Author Interview: Mark A. Latham

Today I am interviewing Mark A. Latham, author of the new Victorian SF novel, The Legion Prophecy, third book in The Apollonian Case Files.

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DJ: Hey 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: Thanks very much for having me. I’m a nineteenth-century-obsessed book nerd from Staffordshire, UK, and writer primarily of science fiction and Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Before that some people might know me from my time in the tabletop wargames industry – I was editor of Games Workshop’s White Dwarf magazine for a few years. I still do a sideline in games design now, working mainly on licensed products like Batman and The Walking Dead. I’ve been editing a Harry Potter game recently, which is seriously cool. But my main job is writing, which I’ve been doing full-time since Titan published the Lazarus Gate. I mention the previous jobs for two reasons: firstly, the discipline I gained from being a magazine editor has proved invaluable in managing my writing workload. Secondly, everything I’ve ever worked on in my adult career has been in some way related to sci-fi, fantasy and horror, which is a lifelong passion.

DJ: What is The Legion Prophecy and then The Apollonian Case Files about?

Mark: The actual Legion Prophecy of the title is actually a massive spoiler, so I won’t give away what it actually is, except to say that it was set up in book one, and is essentially the payoff I think a lot of readers have been waiting for. I like to horrify my readers and torture my characters a bit though, so don’t expect roses and birdsong on the way.

The casefiles are the records of the Order of Apollo, which is a secret agency based in the Apollonian Club, one of London’s exclusive gentlemen’s clubs. The Apollonian is fictional, but the idea came to me when I was reading the history of Athenaeum and the Reform clubs. With their exclusivity and secrecy, as well as high-ranking members of government within their membership, it seemed like the perfect recruiting ground for spies. The Order of Apollo basically recruits agents of the Crown, with a remit to investigate and combat threats beyond the capabilities of the Army or Special Branch – esoteric threats, in this case, from a parallel universe called the Otherside.

The first two books sort of set up this mythos – The Lazarus Gate was set in 1890, and introduced my hero, John Hardwick, who gets recruited by the club, manipulated at every turn, and ends up fighting threats he’s really not equipped to deal with. The second book, The Iscariot Sanction, was a bit of a curveball I think – it was a prequel, set in the Otherside, and ten years earlier. I like to make things difficult for myself! This was the story of how the Othersiders came to be bad, and is more of an action-driven tale rather than the investigative mystery of book one. It introduces the key threats: the Riftborn, who’re these Cthulhu-esque, world-eating demons, and the vampires.

Fast forward to the Legion Prophecy, and we’re back with John Hardwick, who is now a very bitter and twisted man, moulded by the things he’s seen, and the dark things he’s  done in the name of Queen and country. He has to reconcile that pretty quickly, because the latest threat is a very personal and very deadly one. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Amanda Carlson

Today I am interviewing Amanda Carlson, author of the new science-fiction novel, Danger’s Halo, first book in the Holly Danger series.

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

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

Amanda Carlson: Hi there, so happy to be here! For those who don’t know me, I’ve been writing Fantasy for about seven years now. I’m the author of the Jessica McClain series, which is urban fantasy, and the newer Phoebe Meadows series, which is contemporary fantasy based in Norse Mythology. My favorite part of writing is the world building, which drew me to fantasy in the first place. Before I started writing fiction, I wrote humorous essays about my three kids. Not quite sure how that morphed into writing about futuristic worlds, but here I am! I live in the Midwest with a husband and three kids, who are all very supportive.

DJ: What is Danger’s Halo about?

Amanda: In a nutshell, Danger’s Halo is a futuristic premise, still set in this world, with a kickass lead. As with all my books, Danger’s Halo started out with a scene playing out in my mind. And, honestly, if it goes on for long enough my brain knows I’ll write it. I’m predictable like that. That scene became the opening scene in the book. I felt the world, saw what it was like, knew the character. It was Earth 153 years into the future, but with a twist. A major event happened at the 93 year mark that changed things forever. Danger’s Halo picks up that world and explores it 62 years after disaster struck. It was so fun to navigate the characters and the scenery of this place.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Danger’s Halo and the Holly Danger series?

Amanda: Before writhing Danger’s Halo, I’d mostly read and written fantasy, as stated above. Sci-fi was something brand new—a different place under the wide umbrella of Sci-fi/fantasy. I think the state of the world we’re in right now was my biggest influence. How would people react in a world so unforgiving? Would they give up? Or keep going? The human nature aspect was completely intriguing. In the end, I was happy that my sci-fi background had been relegated to movies. I wanted this story to be fresh and new. I think I achieved that! Continue reading

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Author Interview: Brad Abraham

Today I am interviewing Brad Abraham, author of the new fantasy novel, Magicians Impossible.

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

Brad Abraham: Thanks for having me!

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

Brad: I’m a screenwriter, a journalist, a comic book creator, and now a novelist. Writing is something I kind of fell into, though not by accident. Growing up I wanted to be a filmmaker – a movie director, specifically – and on graduating high school I went to Film School to learn how to do just that. But I found the writing process was the part of filmmaking I enjoyed the most; I enjoyed creating the world and populating it with interesting people much more than trying to execute it on screen. In my senior year I wrote and directed one film, but wrote or co-wrote several others, and following film school, I struggled as a screenwriter for several years before breaking “in”. I was quite successful at it too, but I wanted to branch out into other areas of creative writing and that’s where Magicians Impossible was born.

DJ: What is Magicians Impossible about?

Brad: Magicians Impossible is the story of Jason Bishop, a 30 year-old bartender who, following the apparent suicide of his father, discovers that his dad was in fact a magic-wielding secret agent in the employ of the Invisible Hand; an ancient order of Mages who use magic in the service of defending the world against agents of darkness and chaos who call themselves the Golden Dawn. It turns out Jason’s father Daniel was murdered by the Golden Dawn, and now they’re coming for Jason. The only way to survive: join the Invisible Hand, learn the skills of a Mage, and join the battle against the Golden Dawn. But what Jason (and the reader) will soon discover is that in this world of magic nothing is what it seems.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Magicians Impossible?

Brad: I grew up on James Bond movies, and 80s fantasy films, I’m a big Steven Spielberg fan also, and in many ways Magicians Impossible has that Spielbergian feel – think Minority Report meets The BFG. Of course, I’ve read a lot of both these genres – Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, but as far as specific influences I tried to focus more on the iconography of the spy and fantasy genres. But what I did do was read a lot of folklore and mythology; particularly European and Middle-Eastern myths. I wanted the magical aspects of the book to have grounding in the folklore of our world. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alistair Kimble

Today I am interviewing Alistair Kimble, co-author of the new urban fantasy novel, Iron Angels.

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

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

Alistair Kimble: I’m an FBI Special Agent and former U.S. Navy enlisted aircrewman who loves to write fiction. I’m currently assigned to the Denver, Colorado field office where I work national security matters as well as process crime scenes as a member of the Evidence Response Team. My first exposure to science fiction and fantasy was when my great-grandmother would babysit me and watch Kolchak: The Night Stalker, so I’ve been a fan since the mid-1970s!

DJ: What is Iron Angels about?

Alistair: Iron Angels is an urban fantasy detective novel where a group of outcast FBI agents battle a cult intent on extracting supernatural powers from another world. It begins with a bizarre kidnapping case that leads FBI Special Agent Jasper Wilde into the mysterious world of a strange religious cult and even stranger criminals.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Iron Angels?

Alistair: As Iron Angels utilizes the FBI as its investigative agency, I couldn’t help but be influenced by The X-Files, as well as so many science fiction and fantasy films from my childhood and teenage years way back in the ’70s and ’80s. But there’s also a heavy dose of the classic hardboiled detective mixed with the banter of buddy cop films. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Annelie Wendeberg

Today I am interviewing Annelie Wendeberg, author of the bestselling climate change thriller series, 1/2986.

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

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

Annelie Wendeberg: I drink coffee and write stuff. So there

DJ: What is 1/2986 about?

Annelie: : It’s about a girl living in a post-climate disaster world, her struggles, fears, and hopes. The scientific background of the series relies on latest scientific publications on impacts of climate change on present and future generations. Much of it is based on the IPCC’s 5th assessment report. I wanted to communicate the risks of climate change to a broader public. Problem is, we scientist are often pretty crappy in communicating our findings, because we love our numbers, and believe that we shouldn’t let our emotions carry us away (but we are driven by curiosity and passion, so…). Numbers rarely get non-scientists excited, and we tend to forget that. In the 1/2986 series I wanted to explore how our grandchildren and great-grandchildren might experience the world we are now creating.

DJ: What were some of your influences for 1/2986?

Annelie: Twenty years in environmental sciences, and the love to tell stories. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Daniel A. Willis

Today I am interviewing Daniel A. Willis, author of the new fantasy novel, Prophecy of the Awakening.

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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 A. Willis: I have been many things during my life, but I am most well known as an historian and genealogist. I wrote several nonfiction books in this area before venturing into fiction and exploring my love of fantasy. Then my first novel, Immortal Betrayal, came out in 2011.

DJ: What is Prophecy of the Awakening about?

Daniel: Nikki is a young woman who literally has a voice talking inside her head. The voice turns out to be the Earth-goddess Gaea. She sends Nikki on the heroine’s quest to help fulfill an ancient prophecy about the return of the Greek gods in the present day. However, she is thwarted by the Vatican who knows the prophecy and is determined to prevent it from coming true. This prophecy revolves around an unborn child, whom a devout scientist has mistaken to be the biblically foretold Antichrist. The child’s parents are a mercenary and a movie star. The paths of all these diverse characters come together for a chilling climax in the ruins of ancient Olympia.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Prophecy of the Awakening?

Daniel: It all started when I read the first Percy Jackson book. I went looking for mythology-based stories written more for adults and found precious few. I was also fascinated from an early age by the prospect of the “Antichrist” and mythos surrounding the purported “End Times”. This book blended those influences. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Peter Cawdron

Today I am interviewing Peter Cawdron, author of the new science-fiction novel, Retrograde.

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

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

Peter: Thank you for having me. I’m an Australian scifi writer specializing in hard science fiction, although I detest the term “hard.”

There’s nothing hard about good science fiction, rather it simply adheres to reality as closely as possible. For me, that makes it more plausible.

A lot of science fiction boarders on fantasy, with “science” being rather loose. As an example, in one of the new Star Trek movies, Kirk (on Kronos a dozen light years away) calls Scotty (in a bar on Earth) to ask him an engineering question. In reality, faster-than-light communication isn’t possible. Rather than giving Kirk a phone-a-friend lifeline, I would have had him lament his inability to call Scotty for answers, and science his way out of trouble. Not only would that make the story more plausible, it would make it more interesting. So for me, hard science fiction provides plenty of natural challenges to be overcome.

DJ: What is Retrograde about?

Peter: Have you ever watched a science fiction film and seen the characters do something dumb, like take their helmets off on an alien world (only to become infected by something)? Yeah, well, if it’s obvious to us that’s stupid, can you really imaging a scientist or astronaut being that clueless? Me neither. So RETROGRADE asks the question, what would shake the most highly trained, and experience explorers in all of history? If they were prepared for every eventuality on Mars, what’s the one thing that might shake them? What’s something they could never prepare for? For me, the answer was, a disaster on Earth.

RETROGRADE explores how scientists and engineers would deal with war breaking out between their countries back on Earth, examining where their loyalties lie.   Continue reading

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Author Interview: James Bradley

Photo by Nicholas Purcell

Today I am interviewing James Bradley, author of Clade.

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

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

James Bradley: That one’s easy! I’m the author of four novels for adults, Wrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist and Clade, as well as a book of poetry and a lot of shorter things. A few years back I edited The Penguin Book of the Ocean, and more recently I’ve been working on a series of young adult science fiction novels, the first of which, The Silent Invasion, was published in Australia earlier this year. I’m based in Sydney, where I love with my partner, the novelist Mardi McConnochie, and our two daughters.

DJ: What is Clade about?


James: It’s the story of three generations of a family set against the backdrop of ongoing climate change, and exploring the ways that process shapes their lives and occasionally intersects with them. But although it assumes the world is going to be profoundly altered, it’s deliberately not apocalyptic. Instead it tries to think about what happens if the world doesn’t end, and if we have to live with the mess we’ve made. So it’s about family and love and kids and all the messy business of life, but it’s also about the line between the virtual and the real and time and deep time and a series of other questions about loss and grief and extinction. And perhaps most importantly it’s a book that emphasizes possibility, both personal and planetary.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Clade?

James: One of the problems with writing about climate change is that its scale and complexity make it really difficult to get a handle on. In the real world that means people tend to feel overwhelmed, and to either give way to despair or just shut down or ignore the problem. Something similar is true if you’re trying to write about it: the scale of the problem, the non-human scale of the time frames, even the nature of the novel, and its need to set up spatial and temporal boundaries to tell a manageable story make it tough to talk about. I suspect that’s one of the reasons there are so many apocalyptic narratives around at the moment: it’s just too hard to imagine a future as complex as the one we’re heading into.

They were all things that were on my mind when I started the book. It seemed to me I needed to write a book about everything and everyone if I was going to talk about climate change. But then one day I realized I could come at it from a different direction, and write quite a confined story and use that to look outward, and think through what the experience might be like. Once I decided that the structure came quite quickly, but I also found myself looking for tools that would let me talk about the sorts of questions about deep time and extinction that underpin the book conceptually. I suppose those came from a series of places – I read a lot of nature writing, which informs the book’s interest in the natural world, but I also drew upon science fiction, and the sorts of tools it has to talk about technology and time and transformative change. And there are nods to other things in there, like John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, and some of the writing about  the Antarctic by explorers like Shackleton. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Joshua Palmatier

Today I am interviewing Joshua Palmatier, co-editor of the three new anthologies, Guilds & Glaves, The Razor’s Edge, and Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar, which are currently on Kickstarter!.

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DJ: Hey Joshua! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!

For this interview, on the first part I’d like to focus on the anthologies themselves, then for the second, I’d like to talk about the Kickstarter in particular.

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

Joshua Palmatier:  Certainly!  And thank you for hosting this interview.  We at Zombies Need Brains appreciate it.  I’m a fantasy author published by DAW Books, with nine novels out at the moment.  The most recently released was REAPING THE AURORA, the third and final novel in the “Ley” series.  I also began editing anthologies for DAW with fellow author Patricia Bray.  We did two anthologies for them—AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR and THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY.  Working on those two anthologies got me hooked on SF&F anthologies, so I ended up creating a small press called Zombies Need Brains, which focuses on producing SF&F themed anthologies initially backed by Kickstarters.  ZNB has released seven anthologies so far, and we’re currently seeking to fund three new anthologies, titled THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR.

DJ: What are each of these anthologies about?

“The Razor’s Edge” by Justin Adams, Varia Studios

Joshua:  The themes are always my favorite part.  THE RAZOR’S EDGE is a military SF&F anthology focusing on that fine line between an insurgent and a freedom fighter.  When does the freedom fighter become an insurgent, or vice versa?  We’d like authors to explore that razor’s edge, both in science fiction settings and in fantasy settings.  GUILDS & GLAIVES is a sword & sorcery anthology, where we’d like the stories to somehow deal with a guild along with the typical style of sword & sorcery—so thieves, assassins, dark magic, treachery, etc.  And as you can guess from the title, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR is a sequel to the first anthology that Patricia Bray and I edited, AFTER HOURS.  The premise is the Gilgamesh found his immortality by becoming the bartender of a time-traveling bar called the Ur-bar—which at any point in time is the uber bar at that moment.  We explored the bar in the first anthology, but there are still plenty of time periods left and we hope that the authors find a unique setting and a unique story for the sequel. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Brenda Cooper

Today I am interviewing Brenda Cooper, author of the new sci-fi collection, Stories of Fremont’s Children, which is currently being funded on Kickstarter to co-incide with the 10th Anniversary Release of her award-winning novel, The Silver Ship and the Sea.

All of the stories are set in the same world as The Silver-Ship and the Sea.

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DJ: Hey Brenda! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!

For this interview, on the first part I’d like to focus on the novels, then for the second, I’d like to talk about the Kickstarter in particular.

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

Brenda Cooper:  I’m fascinated with technology and how it works, a rabid environmentalist, lately a bit of an activist, and I love reading and writing.  I live in Washington State on an acre and a half of beautiful land. We have two grown-up children and four dogs, three of which are smarter than we are (they’re border collies).

DJ: What is The Silver Ship and the Sea about?

Brenda:  The story is about six genetically enhanced children who are abandoned on a planet that hates genetic engineering.  So in that way, it’s a story of the other.  The series also explores what it is to be human, various definitions of family, and the cost of war. There are three books, with a fourth to come.  The first is out, and hopefully the other three will release in 2018.

DJ: What were some of the inspirations for The Silver Ship and the Sea?

Brenda: It was written during the run-up to the Iraq war, and so it became a bit of an anti-war novel.  Unlike some of books which address war directly (and in fact this series does do so in the last book), The Silver Ship and the Sea illustrates the cost of conflict.  It’s also a chance to explore the costs of choosing to embrace or reject technology. Lastly, I really just wanted to create an interesting world.  Fremont has fabulous creatures, wandering scientists, dangerous volcanoes, and more. Continue reading

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