Edan Lepucki is a genuine phenomenon, and for good reason: first and foremost, with CALIFORNIA, she’s given us a very assured, excellent debut (trust me, it’s really good), and there was that awesome Stephen Colbert mention… She’s kind of a rockstar, and I’m thrilled that she took the time to answer a few of my questions! Please give her a warm welcome!
Edan, congrats on the new book, CALIFORNIA, and also the amazing success you’ve seen with it right out of the gate! Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
Thank you so much, and thanks for your thoughtful review of California a few weeks back! I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember—since I learned to read, I suppose. Aside from my dancing skills (seriously, I challenge you to a dance-off!), I can only read and write. I have no other skills. In college, I enthusiastically double-majored in English and Creative Writing, and after I graduated, I worked at a bookstore in LA called Book Soup, and wrote short stories on my time off. I studied creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and after I graduated I started a novel. That one never sold, alas, so I wrote another one—California—to more successful results.
I was born at home in Santa Monica and raised in LA; I come from a large family of irrepressible showboats: divorced parents, step-parents, three sisters, and a brother—all of whom live in California. Aside from writing and teaching writing, I have also worked as a bookseller, a cheesemonger, and an SAT tutor (verbal only, obviously). I am the founder and co-director of Writing Workshops Los Angeles, a private writing school that offers small and rigorous classes from the comfort of the teacher’s home. I am married to a book-lover and whiskey-drinker named Patrick, and we have a delightful three-year-old son named Dixon Bean, as well as tiny white dog named Omar Little. Last year we moved from LA to the San Francisco Bay Area, to a town called Albany. It’s a bit sleepy for my taste, but it’s growing on me, and my god, the bread and coffee here is terrific.
It’s no secret that Dana Fredsti’s Ashley Parker series is one of my favorite zombie series out there (Plague World is awesome-trust me), and as always, I’m thrilled to have Dana back to the blog to talk about the newest installment, what comes next, and more!
Dana, I’m very excited about Plague World! Will you give us a bit of a teaser as to what we can expect from Ashley and the gang?
Bad things happen. Plague World is definitely a darker book than the first two (although some pretty dark stuff does happen in both Plague Town and Plague Nation), with characters forced to make decisions that will ultimately change their lives … if they live to see the end of the book. (insert Bwahahahahah! Here). You can expect the same humor that runs through the previous books because that’s Ashley’s way of dealing with the world, but I put her through the wringer this time around. I also admit to having had way too much fun zombie-fying the International Houses and other parts of Balboa Park in San Diego. Readers will also get to see how the zombocalypse is affecting the rest of the world via the third person interludes and yes, I had a lot of fun writing those as well. There’s something cathartic about destroying the world a little bit at a time, y’know?
Er… did that sound too much like a super villain? No? Good .
Was it bittersweet for you to wrap up the Ashley Parker trilogy?
Definitely. Plague World was a very difficult book to write for a number of reasons, not the least being that my personal and professional life went through some major changes and upheavals last year. I think it’s fair to say that some of my personal pain is reflected in the emotional and physical pain Ashley goes through in this book. I also realized certain plot points could not be wrapped up with a happy pink bow around them. Nope, I had to break out the black ribbon and say a final farewell to characters I didn’t necessarily plan on parting with at the end of the trilogy.
The 2014 Hugo Award winners were announced yesterday at LonCon3! Particularly exciting to me is the win for the SF Signal podcast Congrats to all of the winners!
I’m rounding up everything in one post this week, so you should have plenty to choose from to kick-start your weekend! All titles are under $5, and as always, be sure to double check before you click that BUY button! Happy Friday!
Books 1-7 of Diana Gabaldon’s superb OUTLANDER series are under $5 on Kindle, so get ‘em while they’re hot! It’s one of my favorite series, and it’s perfect weekend reading (to go along with the new series on STARZ no less)!
SODA POP SOLDIER by Nick Cole just came out this week, and Nick stopped by to chat about it, and more! Please give him a warm welcome!
Congrats on the new book, Nick! Will you tell us a little about Soda Pop Soldier and what inspired you to write it?
I wanted to write Soda Pop Soldier after I finished the last book of The Wasteland Saga. That was Post-Apocalyptic fiction and it was gritty, grim and dark. I was ready to write something that was fun. Pure Scifi. I play a lot of video games and I knew I wanted to explore that world from a fiction perspective. Soda Pop Soldier is a lot like Ready Player One in certain ways and in other ways it’s like a Raymond Chandler noir mystery novel. I describe it to people as Call of Duty meets Ready Player One.
Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I would say yes, I have always wanted to write from about the time we start thinking about what the shape of our lives will be like. I remember reading the Lord of the Rings in the 5th grade and thinking I wanted to be a writer. I would go home after school and make maps of imaginary places. To me, at that time, that was writing. After that it was a long process of learning how to write. I started writing professionally while I was in the Army. I’d turn in little short stories to magazines and get rejected. One got through, though. After the Army I took some time off and studied acting. Then I began to write and write a lot. It took me about seven years to finish my first novel no one has read, Fight the Rooster. It’s still unpublished. After that I wrote The Old Man and the Wasteland and that did pretty well.
Please welcome Patrick Swenson to the blog! His new book, THE ULTRA THIN MAN, just came out this week and he kindly answered a few of my questions about it, why he writes, and much more!
Congrats on the release of The Ultra Thin Man! Will you tell us more about it and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! It all started as a way for my brother and me to keep in touch when he moved to California. I give him full credit for the title, and he started the ball rolling with the first installment. We didn’t even know what we were going to write. But we passed around a few chapters over a number of years. About an eighth of the book has my brother’s input. Eventually I took on the challenge of writing the bulk of it.
You’ve been a teacher for many years, but has it always been your goal to write a novel? What’s one of the first things you can remember writing?
Oh yes, I’ve wanted to be a writer most of my life. (I didn’t decide on wanting to be a teacher until high school.) I remember at age nine sitting at my desk downstairs writing a science fiction story called “Mr Mooney Goes to the Moon.” Mooney is my mom’s maiden name, and I based the character a little bit on my Grandpa Mooney. There were two sequels: “Mr. Mooney Goes to Mars,” and “Mr. Mooney Goes to North Dakota.” (We lived in Eastern Montana, right on the border of North Dakota. I guess I thought North Dakota was an alien place.)
Here are the books that I’m especially looking forward to in SFF for September! What are you looking forward to?
Synopsis-The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.
Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.
Please welcome Bishop O’Connell to the blog! His new book STOLEN: AN AMERICAN FAERIE TALE, just came out last month, and he stopped by to answer a few of my questions!
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us more about STOLEN: An American Faerie Tale, and what inspired you to write it?
Thanks! The original idea behind it was to create a modern faerie tale, to take what faerie tales used to be and bring it into the present, to create an urban faerie tale, if you will. In the end though, it became a book about heroes. Not the flashy kind that can walk through five feet of mud in a white suit and step out spotless, metaphorically speaking. These heroes are real people. They have baggage and make mistakes, sometimes horrific ones. They’re good people, not saints, but not demons either. And in the end, they accept their mistakes and just keep trying, carrying the burden of their choices for their entire lives.
Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. I recall very clearly writing a short story in first grade, Mrs. Bugg’s class (yes, that was her real name). I don’t remember what the story was, I’m sure it was a blatant retelling of a tale that was popular at the time. Mrs. Bugg read it to the class, and for a little while I became a minor celebrity. I dabbled in poetry and short stories in school, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I started taking my writing seriously. Poetry readings at coffee houses were big at that time, and I again gained some minor fame. All my poems were stories, and I loved telling them. It wasn’t long before the stories were too big for poems. So I spent less time writing poems and more time on short stories. That was also when I started my first novel that was never finished; an important step in any writer’s life. Adulthood, as it does, got in the way, and it wasn’t until years later I decided to finish a novel.
Here are the books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for September (it’s a helluva month)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10.
Synopsis (all synopsis are from Amazon or B&N)-Some say he’s a serial killer. Others, a vigilante doing what police can’t or won’t do. What’s certain is that Dean Drayhart, a paraplegic, will soon sit on death row for killing hit-and-run drivers in Los Angeles. But not if the Mexican Mafia gets hold of him first. Somewhere, Dean’s trained companion monkey Sid and girlfriend Cinda are outrunning the law in a fast ’98 Trans Am. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department wants Sid, dead or alive. Dean may be broken in body but his fierce spirit is determined to protect Sid and Cinda in the most creative ways imaginable. Hardboiled, funny, relentless, and unexpectedly tender-hearted, Bite Harder delivers riotous action all the way to a bombshell climax that could only have been written by Anonymous-9, the self-declared mad scientist of crime fiction.