My Bookish Ways

A chat with Tony Park, author of The Delta

Tony Park is Australian, his books are huge in the UK (he’s published 11), and take place in Africa. Confused? Don’t be, it’s all part of his awesome, and he just made his US debut with The Delta, featuring mercenary Sonja Kurtz. He was also kind enough to answer a few questions about the new book, his love for Africa’s beauty, and more!


tonyparkTony, you have many titles already under your belt, but I can’t wait to dive into your US debut, THE DELTA. Will you tell us a little about it and about Sonja Kurtz, your very unusual protagonist?
I’m really excited about my US debut. The Delta is set in Botswana’s magnificent Okavango Delta, wildlife paradise that was, bizarrely, threatened in real life several years ago by a plan to build a dam on the Okavango River, which would have starved the wetlands of water. The dam didn’t go ahead in real life, but I resurrected the plan for my novel. The dam is built and a group of environmentalists and land owners hire mercenary Sonja Kurtz to blow it up! Sonja was quite a departure for me – my first female principal lead character. She’s ruthless, intelligent, and tough as nails, but she’s also a single mom with some serious relationship issues. She may be a bit of a softy at heart, but never let her hear you say that.

You have a very interesting background and have worked as a freelance writer, but have you always wanted to write books? Will you tell us a little more about yourself?
The one thing I always wanted to do in life was write a novel. I enjoyed writing at school and worked as a journalist, but fiction was always my passion. I left full time work in 1996 to try and write a novel and after one unsuccessful attempt I found my true inspiration in Africa, a continent I’d begun exploring as a tourist in 1995 and was fast becoming addicted to. Since my first book came out in 2004 my wife, Nicola, and I have spent six months of every year in Africa, where I research and write my books, and the other six months back in our native Australia. We have an unusual life but we love it.

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The Black Road by Tania Carver

theblackroadBlack Road by Tania Carver (Pegasus, Aug. 2014)-The Black Road (Choked in the UK) is my first thriller by Tania Carver (the British writing duo of Martyn and Linda Waites), and it won’t be my last. It’s actually book 4 in the series featuring DI Phil Brennan and his now wife, criminal psychologist Marina Esposito. The focus in this one, however, is on Marina, because in the first scene, the cottage that they’ve been vacationing at is set on fire and Phil is seriously injured, along with Phil’s mother, and the subsequent blast actually kills his father. Marina, somehow, ends up outside of the cottage, and when she comes to (after being “rescued” by a mysterious stranger), her first thought is of her 3 year old daughter Josephina, but no sign of Josephina is found in the cottage. Then, in the hospital, Marina gets a phone call from someone claiming to have her daughter, but she’s prohibited from telling anyone and must follow the caller’s instructions herself in order to get Josephina back, but this is no simple kidnapping, and it may have to do with a case that Marina handled a long time ago, at the beginning of her career.

Sometimes, I need a fast paced procedural to scratch my thriller itch and The Black Road was just the ticket. I identified with Marina’s desperation and willingness to go to just about any lengths to get her little girl back, and Carver serves up a “family” of criminals that will make your skin crawl. Their henchman, who they only call The Golem (he’s huge, has grey skin, is preternaturally quiet, and prefers to use his hands to do his dirty work), is very, very creepy, and although he does get a bit of a backstory, it doesn’t really alleviate that creepiness all that much (maybe a little, but not too much.) I actually found him quite compelling and think they could do quite a lot more with his character, but I digress. Back to Marina. While she follows the kidnappers’ directives, her husband Phil lies unconscious in the hospital, which only serves to ramp up her desperation, and although this is outside her department’s turf, it doesn’t keep her fellow cops from helping in any way they can, while DS Jessica James and her partner DC Deepak Shah (I want more of the enigmatic Shah), are following leads stemming from the explosion. To be clear, there’s no new ground being broken here, where the genre is concerned, but you won’t care, seriously, because things move so fast, and the bad guys (and girls) are so damn weird that you’ll be hooked.

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Interview: Martin Rose, author of Bring Me Flesh, I’ll Bring Hell

Bring Me Flesh, I’ll Bring Hell, the new horror novel by Martin Rose, will be out next week, and he kindly answered a few of my questions about the book, and more!


bringmefleshCongrats on the new book! Will you tell us a little about Bring Me Flesh, I’ll Bring Hell, and what inspired you to write it?
Thanks. Bring Me Flesh, I’ll Bring Hell is a hard-boiled detective, zombie, horror novel. Vitus has the misfortune to trust his brother, a military doctor, and that trust is repaid when his brother infects him and turns him into a zombie. The good news for Vitus, is they have a pill for everything these days. Unfortunately for him, that’s also the bad news. It’s about a person who wakes up a monster and has to keep on living, keep on working, and keep on paying the bills without losing his head, if you’ll pardon the pun. It started out as a short story for an anthology, but the character required a distinctive style and voice that was easy for me as a writer to hook into, less easy to unhook from, and it very much wrote itself.

Tell us more about yourself! You’ve got a graphic design degree, but what made you jump into writing? Have you always wanted to write?
That’s a long story; too long to tell in one sitting, but I can hand off the short version. I’d been encouraged to engage in the arts from an early age. I started writing around twelve or so. Around thirteen and fourteen I started sending stories out to magazines, garnered my first rejections. Around twenty-one, things changed, got a little tumultuous. So writing wasn’t possible for a long period of time, due to a number of unexpected, personal responsibilities. I went into visual arts, and then earned my degree in graphic design. In a way, this was quite a boon – the folks at Skyhorse/Talos were nice enough to allow me to dictate the direction of everything from the cover design to the typography and interior layout. A graphic design degree gave me the full understanding of book design and construction. If the world fell apart tomorrow, I’d be the lone survivor putting together a Gutenberg press and binding books by hand. After I graduated, the job market in New Jersey was quite poor – and that was before the economic bust. So instead of sending out my umpteenth unanswered resume, I started sending out stories again. It was 2007, 2008 and I couldn’t afford an internet connection. I typed up stories at my apartment and then took them to the library and used their internet connection to send them. Later on, I started using the telephone line for the dial-up when I couldn’t reach the library. I wrote a novel while working two jobs, and that’s still sitting in a trunk somewhere. Bring Me Flesh came about a few years later. In retrospect, I don’t know if I’ve always wanted to write. More accurate to say that the writing has always wanted me.

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It’s that time again: This week’s ebook deals ($5 and under)!

Today’s round up focuses on the mysterious and thought-provoking, with a few detours into scary territory. I’ve curated carefully, because I love you, and all books are $5 and under (as always, doublecheck before you click the BUY button.) You’re sure to find something here to fatten up your TBR!

Now, I have a Kindle, but if that’s not your jam, do check out other ebook platforms, because these discounts are frequently universal!


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Catching up with Dave Zeltserman, author of The Boy Who Killed Demons

I’m always thrilled to have Dave Zeltserman on the blog, and today he stopped by to talk about his brand new book, The Boy Who Killed Demons! Just in time for Halloween, too!


theboywhokilleddemons2Will you tell us a little about your new book, THE BOY WHO KILLED DEMONS?
Demons is written as a journal by a 15 year-old high school student, Henry Dudlow, and it chronicles his struggles to keep the world safe from demons. When Henry was 13 he was a normal, outgoing kid, but then he started seeing certain people as demons, and things change dramatically for him. After convincing himself that these really are demons, he sets about to determine what the demons are up to, and when he discovers that they’re trying to open the gates to hell, he has to do whatever it takes to stop them.

Henry Dudlow is only 15 years old. What made you decide to write such a young protagonist, and why do you think readers will root for him?
Some ideas for my books come from newspaper stories, others just pop into my head. With The Caretaker of Lorne Field, the idea was what if there’s a mythology that no one believes in anymore except the caretaker, and that this caretaker must weed a field every day or the world will end? With it was what if a high school kid is the only one who can see demons for what they are and ends up having to do really bad things to save the world? Once the idea took root and I started playing a bunch of what-if games, I had a book that I needed to write.

Henry’s power and resulting responsibility is a terrible one, especially for a 15 year-old to have to carry. Not surprisingly, at times he comes off as angry, sarcastic, and aloof, but ultimately he’s heroic, and the sacrifices he makes to save the world are heartbreaking, and I think it will be hard for readers not to care about him.

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Interview: Ben Tripp on The Accidental Highwayman, world-building, and more!

You may know the name Ben Tripp from his Rise Again series, but his brand new book (something very different), The Accidental Highwayman (and his first book for teens), just came out! I’m thrilled that he stopped by to answer a few of my questions, so please give him a warm welcome!


bentrippCongrats on the new book! Will you tell us more about The Accidental Highwayman and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you. I’m very excited about this project. The Accidental Highwayman is the first in the Adventures of Kit Bristol trilogy. It comes from what you might call the overstuffed attic of my mind — where all the bits and pieces of ideas, memories, and daydreams end up.

As a boy in England I was always wandering the meadows and lanes, filling the world around me with imaginary folk. Forty years later, I realized they were still about, and it was time to tell their stories. Up to the attic I went and out they came.

Tell us more about Kit and Morgana. Why do you think readers will root for them, and what did you enjoy most about writing their characters?
I really enjoyed writing the ‘opposites attract’ relationship. They focus on their differences, and all the while it’s the things they have in common which are their strengths. There’s also an interesting dynamic at play between them in that Kit, who narrates, is really telling her story, insofar as he knows it. His adventures are the result of Morgana’s arc. He’s not the chosen one, the center of events — she is — and he’s happy to assist her however he can.

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The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

thelesserdeadThe Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman (Berkley, Oct. 7th, 2014)-I know what you’re thinking (or might be thinking): ugh, vampires, soooo done to death (sorry about that). But bear with me, here. We’re talking about Christopher Buehlman, author of Those Across the River, The Necromancer’s House, and Between Two Fires. This man has a very solid history of excellence, so when I saw that The Lesser Dead was a vampire tale, I didn’t hesitate for even a second.

Joey Peacock looks eternally 14, but is actually in his 50s in 1978 New York City. He is, of course, also a vampire. He’s more than a bit cocky, considers himself a ladies man, and loves to look sharp. Well, as sharp as one can possibly look when their home is in the tunnels that run under the city. That’s ok, though, because Joey can glamour a victim in the blink of an eye. He has a family, of sorts, consisting mainly of Margaret (their tough as nails leader), and the elderly Cvetko, who harbors a fatherly affection for Joey. There are others, but they play the biggest parts in Joey’s life (or undeath). By 1978, Joey has fallen into a bit of a routine, and even has a family (mom, dad, son) that he regularly charms and feeds from. It may not be the ideal life, but it’s all he has, and if a bit of ennui has set in, well…that’s about to change. Margaret’s group has always been fairly careful to avoid killing their victims (which they call “peeling”), mainly to keep the cops off their scent as opposed to any real sense of moral responsibility. However, when they discover a feral pack of child vampires that not only kill, but play with their victims like a cat plays with a mouse, they must decide what to do about this very serious problem.

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The Laws of Murder by Charles Finch: The Whodunnit Tour (guest post & giveaway)

Welcome to the “where” stop of Charles Finch’s Whodunnit Tour! His newest Charles Lennox mystery, THE LAWS OF MURDER, will be out on Nov. 11th, and we’ve also got a copy to giveaway to one lucky US winner, courtesy of the nice folks at St. Martin’s Press!


thelawsofmurderOn the one hand: Narnia, Hogwarts, Pemberley.
On the other hand: the Tower of London, Oxford, Castle Howard.

England, the country I write about in the series of mystery novels I write, has gone by so many aliases in fiction over the years that it’s taken on a kind of magical second life, in which the Shire is laid like a thin veil over Cornwall, and Lyra’s Jordan College lives in the shadows of Oxford’s cobblestoned streets. When I visit the country now I feel as if I’m seeing both places. America doesn’t have that doubleness in exactly the same way, nor France, nor anywhere really, which is part of what’s so wonderful about England as a country.

There’s a temptation to write in each of the two Englands, too. In my sixth Lenox book, A Death in the Small Hours, I invented a village called Plumbley. It was an amalgam of several real villages I’ve known – I lived in England for several years, and spent time in Burford, in Chipping Norton – but it also owed a great deal to the fictional villages of Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, and Arthur Conan Doyle, with their friendly intimacy and their long-held secrets.

Then again, my books are dotted with real places, too. For instance, there’s Gordon’s, the ancient, spectral underground wine bar near Hungerford Bridge, which is always one of the first places I visit when I’m in London, or Buckingham Palace, where Lenox is called to investigate a seemingly random break-in in An Old Betrayal. The ultimate compromise for me is Hampden Lane, which readers of the series will know is the small, leafy street off Grosvenor Square where Lenox has lived throughout the series – made up, along with its cozy bookseller’s and its baker’s on the corner, but based on a dozen Mayfair side streets I walk through with great pleasure (and my notebook out) every time I’m in the neighborhood.

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Giveaway: Ark Storm by Linda Davies

Love thrillers chock full of science? Courtesy of the lovely folks at Tor/Forge, we’ve got 1 copy of ARK STORM by Linda Davies to give away to one lucky US winner, so check out the book, fill out the widget, and I’ll pick a winner on or around 10/26!


arkstormAbout ARK STORM:
The Ark Storm is coming—a catastrophic weather event that will unleash massive floods and wreak more damage on California than the feared “Big One.” One man wants to profit from it. Another wants to harness it to wage jihad on American soil. One woman stands in their way: Dr. Gwen Boudain, a brave and brilliant meteorologist.

When Boudain notices that her climate readings are off the charts, she turns to Gabriel Messenger for research funding. Messenger’s company is working on a program that ionizes water molecules to bring rain on command. Meanwhile, Wall Street suits notice that someone is placing six-month bets on the prospect of an utter apocalypse and begin to investigate. Standing in the shadows is journalist Dan Jacobsen, a former Navy SEAL. War hardened, cynical, and handsome, Jacobsen is a man with his own hidden agenda.

Linda Davies’s Ark Storm brings together the worlds of finance, scientific innovation, and terrorism in a fast-paced thrill ride that will leave readers gasping.

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Jon Bassoff, on things that go bump, and his new book, Factory Town

Jon Bassoff’s brand new book, Factory Town, just came out this month from DarkFuse, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about it, and more!


jonbassoffI’m very, very excited about Factory Town! Will you tell us more about it?
Well, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever written before. My writing tends toward the surreal and the grotesque, but I certainly went a bit overboard with this one. At the heart of the novel we’ve got a pretty standard storyline—a girl has gone missing, and this fellow Russell Carver is put in charge of searching for her. But the town in which he is conducting his search is so strange, so nightmarish, that he keeps getting further and further from the truth. And as the novel moves forward we start to understand that the real mystery has less to do with where the girl is, and more to do with who the girl is. The novel’s not an easy one. The plot is nonlinear. Characters appear out of nowhere and take on new personas. There are also multiple story lines that are incongruous to each other. So, yeah, it can be frustrating, but if you work hard enough I think you’ll be able to figure out what the hell is happening…

What do you think makes Factory Town so scary?
The town itself is forbidding with crumbling buildings and vacant lots and abandoned factories. And everybody we meet seems to have their own dark secrets. But the thing that has always terrified me is the loss of sanity, and in this book the entire world is insane. And then you’ve got the narrator who is slowly discovering terrible secrets about his own past, and that can be pretty terrifying as well.
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