Congrats 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 (Tor.com)
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)
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!
What 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.
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)!
About 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.
Looking for a good read this weekend that won’t break the bank? I’ve got you covered with a ton of Kindle titles under $5! As always, doublecheck the price before clicking the BUY button, and enjoy (there’s a little bit of everything here, so you’re sure to find something you’ll like)!
Please welcome Thomas Sweterlitsch to the blog! His debut novel, TOMORROW AND TOMORROW, just came out yesterday, and he kindly answered a few of my questions about it. Also, courtesy of the nice folks at Putnam, we’ve got a copy of the book to give away to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out those details at the botto of the post!
Congrats on the new book-it’s already gotten great buzz! Will you tell us about Tomorrow and Tomorrow and what inspired you to write it?
Several years after our honeymoon in Prague, I came across the fold-out walking map my wife and I had used to find our way around that city. I traced out different streets, remembering what we’d seen and where, remembering what the feel of the place was like…and couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever make it back to Prague, or if I would only be able to relive my trip through this map and our photographs. I wrote a short story about that idea called “The City Lies Within” about a man living in Prague who could only revisit his memories of his destroyed home city through an interactive map. That short story was the seed for Tomorrow and Tomorrow, a novel about a grieving man who discovers a murder in the digital reconstruction of a destroyed city called the “Archive.”
You have a library background, but what made you finally decide to take the plunge and write a novel?
My job as a library assistant at the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped was meant to be a one year temporary job before finding an MFA or PhD program—but I grew to love the work and the people I worked with and ended up staying there for twelve years! I was always writing during that time, though—every morning I’d wake at 5:30 to scratch out a few hours of writing before clocking in at the library.
When Hannah Wilde arrives at the remote farmhouse in Wales, with her young daughter, Leah and seriously injured husband, Nate, in tow, all she knows is that she must protect them at all costs. As she attempts to nurse Nate back to health, with help from a local man (who may be more than what he seems), the terrifying story of how Hannah got to this point unfolds, resulting in an interweaving of historical suspense and present day terror.
The narrative goes back and forth between the 70s, when Hannah’s father, Charles, meets her mother Nicole, who holds dear a series of diaries tied with string, and also the 1800s . Nicole eventually tells Charles a fantastical story involving a man that can change shape and a legacy of murder, and even genocide, that began in the 1800s.
The String Diaries is a clever mash up of historical puzzle mystery and modern day thriller with a bit of a stalker twist, and for a long time, the man at the center of the puzzle remained somewhat elusive. We get bits of his childhood, and his inability to fit in with the rest of his kind, but I can’t help but wish that it was fleshed out a bit more, along with the group that have taken it upon themselves to oversee, and sometimes eliminate, these supernaturally talented people (and no, they’re not vampires, although they are fairly long lived.)
While I enjoyed the story of Charles and Nicole’s fraught courtship, and how Hannah came to be the strong wife and mother that she is now, the scenes at the farmhouse, with her husband gravely wounded, and a young child to protect, were some of the most terrifying, because at first, it was unclear as to what the menace was, and once it was revealed, it became even more obvious why Hannah felt like she must be diligent every single minute. Imagine never knowing who you can trust, even if it’s someone you think you know. If it seems like I’m being deliberately vague, it’s because I am, since revealing the nature of the supernatural menace would destroy quite a bit of the chilling fun of this novel. This is a debut novel, and it’s not without its flaws, but the author is great at stretching out tension to its breaking point, and the present day scenes reminded me very much of classic Koontz, which for me is a good thing. If you enjoy a bit of historical flavor to your thrillers, as well as a supernatural twist, I think you’ll enjoy this fairly ambitious debut. Stephen Lloyd Jones is most definitely a writer to watch.
This isn’t my first interview with Craig, but it is my first as Craig (I’ll let you figure the other one out :-D), but I’m thrilled to welcome him back to talk about his new book CATARACT CITY, proves he’s a brave soul by re-reading Blood Meridian, and spills a bit about his next project!
I love your work, and can’t wait to get my hands on Cataract City! Will you tell us a little about it, and what inspired you to write it?
It’s the story of two boys growing up in Niagara Falls, which is nicknamed Cataract City—the latin for waterfall is cataracta. So it’s a coming of age story at the outset, then it kinda segues into a story about what happens to these two boys once they’ve come of age, the ways they stick together and the ways they fall apart.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I don’t know that I’ve always wanted to be one—and now, in my late 30s, I often wonder how much longer I want to be one. It’s kind of a skill that, once you’ve got it, you’ve got it. You can improve it, sure, or it can deteriorate on you, but essentially you know how to string words together. So if I did decide to step away, I suppose I could come back to it years later when I’m in my 70s or something, provided my brain hasn’t turned to mush by then. As for background … pretty boring. Canadian, middle class. Dad was a banker and Mom a nurse. We moved around a lot. I got into writing because it seemed a job that wasn’t hampered by my physical shortcomings—I realized pretty quick that I wasn’t going to be a basketball prodigy so I needed to find something else to do with my ambitions.
What’s one of the first things you remember writing?
Oh, I think I wrote some war story for my Grade 3 class. My first and last war story. There were many other faltering steps before I got to the point where I was halfway decent as a writer. Some days I don’t think I’m even halfway decent! But then that’s the mentality of a certain type of writer, or person, and I guess I’m one of those.
A Swollen Red Sun by Matthew McBride (Open Road/Mysterious Press, June 2014)-What do a good cop in a corrupt rural Missouri county and a bunch of meth dealers have in common? Other than the fact that it’s Deputy Sheriff Dale Banks’s job to bust said meth dealers (and manufacturers), they now have about $52,000 in cold hard cash in common. That’s a lot of money, and to a man like Banks, who has always tried to walk the straight line and do right by his family (including three kids, one of them disabled), it’s a temptation that he can’t refuse when he finds the sack of cash in a squalid trailer. He can help put his kids through college with that money, and ease some of the burden off his wife’s shoulders. But he knows that this won’t be an easy take, and even though he’s stolen from criminals, he still feels guilty about the theft. Jerry Dean, however, is dependent upon that money, for the most part because if he doesn’t’ get it back, the Reverend Butch Pogue will unleash is particularly vile brand of hell on him. Jerry Dean manages to call attention to himself after an attack on an elderly man that Banks happens to be close to, courting Banks’s wrath as a result.
There are a lot of unsavory folks in A Swollen Red Sun, but let’s talk about Pogue for a bit. Jerry Dean is a rascal and a criminal, but comparing him to Pogue is like comparing Nermal the cat (from Garfield) to a Tasmanian devil. Pogue lives on a mountain with his cadre of vicious dogs, his, er, “wife”, and his, um, other “wife”, who is actually chained in the basement (yep-he’s a winner.) You’re probably getting a fairly good picture of Pogue at this point. He’s evil personified, and for him killing is sort of like weeding the garden (ie no big deal), and he’ll most likely recite a sermon while doing it. Trust me, you don’t want his kind of anointing. Now that you know about the foulness that resides on the mountain, you can see the desperation that drives Jerry Dean to get that money back, and in a way, you can understand the lengths he’ll go to in order to do it. But, he’s got a formidable foe in Dale Banks.
World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books, July 15th, 2014)-(This review assumes you’ve read the first 2 books in the series)-It’s now less than a week until an asteroid will hit Earth, one that is expected to destroy all life as we know it. Feeling the weight of the remaining days pressing down on him, Hank Palace does the thing he always been driven to do: detective work. He’s desperate to find his younger sister Nico, who, since the announcement of the asteroid, has been running with a group that claims they have a solution to the problem, a way to destroy the asteroid and save the world. Hank has always doubted these claims and in the end, it doesn’t really matter. He just wants to be with his sister when the end comes. His search has brought him to an Ohio police station, along with Cortez, who he’s been traveling with for a while. A tragic and bloody discovery opens up an entire new world of clues, and doors, literally and figuratively, begin falling open with shocking swiftness. Time is running out, and Hank must find his sister before it’s too late for everyone.
In reading this superior series, there’s always been a pervasive sense of melancholy, driven by the fact that, if the author stays true to the foundation he’s laid, the world WILL come to an end. Through it all, I couldn’t help but wonder how Winters would do it. Would he end it with a whimper? A fall of ash that blocks out the sun? Or, a quiet acceptance of the inevitable? We know-or think we know- the ending, but it’s the how of it; how his characters handle it, that is, that the author must navigate so carefully. Over the course of three books, I’ve fallen in love with the dogged, determined Hank Palace and the care and attention to detail that he applies to all things, even the smallest things. Because, really, nothing is a small thing anymore when the world is ending in a couple of weeks. The world is crumbling around him, but Hank manages to find diamonds among the rubble, and it’s these people that lift him up, and keep him going, even in the face of such horrid inevitability.
Emberly has spent a good number of her many lives trying to save humans. So when her prophetic dreams reveal the death of Sam, a man she once loved, she does everything in her power to prevent it from happening. But in saving his life, she gets more than she bargained for.
Sam is working undercover for the Paranormal Investigations Team, and those who are trying to murder him are actually humans infected by a plaguelike virus, the Crimson Death—a by-product of a failed government experiment intended to identify the enzymes that make vampires immortal. Now all those infected must be eliminated.
But when Emberly’s boss is murdered and his irreplaceable research stolen, she needs to find the guilty party before she goes down in flames….
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