My Bookish Ways

T. Jefferson Parker ebooks only $2.99!

T. Jefferson Parker is one of my favorite suspense writers, and look at all these titles from his backlist that are on sale!! Haven’t discovered his work yet? Now is the perfect time, and at only $2.99 a pop!

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A chat with Daryl Gregory, author of Afterparty

AFTERPARTY, Daryl Gregory’s excellent new book, is out next week, and I’m thrilled that he answered a few of my questions about it, and much more! Please welcome Daryl to the blog!

darylgregoryYou’re a very accomplished, award winning novelist, and your new book, Afterparty, is excellent, but did you always want to write? Will you tell us a little more about yourself and your background?
I don’t feel like I had a choice in becoming a writer. When I first started to read I automatically wanted to start telling stories too. I read everything I can get my hands on. I would show up at the checkout lane of the White Hen Pantry or the K-Mart with another comic book or cheap paperback in my hands, and my parents, God bless ’em, bought it for me every time. When I started writing, they didn’t know what to make of me, but they supported me, and let me drag my typewriter along on vacations.

I’m sure my parents would rather not hear this, but I credit much of my development as a writer to being bored to death at church. We were Southern Baptists, and went to church a lot–three times a week minimum. To keep me occupied, they let me bring notebooks to scribble in, and gradually doodles gave way to D&D maps and story ideas. I wanted to write “real” stories but I didn’t know how publishing worked. I only knew that my goal in life was to have a cheap paperback in the science fiction rack at K-Mart. I’ve yet to realize this dream, so I’m going to keep going.

What inspired you to write Afterparty? Will you tell us a little about how the idea came about?
For years I’ve been reading neuroscience and philosophy books for the layperson. I find the problems of consciousness to be really interesting, and weird facts about the way our brains work have made it into my short stories. For example, I’ve written stories about temporal lobe epilepsy, sociopathy, and the illusion of the self (as in my story “Second Person, Present Tense”). However, this was the first time I’ve tried to tackle these ideas at book length. Growing up in the church like I did, I guess it was no surprise that I’d concentrate on a new form of religion.
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Apex Operation Fourth Story: A Roundtable with AC Wise, Lisa McCurrach, and Russell Dickerson

We’ve got another fun post today in honor of Apex Magazine’s Operation Fourth Story. I asked a question, and AC Wise, Lisa McCurrach, and Russell Dickerson answered. If you’d like to support Apex, or, of course, subscribe, head on over to their website for more details!

ApexMag04Here’s my question: What have been the most rewarding/challenging aspects of writing SFF, what do you love most about the genre, and what do you enjoy most about being part of the SFF community!

AC Wise: I grew up reading SFF, from the fairy tales and ghost stories I read as a kid, to discovering Ray Bradbury in high school, and beyond. My bookshelves are crammed with novels, graphic novels, anthologies, and short story collections, almost every one of them with some sort of speculative bent. The most rewarding and challenging aspects of writing SFF are really the same thing. It’s incredible being part of the tradition I grew up loving, putting books containing words I wrote on my shelf beside the greats of the genre. It’s also intimidating, wanting to live up to those authors whose works I adore and prove myself worthy of sharing that shelf space. It’s a good motivating factor. It keeps me pushing to improve my craft and trying to do even better the next time.

What I enjoy most about being part of the SFF community is meeting so many wonderful people willing to share their knowledge, squee together over shiny things, celebrate together over victories, and console each other over losses. It’s lovely being surrounded by people who share my passion for books and general geekdom.

About AC Wise:
A.C. Wise was born and raised in Montreal, and currently lives in the Philadelphia area. She is the author of numerous short stories in print and online, and she co-edits the Journal of Unlikely Entomology. You can also find her at online at, on twitter as ac_wise, and on Google+ as A.C. Wise.

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May 2014 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for May (click on the covers to pre-order)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10. These are in no particular order. 

plastercityPlaster City by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer-May 1st)

Synopsis (all synopsis are from Amazon or B&N)-Jimmy Veeder and Bobby Maves are back at it, two years after the events of Dove Season—they’re not exactly the luckiest guys in the Imperial Valley, but, hey, they win more fights than they lose.

Settled on his own farmland and living like a true family man after years of irresponsible fun, Jimmy’s got a straight life cut out for him. But he’s knocking years off that life thanks to fun-yet-dangerous Bobby’s booze-addled antics—especially now that Bobby is single, volatile, profane as ever, and bored as hell.

When Bobby’s teenage daughter goes missing, he and Jimmy take off on a misadventure that starts out as merely unfortunate and escalates to downright calamitous. Bobby won’t hesitate to kick a hornets’ nest to get the girl to safety, but when the rescue mission goes riotously sideways, the duo’s grit—and loyalty to each other—is put to the test.

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2014 Edgar Award Nominee Spotlight: Alex Marwood, author of The Wicked Girls

I’m thrilled to have Alex Marwood, author of THE WICKED GIRLS as my guest today in my interview series featuring 2014 Edgar Award nominees! Please give her a warm welcome!

alexmarwoodCongrats on your Edgar nom for Best Paperback Original! Will you tell us a little about THE WICKED GIRLS, and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! I can’t quite believe how my life has changed over the past couple of years. Like most ‘overnight successes’ it’s been a long time getting to this point, and I still have to pinch myself. The Wicked Girls is the story of Kirstie and Amber, who, as children, became notorious for their involvement in the death of a smaller child, and have been living with the consequences of their actions during a single afternoon ever since. Twenty-five years on. Rehabilitated and released with new identities and a license that forbids them from ever having contact again, both are leading blameless lives among people who have no idea of their terrible history. But when a serial killer starts stalking the streets of the run-down seaside resort where Amber works as a fairground cleaner, Kirstie, now a journalist, is sent to cover the story, and the two are thrown together – both drawn to each other by their shared history and terrified that their meeting will cause the past to be revealed…

A number of things inspired me to write this book. It – the idea of how you’d live with yourself and rebuild your life after doing something terrible – had been bubbling under since I saw Heavenly Creatures back in the Nineties, but it took a long time for it to become clear what I wanted to do with it. We have had a number of notorious child murder cases in the UK – still have them, of course, but the law was changed after Thompson and Venables to provide anonymity for underage killers – and as a journalist I was often quite shocked by the difference between the court reports as they came over the wires and the accounts of the same trials as recounted in some papers. I think that, also, as this was my first foray into writing under a pseudonym, the idea of living in secret was, at least subconsciously, at the forefront of my mind.
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The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher

theoversightThe Oversight by Charlie Fletcher (Orbit, May 6, 2013)-The Oversight is one of those books that, about two pages in, I knew I was in for something good. It begins with an excerpt from The Great and Hidden History of the World by Rabbi Dr. Hayyim Samuel Falk, detailing the function of the Free Company known as The Oversight of London, specifically in protecting innocent humans from the actions of untoward supranaturals. The Oversight has always been manned by people with both supranatural and human blood, so that they may better understand the kinds of beings that they are sworn to protect the human population from. So it begins that a young girl is brought to The Oversight’s Safe House in a sack, mouth covered and hands wrapped, by a man who has been told that the proprietor of said headquarters would pay a pretty penny for young girls. Sara Falk, head of the last Hand of the Oversight, is looking for no such thing, but she finds out that the young girl in question, Lucy Harker, is much like her, and vows to protect her. Lucy’s arrival, however, seems to be the catalyst for bad things to come, and Mr. Sharp, Oversight sentinel and Sara’s protector (whether she likes it or not), is suspicious of Lucy’s arrival from the beginning. He’s right to be suspicious, because there are those that know that the once hundreds strong Oversight is now only five, and they are looking to not only destroy them, but take for them a key that could shift the balance of power in a profound way. Soon, Lucy is separated from the Hand and tragedy befalls Sara. Mr. Sharp is determined to make Sarah whole, even if it threatens their entire existence, and Lucy must make her way amongst a traveling carnival that hides its own dark secrets.
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Interview: Cassandra Rose Clarke, author of The Wizard’s Promise

It’s always a pleasure to have Cassandra Rose Clarke on the blog, and I’m thrilled that she’s here to talk about her upcoming novel, THE WIZARD’S PROMISE, which will be out on May 6th from Strange Chemistry!

cassandraroseclarkeCongrats on the new book! Merboys and lady pirates? I’m there. Will you tell us a little about THE WIZARD’S PROMISE and what inspired you to write it?
The Wizard’s Promise is a YA adventure fantasy that follows the adventures of Hanna, a girl who wants to be a witch but is currently apprenticed to a fisherman. When her boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when the merboy—who’s not exactly a merboy, but definitely something un-human—starts following them. If you want to find out his whole deal, though, you’ll need to read the book!

The Wizard’s Promise is actually a semi-sequel to my other YA duology. Although I finished that story with The Pirate’s Wish, I didn’t want to just abandon the world—or the characters—I had created for it. So I decided to look at a new set of characters in a new part of the world, where I could develop new facets of the world’s culture and look more closely at places that had only been mentioned in the first two books.
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Operation Fourth Story Interview: Cameron Salisbury, Managing Editor of Apex Magazine

The newest Apex Magazine digital subscription drive has been dubbed Operation Fourth Story, and in honor of that, a few of us are hosting editors, authors and artist that have all contributed to Apex Magazine! Today, please welcome Cameron Salisbury, Managing Editor of Apex!

ApexMag04Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to work in editing?
I’m a giant dilettante. My father is a scientist and my mother is an artist, so, growing up, the whole family would be out fossil hunting one weekend and poking around a gallery the next. It took me a long time even to decide whether I wanted to focus on science or humanities in school. I wound up studying languages and education, though I still keep up my Scientific American subscription. I finished grad school just in time for the recession, moved to Boston to be close to my best friends, and landed a nice, steady job that pays the bills and leaves plenty of time in the evenings for writing and editing. My editing career has kind of snuck up on me over the past few years, but these days I love it best, and I love my niche and the range of genre fiction and nonfiction, fan, pro, and academic work that crosses my desk. I’d love to transition into editing full time.

You’re the managing editor of Apex Magazine (and Symposium Editor for Transformative Works and Cultures), and you also juggle a day job! Will you give us a day-in-the-life for you?
Lots of snack breaks. I get up early, check my feeds, and hop on the train, where I usually ride with my head buried in an old sci-fi mag or anthology, trawling for reprints. Then it’s nine hours of day job before I zip home again and curl up with my laptop and my Apex and TWC inboxes. A big part of my job for Apex is distributing the slush pile among our thirteen magnificent submissions editors. We get hundreds of submissions per week, and we’re about to announce an exciting chance to our guidelines that will likely increase that number. I also field queries, solicit art, essays and reprints, copy edit, keep an eye on our social media, and act as an extra set of hands for solving all the random, minor puzzles that pop up as issues come together. My favorite task is helping Sigrid, Apex’s editor in chief, sort all the content we purchase into coherent issues — groups of stories that complement and talk to each other in interesting ways.
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Interview: Michael J Sullivan, author of Hollow World

Michael J Sullivan’s new book, HOLLOW WORLD, just came out in March and he stopped by to chat about it, and more!

michaeljsullivanCongrats on the new book! Will you tell us a little about HOLLOW WORLD and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you very much, and I’d love to tell you more about Hollow World. It’s the story of Ellis Rogers who is pretty much an “ordinary Joe.” He is rather intelligent (he builds his own time machine after all), but he also has everyday problems such as a failing marriage and personal regrets he carries around. When diagnosed with a terminal disease, he has nothing to lose, so he goes into the future hoping to find a cure. What he discovers I’ll not go into, as I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but suffice to say it’s a future he didn’t expect. Ellis is caught up in a murder mystery and through the course of the novel I explore themes about individuality, what it means to love, and the price of paradise.

As for the inspiration behind Hollow World, it started because of an anthology I was asked to contribute to. I wrote a short story with a kind of “Twilight Zone” vibe, where someone from our time goes into the future resembling John Lennon’s song Imagine…a world with no religion, countries, greed or hunger…and although it would seem utopic, he sees it as hell on earth since much of what he values has disappeared over the years. In that short story he is “locked away” as his outdated thinking may infect and spoil the world he arrives in. I showed the short to my wife and a few writer friends and they all came back with the same response, which basically boiled down to there was a lot of potential in the ideas presented, and it should be expanded into a novel. I ended up writing a different short story for the anthology so I could make use of some of the elements of the short for Hollow World.
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Interview: Daniel Levine, author of Hyde

Daniel Levine’s debut novel, HYDE, just came out in March, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the new book, and more!

daniellevineCongratulations on your new book, HYDE! Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a little more about yourself and your background?
In fifth grade I wrote an essay envisioning my life in twenty-five years. I imagined myself as a horror writer, divorced from my wife who wanted me to be a lawyer instead. I was fortunate to grow up in a house filled with books. My parents are voracious readers and academics—my mother a professor of Spanish Literature and my father a physicist. They read to me (and my brother) over the years. I loved storytelling, the genuine suspense of not knowing what would happen next, the sleights of hand. I loved too the special voice a storyteller takes on. The storyteller must be a kind of outsider, looking in on the drama, observing with sharpened senses, distinct from the rest of humanity by virtue of his/her narrative power. I think I’ve always felt like an outsider in this sense: that I was observing with keen interest the action around me, and responding to it with colorful emotional analysis. The events of my life, compared with others, haven’t been especially dramatic or difficult: a happy childhood in the New Jersey suburbs, good schooling, violin lessons, athletics, a fine college education, graduate school. No abuse or trauma or strife, not like my Henry Jekyll, certainly. But I lead a rich inner life, romantic, brooding, and grand. It’s the urge to birth this inner life that drives writers to write, I imagine. It was my natural impulse. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.
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