My Bookish Ways

The Happier Dead by Ivo Stourton

thehappierdeadThe Happier Dead by Ivo Stourton (Solaris, Feb.2014)-When I started The Happier Dead, I expected a British procedural peppered with some SF elements, and I got that, but it’s really so much more…. Ok, so, here’s the gist: It’s 2035, and DCI Rob Oates is called to the scene of a brutal stabbing that’s taken place within the environs of The Great Spa. The Great Spa caters to those that have gone through the Treatment, but have had…problems. The Treatment takes those that can afford it back to an age usually somewhere between 20 to 25 (this is ultimately up to the person receiving the Treatment), and immortality is granted as part of the package. Britain has a monopoly on this technology, which of course give them quite a leg up on the world stage. However, immortality comes with a price. When one lives too long, one can become bored and require more extreme experiences in order to enjoy life, which can lead to bad things, even psychopathy, so in order to combat that, The Great Spa was built five years ago and contains a whole other reality that grants the new-young a sort of rebirth that will hopefully rejuvenate and rebuild their damaged souls. When Oates arrives at The Great Spa (technically called Avalon), he’s informed that they already have a suspect in custody, and he’s confessed. Oates is particularly good at ferreting out Eddys, which are people that have been paid to confess and serve time for someone else’s crimes, often with the promise of ultimately receiving the Treatment. Oates’s gut tells him this man, Ali Fazool, is innocent, but he confessed, so proving it is going to be the trick, and he may not have much time, because rioting has begun around the city by those that oppose The Treatment and what it promises, and tensions are rising to deadly levels.

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Interview: Christopher Irvin, author of Federales

Please welcome author and editor Christopher Irvin to the blog! Today he stopped by to talk about his new book, FEDERALES, and more!


christopherirvinWelcome to the blog, Christopher! FEDERALES, your new book, is inspired by the true story of Maria Santos Gorrostieta. Will you tell us a little more about it, and why you decided to write about this subject?
Thanks so much for having me! I think I’ve always had a fascination with the country of Mexico. There is the ‘vacation destination’ Mexico – Cancun, Cozumel, Acapulco, etc. that I think most Americans think of when they think of Mexico. Or perhaps they think Juarez and some of the violence along the border, though that seems to have been eclipsed by political discussion around immigration for the past decade. I studied Spanish in high school and learned about Mexican culture, Day of the Dead, and other celebrations. But it takes further digging to learn about the widespread corruption and violence that plagues most of the country. I met an American couple on vacation in Costa Rica whose ‘thing’ was to visit a foreign country, rent a car and drive until they decided to stop and find a hotel—and repeat. To my disbelief, the last place they did it was in Mexico. The trip went well until they were stopped by police while looking to return the rental car and fly home. The cop gave the couple an ultimatum: all of their cash or jail. They gave him the cash. There, that’s the story. When I learned of Gorrostieta’s life and murder, it grabbed hold of me. How can someone be so strong in the face of certain death? The notion was so romantic as to be almost unbelievable, for me at least. Once the ideas started churning in my head, I felt it was a tale I had to write.

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2014 Edgar Award Nominee Spotlight: Kimberly McCreight, author of Reconstructing Amelia

Please welcome Kimberly McCreight to the blog! Her novel, RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA, has been nominated for a 2014 Edgar Award, and she kindly answered a few of my questions!


kimberlymccreightReconstructing Amelia has been nominated for an Edgar for Best First Novel, which is pretty awesome! You have a background in law, but have you always wanted to write fiction? Will you tell us a little more about yourself?
Thanks so much for the good wishes! Being nominated for an Edgar Award has been thrilling. I never believed it before when people said: “It’s an honor just to be nominated.” But it’s true. It really, really is.

yes, I did always want to write. It just took me a long time to have the courage to do it. It wasn’t until I’d graduated from law school and was working as a lawyer that I finally realized I was going to have to be willing to take some risks. I was lucky enough to be able to take a one-year leave from my job and defer my law school loans. In that year, I wrote my first book and got my first agent.

That book came close, but ultimately didn’t sell and I had no choice but to return to work. I wrote my second book getting up every morning at 4:00 a.m. When I was finished I was told that book was unsellable.

That was when I decided that I couldn’t let success be the only determining factor in what I did with my life. Otherwise, I could be waiting forever. If I was a writer, I needed to write, period. After that, I quit my job and never looked back. If only those hundreds of thousands in law school loans I still owed would have been willing to quit me that would have made things much easier.

In the end, it took me ten years, two kids, three agents and lots of odd-writing jobs, before I finally sold a book—Reconstructing Amelia. I still wake up every day praying it’s not a dream.

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Cover Spotlight and Giveaway: Incarnate by Anton Strout

INCARNATE, the third book in The Spellmason Chronicles by Anton Strout will be out in September, and we wanted to spotlight the cover and also offer a giveaway of the first book in the series, ALCHEMYSTIC!


INCARNATECOVER
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Interview (& Giveaway): Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor

Please welcome Katherine Addison (aka Sarah Monette) to the blog! Her brand new book, THE GOBLIN EMPEROR, just came out, and not only did she answer a few of my questions about it, but we’ve got 2 copies to give away to a couple of lucky winners!


thegoblinemperorWill you tell us a bit about your new book, THE GOBLIN EMPEROR, and what inspired you to write it?
I wanted to write a book with elves and airships, because it seemed like it would be awesome. It turned out to be a coming-of-age story about a half-goblin youngest son who suddenly becomes emperor–tossed in the deep end with the sharks.

As Sarah Monette, you’ve got a ton of titles under your belt. What made you decide to use a pseudonym for The Goblin Emperor?
It wasn’t exactly my choice. My first series, the Doctrine of Labyrinths, got caught in what authors fondly call the Numbers Death-Spiral. The major bookstores didn’t sell as many books as they wanted to, so they ordered fewer, so they sold fewer . . . until it reached the point that if publishers tried to pitch a book under my name, all that was going to happen was that the bookstore buyers’ computers would go to red alert, shields up and photon torpedoes armed and ready. Like being blackballed: “You’ll never work in this town again!” My original publisher chose not to offer me another contract, but Tor was happy to pick me up, the only catch being that, to fool the computers, I had to take a pseudonym. I didn’t argue.

Speaking of an extensive backlist…what is one of the first things you can remember writing?
I started writing when I was eleven, with a very bad horror story. I followed it with a number of very bad fantasy stories. I wrote a dreadfully bad fantasy novel my senior year of high school. I started writing Melusine when I was nineteen.

Have you wanted to be a writer from a young age?
Oh yes. As soon as I figured out that a writer was something you could *be*.

Worldbuilding is very important in a book like The Goblin Emperor, and in fantasy as a whole. What are a few of your favorite literary “worlds”?
Middle-Earth and Narnia and Oz were all very important to me as a child, also the English-pastoral worlds of Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wind in the Willows. Pern was like the perfect teenage wish-fulfillment world: who the hell *doesn’t* want a telepathic dragon best friend? As an adult, I have become extremely fond of the Cthulhu Mythos, which isn’t a “world,” per se, but which provides a splendid frame to build worlds on.

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2014 Edgar Award Nominee Spotlight: Matthew Guinn, author of The Resurrectionist

Please welcome Matthew Guinn to the blog as a part of my series on the 2014 Edgar Award nominees! His novel, THE RESURRECTIONIST, was nominated for Best First Novel by an American Author, and he was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions about it!

It’s only a couple of weeks until the awards are announced, so be sure to check out all of my Edgar nominee interviews.


matthewguinnCongrats on the Edgar Award nomination for The Resurrectionist! Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I was always a reader, but wasn’t absolutely certain that I wanted to be a novelist until I met Andrew Lytle in Monteagle, Tennessee, in the early 1990s. I’d read his novel The Velvet Horn and was amazed to meet a person capable of such an achievement. His example of vision and craft continues to inspire me.

I grew up in Atlanta and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and religion in 1992. I planned to go to graduate school and hopefully teach college English during the years that I knew it would take for me to learn how to write a novel. My goal was to study with writers who were excelling at the kind of fiction I hoped to write. I’d read Larry Brown and knew that he was in Oxford, MS; I’d also read Deliverance and knew that James Dickey was at the University of South Carolina. I ended up at Ole Miss first, which was great because I met my wife Kristen in school there. We went to USC next and I was lucky enough to be Mr. Dickey’s personal assistant. He was larger than life; a real inspiration.

I love the premise of the book, but will you tell us a little more about it and what inspired you to write it?
The premise of The Resurrectionist derives from an actual 1989 discovery of bones buried beneath the Medical College of Georgia. The bones were the remains of bodies disinterred from Augusta’s African American cemetery by MCG’s slave resurrectionist, a man named Grandison Harris. The scholarly book Bones in the Basement details the “salvage archaeology” that took place there. MCG handled the event as decently as they could; for the purposes of fiction, I changed the locale and had my fictional school attempt a cover-up.
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Authority (Southern Reach #2) by Jeff VanderMeer

authorityAuthority (FSG Originals, May 6th, 2013)-(No spoilers for Authority, but if you haven’t yet read Annihilation, read at your own risk)I’m betting, if you’re like me, you had a ton of questions at the end of the wonderful ANNIHILATION. If so, you’ll be glad to know that Authority answers quite a few of them. Not all, but a few, and it’s a perfect filling in the sandwich of awesome that is the Southern Reach trilogy. Authority picks up a few months after the disastrous events of Annihilation and the biologist is in the custody of Southern Reach after being found standing in an empty parking lot after returning from Area X’s twelfth expedition. John Rodriguez, aka “Control” has been brought in to replace the missing Director and question the survivors. As soon as he arrives at Southern Reach he encounters pushback from the Assistant Director, who fervently believes the Director is still alive, a scientist named Whitby that may or may not be hiding something, and of course, the biologist, who gives cryptic answers to his questions and seems intent on stonewalling him. He has access to the former Director’s files and her office certainly yields more than a few oddities. He must report to an entity that he only knows as The Voice, but as he digs into the mysteries of Area X, he seems to only have more questions, and not many answers. Soon, things begin to fall apart around him, and he starts to suspect that the forces that are guiding him are much closer to him, and his past, then he could ever have imagined.

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2014 Hugo Award nominees

The 2014 Hugo Award announcements were made at Loncon3 on Saturday, and here they are! Note that SF Signal is on there for Fancast, so that’s especially notable for me. Congrats to all of the nominees!


parasiteBest Novel

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia (Baen Books)
The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK)
Note: The Wheel of Time series was nominated as and ruled to be a multi-part serialized single work, as defined in Section 3.2.4 of the WSFS constitution.

Best Novella

The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
“The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
“Equoid”, Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
“Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)
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Kickstarter: Aghast – A Journal of the Darkly Fantastic

There’s about 7 days to go in the Kickstarter for Aghast, and thought a few of you might want to get in on this before it wraps up! They’re fully funded, but there are some awesome stretch goals ahead…
aghast
About the magazine (from press release):
Aghast – Α Journal of the Darkly Fantastic is an illustrated, bi-annual journal of horror and dark fantasy short fiction. It will be available online, as well as in print and digital formats. Aghast will feature original short fiction and each short story will be accompanied by an illustration by artist George Cotronis.

The first issue will feature stories by Jonathan Maberry, Gemma Files, Jeff Strand, Tim Waggoner and Megan Arkenberg. AGHAST is still accepting stories for issue #1.

Interview: Marcella Burnard, author of Nightmare Ink

It’s always a pleasure to host Marcella Burnard, and today she’s here to talk about her brand new urban fantasy, NIGHTMARE INK!


MarcellaWelcome back, Marcella! Will you tell us a little about your new book, NIGHTMARE INK?
It’s an Urban Fantasy set in Ballard, a neighborhood in north Seattle. Isa Romanchzyk runs a tattoo shop called NIGHTMARE INK. It would all be very normal, except that in Isa’s Seattle, magic appeared in the world and now, what she and other Live Ink artists draw can come to life. The short answer to ‘what’s the story about’ is: “If you’re going to sew a second soul to your hide, don’t you think the two of you ought to get along?”

What did you enjoy most about writing Isa, and why do you think readers will root for her?
There’s an easy way to answer this, but it’s 100% spoiler. So let me see if I can talk around it. Isa has some issues with low self-worth, which is easy to say, because I think most of us do. She has this belief that, at her core, she’s not loveable. She believes that anyone who knows all of her secrets will reject her out of hand. All of this is the long way of saying the gal’s got secrets and she’s a little messed up over it. But she’s also really clear that she can help people. It’s a big part of what drives my slightly socially awkward heroine.
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