Emma Jane Holloway is the author of the Baskerville Affair series, and the third book, A Study in Ashes, just came out! Please welcome her to the blog!
Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written, but I didn’t settle down to write with a view to publication for some time. I was very focused about it in high school and took a literature degree in university, but after that I just wanted to get on with real life. I had no idea what a tedious business real life was. Eventually I got back to writing via doing short pieces for magazines. They’re kind of a gateway drug. First it’s an article, and that leads to short fiction. Next it’s the novella. After that, it’s a downhill slide into book-length fiction. There’s no coming back after that.
The new book in your Baskerville Affair series, A STUDY IN ASHES, just came out in December. Will you tell us a bit about it and the series?
It’s a Victorian steampunk trilogy with an ensemble cast. The female protagonist is Evelina Cooper, the niece of Sherlock Holmes. She’s caught between social classes. Her mother was a Holmes and gentry, but her father’s origins were with the circus. He also had hereditary magical abilities, and she inherited those. Unfortunately, magic is highly illegal.
Evelina is trying to make her way mostly on her academic and mechanical strengths, but the temptation to slip in a wee spell now and again is too much. What she really wants is to integrate all these pieces of herself and figure out where she belongs in the world.
Meanwhile, the Empire is going through a huge power struggle between the aristocracy and the industrialists and there are several major players—including a rogue sorcerer—who want her unusual talents for their own purposes. Throw in murder, family drama, Sherlock, automatons, a talking mouse, romance, and a séance or two and you get the idea.
The series is:
• A Study in Silks (Mayfair, ball gowns, and a dead body or two)
• A Study in Darkness (Whitechapel, air pirates, and sorcery)
• A Study in Ashes (Dartmoor, weird science, full-on steampunk armies, and general mayhem)
What do you love most about Evelina Cooper, and why do you think readers will root for her?
Evelina is smart, devoted to her friends, and very brave. But she’s not a mini-Sherlock. It takes her time to figure out the whole detective thing. And, like all the characters, she has to explore her dark side before she’s able to embrace her hereditary magical power—and it’s a very, very grim passage for her.
I think what I like about her, personally, is she’s heroic and active but she’s also very much a young woman. She likes parties and pretty things but is still willing and able to slay a dragon.
What made you decide on a steampunk feel for the books, and what have you enjoyed most about writing the series?
I was writing The Baskerville Affair before I realized it was “steampunk.” I write historical fiction and my world is pretty rooted in the Victorian era as it actually was, and yet when writing a period novel I’ve always added a twist of magic or the bizarre. In many ways, I was waiting for steampunk to come along.
What I enjoyed most about the book are the characters. None of them are simple, black and white personalities. There are individuals, like Tobias Roth, who sometimes walk a fine line between hero and cad. How (or if) they find their better selves is what interests me.
What are a few books or authors that have influenced you the most?
A lot of the books I read when I was a child have stuck with me—Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, and CS Lewis. They all have very powerful mythologies that still speak to me.
What are you reading now?
I’ve just started The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
When I encountered The Sword of Shannara (Terry Brooks) as a teenager, it was absolutely the right book at the right time. I was riveted and felt like a desert dweller arriving at the oasis. I remember being curled up on my parents’ couch and thanking the gods that it was Friday so I could spend the whole weekend reading if I wanted to.
I really wish I could recapture that feeling of abandon.
When you’re not working on your next project, how do you like to spend your free time?
I love costuming, sewing, drawing, playing music, cooking, gardening—I’m a multi-talented mistress of unfinished projects.
Quick, what’s something that makes you laugh out loud?
Good friends. And my cat, when he’s trying to be dignified.
What’s next for you?
I’m looking forward to seeing what further steampunk mayhem I can create.
About A STUDY IN ASHES:
As part of her devil’s bargain with the industrial steam barons, Evelina Cooper is finally enrolled in the Ladies’ College of London. However, she’s attending as the Gold King’s pet magician, handcuffed and forbidden contact with even her closest relation, the detective Sherlock Holmes.
But Evelina’s problems are only part of a larger war. The Baskerville affair is finally coming to light, and the rebels are making their move to wrest power from the barons and restore it to Queen Victoria. Missing heirs and nightmare hounds are the order of the day—or at least that’s what Dr. Watson is telling the press.
But their plans are doomed unless Evelina escapes to unite her magic with the rebels’ machines—and even then her powers aren’t what they used to be. A sorcerer has awakened a dark hunger in Evelina’s soul, and only he can keep her from endangering them all. The only problem is . . . he’s dead.
Eleri Stone’s new (and sexy) Wild West zombie apocalypse novel, REAPER’S TOUCH, will be out in February, and she stopped by today with a great post on sexytimes in the apocalypse, so please give her a warm welcome, and hey, preorder her book while yer at it!
Sex in the Apocalypse by Eleri Stone
How can post-apocalyptic worlds be sexy?
So…the apocalypse. Zombie, nuclear, or plague—whatever the flavor of your particular apocalypse, they all have certain things in common.
Collapsed Infrastructure – There’s varying degree here but in pretty much all apocalyptic stories, the physical structures and systems that support modern society are compromised. Roads, bridges, power plants, sewer treatment facilities are out. There’s no running water or transportation system and the grocery stores and hospitals are all closed.
Societal Breakdown—This is in direct response to whatever catastrophic event has occurred. The lack of physical resources changes the way people relate to each other in order to survive. Your neighbors are ready to fight you for precious resources and you can’t depend on the law or the church to help you in your time of need because everyone’s in need. It’s a cold and dirty world out there. Every man and woman for him or herself.
How can you think about sex at a time like this?
It seems counterintuitive but I actually think a lot of people would be thinking about just that given the opportunity. Survival comes first, yes. I think we can all agree that anyone who pauses during a zombie chase to consider the bouncing breasts on the woman running beside him deserves to get his ass snacked. That’s Darwinism at work right there.
When the immediate danger has passed and you’re huddled in your reinforced hidey hole getting ready to wait out the long dark night, why not? After all, there are very few pleasures left to you at that point. That danger hanging over your head every minute of every day means you have to live in the moment. There’s really no point in thinking about a tomorrow that might never come. And if there’s no joy in your life at all, then why are you fighting so hard to survive?
I grant you it’s not a roses and Sunday morning breakfast in bed kind of sexy. It’s a cold, hard, dirty kind of sexy. But beneath all of that, it’s two people drawing comfort from human touch, joining their bodies and their lives together in a way that gives value to their survival. It gives them something to look forward to and maybe they fight just a little bit harder to make it through the next day.
About REAPER’S TOUCH:
Abby is a Ranger, part of an elite group who defend the border against Reapers-humans infected with a parasite that turns them into mindless cannibals. Rangers are immune to Reaper infection, and as one of the only female Rangers, Abby is expected to settle down and breed more Rangers-a fate she’s keen to avoid. When she’s ambushed on the plains, she’s ready to go out with guns blazing-until a mysterious, handsome cowboy rides to her rescue.
Jake has his own motives for helping Abby, beyond aiding a damsel in distress. He’s a Reaper, and while he’s learned to wrest control of his mind from the parasite, the effects won’t last without a permanent cure. And he needs Abby to get it.
Abby and Jake are natural enemies and unlikely partners. But when their search reveals a conspiracy between Reapers and the rich industrialists who own the mountain cities, they must work together to find the cure-or lose the border, and each other, forever.
More ebook deals in SF and Fantasy this week-all $4.99 and under! The usual disclaimer: These prices are good as of the day of the post, so be sure to double check. Note that Orbit has some amazing deals including the Jill Kismet series by Lilith Saintcrow, and much more (including some paranormal titles in case you like a little spice with your fantasy). Also, if you scroll down, you can’t miss the TON of Angry Robot titles that are under $5. Seriously, it’s ridiculous…but in a good way!
Oh, also threw a few YA titles in there for ya too…you’re welcome
More ebook deals in mystery and suspense-all $4.99 and under! The usual disclaimer: These prices are good as of the day of the post, so be sure to double check. Note that there are a ton of deals from Soho Crime, a publisher that always puts out great crime fiction, not to mention books 4-16 of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is also under $5!
I’m going to try to keep bringing you some weekly steals in ebooks (all under $5), and here’s a few-ok, more than a few- in mystery/suspense for the week! Keep in mind, these prices are good as of this post date, so keep your eye on the price when you click. In addition to lots of single titles, books 1-7 of Stuart McBride’s well-loved Logan McRae series are under $4, and the first three books in Chris Grabenstein’s John Ceepak series are only $.99. Also, Virginia Swift’s very well reviewed Mustang Sally series is $.99 a book, all four of ‘em! Can’t beat that with a stick.
The paperback release so RED MOON by Benjamin Percy is tomorrow, and to celebrate, Benjamin has stopped by to answer a few of my questions and we’ve also got a copy of the book up for grabs! Please welcome Benjamin to the blog!
Your novel Red Moon is now out in paperback and has garnered some amazing reviews, but it’s not the only title under your belt. Have you wanted to be a writer from an early age? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up a manic reader, tearing through a book or two a week. There wasn’t a lot to do in rural Oregon, so I filled my days with fantasy. But I was initially chasing a career in archaeology, scouting out rock art sites for the Oregon Museum of Science and Technology, excavating a Pauite village with the University of Oregon. I had a ridiculous fedora, a leather satchel in which I kept precious stones and projectile points and bones, even a bullwhip I would use to snap Coke cans off fenceposts. Gradually the Indiana Jones fantasy dissolved—and I realized that all along I had been chasing a narrative. I changed my major and began to write seriously, dedicating ten to twenty hours a week to the keyboard, my sophomore year of college—and I’ve never looked back.
In Red Moon, a prion has caused an infection that leads to lycanthropy, and young Claire is a lycan living with her parents when she is sent on the run after a terrorist attack. Patrick survives a rampaging lycan and is dubbed “Miracle Boy” by the media. What did you enjoy most about writing Claire and Patrick and why do you think readers will connect with them?
Red Moon has a big cast of characters, but Patrick and Claire are the central narratives, drawn toward and in opposition with each other. Star-crossed lovers. Both unanchored, both reeling from the loss of their respective families, both trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. The danger and the love they experience makes for good trouble—that’s what makes them fun to read (and write) about.
What kind of research did you do for the novel?
Every story is a research project. With Red Moon, I read books, articles, blogs—watched documentaries—conducted interviews—and spent as much time as I could in the field to enhance the credibility of the fantasy I was constructing. I talked to soldiers, politicians, government agents, brewmasters, pilots, and scientists who specialized in animal-borne pathogens. I filled up a dozen yellow legal tablets when talking to researchers at Iowa State University and the USDA labs. They were essential to me creating a physical analogue to the werewolf myth, a slippery science my readers might buy into.
What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I think about a novel for a good year before I hit the keyboard. On my office wall I hang a scroll of paper—ripped from my kids’ Melissa & Doug art easel—and begin to sketch out a design. On the left side of the scroll, I sketch out characters, building characters, figuring out their histories and desires. When I set obstacles in the way of their desire, I have the first stirrings of plot—and these threads reach across the scroll and tangle together. Of course all of this is done in pencil. So much will change when I actually begin to write.
I’ve always been more of a dog person.
Obviously, Red Moon deals with some very scary situations, but what is something that you find truly terrifying?
My children in harm’s way. That’s the only thing that really scares the hell out of me.
What are a few authors or novels that have influenced you the most not only in your writing, but in life?
Peter Straub has been a great friend and mentor to me. I grew up on his novels, which manage to be both literary and genre, neither fish nor fowl. He writes elegantly about gripping, dark subjects—and I’m chasing his tracks in the mud, along with the work of Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, Michael Chabon, Kate Atkinson. Straub is a gentleman, a great literary citizen who goes out of his way for others, and I hope to show the same generosity to others.
What are you reading now?
I just finished a fantastic novel by Aaron Gwyn that’s coming out this summer: Wynne’s War. It’s meticulously researched and brilliantly plotted and elegantly written, a great adventure story set in Afghanistan among a rogue Special Forces unit.
What’s next for you?
I just handed in the final edits for my next novel—also with Grand Central/Hachette—The Dead Lands, a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark passage. It’s scheduled to hit stores in January 2015.
The weekend’s on the way, and I don’t know about you, it’s when I get most of my reading done. This week I’ve found TONS of ebook deals in Kids/Teens, and also Mystery/Suspense, so thought I’d collect some goodies in the Fantasy/SF category (there may be more fun stuff in here as well, such as offbeat fiction). All are under $5 (as of the date of this post-not sure how long they’ll last!) and are loaded with awesome. Happy reading!!
So, I keep finding all these awesome ebook deals and have to share! If you’re looking for some great reads for kids and teens (and you!), at rock bottom prices ($4.99 and under, as of the date of this post), look no further! Plus, eye candy covers, of course.
Please welcome Lisa Shearin back to the blog! Lisa is the author of the Raine Benares series, and she’s just kicked off a brand new series with THE GRENDEL AFFAIR. Lisa stopped by to talk about the new series, what she loves most about her heroine, what she’s been reading, and more. Also, we’ve got one copy of THE GRENDEL AFFAIR up for grabs to one winner, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!
Lisa, will you tell us a bit about your new book (and start of a new series!), THE GRENDAL AFFAIR and what inspired you to write it?
I love movies like Men in Black, Big Trouble in Little China, and Ghostbusters. Nothing’s more fun to me than watching or reading about the chaos—and comedy—that ensues when people are faced with the reality that the creatures and things they didn’t believe existed are all too real. They’re sitting next to you on the subway, they’re driving the cab you just got into, and you found out this morning that your boss really is a troll. The story possibilities are endless—and so much fun.
Was it a challenge to start a new series after spending so much time writing the Raine Benares books?
Actually, it was easier than I thought it was going to be to switch from Raine’s world to ours. My Raine Benares books are basically modern urban fantasy in a traditional fantasy setting. Yes, there are elves and goblins, but they talk like us, not like a character from LOTR.
What did you enjoy most about writing your heroine, Makenna Fraser, and why do you think readers will connect with her?
Aside from the ability to see through the spells, wards, or veils that supernatural creatures use to blend in with human society, Mac is a normal person. Other SPI agents come from military, espionage, or law enforcement backgrounds, Mac’s degree is in journalism. She came to New York to run with the big dogs at the New York Times or get a job with a web news site like the Huffington Post. But all she could get was a reporter job with a tabloid that ran headlines like “Donald Trump is a werewolf love child.”
Did you do any specific research for the book?
I did quite a bit of research on the tunnel systems that run under New York City—sewer, subway, electrical, water, and especially those that have been abandoned. Before 9/11, there were tours of underground New York. I would so have loved to have taken a tour of the tunnels, and am completely bummed that they’re not offered anymore. I also researched Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. I drove past it on my way from LaGuardia into the city for a meeting with my publisher this past spring. I’d really like to take a tour when I’m in New York with more time. Then of course, there was the Beowulf/Grendel research. I fell in love with the idea of “what if?” in terms of Grendel being turned loose in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. And I now know quite a bit about what security measures are taken to protect the one million people who gather in Times Square every New Year’s Eve. I think they’d even be safe from grendels.
Do you have an idea of how many books you’d like to write in the series?
As many as my readers want to read—and my publisher wants to buy.
Read any good books lately?
My TBR stack still takes up an entire bookshelf, but I have managed to decrease its population a little.
I’m reading Project Maigo by Jeremy Robinson, which is the sequel to Project Nemesis which I read back in the fall. They’re in the same Kaiju genre as Pacific Rim. Love them! I also discovered two really fun series. The first is by Liliana Hart. The first series is similar to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books. (Whiskey for Breakfast, Whiskey Sour, and Whiskey Rebellion). The second fun series in the Steph Plum vein (though a little more serious) is January Kills Me, A Bomb in February, and A Violet March by Evan Katy. I’ve also read The Sentinel, and its sequel The Raven by Jeremy Robinson. How could you not love Viking vampire/zombies? As well as whale, polar bear, walrus (and more) zombies. I’ve also read Deadly Heat by Richard Castle and Bloodline by James Rollins. And I’m plowing through quite a few of the books based on the TV series Supernatural. A must-read is Mur Lafferty’s A Shambling Guide to New York City. It’s a mixture of a travel guide for supernaturals, and the adventures of the woman who wrote it. Sheer genius. I can’t wait for the sequel, which I think is due out in April: A Shambling Guide to New Orleans.
What’s next for you?
A lot of my readers have told me that they miss Tam from my Raine Benares books. I miss Tam, too. Once I put the second SPI Files book to bed (The Dragon Conspiracy, which I’m writing now), I intend to write an e-novella of events that were hinted at in Magic Lost, Trouble Found, but never explored—how exactly did Raine and Tam meet, and what happened when they did? And bear in mind that this story happens pre-Mychael—so anything goes. ; )
Timothy Hallinan is easily one of the best suspense writers out there right now, and I happened to notice that his entire series featuring LA private eye Simeon Grist is available for only $3.99 each on ebook. That’s 6 awesome books for under $30 bucks, which is about the price of one hardcover, so snap ‘em up while you can! (Also note, I listed these in the order that Timothy Hallinan has listed them on his website.)
SKIN DEEP (book synopsis from Timothy’s website):
For a fee so big he can’t turn it down, Simeon is hired to watchdog the kind of guy he’d usually prefer to throw through the nearest window. Toby Vane is the golden boy of prime-time TV, whose gee-whiz smile and chiseled features are worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the lucrative syndication market. But Toby has a dark side that would take the shine off for his millions of adoring female fans: every now and then he beats up a woman, and almost any woman will do. When some of the women around Toby begin to turn up dead, Simeon has to figure out whether he’s protecting a murderer – or whether one of Toby’s multitude of enemies wants to put him away forever. And when Simeon meets the beautiful Nana, the whole situation becomes very personal, very fast.
THE FOUR LAST THINGS:
It’s a routine assignment: tail a young woman who’s suspected by her record-company boss, of selling company information. But when the subject is murdered on Simeon Grist’s watch, and the “boss” turns out to be an imposter, Simeon goes after the truth. The track leads him into the upside-down world of The Church of the Eternal Moment, home to both seekers after truth and cynics seeking cash – and which has, at its center, a secret as lethal as a box of poisonous snakes. Simeon and his temporary ally, Dexter Smif, can find their way in; the problem is getting out again.
EVERYTHING BUT THE SQUEAL:
Simeon Grist is a private eye and Los Angeles is his city, and in the mid-nineties it’s a city of lost children. Against his better judgment – this is heartbreak territory — Grist is on a new case, one that leads him down the streets of LA and into the dead, dark places of a killer’s heart.
Missing is a thirteen-year-old from Kansas, Aimee Sorrell, a/k/a Dorothy Gale, who didn’t find Oz over this rainbow. In fact, from the Polaroids her mother got in the mail, Aimee found nothing less than hell. The not-so-pretty pictures convince Grist to take the Sorrell case, hoping against hope for a happy ending. But the trail soon leads him to the city morgue, and the first of a string of victims. The trail leads Simeon – and his willful god-daughter, Jessica – on a perilous journey to find out what happens to America’s lost children when they go looking for love in all the wrong places.
“in this book, Grist comes up against his most terrifying adversary, a madman who’s setting fire to the homeless. As Simeon is drawn into the case . . . he realizes that the Incinerator has a huge advantage. Somewhere, years ago, the two of them met, and the Incinerator has been nursing hatred and resentment for years. Now, as helpless people burst into flame on Skid Row, Simeon has to scour the wastelands of Los Angeles, and his own past, looking for the face of a killer.”
THE MAN WITH NO TIME:
…the erudite Los Angeles private eye does a favor for the family of his sometimes-girlfriend, Eleanor Chan, and goes looking for two children who vanished in Chinatown. He quickly learns that he’s gone straight through the looking glass and into a world where grieving parents are afraid to contact the police, where fear is the teacher and power is the law, where helpless people are shipped from China to America like so many pairs of shoes and forced into lives of toil and submission. He’s perilously out of his element, drawn into a back-alley nightmare of tong wars, slavery, and murder – forced to play by rules he doesn’t understand for the highest stakes of all.
THE BONE POLISHER:
The sixth Simeon Grist book, The Bone Polisher, earned starred reviews all around. It takes place in the West Hollywood of 1995, where the community is shaken by the brutal killing of an older man who was widely loved for his generosity and kindness. In a time when the police were largely indifferent to crimes against gay people, Simeon is hired to catch the murderer—and finds himself up against the most dangerous adversary of his career, a man who kills his victims one once, but twice: once physically and once in spirit.
. . . and Simeon, feeling older and more vulnerable, may not be up to the challenge.