Monthly Archives: June 2017

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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Author Interview: Roy Claflin

Today I am interviewing Roy Claflin, author of the science-fiction novel, The Anomaly Problem.

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

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

Roy Claflin: I’ve been writing and making things up since grade school. After a misspent early-adulthood and many unsatisfying jobs, I’ve decided to make a career of it. The Anomaly Problem is my first novel. When I’m not writing, I have three cats that demand my attention, and I compose and record music. And sometimes I play videogames.

DJ: What is The Anomaly Problem about?

Roy: The book is set in the near future and follows four protagonists: Trevor, a low-level criminal living in Chicago; Eve, a former thief who used to work with Trevor; Jeremy, Trevor’s brother and a corporate mercenary contracted by the Department of Homeland Security; and Desmond, the thirteen-year-old subject of a psychology experiment. The story is set against the background of heightened national tension due to the lingering threat of domestic terrorism.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Anomaly Problem?

Roy: I’m a huge fan of William Gibson, so his work is a heavy influence on mine, along with authors like Neal Stephenson, Joe Haldeman, and many others. I think my writing is also influenced by the movies I watch, films from directors like Michael Mann and Quentin Tarantino, among others. Continue reading

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Author Interview: C.T. Phipps

Today I am interviewing C.T. Phipps, co-author of the new space opera novel, Lucifer’s Star, first book of the Lucifer’s Star series. He is also author of the Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon series, and Straight Outta Fangton.

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DJ: Hey C.T.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

C.T. Phipps: Hexa, I’m a life-long geek who managed to luck out into being an author by trying for about six years. I didn’t know if anyone would ever want to read my stuff so I just wrote what I wanted to read and that resulted in some modest success with my work. That led to other people checking out my work and meeting with my current publishers.

DJ: What is Lucifer’s Star about?

C.T.: A lot of Star Wars fans (okay, maybe just me) always wondered what happened to all of those TIE pilots and stormtroopers after the Battle of Endor. The Ewoks couldn’t have eaten all of them, right? So, I starting thinking a lot about the morality and world-building which went into what a “real” morally ambiguous between a ruthless dictatorship and their rebels would like as well as the aftereffects.

In this case, its personified by Colonel Cassius Mass who was a soldier of the Archduchy of Crius who found out, holy crap, we were the bad guys?, only after losing everything. It follows him as he tries to disappear into a normal life only to get dragged out of it by the side which defeated his and that wants him to prevent another war. It’s a dark space opera with heavy focus on characterization and questions of what to do when no side is right.  Continue reading

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Author Interview: Keith Rosson

Today I am interviewing Keith Rosson, author of the new literary/alternate history novel, The Mercy of the Tide.

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

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

Keith Rosson: Suuuuure. I’m an author and illustrator. Have a new book out, my first novel. Let’s see. I, uh, love libraries and book sales and halftones and distressed text and cassettes and punk. I did a long-running punk zine called Avow for years and years and then made the leap to fiction. The Mercy of the Tide is the fourth novel I’ve written in my life, and the first to be published. I wrote my first novel at 20, and it was understandably baaaaaaad. Then I wrote my second at 27 or so, and it was still pretty bad. Then I wrote my third, and it was better (titled Smoke City, it will be published in January 2018 by my glorious publisher, Meerkat Press) and then I wrote Mercy. In between, I write for music publications Razorcake and Rebel Noise, as well as penning short stories which have been published in placed like PANK, December, Cream City Review, the Nervous Breakdown, and more. Been twice nominated for a Pushcart. Finalist for the New American Fiction Prize and Birdwhistle Prize for Short Fiction. Currently writing a novel that revolves somewhat around a unicorn – no, seriously! – but there’s a significant part of me that can’t wait to finish it and get back to writing short stories.

DJ: What is The Mercy of the Tide about?

Keith: Can I just use the synopsis that the Meerkat folks and I came up with? After working on this book for so long and then hustling it for as hard as we have, I’ve kinda run out of wacky adjectives and new ways to describe it. Here goes. Riptide, Oregon, 1983. A sleepy coastal town, where crime usually consists of underage drinking down at a Wolf Point bonfire. But then strange things start happening—a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park and mutilated animals begin appearing, seemingly sacrificed, on the town’s beaches. The Mercy of the Tide follows four people drawn irrevocably together by a recent tragedy as they do their best to reclaim their lives—leading them all to a discovery that will change them and their town forever. That work?

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Mercy of the Tide?

Keith: Ooof. Tough one. I think it’s tough to avoid writing anything horror-related – and lofty literary elements aside, there are strong nods to horror in Mercy – without acknowledging the debt to Stephen King. He’s just the go-to guy in that field, at least for me. There’s also a passible nod to Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, if only for the fact that how deftly he handled so many points of view as well. Beyond that, I read a lot of fiction, and if you can blend literary stuff with genre fiction, I’m all in. All that stuff is bound to cause a collective seep, as it were. Which, as a side note, is a pretty good name for a grindcore band.  Continue reading

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Excerpt: Lucifer’s Star by C.T. Phipps and Michael Stukkus


From the bestselling author of The Rules of Supervillainy:

Cassius Mass was the greatest star pilot of the Crius Archduchy. He fought fiercely for his cause, only to watch his nation fall to the Interstellar Commonwealth. It was only after that he realized the side he’d been fighting for was the wrong one. Now a semi-functional navigator on an interstellar freight hauler, he tries to hide who he was and escape his past. Unfortunately, some things refuse to stay buried and he ends up conscripted by the very people who destroyed his homeland.

LUCIFER’S STAR is the first novel of the Lucifer’s Star series, a dark science fiction space opera set in a world of aliens, war, politics, and slavery.

..*** Excerpt ***.


Chapter One

The sight of the burning starships around me was like a galaxy of new stars lighting up the emptiness of space. Their fuel and energy cells burned without oxygen long after the crews had suffocated in the vacuum of space. Hundreds of dreadnoughts, battleships, carriers, and starfighters exchanged fire in the largest battle of the war.

The Revengeance was taking point in the assault on the enemy flagship Earth’s Successor. We had managed to take out its support craft and casualty ratings were still well within acceptable parameters. Acceptable as long as I didn’t think of Black Squadron-3 as Daniel, Skull Squadron-6 as Rebecca, or Dagger-Squadron-7 as Lisa. They were men and women I’d trained with and called friends, now just particles and gas.

“Focus,” I commanded myself, then spoke into my helmet’s comm. I was sitting in the middle of my tight Engel-fighter cockpit moving at speeds which boggled the mind. While space was largely empty, the tightness of the battle formations meant I needed to fly like I’d never flown before. The slightest misstep would mean not only my death but my entire squadron’s destruction. “Dagger Leader, I need you to bring up your teammates to thin out the ranks of those Crosshairs.”

“Yes, your Excellency,” Dagger Leader, a woman named Arianna Stonebridge, said, referring to me by my noble title rather than rank.

I hated that. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Kathryn Troy

Today I am interviewing Kathryn Troy, author of the new romantic, epic fantasy novel, A Vision in Crimson, first book of the Frostbite series.

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

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

Kathryn Troy: Hi DJ, thanks for having me! I’m a new voice to dark fantasy, and A Vision in Crimson is my first published novel. I’ve been a writer longer than I’ve been a novelist, with my nonfiction book, The Specter of the Indian: Race, Gender and Ghosts in American Séances, 1848-1898, being released by SUNY Press in September. Other than that, I’m a self-professed expert in all things weird and unnatural, a gourmand, and a world traveler.

DJ: What A Vision in Crimson about?

Kathryn: It’s a magical, romantic adventure that brings together a woman who escaped Victorian London to become a fantasy heroine with a vampire half-breed equally fed up with his limited choices. The chemistry between Kate and Luca on the page is explosive. But all is not well in paradise, and their disparate backgrounds and abilities are united to combat the terrors that creep into the mythical realm of Icarya.

DJ: What is the world, Icarya, and setting of the Frostbite series like?

Kathryn: I started with the familiar concept of idyllic fantasies like Narnia, populated with magical hybrids (an ideal place for a mixed-blood vampire to call home). Some of the unique flavors I’ve added to that trope are the Spiritualist concept of the “Summer Land,” a descriptive term for a heaven that is Edenic and Romantic but with all the loftiest aspirations of civilization—sciences, the arts, museums and libraries, set right alongside legends of animated forests and deep magic. The different cities within the greater Icaryan universe are not so fertile or fortunate; Likhan, a slaving city, is a close neighbor and tenuous ally of Icarya. That relationship will crumble in the first volume, and you will see its importance to Icaryan interests develop over the course of the series.

Another layer is that Katelyn and her brother, born into the wonders of a newly electrified city, bring that technology with them. Referred to as Icaryan light, its waning presents the challenge Katelyn is combating as the novel opens.

Some of my favorite fantasy worlds are the ones with rich religious cultures—that is something that also grows over the Frostbite series, simply because their forest-based beliefs are so ancient that they have been relegated to the stuff of legend. Kate’s pursuit of those histories and her relationship to them take up a good portion of her personal narrative in this epic tale. Continue reading

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