Interview: Barbara Venkataraman, Author of Death by Didgeridoo

VenkataramanDeathByDidgeridooEveryone, please welcome Barbara Venkataraman to the blog today. I have enjoyed Book 1 in her Jamie Quinn mystery series, Death by Didgeridoo. Today we chat about Harry Potter, literary good guys, writing tips, and the childhood book nerd. Sit back and be entertained!

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I think it would have to be the first time I read science fiction or fantasy, it changed my life forever.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

Hmmmm, I really enjoy meeting new people, including my current interviewer! I’ve heard some amazing life stories and have ‘met’ some lovely people through e-mails and blogging. What I dislike about promotion/marketing is how it takes time away from writing. And it can be tedious sending out queries and requests for reviews, especially when you hit a dry spell and don’t get many responses. It feels like a variation on that old joke—if a writer asks for a review in the forest and nobody is there to hear her, what is she doing in the forest in the first place?  lol

Who are your non-writer influences?

Comedians—I love watching a good comedian and being surprised; I love laughing. My other influences are the stories I hear all around me and, of course, theatre. Writing a novel is like watching a play in your mind: the lines have to be clever and succinct; the gestures, the expressions, the scenery, everything counts. Watching theatre teaches me those things.

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

Iago is just the meanest, and so diabolical! Javert in “Les Mis” is so focused on the letter of the law, rigid and self-righteous that when he realizes good and evil are not what he thought, he has no choice but to commit suicide. He is a complex guy!

VenkataramanTripToHardwareStoreWho are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Here’s where I can’t be original, but Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Sherlock and Dr. Watson, Prospero and Ariel from “The Tempest”.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

So many stories are a twist on an old story. There are many versions of Romeo and Juliet out there and  it wasn’t original even in Shakespeare’s time, but one of my favorite versions was “West Side Story”. And I have to admit, I’m a sucker for “Sherlock” on the BBC. I think Arthur Conan Doyle would have approved!

As a published author, what non-writing activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

Taking a walk outside always helps me think, I can’t recommend it enough. And vigorous exercise for as little as five minutes is helpful, too. As for reading, I recommend reading your favorite books several times. The first time for the story because you enjoy it. The second and third times, to analyze the story, the voices and the overall technique to learn how the author pulled it off. It’s like being amazed by a magic trick and then figuring out how it was done.

I also recommend reading terrible books to see how not to do it. Write reviews of them so that you can analyze each aspect.

Finally, I recommend reading books on the nuts and bolts of the craft. I recommend Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” and Stephen King’s “On Writing”. I also recommend Orson Scott Card’s “Elements of Fiction Writing-Characters and Viewpoint,” and Ron Carlson’s short book, “Ron Carlson Writes a Story.” I also recommend, “Elements of Fiction Writing-Beginnings, Middles and Ends,” by Nancy Kress.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

It’s a mess, I’m sorry to report, but there’s a method to it. I can write anywhere and I started doing something strange by accident. I e-mailed myself the chapter I was working on and found I could write on my cell phone wherever I happened to be. The weirdest place I ever wrote was standing in line at a Mexican restaurant waiting to pick up my food! I had a thought that just couldn’t wait.

VenkataramPerilInTheParkWhat were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

As a kid, I always had a book in my hands. I’ve been told I took a book to a slumber party when I was 6 and I took one with me in the car on the way to Disney World! Luckily, I wasn’t driving since I was only ten, but my best friend was annoyed. I was the nerdy kid who got excited when the bookmobile came to my neighborhood and I was the kid who cried at seeing my first real library and realizing I could never read all those books.

I always wanted to write ever since I won a prize for my “Duck Poem” in second grade!

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Shakespeare, Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Vonnegut and Robert Frost. I’m not sure what they would order, but Shakespeare & Dickens would be pretty impressed with the large selection and Vonnegut would be bummed to learn that he couldn’t smoke inside anymore.

The Desert Island Collection: what books make it into your trunk and why?

Funny books, of course, anything that could make me laugh. All of Harry Potter because I never get tired of them and finally, a book about how to escape from a desert island!

What do you do when you are not writing?

I love to swim and to take walks in serene parks. Both of those activities always clear my mind and restore my perspective. And of course, read! Reading makes me laugh and cry and think about the world in new ways. But hanging out with my family and friends is at the top of the list.

VenkataramCaseOfKillerDivorceSide characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I wish I could be original here, but all of the side characters in the Harry Potter series were fun and interesting. Who wouldn’t want to be fussed over by Mrs. Weasley, or learn about magical creatures from Hagrid? In my own books, I was surprised at how much Duke Broussard took over. He has a large personality! And he seems to have a lot of fans out there.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers? 

Well, my second Jamie Quinn mystery, “The Case of the Killer Divorce” will be out on audiobook in August. And my fourth Jamie Quinn book, “Engaged in Danger,” will be out in September. Finally, my book of humorous essays, “A Trip to the hardware Store & Other Calamities” has been chosen as a finalist in the Readers Favorite Contest, Woo hoo! That’s all the exciting stuff going on in my world.

Places to Find Barbara Venkataraman

Goodreads

Amazon

Facebook

All Clear by Connie Willis

WillisAllClearWhy I Read It: I loved the first book in this duology, Blackout.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who I Recommend This To: WWII historical fiction fans who don’t mind a bit of time travel.

Narrator: Katherine Kellgren

Publisher: Audible Frontiers (2010)

Length: 23 hours 46 minutes

Series: Book 2 All Clear

Author’s Page

If you haven’t read Blackout, you need to do so before reading this book because the All Clear definitely needs it in order to understand the characters and setting.

This was an amazing conclusion to the party started by my favorite characters in Blackout. Eileen, Polly, and Mike are still trapped in WWII England during the Blitz with none of their drops opening. They come up with several creative ways to let Oxford of 2060 know where and when they are all the while trying to affect the timeline of WWII as little as possible. But despite their best of intentions, they are each thrown into situations where they simply can’t stand back and do nothing. Which of course causes them to doubt that age old rule about time travel: Historians can’t affect the timeline. Polly and Mike, our experienced travelers, try to keep their concerns about having affected the timeline from Eileen (because it is her first assignment). Lots of action in this meticulously researched book.

I am going to go all gushy on this book and try very very hard not to spoil any plot points. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down. If I ever have to do high school History Class again, please let them assign any of Connie Willis’s time travel novels! If I had had this book in high school, I might have gone on to major in History instead of Environmental Science. WWII had so much happening in it that I was totally oblivious to. For England, everyone was affected by the War, and nearly everyone had a role to play in it – young, old, woman, man, chorus girls, rectors, fire fighters, puzzle solvers, shop girls, and nurses. That is something that I really didn’t understand until I read this duology. All the wars I have been alive for have been fought on foreign soil and my daily life has not been affected by them. I feel a little uncomfortable saying that, now that I know how much WWII affected the world.

The characters were so much fun. Of course we have our main characters (Eileen, Polly, and Mike) but even the side characters all have these little ticks and notches that make them very real and personable. I especially loved the Hodbin children (Vinny and Alf) in book 1 and they have an appearance in book 2. Mr. Humphreys and Sir Godfrey, the chorus girls, and the ambulance drivers, even the characters from 2060 – they all make an excellent backdrop for our main characters. At first, I was a little frustrated that Mike and Polly wanted to keep so much from Eileen (to keep her from worrying) even though they are all stuck in the same barrel of sharks. But by the end, Eileen proves to be very resilient. So my initial frustration turned into deep satisfaction when Eileen is proven to be made of stern stuff.

This book has more than one plot line. We have Mike, Polly, and Eileen in the Blitz and then skip forward a few more years and we have Ernest towards the end of the war working with the puzzle solvers and Intelligence team that gave out false info in order to fool the Germans. We also have Mary, an ambulance driver, during the V1 and V2 rocket bombardment. Then we also have little snippets of 2060 Oxford. Towards the end of the book, we get one or two more short timelines. Despite all that, I felt it wasn’t too hard to follow. Perhaps this is because each chapter starts with a time and location.

The ending wrapped up questions about time travel, and required sacrifice. It was a beautiful ending that really spoke to the underlying theme of the ‘unsung hero’, those who served the country simply by holding it together. If you are one of those folks who have found WWII to be a dull topic, I ask you to give these books a chance – they could very well change your mind.

The Narration: Katherin Kellgren did a great job with this large cast of characters, nearly all of them with English accents. I loved how patient Eileen sounded, how the Hodbins could put curiosity and fake innocence into such simple sentences, and Mike’s American accent. The audio version of this book has a short forward by the author in which she explains some of her inspiration for a few of the characters in the books.

What I Liked: Time travel is used as a tool and it doesn’t go all mystical trying to explain the physics of how it works; I learned a lot about WWII from this duology; there’s a bit of Shakespeare; the Hodbins and Alf’s pet snake; how everyone was affected by the war and had to chip in and help out; very satisfying ending.

What I Disliked: If you aren’t paying attention, you may get a little muddled on the timelines (but you can always flip to the chapter heading to figure out when you are).

What Others Think:

The Book Smugglers

SF Reviews

SF Site

Adventures in Scifi Publishing

Medieval Bookworm

Knife of Dreams, Part II

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, I am your host. Make sure to catch Eivind in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s Musings on Fantasia for cool non-spoilery fan art and hop on over to Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for some great deductive reasoning skills in calculating how things will fall out with the plot.

For the second week in a row, I am a bit late posting. This week, I blame a sinus infection that has me in a frustrating amount of pain. the headache is killer!

This week, we covered Chapters 2-7. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Beonin, Ashmanaille, & Phaedrine chat about theories on who the channeling male murderer is. Did you enjoy Beonin’s logic? Do you think other Aes Sedai are drawing the same conclusions? Will such assumptions and conclusions hinder Rand’s plans in preparing for the Last Battle?

The Aes Sedai seem pretty bent on laying these murders at Rand’s feet. In the end, I fear this will allow Halima to go undetected for a great length of time and allow him/her to wreak some major havoc later on.

And why do none of these Aes Sedai think outside the box? Has the traditional White Tower ruined the collective thinking power of a whole generation of Aes Sedai?

And of course, I do fear that these assumptions will come to hinder Rand’s plans, like he needs any more hindering with the constant war her has going on inside himself.

2) Elaida had thought to show the world her power by snatching a monarch in the night and she plans to show even greater power by putting that monarch back on his royal seat. Do you think Mattin Stepaneos, king of Illian, will be cooperative? What other setbacks to Elaida’s plan can you predict?

I expect Mattin to be cooperative to a point – like that point in which he once again sits a throne. Then I expect he will throw it back in Elaida’s teeth and the White Tower will take another hit in reputation. Egwene is going to have tons of community outreach to do once she takes over.

And of course I expect many other rulers will no longer welcome Aes Sedai to their throne rooms after this, expecting (or fearing) such blatant betrayal of all common courtesy. People won’t cower before Elaida; instead, they will be hiring hitmen to take her out.

3) Once again the Forsaken get together for a tickle and tell dinner party. We saw some new technology on display. Do you think we will see further advanced tech and in more prominent use as the series continues? Do you think Moiridin can keep them all in line?

For several books now, there have been hints and some small demonstrations of advanced tech. However, I expect Jordan will keep that low key for the entire series, as this is primarily a fantasy series, not scifi/fantasy. While genre boundaries don’t matter as much these days (thank goodness), they were in full use when this series started. Hence, due to fan base expectations, I doubt the publisher would be OK with a storyline veering away from the core fantasy genre.

Some of the Forsaken are already plotting to kill Moiridin. The Forsaken have not struck me as particularly bright, but I think that can also be said of Moiridin (who is brutal and a bit crazy). So I doubt he will be able to get them all to do everything he requires of them and he may even be taken out by the Forsaken.

4) Perrin meets with the Seanchan. Were you impressed with his display of martial capability? What about that sulfur stench? Even if this plan goes off without a hitch, do you see continued friendly relationships between Perrin’s forces and the Seanchan?

I loved Perrin’s simple yet elegant display of martial capability. Obviously, the Seanchan came to a swift appreciation for the Two Rivers longbow.

What is up with the Hell Hounds (the source of the sulfur stench)? They seem to be keeping tabs on Perrin, or someone in his group. Like scouts seeking out the target and then reporting back. Of course this has me concerned as no one enjoys tangling with a Hell Hound, let alone a pack of them.

Yes, I expect the Seanchan will continue friendly negotiations with Perrin after Faile is safely back home. For one thing, Perrin is a straight shooter and the Seanchan will learn quickly that they can deal with him openly and honestly. Second, it shoulnd’t be long before the Seanchan in Randland start hearing about the calamity that has struck their homeland; they will need allies.

5) Faile has a lot of decisions to make, and soon. She is determined to escape before Perrin can attempt a rescue; she has the Oath Rod; Galina appears near breaking; and Rolan is still putting flowers in her hair. Will her actions muck up Perrin’s rescue? Will Galina’s duplicity be undone? Will Rolan get even one romantic night, one which will never be spoken of again?

Oh es! I totally expect Faile to muck up Perrin’s plans, potentially getting people injured or killed. I can’t blame her for wanting to escape, but her unhealthy attitude of showing up Perrin is juvenile.

Uh….perhaps I have mentioned before how ridiculous I find Faile’s character?

I am SO looking forward to Galina’s duplicity being caught. But knowing the Aes Sedai, she could very well sneak off in all the mayhem and she won’t have to pay for her actions.

You know, I would be OK with Rolan being granted one night of Faile sexytimes. I think this would mellow Faile considerably towards the women who pursue Perrin. At least, she wouldn’t be able to give Perrin any more shit. Not justly, anyways. Perrin seems to be the kind of guy who would take it for a lifetime.

6) Mat has bought a new horse, razor breed, and given Tuon a pet name (Precious) to counter her little pet name for him (Toy). And then we learn that Noal is related to Jain Farstrider! Guesses as to why Noal has such strong feelings on the adventures of his cousin?

I am guessing that Noal may be Jain Farstrider and decided to dissemble a bit by saying he was his cousin. Noal sure did speak vehemently about Jain going of on adventure and leaving his wife to die alone. Sounds like Noal has major regrets. I can see him being a good guiding force in Mat’s life, if Mat can stop thinking of him as an old harmless idiot.

7) Mat’s little ter’angreal secret is out and the Aes Sedai traveling with the circus are VERY curious. Do you think this will cause a problem later? Bethamin, a former sul’dam, channeled some powerful weave, to her great distress. Could she turn out to be a powerful Aes Sedai in the future?

Once again, I expect the Aes Sedai to pester or outright ‘borrow’ Mat’s ter’angreal for study. And of course, in the very long run, I expect some baddie to eventually hear of this extra protection Mat has and instead of channeling like a good channeler, just go for the throat (which, unfortunately, may actually work).

Yes, I think some of the sul’dam wil prove to be as powerful as the top ranking Aes Sedai, much to the Aes Sedais’ distress. ;)

Other Tidbits:

Beonin spilled all to Elaida! This is a problem. A big one. I feel sorry for Beonin’s Warder who was left in the dark about this one.

Some of the Shaido gai’shain have sought protection in the beds of their captors. I believe there was one brief mention of a woman gai’shain seeking out her female captor’s bed. I truly appreciate the diversity Jordan built in to this series, in so many ways.

Knife of Dreams, Part I

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Eivind is our host and you can probably find him in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s Musings on Fantasia for cool non-spoilery fan art and hop on over to Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for some great deductive reasoning skills in calculating how things will fall out with the plot.

I had to post late this week because we had a flood last week and I was just wiped out from the actual event and then clean up efforts.

This week, we covered the Prologue and Chapter 1. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Eamon Valda finally buys it, and Galad is now (at least de jure) Lord Captain Commander. Do you think he will be able to muster the children and fight back in any meaningful way? Or is this effectively the end of the order?

Well, I was looking for something else perhaps 2 months ago (perhaps a list of the Forsaken) and the answer to this question was revealed. I guess folks aren’t big into spoiler warnings for this series since it has been out for so long. Perhaps I should reveal the ending to The Hobbit?

Digressing…….Back to the question. First, before stumbling upon that bit of info, I would NEVER have expected Galad to rise to Lord Captain Commander. While he is a stickler for the rules, he is also a good person. I can’t see him raping and torturing his way through a country like Masema’s men do (and some of the Whitecloaks). And the 2 previous Lord Captain Commanders have been pretty ruthless.

So with that in mind, Galad is going to have to get a bit more ruthless, and suspicious, in order to stay alive, let alone retain the title of Lord Captain Commander. But I can’t see Jordan just letting this constant nuisance dressed in snazzy cloaks & armor fade out. So I expect them to be around for the end of the world.

2. The Seanchan suffer some shocking defeats at the hands of Ituralde. Suroth is furious and sends away almost all the air scouts. Will this help Mat out? What do you think is in the future for Ituralde?

First, Ituralde has incredible fashion sense, with the lace and the beauty patch on his face. Very chic.

I think anything that unbalances Suroth, who we know to be a Darkfriend, will help Mat or one of our other heroes. So if Ituralde’s sense of style (on or off the battlefield) does that, I am all for it.

Some of our WoT Quad have mentioned that Ituralde is the last of the greatest battle generals to enter the storyline. So I expect him to win a lot of battles, some of them decisive. I don’t know if he will survive to the end as we have had only tiny little bits of him so far. And I expect some of the key players will have to die in the final 3 books.

3. Semirhage has been busy in Seandar, and Seanchan as we know it (or more accurately, didn’t know it), has ceased to exist. Without support from their homeland, do you think the return is now doomed (in the long term)? Might this force them into accepting an alliance with Rand, once it becomes known?

Yes!!!!! Oh, when I heard this, I did a little dance. I know, I shouldn’t root for Semirhage, but the Seanchan have been pissing me off since they first appeared on Randland thinking they could just conquer the entire land and that they were entitled to do so.

Now with their homeland all in tatters, I hope they realize they will need to make alliances, respect the various peoples of Randland, in order to simply maintain their existence and their possible chance to return home and resurrect their homeland.

4. The Black Ajah hunters have stalled, and Pevara is now being sent away on a mission to bond Asha’men. Talene managed to hide, but Alviarin is still on the right track. Where do you see this storyline going?

Uh….Well, perhaps I wasn’t paying close attention….again.

I expect Pevara to fail at forcing a bond upon Asha’men. Period. Though it could turn rather amusing if she is bonded to one of them.

Alviarin is highly motivated to serve the DO, so I expect her to continue to cause trouble until someone kills her.

5. Of all the things that could happen between Galina and Perrin, what were you wishing for? Do you suppose she succeeded in stalling him?

Galina was doing a lot of lying and I wondered if Perrin could smell her lies and played along with part of it? Of perhaps he could only smell fear on her, which could be explained by the Aes Sedai fear and revulsion towards Asha’men.

If he didn’t pick up on Galina’s lies, then I want to slap him upside the head. He knows that things may not be as they seem. He has met and fought with Wise Women. So he knows that just because you can channel doesn’t mean you are bound by oath to tell the truth.

The rude little evil part of me wishes that Perrin had tortured Galina to verify the truth.

As for stalling Perrin, no. It sounds like they were nearly set to follow through on some plan anyway and that grabbing Galina just gave them a little extra info.

6. Egwene has been installed as a novice again, and sees advantages in her situation. How badly do you think will Elaida regret not having her tried? Is Egwene right in refusing rescue? And do you think she will manage to hold the rebellion together by proxy (in tel’aran’rhiod)?

Oh yes, I definitely hope that Elaida comes to regret not having Egwene beheaded on the spot. I really want Elaida to regret that decision just before she is exiled, Stilled, or killed. Or perhaps all 3. I’m easy that way.

Yes, Egwene is right to refuse rescue just yet. She is in a unique position to learn a lot about her enemies in the White Tower and get that intel to the Aes Sedai outside the Tower through T’A’R.

As for being able to hold the rebellion together….well, I think the Aes Sedai who greatly desire power and see the rebellion as a way to it will hold the rebellion together. Of course, they might not do much to help free Egwene so I hope she packed some clean undies for her (probable) long stay in the Tower.

Survivor: Blackout by Peter Anderson

AndersonSurvivorBlackoutWhy I Read It: I enjoy adventure scifi.

Where I Got It: A review copy courtesy of the blog tour (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Scifi adventure fans who enjoy serialized stories.

Publisher: Bastei Entertainment (2014)

Length: 44 pages

Series: Episode 1, Season 1 of Survivor

Author’s Page

Blackout is a fast-paced opening episode to Season 1 of Survivor. The story is told in present time with flashbacks that set up the how and why these space adventurers ended up in their current pickle. CERN, Switzerland, finds a group of scientist pulling together our adventurers for a special trip through a wormhole. Each of these specially chosen adventurers has some unique gift, and during the course of Episode 1 only 3 of those gifts are revealed. Ryan Nash is in charge of the voyage. Jabo is his right hand man. Maria dos Santos, Ai Rogers, and Gabriel Proctor make up the rest of the team. The CERN project is headed by a man with a mysterious secret – Dr. Kasanov. His right hand is Dr. Eva Kessler.

There’s plenty of suspense and action in these opening 44 pages. The back and forth between present and past made it easy to come up to speed on the project and also gave the main characters some backgrounds. I enjoyed the whole secret project feel to the mission. Plus there is Dr. Kasanov with his secret agenda, one that is only hinted at in this episode. Dr. Kessler gets to go all science-y for us science nerds out there, which is always nice in a science fiction story.

Ryan Nash, who spends the most time on screen and whose head we get to ride around in the most, strikes me as a man of action, going on gut instinct. In some ways, he is a very typical male hero that is interchangeable with any number of other male action heroes. But I enjoyed this episode enough to give Ryan more episodes to develop a more in-depth character. He did find himself in a highly unexpected and rather awful situation and it will be difficult to extricate himself from it. I have to see what happens next with him.

While Dr. Kessler got some decent screen time, she did most of the info dumps in the flashback scenes. Dr. Kasanov had the action, the decision making. On board the ship, present time, Ryan and Jabo called the shots while Maria was ordered around and Ai said nothing. So I would really like to see more active scenes with the ladies calling the shots or at least sharing important decisions. Again, I enjoyed the mystery of Episode one quite a bit and am willing to sit back and see what Episode 2 holds for us. I see lots of potential in the female characters and want to see what the author made of that potential.

Over all, there is plenty to entertain the reader in this episode – cool science, plenty of action, the mysterious powers of our adventurers, and the difficult and awful situation Ryan Nash finds himself in. Dr. Kasanov has his secret agenda and I think he knew what he was sending our heroes into – and I really want to know why he did so! This episode definitely whetted my appetite for the series.

What I Liked: Plenty of action; interesting mystery powers; secret agendas.

What I Disliked: Could make better use of the female characters, but I am willing to see how they progress in Episode 2.

What Others Think:

Mallory Heart Reviews

Dystopic

You can also catch other reviews, spotlights, etc. on the JKS Communications Blog Tour.

Guest Post: Jim Bernheimer, Author of Prime Suspects

BernheimerPenniesForferrymanFolks, please welcome Jim Bernheimer back to Dab of Darkness. I have enjoyed a few of his novels and a short story collection to date. ‘Enjoyed’ really is too light a term. I tore through three of Jim’s books back to back. Little housework was accomplished that week. So it is with great pleasure that Jim agreed to do a guest post and tell us about his latest book, Origins of a D-List Supervillain. You can also check out the Dab of Darkness interview along with my reviews of Prime Suspects, Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, and Horror, Humor, and Heroes.

A Post That’s Pretty Much About Nothing

I’ll start with thanking Susan for allowing me to come on and do a guest post.

She gave me a plethora of topics to choose from, which was cool, and it gave me the opportunity to use plethora in a sentence. Unfortunately, as I read on it became crystal clear that all her imaginative ideas weren’t clicking with me. The good news was she said I was free to come up with my own topic.

I’m a writer. How hard could that possibly be?

The answer is very. In the aftermath of finishing my latest novel, I find myself devoid of any meaningful ideas, so I’m going to try and totally wing it.

BernheimerOriginsOfD-ListSupervillainObviously I want to talk about my new book, Origins of a D-List Supervillain (available in paperback, Kindle/Nook, and with the audiobook coming soon). However I figured I shouldn’t be blatant because savvy and intelligent readers, like those visiting Dab of Darkness, can spot a shameless, self-promoter hawking their wares from a mile away. So I figured I’d have to be clever when I insert a paragraph promoting the prequel to one of the highest rated novels in the superhero genre. Y’know, so people won’t roll their eyes at me when they read this and do so without seeming to pander to this well-read and fascinating audience.

Prequel? Yeah, I wanted to be like George Lucas and go there – only with less Jar-Jar, because that’s how “Meesa Roll.” Anyway, I just did a single prequel. That’s all I had material for, which is also sort of like, well movies 1-3.

Maybe I should get rid of that last bit? Picking on the prequel trilogy and Jar-Jar is low hanging fruit. Then again, most everyone laughs; so I guess it stays.

What am I working on now? That’s always good to talk about. People like that, but that’s usually at the end of the guest post and I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Plus, it’s fairly self-evident. I’m reasonably certain that everyone can see that I’m out contacting blogs and trying to promote my latest novel. Also, there are all those tasks that my wife has reminded me that I’ve been neglecting while writing my latest rollicking adventure that’s already receiving a number of excellent reviews from readers.

I told her that I needed to spend most of July marketing it, so I’m safe for a few more weeks. The deck has lasted this long. Sanding it down and then applying a new coat of stain during the hottest months of the year doesn’t sound like anyone’s idea of fun in the sun. Really, I should be thanking you folks for helping me delay that particular bit of nastiness. If sales continue to improve, I can probably make it to fall before the honey-do list becomes a get your butt off the computer and do something other than convert oxygen into carbon dioxide list.

I can’t really say I suffer for my art. It’s more like I suffer without my art or whenever my wife of twenty years realizes she married a slacker. I’m not sure.

BernheimerConfessionsOfDListSupervillainSo thanks in advance for doing me a solid. What does that really mean anyway? It’s a good thing I’m just typing this and not saying it. After all, I’m about to turn forty-five. Isn’t it embarrassing when middle aged men try to use hip terms to try and sound cool and with it? The pinnacle of my wild side is usually Friday Night Magic or playing Cards Against Humanity, which clearly makes me a rebel without a cause. (Perhaps a rebel without a clue is more appropriate?) That’s when I’m not busy writing a number of really excellent books that are so good that everyone should take a moment and check out my Amazon author page right here – http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Bernheimer/e/B0028OE2UA

I figured putting my youngest daughter in the picture with me would help my sales better than one of just me. We just got a new puppy, so he’ll probably be in the next picture I upload there along with my daughter. My goal is to get enough cute things in there to offset my ugly mug because I’m kind of like the Grumpy Cat without the viral Internet presence. Heck, I just searched Amazon and discovered that the Grumpy Cat has an author page. It has a book out with 298 reviews! That eclipses even the 263 reviews for Confessions of a D-List Supervillain! Though, my story has a significantly higher rating. I can still hang my hat on that.

Now I can say I did some research for this guest post.

Do you think Susan will notice? If you folks are reading this either she didn’t or is tolerant of my rambling and feeble attempt at humor.

Wow! I’ve got over eight hundred words done and it’s about time to tie off the loose ends. This might prove to be difficult because the whole thing has been just one big loose end covering for a marketing ploy.

BernheimerSorceressI suppose now would be the right spot for talking about the next books I’ll be working on. My wife and several fans want to see the third Dead Eye novel and there is also a small, but rather vocal group who are eagerly awaiting the third Spirals of Destiny installment, but considering how well the D-List books are doing, I’d be an idiot (or an even bigger one than I already am) not to write more in that universe. So yes, I’m hoping to have two more D-List books ready by the end of the year. Also, I’m collaborating on a screenplay adaptation of my novel Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective mystery because I want to be that author who is muttering how Hollywood corrupted my art while cashing their check. For enough money, I’d even let them write Jar-Jar into … No! I’d have to draw the line somewhere.

Places to Stalk Jim Bernheimer

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Interview: Michael Coorlim, Author of Sky Pirates Over London

CoorlimSkyPiratesOverLondonI have enjoyed several of Michael’s works, so it is with great pleasure that I wheedled an interview out of him. Please sit back and enjoy the chat about Doctor Who, Stargate, The Lord of the Rings, Xena, and plenty more!

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

That’s a hard question. I’ve found that often, a lot of my favorite series don’t really match up to the way I remember them, because they haven’t aged well, or because I’ve changed from the person who first enjoyed them.

That said: Doctor Who. It hasn’t let me down. I’d love to watch it all over again with fresh eyes.

CoorlimInfernalRevelation1Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

Reality is important when it comes to characterization and consequences. Lengthy travel and bathroom breaks and the like should be skipped over unless, for whatever reason, they’re vital to the plot or the character’s nature. Swearing is definitely part of characterization; the way people talk and the words they use tells us a lot about them.

My most recent release, Infernal Revelation, recently had a reviewer mark it down for its profanity. The speakers in question are rebellious teenage boys outside of adult supervision, and yeah, that’s how they talk. It’s part of their cultural make-up. In particular, it’s a YA book, and teens know how teens talk.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I’d like to see a simulation/management game based on Leo Frankowski‘s Cross-Time Engineer. A modern day man is sent back to the 13th century and has ten years to prepare medieval Poland for the Mongol invasion. I like games where you build things, where you see a lot of development on any scale, personal or social or whatever.

CoorlimMaidenVoyageOfRioGrandeWith the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

Genre has always been a bit of a tyrannical marketing tool. I think that we’re only beginning to see the possibilities available. This has impacted my writing more than my reading… I’ve always read anything I could get my hands on, but now I’m no longer being told that to be a successful writer I have to pick a single genre and stick to it.

I think we’re going to see some great experimentation from big name authors in the future.

Who are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes was great because you don’t really see him so much as you see the effects of his presence. Hero duos: Frodo and Sam. Gilgamesh and Enkidu if you want to get tragic about it.

CoorlimFineYoungTurkOften various historical aspects (people, locations, events) are used in fantasy and sometimes rehashed in a far-flung future. Are there examples of such historical aspects being used well in the SF/F genre? Examples of what didn’t work for you?

I read a lot of alternate history and time travel fiction. Michael Chriton’s Timeline – the book – was good. I didn’t care so much for the movie. Stargate – the movie and the television series – mined mythology, as did the Hercules and Xena television shows. They weren’t terribly accurate, but they didn’t have to be. It was just great to catch the references.

Oh, and the early Doctor Who seasons did a lot more with time travel. They weren’t always terribly accurate, but they were a lot of fun.

In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

The best villains are the tragic villains. Ideally I want my readers to identify with and even sympathize for my villains. I want them to understand why they commit terrible acts, and perhaps to see how they might end up in the same situation. Ultimately, though, what makes a villain is the failure to change, to grow like the protagonist does. They are defined and defeated by their destructive patterns.

I want readers to feel bad for my villains, but also that their downfall was inevitable.

CoorlimTrailScissormanIf you could go enjoy a meal in a fictional world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

Middle-Earth. Lembas wafers.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I was on a Worldcon panel with Eleanor Arnason, Bud Sparhawk, and Connie Willis. All I could think about was that I should probably be down in the audience instead, not alongside Hugo and Nebula award-winning authors. I’d grown up reading their stories.

Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I think I notice bad covers more than good, but I’m approaching them from a design standpoint. I evaluate them for their color compositions, layout, and typography. I find it hard to “see” them like a reader.

CoorlimCollectedJameAndBartlebyAdventuresWhat is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The validity of genre fiction compared to “literature.” There are a lot of people out there who like to look down on others because of what they read and what they enjoy. I think it’s a form of insecurity, seeking validation through the dismissal of others.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I really liked Merry and Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In my own work, I’ve found that often secondary characters will spawn books of their own; in The Collected Bartleby and James Adventures, Bartleby’s fiance Aldora makes a few appearances, but I was so taken with the character that I wrote the second collection in the series all about her. I have vague plans now to do the same for some of the other characters, namely James’s old friend and con-artist Buckley and his experiences with the Parisian underworld of the Belle Epoque.

Places to Find Michael Coorlim

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