Category Archives: Interview

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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Author Interview: Levi Jacobs

Today I am interviewing Levi Jacobs, author of the new fantasy novel, Beggar’s Rebellion, first book in the Resonant Saga.

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

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

Levi: I’m a cultural anthropologist who decided he loves epic fantasy too much to get a PhD, and supports himself selling fruit at a roadside stand in the North Dakota oil fields.

DJ: What is Beggar’s Rebellion about?

Levi: Beggar’s Rebellion is a story about internal and external revolution. I set the magic up to have only those warriors who can overcome their personal problems be able to access its full powers–so my main characters (of course) are examples of that kind of warrior, though they come from different sides of the conflict (a colonial conquest centered around harvesting a recently discovered magic-inducing herb).

DJ: What were some of your influences Beggar’s Rebellion and the series?

Levi: I didn’t realize it at the time, but Frank Herbert’s Dune was a big one–the interplay of foreign colonists and indigenous peoples, the conflicts centering around spice as it becomes integral to the galactic economy, those all show up in epic fantasy form in the book. A more direct and integral influence is Brandon Sanderson, who not only more or less taught me how to write via his podcast, but whose books rekindled my love of epic fantasy, and especially the clever ways his magic systems tie into his plot reveals and character moments. Hopefully I’ve pulled some of that off in Beggar’s Rebellion. Continue reading

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Author Interview: David Dalglish

Today I am interviewing David Dalglish, author of the new fantasy novel, Soulkeeper, first book in The Keepers series.

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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 Dalglish: I’m a dad to three wonderfully nerdy girls, I’ve been playing games of Dungeons and Dragons since middle school, I started self-publishing my fantasy novels thinking maybe a small audience out there would appreciate a return to orcs and elves, and am bewildered by how well everything has gone since.

DJ: What is Soulkeeper about?

David: It’s about the world known as the Cradle, where humanity has always viewed themselves as the precious children of the three sister deities. Only the Cradle didn’t always belong to them, and marked by a surge of black water across the landscape, a previously banished world of magic, dragons, and monsters returns to throw everything into chaos.

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

David: The world itself is an amalgamation of my various interests over the years, plus tons of playing D&D. A lot of the series takes place in a single city, Londheim, and that place in particular was heavily inspired by the gothic masterpiece that is the city of Yharnam from the game, Bloodborne. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Stephen M. Coghlan

Today I am interviewing Stephen M. Coghlan, author of the new psychological, dark fantasy novel, Urban Gothic.

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

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

Stephen M. Coghlan: Thank You, DJ. I’m an ever-expanding, both literally and figuratively, Canadian author who writes a variety of genres. I started writing when I was 18, but only landed my first contract in 2016. Since then I’ve been busy getting my name out there.

DJ: What is Urban Gothic about?

Stephen: Urban Gothic is a Dreampunk action Novella that focuses on a battle-scarred veteran as he is once more forced to fight for freedom within the land of dreams, but this time, the battle isn’t just against an external foe, as he must fight against his banality if he is to have any hope of surviving.

I think this is best described by the summary: Burned out and drugged up, Alec LeGuerrier spends his days faking it, barely eking out an existence while living in a haze of confusion and medicated mellowness. That is, until he stops a gang of nightmarish oddities from killing a strange young woman with indigo eyes.

Dragged into the lands of the dreaming, he must come to terms with his brutal past and his grim imagined future in a land his body knows is real, but his mind refuses to acknowledge. Continue reading

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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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