Author Interview: Curtis C. Chen

Today I am interviewing Curtis C. Chen, author of Kangaroo Too, the second novel in the Kangaroo series of science fiction spy thrillers.

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

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

Curtis C. Chen: Hi DJ, thanks for inviting me! I’m a freelance writer living near Portland, Oregon. My first short fiction was published in 2006, and my first novel (Waypoint Kangaroo) in 2016. I’m a former software engineer and one of the co-founders of Puzzled Pint, a free event that happens in over 40 locations around the world every month.

DJ: What is Kangaroo Too about?

Curtis: It’s about 300 pages long. (rimshot) I’m telling that joke as an example of the dumb jokes you can expect throughout the book, because that’s the kind of person Kangaroo is. There are also spaceships, robots, future spy tech, secrets, lies, and betrayals. Fun for the whole family!

DJ: What were some of your influences for Kangaroo Too and the Kangaroo series?

Curtis: One obvious touchstone is James Bond (007), though I very consciously wanted to subvert a lot of spy fiction tropes. And I’m a lifelong Star Trek fan, but I wanted a more grounded science fiction setting for Kangaroo. Yes, there are spaceships, but they don’t go faster than light; no, we haven’t met any aliens, and we kind of have our hands full dealing with other humans. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Nicole Galland

Today I am interviewing Nicole Galland, co-author of the new speculative-fiction, time-travel novel, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

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

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

Nicole Galland: Hi there. I’m mostly a writer of historical fiction, generally medieval and Renaissance (I’m a Shakespeare nerd). But I’m not good about “branding” myself, since I’ve also written a contemporary romantic comedy, and I write a tongue-in-cheek advice column for the Martha’s Vineyard Times (my hometown paper). Also, my background is in theatre (did I mention I’m a Shakespeare nerd).

DJ: What is The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O about?

Nicole: It’s about 740 pages. ;-P It’s about a top-secret government agency that figures out how to use magic for strategic purposes. Because Neal Stephenson is involved, there is (of course) a hard-science explanation for how magic works. Also, time travel.

DJ: Actually, where did the idea for yourself and Neal to co-author this book from? Have you done this before or had you two been joking around with the idea and finally decide to give a go for real?

Nicole: With five other writers, we worked together on a series called The Mongoliad. It started out with the six of them – all guys – and a female friend pointed out that it could use a female touch. Neal knew my historical fiction and asked me to join in since it was my general era (medieval Europe). As that project was wrapping up, he had the idea – I think the premise came to him all in a flash – for what is now The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., and he asked me to collaborate again, just the two of us this time.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? (aka What makes them compelling?)

Nicole: At the heart of it is Melisande Stokes and Tristan Lyons, both in their late 20s, who meet nearly in the first sentence of the book. Mel is a lecturer in Classical and Ancient Linguistics at Harvard and Tristan… well, Tristan has a military background and is currently working for what he calls a “shadowy government agency.” There’s also an elderly couple, physicist Dr. Frank Oda and his wife Rebecca East-Oda.

DJ: What is the world and for the The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O like? 

Nicole: It’s set in this world, our world, as we know it.… however, it is not so much this universe as this multiverse. More specifically, the contemporary part is set mostly in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

DJ: I am a big fan of time-travel stories, and I have noticed that there basically two types of stories: those that focus heavy on science and go in-depth into the mechanics and technology behind it; and those that use it a plot piece/tool that is major to the story or used to enhance the story. Which of these does the The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O series fall into?

Nicole: There’s a very short section early on that goes heavy into the science and technology (for the edification of the many geeks who will want their fix). And the technology never goes away, but it’s never the focus or point of the story.

DJ: And outside of time-travel, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O has magic too! Can you talk about that as well, please?

Nicole: Magic and time travel are related. It’s hard to talk about the magic out of context (one of the witches in the book says something like, trying to describe magic to a non-witch is like trying to explain to a blind person what the color blue smells like). A couple of things I can say are that (a) it is a very specific thing, with rules that are internally consistent and (b) because Neal Stephenson is involved, there is a scientific explanation for magic.

DJ: One thing that has fascinated me is how a book is written by multiple authors. By this, I am referring to the actual process of outlining the story, writing it, and then editing it.

Do you each do your own outline for the whole story? Then look over each others sections/chapters and compare to see how the story fits?

Nicole: When Neal came to me with this idea, he had a broad sense of how it should all be laid out, and he had the first segment (the working title was “the Ragtag Segment”) pretty specifically planned. We fleshed out the overall outline together, and then I started to write the opening. There was mostly intuitive shifting of material back and forth between us; there wasn’t a rule or protocol that we followed. We knew what had to happen next and most of the time, either common sense, or our schedules, dictated who did what to get it there.

DJ: Then, how do you break up who writes what? And I’ve also read that some authors who co-write books will edit each other’s chapters, too.

Nicole: I think I answered this above, to the degree that I can. Every section of the book has both of our fingerprints on it, but some are more obviously Neal’s fingerprints and some are more obviously mine. I don’t think there was a single modus operandi that we applied all the way through, in terms of process.

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O?

Nicole: I loved so many things about it. Top three probably being: (1) Creating the voices of the narrators, especially Mel and Grainne. I want to write Grainne her own one-woman play. (2) writing in historical periods that I love, and that I either know well or wanted an excuse to get to know well. It was like a tapas feast of historical fiction. (3) Collaborating, especially with somebody I have such respect and regard for. With a theatre background, I love collaboration, it’s what I miss most in my identity as “professional writer.” Novelists rarely collaborate on projects, so that was a real treat.

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Nicole: “Will there be a sequel?” 😉

DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O that you can share with us?

Nicole: There are some great zingers in this book, but most of them fall into the categories of either “spoiler” or “won’t make any sense out of context.”

DJ: Now that The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O is released, what is next for you?

Nicole: I’m nearing the end of another book, but it’s not something I can talk about yet.

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you? :

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Galland/e/B001JS0XHM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1497065885&sr=8-2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicolegalland/

Goodreads: Nicole Galland

Twitter: @nicolegalland

Website: nicolegalland.com

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of both of your days to answer my questions! 

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*** The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is published by William Morrow and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads | Kobo

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About the Book:

From bestselling author Neal Stephenson and critically acclaimed novelist Nicole Galland comes a captivating and complex near-future thriller combining history, science, magic, mystery, intrigue, and adventure that questions the very foundations of the modern world.

When Melisande Stokes, an expert in linguistics and languages, accidently meets military intelligence operator Tristan Lyons in a hallway at Harvard University, it is the beginning of a chain of events that will alter their lives and human history itself. The young man from a shadowy government entity approaches Mel, a low-level faculty member, with an incredible offer. The only condition: she must sign a nondisclosure agreement in return for the rather large sum of money.

Tristan needs Mel to translate some very old documents, which, if authentic, are earth-shattering. They prove that magic actually existed and was practiced for centuries. But the arrival of the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment weakened its power and endangered its practitioners. Magic stopped working altogether in 1851, at the time of the Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace—the world’s fair celebrating the rise of industrial technology and commerce. Something about the modern world “jams” the “frequencies” used by magic, and it’s up to Tristan to find out why.

And so the Department of Diachronic Operations—D.O.D.O. —gets cracking on its real mission: to develop a device that can bring magic back, and send Diachronic Operatives back in time to keep it alive . . . and meddle with a little history at the same time. But while Tristan and his expanding operation master the science and build the technology, they overlook the mercurial—and treacherous—nature of the human heart.

Written with the genius, complexity, and innovation that characterize all of Neal Stephenson’s work and steeped with the down-to-earth warmth and humor of Nicole Galland’s storytelling style, this exciting and vividly realized work of science fiction will make you believe in the impossible, and take you to places—and times—beyond imagining.


About the Author:

Nicole Galland is the author of the contemporary comic novel Stepdog, as well as five works of historical fiction: I, Iago; The Fool’s Tale; Godiva; Revenge of the Rose; and Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade. She is also co-author (with Neal Stephenson et al) of the “alternative history” trilogy The Mongoliad. Nicole grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, where she now writes a cheeky etiquette column for the MV Times, and is co-founder of Shakespeare for the Masses, a project that irreverently makes the Bard accessible to the Bardophobics of the world. She is married to actor Billy Meleady and owns Leuco, one of the seven great dogs of the world.


 

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Author Interview: Benjamin Patterson

Today I am interviewing Benjamin Paterson, author of the new epic fantasy novel, The Shadow of His Hand, first book in the Markulian Prophecies series.

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

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

Benjamin Patterson: I’m a 34 year old father of four from a regional town in Northern Australia. Currently it’s winter where I live and on a really cold night the temperature might drop as low as 12 degrees Celsius (53 degrees Fahrenheit). Hence, I love sport and camping. Fun fact: I was made redundant last week as the company I’m working for folded. Argh!!

DJ: What is The Shadow of His Hand about?

Benjamin: It’s a low epic fantasy novel about a prophecy, a forgotten god and a reluctant soldier. The story starts with the nations of the Realm severely overmatched by an invading force and needing a miracle to survive. Our soldier, Fredrick, just so happens to get caught up in a plot that’s trying to produce that miracle, a plot that involves an inconsolable infant who only hushes when he’s around.

Add to that a few other plot lines that involve a miserable High King and an ascendant returned to the living and you’ve got yourself volume 1 of the Markulian Prophecies.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Shadow of His Hand and the series?

Benjamin: That’s hard to say. When I began reading I was a huge Wheel of Time and Sword of Truth fan. I love the old school fantasy series. I guess they’ve shaped my story telling.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? (aka What makes them compelling?)

Benjamin: My protagonist, Fredrick, is not your regular fantasy hero. In fact, the only super power he appears to possess is the ability to hush an infant marked by prophecy. In chapter one we find Fredrick concealing his soldier’s uniform with a plain shirt so that nobody will ask him for help. That kind of best sums up his enthusiasm for the job.

Another main character, the High King, is young and ill, not very regal or commanding. His first task is to choose himself a bride from any willing woman in the Realm, and there are plenty of volunteers. Jaithe’s sister is one of those willing bride-to-be’s. Jaithe herself is just along to watch her sister fail. So there’s plenty of material there as that unfolds.

DJ: What is the world and setting of the Markulian Prophecies series like? 

Benjamin: I’ll be honest. World building is not my passion. I usually provide only what’s relevant to the story, as I much prefer a novel that focusses on characters and conflicts than intricate details. Having said that, the setting of the first novel is called ‘The Realm.’ There are seven nations in the realm each with their own royal family, yet they all swear fealty to the High King. It’s a medieval landscape with castles, palaces, keeps, taverns, forests, snow-capped mountains, etc. The Realm has endured one generation of peace since the last civil war was quelled.

In terms of religion, most people choose one of the twelve Guardians as their personal god, depending on whether they are a farmer, a sailor, a merchant and so on. The High King and his household are meant to stay faithful to the Unseen God, Elan, who existed before the Guardians. The Unseen God’s temple lies near the royal place in Corozon.

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Shadow of His Hand?

Benjamin: Finishing. That’s easy.

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Benjamin: I have a suspicion the scene where the High King chooses his bride will be a fan favorite. Readers so far have indicated they enjoy it.

In another part somebody gets keel-hauled. That might stick in people’s memory too.

Many people are also asking about book two and what’s going to happen to poor old Fredrick.

DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing the Markulian Prophecies series? The Shadow of His Hand is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?

Benjamin: I didn’t set out with any particular goal or theme in mind when writing book one, other than to finish it and get it read by someone other than my mother. But on that note, I’ve never been a fan of modern fantasy where it feels like people are competing to make the vilest and most evil characters and then urge us to cheer for them because they are up against even worse enemies. I understand heroes need to have flaws, but I prefer reading stories where at least the cause of the hero is good and not based on personal vendetta’s, etc. So I guess you could say there are themes around faith, duty and honor.

DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Shadow of His Hand that you can share with us?

Benjamin: ‘More is caught than taught.’ I included that in the story because it’s true (and I couldn’t think of anything else at the time).

DJ: Now that The Shadow of His Hand is released, what is next for you?

Benjamin: Besides looking for a new Job? I’m finding time to busily write volume 2. I suspect there’ll be a few people angry with me if I don’t get that finished soon.

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Benjamin-Patterson/e/B071S5XSCR/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1496376010&sr=8-2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theshadowofhishand/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16865006.Benjamin_Patterson

Website: https://www.theshadowofhishand.com

Smashwords: smashwords.com/profile/view/BenjaminPatterson

DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Shadow of His Hand and the Markulian Prophecies series that we haven’t talked about yet?

Benjamin: It’s really good.

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!

Benjamin: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

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*** The Shadow of His Hand is published by MoshPit Publishing and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads | Kobo

◊  ◊  ◊


About the Book:

For centuries the oft-forgotten Unseen God has seemed distant and uncaring, but when the Realm is threatened by the all-conquering armies from Jerika, an ancient oracle is triggered. Now this foretelling is the only hope of salvation and its fulfilment lies in the trembling hands of a reluctant soldier, a princess and an infant marked by prophecy.

Set in a vivid medieval world, The Shadow of His Hand begins an epic struggle between good and evil, full of danger, romance and despair. Those caught in the grip of destiny will be required to sacrifice all, but even that may not be enough.

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About the Author:

Benjamin Patterson lives in North Queensland, Australia with his wife and four children. When not writing, working or volunteering he’s battling a life-controlling addiction to sport, an addiction that his poor wife has discovered is easily passed from father to sons.

The Shadow of His Hand is Benjamin’s first novel, a story he started telling more than ten years before its publication. He gave up on the book many times – literally every time he went back and read what he had written so far – but after much encouragement from friends and family he finally got it done… and the reviews are rave!


 

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Author Interview: Richard A. Kirk

Today I am interviewing Richard A. Kirk, author of the new sci-fi, fantasy novel, Necessary Monsters.

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

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

Richard A. Kirk: Sure, I am an author, illustrator and visual artist. I was born in Kingston Upon Hull and immigrated to Canada with my parents when I was young. I grew up in an industrial town on the shore of the Great Lakes. My work written and illustrative is informed by those two facts. Writing, reading and drawing have always been my primary interests, and they have always been interwoven in my mind. Anyone who is familiar with my drawing would not be surprised by my writing. I love all literature and try to read as widely as I can, but branch the contains science fiction, fantasy, weird fiction and horror fiction is where I live creatively. In my fiction I like to work across genres, because I believe that it where the interesting stuff happens. In a single work, I might incorporate elements of high fantasy, horror, and literary fiction. This isn’t so much a strategy as simply an outcome of how I work. The kinds of books I like to read follow a similar path. When writing I like to challenge the reader’s expectations. I like to be surprised by what I am writing. I write every day, even when I am very busy with other projects. Of all my creative endeavors, writing is the one I where I truly lose myself.

DJ: What is Necessary Monsters about?

Richard: It’s about learning to face the truth about yourself. Lumsden Moss is an escaped convict, living under a false identity. He was set on a bad path during his childhood when a girl he loved, named Memoria, fell from a sea wall and drowned. When the book opens, Moss has spent his life feeling a heavy burden of guilt for Memoria’s death. He learns that she is still alive when a monstrous underworld figure blackmails him into looking for her. The book is Moss’s journey from ancient port city to a forbidden island. Throughout, Moss puts his life on the line as a child-witch named Elizabeth, and her demon, Echo pursues him. The story leads to Nightjar Island where he confronts the fact that his story is part of a mystery much larger than himself. The book is very much about how environment and circumstance shape our perceptions and identity. How much do we owe the past? What is our obligation to those who fundamentally change over time? How do you grapple with the monstrous both internally and externally? These are questions Moss has to deal with as he pierces the layers of the mystery. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Linda Nagata

Today I am interviewing Linda Nagata, author of the new SF military novel, The Last Good Man.

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

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

Linda Nagata: Sure! My first published story came out just over thirty years ago in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Since then I’ve published numerous novels and short stories, mostly high-tech science fiction but some fantasy too. My first novel, The Bohr Maker, won the Locus Award for best first novel, a novella, “Goddesses,” won a Nebula, and more recently, my military thriller The Red: First Light was nominated for a Nebula award and named as a Publishers Weekly best book of 2015.

I like writing science fiction because it’s a chance to explore our relationship with technology—both the real-world challenges, and extrapolated possibilities that we might face “if this goes on.”

My books often trend into political issues, and I like to explore not just what I think people ought to do, but what I think they might do, whether I think it’s a good idea or not.

DJ: What is The Last Good Man about?

Linda: Meet True Brighton, a US Army helicopter pilot, now retired and working for Requisite Operations, a small private military company that she helped to found alongside former special operator and long-time friend, Lincoln Han. Like so many in the US Army, True comes from a military family. Both her father and her son served—but her son was brutally killed in the line of duty. True is haunted by his death. When a chance discovery during a hostage rescue mission indicates there is more to his death than she’s been told, she resolves to uncover the truth, regardless of the cost.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Last Good Man?

Linda: Prior to The Last Good Man I wrote the Red trilogy—a series of near-future military thrillers. I learned a lot in the course of writing those books, so it seemed like a good idea to use that knowledge by writing something similar-but-different. The Last Good Man turned out to be quite different. One of the big influences, as the story developed, was the growing impact of autonomous robotics in the defense industry. In the story, the use of autonomous and semi-autonomous weapons is a critical factor in the success of a small PMC like Requisite Operations, exponentially enhancing the power of a small team of soldiers. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alan Smale

Today I am interviewing Alan Smale, author of the new alternate history novel, Eagle and Empire, the final book in the Clash of Eagles trilogy.

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DJ: Hey Alan! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Alan Smale: Sure, and thanks for having me on! I’ve spent all my life in the sciences, and by profession I’m an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. But I’ve also been writing fiction for as long as I can remember; at high school, I used to stay inside and write during the lunch hour instead of going out.

I made my first professional short fiction sale in the early 1990s and have been going strong ever since. When people first meet me, they expect me to be a hard SF writer because of the physics background, but I’ve always been a history buff as well, and when it comes to fiction I’ve been gravitating to the past rather than the future for many years now. I did write some SF early on, as well as some straight fantasy and horror, but these days my output is solidly alternate history, twisted history, historical fantasy.

I’m originally British, and grew up in Yorkshire. I went to Oxford, and then came to the U.S. in my late twenties, and somehow I never went back again. I’ve been a U.S. citizen since 2000.

DJ: What is Eagle and Empire and then the Clash of Eagles trilogy about?

Alan: It’s the thirteenth century A.D. in a timeline where the classical Roman Empire never fell. The Emperor Geta managed to defeat his brother Caracalla in a bloody civil war, and then brought in reforms that staved off the Crisis of the Third Century A.D. As a result, the Empire managed to remain strong and repel the “barbarians” that assaulted it, to remain a world power. Now the Norse have discovered North America, and Rome is moving in.

That’s where the first book begins, with Roman general Gaius Marcellinus marching his legion in from the Chesapeake Bay in search of gold and glory in this brave New World. What they find is completely different to what they expected. In the early 1200s A.D. the Mississippian Culture is at its height. The city of Cahokia, on the Mississippi close to where St. Louis is now, is a dominating force. Cahokia was a mound-builder city, a Native American metropolis of some 20,000 people. When Marcellinus’s legion smacks up against Cahokia, the Romans come off worst.

Now we’re in the third book, and three more crack Roman legions are in Nova Hesperia – North America. They’ve made an alliance with the Hesperian League of tribes, an extension of the Haudenosaunee League of our world, that’s been building up over the years since Marcellinus arrived. And over on the western coast, the Mongol Horde of Genghis Khan has landed. The battle for Nova Hesperia will take place on the Great Plains of North America, with the various Native American nations and tribes making their own necessary alliances, trying to survive while trapped between these two powerful invaders. Continue reading

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Author Interview: James Gunn

Today I am interviewing James Gunn, author of the new urban fantasy novel, Transformation, final book in the Transcendental trilogy.

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

What were some of your influences for the Transcendental trilogy

James Gunn: I am an emeritus professor of English at the University of Kansas, after holding several other positions at the University, including director of University Relations during the turbulent 1960s (which inspired my novel Kampus).  I started writing science fiction in 1948 and had my first stories published in I949, which makes me (barely) at 94 in a month, the oldest living Golden Age writer.  Throughout my academic career I continued to write, publishing more than 100 short stories and 45 books, a good number of them non-fiction books about science fiction, including Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, the six-volume anthology The Road to Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction, The Science of Science-Fiction Writing, Inside Science Fiction, and others.  My novels include The Immortals (which became a TV movie and series as “The Immortal,”) The Joy Makers, The Listeners, The Millennium Blues, and some dozen or so others.  My most recent publications are the Transcendental trilogy and a series of stories that I call “Tales from the Transcendental” being published in Asimov’s Science Fiction.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? 

James: The main characters in the Transcendental trilogy are Riley, a battered and despondent former navigator and gunner in the human/Federation war and now a disillusioned emissary of an unknown master with an impossible directive; and Asha, a woman of mystery with unusual abilities and self-control.  I’ve always preferred flawed characters, not heroes, and the challenge is to see if they can surpass their limitations when the need arises.

DJ: What is the world and setting of the Transcendental trilogy like? 

James: This is the future 1,000 years from now when humanity sends out its first interstellar generation ships and finds that the galaxy is already owned by a varied group of alien species who have organized themselves, millennia before, into a Federation, ostensibly benign but fiercely defensive about threats to its sovereignity and rigorous about potential new members.  It results in a ten-year war that has just fought itself, after great destruction, into a treaty, and the Federation, which values stability and stasis above all else, has been threatened by rumors of a new religion called Transcendentalism based around a machine, somewhere in the galaxy, that has the potential to bring transcendence to any creature.  And that threatens the stability and future of the Federation.  Hidden forces have dispatched Riley and possibly other emissaries to a spaceship of pilgrims composed of many species seeking the Transcendental Machine to seize it for their own use or destroy it and the unknown Prophet who has announced the new religion. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Michael Johnston

Today I am interviewing Michael Johnston, author of the new fantasy novel, Soleri, first book in a planned duology.

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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 Johnston: I am debut adult fantasy author. I was trained as an architect and practiced for a decade before turning to writing. I started Soleri in 2010, so it’s been a bit of a journey, but I am excited to see it hit the shelves on June 13th. It was a long process and I put a lot of time and research into the work. I collected books on the history of ancient Egypt, on antiquity, on the food the people ate (bread and beer). I wanted to know what clothing they wore and what cloth they used to make their clothes. I needed to know what metals, and gems, and other materials that were available at the time. Soleri is high fantasy, but I wanted it to have a strong sense of realism. But it is epic fantasy, so I never let the research tie my hands. When the readers comes to Soleri I want them to feel as they were in a wholly original and completely plausible world.

DJ: What is Soleri about?

Michael: It’s a novel about family, about history and architecture, about primal and incomprehensible magic. It’s about the fall of an empire that is so old it has forgotten its origin.

Here’s the official description:

The ruling family of the Soleri Empire has been in power longer than even the calendars that stretch back 2,826 years. Those records tell a history of conquest and domination by a people descended from gods, older than anything in the known world. No living person has seen them for centuries, yet their grip on their four subjugate kingdoms remains tighter than ever.

On the day of the annual eclipse, the Harkan king, Arko-Hark Wadi, sets off on a hunt and shirks his duty rather than bow to the emperor. Ren, his son and heir, is a prisoner in the capital, while his daughters struggle against their own chains. Merit, the eldest, has found a way to stand against imperial law and marry the man she desires, but needs her sister’s help, and Kepi has her own ideas. 

Meanwhile, Sarra Amunet, Mother Priestess of the sun god’s cult, holds the keys to the end of an empire and a past betrayal that could shatter her family. 

Detailed and historical, vast in scope and intricate in conception, Soleri bristles with primal magic and unexpected violence. It is a world of ancient and elaborate rites, of unseen power and kingdoms ravaged by war, where victory comes with a price, and every truth conceals a deeper secret. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Nik Korpon

Today I am interviewing Nik Korpon, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Rebellion’s Last Traitor.

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

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

Nik Korpon: Thanks for having me! I’m from Baltimore. During the day I’m a copywriter and adjunct professor, then I write books after my kids go to sleep. Most of what I wrote in the past was straight-up crime and mystery, so talking about my sci-fi novel has been different. It’s been an interesting experience, but a lot of fun.

DJ: What is The Rebellion’s Last Traitor about?

Nik: It follows Henraek and Walleus, the leaders of a rebellion against the brutal authoritarian party, the Tathadann, who banned memory in an attempt to rewrite history. When it became clear that the rebellion was doomed, Walleus flipped and tried to get Henraek to go with him, but Henraek refused. He was eventually captured and Walleus, in an effort to save his best friend’s life, convinced him to work as a memory thief, stealing memories from the people he’d tried to save. Along the way, Henraek incited a riot that eventually killed his wife and son—or so he was told. So when Henraek finds a memory out on a job that suggests his family wasn’t actually killed in a riot, he sets out to find the truth.

Everything kind of goes to hell from there.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Rebellion’s Last Traitor?

Nik: There were a couple. Stylistically, Altered Carbon and Blade Runner were big touch points. The Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland was a big thematic inspiration, along with groups like the Zapatistas and the Bolsheviks. I also have a longstanding fascination with family and identity and how those two intersect, largely how what we remember about ourselves informs our conception of who we are (which comes from reading a bunch of Buddhist books). I’ve been joking that I’ve always been disappointed I never got to write for Justified, so to rectify that I wrote my own Boyd and Raylan in Walleus and Henraek. They weren’t based off them or anything but it helped inform the writing when I was trying to differentiate the two voices. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alec Worley

Today I am interviewing Alec Worley, author of the new science-fiction novel, Judge Anderson: Year One.

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

Alec Worley: Thanks for having me, DJ!

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

Alec: I write comics for 2000 AD, as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars (both for younger readers). Fiction-wise, I’m currently writing stories for Black Library’s Warhammer series.

I’ve been writing professionally for about ten years now. I started out as a projectionist in the picture palaces and fleapits of London’s West End, before becoming a movie journalist and eventually got into comics through the slush pile at 2000 AD. Working under Tharg the Mighty, editor of the Glaxy’s Greatest Comic, I’ve written stories for Judge Dredd, Judge Anderson and Robo-Hunter, as well as two original series: the ‘spookpunk’ action-comedy Dandridge and the werewolf epic Age of the Wolf. I’m from Tooting in South London and for years I thought a ‘cream tea’ was tea with cream in it.

DJ: What is Judge Anderson: Year One about?

Alec: It’s a collection of three interlinked novellas (plus a bonus short story and rambling introduction) about the psychic Judge Anderson’s traumatic first year on the streets of Mega-City One. The first story, Heartbreaker, has her on the trail of a killer terrorizing the Big Meg’s most popular dating site ‘Meet Market’ (a cross between eHarmony and eBay); the second story, The Abyss, is way darker and sees her fighting to save her own sanity when she finds herself trapped inside a psychiatric prison following a botched breakout; the third story, A Dream of the Nevertime, is a mystical road trip in which she journeys into the bizarre wastes of the Cured Earth to find a cure for a psychedelic virus that threatens to destroy both her and the city.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Judge Anderson: Year One?

Alec: Movies like Silence of the Lambs, Manhunter, Die Hard, Haywire, and Red River, books like Stephen Hunter’s Point of Impact, Dirty White Boys and Black Light, Garth Ennis’s Punisher MAX series by Marvel, David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, and a bunch of critical essays by Stephen Hunter, Kim Newman and Marina Warner. Continue reading

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