Author Interview: V.M. Escalada

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Photo: © Jessica Kennedy

Today I am interviewing V.M. Escalada, author of the new paranomal fantasy novel, Halls of Law, first book in the Faraman Prophecy series.

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

V.M. Escalada: Happy to do it, DJ, you can call me Vee.

DJ: Okay, Vee! 🙂 For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Vee: I’m Canadian, but I identify culturally as Spanish. I think you can see some Spanish influence in the names I choose, and particularly in their pronunciation – at least, if you could hear them the way they are in my head.

DJ: What is Halls of Law about?

Vee: Boy, do I suck at this part. I either say too much or too little. On a large scale, it’s about the Faraman Polity being invaded by the Halians, a radically different society with strong patriarchal leanings, and a particular animosity for Talents – the psychics that form the Halls of Law. On a more personal scale, it’s about Kerida Nast, a Talent in training, and Tel Cursar, a young military officer, who join forces first to escape the invaders, and then to help put their world back together.

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

Vee: My writing in general is influenced by some great fantasy writers, especially people like Fritz Leiber, Barbara Hambly, R.A. McAvoy, Robin Hobb, Tanya Huff, Kari Sperring, Laura Anne Gilman . . . and the list could go on and on, and I’d still leave someone out. I’m also an 18th-century scholar, so I’m well versed in the classics, Homer, Virgil, and so on, with all the attendant mythology.

As for Halls of Law in particular, believe it or not, I first got the idea for the story watching the forensics shows that were all the rage for a while. I thought, what if psychics were used as crime scene investigators? They could just walk into the crime scene, touch things, and know immediately what had happened. I really liked the notion, but I figured out pretty quickly that it wouldn’t make a story – at least not a crime-based story, since the psychics would just say “he did it” and the story would be over. So then I wondered, what if being a psychic was the problem? What if they were going about their lawful business when their country was invaded by people who thought Talents were witches that had to be destroyed? Continue reading

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Author Interview: William Sutton

Today I am interviewing William Sutton, author of the new historical mystery novel, Lawless and the House of Electricity, third book in the Lawless series.

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

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

William Sutton: Thanks for asking me. I’m a tall messy writer from Scotland living in Portsmouth, England. I began my creative endeavours putting on plays and singing songs at open mics. After deciding I wasn’t going to be the next Tom Waits or Tom Stoppard, I began writing novels. But I still love performing and I put on story/song nights all over town with writer friends. When not writing, I play music in bands. I’m also journalist and Latin teacher.

DJ: What is Lawless and the House of Electricity and also the series about?

William: Lawless and the House of Electricity interweaves a private tale of romance and loss with international conspiracies around military-industrial business. Family secrets, mental health, plus espionage and immigration intrigue. This collision offered me a chance to combine a gothic country house novel with a techno-thriller where Europhobia causes nationalistic panic and terror on the streets. Sound familiar?

The series explores the amazing developments of the 1860s: the Metropolitan underground, the London sewers preventing cholera, new power and communications from the telegraph to pneumatic trains to hydraulic lifts. In amongst this high-power technology, I explore stories of love, loyalty and loss. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Michael R. Fletcher

Today I am interviewing Michael R. Fletcher, author of the new fantasy novel, Swarm of Steel, a stand-alone story in the Manifest Delusions series.

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

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

Michael R. Fletcher: Hi! Thanks for having me. I do love being had. I could tell you about myself but I’d likely lie.

Oh what the hell, let’s give it a go.

After a long career as a wandering door-to-door used grilled-cheese sandwich salesman I decided it was time for a change. I saw four life paths that really appealed to me: Race car driver, rock star, ninja, and writer. Since being a writer seemed like a lot of effort and unlikely to end in the fame, fortune, and worshipful adoration I crave, I decided to focus on being a rock star ninja. For a decade I toured the world with the goth metal band, Sex Without Souls. It really was a great cover for a ninja, what with the goth addiction to black clothing. Eventually, however, the adoration of bajillions of screaming fans grew hollow. I wanted more. Worship wasn’t enough, I needed mindless devotion. With that thought in mind I reevaluated my life-choices. The answer was clear. Only one career path offered the slavish devotion and staggering riches I desired: Science fiction and fantasy author.

DJ: What is Swarm of Steel about?

Michael : After the grit and filth of Beyond Redemption and The Mirror’s Truth, I wanted to write something different. I wanted to write a love story filled with puppies and hugs and the kind of romancey smoochie smoochiness that leaves a warm feeling deep in the cockles of your soul. A cockle, of course, being a small, edible, marine bivalve mollusk. Why you have these in your soul is beyond me. You should prolly see a doctor. Anyway, I totally failed. Instead I somehow ended up with a gritty filthy love story between a cannibal and a dead woman. I don’t understand what went wrong. Surely I am not the problem.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Swarm of Steel?

Michael : I exist in a vacuum of ignorance and wanton stupidity. If something had influence on me, I am blissfully unaware. I do listen to a lot of skull-crushing death metal when I write. That may have flavored things a little. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alexandra Oliva

Today I am interviewing Alexandra Oliva, author of the apocalyptic literary thriller, The Last One, which was named one of the best books of 2016 by The Seattle Times.

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

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

Alexandra Olivia: Hi! It’s great to be here. Sure—I’m a debut novelist who was born and raised in upstate New York, but my husband and I moved to the Pacific Northwest a few years ago, and I think we’re lifers. I’m currently working on my next novel and spend a good portion of my downtime wondering how much longer I should wait before posting another picture of my dog on Instagram.

DJ: What is The Last One about?

Alexandra: A woman is on a wilderness survival reality TV show when disaster strikes, and she thinks it’s all just part of the show.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Last One?

Alexandra: All the science fiction and fantasy I read growing up, for sure. I’ve always loved harrowing narratives in which a character I adore is put through the wringer, both physically and emotionally. Also, the ubiquity of reality television—the medium is inescapable! At some point my subconscious must have recognized there was such a cool connection between the two, and that I could have a really good time contrasting a real survival situation with the faux survival premise of a reality show.

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? 

Alexandra: Some people love my main character; other people hate her—or at least find her “unsympathetic.” Which is fair; I tried to write a complicated and realistic woman going through hell. She’s not your typical do-gooder; she isn’t always nice and she doesn’t always do the right thing, and while she can be described as “strong” in many ways, she’s also weighed down by some pretty massive fears and regrets. Personally, I think that’s what makes her compelling. It’s certainly what made her so fun to write; I loved exploring the ridges and chasms of her personality as she’s pushed to her psychological and physical limits. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Joshua Palmatier

Today I am interviewing Joshua Palmatier, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Reaping the Aurora, final book in the Ley series.

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

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

Joshua Palmatier:  Certainly.  I’m a fantasy author with DAW Books who also happens to have a PhD in math.  I teach at a college in upstate New York and write the fantasy novels on the side.  At this point, I have three complete trilogies out—the “Throne of Amenkor” trilogy, the “Well of Sorrows” trilogy, and the just finished “Ley” trilogy.  I also have some short stories published in various anthologies and edit themed anthologies as well.  I formed a small press called Zombies Need Brains in order to continue editing anthologies.

DJ: What are Reaping the Aurora and the Ley series about?

Joshua:  REAPING THE AURORA is the third and final novel in the “Ley” series.  The basic premise is that humans have tapped into the power of the ley lines—the magical lines that connect stone monuments (such as Stonehenge)—and they are using the ley lines sort of like how we use electricity.  In the first book, Kara learns that she’s a Wielder, one of those that can manipulate the ley.  Allan, a guardsman, learns that he somehow disrupts the ley lines.  In the first two books, due to the abuse of the ley, it shatters, basically creating a catastrophe that thrusts the relatively advance society of the city of Erenthrall (and the rest of the world) into chaos.  Kara, Allan, and the rest of those they gather around them fight for survival while attempting to repair the damage that’s been done.  REAPING THE AURORA focuses on their last ditch efforts to repair the ley before it rips the world—and reality—apart. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Taylor Brooke

Today I am interviewing Taylor Brooke, author of the new Contemporary Romance, Fortitude Smashed.

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

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

Taylor Brooke: Thank you for having me! Well, I’m a Queer author and I write for teens as well as adults. I grew up in Southern California, but I currently live in Central Oregon. I’m a Special Effects Makeup Artist, a tea lover, and a traveler. If I’m not scheduled at the little metaphysical shop I work at, I’m usually planning my next adventure. I’ll be in Cambodia in January which is super exciting.

DJ: What is Fortitude Smashed about?

Taylor : Fortitude Smashed is a Contemporary Romance with a little bit of science fiction flare. It’s about a reckless, young art thief named Aiden Maar, and the Detective who tries to catch him, Shannon Wurther. In the reimagined modern world that I built, the Camellia Clock – a timer implanted under the thumbnail of every infant at birth – counts down to the moment someone will meet their soulmate/soulpartners. When Aiden Maar and Shannon Wurther come face to face with the startling fact that they’re fated, they have to learn how to deal with one another.

The story is extremely character driven and unpacks some heavy issues, but is tender at heart. High emotional stakes, introspective conflict and lots of kissing. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Eric Brown

Today I am interviewing Eric Brown, author of the new science-fiction novel, Binary System.

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

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

Eric Brown: Hi DJ; many thanks for asking me. I’m a SF writer active in the field for thirty years (I sold my first tale to Interzone in 1987, and my first collection, The Time-Lapsed Man and other Stories in 1990; my first novel was Meridian Days, in 1992.) Since then I’ve sold over sixty books and a hundred and fifty short stories in the UK and US. My work has been translated into nineteen languages. I live in Scotland, in the Borders, in a quiet little village that suits me fine. I’m married, and have a twelve year-old daughter.

DJ: What is Binary/System about?

Eric: It’s an action-adventure novel about a spacer, Delia Kemp, whose starship undergoes a catastrophic blowout while transiting a wormhole. She finds herself as the only survivor on a hostile alien world which orbits a binary system, suffering extreme winters and summers. Added to the difficulty of surviving on such an inimical word, a race of hostile aliens, the Skelt, want her blood. The novel is about her attempts to survive their attentions and escape from the planet.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Binary/System?

Eric: Jack Vance, certainly – not so much his ornate prose-style as his planet of adventure novels. I read them in my late teens and loved them – and I’m a sucker for crashed-starship-hostile alien tales! I wanted to tell a fast-paced story about a likeable, resourceful woman, aided by some friendly aliens. I suppose every crashed-starship novel I’ve ever read has fed into the writing of Binary System. Continue reading

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Author Interview:Daniel H. Wilson

Today I am interviewing Daniel H. Wilson, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Clockwork Dynasty.

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

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

Daniel H. Wilson: I’m a science fiction writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. I started out as a roboticist, then I wrote a novel called Robopocalypse that did well and I’ve been a full-time writer ever since.

DJ: What is The Clockwork Dynasty about?

Daniel : It’s a thriller that imagines an ancient race of humanlike robot that has been blending into humanity and serving the great empires of antiquity for centuries. In the present day, these robots are running out of power and cannabilizing each other to stay alive. When an anthropologist named June Stefanov discovers the existence of these creatures, she is thrown into an adventure in which she must learn where they came from and how to replenish their power to save her own life.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Clockwork Dynasty?

Daniel : I’ve always loved the high-stakes you get from eternal enemies in movies like Highlander, and that’s certainly present. And the organic descriptions of Victorian London in Interview with the Vampire were inspiring as well. And I was definitely inspired by a lot of cool history, like the ancient dynasties of China, the reign of Peter the Great in Russia, and the battles of the East India Company in colonial India. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Sandra Unerman

Today I am interviewing Sandra Unerman, author of the new fantasy novel, Spellhaven.

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

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

Sandra Underman: Thank you for asking me. I live in London, in the UK. Until a few years ago, I had a career as a Government lawyer. I’d been trying to write fantasy fiction for many years but my output had been very small. When I retired, one of my ambitions was to work seriously at my writing. So I undertook an MA in Creative Writing and have since had a number of short stories published, as well as Spellhaven. I am a member of the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society, as well as the London Clockhouse Writers’ Group. My interests include folklore and history.

DJ: What is Spellhaven about?

Sandra: It begins in England, just before the outbreak of the First World War. Jane, a young musician, is kidnapped and sent to Spellhaven, an island city ruled by magicians. Her music is wanted to help entertain the Unseen Spirits, who must be kept in good humour to maintain the peace and prosperity of the city. Jane is offered a contract for three years to play music for her kidnapper, Lucian, but she refuses to co-operate. She agrees instead to undertake an apprenticeship with another magician lord, provided she is taught magic in return. Her rivalry with Lucian and her struggles to learn magic lead her into conflicts which shake the city to its foundations.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Spellhaven?

Sandra: A great mixture. I’d been reading a lot about the history of theatre and ballet in England and Russia and I’m sure that went into the idea of the Unseen Spirits and the shows, including puppet shows, which fill the life of Spellhaven. Medieval legends about the sea and about the heroes who lived in the gaps of history have also caught my imagination over many years. I have a book called The Lost Literature of Medieval England by R.M. Wilson, which is full of fascinating hints. So far as fantasy writers are concerned, some of my favourites are Tolkien, T.H. White, Patricia McKillip, Frances Hardinge, Susanna Clarke and Ellen Kushner but I don’t set out to write like any of them. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Spencer Ellsworth

Today I am interviewing Spencer Ellsworth, author of the new science-fiction novel, A Red Peace, first book in the Starfire trilogy.

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DJ: Hey Spencer Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Spencer Ellsworth: Hi DJ!

I’m a lifelong science fiction and fantasy writer. It started when I read The Hobbit at the age of six. I currently work for a tribal college in the Pacific Northwest, and have previously worked in the publishing industry, along with stints in wilderness survival and special education.

The most interesting thing I’ve ever done was probably when I lived off crayfish and rattlesnakes for three days.

DJ: What is A Red Peace about?

Spencer: A galactic empire falls, the Resistance sweeps into power, and their first order is “kill all the humans.”

I like to think of it as a kind of Russian Revolution—or pick your other idealistic-revolution-gone-wrong—in space. Our main characters are a smuggler who helps some humans on the run, and a soldier dealing with internal conflict over his orders.

We’ve been trained by Star Wars to identify with a plucky rebellion, often forgetting that such plucky rebellions usually become demagogues clamping down on free speech.

DJ: What were some of your influences A Red Peace and the series?

Spencer: On the respectable end, I’ve always loved how Octavia Butler could write a serious social critique with all the high energy and pace of a pulp novel. My favorite novel of all time is Wild Seed. Every time I reread it I just get pulled in and totally caught up and I find new dimensions to the ending. 

On the less respectable end, I will consume any Star Wars or Transformers comic book. I tend to like my cheesy sci-fi franchises a lot more in comic book form. I love a big planet-eating robot or weird insectoid creature, limited only by the artist’s imagination. Continue reading

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