My Bookish Ways

Book News (and other fun stuff!): January 18th, 2013

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:


Safe House by Chris Ewan

I reviewed Safe House by Chris Ewan for Library Journal recently and thought I’d share the review with MBW readers! You can also read the review here.

Safe House by Chris Ewan (Minotaur, Dec. 2012)-On the secluded Isle of Man, Rob Hale and a beautiful woman he just met, Lena, set out on his motorcycle for a ride. The next thing he knows, he wakes up in the hospital with a concussion and is being questioned by a couple of detectives. He’s understandably concerned about the lovely Lena, whose arms were so recently wrapped around his waist, but he is told that no such person exists. When a London PI approaches him, offering her help, Rob accepts but is soon shocked to learn that the sleuth has a connection to his sister, Laura, who supposedly killed herself a few weeks prior to his accident. As events snowball beyond his control, Rob finds himself up to his ears in conspiracy, and he’ll need all the help he can get to stay alive.

Verdict: The author of the “Good Thief’s Guide” series (The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam) has created an affable, everyman character with Rob Hale and placed him firmly in the middle of a cat-and-mouse game that is much larger than the quaint locale in which he lives. With a narrative that switches deftly from bad guys to good guys and has plenty of suspense, this novel is anything but safe and will appeal to thriller and suspense fans alike.
-Originally printed online in Xpress Reviews (Library Journal) Dec. 14th 2012

Interview: JB Lynn, author of Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman

JB Lynn is the author of Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman featuring hitwoman Maggie Lee, and her newest book in the series, the aptly titled Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman in October. JB was kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing, the new book, and more!

Please welcome JB to the blog!

The second book in your series, Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman, just came out in October! What was your inspiration for Maggie Lee?
I read a story on the news about a woman who’d hired a guy to kill her husband and I found myself wondering, “Why don’t you ever hear about hitwomen, just hitmen?” and then I wondered “What on earth makes someone become a contract killer?” Maggie was born out of my curiosity about those two questions….well, that and the fact I’ve got an odd sense of humor.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about your background?
Yes, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a writer (well, at least since I was five). I’d written magazine pieces, short stories, website content and screenplays before I found way to novels.

When you started your series, did you already know how many books you wanted to write, or did you just decide to see where Maggie took you?
I actually sketched out the plots and Maggie’s journey of six Hitwoman books (and I’ve got another 3 rolling around in my head) before I sat down to write Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman. I can’t begin a piece without knowing how it’s going to end.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
That’s such a tough question to answer because I can’t list everyone and I read so widely. I’m a fan of Stephen King and James Patterson in terms of getting a clear, clean story down. I love the choices made by Lisa Lutz in her Spellman Files mysteries. I adore how David Sedaris can find the absurd in any situation.

Every year I still re-read the book that was my favorite when I was a kid, Horse of Two Colors by Glenn Balch.
A lot of people have compared my books to those of Janet Evanovich, I’m embarrassed to say that I’d never read one of her books until I shared my first draft of Confessions with a critique partner and she said it reminded her of the Stephanie Plum books. (whoops!)

If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
That’s a terrific question! I’d say it’s a toss-up between To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (I think I was too young to completely appreciate it the first time I read it) and Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley.

What are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading a book that was recommended to me, MYSTERIA, which is a series of linked novellas by Mary Janice Davidson, Susan Grant, P.C. Cast and Gena Showalter. And I’m re-reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

I read in your bio that you’re a runner. Does running help get the creative juices flowing for your writing?
You’d think it would, wouldn’t you? But sadly it does not. (Maybe because I’m a terrible runner, I don’t actually enjoy it and I’m ridiculously slow.)

BUT the discipline it takes to train for a half marathon (13.1 miles) comes in handy when I’m struggling as a writer. My training requires me to run even when I don’t feel like it (especially then!) and I often have to write when I don’t feel like. I actually keep my finisher’s medals by my desk to serve as inspiration that I can accomplish what I set my mind too!

What else do you like to do when you manage to find some free time?
I’m a big reader, an enthusiastic cook, a compulsive Scrabble player, a dog lover, and someone who’s constantly on a self-improvement kick. I’m actually tracking my goals and progress at and I’d love for others to stop by and tell me what they’re working on.

What’s next for you this year? Is there anything you’d like to share about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!!)?
Lots of writing! There will be a Hitwoman novella released in the Spring and I’m launching a new series: Pride Falls – where suburbia meets the supernatural and mysteries abound. The first book will be about a Crime Scene Cleaner who can see ghosts….think The Ghost Whisperer meets Sunshine Cleaning.
Keep up with JB: Website | Twitter

About Further Confessions of a Neurotic Hitwoman:
Take three wacky aunts,
two talking animals,
one nervous bride,
and an upcoming hit,
and you’ve got the follow-up to JB Lynn’s wickedly funny
Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman

Knocking off a drug kingpin was the last thing on Maggie Lee’s to-do list, but when a tragic accident leaves her beloved niece orphaned and in the hospital, Maggie will go to desperate lengths to land the money needed for her care.

But the drug kingpin is the least of her worries. Maggie’s aunts are driving her crazy, her best friend’s turned into a bridezilla…and a knock on the head has given Maggie Dr. Dolittle abilities—she can talk to animals. Unfortunately, they talk back.

It’s just another day in the life of this neurotic hitwoman…

The 2013 Edgar Award Nominees have been announced!

Every year the Mystery Writers of America honors the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television and the 2013 Edgar Award Nominees have been announced! I only listed books, but you can visit the official site for a complete list of nominees!

Best Novel

Best First Novel by an American Author

Best Paperback Original

Best Fact Crime

Best Critical/Biographical

Best Short Story

    • “Iphigenia in Aulis” – An Apple for the Creature by Mike Carey (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)
    • “Hot Sugar Blues” – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Steve Liskow (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)
    • “The Void it Often Brings With It” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Tom Piccirilli (Dell Magazines)
    • “The Unremarkable Heart” – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Karin Slaughter (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)
    • “Still Life No. 41″ – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Teresa Solana (Dell Magazines)

Best Juvenile

Best Young Adult

Interview: Chris Ewan, author of Safe House

Chris Ewan is the author of the Good Thief’s Guide series as well as his new suspense novel, Safe House. He was kind enough to take some time out of his very busy schedule (he’s a new dad!) and answer a few of my questions!

Please welcome Chris to the blog!

Chris, you’ve got six books under your belt, including the Good Thief’s Guide series and your newest, Safe House. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about your background?
I was always reading books and writing stories and poems as a kid. I loved the idea of making a living by writing novels though I’m not sure I ever allowed myself to truly believe that might be possible. Now, I’m one of the lucky ones, and I feel incredibly fortunate.

As for my background, I studied American and Canadian literature at university, then struggled to get a job and ended up training to be a lawyer. Throughout this time I was writing novels and I finally got my break a week before I turned thirty, when the author Susan Hill telephoned me to say that The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam had won the Long Barn Books First Novel Award. It’s the best phone call of my life. I owe Susan a huge amount.

Did anything in particular inspire you to write Safe House?
I’ve lived on the Isle of Man for nearly ten years now (my wife is Manx), and from the early days of living here, I’ve heard rumours of the island being used as a safe haven for people involved in UK witness protection schemes. The concept behind that fascinated me. Why might someone be relocated here? How would they adjust to island life? What dark secrets could they be trying to escape? It was all perfect material for a crime thriller!

What made you decide to set it on the Isle of Man?
The Isle of Man is a unique and fascinating location. Not many people have heard of the island, let alone visited it, so I knew it would be new terrain for a lot of readers. The island is only thirty-two miles long and fourteen miles wide, but it has a hugely varied geography, with a lot of interesting locations for my characters to explore. Plus, there’s the added dynamic of having an isolated location with a relatively small population (80,000 people), which creates an interesting dilemma when you have a character with a need to conceal themselves.

Will there be more books featuring Rob Hale?
Never say never, but not right now. It does look, though, as if the new novel I’m about to start writing will be set on the Isle of Man. There may even be scope for a few of the characters from Safe House to make an appearance…

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
In terms of the novels I’ve written, I’d say Raymond Chandler, P.G. Wodehouse, Harlan Coben, Lawrence Block and Patricia Highsmith.

What do you like to see in a good mystery/suspense novel?
Like everything, it varies and depends to some extent on my mood, but I love a fast-paced tale with plenty of intrigue and tension. I especially enjoy novels with a noir tone, and a fresh and stylish prose style always helps.

What makes you put aside a book in frustration?
It rarely happens, but if it does, it could be any number of things. Most likely it would be a lack of narrative drive or plain bad writing.

If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. I first read it entirely by chance – it was recommended to me by the owner of a second-hand book shop in New Orleans. I can still remember how exhilarated I felt when I read the opening pages, sitting on an ironwork bench in Jackson Square in the blistering August heat. It’s the novel that made me want to be a crime writer and I re-read it often.

What are you reading now?
I’m reading a bunch of great novels: Red Bones by Ann Cleeves; From the Dead by Mark Billingham; and Dark Room by Steve Mosby. I’m also re-reading Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs.

When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
My wife and I have a ten-week old baby, Jessica, so free time is a relative concept at the moment. But I like to walk our dog, Maisie, along the island’s beaches, maybe catch a movie or go out for a drink. If the weather’s good (which is all too rare on the Isle of Man) it’s fun to drive out in our 1967 VW camper.

What’s next for you?
The Good Thief’s Guide to Berlin will be published in the US by St. Martin’s Press this August. At around the same time, my new thriller, Coercion, will be published by Faber in the UK. Coercion is set in Marseille. It’s the story of a professional hostage negotiator who has to negotiate the release from kidnapping of the man he suspects of abducting his fiancée, in order to find out what has happened to her.
Keep up with Chris: Website | Twitter | Facebook

About Safe House:
A brilliant thriller from the author of the acclaimed Good Thief’s Guide series asks, how can a beautiful woman simply vanish?

When Rob Hale wakes up in a hospital after a motorcycle crash, his first thought is for the gorgeous blonde, Lena, who was on the back of his bike. The doctors and police, however, insist that he was alone at the scene. The shock of the accident must have made him imagine Lena, especially since his description of her resembles his late sister, Laura.

Convinced that Lena is as real as he is, Rob teams up with Rebecca Lewis, a London-based PI who has a mysterious connection to Laura—and learns that even a close-knit community like the Isle of Man can hide dangerous secrets that will not stay safe forever.

The Explorer by James Smythe

The Explorer by James Smythe (Harper Voyager, Jan. 2013)-When the chance of a lifetime to travel to outer space presents itself to journalist Cormac Easton, he jumps at it, even if it’s to the detriment of his marriage. After all, it’s not every day that you get to travel to space, and he figures things will work out once he returns home. There’s only one problem. His entire crew (with the exception of one woman) is dead, leaving him alone in the ship. When the book starts, Cormac begins to slowly list the ways the crew dies. Some are unusual deaths, and some are more mundane, such as a heart attack, but one thing is sure: Cormac has no idea how he’s going to get home, since his fuel level is descending rapidly, and the ship didn’t turn around at the halfway point like it was supposed to. So, Cormac makes a terrible choice, and finds out things are absolutely not what they seem.

The vastness of space has always been fascinating, and terrifying, to me. In fact, while there are tons of folks that would love to travel to outer space, I’m not one of them, so The Explorer held a sort of morbid fascination for me. As I read the narrative, the specter of the cold, black nothing outside of the ship was always hanging over the events unfolding inside, and Cormac’s realization that he may never get home builds slowly, and excruciatingly (in a good way.) The Explorer reads like a diary, and through Cormac, we get to know each of his fellow crew members, first with Cormac as part of the action, then with Cormac as an outside observer of the events leading up to him being the only one left, hurtling through space. I don’t want to reveal exactly what happens, because that would spoil part of the book, but more than a thriller, and a sci-fi novel, The Explorer is a character study of a man that is full of heartbreak and regret, and what his actions have led to, not only for him, but for those around him. He is falling apart in body and mind, and what he observes among the crew is not only shocking, but leads him to question everything about this once in a lifetime trip that was supposed to make them famous the world over and unite the human race. Or so they thought.

The Explorer is one of the most exciting, creepy, and heartbreaking novels that I’ve read in a long time. Part sci-fi thriller, part mystery, with a liberal sprinkling of horror, and a fast pace that will keep you racing through the pages, this one is un-missable, and I expect it to land on a ton of Best of 2013 lists, including mine. The author leaves a few questions at the end, but in this case, it’s a good thing, and I wasn’t left wanting. Let’s just say that after reading this, I won’t be getting me on a spaceship anytime soon. Don’t miss this one!

Interview: James Smythe, author of The Explorer

James Smythe’s newest novel, The Explorer, just came out on the 2nd, and it’s a doozy (feel free to check out my review). Luckily, James was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the book, and more!

James, thanks for joining me! Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Sure. I’m from London, write novels and video game scripts, and I teach Creative Writing at a university here.

Your brand new novel, The Explorer, just came out! Will you tell us a little about it? What inspired you to
write the novel?
So, The Explorer is the story of a journalist, Cormac, who is sent on the first manned mission to what is, in this novel, termed deep space; a mission to see how far they can go, in the spirit of classic exploration. On the first page of the novel you discover that his entire crew have died, and that he’s all alone, drifting, waiting to die, and then… Things happen. I was inspired because of space itself. I wanted to write a novel about loneliness (because I was coming off the back of having written a much bigger novel called The Testimony, which had 26 different narrators) and I wanted to write something quieter. Then Cormac happened, and putting him and his story in space just seemed to mesh perfectly.

The vastness of space seems like a very scary place, and is the perfect setting for a scifi thriller! What’s
something that you find particularly scary?
Easy. Dentists. Teeth. Phobia of people touching them. You’ve seen Marathon Man? I haven’t, because I am reliably informed that there’s a scene that will stop me sleeping. And… Well, as you know, that phobia has made its way into The Explorer itself.

I’m shuddering even thinking about it.

What do you love to see most when reading a good book?
That the author has enjoyed writing it. I think you can tell. Cynical books, books that don’t mean anything to the authors, they feel like it. I love it when you read a book and you can feel either the sheer joy that went into writing it, or the blood, sweat and tears. I want to feel that a writer wrenched a book out, somehow. I think that manifests: in strong narrative voices, in the power of tone, in the form, in great characters.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I’ll start with Stephen King – I’m doing a reread project for The Guardian at the moment, rereading his entire back catalogue in chronological order ( – but then it’s a huge list. Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, David Mitchell, Shirley Jackson, Iain Banks, Alfred Bester, Bret Easton Ellis, Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster… It goes on.

If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Can I cheat and have a comic? I’d have Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. The first TPB of that (as I came to it slightly late) changed my mind of what comics were and had to be, and really just knocked me for six. I love that feeling, and it’s a rare one: being completely blindsided by a book. It happened with Cloud Atlas as well, so maybe that. And The Stand. And The Road. Hang on. You said I could only have one book?

What are you reading now?
I’m currently knee-deep in Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls, her follow up to Zoo City. It’s totally – and I don’t use this word lightly – incredible. It’s about a time travelling serial killer, and that should be all you need to know; but structurally, it’s a work of art. I can’t imagine the nightmare it was to write, especially given how easy it is to read, but I am both reading it as a reader and being blown away, and reading it as a writer and having my mind blown. It’s going to be huge.

What’s next for you this year and beyond?
Another novel later this year (April in the UK, not sure when everywhere else) called The Machine. It’s a very different beast to The Explorer: about a woman’s desperation to recreate a man she once knew as her husband. Still SF, but darker still than The Explorer, I’d say. And then, exactly a year from The Explorer being released, the sequel comes out…
Keep up with James: Website| Twitter | Facebook

About The Explorer:
When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers.

But in space, nothing goes according to plan.

The crew wake from hypersleep to discover their captain dead in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. They mourn, and Cormac sends a beautifully written eulogy back to Earth. The word from ground control is unequivocal: no matter what happens, the mission must continue.

But as the body count begins to rise, Cormac finds himself alone and spiraling toward his own inevitable death . . . unless he can do something to stop it.

Interview: Adrian Faulkner, author of The Four Realms

Adrian Faulkner’s brand new book, The Four Realms, just came out from Anarchy Books, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Please welcome Adrian to the blog!

Adrian, your first book, The Four Realms, came out in December from Anarchy Books! Will you tell us a bit about it?
It’s a bit of everything really: Vampire genocide, shape-shifting cephalopods, 82 year old kick ass heroines, centaurs with shotguns.

It starts with half-vampire, Darwin, finding a notebook on a corpse in the streets of London. It’s written in a strange language so he pockets it, not knowing that the sinister Mr West and his colleagues are after the book and will stop at nothing to get it.

Meanwhile, Maureen Summerglass, an elderly gatekeeper between worlds is informed of the death of a friend. Feeling as if there is a cover-up, Maureen breaks a lifetime of protocol and sneaks into the city of New Salisbury trying to find answers but only finding trouble. And along the way she discovers she just might be the first human female able to do magic.

Before he knows it, Darwin is on the run, trying to save the survivors of a vampire genocide he may have inadvertently caused. That’s if he can get them through a gateway into the sanctuary of New Salisbury and if they want to be saved by one they don’t consider one of their own.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
For as long as I can remember I was writing. I remember being 8 or 9 and writing this hundred page fantasy story in school after reading The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. My teacher liked it so much he typed it up and put it into the school library.

During my teenage years I was plotting and writing a massive space opera that I may one day go back to. I got it up to 80,000 words before exams took over but I was still just scratching the surface.

When a girlfriend and I moved in together we decided to do a night class each. I chose creative writing and remember little of it other than the fact that one week we went over how to write and submit non-fiction. I decided to give it a go and ended up with my first publishing credit in a magazine on pop culture collectibles.

From there I went on to write for a decade on cool pop culture merchandise. I ran my own website and over the decade it grew into this mammoth market leader, doing as much as 300,000 page impressions a day. It was crazy and wonderfully geeky. I got to interview major film stars, I even had pop stars write for the site.

You might ask, if it was so good, why I gave it all up? I can tell you it wasn’t an easy decision. The site wasn’t making much money (a site that size is expensive to host!), I was working a day job then working another seven hours a day on the site, 18 at weekends, and I got to a stage where I thought I’d taken it as far as I could. I’d always wanted to do fiction and came to the conclusion that if I didn’t do it now, I never would. It was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make and for a long, long time afterwards I thought it was worst decision as well.

Thankfully it ultimately turned out to be the right decision as I’m now talking to you about my published book.

What inspired you to write The Four Realms?
The Four Realms is envisaged as the first of four books. It came about after I realized that the idea from my teens was a Science Fiction novel and my true love was Fantasy. So I wanted to write a big imaginative fantasy novel that was a little different.

I tend to let ideas grow into stories over time in my mind, so once I had the central idea for the series it was a case of mixing a couple of those together and adding in more cool elements.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I’m a huge fan of Tolkien. There’s something about the depth of his imagination, the way a character will cross a bridge and he’ll tell you the history like a villager who has lived next to it all their life. I keep looking but have yet to find any other writer who engages me the way Tolkien does.

I’m also a big fan of horror writer Clive Barker, not so much for his horror but his fantasy elements. Reading Weaveworld in my teens showed me just how wide ranging fantasy was and how it was only limited by your imagination.

There’s also a comics writer called Larry Hama who had a big influence on me. He was writing this toy tie-in called GI Joe and could have really just phoned it in, but instead he wrote this incredible fun comic that’s still a joy to read. I learned so much about writing from that comic.

And my final influence, although not literary, is George Lucas. Star Wars was something that shaped me as a child and I remain a huge fan to this day. I even flew all the way to Texas from the UK just so I could see Episode 1 on opening night.

Is there an author that, if you were to meet them for the first time, your inner fanboy would come out?
Well Tolkien is dead and I’ve met Barker a couple of times (the last at San Diego Comic Con where we ended up talking about house prices). It takes a lot for me to go fanboy on anyone given my past (the only notable exception was Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons) but I reckon I’d have to fight really, really hard not to gush at Jim Butcher. I’d avoided his books for years. I’m a slow reader and I wanted to keep up with trends in the genre which meant reading widely and avoiding long series. I started reading them after I got the deal, am up to the 5th book and absolutely loving them.

What do you like to see in a good book?
I love that warm feeling you get when you are reading a book and enjoying it. It’s like nothing else. Somehow the author has done something either through their writing or worldbuilding or character development to convince you that you are in safe hands and you’ve submitted to the book, happy to let it take you where it will. You want to close the curtains, forget the outside world and just curl up, wanting to read more but at the same time worried it might end all too soon.

I don’t think there’s a formula for books like that other than the right book for the right person.

What’s one thing that will make you put a book aside, unfinished?
I will generally stick with a book once I start it. However, it has to keep me interested, and if it doesn’t other things such as TV, writing or videogames lure me away from reading long enough for me to forget what I’ve read so far.

On your website, it says that in your free time, you’re a geocacher. Will you tell us more about that?
Basically it involves using a handheld GPS to go out into the countryside and find hidden boxes. Geocaching is as fun as it sounds crazy but with over a million caches hidden worldwide it’s something you can do anywhere in the world. I just started it as motivation to get out and go for a walk. Whilst last year saw me find my 10,000th cache, all the work getting the book ready for publication ate into my caching time so I’m hoping to have a better year than last and push my finds up a lot higher in 2013.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on the follow up to The Four Realms, which is currently called The Thieving King. It picks up right where The Four Realms left off and answers some of the questions the first book posed. I’m really excited about this book, if only because I write these books with myself as the reader in mind and I can’t wait to read the last chapter. It pushes a lot of my buttons and is going to be so much fun to write.
Keep up with Adrian: Website

Book news (and other fun stuff!!): January 11th, 2013

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:


Interview: Mark Teppo, author of Earth Thirst

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 (

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

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