Monthly Archives: September 2017

Author Interview: James Bradley

Photo by Nicholas Purcell

Today I am interviewing James Bradley, author of Clade.

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

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

James Bradley: That one’s easy! I’m the author of four novels for adults, Wrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist and Clade, as well as a book of poetry and a lot of shorter things. A few years back I edited The Penguin Book of the Ocean, and more recently I’ve been working on a series of young adult science fiction novels, the first of which, The Silent Invasion, was published in Australia earlier this year. I’m based in Sydney, where I love with my partner, the novelist Mardi McConnochie, and our two daughters.

DJ: What is Clade about?


James: It’s the story of three generations of a family set against the backdrop of ongoing climate change, and exploring the ways that process shapes their lives and occasionally intersects with them. But although it assumes the world is going to be profoundly altered, it’s deliberately not apocalyptic. Instead it tries to think about what happens if the world doesn’t end, and if we have to live with the mess we’ve made. So it’s about family and love and kids and all the messy business of life, but it’s also about the line between the virtual and the real and time and deep time and a series of other questions about loss and grief and extinction. And perhaps most importantly it’s a book that emphasizes possibility, both personal and planetary.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Clade?

James: One of the problems with writing about climate change is that its scale and complexity make it really difficult to get a handle on. In the real world that means people tend to feel overwhelmed, and to either give way to despair or just shut down or ignore the problem. Something similar is true if you’re trying to write about it: the scale of the problem, the non-human scale of the time frames, even the nature of the novel, and its need to set up spatial and temporal boundaries to tell a manageable story make it tough to talk about. I suspect that’s one of the reasons there are so many apocalyptic narratives around at the moment: it’s just too hard to imagine a future as complex as the one we’re heading into.

They were all things that were on my mind when I started the book. It seemed to me I needed to write a book about everything and everyone if I was going to talk about climate change. But then one day I realized I could come at it from a different direction, and write quite a confined story and use that to look outward, and think through what the experience might be like. Once I decided that the structure came quite quickly, but I also found myself looking for tools that would let me talk about the sorts of questions about deep time and extinction that underpin the book conceptually. I suppose those came from a series of places – I read a lot of nature writing, which informs the book’s interest in the natural world, but I also drew upon science fiction, and the sorts of tools it has to talk about technology and time and transformative change. And there are nods to other things in there, like John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, and some of the writing about  the Antarctic by explorers like Shackleton. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Joshua Palmatier

Today I am interviewing Joshua Palmatier, co-editor of the three new anthologies, Guilds & Glaves, The Razor’s Edge, and Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar, which are currently on Kickstarter!.

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

For this interview, on the first part I’d like to focus on the anthologies themselves, then for the second, I’d like to talk about the Kickstarter in particular.

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

Joshua Palmatier:  Certainly!  And thank you for hosting this interview.  We at Zombies Need Brains appreciate it.  I’m a fantasy author published by DAW Books, with nine novels out at the moment.  The most recently released was REAPING THE AURORA, the third and final novel in the “Ley” series.  I also began editing anthologies for DAW with fellow author Patricia Bray.  We did two anthologies for them—AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR and THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY.  Working on those two anthologies got me hooked on SF&F anthologies, so I ended up creating a small press called Zombies Need Brains, which focuses on producing SF&F themed anthologies initially backed by Kickstarters.  ZNB has released seven anthologies so far, and we’re currently seeking to fund three new anthologies, titled THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR.

DJ: What are each of these anthologies about?

“The Razor’s Edge” by Justin Adams, Varia Studios

Joshua:  The themes are always my favorite part.  THE RAZOR’S EDGE is a military SF&F anthology focusing on that fine line between an insurgent and a freedom fighter.  When does the freedom fighter become an insurgent, or vice versa?  We’d like authors to explore that razor’s edge, both in science fiction settings and in fantasy settings.  GUILDS & GLAIVES is a sword & sorcery anthology, where we’d like the stories to somehow deal with a guild along with the typical style of sword & sorcery—so thieves, assassins, dark magic, treachery, etc.  And as you can guess from the title, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR is a sequel to the first anthology that Patricia Bray and I edited, AFTER HOURS.  The premise is the Gilgamesh found his immortality by becoming the bartender of a time-traveling bar called the Ur-bar—which at any point in time is the uber bar at that moment.  We explored the bar in the first anthology, but there are still plenty of time periods left and we hope that the authors find a unique setting and a unique story for the sequel. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Brenda Cooper

Today I am interviewing Brenda Cooper, author of the new sci-fi collection, Stories of Fremont’s Children, which is currently being funded on Kickstarter to co-incide with the 10th Anniversary Release of her award-winning novel, The Silver Ship and the Sea.

All of the stories are set in the same world as The Silver-Ship and the Sea.

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

For this interview, on the first part I’d like to focus on the novels, then for the second, I’d like to talk about the Kickstarter in particular.

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

Brenda Cooper:  I’m fascinated with technology and how it works, a rabid environmentalist, lately a bit of an activist, and I love reading and writing.  I live in Washington State on an acre and a half of beautiful land. We have two grown-up children and four dogs, three of which are smarter than we are (they’re border collies).

DJ: What is The Silver Ship and the Sea about?

Brenda:  The story is about six genetically enhanced children who are abandoned on a planet that hates genetic engineering.  So in that way, it’s a story of the other.  The series also explores what it is to be human, various definitions of family, and the cost of war. There are three books, with a fourth to come.  The first is out, and hopefully the other three will release in 2018.

DJ: What were some of the inspirations for The Silver Ship and the Sea?

Brenda: It was written during the run-up to the Iraq war, and so it became a bit of an anti-war novel.  Unlike some of books which address war directly (and in fact this series does do so in the last book), The Silver Ship and the Sea illustrates the cost of conflict.  It’s also a chance to explore the costs of choosing to embrace or reject technology. Lastly, I really just wanted to create an interesting world.  Fremont has fabulous creatures, wandering scientists, dangerous volcanoes, and more. Continue reading

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Author Interview: V.M. Escalada


Photo: © Jessica Kennedy

Today I am interviewing V.M. Escalada, author of the new paranomal fantasy novel, Halls of Law, first book in the Faraman Prophecy series.

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DJ: Hey V.M.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

V.M. Escalada: Happy to do it, DJ, you can call me Vee.

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

Vee: I’m Canadian, but I identify culturally as Spanish. I think you can see some Spanish influence in the names I choose, and particularly in their pronunciation – at least, if you could hear them the way they are in my head.

DJ: What is Halls of Law about?

Vee: Boy, do I suck at this part. I either say too much or too little. On a large scale, it’s about the Faraman Polity being invaded by the Halians, a radically different society with strong patriarchal leanings, and a particular animosity for Talents – the psychics that form the Halls of Law. On a more personal scale, it’s about Kerida Nast, a Talent in training, and Tel Cursar, a young military officer, who join forces first to escape the invaders, and then to help put their world back together.

DJ: What were some of your influences Halls of Law and the series?

Vee: My writing in general is influenced by some great fantasy writers, especially people like Fritz Leiber, Barbara Hambly, R.A. McAvoy, Robin Hobb, Tanya Huff, Kari Sperring, Laura Anne Gilman . . . and the list could go on and on, and I’d still leave someone out. I’m also an 18th-century scholar, so I’m well versed in the classics, Homer, Virgil, and so on, with all the attendant mythology.

As for Halls of Law in particular, believe it or not, I first got the idea for the story watching the forensics shows that were all the rage for a while. I thought, what if psychics were used as crime scene investigators? They could just walk into the crime scene, touch things, and know immediately what had happened. I really liked the notion, but I figured out pretty quickly that it wouldn’t make a story – at least not a crime-based story, since the psychics would just say “he did it” and the story would be over. So then I wondered, what if being a psychic was the problem? What if they were going about their lawful business when their country was invaded by people who thought Talents were witches that had to be destroyed? Continue reading

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Author Interview: William Sutton

Today I am interviewing William Sutton, author of the new historical mystery novel, Lawless and the House of Electricity, third book in the Lawless series.

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

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

William Sutton: Thanks for asking me. I’m a tall messy writer from Scotland living in Portsmouth, England. I began my creative endeavours putting on plays and singing songs at open mics. After deciding I wasn’t going to be the next Tom Waits or Tom Stoppard, I began writing novels. But I still love performing and I put on story/song nights all over town with writer friends. When not writing, I play music in bands. I’m also journalist and Latin teacher.

DJ: What is Lawless and the House of Electricity and also the series about?

William: Lawless and the House of Electricity interweaves a private tale of romance and loss with international conspiracies around military-industrial business. Family secrets, mental health, plus espionage and immigration intrigue. This collision offered me a chance to combine a gothic country house novel with a techno-thriller where Europhobia causes nationalistic panic and terror on the streets. Sound familiar?

The series explores the amazing developments of the 1860s: the Metropolitan underground, the London sewers preventing cholera, new power and communications from the telegraph to pneumatic trains to hydraulic lifts. In amongst this high-power technology, I explore stories of love, loyalty and loss. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Michael R. Fletcher

Today I am interviewing Michael R. Fletcher, author of the new fantasy novel, Swarm of Steel, a stand-alone story in the Manifest Delusions series.

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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 R. Fletcher: Hi! Thanks for having me. I do love being had. I could tell you about myself but I’d likely lie.

Oh what the hell, let’s give it a go.

After a long career as a wandering door-to-door used grilled-cheese sandwich salesman I decided it was time for a change. I saw four life paths that really appealed to me: Race car driver, rock star, ninja, and writer. Since being a writer seemed like a lot of effort and unlikely to end in the fame, fortune, and worshipful adoration I crave, I decided to focus on being a rock star ninja. For a decade I toured the world with the goth metal band, Sex Without Souls. It really was a great cover for a ninja, what with the goth addiction to black clothing. Eventually, however, the adoration of bajillions of screaming fans grew hollow. I wanted more. Worship wasn’t enough, I needed mindless devotion. With that thought in mind I reevaluated my life-choices. The answer was clear. Only one career path offered the slavish devotion and staggering riches I desired: Science fiction and fantasy author.

DJ: What is Swarm of Steel about?

Michael : After the grit and filth of Beyond Redemption and The Mirror’s Truth, I wanted to write something different. I wanted to write a love story filled with puppies and hugs and the kind of romancey smoochie smoochiness that leaves a warm feeling deep in the cockles of your soul. A cockle, of course, being a small, edible, marine bivalve mollusk. Why you have these in your soul is beyond me. You should prolly see a doctor. Anyway, I totally failed. Instead I somehow ended up with a gritty filthy love story between a cannibal and a dead woman. I don’t understand what went wrong. Surely I am not the problem.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Swarm of Steel?

Michael : I exist in a vacuum of ignorance and wanton stupidity. If something had influence on me, I am blissfully unaware. I do listen to a lot of skull-crushing death metal when I write. That may have flavored things a little. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alexandra Oliva

Today I am interviewing Alexandra Oliva, author of the apocalyptic literary thriller, The Last One, which was named one of the best books of 2016 by The Seattle Times.

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

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

Alexandra Olivia: Hi! It’s great to be here. Sure—I’m a debut novelist who was born and raised in upstate New York, but my husband and I moved to the Pacific Northwest a few years ago, and I think we’re lifers. I’m currently working on my next novel and spend a good portion of my downtime wondering how much longer I should wait before posting another picture of my dog on Instagram.

DJ: What is The Last One about?

Alexandra: A woman is on a wilderness survival reality TV show when disaster strikes, and she thinks it’s all just part of the show.

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

Alexandra: All the science fiction and fantasy I read growing up, for sure. I’ve always loved harrowing narratives in which a character I adore is put through the wringer, both physically and emotionally. Also, the ubiquity of reality television—the medium is inescapable! At some point my subconscious must have recognized there was such a cool connection between the two, and that I could have a really good time contrasting a real survival situation with the faux survival premise of a reality show.

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? 

Alexandra: Some people love my main character; other people hate her—or at least find her “unsympathetic.” Which is fair; I tried to write a complicated and realistic woman going through hell. She’s not your typical do-gooder; she isn’t always nice and she doesn’t always do the right thing, and while she can be described as “strong” in many ways, she’s also weighed down by some pretty massive fears and regrets. Personally, I think that’s what makes her compelling. It’s certainly what made her so fun to write; I loved exploring the ridges and chasms of her personality as she’s pushed to her psychological and physical limits. Continue reading

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