Interview & Giveaway: Edoardo Albert, Author of Edwin: High King of Britain

AuthorEdoardoAlbertIt is my pleasure to have Edoardo Albert on the blog today. His novel, Edwin: High King of Britain, is the first in the series chronicling the Christian kings of England of old. Come enjoy our chat on historical figures, Tolkien, how the Anglo-Saxons took their swearing seriously, and more! Scroll down for info on the Giveaway!

Who are some of your favorite historical villains? Who are some of your favorite historical heroes? In general, are these villains and heroes misunderstood by the modern public?

Of course, Aristotle was right: all men act according to what they see as good – even the worst men in history do not get up in the morning to twirl their mustaches and cackle, “What is the evillest thing I can do today?” But yet, men do evil, and great evil at that. A favorite villain must be one with a certain style and panache, so I suppose someone like Napoleon would rank at the top of the tree there: a man whose vanity and energy plunged Europe into a decade and a half of war, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and a world remade, yet whose charisma was such that he is still regarded as a hero as much as a villain. Such was his personal magnetism that I’m sure if I’d been in his orbit I would have ended up circling the Napoleonic sun along with all his other satellites. As for heroes, you’d be hard put to do better than William Wilberforce and the others who campaigned, and succeeded, in ending an institution as old as humanity and one that no one could really have imagined could be ended: slavery. But, since evil lacks imagination, slavery and human trafficking is on the way back, for what better way to demonstrate pure power than to own other human beings.

As to these and other historical figures being misunderstood, it depends on where you stand on the debate as to whether one can enter into any other age in any real way. The cultural and historical relativists have strong arguments, but in the end, as a writer, I plump for the belief that the fundamentals of human existence unite us through the ages. Besides, all men consider their time to be normal, and in writing historical fiction that is one of the great rules to bear in mind when dealing with the strangeness of past cultures.

Reality 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?

To be honest, mostly by ignoring them. Bathroom breaks are the common lot of humanity and although the toilet difficulties in pre-modern times are quite interesting they are better dealt with a non-fiction book (in fact, that could be a whole new book right there – Toilet Habits of the Past!). Anglo-Saxon swear words have transferred all too well to modern English, so I haven’t felt any particular need to include them, and a characteristic of pre-modern and barely literate peoples was a far greater reverence for language, so even the cursing was better done. There’s quite a bit about travel in Edwin: High King of Britain, for with roads being generally poor, rivers and sea were more highways than obstructions.

AlbertEdwinHighKingofBritainMyths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

At the most surface level, it has spawned various fandoms, from Harry Potter to Tolkien geeks to Trekkies. The writers of the golden age of science fiction were indirectly responsible for the space race, their writing inspiring many of the scientists and engineers that worked on the Apollo missions. Modern fantasy fiction seems to have had a more diffused effect; it’s probably stepped into the void left by the decline of religious belief in some countries of the old West, although in that case its more placebo than anything else. I suspect the jury is still out as to whether its long-term effects will be for good or ill.

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

The Lord of the Rings. It still stands head and shoulders above all modern fantasy, and to read it again would be to enter Middle-earth afresh – who wouldn’t want to do that?

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

For the world of Edwin – a very real but only dimly perceived world – the two foremost documents are Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Without them, we would have only archaeology, which is vital for a deep understanding of a world but leaves us without names or actors within that world. Apart from these foundational sources, there has been a great deal of excellent scholarship on the period, notably by James Campbell (a different Campbell to the one who wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces), Peter Hunter Blair and Nick Higham. I’ve also hugely benefited from my conversations with my archaeologist co-writer of Northumbria: the Lost Kingdom, Paul Gething, who shared his expertise, knowledge and passion for the period with me through many long conversations.

Who are your non-writer influences?

Apart from Paul, my wife and children. Harriet is my first reader, my best critic and, as an actress and voice teacher, the perfect person to read my stories out loud to me; there is no better way to learn if something works or not than to hear it read to you. And having a family has simultaneously reduced the time I have available to write by half but increased my productivity when I do write by something like fiftyfold – I have reason to write other than myself now!

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Thucydides and Herodotus are on my to read list, along with the Aeneid, from the Classical period. The lack of sources for the early Anglo-Saxon era means that it’s really not that difficult to read everything that’s survived from then, and Bede is such a pleasure to read that I return to him frequently.

With 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?

I would hope it means that people will read more widely; I suspect that little of the self-consciously literary fiction of the second half of the twentieth century has any lasting value, but some of the genre novels will survive as long as people read – Stephen King is a better chronicler of our times than the vast majority of literary novelists. As to me, I read widely as a matter of course, so I’d be delighted to be lured out of my comfort zone.

If you could go enjoy a meal in a historical setting (time travel, here we come!), where/when would that be, and what would you eat? Who would you invite from that time and place to sup with you?

Gosh, that’s a tough question! Part of me would like to attend the Last Supper, but I’m not sure I could bear to be present for the events of the day afterwards. Apart from that, I’d like to invite Dante and Boccacio to a high medieval feast in Italy – days of feasting, song and conversation – and then to drop into the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford in the 1930s when Tolkien, Lewis and the Inklings were all in full flow.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Read! Bring up children. Day job – the usual stuff writers do when they’re not writing.

I snooped around on your website. You have written in several genres: SFF short stories, history books, a biography of Tolkien, a children’s book, historical texts on Islamic philosophers. Which do you find more challenging: the non-fiction or fiction works? Are there genres you would like to branch out into even further? Do you work on more than one book at a time?

Non-fiction and fiction present different challenges. With non-fiction the first and greatest challenge is to tell the truth. Of course, that’s also the challenge of fiction, but the templates of truth are different in each case. Non-fiction requires adherence to sources, proper understanding and sifting of contemporary scholarship – with its enthusiasms and biases – and synthesis; there’s always more you could write! Fiction demands the writer remains true to the story and its characters, removing himself from them as far as is possible. I think working in different areas has benefited me hugely as a writer and I’d definitely hope to write in further genres; in fact, a book I’ve been commissioned to write on the spiritual history of London is turning into something of a new genre in itself: part history, part travel, part spiritual autobiography, I’m making it up as I go along! When writing, I usually just write one book at a time, but I’ll probably be reading and researching the next at the same time.

Thank you for your questions; they really made me think hard!

About the Book

Debut historical fiction series vividly recreating the rise of the Christian kings of Northumbria, England.

In 604 AD, Edwin, the deposed king of Northumbria, seeks refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia. But Raedwald is urged to kill his guest by Aethelfrith, Edwin’s usurper. As Edwin walks by the shore, alone and at bay, he is confronted by a mysterious figure–the missionary Paulinus– who prophesies that he will become High King of Britain. It is a turning point.

Through battles and astute political alliances Edwin rises to power, in the process marrying the Kentish princess Aethelburh. As part of the marriage contract the princess is allowed to retain her Christian faith. But, in these times, to be a king is not a recipe for a long life.

This turbulent and tormented period in British history sees the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon settlers who have forced their way on to British shores over previous centuries, arriving first to pillage, then to farm and trade–and to come to terms with the faith of the Celtic tribes they have driven out.

The dramatic story of Northumbria’s Christian kings helped give birth to England as a nation, English as a language, and the adoption of Christianity as the faith of the English.

Places to Find Edoardo Albert

 Website

Twitter

Facebook

Giveaway!

Edoardo Albert has one paperback copy of Edwin: High King of Britain. The giveaway is open to US, UK and Canada residents. In order to enter, leave a comment answering this question: What historical figure would you like to read a historical fiction on? I’ll select at the end of the book tour (midnight September 19th, 2014). Leave me a way to contact you in the comment (email, twitter, etc.). Good luck!

Follow The Tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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Review at Princess of Eboli
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Review at Dab of Darkness

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Review at Book Lovers Paradise
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Review at A Book Geek
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Review at Book Nerd

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Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
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Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

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Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

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Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

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Review at Book Drunkard

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Interview: Hazel Woods, Author of This Is How I’d Love You

AuthorHazelWoodsFolks, please welcome New Mexico author Hazel Woods to the blog. She’s just released her debut novel, This Is How I’d Love You, a tale set in 1917, on the brink of WWI. Sit back and enjoy!

Who are your non-writer influences?

My non-writer influences are all of the ghosts from the past.  I think family history is really compelling.  Trying to imagine the people who lived and laughed and grieved and struggled long ago, but without whom we would not exist, is exhilarating.

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Oh, man.  Two of the most shameful omissions are Beowulf and The Travels of Marco Polo.  I’m sure there are many others.

In my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?

I think it’s important to try to have a distinct time when I stop researching, and just write.  My imagination needs space to incorporate what’s been learned.  If I keep going back to the research, I end up being too literal.  For me, if I don’t have a hard and fast end date, I will just keep researching and never write the novel.

WoodsThisIsHowI'dLoveYouIn this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I love being able to connect with readers.  Writing is such a lonesome endeavor.  It’s fun to finally have a dialogue about the work.  It’s tough for me, on the other hand, to be a salesperson.  There are so many amazing books published and never enough hours in the day—I find it difficult to insist that my book be on the top of someone’s list.

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

As a kid, I was solely a reader.  I loved books more than anything else.  But it wasn’t until I was about sixteen that I realized all of those books that I loved were written by actual people.  I suppose I was a bit dense.  But the library was such a magical place filled with so much goodness, that I’d never stopped to consider what preceded the library in the supply chain–that place where the books were actually written.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in historical fiction literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

To be honest, I don’t have a very extensive list which is due to the fact that I don’t seek out historical fiction exclusively—I simply read for great characters and compelling drama.  That said, I’d recommend anything by Hilary Mantel; I loved  The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman and The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer.  Two other favorites are Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks and Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.

What do you do when you are not writing?

My biggest joy is my family—my two kids and my husband.  I am still an avid reader. I love to play tennis, eat cookies, and sew.

About The Book

As the Great War rages, an independent young woman struggles to sustain love—and life—through the power of words. It’s 1917 and America is on the brink of World War I. After Hensley Dench’s father is forced to resign from the New York Times for his anti-war writings, she finds herself expelled from the life she loves and the future she thought she would have. Instead, Hensley is transplanted to New Mexico, where her father has taken a job overseeing a gold mine. Driven by loneliness, Hensley hijacks her father’s correspondence with Charles Reid, a young American medic with whom her father plays chess via post. Hensley secretly begins her own exchange with Charles, but looming tragedy threatens them both, and—when everything turns against them—will their words be enough to beat the odds?

Places to Find Hazel Woods

Website

Twitter

Follow the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

Monday, August 25
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

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Interview at Dab of Darkness

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Review at Book of Secrets

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Knife of Dreams, Part VI

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. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Check out Sue’s post at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for insights and deft resoning and Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 24-26. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Egwene is holding strong in the Tower. Have you had a similar experience to her revelation about embracing the pain?

I have found that injuries incurred through honest farm work, such as working with the goats or donkeys, is far easier to tolerate than, say, stubbing my toe on a chair leg. If I have some work to show for the injury/pain, then I am better at handling it. Unless I am very tired. Then I can be a bit of a bitch/cry baby over it. I am glad that Egwene is getting healing each day so that her injuries do not become semi-permanent disabilities.

2) Egwene seems to be hoping for a mutiny from within the Tower. Do you think this will happen? If so, is it more likely to start with the initiates or with the Aes Sedai closest to Elaida?

Yes, I think we are looking to enjoy a mutiny in the near future. However, this might be coupled with the Seanchan invasion that Egwene dreamed about it. In such chaos, it would be easy for the mutineers to feel that they had an advantage in tossing out Elaida and electing Egwene to speak for the Aes Sedai with the invading force.

In some ways, the mutiny has already started, and it started with the initiates. They are treating Egwene with preference, providing a battered pillow for her and honeyed tea. So I expect that they will lead the way and other Aes Sedai will fall in line.

3) Egwene hears that Aes Sedai have been bonded to Asha’men and that some Aes Sedai have sworn oaths to Rand. What did you make of her reaction that it is inappropriate (at the least) for Aes Sedai to swear oaths to any man?

Haha! Egwene would be in a red fury if someone changed things around and said that such and such male group should never, ever be expected to swear an oath to any woman, no matter how powerful or competent. Sexism, it works both ways no matter what set of genitals you got.

4) We spent a little time in Tuon’s head this reading. What surprised you the most? Did you find Tuon’s reaction to her first kiss amusing?

So much here. First, she really expects to some day rule all of Randland (haha!) and she expects to collar all the Channelers (hahahahahhahahahahahaha!). Obviously, this woman hasn’t been paying much attention to customs of the folks around her nor to the news of the land she walks.

Then she was unfamiliar with the idea of ta’veren, not having an equivalent in her culture, and merely blew it off as superstition, while failing to see her bird readings as (possibly) superstitious.

Part of my thinks Tuon is a good match for Mat (physically capable of fending for herself, just as bullheaded if not more), but then she has these ideas about enslaving a good chunk of the population. Mat definitely has his work cut out for him.

I was amused that while we know Tuon quite enjoyed the kiss, she managed to make a simple observation about Mat’s potential fever with a straight face. I was giggling to myself over this scene.

5) Grady and the other Asha’men with Perrin are looking pretty haggard, worn out from making gateways to move troops around. Will they hold up for the Shaido fight? And young Aram is also looking pretty haggard, but from some different reason. Is he the weakest link in the forthcoming fight?

Ooo! I am worried about them. We all know that those loyal to the ta’veren tend to push themselves really, really hard. I fear we may see one or more of them burn themselves out in the forthcoming fight. We know that Stilling can be healed, to some degree. Can burn out be healed?

I fear that Aram is working himself up to betraying Perrin in some way. He’s probably wrapping his mind around it, coming up with excuses of why Maesma is right and how Perrin is just mislead. Hence, he has some internal conflict going on and needs to overdrink to cope with it.

6) Play a kissing game with Rolan or meet with Galina in the burned out half of Malden to pass off the Oath Rod….Which would you choose?

I would choose the kissing game. 1) It promises to give me my freedom (either in escape or eventually when I put the white off); and 2) It would be far more pleasant to meeting with Galina (who may or may not betray me). I know there is that whole conflict of being in a committed relationship, but Faile hasn’t trusted Perrin, ever, around Berelain. So if Faile truly believes that crap, then she ‘knows’ she isn’t in a monogamous committed relationship anyway. Additionally, I think Faile would be far more appreciative of Perrin and his commitment (in spite of sexy women just throwing themselves at him) if she did a little kissing while in this extraordinary circumstance.

Other Tidbits:

Loved Egwene’s little chat with Mattin Stepaneos about how just how many leaders the Dragon Reborn had actually killed.

Alviarin seems desperate to gain Egwene’s confidence. Of course, we all know why, and I very much hope and Egwene continues to hold her tongue around her.

Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes

GrimesVertigo42Why I Read It: Have enjoyed her other works.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Cozy mystery fans.

Narrator: Steve West

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 11 hours 49 minutes

Series: Book 23 Richard Jury

Author’s Page

Note: Although this is Book 23 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

A well off widower, Tom Williamson, wants the death of his wife, Tess, reopened. He seeks out Richard Jury’s help. Of course the death was 9 years ago and it was ruled an accident. There’s very little for Jury to go on. But there is this vague connection to a death of a child that happened at the same house a few years before Tess’s death. As Jury starts to dig into these two deaths, both ruled accidents, yet two more deaths occur in the nearby village. Oh, and there is this dog who appears lost but who might actually know more than the humans.

Vertigo 42 is a spritzy bar on the 42 floor of some fancy building in some fancy part of London. Plus the name of the bar keeps the idea of vertigo in the reader’s mind, which is important since Tess supposedly died due to falling, which was due to her vertigo. Tom Williamson comes off as a decent chap and Jury is drawn into the tale of his wife. When Jury consults Macalvie, he becomes even more interested. The child who died a few years before Tess was not was liked by her peers, since she was a bully and a bit of a terror. Questions abound concerning the child’s death, and those questions lead to the question: was Tess murdered for some supposed part in the child’s death or did she commit suicide in some depressed fog?

This murder mystery was quite fun to puzzle out, with the two deaths of the past and the two in Jury’s present. At first they don’t appear to be connected, and for a good quarter of the book I thought Jury might have two separate mysteries to work out. Even after it becomes clear that all the deaths are linked, it was quite fun to see how they were linked.

Jury, of course, is wonderful mind to ride around in, but I especially enjoyed his interactions with the gruff Macalvie.  Macalvie doesn’t pull his punches, tells it how he sees it. Plus he had a personal connection to one of the deceased, so we got to see a little more of his softer side.

And then there was the stray dog Stanley. Jury came upon the dog and rescued him, taking him to some of his friends who live in the ‘country’. Well, they have one cow and one cow is better than no cow. But the new owners have some funny rule that all animals on the farm have to have a name that start with a certain syllable (which I have forgotten). But it made me think of all those families that decide to names their kids with names that start with the same letter (Paca, Padraic, Pedr, Perele, etc.). Of course, Stanley only responds to his name, and hence, only to Jury.

There was plenty of food in this book, something that I always enjoy, but yet can be a pleasant torture if I am hard at work and thinking about food. Wiggins (the ever congested) was treated to some very tasty cheesecake. Over all, I think I enjoyed this mystery the most of the few Jury books I have read. It was complicated, but not so entangled a reader would have trouble following it. My favorite characters got to play nicely together. My only complaint is that we have so few females playing important roles in the story. There were several females in minor roles – love interests, witnesses, the dead, etc. But none of them get to run around helping Jury out.

The Narration: Steve West once again did a great job.  I still enjoy his gruff Macalvie the most. Also the congested Wiggins is always fun to listen to.

What I Liked: The mystery was indeed a real mystery in this episode of Jury’s life; plenty of featured food; Stanley the dog.

What I Disliked: The ladies are window dressing.

What Others Think:

Sherry Torgent

Read Me Deadly

KD Did It Takes On Books

20 Something Reads

Knife of Dreams, Part V

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, our WoT encyclopedia,  is our host and can be found in the comments. Check out Sue’s post at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers and Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 19-23. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Our favorite Origer bachelor is finally married.  Any wise words for the newlyweds?  The Ogier are torn on whether to leave this world or help humanity out.  Do you think Loial will be able to sway them?

My wise (ass) words to Erith would be to keep Loial stocked in good traveling clothes and scribing materials and to perhaps travel often with Loial just to avoid regular conflict with her mother-in-law. Of course my words of wisdom to Loial would be to let Erith think all the traveling is her idea.

Once again, I am reminded of Tolkien’s Ents, and their Entmoot where they take a very long time deciding on whether or not to help out the hasty humans, elves, dwarves, and humans. Knowing how that turned out, and also suspecting that the Dark One won’t leave the Steadings & Ogier alone, I think the Ogier will eventually fight evil rather than flee.

And I hope that Loial will be able to sway them sooner rather than simply walk away to join Rand at the Last Battle and have Ogier decide that is much more exciting than any Ogier business and join him later. Though I suspect that Covril or Erith may have a hand in persuading the Ogier, even if it means shaming them into caring about this world.

2. It’s been a while since the last surprise trolloc attack.  Who could have been behind this one?  Why now, and why so incredibly many?  Lews Therin took control of Rand’s channeling.  Will we see that again, and what kind of consequences might it have?

I wasn’t expecting a massive trolloc attack on the heals of an Ogier wedding!

Since the Dark One and Moridin want to keep Rand alive for now, I don’t think they were behind this attack. No, my eye turned toward Mazrim Taim. After all, if Rand, Logain, and a bunch of their closest followers fell in a trolloc attack, he could reign supreme (at least until the Dark One had him bale fired). Of course, this would mean that he has a hotline into a Forsaken who wants Rand dead now (as I don’t think Taim has been given command of so many myrrdraal). Taim would guesstimate that it would take oodles of myrrdraal and oodles X 20 to take out both Rand and Logain. Good for him that he miscalculated.

In this case, it was a very good thing that Lews took over the channeling and saved the day. But Lews isn’t the most stable Channeler out there, so I can see him losing it in a moment of disturbed surprise or intense anger and wiping out half of Rand’s army. Rand seriously needs to lock that shit down. Perhaps this is what Cadsuane needs to teach Rand, but first he would need to trust her enough to 1) confide in her about Lews and 2) Allow her to guide him, perhaps even entering his dreams or thoughts for a short time to do so. Good thing she is such a snuggable motherly type woman that Rand could so easily learn to trust. Not!

3. Lan departs to fight his own war, but Nynaeve won’t let him do it alone.  Any thoughts on the actions of either?  Any chills during the scene in the inn?

And yet for the third time during 1 reading session, I was surprised! I know that Lan has had a death wish since he learned he was the last Malkiri King, and that it intensified when Moiraine disappeared through that door angreal, but he really is a dense idiot sometimes. First, he can’t hold some pass in the north against hordes of trollocs and myrrdraal BY HIMSELF, no matter how good he is, no matter the terrain. So wrapping his suicidal inclinations up in honor and duty and heroics isn’t going to fool anyone in that scenario. Two, thinking that Nynaeve would simply let him do so is silly. She owns him now. Yep. You can put the love spin on it if you wish (and I do believe she does love him), but she is very, very possessive too. His life is now hers and she won’t be tossing it away.

And I was a bit surprised that Nynaeve was grown up enough to let Lan go and do his duty. I was also quite pleased to see her spreading the word near and far, calling in men to join Lan. Essentially, it’s like organizing a big party on sheep butchering day back in Two Rivers. Nynaeve is definitely the one to organize such an affair.

4. Rand again works his ta’veren magic and the rebellion in Tear is no more.  Darlin, who was a rebel not four books ago, is king.  Do you think he has sufficiently demonstrated his loyalty, or are you worried?  Rand is focusing on Arad Doman.  What do you think his plan there is?

We just saw Rand and his entourage take out thousands of trollocs and several dozen to a few hundred myrrdraal. If Darlin hasn’t heard about that yet, he will soon. So if he is planning any kind of subterfuge now, he will probably reconsider upon hearing that tale. So, no I am not particularly worried. Plus, he also was privy to seeing Cadsuane call Rand on his rude manners, so he knows he can be both pushed and reigned in without exploding. So it is unlikely that Darlin will decide to rebel ‘for the sake of the realm and to save his people from the mad Dragon reborn’.

I don’t know what Rand is planning in Arad Doman. Would he be leaving certain Waygates open to kind of channel where the trollocs turn up?

I think Eivind mentioned this in the last two weeks, that Robert Jordan had only planned 12 books and so he was trying to wind up some things in this book so that all could be tied off in the next book, right? But for us, we could have to wait to Book 14 to find out what goes down in Arad Doman.

5. The Sea Folk have chosen a new Mistress of the Ships and are being conscripted for the Arad Doman plan.  Meanwhile, a whole race of islanders commit suicide!  Where on Earth did that come from? Will it have any impact at all or is it just one of those… things?

I think the mass suicide was balance that Rand was contemplating earlier when he rode through town and the man fell out of a balcony onto his feet instead of his head, etc. Min says that for every evil, there is a good, while Rand takes the pessimistic opposite. Perhaps this mass suicide was the balance for all those who escaped Ebou Dar.

I expect it will sadden Rand when he hears of it, but I don’t expect any major ripples from it. I think it will just be another of those things that Jordan throws in to give the world depth.

6. An important sitting is called and the rebel Aes Sedai finally learn some important news (Saidin is clean, and they’ve been harboring a Saidin-channeling female forsaken for six books).  Are you happy that Halima was rooted out?  Sad that they weren’t caught?  Will they rethink their Asha’man policy now?

There was a lot of great stuff in this section. Being carried around in Ramanda’s head was interesting (romance adventure novels! prudish about ankles and boobs! set in her ways despite evidence to the contrary, especially concerning the new elderly novices, etc.).

I have been taken an impish glee in shocking the Aes Sedai. And I expect I am not alone in this. I really enjoyed the reactions to the Asha’man, and the announcements about bonding, both the offering up of Asha’men to be bonded and the fact that silly Sisters were already bonded to Asha’men.

I was surprised that Ramanda put it together first and called out Halima. Since Halima is a Forsaken in disguise, I figured that she wouldn’t be caught yet. Though I think it might have been pretty spectacular to have her fight an entire encampment of Aes Sedai.

Some of the Sisters are already moving along and not living in the past (cool with getting rid of the age limit on entering the Tower, etc.), and I think most of them will come to treat the Asha’men as equals in time. However, we will always have some sticklers like Ramanda and they will make it that much harder to prep for and win the Last Battle.

Other Tidbits:

That was a swift, simple wedding and I totally didn’t expect it. I wonder what does happen when you fondle an Ogier ear? And if they pierce their ears, is that the same as in humans piercing their nipples?

Lews Therin is starting to make some sense to me and I think I like the chap well enough to buy him a pint of beer: Only those who trust no one are truly insane (paraphrased).

Is it just me or is Nynaeve becoming some sort of a prude in her ‘old’ married life? What was that interesting dress she wore in the circus in which she met Masema?

I loved watching Logain stroll in and chat with the Sea Folk, calling them to pay service to the Dragon Reborn. And with the end of the world just around the corner, I think he is right to hold them to it even in their grief.

Bubonicon 2014: Sunday

David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014

David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014

On Sunday, the panels and author readings didn’t get started until 10AM, but the Con Suite was open at 8AM. They had donuts, and not just any donuts, but donuts with bacon. Yep, you read that right. You could have a chocolate frosted donut that also had a strip of crispy bacon in it. (I think I heard one of the Con volunteers say the donuts came from Rebel Donut shop). I almost snagged one, but I feared that I wouldn’t like it and then who would I share it with? If my man was at the Con with me, I would just grab one for him, eat half of it, and then tell him how good the second half was. Instead, I stuck with the cheese, crackers, bagels, chips, bottled water, and a regular donut. The Con Suite also had a sizable spread of fruits, but there was a lot of chopped melon, and unfortunately, I am very allergic to melon.

I went to David Lee Summer‘s reading first thing. He read the first chapter from his latest book, Lightning Wolves, which is a steampunky desert Southwest alternative historical fiction that is quite fun and inventive. Then he read an interlude from his vampire novel, Dragon’s Fall. This book appeals to me because of the historical fiction aspect and his reading of the interlude only peaked my curiosity. And I asked my moonlight question. Growing up, I never really paid attention to vampires. But then vampires became a little more popular in the 1980s with The Lost Boys, and then with Interview with a Vampire. And that is when I started to wonder why most vampires weren’t reactive to moonlight, since it is simply reflected sunlight. Summers had a great answer for this in that it really depends on how the author has set up their vampires – is there a scientific basis for this existence (virus, blood defect, etc.) or are they magic based? From there, you can build logical reasons to how vampires do or don’t react to moonlight.

Steven Gould & Walter Jon Williams at Bubonicon 2014

Steven Gould & Walter Jon Williams at Bubonicon 2014

Then it was off to the Co-Guests of Honor Presentation. Steven Gould was the Toastmaster, with Walter Jon Williams helping out. They started off with some trivia questions concerning lizards mating in space aimed at the audience and then moved on to quizzing the co-guests of honor, Cherie Priest and John Hemry. Once the silliness was concluded, important matters were discussed, like the Chad Mitchell Trio song featuring Lizzie Borden. Yeah, that little girl from the nursery rhyme who gave her parents 40 whacks was indeed a real historical person. Priest’s soon-to-be-out book, Maplecroft, features Lizzie fighting Cthulu monsters. Damn! That’s some creepy nursery rhyme turned mysteriously cool yet still creepy all at the same time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wlO-J0v9ZY

John Hemry was asked to talk about retiring from his navy career to become a writer and stay-at-home father. He spoke openly of his three children, all who are somewhere on the autism spectrum and each requiring some amount of special care. I have to admit that this little bit of a reveal on his personal life is why I want to give his books a try. The military SF genre is filled with books written by military/ex-military men and, to me, much of it is interchangeable, lacking distinction from author to author. But since Hemry has been a househusband and a father to challenged children, I expect he has more insight into the human condition than most writers in the military SF genre. With my fingers crossed, I will be plunging into some of his books soon.

John Maddox Roberts on the Secret History/Alternate History panel, Bubonicon 2014

John Maddox Roberts on the Secret History/Alternate History panel, Bubonicon 2014

The first panel of the day for me was The Weird Weird West: SF with Six-Guns, moderated by John Maddox Roberts. He was joined by Craig Butler, Josh Gentry of SnackReads, David Lee Summers, and Walter Jon Williams. This was a fun, fun panel that was part history lesson and part romp through all the weird westerns out there, in print and on screen. Sitting down to enjoy this panel, I instantly thought of Westworld. The discussion started with a bit of history about the Wild West (and how short lived that actually was) to the paranormal side of the Wild West (think ghost stories and native folk lore) and then to the various cultures that have homaged the Wild West – Spaghetti westerns, Samurai 7, and more. For your traipsing through the Weird West, check these out: Joe Landsdale, Jane Lindskold, Emma Bull, Ambrose Bierce, Red Harvest, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, The Haunted Mesa, and Science Fiction Trails magazine.

Cherie Priest & John Hemry (AKA Jack Campbell), Bubonicon 2014

Cherie Priest & John Hemry (AKA Jack Campbell), Bubonicon 2014

After taking a break to check out the Bubonicon auction, I ended up enjoying the panel Cthulu Lives! Lovecraft’s Old Ones in Today’s Fiction. Moderator Cherie Priest was joined by Yvonne Coats, John J. Miller, Harry Morris, and John Maddox Roberts. The panel spent a lot of time on their love for H. P. Lovecraft and his influence on today’s writers and the entertainment world in general. From the bookish world, check out Caitlin Carrigan, Fritz Leiber, Molly Tanzer, Livia Llewellyn. From the big screen and TV, check out True Detective, Cast a Deadly Spell, Pacific Rim. Then folks got a little serious and discussed the darker side to Lovecraft: his racism and sexism. Miller and Priest had the most to say, and seemed to have studied not only Lovecraft’s works but also his personal life. Morris also pitched in here and there with anecdotes. Priest pointed out that you don’t find hate without fear, and Lovecraft had a great hate of women. Miller pointed out that Lovecraft came from a highly dysfunctional home. It was a very interesting discussion and I think Lovecraft’s biography would be a worthy read. Then Priest told her story of her large framed Lovecraftian poster above her bed, and the squirrel falling down behind the wall late at night as Cherie sat up reading.

Claire Eddy & Connie Willis on the She's My Tardis panel, Bubonicon 2014

Claire Eddy & Connie Willis on the She’s My Tardis panel, Bubonicon 2014

By this point I was fading fast and thinking about that 2 hour drive home. But there was one last panel, She’s My TARDIS, Except She’s a Woman, moderated by John Hemry. He was joined by Connie Willis, M. T. Reiten, David Lee Summers, and Claire Eddy. This started off as a discussion of ships or even planets that became a personality within the story, such as Firefly‘s Serenity, the ship from Farscape, even the planet Arrakis from Frank Herbert’s Dune. Willis recommended the movie Dark Star. And then someone asked the question of why ships are usually referred to as female, which lead to a deeper discussion of animism and the female psyche. Needless to say, the men kept digging themselves into a hole and it was terribly fun to watch. Indeed, I spent much of this last hour of the con laughing out loud (with everyone else, so it was the good kind of laughing out loud).

And there you have it folks. I’ll try to do one more post about the autographing session, the auction, the costume contest, and the art room. I didn’t get to explore the gaming room nor the vendors this year. And there was a late night charity auction Friday night. Really, I should just replicate myself for this event so that I can enjoy everything. Next year’s Bubonicon will be later in August, instead of the first weekend, so I only have a whole year to wait.

Interview: Henry Herz, Editor of Beyond the Pale

HerzBeyondThePaleFolks, please welcome author and editor Henry Herz to the blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed his works (Nimpentoad & Beyond the Pale) and just knew Henry would be a lot of fun to interview. Want to know how Seth MacFarlane and Leonardo da Vinci are similar? Curious about Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes? Keep reading and enjoy!

What drew you to organizing an anthology that focused on the sub-genre of paranormal Young Adult/New Adult?

I love the phrase “beyond the pale”, and everything sprang from that. Beyond the Pale is an anthology of fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal stories that skirt the border between our world and others. Was that my imagination, or did I hear something under my bed? What was that blurred movement in my darkened closet? There is but a thin Veil separating the real and the fantastic, and therein dwell the inhabitants of these stories.

The noun “pale” refers to a stake (as in impaling vampires) or pointed piece of wood (as in a paling fence). “Pale” came to refer to an area enclosed by a paling fence. Later, it acquired the figurative meaning of an enclosed and therefore safe domain. Conversely, “beyond the pale” means foreign, strange, or threatening.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

Long ago, fantasy literature (although not labelled as such) directly influenced culture. There was no scientific method – people were scared of the unknown (falling off the edge of a flat earth, comets, dragon hunts, witch burnings, etc.). Today fantasy literature only affects pop culture. Few people seriously believe “Winter is Coming”, but it’s still fun to say at cocktail parties to establish geeky credentials. :)

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

I’d have to say The Lord of the Rings. I read it in elementary school. Reading it again for the first time as an adult would be a very different experience.

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

For me, book promotion is the hardest part of indie publishing. There is always more to do, and if you’re not careful, it can drown out the time for writing. My favorite part is attending events where I can meet the authors and the readers who appreciate their work. I moderated a fantasy/science fiction panel at San Diego Comic-Con featuring award winning and NY Times bestselling authors David Brin, Jason Hough, Jonathan Maberry, Rachel Caine, Jim Butcher, and Marie Lu. That was also the initial public unveiling of Beyond the Pale. What’s not to like?

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?

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. In that classic fantasy, he writes about allomancers – wizards who gain power by ingesting small amounts of powdered metals. A game about how such wizards would fight each other could be cool. Maybe there is such a game, and I simply haven’t seen it. Another good choice would be the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne.

Who are your non-writer influences?

Great question. Certainly some illustrators have had a strong influence, like Maurice Sendak (yes, he wrote too), David Peterson (Mouse Guard), Aaron Becker (Journey). I’m also awestruck by people who are gifted in multiple disciplines, like Leonardo da Vinci or Seth MacFarlane (I never expected to put those two in the same sentence).

HerzHowRhinoGotHisSkinFrom your own writings, are there any characters you would like to cosplay? Have your kids, and co-writers, done any cosplay?

It would be fun to cosplay Nimpentoad, the protagonist of my fantasy early chapter book of the same name. But that would be quite an elaborate costume. My co-author kids and I enjoy attending conventions, and while we’ve occasionally worn armor and hefted fake weapons, I wouldn’t call it cosplay. We lack the dedication and time to create the truly inspired costumes that would qualify us for cosplay.

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

I’m a big fan of retellings. I had the idea of retelling Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes from a fantasy perspective, swapping creatures for the human characters. When I researched the concept, I found a couple of books out there, but they didn’t work for me. The gauntlet was tossed. Our version, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes, will be published by Pelican in 2015.

Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories are justifiably acclaimed. But, having been written so long ago, the language is outdated and too complex for today’s younger readers. So, my sons and I indie-published a picture book version, How the Rhino Got His Skin. See www.birchtreepub.com.

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?

It is always a pleasure to meet someone who was touched by my writing. That’s why authors write. Similarly, I’ve had my share of gushy fanboy moments meeting such inspiring authors as Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, David Brin, Orson Scott Card, Vernor Vinge, and Brandon Sanderson.

Lastly, please tell us a bit about the cover art for Beyond the Pale. Does it represent an overall concept for the book, or does it draw more on a single story contained in the anthology?

The cover art for Beyond the Pale represents an overall concept for the book. It’s entitled Snow White, and was done by Abigail Larson. She illustrated our picture book Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes. Love, love, love her dark style! If you agree it would look great on your bookshelf, please consider getting a copy via Amazon, Kindle, or www.birchtreepub.com.