Sarah Hilary’s debut novel, SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, just came out, and she stopped by to answer a few questions about it, and more! Please give her a warm welcome!
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us about Someone Else’s Skin and what inspired you to write it?
Thanks! Someone Else’s Skin is a story about secrets, and survival. The secrets that put us in danger and the ones that keep us safe. It’s about who we pretend to be in order to survive or simply to get by, and who we really are, under the skin.
My heroine, Detective Inspector Marnie Rome is an expert at uncovering secrets, and at keeping them. Five years ago, her family home was a shocking and bloody crime scene. Not even her partner, Detective Sergeant Noah Jake, knows much about Marnie’s past or the battle she’s fighting to make sense of it. Together, Marnie and Noah are investigating a stabbing at a women’s shelter. It looks like a cut-and-dried case of self-defence, but the violence spirals and everyone’s caught up it in, including Noah.
I hope it’s a novel that upsets the traditional ideas about domestic violence – and makes us look afresh at why people commit crimes of this kind, and how society chooses to punish them. I’m also fascinated by the psychology of seeing, the emotional lens that colours everything we witness, and by the role of the witness. This role is vital to solving and prosecuting crimes, but what does it mean to be the witness to a brutal crime? How does it change that person? Is there a sense in which he or she becomes responsible for the “truth” of what was seen?
Bloodshifted (Edie Spence #5) by Cassie Alexander (St. Martin’s Press, 7/1/14)-Warning! This review assumes you’re caught up, and doesn’t have spoilers for this book, but series newbies may want to look away, and check out my other Edie Spence reviews. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Edie Spence has survived the events aboard the Maraschino, but she’s got a helluva struggle ahead of her, now that she’s a daytimer, and at the mercy of her maker, Raven, at least until Anna can gather together her posse and spring her from the catacombs that house Raven and his people, as well as a three-story nightclub that serves as both a moneymaker and human blood supplier to the vamps. She seems to have a likely ally in the form of another daytimer named Jackson, but his motives are suspect, and Edie really can’t trust anyone. She’s got to concentrate on keeping herself, and her unborn baby, alive, and getting back to Asher by any means possible. Being tethered to Raven is demoralizing, not to mention terrifying, and having to room with a bitchy daytimer who seems bent on terrorizing her is just another thing on her increasingly long list of problems. Edie is swiftly put to work, after all, everyone earns their keep in the catacombs, and scrubbing toilets is at least preferable to being confined, but soon, she learns of diabolical experiments being conducted in the underground warren, that may threaten the whole of humanity, and an ancient, and possibly very dangerous, figure keeps appearing in her dreams. Can Edie save herself, and humankind, without losing her own humanity in the process?
For pure fun, it’s really hard to beat the Edie Spence series. My favorite nurse-to-the-supes has been through so much, and come so far, to finally find happiness, then decides to go on a cruise (which should be fun, right?-but, no), then survives that mess, then…vamps, underground catacombs, diabolical experiments, and other horrors. However, Edie does have some allies (including a very unlikely one) within the compound, and waiting around to be rescued isn’t really Edie’s style. Cassie Alexander has never presented her vampires as, um, fluffy, and their innate brutality is on fine display here. There will be blood…so much blood.
I adore Edie, so the fact that Bloodshifted is the last of this series makes me sad. However, it’s been a great ride, and I’ll follow Cassie Alexander wherever her muse takes her. If you’re looking for a standout in the very crowded urban fantasy field, Edie Spence should be one of your go-to series.
Angry Robot Books just turned 5, and to celebrate, AR is doing some fun posts around the web and also offering some great giveaway. Tim Waggoner has written an awesome guest post, and we’ve got 5 copies of THE NEKROPOLIS ARCHIVES to give away to 5 lucky winners (the omnibus includes Nekropolis, Dead Streets, and Dark War)!
So, welcome Tim to the blog, and be sure to check out #AngryRobot5 on Twitter so you don’t miss out on other posts and giveaways!
I’ve encrypted this message into my latest Angry Robot novel Night Terrors, using a code sufficiently complex enough that with any luck They won’t discover it when editing the manuscript, but not so complex, I hope, that someone out there won’t be able to decipher it. If you’re reading this right now, it means I’ve succeeded. If you’re not . . . Never mind. I’m not going to go there. I have to believe that my message will make it to the outside world. It’s the only thing that’s allowing me to hold onto the last ragged scraps of my sanity.
I’m not sending this message to save myself. It’s far too late for that. I’m writing this to those of you who might be thinking about submitting novel manuscripts to Angry Robot to be considered for publication. For the love of all that’s holy, DON’T DO IT! Several years ago, I submitted Nekropolis to Marc Gascoigne – or at least something that presented itself as a human being with that name – and it was accepted. I was thrilled, of course. What writer wouldn’t be? But then it started. First came the emails.
Hey, Tim! Just a quick note to let you know that you really need to be getting more sleep. We prefer our authors to get a minimum of eight hours uninterrupted sleep each night. It keeps their minds sharp when they sit down at the keyboard and start typing. And we want you to produce the very best work for us that you’re capable of.
The thing is, I’d never mentioned a single word to Marc about my sleeping habits. And this email wasn’t an isolated incident by any means. Over the next few weeks, I received a regular stream of messages regarding Angry Robot’s stance on proper nutrition, exercise, and even bowel movements. Writers want to be viewed as valued partners in the publishing process by their editors, but I think you’ll agree that Angry Robot’s interest in such intimate details of my life was not only intrusive but downright creepy. Still, a certain amount of eccentricity is only to be expected from those in the arts, and it wasn’t as if I didn’t possess my own share of idiosyncracies. Besides, the Angry Robot crew are British, and I figured there were probably some cultural differences at work that I wasn’t aware of.
Then the texts started coming.
It’s been a while since Betsy has stopped by the blog, and since EXILE just came out in paperback, we thought it would be a perfect time to catch up and see what she’s been up to, and what’s on the horizon! Please welcome her back to the blog!
Betsy, the first book in your Seven Eyes series, EXILE, is out in paperback, and the next book in the series, EMISSARY, is scheduled to release early next year. For those that haven’t read EXILE, will you tell us a bit about the series and what inspired it?
Draken is wrongfully convicted for murdering his wife. His home country of Monoea doesn’t execute prisoners but lets the gods decide their fate. So he is dumped into the bay of an enemy country. He doesn’t even have shoes! He’s a sailor and a soldier; it’s like dropping an American marine into Iraq or North Korea and telling him to make a new life. But when a bane, an evil ghost Draken thought only existed in cradle-tales, attacks him, he gets dragged into court intrigue and politics and war. All that probably saves his life, even if he’d never admit it.
I wrote EXILE as a learning experience and never intended to sell it. I had just come off a complicated project (my first book, ARCHIVE OF FIRE) and I wanted something easier so I could practice a few things in my writing. I made a few rules for myself: tropes are allowed, even encouraged, but each must be twisted. And I wanted to write only one point of view. Then my critique group encouraged me to start submitting. I did for a few years and trunked the novel for about two years until I met the folks at Night Shade Books. Even with all that went on there (my series was caught up in the sale) I’ve ended up in a good position.
At the time I had no idea EXILE would be the start to a series. It was written as a standalone but fortunately Draken had more things to do. The single POV is probably my greatest hindrance now, especially now in the third book.
Looking to feed your reader with some awesome books? Look no further! All of these titles are under $5 on Kindle, and there’s something for everyone: SF, mystery, thrillers, horror and YA…we’ve got you covered. As always, check the price before you hit the BUY button, because sometimes these deals don’t last!
Note: If you scrolllll down to the bottom, you’ll see that the entire Outlander collection (with the exception of the new book), by Diana Gabaldon is on sale for only $4.99 a piece. So, now you have no excuse not to read this wonderful series!
Please welcome Greg van Eekhout to the blog! I loved his new book, CALIFORNIA BONES, and he kindly answered a few questions about it, and more! Also, courtesy of the lovely folks at Tor, we’ve got a copy of CALIFORNIA BONES to give away to one lucky winner (US only)!
Be sure to visit the California Bones website, where there’s a video of Greg hanging out with John Scalzi at the Le Brea Tar Pits!
I really enjoyed California Bones, and loved the idea of osteomancy (and other such magics)! What inspired you to write the book?
I grew up in LA and going to the La Brea Tar Pits was always a treat. When I started writing fantasy, I knew I’d eventually have to come up with a story that centered on the Tar Pits. At one point, I wrote a short story about a paleontologist who finds a griffin preserved in the Siberian permafrost. The story didn’t work out for a variety of reasons, but a few years later the idea occurred to me to put griffin and dragon and unicorn fossils in the Tar Pits. The magic system – eating bones of magical creatures to get their magical powers – and a world fueled by this magic and the characters who would live in this world–all got put in my short story, “The Osteomancer’s Son.” And I felt there was still plenty of fuel in that particular tank, so developing it more fully into a trilogy of novels just felt like a good move.
The California in California Bones is, and isn’t, the California that we know, and you included some very famous names in the book. What kind of research did you do for the novel, and what was one of the most interesting things you discovered?
I read quite a few books on Los Angeles history, plus articles from various historical societies and newspaper archives. LA is one of those places where the buildings and other physical structures of the past get bulldozed in favor of new things, or they get changed beyond recognition, so a lot of what I did was find cool stuff that’s been gone for decades and pretend it was still there. The Pacific Ocean Park amusement pier burned down in the late sixties, but the ruins survived into the seventies, and I have the vaguest of memories of seeing them when I was a really young kid. It’s almost like I remember ghosts from past LA more than I do past LA. So, that was the kind of thing I wanted to put in the book.
AX Ahmad’s first Ranjit Singh novel, THE CARETAKER, debuted last year and has been a hit-and his 2nd book, THE LAST TAXI RIDE, just came out last month! AX was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the series and the new book, so please give him a warm welcome-also, be sure to check out the book trailer at the bottom of the post.
Congratulations on the new book! Will you tell us a bit about THE LAST TAXI RIDE and Captain Ranjit Singh? What can fans expect in the 2nd book in the series?
It’s an honor to be on ‘My Bookish Ways’! Thank you for having me!
In THE LAST TAXI RIDE, ex-Indian Army Captain Ranjit Singh is now a cab driver in New York City. One hot day he gives a ride to a beautiful woman who turns out to be Indian Bollywood actress Shabana Shah. When she is found dead the next day, Ranjit is accused of murder, and has 10 days to clear his name.
You were raised in India, and educated at Vassar College and M.I.T. Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you have that a-ha moment that made you decide to pursue fiction?
Well, I’ve always been writing, ever since I was little. But I’m a good immigrant kid, so I put aside my real passion and studied something my parents considered practical- I majored in politics and economics at Vassar College, with the idea that I’d go into banking. I had an internship with Citibank, and I was so bored that I used to photocopy my face for fun. So I realized that banking wasn’t for me!
Here are the new releases in SF, Fantasy, and Horror for July 2014. Enjoy!
July 1st-3rd, 2014:
Here are the new releases in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for July 2014. Enjoy!
July 1st-7th, 2014:
The Caretaker by AX Ahmad (Minotaur,May 2013)-Ranjit Singh has been working odd jobs in Martha’s Vineyard during the summer, after quitting the job at his wife’s uncle’s Indian shop in Boston. He’s sick of feeling beholden to her uncle for the money spent to bring them to the US, and the smugness on his face when he hands Ranjit his paltry pay is only the icing on an already dreadful situation. He’s worried about the oncoming winter and the ramshackle shack that his family is staying in, but salvation seems to come in the form of Anna McNeal, the wife of a prominent Senator. She offers him a caretaker job for the winter, and indeed, her husband gives him leads for even more caretaker jobs for the area’s other wealthy residents. In spite of the good news, he can see that his wife’s mental state is deteriorating every day, and it’s obvious that she misses India. When their living conditions become untenable, Ranjit thinks about the empty McNeal mansion and the keys heavy in his pocket. Surely it wouldn’t be any trouble to move his family into that huge house, just for a few days until he can find something else, but little does he know, he’s about to become the center of a political firestorm, and he’ll need to call on his past in order to survive the present.
Looking for a suspense read that’s a bit different? Look no further than The Caretaker. Ranjit Singh is an honorable and brave man, trying desperately to hold onto his Sikh faith in a country, that, at times, feels very unwelcoming, and he’s determined to do the right thing for his family. However, he finds himself harboring a forbidden attraction to the Senator’s lovely wife and in possession of something that could have international repercussions. In India, he was a decorated Captain, but the tragedy that befell his last mission still haunts him, and he’s plagued with hallucinations. For fear of his life, and the lives of his family, returning to India isn’t an option, but he feels like he’s fast running out of options if he doesn’t find out why he’s hunted by men who are prepared to assassinate him.
Ranjit Singh is a new hero to root for, and although The Caretaker is certainly an effective mystery, it’s also a portrait of a man trying to stay true to himself, and keep his dignity intact, even as he strives to acclimate to a new country, with vastly different rules. The present day narrative is interspersed with scenes from his doomed mission on the Siachen glacier, and serves to round out his fascinating background. Ahmad’s particular strength is in his three dimensional characterizations, especially as he explores racial and cultural divide. This is a superior debut.