Here’s my roundup of bookish news from around the web for the week! Sometimes I add stuff throughout the day on Friday, so be sure you check back over the weekend too!
Interviews, articles, and more:
Excerpts and such:
Mark Teppo’s brand new book, Earth Thirst (vampire ecowarriors!!) just came out this week from Night Shade Books, and Mark is also the author of books such as Lightbreaker and Heartland (among many others.) Please welcome Mark to the blog!
Mark, will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I’ve been writing professionally for about five years, and for the later half of that period, I’ve been doing creative work full-time. I have a liberally-defined liberal arts degree (with an emphasis in Creative Mythology), and I spent nearly two decades in the tech industry before answering the Muse’s call. I’m the CEO of a transmedia startup that is in the business of building franchises. The first of which is Foreworld (www.foreworld.com).
Earth Thirst was out this week from Night Shade Books. Will you give us a teaser?
It’s an eco-thriller with vampires. That’s the bare bones pitch. It’s about ecocide, genetic manipulation, humanity’s lack of long-term thinking, and what sort of monsters we create in our lack of attention to what we do to the world around us. It’s also a love story.
What inspired Earth Thirst?
I’ve been trying to wrap my head around vampire fiction for many years. I could never quite get it figured out, and the writer has to understand the world building if they’re going to convince their readers of the veracity of the world they’re creating. Vampires are predators, and humanity’s reaction to predators has never been very, well, cozy. We tend to either wipe them out or domesticate them, and I could never wrap my head around how that worked for vampires. Humanity is either a food source or a threat to them.
Additionally, all of the standard mythology for vampires is horribly out-dated, and as I turned the ideas over in my head, I finally started to think about taking all of the pieces of the mythology and re-defining them for a 21st century audience. Once I started thinking about the vampires as true creatures of the earth, the rest started to fall into place.
In your writing, you’ve never shied away from scary situations and themes. What’s something that truly scares you?
Zombies. Especially zombie children. It’s the parent in me. I can’t stomach thinking about them.
What are a few of your biggest literary influences?
Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelanzy, pulp adventure stories, Terry Gilliam, and Bill Sienkiewicz. The latter two aren’t writers, but their visual style has been a huge influence in how I imagine the books I write.
If you could experience a book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Actually, I’ve sort of been doing that with Gene Wolfe’s Books of the New Sun, his cycle about Severian the Torturer. Each time I read them (every half dozen years or so), I feel like I’m discovering another layer to them.
What are you reading now?
Deborah Harkness’ The Discovery of Witches (as well as her non-fiction book called The Jewel House), a couple of Richard Stark Parker books, Miles Cameron’s The Red Knight, and a couple of books that are research for my next big project.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
I haven’t had much free time in the last year or so; much of what would qualify, I spend getting caught up on paperwork and other menial office duties. Once in a while, I will check out for a few hours and go to a movie. I saw Django Unchained recently, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
What’s next for you this year and beyond?
I’m working on editorial and toning pass on the fourth Foreworld novel (which will be out in the fall), and I have some duties on the fifth one as well. I’m also managing the SideQuests, the novellas and graphic shorts that we’re doing for Foreworld in addition to the novels. I have three projects listed in my notebook right now—BLOOD HARVEST, HERE BE MONSTERS, and ANGEL TONGUE—and I’m not sure which one will be the book I’m actually writing this year. It depends on how Earth Thirst is received, somewhat.
Keep up with Mark: Website | Goodreads | Blog
Paul Cleave is a New Zealand author with 6 titles already under his belt, and lucky for us here in the States, his titles have recently begun appearing on the shelves! Most recently we saw the release of The Cleaner and April will see the release of The Killing Hour! Paul was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome him to the blog.
Paul, you have quite a catalog of titles already to your name, and luckily, here in the US, we’re finally getting a chance to discover them! Out of all of your novels, which one has been a favorite to write?
Ooh – that’s a tough question. When I think back over them, they were each my favorite at some point for different reasons. The Cleaner was a lot of fun – writing from Joe’s point of view made me laugh every time I sat down at the keyboard. That guy has a twisted view on life – and it was really fun to come back to him for 2013’s book. But my favorite to write was perhaps Blood Men because it’s fast paced, it’s dark, and I love revenge stories and this thing almost wrote itself.
What do you love most about writing suspense?
I love trying to create dark characters who are doing bad things, and yet are likeable. I think it’s more fun for the reader if they’re following a serial killer and wanting them to get away with it – it’s more conflicting if they’re reading about a serial killer and thinking “yeah, he’s not a bad guy.”
The themes of your novels are consistently chilling and play on some very dark subjects. What’s something that you find truly terrifying?
Getting older. And losing my hair. These are terrifying because every day they keep happening.
When you begin writing a story, do you usually know exactly where it’s going to go, or do you just see where the story takes you?
I have no idea where they’re going. In most cases I just have an idea for an opening chapter, then I see where it goes. I figure it out along the way – sometimes not till the end. With Cemetery Lake, I didn’t know who the killer was until I’d almost finished it – then I flicked through the manuscript, chose somebody, then rewrote the novel a few times to get it all to line up. I’m a bit of a speed writer, really – I’ll sit in my office (which is in my house) and crank up the stereo and pig out on coke and bags of chips, and I’ll write four or five or ten thousand words in a day, and I’ll keep that going until I get stuck – which I always do. I’ve had novels stay in that stuck state for months, where it’ll push forward at a few hundred words a day. That used to scare me. Now I know it’s just part of the process.
Weirdly, the only time I planned out a novel, which was last summer, I couldn’t get it to work. For some reason I couldn’t get it down on paper.
I read that you love the novels of John Connolly, Michael Connelly, and Lee Child in particular, which are three of my favorite authors as well! If you had to pick a favorite book from each author, what would they be?
Seriously – I just don’t think you can get any better than these guys. For Lee Child, it’d be Killing Floor. When I first started writing twenty years ago, I used to try and write horror. Killing Floor was one of the first crime novels I read – and that was right when it came out – and that was it for me – I wanted to be a crime writer. For John, it’d be his second book – Dark Hollow. The thing about John is that he combines that creepy supernatural element to his books – which I really love. Plus John is, without a doubt, one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. As for Michael – well, I think every book of his is my favorite while I’m reading them. Lost Light stands out for me. Concrete Blonde. The Poet. Trunk Music. Okay – I’m about to list them all.
On that note, I have to ask…what do you think about Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the new movie?
Well – I really like Tom Cruise, and I really like Jack Reacher – so you’re combining two things that I really, really like. So it has to be good, right? I really loved the Mission Impossible movies – the fourth one was brilliant – I came out of that movie wishing I could write movies and wishing I had Tom Cruise’s hairline. So yeah – I think Cruise can do a great job. I know he’s not the physical embodiment that we all think of when it comes to Reacher – but it does annoy me when you see so many people slagging off the movie and refusing to see it because of that. Would I have picked him to play Reacher? No. Do I think he’ll do a great job? Yes. Am I excited to see it? Yes – it comes out in NZ next week.
If you were able to experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Geez, that’s a fantastic question. Weirdly, my mind first went to movies. Often I’ll say I wish I could watch ‘Psycho’ without knowing the outcome. As for books – you know, I’d probably go with Lee Child’s Killing Floor. There are only two books I’ve read more than once in the last twenty years – one is Killing Floor, the other is Catcher in the Rye.
What are you reading now?
Funnily enough, I’m reading one of my own books as we’re getting it ready for its US release. Aside from that, I’ve been reading a Dean Koontz novel over the last few months – it’s the fifth in his Frankenstein series. Koontz used to be one of my absolute favorite authors – his books in the nineties were amazing. I’m also reading The Passage by Justin Cronin, which I think it’s fantastic. My girlfriend just gave me The Bat by Jo Nesbo and the new Linwood Barclay one (I can’t remember the name…) for Christmas.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Sleeping. Or playing xbox. Actually, I just started playing tennis a few months ago – I’d never played before, and I’m really shit at it but still enjoy it. I enjoy it more than golf because when I mishit the ball I don’t have to go looking for it a hundred meters away behind trees.
What’s next for you in 2013 and beyond?
2013 is going to be a fun year for me as The Cleaner has just come out in the US, books two and three come out in the US over the following months, then Joe Victim, which is a sequel to The Cleaner, comes out in September. I’ll be travelling a bit again – off to Europe in March / April, where I’ll hang out for most of the year. I like chasing the summer. And I’ll work on 2014’s book – which I have no idea what it’ll be.
Keep up with Paul: Website | Facebook | Paul’s Amazon Page
The Wrath of Angels by John Connolly (Atria, Jan. 1st, 2013) Harlan Vetters is dying, and he has a secret. A plane crashed long ago deep in the Great North Woods and when Harlan and his friend, Paul Scollay, discovered the plane, they also found a bag of money and evidence that the plane may have been carrying a prisoner. There’s no sign of a body or bodies, only the dark presence of a young girl who’s said to haunt the surrounding area. So, Harlan and Paul took the money, and kept the secret, until Harlan told the story to his son and daughter, right before his death. Now, Marielle Vetters and Ernie Scollay have approached Charlie Parker about the mysterious plane, and the secrets it may still be hiding. There’s a list of names that were found with the money, and it seems that each person on the list are being met with untimely ends. There are those that will do anything to get their hands on that list and when Charlie finds out that his is among the names, things start to get very dangerous, and very personal.
John Connolly is a master at creeping, atmospheric dread, and The Wrath of Angels is no exception. If you‘ve been keeping up with the series, you may remember a particularly nasty bad guy that went by the name of Brightwell. He should be dead, because Charlie killed him, but he’s back, in the form of a very creepy little boy. The boy’s “mother” Darina, is as evil as she is beautiful, and she’s also out to find the list. Charlie Parker is known as a man that can get things done, sometimes in less than legal ways, and is always on the side of the angels. However, there are those that would see Charlie undone, in mind and body, and his name on that list may mean that the Collector is also on his trail. Charlie and the Collector have had an uneasy truce for some time now, but there’s reason to believe the Collector is not as discerning as he once was and the word “mercy” is not in his vocabulary. Charlie calls on Louis and Angel for their help in finding the plane and help also comes from unexpected places, in the form of a deaf/mute young woman who is much more than she seems.
John Connolly writes with his always superb, poetic prose and its beauty is wonderful contrast to the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, horrors he describes. Charlie is a quietly moral, flawed man, but his heroism lies in his intolerance of injustice, and his willingness to go the distance in order to fight it. Louis and Angel are capable, cranky, and wonderful as always, and be on the lookout for a charming scene involving them and Charlie’s young daughter, who is in awe of the duo. I usually say this with each new book in this series, and I’ll say it again: with each one, I expect they can’t get better, and they always are, they always do. Connolly’s superb fusion of noir and the supernatural is to be savored, and not to be missed.
I wanted to call your attention to a Kickstarter that I’m very excited about and hopefully drum up some more support for it in it’s final few days. Ellen Datlow is the editor of many award winning collections, and hopefully, through Kickstarter, she’ll be able to bring forth Fearful Symmetries with ChiZine Publications. There’s less than 3 days left to donate and it’s very close to making its $25,000 goal!
About Ellen Datlow (from her website):
Multiple award-winning editor Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for almost thirty years. She was fiction editor of OMNI Magazine and SCIFICTION and has edited more than fifty anthologies, including the horror half of the long-running The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.
I’m turning the blog over to Jessa Slade and Elle James today, and this one’s especially fun because as writers, they’re constantly making up their own, rich worlds, but have they ever had any paranormal experiences in real life? Also, be sure to enter the giveaways for a Prize Tote full of books and other goodies and leave a comment to enter to win a couple of ebooks as well! (this one ends on 1/14)
Welcome to MY World
All writers can be a little…odd. It’s one of the occupational hazards of making up stories every day! And it must be said that writers of the paranormal fully embrace the odd, the weird, the strange, the inexplicable, the wild, the out-there, the you-gotta-be-kidding, and the ever-powerful WHAT-IF… And writers of paranormal romance — like Elle James in THE WITCH’S SEDUCTION and Jessa Slade in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSE — take their embracing very, very seriously. Sometimes real life can get a bit bland by comparison, but every once in a while, the real world and our imaginary worlds seem to connect as intimately as our heroes and heroines.
Several years ago, my writing group spent the weekend in Hot Springs Arkansas with the Central Arkansas Society for Paranormal Research (CASPR) at the Velda Rose Hotel which has a reputation for being haunted. We toured the rooms and hallways that were supposed to be haunted. Frankly, I didn’t get anything out of that. No vibes, no orbs, no spirits tapping on my subconscious. Later we visited a local cemetery in the dark. I experienced something weird there.
My sister and I stepped into a family plot where stone after stone was lined up in a neat little row. When I glanced at the first headstone I swear I read the word Ghost. I went down the line and read the rest of the headstones each with the last name Johnson. I noticed my sister doing a double-take on the first headstone. Her brows wrinkled and she blinked. As we left the Johnson family plot, I looked again at that first head stone. This time the stone read Johnson. My sister asked me if I’d read the word Ghost. She’d seen it on the first headstone on her first glance as well. Maybe our writer brains were tuned in and looking for something odd, or maybe someone was trying to tell us something. But for both of us to see the word ghost and later Johnson Not much of a paranormal happening, but it did make our ghost hunting night more interesting!
Sometimes when people ask me about my paranormal experiences, I am sooooo tempted to lie! Lying is another occupational hazards of being a writer. My XY is always correcting me: “That’s not how it happened.” And I’m, like, “That’s how it happened in MY world!” If he had a smart phone to video our days, I’d be in big trouble.
Sadly (or maybe not?) all of my paranormal encounters have been very small: the ground squirrel staked out in a crucifix in the middle of the woods (totally creeped me out); the strange pattern of lights in the sky (that, according to the internet, were from some experimental NOAA thingie; yeah, like THAT’s not suspicious); the ghost of one of my Breyer horses that ran down the hallway late one night.
The one paranormal-ish experience I keep going back to is my tarot readings. My grandmother gave me a deck based on Greek mythology which were some of my favorite stories as a kid, and whenever I need some insight into active energies in my life, I check the cards. But to be honest, I never dig too deep. Unlike Mulder from The X-Files, I’m not sure I want to believe! What if it’s more than I want to know?
**Have you ever had a paranormal experience? Would you even WANT to? Share in comments for a chance to win a download of HAUNTED by Elle James and the first ebook in Jessa Slade’s Steel Born series, DARK HUNTER’S TOUCH.
About the Authors:
Elle James aka Myla Jackson spent twenty years livin’ and lovin’ in South Texas, ranching horses, cattle, goats, ostriches and emus. A former IT professional, Elle is proud to be writing full-time, penning intrigues and paranormal adventures that keep her readers on the edge of their seats. She has 31 works with Harlequin, self published works under pen name Elle James, over 40 works with other publishers including Samhain, Elloras’ Cave, Kensington and Avon and 18 works self-published under pen name Myla Jackson. Now living in northwest Arkansas, she isn’t wrangling cattle, she’s wrangling her muses, a malti-poo and yorkie. When she’s not at her computer, she’s traveling, out snow-skiing, boating, or riding her ATV, dreaming up new stories.
Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s my roundup of book news (and other fun stuff) around the web for the week! Sometimes I add stuff throughout the day on Friday, so be sure you check back over the weekend too!
Interviews, articles, and more:
Excerpts and such:
The first book of the Imnada Brotherhood series by Alexa Egan, Demon’s Curse, just came out, and Alexa was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about it, her writing, and more! She’s also offering a copy of Demon’s Curse and a $10 Amazon GC to one lucky winner, so be sure to check the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!
Please welcome Alexa to the blog!
Alexa, your first book, Demon’s Curse, just came out in December! How did you celebrate when you found out it would be published?
After Snoopy dancing around my office, I splurged and took my family out for dinner. Actually, this was more for my benefit than theirs. Any meal I don’t have to cook or clean up after is a celebration in itself.
Will you tell us a bit about Demon’s Curse and the world of the Imnada Brotherhood?
In a nutshell, the series is about the Imnada, a race of shapechangers and telepaths who have lived secretly as human for thousands of years and would do anything to guard their secret from a dangerous outside world.
Captain Mac Flannery is one of them. He and four other Imnada serve as scouts during the Napoleonic Wars, but as a result of a savage massacre on the eve of Waterloo, they are cursed to live the hours of darkness trapped as their animal aspect.
Demon’s Curse opens with the violent death of one of the shapechangers and Mac certain the secret of the Imnada has been discovered. His only link to unearthing the truth is Bianca Parrino, a star on the Covent Garden stage and a suspect in the vicious killing. Soon, the unlikely pair are forced to place their trust in each other as they flee a murderer and seek an end to the dark curse.
I’m really excited to hear what readers think of my regency-era shapechangers.
Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a bit about your background?
Yeah, writing and telling stories has always been something I’ve done from an early age when I was writing and illustrating my own children’s books on notebook paper in the fourth grade. As I got older, the stories grew longer and more complex, but they remained a hobby I kept secret, the growing pile of manuscripts gathering dust in a drawer. Then I discovered RWA, an entire organization devoted to the careers of romance writers, and it was like someone turned on a light. I finally saw a path to publication for those dusty manuscripts as well as all the new ideas floating around my head. Plus, I was able to find friends in the same situation who spoke the same language and understood the frustrations and thrills of the business. You can’t know how energizing and reassuring that is, especially when the rest of the world doesn’t “get” what you do. The rest…as they say…is history.
What kind of research did you do for Demon’s Curse?
I spend most of my time making sure the Regency details are accurate. My office is floor to ceiling bookshelves and probably one-third of that space is devoted to information on the time period when my books are set; everything from military maps and travel guides to sources on food, architecture, fashion, and social mores of the era. For Mac and Bianca’s story, I spent a lot of time researching the theatre in general and Covent Garden in particular, including floor plans and biographies of actresses of the day.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
My first taste of romances was Victoria Holt’s moody gothics and Mary Stewart’s early romantic suspenses. Then I discovered Georgette Heyer and I was hooked on the Regency era. But I’ve always been drawn to SF/F as well and such authors as McCaffrey, Lackey, Zimmer Bradley, and Kay to name a few. I love the worldbuilding involved in that kind of story. And the idea that I can draw on legends and myths to create something completely my own is very appealing. I suppose all those influences jumbled together turned into my mash-up of paranormal-historical romance that became the Imnada Brotherhood and DEMON’S CURSE.
If you could read one book (again) for the very first time, which one would it be?
If you’re talking about a book on my TBR pile that I’m excited to read it would be Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery Of Witches. I’ve heard such great things about this book. If you mean what book would I love to read again for the first time, it would be Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword. This is one of my all-time favorite books and to feel that same sense of excitement as I did the first time I read it would be magical.
What are you reading now?
I am re-reading Hester Browne’s The Little Lady Agency which I bought myself for Christmas. She has become one of my favorite authors and all her books have made it to my keeper shelf.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
If I’m not working, I enjoy reading or curling up on the couch for family movie night.
What’s next for you this year?
The second book, SHADOW’S CURSE is complete and due out in the fall of 2013. Captain David St. Leger is trapped into helping a beautiful necromancer flee north to her family, but his good deed sets an Imnada assassin, a Fey-blood gang lord, and a carnival knife thrower on his tail. If he survives, he might discover a way to break the curse. If he dies, he might find true love.
I’m also working on a novella which will come out about a month prior to Shadows where we find out how Sebastian Commin, the Earl of Deane wooed and won the heart of London actress Sarah Hayes.
I have the flu. Boy, do I. What does that mean for me? Sleep, fluids, you know the drill. What does it mean for you? Today it means a giveaway of Endgame (Sirantha Jax #6) by Ann Aguirre! I promise to get back to regularly scheduled programming soon, but in the meantime, enjoy!
Sirantha Jax has the J-gene, which permits her to “jump” faster-than-light ships through grimspace. She loves nothing more than that rush, but the star roads have to wait…
Her final mission takes her to La’heng, a planet subjugated during first contact. Since then, the La’hengrin homeworld has been occupied by foreign conquerors.
All that’s about to change.
Now, as part of a grassroots resistance, Jax means to liberate the La’hengrin. But political intrigue and guerrilla warfare are new to her, and this will be the most dangerous game she’s ever played—spies and conspiracies, a war of weapons and hearts, and not everyone is guaranteed to make it out alive…
Happy New Year!! Here are the new releases for January! However, this is by no means a comprehensive list (just ones that I especially have my eye on.) If you have any new releases that I didn’t include, and that you’d like to direct me to, please list them in the comments. Thanks!
January 8th, 2013:
Broken by AE Rought
Earth Thirst by Mark Teppo
The Eldritch Conspiracy by Cat Adams
Doomed by Tracy Deebs (YA)
Farseed by Pamela Sargent (YA)
The Rebels of New SUN by Michael Kinch (YA)
Blind God’s Bluff by Richard Lee Byers
The Crossing by Mandy Hager
Power Under Pressure by Andrew P. Mayer
Impulse by Steven Gould
Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin
American Tropic by Thomas Sanchez
Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus
Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin
The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
Moon Underfoot by Bobby Cole
The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black
Fear of Beauty by Susan Froetschel
Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick
The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi