Author Interview: Devin Madson

Today I am interviewing Devin Madson, author of the new fantasy novel, We Ride the Storm, first book in The Reborn Empire series. 

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DJ: Hi Devin! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Devin Madson: : I’m an Australian epic fantasy author… as in I’m from Australia not that I write epic fantasy about Australia. Honestly, I don’t think I could out-fantasy the animals we already have here. I self-published my first book in 2013 and was picked up by Orbit in 2019, I work a stupidly obsessive amount, love video games but never have time to play, love plants but never have time to garden, love doing jigsaws but… well, you get the idea.

DJ: What is We Ride the Storm about?

Devin: We Ride the Storm is the story of an empire built by war being brought down by war, crushed beneath its history of division and inherited hurts. We follow three different point-of-view characters, one from each of the three cultures clashing here. A snarky assassin with a voice in her head she can’t escape, an honourable warrior trying to hold on to his tenets while being forced to fight in a foreign war, and an ambitious princess who wants to rule the empire in her own right whatever the cost. There’s a lot of intrigue, tense battles, trippy necromancy, respectful head severing, tea, and my favourite of all – disaster humans.

DJ: What were some of your influences We Ride the Storm and the series? 

Devin: We Ride the Storm is the continuation of a generational story I started in my novella, In Shadows We Fall, and then continued on through The Vengeance Trilogy (also being re-released by Orbit and will be available early August). So while I deliberately wrote them to be read in any order, it means there wasn’t as much unique inspiration for this story. When I first started writing in this world, the story I wanted to tell informed much of the world building, but now the world and its history informs the stories I want to tell.

The world itself has lots of inspirational sources as it’s been growing slowly in my mind and in my books, trunked and finished, for more than ten years. The magic system came from listening to my aunt talk about the past lives she’d been regressed through, a lot of the world history is inspired by little bits of our own history, and the whole Levanti culture was born from the original first line of the book because I’m that much of a pantser. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Timothy Zahn

Today I am interviewing Timothy Zahn, author of the new space opera novel, Queen, final book in The Sibyl’s War trilogy. 

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DJ: Hi Timothy! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Timothy: I’ve been writing full-time for the past forty years, with 58 novels and over a hundred short stories published. I’m best known for my 13 Star Wars books (beginning in 1991 with Heir to the Empire), but have several other series to my name, including the Cobra, Dragonback, and Quadrail series and the Blackcollar and Conquerors trilogies. 

DJ: What is Queen and then The Sibyl’s War trilogy about?

Timothy: A young woman, Nicole Hammond is snatched from the streets of Philadelphia and taken aboard a giant spaceship, the Fyrantha, to help with the (mostly human) crews that are repairing it. Nicole is a “Sibyl,” which means that with the aid of a special inhaler she can telepathically hear the ship tell her crew what needs to be repaired. One day, she happens upon a large terraformed chamber and two groups of different aliens, intent on killing each other. Against her better judgment she begins to investigate the Fyrantha’s secrets.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Sibyl’s War trilogy

Timothy: Nothing in particular, though I read a lot of SF in my youth and so there are undoubtedly a lot of subconscious influences from those books and authors. Mostly it was to be a combination of puzzle-box, space opera, and redemption arc. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Scott Coon

Today I am interviewing Scott Coon, an accomplished short story writer and author of the new science-fiction novel, Lost Helix. 

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DJ: Hi Scott! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Scott Coon: Hello, DJ. Thank you for having me. Though Lost Helix is my first published novel, I have had several short stories published. Bewildering Stories recently featured “The Loneliest Advertisement Bot” and have published a few other stories over the years. My work is often influenced by my career as a computer programmer and also by my six years as intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army. Both played a role in Lost Helix.

DJ: What is Lost Helix about?

Scott: Growing up in a space station, DJ dreams of writing music but he can’t make a living on it, not in the Stone River Asteroid Belt. Thanks to company’s never-ending contracts and impossible to afford transit, leaving isn’t an option. DJ expects to end up working for Black Mountain, just like his dad and everyone else. When his father goes missing, DJ finds an encrypted file and other evidence that his dad was a hacker in the company’s secret war of industrial sabotage, sometimes claiming lives to knock competitors off the most valuable asteroids. To recover the evidence, the company sends a lifelong family friend, Agent Coreman. DJ is forced to make a run for it, hoping to find justice and maybe his dad.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Lost Helix

Scott: My ideas often come from asking the question, “Yeah, but what next?”  Terraforming is a recurring concept in science fiction, like in James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes, but what happens when the planet is done? How does humanity go about populating it? The world of Lost Helix is my answer to that question. Another source of inspiration was the video game Sid Meier’s Civilization. Every time I built the domed spaceship bound for Alpha Centauri, I wondered what would become of it after the colonists stripped it for parts and left its remains in orbit. In Lost Helix, I give my science victory colony ships a second life as a farm, feeding the miners of Stone River. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Ferrett Steinmetz

Today I am interviewing Ferrett Steinmetz, author of the new cyberpunk, romance novel, Automatic Reload.

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DJ: Hi Ferrett!! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Ferrett: The marketing department always refers to me as a “quirky” author, which means “I write books that don’t fit into easy categories.”  My Flex series was about a magic caused by obsessions, where if you were truly devoted to your cats, you would become a magnificent felimancer – master of cat magic!  Except you wouldn’t want to rule the world, you’d just want to take care of your ever-growing hoard of kittens.

Then I wrote The Sol Majestic, which is a space opera about a restaurant – there are no warships battling, just chefs trying to make soup for the most personal of reasons.  

So my books are a little weird.  

DJ: What is Automatic Reload about?

Ferrett: It is a cyberpunk romance.  Think about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, except they’re both faster-than-human killing machines with PTSD and panic disorder, falling in love while they murder people.  

DJ: What were some of your influences for Automatic Reload

Ferrett: They say that all books are a conversation with each other.  In this case, Automatic Reload is very specifically a word I’m having with K. C. Alexander.  

Don’t worry, though.  It’s a good word. 

See, I read K. C. Alexander’s cyberpunk novel Necrotech, and in it they had a marvelously violent female cyborg who exuded a steady stream of don’t-give-a-fucks.  And because K. C.’s prose is so sharp and evocative, I kept watching their heroine Riko and her artificial limb wake up in garbage-smeared alleyways and lice-filled jailbeds and all manner of disgusting places…

And while I loved following Riko around, I kept asking one question:

When does she field-strip and clean that damn thing?

I mean, Riko kept landing in slimy, gunky situations and her artificial limb never seized up.  And while I was waiting for the scene where Riko had to spend the day oiling and tightening her neglected limb, I started imagining my own “maintenancepunk” novel where I had a guy who did some serious tuning.

So not only is Automatic Reload about cybernetic action, it’s about a realistic cybernetic firefight where you have to worry about degrading weapons loadouts and proper configuration files.   Continue reading

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Author Interview: Louisa Morgan

Today I am interviewing Louisa Morgan, author of the new fantasy novel, The Age of Witches.

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DJ: Hi Louisa! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!  

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Louisa Morgan: Hi, DJ, and thank you so much for inviting me. I’m a former classical singer, which is probably the most curious fact about me. I’m also a mother, a wife, a devoted yogini, and an equally devoted dog lover. My current dog (who I also think of as my spirit familiar) is a handful of a Border Terrier called Oscar. There are pictures of him on my website–he’s the cutest one of the family.

DJ: What is The Age of Witches about?

Louisa: This is always a hard question to answer concisely, because as the author, it’s about so very many things! This novel is set in the Gilded Age, in 1890. It’s about three women with abilities which they use, with varying degrees of success, to try to free themselves from the pre-ordained roles of women of their day. It’s also about a very sweet, very gentle man whose life is as proscribed as those of the female characters. In addition, there’s a hefty dose of herbalism as well as horsemanship (horsewomanship) and a good bit of cultural critique.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Age of Witches

Louisa: As a Downton Abbey devotee, I became fascinated by the wealthy American girls who were more or less sold off to obtain noble titles. It’s a complex and rather strange history, and I was deeply interested in what became of these girls after the grand marriages and the handover of the dowry. I’m always interested in horses, and herbalism as well, so that came naturally for me. And witches–well. I’m into all things magical. Continue reading

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Author Interview: M.R. Carey

Today I am interviewing M.R. Carey, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Book of Koli, first book in the Rampart trilogy. 

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DJ: Hi M.R.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

M.R. Carey: For sure. I’ve been writing my whole life, but I only started doing it as an actual career back in 2000. Before that it was a hobby, and my day job was teaching English at post-16 and adult education levels.

I started out writing exclusively comic books, because that was where I got my break, but I gradually branched out from there into other forms of writing – novels and short stories, then screenwriting, radio, console games… The last two don’t appear on my resume because I didn’t get on with them all that well.

I always write in genre. My comfort zone stretches from horror through dark fantasy into science fiction. Even when I write comedy, which is very occasionally, there’s always a fantasy element. I have no interest whatsoever in writing what has come to be called literary fiction.

DJ: What is The Book of Koli about?

M.R.: It’s a post-apocalyptic narrative, set a few centuries in the future. Our current world-spanning civilisation has fallen apart for many different reasons. There was resource depletion, which caused resource wars. There was a catastrophic decline in biodiversity. The climate broke down, in spite of our best efforts – and throwing science at the problem mostly made things worse. In trying to make plant species hardier and more resilient, we’ve created forests of killer trees that trap and feed on anything that moves.

As a result of all these crises, the human population has spectacularly declined. The survivors live in small, isolated communities – so small that they’re probably not even genetically viable in the longer term. The level of technology has gone back to something close to a medieval level – except for a few precious pieces of tech salvaged from the old times. The people who wield this tech are known as Ramparts, and the protagonist of the book, Koli Woodsmith, desperately wants to become one. But it’s very much a case of “be careful what you wish for…” Continue reading

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Author Interview: Adrian J. Walker

Today I am interviewing Adrian J. Walker, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Human Son. 

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DJ: Hi Adrian! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Adrian J. Walker: Hi, DJ, thanks for having me! I’m a writer of speculative fiction, British, mid-forties, married with two kids, a dog and two cats. We’ve moved about quite a bit – London, Edinburgh, France, Houston – but we’ve settled in a beautiful part of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The Human Son is my seventh book, and people might know me from my second, The End of the World Running Club.

I also sometimes work writing software, and I love running, forests, hills and guitars.  

DJ: What is The Human Son about?

Adrian: The Human Son is set 500 years in the future on a utopian earth populated by the erta, a small population of beings genetically engineered by humans to fix climate change. Super-intelligent and free from the fears, desires and self-interests of their creators, the erta succeed, but only by first removing one crucial element from the equation — us. 

The story is about how they decide whether or not to resurrect humanity, and this they do by experiment. To gather the data they need, a quiet and clinical atmospheric chemist named Ima (our hero) volunteers to raise a single human child as her own. And as every parent will know, this leads to unexpected results.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Human Son

Adrian: I read a lot of non-fiction in the months before I began writing. Sapiens and Homo Deus by Noah Yuval Harari, for example, gave me the idea for the erta – this kind of perfect development of humanity without all its flaws and with some interesting modifications. The Storms of my Grandchildren by James Hansen and Conscious by Annaka Harris also made an impact on me.

When I’m writing, a lot of my influence comes from music. My soundtrack during The Human Son was a rotation of tracks by artists like A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Eluvium, and Hammock – dark drones and expansive planes of sound to help me build the erta’s strange utopia.

Although that’s not to say the book is dark, by any stretch. There’s a lot of hope and humour in there, most of which comes from Ima’s ever-changing voice.  Continue reading

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Author Interview: Michael Williams

Today I am interviewing Michael Williams, author of the new mythical fiction/magic realism series, the City Quartet. 

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DJ: Hey Michael! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Michael: I’ve been around for a while, starting in the mid-1980s, when I was a ground-floor member of the DRAGONLANCE team.  I wrote the songs for the original Weis/Hickman books in the series, and contributed several novels to the series.  Later on, I published a trilogy for Time/Warner Books, and then a pair of novels, Arcady and Allamanda, released by ROC in the U.S. and Hodder & Stoughton in the U.K.  Arcady received some very favorable notice, being long-listed for the Locus Awards.

More recently, I’ve been publishing with smaller presses, which are more amiable to taking chances with experimental, genre-bending work.  My recent City Quartet are four novels released by Seventh Star Press.

DJ: What is the City Quartet about?

Michael: The City Quartet are four novels, mythic and magical realist (I call the blend “mythical realism”) set in a city that is and is not Louisville, Kentucky. My fictional Louisville is both historical and imaginal, the streets often identifiable as the real, geographical city, but underlaid with magical pockets and side streets, with neighborhoods transformed by myth and mythological patterns.  Four separate stories, one for each novel: a coming-of-age story with ghosts (Trajan’s Arch); a Greek tragedy that the ancient gods revisit (Vine: An Urban Legend); a haunted film festival with a nightmarish, historical secret (Dominic’s Ghosts); a biography of a homeless man who becomes a mythical creature (Tattered Men).  When you read one novel, you follow its principal plot, but the plots of the other novels brush against your vision: you will see an important scene from another book play out as secondary to the story you’re in, and major characters in one book will be minor or even cameo characters in another.  The books stand on their own, but are interwoven across space and time, so that you don’t have to read them in a specific order, and you can enter the world of the quartet through any of them. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Kathe Koja

Today I am interviewing Kathe Koja, author of the new short-fiction collection, Velocities

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DJ: Hi Kathe! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Kathe Koja: Hi, and thanks for the invitation! I’m a writer – working on my 18th book now – and an event creator, putting together creative artists from various disciplines to make immersive events. 

DJ: What is Velocities about?

Kathe: Velocities is my second fiction collection, bringing together stories I chose that seemed to have a similar feeling, or mood, or attitude. It wasn’t a strict or even really conscious process, more like arranging a bouquet of strange flowers than assembling a construct.

DJ: What were some of the inspirations behind Velocities

Kathe: I’ve written a lot of short stories. And my last collection, Extremities, came out quite awhile ago. And I had two unpublished stories I wanted to share, so  . . . It was the right time to put together a new collection. 

DJ: What kinds of stories can readers expect in the anthology?

Kathe: There are straight-up horror stories here, there are historical stories, there are totally unclassifiable stories. But all of them offer a reader a moment of connection with a character. All my fiction, stories and novels, begins always with a character. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Jon Skovron

Today I am interviewing Jon Skovron, author of the new fantasy novel, The Ranger of Marzanna, first book in The Goddess War trilogy.

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DJ: Hi Jon! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Jon Skovron: Hi DJ! I live just outside Washington DC with my two teenagers and two cats. My first novel was published way back in 2009. It was a YA novel from Amulet called Struts & Frets. I went on to write three other YA novels before deciding to switch to writing “adult” novels. Well, not really deciding, I guess. I just started writing it and after about six chapters realized it was not YA. That ended up becoming Hope and Red, my debut adult fantasy novel, and the first book of the Empire of Storms trilogy from Orbit Books, which was completed back in I think 2017? Or thereabouts. My editor wanted me to release them nine months apart, so that whole period in my life is a little bit of a blur… 

DJ: What is The Ranger of Marzanna about?

Jon: The Ranger of Marzanna is set in a wintery fantasy landscape inspired largely by my ancestral Poland and Czarist Russia. It’s a land that was conquered two decades before by a vast empire. Those who tried to stop the empire from their conquest, the fabled and mysterious Rangers of Marzanna, were nearly exterminated in the aftermath. Only one elderly Ranger managed to escape the purge but he manages to pass on his mystical secrets to a young woman named Sonya. When Sonya’s father is murdered by the empire, she resolves not merely to get revenge, but to liberate her people from the empire. Unfortunately, her younger brother Sebastian, a profoundly gifted wizard, becomes enthralled by the charismatic imperial commander and decides to join the empire instead, setting the siblings on a collision course that gets very messy indeed.  Continue reading

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