My Bookish Ways

Beyond the Pale edited by Henry L Herz

beyondthepaleBeyond the Pale edited by Henry L Herz (Birch Tree, July 2014)-I didn’t skip around in this anthology (because I usually don’t, but that’s just me), and I think it works better that way. It’s a fantasy collection, with a line up that frankly, if you’re a fan of fantasy/urban fantasy, it should blow your socks right off. The ultra talented Saladin Ahmed kicks things off with “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” about a physicker that is asked for help by a supposed mountain hermit, and it’s nothing like he ever could have imagined. This story is a beautifully written introduction to this should-be-a-household-name author. “Even Hand” by Jim Butcher is told from the viewpoint of one of my favorite characters, Marcone, crime boss and frequent nemesis (and sometimes reluctant ally) of Harry Dresden. It reveals a, shall we say, softer (but no less cunning) side of the self-professed “monster”, and as is usual for Butcher, is excellent. Two absolute standouts are “Frost Child” and “South” by Gillian Philip, about kelpies and selkies, respectively. If you haven’t discovered her books yet, read these stories and you’ll rush to buy them all. Trust me. Her writing is lovely and her stories are the stuff of dark fairytales. Just gorgeous. “Frost Child” is actually a prequel to FIREBRAND, so it’s perfect to read before you start the books.

“The Children of the Shark God” by Peter S. Beagle is another one of my favorites and is about, you guessed it, the children of a Shark God, but it’s really a fable about two children (and their mother) longing for a father that is never there, but that loves them fiercely, and it will break your heart. It’s achingly lovely, and if you like fables, you’ll adore it. Heather Brewer has a couple of dark tales in there that will give you chills, and I especially liked the subtly creepy “Misery” about a town appropriately called Misery, built of shades of grey, and a young man that dares to hope for more. “A Knot of Toads” by Jane Yolen is fantastic, witchy, atmospheric fun, about a young woman who returns to her sea swept childhood home to bury her father, and finds out her father died a very unnatural death indeed. Kami Garcia adds a fun story to the mix called “Red Run” and if you think it’s your typical “road ghost” story, think again. “The Adventures of Lightning Merriemous-Jones” by Nancy and Belle Holder rounds things out, and it’s a delightful tale about a mouse and…well, Dracula. Trust me, it’s adorable, and it had me giggling with delight. All told, this is a full-bodied mix of tales from some of the most talented authors in the biz, and is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Elizabeth Little, author of Dear Daughter, talks about her new book, a Siberian Husky named Apollo, and much more!

Elizabeth Little’s brand new book, DEAR DAUGHTER, just came out yesterday, and she stopped by to answer a few of my questions about it, and much more! Please give her a warm welcome! 

Photo by Jonathan Vandiveer

Photo by Jonathan Vandiveer

Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us a bit about DEAR DAUGHTER, and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you so much! I’m delighted to be here. 

Dear Daughter is the story of Jane Jenkins—who is, as I like to say, a little bit Paris Hilton, a little bit Dorothy Parker, and a little bit Hannibal Lecter. Ten years ago she was a glamorous and well-loathed celebutante at the height of her fame … and then she was convicted of murdering her mother. Now, released on a technicality into a world wholly convinced of her guilt, Jane adopts a new identity in order to travel to a small town in South Dakota, where she hopes she will find the truth about what really happened the night of her mother’s murder—even if that means discovering that the murderer was in fact herself.

Because even Jane doesn’t know whether or not she was guilty. And sometimes she suspects the very worst.

I came up with the idea for Dear Daughter when I received the CNN breaking news alert reporting that Amanda Knox’s conviction had been overturned. As soon as I read the email, I started to obsess about what Amanda Knox would do next. Would she want to lead a public life? Would she try to go back to her old life? Or would she build a new life altogether? And so I began to fixate on the steps an accused murderess would have to take if she wanted to shed her notoriety and clear her name. Eventually I sat down at my computer to see if there was a story in it, and before I knew it I’d written 5,000 words. That convinced me I was on to something!

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August 2014 New Releases in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Here are the new releases in SF, Fantasy, and Horror for August 2014. You’re sure to find something to fatten up your TBR list! 

August 1st-11th, 2014:

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August 2014 New Releases in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the new releases in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for August 2014. Look at all the pretty covers!! 

August 1st-11th, 2014:

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A chat with Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent on Fiefdom, why they write, their perfect dinner party,and more!

Please welcome Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent to the blog! They recently collaborated to bring us Fiefdom, and kindly took some time to answer a few of my questions!

danandnikWhat made you decide to collaborate on Fiefdom? Will you tell us a little about it and what inspired it?

Nik: Kingdom for 2000AD has always been one of my favourites of Dan’s comics, and since I was unlikely ever to write it in that form, I was itching to get hold of it and tell prose stories from the universe. We like to work together if we get the opportunity, so when Abaddon started to talk about the possibility of a Kingdom novel it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.

Dan: The novel is set a hundred years after the comic. The Aux dog soldiers are living in tribal groups in the underground tunnels of Berlin’s railway system. A mini ice-age is upon them, and all they have are their legends. Evelyn War knows what the others do not, that the legends were real, and that Them are about to return and threaten the existence of the Aux.

What were the challenges in writing the novel together? What worked and what didn’t, and how did you divide the writing?

Nik: Dan and I have known each other for over thirty years, and we’re married and have raised children together. We’ve also worked together a lot, probably more than people realise. Writing as a team is a very organic process for us.

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A chat with Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of The Wrong Girl

Please welcome Hank Phillippi Ryan to the blog! Hank was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about THE WRONG GIRL, winning the Agatha, and more!

hprCongratulations on the Agatha Award win for THE WRONG GIRL! Will you tell us a bit about it and what inspired you to write it?
Oh, thank you! (And breaking news—THE WRONG GIRL just won the DAPHNE Award for Best Mystery/Suspense! I am still floating.)

Where did it come from? The answer is incredibly interesting, and one of the reasons it is such a joy to have a dual life as in investigative reporter and a crime fiction author. As you can imagine, I get hundreds of inquiries from people about stories they’d like me to investigate. Maybe—one in 200 turns out to be a news story, but every single one of them is delicious fodder for crime fiction.

So. One day at Channel 7, I got a call from a viewer who said, “Hank, I have a story I need you to investigate.” I’m always crossing my fingers that it’s something good—so I said, great! Tell me all about it.

She told me her cousin had been given up for adoption at birth. And she had never known her birth mother. Twenty-six years later, this caller tells me, the woman got a call from the adoption agency, asking if she’d like to meet her birth mother. The woman said yes.

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Interview (and Giveaway): Arianne “Tex” Thompson, author of One Night in Sixes

one night in sixes CROP

Please welcome fellow Texan Arianne “Tex” Thompson to the blog! Her new book, ONE NIGHT IN SIXES (check out that gorgeous cover art!!!),is out today, and she kindly stopped by to answer a few questions about it. Also, courtesy of the nice folks at Solaris, I have 3 copies to give away to 3 lucky winners, and it’s international!

texthompsonArianne, I’m so excited for One Night in Sixes! Will you tell us a little about it and what inspired the story?
Well, not to jump on the bandwagon, but I’m excited that you’re excited! I’ve been calling it “cowboys-and-fishmen fantasy,” but the idea’s much bigger than that. The border town of Sixes is a little bit like Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork or Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine: a thriving, improvised, unpredictable place where a huge variety of people (who don’t necessarily like each other!) are living cheek-by-jowl, doing the work of the present while trying not to trip over the cracks of the past. Which gets a whole lot harder when a couple of ignorant foreigners show up, and one of them causes an accident that threatens to destroy that hard-won peace. The genesis of this story was the idea of writing a thoroughly American fantasy – not so much because Sixes looks like someplace in 19th-century New Mexico, but because it reflects our 21st-century struggle to deal with our history without being consumed by it.

Why do you think readers will root for Elim? What did you enjoy most about writing One Night in Sixes?
That’s a tough question! I tell you what, though: what I really love about Elim (and what I hope readers will enjoy too) is that inside this huge, intimidating cow-spotted cowboy is the heart of a homebody hobbit. He’s not John Wayne. He’s not Clint Eastwood. He’s spent his whole life loving his family, his horses, and his dusty little niche – and when he’s forced out of it, he’s so afraid of the big wide world that he ends up making a horrible mistake. At the end of the day, I think what I enjoy most about this story is the idea that the hero isn’t going to save the day with his gun. As a matter of fact, the day was just fine before he got there! Instead, it’s his gun that’s gotten him into this really huge mess, and his heart and courage that are going to have to get him out of it.

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Open Road has some pretty amazing Kindle deals goin’ on right now…just sayin’.

Open Road Media is rather awesome. They partner with a ton of great publishers like Pegasus, Mysterious Press, and Akashic Books, among many others, and they always have great titles to choose from (classics, mystery, SF….) So, I’ve curated a few ebook titles here that might spark your imagination, and the best part is they’re all under $5 (many are under $2). How can you beat that?

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A chat with Nick Harkaway, author of Tigerman

Nick Harkaway is the author of The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker, and his big, gorgeous new book, Tigerman, is out tomorrow. I was thrilled when Nick agreed to answer a few of my questions, so please give him a warm welcome!

nickharkawayTigerman is one of the most unique, and wonderful, novels I’ve ever read, and I love it! What inspired you to write the book?
It’s so hard to point to, any one thing. I became a dad during the writing – twice, actually, because the book was incepted before my daughter was born and finished in the first months of my son’s presence in our lives. Then at the other end of the scale the name “Diego Garcia” was in the air – the Indian Ocean island that appears to have played host to a black prison, in defiance of British law. I think inspiration is about collision: stubs of stories come together and somehow enliven one another.

Sgt. Lester Ferris has a heart of gold, and is even a bit old fashioned (in a sweet, charming way), for a man of only 40. Was there anyone that particularly inspired his character?
Well, now that you’ve said that about him it would be unBritish to say “me”. To a certain extent, of course, all the characters are me, by definition. Lester started as an image of loneliness, I suppose: someone who had missed the personal road I’m on despite having wanted it – in part because he never acknowledged the desire. He grew, as characters must, but there was never a single person.

There is a drawing, though, by the artist Peter Howson. It’s of a boxer.

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Interview: Lisa Jensen, author of Alias Hook

Please welcome Lisa Jensen to the blog! Her brand new novel, ALIAS HOOK, just came out, and she kindly answered a few of my questions about the book, and more!

lisajensenI love the premise of Alias Hook, and I imagine legions of Peter Pan fans will too! Will you tell us a little more about it and what inspired you to write it?
Alias Hook imagines the world of the Neverland from the viewpoint of Captain James Hook, its prisoner. He’s cursed to spend eternity playing villain to a pack of bratty little boys in a pointless war that never ends. Then something totally unexpected happens—a forbidden grown woman shows up in the Neverland, in defiance of Pan’s rules against “ladies.” She may be Hook’s one last chance for redemption and release.

I’m a movie critic in my “day job,” and I got the idea for this book one day when I was writing a review of a live-action Peter Pan movie. I suddenly thought how awful it must be to be an adult trapped in a world of eternal childhood. And that’s when I knew I had to write Hook’s side of the story!

You have a background as a film critic and newspaper columnist, but have you always wanted to write fiction? What is one of the first things you can remember writing?
Oh, boy, let’s see… I used to write little stories as far back as I can remember. I also used to draw out stories in comic book format. Alias Hook came this close to being a graphic novel—except it would have taken SO much longer to do all that drawing!

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