Monthly Archives: April 2019

Author Interview: Caitlin Starling

credited © Beth Olson Creative 2017

Today I am interviewing Caitlin Starling, author of the new sci-fi, horror novel, The Luminous Dead.

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

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

Caitlin Starling: Hi DJ! I’m a writer, knitter, and cocktail drinker based near Portland, Oregon. I grew up doing costuming, NaNoWriMo, and all sorts of collaborative storytelling. The Luminous Dead is a science fiction/horror/thriller mashup, and while not all my projects are science fiction, they all share a twisty dark character and relationship based heart.

DJ: What is The Luminous Dead about?

Caitlin: It’s about a woman who lies her way onto a dangerous solo caving expedition in pursuit of a fat paycheck, only to find that she doesn’t have the surface support she expected, and that her only contact with the outside world is a cold, manipulative, lying stranger. Or, more quicky, “Angry, traumatized lesbians in caves.”

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Luminous Dead?

Caitlin: Video games like Firewatch, Portal, and Zombies, Run!, which all feature a voice in the player’s ear helping– maybe– them through the game, were a huge influence. That sort of forced intimacy, and withheld information, is like catnip to me.

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? 

Caitlin: “Sympathize” might be a stretch (at least at first)! Both Gyre (in the cave) and Em (on the comm line) are extremely driven, broken women who make some extremely questionable decisions. My hope is that both are interesting in the ways they’re wounded and yet continue working towards their goals. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Mike Resnick

Today I am interviewing Mike Resnick, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Master of Dreams, first book in The Dreamscape trilogy.

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

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

Mike Resnick: I’m the author of about 80 novels – all of them science fiction except for three mysteries, 10 non-fiction books,  and some 280 short stories. According to Locus, the trade paper of the science fiction field, I’m the all-time leading award winner for short fiction, and 4th on the list when you add in novels. I have 5 Hugo Awards (science fiction’s Oscar) from a record 37 nominations.

DJ: What is The Master of Dreams about?

Mike: About a normal man who finds himself in totally un-normal (not quite abnormal) circumstances – as the owner of a bar in Casablanca, as a Munchkin helping a girl reach a  Wizard, and as a citizen of Camelot.

DJ: What were some of your influences The Master of Dreams and the series?

Mike: Well, clearly Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz were two of them. Any book or story that had the protagonist inadvertently changing bodies, identities, or venues would certainly count as a less immediate but valid influence.

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? 

Mike: Eddie Raven and his girlfriend Lisa are, on the surface, a very normal young man and woman. It is precisely because they seem (note that: seem) to have nothing unique or special about them that will cause the readers to sympathize with them. By the conclusion of the trilogy the readers will realize that first impressions can be misleading. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Richard A. Knaak

Today I am interviewing Richard A. Knaak, author of the new urban fantasy novel, Black City Dragon, third book in the Black City Saint series.

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

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

Richard A. Knaak: Well, I’ve written some fifty novels and around two dozen shorter pieces, not to mention manga, comics, gaming material, and more

DJ: What is Black City Dragon and then the Black City Saint series about?

Richard: Black City Dragon is the third novel in my series, which takes place in Prohibition Chicago. The series follows Nick Medea, once St. George of dragon fame, who has been the guardian of the ever-shifting gate between our world and Feirie since he unwittingly slew its original sentinel, the dragon. Worse, in the struggle, his blood mixed with the dragon’s, meaning they are one now…but not allies, save by necessity. Nick has to call on the dragon’s power at times, which also means the potential for the beast taking over, as happened in Chicago in 1871.

That same incident froze the gate — invisible to human eyes — near Lake Michigan. Since then, Nick has been trying to stem the incursions of the worst of Feirie’s creatures, the Wyld. Unfortunately, in addition to all his other troubles, including the dragon’s constant attempts to trick him, Nick also has to contend with the queen of Feirie’ ambitions and, worst of all, the constant reincarnation of his lost love, the princess Cleolinda, the woman he saved from the dragon in the process. Although they don’t remember their past, each incarnation is drawn to him…and, eventually, each incarnation dies violently. Nick blames himself for that, but in Black City Dragon, he learns that there’s another reason. Part of it is vengeance spread across the sixteen centuries since Nick and the dragon and part if it is the culmination of something more sinister involving both worlds.

Oh, did I mention that the title does NOT refer to Nick’s eternal companion? Continue reading

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Author Interview: Daniel Suarez

Credit: Stephen Payne

Today I am sharing a Q&A with Daniel Suarez, author of the new science-fiction novel, Delta-v.

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Q: What inspired Delta-v?

A: Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I was fascinated by space exploration. I caught every Shuttle launch on TV, inhaled science fiction, and imagined that thousands of people would be living and working in space by 2020.

And yet, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings, we still haven’t expanded human presence in the solar system. In fact, no human being has traveled farther than 400 miles from Earth since 1973. 

What happened? Many would say that the cost of space exploration proved too great, but given the existential risks of asteroid strikes, pandemics, climate change, overpopulation, nuclear war, and more, the cost of not venturing off-world could be extinction. 

So much popular science fiction is set in the period well after humanity has established itself in the cosmos, but that future is by no means certain. We need to build it. My goal with Delta-v was to bridge the chasm between our present and the sci-fi future in space that so many of us imagine.

Fortunately, through my past novels, I’ve become acquainted with space entrepreneurs here in California and scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech, as well as at NASA headquarters in D.C.. These experts helped me understand the economic and technological challenges we must overcome to finally become a space-faring civilization. 

Crucially, I learned there is nothing preventing us from establishing ourselves in deep space except the will to do it—as we did with the Apollo missions. We need only revise our fiscal and political priorities. More sobering, I also learned that the window to expand into space will not remain open forever. Any number of calamities here on Earth could permanently prevent us from making this leap. So we cannot wait any longer.

Embarking human industry and society into space will be necessary if we hope to offer a promising future to coming generations. I wrote Delta-v to inspire the spirit of adventure and exploration for this vital quest. Continue reading

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Author Interview: David Hair

Today I am interviewing David Hair, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Hearts of Ice, third book in the Sunsurge Quartet.

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

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

David: Hi DJ. I’m a New Zealander, a fulltime writer with 20 books currently in print via several international publishers. I’ve been writing professionally since 2009; prior to that I was a financial services person. I write YA and mass market fantasy novels. I’m married with two grown children, and I’ve lived in England, India and Thailand, so I love travel, as well as football, good wine, and history. I’m now living back in my native New Zealand with my wonderful wife, Kerry.

DJ: What is Hearts of Ice and then the Sunsurge quartet about?

David: I’ll start with the overall quartet: The Sunsurge Quartet is the sequel to The Moontide Quartet, an epic fantasy series set on the Earth-like world of Urte (pronounced “Ur-teh”). Essentially it’s a fantasy world divided into East and West, with a lot of problems similar to our own world. There is culture clash on racial and religious lines, and the two series deal with those conflicts, following a group of heroes who put aside those dividing lines to unite in the name of peace. It’s a ruthless place, but also a place where courage and loyalty can triumph through the virtues of cooperation in the face of self-serving enemies.

Hearts of Ice is the third book of The Sunsurge Quartet; and a young queen is struggling to hold a decadent empire together against open and hidden enemies, and some allies who are just as dangerous. Her only advantage is a forbidden magic that only she and a handful of others can wield, and which could as easily damn her as save her. Her armies are locked in combat with an eastern invader, and there’s a secret cabal seeking not just to unseat her, but to control both sides of the conflict. So there’s lots going on! Continue reading

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Author Interview: Lee French

Today I am interviewing Lee French, co-editor of the new fantasy anthology, Swords, Sorcery, and Self-Rescuing Damsels.

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DJ: Hi Lee! Thanks for stopping by again to do another interview!

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

Lee: Hello! I’m an indie fantasy and science fiction author, a member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and a co-founder of Clockwork Dragon, a small press based in Olympia, Washington. Some of what I write is Young Adult, but not all of ig. I also write cyberpunk full of sex, drugs, swearing, terrible people, and violence under the name L.E. French.

DJ: What is Swords, Sorcery, and Self-Rescuing Damsels about?

Lee: The anthology is collection of stories about women and girls who can save themselves from whatever peril they’ve fallen into without needing a ”traditional” (male) hero to ride to their rescue. Some are too young, others are past their prime. There are also a few with disabilities.

DJ: What were some of the inspirations behind Swords, Sorcery, and Self-Rescuing Damsels?

Lee: The process of editing an anthology has interested me for many years. How do they pick the stories? Why those people? What is the secret? I assumed there had to be some secret to the whole process, because otherwise everyone would do it. Since no one would tell me that secret, I did the thing I do, which is to try it and see what happens. Thankfully, I’m part of a regional writing group, Norwest Independent Writers Association, which was already producing an annual charity anthology. I volunteered to take over the editor position and got to work.

It turns out, that’s the secret: work. There’s no magic formula or anything. Like anything else, if you’re willing to put in the work, you can produce an anthology of quality. Once I’d done it, I knew I could handle doing it professionally, so I set to work on this premise. Other people have provided plenty of help along the way, including Sarah Craft, who’s done this before–many times–and arguably did more of the work than I. Jeffrey Cook was also particularly helpful in coming up with the title and parameters. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Mark Lawrence

Today I am interviewing Mark Lawrence, author of the new fantasy novel, Holy Sister, final book in the Book of the Ancestor series.

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

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

Mark: I’m a former scientist who tried his hand at writing. The Book of the Ancestor is my third trilogy. My first book, Prince of Thorns, is the work I’m most known for.

DJ: What is Holy Sister and then the Book of the Ancestor series about?

Mark: They’re about the same thing, which is the story of Nona Grey after she’s taken to a convent aged around 8. She spends the next 10 years there and, along with a religious and secular education, the nuns also train her in such things as armed combat, poisoning, and shadow weaving. These are troubled times and Nona’s personal difficulties with the land’s high and mighty lead into a larger story of war and a doomed world.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Book of the Ancestor series?

Mark: Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers. I basically added knives, murder, magic and ice sheets.

DJ: What is the world and setting of the Book of the Ancestor series like? 

Mark: The world of Abeth is almost entirely covered by miles-thick ice sheets. Only a 50 mile wide corridor around the equator is kept clear, and this is achieved using a huge mirror in space (they call it a moon) that focuses the light of their dying sun into the region. Even so the ice is continuing to close from both sides and, as the corridor narrows, inevitably there’s war for the diminishing resources. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Ashok K. Banker

Today I am interviewing Ashok K. Banker, author of the new fantasy novel, Upon a Burning Throne, first book in the Burnt Empire Saga.

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

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

Ashok: Hi DJ! Thanks so much for having me! Happy to be here. I’m an Indian author best known for my English-language retellings of Indian mythological epics and historical legends. I’ve also been credited as having “pioneered” or “launched” the Indian genres of crime fiction, fantasy, science fiction, horror, and genre fiction in general, in the English-language. I created and wrote India’s first television series in English, and co-wrote Malaysia’s first television series in English. Upon a Burning Throne is my 70th published book to date, and my first book published in the United States.

DJ: What is Upon a Burning Throne about?

Ashok: Upon a Burning Throne is a story about a great empire that dominates the world of Arthaloka, and the three legitimate aspirants that lay claim to the succession. The one that should be crowned is a young girl-child named Krushita, daughter of a powerful demi-god named Jarsun. But though she passes the test of fire – which requires placing the baby upon the Burning Throne and letting the throne itself test her with supernatural fire – the elders reject her claim and place her two half-brothers on the throne instead. This infuriates Jarsun, who is already an outcast from the family, and he declares war against the Burnt Empire. The resulting conflict takes up most of the book, with numerous battles, sorcerous attacks and confrontations, culminating in a shocking twist.

DJ: What were some of your influences Upon a Burning Throne and the series?

Ashok: Upon a Burning Throne is an epic fantasy inspired by the ancient Indian epic The Mahabharata. But having said that, let me clarify that it’s not a retelling of the events in that Sanskrit epic. It’s an original work of fantasy that takes inspiration from the myth but creates its own world, characters and culture. It’s nothing like ancient India in many significant ways, and very far removed from present-day America! In short, it’s an original world in which some characters and events appear to resemble the events and characters of the Mahabharata but as you read on, you will soon realise that this is most definitely not the Mahabharata or ancient India, and, Toto, we ain’t in Kansas and we never were in Kansas! If you know the Mahabharata – which is doubtful because there isn’t any unabridged edition of the Mahabharata translated into English – but let’s say you think you know it, well, you’ll be very confused or even surprised, so quite honestly, it’s best read without knowing anything about the source material, just as an original epic fantasy. (There are several teams of scholars that attempted an unabridged translation but all those versions were abandoned unfinished because of the enormous resources required, and those versions that you may read online or the abridged summaries are really not accurate for the most part, so trust me, unless Sanskrit was your mother tongue and you’ve spent your whole lifetime studying the complex nuances of every verse of the millions that make up that labyrinth of inscrutability, you don’t know it. Perhaps nobody truly knows it.) Other influences were Moghul history, and even elements of Egyptian and Asian mythology. But let me be clear, there are no real world parallels to anything in the Burnt Empire series. Even the Indian comparisons would not hold up once you see how the story unfolds and characters develop. I’ve only used those sources as a card intended to mislead readers – to lull you into thinking, oh, so that’s what this is about and this is where it’s going – while pulling a bait-and-switch and taking you in a wholly unexpected direction. Characters who do very bad things may turn out to be heroes in another context, while apparent heroes will be put into some very problematic scenarios. Nothing is what it seems, and anything can happen in the world of the Burnt Empire Saga! Continue reading

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Author Interview: Suzanne Palmer

Today I am interviewing Suzanne Palmer, author of the new science-fiction novel, Finder.

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

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

Suzanne Palmer: Hi! Thanks for talking to me! I write mostly space opera-style science fiction, with occasional fantasy and horror, and I won a Hugo last year for my novelette, “The Secret Life of Bots”. I’m also a linux system administrator, so I definitely may just possibly be a bit of a geek.  

DJ: What is Finder about?

Suzanne: It’s the story of Fergus Ferguson, who is an interstellar repo man of sorts and has gone off to a backwater deep space settlement named Cernee to find and take back a stolen space ship. He gets caught up in a local civil war and also attracts the interest of the not-so-friendly aliens in the neighborhood, so it does not go at all smoothly for him.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Finder?

Suzanne: I’ve been reading science fiction my whole life, and while I love a lot of different types of stories, for me the ones I like reading the most, and want to tell, are the ones where the main characters are sort of ordinary people, with their own hangups and histories, who get put into a situation where they just have to do the best they can. I prefer stories where we can like the characters, and no matter how dark the story gets feel left with some spark of hope or justice or satisfaction at the end. So, authors like John Scalzi and Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder, and Martha Wells for just a few examples. Continue reading

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