Huggins, James Byron 1959–

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Huggins, James Byron 1959–

PERSONAL: Born August 14, 1959; married; wife's name Karen; children: two. Education: Troy State University, B.A., 1981.

ADDRESSES: Home—Decatur, AL. Agent—Whitaker House, 1030 Hunt Valley Circle, New Kensington, PA 15068. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer, journalist, and novelist. Hartselle Enquirer, Hartselle, AL, reporter, c. 1981–85; worked for the Christian Underground of Eastern Europe helping to smuggle information in and out of Iron Curtain countries, first in TX, 1985–87, then Romania, beginning 1987; later returned to U.S. and wrote for a small newspaper and a nonprofit Christian magazine; Huntsville Police Department, Huntsville, AL, uniformed patrolman.

AWARDS, HONORS: Decorated as Field Training Officer, Huntsville Police Department.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

A Wolf Story, Harvest House Publishers (Eugene, OR), 1993.

The Reckoning, Harvest House Publishers (Eugene, OR), 1994.

Leviathan, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1995.

Cain, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.

Hunter, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.

Rora, Lion's Head Publishing (Beverly Hills, CA), 2001.

Nightbringer, Whitaker House (New Kensington, PA), 2004.

The Scam, story by Jay B. Mann, Whitaker House (New Kensington, PA), 2006.

Sorcerer, Whitaker House (New Kensington, PA), 2006.

ADAPTATIONS: The film rights to Cain were bought by Bruce Willis; the film rights to Hunter have been optioned by Sylvester Stallone.

SIDELIGHTS: In his first four novels, James Byron Huggins made leaps from a small Christian press in Oregon to a well-known evangelical publisher in Nashville to a broad-based industry giant in New York City. His first three novels were bestsellers in the Christian market; the fourth was a crossover venture. The first, the 1993 novel A Wolf Story, was deemed "chilling," by Booklist reviewer and religious fiction specialist John Mort. Huggins's subsequent novels have all enjoyed popularity in the Christian fiction market.

The Reckoning, published in 1994, is a tale about an attempt to stop a group of Satanists from obtaining an ancient parchment that gives how-to instructions for installing the Antichrist into power. Its hero, a converted assassin named Gage, must kill again in order to stop the evil forces; thus, he learns that God is someone who demands bloodshed. Mort, writing in Booklist, predicted correctly that the novel was a good choice for this genre's bestseller list. He felt that Gage was "as adept at shedding blood as any character in a Don Pendleton novel" and "more fully realized" than such characters. Moreover, Mort found the evil antagonists in this novel to be genuinely frightening.

Huggins's 1995 thriller Leviathan was referred to by some critics as being in the Michael Crichton or Robin Cook vein, with Christian theology added. The menace referred to in the title is a genetically engineered monster, a Komodo dragon raised to the status of a high-tech weapon. The hero, electrician Jackson Connor, who works on the research project that created the monster, learns of this threat to society and battles it with the help of a scholar-priest named Thor Magnusson. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that "once the action gets up to steam, he takes readers on a merry, entertaining ride." In the Library Journal, Henry Corrigan observed that "in Connor we finally have a character whose goodness is fully drawn and credible."

Huggins again found success with his 1997 crossover novel Cain. The title character, created by Maggie, a CIA scientist, is the embodiment of murder. Cain drinks blood to keep up his strength, and his chosen source as the novel unfolds is Maggie's six-year-old daughter, Amy. Retired commando Colonel James Solomon comes out of retirement to fight Cain; a series of violent events lead to what a Publishers Weekly reviewer called "a gruesome climax in an English seaside castle during a spectacular thunderstorm." This reviewer also praised the fast action and stated that Cain "becomes more entertaining as its events become increasingly incredible." Mort, noting that crossover publication had given Huggins "a freer hand," wrote: "Huggins turns in a suspenseful performance, no question."

Hunter is another fast-paced thriller novel that returns to the theme of a nearly-unstoppable creature created by forbidden government experimentation. In a remote Alaskan research station, illicit and illegal medical experiments have created a highly intelligent, but brutally vicious and bloodthirsty, creature. Using its immense strength and humanlike cunning, the creature rampages through the research stations dotted around the countryside, easily avoiding detection and capture. Embarrassed, terrified, and determined to cover up their mistake, the government dispatches an elite team of commandoes to find and destroy the beast. The team is led by Nathaniel Hunter, a modern mountain man whose keenly honed skills in tracking, hunting, and woodscraft border on the supernatural. As a team of U.S. marshals work to locate the monster and expose the governmental cover-up, Hunter and his colleagues discover that the DNA experiments conducted on the beast give it a rapid-healing ability that makes it all but immortal. With such a ferocious and immoral creature on the loose, they have no choice but to bring it to ground, whatever the cost in lives or destruction. Huggins focuses strongly on the paramilitary aspects of the book, lingering over descriptions of guns, weapons, and ordnance used to pursue the tireless beast. Like Cain, Writing on the Agony Column Web site, reviewer Rick Kleffel commented: "Huggins can clearly write a scene of action well. He does an impressive amount of research on tracking, life in the Alaskan wilderness, even some genetic manipulation. His CIA operatives are sympathetic and believable." The Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded: "This is a feast for gun nuts and pure entertainment for the more dedicated thriller reader."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 15, 1995, John Mort, review of The Reckoning, p. 897; September 1, 1995, John Mort, review of Leviathan, p. 17; June 1, 1997, John Mort, review of Cain, p. 1619.

Entertainment Weekly, October 17, 1997, review of Cain, p. 69.

Library Journal, September 1, 1995, Henry Carrigan, Jr., review of Leviathan, p. 158; August, 1997, Lesley C. Keogh, review of Cain, p. 129; May 1, 1999, Cliff Vlaviano, review of Hunter, p. 128; September 1, 2004, Tamara Butler, review of Nightbringer, p. 132.

Publishers Weekly, September 25, 1995, review of Leviathan, p. 48; June 9, 1997, review of Cain, p. 39; November 30, 1998, review of Hunter, p. 52.

ONLINE

Agony Column, http://trashotron.com/agony/ (October 7, 2006), Rick Kleffel, review of Hunter.

AnnOnline, http://www.annonline.com/ (October 7, 2006), interview with James Byron Huggins.

Best Reviews, http://thebestreviews.com/ (July 9, 2006), Viviane Crystal, review of The Scam.

Christian Fiction Review, http://www.christianfictionreview.com/ (October 7, 2006), reviews of Rora and Nightbringer.

James Byron Huggins Home Page, http://jamesbyronhuggins.net (October 7, 2006).

James Byron Huggins Web log, http://jamesbyronhuggins.blogspot.com (October 7, 2006).

SFSite, http://www.sfsite.com/ (October 7, 2006), Todd Richmond, review of Cain.

WhoDunnit, http://www.who-dunnit.com/ (October 7, 2006), biography of James Byron Huggins.