Author Interview: Brian McClellan

Today I am interviewing Brian McClellan, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Sins of Empire, first book in the Gods of Blood and Power series.

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

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

Brian McClellan: Hi there! I’m a thirty-one year old author living on the side of a mountain in Utah. I’m a full-time author, writing flintlock epic fantasy for Orbit books. In my books, my heroes include soldiers, government agents, convicts, and everything in between–all of them operating in a world something akin to our Napoleonic era. There’s magic, flintlock rifles, bayonet charges, duels, gods, sorcerers, political intrigue, and massive battles.

DJ: What is Sins of Empire about?

Brian: Sins of Empire is the first novel in my next trilogy. This is the second series to take place in the Powder Mage Universe, and a new entry point for curious readers looking to explore that world. While my first trilogy dealt with a very old-world, European-style conflict, this second one has more of a new-world feel to it on the largely-unexplored continent of Fatrasta. There are vast frontiers, native populations, technological advancements, and unknown sorcery. Sins of Empire begins with the discovery of a sorcerous object of ancient origins, and follows the consequences of its unearthing as this new world grapples with old secrets, and powerful people maneuver for a coming conflict.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Sins of Empire?

Brian: It’s hard to talk about Sins without talking about my first trilogy (because that’s what set the stage for the world). My initial influences were Count of Monte Cristo, Les Mis, Three Musketeers. These were my favorite adventure books as a child, and I wanted to combine them with my favorite genre–epic fantasy. Throw in the visual influences of shows like Sharpe’s Rifles and Fullmetal Alchemist, and I had a book to write! Sins, to me, is the extrapolation of the world I initially created. I started in the old world, and I wanted to move toward something new. What happens when I explore the results of colonialism and industrial greed? Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alex Bledsoe

Today I am interviewing Alex Bledsoe, author of the new fantasy novel, Gather Her Round, fifth book in the Tufa series.

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

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

Alex Bledsoe: Thanks for having me, DJ. I’m a southern writer who now lives in Wisconsin, and the stay-at-home dad of three children. I’ve been writing my whole life, around stints as a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. I write primarily fantasy and horror.

DJ: What is Gather Her Round about?

Alex: It’s the fifth novel in my Tufa series, about an isolated Appalachian town whose citizens are all descended from Celtic faerie folk. In this one, a wild hog kills a young woman, and the pursuit of it brings out the best and worst in those who knew her.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Gather Her Round?

Alex: After four prior novels, I wanted to do something new, and I hadn’t yet done a monster story. I wanted the monster to be something reasonable, not supernatural or cryptozoological, so I considered a giant wild boar. Then I found out that Tennessee, where the novel is set, really does have an elite task force for dealing with the wild hog infestations, which gave me a sort of “Avengers, assemble” moment. Once I knew about that, the rest of the story was a snap. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Steven Burgauer

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Today I am interviewing Steven Burgauer, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Grandfather Paradox: a time-travel story, as well as any number of historical fiction novels. He is perhaps best known for his book Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou, historical fiction set during World War II in the colorful river town of New Orleans

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

Could you tell us a little about yourself? I understand that you became an author later in life. What led you to make the unusual switch from successful investment broker and mutual fund manager to author?

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Steve Burgauer: Hello, DJ. It is so nice to be invited to be part of your show. There is not a lot I can tell you about myself that is James-Bond-exciting. I am a life-long Boy Scout; I have two grown children; a wonderful wife of more than forty years; and I love to travel. The magic of modern medicine and the promise of clean-living has allowed me to enjoy a long and productive life. If a person is willing to take the necessary risks, there are enough years in a life today to enjoy more than one career. I felt that after twenty years of stock brokering that I had accumulated enough wherewithal to see me through to the end and yet, I had an unmet need to say something and to leave behind a written legacy. So I quit my job when I was about forty and took the plunge. Writing allows me to talk about some of humanity’s possible futures, one in which we might settle other planets or tame wildernesses far away, one in which we have to build entire new societies from scratch, exploring, harvesting asteroids, terraforming, corralling comets to bring cold water to hot places like Venus. Likewise, I still enjoy learning about past events, reading biographies and learning about often unsung heroes who have made a difference to our way of life. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Kameron Hurley

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Today I am interviewing Kameron Hurley, author of the new space opera, The Stars Are Legion.

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

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

Kameron Hurley: I’m a fantasy and science fiction writer, but I’m probably best known for an essay that won a Hugo Award. That essay is “We Have Always Fought,” and it’s part of a collection that came out last year called The Geek Feminist Revolution. I also write a lot of fantastic worlds. I’ve got an epic fantasy series about polyamorous matriarchies and parallel universes colliding, which starts with The Mirror Empire, and an SF-noir bugpunk series, the God’s War Trilogy. I’m known for writing wild, cool worlds inhabited by badass women.

DJ: What is The Stars Are Legion about?

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Kameron: It’s a space opera set among a legion of organic starships where two women struggle to escape a perpetual war and literally save their worlds. It’s a living, breathing adventure novel that a lot of folks have said is… very visceral!

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Stars Are Legion?

Kameron: I enjoy really weird fiction, that gooey, body horror stuff where people transform into who-knows-what, like China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station and KJ Bishop’s The Etched City. I also love space opera, though my influences in that vein are films as opposed to novels. There are fewer novels that do gooey spaceships. I watched a lot of Pandorum, Farscape, Babylon 5, and some really weird stuff I can’t remember. I also spent a lot of time researching microbes, parasites, and symbiotic creatures and ecosystems. I wanted these worldships to be living ecosystems, and for the humans inside of them to be part of those systems. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alastair Reynolds

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Today I am interviewing Alastair Reynolds, author of the new science-fiction novel, Revenger.

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

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

Alastair Reynolds: I’m a science fiction writer from Wales, UK. I started publishing short stories about twenty seven years ago, and I’ve been putting out novels since the year 2000. For a while I had a parallel career in space science, but I gave that up over a decade ago to concentrate on writing.

DJ: What is Revenger about?

Alastair: It’s an action-drive science fiction novel with a far-future setting and some strong throwbacks to the classic adventure and nautical fiction of the nineteenth century.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Revenger?

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Alastair: Within the genre, Samuel Delany’s NOVA and Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, among others. Beyond science fiction, Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers, Hornblower, the Aubrey-Maturin novels, Bernard Cornwell’s period action novels.

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?

Alastair: As a reader I’m never interested in “sympathetic” characters so I go out of my way to make mine as unsympathetic as possible. Fura, the main character in the book, starts out a little naïve, but she’s intelligent, resourceful, and ferociously driven. When her older sister, Adrana, gets into trouble, Fura sets herself on a course of total retribution. She has to grow up fast, and learn to fit into a new and complex world of space-going sailing ships and dangerous, barely understood technology. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Toby Venables

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Today I am interviewing Toby Venables, author of the new epic historical-fantasy novel, Hunter of Sherwood: Hood, final book in the Guy of Gisburne trilogy.

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

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

Toby Venables: Well, I’m a writer in various media – novels, screenwriting, journalism – and author of four novels, all of which have been in some way historically based. The first was The Viking Dead, which threw together Vikings and zombies, but was as much a love letter to Viking culture as anything else. Then came the Hunter of Sherwood trilogy (AKA the Guy of Gisburne novels). I’ve also written a couple of screenplays – nothing yet produced, but the next one is looking good – teach students in Cambridge, have contributed to an academic tome on zombies, am married with two children and shoot English longbow.

DJ: What is Hunter of Sherwood: Hood and then the Guy of Gisburne trilogy about?

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Toby: Essentially, it turns the Robin Hood legend on its head. Abaddon – who had published The Viking Dead, and who knew I had a thing for medieval subjects – suggested the idea of having Sir Guy of Gisburne, the traditional villain of the piece, as a hero of a series of novels. As it turned out, I had been thinking about new ways to tell the Robin Hood story – kind of a Dark Knight version – so I jumped at the chance. I went away and worked out some ideas and they liked them, so we went for the first novel, Knight of Shadows. The challenge I set myself was that the story I wrote had to fit with the real history of the period (it’s set it at the time of King Richard and Prince John) and also had to fit with the legends we know. But it also had to have a genuinely admirable character in Gisburne, and a real villain in Hood, and real reasons why we would root for the man who legend has remembered as the bad guy. Originally, there was talk of this being an ongoing series. After the first book, though, it was clear that this needed a distinct narrative arc, and we all agreed that a trilogy would work better. Gisburne and Hood are destined to have a showdown, and that showdown is what the novel Hood is all about. It has a bit of a Magnificent Seven feel to it. And it is quite grim. Although it isn’t horror, I have a love of that genre, and there are moments where it becomes horror. Comedy too. I like that contrast of tones, and that kind of richness. Life is like that. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Steve Rasnic Tem

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Today I am interviewing Steve Rasnic Tem, Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Award-Winner, and author of the new science-fiction horror novel, UBO.

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

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

Steve Rasnic Tem: I’ve been publishing professionally since the early 80’s. In that time I’ve published over 400 short stories, 10 collections, 6 novels, and a large number of poems, articles, essays, plays, etc. I’m a past winner of the Bram Stoker, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and International Horror Guild awards. Most of what I’ve learned about writing over the years will be collected soon in Yours to Tell: Dialogues on the Art and Practice of Writing (Apex Publications), the last project I completed with my late wife Melanie.

DJ: What is UBO about?

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Steve: At its heart, UBO is a meditation on violence. A blend of science fiction and horror, the novel utilizes such historical viewpoint characters as Stalin, Himmler, Charles Whitman, Jack the Ripper, and Gilles de Raiis to explore humanity’s propensity for violent acts. Every resident of this prison located in a future Boston ravaged by riots and climate change has a similar memory of the journey to Ubo: a dream of dry, chitinous wings crossing the moon, the gigantic insects dropping swiftly over the houses of the neighborhood, passing through walls and windows as if by magic. Once there they are watched over by alien creatures who resemble giant roaches, and each day these roaches force them to relive the memories of some of history’s most violent figures. It’s a dark journey, but also an exploration of the things which make us human, with a ray of hope at the end. Continue reading

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Best Read of 2016! 5 Star Book

Throughout the month of February, I will posting various “best of” lists, ranging from my top 5, 4.5 and 4 star reads of 2016!

Today, I am happy to announce my…

Best Read of 2016! 5 Star Book


 1. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentlemen Bastard Sequence #1) by Scott Lynch

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About the Book:

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part “Robin Hood”, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling…

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…

My Rating: 5/5

Why You Should Read It: Every once in a while, I come across a book that is nothing short of fantastic – and The Lies of Locke Lamora is one of those books; The Lies of Locke Lamora is a near flawless novel.

This book is on my all-time favorites list – which only has 7 total. Normally, when I do add a book my favorite lists, this decision will take months, maybe even a year later! I made this decision the week after.

I wrote nearly 2,500 words(!) for my review, I still felt like I hadn’t even touched the surface of what this story has to offer.

Read My Review

-DJ

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Author Interview: Chris Sharp

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Today I am interviewing Chris Sharp, author of the new fantasy novel, Cold Counsel.

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

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

Chris Sharp: I don’t think there are too many readers who are familiar with me yet. I’m a middle-aged dreamer with a propensity for long-winded storytelling, a fierce resistance to adulthood, and an optimist’s belief in magic.

Grew up in Alexandria, VA making home movies and playing RPGs with my friends. Went to college, moved to Brooklyn, and worked in film and commercial production for 16 years—often with those same friends—while writing books at night.

Now I’m in MA, with a wife and kid; writing as much as I can and trying to get as many of these stories out of my craw in some form or another.

The first book I wrote was a 270,000-word dark fantasy epic about schizophrenia, a mythological world next door, and Jungian Archetypes of dream. It lives in a dark box. My first published book was a contemporary fantasy YA crossover that has a sequel coming soon.

Right now I’m writing a screenplay. 

DJ: What is Cold Counsel about?

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Chris: My editor, the brilliant Jen Gunnels, described it as “Conan the Barbarian as written by Tolkien while on a cocaine and petroleum bender,” which may give a keener insight into the tone than what you’ll get on the cover.

At heart, it’s a simple coming of age tale about a boy, his aunt, and his ax.

The boy is the last troll to survive the genocide of his race, his aunt is the masked reincarnation of an ancient goddess consumed by anger, and the ax is a possessed relic from the storied age of giants.

There are no humans or easy heroes to hold to, but I hope you’ll find yourself rooting for a loveable band of bloodthirsty killers, and wishing for more at the story’s close.

It’s fast, furious fun for the whole family, if the family isn’t afraid of harsh language, brutal violence, and reveling in the fodder of nightmares. Continue reading

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