Author Interview: Neal Asher

Today I am interviewing Neal Asher, author of the new science fiction novel, Infinity Engine, final book of the Transformation trilogy.

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

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

Neal Asher: My pleasure DJ. About myself? I’m a 56-year-old SF writer who came up the hard way. I wrote while working in all sorts of jobs – engineering, building, all sorts, I even delivered coal once – didn’t get published for a while, then got the odd short story published, then a novella, a collection, another novella (all for buggerall money) until finally I was taken on by Macmillan in 1999. Since then my total of published books is about 23. I divide my time between Essex in the UK and the island of Crete. I’m a practical man and not one of those effete writers who delights in being unable to work with his hands. Having recently gone through a bit of a hiatus (I lost my wife) I’m back at the keyboard. I’m hoping to at least get above 50 books before they nail me in a coffin.

DJ: What is Infinity Engine and then the Transformation trilogy about?

Neal: Transformation … but I guess you want me to elaborate. The story concerns a blacklisted artificial intelligence called Penny Royal who went rogue after exterminating 8,000 human troops on its own side. It concerns this AI’s apparent search for redemption, the revenge motives of a resurrected human soldier who is pursuing it, and the search for explanations by those who were transformed by it.  

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Transformation trilogy?

Neal: My previous books, the thousands of SF books I’ve read, the films I’ve seen, the science I read…

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? 

Neal: Thorvald Spear is one of the 8,000 soldiers Penny Royal killed. He has been resurrected from a recording of his mind that turned up 100 years after the prador-human war during which this atrocity was committed. His immediate motive is revenge, but while he pursues Penny Royal he learns that the AI may have tampered with his mind – that he is acting in accordance with its wishes. Riss is an assassin drone – a killing machine made in the shape of a prador parasite whose sum purpose was to inject real parasite eggs inside prador to spread death and terror. Disenfranchised by the end of the war she searches for purpose and is … damaged by Penny Royal. She joins Spear in his quest. Sverl is a prador – one of the hostile crab-like aliens who went to war against the human Polity – having fled into exile after a new king of the prador made a truce with the humans, he does not understand how weak humans and detestable AIs nearly destroyed the prador kingdom. He again was once seeking answers and encountered Penny Royal. The answer the AI gave was his grotesque transformation into a tri-part being of prador, human and AI. He still wants answers… Continue reading

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Author Interview: Cat Sparks

Today I am interviewing Cat Sparks, author of the new science-fiction novel, Lotus Blue.

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

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

Cat Sparks: Sure thing, DJ, I’ve been a rabid science fiction fan since I was a kid, growing up on a steady diet of Doctor Who, Thunderbirds, Star Wars and everything else in between – and I do mean everything… I wrote so much sci fi when I was a teen that an English teacher actually banned me from writing it in her class. You can see for yourself how well that plan turned out…

I have a BA in Visual Arts and have had some interesting (and not so interesting) jobs across the years: media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer, Fiction Editor of Australia’s Cosmos Magazine and Manager of Agog! Press. In 2012 I was privileged to score and Australia Council grant, which sent me to Key West, Florida to participate in Margaret Atwood’s brilliant The Time Machine Doorway workshop.  

I am currently finishing up a PhD examining science fiction and climate fiction and its potential responsibility to the future. My first short story was published in 2000. Lotus Blue took 10 years to complete, a process in which over 300,000 words ended up in the bin. I’m not sure if that checks the box for stubbornness or crackpot perseverance.

DJ: What Lotus Blue about?

Cat: Lotus Blue is the story of Star, a girl who can’t remember her past. The tough life she shares with her elder sister as part of a thirteen-wagon caravan of nomadic Sand Road traders changes forever when the Van witnesses a relic-Angel satellite plummeting to Earth, kick starting a chain of events that send Star on a perilous journey that makes Van life seem comfortable by comparison.

Slowly she’s forced to come to terms with the horror of her unfolding destiny—as the terrible secret her sister had been desperate to protect her from begins to unravel.

Meanwhile, something old and powerful has woken in the desert. A Lotus Blue, deadliest of all the ancient war machines. A warrior with plans of its own, far more significant than a fallen Angel. Plans that do not include the survival of humanity. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Marshall Ryan Maresca

Today I am interviewing Marshall Ryan Maresca, debut author of the new fantasy novel, The Holver Alley Crew, first book in The Streets of Maradine series.

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

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

Marshall Ryan Maresca: Hi! I’m Marshall Ryan Maresca, author of the Maradaine novels, which are actually three different series all set in the same fantastical city. The Maradaine novels are The Thorn of Dentonhill, The Alchemy of Chaos and The Imposters of Aventil, which comes out in October. The Maradaine Constabulary novels are A Murder of Mages, An Import of Intrigue and the upcoming A Parliament of Bodies. Finally, the Streets of Maradaine novels are the newly released The Holver Alley Crew and Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe, which comes out next year.

DJ: What is The Holver Alley Crew about?

Marshall: The Holver Alley Crew is about two brothers, Asti & Verci Rynax, who used to be thieves but are trying to live a straight-and-narrow life, until a fire destroys everything in Holver Alley and ruins their lives and livelihood. With no other options and a mounting debt, they fall back on the old ways.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Holver Alley Crew?

Marshall: I’ve been saying that, in a lot of ways, it’s OCEANS 11 meets THE COMMITMENTS. The latter is really a thing that was on my mind as I wrote it, as it’s about a group of people in the impoverished part of Dublin who team up to find hope and joy and a possibility of a future. Of course, they do it with soul music, rather than pulling a heist, but the principle is the same. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Jay Allen

 Today I am interviewing Jay Allan, author of the new military science-fiction novel, Flames of Rebellion, first book in the Flames of Rebellion series.

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

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

Jay Allen: Absolutely. I write science fiction and fantasy novels, published through a variety of outlets, including my good friends at Harper Voyager. It’s somewhat of a second career for me, and I started doing it after I retired early from real estate development and investment, which I tend to consider a pretty weird origin story for a sci fi writer. I live in New York, and I’ve been writing for about five years now. I’m getting close to a million books sold in that time, which certainly exceeds any expectations I had going in.

DJ: What is Flames of Rebellion about?

Jay: Flames of Rebellion is the story of a revolution. I’ve been told I tend to have a dark view of things, and I’m inclined to see technology in many ways as the totalitarian’s dream. Can you imagine dictators of another era having the ability to track everyone wherever they go, or to listen in on virtually every conversation? So, I wrote a story of a new colony on another planet, one where the surveillance superstructure isn’t as developed as it is on Earth. Add adventurous colonists grown accustomed to a level of freedom beyond that available on Earth, and a home government looking to tighten the screws, and conflict is inevitable.

I read a lot of history, and I often incorporate it in my work. For Flames, I wanted to explore multiple aspects of revolution, and I used bits and pieces of three historical conflicts, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Thomas Heasman-Hunt

Today I am interviewing Thomas Heasman-Hunt, debut author of the new science-fiction novel, Legacy.

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

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

Thomas Heasman-Hunt: No problem. I’m a 31-year-old part-time author (in other words, like most writers, I have a day job…) living in Cambridgeshire in the UK. I’ve been writing, telling stories, playing make-believe and so forth for as long as I can remember, but I started doing it in earnest and trying to make a career out of it perhaps seven or eight years ago. I first tried writing a novel, which was a long slog to get finished and, once it was done, failed to win over any agents or publishers. I’m quite grateful for that now because it was very much a ‘first novel’ and had no business seeing the light of day! But it kind of got it out of my system and I started to try my hand at short fiction instead. I put it all on a blog (theserialwritist.wordpress.com), just so I could amass a portfolio of work, and it ended up being a multi-year odyssey of fiction writing that birthed dozens of short stories, novellas and a handful of full novels, totaling over a million words altogether. Legacy was one of those novels (well, actually, six short stories that have been edited and combined into one work). I’m very glad that, out of everything I’ve done, that’s the one I’ve managed to get to a wider audience.

DJ: What is Legacy about?

Thomas: It’s pure space opera – a fun, free-wheeling adventure across interstellar space that gradually raises the stakes until the future of the entire galaxy hangs in the balance. The hero, Emily Ajax, is the daughter of a legendary starship captain and has spent her whole life living in his shadow. When he dies unexpectedly, she’s left trying to figure out some interstellar legalese regarding ownership of a remote moon base that her father’s former executive officer is strangely intent on keeping from her. What starts as a bunch of rich kids going off on a jaunt across space ends up uncovering a galactic conspiracy that the late Captain Ajax was at the very heart of. Emily has to grapple with uncomfortable truths about her father and the stories she’s grown up hearing about him, as well as try to stop a tyrant who’s all-too-familiar to her while commanding The Sunskimmer, her father’s old ship. At the same time, her friends and crew must grow into their new lives as outlaws, and a bounty hunter with a dark secret and a very strange connection to Emily comes aboard. Continue reading

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Author Interview and Giveaway: Black City Demon by Richard A. Knaak

The pubsliher was kind enough to provide one (1) free copy of Black City Demon (Black City Saint #2) to go along with this interview! The link and details for the giveaway are located at the bottom of the post, following the interview:)

Today I am interviewing Richard A. Knaak, NY Time & USA Today bestselling author of the new urban fantasy novel, Black City Demon, second book in the Black City Saint series.

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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. Knaak: Well, I’ve written about 50 novels and numerous short pieces, plus other material. I’m probably best known for my Dragonlance work — including the LEGEND OF HUMA — or my Blizzard novels, especially the WAR OF THE ANCIENTS trilogy for Warcraft — not to mention my Dragonrealm saga. Been a lifelong fan of SF & fantasy, with some of my biggest influences Roger Zelazny, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Andre Norton, among others.

DJ: What is Black City Demon about?

Richard: BLACK CITY DEMON is the second in my BLACK CITY SAINT series and continues the saga of Nick Medea, who is actually Saint George from the legend. When he slew the dragon, it not only became part of him — against both their wills — but made the saint the guardian of the vast magical Gate — permanently situated in Chicago since the Great Fire — between our world and that of Feirie. As Nick, he tries to keep threats from both sides from endangering matters and in this case the threat is a serial killer apparently risen from the dead who is seeking to use the power of the Gate to fully resurrect himself… at the cost of perhaps all of Prohibition Chicago. All this while Nick must also deal with the woman he loves coming to grips with the fact that she is not only the latest incarnation of the princess St. George saved long ago, but that every previous incarnation has perished violently.

And then of course there’s the machinations of Her Lady, ruler of Feirie, who, now that her dreaded mate is dead, is determined to cleanse her kingdom of any resistance…efforts of which are spilling into Chicago at the height of the bootlegger war between Capone and Bugs Moran.

But wait…there’s more…in the book. Continue reading

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Book Review: Into the Fire (Samantha Kane #1) by Patrick Hester

The Into the Fire (Samantha Kane #1) by Patrick Hester

Publisher: WordFire Press

Publication Date: January 20, 2017

Edition: ebook

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5


Detective Samantha Kane just saw a ghost, a werewolf eviscerated her partner, and she burned down a building with magic. But not a bad day…all things considered.
Continue reading

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Author Interview: Joseph Helmreich

Today I am interviewing Joseph Helmreich, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Return.

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

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

Joseph Helmreich: Sure! I’m a New York-based writer and The Return is my first novel. When not writing, I work in film distribution and play with an alternative folk band called Honeybrick.

DJ: What is The Return about?

Joseph: The Return is about a washed-up physicist who gets abducted by an alien ship during a live TV broadcast. Years later, he turns up in the desert and claims the whole thing never happened. The story focuses on the physics grad student who tries to track him down and get to the bottom of it.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Return?

Joseph: Quite a few writers were influential for me while I was writing, among them Harlan Coben, Lee Child, David Mitchell, Bruce Coville and, though it might not be obvious, Tom Wolfe. Also, the great sci fi Spielberg movies of the 70’s and 80’s were always on my mind. And music played a huge role, especially Arcade Fire, Okkervil River, and Joseph Arthur.

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?

Joseph: I think my favorite character is Andrew Leland, the physicist at the center of the story. There’s an ambiguity to him and to his motives where you’re kind of always left guessing. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Brian McClellan

Today I am interviewing Brian McClellan, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Sins of Empire, first book in the Gods of Blood and Power series.

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

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

Brian McClellan: Hi there! I’m a thirty-one year old author living on the side of a mountain in Utah. I’m a full-time author, writing flintlock epic fantasy for Orbit books. In my books, my heroes include soldiers, government agents, convicts, and everything in between–all of them operating in a world something akin to our Napoleonic era. There’s magic, flintlock rifles, bayonet charges, duels, gods, sorcerers, political intrigue, and massive battles.

DJ: What is Sins of Empire about?

Brian: Sins of Empire is the first novel in my next trilogy. This is the second series to take place in the Powder Mage Universe, and a new entry point for curious readers looking to explore that world. While my first trilogy dealt with a very old-world, European-style conflict, this second one has more of a new-world feel to it on the largely-unexplored continent of Fatrasta. There are vast frontiers, native populations, technological advancements, and unknown sorcery. Sins of Empire begins with the discovery of a sorcerous object of ancient origins, and follows the consequences of its unearthing as this new world grapples with old secrets, and powerful people maneuver for a coming conflict.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Sins of Empire?

Brian: It’s hard to talk about Sins without talking about my first trilogy (because that’s what set the stage for the world). My initial influences were Count of Monte Cristo, Les Mis, Three Musketeers. These were my favorite adventure books as a child, and I wanted to combine them with my favorite genre–epic fantasy. Throw in the visual influences of shows like Sharpe’s Rifles and Fullmetal Alchemist, and I had a book to write! Sins, to me, is the extrapolation of the world I initially created. I started in the old world, and I wanted to move toward something new. What happens when I explore the results of colonialism and industrial greed? Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alex Bledsoe

Today I am interviewing Alex Bledsoe, author of the new fantasy novel, Gather Her Round, fifth book in the Tufa series.

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

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

Alex Bledsoe: Thanks for having me, DJ. I’m a southern writer who now lives in Wisconsin, and the stay-at-home dad of three children. I’ve been writing my whole life, around stints as a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. I write primarily fantasy and horror.

DJ: What is Gather Her Round about?

Alex: It’s the fifth novel in my Tufa series, about an isolated Appalachian town whose citizens are all descended from Celtic faerie folk. In this one, a wild hog kills a young woman, and the pursuit of it brings out the best and worst in those who knew her.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Gather Her Round?

Alex: After four prior novels, I wanted to do something new, and I hadn’t yet done a monster story. I wanted the monster to be something reasonable, not supernatural or cryptozoological, so I considered a giant wild boar. Then I found out that Tennessee, where the novel is set, really does have an elite task force for dealing with the wild hog infestations, which gave me a sort of “Avengers, assemble” moment. Once I knew about that, the rest of the story was a snap. Continue reading

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