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Category Archives: Interviews

For Exposure: An Interview with Apex’s Jason Sizemore

What does it take to become a Hugo and Stoker Award-nominated editor and publisher? Follow Jason Sizemore’s unconventional professional path as it winds through a tiny, overheated Baptist church deep within the coal fields of Appalachia, Kentucky, past a busted printer and a self-serving boss that triggered an early mid-life crisis and the epiphany that he should open a magazine spreading the gospel of science fiction to the masses, all the way to WorldCon 2012 and his first Hugo Awards ceremony.
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In this collection of semi-true and sometimes humorous essays, Jason exposes the parties, people, and triumphs that shaped him into the Apex Overlord. He also lays bare the hardships and failures that have threatened to take it all away. Meet Thong Girl, heed the warning about the ham, receive rest stop bathroom wisdom, and visit an emergency room straight out of a horror movie in this extraordinary account of life as a publisher and editor.
With rebuttal essays from Maurice Broaddus, Monica Valentinelli, Lesley Conner, and more, For Exposure tells Jason’s story with insight from key players along his road to success. It is a comprehensive and frank look at what Apex and the genre publishing business is about. Take a shot with the publisher, dance the night away, and become a legend.

And do it all For Exposure.

 

Q. For Exposure seems to be equal parts Apex tell-all, an honest look at the publishing business in general, and a hopeful outlook on the next 10 years of Apex Publications. When you first set out to write the book, did you always intend to mix these themes or did you initially plan to focus more on one than the others?

A. One of my worst traits is that I am an optimistic. When something isn’t working out, my mindset isn’t “Cut my losses and run” but “If I simply work harder things will turn around.” Of course, you can’t just force of will into success, and some of these disastrous and poor decisions derived from my stubbornness I tried to share in For Exposure. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, ya know.

Q. Through Apex Magazine and Apex Book Company, you’ve gotten to work with some of the biggest names in speculative fiction: Lavie Tidhar, Brian Keene, Damien Angelica Walters just to name a few. Is there a particular author you were especially excited to work with?

A. Even after ten years in the publishing business, I still have many fan boy moments. You should have seen me at World Con in 2012 where I think I frightened Jacqueline Carey! My inner fan boy squealed when Tom Piccirilli contacted me with the pitch for What Makes You Die. I believe Tom has written one of the defining southern Gothic novels of our time: November Mourns. Having the opportunity to work with such a gifted writer has been a highlight of my career.

Q. A lot of the stories in For Exposure seem to occur at conventions. How many conventions to do you tend to attend in a year, and how important do you believe they are to the success of a small press publisher?

A. I try to do 5 proper conventions a year. They’re so time consuming, expensive, and exhausting that doing more than five is a real stress on a person’s stamina. Having said that, they’re incredibly fun and are important in terms of networking, promotion, and sales. Convention appearances by ‘Apex’ and associated staff is a lot more cost-effective than taking out an ad in a genre publication such as Locus. Genre small press makes a sizable percentage of revenue from the “true fans”, and many true fans attend conventions. So I believe attending major conventions is of the utmost importance.

Q. There is a particularly disturbing story in For Exposure about ham. Just reading it, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to eat it again. Do you eat ham or did the experience turn you off of it forever?

A. My mother-in-law makes a really tasty honey baked ham using Coca-cola. I loved that ham. After what happened in Nashville, it took me a couple of years before I could stomach eating her ham again. I’m sure my sudden, inexplicable distaste for her signature dish offended…but when you associate the smell and appearance of ham to the sound of sweaty thighs slapping together…

I’ll not go into further details. You just have to read it in the book.

Q. There are several rebuttal essays written by those who have been a part of Apex over the years. How was it asking people to write rebuttals to your essays? Was there anyone in particular that made you little nervous about the response you might get?

A. No one turned down an opportunity to write a rebuttal. Let’s just say that these people know me well and knew the safest recourse was to offer their sides of the story!

I didn’t feel nervous about any of the rebuttals. But there were a couple that I looked forward to reading the most. In particular, Lesley Conner and Monica Valentinelli. Lesley has worked closely with me for years. To get her perspective was fascinating. Monica’s rebuttal addresses a “controversial” incidental in the Apex mythology: the warm splatter. While I disagree with her take on the situation, I loved that she wrote such a funny, open, and honest(?) response.

Q. Your first book Irredeemable is a short story collection. Your second is nonfiction. Are there any novels in Jason Sizemore’s future?

A. Oh, I get this question a lot! The hope is “Yes, yes, there will be dozens.” The truth is “I don’t know, we will see.” I’m co-writing a novel with Maurice Broaddus titled Serpent. It’s a dark SF crime piece set in the slums of alternate Indianapolis where two factions fight over a new drug created by a preacher with the venom of the snakes he handles at his church.  I just need life to slow down enough for me to finish my part of the book.
 
Buy the book over here:

For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher

About Jason Sizemore:

Born the son of an unemployed coal miner in a tiny Kentucky Appalachian villa named Big Creek (population 400), Jason fought his way out of the hills to the big city of Lexington. He attended Transylvania University (a real school with its own vampire legend) and received a degree in computer science. Since 2005, he has owned and operated Apex Publications. He is the editor of five anthologies, author of Irredeemable, a three-time Hugo Award loser, an occasional writer, who can usually be found wandering the halls of hotel conventions seeking friends and free food. Visit him online.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2015 in Interviews

 

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Blitz Blog Tour: The Endangered by S.L. Eaves

Afternoon! Drawing your attention to an interesting new title from Zharmae and Luthando Coeur!

The Endangered Cover

Synopsis:

S&D Industries is a prominent pharmaceutical company based in New York. It has, for many years, appeared to exist only for the benefit of humanity, and this year’s chief product seems no different. The company’s CEO, whom we know only as Striden, announces the imminent delivery of a powerful flu vaccine. The true purposes of S&D are anything but philanthropic, however. The newly-engineered drug does not protect against flu. It turns people into werewolves.

The only group which stands a chance of resisting this change is a population of vampires. The foremost of them, who go by the name of The Endangered, are determined to turn back the mass werewolf infestation. Among them are an ambitious rebel named Catch and Lori, Catch’s newly-turned protege. Catch has brought this treacherous world to Lori’s doorstep and both their worlds are turned upside-down in the process. Secrets are exposed, alliances are formed. Blood is spilled as the vampires must do everything in their power to preserve both their own kind and that of their food supply.

About the author:

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Interview with S.L. Eaves
by TZPP Intern Andy Kubai

We interview with S.L. Eaves, whose vampires vs werewolves novel, The Endangered, is due out in July. Stay tuned for greatness!

LC: When writing in crossed over genres, how do you balance the elements of your story between horror and fantasy, or do you feel the need to do so?

SLE: I think some balance is good, but I feel it’s less about balance and more about how effectively and creatively you incorporate elements of each genre. When you’re working within one genre and infusing aspects of another a lot of the cross over happens naturally during the writing process.

When I started writing The Endangered, my goal was to write a vampire story that I’d want to read. While I love horror and fantasy I’m also really into crime fiction and a sucker for a good mystery, so ultimately I set out to blend influences… and it opens up so many possibilities as far as the story goes, the need to balance all the components definitely came into play.

LC: Vampires and werewolves both have any number of established rules and variations. When writing The Endangered, did you ascribe to a particular set of guidelines or make your own?

SLE: Yes, for sure. I tried to stick to the conventions described in traditional mythology and folklore; those the audience has come to expect. However, there are so many tropes associated with vampires and werewolves that if you don’t create rules, then your characters basically become invincible, and readers are less invested because there is nothing that they can’t overcome.

I made an effort to establish certain parameters, limitations so to speak, on their abilities. I wanted to make it clear to readers that these characters had vulnerabilities and felt it important to be consistent when exploiting any strength or weakness of a particular character.

LC: How do you stay focused on your world when writing a longer work like a novel?

SLE: It’s a lot about the mindset, I think. I only write when I have something to say; if it becomes a chore or anything less than “inspired” I have trouble focusing and the quality of the writing suffers.

I also wrestle with the storylines in my head for a while before I feel confident putting it on paper, so when I sit down to write I’m at the point where it’s on my mind so much it’s practically irritating me and I have to write it to purge it from my head and move forward.

I also listen to music constantly when I write. I find it helps me stay immersed in the world of the story.

LC: How do you evolve your characters and do they have minds of their own, so to speak?

SLE: When I write a character I try to think “What would [such and such] do in this situation? How would they handle conflict, approach situations, etc.?” And I would often write them in each other’s shoes and see what reaction worked best for the story. Like “hey, maybe this character should not be the one to discover this because his reaction wouldn’t work for the plot” – that sort of thing, so yes I feel they have
minds of their own.

In the case of this story, it was initially much more action driven and my focus was on the plot and not the characters or their interactions. When I realized the characters were more evolved in my head than what had made it into the manuscript, I made an effort to develop them further because you want readers to care what happens to them. That is essential. But also the most challenging part. In writing, it is much easier to write what a character does than how a character feels. At least that’s my experience.

LC: In The Endangered, who was your favorite character to write and why?

SLE: Quinn. She is cunning and enigmatic and crazy. I based her off of Harley Quinn from Batman. She was fun to write.

LC: As a reader or a writer, what makes a story really pop for you?

SLE: Unpredictability. As a reader, if you think you know what is going to happen next or how it ends, it is way less enthralling and immersive.

As a writer, the desire to achieve this caused some serious inner turmoil. I had to do what I thought was right to move the story forward in a captivating way – to give it that “pop.” And that resulted in some hard decisions.

LC: After writing The Endangered, would you like to work in this world some more or are you off to build other worlds?

SLE: I would. I think there is a lot more to explore. And I am working on a follow up.

I have also been working on a character-driven story set in more of a real world environment, no elements of science fiction or fantasy, but geared towards exposing a different sort of urban underbelly.

LC: What would you tell other aspiring authors about the publishing process?

SLE: Don’t write with the goal in mind of getting published. Write what you love (cliché, I know) and others will recognize the passion behind your words and feel inspired to bring it to the public. You approach it like a job and your writing will suffer.

LC: What is your favorite werewolf movie; favorite vampire flick?

SLE: That’s a tough one … For werewolf I’m going to go with Dog Soldiers because of the film’s depiction of wolves – –the transformation and the upright stance – is how I envisioned werewolves when writing.

For vampire, I’d say Interview with the Vampire because it does a great job of telling a story, establishing a world and making you care about the characters. I think it was a commendable adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel.

***

I’m really glad that these are proper, brutal werewolves and not the Twilight / True Blood weaklings taking over mass media! 🙂

The novel will be out soon from Luthando Coeur, so keep an eye on their site. You can also add the book on Goodreads and connect with the author there. 🙂

Until next week,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Blog Tour, Interviews

 

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Ecko Burning – Release Day: An Interview with Danie Ware

Hey everyone! Hope you’ve all been epic or good at it! 😉 I’m back today with an interview for you – the first I’ve done in a very long time, and with a writer and storyteller that has been at the forefront of the UK’s SFF industry for many years – Danie Ware. 🙂

Danie

Danie day-jobs at Forbidden Planet and is in charge of the awesome retailer’s social media presence, organizing events such as book launches and author signings, and is also in charge of FP’s marketing strategy. But this might be news to you, because Danie is also the author of Ecko Rising and Ecko Burning, the first two novels in a trilogy that has been gaining rave reviews and generating controversy, too. I read and loved Ecko Rising (you can read my review here), and I’m most certainly looking forward to Ecko Burning. 🙂 As I’m sure many of you are, too!

And if you have no idea who Danie is, and haven’t heard of Ecko, where the hell have you been?! 😉 Seriously, though, here’s some info on the first two books of her trilogy. 🙂

Ecko Rising

In a futuristic London where technological body modification is the norm, Ecko stands alone as a testament to the extreme capabilities of his society. Driven half mad by the systems running his body, Ecko is a criminal for hire. No job is too dangerous or insane.

When a mission goes wrong and Ecko finds himself catapulted across dimensions into a peaceful and unadvanced society living in fear of ‘magic’, he must confront his own percepions of reality and his place within it.

A thrilling debut, Ecko Rising explores the massive range of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and the possible implications of pitting them against one another. Author Danie Ware creates an immersive and richly imagined world that readers will be eager to explore in the first book in this exciting new trilogy.

Order your copies here from Amazon US, here from Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa.

Ecko Burning

 

***BEWARE OF SPOILERS WHEN READING THIS BLURB***

Ruthless and ambitious, Lord Phylos has control of Fhaveon city, and is using her forces to bring the grasslands under his command. His last opponent is an elderly scribe who’s lost his best friend and wants only to do the right thing. Seeking weapons, Ecko and his companions follow a trail of myth and rumour to a ruined city where both nightmare and shocking truth lie in wait.

The book is available right now, so order your copies from Amazon UK here; it will be released in the US on June 3rd 2014 (pre-order here), and if you’re in SA, you could order your copies from Exclusive Books and start reading in a week or three. 🙂

Right, let’s get to that interview, shall we?

***

1) Would you please tell us a bit about yourself? Everyone in the UK SFF industry (and probably a good number in the US industry, too), know you through your day-job at Forbidden Planet – tell us a bit about the Danie Ware that most people don’t know. 🙂 )

I’m a forty-something single Mum, with a nine-year-old son of whom I’m very proud – and he’s been very patient with my writing, bless him! Other points of note: at thirteen, I went to an all-boys’ boarding school, then went on to read old school English Lit at Uni – lots of Milton and Chaucer. After that, I ran around on battlefields and hit people with swords for a decade or so. I moved to London in 2000 and I don’t really swear that much!

2) Were you always a storyteller at heart, or was it a need that gradually grew? Can you remember the first story you wrote? Tell us about it. 🙂

I’d’ve been about ten or eleven, I guess. It was a horse story (was learning to ride at the time, and ‘going through the phase’). I called it The Fire Saddle, wrote it all out by hand, PAGES of it, with maps and illustrations and cover art and you-name-it. It was absolutely honking terrible.

But, I’ve always been a storyteller, I think it’s a cathartic necessity. In the running-round-with-swords days, we all told our stories together, shared our worlds and realities and creativity – and a lot of Ecko is owed to those times.

3) In your opinion, do good writers make good storytellers? Or vice versa?

There are many different breeds of writer. A good copywriter is a different beast to a good novelist or a good journalist – though there’s no rule to say that a writer can’t be good at more than one discipline.

Good storytelling is about passion – about having an emotional involvement. The writer in you brings structure and narrative arc and all of that sensible stuff – but to be a storyteller, it has to come from your heart as well as your head.

4) Ecko is your unique creation – why him? What is it about him that made you want to write his story?

Though he originally had a different name, Ecko sprang into being, fully formed, one night when I was watching ‘Repossessed’. There’s a sequence where Linda Blair comes up off the bed, her face contorting, and snarls, ‘What crawled up your ass and died?’ and the entire concept, character and attitude, came from that moment.

He’s compelling because he’s not a character that reacts in half-measures. I never know what he’s going to be do next, and that makes him interesting. In times of frustration and anger, he’s been a deeply satisfying character to write. At other times, mustering his attitude has been quite hard.

Either way, his sarcastic sense of humour gave me slightly sardonic tone of voice that I needed to write about the fantasy world.

5) Ecko’s world and the world that he later finds himself in both have, for want of a better word, echoes of our own, yet are different and memorable – can you tell us a bit about how these worlds came to be? Did you create them and then fit the characters to them, or did the characters necessitate the creation of these worlds?

In our storytelling youth, our worlds and characters were created by osmosis – by a gang of us, sharing our visions and insights and foolishness. Pushing boundaries was what we did – we took the basics and played with them, we trashed and re-invented them. They grew organically and over time.

When I started writing again, I had to apply the editorial red pen – to make them work with the story. The addition of Pilgrim and Doctor Grey to the future London, for example, or the choice to base the fantasy culture on the cycling trade of a specific material – these things were new, and necessary.

The main characters, including Ecko himself, underwent the same editing process. Though there’s one, completely new, major character in Ecko Burning!

6) Many writers / storytellers are asked about the themes present in their novels – did you focus on themes in Ecko Rising? Did they grow organically or consciously?

The film ‘Run, Lola, Run’ shows how a tiny decision can change a whole pattern of unfolding events – a good visualisation for the ‘fractal reality’ theme. On one level, everything Ecko does is reflected throughout the pattern, and hence clearly visible – he can’t get away with anything. On another level, it brings with it the question of his freedom – is everything he does a part of the pattern and pre-ordained? Or is he free to move as he chooses and therefore change the pattern around him?

In its simplest form, this concept was built-in, right from the very beginning.

As the story unfolded, though, it came to encompass the pattern of the fantasy world itself – its Elemental and seasonal development, how the grass lives and dies, and the cycling patterns of the terhnwood trade.

I wish I was a mathematician, because I love fractals and I’d like to be able to draw it!

7) What can we look forward to in Ecko Burning? Have you upped the odds or gone for a ‘breath before the storm’?

Now that would be telling! I’ll say that you’ll find out more about the world and it’s culture and politics, how it works and how it can be taken apart. You’ll find out more about where centaurs other mythical beasties and come from – and what their agenda might be. You’ll see more of Ecko’s London. And you’ll hopefully meet a few surprises!

8) What is it about genre fiction that you hate, and what do you love?

I love how much freedom genre fiction has to express and explore – I love its scope and escapism, and the worlds to which it came take us. I get quite grumpy when those worlds all look the same, and all adhere to certain core concepts.

This is a bit of a hot potato at the moment – but I’m kind of pleased that Ecko’s been as controversial at it has. If it pleased everybody, I wouldn’t have written it right!

9) If a movie-trilogy was made of your trilogy, which director do you think would have the best chance of ‘getting’ Ecko?

Oooo that’s a hard one. I see Ecko as manga/animation – London done like Akira and the Varchinde like Ghibli’s Earthsea. I wouldn’t like to peg a Director to it, but I love the idea of the colours and the brightness and the contrast of one world to the other – or the filming sequences seen through Ecko’s oculars, complete with UV, IR targeting, or watching it move differently if his adrenal boosting kicked.

It would really underline the differences between the character and the world – and would look awesome!

10) If you had to pick one thing that you like most about your job at Forbidden Planet, what would it be, and why?

That’s an easy one – it’s being able to be a part of the SF/F community and to bring something to it that’s both meaningful and useful. It’s being able to host and attend events and to be involved in everything to such an intense degree. The presence of my son means that I don’t get to as many events as I’d like – so I’m waiting for him to be old enough to take with me!

***

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Remember, Ecko Burning was released today and should be hitting UK-bookshelves even as you read this, so get out there and get your copies! 🙂

I’d like to thank Danie for taking the time to answer these questions, and I’d also like to thank Sophie Calder at Titan Books who arranged this interview for me. 🙂 You both rock, thank you! 🙂 For more info on Danie and her fiction, check out her official website.

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

P.S. I’ll be getting stuck into Ecko Burning as soon as I receive my copy, so expect a review soon. 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in Interviews

 

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The Hawthorn Moon – Q & A with Gail Z Martin (Reign of Ash)

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Thanks to the awesomeness of Bradley Lutz at Jonathan Ball and Anna Gregson at Orbit, I’ve been included in the annual Hawthorn Moon event. 🙂

The Hawthorn Moon (named after a holiday in one of Gail’s novels) is an annual event, which takes place on many different blogs and websites, hosting brand-new excerpts, giveaways, Q & A’s and guest-posts. The scope is such that every title that is spotlighted in The Hawthorn Moon drums receives massive coverage, making sure that new readers and long-time fans have all the info they need about the novel – and this year’s event focuses on the sequel to ICE FORGED, Book 1 in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. (US / UK / Australia)

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Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…

The sequel is REIGN OF ASH, and here’s some info about the title:

And here’s Gail herself, delving deeper into the magic and the characters of the world of the Ascendant Kingdoms – enjoy!

Q:  For readers who haven’t met you, tell us a little about your books.

A:  I write the Chronicles of the Necromancer series for Solaris Books and the Fallen Kings Cycle and Ascendant Kingdoms Saga for Orbit Books.  I’ve also been in a variety of US and UK anthologies, and I publish two series of short stories on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventure.  My most recent book is Ice Forged, the first book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the next book, Reign of Ash, will come out in April, 2014.

Q:  Ice Forged started a new series for you, with a different world and all-new characters from what you’ve written before.  What made you decide to write a different series instead of continuing with your other characters?

A:  I still have plans to write more stories in the Chronicles world, but I had reached a good place to take a break and do something different for a while.  There’s a natural break in the plot line after The Dread that makes a logical resting point.  So while my characters are taking a much-deserved vacation, I had the opportunity to write some new stories that had been banging around in my head.

Q:  In Ice Forged, the plot hinges on a war going terribly wrong and mages on both sides launching a doomsday strike that not only rains down fire from the sky but also cause magic to stop working. Why is the failure of magic so important?

A: In Blaine McFadden’s world, magic is the convenient short-cut.  It’s like our power grid.  Sure, you can wash clothes without electric appliances, but it takes more work and nowadays, does anyone remember how?  It’s the same way in Blaine’s world.  The old ways of doing things without magic have been forgotten, and people have come to rely on magic for as a quick fix.  Imagine what a shoddy workman could do with a little bit of magic, things like propping up a poorly built wall or shoring up a sagging fence.  When the magic fails, so do those fixes, and things literally begin to fall apart.  Then there are the bigger magics, like keeping the sea from flooding the shoreline or using magic to heal.  When magic doesn’t work anymore, how do you heal the sick or keep back the tide?  Donderath has a really big problem on its hands.

Q:  Where did the genesis of the Ice Forged’s main character, Blaine “Mick” McFadden, begin?

I really started with the idea of exile, and what would it have been like if England had sent its prisoners north to somewhere like Iceland or Greenland instead of to Australia.  (Obviously Russia had Siberia, but that’s different, in part because there was no sea voyage.)  Then I started to think about why a character would be exiled, and murder was a good reason.  But it had to be a murder the reader would agree with (so many readers have commented that Ian McFadden “had it coming”).  Where Tris, in my first series, was accused of a crime he didn’t commit, I wanted Blaine to be unrepentant about a crime he did commit.

Q: The setting of Velant is a really interesting place, because you’ve combined elements of post-apocalyptic with the classical idea of northern wastes we often see in fantasy, but this setting really affects the characters, doesn’t it?

A: Being sent into exile in an arctic prison colony is bad enough, but having the magic fail is like losing the power grid—it takes away an important factor for survival.  I had focused on really big magic in my first books, and in Ice Forged, I wanted to look at what it would mean to lose the little magics that people used in their everyday lives.  Food spoils, herds die, crops fail, magical repairs to buildings and ships fall apart, and things people used magic to do as a short cut now needed to be done the old fashioned way, which few remember.

Velant is the same distance as a sea journey from Donderath that Australia was from England, in good weather.  The weather is dramatically different, harsh and inhospitable.  It gets the arctic 6-months of day and night.  The prison itself is run by a commander who was a “useful monster” during a war, but too feral to bring home, so they exiled him by putting him in command of a prison no one else wanted to run.  The guards are likewise exiled because they were unsuitable for normal military life and civilized society.  While many of the convicts were exiled for real crimes, many more were sent away for petty infractions, political reasons, or just being poor.

It’s not the kind of place anyone wants to live in, but it’s amazing what the human spirit will endure!  Prisoners who earn their “ticket of leave” become colonists, and manage to make Edgeland their home.

Q:  What’s next for you?

A:  Good question!  I’ve just signed on with Orbit for another two books in the Ascendant Kingdoms world, so I’m working on the sequel to Reign of Ashes (it’s weird how you’re working two books out from what anyone else has read).  I’m also committed to bringing out a new short story every month, so that’s actually turning out to be a lot of fun.  And I’ve got some different directions I’d like to explore in addition to epic fantasy, so I might just surprise you and turn up with something completely different one of these days!

Reign-of-Ash-FINAL

The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 21 awesome partner sites around the globe.  For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

@GailZMartin Book Giveaway on Twitter—Every day from June 21 – June 28 I’ll be choosing someone at random from my Twitter followers to win a free signed book.  Invite your friends to follow me—for every new 200 followers I gain between 6/21 – 6/28, I’ll give away an additional book, up to 20 books!

Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in her new The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen ) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn  and The Dread).  She is also the author of two series on ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Series.  Her books are available in bookstores worldwide and on Kindle, Kobo and Nook. Find her online at www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

Many thanks to Gail, Bradley and Anna for this!
Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Interviews, Spotlight

 

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New Q & A with Steven Erikson, Courtesy of SF Bokhandeln

Another cool Q & A with Steve for you as we prepare for The Crippled God’s release. 🙂

SF Bokhandeln is a Swedish bookstore chain –here’s their website– and they used their website and Facebook Page to ask their customers and fans to submit questions for Steven to answer; the Q & A will be printed in their consumer magazine at the end of the month and will also get coverage on their Facebook Page. They’re even giving away 3 signed copies of The Crippled God. 🙂

I’ve been given the go-ahead to post the Q & A for your enjoyment! (Thanks to Angela Thomson at Random House Struik!)

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Do you have any plans to turn The Malazan Book of the Fallen into a role playing game?

Not personally: my publishing schedule is far too busy for that.  That said, I am amenable to the idea.

You seem to be able to write one novel each year, and still maintain an extreme high quality on your writing. How do you manage that?

Thanks for the complement on writing quality.  With respect to writing a novel a year, I seem to have stumbled onto a system that works for me.  Four hours a day, five or six days a week, for eight to nine months usually results in a finished book.  Each day, I begin by editing what I wrote the previous day, before starting a new section.  This helps me maintain momentum and continuity.  These days, however, I’m looking at eighteen months between novels.  Getting old, I guess.

What are you planning to write next, now that The Malazan Book of the Fallen is finished?

I am signed to two more trilogies, in addition to five or so novellas.  At the moment I am writing the first novel in the Kharkanas trilogy, which returns us to the formative period underlying The Malazan Book of the Fallen: specifically, the story surrounding the Tiste Andii and their neighbours.

Will we meet Kalam Mekhar again?

That depends on when you last met him, doesn’t it?

Who is your favourite character?

Alas, I can’t really play favourites.  I enjoy my time with all the characters I write, even when they’re going through hell.  I know, sounds perverse, if not sadistic.  The thing with characters is that they bring pressure to bear on a writer – to get them right, to treat them with dignity, even though they are only fictional creations when on the page.  In my head, they have to be alive (unless, of course, they’re undead).

“Erikson” is a common Swedish name – do you have Swedish ancestry?

‘Erikson’ is my mother’s maiden name.  My actual last name is Lundin, which of course isn’t Swedish at all.  (joke)  Both my parents were Swedish and I have been back to visit relatives in recent years, in Uppsala and Stockholm.

It´s not uncommon for your characters to die all of a sudden. Have you ever been emotionally upset when you had to finish off some of them?

Although deaths may appear with shocking suddenness on the page, you can be sure that I have been thinking about those moments for months, even years beforehand.  Accordingly, I write characters towards an inevitability that a reader might only see should they go back and re-read the series.  For the death scenes themselves, if I do not feel any emotion, neither will my readers, so I do my best to achieve a kind of authenticity when writing those scenes.

Which volume in the Malazan Book of the Fallen is your personal favourite?

It depends on how I measure them, and the answer changes accordingly.  Deadhouse Gates feels like a compact (!), complete work, where I did what I set out to do, which was to immerse myself (and  the readers) as deeply into the Malazan world as I could.  House of Chains satisfies me on other levels, in particular the opening part following a single character over multiple chapters, and the novel’s anti-ending, which I knew would throw many readers.  Midnight Tides pretty much wrote itself, and for that reason, I appreciate it for its effortlessness.  Toll the Hounds is perhaps my most complex novel, and on that basis I rank it as the novel for which I am proudest.  That said, I think the conclusion of the series ain’t so bad, either.

How do you create your fictive characters? Do you occasionally glance at real persons in your surroundings, and incorporate traits from them?

Not consciously, but a writer always observes and takes mental notes on body language, physical traits, mannerisms, patterns of speech, relationships, and so on.  It all feeds into a stew with plenty of flavours.  In practical terms, characters generally arrive (for me) as names first; sometimes that name describes something about the character, in a Dickensian fashion; while at other times that name runs counter to the character’s traits.  Two examples would be Antsy for a nervous, agitated, paranoid character; and Tiny Chanter, for the biggest and nastiest of the Chanter brothers.  Obviously, some characters arrive with names that have no earthly correlation, and there I find that the ones that sound right in my head often do so because they trigger some related (or not-so-related) image or emotion in me.  In still other instances, I use names to resonate with historical, earthly personages, though usually when I do that I disguise that resonance so that only I am aware of it.   Finally, some names I invent and keep only because I like the look and sound of them.

How much of the plot is planned in advance, and how much grow “organically” when writing the novels?

I think there needs to be plenty of both in a novel.  If it is all planned down to every last detail, chances are that novel will never be written, because it will mean that the creator has already done all the fun stuff – the creative bit – leaving the writing itself a chore.  And should that writer actually slog through the ordeal of writing lifeless stuff, well, the finished product will be unreadable.

For myself, I held to broad arcs through the series, and knew where the end of each novel would be, but I left plenty of scope for invention on the fly, and a good many threads were spontaneous creations which I then had to work hard at entwining into the whole.  A writer needs room in which to be surprised by their own creation, and to then feel free enough to follow unknown and unexpected paths in the narrative.

Cheers, Steven Erikson

::

As you can see, no really new info but it’s great to hear conformation once again that there’ll be more novels in the Malazan world, and I also enjoyed reading about Steven’s writing process – I’m nowhere near emulating that kind of focus myself just yet! 😉

To pre-order your copies here are the links you’ll need: Amazon US (paperback & hardcover), Amazon UK (hardcover), and here for South Africa (Kalahari.net hardcover). There are different release dates for the US, UK and SA, so make sure of those details at the links.

To get more info about Steven and his work, check out his official website here, and also check out Malazan Empire – a great community of fans of the work of both Steven and Ian Cameron Esslemont. 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Announcements, Interviews

 

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Craig Horner Interviewed at Fantasy Fan

I’m bringing this to your attention again. 🙂 The interview went up in March but with so much going on with regards to fans campaigning for a third season of Legend of the Seeker, I thought it deserved another look. 🙂

Piotr, the man behind Fantasy Fan, was lucky enough to have been able to interview Craig over the phone, and the interview is the result. I really enjoyed it – gave me a bit more background to Craig and answered the all important question: Did he read the books?

Check it out here.

Until Monday,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2010 in Announcements, Interviews

 

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Legends of the Red Sun Interviews: Night Guard Commander Brynd Lathraea Adaol

Welcome to the third and final Legends of the Red Sun character interview! These interviews were conducted with Mark Charan Newton and myself, and I decided to interview some of the characters that appear in Nights of Villjamur and City and Ruin.

Brynd is one of the most intriguing characters I’ve met in Epic Fantasy; not only is he a military tactician and capable of also holding his own against those more political than him, but he’s also deeply honourable and focused when it comes to his duty. There are layers and layers to this man and as you follow him through Nights of Villjamur and into City of Ruin, you may find him to be one of the more memorable characters in Epic Fantasy. 🙂

Without further a-do, here is your glimpse of him:

::

Dave: Thank you for agreeing to this short interview, Commander. I’m sure the rest of the Night Guard can keep Villjamur and the Empire safe while we chat. 🙂 So, how long have you been with the Night Guard? Did you always feel called to stand in a position of protector / guardian?

Brynd: The Night Guard? A good decade, though at times it feels like I was born into it. From a young age, it was clear the colour of my skin was going to cause me trouble – cultures tend to dislike that which is different – and so I had to prove a great deal to the world. You could say it makes me a driven person, this effort to prove myself – which in turn has resulted in my progress through the armed forces so quickly. (That, and I believe sometimes people fear me – which is often a boon.) As for feeling called to stand as protector, well, there is perhaps an instinct in all soldiers to do so – linked to a motivation to do good. I don’t think anyone who is right for the job should say that they were destined to be in charge of the armed forces though – no one that has served on the front line would really utter such things.

Dave: That’s a good point you make; most soldiers find themselves wanting to keep their heads down and concentrate on following orders and looking out for themselves and each other, if I’m not mistaken. 🙂 Speaking of your uniqueness, have you found yourself targeted or singled out on occasion? I can imagine that rising through the ranks, just getting a foothold even, must have proved difficult?

Brynd: All my life I have been singled out, but it’s important not to treat your own self like a victim. Therein lies a dangerous path. Every time I look at another person, I can see their instant reactions, their surprise, sometimes their fear. I could drive myself mad by dwelling upon such things.

As for getting a foothold, luckily the armed forces tends to be a case of merit – so no matter who or what you are, you prove your value. Having said that, I am lucky to have received a decent schooling due to my parents having some wealth and status – something that seems related to one’s own destiny in a place like Villjamur. There are huge swathes of humanity unluckier than myself, and I remind myself of that often.

Dave: Speaking of those less fortunate, how do you feel about the refugees, and how would you deal with the situation if you were able?

Brynd: The refugees… well, the explanation from the Council is that they couldn’t be accepted into the city because the pressure on resources would be too great – and in that, I agree. My official position is, of course, to accept the will of the Council. It doesn’t mean I like what I see gathered outside Villjamur – perhaps there could be some charitable acts, food packages and the like, but then that may well anger the man traditionalists within the city walls.

Dave: Did your parents have aspirations for you that didn’t include the Night Guard? What aspirations did you have for yourself? Have you had to give up on some dreams?

Brynd: I’m not much of a dreamer, in that sense. Of course we all have ambition and good intentions – mine was simply to prove myself the equal of others. I am what I am, and that should be no different to anyone else. We should be judged by our character and our actions. If that can be labelled as a dream, then so be it. Otherwise I just get on with the job of soldiering – which has been my only aspiration.

Dave: Lastly, looking back on your life and accomplishments so far, do you recognize a turning point? And are you satisfied with the decisions you’ve made?

Brynd: I don’t see life as having any major turning points. You play with the cards you’re dealt and try to make the most of them. I try to see things logically. Perhaps, when in combat, I hope the decisions I made minimized the loss of life, and I can’t think of many reasons when this hasn’t been the case. But I’ve no regrets, at least, and if I’m ever disappointed with my acts I’ll try improve. It helps, being in my position, if you live by logic as best you can.

::

There we are, a glimpse at the kind of character you’ll be meeting in Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin. 🙂

That brings to a close the round of character interviews, but the journey of discovery doesn’t end here – Nights of Villjamur is available in both paperback and hardcover, and Book Two in the Legends of the Red Sun series, City of Ruin, is also available. (order your copies through the appropriate links above) You can also order the audiobook, arriving in stock on the 29th of June (would love to hear this!)

For those of you who haven’t yet read Nights of Villjamur, check out my review here, and for those still deciding on whether to pick up City of Ruin, check out my review here.

Nights of Villjamur is also going to be invading the US soon – check out the book’s page over at Random House. 🙂

Book One Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (UK hardcover edition)

Book One of the Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (UK paperback edition):

Book One of the Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (US hardcover edition):

Book Two of the Legends of the Red Sun – City of Ruin (UK hardcover edition)

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Interviews

 

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Legends of the Red Sun Interview: Investigator Rumex Jeryd

Welcome to the second interview in the series spotlighting some characters from Mark Charan Newton‘s Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin!

Today I’ve got the awesome rummel investigator, Rumex Jeryd. Jeryd is a character in both Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, and one of the most colouful and likable characters you’ll get to read. Focused on his work -helping to keep Villjamur’s street’s safe with the Inquisition- and possessing a practically unshakable sense of right and wrong, Jeryd too is drawn into the conflicts that will see the Jamur Empire changed.

Let’s hand him the floor, shall we? 🙂

::

Dave: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Inspector Jeryd. I appreciate you giving up your time during this important investigation. First off, what brought you to the Inquisition? And why in Villjamur? Surely there are quieter spots throughout the Empire.

Jeryd: Well it wasn’t the paperwork, that’s for sure. It’s been so long since I’ve joined – decades and decades – that I can’t really remember why. A calling. A safe job. The need to do some good in this city. I was born and raised in Villjamur, but I don’t fancy making my way out in the sticks. It’s not as violent as some cities. And sure it’s quieter out in the country, but there’s no protection, no guarantee of food, risk of attacks from tribal uprisings and the likes. Plus now the ice is kicking in, I’m glad I’m behind these city walls.

Dave: When you’re not persuing a suspect, when you feel the need to relax for a time, where do you go? What do you do?

Jeryd: Time to relax? Very little of that these days. Back in the day, me and my wife, Marysa, we’d take in some of the underground theatre shows – she loves a golem show. Maybe dinner out, read a book. My breaks are when I get to a bistro, and I watch the world go by. There are a lot of characters in Villjamur. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface – but you need to look hard to see what’s really going on.

Dave: Care to comment on the Inquisition’s practice of not allowing humans the higher positions? It just seems a bit strange, considering that the Emperor is human.

Jeryd: Way back, there were massive tensions between humans and the rumel race. We were a massively suppressed people. After some serious fights and rebellions, given that humans held some damn important positions in the Empire, we were allowed to take such a major role in the Inquisition – as a peace offering of sorts. An social conscience thing. But also, given that we far outlive our hominid friends, we found we were much better suited for the job – experience is the key. Knowledge of laws, that kind of thing. Pretty soon, only we could become full investigators, and humans, who seem rather transient to us, could only achieve certain levels of progress. Hey, I know it isn’t fair – but I don’t make the rules, right?

Dave: Coming to your wife: How does she handle your work? Has it put a strain on your marriage or does she handle it well?

Jeryd: Hey, I’m hardly the guy to answer that one well am I? I mean, I guess you have to work at relationships, right? But with Inquisition work, well, it just takes over your life. I’m hardly there to see to her needs and when I am everything seems trivial to murders or whatever. No, I’m not so good when it comes to these things. I’d like to think I can turn things around though.

Dave: Well, the city does have a way of bringing out the best or worst in a person. Coming back to the Inquisition, can you give us a short history of the Inquisition? Do you know anything of how it was formed and how long its been in charge of justice in Villjamur?

Jeryd: As to how it was formed in the first stage, no one really knows. Most of the stories suggest it started with Jamur Joll, the Emperor who five thousand years ago re-named the settlement as Villjamur, and had the walls built. He established some kind of order (though you might think that order never really came), and the Inquisition was to enforce civil obedience. The Inquisition really took hold within the last couple of thousand years – in its current capacity. There was a great deal of combat between human and rumel, and the upshot of these tensions were that the rumel would be allowed to form the main rank of Investigators. It was a peace offering of sorts, to force two races to live side-by-side in peace. And we’re a relatively liberal city compared to others, so I’ve heard, so I guess the policy worked.

Dave: Granted, it does seem to have worked. Looking back over your years in Villjamur, is there a memory that stands out more than most? Something good or bad that you’ll never forget.

Jeryd: Memory is a strange thing. My species can live for a good couple of hundred years, so I tend not to rely on what happened all that long ago. We can distort things in our minds even after a few hours – think what that’s like for a few decades! Nah, whatever I’m thinking about probably isn’t how it was.

Dave: That seems a sad way to live, but understandable from a rummel’s point of view. Is there then something you’re looking forward to? A dream that you’ve been nuturing?

Jeryd: I’m realistic! You’ve got to think practically to be in the Inquisition. None of this emotions nonsense. I look forward to building a better marriage, but as for things to look forward to? Well, believe it or not, I’m a big fan of the theatre. I’d love more free time to take my wife to see a lot of the shows. Villjamur has great underground shows, and even in an ice age there’s a lot going on. I’m trying not to think too far ahead – what with the ice, nothing is certain.

::

There we go, a nice glimpse of the rummel investigator for you. 🙂

Remember to head over to your nearest bookshop to pick up your copies of Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, or order Nights here (Amazon UK paperback and hardcover) and City here (also Amazon UK). Looks like the dates on Amazon are incorrect, since Mark Tweeted today that the novels are already out on shelves. 🙂 And don’t forget, Nights of Villjamur will be making a splash in the US this month, too! Here’s the page over at Random House.

Be back tomorrow for the final character interview, being the awesome Night Guard Commander, Brynd Lathraea Adaol. 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2010 in Interviews

 

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Legends of the Red Sun Interview: Randur Estevu

Here we go, the first of the character-interviews I conducted with Mark Newton. 🙂 No, I didn’t interview him to get a handle on his character, I interviewed characters from his novels, Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, instead. 😉

The first character to get the spotlight was Randur Estevu – the rogue, womanizer, master duelist, and dancer. Randur travelled from the island of Folke to the heart of the Jamur Empire, ostensibly to get aid for his ailing mother, but Randur is pulled into a burgeoning conflict that’ll change the Empire, for good or worse; hope you enjoy it!

::

Dave: Coming from a small island and now being in the greatest city of the Empire, is it a bit overwhelming or more of the same just on a bigger scale?

Randur: Well, there are plenty more women here, that’s for sure…

But, I can honestly say that no matter where you go, people are still after the same kind of things. People need to put food in their mouths, need to get by, need the attentions of a lover. (That’s where I come in.) I’ve noticed a lot of lonely people getting tempted by shiny trinkets. Life isn’t as wholesome in Villjamur as much as the countryside – and in this city, the problems are swept into the caves, away from public view. People are obsessed with drinking and generally doing what they can to escape the world. And who can blame them, with the ice coming in?

Dave: Ah, yes, the ice! Tell me, was the coming of the ice discussed in Folke, openly, or was it something relegated to gossips? I guess what I’m asking is, coming from such a small corner of the Empire, surely there are those who still don’t believe in what’s coming?

Randur: You can never really trust what the old women gossip about on Folke. Chances are only half of what they say is even close to true, and even then aimed at bringing down someone in the community. And the men are worse – sitting in silence for much of the day and when they do speak all they do is mutter about bad omens.

To be honest, some people need to make a living, and just get on no matter what the elements bring. But bugger was I going to stay there, given half a chance of some sanctuary. In terms of belief? Well when you’d experienced the recent weather before I left, you don’t need much convincing.

Dave: You seem like a pragmatist, one who doesn’t readily believe rumours – not from the women-folk of Folke at least! How would you describe yourself? What terrifies you and exhilirates you?

Randur: In my dance, I am an artist. Actually, same in the bedroom too, given half a chance… Other than that? I’m someone who takes a risk now and then. You might say I’ve blagged my way through life so far, and that’d be fair. You have to – you’ve only go so long and you’ve got to make the most of it. What terrifies me? Not a lot if I’m honest. I tend not to think all that hard about the fears and the likes. I get my kicks out of living close to the edge: getting caught in the act by someone’s husband gets the ol’ heart beating.

Most of all, I enjoy the art of dancing. On my island, it’s a masculine activity. In this damn city, everyone things I’m a bit of a dandy for doing it – but it’s my life, my calling. I lose my sense of self when I’m doing it (which possibly explains why I’m so full of myself when I’m not).

Dave: Should I be glad that I don’t have a wife? Don’t answer that. Although, I might just take up some dancing, come to think of it… 🙂

Anyway, what are your thoughts on influx of refugees? Do you think the Emperor is in a position to handle the situation?

Randur: I’m sure I would treat her with great respect.

As for the refugees? Not much anyone can do about it in this world. It’s a symptom of things – that money gets sucked into Villjamur from islands like mine. We’re poor people, out on Folke, but we had a lot of resources – ores and agriculture. Doesn’t add up, does it? Exactly. So when you take away everything from them, what else are they going to do but come banging on the only door in this world that has a hope in hell of offering… anything. So of course, the institutions in Villjamur are in a position to do many things. They merely choose not to.”

Dave: Well I’m sure that Chancellor Urtika has a plan in motion that will see the refugees taken care of.

Moving onto your impressions of the city, what do you think about Villjamur? I’m not talking about sights and sounds, mind you, but your impressions – when you look at the city, when you breathe it in, how does this city of cities make you feel?

Randur: It makes you feel very humble. There are what, eleven thousand years of history on this site. It’s vast. It’s architecture is a mishmash of designs. It imposes itself on you. It makes you feel very insignificant. You can loose yourself in the mass of people – which is strangely liberating, being a nobody.

Dave: Last question for you: Considering the palpable building of tension in Villjamur, and the kind of people who are in charge, who have known only this city and this life, is there a place for you in Villjamur? And if not, what would it take you make you choose to stay? Hypothetical of course.

Randur: For me to stay, I’d need an endless supply of women to charm and teach to dance… hypothetically, of course.

All I have are my sword skills and dance skills – which aren’t that dissimilar; you can use them anywhere, so my home is also anywhere. But I don’t think I’d like to stay in Villjamur too long though – the corruption, the violence, the sin… I don’t know how people could want to make their lives with all of this crap around them. And besides, people have such bad manners in the city.

::

There we go, a hint of the Randur you’ll meet in the pages of Nights of Villjamur. 🙂

To order your copies of Nights of Villjamur, click here for the hardcover edition and here for the paperback (available on the 4th of June) at Amazon UK, and if you’re in the US, pre-order your copies here – remember, Nights of Viiljamur goes on sale in the US on the 29th of June. If you’d like a taste of Nights, check out this link – it’ll take you through to Goodreads, where you’ll be able to read the first chapter. 🙂

Come back tomorrow for the next-to-last character interview – Investigator Rumex Jeryd. 🙂

Until then,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2010 in Interviews

 

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An Interview with Paul S. Kemp and John Jackson Miller

Reading John’s Lost Tribe of the Sith stories, the Fate of the Jedi novels and then Paul’s Crosscurrent brings it home that Del Rey has a pretty comprehensive plan for the Star Wars Expanded Universe, post-Yuuzhan Vong and post-Darth Caedus. Not only does each story arc link together, but each story is made better by these links, in my opinion.

In the New Jedi Order, we were treated to a story that stretched over five years, included hundreds of characters and events, but which, ultimately, revolved around the Core characters; what Del Rey and its authors are doing now is going one step further – Fate of the Jedi focuses on the Core characters, but both Crosscurrent and Lost Tribe of the Sith work alongside FotJ, and work well, without having the Core characters in them. Sure, Lost Tribe is set 5000 years before the Battle of Yavin and Crosscurrent was set after the events of the Legacy of the Force, but didn’t bring in the characters we are used to reading about and expecting. How these story lines mix and intertwine (and they will probably continue to do so, with Paul’s sequel to Crosscurrent and the rest of the Fate of the Jedi novels still on the way) perked my interest mightily, and I decided to get Paul and John together for a kind of round-table interview. 🙂 Here’s the result!

::

Please tell us a bit about yourselves, how you got into writing, etc?

John Jackson Miller:
I started writing comics and prose stories about the same time I started reading them. Reading good stories inspired me to try my own hand at it, and I kept at it over the years, writing my own short stories and producing my own small press comics and magazines. It’s funny, but later on, when I started writing professionally, I found I was drawing on a lot of those experiences when I was just writing things for myself. You need to write for more than just yourself, but you’ve also got to be happy with the work you’re doing, or nobody else will be.

Paul Kemp:
I’m Paul S. Kemp. I’ve been married for seventeen years to a lovely redhead (think Mara Jade, peeps) and we have twin five year old sons. We live in Michigan with a couple cats. My day job is corporate lawyer, which makes me evil. My night job is entertaining writer, which makes me good. So on balance, I guess that makes me about a neutral.

I started writing in law school, when I realized that law was for suckers…er…when I realized, rather, that only practicing law would not lead to a fulfilling life for me. So, I submitted some material to Wizards of the Coast (they had an open submission policy at the time), they liked it, and asked me to submit to an closed call they were having for what would become The Sembia Series. I pitched them Erevis Cale, priest and assassin, they dug that, and here we are. 🙂

What does Star Wars mean to you?

John Jackson Miller:
Quite a lot. The movies and the comics based on them were a big part of my childhood and teenage years, and obviously the whole milieu has been a big part of my working life. I even edited a Star Wars collectibles magazine in there somewhere.

Paul Kemp:
Setting aside the fanboy glee I feel for being able to participate in a small way in Lucas’s brainchild, (and here speaking of the movies) I think it’s one of the best fictionalized demonstrations of the Campbellian Hero’s Journey ever made. It’s really a modern myth, which explains why its such a phenomenon from generation to generation.

Considering that Fate of the Jedi, Lost Tribe of the Sith, Legacy and Crosscurrent all borrow characters and share intersecting plots, can you tell us about how this all began – who decided what, and what your roles were in creating these tales? (Without spoiling us, of course)

John Jackson Miller:
I’d been doing more writing in the EU, including some short fiction, and I was always looking for an opportunity to do more. Del Rey and Lucasfilm approached me in early 2009 about creating a supporting storyline that would fill in background about the Lost Tribe of the Sith, right from their beginnings.

The authors of the Fate of the Jedi series had come up with a fairly detailed look at what the Lost Tribe was like today, along with details about how they got stranded in the first place. Most of the intervening years were left available to interpret. We did some coordination to make sure that nothing we came up with caused problems later on, and that “Crosscurrent” and “Lost Tribe” worked together properly.

Since I was starting back five thousand years earlier and working forward, I saw part of my role as illustrating how the Sith got from Point A to Point B. The Sith we saw in the Golden Age of the Sith stories really didn’t have complicated infrastructures or military bureaucracies that we saw — but they needed underlings to be able to run missions like bringing back the Lignan crystals, and of course, the Lost Tribe evolves a fairly detailed command structure. There was also the matter of species to deal with, since the Tribe that we saw was not just human, but also striving for human physical perfection. Both of those things suggested that there was a lot more differentiation in the Sith than we initially saw in the comics — there had to be humans in the mix with some level of contact with outside cultures, even in the “hidden empire” years. The Lost Tribe had lightsabers without power packs; they had to get them from somewhere.

That was the sort of thing I’ve sought to address, while trying to tell an engaging story. Many of the changes that help make the Tribe what it is spring from choices — and unintentional consequences of choices — that our characters made in the past. “Paragon,” the upcoming story, is pretty pivotal in this regard.

Paul Kemp:

My contribution here is pretty small. In my original pitch for Crosscurrent, I had included the existence of an ancient Sith ship carrying Force-enhancing ore (what would later become Lignan) that found itself flung into the future due to a relativity shielding malfunction. My editor (I think), saw some possible connections in that to the story the team was developing for Fate of the Jedi. So she asked me if I could include a second ship that doesn’t jump into the future but instead just misjumps in some way — all of this became Lignan, Harbinger, and Omen, which are the “connectors” between Crosscurrent and the much larger story in Fate of the Jedi.

After that decision was made, I traded emails with some of the authors doing FotJ and JJM (John Jackson Miller), just to keep the various details correct. It was a great experience. Christie, Troy, and JJM (not to mention Sue, Leland, and my editor) were awesome to this Star Wars newbie.

The stories you write are separated by thousands of years of history – how do you give a tale the hallmarks of the Star Wars universe while also giving the tale its own era-specific flavor?

John Jackson Miller:
Oh, I think the trappings of Star Wars are always there. Beyond the physical things like the lightsabers and phenomena like the Force, a lot of the same themes are in play —good versus evil, redemption and betrayal, etc. Whatever the time period, it’s all Star Wars.

Paul Kemp:
Historical touchstones, mostly. Obviously there are some technological differences that get highlighted (ancient lightsabers are not “modern” lightsabers, for example), but little references to current events in the particular timeline can also ground the narrative in an particular era.

When you sit down to write tales in the Star Wars galaxy, what’s the most important aspect of the Galaxy Far, Far Away that you want to capture?

John Jackson Miller:
As I’ve said above — you want to make sure it feels all of a piece with the movies. It’s OK to branch out and explore new kinds of stories, but you don’t want the story to feel completely out of place and unconnected. The feel of stories is pretty important; Star Trek stories have a different feel from Star Wars stories, and so on. Readers tend to know when something feels like it belongs in a particular milieu.

Paul Kemp:
For me, the sense that Star Wars (and the EU) is a setting for myth-making. What I mean by that is that Star Wars touches on foundational moral questions by exploring through the lens of the Force (a kind of Manichean moral construct, really). Its themes are universal. I wanted to at least try and take a stab at that with Crosscurrent.

Also, blasters. And lightsabers. 🙂

Coming back to the current EU: with opinions divided on whether or not the Legacy of the Force series worked –comparing it to the New Jedi Order- do you think that the editors and authors of the EU now have a better understanding of how to handle these complex storylines?

Paul Kemp:
Dave, my experience is so limited that I can’t speak to that at all. I’ll say only that the folks I’ve worked with have been extraordinarily knowledgeable and helpful. It’s been a real treat.

What would you say to writers out there who want to someday write in the EU? Any advice or warnings?

John Jackson Miller:
Most licensed properties are invitation-only and don’t look at unsolicited submissions, and Star Wars is no exception. So the important thing is to get established — and that means writing for a variety of places and really polishing your skills. As a former journalist, I think all kinds of writing are important practice, from blogging to covering the sports for your local paper. It’s all about learning to communicate clearly, and to hit your deadlines.

Paul Kemp:
The same thing I say to any aspiring writers: read widely (and not just in genre), and learn what you can from great writers. Then, stop talking/thinking about what great ideas you have. Instead, put yourself in a chair and just friggin’ write. This is a craft. You only get better by doing it.

Finally: what would be the one EU story you would like to tell, if you could?

John Jackson Miller:
Heh! I don’t know – maybe a reality show following Lando’s life might be entertaining!

Paul Kemp:
I mentioned this in one other place, but I’d love to write Luke’s epic finale in the EU (if that finale were ever to come).

::

There we go, hope you all enjoyed that. 🙂 It goes without saying that the guys took time out of their busy schedules, and I thank them for that. 🙂

Want more info on the authors and their work? Click on the links to head over to their websites: John Jackson Miller, Paul S Kemp.

I’ll be reading John’s third Lost Tribe of the Sith story, Paragon, this week or next week, and then I’ll post a review of all three stories.

Until then,
Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2010 in Interviews

 

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