Please welcome Nicholas Sansbury Smith to the blog! I was thrilled to be able to ask Nick about his Orbs series (Book 2 is out this week), and much more!
Orbs 2: Stranded, just dropped and you’ve got Orbs 3: Redemption coming out in 2015 from Simon451. Will you tell us more about the series and what inspired you to write it?
The inspiration for the Orbs series came from a variety of sources, so it’s hard to narrow it down, but I can tell you where the idea behind the title started. Two years ago I was vacationing in Mexico. The second to last night of the trip I was strolling across our resort when I discovered these beautiful blue spheres. They were set up for a wedding along the ocean, with the surf crashing on the beach behind them. It was a beautiful and kind of odd sight. At that point, the idea of the biosphere was already firmly planted in my mind. So was the premise of human’s disappearing after Dr. Sophie Winston’s team entered the biosphere. But when I saw the glowing balls and the ocean beyond I began thinking about the invasion and the pieces finally came together. Orbs was a story I wanted to tell for years, and it really came together after Mexico and during my Ironman triathlon training. I spent thousands of hours running, biking and swimming to prepare for that race and much of what you read in Orbs was created in my mind during the training.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
I went to college thinking I would eventually go to law school. Then I graduated and had a job offer to work at the Iowa State House for Governor Tom Vilsack. I took it and started a graduate night program. I wasn’t happy. Deep down I always fantasized about writing full-time. I loved to tell stories and I wrote a couple of books in college that were unfortunately lost when my laptop was stolen. My idea behind my debut novel, The Biomass Revolution came to me when I was working at the state house. Some of my friends read Biomass and encouraged me to self-publish the story. I did, and nothing really happened. I spent the next year researching self-publishing and writing Orbs. By the time I was ready to release Orbs I had a solid marketing strategy. I launched the book, and by a stroke of luck and some skill I had an international bestseller. Everything else just kind of happened. I’m still in shock to this day. I absolutely love what I’m doing and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve had so many stories swimming in my mind for years. Releasing them to the world has to be the greatest thing ever. I write for you all.
Alis Franklin’s brand new book, LIESMITH, just came out this week and I’ve got a great guest post by Alis, so enjoy, and be sure to check out the new book!
People don’t believe me when I tell them this, but I swear it’s a real place. You can look it up on Wikipedia. One of the satellite town centers of Canberra, Australia’s capital city. It’s lower-middle to upper working class, whitebread-if-not-always-white. Filled with lots of quickly constructed, nearly identical 1970s homes of the type my mother calls Standard Canberra Plan: driveway descending into a double garage, living room and kitchen above, bathroom and laundry in the middle, four bedrooms off to the side.
The Woden Valley is all broad, quiet streets and big, towering gum trees because, back in the days when it was built, the local government gave each home an allotment of greenery to plant on the sprawling, generous blocks. Every suburb has a little semi-circle of local shops, and most are within walking distance to a greenbelt or reserve, like Mt. Taylor or Red Hill, or Isaacs Ridge if you live in one of the newer suburbs (“newer” being relative, say the 1990s or so).
The local mall is, in the bland way of suburban naming conventions, called Woden Plaza. It has a branch of one of Australia’s major department store chains, two of the major supermarkets, a cinema, some cafes, a library, a handful of government offices, a non-zero amount of ugly public art.
Also a bus interchange, which is why I spent a great deal of time there as a teenager, in transit between my high school and home.
In case you missed it, yesterday was the launch of Simon451, Simon & Schuster’s brand new SFF imprint, and I’m so excited to kick off that launch here with an interview with Ethan Reid, who’s apocalyptic novel, THE UNDYING (Simon451’s first aquisition, actually), just dropped. Please give him a warm welcome!
*Also, for all you lucky folks that will by at New York Comic Con, Ethan will be too, and you can check out his blog for info on his schedule.
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us a little more about The Undying and what inspired you to write it?
You bet, and thank you! The Undying follows a college student from Seattle who travels to Paris for New Year’s Eve after losing her father to cancer. Jeanie and her friend Ben party all night and wake up to the apocalypse — in a foreign country, unable to speak the language, struggling to stay alive as the world disintegrates and, well, the dead stop dying. Inspiration came from a few different sources. Many successful apocalyptic novels happen well after the event but I wanted to write the event. Carry the characters through their first few harrowing hours. Before penning the story, I had also just witnessed some of my family members go thought some very difficult times. Those moments gave birth to Jeanie, in a way. The idea of fighting through horrific adversity, and coming out the stronger for it.
Tell us more about Jeanie. Why do you think readers will root for her?
In some aspects, Jeanie takes on the good fight for all of us. She starts the novel faced with the very real event of losing a loved one and then the rug really gets pulled out beneath her. I would hope readers root for her because they, in part, can see some of themselves in her struggle. Jeanie’s a fighter. She doesn’t know it at first, but she learns how to battle back through the course of the novel. She starts out feeling like a punching bag, but perfects her left hook and uppercut along the way (and then some).
This is my FAVORITE time of the year. I can’t help it. It just is. I love it all-the scary, the cheesy, the scary… Anyway, to put you in the mood for Halloween, here are some scary reads for under $5 on Kindle. I carefully curated these goodies, because I love you, and hopefully, you’ll find something to love, and something to keep you up very, very late.
If Kindle isn’t your preferred ebook format, always check on other platforms, since these prices are sometimes universal.
You know those books that you have warm fuzzies about, and still think about years and years later? I’m listing a few of those here, in the hopes that you’ll discover a new love, because love them I do, and hope you will too. Oh dear, that rhymed…
These are in no particular order.
SWAN SONG by Robert R McCammon-I read my parents’ beat up copy of Swan Song when I was about 15, and it’s influenced me in my reading since. It centers around a girl named Swan, and the protectors that gather around her in a post-apocalyptic, blasted landscape, and it’s still unlike anything else I’ve ever read. This was as close to perfect as it gets for me, and if you love books that blend genre, Swan Song has you covered. McCammon folded the best of horror and SFF into this book, and produced a singular, immersive, fantastic experience. Mostly I remember how this book made me feel, and few books have come close since. It’s an SFF/Horror classic.
Rajan Khanna’s debut novel, FALLING SKY, comes out tomorrow from Pyr, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, and more! Also, courtesy of the lovely folks from Pyr, we’ve got 2 copies up for grabs, so be sure to fill out the widget below the post, and I’ll pick a winner on Oct. 15th (US only.)
Congrats on the new book-it’s already gotten some rave reviews! Will you tell us more about Falling Sky and what inspired you to write it?
It’s a post-apocalyptic story set in the future after a pandemic has infected most of humanity. Many of the survivors have taken to the air, living on airships or in remote settlements. Ben Gold is an airship pilot who recently joined up with a group of scientists attempting to cure the virus that caused the pandemic. Of course this means dealing with the remnants of humanity, now regressed by the virus into bestial creatures called Ferals. Ben, a longtime survivor, has to figure out how far he’ll go, and how much he’ll risk, to help them.
As for what inspired the novel, it’s based on a short story of the same name. I wrote it at the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2008. I had gone to the workshop with a few story prompts, essentially a handful of one or two line ideas. Falling Sky started out as a vague idea about people living on airships while trying to avoid the ground, though I didn’t yet know why. Paul Park helped me to shape the idea and I wrote the story. Mary Rosenblum, who critiqued the story, encouraged me to expand it into a novel. It took a few years but eventually I did.
Why do you think readers will root for Ben and what did you enjoy most about writing his character?
I hope that readers will root for Ben. I think he’s a character who has been shaped by the world he lives in and has a journey ahead of him. Some people might think he’s a bit of a jerk, though. Still, I’m hoping that readers connect with him enough to follow him on his journey. Ben, at the beginning of the novel, is motivated by fear. I think that’s something many of us can relate to.
Impulse continues with the story of jumpers (teleporters) Davy and Millie, but it’s been about 16 years since the last book, and there’s a new addition to the family: Cent (short for Millicent), Davy and Millie’s daughter. They’ve kept her very close to them, and after being home-schooled all her life, Cent yearns to go to high school. Millie and Davy remain, understandably so, terrified of the people that terrorized them in Reflex, and they’re even more terrified of them finding out about Cent. Cent is typical teen in many ways, but she’s very, very smart, and I love how she places intelligence above all things when it comes to boys. That’s just one of the things I love about young Cent, though. I digress. Anyway, they’ve been living in a cabin in the Yukon and while Cent loves her globe hopping (literally) parents, she also longs to be around other kids her age, and recognizes that her social abilities need to be expanded a bit. While Millie and Davy are perfectly happy keeping her at home, Millie especially realizes the importance of Cent being around other teens, and they finally relent to buying a house in the ‘burbs so that Cent can go to high school. Now, of course, for this unique family buying a house doesn’t really have to include actually living there, although they do have to put up appearances. They spend nearly as much time in the cabin as they do in the new house and use a dry erase board to keep up with each other. Davy is more of a worrier than Millie (remember, he had a terrible childhood), but Cent proves herself more than capable of handling herself, especially when she discovers she can jump.
Yay Friday! Here are some great under $5 Kindle (SWAN SONG and FEAR are $5) deals to usher in your weekend. There’s SFF, suspense, mystery, and fiction, so you’re sure to find something to your taste. As usual, doublecheck the price before clicking that BUY button because sometimes these deals don’t last!
If Amazon is not your choice of eBook destination, don’t hesitate to look up the titles wherever you buy your eBooks because these discounts are often universal!
The White Van by Patrick Hoffman (Grove/Atlantic, Sept. 2014)-Emily Rosario is 31 years old, and addicted to crack. When she meets a Russian man in a bar and he invites her back to his hotel, ostensibly to take drugs, she goes with him. It isn’t smart and she knows it isn’t, but her habit won’t let her say no. Soon she realizes drugs aren’t the only thing on the menu. After days of being dosed with crack and various other drugs by the Russian, an old woman who calls herself Sophia, and a man named Georgy, she’s put in disguise, a bomb is handcuffed to her hand, and she’s sent by her captors into a San Francisco bank to rob it.
But…Emily does the unexpected. Her kidnappers thought they’d done everything right, so when Emily leaves the bank, with almost $900,000 in tow, there in shock when, instead of getting in the white van that took her there, she runs, and keeps running.
Meanwhile, SFPD cop Leo Elias is falling apart. He’s an alcoholic, he’s on the verge of losing his house and his marriage, and he envies everything about his rookie partner, Sam Trammell, from his age to his looks. Everyone from the street kids that he interacts with each day to his fellow cops call him “Plastic Face” for the mask of fake toughness that he dons so effectively. He has no idea when or how his life started going of the rails, when this feeling of desperateness started leaking in, but his breaking point is near. He can feel it. When he hears of the bank heist, and the amount of money stolen, he resolves to find it, and take it for himself. That will solve all of his problems, right?
I LOVED Patrick Hoffman’s debut novel THE WHITE VAN, and was thrilled when he agreed to answer a few of my questions about the new book, and more!
Your experience as a PI and investigator for the San Francisco public defender’s office were a huge influence on your highly praised novel, THE WHITE VAN. Will you tell us a little more about it and what made you take the plunge into writing?
Yes. Investigating has been the most amazing job. I spent almost ten years investigating in SF, and I’m still working as a PI in NY. It has allowed me all kinds of access to people and places that I never could have gotten otherwise. I get to watch genius lawyers. I get to hang out with alleged murderers and gangsters. And I get to prove that cops are lying. It’s the best job ever.
As to the writing, it wasn’t a “plunge” so much, as a long, slow crawl. I spent about fifteen years failing as a writer, before I finally could even start that first book. I wasn’t able to finish things. I wanted to write, but I didn’t know how to do it. I had to mature a little bit, first.
Did you have to do additional research for the book, or did you rely on your work experience?
I mainly relied on work experience. But some of my characters are Russian, so I had to do some research about them, and then I found a nice Russian woman who read over the manuscript and offered some great advice about how to make it more authentic.