My Bookish Ways

Ben H. Winters on World of Trouble, writing Hank Palace, and losing it all…and a giveaway

WOF_blogtour (1)
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, it’s no particular secret that I think Ben H. Winters’s The Last Policeman trilogy is one of the best things going out there right now, in any genre. The final book in the series, WORLD OF TROUBLE, came out yesterday, and to celebrate, a few blogs are hosting guest posts and some giveaways, and sobbing in our cups that it’s over (maybe that’s just me, I dunno), but either way, if you haven’t discovered this amazing series, now’s the time, and you can be sure that what Winters has up his sleeve next will be just as great!

Also, to help you discover said series, I’ve got copies of THE LAST POLICEMAN and COUNTDOWN CITY to give away to one lucky winner. It would be the whole trilogy, but Quirk ran out of WORLD OF TROUBLE (see,that’s how awesome and in demand it is), but no matter, you’ll be well prepared to face that asteroid head on with the first two books!

Please welcome Ben back to the blog!

I was pretty resistant to psychoanalyzing Detective Palace while I was writing him. I was worried, selfishly, about sabotaging myself—to think about him too much would mess up my ability to write him. Plus, as ridiculous as it sounds, I guess I was also trying to be respectful to Palace, who would so much hate to be psychoanalyzed.

But people in the books are trying to figure him out all the time (“You’re like an alien, Palace. You know that? You’re like from another planet or something”), so maybe it’s time his author gave it shot.

worldoftroubleBottom line, the man is driven by loss. As we find out halfway through the first book, his childhood was marked by a devastating catastrophe. That makes him like a lot of characters: like David Copperfield, like Tom Ripley, like Bruce Wayne. (Naomi Eddes, at the Somerset Diner, actually compares him to Batman, which causes a bell to go off in Palace’s policeman’s heart).

Inevitably, those early setbacks defined him. He couldn’t protect the people who needed protecting, so he spends the rest of his life trying to protect other people—including, crucially, his little sister Nico. I suspect that if she hadn’t been around, if she hadn’t needed him to protect her, he might not have developed the constant anxious responsibility that is a big component of his sense of duty.

(I say all this like he’s a real person, who just presented himself to me. As if he was really created not by a devastating loss, but by me, and by my need for the appropriate hero for this particular story.)

So here’s this guy, he’s got this fire in him, this need to do the right thing—this fire that was kindled by incredible loss—and suddenly what happens to him, when he’s in his 20s? Asteroid! He’s suddenly abut to lose the whole world. Literally the whole world.

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A chat, and a giveaway, with James Lee Burke, author of Wayfaring Stranger

I am beyond thrilled to welcome James Lee Burke to the blog today! James is the author of the immensely popular Dave Robicheaux series as well as the Hackberry Holland series (and more), and, well, he’s a legend, so to celebrate the release of his new book, WAYFARING STRANGER today, we’ve got a giveaway to go along with the interview, courtesy of the immensely lovely people at Simon & Schuster!


I absolutely love the premise of Wayfaring Stranger and imagine there are legions of Bonnie and Clyde aficionados that will love it too. Why do you think their story is so fascinating and what made you want to write a book based on their legacy?
For me, the story of Bonnie and Clyde and their fellow traveler Raymond Hamilton has elements of redemption in it, particularly in the way that Hamilton faced his electrocution in Huntsville Penitentiary.

Think of it this way: I lived not too far from one a wealthy family whose great fortune came from one source: in the depths of the Depression, in the midst of the Dust Bowl, the head of the family, who was a district attorney, used his situation to buy huge amounts of Kansas wheat land at tax sales for fifty cents an acre. Who were the real criminals of that era?

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August 2014 Must Reads in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in SFF for July (click on the covers to pre-order)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10. August is an AMAZING month for SFF!

broken soulsBroken Souls by Stephen Blackmoore (DAW-August 5th)

Synopsis-Sister murdered, best friend dead, married to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte. Necromancer Eric Carter’s return to Los Angeles hasn’t gone well, and it’s about to get even worse.
His link to the Aztec death goddess is changing his powers, changing him, and he’s not sure how far it will go. He’s starting to question his own sanity, wonder if he’s losing his mind. No mean feat for a guy who talks to the dead on a regular basis.

While searching for a way to break Santa Muerte’s hold over him, Carter finds himself the target of a psychopath who can steal anyone’s form, powers, and memories. Identity theft is one thing, but this guy does it by killing his victims and wearing their skins like a suit. He can be anyone. He can be anywhere.

Now Carter has to change the game — go from hunted to hunter. All he has for help is a Skid Row bruja and a ghost who’s either his dead friend Alex or the manifestation of Carter’s own guilt-fueled psychotic break.

Everything is trying to kill him. Nothing is as it seems. If all his plans go perfectly, he might survive the week.

He’s hoping that’s a good thing.
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Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch

tomorrowandtomorrowTomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch (Putnam, July 10th, 2014)-Tomorrow and Tomorrow is an odd novel (this isn’t a bad thing), but if you like your murder mystery with an SF, future twist, with a very strong shot of noir, then you really can’t go wrong here. Tomorrow and Tomorrow takes place 10 years after a blast that decimated Pittsburgh, and just about everywhere you go, there are memorials of Pittsburgh survivors ranging from the glossy to the makeshift, gatherings of the dead in pen and ink or etched in stone. We’re in the mid to late-ish 2000s at this point, so there’s quite a bit of future tech on display, including the AdWare that people have wired directly into their brains, providing a constant stream of information, which, being a child of the 80s, I would find crazymaking, but in this narrative, it’s the norm. Retinal cameras, VR beyond your wildest imagination, you name it-it’s what makes up the basis of this book.

John Dominic Blaxton is a Pittsburgh survivor, out of town during the blast, a cruel twist of fate that left him unscathed and his pregnant wife dead. He hasn’t gotten over Theresa, and he’s obsessed with spending time with her in the Archive, a virtual reality reconstruction of Pittsburgh before the blast. Theresa is only a construct, but it’s all he has, and he’ll do anything to hold on to it. For now, he’s working for a firm that investigates deaths for insurance companies, and by using the Archive, they can glean facts about these cold cases, hopefully providing closure, or a payout, for the victims’ families. Dominic is good at his job, but he’s also an addict, and after a particularly bad round of the drug brown sugar, he’s forcibly detoxed and fired from his job. He also finds out that his psychiatric care has been transferred to another therapist, who goes by the name of Timothy, and as it happens, he has a job offer for Dominic. Waverly, a very rich, very powerful man wants Dominic to find his daughter , and ethereal beauty named Albion, for him. She was killed in the Pittsburgh blast, but she’s being systematically erased from the Archive and Waverly wants to know who’s behind it. Soon Dominic is immersed in the Archive, using everything in his arsenal to track down even a small trace of Albion, but as he searches, he starts to make other connections that lead him back to the murder of a woman named Hannah, the last case he worked for his former firm, that he never wrapped up. He’s also being warned off the search for Albion within the Archive, but why? VR and reality soon start to blur for Dominic as pressure mounts to find Albion and prevent a tragedy that might hit him very close to home. But soon, more people start dying by a sadistic killer’s hand, and it seems to all lead back to his investigation.

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The 2014 ITW Thriller Award winners have been announced!

ITWThe 2014 ITW (International Thriller Writers) Thriller Award winners were announced over the weekend, so congrats to all of the winners! I’ve also included a cover gallery of all the nominees underneath the winners, and of course, they’re all books worthy of your reading list!

Andrew Pyper – THE DEMONOLOGIST (Simon & Schuster)

Jason Matthews – RED SPARROW (Scribner)

Jennifer McMahon – THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND (William Morrow Paperbacks)

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Interview: Mary Kubica, author of The Good Girl

Mary Kubica’s first book, THE GOOD GIRL, will be out on the 29th, and she kindly stopped by to talk about it, and much more! Please give her a warm welcome!

Mary Kubica, author "The Good Girl"Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us a bit about The Good Girl and what inspired you to write it?
I would love to! And thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be able to chat with you here at My Bookish Ways!

I often tell people that it was my characters who inspired THE GOOD GIRL, as I often found myself thinking about them – perhaps obsessing? – at all hours of the day and night while I wrote the novel. I didn’t have the plot mapped out before I began to write, but found that ideas came to me as I was writing or, from time to time, in my dreams, and I accredit my characters – Mia and Colin, especially – with this inspiration.

THE GOOD GIRL is a story about the kidnapping of a young woman, Mia Dennett. She’s an art teacher at an alternative high school in Chicago, much to her family’s chagrin. When she disappears, her mother and a detective do everything they can to find her. We learn almost immediately that Mia survives the ordeal and returns home months later, suffering from amnesia and unable to recall her time in captivity. The novel alternates back and forth, in chapters labeled Before or After, from the perspectives of Mia’s mother, the detective and the captor, as the reader tries to piece together the puzzle of what happened to Mia while she was gone.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
Of course! I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago with my parents and two older sisters. I was 11 or 12 years old when I first discovered I wanted to be an author after reading a story that a cousin of mine had written. Until then I had never considered where books came from before they arrived at the bookstore, but I knew then and there that I wanted to be an author, and I started writing immediately. The idea of having a career as a published author, however, sat right there between Olympic gymnast and a Hollywood actress for me; I didn’t think it would happen, no matter how much I wished it could. I went to college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and studied history and American literature, and went on to be a high school history teacher – a job that I loved. But after giving birth to my daughter, I decided to stay home and raise her, and it was then that I found myself with some time on my hands, and started writing the THE GOOD GIRL.

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August 2014 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for August-and it’s a bumper crop this month (click on the covers to pre-order)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10. 

thekillsThe Kills by Richard House (Picador-August 5th )


The Kills is an epic novel of crime and conspiracy told in four books. It begins with a man on the run and ends with a burned body. Moving across continents, characters, and genres and with the intelligence of John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and the scope of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, there will be no more ambitious or exciting novel published this year.
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The 2013 Shirley Jackson Award winners have been announced!

shirley_jackson_awardCongrats to all of the winners of the 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards! I don’t know how they do it, since there were so many great titles to pick from, but they did, and here they are!


American Elsewhere, Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)


Burning Girls, Veronica Schanoes (


Cry Murder! In a Small Voice, Greer Gilman (Small Beer Press)


 “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” Sam J. Miller (Nightmare Magazine, December 2013)


Before and Afterlives, Christopher Barzak (Lethe Press) and North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer Press)


Grimscribe’s Puppets, edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (Miskatonic River Press)

Interview: Letitia Trent, author of Echo Lake

Please welcome Letitia Trent to the blog! Her brand new novel, ECHO LAKE, just came out from Dark House Press, and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about it, and more!

letitiatrentWhat made you decide to dive into the world of dark gothic in Echo Lake? Will you tell us a little about it and what inspired the book?
My favorite books are a little dark, a little violent, and has a big dose of the gothic, so this was a natural way for me to go in my own writing. A couple of specific things inspired the book. First, I learned about the flooding of a man-made lake near where I spent my teenage years in Oklahoma. When the lake flooded, a nearby cemetery flooded, too, and many of the coffins dislodged from the ground and floated up to the surface. I loved the image of unearthed coffins, floating along the water, and how much that image made me think of the things that we bury coming up to the surface. Second, in the same town, there was a gruesome and still unsolved murder of an elderly woman in her home; she was found with her throat cut, no signs of burglary, no motive as far as anyone could tell.

When I was reading about this murder, I saw several comments on message boards by people in town saying things like “somebody knows who did this: they need to talk” or “A lot of us know who did this and he will get his justice”. It made me think of how “justice” in an isolated, rural place can be very different from justice in a suburb or city and how isolated places can be incredibly secretive and closed off to the outer world.

Tell us more about Emily Collins. Why do you think readers will connect with her?
She’s a character who feels very much unmoored, who doesn’t have a home, doesn’t have a family, and isn’t completely sure who she is or how she fits in the world. In the beginning of the book, she lets life happen to her, like many people do. By the end, she has a bit more autonomy and is making choices about how she wants to live. Still yet, everything isn’t “fixed” for her. I hope that people recognize that struggle of individuation in themselves and also see how one’s history, and the history of our parents, affects our own choices.

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Giveaway: The Apex Book of World SF 3 (anthology) edited by Lavie Tidhar

Wanna win a copy of THE APEX BOOK OF WORLD SF 3 edited by Lavie Tidhar? Of course you do! You can choose either print or digital, courtesy of the lovely folks at Apex, but if you choose print, you MUST have a US mailing address, if digital, anywhere on Planet Earth! So, check out the book, fill out the widget and good luck (I’ll pick a winner on July 19th)!

apexbookAbout THE APEX BOOK OF WORLD SF 3:
“The Apex Book of SF series has proven to be an excellent way to sample the diversity of world SFF and to broaden our understanding of the genre’s potentials.”
–Ken Liu, winner of the Hugo Award and author of The Grace of Kings

These stories run the gamut from science fiction, to fantasy, to horror. Some are translations (from German, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Swedish), and some were written in English. The authors herein come from Asia and Europe, Africa and Latin America. Their stories are all wondrous and wonderful, and showcase the vitality and diversity that can be found in the field. They are a conversation, by voices that should be heart. And once again, editor Lavie Tidhar and Apex Publications are tremendously grateful for the opportunity to bring them to our readers.

Table of Contents:
Introduction — Lavie Tidhar
Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods — Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Thailand)
A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight — Xia Jia (China)
Act of Faith — Fadzilshah Johanabos (Malaysia)
The Foreigner — Uko Bendi Udo (Nigeria)
The City of Silence — Ma Boyong (China)
Planetfall — Athena Andreadis (Greece)
Jungle Fever — Zulaikha Nurain Mudzor (Malaysia)
To Follow the Waves — Amal El-Mohtar (Lebanon/Canada)
Ahuizotl — Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas (Mexico)
The Rare Earth — Biram Mboob (Gambia)
Spider’s Nest — Myra Çakan (Germany)
Waiting with Mortals — Crystal Koo (Philippines)
Three Little Children — Ange (France)
Brita’s Holiday Village — Karin Tidbeck (Sweden)
Regressions — Swapna Kishore (India)
Dancing on the Red Planet — Berit Ellingsen (Korea/Norway)

Cover art by Sophia Tuska.

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