Monthly Archives: March 2019

Author Interview: Arkady Martine

Today I am interviewing Arkady Martine, author of the new science fiction novel, A Memory Called Empire, first book in the Teixcalaan series.

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

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

Arkady Martine: Hi! I’m a writer, a city planner, and a Byzantine historian (kinda in that order). I mostly write speculative fiction, academic articles, and creative nonfiction/reviews & criticism. I’m a New Yorker in that obnoxious way that New Yorkers have of declaring their city the center of the universe, but I’ve lived on three continents so far — highlights are the UK, Turkey, and Sweden — and right now I live and work in Baltimore with my wife, the author Vivian Shaw. I’m obsessed with urban architecture, climate resiliency planning, deserts, and eleventh-century Armenian-Byzantine cultural contacts, and when I’m not writing or working on adapting our cities to climate change, I climb aerial silks (badly), make chocolates (okay), and sing choral and shapenote music (decently.)

DJ: What is A Memory Called Empire about?

Arkady: It’s about empire and assimilation, and technology that makes people maybe-immortal, and how falling in love with a culture that’s eating your culture alive is a thing that really happens to people. Also it’s a big, sprawling political thriller. In space.

DJ: What were some of your influences A Memory Called Empire and the series?

Arkady: The book is in a lot of ways the fictional version of what I did a postdoctoral project on at Uppsala University in Sweden. My research there was about the contacts between Byzantium and the ‘eastern frontier’, particularly Armenia, during the eleventh century – and how those contacts were remembered, represented, and narrativized by the people who lived through them. The project was very much about borderlands as trauma spaces, about history and memory as narrative repairs to a wounded sense-of-the-world. This book came out of that project, and a lot of previous research into the history of imperialism, its methods and horrors and seductions.

I’m also highly influenced by CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner books, particularly the first six books (which, to me, form the heart of the arc of the series). Cherryh’s diplomat-embedded-in-an-alien-culture, dealing with assimilatory and existential pressures in a time of political crisis, Bren Cameron, is a direct ancestor of my Mahit Dzmare. Continue reading

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Author Interview: K. Chess

Today I am interviewing K Chess, author of the new science-fiction novel, Famous Men Who Never Lived.

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DJ: Hi K.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

K: Sure thing! I come from New England, where winters are cold and turn signals are optional. I write fiction and teach fiction — and work for a coffee company. I also drink a lot of coffee. If I give you a gift for your birthday, it will probably be coffee, because I get it for free.

DJ: What is Famous Men Who Never Lived about?

K: It’s about a woman who’s willing to do anything to recover the last copy of a book that was never even written in our world. Hel is a member of a group of New Yorkers from an alternate timeline who fled nuclear war and ended up in our version of the city, where the 20th century went completely differently. Unlike some other Universally Displaced Persons (UDPs) — like her partner Vikram — she is not interested in assimilating. She spends most of the book looking for Vikram’s paperback of the sci fi masterpiece The Pyronauts and getting into trouble.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Famous Men Who Never Lived?

K: The summer I began to write this book, I was reading Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber and The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi, as well as The Intuitionist and Zone One by Colson Whitehead. These are all books about doubles and lost worlds and the disconcerting nature of urban life. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Cory Doctorow

photo by Jonathan Worth (, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Today I am interviewing Cory Doctorow, author of the new science-fiction book, Radicalized.

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

What is Radicalized about?

Cory: Radicalized collects four new novellas that use science fiction — sometimes hopeful, sometimes angry, and sometimes both — to explore privilege, individuality and collective action.

Unauthorized Bread is a story about refugee housing where everything from the toaster to the elevators are designed to spy on, control, and extract cash from people with no alternative — and about how their self-help measures to deactivate these technologies leads to a golden age, even as it puts them in mortal peril.

Radicalized is about entitled white dudes who are traumatized by watching their loved ones die of preventable illness whose treatments their insurers won’t cover; when they go online to find support on message boards, they end up radicalizing each other into suicide bombers who kill health-care execs and the Congressmen who do their dirty work — the story turns on when and how America is willing to call affluent white men terrorists.

Model Minority is about a Superman-like hero who has spent a century physically shoring up American might at home and abroad, but who reaches a breaking point and intervenes to stop the same NYPD officers who killed Eric Garner from beating up a Black man; the “hero” quickly discovers that his “Americanness,” his “whiteness” and even his humanity were all provisional conditions whose unwritten terms of service required him to turn a blind eye to the cruelty and injustice of American politics. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Dan Stout

Today I am interviewing Dan Stout, author of the new fantasy thriller novel, Titanshade.

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

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

Dan Stout: Thank you so much for having me! I write quirky noir mysteries, often with a genre-bending twist. I’ve had a number of short stories published over the last few years, and my debut novel Titanshade, has just been released into the world!

DJ: What is Titanshade about?

Dan: It’s a noir fantasy thriller, set in a city on the edge of economic collapse. The story follows a homicide detective as he works a high-profile case, weaving his way through corrupt politicians, indifferent system, and dangerous street thugs. All of this plays out on a backdrop of magic and 1970s technology. In Titanshade there’s dirt in the gutters, disco on the radio, and a vicious killer on the loose.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Titanshade?

Dan: Oh, man—everything! I’m influenced by everything I consume, from books and comics to movies and TV. Even things that I don’t read or watch influence me, because they’re part of the cultural conversation. One great example is a series of books from TSR back in the 90s that were murder mysteries set in D&D campaign settings. I never read them, but I remember seeing them and thinking what a great idea it was. That kind of thing sat in the back of my head, combining with everything from Alien Nation to The Black Dahlia and The French Connection. The result is this book that’s a blend of all kinds of stories that I love, letting me explore what a fantasy world would look like after an industrial revolution. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Patrick Edwards

Today I am interviewing Patrick Edwards, author of the new science-fiction novel, Ruin’s Wake.

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

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

Patrick Edwards: I’m a U.K. writer and lifelong nerd. I live in Bristol, which is very rainy but has excellent breweries.

DJ: What is Ruin’s Wake about?

Patrick: It’s a three-fold story set in a future world that has lost touch with its past. An old soldier goes looking for his estranged son, a beaten wife begins a secret affair and a fringe academic uncovers a mysterious artefact deep under a glacier.  

DJ: What were some of your influences for Ruin’s Wake?

Patrick: New Wave authors like Ballard and Herbert, certainly, for setting. Iain Banks wrote the best characters in sci-fi and provided a lot of inspiration. My real world hook was my research into life in North Korea.

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? 

Patrick: Cale is the outsider, gruff and dangerous. He’s motivated by fear of losing a child but also a lot of guilt from his past. After a lifetime of breaking things in the army he’s devoted to creativity in the form of the monolithic sculptures he carves.

Kelbee is our eye on the inside – she lives and breathes the oppressive society of the novel. She discovers how resilient she is as the illusion of peaceful society cracks around her; she has to battle with her fear of her husband and her doubts about her lover. Despite being a country girl she loves the morning sun over the city.

Sulara is a woman who’s endured a lifetime of scorn from a misogynistic society and become cynical, though her passion for her work remains. She discovers something that could change the world. She uses silence as a weapon. Continue reading

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Author Interview: B.K. Bass

Today I am interviewing B.K. Bass, author of the new fantasy novella, Warriors of Understone.

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DJ: Hi B.K.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

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

B.K. Bass: Sure thing, and thank you for having me! I’m an author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. So far I’ve published five novellas and an anthology including four books in a dark fantasy series called The Ravencrest Chronicles; Night Shift, the first book in a cyberpunk trilogy called The Night Trilogy, and most recently Warriors of Understone, the first book in The Tales of Durgan Stoutheart. I’m also one of the owners and the Acquisitions Director for Kyanite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Kyanite Press journal of speculative fiction.

DJ: What is Warriors of Understone about?

B.K.: Warriors of Understone is the story of a dwarven craftsman named Durgan who is trapped in his role by the confines of a strict caste-based society. When he is given an opportunity to change his station in life, he must fight not only to become a warrior but to overcome social prejudices. He finds himself in the middle of a political battle between two rival factions, tormented by his new peers, and dismissed by the daughter of his thane – who he finds himself attracted to. He struggles to prove himself, and in the process works to prove that every dwarf should be judged by the merit of his worth rather than the circumstance of his birth.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Warriors of Understone?

B.K.: Definitely every fantasy story with a dwarf, from Tolkien to modern tales like the Dragon Age games – which were a huge inspiration on their own. Dwarves in fantasy almost invariably are relegated to the role of side characters, or at best mixed evenly into the bigger picture. It’s very rare to see a story that features them, so I wanted to write a book where there were only dwarves, and this is it! There’s mention of humans and elves and goblins, so the wider world has more to offer, but in this book we get to take a deep dive into dwarven culture and politics. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Don Lubov

Today I am interviewing Don Lubov, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Plague.

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

What is The Plague about?

Don: “The Plague” is a cautionary tale, about how anger can be dangerous to us all.

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

Don: Seeing anger on an individual destroy its container, and on a large scale, destroy countries. As Mark Twain said: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

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?

Don: My main character, Dave Miller, is an investigative reporter. He is obsessed with his attire, frightened of heights, claustrophobic, and insecure in his ability to excel as a reporter.

DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for in story? Why?

Don: On page 37, an overdressed shopper argues with a “servicebot”. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Auston Habershaw

Today I am interviewing Auston Habershaw, author of the new epic fantasy novel, The Far Far Better Thing, final book in the Saga of the Redeemed series.

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

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

Auston Habershaw: Hi, Thanks for having me! I’m an author by night, college professor by day. I’ve been writing professionally for about ten years now and have published about 16-17 short stories (in places like Analog, F&SF, Galaxy’s Edge, and others) and four novels. I also won the Writers of the Future Award in 2015. I live in Boston, Massachusetts with my wife, three lovely children, two cats, and a dog.

DJ: What is The Far Far Better Thing and then the Saga of the Redeemed series about?

Auston: The Far Far Better Thing is the culmination of the main character’s journey from cynical, selfish villain to…well…something else. As the title of the series probably indicates, this is a redemption story. Tyvian Reldamar begins the series as a smuggler, criminal mastermind, and vicious duelist, but has a ring placed on his finger that forbids him from doing evil things. This sets him off on a path fraught with danger and derring-do as he tries to have the ring removed and get his own life back, but in the process sees his life (and his nature) fundamentally changed. All this occurs as he is both master and pawn in a vast conspiracy that will change the nature of the entire world around him, involving revolutions, wars, magical cataclysms, and an awful lot of cool swordfights.   

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Saga of the Redeemed series?

Auston: I have always, always loved antiheroes–the people who have no business (or even intention) of saving the day, but do anyway. I love to watch the character change and see that nascent conscience growing inside them. This probably all starts with Han Solo, honestly, but includes characters like Mad Martigan, Long John Silver, and, hell, even Shrek. There are so many.

Beyond that, I love plots and counter-plots and intricate world-building. Robert Jordan was a huge influence growing up, as was George RR Martin (first read it in the 90s, people!) and Raymond E Feist and Frank Herbert. I like to think I channel some of that into Tyvian’s world.    Continue reading

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Author Interview: Dan Moren

Today I am interviewing Dan Moren, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Bayern Agenda, first book in the Galactic Cold War series.

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

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

Dan Moren: Hello! Absolutely. By day I’m a millionaire playboy, by night I fight crime dressed as a bat. Wait, sorry, wrong interview! I’m a sci-fi author, freelance tech journalist, and podcaster. My first book, The Caledonian Gambit, came out in May 2017 from Talos, and my latest book is The Bayern Agenda, which is now out from Angry Robot. For my day job, I write about tech for places like Macworld and Six Colors and host tech podcasts Clockwise and The Rebound. And, in my “spare” time, I also host a few shows on The Incomparable podcast network, including nerdy quiz show Inconceivable!

DJ: What is The Bayern Agenda about?

Dan: The Bayern Agenda is a sci-fi spy thriller, set against the backdrop of a galactic cold war between two rival superpowers: the Illyrican Empire and the Commonwealth of Independent Systems. Our story follows Simon Kovalic, a covert operative for the Commonwealth, as he tries to get to the bottom of mysterious ties between the Illyricans and the independent financial hub of Bayern. Unfortunately, when he’s wounded on a mission, his team of operatives is put temporarily under the command of his ex-wife. Intrigue ensues!

DJ: What were some of your influences The Bayern Agenda and the series?

Dan: Sci-fi and spy stories are two of my favorite genres, so the opportunity to mix them together was hard to resist. On the epsionage side, I love the works of John Le Carré, TV shows like The Sandbaggers, the Mission: Impossible film series, classic Hitchock thrillers, Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country spy comics—pretty much any great espionage story. On the sci-fi side, I tend towards fun space adventures that are full of intrigue and complicated characters, including the works of Lois McMaster Bujold, John Scalzi, and James S.A. Corey. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Amber Royer

Today I am interviewing Amber Royer, author of the new science fiction novel, Pure Chocolate, second book in the The Chocoverse series.

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

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

Amber Royer: Hi DJ!  Thanks you for the opportunity.

I write science fiction, much of it comic.  I also teach creative writing to both teens and adults for Writing Workshops Dallas and UT Arlington.  About a million years ago, I was a youth librarian, so I come at books and writing from a number of different directions.

I’m also a bit of a geek and a bit of a foodie, and both of those show when you read the Chocoverse books.

I’m known among my friends for making decorated cupcakes.

DJ: What is Pure Chocolate and then The Chocoverse series about?

Amber: You have a future where aliens (the Krom) make a secret first contact.  They buy samples of commodities, which they then plan to share with the galaxy.  They take coffee and sugar cane, but they miss chocolate. Which becomes the only unique thing Earth has that the galaxy is hungry for.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Chocoverse series?

Amber: This story is basically a telenovela on the page.  So it’s going to share a lot of the plot elements and sensibilities from that genre.  And there will be novela-ish character arcs. There’s glitz and glamour and celeberazzi fun.  Think how people react in soap operas . . . there’s going to be that level of drama. But at the same time this is a comedy, and I’m playing with the overused soap opera tropes as the punch lines to jokes, to the point where by the time you get to the second book Bo is actively wondering how her life has taken on so many elements of a novela.

There’s also a bit here from the culinary mystery tradition, especially in the first book (a number of corpses do hit the ground in this series).  Bo’s the daugher of one of Earth’s biggest celebrity chefs, and after her acting career crashbangs, she flees to the other side of the galaxy to get away from the press — and her family, who think she has behaved badly.  Bo’s boyfriend, Brill is also a foodie — he’s a galactic trader who specializes in luxury foodstuffs and he’s also a connoisseur of fine wine.

And of course, this is space opera.  There’s tons of geeky in references to everything from Jurassic Park to Star Wars to The Thing to E.T., but there’s a big bit about how we didn’t get the first contact Star Trek promised. Continue reading

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