Please welcome Ben Peek back to the blog! He kindly stopped by to talk about his brand new fantasy, THE GODLESS, which just came out this week!
Congratulations on THE GODLESS…tell us more! What inspired you to write this big, bold fantasy novel?
As for the inspiration, I began it after I had just gone through a particularly bad stretch of my career. In the space of a year, I had gone through two agents, lost a deal, and some other stuff, all of which left me with the question of if it was time to give up writing or not. It’s not an amazing story – a lot of authors go through it, sadly, and some hang it up, and some don’t. During the time I spent deciding if I was done, I went back to the books that had gotten me into writing, the things I read while I was a teenager, growing up. A lot of these were fantasy books from the eighties and nineties – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, David Gemmell, Lynn Abbey, Raymond Feist, David and Leigh Eddings, Terry Brooks, R.A. Salvatore and the various TSR books he wrote, and so on and so forth. I can’t say that all of them were good books, but as I looked through all those old paperbacks I had, all these memories came back, and my mind started to turn over the ideas for a fantasy novel. I did not, at first, think I should write it – I mean, a fantasy series is probably not the wisest way to slowly ease back into your career, but the ideas just kept hanging around. I remember being up in Darwin for a friend’s wedding and drifting around in a car daydreaming about immortals fighting. And I had this idea for a world in which the gods lay dead on the ground, and I could see a giant wall that ran the length of one in the mountains, and armies marching to it, and after a while, I thought that since it wasn’t letting go, I’d do it. I’d write this fantasy book and see where I was at the end of it.
I don’t know that I planned to sell it, or that I thought it would sell, but I basically sat down and wrote out of the love I had for those old books and memories, and the end product was THE GODLESS.
The Hugo Award winners were announced on Sunday, so I thought it might be fun to gather some under $5 deals together. The first section are all winners, and I also gathered together some nominees (Best Novel only) that you can also get at a steal. A few are short stories, novellas, etc, that are priced accordingly. I think a couple of the nominees come in just a smidge over $5, but not too much. I went alll the way back to the 50s on these, so you’re sure to find some great classics as well as some new favorites. Enjoy!
Note: You can find Ted Chiang’s 2009 Hugo winning story “Exhalation” in Eclipse Two, which is only $.99.
Spells at the Crossroads is an omnibus of two of my very favorite books, Spellcast and Spellcrossed, and if you haven’t discovered this series, now’s the perfect time! I’ve got one copy of Spells at the Crossroads to give away, courtesy of DAW (US only), and I’ll pick a winner on 8/29. Good luck!
About SPELLS AT THE CROSSROADS:
Maggie Graham was having a very bad summer. First, she lost her job. Then the bathroom ceiling in her Brooklyn apartment collapsed. That was when Maggie decided it was time to run away from home for awhile. On the road to Vermont for her weeked away, she impulsively took the exit for a town called Dale. For some reason, the area felt familiar, especially the big white barn she passed on the way to town.
What came next was the biggest adventure in Maggie’s life. Her experience as an actor landed her a job in the summer stock company of the Crossroads Theatre, housed in that same white barn, but none of her professional credits could prepare her for the magic that happened on this stage. Or for the theatre’s unorthodox staff, especially its moody and mysterious director.
That staff and stage will soon become family to Maggie, but all the magic in the world might not be enough to keep them safe—with threats ranging from interfering board presidents to imprisonment in the realm of Faerie….
Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire (DAW)-Seven books in, and the awesome keeps going with Chimes at Midnight. You’d think Toby would get some time to enjoy herself a little with Tybalt, but alas, duty calls, and this time it’s in the form of the Queen of the Mists, who seems to be supplying goblin fruit to changelings. This is a recipe for disaster, since goblin fruit is highly addictive and fatally destructive. When Toby confronts the Queen about it, the Queen does something, well, horrid to Toby (don’t want to give away too much here), but as a result, she finds herself in a race against time, or else. Luckily, there’s evidence that the Queen’s claim to the throne might not be totally on the up and up, but that means that Toby and the gang will have to find the rightful heir. Easier said than done. However, with a little help from the The Luidaeg, it just might be possible.
Seanan McGuire has an undeniable gift for story telling, and the Toby Day series remains a standout in the crowded UF bookshelf. This series hasn’t hit a false note yet, and it’s oh so easy to fall into each book and not come up for air until the last page. Every book in this series has been a little bite of awesome, but for me, Chimes brought things to a whole new level, in a few different ways. We learn a bit a lot about the previously msyterious Luidaeg (consistently one of my favorite characters), we get Toby and Tybalt awesomeness, and a diabolical foe in the form of the Queen of the Mists. I’m just about to finish up the next book, The Winter Long, and if you think the stakes in Chimes at Midnight were high, just wait!
Edan Lepucki is a genuine phenomenon, and for good reason: first and foremost, with CALIFORNIA, she’s given us a very assured, excellent debut (trust me, it’s really good), and there was that awesome Stephen Colbert mention… She’s kind of a rockstar, and I’m thrilled that she took the time to answer a few of my questions! Please give her a warm welcome!
Edan, congrats on the new book, CALIFORNIA, and also the amazing success you’ve seen with it right out of the gate! Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
Thank you so much, and thanks for your thoughtful review of California a few weeks back! I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember—since I learned to read, I suppose. Aside from my dancing skills (seriously, I challenge you to a dance-off!), I can only read and write. I have no other skills. In college, I enthusiastically double-majored in English and Creative Writing, and after I graduated, I worked at a bookstore in LA called Book Soup, and wrote short stories on my time off. I studied creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and after I graduated I started a novel. That one never sold, alas, so I wrote another one—California—to more successful results.
I was born at home in Santa Monica and raised in LA; I come from a large family of irrepressible showboats: divorced parents, step-parents, three sisters, and a brother—all of whom live in California. Aside from writing and teaching writing, I have also worked as a bookseller, a cheesemonger, and an SAT tutor (verbal only, obviously). I am the founder and co-director of Writing Workshops Los Angeles, a private writing school that offers small and rigorous classes from the comfort of the teacher’s home. I am married to a book-lover and whiskey-drinker named Patrick, and we have a delightful three-year-old son named Dixon Bean, as well as tiny white dog named Omar Little. Last year we moved from LA to the San Francisco Bay Area, to a town called Albany. It’s a bit sleepy for my taste, but it’s growing on me, and my god, the bread and coffee here is terrific.
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.