My Bookish Ways

Interview: Stephanie Saulter, author of Gemsigns

Please welcome Stephanie Saulter to the blog! GEMSIGNS just came out, and she was kind enough to stop by and tell us about it, and more!

stephaniesaulterIt’s so exciting that Gemsigns is finally out in the states! Will you tell us more about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I spent a huge part of my life in the States – they were very formative years for me, so having Gemsigns finally come out there feels in a weird way like bringing it all back home! I’m originally from Jamaica. I went to university in Cambridge, Massachusetts and then spent another 11 years in America – Los Angeles and Miami – before moving to London in 2003. I’ve had one of those careers that’s covered a lot of bases; real estate development, restaurants and hotels, urban regeneration, affordable housing, some public policy work, corporate consulting.

Have I always wanted to be a writer? Probably, though it’s only been in the last ten years or so that I started to think I knew enough to do it well.

Will you tell us more about GEMSIGNS and the Gems, and what inspired you to write the series?
Gemsigns was me writing the kind of story I wanted to read, but that no one else seemed to be writing. I wasn’t finding much science fiction that paid attention to the social sciences, or in which the imagined future was in dialogue with the reality of the present and the past. I’m really interested in how people relate to each other, and how that differs according to race, appearance, class, gender, culture, religion, education – you name it. We humans are incredibly judgemental. I wanted to write a story that let me explore the ways those judgements are made, and the kinds of logic – or illogic – that they’re based on. Creating the gems was a way of setting up a group of people that stand outside of the frameworks we’re already familiar with; but that can stand in for all of them. I also thought that it ought to be possible to write an entertaining science fiction thriller with multiple, twisty plotlines wherein the conflicts arise out of very recognisable concerns – economic and social pressures, corporate power, moral panics, media campaigns, political posturing. And there are a whole load of genre tropes and character archetypes that I am frankly sick to death of; so I wanted to see if I could write stories that didn’t rely on them, but that were just as exciting and engaging for the reader as the ones that do.

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Giveaway: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair: A Novel by Joel Dicker

Courtesy of Penguin, I have a copy of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker up for grabs! Check out the book and the giveaway details (US/Canada), and good luck!

August 30, 1975: the day fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods, never to be heard from again; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.

Thirty-three years later, Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of the country’s most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer’s block as his publisher’s deadline looms. But Marcus’s plans are violently upended when Harry is suddenly and sensationally implicated in the cold-case murder of Nola Kellergan—whom, he admits, he had an affair with. As the national media convicts Harry, Marcus launches his own investigation, following a trail of clues through his mentor’s books, the backwoods and isolated beaches of New Hampshire, and the hidden history of Somerset’s citizens and the man they hold most dear. To save Harry, his own writing career, and eventually even himself, Marcus must answer three questions, all of which are mysteriously connected: Who killed Nola Kellergan? What happened one misty morning in Somerset in the summer of 1975? And how do you write a book to save someone’s life?

A chart-topping worldwide phenomenon, with sales approaching a million copies in France alone and rights sold in more than thirty countries, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller, and an ingenious book within a book, by a dazzling young writer.

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Interview: Tom Doyle, author of American Craftsmen

Please welcome Tom Doyle to the blog! His debut novel, AMERICAN CRAFTSMENT, just came out yesterday and he stopped by to answer a few questions about it, and more!

tomdoyleTom, welcome to the blog, and congrats on the new book, AMERICAN CRAFTSMEN! Will you tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write it?
Thanks for inviting me to My Bookish Ways! American Craftsmen is a modern-day fantasy of military intrigue. The craftsmen of the title are magician soldiers and psychic spies descended from some of the founding families of the country. Two craft soldiers from rival families, Dale Morton and Michael Endicott, fight against a treasonous cabal in the Pentagon’s highest covert ranks.

Oddly enough, one of my initial inspirations for this novel was L. Frank Baum. When he began telling children’s stories, he had the idea of discarding the existing European folk tales and building a fantasy that was modern and distinctly American. That’s how we got The Wizard of Oz.

I wasn’t going to write a children’s story, but the idea of confining myself to a U.S. mythos for an adult fantasy was very appealing. At first, my book was going to cover a whole secret world of American magic. But the reader of my earliest draft section, author Stephanie Dray, saw the military intrigue element and said, “This is great. Do this.” I really owe her a lot for getting me to focus on that plotline.

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The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Steadfast by Jack Campbell

lostfleetThe Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Steadfast by Jack Campbell (Ace, May 6th, 2014/Reviewed by Peter)-Black Jack Geary and his lovely bride, Captain Tanya Desjani, finally have some time to be away from the ship and to be a married couple, enjoying the sights of old Earth with tours of the Great Wall, Stonehenge and …. wait a minute, some of their sailors have been kidnapped and the couple is hustled off in the middle of the night to prevent their own kidnapping. As they flee Earth (their belated honeymoon cut short), they are dogged by stealth ships trying to corral them. Oh, and those kidnapped sailors? They end up in the worst place in the universe where simply getting too close is a death sentence. How will our intrepid heroes save themselves and their doomed crew members?

So begins Jack Campbell’s latest installment of his Black Jack sage, The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier: Steadfast. And this is just the warm up in the first few chapters! No one can accuse Jack Campbell of taking too long to get the ball rolling. If you like Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet, you will not be disappointed with the latest installment.

Black Jack, though hero of the Alliance, is also the thing the ruling elite fear the most. Black Jack is so popular that the ruling elite know that the populace would happily chuck them onto the trash heap and elevate Jack Geary as the leader of a new Alliance, a job he has no interest in. Needless to say this is not something that sits nicely with those who have lived comfortably while sending generations of their people off to die in a never ending war. The problem is how do you manage to take Black Jack down without causing the very uprising that you are desperately striving to prevent? They have tried time and again to stack the deck so heavily against him with missions that no man could possibly survive. But he always manages to find a solution to the Gordian knots presented to him. Why won’t the man have the decency to die and become a legend again instead of a flesh and blood man whose mere existence threatens them so?

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The Troop by Nick Cutter

thetroopThe Troop by Nick Cutter (Gallery, Feb.2014)-There’s a certain highly skilled Canadian author writing under the name “Nick Cutter” and it’s a rather appropriate name, given that “Nick’s” new book, The Troop, does involve a fair amount of cutting, and I don’t mean the kind involved in a normal Boy Scout outing. Ok, so, we’ll take it from the top. A troop of boys, led by their Scoutmaster, Tim Riggs (a doctor, by the way), is on tiny Falstaff Island for a few days of hiking, camping, and general Boy Scout fun. The problem is, a stranger has just arrived on the beach, and it’s immediately clear to Tim that something is very, very wrong. Actually, “wrong” is kind of an understatement. Something is living inside of the stranger, and it’s just dying to get out and spread its rather unique form of destruction. Luckily, for the stranger, Tim and his troop of five boys are the perfect breeding ground for what he carries, and he’s just dying to meet them (sorry, couldn’t help it.)

At first, Tim tries to help the man, but soon realizes that he’s wayyy beyond help. Then Tim starts feeling poorly. Then all hell pretty much starts breading loose as the boys realize that something very terrible is happening on their little island. But hey, it’ll be ok, right? Because their parents will come for them, right? Right?? It’s soon pretty evident that help isn’t coming soon, and there’s a reason for that. The island has been quarantined. Nothing in, nothing out. Doesn’t bode well for our boys, does it.

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A chat with Nancy Baker, author of The Night Inside

Please welcome Nancy Baker to the blog, whose vampire novel, THE NIGHT INSIDE, was recently reissued by ChiZine. She was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the book, and more!

NBphotoYour vampire novel, THE NIGHT INSIDE, has recently been reissued by ChiZine. Will you tell us a little bit about it?
THE NIGHT INSIDE is about Ardeth, a Toronto graduate student, who is kidnapped to feed a half-mad captive vampire. As she tries to reach the man she can sense behind the madness and hunger and gets to know Dimitri Rozokov, she realizes that her only chance of escape is to ally herself with the monster who could kill her. The consequences of what she will do to survive force her to face the evil of humans, the need of vampires, and the darkness inside herself.

The story grew from a number of influences – an incident in Suzy McKee Charnas’ THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY, the goth scene on Toronto Queen Street during the late 1980s, my interest in what it would be like to be an ordinary person confronted with the reality of life as a vampire – and gradually grew from a short story to a novel.

My next book was a sequel, BLOOD AND CHRYSANTHEMUMS, (also reissued by ChiZine) which explored in more detail what it might be like to actually try to live – not just exist – as a vampire in contemporary Canada. I also had to chance to explore another culture through the diary of a 1,000 year old Japanese vampire, whose experience and interpretation of his long life are framed by a very different world.

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The 2013 Agatha Award Winners!

Sorry about being a little late with these, guys and gals, but here are the 2013 Agatha Award winners, which were announced on the 3rd! Congrats to all the winners (winners are highlighted)!

Best Contemporary Novel:

  • The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
  • Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur Books)
  • Pagan Spring by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur Books)
  • How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
  • Clammed Up by Barbara Ross (Kensington Books)

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Interview (& Giveaway): Charlie Fletcher, author of The Oversight

Charlie Fletcher’s fantastic new book, THE OVERSIGHT, is out today, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Please give him a warm welcome!

Also, we’ve got 5 signed bookplates to give away, so be sure to check out the details at the end of the post!

charliefletcherYou have an extensive career in film, but have you always wanted to write fiction? Will you tell us a little more about yourself and your background?
Always a massive reader, read everything all the time, obsessively and indiscriminately, looking back on it. (Pro tip: you know – or I did – that your reading jones is out of hand when you catch your book-less self taking a cereal packet into the bathroom with you so you’ll at least have something to read while you’re in there). I had a truly great English teacher when I was about 16 who made me take writing seriously and suggested that doing so would serve me better than pretending to be a philistine obsessed with contact sports, which was my default school-survival position until that point. Don’t know what luck made me aware enough to listen to him, because being smart about myself was not a particularly strong characteristic of my teenage iteration, but I’m really happy I did.

Studied Literature at university in Scotland, worked at the BBC as a film editor, then went to USC Film School where I was seduced into screenwriting by another great teacher called Frank Daniel who was the Dean of the school at the time. I wrote my first book as an antidote to the development process in movies, which can be a bit spiritually sapping at times: I did it for my kids, mainly so they’d know I could tell them a story and not just spend all day writing stuff that never quite got made. (Or worse, in my case, sometimes did get made…)

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Scan by Walter Jury and S.E. Fine

scanScan by Walter Jury and S.E. Fine (Putnam, May 1st, 2017)-Tate Archer is fed up. He’s fed up with what his dad puts him through day in and day out: learning multiple languages, higher math, on and on, with never any reason why he’s expected to be the perfect teen, the perfect man. He does know that his father has worked on weapons for the government, and his dad’s got a secret room full of (very dangerous) toys. One day, he and his girlfriend, Christina, discover a device that Tate hasn’t seen before.  Tate, on a whim, takes it to school the next day, and that’s when everything pretty much goes to hell. He finds out that an alien race, called the H2, have actually lived among us for four centuries, and they want to get their hands on the device, but why? Soon, Tate’s father, Fred, and another man, Race Lavin, arrive at the school with the police in tow, and it’s immediately  obvious that Fred and Race are not on the same team.  Tate and Christina do manage to get away, but not before Fred is shot and killed. On their own, Tate and Christina have no choice but to head to Tate’s estranged mother, who will hopefully have some answers. She does have answers, in fact, and Tate learns that the struggle between humans and the H2 is worldwide, and much bigger than he could have imagined.

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Giveaway: Suspicion by Joseph Finder

Love suspense? Want to win a copy of SUSPICION by Joseph Finder (out May 27th)? Courtesy of Riffle, we’ve got 4 copies up for grabs, so here’s your chance (US/Canada, ends May 27th)

suspicionAbout SUSPICION:
When single father Danny Goodman suddenly finds himself unable to afford the private school his teenage daughter adores, he has no one to turn to for financial support.

In what seems like a stroke of brilliant luck, Danny meets Thomas Galvin, the father of his daughter’s new best friend, who also happens to be one of the wealthiest men in Boston. Galvin is aware of Danny’s situation and out of the blue offers a $50,000 loan to help Danny cover his daughter’s tuition. Uncomfortable but desperate, Danny takes the money, promising to pay Galvin back.

What transpires is something Danny never imagined. The moment the money is wired into his account, the DEA comes knocking on his door. Danny’s impossible choice: an indictment for accepting drug money that he can’t afford to fight in court, or an unthinkably treacherous undercover assignment helping the government get close to his new family friend.

As Danny begins to lie to everyone in his life, including those he loves most in the world, he must decide once and for all who the real enemy is or risk losing everything—and everyone—that matters to him.

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