Sunday 24 February 2008

Author Interview - Edward Willett

Adult: Marseguro
Lost in Translation
Children’s: Andy Nebula: Double Trouble
Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star
Dark Unicorn
Spirit Singer
Stories: Je Me Souviens (Artemis Magazine)
Moon Baby (Artemis Magazine)
Strange Harvest (Western People, On Spec)
Landscape with Alien
Plays: Saved


Author Q & A

Pitch your latest novel OR the first novel of your series.

>The “high-concept” for Marseguro (which is both my latest novel AND the first novel of at least a duology) is “Mermaids in outer space!”
For a more detailed pitch, I can’t do better than the excellent back cover copy (and how often do you hear an author say that):
Marseguro, a water world far distant to Earth, is home to a small colony of unmodified humans known as landlings and to the Selkies, a water-dwelling race created by geneticist Victor Hansen from modified human DNA. For seventy years the Selkies and the unmodified landlings have dwelled together in peace, safe from pursuit by the current theocratic rulers of Earth—a group intent on maintaining human genetic and religious purity.
Then landling Chris Keating, a misfit on any world, seeks personal revenge on Emily Wood and her fellow Selkies by activating a distress beacon taken from the remains of the original colony ship. When the Earth forces capture the signal and pinpoint its origin, a strike force, with Victor Hansen’s own grandson Richard aboard, is sent to eradicate this abomination.
Yet Marseguro will not prove as easy to conquer as the Earth force anticipates. And what Richard Hansen discovers here may alter not only his own destiny but that of Marseguro and Earth as well...

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

>Oh, that’s tough. Um...The Lord of the Rings. That’s three right there, isn’t it?
What, you want more? OK. Well, The Bible. That should count for 66 books.
Still not enough? Fine. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Because it’s all Heinlein’s fault.

In the books you've written, who is you favourite character and why? OR What character is most like you?

>I think my favorite character is the title character of Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star. It’s the only book I’ve ever written in first person, so in a way it’s the book I experienced myself most directly. Plus, I’m told by my wife Andy is the character that sounds most like me, even though I am not, nor have I ever been, a 17-year-old orphan living on the streets of a run-down city on a backwater planet.

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

>Not if I had to change places with them at the beginning of one of my stories. I wouldn’t want to go through what I put them through. Some of them—the ones that come out in pretty good shape at the end of the book—it wouldn’t be so bad changing places with after I’ve put them through their paces. Except, presumably, if I changed places with them, they’d change places with me, and then they’d be the writer and I’d be the character, and they could torment me the way I tormented them....
No, I think I’ll stay safely on this side of the page, thanks.

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

>No, for much the same reason as I wouldn’t want to change places with my characters. Bad things happen in those worlds. (Bad things can happen in this world, too, of course, but at least they’re familiar bad things.) Plus, I like this world!
There are some worlds I wouldn’t mind living in temporarily, mind. Narnia would be fun. Hogwarts would be a great place to go to school. Parts of Middle Earth would be worth an excursion. But only if I knew I could come home afterward. Which, of course, is what we do when we read, so I guess I’ve already got things the way I like them.

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

>My first novel was called The Golden Sword and was written when I was 14. It took me approximately one school year, so eight or nine months, I guess. I wrote a novel each year I was in high school. All of them, not surprisingly, remain unpublished, although I did type them up, put them in red folders, and passed them around to my classmates to read.

What was the hardest scene for you to write?

>In the current book, I think the hardest was a scene in which one of main characters discovers that her father is missing and probably dead. My own father died in 2002 and I still miss him every day.

What is the strangest question you have ever been asked by a fan? OR Share an interesting fan story.

>I’ve never had an odd encounter with a fan. Probably because I’m a pretty new writer to most people and I don’t actually have many fans. Or possibly any!

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

>I’ve had a lot of fun at all the cons I’ve been to, but I think I had the most fun at the Chicago WorldCon in 2000, because it was the first one my wife accompanied me to, because I love Chicago, and because it was just a well-run con with great guests and great panels.

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?

>I don’t have a day job any more except for writing. I worked full-time for 14 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, and then communications officer for the Saskatchewan Science Centre, before taking the plunge into full-time freelancing 14 years ago. (Which, comes to think of it, means I’ve now been a freelancer longer than I had a “real” job. This amazes me!)
Now, to be fair, I do have a sideline: I’m a professional actor and singer, and occasionally I get work in those areas. And to be even fairer, I made a particularly good career move in 1997 when I married an engineer. I highly encourage other writers to follow my example.

What is your university degree in?

>I have a B.A. in journalism. I minored in art, but the only thing I ever did with my art training was draw editorial cartoons for the weekly Weyburn (Saskatchewan) Review, the paper in my home town, which I worked for right out of university.

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

>Fantasy comes easier for me because I can make up more stuff. I feel slightly more constrained writing science fiction because it needs to be believable in terms of the way we know our world operates. On the other hand, maybe because I’m a science writer as well as a science fiction writer, I sometimes have a hard time “letting go” when I write fantasy and simply letting magic be magic without trying to explain it away in semi-scientific terms. So both forms of writing pose challenges.

When and where do you write?

>Marseguro was written primarily in coffee shops: in fact, in the acknowledgements I make mention in particular of the Second Cup in the Cornwall Centre in downtown Regina, where the bulk of the first draft took shape. The sequel, Terra Insegura, is being written a bit more at home. I find, however, that I have the most success writing fiction when I get away from my desktop computer and the invidious temptations of blogs, Scrabulous, Half Life, etc. So even when I work at home, I tend to work on my laptop downstairs in the living room rather than in my upstairs office. Rewriting, however, takes place entirely in my office.
I do most of my fiction writing in the afternoon or late evening. It seems to take me all morning just to get my mind in gear, so I tend to do blogging and answering email and some of my regular commitments, like my weekly newspaper science column, in the a.m. and fiction in the p.m. Sometimes I work late at night after my six-year-old daughter is in bed.

What's the best/worst thing about writing?

>I love hearing from someone that something I’ve written has amused or educated or enthralled or even enraged them. I love that feeling of having communicated with someone else.
I hate the fact that the pay is lousy and irregular, and that deadlines have a tendency to all clump together.

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

>I didn’t really understand returns. I still don’t, really. In what other industry does the retailer get to send unsold stock back to the manufacturer for a refund?

Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

>Read the kind of thing you want to write, then write the kind of thing you want to write, then submit it to someone who publishes the kind of thing you’ve written. Rinse and repeat.

Any tips against writers block?

>Go into journalism. You can’t have writer’s block when there’s a newspaper to get out: the story simply has to be done, and that’s that. I’ve never suffered from writer’s block: I can always bang something out. Whether it’s any good or not is another matter, but good writing, at least for me, is much more a matter of rewriting than getting it right the first time.

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

>Lots, but I can’t tell you how many, exactly: I lost count.
This might be a good place to tell you the strange tale of how I came to be published by DAW Books.
Lost in Translation, my first novel with DAW, began life as a short story, published in the initial issue of TransVersions, a Canadian SF magazine. Sometime in the mid-1990s I turned that story into a novel and began sending it around, quite fruitlessly. After a few rejections, I managed to get an agent, who sent it around again, got another round of rejections, and promptly dropped me as a client.
Then, in 2004 or so, I heard from John Helfers at Tekno Books, which packages science fiction novels for publication under the Five Star imprint. Five Star sells hardcovers strictly to libraries: you won’t generally find them in bookstores. Five Star published Lost in Translation, and I thought that was an end to it. Except...
Out of the blue one day I got a phone call from John Helfers, who passed me along to Martin H. Greenberg, the editor in chief at Tekno Books. Greenberg informed me that DAW Books had had a hole in its schedule, had asked Greenberg (who has edited several anthologies for DAW) to pass along some of the books he’d been publishing at Five Star. Mine was one of the ones he passed along, and mine was the one DAW decided to reprint in paperback.
With that offer in hand, I was able to get a new and better agent, Ethan Ellenberg. And with Ethan’s guidance, I was able to sell Marseguro to DAW. They’ve already committed to the sequel, Terra Insegura, which I’m writing now.
The best part of this story is that I’m quite sure DAW must have been one of the publishers that passed on Lost in Translation the first time around.
So Lost in Translation gathered, I would guess, at least a dozen rejections before being published—but it’s led to numerous good things since.
Which I guess means I should pass along one more bit of advice for hopeful authors: don’t give up. Persistence doesn’t guarantee success, but quitting absolutely guarantees failure.

Monday 18 February 2008

Urban Fantasy P.I.'s

This is a list of Urban Fantasy P.I.'s as well as other books you might like if you're looking for something different. The books are subdivided by category. Once again, the list isn't meant to be comprehensive. If you see a few books you've never heard of and want to read, than I've accomplished my purpose.

I've revamped the list to include newer releases (11/08).

Tanya Huff - Blood Lines, Blood Pact, Blood Debt, Blood Price, Blood Trial
Jim Butcher - Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor
Simon Green - Something From the Nightside, Hex & the City, Nightengale’s Lament, Paths Not Taken, Agents of Light & Darkness, Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth, Hell to Pay, Unnatural Inquirer
Mike Resnick - Stalking the Unicorn, Stalking the Vampire
Mercedes Lackey - Burning Water, Children of the Night, Jinx High
Mark Del Franco - Unshapely Things, Unquiet Dreams
Kat Richardson - Greywalker, Poltergeist, Underground
Elaine Cunningham - Shadows in the Starlight, Shadows in the Darkness
Glen Cook - Sweet Silver Blues, Bitter Gold Hearts, Cold Copper, etc
P.N. Elrod - Bloodlist, Lifeblood, Bloodcircle, Art in the Blood, etc (Vampire Files)
Carole Nelson Douglas - Dancing With Werewolves, Brimstone Kiss
Camille Bacon-Smith
- Daemon Eyes
Justin Gustainis - Black Magic Woman
*Rob Thurman - Nightlife, Moonshine, Madhouse (the characters consider themselves PI's after book 2 but it's not 'official' as it were, hense the star)

Phaedra Weldon - Wraith, Spectre
Liz Williams - Snake Agent, The Demon and the City, Precious Dragons
Talia Gryphons - Key to Conflict, Key to Conspiracy, Key to Redemption (special ops)
Anton Strout - Dead to Me (special ops)
C. E. Murphy - Urban Shaman, Thunderbird Falls, Coyote Dreams
Scott MacMillan - Knights of the Blood, At Sword's Point
Jennifer Rardin - Once Bitten, Twice Shy; Another One Bites the Dust; Biting the Bullet; Bitten to Death (special ops)

If you like the above and want a bit of SF instead:
Wen Spencer - Alien Taste, Bitter Waters, Dog Warrior, Tainted Trail
John Ridley - Those Who Walk in Darkness, What Fire Cannot Burn
Jay Caselberg - Star Tablet, Metal Sky, Wyrmhole
Jeffrey Thomas - Deadstock, Blue War
John Meaney - Bone Song, Dark Blood

Sunday 10 February 2008

Author Interview - Gail Martin

The Summoner
The Blood King


Pitch your latest novel:

>In The Blood King, sequel to The Summoner, Tris Drayke races against time to gain the skills he needs to challenge his half-brother Jared for the throne of Margolan and defeat the dark mage Arontala before the Obsidian King can be loosed from the abyss. Pursued by assassins and caught in a dangerous web of intrigue, Tris’ greatest danger is his own magic. The fate of his kingdom, his lady and his soul hang in the balance. As Margolan plunges into darkness under the yoke of a tyrant, Tris leads an unlikely insurrection, knowing that if he fails, death will be the least of his worries…

What are your favourite 3 books?

>That’s a hard one. There are so many. Can I count trilogies as one? Let’s see…Atlas Shrugged, because at the time I read it (I was 18), it gave me the radical notion that it was ok to be smart. I had received some very strong programming to the contrary, so that book was revolutionary for me. Destination: Universe—because it was the first science fiction book that I ever read, and having grown up in a family that took the Cold War way too seriously, it was paradigm shifting for me to read stories about a future we might exist long enough to experience. The Last Herald Mage trilogy, because the characters are so hauntingly real.

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

>Tris Drayke and Jonmarc Vahanian are my two favorites. Tris because he loses his innocence when his world falls apart and has to find new meaning for himself. Jonmarc because he loses faith in anything when he goes through a dark period in life and finds the courage to believe in something again.

What character is most like you?

>Probably Jonmarc.

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

>I was a medieval history major, so I have a pretty good idea of what life was really like back then. Probably not.

If you could live in your fantasy world, would you? In someone else’s?

>It would be tempting if magic were operative and I could have magic. But there are trade-offs, like losing Tylenol, central heat and indoor plumbing. It would also be pretty interesting to actually meet and talk with the ghosts and the vayash moru. So a qualified ‘yes.’ As for someone else’s, there are at least places I’d like to visit—Valdemar, Xanth, Anne Rice’s New Orleans (complete with vampires), Babylon 5.

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

>The first novel-length book I wrote (written and re-written on a manual typewriter), was done on a bet with friends. It was the summer after my senior year in high school. We were impatient for Return of the Jedi to come out, so I wrote my own third installment to the Star Wars original trilogy. I definitely had different ideas than George Lucas—in my version, Luke went to the Dark Side and Han was the ‘other.’ I wrote it over the course of a few months.

What was the hardest scene to write in The Blood King?

>I always find battle scenes take longer because they have to be so clearly choreographed in my mind.

What is the strangest question you have ever been asked by a fan?

>Actually, readers have been very polite and quite delightful, so no one has asked anything way off base. At signings, I always find it odd when people walk up to an author and ask for directions to things in the store. I don’t mind helping, and I can usually answer them, but it’s just odd that they ask me as if I work there!

What’s your day job—how long did it take before you could support yourself only on your writing?

>Trick question, because I’ve always supported myself on my writing—it just hasn’t always been my fantasy writing. For a long time, I worked in corporate America in marketing and PR, and now I own my own marketing consulting firm, where I still do a lot of writing—articles, nonfiction e-books on marketing, client projects.

What is your university degree in?

>I have a B.A. in History and an M.B.A. in Marketing/Management Information Systems

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

>It’s easier for me to write fantasy because I have a very deep history background and I don’t work in the sciences. Someone in engineering or with another science background might feel differently. I would think SF would be harder because its more based in real life and has to have some roots in hard science. We get to make up a lot in fantasy.

When and where do you write?

>I generally write on Mondays and usually in my office, although I take my laptop with me when we travel and also sometimes move around the house.

What’s the best/worst thing about writing?

>The best thing is you get to write the stories you want to read and you know the ending before anyone else. The worst thing is that you have to wait as long as everyone else to get the book in final form.

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

>I don’t think I realized how many people work behind the scenes to get a book from manuscript to bookstore. Not just at the publishing house, but all throughout the distribution process, warehouses, distributors, and the whole bookstore process. It takes a village to print a book!

Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

>Keep at it. Never give up on your dream. Read everything you can on writing and learn from anyone who’ll teach you.

Any tips against writers’ block?

>If you’re stuck writing one scene, skip to another and then come back.

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

>I started with nonfiction articles before I tried to publish novels. I had a whole file of rejection letters at one point, and then I threw them away because I realized that they didn’t mean the articles weren’t good, they just meant the articles weren’t right for those particular editors. I’ve sold a lot of articles that someone else turned down—you just have to find someone who shares your interest. That’s hard to believe until you make your first sale, but it’s true.

Friday 1 February 2008

Sci-Fi Fan Letter Issue 18

The World's Biggest Bookstore's Science Fiction and Fantasy Newsletter
February 2008

Resenting the Hero
By: Moira Moore

Dunleavy Mallorough and Lord Shintaro Karish, Shield and Source, introvert and extrovert, whoever said opposites attract? Told exclusively from Dunleavy (Lee)’s point of view, we see what she truly thinks and feels, while her ever more frustrated partner hears only what she feels fit to tell, making for a hilarious novel.

Their bond means they must work together for the rest of their lives, channelling the energies that would otherwise cause natural disasters. And the disasters attacking the city they work in have just become, well, strange. Their bond also means that when one dies, so will the other. Which is a problem, since Karish’s older brother, a Duke, has just died. And it seems that someone doesn’t want Karish to inherit the position.

A great novel with an even better sequel, Resenting the Hero has a satisfying blend of humour and seriousness.

- Jessica Strider

At the Mountains of Madness
By H.P. Lovecraft

Precious little more needs to be said about Lovecraft these days and yet here we are. At the Mountains of Madness was my first foray into Lovecraft's writings and I have to say it is an excellent introduction. The exploration of the characters matches the reader's own journey into this strange new world of writing. The sterility of the Antarctic setting only emphasizes the austerity and the lack of warmth that Lovecraft uses when he tells his story. I can only recommend this book as it was truly a delight to read and an inspiration to read more of his works.

- Leeman

Moon Called
By: Patricia Briggs

Mercedes Thompson is a mechanic in the Tri Cities area. She’s a walker, able to transform into a coyote and see ghosts. She was raised by the Marrok, the leader of the North American werewolves. Which is handy, since she needs his help.
The Alpha of the local pack, Adam, who lives next door, has been injured and his daughter kidnapped. Now Mercy needs to find out what’s going on. Because a young werewolf she helped is dead and it seems as if Adam’s pack is untrustworthy.

Unfortunately, the wolf the Marrok sends to help is none other than Sam, her first love, whom she ran away from when she was 16. And it seems that love dies hard.
- Jessica Strider

Breath & Bone
By: Carol Berg

We’re used to fantasy heroes being courageous princes, innocent ‘farm’ boys and cunning thieves. Valen is none of these. He is a liar. He is a deserter. He is a recondeur, a pureblood magician who has walked away from his responsibilities. He is an addict to a substance that changes pain into pleasure.

Yet, through the course of this duology, begun in Flesh and Ashes, Valen becomes so much more.
Detailing the last months of Valen’s 27th year, the books combine intrigue, murder, betrayal and the fantastic as the end of days approach. A fanatical priestess desires to purify the world with fire and blood while a small cabal of monks and nobles plan to salvage what they can of mankind.
Valen is rescued by the monks, carrying a manuscript that thrusts him into the heart of the cabal and events that will forge him into a true hero.

- Jessica Strider

Coming in March Hardcover:
Personal Demon - Kelley Armstrong
Tangled Web - Anne Bishop
Spider Star - Mike Brotherton
When the Tide Rises - David Drake
Elom - William Drinkard
The Dragon Done It - Eric Flint & Mike Resnick, Ed.
Truancy - Isamu Fukui
The Dreaming Void - Peter Hamilton
A World Too Near - Kay Kenyon
The Born Queen - Greg Keyes
Deluge - Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
The Stars Down Under- Sandra McDonald
Bone Song- John Meaney
Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories - L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Crosstime - Andre Norton
The Ancient - R.A. Salvatore
Steward of Song - Adam Stemple
In the Court of the Crimson Kings - S.M. Stirling
Rolling Thunder - John Varley
Hidden City - Michelle West
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - Sean Williams
Space Vulture - Gary Wolf

Trade Paperback:
Somnambulist - Jonathan Barnes
Anvil of Stars - Greg Bear
Wanderer’s Tale - David Bilsborough
Lachlei - M.H. Bonham
Golden Rose - Kathleen Bryan
Alchemist’s Code - Dave Duncan
Black Ships - Jo Graham
Tomorrow’s World - Davie Henderson
Ravenloft: Dominion - Ari Marmell
Mad Kestral - Misty Massey
Lord of the Spiders - Michael Moorcock
Heart of Stone - C.E. Murphy
The Man of the Ceiling - Melanie Tem & Steve Rasnic Tem
Shadowplay - Tad Williams

Mass Market Paperback:
BSI: Starside: Final Inquiries - Roger Macbride Allen
Belladonna - Anne Bishop
Forgotten Realms: Undead - Richard Lee Byers
Blackness Tower - Lilian Stewart Carl
Alliance Space - C.J. Cherryh
Antagonist - Gordon Dickson
Harp, Pipe & Symphony - Paul Di Fillipo
Starstrike: Operation Orion - Niles Douglas
Mother of Lies - Dave Duncan
The Boys are Back in Town - Christopher Golden
Wildwood Road - Christopher Golden
Something Magic This Way Comes - Martin Greenberg & Sarah Hoyt
Succubus in the City - Nina Harper
Planet of the Damned - Harry Harrison
Goblin War - Jim Hines
Echoes of an Alien Sky - James Hogan
Heart of Light - Sarah Hoyt
Right Hand of God - Russell Kirkpatrick
By Slanderous Tongues - Mercedes Lackey & Roberta Gellis
Eberron: Darkwood Mask - Jeff La Sala
Word for World Is Forest - Ursula K. Le Guin
Solaris Book of New Science Fiction Volume 2 - George Mann, Ed.
Odalisque - Fiona McIntosh
Elysium Commission - L.E. Modesitt
Clockwork Heart - Dru Pagliasotti
Von Neumann’s War - John Ringo & Travis Taylor
Farseed - Pamela Sargent
Star Trek: Day of the Vipers - James Swallow
Blue War - Jeffrey Thomas
Judge - Karen Traviss
Titans of Chaos - John Wright