My Bookish Ways

Catching up with AM Dellamonica, author of Child of a Hidden Sea

It’s been a little while since I’ve caught up with AM Dellamonica, so I’m very excited to have her back on the blog to talk about her new fantasy, CHILD OF A HIDDEN SEA! Please welcome her back!


SONY DSCWelcome back to the blog!
Thank you! It’s nice to be here.

Will you tell us a little bit about your new book, Child of a Hidden Sea, and what inspired you to write it?
One primary inspiration was the idea of fun. I love my first two books, Indigo Springs and Blue Magic, but there’s a fair amount of sadness and betrayal in the story of Astrid Lethewood. The heroes of that novel see a lot of tragedy. While I’ll probably never write anything that doesn’t have those dark elements, I wanted my new books to allow the protagonist and those closest to her to enjoy themselves, at least here and there.

I wanted them to be fun to write and fun to read, too.

As a result, Sophie Hansa is outdoorsy and adventurous–the sort of person who hikes, and bikes, and goes spelunking, and dives–and she lands in a world where there’s an almost infinite variety of natural wonders and unknown-to-her animal and plant species. What’s more, the locals are using that genetic treasure trove to work a unique form of magic called inscription.

Why do you think readers will root for Sophie, and what did you enjoy most about writing her character?
I have in the past tended to create fairly tight-lipped protagonists, people who think before they act. They’re a little buttoned down, self-contained. Their motivations can seem a little murky. Sophie, on the other hand, overshares. She’s terrible at keeping secrets. If she’s feeling something, she’s apt to spill it, possibly at the top of her lungs. When she’s upset, there’s no stiff upper lip–she bursts into tears. She’s very open-hearted, and my hope is that readers will respond to that.

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Interview: Karen Keskinen, author of Black Current

BLACK CURRENT, Karen Keskinen’s followup to BLOOD ORANGE, just came out this month, and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the new book, and more! Please welcome her to the blog!


Karen-KeskinenBLACK CURRENT, the 2nd book in your series featuring P.I. Jaymie Zarlin, just hit the shelves this month! Will you tell us a bit about it?
Several months have passed since Jaymie Zarlin solved the Solstice Murders, as the residents of Santa Barbara now call them. Certain people, especially members of the local PD, would prefer to think Jaymie’s success was a fluke – but she pays them no mind. Jaymie and her office manager, Gabi Gutierrez, have settled back into their usual line of work, which mainly consists of locating missing people.

Then, in the early hours of an August morning, Jaymie gets a call from her old friend (and occasionally more than friend) Zave Carbonel. Zave has a job for her: if Jaymie will jump on her bike straight away and pedal down to the wharf, she’ll earn a grand just for snapping some pictures inside the Santa Barbara Aquarium. Coffers are low and the office rent looms at the end of the month, so Jaymie accepts. How hard can this be?

Twenty minutes later Jaymie finds herself gazing into a massive cylindrical tank, where a single blue box jellyfish, suspended in the salt water, sways from side to side. Wrapped in its eight-foot long tentacles is the body of a handsome young man. The victim’s face, now a death mask, is twisted in a grimace of excruciating pain.

Jaymie manages to snap the required photos, then quickly departs. This is one case she has no desire to be part of. But fate – and the dead boy’s family – have other plans in store.

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It’s a sign (and a giveaway)… from A Better World by Marcus Sakey

A BETTER WORLD, the followup to the excellent BRILLIANCE, by Marcus Sakey, is already one of my favorite books of 2014 so far, and on of the unique things about it is the sign text sprinkled throughout the book that gives insight about the state of Sakey’s alternate US. An example of one of these, complete with graphics, is below, and we’re also giving away a copy of A BETTER WORLD to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the giveaway details below the post (US only)!


A Better World sign post


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Summer Shorts ’14: A chat with voice artist Paul Michael Garcia and Steven LaFond, author of Yard Waste

summer shorts 14It’s time for Summer Shorts ’14! This audio anthology is a collection of over 60 essays, short stories, and poems that supports the literacy outreach efforts of ProLiteracy. The proceeds from the collection go directly to ProLiteracy, and you can check out the entire collection HERE. If you’ll recall, I had great fun taking part in the Going Public hop last year, that I was thrilled to join in on this one, and it’s for a great cause.

To get the word out (and because it’s fun), a ton of blogs are hosting narrators and authors, and also one day access to listen to their story. Today my guests are narrator Paul Michael Garcia and Steven LaFond, author of Yard Waste, a hard hitting short story that’s well worth your time. So, check out the interviews and head over to Spoken Freely to check out the entire list of free reads!

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The 2014 Macavity Award nominees have been announced!

The 2014 Macavity Award nominees have been announced, and the winners will be announced at Bouchercon on Nov. 13th. Congrats to all of the nominees!


Best Mystery Novel

  • Sandrine’s Case by Thomas H. Cook (Mysterious Press)
  • Dead Lions by Mick Herron (Soho Crime)
  • Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Atria Books)
  • The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood (Penguin Books)
  • How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
  • Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin (Reagan Arthur Books)

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That Night by Chevy Stevens

thatnightThat Night by Chevy Stevens (St. Martin’s Press, June 17th, 2014)-1996 was a pivotal year for 18 year old Toni Murphy. It’s the year she realized she wanted to be with her boyfriend Ryan forever, and got her first job, and those are bright moments, even alongside the tension that exists between Toni and her mom. Even if her former friend, Shauna, and her pack of mean girl cronies are determined to make Toni’s life miserable, she’s equally determined not to let it dictate how she lives her life, or affect her happiness. Soon, she plans to move in with Ryan, and after that, none of that will matter. Unfortunately, Toni watches helplessly as her younger (and usually much better behaved) sister Nicole, starts to sneak out on a regular basis and hang out with Shauna and her gang. Toni and Nicole’s relationship had never been perfect, but it was never more than normal sibling rivalry, until now. Nicole has been joining in with Shauna’s cruel campaign to make Toni’s life a living hell, and it’s obvious something serious is going on with Nicole, but she’s keeping quiet. One night, Nicole seems to reach out to Toni for forgiveness, and asks to come along with Toni and Ryan on a night trip to the lake. Toni has reservations, but takes her along. It turns out to be the worst decision Toni has ever made, for that’s the night that Toni and Ryan, after leaving Nicole alone to steal an intimate moment, find her dead body, illuminated in the headlights of Ryan’s truck. It’s obvious that her death wasn’t natural, and Toni and her family are devastated. Toni has no idea who’s responsible, but vows to do everything she can to find out the truth. When Toni and Ryan are eventually accused of Nicole’s death, all Toni can do is watch helplessly as witnesses lie on the stand, and she and Ryan are convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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Interview: Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life

Carrie Patel’s debut novel, THE BURIED LIFE, comes out on July 29th from Angry Robot, and she’s kindly answered a few of my questions about the new book, and much more!


carriepatelCongratulations on your upcoming book, THE BURIED LIFE! Will you tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! It’s about murder, secrets, and forbidden history, all set in an underground city. The inspiration came from a study trip to Argentina, where I got to see the incredible Recoleta Cemetary, which itself looks almost like a miniature city made of marble. It got me thinking about what a place like that would be like, particularly if all of the major spaces were underground, and the whole place embodied the sort of forbidding grandeur that you see in these mausoleums. It was just an interesting notion for a couple weeks, and then I had a twenty-hour bus ride from Bariloche back to Buenos Aires, and the idea soup percolated and congealed into a setting, characters, and the beginnings of a plot.

What kind of research did you do for the book?
People have built an incredible variety of underground spaces all around the world and at different moments in history. They provide great reference points, particularly since we’re generally used to thinking of cities as accretions of positive space rather than carved-out negative space. Cappadocia is one famous example of underground architecture, and the Wieliczka salt mine is another. Compiling a catalogue of places like this was important in developing a strong sense of place for Recoletta, the underground city in which The Buried Life is set.

Will you tell us more about Inspector Liesl Malone and her partner Rafe Sunder. What do you think makes them compelling protagonists?
They’re opposites in many ways—she’s experienced and he’s new to the force, she’s a loner and he’s a people person—so watching them work together and learn from each other is a lot of fun and brings out their faults and fears. They’re both committed to solving the crime, but for different reasons. Malone is rigid and by-the-book, and she wants to catch the murderer because he threatens everything that makes the city run as it should. Sundar is more concerned about the human side of things. Even though Malone is teaching him the tricks of the trade, he’s forcing her to question her own motivations and her lack of empathy.

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Sympathy for the Devil: A guest post by MR Carey (The Girl With All the Gifts), and giveaway!

When I was recently given the opportunity by the lovely folks at Orbit to suggest a guest post topic for the awesome MR Carey, I had to think about it a little bit. I loved The Girl With All the Gifts, and thought about some of the things that really got me thinking about the book, and kept me thinking about the book after finishing it. That said, I found the “villain” of the book, Dr. Caldwell, to be more than just black and white, and her motivations really intrigued me. So with that in mind, I asked if MR Carey would be willing to talk about complicated villains, Caldwell in particular, and in response, he gave me the below bit of awesome.

Enjoy, and be sure to enter to win a copy of THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS while you’re at it (You know the drill-fill out the Rafflecopter, and I’ll pick a winner on July 3rd/US/Canada.)


Sympathy for the Devil by MR Carey

thegirlwithallthegiftsI can remember as a kid reading the origin story of Captain America. It wasn’t the very first telling of that story by Simon and Kirby in 1941 (a year when I wasn’t) but one of many reprints and retellings of that story in later years. And at the point where the Nazi spy breaks out of the crowd and shoots Dr. Reinstein, the creator of the super-soldier serum that brought Captain America into being, I read this piece of timeless dialogue. Spoken by the spy: “Down with democracy! Down with freedom!”

As a kid I accepted that for what it was – very effective shorthand, telling me that this character was a bad guy and it was safe to applaud a few panels further on when Cap handed him his lower jaw.

Then later I started to write stories on my own account, and I came to hold that memory in my head as a sort of mental inoculation against writing two-dimensional villains whose laugh started with the syllable “bwa”. I told myself I was way too sophisticated to need or want that kind of shorthand. That my characters would be nuanced and rounded. Good or bad, they would be people.

(Okay, even later than that I read the diaries of Josef Goebbels – back when Goebbels had a walk-on part in The Unwritten – and discovered to my shock that Nazi intellectuals really were very open in saying that democracy and freedom were bad things. Nazi philosophy was part of the late flowering of German Romanticism: Goebbels yearned for a strong leader, a hero whose will would subsume his own and everyone else’s, making democracy irrelevant, and he felt that this was the best model for government. Hmm. Sounds cool. Wonder how that worked out for him…)

But anyway. Villains. How do you write them so they make sense?

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Shirley by Susan Scarf Merrell

shirleyShirley by Susan Scarf Merrell (Blue Rider Press, June 12th, 2014)-Shirley Jackson is one of the American greats. She wrote “The Lottery”, The Haunting of Hill House, and much more, and is considered one of the most influential authors of our time. She was also known, along with her book critic husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, to be an exuberant, gracious host, throwing parties for the literati, including names such as Ralph Ellison, in their book-filled home in Vermont, where Shirley wrote, and where Hyman was a professor at nearby Bennington College. It’s in this very real world that this fictional novel is rooted.

The story is told by Rose Nemser, the 19 year old newly pregnant wife of Fred Nemser, who has recently secured a position at Bennington. They’ve been invited to stay with Shirley and Stanley in their home, and thus begins a winter that will forever resonate with the impressionable Rose. She soon becomes enamored of Shirley, seeing in her a mother figure that she’s never really had. Rose’s childhood wasn’t a happy one, and for the first time in her life, she feels like part of a family. It’s an unconventional family, to be sure, but she’s fascinated with the mercurial Shirley and her relationship with the flamboyant Stanley, as well as the obvious love that their children have for their parents. The early days of their stay take on an almost surreal air, as Rose prepares for the arrival of her baby daughter, and tries to be a useful part of the household. Fred is frequently gone, ensconced in his duties at Bennington and kept busy with late nights musing over literature with Stanley, but Rose is steadfast, and tries hard to cultivate a place for herself as part of Shirley’s family, even as the children quietly shun her. There’s jealousy here, on Rose’s part, but to deal with that, she pretty much just pretends the children don’t exist. It really isn’t until after the birth of Rose’s daughter Natalie, that things start to take a more sinister turn. Just who keeps calling every evening during dinner and what is the truth about a college student that disappeared into the nearby woods many years ago?

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Shattered (Iron Druid #7) by Kevin Hearne

shatteredShattered (Iron Druid #7) by Kevin Hearne (DelRey, June 17th)-Note: No spoilers for this one, but if you aren’t caught up with the series, you may want to find my reviews for previous novels on the review page. When we join Atticus in Shattered, Owen, his archdruid, has just been freed from the Time Island, and it’s time to teach him the ropes of a very new world. It’s been 2,000 years, so there’s a lot to teach, but Atticus is definitely up for the job. Meanwhile, Granuaile is in Colorado with Oberon and teaching her new houd, Orlaith, to speak when she gets the news from Laksha that her birth father has unearthed a raksoyuj from an ancient vessel and it has possessed him. Unfortunately, the raksoyuj is able to summon demons and make them do its bidding, and this one is spreading a pestilence throughout the region. As a result, people are dying. So, Granuaile is urged to find a way to stop her father before someone else decides to, someone that’s not concerned about leaving her dad alive. So, Granuaile leaves Oberon behind to give Atticus the heads up, and she and Orlaith shift to India to meet with Laksha and decide on their next steps. She soon finds out that she’ll need a divine weapon to combat the raksoyuj without killing her father, and that quest will lead her deep into the Himalayas.

Meanwhile, if you’ll recall, Atticus’s tussle with the manticore in the home of Midhir, left his tattoos a mess, so he needs Owen to fix them. Luckily, that will be easy compared to the job ahead, which is to find out once and for all who is conspiring to kill him. Plus, Loki is still running around, committing various acts of crazy,and Ragnarok is still a looming threat.

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