My Bookish Ways

A chat with Jonathan Oliver on his new anthology Dangerous Games, and what comes next

Jon_OliverJonathan Oliver is a legend in SFF, and he was kind enough to stop by and talk about his brand new collection Dangerous Games (the author line up for this is amazing), so please give him a warm welcome!

I’m very excited about your new collection! Will you tell us a little about the theme behind Dangerous Games and what you think sets it apart from other collections that you’ve edited?
It’s an anthology themed around games. As I wanted to keep the collection as wide as possible, I didn’t choose to focus on one type of game in my brief – so it covers a whole panoply of themes: gambling, dangerous sports, the nature of the players of games and what games do to people, games as an escape, games as confrontation etc. I hope that each collection has its own flavour, as each has its own theme, but, as ever, what I set out to do is create the sort of anthology I would want to read as a fan. I look for the very best writers I can, and try to produce a collection that is diverse, exciting and entertaining.

How do you go about choosing stories for a collection?
I start with the theme and then I have a think about which writers would be a good fit. There are writers I’ve worked with several times, and then there are writers who are new to me and who I want to try out, or writers whose work I’ve admired for a while but haven’t had a chance to work with until now. Each of my anthologies is on an ‘invite only’ basis, but the short fiction market is in such a healthy state rate now, that fortunately there is a wealth of talent to choose from.

dangerousgamesHow long does it usually take to put together a collection?
Roughly, about a year. In publishing we tend to plan everything a year or more in advance. An anthology is usually only truly locked down until about 5 months before publication. This way, the collections evolve over the year.

You’ve been in publishing and editing for a while, and have written a few of your own books, but is this something you’ve always wanted to do? Will you tell us a little about how you got into the biz, and also about that Masters Degree in Science Fiction?
I’ve written for a long time now, and I suppose I’d love to be a full-time writer, in a way. However, I know how much bloody hard work is involved, and how difficult it can be to keep yourself and your loved ones afloat. So tinkering with words while having a day job is an ideal situation for me. I have written a couple of novels, but I don’t really have the energy to do a third at the moment. Hopefully that will change. This year has been exceptionally busy, both work-wise and life-wise, but I’m very slowly to get back the writing mojo with short fiction.

I’ve been in genre editing for about 10 years and before that I worked in academic publishing. I’ve always been a fan of science-fiction, fantasy and horror so when the opening at Rebellion came up, I leapt at it. The Kingsleys (the brothers who run this company) have shown extraordinary faith in me, letting me pretty much set up one imprint entirely from scratch and taking over another large imprint. It’s a story of extraordinary luck, really – and, naturally, a lot of hard work and a great deal of enthusiasm.
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Kindle deals under $5 are good for the soul!

Here are over 60 reasons to blow up your TBR and feed your ereader, and all of them are under $5 (except for a few of the Dashner books, which are right at $5.) Enjoy, and remember, these don’t last long, so get ‘em while they’re hot, and don’t forgot to doublecheck the price before you hit the BUY button!

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Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba #1) by Daniel José Older

halfresHalf-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older (Roc, Jan 6th, 2015)-I’ve been waiting so very long for a full length novel featuring Carlos Delacruz, who works for the New York Council for the Dead. I first met Carlos in Older’s magnificent story collection Salsa Nocturna and so, of course, I couldn’t wait to dig into this. A bit of history: Carlos is an inbetweener, both alive and dead, and he has very little memory of who he was before he “died” and went to work for the Council. It makes for a bit of a lonely life, although he does value his friends and coworkers. When the book opens, Carlos gets orders to take out a man named Trevor that is threatening the stability of an entrada (an entrance into the underworld), and he does, not knowing that this will lead him into some rather startling revelations about his past, not to mention a very powerful sorcerer, Sarco, that seeks to destroy the barrier between the living and the dead.

If you know Daniel José Older’s work, then you know how he writes. I imagine he writes like he plays music, with a lyrical quality that is nearly impossible to tear yourself away from. Carlos is the narrator, and he wears his pain on his sleeve, his loneliness always palpable. After all, as far as he knows, he’s the only of his kind. And yet, he’s not afraid to fight the good fight, and his sarcasm is as sharp as a freshly stropped razor, as is his sense of humor. I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that Carlos does find clues about his past, and meets a woman that may have the key to his future. First though, he’s got to take care of a pretty nasty imp infestation that seems to be directly associated with Sarco. Those imps are nasty business, and the first time we meet one is, well, you’ll see. I’ve never quite read anything like it. The imagery is so twisted. So very, very twisted.

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Six by Six Kickstarter: Stories by Martha Wells, Will McIntosh, Stephen Gaskell, Tina Connolly, Brenda Cooper, and Bradley P Beaulieu

So, there’s this new Kickstarter for an anthology that will feature 6 stories each from Martha Wells, Will McIntosh, Tina Connolly, Stephen Gaskell,  Brenda Cooper, and Bradley P Beaulieu. What more do you really need? Anyway, in order to go forward with the project, they’ll need to raise $6,000 by December 30th. What say we help ‘em out? Go visit the Kickstarter page and take a look at the video, and of course, pledge!!

Interview ( and giveaway): Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of Sustenance (Saint-Germain)

chelseaquinnyarbroChelsea Quinn Yarbro is a legend (she’s been writing for over 40 years, and has sold over 80 books), and her newest Saint-Germain novel, Sustenance, is out today! Please welcome her to the blog, and be sure to enter my giveaway for 2 copies of the book, courtesy of the lovely folks at Tor. Also, note that books 1-3 in the Saint-Germain series can be had for under $3 on ebook:)

Your new Saint-Germain novel, SUSTENANCE, will be out soon! Will you give us a bit of a teaser?
Sustenance takes place from 1949-1952, at the height of the HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee) and Senator Joe McCarthy’s powerful attack on domestic communism — most of which did not exist — and its impact on the academic community, many of whom lost jobs and access to publishing. A number of those academics fled to Europe, and come upon a publisher willing to take them on; Saint-Germain’s Eclipse Press is the publisher, and the story revolves around his relationship with the ex-pat academics, reporter, and printer.

For readers that haven’t yet discovered Count Saint-Germain, will you tell us a bit about him, and what inspired you to start writing this series of books?
Le Comte de Saint-Germain was a real man who showed up in Paris in 1743, a rich, cultured foreigner who claimed at one time or another to be three or four thousand years old. He had a manservant named Roger, who said he had met Saint-Germain in Rome when the Flavian Circus (the Colosseum) when Vespasian was Caesar. He was known to be an alchemist, belonging to at least three occult brotherhoods, and often told tales of his history. He wore black and white exclusively, never ate nor drank in public, and had no romantic relationships that could be discovered. He said he kept his youth by drinking the Elixir of Life. It wasn’t much of a push to turn him into a vampire, and to take advantages of his stories of his adventures for four out of the first five books. He provides me the point of view of an outsider to look at cultures and societies in the past, and to tell stories about the lives of women in many historical settings.

sustenanceDid you ever imagine when you started the series, that it would become so popular?
No, I didn’t think it would be so durable; I wanted to see if there was a positive side to the vampire myth, and it seems there is.

How do you keep things fresh after all these years with such a long series? Not only that, but how do you keep all the time lines and details straight?
Since each novel is essentially a stand-alone — you may come to the series at any time and begin with any period that strikes your fancy — I have a new framework to address in each of the books, so that freshness isn’t really problem. In terms of keeping things straight, I have an extensive chronology that I update regularly, and it keeps me from putting my foot in my mouth too often, although I do occasionally screw up; my readers let me know when I do.

How do you think Saint-Germain has grown has a character the most during the course of the series?
While I hope that Saint-Germain reveals new aspects of himself in each book, since my intention is to write about women’s lives, I put my main focus on them, and trust Saint-Germain to continue to be his complex, honorable self.

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Endsinger (The Lotus War #3) by Jay Kristoff

endsingerEndsinger by Jay Kristoff (St.Martin’s Press, Nov. 25th,2014)-So, once again Kristoff yanked my heart out of my chest, stomped on it a few times, and then smeared it all over the floor. It was a mess. Seriously.

That said, if you haven’t discovered this trilogy yet, now’s the time to get on it, because you can grab all three and binge read. To bring you up to date in a very basic way, civil war is looming in Shima, and Yukiko is trying to gather as much help as she can, including the arishitora, from whom Buruu is estranged. The rebels seek to destroy the blood lotus that has ravaged the land, corrupted so many, and taken so many lives. It’s time for the people to take the land back.

There is so much that I just don’t want to say in this review, because it would ruin it. However, if you’ve read the previous two books (Stormdancer and Kinslayer), you know the awesome that is Yukiko and Buruu, and what their bond is like (Yukiko can communicate telepathically with just about all living things), and also what Yukiko has at stake. Just wait until you meet the rest of the arishitora (the thunder tigers.) Remember, Yukiko’s beloved Kin has returned to the Guild for…reasons, and the Guild is about to unleash their terrifying Earthcrusher, a clockwork behemoth built only to destroy. You know you loved to hate Hito, and he’s part of the fight against the civil war, but come on, you know Kristoff makes characters that are extremely complicated, so be sure to keep an open mind.

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December 2014 New Releases in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Here are the new releases in SF, Fantasy, and Horror for December 2014. Behold the awesome!


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December 2014 New Releases in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the new releases in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for December 2014. You’re sure to find something to fatten up your TBR list!


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A few Kindle deals to kick off your weekend (all under $5)!

I’m taking tomorrow off, but I found some deals that I just couldn’t resist posting. These are all under $5 (Kindle), and good as of the time of the post (11/26), but I have no idea how long they’ll last, so snap ‘em up while you can!

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Interview: Sophie Masson, author of Trinity

sophiewelcome Sophie Masson to the blog! More than 50 of her novels have been published in Australia, and her brand new urban fantasy, Trinity (Momentum/Pan Macmillan), just came out earlier this month. Sophie kindly answered a few of my questions about the book, and more!

Will you tell us a bit about Trinity and what inspired you to write it?
Trinity is part urban fantasy, part thriller, part romance, but at its heart it’s a novel about the unexpected erupting into a life and the huge transformations that brings. When the novel starts, the main female character, Helen Clement is uncertain, nervous, uneasy about a lot of things—she feels like she’s been living in a ‘grey world’–but arriving in Russia changes all that, as passion, excitement, danger and terror explode into her life and she is forced to cope with things she could never have imagined—both natural and supernatural. For better or for worse, nothing will ever be the same again for her. As well as being a gripping story, it’s also about the addictive magic of a place like Russia—and I guess that’s what inspired me in the first place. Going to Russia, a country I’d been fascinated about for so long, was like the spark that lit the bonfire!

Why did you choose Russia as the setting for Trinity? What kind of research did you do for the novel?
I chose it because not only have I been fascinated by Russia since I was a kid, but also it’s the perfect setting for urban fantasy—it’s a country where magic and technology mix naturally, where people believe all kinds of weird and amazing things but are also very down to earth and modern. I did heaps of research—on the spot in Russia(which I’ve visited twice) plus a lot of reading of all kinds, everything from Russian history to books about magic and the occult and also lots of stuff on the Internet. I had such fun doing that research—it’s one of the great things about being a writer, you get to learn so much!

trinityWhy do you think readers will root for Helen and Alexey?
Because they are very human—their dilemmas are understandable, and they are also full of possibility, of that human desire to build something beautiful and wonderful. Helen as I mentioned earlier is uncertain and nervous at the beginning but she grows a lot in strength as the story goes on, and finds her own courage and meaning; and Alexey is just one of those fantastic people who know what they want and who dream big dreams and can sweep people along with them. But he’s also sensitive and especially, he is not scared—or he does not allow fear to rule his life. He dares to dream—and so he inspires people—his staff at Trinity, and of course, Helen.

What did you enjoy most about writing Trinity?
I loved the whole experience—creating the characters, the setting, the story. It just feels like everything came together so well in it!

You’re the author of many books for children and adults. How do you think you’ve grown as a writer over the course of your career?
I’ve become more confident, I know my own strengths and weaknesses, and how to build one up while making sure the other doesn’t trip me up! I feel that my life experiences and my reading has also greatly enriched my writing.

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