Tag Archives: tor books

Author Interview: Drew Williams

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Today I am interviewing Drew Williams, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Stars Now Unclaimed, the first book in The Universe After series.

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

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

Drew Williams: No problem – happy to have been asked! For starters, I’ve been a bookseller in Birmingham, Alabama for most of my adult life (longer than that, actually, depending on when you count ‘adulthood’ as setting in; I was first hired at sixteen, when I walked in off the street looking for work and the owner needed someone to fill a shift that night). That means books – reading books, recommending books, arguing about books (Moby Dick is the most overrated classic in the canon; it just is) – have been pretty much my whole life, so moving on to actually writing books only seemed natural! (Plus, I’ve been writing for my own entertainment since I was a teenager, so I managed to get through the ‘really, really dreadful stuff, just unreadable’ pretty early on.)

DJ: What is The Stars Now Unclaimed about?

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Drew: The Stars Now Unclaimed is space-opera science fiction, set in a universe that has been ravaged by an event called ‘the pulse’: basically, a strange radiation that spreads from world to world, causing local technology to collapse. In other words, on one planet, you could have perfectly functional spaceports, medical facilities, all that fun sci-fi tech, and on the same moon of that very same world, you might be stuck with pre-Industrial Revolution era technology.

So: that’s the setting. As far as the actual narrative concerns, it follows Jane Kamali, an operative of the ‘Justified’ (a kind of intergalactic peace-keeping force) tasked with rescuing ‘gifted’ children – children granted supernatural abilities by the pulse radiation – from the war-torn worlds they were born in. As the book begins, Jane’s current mission is going just swimmingly – she only nearly dies a few times – as she rescues a young telekinetic girl named Esa from her backwater home, only to find that she’s not the only one interested in Esa’s gifts: a would-be empire of intergalactic conquerors called ‘the Pax’ are also on their trail, and from there it’s a race across the pulse-stricken universe to get Esa to safety. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Jo Walton

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Today I am interviewing Jo Walton, author of the new book, An Informal History of the Hugos.

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

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

Jo Walton: I’m a science fiction and fantasy writer, I’ve published thirteen novels with a fourteenth, Lent due out in May 2019. I also write poetry, and very occasional short stories, I had a short story collection out earlier this year from Tachyon Press, called Starlings. This is my second collection of blog posts, the first one was called What Makes This Book So Great and it won the Locus Award for Best Non Fiction in 2015. My novels have also won an embarrassing number of awards – I’m actually embarrassed to list them at this point.

DJ: What is An Informal History of the Hugos about?

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Jo: It’s about the history of the science fiction and fantasy genre in the second half of the twentieth century, as seen through the lens of the Hugo awards. It’s about who was writing what, what was good, what was changing and when, what the field looked like in each of those years. So it’s a survey, with additional essays about some of the books. It started off as a series of blog posts on Tor.com. And it’s very very personal. I make no attempt at objectivity, this is entirely my opinion – except that we took the best of the comments on the original blog posts and put them in the book too, so you’ll see me being wrong and being corrected, and other people’s opinions.

DJ: What were some of your influences for An Informal History of the Hugos?

Jo: I hadn’t thought about this until you asked that, but the only possible answer is “fandom”. This is very much like fannish projects and very unlike academic ones or the lists people compile. Also, and this is the whole point of the project, there’s this huge cultural pressure to say “what is the one best x” and what I’m doing here is resisting that, not saying is the winner the best book, but are the nominees the best five books. So it’s really hard to say anything is a particular influence. Continue reading

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Author Interview: David Keck

2040D016-DE0C-4F3D-94DE-CFB3ECA53A64Lisa (@ Over the Effing Rainbow), Jorie (@ Jorie Loves a Story) and imyril (@ One More) are delighted to bring you WYRD AND WONDER, where they plan to celebrate all things fantastical throughout the month of May!


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Today I am interviewing David Keck, author of the new fantasy novel, In the Eye of Heaven, first book in the Tales of Durand series.

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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?

David Keck: Big picture, I’m a prairie Canadian. Winnipeg is where I grew up, and it’s still the place I think of when someone asks about “home” although I’ve been living in New York City for fourteen years. Somewhere along the line I got hooked on science fiction and fantasy. I remember watching Star Trek reruns after school, and playing Hoth in the snow drifts. I will also confess to playing Dungeons and Dragons too much at high school.

I did a degree in writing at the University of Sussex and snuck off to climb around castles and henges as often as I could. I am not sure how many tombs and towers and mossy stones I’ve seen. (An Ordnance Survey map can be your best friend). Now, I’m a teacher in a Washington Heights middle school. Life can be astonishing. Oh, and, when I grow up, I also want to be a cartoonist! (I love drawing monsters and things, and a few have appeared in professional spots over the years).

DJ: What is In the Eye of Heaven about?

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David: In the Eye of Heaven is the story of a real, rust-and-muscle knight who backs into the center of a civil war full of mad dukes and sorcerous horrors. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and it sees our hero, Durand Col, miss out on an inheritance and make some terrible mistakes as he tries to find his own way. Without giving away too much, Durand earns a place in the retinue of a young man who hopes to prove himself as a tournament hero. Before the end of the novel, the half-war of those early tournaments leads Durand and his friends deep into the politics that tear their nation to pieces.

DJ: What were some of your influences In the Eye of Heaven and the series?

David: I’m a huge reader of actual history and folklore. I’m deeply interested in how people actually lived and died–and what they believed while doing it. My bookshelves are crammed with the stuff. So, when I turned to writing In the Eye of Heaven, I brought with me all of the eerie folktales and grim histories I’d been reading. In some ways, what you get is an antidote to an Arthurian romance. You will find uncanny places and ancient sorceries, but the men and women you meet must deal with broken bones, grumpy horses, and at least one scrape with medieval dentistry. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Ilana C. Myers

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Today I am interviewing Ilana C. Myer, author of the new fantasy novel, Fire Dance, sequel to Last Song Before Night.

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

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

Ilana C. Myer: Thanks, it’s my pleasure to be here!

I’m the author of Fire Dance, a standalone sequel to Last Song Before Night. My books are set in a world where poets have power, and are rife with dark magic, twisty psychological conflicts, intrigues, and betrayals. Because those are things I enjoy.

I’ve also written about books–often fantasy–for various places such as the Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Huffington Post, as Ilana Teitelbaum.  

DJ: What is Fire Dance about?

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Ilana: Last Song Before Night was about rediscovering lost enchantments. Fire Dance explores the consequences of that power. As a mirror to this theme, the protagonist herself, newly powerful, must come to terms with the challenges of her new position.  

DJ: Fire Dance is the sequel, but the first novel, Last Song Before Night, is actually a stand-alone; Does this mean that Fire Dance can be read as a stand-alone as well, or will readers need to be familiar with event in  Last Song Before Night before jumping in?

Ilana: I wrote Fire Dance with new readers in mind. Because Last Song ties up everything at the end, Fire Dance could have a truly new beginning, even as it takes up threads from the previous book for its backstory.

I was also determined, while I was at it, to write something completely different. I see a trilogy as an opportunity to tell a new story with each book, even if the stories are linked. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Kari Maaren

Photograph courtesy of Phil Mills

Today I am interviewing Kari Maaren, author of the new YA fantasy novel, Weave a Circle Round.

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

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

Kari Maaren: I’m a Canadian writer, cartoonist, musician, and university English instructor. I live in Toronto and basically do all the things. Weave a Circle Round is my first novel, but I also have a couple of webcomics, West of Bathurst and It Never Rains, and a couple of independent albums, Beowulf Pulled My Arm Off and Everybody Hates Elves. I am not fond of puns or elves, not necessarily in that order. I grew up in Vancouver, so whenever someone in Toronto complains that it’s “too rainy,” I laugh.

DJ: What is Weave a Circle Round about?

Kari: It’s an old-fashioned kids’ adventure story about a girl named Freddy who is just generally mad at the whole world, herself included. She wants to stay under the radar at high school, but her weird stepbrother and super-smart little sister draw attention to themselves and, peripherally, to her. Then a couple of bizarre new neighbours move in next door, and the weirdness begins to surge out of control. Saying too much more would constitute a huge spoiler, but basically, with WACR, you’ve got a mystery wrapped in a fantasy adventure sprinkled over with references to mythology and Romantic poetry, all tied up with a bow made of creepiness. Continue reading

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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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