It’s no secret that Dana Fredsti’s Ashley Parker series is one of my favorite zombie series out there (Plague World is awesome-trust me), and as always, I’m thrilled to have Dana back to the blog to talk about the newest installment, what comes next, and more!
Dana, I’m very excited about Plague World! Will you give us a bit of a teaser as to what we can expect from Ashley and the gang?
Bad things happen. Plague World is definitely a darker book than the first two (although some pretty dark stuff does happen in both Plague Town and Plague Nation), with characters forced to make decisions that will ultimately change their lives … if they live to see the end of the book. (insert Bwahahahahah! Here). You can expect the same humor that runs through the previous books because that’s Ashley’s way of dealing with the world, but I put her through the wringer this time around. I also admit to having had way too much fun zombie-fying the International Houses and other parts of Balboa Park in San Diego. Readers will also get to see how the zombocalypse is affecting the rest of the world via the third person interludes and yes, I had a lot of fun writing those as well. There’s something cathartic about destroying the world a little bit at a time, y’know?
Er… did that sound too much like a super villain? No? Good .
Was it bittersweet for you to wrap up the Ashley Parker trilogy?
Definitely. Plague World was a very difficult book to write for a number of reasons, not the least being that my personal and professional life went through some major changes and upheavals last year. I think it’s fair to say that some of my personal pain is reflected in the emotional and physical pain Ashley goes through in this book. I also realized certain plot points could not be wrapped up with a happy pink bow around them. Nope, I had to break out the black ribbon and say a final farewell to characters I didn’t necessarily plan on parting with at the end of the trilogy.
The 2014 Hugo Award winners were announced yesterday at LonCon3! Particularly exciting to me is the win for the SF Signal podcast Congrats to all of the winners!
I’m rounding up everything in one post this week, so you should have plenty to choose from to kick-start your weekend! All titles are under $5, and as always, be sure to double check before you click that BUY button! Happy Friday!
Books 1-7 of Diana Gabaldon’s superb OUTLANDER series are under $5 on Kindle, so get ‘em while they’re hot! It’s one of my favorite series, and it’s perfect weekend reading (to go along with the new series on STARZ no less)!
SODA POP SOLDIER by Nick Cole just came out this week, and Nick stopped by to chat about it, and more! Please give him a warm welcome!
Congrats on the new book, Nick! Will you tell us a little about Soda Pop Soldier and what inspired you to write it?
I wanted to write Soda Pop Soldier after I finished the last book of The Wasteland Saga. That was Post-Apocalyptic fiction and it was gritty, grim and dark. I was ready to write something that was fun. Pure Scifi. I play a lot of video games and I knew I wanted to explore that world from a fiction perspective. Soda Pop Soldier is a lot like Ready Player One in certain ways and in other ways it’s like a Raymond Chandler noir mystery novel. I describe it to people as Call of Duty meets Ready Player One.
Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I would say yes, I have always wanted to write from about the time we start thinking about what the shape of our lives will be like. I remember reading the Lord of the Rings in the 5th grade and thinking I wanted to be a writer. I would go home after school and make maps of imaginary places. To me, at that time, that was writing. After that it was a long process of learning how to write. I started writing professionally while I was in the Army. I’d turn in little short stories to magazines and get rejected. One got through, though. After the Army I took some time off and studied acting. Then I began to write and write a lot. It took me about seven years to finish my first novel no one has read, Fight the Rooster. It’s still unpublished. After that I wrote The Old Man and the Wasteland and that did pretty well.
Please welcome Patrick Swenson to the blog! His new book, THE ULTRA THIN MAN, just came out this week and he kindly answered a few of my questions about it, why he writes, and much more!
Congrats on the release of The Ultra Thin Man! Will you tell us more about it and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! It all started as a way for my brother and me to keep in touch when he moved to California. I give him full credit for the title, and he started the ball rolling with the first installment. We didn’t even know what we were going to write. But we passed around a few chapters over a number of years. About an eighth of the book has my brother’s input. Eventually I took on the challenge of writing the bulk of it.
You’ve been a teacher for many years, but has it always been your goal to write a novel? What’s one of the first things you can remember writing?
Oh yes, I’ve wanted to be a writer most of my life. (I didn’t decide on wanting to be a teacher until high school.) I remember at age nine sitting at my desk downstairs writing a science fiction story called “Mr Mooney Goes to the Moon.” Mooney is my mom’s maiden name, and I based the character a little bit on my Grandpa Mooney. There were two sequels: “Mr. Mooney Goes to Mars,” and “Mr. Mooney Goes to North Dakota.” (We lived in Eastern Montana, right on the border of North Dakota. I guess I thought North Dakota was an alien place.)
Here are the books that I’m especially looking forward to in SFF for September! What are you looking forward to?
Synopsis-The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.
Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.
Please welcome Bishop O’Connell to the blog! His new book STOLEN: AN AMERICAN FAERIE TALE, just came out last month, and he stopped by to answer a few of my questions!
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us more about STOLEN: An American Faerie Tale, and what inspired you to write it?
Thanks! The original idea behind it was to create a modern faerie tale, to take what faerie tales used to be and bring it into the present, to create an urban faerie tale, if you will. In the end though, it became a book about heroes. Not the flashy kind that can walk through five feet of mud in a white suit and step out spotless, metaphorically speaking. These heroes are real people. They have baggage and make mistakes, sometimes horrific ones. They’re good people, not saints, but not demons either. And in the end, they accept their mistakes and just keep trying, carrying the burden of their choices for their entire lives.
Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. I recall very clearly writing a short story in first grade, Mrs. Bugg’s class (yes, that was her real name). I don’t remember what the story was, I’m sure it was a blatant retelling of a tale that was popular at the time. Mrs. Bugg read it to the class, and for a little while I became a minor celebrity. I dabbled in poetry and short stories in school, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I started taking my writing seriously. Poetry readings at coffee houses were big at that time, and I again gained some minor fame. All my poems were stories, and I loved telling them. It wasn’t long before the stories were too big for poems. So I spent less time writing poems and more time on short stories. That was also when I started my first novel that was never finished; an important step in any writer’s life. Adulthood, as it does, got in the way, and it wasn’t until years later I decided to finish a novel.
Here are the books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for September (it’s a helluva month)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10.
Synopsis (all synopsis are from Amazon or B&N)-Some say he’s a serial killer. Others, a vigilante doing what police can’t or won’t do. What’s certain is that Dean Drayhart, a paraplegic, will soon sit on death row for killing hit-and-run drivers in Los Angeles. But not if the Mexican Mafia gets hold of him first. Somewhere, Dean’s trained companion monkey Sid and girlfriend Cinda are outrunning the law in a fast ’98 Trans Am. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department wants Sid, dead or alive. Dean may be broken in body but his fierce spirit is determined to protect Sid and Cinda in the most creative ways imaginable. Hardboiled, funny, relentless, and unexpectedly tender-hearted, Bite Harder delivers riotous action all the way to a bombshell climax that could only have been written by Anonymous-9, the self-declared mad scientist of crime fiction.
Weirdo by Cathi Unsworth (House of Anansi (Spiderline))-It’s been twenty years since a terrible, supposedly ritualistic murder was committed in a small town by the sea, and Sean Ward, former detective of the London Metropolitan Police is now working cold cases as a private detective after being badly injured on the job. Corinne Woodrow has been put away for her part in the murder, and as far as the public knows, she was the only one involved, but new DNA evidence suggests there was someone else at the scene, and Sean has been hired to get at the truth. He may not prove Corinne innocent, but if there’s a chance that a killer is still on the loose, it’s his job to find the culprit. When he arrives in Ernemouth, he consults with the local police, hoping to meet some of the detectives that worked the original case and gain some insight into the events of 20 years ago. When he meets the editor of a local paper, she seems eager to help, and they each begin pursuing different aspects of the investigation. It soon becomes clear that more than just murder was going on all those years ago, and the revelations may prove fatal.
Attention crime fans: Have you discovered Cathi Unsworth yet? She’s well known in the UK, and after reading Weirdo, to me she’s right up there with the stellar talent of Megan Abbott and Tana French. The narrative goes back and forth between the events of 1984 and the Sean’s investigation in 2003, and as fascinating as the 2003 investigation is, it’s the 1984 bits that make up the real meat of this chilling novel. This is especially hard to read if you’re the parent of a teen, particularly a teen girl, which I am. Corinne Woodrow is only 15, and her lot in life is a tragic one. Her mother is a particularly cruel woman, dealing in drugs and sex, and the neglect and abuse that Corinne suffers at her hands is astonishing. The depth of depravity that Corinne was born into knows no bounds, and when she meets Debbie , she thinks she might have at last found a friend. But, as it so often happens, Debbie meets a boy, and they begin spending more and more time together, putting a bit of an unintentional rift between the girls. It’s just the gap that’s needed for something more insidious to move in. Giving away too much would spoil the myriad of twists that this book has in store, but Unsworth has her finger on the pulse of 80s small town English teen angst and their struggle to find themselves amidst so much confusion about family, the future, and of course, their place in a social hierarchy that knows no mercy.
Cathi Unsworth has been called the UK’s Queen of Noir for good reason. She goes to some very, very dark places and themes of friendship, mental illness, corruption, and just plain evil are explored with the sure hand of someone who knows her subject inside and out, and knows how to turn it into dark crime gold. This one will break your heart and terrify you in equal measure, and like I said, if you don’t know Unsworth’s work yet, here’s the perfect place to start. The final twist is particularly satisfying. Wonderfully chilling and absolutely riveting.