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Author Interview: Vivian Shaw

Today I am interviewing Vivian Shaw, author of the new paranomal fantasy novel, Strange Practice, first book in the Dr. Greta Helsing series.

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

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

Vivian Shaw: My pleasure! I’ve been writing books since I was probably about eleven years old, and I’ve been an active fanfic author since the early 2000s, but this is the first time I’ve ever been actually published and I could not be happier. I’m the daughter of a couple of British scientists, born in Kenya, and we moved around a lot chasing the postdoc funding when I was little, but we moved to Maryland in 1987 and I’ve been here ever since. I have a BA in art history and an MFA in creative writing, and I live in Baltimore with my wife, the author Arkady Martine.

DJ: What is Strange Practice about?

Vivian: The very short version is this: Dr. Greta Helsing sees dead people, from ten to four on weekdays and by appointment, at her Harley Street clinic. Dead people and other individuals who might not generally be considered people at all: mummies, were-creatures, banshees, barrow-wights, ghouls, etcetera. Greta inherited the practice from her father, and she’s just pretty much getting on with things and living her normal supernatural-adjacent life when a new threat emerges – a sect of murderous monks apparently intent on dispatching both the quick and the dead – and she and her friends (and patients) have to figure out how to stop the monks if she wants to save both her practice and her life.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Strange Practice and the series?

Vivian: Well, directly, the source material: Varney the Vampyre, or The Feast of Blood; John Polidori’s The Vampyre; and the somewhat-apocryphal story of the vampire of Croglin Grange. (Dracula and Carmilla both showed up in a previous draft, but they’ll be part of this universe later on.) I read a fantastic book called Prisoner of Vampires, by Nancy Garden, when I was just a kid – and that not only introduced me to a lot of more esoteric vampire stories but did a little bit of what I’m doing here, bringing together the various classic tales into a coherent and cohesive single canon. Stylistically I think my main influences are and always have been Mervyn Peake, Robin McKinley, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Angus Watson

Today I am interviewing Angus Watson, author of the new fantasy novel, You Die When You Die, first book in the West of the West series.

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

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

Angus Watson: Hello DJ. I am author who lives in west London, UK. I’m in my forties and getting older. I am married to Nicola. We have two young sons, Charlie (3) and Otty (1), and two cats, Jasmine and Napa.

My first historical fantasy trilogy was Age of Iron, an epic romantic adventure set at the end of Britain’s Iron Age. I came up with the idea for West of West while driving and hiking though North America’s magnificent countryside and wondering what it was like before the Europeans got there.

DJ: What is You Die When You Die about?

Angus: You Die When You Die is an epic historical fantasy. It’s a humour-packed adventure romance, which tells the story of a mismatched group of survivors crossing a continent to fulfill a prophesy.

Ahead of them are murderous enemies and other troubles including a tornado and increasingly scary monsters, and they are pursued by a bunch of super-powered warriors. As if they didn’t have enough problems, they like to squabble amongst themselves.

DJ: What were some of your influences for You Die When You Die and the series?

Angus: Well, apart from everything I’ve ever read and seen, I guess my chief influence was the American landscape. I fell in love with the US countryside on a road trip around the western half about six years ago and have been back many times since, I decided to run an epic adventure through it so I could spend more time roaming America, and do some research on pre Columbian history.

(I’m writing this interview in the Bellagio hotel, Las Vegas. I was at Comic Con over the weekend, but am now spending two extra days looking about the desert and doing as much hiking as the heat allows. I was in Valley of Fire State Park this morning, somewhere that my characters will pass through in book three.)

So, I was set on writing a book set in a fantasy ancient America, when my editor asked if I might write a book about Vikings. I’m fascinated by Vikings, and I’d been reading a lot about them, particularly about their voyages to North America. I thought Vikings and Indians… why not? Continue reading

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Author Interview: David Mealing

Today I am interviewing David Mealing, debut author of the new epic fantasy novel, Soul of the World, first book in The Ascension Cycle.

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DJ: Hey 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 Mealing: My pleasure! Great to be here. A little about me… I’m a father of three, recently relocated from the Pacific Northwest to Utah. My hobbies include anything that doesn’t require going outside: boardgaming (especially pen & paper RPGs), videogaming (especially MMORPGs), and of course, reading as many books as I can get my hands on.

DJ: What is Soul of the World about?

David: The book started with an image in my head: a street-artist sketching the court of Louis XVI in the run-up to the French Revolution, using invisibility magic to stay hidden from the palace guards. Everything flowed from there. It’s a giant epic fantasy with world-changing stakes, set in a second-world mix of colonial France and the Americas, with a heavy dose of military, tribal politics, and magic.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Soul of the World and the series?

David: I’m a total sponge when it comes to influences. I read something and I have to do my take on it! That said, Michael Shaara’s THE KILLER ANGELS was a big influence for my military scenes and battle planning. Brandon Sanderson is a huge personal favorite; I can only hope I osmosed some of his awesomeness given how much I love his work. Jacqueline Carey’s KUSHIEL books definitely influenced the way I wrote about the French-inspired setting. And I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with France and French culture. I lived in Paris for a summer before I went to college, though my French is pretty rusty these days. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Claire North

Today I am interviewing Claire North, author of the new novel, The End of the Day.

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

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

Claire North: I’m not real.

Well, no, I am real, I mean, this is definitely me answering. But Claire North – she ain’t real. She’s one of three names that I’ve been known to scribble under, including my own – Catherine Webb – and my urban fantasy face, Kate Griffin.

Of those three, I suspect Claire North is the most exasperating. She’s probably charming, intelligent and sexy in way I’m not quite so much. She definitely likes mushrooms (uch) and can speak French, or maybe Italian. She’s almost certainly good at doing maths in her head – no! Crosswords. I bet she’s bloody brilliant at crosswords.

Sometimes I really resent her achievements, in fact….

The only thing I’ve really got in common with her, in fact, is that I’m 30 years old, a Londoner, a lighting designer, and this writing malarcky has been my job for a bit over 15 years now. Oh – and all my personas love Thai food. Because who doesn’t?

 DJ: What is The End of the Day about?

Claire: So there’s a guy called Charlie, who works for Death as his/her Harbinger – sorta PA/assistant/fixer/messenger, depending on how you look at it. Death’s main office is in Milton Keynes, which is a town in the Midlands renowned almost entirely for having roundabouts, and nothing else. From this office, Charlie is dispatched to visit places where either people are about to die, or ideas are about to die, and to bring them gifts. This might be the peanut butter you loved as a child; it might be a book you thought was lost. It might be copious quantities of alcohol. Either way, wherever Death is about to arrive, be it for tsunami or to pay respects to an individual, first there goes the Harbinger, to honour the lives that were lived before. Continue reading

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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: 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: Nicholas Eames

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Today I am interviewing Nicholas Eames, debut author of the new fantasy novel, Kings of the Wyld, first book of The Band series.

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

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

Nicholas Eames: Hi! Thanks for having me—I really appreciate it. A bit about me? I love books (obviously) but I also love video games, history, and hockey (I’m Canadian, after all). I’ve been an ‘aspiring’ writer for a long time, and getting published is quite literally my biggest dream come true.

DJ: What is Kings of the Wyld about?

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Nicholas: It’s about five retired mercenaries who reunite to rescue the daughter of their leader, who is trapped in a city under siege. The setting is loosely allegorical of the golden age of classic rock, wherein mercenary ‘bands’ are afforded the celebrity status of rock stars. They have managers, are booked for ‘gigs’ (slaying monsters, saving towns, etc.) and are accompanied by bards, who are responsible for increasing their notoriety. Beyond the basics, however, it’s a book about the bonds of friendship, and the loyalty we have for those we love.    

DJ: What were some of your influences for Kings of the Wyld, and The Band series?

Nicholas: Book-wise, Ready Player One was a huge influence, because despite its subject matter (which is geared toward a niche audience) it was told with such passion and excellent pacing that its appeal goes far beyond its intended targets. That’s something I tried to do with KINGS as well. Joe Abercrombie, Sebastien de Castell, and Scott Lynch are also favorites of mine, as they all combine ‘epic’ fantasy with humor and heart.

That said, KINGS was inspired primarily by music. Its characters represent the typical members of a rock band (right down to the axe-man) and many of its scenes were directly influenced by specific songs. There’s a fairly detailed ‘soundtrack’ on my website for those wishing to find out more. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Ken MacLeod

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Today I am interviewing Ken MacLeod, author of sixteen science-fiction novels, about his latest: The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, second book of the Corporation Wars trilogy.

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

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

Ken MacLeod: Thanks for the interview! I’m from Scotland, with a background in science and IT and an abiding interest in political and philosophical ideas. My first novel, The Star Fraction, was published in 1995. Since then, I’ve written SF that tends to swing from near-future social and political speculation to far-future space opera and back.

DJ: What is The Corporation Wars: Insurgence and the rest of the trilogy about?

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Ken: Well, the first volume is Dissidence, the second is Insurgence and the third – due to be published September 2017 – is Emergence. They’re about robots who are ten years into exploring an extrasolar system about twenty-four light years away, and they’re set about a thousand years in the future. The robots have all been manufactured on-site by a relatively tiny information-packed probe that bootstraps machinery up from local resources. The very long-term aim is to terraform an earthlike planet and populate it with thousands of colonists who died of natural causes back in the Solar system, and who volunteered to have their brain-states, memories and genomes stored to be rebooted millennia later. The whole mission is run by AI versions of corporations, called DisCorps in the story, which in turn are answerable to an AI module that implements the directives of the world government back on Earth, a global democracy called the Direction.

Quite by accident, some of the little robots trundling about on a moon develop self-awareness, and start asserting their own interests. This contingency has been planned for long in advance. The Direction doesn’t trust AIs with control of weapons, so dealing with robot revolts is outsourced to law companies that have the stored minds of veterans of the Last World War – all of whom are in the Direction’s eyes terrorists and war criminals, now given a chance to ‘serve their death sentence’ and earn a clean slate by fighting in robot and machine bodies. For training and R&R they live in immersive VR environments that run at a thousand times clock speed. Unfortunately some of the veterans fought on opposite sides, and jump at the chance to fight each other again. Complications ensue. Continue reading

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Author Interview: James Islington

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Today I am interviewing James Islington, author of the new epic fantasy novel, The Shadow of What Was Lost, first book of The Licanius trilogy.

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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 Islington: Hi, and my pleasure! So I’m 35, Australian, married and with a daughter who’s just turned one. I’ve been writing for about five years now (though this is the first time The Shadow of What Was Lost is getting an ‘official’ release, I initially self-published it all the way back in 2014).

DJ: What is The Shadow of What Was Lost about?

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James: In a lot of ways it’s a traditional epic fantasy, following a young group from humble beginnings into this huge, world-threatening conflict – think the tone of The Wheel of Time series. So there’s coming-of-age stories, multiple intersecting plots, plenty of magic and action and intrigue as you’re introduced to the world. But at its core, it’s about this dark threat against the world, and the main characters figuring out what it is and how to deal with it.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Shadow of What Was Lost, and The Licanius trilogy?

James: The series I just mentioned, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, is probably most easily identifiable as an influence on the book. Another big one would be Brandon Sanderson’s work on Mistborn and Stormlight Archives.

Of course, other stories generally – including genres other than fantasy, and media other than books – are always influences too. If I’ve really enjoyed something about a narrative, I think it’s inevitably going to shape how I look at my own work! Continue reading

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Author Interview: Stephen Aryan

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Today I am interviewing Stephen Aryan, author of the new fantasy novel Chaosmage, final book in The Age of Darkness trilogy.

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

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

Stephen Aryan: Hello, thanks for having me. I’m a British fantasy writer of secondary world epic fantasy. I’ve been reading fantasy books all my life and I started writing my own stories at an early age. I live in the West Midlands of England with my partner and two cats, and when I’m not reading comics, watching genre TV or drinking real ale, you’ll find me walking in the countryside somewhere. I say I’m a lapsed gamer as nowadays I don’t have much time to spend playing MMORPGs and other PC games.

DJ: What is Choasmage and also Age of Darkness trilogy about?

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Stephen: Chaosmage is a horror thriller story about a rotting and forgotten city on the edge of the world where something is lurking in the shadows. There are lots of stories coming out of the area about the dead coming back to life, weird creatures crawling through the rubble at night, ghosts wandering the streets and there are a lot of people going missing. Two characters are sent in to unravel the mystery and find out what is going on before the madness spreads.

The trilogy itself is about all kinds of things, so it’s difficult to summarise. This is because each book in the trilogy is a relatively standalone story, but they’re all tied together, and they build on each other. So each book is exploring a theme of its own. There are lots of hidden gems for readers who’ve been there since the first book, with payoffs in the second book and third book. Continue reading

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