Tag Archives: angry robot books

Author Interview: Chris Panatier

Chris Panatier author photo

Today I am interviewing Chris Panatier, author of the new science-fiction novel, Stringers. 

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DJ: Hi 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 Panatier: Hi and thanks for asking me. I live in Dallas, Texas, with my family and the clown show of dogs who have joined us like camp followers. I write books and short stories, illustrate album and book covers, and also practice law going after companies that do bad things to people.

DJ: What is Stringers about?

Stringers cover

Chris: I knew someone would ask me this eventually 🙂 Okay. I’m just going to give you a beefed up version of the short back cover copy, because it’s the best boiled down take without being too spoilery: Ben is NOT a genius, but he can spout facts about animals and wristwatches with the best of experts. He just can’t explain how he knows any of it. He also knows about the Chime. What it is or why it’s important he couldn’t say. But this knowledge is about to get him in a whole heap of trouble. After he and his best friend Patton are abducted by a trash-talking, flesh-construct alien bounty hunter, Ben finds out just how much he is worth… and how dangerous he can be. Hopefully Patton and a stubborn jar of pickles will be enough to help him through. Because being able to describe the mating habits of Brazilian bark lice isn’t going to save them.

So that’s basically it. I will say that in talking about the book I’ve undersold the heart and poignancy that much of this story carries with it. It’s funny, yes, but this is about a group of people in a difficult situation and how relationships between them are born and tested. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Khan Wong

Khan Wong cropped
Today I am interviewing Khan Wong, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Circus Infinite.

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

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

Khan Wong: Thanks for having me! I’ve been a creative person my whole life, and over the years I’ve published poetry, played the cello and ukulele, been a firedancer and hula hooper. I worked in the nonprofit arts for a long time.

DJ: What is The Circus Infinite about?

circus infinite cover

Khan: The elevator pitch is: it’s about a circus that takes down a crimeboss on the galaxy’s infamous pleasure moon. The longer more nuanced answer is, it’s about chosen family, community, the acceptance of people different from us, and art. With a dash of superpowers and lots of aliens and partying.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Circus Infinite

Khan: The Wayfarers books by Becky Chambers and that slice-of-life approach to space opera was a big influence on this project. The Sol Majestic by Ferrett Steinmetz was also instructive for me. And my experiences in the realm of circus arts.

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? 

Khan: The main character, Jes, is an asexual empath with gravity powers. The gravity powers drive the plot, but his sexuality and empathic ability drive the character and how he relates to the world – particularly an overtly sexual world such as a pleasure moon. He’s essentially a gentle person who hasn’t experienced much kindness in his life, and struggles with some of the things he feels he has to do in the course of the story. His BFF is Esmée, who is an aspiring singer who learns to assert her identity against the cultural expectations of her people. Jes’s romantic interest is Bo, an acrobat in the circus who is fiercely loyal and protective, and devoted to his art and community. The main antagonist is Niko, the local crimeboss who has his hooks in the circus, who presents himself as being cultured and debonair, but is capable of great cruelty and violence. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Tim Pratt

Today I am interviewing Tim Pratt, author of the new space opera novel, The Forbidden Stars, final book in the Axiom series.

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

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

Tim Pratt: Thanks for having me! I’ve been publishing stories for 20 years and novels for about 15, and have done a bunch of different things, from urban fantasy to sword-and-sorcery to steampunk to middle-grade spy fiction! The Axiom series is my first space opera though, something I’ve wanted to try for ages. I have a day job as senior editor at Locus Magazine, a trade publication for the science fiction and fantasy publishing business, where among other things I write the obituaries. I live in Berkeley CA with my wife and kid, surrounded by a community of like-minded weirdos. I publish a new story every month at my Patreon, and have been doing so for over four years, so there are lots of stories there: www.patreon.com/timpratt 

DJ: What is The Forbidden Stars and then the Axiom series about?

Tim: Short version: Several hundred years in our future, a ragtag crew of posthumans discover strange alien technology and uncover a secret that threatens all sentient life in the galaxy. They spend three books trying to end that threat.

Long version: About 600 years from now, humankind has spread to colony worlds throughout the galaxy, and have a centuries-long relationship with an enigmatic race of aliens known as the Liars, who provided the wormhole gates that enabled galactic expansion. The (partly posthuman) crew of the White Raven, an independent freight/salvage/occasional security ship operating out of a huge space station on the edge of our solar system, discover a “goldilocks ship” drifting among the icy planitesimals: these were colony ships with small crews in cryonic suspension and lots of seedbanks, sent out five hundred years before, in the early 22nd century, when the Earth was nearly destroyed ecologically. Lots of the ships were launched toward any halfway plausible possible planet in the “goldilocks zones” of nearby stars, sent on long slow voyages in the hope that some of them would find habitable worlds and keep humankind alive if Earth perished. There’s no reason one of those ships should be anywhere near our solar system centuries after it launched, and when the crew of the White Raven investigate, they find all but one of the ship’s cryo-pods empty, and discover weird (seemingly alien) technology on board. Continue reading

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Author Interview: D.B. Jackson

Today I am interviewing D.B. Jackson, author of the new fantasy novel, Time’s Demon, second book in The Islevale Cycle.

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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?

D.B. Jackson: Of course. Thanks so much for hosting me today! So my name is actually David B. Coe. D.B. Jackson is a pen name, and I write under both bylines. All told I’ve published more than twenty novels and as many short stories since starting my career back in the 1990s. So that’s one thing I can tell you about me – I’m old! I’ve published epic fantasy, historical fantasy, contemporary urban fantasy, and media tie-ins. And I also have a Ph.D. in U.S. history. I’m a husband and a dad (which shows up in my humor), and when I’m not writing, I’m also a photographer and a musician and a birdwatcher.

DJ: What is Time’s Demon and then The Islevale Cycle about?

D.B.: So, I’ll answer that in reverse order. The Islevale Cycle is a time travel/epic fantasy series. It tells the story of Tobias, a young time traveler – a Walker, as his kind are known in Islevale – who goes back in time to prevent a war. But he’s followed back, and in this earlier time, his Sovereign is assassinated, the Sovereign’s court is wiped out, and his family is killed except for his infant daughter, Sofya. Tobias is forced to take on guardianship of the infant princess, and the two of them are pursued through this new misfuture by assassins. Eventually, Tobias’s love from his own time, Mara, follows him back into the past, and the two of them attempt to reestablish Sofya’s claim to the throne. There is A LOT more to the plot than this, but I don’t want to give too much away, and I also don’t want to bore people with too long a synopsis.

Time’s Demon is the middle book in the series, so Tobias and Mara are on the run, and they are seeking allies for their cause. And one of those allies is Droë, a Tirribin, or Time Demon. Droë, like all Tirribin, feeds on human years and remains forever in child form. She is dangerous to most humans, but not Walkers, with whom her kind have a certain affinity. The complication is this: Droë is fascinated by human love – the emotion and the act – and she wishes to take adult form, which would change the very nature of who she is. And she is infatuated with Tobias, which makes her a threat to Mara. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Lavie Tidhar

(Photo by Kevin Nixon / SFX Magazine/TeamRock)

(Photo by Kevin Nixon / SFX Magazine/TeamRock)

Today I am interviewing World Fantasy and British Fantasy Award winning author Lavie Tidhar, whose Bookman Histories trilogy has just been reissued in new editions by Angry Robot Books.

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

Laive Tidhar: My pleasure! Thanks for having me.

DJ: Your work has spun everything from the more light-hearted adventures of The Bookman Histories to political noir explorations of current and alternate realities in the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize winner and Premio Roma nominee A Man Lies Dreaming, to the World Fantasy Award winning Osama. How do you move between genres and modes of writing like this, and what do you look for in a project before you sit down to start?

Lavie: That’s an excellent question, as I’ve been thinking a lot about this myself recently. There’s a certain register shift between writing something like The Bookman, which is very much in the manner of, almost like a serial, a lot of things happening, you know, from secret catacombs to mechanical assassins to pirates, all coming at you! – and then to something like, say, my recent novel, Central Station, which is almost plotless, that is a much slower, gentler slice-of-life science fiction, I’d call it. And from that to the dark comedy of something like A Man Lies Dreaming. I guess moving between these keeps me interested – it would be terrible to only write the one book over and over – and actually this is also seen in the three Bookman Histories novels, each of which is really in a different genre – adventure, crime, and spy respectively. While all taking place in this mad sort of Victorian era that never was. What I look for, though, is a sort of… I need to be able to have something to say, that the book must be more than just a story, it needs to have a certain weight (if only for my own satisfaction). But I’ve been doing very complex novels recently, in a structural sense, in a sense of voice or whatever, and I’m increasingly being drawn back to the more story-telling mode of The Bookman Histories. We’ll see! Continue reading

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Author Interview: Alyc Helms


Today I am interviewing Alyc Helms, author of the new urban fantasy novel, The Conclave of Shadow, second book in the Missy Masters series.

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

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

Alyc Helms: Thank you so much for having me!

I’ll try to keep it down to ‘a little’. The thing I usually lead with is that I did my undergrad and graduate work in Anthropology and Folklore. That alone explains 75% of how my brain functions. I love stories, I love tropes, I love the structure of narrative, and I love how stories reveal both the particularities and the generalities of a cultural system. My areas of study definitely feed into my writing. I have a whole treatise on different tendencies in worldbuilding that I don’t have room to go into here. Suffice to say that I lean toward anthropological worldbuilding, which comes out through how characters view and interact with the world and the assumptions they make about it (as opposed to, say, getting your worldbuilding out via an omniscient-view history of a location or a custom – nothing wrong with that style. I love that style. I just don’t do it very often myself).

The other 25% of my brain is occupied with the various hobbies I’ve picked up over the years. I’m a big gamer–I’ve written some freelance content for Green Ronin for their A Song of Ice and Fire and Dragon Age lines. I’m a former competitive Scottish Highland dancer, and I still keep my bell kicks a’rockin’ at my local Renaissance and Dickens fairs. I’m pretty handy with a sewing machine (which helps for the making of corsets and costumes for the aforementioned fairs), and I just taught myself to crochet.

DJ: What is The Conclave of Shadow about? What can readers of the series expect in the latest installment? Anything new? Any surprises?


Alyc: Like I mentioned before, I’m a sucker for narrative tropes and structures. With The Dragons of Heaven, I played with the idea of a pulp adventure-style origin story. For the sequel, The Conclave of Shadow, I decided to write it using the structure of a caper story along the lines of Ocean’s Eleven or Escape from Alcatraz—the sorts of stories that depend on complex plans, many players, and many moving parts. Also, things going wrong, and the creative ways that the characters work around those roadblocks.

One of the worldbuilding elements I left (mostly) unexplored in the first book was the role of the Argent Aces in Missy’s world. These corporate-sponsored heroes act as a sort of private army and give the ambiguously motivated Argent Corporation much of their power. In Conclave, Missy reluctantly teams up with several Argent Aces (and drags a few of her old allies along for the ride) to investigate the theft of Argent technology by the Conclave of Shadow. But of course, there’s more going on than just simple theft, and everyone on the team has their own secrets and reasons for helping. Things get… interesting. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Robot Dragons Can’t be Literary by Paige Orwin

Paige Orwin headshot copy

Paige Orwin was born in Utah, to her great surprise. At the age of nine she arranged to rectify the situation.  She now lives in Washington state, next to a public ferry terminal and a great deal of road construction, and has never regretted the decision.

She is the proud owner of a BA in English and Spanish from the University of Idaho, which thus far has not proven terrifically useful for job prospects but she knew the risks of a humanities degree going in. She also survived the 8.8 Chilean earthquake in 2010, which occurred two days after her arrival in the country (being stubborn, she stayed an entire year anyway).

She began writing The Interminables when her favorite video game, City of Heroes, was shut down in late 2012.

Her partner in crime wants a cat. This, thus far, has not happened.

Robot Dragons Can’t be Literary

by Paige Orwin

I was fortunate enough to go to college.

There is, in the US, a standardized test called the SAT, and a “pre-test” for it called the PSAT. In high school, I took the PSAT, and apparently I did pretty well. I did so well that I got a letter from the “National Merit Scholarship Corporation” saying that I was a “semifinalist” in a contest I wasn’t aware I had entered. Later, they decided that I was a “finalist” and a “National Merit Scholar.” The University of Idaho thought that was a big deal, and offered me a four-year, full-ride scholarship. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Adam Rakunas

Adam Rakunas crop [FM]2014

Today I am interviewing Adam Rakunas, author of the new science fiction novel, Like A Boss, second book in the Occupied Space series. The first book in the series, Windswept, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award.

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

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

Adam Rakunas: Thanks for having me here! I’m a stay-at-home dad who writes science fiction. I grew up in Southern California, and I now live in the Pacific Northwest. All of these things are related.

DJ: What is Like A Boss about? What can readers of the series expect in the latest installment? Anything new? Any surprises?

AR: Like A Boss is the next episode in the continuing adventures of everyone’s favorite two-fisted labor organizer from the future, Padma Mehta. At the end of the last book, Windswept, Padma got everything she wanted: retirement, the deed to her favorite rum distillery, her own theme song. She also got nailed with a one-trillion-yuan debt, thanks to what she did in the second-to-last chapter of Windswept. In the opening of Like A Boss, Padma has to deal with the headaches of being an employer who’s also up to her eyeballs in debt. Oh, and there’s also a looming planet-wide strike that threatens to upend everything. I like to think of this book as a love letter to everyone who thought that Windswept had too much science fiction and not enough labor politics. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Dragons are Cool by Jen Williams


Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their cat. She started writing about pirates and dragons as a young girl and has never stopped. Her short stories have featured in numerous anthologies and she was nominated for Best Newcomer in the 2015 British Fantasy Awards.

You can find Jen online at her website:sennydreadful.co.uk, on Twitter @sennydreadful and onFacebook.

Dragons are Cool

by Jen Williams

As a fantasy writer, I have a certain fondness for monsters and beasties and mythological creatures. I’m rarely happier than when I’m giving my characters griffins to fly on, or giant spiders to fight, but there is something particularly pleasing about a dragon – in my humble opinion, most things can be improved with dragons. Here are a few reasons why I think they are indispensable: Continue reading

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Guest Post: My Favorite Tropes to Subvert by N.S. Dolkart


N S Dolkart, otherwise known as Noah, was home-schooled until high school by his Israeli father and American mother, and is a graduate of the notorious Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He studied creative writing and Jewish studies there.

By day, he leads activities in a non-profit nursing home, where he also trains fellow staff in caring for dementia patients. He writes his tales of magic and Godhood late at night, and doesn’t sleep much.

Silent Hall is his first novel.

You can find Noah online at his website: nsdolkart.wordpress.com, and on Twitter @N_S_Dolkart.

My Favorite Tropes to Subvert

by N.S. Dolkart

When you’re writing a sword-and-sorcery or epic fantasy, you’ve always got to pick which tropes to lean on and which to subvert. If you don’t subvert any of them, the story might still be fun, but it’ll be pretty mediocre art. Conversely, if you subvert all the tropes, the story may become great satire, but it won’t be much of a story. Nobody likes box-checking. We want a compelling narrative, dammit!

So I thought I’d share the tropes that I most enjoy subverting, in the hopes that others will choose totally different ones and stay off my turf (kidding! Go ahead and play with my toys – I’m good at sharing). And so, without further ado, I present to you exhibit A:


The Fatherless Hero

Strider. Taran Wanderer. Jon Snow. Rey. A hero of unknown origins who rises to the challenge of the times and saves the world(s). This character is usually a Hidden Heir, as Diana Wynne Jones put it in her Tough Guide to Fantasyland. They have a past Shrouded in Mystery. I don’t need to tell you how popular this trope is. When I was a young teen, one of my friends sent me the first chapter of a novel she was writing, and I wrote back to ask, “Her father is the king, right?” Continue reading

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