Monthly Archives: November 2016

Author Interview: Jean Johnson

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Sci-Fi November is a month-long blog event hosted by Rinn Reads and Over The Effing Rainbow. It was created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction. From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it was intended to help us share our love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms.


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Today I am interviewing Jean Johnson, author of the new science-fiction novel The Blockade, third book in the First Salik War series.

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DJ: Hey Jean! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!

Let’s start with you; for readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Jean Johnson: I’m an author of genre fiction, writing primarily in the science fiction, fantasy, and romance categories, because those are my favorite types of books to read. I also enjoy superhero stories, occasional steampunk fantasies, and so forth, but I’m not a big fan of horror. Growing up in a little patch of rurality surrounded by suburbia, I didn’t have a lot of friends living close enough for me to walk over to their house and visit, so I spend a lot of my childhood reading. My parents encouraged it, taking me frequently to the local libraries and so forth, but after a while, I realized there were stories I wanted to read that no one was writing, and it finally dawned on me that if I wanted to read them, I would have to write them myself. So here I am, twenty-plus books later, with many more still to go.

DJ: What is The Blockade and also the First Salik War series about?

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Jean: The First Salik War series is about, well, the first Salik War, which takes place in the late 2280s, according to our calendar. It’s about humans from Earth reaching out into interstellar space for the very first time, exploring multiple star systems beyond our own, only to encounter aliens that are not only hostile, but whom have already managed to encounter humans who are not from Earth.

In THE TERRANS, the first book, we see things from the Terran perspective, and most of the action takes place either in space we’re become familiar with, or on Earth itself. The first book covers a lot of first contact and political doubts on what humanity—Earth humanity—should do about what they’re discovering. We do get to meet the Salik at the start, but the war effort ends up taking a back seat to the conflicts of trying to figure out how two very different cultures can peacefully interact even when it’s technically the same species.

In the second book, THE V’DAN, we learn a lot more about this other race of humans that has been living for thousands of years on this other world hundreds of lightyears from Earth. The protagonists do that by going to that world to figure out who they are, what they’re like, and how to interact with them. Once the Terrans know how to do that, they hope they can make the transition to interacting with the truly alien, non-human races out there in easier ways…but they still run into trouble because the V’Dan are very different from the Terrans, despite being completely biologically human.

It’s very much a book on cultural clashes, another aspect of both first contact and political troubles. These tensions are worsened by the fact the V’Dan and the other Alliance races are losing their war against the Salik, because the technological playing field favors the aggressor being able to lay plans and carry them out without the defenders being able to adequately prepare against their attacks in time. The Terrans have some seriously good technology that could completely overturn their losing war into a victory…but the cultural clashes are making it difficult to want to volunteer anything for that task.

THE BLOCKADE, final book of the trilogy, works hard to resolve a lot of the problems from the previous two books, while exposing the main characters to the actual war. They can no longer stay in the halls of political power, but must instead go to the various warfronts to make sure that the Terrans are integrating without too many troubles into the Alliance’s efforts to stop the Salik invasions. At this point in the overall timeline of this universe, nobody wants to wipe out the Salik as a race, because xenocide—genocide by any other name—is an horrific thing. But these people are running out of options because the enemy is psychologically committed to hunting and battling everyone they deem inferior. Saving the day will require a lot of hard bluffing and a serious bit of cleverness—based on some actual science, yay!—to save the day.

It’s not as hard-core military science fiction as the first series, Theirs Not To Reason Why, and there is a bit of a lovestory woven throughout all three books, but to be fair, I try not to write cookie-cutter stories and/or characters. Everything is going to be a bit different than what came before. The previous series was very military, to the point I have been accused dozens of times of surely having served in the military. (Confession: I have not.) This one is far more political, cultural, and first contact confusion & clash in its flavoring, but that’s perfectly fine. When we do have a first contact scenario, once you can communicate in each other’s languages—and the Terrans have a pretty good trick for doing that—then you focus on getting to know each other, and hope you don’t make too many obnoxious-to-the-other-side mistakes out of ignorance as you go along. Continue reading

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Author Interview and Giveaway: Aaron Hodges

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Today I am interviewing Aaron Hodges, author of the new fantasy novel, Soul Blade, final book in The Sword of Light trilogy.

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

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

Aaron Hodges: Sure thing D.J. I’m a fantasy writer from the country of New Zealand, although right now I’m living in Argentina. I’m an Environmental Scientist by profession, but a few years ago I got tired of the office and quit to see the world (my Overseas Experience or ‘OE’ as we call it in New Zealand). During my travels I picked up an old novel I’d written when I was younger and began to rewrite it. I finally published that first book, Stormwielder, back in December 2015 and to my surprise it kind of took off. Since then I’ve been desperately trying to keep up with the demands of my fans for books 2 and 3!

DJ: What is Book 1: Stormwielder about?

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Aaron: Stormwielder is the first book in my trilogy, so it involves a lot of world building. At its heart though, it’s a tale of redemption. It starts with the introduction of a young man named Eric, who has the power to manipulate the weather. Unfortunately for him and everyone else, Eric cannot control his magic, and inadvertently destroys the unsuspecting town of Oaksville. That act quickly becomes the motivating force behind Eric’s character, as he struggles to find a way to redeem himself. Amidst that struggle, Eric finds himself drawn into an ancient conflict between the Gods and the dark Magicker known as Archon. And it’s all downhill from there!

DJ: What were some of your influences for Soul Blade and The Sword of Light trilogy?

Aaron: I first came up with the idea for this trilogy while I was in High School, so many of the plot and character elements came from what I read back then. Certainly the epic fantasy novels of David Eddings influenced the ‘worldwide conflict’ facets of the story – where the characters of good must join together to save the world from some great evil. But as I’ve grown, other influences also crept into my work. I like to think authors such as Sara Douglass, David Gemmell and Ian Irvine have helped me develop more depth to my characters and world, while still retaining the epic fantasy style plot at its centre. Continue reading

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(Guest Post) Book Review: The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen

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Jade Sisti or aloneintown is an artist and author. Here is a link to her Facebook page, .

Her first novel, Stagnant Souls, was just published on Amazon kindle.

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The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erica Johansen

Publisher: Harper

Publication Date: November 29, 2016

Edition: Paperback, 496 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5


It was everything I was hoping for in a conclusion and then some.
Continue reading

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Author Interview: Will Panzo

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Today I am interviewing Will Panzo, debut author of the new grimdark, fantasy novel, The Burning Isle.

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

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

Will Panzo: Thanks for having me! I’m a physician assistant by trade, working in a busy emergency room, but writing is my passion. The Burning Isle is my debut novel. I live in New York City with my fiancé.

DJ: What is The Burning Isle about?

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Will: I describe it as a dark and violent revenge tale, set in a fantasy ancient Rome with lots of intrigue and lots of magic.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Burning Isle?

Will: The story is, on one level, about a mysterious stranger who arrives in a lawless island run by two gangs, and his attempts to play both sides against each other. In this way, the story has obvious ties to Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and Dashiel Hammet’s Red Harvest. On another level, the story is a dark revenge story with a central mystery that acts as the primary driver of the action. I love revenge stories but my favorite is probably The Count of Monte Cristo.

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? 

Will: Cassius is a young spellcaster, very naïve and very powerful. Obsessed with myths and legends, he fancies himself a kind of white knight figure who comes to this lawless town, Scipio, to right a great injustice. Although he strives to live by a strict moral code, he’s soon confronted by a harsh world that tests his resolve. Death and violence seems to be the only means to effect change. It’s tough work and it weighs on Cassius heavily. I think it’s the dissonance between these two aspects of Cassius, the hero he wants to be and the hardened killer he has to become to do his work, that is most compelling. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Nik Abnett

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Sci-Fi November is a month-long blog event hosted by Rinn Reads and Over The Effing Rainbow. It was created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction. From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it was intended to help us share our love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms.


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Today I am interviewing Nik Abnett, author of the new science-fiction novel, Savant.

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DJ: Hey Nik! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!

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

Nik Abnett: Hi, and thank you for having me.
Some readers will know my work for the Black Library on Warhammer and Warhammer 40K. I’ve also collaborated with my husband, the writer Dan Abnett, on a couple of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider novels and on Fiefdom for Rebellion, which was a tie-in novel to the Kingdom comic strip in 2000AD. I also write short stories for anyone who asks, and I contributed the backmatter for the acclaimed comic book Wild’s End by Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard. I’ve been writing, editing and proof-reading tie-in fiction for almost twenty years, so, with Savant I wanted to branch out and do something very different, and more personal.

DJ: What is Savant about?

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Nik: This really ought to be the simplest question in the World, but it’s the one I always struggle with most. Here goes: Savant is about a symbiotic relationship between two people, against the backdrop of a controlling state in the middle of a global crisis.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Savant?

Nik: Influences come from all over the place. I like twentieth century SF, including 80s movies, but I think the inspiration for Savant came from other things, too. I was influenced by ideas around Autism and parenting. And, to some degree, this is also a political novel; thematically, I thought a lot about the rights of the individual and how much the state can, and does, interfere in peoples’ lives.

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 will sympathize with them?

Nik: My main characters work very much as a pair, and they are opposites in many ways. Active Tobe is all about thinking, he’s a savant/mathematician, and he’s all quirks and habits. Metoo, Tobe’s carer, is all about feeling, making sure that all the routines and coping strategies are in place so that Tobe can do his job. I think both characters are compelling, because they are two sides of all of us, but polarized. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Benedict Patrick

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Today I am interviewing Benedict Patrick, contestant in the 2016 SPFBO and author of the new fantasy novel, Where the Water Turns Black.

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DJ: Hey Benedict! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!

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

Benedict Patrick: Hi DJ, thanks for taking the time to chat again. I’m an Irishman, now happily living in Scotland with my wife and kids. A pen has never been far from my hands, but a few years ago I ditched computer games to throw myself into storytelling. I published my first novel, They Mostly Come Out At Night, earlier this year. Some people liked it, mostly because of the cover. Mostly.

DJ: What is Where the Water Turns Black about?

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Benedict Patrick: The book is the tale of a young woman called Kaimana, an ocarina player who travels with her performing troupe by canoe between the many islands that make up the Crescent Atoll. Kaimana begins the story in frustration, wanting to find inspiration so she can compose a song that will make her known across the entire Atoll. Her wish comes true in the form of a giant, mythical monster living in a cave. Hijinks ensue.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Where the Water Turns Black?

Benedict Patrick: When I was a younger man, I spent a summer travelling around New Zealand. I was fascinated by what I learned of Maori culture during that time, and the image of Kaimana and her monster lurking in the water beneath her has been with me since then. Continue reading

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Author Interview: J. Patrick Black

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Sci-Fi November is a month-long blog event hosted by Rinn Reads and Over The Effing Rainbow. It was created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction. From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it was intended to help us share our love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms.


Photography courtesy of Beowulf Sheehan

Today I am interviewing J. Patrick  Black, debut author of the new post-apocalyptic, science-fiction novel, Ninth City Burning.

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DJ: Hey Patrick! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!

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

Patrick J. Black: Well, I’m new to the literary world, so I’d be a little surprised if your readers knew all that much about me (most of them, anyway–Hi mom!). Ninth City Burning is my debut novel, but I’ve been writing for years. Pursuit of that all-important day job has taken me all over the place professionally–I’ve tended bar, designed video games, somehow ended up with a law degree–though geographically I’m a New England guy. I still work as a homebuilder in the town where I grew up (a suburb of Boston). It’s a total thrill to finally see something I’ve written on the shelves, and even better to meet people who’ve actually read it (even enjoyed it every now and then).

DJ: What is Ninth City Burning about?

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Patrick: Ninth City Burning is an epic sci-fi fantasy set five centuries after an alien invasion of Earth. The invaders came wielding a power we had no way to fight–more than the sort of advanced technology that might have begun with fire and wheel and evolved through internal combustion engines and semiconductors, it allowed them to completely rewrite the rules of reality. For a while, it looked like that was it for human society, but then we discovered we could hijack this power and use it for ourselves. It didn’t quite turn the tide in our favor, but it allowed us to survive, and eventually fight the enemy to a stalemate. By the time the story begins, the world is pouring its resources–human and material–into winning the ensuing war, and it looks as though the end might be in sight. The invaders have other plans, however, and that’s where the action and adventure ensue. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Peter Fugazzotto

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Sci-Fi November is a month-long blog event hosted by Rinn Reads and Over The Effing Rainbow. It was created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction. From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it was intended to help us share our love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms.


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Today I am interviewing Peter Fugazzotto, author of the new science-fiction novel, Into Darkness.

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DJ: Hey Peter! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!

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

Peter Fugazzotto: I’m one of those authors exploring the brave new world of indie publishing. While I’ve had short stories published in more traditional magazines like Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and Grim Dark Magazine, my longer works have all been indie published. I’m focused on dark fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

Part of the courage to blaze the writer’s path comes from my background in martial arts. I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a form of submission grappling (think chokes and armbars), and stick fighting. I am a brown belt in BJJ and won a World Championship as a purple belt (old man division). So I have learned to accept obstacles as the path which prepares me for the writing life.

My main goal as an author is to write good stories that entertain readers and make them want to come back for more.

DJ: What is Into Darkness about?

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Peter: Into Darkness is an action-packed science fiction thriller set on a deep space mining colony gone dark.

In a future world of warring AIs, company agent Marley – half-human, half-machine – agrees to a mission to bring a deep space mining colony back online.

But when Marley and her mercenary crew crash land on the colony, she soon realizes that the colony holds dark secrets. Horrors that threaten her life and the future of humanity.

And she will have to decide who lives and who dies.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Into Darkness?

Peter: The initial seed for Into Darkness was Joseph Conrad’s incredible novella Heart of Darkness. But I wanted to push this through a lens of science fiction with a touch of horror.

Some of those science fiction influences have been the Alien movies and books (including those written by James A. Moore and Timothy Lebbon) since they have a strong sense of action and horror. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Jonathan Strahan

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Sci-Fi November is a month-long blog event hosted by Rinn Reads and Over The Effing Rainbow. It was created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction. From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it was intended to help us share our love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms.


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Jonathan Strahan. 2016. Copyright Cat Sparks.

Today I am interviewing Jonathan Strahan, the multiple award winning editor, and editor of the new science-fiction anthology, Bridging Infinity, fifth book in the Infinity Project series.

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DJ: Hey Jonathan! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!

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

Jonathan Strahan: Hey! Thanks for talking to me! I’m an editor, critic, and podcaster who lives in Australia. I’ve been editing books since 1996 and podcasting since 2010. I’m also the reviews editor for Locus (www.locusmag.com), and edit the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year anthology series each year.

DJ: What is Bridging Infinity about?

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Jonathan: It’s about enormous engineering projects and the problems they’re intended to solve. Science fiction loves enormous, crazy engineering projects and it loves to solve problems. So Bridging Infinity brings together a bunch of new, specially written stories that feature giant machines like Dyson spheres and man-made worlds that wrap stars.

DJ: What were some of the inspirations behind Bridging Infinity?

Jonathan: All of the great science fiction I read while I was growing up. Stuff like Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and a whole bunch of classic SF. Also, to be honest, the opening of Star Wars, with that incredible Imperial Star Destroyer.

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

Jonathan: There are fifteen stories in the book and they range from hard SF tales of creatures that live inside suns to tales of environmental engineering projects that solve global warming. There’s adventure, a little comedy, and a fair bit of action. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Neal Chase

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Today I am interviewing Neal Chase, author of the new middle-grade fantasy novel, Worthy of Song and Story, first book in the Stain the Viking series.

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DJ: Hey Neal! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!

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

Neal Chase: The easiest way to sum me up is that I’m an author, lawyer, basketball coach, and PS4 player extraordinaire. I’m married to my wife Karen and have two sons, who really inspired me to write Worthy of Song and Story.

DJ: What is Worthy of Song and Story about?

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Neal: It is about a twelve year old boy named Stian who wants to be the greatest Viking ever. Unfortunately, a couple things stand in his way: he is too young to go on Viking raids and he may be the son of Loki, the same Loki who is foretold to bring about the end of the world. Stian sets off to find out the truth, the only way he knows how, by freeing Loki from the gods’ prison. If he succeeds, he’ll become the world’s greatest Viking, but if he fails, he’ll fall victim to the gods’ merciless justice.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Worthy of Song and Story?

Neal: My two sons are probably my biggest influence in writing Worthy of Song and Story. With all the electronic distractions in the world, it is real hard to get them to sit down and read, especially the older one. If they are going to read something, it needs to have action and get their attention right away. Other than the big name block busters, it was hard finding books that did that, so I decided to write one. Continue reading

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