Tag Archives: tor books

Author Interview: Michael F. Haspil

Today I am interviewing Michael F. Haspil, author of the new urban-fantasy novel, Graveyard Shift.

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

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

Michael F. Haspil: Sure. I’ll stick to the big things. I’m a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and used to do a lot of operational stuff (“stuff” is a technical term) with Air Force Space Command. I worked as an ICBM crew commander and as a launch commander and launch director for the Air Force at Cape Canaveral. I’ve been trying to be a professional writer for most of my life, and certainly all of my adult life. I’m also a dedicated gamer. Tabletop, board games, role-playing, miniature, computer…any type of game. I’m there.

DJ: What is Graveyard Shift about?

Michael: The super short version is that it is about an immortal pharaoh, who has been blackmailed into law enforcement. He must make some unsavory alliances to stop an ancient vampire conspiracy that is trying to destroy humanity. He often has to make some pretty awful decisions to stop worse things from happening.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Graveyard Shift?

Michael: I would say most of my influences come more from film and television than literary sources, although Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series probably rubbed off a bit. Among Movie and TV influences I’m drawn to stories where the good guys and bad guys might be a little hard to tell apart unless you look really hard. So, there’s a bit of Noir creeping in throughout the book. That sort of murky morality kind of thing where there might not be a clean-cut line between right and wrong. L.A. Confidential, Justified, Chinatown. The largest influence might actually be the original Lethal Weapon. People tend to remember the Lethal Weapon series as action comedies, but I think that’s due to the latter films certainly. I would argue that the first film is a dark affair, with Martin Riggs genuinely suffering from some serious mental problems throughout and only finding some solace at the end of the film. For Graveyard Shift I wanted to graze the surface of the buddy-cop dynamic except that my characters have been forced into it for more than seventy years, have their own agendas, and might have a genuine dislike for one another. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Laura Lam

Photo credit: Elizabeth May

Today I am interviewing Laura Lam, author of the new sci-fi thriller, Shattered Minds.

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

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

Laura Lam: Thanks for having me! I’m a former Californian who now lives in Scotland. I write primarily SFF, and my other books include False Hearts and the Micah Grey trilogy: Pantomime, Shadowplay, and Masquerade. I also teach part-time on the Creative Writing MA at Napier university in Edinburgh. My life is reading and writing, pretty much, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

DJ: What is Shattered Minds about?

Laura: When I do my elevator pitch I tend to say: “Female Dexter with a drug problem meets Minority Report. It’s about addiction, identity, and the darkness within.”

DJ: What were some of your influences for Shattered Minds?

Laura: Serial killers in general, and perhaps even vampire literature, despite the fact there are no vampires in this book. I read loads growing up and was always interested by that resistance a character shows against that desire to kill. I was also influenced by cyberpunk, government and corporate leaks, hacking, and Orphan Black.

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? (aka What makes them compelling?)

Laura: Carina has become deliberately addicted to dream drugs so she’s only killing people in her imagination instead of in real life. In these dreamscapes she crafts criminals only to kill them slowly, deliberately, in all the ways she likes best. I actually don’t care if people sympathize with Carina. She is, in many ways, unlikeable. But I do want readers to empathize with her, to put themselves in her shoes, even though that can be very uncomfortable. The villain, Roz, gets some screen time, and she’s sort of a cross between Rachel from Orphan Black and Dr. Frankenstein. She is very twisted. Dax, meanwhile, is the moral breath of fresh air. He’s one of the hackers who has a strong moral compass and knows to do the right thing. If Roz and Carina are super Slytherin, he’s more Hufflepuff. Continue reading

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Author Interview: James Gunn

Today I am interviewing James Gunn, author of the new urban fantasy novel, Transformation, final book in the Transcendental trilogy.

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

What were some of your influences for the Transcendental trilogy

James Gunn: I am an emeritus professor of English at the University of Kansas, after holding several other positions at the University, including director of University Relations during the turbulent 1960s (which inspired my novel Kampus).  I started writing science fiction in 1948 and had my first stories published in I949, which makes me (barely) at 94 in a month, the oldest living Golden Age writer.  Throughout my academic career I continued to write, publishing more than 100 short stories and 45 books, a good number of them non-fiction books about science fiction, including Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, the six-volume anthology The Road to Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction, The Science of Science-Fiction Writing, Inside Science Fiction, and others.  My novels include The Immortals (which became a TV movie and series as “The Immortal,”) The Joy Makers, The Listeners, The Millennium Blues, and some dozen or so others.  My most recent publications are the Transcendental trilogy and a series of stories that I call “Tales from the Transcendental” being published in Asimov’s Science Fiction.

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? 

James: The main characters in the Transcendental trilogy are Riley, a battered and despondent former navigator and gunner in the human/Federation war and now a disillusioned emissary of an unknown master with an impossible directive; and Asha, a woman of mystery with unusual abilities and self-control.  I’ve always preferred flawed characters, not heroes, and the challenge is to see if they can surpass their limitations when the need arises.

DJ: What is the world and setting of the Transcendental trilogy like? 

James: This is the future 1,000 years from now when humanity sends out its first interstellar generation ships and finds that the galaxy is already owned by a varied group of alien species who have organized themselves, millennia before, into a Federation, ostensibly benign but fiercely defensive about threats to its sovereignity and rigorous about potential new members.  It results in a ten-year war that has just fought itself, after great destruction, into a treaty, and the Federation, which values stability and stasis above all else, has been threatened by rumors of a new religion called Transcendentalism based around a machine, somewhere in the galaxy, that has the potential to bring transcendence to any creature.  And that threatens the stability and future of the Federation.  Hidden forces have dispatched Riley and possibly other emissaries to a spaceship of pilgrims composed of many species seeking the Transcendental Machine to seize it for their own use or destroy it and the unknown Prophet who has announced the new religion. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Michael Johnston

Today I am interviewing Michael Johnston, author of the new fantasy novel, Soleri, first book in a planned duology.

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

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

Michael Johnston: I am debut adult fantasy author. I was trained as an architect and practiced for a decade before turning to writing. I started Soleri in 2010, so it’s been a bit of a journey, but I am excited to see it hit the shelves on June 13th. It was a long process and I put a lot of time and research into the work. I collected books on the history of ancient Egypt, on antiquity, on the food the people ate (bread and beer). I wanted to know what clothing they wore and what cloth they used to make their clothes. I needed to know what metals, and gems, and other materials that were available at the time. Soleri is high fantasy, but I wanted it to have a strong sense of realism. But it is epic fantasy, so I never let the research tie my hands. When the readers comes to Soleri I want them to feel as they were in a wholly original and completely plausible world.

DJ: What is Soleri about?

Michael: It’s a novel about family, about history and architecture, about primal and incomprehensible magic. It’s about the fall of an empire that is so old it has forgotten its origin.

Here’s the official description:

The ruling family of the Soleri Empire has been in power longer than even the calendars that stretch back 2,826 years. Those records tell a history of conquest and domination by a people descended from gods, older than anything in the known world. No living person has seen them for centuries, yet their grip on their four subjugate kingdoms remains tighter than ever.

On the day of the annual eclipse, the Harkan king, Arko-Hark Wadi, sets off on a hunt and shirks his duty rather than bow to the emperor. Ren, his son and heir, is a prisoner in the capital, while his daughters struggle against their own chains. Merit, the eldest, has found a way to stand against imperial law and marry the man she desires, but needs her sister’s help, and Kepi has her own ideas. 

Meanwhile, Sarra Amunet, Mother Priestess of the sun god’s cult, holds the keys to the end of an empire and a past betrayal that could shatter her family. 

Detailed and historical, vast in scope and intricate in conception, Soleri bristles with primal magic and unexpected violence. It is a world of ancient and elaborate rites, of unseen power and kingdoms ravaged by war, where victory comes with a price, and every truth conceals a deeper secret. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Marie Brennan

Today I am interviewing Marie Brennan, author of the new fantasy novel, Within the Sanctuary of Wings, the fifth and final book of The Memoirs of Lady Trent series.

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

For readers who aren’t familiar with the series, what is Within the Sanctuary of Wings and then the Memoirs of Lady Trent about?

Marie Brennan: The series as a whole is about a lady adventurer and dragon naturalist in a setting based on our own world in the nineteenth century. Each book describes a particular expedition she went on to study dragons in different regions, eventually building up to an explanation for why she’s one of the most famous people in the world. The foreword to the very first book mentioned a great discovery; this is the book where that discovery happens!

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Memoirs of Lady Trent?

Marie: I’d read a fair bit about the Victorian period for With Fate Conspire, the final book of my previous series (the Onyx Court), so I very much had that in mind. In particular, there’s a tremendous number of fascinating women intellectuals and adventurers who fed into my conception of Lady Trent — Mary Kingsley, Freya Stark, Gertrude Bell, Isabella Bird, and more. I suspect some of Elizabeth Peters’ heroine Amelia Peabody crept in there, too, though I haven’t read any of those books in years.

DJ: Lady Trent is easily one of my all-time favorite female protagonists! Could you briefly tell us a little about her and your other main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?

Continue reading

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Author Interview: Robyn Bennis

Today I am interviewing Robyn Bennis, author of the new steampunk novel, The Guns Above, first book in the Signal Airship series.

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

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

Robyn Bennis: Let’s see… I’ve been a biologist for nearly 20 years now and a writer since I could first hold a pencil. That’s been the one constant in my life, even as I move from place to place and job to job. Even in school, I was always the kid who was coming up with weird tales during recess, or drawing spaceships in my notebook. I’m still that kid, in a lot of ways.

DJ: What is The Guns Above about?

Robyn: The book follows the travails of Josette Dupre, Garnia’s first and much-maligned female airship captain, and Lord Bernat, the sexist fop sent to undermine her command. Along the way, you’ll get airship combat, heroic last stands, and badass ladies who shoot people.

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?

Robyn: I think readers will appreciate their wit. Although my characters are put into tough situations that might inspire sympathy, they are not fundamentally sympathetic characters. They’re bad people, perhaps made even worse by the courage of their convictions—that belief that they’re doing the right thing. But they’re funny and not afraid to bite, which can endear a reader to almost any character. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Randy Henderson

Today I am interviewing Randy Henderson, grand prize winner of the Writers of the Future, 2009 Clarion West graduate, and author of the new urban fantasy novel, Smells Like Finn Spirit, final book of the Finn Fancy trilogy.

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

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

Randy Henderson: So if I do this interview, you release me from the binding circle, that’s the deal, right? Fine. I wouldn’t call that “agreeing” exactly.

A little bit about me? Well, interestingly, I only exist as long as you are reading something I’ve written. And you can either measure how fast I am writing, or where I am at in my writing, but not both.

DJ: What is Smells Like Finn Spirit and then the Finn Fancy Necromancy trilogy about?

Randy: I guess if you mashed up Dresden Files and the Addams Family, you’d be pretty close to the Finn Fancy series. I tried for a balance of dark fantasy adventure, and humor.

Finn is from a quirky family of magic users, and was framed for a crime back in 1986, at the age of 15, and his spirit banished to a Fey Other World while a changeling took his place here. At the start of the series, he is just returning to our world 25 years later to his 40-year-old body and immediately framed for a new crime.

The series follows his adventures as he tries to stop the people who framed him from ruining his life and from starting a magical race war. Along the way, he deals with his comically dysfunctional family, sasquatch mercenaries, gnome mobsters, unwanted body hair, a crazed jorōgumo, gets involved with some feyblood activists, starts a matchmaking service for magicals, and tries to figure out the whole dating thing himself.

In Smells Like Finn Spirit, everything comes to a head when the bad guys hatch a plan for a Feypocalypse. Finn, his family and his girlfriend are caught right in the middle of it. Book 3 also features some 90s humor and a couple of scenes inspired by 90s video games. 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: Thoraiya Dyer

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Today I am interviewing Thoraiya Dyer, author of the new fantasy novel, Crossroads of Canopy, first book in the Titan’s Forest series.

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

Thoraiya Dyer: Thanks for having me!

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

Thoraiya: Greetings unfamiliar readers! I’m Australian and I used to be a veterinarian with a special interest in birds. Now I’m a science fiction & fantasy writer. I live in a beautiful beachside suburb of Sydney, I’ve won awards for my short stories in venues such as Clarkesworld and Analog magazines, and my first novel, due out from Tor in the US, Crossroads of Canopy, is imminent. Eep!

DJ: What is Crossroads of Canopy about?

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Thoraiya: An enormous, magical rainforest, some 300 stories high, hosts a vast city in its canopy, with dark, unknown depths below. Unar, our stubborn protagonist, loses her sister into those depths, and the action kicks off with her heading to the Garden to avoid being sold as a slave.

DJ: What is the “Garden” and what does a “Gardener” do?

Thoraiya: There are thirteen goddesses and gods in Canopy. One for each of the thirteen Kingdoms that make up the vast, treetop city. Incarnated as humans, they need homes as well as worship. They live in their Temples. The Garden is the Temple of Audblayin, the goddess of birth and new life. It’s a walled precinct with all the rare flowers, vines and green things from the far reaches of the world, cultivated and irrigated by Gardeners. They are servants of the Temple. They tend the Garden using magic that stems from their connection to the goddess. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Writing Through Hurricanes, Grumpy Spouses, And Maniacal Bosses: Finding Your Default Self by Edward Lazellari

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Born and raised in New York City, comic books were an important part of Edward’s youth and he spent many years working for Marvel Comics. He wrote his first professional story for Marvel Comics Presents starring Namorita (a.k.a. Kymaera) and illustrated the tale as well. After years as an illustrator, Edward returned to school to study English literature and creative writing at Rutgers.

His first published prose story, “The Date,” a dark comedy about a gigolo hired by conjoined twins, appeared in the October 1999 issue of Playboy magazine. This was an important boost to any budding writer’s confidence and contributed to his finishing his first novel, “Awakenings.” Edward has just completed the third book in the Guardians of Aandor series, “Blood of Ten Kings,” which is pending revisions.

His genre influences include: Stephen King, Roger Zelazny, Alan Moore, George R.R. Martin, Ann Rice, John Grisham, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Jean M. Auel, Ben Bova, Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Frederick Pohl, Diana Gabaldon, Jim Butcher, and Glen Cook.

Literary influences include: William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Jonathan Franzen, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ayn Rand, Margaret Atwood, Jane Austin, Frank McCourt, Mary Shelley, John Irving, Aldous Huxley, Homer, Dante, and Voltaire.

Edward enjoys playing with his new baby daughter as well as his many hobbies such as poker, bike riding, playing softball, and pissing people off on social media through the use of rational thought and common sense.


Writing Through Hurricanes, Grumpy Spouses, And Maniacal Bosses: Finding Your Default Self

by Edward Lazellari

The universe is trying to keep you from your writing. It will throw all manner of distraction and chaos at you, and bind you with obligations–girlfriends who cry neglect, boyfriends who threaten to step out on your monogamy, bosses who insist that your not getting the work done in 40 hours is your fault not the workload. You will try to reason with the universe, work out a mutual arrangement where you borrow three hours here and two hours there to ply your craft; but the universe is a fickle bitch that knows full well you need uninterrupted blocks of time with which to craft your tales–time to let your story ferment and then time for revisions. You need a thousand hours to write two hundred decent pages. Lie back to the universe, steal the time you need, sacrifice personal pleasure and socializing, and then maybe…maybe, you will have a story of note at the end of the run. Continue reading

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