Author Archives: DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

Author Interview: Anna Smith Spark

Today I am interviewing Anna Smith Spark, author of the new grimdark, fantasy novel, The Court of Broken Knives, first book in the Empires of Dust series.

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

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

Anna Smith Spark: Hello DJ, and thank you for asking me! I’m a British fantasy novelist with a background in classical history and mythology. I’m a (sadly, ex-) D&D player and Warhammer fan – for a couple of glorious years, I studied the Iliad and the campaigns of Alexander the Great all day, then played David Gemmell based D&D all night. In my past lives I’ve been an English teacher, a petty bureaucrat and a fetish model. I have dyslexia, dyspraxia and Asperger’s Syndrome.

DJ: What is The Court of Broken Knives about?

Anna: Aha ha ha. The big question. Broken Knives is my response to the hero myths and legends that I’ve loved since childhood – the Iliad, the Eddas, Beowulf, the Tain, Tolkien. It’s about violence and the cult of the war leader. Why we fight and die, why we follow someone to death. Why human society has always fetishized violence, seen prowess in war as admirable.  

It’s basically a fairly standard fantasy set-up: in a decadent city, a nobleman schemes to save his world through violence, hires a company of mercenaries to do the changing. But a member of the company has a dark secret. And violence has a way of getting out of control.

It’s grimdark epic fantasy with poetry, Joycean stream-of-consciousness battle scenes, and rude jokes. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Leonie Postma

Today I am interviewing Leonie Postma, author of the new dystopian sci-fi novel, Samir.

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

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

Leonie Postma: Thanks DJ, for inviting me here. Sure. I’m Dutch, and grew up in Amsterdam and some years in France. After my studies, I worked for a number of years in Namibia and Angola, after which I came back to the Netherlands again. Currently, my base is Amsterdam, but I stay several months a year in Portugal, which is for me the perfect place to write, while helping out on a farm. Besides writing and farming, I work as a trainer and project evaluator on freelance basis, and love to go for long walks.

DJ: What is Samir about?

Leonie: Samir is the story of a refugee in what seems to be a beautiful and peaceful place, a place I refer to in the book as the Centre. The story explores our desire to create and believe in utopia, beautiful places where all is good, and where, sometimes, we can forget that what is good for one, is not always good for the other. It’s also a story that question’s the manufacturability of a society: is it possible to create what we want? Are we, as humans, able to control it all? Or will there always be a dark side in whatever we make – whether it is new technology or a new type of society – a side we didn’t want to see, or which we forgot to take into account?

DJ: What were some of your influences for Samir?

Leonie: Maybe it sounds a bit clichéd, but Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall between the US and Mexico and the current influx of refugees in Europe inspired me to write Samir. When reading about all this, I was wondering: what would happen if someone decides to set up safe heavens, where refugees can live in peace and get everything they need: food, facilities, clothes, in return for forty hours of labor. And what will happen if we make everyone practice mindfulness and meditate at least once a day, so that they can experience living in the here and now. Wouldn’t that be a dream come true? Continue reading

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Author Interview: Wendy Hammer

Today I am interviewing Wendy Hammer, author of the new urban fantasy omnibus Cross Cutting.

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

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

Wendy Hammer: Hi! Sure thing. My go-to three word introduction is: Reader, Writer, Weirdo. It covers most of the bases. I’ve been a voracious reader almost my whole life and I love to write. This is handy because I teach English at a community college for a living. The weirdo part speaks to personality, I suppose. I like eccentrics, oddities, and quirk. I’m a geek. I will talk about Dragon Age, Hannibal, Nimona, and other favorites all day long. 

DJ: What is the Cross Cutting series about?

Wendy: It’s about Trinidad O’Laughlin, a woman who can magically bond with a territory in order to protect it, and her search for a home to call her own. She comes to Indiana in response to a cry for help and in hopes of reconnecting with an old friend. There, she confronts waves of murderous monsters who travel through cuts between our world and their own. Each major story in the collection focuses on a different cut and a new piece of the puzzle. The second section of the collection is from her friend Ache’s point of view, but Trinidad never takes a backseat. In the end, it’s her story.  

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Cross Cutting series

Wendy: A mishmash of RPG warden/bard/ranger character classes, Irish and Trinidadian culture, classic punk music, my favorite horror movies, and likely all the other media I’ve consumed over the years.  Continue reading

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From DJ to MD: Year 1 in the Books


Okay, so this post is long overdue. I mean long, long, long overdue. I am finally typing this up on Friday night August 11…. I first my first year of medical in May XD I know; I’m that good. What’s even funnier is that today was also the end of Term 3! Which means that this post is technically a term late XD

Continue reading

Author Interview: Nina Allan

Today I am interviewing Nina Allan, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Rift.

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

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

Nina Allan: Hi, and thanks for having me! I’m a British writer, with a keen lifelong interest in speculative fiction across all genres. I’ve published more than fifty short stories and a couple of collections. My first novel The Race was shortlisted for the Kitschies Red Tentacle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. I live and work on the Isle of Bute, in western Scotland. The Rift is my second novel.

DJ: What is The Rift about?

Nina: The Rift is about two sisters, Selena and Julie. Julie disappeared at the age of seventeen, leaving her family devastated and unable to come to terms with what happened. Twenty years later, Selena receives a telephone call from someone claiming to be Julie, saying she has spent time on another planet and that she wants her return to the world to be kept secret. The woman seems in every way to be Julie, but Selena can’t bring herself to believe the story she tells about herself. She has to make a decision: is Julie really her sister or not? And how much of what she says is a fantasy, an explanation for the real trauma she experienced when she was abducted?

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

Nina: That’s such a difficult question to answer, because the novel changed so much while I was writing it. The Rift was originally going to be a more straightforward alien abduction story. I’m fascinated by that phenomenon, and more particularly by the many testimonies recorded from people who claim to have been the victims. Again and again, you see a gulf opening up when a friend or close family member claims to have experienced something that people on the outside of that experience find difficult and more often impossible to believe. At some point that theme – the idea of difference that arises out of absence or separation – began to take over from the aliens themselves. A key influence was Joan Lindsay’s novel Picnic at Hanging Rock, which a lot of people will know through Peter Weir’s film adaptation. One scene in particular – where the miraculously returned Irma is brought into school to say goodbye to her classmates – kept coming back to me. It’s an odd scene, a supremely powerful scene, because you would imagine the other girls would be delighted to see their comrade again, but what you get instead is a barely repressed violence, an anger that she knows something and is refusing to tell them. These are the kinds of ideas The Rift ends up exploring. Continue reading

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Author Interview: RJ Barker

Today I am interviewing RJ Barker, author of the new fantasy novel, Age of Assassins, first book in the Wounded Kingdom series.

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

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

RJ Barker: Yes! Glad to. I live in Leeds, which is in Yorkshire in the UK. I’m married to Lindy and we have a little boy and a cat called Bertie. The little boy isn’t called Bertie. He’s called Rook. And we live in flat in a very old mansion that we fill with taxidermy and odd art. We surround ourselves with things that make us happy. I advise doing this wherever possible in life.

DJ: What is Age of Assassins about?

RJ: It’s a murder mystery, at its heart. And a story about the relationship between a boy, Girton Club-Foot (our hero and the book’s narrator) and Merela Karn, who has brought him up and trained him. They’re trapped in a castle and forced to find out who wants to murder the heir. It’s a pressure-cooker environment[1] and it forces Girton into a position he’s very uncomfortable with, which makes him examine himself. And of course, as it’s a fantasy book there’s also magic and intrigue and swordfights. All the good stuff.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Age of Assassins and the series?

RJ: I’m a big lover of history and I’d been writing a short play about Margaret of Anjou, so that’s in there, and I’m a HUGE fan of the King Arthur myth as well. From the other side Agatha Christie is in there and there are definite influences from American crime writers like James Lee Burke and Robert Crais. And I’ve always been a bit of an outsider, too[2], so that feeds into the creation of Girton. He’s very much on the outside of a world looking in. Continue reading

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New-Release Spotlight: All These Worlds by Dennis E. Taylor

About the Book:

Being a sentient spaceship really should be more fun. But after spreading out through space for almost a century, Bob and his clones just can’t stay out of trouble.

They’ve created enough colonies so humanity shouldn’t go extinct. But political squabbles have a bad habit of dying hard, and the Brazilian probes are still trying to take out the competition. And the Bobs have picked a fight with an older, more powerful species with a large appetite and a short temper.

Still stinging from getting their collective butts kicked in their first encounter with the Others, the Bobs now face the prospect of a decisive final battle to defend Earth and its colonies. But the Bobs are less disciplined than a herd of cats, and some of the younger copies are more concerned with their own local problems than defeating the Others.

Yet salvation may come from an unlikely source. A couple of eighth-generation Bobs have found something out in deep space. All it will take to save the Earth and perhaps all of humanity is for them to get it to Sol — unless the Others arrive first.

Continue reading

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Author Interview: Nate Crowley

Today I am interviewing Nate Crowley, author of the new sci-fi horror novel, The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack.

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

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

Nate Crowley: Sure! I used to be a journalist, but a couple of years ago I wrote a massive story about my mate’s birthday on twitter, and that somehow led me into a career as a fiction writer.

DJ: What’s The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack about?

Nate: The book is about political prisoners who get executed, then reanimated to work as slave labour aboard whaling ships on an alien sea. The protagonist, Schneider, can’t remember whether he was a librarian who was framed for sedition, or a dangerous rebel leader. In any case, he’s ended up dead and working in the most nightmarish environment imaginable, so he decides to give himself the benefit of the doubt and start a slave revolt.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack?

Nate: You can’t write a whaling story without a bit of Moby Dick getting in through the cracks, so there’s a little of that general flavour in there. I’m massively into natural history too, so there’s an awful lot of unusual and grotesque wildlife in the story, both in the oceanic setting the book starts in, and in some tropical locations later on. In terms of other influences, I’m very much into China Mieville – I love the way he writes about social structures that are even more monstrous than his actual monsters, and I’d like to think I’ve managed something a little of the same. I’m also a great fan of the late Iain M Banks, particularly in the way he managed to inject humour and humanity into the most horrendous situations. Continue reading

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Author Interview: E.M. Hamill

Today I am interviewing E.M. Hamill, author of the new science-fiction, Dali.

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

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

E.M. Hamill: I write as E.M. Hamill for more mature readers and as Elisabeth Hamill for young adults. Call me Lisa!

In my career life, I’m a nurse, but I’m a writer at heart every other hour of the day. I’m a total geek, lifelong scifi and fantasy addict, and I have a crippling ice cream habit.

DJ: What is Dali about?

E.M.: Dalí is a third-gender human in Earth’s future, completely shattered by the loss of their family in a terrorist attack. They stumble into a sex-trafficking plot that threatens other third-gender humans like them, and when they attempt to investigate, their own government blocks the effort. Dalí is recruited by a galactic spy organization for an undercover mission to discover who is behind the scheme, and it gives them purpose again. They have to decide how far they’ll go to get the information they need in order to stop another deadly terror attack.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Dali?

E.M.: I describe Dalí as a space opera in the same vein of Star Wars or Star Trek. There’s a large cast of humans and alien species working together to achieve things. There are also deliberate parallels drawn to the modern concerns like gender equality, LGBTQ rights, sex trafficking, and political corruption. Strangely enough, I actually finished the first draft almost two years ago, and there are some scary similarities to the current political climate in the US. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Donna Migliaccio

Today I am interviewing Donna Migliaccio, author of the new fantasy novel, Kinglet, first book in The Gemeta Stone series.

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

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

Donna Migliaccio: I’m a professional stage actress with 30+ years in the business. I make my home in the metro Washington, DC area, but am currently in New York City, where I’m understudying legendary actress Patti LuPone in the musical WAR PAINT at Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre. Yep, it’s a crazy life!

DJ: What is Kinglet about?

Donna: It’s the story of Kristan Gemeta, a gentle young prince who loses his father, his crown and his family’s legendary Gemeta Stone when his kingdom is overthrown by the Wichelord Daazna. He must regain the Stone and learn to be a leader before he can take back his crown and free his people.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Kinglet and the series?

Donna: A big influence was T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. I was intrigued by the story of a young man coming into power who must learn to balance the need for control and strength against his natural inclination toward kindness and compassion.

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?

Donna: Kristan’s innate gentleness is often viewed as a weakness by those he needs to lead so he can regain his throne. His journey is all about finding the confidence and courage to lead while still remaining true to his nature. Another major character is Heather Demitt, a reckless young woman who thinks she’s found the Stone and sets off to find its owner so he can help free her homeland from Daazna’s rule. And Daazna himself is a fascinating study – someone who feels he’s been wronged and will go to any lengths to get revenge. Continue reading

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