Tag Archives: orbit

Author Interview: Jamie Sawyer

Today I am interviewing Jamie Sawyer, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Eternity War: Pariah, first book in the Eternity War series.

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

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

Jamie: Thanks so much for interviewing me! Well, I’m a science fiction writer based in the UK. Although I have a full-time job, writing has always been my passion and I’ve written SF since before I can remember. My books are exciting space adventures with a military aspect. If you enjoy tales of starships, daring space missions, and mysterious alien races, then these books are for you. The Eternity War is my second trilogy, which is set in the same universe as my first series The Lazarus War – although you don’t need to have read the first series to enjoy the second!

DJ: What is The Eternity War: Pariah about?

Jamie: Pariah is the story of Lieutenant Keira Jenkins, commanding officer of the Jackals. Jenkins and her team are members of the Simulant Operations Programme – they use technology that allows them to operate copies of themselves (“simulants”) in the most deadly theatres of war. One body dies, but you can come back in another: and you get to use whatever you learnt the first time around. But the Jackals are a green outfit, and Jenkins struggles to manage them. They discover the existence of an alien virus and become embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens to destabilise galactic peace. There’s lots of action, intrigue and adventure along the way!

DJ: What were some of your influences The Eternity War: Pariah and the series?

Jamie: I’m influenced by so many things that the list is almost endless! Video games, literature, movies, music: it all goes into the mix. In terms of authors, I’d say that my biggest influences have been Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman and John Steakley. I think that Starship Troopers, The Forever War and Armor are the triumvirate of military SF classics! But I’m an avid SF reader, and modern authors like Dan Abnett, Jack Campbell and Gary Gibson are right up there too.

For Pariah specifically, though, Enemy Mine (both the story by Barry B Longyear and the film) sort of influenced me: the idea of working with an enemy that you don’t understand, but that you have to trust, is a very enduring one.    Continue reading

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Author Interview: Ken MacLeod

Today I am interviewing Ken MacLeod, author of the new science-fiction/fantasy novel, The Corporation Wars: Emergence, final book in the Second Law 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 a science fiction writer from Scotland, and The Corporation Wars: Emergence is my seventeenth novel. I was born on the Isle of Lewis in 1954, and my family moved to Greenock, an industrial town on the Firth of Clyde, about ten years later. I got hooked on science fiction in my early teens, and it made me want to be a scientist. I studied zoology at Glasgow University and went on to attempt a PhD in biomechanics at Brunel University in West London. I ended up with an MPhil many years later, by which time I’d married, had two children, and retrained and got a job as a programmer. After I finished my thesis in 1988 I decided to make a serious effort to write a novel, The Star Fraction, mainly to prove to myself and show my friend Iain Banks that I could do it. I didn’t expect it to be publishable and its first draft certainly wasn’t, but it went through a couple of other drafts after a push from Iain’s agent, Mic Cheetham. She became my agent (as she still is) and placed the novel with the first editor she took it to, John Jarrold. The book was launched at the Glasgow Worldcon in 1995, which was my first SF convention — in at the deep end, nobody knew me, and about an hour after I arrived I was dragged onto a panel with David Wingrove and Katherine Kerr. I met lots of fans and writers and had a great time. When my second novel, The Stone Canal, was published in 1996 I got a second two-book contract and recklessly gave up the day job. Since then I’ve been a full-time writer, along with two Writer-in-Residence posts  which I deeply appreciated:  at the Genomics Forum at Edinburgh University, and on the Creative Writing MA course (roughly equivalent to MFA) at Edinburgh Napier University. My novel Intrusion came out of the first, and my novel Descent was mostly written during the second. This year I was Guest Selector for the science fiction strand at the Edinburgh International Book Festival — again, an opportunity I greatly appreciated and I hope made the most of.

My work has swung back and forth from near-future political and social speculation to far-future space opera, and my latest trilogy is very definitely among the latter.

DJ: What is The Corporation Wars: Emergence and then the Second Law trilogy about?

Ken: The novels are about the emergence of self-awareness in robots preparing planets around another star for human settlement, and the attempts of an AI system controlled by the distant government of the Solar system to suppress them. To do this, it relies on the uploaded minds of human insurgents who got killed in bizarre ways in a final conflict back on Earth a thousand years earlier, near the beginning of the Twenty-Second Century. That war was between the Reaction and the Acceleration — ideological descendants of the alt-right and the ultra-left, basically — and was so devastating that everyone else got together to stamp them out and establish a basically utopian society, under a democratic world government called the Direction. It prepares for a long human future by sending seed ships to other stars, with thousands of people who’ve died naturally and volunteered in advance to have their brain-states scanned and stored for future rebirth as interstellar settlers — and likewise the stored brain states of dead war criminals who if necessary can be revived, downloaded at first to virtual environments for training and R&R, and then to combat robot bodies to be sent into action. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Anna Smith Spark

Today I am interviewing Anna Smith Spark, author of the new grimdark, fantasy novel, The Court of Broken Knives, first book in the Empires of Dust series.

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

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

Anna Smith Spark: Hello DJ, and thank you for asking me! I’m a British fantasy novelist with a background in classical history and mythology. I’m a (sadly, ex-) D&D player and Warhammer fan – for a couple of glorious years, I studied the Iliad and the campaigns of Alexander the Great all day, then played David Gemmell based D&D all night. In my past lives I’ve been an English teacher, a petty bureaucrat and a fetish model. I have dyslexia, dyspraxia and Asperger’s Syndrome.

DJ: What is The Court of Broken Knives about?

Anna: Aha ha ha. The big question. Broken Knives is my response to the hero myths and legends that I’ve loved since childhood – the Iliad, the Eddas, Beowulf, the Tain, Tolkien. It’s about violence and the cult of the war leader. Why we fight and die, why we follow someone to death. Why human society has always fetishized violence, seen prowess in war as admirable.  

It’s basically a fairly standard fantasy set-up: in a decadent city, a nobleman schemes to save his world through violence, hires a company of mercenaries to do the changing. But a member of the company has a dark secret. And violence has a way of getting out of control.

It’s grimdark epic fantasy with poetry, Joycean stream-of-consciousness battle scenes, and rude jokes. Continue reading

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Author Interview: RJ Barker

Today I am interviewing RJ Barker, author of the new fantasy novel, Age of Assassins, first book in the Wounded Kingdom series.

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

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

RJ Barker: Yes! Glad to. I live in Leeds, which is in Yorkshire in the UK. I’m married to Lindy and we have a little boy and a cat called Bertie. The little boy isn’t called Bertie. He’s called Rook. And we live in flat in a very old mansion that we fill with taxidermy and odd art. We surround ourselves with things that make us happy. I advise doing this wherever possible in life.

DJ: What is Age of Assassins about?

RJ: It’s a murder mystery, at its heart. And a story about the relationship between a boy, Girton Club-Foot (our hero and the book’s narrator) and Merela Karn, who has brought him up and trained him. They’re trapped in a castle and forced to find out who wants to murder the heir. It’s a pressure-cooker environment[1] and it forces Girton into a position he’s very uncomfortable with, which makes him examine himself. And of course, as it’s a fantasy book there’s also magic and intrigue and swordfights. All the good stuff.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Age of Assassins and the series?

RJ: I’m a big lover of history and I’d been writing a short play about Margaret of Anjou, so that’s in there, and I’m a HUGE fan of the King Arthur myth as well. From the other side Agatha Christie is in there and there are definite influences from American crime writers like James Lee Burke and Robert Crais. And I’ve always been a bit of an outsider, too[2], so that feeds into the creation of Girton. He’s very much on the outside of a world looking in. Continue reading

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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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