.  This is a typical sad Billie picture full of sadness because the world is sad and why are you taking my picture.



Billie rachel III Billie rachel IV



Luckily for me, Rachel Ritland managed to take some lovely pictures of Billie back in 2010 and I’m grateful that I have them to remember her by.billie

I’m also tremendously grateful to Dr. Safris and Dr. Paulin and their staff at Westfield Veterinary and to Dr. Farr at Natural Solutions.  And, finally, thank you to Ruth for giving me this wonderful girl.  I couldn’t have asked for a better companion.

Short Stories

Slide1Thanks to a helpful cover-making tutorial from Jenn Reese (she actually did the great cover for Cowgirls in Space a while back) I’ve put some of my short stories up as ebooks.  In particular, this includes some of the stories I originally published in Asimov’s and that aren’t available elsewhere.  One or two of them might, possibly, if you look, also be available out on the Internets.  Some of them, however, have never been reprinted anywhere.

If you want them nicely formatted for your Kindle or Nook with covers and no DRM, well, now you can have them.

The stories are:

Cowgirls In Space (Amazon/B&N)
They called themselves the Junkyard Girls, used to ride drill team in the summer parades all over Nebraska. One hot July day in the back of the junkyard where they practiced, Big Patti found a Thing. The Junkyard Girls–and the world–would never be the same….

46 Directions, None Of Them North (with bonus story, Flyboy) (Amazon/B&N)
Aliens are landing in Fairbanks, Alaska on June 21st. One lone high school student knows it’s going to happen because–text messages on her cell phone, duh! She’s determined to get there. Somehow. Best friend? Boy friend? Dad? Mom??? Someone’s going to help her, aren’t they?

Magic In A Certain Slant Of Light (Amazon/B&N)
Nora knows science. She knows what’s going to happen before it happens. She knows that Jeff will leave her and she doesn’t know what to do about it.

Chainsaw On Hand (Amazon/B&N)
Chelly used to think she knew her ex-husband Bobby better than anyone. She used to think he knew her. But that was before he started seeing angels. Or maybe fairies. Or really handsome trolls. Now she has to figure out what it means to live in South Dakota in the winter with a chainsaw on hand.

The Whale’s Lover (Amazon/B&N)
Tish has come to the end of the universe to hunt the leviathan. She’s come to escape her past. On Pretoria, in the middle of a vast and endless ocean, it turns out the one thing you can’t escape is yourself. And when you call the leviathan, sometimes the leviathan is calling you.

How To Hide Your Heart (Amazon/B&N)
Max hunts nightmare Things in the dark and mostly alone. Then, he meets Beth who’s too skinny and too shy and no one ever notices her. Beth knows about Things. She doesn’t want to. She pretends she doesn’t. But both Max and Beth know that sometimes you have to do what needs to be done. And sometimes you don’t have to do it alone.

What Makes A River (Amazon/B&N), a sequel to How To Hide Your Heart, is also available as an ebook from Tor.


Sunday At The Dog Park

Blue and I went to the dog park this morning.

It was pretty empty.

Blue at the parkDog park

But not as muddy as it could have been. Blue did some running.

Blue running20130505_091852

Then he found a hole.  There could be something down there!

A hole Blue digs

Dig, Blue, dig!  But alas, it’s just a hole.

more Blue and holejust a hole


We visited the memorials.

dog memorial

And looked at the graveyard (Note: not a graveyard for dogs).


Blue could not figure out what this crazy thing was.  Water came out!  A guy could get wet!

water fountain

And then it was time to go.  Good day at the dog park.

going home