Monday 8 December 2008

Brent Weeks - Author Interview

The Way of Shadows
Shadow's Edge
Beyond the Shadows


1) Pitch the first novel of your series.
The Way of Shadows is the story of Azoth, a street kid who apprentices himself to a legendary assassin in order to save a friend. Ten years later, that friend sees Azoth's master murder a prince, and Azoth must decide whether to kill the master who's raised him as a son or the girl he loves. The fate of a kingdom rests on his decision.

2) What are your favourite three books (not by you, either in the field or out of it)?
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, who in my opinion is the grandmaster of epic fantasy. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and The Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, a monstrous tome about cryptography in WWII and data havens now.

3) What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?
I started a fantasy novel in college, and poured about five years into it—though I was supposedly studying and then working during that time. I learned a lot, and there were good sections, but I realized I was working on a flawed skeleton, so no matter how I pushed the feathers around, I wasn't going to make that story fly. So I grabbed the most fascinating minor character from that book, and told his story in The Way of Shadows.

4) What was the hardest scene for you to write?
There's a couple of scenes of violence involving children early in the first book. My wife had worked with sexually abused children, so I knew that what I was writing happens every day, even in America, but it was difficult to have to contemplate it vividly enough to write it well. Then, having imagined it, it was difficult to decide how far back I could pull the camera.

5) Share an interesting fan story.
I got an email from a fan who rides the bus home from work. The bus route is a circle that takes more than an hour. He was reading my book and he said he missed his stop three times—and would have missed it a fourth, except that the bus driver noticed he'd been on the bus for almost half his shift.

6) What is your university degree in?
English. Yes, I wanted to be a writer. Yes, I ended up teaching. On the bright side, I quit. *grin

7) What's the best/worst thing about writing?
The best thing is when you come up with a brilliant way to solve a problem. You do something you've never seen anyone else do, and you feel like the king of the world. The worst thing is looking at it the next day and realizing you're not so hot.
No, the best thing is hearing from someone that your book touched them in a way they'd never experienced before. The worst thing is waiting. This business is utterly unpredictable. You have to put in years of work upfront, never knowing if you'll get published, and even if you do, your books could sink like a stone.

8) What is something you didn't know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?
I've just signed my second three-book deal; I'm being published or distributed in half a dozen countries, and there's tons I don't know. The truth is that it doesn't matter. As a writer, there are a million things you need to master, and the publishing industry isn't one of them. There will always be people who will explain P&L's to you or tell you why it takes a year and a half to get royalty statements. That's their job. Your job is to write great books, and that's hard enough. The most important to know is that everything takes a long time, and then when things happen, they happen all at once.

9) Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?
You can waste a lot of time learning different people's perspectives on the ins and outs of the publishing business—which often contradict each other, leaving you more confused than when you started. Forget it. What you CAN control is your book. Concentrate on making your novel the best it can be. Realize getting published is a process that always takes years, no matter how talented you are. Buy and study Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. It's solid gold.

10) How many rejection letters did you get for your first novel or story?
First I tried to get an agent. I sent queries to the 33 agents that I would have been happy to have represent me. Fifteen rejected me, fifteen never responded, and three asked for writing samples, and eventually, to see the whole manuscript. Two of those bailed. Nine months after I'd first sent a query, I signed with the very last agent who was interested—who happened to also be my own first choice out of all 33—Donald Maass. If he'd said no, I'd probably be working some job I hate right now. Don then slowly collected five or six rejections, before Orbit and a few others all got interested at once.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Christmas Fantasy & Sci-Fi Reading List

Looking for some holiday reading to get into the Christmas spirit?

I went through the SF section a few weeks ago looking for books to display. There were numerous mystery novels so I was hoping for a decent endcap of sci-fi stuff. In retrospect, given how these books take place in other worlds it shouldn't have surprisesd me how few there'd be. I guess it's surprising there are so many. I'm sure there are books I didn't find, so if you know of ones that didn't make my list please comment them. Here are the books in no particular order.

Carol For Another Christmas
- Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Hogfather - Terry Pratchett
A Yuletide Universe - Brian Thomsen, ed.
Miracle & Other Christmas Stories - Connie Willis
Wolfsbane & Mistletoe - Charlaine Harris & Toni Kelner, ed.
A War of Gifts - Orson Scott Card
The Claus Effect - David Nickle & Karl Schroeder
The Stupidest Angel - Christopher Moore (not shelved in sci-fi, but applicable)
The Frost-Haired Vixen - John Zakour
Dr Who: Short Trips: The Ghosts of Christmas - Cavan Scott & Mark Wright, ed.

Added in February 2013:

Krampus: The Yule Lord - Brom
Season of Wonder - Paula Guran, Ed.
A Cosmic Christmas - Hank Davis, Ed.
A War of Gifts - Orson Scott Card
Wolfsbane & Mistletoe - Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner, Ed.

Monday 1 December 2008

Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in January 2009

David Falkeyn: Star Trader - Poul Anderson
Flight Into Darkness - Sarah Ash
Sharing Knife: Horizon - Lois McMaster Bujold
The Horsemen’s Gambit - David Coe
Battlestar Galactica Trilogy - Peter David
Wings of Wrath - C.S. Friedman
Just Another Judgement Day - Simon Green
Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris (reprint)
In Shade & Shadow - Barb & J.C. Hendee
God Stalker Chronicles - P.C. Hodgell
Lear’s Daughter - Marjorie Kellogg
Mind Over Ship - David Marusek
Escape From Hell - Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
Honor of the Clan - John Ringo & Julie Cochrane
Tales From the Perilous Realm - J.R.R. Tolkien (reprint)
Bones of the Dragon - Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Impossible Encounters - Zoran Zivkovic

Trade Paperback:
The Judging Eye - R. Scott Bakker
The Reavers of Skaith - Leigh Brackett
Mean Streets - Jim Butcher, ed.
Star Trek: The Mirror Universe: Shards & Shadows - Margaret Clark & Marco Palmieri
Endless Things - John Crowley
The Red Men - Matthew De Abaitua
Dark Sun: Amber Enchantress - Troy Denning
Dragon In Chains - Daniel Fox
The Map of Moments - Christopher Golden
Whipping Star - Frank Herbert
The Destiny of the Dead - Ian Irvine
Moon Pool - A. Merritt
The Wit & Wisdom of Discworld - Terry Pratchett & Stephen Briggs
Forgotten Realms: Canticle - R.A. Salvatore
The Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
Forgotten Realms: The Elven Nations Trilogy - Paul Thompson
Tooth & Claw - Jo Walton
Maelstrom - Peter Watts

Mass Market:
Myth Chief - Robert Asprin
Whiskey & Water - Elizabeth Bear
Marcher - Chris Beckett
Breath & Bone - Carol Berg
Iron Angel - Alan Campbell
War Hammer 40K: Daemon World - Ben Counter
We Think Therefore We Are - Peter Crowther
Seraph of Sorrow - Maryjanice Davidson
Star Trek: A Singular Destiny - Keith De Candido
Unfallen Dead - Mark Del Franco
Ring of Fire II - Eric Flint, ed.
The Book of the Wars - Mark Geston
Vampire Babylon - Chris Green
Vampire’s Revenge - Raven Hart
Forgotten Realms: The Fanged Crown - Jenna Helland
Child of a Dead God - Barb & J.C. Hendee
The Stepsister Scheme - Jim Hines
Host - Faith Hunter
The Born Queen - Greg Keyes
Dark Haven - Gail Martin
The Accidental Sorcerer - Karen Miller
Victory Conditions - Elizabeth Moon
From the Sea to the Stars - Andre Norton
The Vacant Throne - Joshua Palmatier
The Blade People - Marcus Pelegrimas
Star Wars: Coruscant Knights: Patterns of Force - Michael Reaves
Maxime Foe - John Ringo & Travis Taylor
Three Unbroken - Chris Roberson
The Blood of the Dragon - Lawrence Watt-Evans
Mirrored Heavens - David Williams

Tuesday 25 November 2008

The Way of Shadows

I've discovered over the last few years that one of the reasons I read so much is because you have to wade through a lot of mediocre books to discover one that truly resonates with you. You know the kind - that book you can't put down even though you have to eat, sleep or work. And when you find such a book, you can't wait to tell all your friends about it.

The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks, is such a book. It was lucky to get such an amazing cover treatment. The catchy tagline, "The perfect killer has no friends. He only has targets." adds to the mystique. Priced at $9.50 in Canada it's already flying off the shelves. And as an added bonus, Orbit is publishing the entire trilogy in time for the Christmas gift giving season.

Still not sold? Then listen to this.

Durzo Blint is the city's most successful wetboy. But he's never taken an apprentice, until now.

Azoth is a guild rat. An older boy, angling to take over the guild and who enjoys inflicting pain, has decided to make an example of him. But Azoth has an idea. And his plan might have worked, if only he'd acted sooner...

The characters are all sympathetic, an admirable feat considering their professions. Each character is forced to grow or die as they face the consequences of their actions - or their inactions. The plot moves at a quick pace as Azoth learns more about what it means to be an assassin in a city run by the equivalent of the mob. There's a touch of romance, a lot of action and the ending is full of surprises you won't see coming. And of course, murder.

Monday 17 November 2008

Superheroes Reading List

This list doesn't try to include all books written about superheroes, it's trying to bring to attention several books normally overlooked that are about superheroes. Namely, books shelved in places other than science fiction - at least in my store. To pad it out (as there aren't that many) I have added a few more popular titles. And don't forget - if you're looking for superheroes and you don't want to read the comics/graphic novels, there are quite a few superhero novelizations (both for movies and for the comics, of which some are listed here).

Books are listed in no particular order.

Superpowers - David Schwartz
Hero - Perry Moore
All My Friends are Superheroes - Andrew Kaufman
Those Who Walk in Darkness, What Fire Cannot Burn - John Ridley
It's Superman - Tom DeHaven
Toxic Avenger - Lloyd Kaufman
The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon
Who Can Save Us Now - Owen King and John McNally, Ed.
The Last Days of Krypton - Kevin J. Anderson
Heroes: Saving Charlie - Aury Wallington
Batman Begins - Dennis O'Neil
Batman: Dark Knight - Dennis O'Neil
Batman: No Man's Land - Greg Rucka
Batman: Fear Itself - Michael Reaves
Batman: Gothic Knight - Louise Simonson
Constantine Hellblazer: Subterranean - John Shirley
Constantine Hellblazer: War Lord - John Shirley
DC Universe: Lost Sons - Alan Grant
DC Universe: Time of Trial - Jeff Mariotte
Fantastic Four: What Lies Between - Peter David
Fantastic Four: Doomgate - Jeffrey Lang
Hellboy - Yvonne Navarro
Hellboy II: The Golden Army - Robert Greenberger
Incredible Hulk - Peter David
Iron Man - Peter David
JLA: Green Lantern: Heroe's Quest - Dennis O'Neil
JLA: Flash: Stop Motion - Mark Schultz
JLA: Exterminators - Christopher Golden
JLA: Superman: The Never-Ending Battle - Roger Stern
JLA: Wonder Woman: Mythos - Carol Lay
Spiderman: Darkest Hours - Jim Butcher
Spiderman: Down These Mean Streets - Keith Decandido
Wolverine: Weapon X - Marc Cerasini
Wolverine: Election Day - Peter David
X-Men: The Return - Chris Roberson
X-Men - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Star Trek the Next Generation & the X-Men: Planet X - Michael Friedman

* I've created a newer list (2012), with all new books that you can find here.

Monday 10 November 2008

Chad Corrie - Author Interview

Seer's Quest

Path of Power

Gambit's End

The Adventures of Corwyn

Graphic Novel: Tales of Tralodren: The Beginning


Pitch your latest novel
My newest novel is “The Adventures of Corwyn”. It’s a short story collection dealing with the adventures of a bard named Corwyn Danther. He’s a pragmatic pacifist who finds himself involved in a host of situations. He tries to find a way out of these predicaments without having to kill anyone and/or getting killed in the conflict itself. I wanted to try a different approach to a fantasy tale and having a character and set up of this nature seemed an unique to go.
The five tales were a fun challenge to write and showcase more of the people, places and history of The World of Tralodren®. This is the same world setting shared by “The Divine Gambit Trilogy” and “Tales of Tralodren™: The Beginning” (a graphic novel).
You can read more about this book and the rest by going to my website: I have sample chapters there to read and even a podcast series talking about Corwyn and other works I’ve done.

What are your favourite three books?
At that top of the list would be The Bible. I read that everyday and am always finding something new in it. As to other books I do enjoy Robert E. Howard’s work, primarily his fantasy stories (Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, etc.). I’m also enjoy reading books about history. I do enjoy comics, however, having found favorites with Batman, Conan, and Warlord.
It’s funny but being an author/writer I tend to read a lot of non-fiction to help in my research and/or interests. I don’t read a lot of fiction too much these days, save odds and ends I come across and comics, of course.

In the books you've written, who is you favourite character and why?
I think, like most authors, there’s a little bit of me in each of the characters I write. I tend to find myself being able to relate with some part of them, however minute. That being said, I think those who come closest to me would be Rowan (The Divine Gambit Trilogy) and Corwyn (The Adventures of Corwyn). Each is close to me in some respects but still not a total carbon copy. I tend to think in a similar vein as Corwyn at times and Rowan is more like I was when I was younger and first started out in writing.
If I had to pick a favorite character, I’d lean more toward Vkar, the first god and credited with the creation, through his wife, of the Tralodroen Pantheon (see Tales of Tralodren™: The Beginning) at the moment. There is a lot to him—more that will be discovered and presented in future stories, I hope.

If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?
Probably not.
I tend to put most of my characters through the grinder. Conflict is story and so something has to happen to them, and it usually isn’t all that pleasant. It’s much easier to be the one writing it than having to be the one who is going through it. So I would tend to opt out of taking the place of any character in my books.

If you could live in your fantasy/sf world, would you? Would you live in somebody else's?
As much as I might not look to enjoy character replacement in my novels, I think there are parts of The World of Tralodren® that would be interesting to see first hand.
It’s such a diverse place and has such history that I would enjoy spending some time just poking around and exploring the place. I don’t know if I would want to live there, however, as I’ve grown rather attached to many things in this modern life and would prefer them over anything else such a fantasy world could offer.

What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?
My first novel was “Seer’s Quest”. It has been a very odd thing in that it has seen publication four times, each time under a different form. The story itself took about 10-12 years to write (I started young) and didn’t really have a final form until I self-published it over a decade ago. Then it was published by a new small press, in two different versions (which is a long story there) until finally it’s been released in its present form through my current publisher.
Each time the novel was redone it was tweaked a bit and fine tuned so I guess you could add some more years on to that first range I gave, making it close to 15 years total to the form that’s out there on the shelves now.

What was the hardest scene for you to write?
You mean besides the opening of every book?
I don’t know if I’ve had a very hard scene to write, but I can think of two instances, one more challenging than the other to write, I guess I can share.
In “Gambit’s End”, the third book in “The Divine Gambit Trilogy”, I had a little bit of a challenge with trying to figure out just how to end the thing. I mean here was this 1000+ page epic and now I had to wrap it up. I didn’t know if the way I chose was the best or would work as it as a little bit different that what people might expect.
To compensate for this I opted to add in an epilogue, which I didn’t know how that would be received either. However, it was a challenge too as I didn’t know how much should be enough to wrap things up. I knew you couldn’t go on forever with things, but I still wanted to say as much as I could and get things dealt with as best I could.
In the end I think that tight balancing act was a good thing and made for a nice resolution to the series. I was further heartened when a reader recently informed me that they liked the way I ended the tale.
I think the hardest scene I’ve written was in a yet to be published graphic novel. It’s part of a nine part series I’ve done about a near future dystopia. I really became attached to one of the main female characters and there was this scene later on in one of the graphic novels where she gets raped. Up until then she had been this wonderful innocent sort of young woman and then this darkness sprang up over her.
It was very hard not just to decide how much to show and how much to leave up to the reader, but just difficult as well as in some ways she had become my daughter and here I was having this happen to her. After that her innocence was lost and she was this different person—harder and darker in some ways than before.
Unfortunately, this was a big part of the storyline for her development and it needed to happen. But I didn’t enjoy having her go through it. Thankfully, there is some good that helps lift her up and to bring her back to almost where she was at the start of the story before the tale draws to a close. If I had to leave her in that dark state I know that scene would have been even harder to write.

What is the strangest question you have ever been asked by a fan? OR Share an interesting fan story.
First off, I really enjoy fans. It’s part of what makes this hermetical form of creation a little brighter—knowing that your work is actually getting into people’s hands is a nice feeling. And when you’re just starting to get your name out there it’s an added bonus to know your work is having some penetration into the large scheme of the book retailing world.
I’ve had the privilege of getting to do some events in various states, even going to conventions and such but have yet to have a really strange question asked of me. I also haven’t really been approached by too many fans. Most people tend to drop me a line now and then with some sort of little “I liked your book” type deal, but none have really come up to me and done anything of possible “interest” insofar as your question might imply.

What was the most fun book signing, convention, etc. you've attended and why?
I always enjoy conventions and tradeshows as you get to meet a lot of interesting people and often times get to have a wider audience than what you would have in other venues. That being said, I think one of my favorite events was just recently in Rochester, MN. It was just really busy and lots of interesting people stopped by. The books were well received too, which is always nice to experience as an author. And though it was still Minnesota, there was a nice mix of people from all walks of life, who came and stopped by the table. It was one of the most productive and enjoyable experiences I’ve had since I started participating in book events.

If you still have one, what's your day job?
I get to live an interesting life in that I have been able to work with my current publisher filling in various odds and ends jobs and getting to help with the production of the other books they produce.
This has been very helpful for me in learning more about the production side of publishing and I believe made me a better writer as I now know more of what a publisher wants and is looking for with work and what they go through to get it to press.
Of late I’ve been helping out with promotions for other authors and learning more of that side of the coin as well. And I get to do most of this without leaving my home office. So I’m learning more about the business and getting paid for it and still being able to have enough time each day to write.

What is your university degree in?
I don’t have a degree. I have some college but that’s about it. I stepped away from that when I was younger as it didn’t really seem to provide a good fit for me and where I wanted to go at the time. I still like to learn, however, and try to increase my knowledge and skills as I am able to keep my rough edges polished and wisdom base ever expanding.

Do you think it is easier to write fantasy or science fiction?
Personally, I find fantasy to be a little easier. With science fiction, depending on the type, you have something that can be more quantified. You’re dealing with more physical absolutes that can be measured and are more real to the reader on some level. Because of that you have to really do your homework if you want it to ring true.
In fantasy you can do whatever you want, just about, and it’s good. You still need to have some believability and grounding in some type of tangible truth to your world, but when you’re talking about magic and gods and other such things you can’t really quantify them. Because of this, readers will give you a nice bit of room to wiggle and play about in your setting and tales.

When and where do you write?
I write out of my home office six days a week usually during the early to late morning and then often some more in the early afternoon for a couple hours after lunch.
It’s good to keep a pattern/process to your writing, I think, as it helps to train and discipline you. If you don’t get into a process, it’s hard to stay steady with your work, especially if you work from home.

What's the best/worst thing about writing?
The best thing about writing, for me, is that I get to create. I just really enjoy creating and having an outlet in which to do it is just wonderful. To have other people enjoy what you have created is even better.
The worst thing is that it’s a very hermitical process and it takes a long time to get something ready to show someone and even then it takes time for them to digest it and give you feedback. With art or music you can get instant feedback but people have to read your work and then digest it and then get back to you. So it’s a slower creative medium in that sense and a more solitude one as well.

What is something you didn't know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?
The nature of cycles and how the whole game is played. I was just amazed at how much of what is done is very much like a game. There is a whole world within a world in publishing and if you don’t learn the game and learn to play it well you will be further outside the inner world looking in.
It’s also a lot of who you know and how you get that person/info leveraged in your favor. In some ways it comes down to networking more than even having a top notch book as if you have the connections and can influence the influencers you can get very far in stores and other places. And then there is the truth behind some of those best seller sales and other things I won’t go into at this time.
All this I didn’t really know at the time before I entered into the publication world. Since then, like I said, my eyes have been opened to a really strange and often times paradoxical world.

Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?
Many things I think could be helpful to hopeful authors I’ve listed on my website: Check under the insight page for some thoughts and the FAQ section for further information.
Besides this I can say that if you want to be a published author you have to have discipline. First and foremost to finish your work. Many don’t even finish what they start. If you do that much you’re ahead of many.
Don’t be afraid of edits or editors, they can be your best friend if you can pull yourself away from your work far enough to be objective in your appraisal and consideration/evaluation of it and the editors commentary on it.
Understand that even when you do get published you are just entering into the base of a whole new mountain. In today’s market close to 200,000 titles are produced each year and you have to compete with a good many of them. Add to this that just about anyone now days can get published if they have the cash. The rise in PODs and other options makes it much easier to get into printed form so now, as my publisher often says, “anyone can get published.” Today’s author has to be good at self-promotion and marketing.
Finally, don’t let critics, good and bad, get to you too much. If you attach your worth as a writer to what some critic has said about your work (again good or bad) then you have a very fragile foundation upon which you stand. Ultimately, a review is just an opinion. After getting some for my own work I am learning more and more that these too are part of the game of getting published and getting out there in the market.
For example, I’ve been told by some that they have a strong dislike about some things in my previous work. However, I’ve gotten emails from people who have read the same books that state they love the book for the very same reasons the others didn’t like it. I’ve gotten reviews in the same vein.
Just take what you can from the reviews to get better as a writer and then let the other stuff be. Ultimately, if you have written a good book then an audience is out there. The challenge is in finding that audience. Thus that need for being more marketing savvy and driven and self-promotion oriented than authors were expected to be even twenty years ago.

Any tips against writers block?
One thing that I have found that works well for me if I should get stuck is to avoid that place #1 and then get away from the environment #2.
Most people tend to write right up to the last thought or word they have. What I found is if you leave a little bit of that idea to carry over to the next day, it gives you a spring board to launch from into the next days writing. This way you can hop right into the “groove” so to speak and not be facing that white page trying to figure out what to do next.
If you should still be faced with a temporary quandary of direction then it might be a good thing to step away from the computer for a moment. Going for a walk. Just doing something else for a little bit has often been a good stimulus for me to generate more ideas, even when I wasn’t looking for them.

How many rejection letters did you get for your fist novel or story?
I don’t know how many times I was rejected. If you count the time I was using an agent, lots. I know some authors like to keep track of such a thing, but I never really did. I have kept some fun letters of rejection in the past, since I started submitting when I was like 13 years old or so and they treated it like an adult submission (which was fun to read) but I can’t tell you off hand how high the tally rose.

Saturday 8 November 2008

Maria Snyder in Store

Yet another successful signing. Maria V. Snyder, author of Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study, came to the bookstore and talked to several fans, signed and sold books! If you want a wonderful fantasy read, try the first page of Poison Study - you'll have to keep reading. :)

Monday 3 November 2008

Dave Gibbons at the WBB!

We had a great turn out at the Dave Gibbons signing at the store. Here are some pictures. One fan even dressed up as Rorschach!

Saturday 1 November 2008

Science fiction and Fantasy Books Coming In December

Once again this list is taken from the Chapters website and so ends at December 24th. If I've missed something please comment it and it will be added.


War Games - Christopher Anvil
Ravensoul - James Barclay
The Knights of the Cornerstone - James Blaylock
Princeps’ Fury - Jim Butcher
1635: The Dreeson Incident - Eric Flint & Virginia DiMarge
Busted Flush - George Martin
Fathom - Cherie Priest
The Breath of God - Harry Turtledove
The Laughing Magician - Jack Vance

Trade Paperback:
Ghost Light - Marion Zimmer Bradley
Death in Delhi - Gary Gygax
Neutronium Alchemist - Peter Hamilton
Unusual Suspects - Charlaine Harris
The Curse on the Chosen - Ian Irvine
Dragon Strike - E.E. Knight
Lankhmar 7: The Knight & Knave of Swords - Fritz Leiber
Quiet War - Paul McAuley
Star Wars: Clone Wars: Wild Space - Karen Miller
Orcs: Weapons of Magical Destruction - Stan Nicholls

Mass Market Paperback:
Forgotten Realms: Swordmage - Richard Baker
Forgotten Realms: Plague of Spells - Bruce Cordell
Darkscape: The Rebel Lord - R. Garland Gray
Catopolis - Martin Greenberg, Ed.
Black Hounds of Death - Robert Howard
Seraphs - Faith Hunter
V: The Second Generation - Kenneth Johnson
Forgotten Realms: Shadow realms - Paul Kemp
Dragon Lance: The Fire Rose - Richard Knaak
Moving Targets - Mercedes Lackey, Ed.
Peacekeeper - Laura Reeve
The Ancient - R.A. Salvatore
Vixen - Bud Sparhawk
The Flaxen Femme Fatale - John Zakour

Friday 24 October 2008

Lynda Williams - Author Interview

Courtesan Prince
Righteous Anger

Throne Price
(with Alison Sinclair)

The Lorel Experiment


Guide to the Okal Rel Universe
The Okal Rel Universe Anthology I
(edited with Virginia O'Dine)


Latest Book
Pretenders uses the familiar fantasy concept of a struggle for possession of a throne to explore how the characters struggle to play roles unnatural to them. I think of it as similar to the challenges we face every day of our working lives. Just more fun with higher stakes. Pretenders is part 3 of the Okal Rel Saga. It can be read as a stand alone book, but it will probably give the most enjoyment in the company of Part 1: The Courtesan Prince.
I am also editor of the ORU Legacy series. Next up in that line are Horth in Killing Reach by Craig Bowlsby and Okal Rel: Third Anthology edited by Jennifer Sparling. These are e-books which will also, soon, be available in print. See

Books I Love
My favorite books change from month to month but three on the top of my current list are: Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond; The Merman’s Children by Poul Anderson; and The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan — each for very different reasons.

Characters in My Own Work
Amel is my enduring favorite, but I fall in love with other characters from time to time: Ann while writing The Courtesan Prince, Horth in Righteous Anger, and of course Di Mon and Ranar. I love Amel because he has the strength to keep believing in relationships no matter how often people let him down. He would like to be a tougher guy, but he’s stuck with his sensibilities, and he has to make a come back from a really bad start in life. None of my characters is me, but I put a bit of who I am into all of them. In my youth, I felt angry about the conflict of feeling sexually attracted to men when it always seemed to imply being dominated at the same time. But I didn’t act out a solution like my character Ev’rel! Amel represents my longing to be a good person, but I’m not as selfless or as brave as he can be although I can be as confused as he sometimes gets. I’m working on a new character, now, called Samanda, or Sam for short, who represents aspects of myself I am working through in middle life, although she’s going to have to grapple with them earlier. Ranar reflects my optimistic, humanist, pro-rationality stage of development. I don’t think I would like to be any of my characters all the time. I put them through some pretty rough stuff. But I would like to live on Rire even if many of my readers think the transparent society they take for granted is more alien and scary than the wackier, neo-feudal side of my universe. I would have enjoyed living in the Star Trek Universe, as well, but only the old one when the Federation could be trusted and things were pretty safe and well-managed back on Earth.

My First Novel
Part 1: The Courtesan Prince was the first novel I published, solo, and it took me my whole life to write. I can write a novel in six months now. I hope that means I’ve learned something. The hardest scene I ever wrote occurs in Part 4: Throne Price, which due to an accident of fate was actually published first. It was out of my comfort zone in terms of nastiness, as much for the emotional betrayals as the physical abuse concerned. I was pretty close to Amel in those days, too, in the sense of feeling things along with him while I wrote, and he didn’t want to do that scene! Anyone who reads Throne Price will know why. One young reader, Sarah Trick, who is now an adult friend, said she threw the book across the room. I’m glad she retrieved it and finished the book afterwards. It isn’t a scene that will rock the socks off any hard core horror buff or anything like that. If it has an impact, it’s because the reader is feeling along with the character — like I was. I wanted to make it painful because hurting people is painful and has consequences. We take it so much for granted that characters get hurt and get up and go on as if nothing much happened. That’s a bad way to act in real life.

Fan Story
I am collecting a following among younger readers than I had NOT anticipated when I wrote Throne Price, in particular. I think the most unexpected thing was discovering they liked to do art based on my series, and to dress up in costumes, and think of songs that match the situations in the stories. It’s delightful, of course, and in retrospect I shouldn’t be surprised since the roots of the ORU are in my own adolescence and rich with latent stories to tell. That’s why I started opening avenues to include talented people with a sincere interest in the themes and stories to take part in the joy of creativity with me. I also work with professional writers and artists but when work has value for me I don’t make a distinction. Two recent examples of young adult art are the commissioned picture of a grab rat by Lisa Proulx and the chibby versions of three characters, by Mel Far, which I included in The Encyclopedia: Guide to the Okal Rel Universe. I asked Mel what I should call the section of the guide book reserved for things like chibbys and she picked “Character Mockery” as appropriate. My characters are in still in shock but I don’t have to tell them everything.

Most Fun About Being a Writer
Connecting with so many different people is the part of promotion I like best. I do school visits, which can be scary (no one cares!) or exhilarating (they love you!). I have done a key-note address about the importance of science in the lives of young women, because without the skills you can’t “fly for your own reason” as I explain it in my online story “Going Back Out”. (Google “Going Back Out” in quotes).
I love interviews because I believe writing is about more than selling books. It’s about having something worthwhile to say. Or ask.
I love meeting other writers and creative people who are encouraged by the growing interest in my work, although as my daughter will tell you I lecture about “don’t give up the day job!” Some days it feels as if the world is too busy filtering their mail and responding to beeps to think about anything for more than thirty seconds, and it’s terribly depressing to me. I have made a career of working with applied computing technology, but I loved computers originally for the sake of the long, quiet hours one could spend in perfect communication with them, programming. So I say, if the Okal Rel Universe can find an audience in the world, the ability to think about something for more than 30 seconds, even for entertainment purposes, can’t be entirely dead.

The Day Job
Yes, I still have a day job and expect I will for the rest of my working life. It’s a good job. I am Instructional Designer for the School of Nursing at the University of Northern B.C. I hold an M.Sc. Computation and a Masters of Library Science in Information Technology. I’ve been an innovator in social computing for twenty years, from founding a freenet to introducing WebCT for online learning at my institution while I was Project Manager for E-Learning there. Some days it is frustrating not to have more time to write, particularly with a novel wanted every six months until I’ve completed the series, and a list of novellas waiting in the wings. But having a day job has benefits. It makes it possible to write for your own reasons, for one thing, instead of needing to cater to the hot topic of the month in order to pay the bills. I used to rankle at the advice on how to succeed which seemed to negate everything I cared about in my own work, but now I think of it as a choice. Dickens and Jane Austen were both great writers. Dickens was a pro who had to churn out work and do the promo circuit stuff every day. Austen didn’t have to feed herself with her writing, although money is always a nice thing for anyone no matter what their circumstances. There isn’t one model for how to be a writer in a meaningful way.

Tips for Writers
If you are a writer, accept it and find a way to make it work in your life. If you aren’t, find another way to honor your love of story-telling and be happy about it because it is all part of the same continuum. I know all too well the angst writers suffer, the hopes and the fears. I believe the world needs writers. But most of the time, being a writer feels like standing in the middle of downtown traffic, yelling into the wind. It is so hard to get a hearing, and it is hard to sell books once you land a publisher. I am making money these days, but I still invest more than I earn in the mission of promoting my work in the world and honoring the involvement of others who believe in it. I do it because I think it is worthwhile. Don’t let people tell you that your work isn’t worthwhile if you know better. Everyone’s got an opinion. Try to learn from your mistakes at the same time. If you are a writer, you will get published in the end, but the outcome may never match your wildest dreams of success. If you love the writing and you believe in your work, that won’t matter. So be sure you are doing it for the intrinsic rewards, and then you won’t be wasting your time, no matter how great or small your success in the eyes of the big, noisy world. Easy to say of course. Hard to live. I wrote a whole short story about the struggle, years ago, called “Going Back Out”. It helped me. Of course, the one thing I do know about this business is writers are as individual as snowflakes and I can’t know whether anything I have to say might be meaningful for someone else. All I can say is, if you are a writer, it’s your reality — embrace it. And ack rel! For English translation, see: (

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Zombie Movie: The Ultimate Guide - Event

Come to the WBB Thursday October 30th at 7 pm to meet Glenn Kay, author of Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Mr Kay will be talking about zombie movies, showing clips and signing copies of his book.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Maria Snyder Book Signing in Toronto

And last but not least, Maria Snyder, author of:

will be in town to sign her books at the World's Biggest Bookstore on November 7th from 6-8 pm. Please join us at any and all events!

For more information about these events, call the store at: 416-977-7009.

Dave Gibbons Signing in Toronto

The second event we have ligned up is a signing and question & answer period with Dave Gibbons, illustrator of:

He'll be talking about his new book:

which details the making of the graphic novel The Watchmen. Meet him on November 2nd at 2 pm.

Violette Malan Book Signing in Toronto

Looks like the WBB is going to busy the next few weeks. We have some excellent authors coming to town. Starting with: Violette Malan. Author of:

Violette will be in store on October 26th from 2 to 5 singing copies of her books.

Friday 10 October 2008

Pulp SF and Fantasy

Here's a new reading list since I haven't posted one for a while. As with the other lists, it's not comprehensive (ie, it doesn't include ALL pulp SF and Fantasy books) and they're written in no particular order.

Gary Gygax - Anubis Murders , Samarkand Solution, Infernal Sorceress
Robert Howard - Almuric, Bran Mak Morn: The Last King, Kull
Robert Jordan - Conan Chronicles
Murray Leinster - Planets of Adventure
Michael Moorcock - Elric: the Stealer of Souls, Elric: To Rescue Tenelorn, The Metatemporal Detective, City of the Beasts, Lord of the Spiders/Blades of Mars, Masters of the Pit
C. L. Moore - Northwest of Earth, Black God’s Kiss
Norvel Page - Spider: Robot Titans of Gotham, Spider: City of Doom
Robert Chambers - The Yellow Sign
Leigh Brackett - Ginger Star, Secret of Sinharat
Pierre Boulle - Planet of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs - Princess of Mars, Gods of Mars, Warlord of Mars, Tarzan of the Apes
Isaac Asimov - Fantastic Voyage
Lord Dunsany - In the Land of Time
H. P. Love craft - Call of Cthulhu, Thing on the Doorstep, At the Mountains of Madness

Monday 6 October 2008

C. L. Wilson - Author Interview

Lord of the Fading Lands
Lady of Light and Shadows

King of Sword and Sky


> Pitch your series.

Long ago, in the magical holocaust known as the Mage Wars, the immortal Fey and their allies fought to defeat the grasping evil of the Elden Mages and their dark-gifted supporters. During those wars, in a fit of grief-induced madness caused by the death of his mate, Fey shapeshifter Rain Tairen Soul nearly destroyed the world in a blaze of tairen fire. Now, a thousand years later, the fierce Fey king must fight to save his race from the brink of extinction and once again stop the evil rising in the homeland of his enemies, the Eld. The key to his success lies in the mortal city of Celieria, where the Mage Wars began, and with a young woman whose soul sings to him in ways no woman’s ever has, whose presence reawakens the primal fury of the tairen within his soul, and whose vast, untapped power can either save or destroy him and his people.

Beginning with Lord of the Fading Lands, continuing with Lady of Light and Shadows and King of Sword and Sky, and concluding with Queen of Song and Souls, the Tairen Soul series tells the story of a mortal woodcarver’s adopted daughter, Ellysetta Baristani, and the Fey king, Rain Tairen Soul, as they fight to save the tairen and the Fey, defeat the dangerous power of the Eld Mages, and complete their truemate bond.

KING OF SWORD AND SKY, which comes out this October (Sept 30) is book 3 in the Tairen Soul series. In this book, Rain and Ellysetta return to the Fading Lands, where Ellysetta begins adjusting to her new life as a powerful immortal and the queen of a fabled magical land. As the Eld plot their next deadly strike, Ellysetta struggles to master her vast magic and discover how to save the tairen, while Rain confronts open challenge to his rule and prepares to lead the Fey army to war.

> What are your favourite three books (not by you, either in the field or out of it)?

Oh, that’s a tough one. Limiting my favorites to just three is so difficult. I’ve had different favorites at different times of my life, and with so many wonderful books coming out month after month, I’m constantly enthralled as a reader.

I have to say, on the romance front, a pure historical romance, my favorite book is probably Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. Or Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas. Or Flowers in the Storm by Laura Kinsale.

On the paranormal romance front, Dark Desire by Christine Feehan hooked me so completely and drew me forever into the love of her Carpathian series. (I’m also a big fan of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, Karen Marie Moning’s highlanders.)

On a pure fantasy front, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series both impacted me so greatly, they continue to be among my favorites, even though I haven’t re-read them in years. I adored Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule as well.

> In the books you've written, who is you favourite character and why?

Oh, gosh. Well…I confess, I adore writing Gaelen. He is a man who lives life by his own rules and to hell with anyone who disagrees with him. He fights for what he believes in, and is willing to pay any price to do what he thinks is right. He’s also a cheeky git, and that makes him huge fun to write. Yet for all his “in-your-face” attitude, deep inside is an honorable man who loves his country and his friends and his family so much, he would do anything to protect them. In the words of the wonderful movie, “A Few Good Men”, he is the man who will stand on the wall and say “Nothing is going to hurt you tonight. Not on my watch.” He is a man who will never give up, never let anything stand in his way – not even laws. And because of that, he’s something of a double-edged sword, which is part of what makes him so interesting to me.

And I actually really enjoy writing Annoura, the mortal queen descending into darkness too. She is so human, so flawed. There is goodness in her – Dorian could never have loved her if there weren’t – but she is a woman falling prey to her own weakness and insecurity. She wants so desperately for Dorian to love her, but she was raised in such a cold, political, untrusting place (Capellas) she’s always looking for the knife behind the back…the betrayal she knows has to be coming. Ultimately, if you look for something hard enough, you will find it (or at least start seeing it, even where it doesn’t exist). She’s a tragic figure, because she had a deep and abiding love, and she couldn’t believe in it enough to keep it whole.

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

The way I torture them? Er, no! LOL.

> If you could live in your fantasy/sf world, would you? Would you live in somebody else's?

Oh, absolutely, but only if I could be one of those gorgeous, slender immortals with vast power and no need for dieting and exercise and no fears of going gray or getting wrinkles! What woman doesn’t think that sounds like heaven?
Seriously…I love the whole concept of the existence of magic, of entire races of people dedicated to honor and the protection of what is good and innocent in the world, and the idea of lifespans that last many, many thousands of years so long as you had a truemate – a perfect, unwavering soul-to-soul love. I don’t even think the threat of true evil that exists in my world would deter me, because a paradise without a purpose is just a different form of hell.

As for someone else’s fantasy world, I have to confess that as a kid, when I first discovered Anne McCaffrey’s dragonriders books, they so captured my imagination, that my childhood best friend and I use to have weekend sleepovers in which we’d pretend her basement room was a weyr and we had both Impressed our own dragon. I’d love to live on Pern (if I could be a Dragonrider!) but I’d get in trouble for smacking some of those obnoxious Holders in the mouth, I’m afraid!

> What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

The first novel I ever wrote (and completed!) was a 80,000 word contemporary romance called GHOST (unpublished) which I completed when I was twenty. It took me about 3 years to write it. I completed the whole thing in longhand on legal pads then taught myself to type by entering it into a word processor on a computer.

The first published novel was Lord of the Fading Lands (which in unpublished form also included Lady of Light and Shadows) and it took me probably about five years to write, revise, chop in half, rewrite, re-revise. Then I had to chop it in half again and revise it into two books for publication.

> What was the most fun book signing, convention, etc. you've attended and why?

So far, my favorite convention has to be this year’s DragonCon. It’s been a while since I went to a con, and I forgot how much fun they were. Although I was working a booth and didn’t get to get out to the workshops and panels much, it was four days of fabulousness. The costumes people wore were so gorgeous. I can’t wait to do it again!

> If you still have one, what's your day job? If you don't, how long did it take before you could support yourself only on your writing?

My day job used to be Manager of Training and Product Marketing for a telecommunications manufacturing company. I spent all my career in high-tech, working around computers and computer systems, but always in some capacity related to writing – marketing, technical writing, training. Though I have not yet made it to my first royalty statement, I quit my full time job 18 months ago before accepting a contract to write two more books in a year. I knew even that would be a stretch for me, working at it full time. Luckily, I have a husband who was willing to support my decision, and my family agreed to make the sacrifices necessary to give up my salary and let me write full time to pursue my life long dream.

> What is your university degree in?

My degree is in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing. (Because I always wanted to be a writer and was determined one day to see my own books in print.)

> Do you think it is easier to write fantasy or science fiction?

For me? Fantasy, without a doubt, because I get to make anything happen “by magic” . And because science was never my particular strongpoint in school.

> When and where do you write?

All the time and everywhere. I have an office at my house, and I’m usually in the office from 3am in the morning until 6pm at night and sometimes much later, but I’m trying to force myself to write for a few hours, take a break for a few hours, then go back to writing some more. Juggling life and writing and managing a productive full-time writing output can be difficult. I’d really like to get to a point where I can comfortably write a book every six months, but I’m still not there yet.

> What's the best/worst thing about writing?

The best thing about writing is the people I’ve met through my writing – readers, other writers, booksellers, librarians. The worst part of writing is my penchant to get stuck in my office for days on end and never leave it.

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Don’t give up! The road to publication is littered with the dead dreams of wonderful writers who gave up too soon. It isn’t easy. It isn’t rewarding. Putting yourself out there – your writing out there – and getting rejection after rejection is one of the hardest and most demoralizing [things] an artist can do. But keep at it. How can you expect anyone else to believe in you, if you don’t first believe in yourself?

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in November

(Note: the site I get the dates from tends to cut off a few days before the end of the month, so this list includes a few books from October and will be missing some that will be released at the end of November.)


Stars Like Dust - Isaac Asimov
Watermind - M.M. Buckner
Ender in Exile - Orson Scott Card
Queen of Oblivion - Giles Carwyn & Todd Fahnestock
The Gods Return - David Drake
Forgotten Realms: The Sword Never Sleeps - Ed Greenwood
Swallowing Darkness - Laurell Hamilton
V: The Original Miniseries - Kenneth Johnson
Primeval: The Lost Island - Paul Kearney
Fools’ Experiments - Edward Lerner
Thirteen Orphans - Jane Lindskold
Heir to Sevenwaters - Juliet Marillier
Dragonheart - Todd McCaffrey
The Devil’s Eye - Jack McDevitt
Strength & Honor - R.M. Meluch
The Lord-Protector’s Daughter - L.E. Modesitt
Search for the Star Stones - Andre Norton
The Company - K.J. Parker
The Golden Tower - Fiona Patton
Claws That Catch - John Ringo & Travis Taylor
Fortune & Fate - Sharon Shinn
Saint Antony’s Fire - Steve White
Odd Girl Out - Timothy Zahn
Impossible Encounters - Zoran Zivkovic

Trade Paperback:

Clouded World - Jay Amory
Myth-Fortunes - Robert Asprin & Jody Lynn Nye
The Hounds of Skaith - Leigh Brackett
The High King’s Tomb - Kristen Britain
Jorgen - James Cabell
The Tamuli - David Eddings (3-in-1 reprint)
The Beyond - Jeffrey Ford
Memoranda - Jeffrey Ford
Rudyard Kipling’s Tales of Horror & Fantasy - Neil Gaimen, ed.
Leapfrog - Stephen Hendry
The Dark World - Henry Kuttner
Blood Bargain - Maria Lima
War Hammer 40K: Imperial Guard Omnibus - Steve Lyons
Star Wars: Wild Space - Karen Miller
Elric: The Sleeping Sorceress - Michael Moorcock
The Engine’s Child - Holly Phillips
Dreadful Skin - Cherie Priest
The Flame & the Shadow - Denise Rossetti
The Orc King - R.A. Salvatore
Blood of Elves - Andrzej Sapkowski
Black Glass - John Shirley

Mass Market Paperback:

Eberron: The Queen of Stone - Keith Baker
War Hammer: A Massacre in Marienburg - David Bishop
The Devil’s Due - Jenna Black
Halo: the Cole Protocol - Tobias Buckell
The Last Battle - Chris Bunch
Captain’s Fury - Jim Butcher
The Crown - Deborah Chester
Firstborn - Arthur Clarke & Stephen Baxter
The Warrior’s Tale - Allan Cole
Perfect Circle - Carlos Cortes
Forgotten Realms: Crimson Legion - Troy Denning
The Mirror of Worlds - David Drake
The Black Ship - Diana Francis
Better Off Undead - Martin Greenberg & Daniel Hoyt, ed.
Black Magic Woman - Justin Gustainis
Future Weapons of War - Joe Haldeman
Succubus Takes Manhattan - Nina Harper
A Dark Sacrifice - Madeline Howard
Radio Freefall - Matthew Jarpe
Bloodring - Faith Hunter
Deryni Checkmate - Katherine Kurtz
New Tricks - John Levitt
Inside Straight - George Martin, ed.
War Hammer 40K: Horus Heresy: Mechanicum - Graham McNeill
Magic to the Bone - Devon Monk
Seaspray - Mel Odom
Dead Reign - T.A. Pratt
Star Wars: Death Star - Michael Reeves
Forgotten Realms: The Fractured Sky - Thomas Reid
War Hammer 40K: Dark Disciple - Anthony Reynolds
Sister Time - John Ringo & Julie Cochrane
Kris Longknife Intrepid - Mike Shepherd
Starfist: Recoil - David Sherman
Dead Easy - Wm. Mark Simmons
The Unwilling Warlord - Lawrence Watt-Evans
Dragon Lance: Amber & Blood - Margaret Weis
Dragon Lance: The Survivors - Dan Willis

Monday 22 September 2008

Plague Year - Jeff Carlson

"They ate Jorgensen first."

Plague Year
begins with a bang and the roller coaster of events doesn't stop until you run out of pages and start looking for book two, Plague War. Nanotech designed with the hope of creating immortality and ending cancer has overrun the world, destroying all warm blooded life below 10 000 feet. The few survivors are slowly starving to death and fighting over the few resources still available.

Focusing on two groups - one in the Californian mountains, one in the heart of the remains of a corrupt government, the novel shows how in times of crisis the best and worst of human nature survive.

And if you haven't seen the book trailor, take a look. It's one of the best out there.

Friday 12 September 2008

King of Sword and Sky - C.L. Wilson

A wonderful mixture of fantasy and romance, this is the third book in the Tairen Soul series, and the books just get better. While I found the second novel a little more 'romancy' than I generally prefer, this novel returns to the wonder of being in a fantasy world and is more plot rather than character focused.

The world is expanded as Rain escorts his new wife back to the Fading Lands, where Ellysetta discovers that political scheming is not only a Celierian vice and Rain enjoys less popular support than she was led to believe. The crisis of the dying Tairens is examined in detail as Ellysetta tries to familiarize herself with her new home and responsibilities... and discover more about her own sinister origins and ties to the Eld's High Mage.

The ending will blow you away.

Monday 8 September 2008

Violette Malan - Author Interview

Novels: The Mirror Prince
The Sleeping God

The Soldier King


Pitch the first novel of your series.

> The first novel of my series is The Sleeping God -- and I want to start off by saying it is a series, each book a separate adventure featuring the same characters. There's no necessity to read them in any particular order. The continuing characters are Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane, members of the Mercenary Brotherhood, a Samurai-like organization with strict codes of honour and behaviour, but not exactly the same codes that everyone else has. I've always been a big fan of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories, and Dhulyn and Parno are my attempt to create modern versions of those characters. I also wanted to create a male-female pairing that didn't have sexual tension as its primary focus. My Mercenaries are life partners, but not in a romantic sense. Oh yeah, and I've always wanted to kill things with swords.

What are your favourite three books (not by you, either in the field or out of it)?

> Can I do favourite authors instead? Even there, it's going to be hard to limit myself to three. Okay, I'll limit them to living authors. There are lots of people I would recommend, but there are only half a dozen who jump to the top of the "to read" pile when a new book comes out. Tanya Huff, Charlaine Harris, and Arturo Perez-Reverte, especially his Captain Alatriste stuff.

In the books you've written, who is you favourite character and why?

> My favourite characters -- no matter who writes them -- are the honourable ones. Even, as I've already said, if their sense of honour isn't exactly what we expect. I suppose of the characters who have appeared in print so far, Dhulyn Wolfshead is probably my favourite. She's the most complex in terms of her early life, she's not afraid of anything, and she can kill anything that moves. On the other hand, she'd really prefer not to.

If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

> What, and miss the next season of Torchwood? Not likely.

What was the first novel, published or unpublished, that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

> The first novel I ever finished (you don't want to know how many I started) was a romance novel. I was in university and I thought I could take a month in the summer and write one for quick cash. Here's what I learned: if you try to write something for which you have no respect, you will write trash. Not parody, not clever witty satire, just trash. Writing is hard work, (even parody and clever witty satire, maybe especially), you have to take it seriously, and you have to respect what you're doing. To write a romance novel that would actually work as a romance, and sell as a romance, I had to learn to respect the genre. It took me about two years to produce a manuscript I wasn't ashamed of, and yes, I did sell it. Would I do it again? No. If I have to work that hard, I want it to be on something I really enjoy.

What was the hardest scene for you to write?

> Love scenes. Not erotica, that's easy to write (just ask my husband). But love scenes? Easy to sound stiff. Uh, no pun intended.

What was the most fun book signing, convention, etc. you've attended and why?

> I'm afraid that I just find the idea of having to leave the house to promote myself and my work so hilarious that I'm having fun wherever I go. And that's saying a lot, since I'm a functioning agoraphobe.

If you still have one, what's your day job?

> I'm not sure whether I have a day job or not. Come to think of it, I'm not sure that I've ever had a day job. Until I started being paid for my writing, everything I did get paid for financed either my education, or my writing time. Technically I now write full time, especially if this is being read by my agent, yup, I'm working right now. I certainly don't leave the house to go to work, but my husband Paul is also self-employed, and someone has to keep the books, and make sure the household economy runs smoothly. That someone is me, and yes, Paul does pay me. After all, if someone else did it, he'd have to pay them.

What is your university degree in?

> I have a PhD in 18th-century English literature. That's literature of the English, not literature written in English. My dissertation was called "Death of a Genre: Pastoral Poetry in Eighteenth-Century England". So if you want to know what Alexander Pope meant when he said "Two Swains, whom Love kept wakeful, and the Muse/ Poured o'er the whitening Vale their fleecy Care", you've come to the right place. Oh yeah, I can also tell you where the expression "namby-pamby" came from, who pointed out that all that glitters is not gold (and what it has to do with cats), and who was really the first who said "love conquers all".

Do you think it is easier to write fantasy or science fiction?

> Please see the answer above pertaining to romance novels. It isn't easy to write anything. Let me say that again. It is not easy to write anything. Writing is not easy. It is splendid. It is shocking. It is sublime. But it's not easy.

When and where do you write?

> Most of the time in my office at home, so that's where. I try to write between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, with a break for lunch. And petting the cat.

What's the best/worst thing about writing?

> Did I mention how hard it is? Seriously, the worst thing is the time when it just won't come, and for a flash of an instant you feel that maybe this time it isn't going to. The best thing is the moment when everything clicks, the idea, the image, the concept and the words to express it all come together at the same moment. It's like something explodes in your chest. Now if you want to know what the best thing about being a writer is, it's the readers.

What is something you didn't know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?

> How long the process is. It can take up to two years from the sale of your first book until that book actually appears in print. It didn't take that long for me (either the romance novel or my first fantasy novel The Mirror Prince), but by the time The Mirror Prince did come out I was very tired of answering the question "I thought you'd sold a book, where is it?"

Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

> Heinlein's five rules, my paraphrasing. You must write. You must finish what you write. Don't keep revising it. Get it out into the market place. Keep it out until it's sold.

Any tips against writers block?

> The idea of the whole huge project can be pretty daunting. Trick yourself into thinking of it as small, manageable pieces. What I'll often do is say to myself "All I'm going to do is read over what I wrote yesterday; my brain's not working, so I don't have to do anything else, just read over what I did yesterday." I find that the act of reading over the previous day's work relaxes my mind enough to go on working. Or, pretend you're only going to work on something specific, "I'm just going to get them across the street, that's all, once they're across the street I can go downstairs and read a book." Of course, you have to be good at pretending. But then, you're a writer, aren't you? Small steps. Today's work today.

How many rejection letters did you get for your fist novel or story?

> Lots of rejections for stories that never got published (go figure). For the romance novel, 2 rejections before it sold. For The Mirror Prince, if you don't count the number of drafts my agent asked for, no rejections at all, since my agent handled it. Say, there's another good reason to have an agent.