Monthly Archives: September 2018

Author Interview: Paul Heatley


Today I am interviewing Paul Heatley, author of the new crime noir novel, Violent by Design, final book in the Eye for an Eye series.

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DJ: Hi Paul! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

Paul Heatley: Hey DJ, thanks for having me! I’m a British writer from the north east of England with some previous titles under my belt – The Motel Whore & Other Stories, Guns, Drugs, And Dogs, Fatboy, and the first two in the Eye For An Eye series, An Eye For An Eye and The Runner.

DJ: What is Violent by Design and then the Eye for an Eye series about?


Paul: The Eye For An Eye series focuses primarily on the exploits of Graeme Taylor and Tracksuit Tony Gordon and their affiliation with the Doyle family, based in Newcastle Upon Tyne. In the opener, An Eye For An Eye, Graeme and Tony are brought in to track down a guy who has accidentally blinded Neil Doyle’s (the patriarch of the family) daughter Jasmine, taking out one of her eyes with a dart. The accidental perpetrator, however, is part of a violent, rival family, who are determined to keep his whereabouts secret, and protected. Needless to say, things get pretty bloody! The Runner is a prequel/companion to An Eye For An Eye, taking place before the events of that tale. It features cameos from some of the characters from the first, including Jasmine (with both eyes), and most predominantly, her older brother Michael. It is, however, a largely self-contained story. Violent By Design picks up one year after the events of An Eye For An Eye. Graeme Taylor is in a self-imposed exile after the events of the previous story, and Tony works for the Doyle’s in a larger capacity. There’s a new head of security called Jimmy Finlay, as well as a new threat from a taxman (a rip-and-runner), as well as new interpersonal relationships between the characters that I won’t give away here. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Joshua Palmatier


Joshua Palmatier was born in Coudersport, PA, but since his father was in the military he moved around. Alot. He’s lived in the states of Pennsylvania (three times), Florida (twice), Washington, California (briefly), Virginia, Texas (twice), and now resides in upstate New York. He has spent the majority of his life so far going to school, earning a Bachelors of Science and a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from the Pennsylvania State University, followed by a PhD in mathematics from Binghamton University. He is currently teaching mathematics (what else) at the State University of New York–Oneonta, taught for two years at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, and taught for three years at Bloomsburg University while taking a break between his masters degree and the PhD.

Joshua started writing science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories in the eighth grade, when the teacher assigned a one page Twilight Zone-ish short story. He wrote a story about Atlantis. It was from the perspective of one of the inhabitants as he escaped in a spaceship, watching his world being destroyed by water from one of the viewports of the ship. He got an A. Joshua has never stopped writing since, mainly focusing on novels.

By Joshua Palmatier

DJ invited me to guest here at the blog today so that I could talk about the small press Zombies Need Brains and our current Kickstarter (check out attempting to fund three brand new SF&F anthologies.  I thought it might be nice to explain where the themes for these three anthologies came from.

First, the lead anthology, which is really my own little baby.  I grew up reading fantasy novels in the 80s, which means I read a ton of novels with characters from our world transported to another world.  Books like Andre Norton’s WITCH WORLD or Stephen Donaldson’s CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT. There were many, many others, but I noticed that I hadn’t seen or read many “portal novels” in either fantasy or sci-fi recently.  I loved those stories, so thought, “Why not do an anthology with portals as the theme?” Hence, PORTALS was born (although the original name I had for the anthology was WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE; I think PORTALS is much more concise and explains the theme rather well though).  Even though this was my concept, I decided I’d let Patricia Bray and S.C. Butler edit it. I expect I’ll read a fair amount of the submissions to the open call though, perhaps stick my nose in occasionally with a thought. *grin*

The second anthology in the Kickstarter is TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED.  This theme came about when I received a spam email from a bank I didn’t have an account at that warned:  “Your account will be temporally deactivated unless you respond to this email now and confirm your account! [suspicious link here]”  Zombies Need Brains had just released the anthology TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER (to great success) and I immediately thought “SEQUEL”! I added it to my list of potential themes and then promptly forgot about it … until David B. Coe got the same email a few years later (these things never die) and pinged me about it.  He’d had the same thought: “SEQUEL!” And so the theme was revived and of course David B. Coe is now editing it with me.

The last anthology for this Kickstarter came out of the blue.  I’d honestly been considering doing just two anthologies this time, but Steven H Silver emailed me with this cool concept for an alternate history anthology, ALTERNATE PEACE.  Most alternate history novels and stories begin with a change in the outcome of some kind of violent event, such as a different result for a battle or a war. His idea was to find alternate history stories where the divergence from our own timeline came from a peaceful change, such as a discovery (or lack of) in science or a societal culture change.  That change could lead to violence, but the change in the timeline itself was peaceful. I liked the concept and thought it fit well with the other two themes, so I decided to add it to this year’s roster.

So that’s how the three themes for this year’s Kickstarter were selected.  If you’ve got a moment, swing on by the Kickstarter at and make a pledge!  Help bring these themes to life! It’s only $15 for the ebooks and $48 for the paperbacks. And once the Kickstarter is funded, there will be an open call for submissions, so anyone can submit a story for consideration.

And if you haven’t heard of the small press Zombies Need Brains before, we are a relatively new press with 10 anthologies under our belts.  We’ve been recognized by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SWFA) as a professional market and we have had three of our past stories in anthologies up for the WSFA Small Press Award.  Two of those stories are up this year and we hope that one of them wins! Fingers crossed!

You can find out more at and  I hope to see you on the backer list!

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*** Portals, Temporal Deactivation, and Alternate Peace! are published by Zombies Need Brains and are available to back on Kickstarter TODAY!!! ***

Back on Kickstarter!

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About the Books:


In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out.

From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when–by accident or design–characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy.

Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by:

  • Jacey Bedford
  • F. Brett Cox
  • James Enge
  • Esther Friesner
  • Nancy Holzner
  • Gini Koch
  • Violette Malan
  • Jaime Lee Moyer
  • Ian Tregillis

All other slots aside from the named authors will be filled by the open call for submissions following the successful completion of the Kickstarter.


In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: “We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation.” Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED!

For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc.

Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by:

  • C.S. Friedman
  • Faith Hunter
  • D.B. Jackson
  • Gini Koch
  • Stephen Leigh
  • Misty Massey
  • Jenna Rhodes
  • Edmund R. Schubert

All other slots aside from the named authors will be filled by the open call for submissions following the successful completion of the Kickstarter.


All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence.

Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by:

  • D.B. Jackson
  • Stephen Leigh
  • Ian R. MacLeod
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Kari Sperring
  • Harry Turtledove
  • Rick Wilber


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Author Interview: Weston Ochse

3b9751_471ea17f5caf4a918396c52825a2ffd5Today I am interviewing Weston Ochse, author of the new military sci-fi novel, Burning Sky.

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DJ: Hi Weston! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

Weston: I’m a military veteran with 35 years of service and counting. I’ve written about 30 books and won a few awards. One of my books has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. I have three Great Danes and am married to the author, Yvonne Navarro. I like Fly Fishing, wine, and exercise. My favorite authors are Donna Tartt, Cormac McCarthy, Ray Bradbury, Peter Straub, Marisha Pessl, Robert McCammon, and John Irving. My favorite book of all time is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

DJ: What is Burning Sky about?


Weston: At the core it’s about loss of self, it’s about what is real and what isn’t, it’s about what it means to be who we think we are, but I’ve hidden these questions and their answers in a novel about a team of adrenaline junkies who want to change their fortune and become better than they are.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Burning Sky?

Weston: Cormac McCarthy was a huge influence in the book. His continuing theme of man vs nature and man’s inability to overcome nature is the fulcrum in the novel which the plot circles. I especially mined his masterpiece Blood Meridian, using some of the motifs like how he never names any major character but instead uses titles for them. In Burning Sky, the members of the team are never referred to by their names while in Afghanistan. I also loved the way McCarthy landscaped Blood Meridian and tried to use some of the landscape in Burning Sky as a dark mirror to the McCarthy’s terra damnata. I also mined several cultural icons that when seen, can’t help but bring us memories and stir our thinking. Images such as The Falling Man from the Twin Towers during 9/11, or the Burning Monk and the Napalm Girl from black and white photos from Vietnam. Each one of the images is shorthand to something terrible and I used them as interactive touchpoints for readers. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Elka Ray

FB_IMG_1536065877694Today I am interviewing Elka Ray, author of the thriller, Saigon Dark.

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DJ: Hi Elka! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

Elka Ray:  Hi DJ. Thanks for your interest. I was born in the UK, grew up mainly in Canada and have spent the last two decades in Vietnam, where I work as a writer, editor, and illustrator. I’m passionate about reading and writing crime fiction.

DJ: What is Saigon Dark about?


Elka: The main character of Saigon Dark is Lily, a divorced American-Vietnamese surgeon who’s recently moved to Ho Chi Minh City with her two young children. When Lily’s baby daughter dies suddenly, she makes the rash decision to steal an abused street child and give this kid her dead daughter’s identity. Dealing with her secret grief, and the ensuing lies, Lily starts to unravel.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Saigon Dark?

Elka: My first child died as a baby. The more I pretended to be fine, the worse I felt. This sparked an interest in grief and trauma, and led me to create the story of Lily, who, following one grief-stricken decision, can’t ever reveal her true feelings.

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? (aka What makes them compelling?)

Elka: If you like stories about nice people behaving well, Saigon Dark might not be for you. While Lily is trying to do the right thing, she’s an unreliable protagonist – a strong, smart woman who, due to grief, trauma and isolation, makes increasingly questionable choices. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Susanna Rogers

SusyRogersToday I am interviewing Susanna Rogers, author of the new novel, Parallax Error.

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DJ: Hi Susanna! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

Susanna Rogers: I write young adult books that kick butt, or least I hope they do! I’m a kickboxer with a second-degree black belt so it seems inevitable that some of my heroines end up being martial artists and having to use these skills – always for the purposes of good, of course. I’ve written in other genres but there’s something incredibly liberating about writing YA because I put myself in that teenage mindset and nothing seems out of reach. When I’m writing, it feels to me as if my characters can save the world. And sometimes they have to.

DJ: What is Parallax Error about?

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Susanna: It’s about Sasha Pierce, a teenage girl who’s bullied and feels alone. This part isn’t necessarily fiction. Lots of teenagers go through a hard time in varying degrees. A global glitch throws Sasha into an alternate universe into the body of another girl, only she’s not the school nerd any more. She’s one of the elite, a bodyguard-in-training at The Primary. And if the authorities find out she’s not who she says she is, they’ll get rid of her.  When I wrote the story, I had no idea that Beyonce’s alter ego was known as Sasha Fierce. I chose a name that sounded good and I guess Beyonce did too.

DJ: What was your inspiration for Parallax Error?

Susanna: You may have heard of Canadian teenager, Amanda Todd, who was bullied relentlessly and told her own story using a series of flash cards in a Youtube video. I can’t watch the video because it makes me cry every time. It’s too sad to be true, yet this was someone’s life. As a parent finding out about her story, I kept thinking that if only she could have got through the next couple of years, she’d have come out the other end. Such a tragic story. I couldn’t give Amanda a happy ending but I could craft one for Sasha in Parallax Error. Because I felt that after everything she went through, that was the least she deserved. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Sara Hanover

40671029Today I am interviewing Sara Hanover, author of the new fantasy novel, The Late Great Wizard.

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DJ: Hi Sara! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

Sara Hanover: I’m a reader who loves books, and a writer who loves to write. I’m an only child and my parents, separated early, moved a lot. Custody went back and forth, so my most reliable friends were books. In real life, I’m rather shy and all that moving proved very difficult for me. But books! I could be anyone, do anything, dream forever. I have a family now and two precocious cats who think my writing desk is merely an extension to the best window in the house. They haven’t occupied my keyboard yet but they do push my monitor out of the way to get the sunniest spots. My children are some of my beta readers but are wary of being co-opted as characters. We travel and some of our best friends live in Australia and New Zealand, and you’ll see my new book is dedicated to them.

 DJ: What is The Late Great Wizard about?


Sara: This book has been described as a portal fantasy, but I wrote it as an urban fantasy and intended it to be a light-hearted romp, although it does touch upon serious issues. Tessa Andrews has a gambling addicted father who leveraged the family out of a financial future and then disappeared. They lost everything and became persons of interest in his disappearance. She’s had to struggle to find footing and move forward, and partners with her mother in a new house which seems to have poltergeists, and takes on a charity meals run to bolster her resume for future college years. One of her meal recipients is crusty old Professor Brandard with whom she establishes a tentative friendship. Then one night she gets a frantic call from the professor. “Help! Fire!” and when she answers it, her life takes another drastic and fantastic turn. She finds the home in flames, the professor gone, and a handsome young man cowering in the back yard who may–or may not– be the reincarnation of Brandard as a phoenix wizard. Tessa doesn’t believe in magic, but it believes in her. Without his proper memory, the soul of the professor and the soul of young Brian inhabit the same body but they could both be in danger and are needed to face the return of a great evil. Tessa throws in her lot to save them, and her world. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Set Doubinsky

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*For this blog tour, Meerkat Press is running a giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! The link and details for the giveaway are located at the bottom of the post, following the interview 🙂

Today I am interviewing Seb Doubinsky, author of the new science fiction novel, Missing Signal.

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DJ: Hi Seb! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

Seb Doubinsky:  Hello and thank you for having me here on this great site! I am a French bilingual writer who lives in Denmark. I lived in the States when I was a child and English is practically my first language, and American culture (of the early 60s) my first culture. I consider myself therefore a “Eumerican” writer, with a foot on both continents and cultures.

DJ: What is Missing Signal about?


Seb: It is about fake news, government propaganda and a possible alien invasion, all wrapped up around a love story.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Missing Signal?

Seb: Actually, the biggest influence comes from 1960s and 1970s movies, like Antonioni’s “Blow Up” or “Zabriskie Point”. I love the questioning contained in these films about identity, society, sexuality. They give me a good background to work with and create a new form of storytelling esthetics.

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? 

Seb: There are two main characters in the novel, Terrence and Vita. Terrence works for a government agency based on disinformation in UFOlogy and is their greatest specialist – he has numerous identities and personas. What makes him human, I think, is his loneliness and sincerity, in spite of his job as master deceptionist.

Vita is, well, a mystery – and I guess that’s what makes her attractive. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Amanda Cherry


Today I am interviewing Amanda Cherry, author of the new contemporary fantasy/super villain novel, Rites & Desires.

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DJ: Hi Amanda! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

Amanda Cherry: I’m a Gulf Coast native and UNLV alum who’s spent the last dozen or so years trying to keep warm in the Pacific Northwest. My first career was as an actor & entertainer, and I’m still an active member of SAG-AFTRA and can be found performing in variety shows throughout the region. I’ve been happily married to my husband for eleven years and we have a four-year-old son who’s gearing up for Kindergarten. I’m a staff writer for the Star Wars and geek culture site and contributed to the 2018 Role Play Game Acute Paranoia. I love Star Wars, Star Trek, DisneyBounding, and a well-crafted villain. I’ve written as a hobby all my life and have an intense love for fanfiction—a fact which has served me well as I join the broad and incredible Cobalt City universe as a professional author.

DJ: What is Rites & Desires about?


Amanda: By Day, Ruby Killingsworth is the billionaire CEO of Goblin Records—a multi-million-dollar worldwide entertainment conglomerate. By night, she’s a magic wielding super villain. Her worst day happened in Cobalt City Christmas, Christmas Harder when a ritual gone wrong robbed her of her power. Rites & Desires is the story of how she will stop at nothing to get it back. With the help of Loki (yes, that Loki!) and the band of supernatural minions he sends to her aid, Ruby sets out to unlock the secrets of an ancient African gem—a task that proves easier said than done.

She takes on this monumental undertaking while also working to seduce her neighbor, Jaccob Stevens; also known as Stardust, the Cobalt City’s preeminent super hero, also known as the City’s least eligible man. Did I mention he hates magic?

And she’s dealing with it all while having to manage the unwanted attentions of a certain Lyle Prather—one-time avatar of Loki, notorious former reality TV star, and recently inaugurated President of the United States.

What could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

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Author Interview: Rush Leaming

cdd479_09e2e8791b68453d8c071eff7d6a2931~mv2_d_1536_2048_s_2Today I am interviewing Rush Leaming, author of the new New Adult Fiction novel, The Whole of the Moon.

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DJ: Hi Rush! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

Rush Leaming: Sure. I’ve been a professional gypsy. Done many things and had many types of varied (and sometimes weird) experiences. But the short version of a long story is I spent over fifteen years in film/video production working on such projects as “The Lord of the Rings” films. I was also an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina for 7.5 years. I started writing short stories as soon as I could physically write at age 5. In 2016, I published my first novel “Don’t Go, Ramanya” a political thriller set in Thailand. I’ve lived all around the world. I currently live in South Carolina.

DJ: What is The Whole of the Moon about?


Rush: Set in 1988,  near the end of the Cold War, it’s about a group of young Americans working for an international aid organization who plunge into the beautiful, fascinating, yet dangerous world of Zaire, Africa. Ambitious, if a bit naïve, they must overcome hardship and tragedy, pushing themselves to their personal limits, while forging strong bonds among themselves and the local villagers they’ve come there to help.

I liked the way one of the beta readers described it: “Completely unique–Part adventure, part mystery, part travelogue, part romance, part coming of age tale.”

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Whole of the Moon?

Rush: It’s a variation on the classic tale “Flight of Icarus”, but other stories I think it shares some DNA with are “Birdy” by William Wharton; “The Year of Living Dangerously” by Christopher Koch; “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green; and, as it is set in the Congo, “The Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Justina Robson


Today I am interviewing Justina Robson author of the new fantasy novel, Salvation’s Fire, second book in the After the War series. She has previously been known for her Science Fiction novels, such as Natural History and the Quantum Gravity series.

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DJ: Hi Justina! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

Justina Robson: Thanks for asking! I have published about twelve or thirteen SF novels and SF/Fantasy mashup books prior to writing Salvation’s Fire. I enjoy reading, gaming and living at home with my husband and three children plus a cat, dog and fish of various sorts. My background before publication was in Philosophy and Linguistics, just enough to know I didn’t know very much. I’ve also had various admin jobs and spent a few years as a fitness instructor and a yoga teacher.

DJ: What is Salvation’s Fire and then the After the War series about?


Justina: The series focuses on some characters who were instrumental in bringing about the end of a large scale epic-fantasy style war (I’m saying epic because it includes demigods and has that sweep of genocidal humans vs monsters flavour to it). They’re trying, each in their own ways, to find new lives and new purposes as they try to salvage and rebuild after this conflict has ended. My story picks up where Adrian’s left off (that’s Redemption’s Blade) and goes to explore the nature and fate of the gods who were instrumental in bringing about the start of the war – or at least laying the conditions for it. It focuses on the original characters plus a few new ones, in particular an orphaned girl and a monster in human form.  

DJ: What were some of your influences for the After the War series?

Justina: Because the series was started by Adrian in Redemption’s Blade he had already done a massive amount of worldbuilding. I felt that it would be fun to try and continue with the same kind of rich texture and diversity he’d got as well as keeping the tone of the story’s origin, which is quite playful. It’s very much like a party adventure with some comic moments as well as action. But I’m not quite as lighthearted as Adrian is so my take on it is a little darker in some ways and a little bit more whimsical in others. I wanted to keep  a sense of cohesion with the first part of the story. At one point, when trying to make the fortress of the Kinslayer we were discussing that it was very Mordor-like, in the first book, hinted at but not expanded. I had decided to go there so we said I ought to try for Even More-dor. And that’s what I tried. The monster I mentioned is also a combination of Maleficent, Bride of Frankenstein and Miss Havisham in basic concept but her journey is very much influenced by Flowers For Algernon – she starts out as an empty vessel, without personality or intelligence, but she grows and develops at exponential speed once she gets activated. Continue reading

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