Interview: Kenny Soward, Author of the Galefire Series

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Kenny Soward. He’s the author of Fade Rippers, Book 1 of the Galefire Series. We chat about favorite authors, construction work, and the dream board game. Enjoy!

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

I would probably be the “guy” at the bar having a beer. Or the “guy” at the late night diner having a cup of cheap coffee and piece of pie. Or the “guy” in the coffee shop writing on his Mac and having some expensive coffee. So, I guess just the “guy” drinking a beverage. I’ve worked a long time to perfect that role 🙂

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I would say a supernatural creature. For someone who writes about supernatural creatures, I have my doubts about their existence. I long to discover something that proves amazing beings do exist outside our own. I guess an alien could pull that off, too. 🙂

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

There are quite a few now-dead authors I’d like to talk to for various reasons, but I think Ken Kesey might be fun to hang out with. I think he’d blow my mind with some of his thoughts on the power of the mind (and hallucinogens) and how we treat various mental disorders (or even if they are disorders). I’ve always been interested in writing a science fiction novel where the latent power of the mind is unlocked and allows someone to travel to other parts of space. Sure would save on rocket fuel!

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

My worst job was definitely construction work. I did commercial painting (new homes) and spent a lot of time working in the Kentucky outdoors, which meant you could be freezing or burning up any day of the week. And the yards were always churned up, dried mud…real ankle-turning stuff. Just a lot of long hours and tired bones where it takes a super long shower just to feel human again. Writing is a joy compared to those days, although construction work taught me the value of fighting through exhaustion, and it’s really helped me stay strong when writing seems hard.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

I would take Mark Lawrence first, because we’d need Jorg’s wit. I would take Robin Hobb because she turns an incredible phrase and could probably solve the magical riddles. Jeff Salyards, to write us up a band of brutal mercenaries should we run into orcs. J.R.R Tolkien, for the pipeweed, music, and feasting.

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?

Since this series is about to air, and the book is great, I think American Gods would be an amazing card or board game. All the various gods, players, and thugs! So many possibilities to play a faction of warring entities! I would definitely want to play Shadow Moon or Mad Sweeney.

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

I tend to enjoy underdog or anti-heroes, those wonderfully written who live a tragic existence or perish before their time is realized. But as far as interesting hero duos, Louis and Lestat, from Interview With the Vampire. Raistlin and Caramon, from DragonLance. Of course, Gimli and Legolas, from that one series 🙂

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 occasionally get a note from Mark Lawrence who has promoted my GnomeSaga stuff a few times, and I do my best to not sound like an idiot when I respond. One time, I was getting Caitlin R. Kiernan’s autograph, and I said something like, “I just love your work. It’s just…I want to write like you. It’s so cool.” I mean, I had some pretty slick things I was going to say, but everything came out “cool” and “awesome” and “amazing.” I was so embarrassed. Thankfully, she gave me a quiet smile and sent me on my way. You spend so much time reading these authors, and you sort of fall in love with their brains. And then you stand next to them and can’t speak. I guess it’s sort of like a crush.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Well, if it’s one of those where you have to drink a beer every quarter mile, I’d bring Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds. Also Dutch from Predator and Ellen Ripley from Alien in the event there are monsters, really nasty ones. Of course, we’d need a medic and comedy relief, so Hawkeye from M.A.S.H. I heard it’s a tough mudder!

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

Book 3 of Galefire will be out in the middle of summer, and that will conclude the trilogy. The best thing folks can do is sign up for my mailing list where they’ll receive free books and short stories set in the Galefire world. Or, ‘like’ my Facebook page where I’m pretty active.

Places to Find Kenny Soward

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Mailing List

Book Blurb for Fade Rippers

Lonnie is just your average runner for the infamous Eighth Street Gang when he gets an urgent phone call to back up his crew after trouble follows them home from a drug deal gone bad.

During the ensuing firefight, Lonnie sees some things he wishes he hadn’t, including the gang’s leader, Selix, channeling her powers from a place called the Fade by getting high…and dancing. Memories begin unraveling inside Lonnie’s darkened mind. Memories of dragons and fiends and fire-swept otherworlds. Memories Selix controls with a simple touch.

But what is real and what is not?

In the strange and violent world of Galefire, Lonnie comes to realize not everything is as it seems, including his own identity. But will Lonnie and Selix reconcile the past before they are caught by those who seek to drag them home in chains?

Amazon ~ Audible

Author Bio: 

Kenny Soward grew up in Kentucky in a small suburb just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, listening to hard rock and playing outdoors. In those quiet 1970’s streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar.

Kenny’s love for books flourished early, a habit passed down to him by his uncles. He burned through his grade school library, reading Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien. He spent quite a few days in detention for reading in class.

In later years, Kenny took inspiration from fantasy writers such as China Mieville, Poppy Z. Brite, and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

The transition to author was a natural one for Kenny. His sixth grade teacher encouraged him to start a journal, and he later began jotting down pieces of stories, mostly the outcomes of D&D gaming sessions. If you enjoy urban and dark fantasy, paranormal and horror, with brooding, broken characters and fast paced action, you can visit Kenny at www.kennysoward.com.

Paperbook Giveaway & Interview: Paul J. Joseph, SF Author of Through the Fold Series

JosephMarkerStoneFolks, it’s my joy to have Paul J. Joseph on the blog today.  We chat about books to movies, villains, geeky arguments, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of the post.

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

Honestly, this is something I think about surprisingly often, but not necessarily the way one might expect. The game I often play with a favorite movie or any kind of story would be to wonder how it would be perceived by somebody else.  Imagine if you could share with a young Gene Roddenberry some of the more recent Star Trek movies just to find out if in fact those things based on his vision are anywhere near his original expectations.  And, though it may sound like a really silly idea, I’ve often wondered how an earlier version of myself might perceive my own writings, especially before I wrote the first one or while I was thinking of the initial details.

But seriously, there are loads of movies and books that I love, but those that stand the test of time are relatively few.  Some that rise to the top may not be all that popular or well known, but I suppose that’s the point of the question.  I love the movie Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis.  As both a film maker and a writer, I can’t speak highly enough of the true mastery of the details of that movie.  I honestly prefer that to all the other works of M. Night Shyamalan.  I also liked The Thirteenth Floor, another obscure science fiction movie.  For dystopian masterpieces, (I know you may hate me for this) I’d have to choose Soylent Green, yes I loved that movie and there is now a food company called Soylent, imagine that!

JJosephHomesickWho are some of your favorite book villains?

Looking over my favorite books, it’s surprising how many good science fiction stories don’t actually have obvious villains.  For example, who was really the villain in 2001?  Who was the villain in AI or Solaris?  In 1984, the most depressing book I’ve ever read, I would have to say that the villain is not the O’Brian character, but Big Brother himself.  The scary thing there is that, since he really didn’t exist, he couldn’t be killed, and that’s really the point.  In science fiction, villains can stretch the boundaries a bit, and I’m particularly proud of some of the villains I’ve designed.  In general, I don’t like one-dimensional villains. Most cheap horror stories and bad science fiction have villains that like to kill people for no particular reason.  Even though it worked, Alien would fall into that category.  The alien could not be reasoned with and it had no back story.  It was pretty much like fighting a virus or any other force of nature.  The Terminator was also like that, though he did it with class.  The T-1000 was a far better villain in the second movie, however, because he didn’t look like a villain and could basically be anybody.  My favorite villains are the ones who have charisma and possibly curb appeal.  Magneto in the X-Men movies always had a point.  We may not want him to win, but we understand where he’s coming from.

JosephWebOfLifeDo you have any phobias?

My most significant phobia would be heights.  I can go to the top floor of any building and look out the window, but there is only so far I can climb up a ladder.  When I visited New Orleans one time we stayed at a hotel that had a rooftop pool.  I could swim in it, but I had to hold on tight to the railing in order to look at the skyline.  Grandfather Mountain is another matter.  There are no railings!

Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you?

This is a particular passion of mine because I’ve seen some terrible bastardizations of books in my time. Almost every attempt to recreate a Dean R. Koontz book has ended in disaster, though I haven’t seen them all.  Two great attempts of novel into film would be 2001 (and 2010) though much of what made those books so interesting really didn’t translate visually.  Solaris was the other.  The Tarkovski version was fascinating, but hardly scratched the surface of the book.  The later George Clooney version was far worse, however, to the point that much of the story was completely different than the book.  Honestly, the best I’ve seen thus far was the John Hurt version of 1984 that was actually made in 1984.  Both the movie and the book left you feeling just as empty, and I can’t really think of a single scene in the book that wasn’t represented.  I’m not so much into PC games, though I did play them when I was younger.  I will say that Silent Hill, which I only played briefly, made an excellent movie!  That’s the best example I can think of.  Generally, there isn’t enough information in a video game to make a truly great movie or book in my opinion.  The best that can be done is a movie based on the idea of the game, which is a very different thing.  Honestly, most games based on movies or books are greatly over-simplified.

JosephSplashdownIn 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 will step out and say that I don’t really like self-promoting.  I honestly prefer to let my work speak for itself whenever possible.  Social media campaigns are the way to go these days and I’m very glad we have these, but the work involved is often tedious, repetitive, and ineffective.  Because I have a media background, I have no problem making my own websites, some book covers, and general graphics.  I enjoy that kind of work because it involves producing something that can be later evaluated for what it is.  A social media campaign is more amorphous and often involves posting just to post.  I’m just not good at that.

JosephInfinityMachineCare 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 actually have a lot of those.  All of my books are available as podcasts and I have loyal listeners all over the world.  One woman told me I had a hypnotic voice.  I didn’t quite know how to process that.  Several people have told me they would drive places just to keep listening to my chapter installments.  I have a friend in Australia who corresponds with me from time to time, and I had a very nice couple of phone conversations with a fellow in Detroit who wanted to help me market my work.  One of the strangest encounters I had was with somebody who kept asking me very detailed questions about the universe I wrote about, surprisingly detailed based on only listening to my work.  He also put together an elaborate timeline that supposedly kept track of elements in the story.  In short, he may have known more about the details of the story than I did, and I was amazed that he would spend so much time studying it.  I like to converse with readers and am happy to make time for them.  The only author I’ve ever been in contact with is Nathan Lowell, who wrote a series of books called the Age of the Solar Clipper.  I became interested in this series when I first learned to podcast.

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

I must admit that it’s hard to write science fiction without breaking some rules, and there are some arguments that always come up.  For example, most space-based adventures have real time conversations between planets and stars, where time delays would be inevitable.  I write about VR links where my space explorers can visit their families in real time.  I allude to the existence of some kind of faster-than-light transmission, but that’s really just a copout.  My father was a physicist, and the most interesting discussion I ever had with him was one where I thought he was going to laugh out loud at one of my more far out ideas, but he actually said it would be possible, or at least not impossible.  This was concerning an alien environment I write about in Web of Life.  There we have what amounts to a massive “bubble” in space in which there is an atmosphere, but no gravity.  From the inside it appears to be a never ending sky where wind currents go in all directions, but there is no up or down.  Considering that my father didn’t like most science fiction, I took his lack of laughter as high praise.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The very first book I ever read was The Mystery of the Talking Skull by Alfred Hitchcock.  My mother put it in my notebook in the sixth grade.  I don’t think there is a single Three Investigators book I haven’t read.  I didn’t read the Hardy Boys, though.

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

I don’t have a lot of national or international activity in the near future, but I will be participating in a small private book signing on the 10th of September at a store called 2nd and Charles in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  The fun begins at 12 and it goes until 2PM.

Other than this, my most immediate plans include publishing a short story anthology, possibly called Twisted Fire.  The next series I am working on concerns an artificial intelligence on a journey of self-discovery.  He kind of exists in the same universe Sally Buds inhabits, but he chooses to make his home on Mars.

Where to Find Paul J. Joseph

Website

GoodReads

Twitter

Facebook

Smashwords

PodioBooks

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Paul J. Joseph is an independent film maker as well as a story teller through writing. One of his recent films has been featured in the 2010 Ava Gardner Independent Film Festival. He has been teaching mass communication courses at a college level for 20 years, and currently works at a small private university in North Carolina. He lives with his wife Tyreese, his son Ian, a mother in law, and three cats.

Paul Joseph’s first love has been and always will be science fiction. He looks for ideas that are based on plausible trends in technology, both good and bad. He is particularly interested in space travel and time travel, which can include alternate realities and paradoxes. He tends to avoid fantasy and magic. So, if you are looking for elves and fairies, this is not your guy. On the other hand, ESP and other observable phenomena may well be fair game.

JosephMarkerStoneBook Blurb for Marker Stone (Book 1 of Through the Fold series): There’s trouble on CMC-6 and it’s been brewing for a long time. The golden age of space travel and asteroid mining has ended and the bean counters have taken over. Sally Buds’ patients are all suffering from low-gravity syndrome because the Canadian Mining Consortium won’t spring for gravity generators and the miners won’t exercise. On top of this the station might be facing hard times. An expensive mining robot disappeared while surveying a region of space known and Kelthy. But then, after a replacement is over, it reappears. How could the station personnel have been so incompetent? But Sally has another question. Where did the probe go when it was out of contact? Where did the strange rock samples come from and why did the images it saw not correspond with known star charts? Her new friend Ian Merryfield, an RAF shuttle pilot, wants to know, too. But the station commander does not. What is in the Kelthy region and why do things disappear there? Is it a hoax intended to scare away claim jumpers or is it the greatest discovery of the twenty-first century? Ian and Sally intend to find out even if it means risking their careers or even their lives. Not knowing would be worse.

JJosephHomesickBook Blurb for Homesick (Book 2 of Through the Fold series): The mission to New Ontario, isn’t going as planned. Scott Anderson walked ten paces onto the new world and disappeared from radio contact. Not knowing Scott’s fate but fearing the worst, Captain Sally Buds embarks on a rescue mission that risks her life and that of her pilot, Ian Merryfield. There Sally and Ian uncover a chilling reality. Something terrible has happened on New Ontario. The evil regime of the Masters have consumed an entire civilization and established an empire of unspeakable barbarism. And now, so far away from home and help, it becomes clear that the Masters’ rapacious attentions have been drawn to Earth. Sally and Ian must now defend themselves and their planet from a tyranny that goes beyond slavery.

Giveaway!

Paul is generously offering up five Kindle copies (international) of Homesick and two print ones (USA only). Homesick works quite fine as a stand alone novel. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you like? 2) What country are you in – ebook or paperbook? Contest ends October 3rd, 2016, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ambassador by Wiliam Alexander

AlexanderAmbassadorWhy I Read It: I have loved other works by William Alexander

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

Who I Recommend This To: For those who enjoy an alien adventure story that includes some cultural diversity.

Narrator: William Alexander

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 4 hours 37 minutes

Series: I sincerely hope this is Book 1 in a series – I want more!

Author’s Page

Modern day Minneapolis finds Gabe Fuentes babysitting his two younger siblings at the playground and surreptitiously chatting with his best friend. They aren’t suppose to be chatting. After all, their last get together involved a home made rocket and a small fire. Essentially, they have been grounded from each other for at least the summer. With a heavy heart, Gabe heads home with the twins in tow to his parents and his older sister. His parents are Mexicans that met in India and their homecooking is a fusion of the two cultures. Yum!

But I digress. You want to hear about the aliens. OK, so Gabe has an assortment of small unwanted pets he took in – a little fox, a bird, a lizard. And one night this sock puppet being pops into his room for a chat. He is Envoy and he is looking for a likely candidate from Earth to act as an Ambassador for the entire planet at the galactic assembly. Gabe is naturally intimidated by the offer but decides to give it a go anyways. Envoy proceeds to the basement where he uses odd bits and the clothes dryer to create an entagler to send the entangled Gabe to the galactic assembly. There Gabe becomes a target for at least one assassin and has a mystery to figure out. Meanwhile, back home his parents are facing deportation (since they are in the country illegally).

I loved this book. I really enjoyed William Alexander’s Goblin Secrets and Ghoulish Song but this is a new level of excellence from him. While suitable for all ages, it had a certain refined intensity that makes this my favorite Alexander book to date. I loved the multicultural aspect as so many SFF novels have Caucasians as the focus of the story. The Mexican-Indian cultural fusion of the Fuentes household, set in Minneapolis, reflects the real life I know and enjoy. Plus, I now want tasty curry tamales. Gabe’s awareness of this cultural diversity(with both the pros and cons of it) give him special insight for his new role as Earth’s Ambassador.

In the Galactic Assembly, the Ambassadors get to know each other through play. I thought this was a great point as well as allowing for fun and awkward moments. The author did a great job of capturing different approaches to communication from the various alien envoys, and also Gabe having to puzzle out the least familiar attempts at communication. Plus there is this nomadic warrior race that travels the galaxy dominating or annihilating any other alien race they come upon. They too have an Ambassador at the Galactic Assembly.

Pretty soon Gabe has lots of concerns. Someone is trying to kill him and he thinks it is another Ambassador. Plus his parents are facing deportation for being in the country illegally. I found these scenes particularly poignant as Gabe is trying to save himself, potentially the world, and now his family in particular. So much on one young man!

The ending was satisfying. It tied up the overall plot arc but left some questions open for a sequel (and I really do hope there is a sequel).

The Narration: William Alexander narrated his own story, as he has done with his other works. Once again, he was amazing. I have lived in New Mexico for over 2 decades and Alexander’s Hispanic accent for Gabe and his family was very believable; he didn’t over do it as so many non-Spanish speakers will at times. I also loved his various alien noises he had to come up with from time to time. He has clear distinct voices for both the male and female characters. In short, he is a joy to listen to.

What I Liked: Curry tamales!; Envoy looks like a sock puppet with google eyes (great imagery); Gabe loses a lot in this book but still continues on; the ending was satisfying and sets us up for a sequel.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a great book!

What Others Think:

True Book Talks

Kyrathaba Rising by William Bryan Miller

MillerKyrathabaRisingWhy I Read It: Post-apocalyptic world, aliens, and virtual reality – what’s not to like?

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

Who I Recommend This To: For post apocalyptic fans who like a few twists.

Narrator: Christine Padovan

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 7 hours 29 minutes

Series: Book 1 Kyrathaba Chronicles

Author’s Page

Kyrathaba is the name of a virtual reality world. Set in the future by nearly 200 years, humans exist in only subterranean remnants. The Earth suffered a devastating attack from aliens and what few humans are slowly dying out due to radiation poisoning. Sethra, a member of compound A-3, has found a way to enter Kyrathaba, and perhaps stay there indefinitely. Things look grim and Sethra, along with a few close friends, seriously contemplate the possibility that humanity as we know it may not be able to continue in their current form.

The story starts off with Sethra and Byron sharing a morning beverage of U Tea. Since they live in these completely enclosed underground capsules, everything, including their urine, is recycled. I am sure you can figure out what goes into the U Tea. Of course, I was enjoying my own morning cup of tea when I listened to this part of the book. And yes, I stared at my tea suspiciously.

So you can see that I was sucked into the straight-faced humor of the book right away. I enjoyed learning about the characters first, letting their current world unfold around me as Sethra and his friends went through their daily routine. Radiation poisoning is killing them off bit by bit. Even though they continue to reproduce as quickly as they can, attrition may well win out; humans are facing the very real possibility of becoming extinct. Compound A-3 has a regular security force who have a regular schedule. Their food is bland. The medical staff and care is the best they can maintain under such circumstances. And there are robots, which is the cool part in all this gloom.

While Sethra looks deeper into the possibility of long-term virtual reality habitation, Earth has a bigger issue. There’s an alien ship in orbit and it’s sole purpose is to monitor the remaining humans. I don’t think humanity could stand up to a second alien invasion. Meanwhile, the geoscientists explore drilling further into the Earth to escape the radiation and expand their living quarters. They discover an underground cavern with a clean water source. In exploring the depth and width of the water source, they make a very surprising discovery. I think this was the secondary plot line I enjoyed the most and want to learn more about. So many questions!

Kyrathaba itself is a Dungeons and Dragons kind of world; there’s magic, Orcs, plenty of sharp weapons, and paragon points to be earned. This magical world complimented, rather than contradicting, the science fiction tone of the larger story. I don’t always enjoy scifi and fantasy melding, but in this case it was done very well.  The story had a good mix of characters, both male and female characters having crucial roles to the plot. Plus we had a range of ethnicity and ages. Definite plus!

My one criticism lies in the use of radiation poisoning to be the initial driver of the plot. I did radiological work for several years, dressing in yellow Tyvek, full-face respirator, nasal swabs, etc. To make it very simple, you either have a radiation source emitting radiation or you have radioactive particles that you have ingested or inhaled. For the first, you put shielding between you and it and you should be good. Shielding can be lead, several meters of earth, etc. And compound A-3 had all that in place between it and the surface of the contaminated Earth. The story didn’t really mention the possibility of the population all repeatedly inhaling, imbibing, or ingesting radioactive particles. Basic HEPA filters would take care of this problem and would be the first solution for signs of radiation poisoning. Also, with enough radiation to be causing prolonged radiation sickness over generations, then we would see the electronics failing left, right, and center. Electronics do not hold up well in the glow of radiation. At the best, they get buggy and stay that way. In this tale, we have a lot of cool tech and all of it was working just fine, showing no signs of electronic wear due to prolonged exposure to radiation.

But if I wasn’t such a know it all, the radiation threat would probably work just fine. Over all, I enjoyed the tale and the multiple plot lines. I really want to know what is in that big cavern pool of water! I want to know what happens to Sethra and his friends in the virtual world of Kyrathaba. There are enemies every where it seems, human, alien, and potentially something else. Indeed, there is plenty of worth in this book to propel the reader into the next installment.

The Narration: Padovan did a decent job of narrating. Her characters were each distinct. In fact, she did most of the book with a geek accent which was well suited to many of the characters as they were half raised by their computer implants. Her male voices could use a bit more masculinity, but that is my only negative comment.

What I Liked: Good mix of scifi and fantasy;great character development; multiple plot lines to give the reader much to think on; the ending answered enough questions to be satisfying and left the door open for a sequel.

What I Disliked: The use of radiation poisoning was superficial and doesn’t match up with the science we have on the subject.

What Others Think:

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