American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Narrators: Ful Cast Including: Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes, Oliver Wyman, Dennis Boutsikaris

Publisher: HarperAudio (2011)

Length: 19 hours 39 minutes

Series: Book 1 American Gods

Author’s Page

Shadow Moon is being released from prison a little early on account of the unexpected passing of his wife Laura. On his way home to the funeral, he meets Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job that is part body guard and part problem solver. Without anything else to lose, he makes it official. Then weird stuff starts happening. TV characters talk to him. A leprechaun teaches him a special coin trick after beating the crap out of him. Someone wants to give his skull a love tap with a large hammer. That’s just the start of things.

I’ve read this book multiple times over the years but this was my first time experiencing the full cast audio production. It was quite good and lived up to my expectations. Shadow is so easy to connect with. He’s got this big heart at his center but he also doesn’t want to be anyone’s push over. Mr. Wednesday was highly amusing with his love for bad food and lust for life. He’s a conman and makes no attempt to hide this from Shadow. These two make an unlikely team and you can’t help but wonder what is Wednesday’s final end game. You can see that Shadow is wondering the same thing and yet he’s still drawn to this man and sucked into whatever he’s playing at.

There’s several female characters in this tale, though they are all pretty minor. Laura has the biggest role in that her actions affect the other characters, though she doesn’t have much actual page time. Bilquis and Easter were my favorite side gods. One is worshiped through sex and the other provides a bounty of food for the homeless in a park. If there is one weakness to this book, it is that all the main characters are male and almost all the decisions and action in this book are carried out by male characters. I would have liked a bit more gender balancing.

Some of my favorite scenes for this book happen in a small frozen town during winter. Shadow has been sent there to lie low while Mr. Wednesday works on whatever scheme he’s got underway. While there, Shadow gets to know some of the people and he learns about some missing kids. In a way, it turns into a little murder mystery. Then there’s also the mortuary and that crazy carousel and the final vibrant scenes at the conclusion of Mr. Wednesday’s big scheme. In some ways, the story is all over the map (sometimes literally as Shadow travels around the US), but it is these American versions of various deities along with the newly minted technology and media-oriented deities that tie everything together. I was glad to see entities that represented the Native Americans as well.

This edition, the 10th anniversary edition, includes an afterword by Neil Gaiman. There he talks about his own journey in coming up with this extraordinary story and characters. He also includes a scene that has Jesus and explains why he ultimately decided not to place that scene within the story. It was great to hear the author’s thoughts on this well loved book.

The Narration: This full cast production was very well done. There were no volume issues and whenever there are two or more characters talking, they sound like they are in the same room. Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes, Oliver Wyman, Dennis Boutsikaris, and the rest (though I haven’t been able to find a complete cast list online) did a great job with the various characters. Oliver Wyman makes a great 6 foot tall drunken, angry, magic coin producing leprechaun. McLarty does well with Mr. Wednesday’s character, though in my head I always revert to George Guidall for Mr. Wednesday (Guidall narrated the original version of American Gods and it’s also quite good).

What I Liked: This tale is a piece of modern Americana; it was great trying to guess what deities some of the characters represented; several different locations, each with a distinct feel; Mr. Wednesday’s grand plan; Shadow’s ultimate role; great narration.

What I Disliked: While there are several female characters, not one of them is a main character.

What Others Think:

Little Red Reviewer

Nerdist

Best Fantasy Books

Supposedly Fun

Jonathan C. Gillespie

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.

Audiobook+ Giveaway & Interview: Terry Maggert, Author of Heartborn

MaggertHeartbornEveryone, please welcome Terry Maggert to the blog today. I really enjoyed his suspenseful YA angel novel, Heartborn. A big thank you to Jess at The Audio Book Worm for setting up this book tour. Swing by the tour page to catch more interview, reviews, giveaways, and guest posts. If your interested in the giveaway (and who wouldn’t be?), scroll to the very bottom to learn how to win an Amazon GC, an audiobook copy of Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert, or a bluetooth speaker. On to the interview!

*Author’s note: these are great questions, and it’s high time someone considered my feelings about draconic issues.

Would you rather have a dragon, or be a dragon? 

Have, and my reasoning is purely selfish: I want to experience the majesty of having a dragon as a friend– think of the things it would lead to. Never search for a parking space. Avoid the DMV forever. No pesky TSA, or the need to check your broadsword before you board a cruise. Those are all things of the past. Additional fun: Think of the speaking engagements. “Terry and Banshee, thank you for being here. Could you tell us a little about your”—

“ROOOOAAAAARRRR.”

“Banshee would like me to tell you to never give up on your dreams. Did someone say there was an open bar?”

I’m don’t see a downside to this. Ever.

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

I could blather on about some obscure French film but that would just be posturing. In film, it has to be Star Wars because I was nine years old and it was the closest thing I’d ever seen to my dreams made real. I was a little boy when the Apollo missions went to the moon; I’d stand in our front yard (I’m from Florida) and watch those enormous rockets blaze upward and it was like I was onboard. If that doesn’t kindle your imagination, nothing will.

For books, it has to be The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. It is, and will always be my first printed love. I’ve bought, re-bought, and bought them again because I wear them out. Seriously.

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

This is EASY. Magical quests are always filled with things that have tentacles and fangs and whatnot. So, as follows:

Larry Correia (GUNS!).

Jim Butcher (KNIVES!)

Ursula K. LeGuin (Diplomacy/Magic)

And, there’s an up-and-coming British writer named J.K. Rowling who, I’m told, might be able to contribute magic systems and *possibly* finance the whole mission, although we’ll have to see if her books become popular. I’m pulling for her.

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

As a writer and history prof, this question brings me great shame. Among the numerous classics I *should* have read by this stage in my life, I think the most important one is Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. He was an emperor who found time to write. I should find time to read it, in between eating cookies and goofing off. Oh, and I need to re-read Frankenstein because my love for monsters has been like a fire in my imagination.

To sum up: Yes, I feel shame.

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

This is one of the most hotly contested subjects I’ve ever discussed at author events; it’s much like arguing about the greatest baseball player or singer or whatnot.

*Author’s note: my choices are Ted Williams and Freddy Mercury, respectively.

But, on to the topic at hand:

For sci-fi, I say start deep in the past. Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs are an absolute must. They led to the explosion of what we call genre fiction, and thus, we have the golden era. I’d say, given twelve books in SFF?

  1. Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne
  2. John Carter of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs (the origin of Star Wars!)
  3. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
  4. The Passage, Justin Cronin
  5. Startide Rising, David Brin
  6. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  7. A Spell for Chameleon, Piers Anthony
  8. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  9. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
  10. Sunshine, Robin McKinley
  11. The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkein
  12. Dune, Frank Herbert

Of course, we will now let the arguments begin.

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?

This is actually one of my high points. I was signing at LibertyCon this summer, and paired with Todd McCaffrey for an autograph session. Some points to know:

He is the son of my favorite writer, Anne McCaffrey.

He now writes my favorite series.

I’ve carried a copy of Dragonsong with me for more than 35 years.

I brought my tattered old book with me (given to me by my buddy Tim when we were kids), and Todd didn’t just sign it (he’s an incredibly nice guy), but chatted with me about his mom and their books. Aside from my parents, the McCaffrey family is the longest relationship I’ve had in my life. Here is the evidence:

Terry Maggert's favorite book.
Terry Maggert’s favorite book.

Then, for my fanboy moment, he signed MY dragon book, Banshee, which is dedicated as follows: “To Tim, who gave me Anne, who gave me dragons.”

I was, and am, giddy.

Terry Maggery with Todd McCaffrey
Terry Maggery with Todd McCaffrey

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

Let’s consider this for a moment, based on something I say as a history professor. “The good old days weren’t very good.”

I love things like dentistry, clean water, and air conditioning. With that in mind, if I’m going to visit the past and have a return ticket, I say:

Stonehenge. I MUST know who built it, and why.

Machu Picchu during its peak. Can you imagine a city in the clouds?

Paris in the 1880s— Ain’t no party like a Parisian Belle Epoque Party cuz a Parisian Belle Epoque Party don’t stop. The art. The culture. The intrigue. The wanton alcoholism and nudity. It’s all there.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

We will run and drink mead, as the Gods intended. And by we, I mean, “Me, Leif Ericson of the Norsemen, and the Celtic warrior queen Boudicca, because I’m not just going to run that course, I’m going to WRECK it.”

AuthorTerryMaggertAbout Terry Maggert:

Born in 1968, I discovered fishing shortly after walking, a boon, considering I lived in South Florida. After a brief move to Kentucky, my family trekked back to the Sunshine State. I had the good fortune to attend high school in idyllic upstate New York, where I learned about a mythical substance known as “Seasons”. After two or three failed attempts at college, I bought a bar. That was fun because I love beer, but, then, I eventually met someone smarter than me (a common event), and, in this case, she married me and convinced me to go back to school–which I did, with enthusiasm. I earned a Master’s Degree in History and rediscovered my love for writing. My novels explore dark fantasy, immortality, and the nature of love as we know it. I live near Nashville, Tennessee, with the aforementioned wife, son, and herd, and, when I’m not writing, I teach history, grow wildly enthusiastic tomato plants, and restore my 1967 Mustang.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~Facebook ~ GoodReads

MaggertHeartbornSynopsis of Heartborn:

Her guardian angel was pushed.

Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where violence and deceit are just around every corner.

His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.

Until Keiron arrives.

In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.

Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love someone who will give their very life to save you.

Audible        Amazon

JuliaWhelanNarratorAbout the Narrator Julia Whelan:

Julia Whelan has appeared in many films and television series, most notably ABC’s Once And Again. After receiving a degree in English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College and Oxford University, Julia began narrating audiobooks. She’s recorded hundreds of novels across all genres and has received multiple Earphones and Audie Awards. She is repeatedly named one of Audiofile Magazine’s Best Voices and was Audible’s Narrator of the Year.

IMDB ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads

GIVEWAYS!!!

There are 3 different giveaways for this tour. You can enter any of them or all of them. These giveaways are hosted by The Audiobookworm and the prizes provided by the author. Enjoy!

Giveaway 1: A $10 Amazon Gift Card

Heartborn Audiobook Blog Tour

Giveaway 2: A Digital Audiobook Copy of Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert
Halfway Dead Digital Audiobook

Giveaway 3: Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Henry L. Sullivan III, Author of The American Fathers

SullivanAmericanFathersSweptAwayFolks, it is with pleasure that I welcome Henry L. Sullivan to the blog today. I quite enjoyed the first episode (Swept Away) of his audio drama series, The American Fathers. We chat about obstacle courses, creating smart, lively characters, the importance of reviews, and so much more. Don’t forget to check out the audiobook GIVEAWAY at the end of the post!

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?

Interacting with readers and audiobook listeners is my favorite part of self-promotion. I’ve had private message (PM) exchanges with readers through LibraryThing and Goodreads. Hearing what people thought about something I’ve written is the primary thing that keeps me going. I think, on some level, all writers hope that the public will enjoy their work. I personally love it when that happens.

My least favorite part of self-promotion is having to ask people who have downloaded review copies of my work for honest reviews. I’ve used LibraryThing’s early reviewer program, and have found that only one out of twenty or thirty people who download the book through that program actually post a review. I’ve done several giveaways. If this is what LibraryThing’s early reviewer program is in reality, it would be great if it were just called that. And to be honest, I feel so bad about bugging people for the review they promised, that I usually don’t do it. The problem there though is that in reality your book lives or dies by reviews. I’ve read several articles and heard successful writers say that less than one percent of people who read a book will post a review of that book, even if they enjoyed the book. Most of the reviews I’ve gotten so far have been either five or four star reviews, but I appreciated the one star review I received from one early reviewer, simply because it was her honest opinion. I was surprised to find after receiving that one star review that it didn’t necessarily stop readers from buying the book. I was told by one woman through a PM that she tried my book because it had BOTH five star reviews and a one star review, which made her believe that the reviews were from real people and not provided through a service or by fellow writers, friends and family only.

SullivanDinnerInvitationThe mix of near-future political intrigue and erotica in The American Fathers series is both smart and sexy. What brought these two elements together for you?

Smart and sexy! (lol)​ I am so glad you see it that way.

I​n writing Sheila and Jasira I​ made mistakes at first, but things started to come together as I got two things right – Sheila’s character, and the role Sheila and Jasira’s relationship plays in the overall premise of the serial.

First let me explain how the Sheila you heard in the recording​ came to be. When I first started writing Sheila, the point of view character for Episode 1, I emphasized her political ideology – concern for workers’ rights and well being, opposition to the dominance corporations have in our society, similar to what Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been talking about for the last couple of years. There were two problems with that Sheila: 1) she didn’t have much personality, and 2) readers could not see why Jasira was attracted to her.

It may be hard to see the transition here, but Sheila became a stronger character when I started working with Adrianne Cury, director and narrator of Episode 1 – the full cast audio book (or audio drama). It happened quite by accident. We were trying to figure out how to promote the project, but even though we had already ​cast Fawzia Mirza in the role of Jasira, we hadn’t cast anyone for Sheila, so we didn’t have dialogue recorded for that character. Adrianne offered to perform Sheila’s dialogue for the promotional recording. I should mention here that Adrianne spent her childhood in the south, but the character, Sheila, was originally from Ohio. Adrianne’s suggestion made me consider, for the first time, making Sheila a southerner. That background change totally transformed my perception of the character. Sheila went from being a kind, passive, lonely, and yet ​a ​passionate academic, to a feisty, opinionated, socially awkward, and not necessarily nice but well intentioned academic/advocate. ​Once a southerner, she literally jumped off the page, and became one of my favorite characters to write because her choices and behavior ​we​re so compelling and​ interesting.

Figuring out how to use each episode to lay out the overall premise of the serial was the other thing that happened around this time. Feedback I received in a developmental edit from Juliet Ulman was extremely helpful. Juliet thought Sheila’s relationship with Jasira in the original version of Episode 1 was a Rom Com (romantic comedy), while the serial’s overall premise was more akin to an action thriller or drama – ​in 2032, the United States of America officially becomes ruled by thirteen dynast​ies. Sheila and Jasira’s relationship in the original version of episode 1 didn’t have anything to do with the overall serial. ​I knew the premise, I just hadn’t written it into the story.

Both Juliet and Adrianne were pretty blunt with me. Juliet said I missed​ a great​ opportunity conve​ying the conceptual aspects of dynastic rule in 2032 America ​through the work and perspective of a labor economist – Dr. Sheila McKinley. Adrianne said Sheila and Jasira’s dialogue was too ditzy and silly for intelligent women – one, a successful economist, the other, a successful journalist.

They were both right. As I said earlier, making Sheila a southerner made her interesting and a lot more fun to write. I tried to make her obsession with and suspicion of the dynasties work by expressing it through ​her new,​ pushy, no-nonsense personality.

You may be wondering about Jasira. All I can say is that for some reason she has been a clear, easy character for me to write from the beginning. The combination of her ambiguous relationship with the dynasties, the fact that this matters a lot to Sheila, Sheila’s attraction to Jasira, Jasira’s unexplained and yet explicit interest in ​Sheila, are all juicy elements that come together like a great gumbo.

One important thing to know about my ​writing ​style is that I ​lay out my​ stories through the framework of ​romantic ​couples.

  • Skepticism about this new political arrangement – dynasties ruling America – is told through Sheila’s relationship with Jasira.
  • The personal toll this new arrangement has on the people in power is told through Devin Wayne’s relationship with Irene Daco (Devin is military intelligence. Irene is America’s first princess).
  • The story of dynasties rising to​ become America’s official rulers is told through Victor Daco and Natalia Daco meeting, ​getting, and building the most powerful dynastic House in America (The New Rule creates thirteen houses, and Victor and Natalia are Irene parents).
  • The story of how some r​ebe​ls are just disgruntled elites is told through the story of Todd Giannopoulos (a Point One Percent, or POP Watcher​ – the POP Watchers are hacktivists​) and Ever Harrington (heir to House Harrington).

As for the sex, I’ve been told Devin and Irene’s sex is generally steamier than Sheila and Jasira’s, but I guess that all depends on the personal preferences of the reader. Sex has had a big influence on my personal relationships, so I have a hard time writing these couples without sharing their sexual experiences with the reader. To me, that’s the heart of how fiction works – the author shares the personal experiences of a character with readers. Since sex ha​s been important in my life, sharing the sexual experiences of my characters with the reader just makes sense to me.

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

For over ten years I worked as a manager for different national retail and restaurant chains. I hated that job. I had to work thirty two hours straight once because every one of my employees quit instead of coming to work. This happened four shifts in a row. I was the new manager of that gas station, and each employee quit without notice.

Writing is an extremely satisfying experience. The world is a better place for me when I’m writing.

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

The BBC adaptation of White Teeth by Zadie Smith is the truest book to TV adaptation I have ever seen. I don’t play video games, however.

Full-cast audio experience versus single-person narration: what made you choose one over the other?

I have a strong preference for the fullness in sound produced by full cast as compared to regular audiobooks. I’m impressed, sometimes, by an actor’s ability to perform multiple roles in a recording, but I never like the singular feel that method produces. I always know it’s the same person, even when they’re doing a great job distinguishing one character from another. I cannot remember ever liking a male actor’s portrayal of a female character. I’ve heard some that were terrible. But male to female or female to male, I always prefer hearing individual performances of each character.

American Gods, for instance, for me was a much more satisfying listen than The Fall of Hyperion, even though I enjoyed reading The Fall of Hyperion. Both novels were written very well, but for me the experience of listening to the recorded performance is better when different actors are cast for each one of the main characters.

SullivanTheAnalystWhat do you do when you are not writing?

​Housework. I’ve been doing the laundry in between writing responses to this interview. I can cook, but everyone in my household has different preferences, so I usually cook what I want to eat. I probably don’t clean to most people’s satisfaction, but I try not to make more mess than I can handle myself. ​

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

​I would either invite Bartimaeus (from the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud​), Seraphina (from the novel by Rachel Hartman), Celia Bowen (from the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern), or Brawne Lamia (Hyperion by Dan Simmons, which was also a great full cast audiobook by the way).

Drinking with any one of these characters would be extremely interesting. Seraphina is the only one out of the four who would complain the entire time (until drunk, of course), effectively serving as a burden, until her dragon uncle flew in to help.

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

I recently took two road trips – one from the Chicago area to Bimidji, Minnesota, the other to Lake Norman, North Carolina. During the first trip I formulated the background story for Devin Wayne, point of view character for Episode 3: Escape From New Orleans, Episode Five: Return of the Prince, and Episode 9: Voyage to Nowhere. Maybe because we took the second trip shortly after the Bimidji trip, I began writing Voyage To Nowhere. Here’s what I have for the episode summary so far:

Devin and Irene are running from teams of assassins working for House Watson. Devin has a plan. He knows they will be safe if only they can make it to Nowhere. For the first time in Devin’s life, he hopes he will have the opportunity to introduce a woman to his parents. He is sure about his feelings for Irene, but not about the nature of their relationship. What future can they possibly have? Her father, Victor, no longer wants to kill him. But Irene is still a princess whose kingdom is at war. Even if they make it home, he doubts she will want to stay Nowhere forever.

SullivanAmericanFathersSweptAwayBook Blurb for The American Fathers: Swept Away:

Fresh off a break up, Sheila McKinley, the easygoing college professor, meets Jasira Said, the up and coming journalist and political columnist.

Sheila has no idea her friend Rima is acquainted with Jasira, so their arranged meeting is easily disguised as a simple dinner party. Even after she agrees to show Jasira around town, she really doesn’t suspect her real intentions. But after an accident at a night club things move quickly, until everything is crystal clear.

Places to Stalk Henry L. Sullivan

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Henry Sullivan is graciously offering ten Audible.com copies of Swept Away (Episode 1 of The American Fathers series). Honest reviews, of course, would be welcome and appreciated. In order to enter the giveaway, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) What are some of your favorite audio dramas? 3) Leave a way for me to contact you! Giveaway ends November 5, 2015, midnight.

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Interview: Selah Janel, Author of Olde School

SelahJanelAuthorPicEveryone, please clap eyes together for Selah Janel! We chat about a ton of stuff in this interview, ranging from comics (Batgirl, Sandman) to books (American Gods, Ray Bradbury), to Welcome to Night Vale, along with lots of other interesting bits. Enjoy!

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?

First, thanks so much for having me on! I’m an unabashed geek, so there are a lot of books I’d love to see branch out into some sort of interactive play. I really love Neil Gaiman’s work, so I’d have to say that I’d be all for some sort of American Gods or Sandman game. Both of those worlds are so rich in settings, characters, story, and mythology, so you could do a lot with any type of game experience. You could even have different players actively working against each other with either title, so that would be a lot of fun. I’d totally be down to play Death or Delirium in Sandman!

Ray Bradbury is also probably my favorite author, and I have an unhealthy love of carnival-themed stories, so I would absolutely love to spend all evening playing any kind of version of Something Wicked This Way Comes. It would be so cool to play as Jim or Will and go around exploring the carnival, then seeing the town come undone and having to figure out the reason for it, then face down characters like the dust witch, Mr. Cooger, and Mr. Dark.

And honestly, I’d love to eventually see Olde School get that kind of treatment. Kingdom City and The Land in general is a huge area with a lot of great characters and places to explore. I’d love to see people playing their way through the city and Thadd Forest, dealing with characters like Nobody and Addlebaum, and facing off against the Olde Ones. There could be so many fun possibilities there!

JanelOldeSchoolWith 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 tend to read a little bit of everything, and I like perusing the new section of my library and grabbing titles with no prior knowledge, so I don’t know that I’ve been lured outside my comfort zone without expecting it to happen. I like discovering different work, and even if it makes me feel uncomfortable, I’ve discovered a lot of great titles by being open. So I suppose if classifying a work in different genres helps people who may not go looking for something discover that they like more than what they assume, then it’s definitely a good thing. Anymore, as cross-genre titles become more popular, it’s almost impossible to distinguish a title by one genre, anyway. The genre labeling helps bookstores and marketing, sure, but at the end of the day, I think most books tend to be more than one classification. Sure, there are people who only go after certain genres: horror, paranormal romance, etc., but even those two examples encompass a lot of subgenres.

My book, Olde School, is a good example. It looks like a fantasy book, and it encompasses a lot of those creatures and plot elements. It also has a lot of folklore and fairy components, but lends itself to urban fantasy because of its modernized setting and the fact that there are paranormal/Lovecraft-type horror elements coming into it from another realm. On a shelf it would probably be found under fantasy, but I’ve had all sorts of people get into it and enjoy it – some of whom made it a point to mention that they never read fantasy, but really enjoyed this title!

In that way, I think marketing to different genre shelves definitely helps authors, but it also helps readers expand their horizons and find titles that they might have overlooked. It’s the equivalent of me wandering through the library grabbing whatever’s interesting. If I hadn’t picked up Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez, I may have just thought it was some goofy title playing on the horror genre and not the really clever book and well-written story it is. If I’d walked past This is Gonna Hurt by Nikki Sixx, I’d have assumed it was yet another rock star bio and not a really incredible photography book combined with musings about living a creative life and not judging people (plus I’d have missed out on a book that probably changed my creative life). It all goes back to not judging a book by the cover, and if the various genre filing does that for a reader, then I’m all for it!

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

I’m really (really, really, really) into fairy tales and folklore of all types, as well as myths from all areas of the world, so I can definitely get behind a well-written retelling or a story that uses the characters, settings, or arcs to make them new. The Tenth Kingdom miniseries came at a time when I was starting my twenties and had gotten away from a lot of genre fiction because I was a freshman in college and studying theatre. Although I’d been brought up with various versions of fairy tales, it seemed that only the Disney versions made it into popular culture, so to see something closer to the Grimm versions used in such unique ways blew my mind. I loved the way the story incorporated the “real” world and original characters, and utilized a lot of themes as well as just having the fairy tale characters show up. Diane Wiest is so amazing in that, as is Ed O’Neil. The humor is fantastic, and I love that it doesn’t shy away from slightly bawdy themes and some really dark territory. I really don’t think Olde School would have gotten written if it hadn’t been for that influence – it made me think years later of what was possible and just go for broke, giving me permission to do my own slant on old themes.

As a kid, I also grew up with Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. Those episodes were just mind-boggling and seemed so real. I was mesmerized…and terrified. A local library happened to have the novelization of those stories, and I checked it out so often that I’ve probably still got some of them memorized. I always found it a shame that his fantasy work always gained more of a cult following, because things like that series are exquisite – just perfection, and really show what you can do with puppets, great acting, and fantastic stories.

A few years ago I stumbled upon My Father He Killed Me, My Mother She Ate Me, which is an anthology of fairy tale retellings. Like any anthology, I gravitated to some stories more than others, but The Color Master by Aimee Bender…to this day I am in awe and incredibly jealous of this story. I love any version of Allerleirauh I can find, and to have it told from the perspective of a craftsperson really spoke to me since I sew and design costumes in my daily life. The emotion in the tale brought me to my knees, and the descriptions of making the three dresses really spoke to me. It was such an unusual take on the story and it’s done so well.

Obviously I’m really into Sandman – that series never ceases to make me feel on a visceral level and give me something to think about. American Gods, too – that’s one of the few books where I really didn’t see a lot of the reveals coming. You can really tell that Neil Gaiman knows what he’s talking about. He doesn’t necessarily cram anything down a reader’s throat but uses the revamped characters and themes in some subtle ways. I still catch things when I go back and reread both titles.

As far as ones that haven’t worked for me…I honestly don’t get into movie revamps that purposefully take fairy tales and make them “dark.” This doesn’t make sense at all to me…they’re already dark, it’s just that we’ve sanitized them so much in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Just go back and tell older versions of the story and tell them well! You don’t need to work so hard throwing in twenty action sequences and over the top love triangles and things that just don’t fit. I get the fixation, I get wanting to modernize things, but I can’t help but think that there are better ways. I really wish that instead of taking the same five or ten stories and continually showing the “true” version or cramming them into some new subgenre, people would take a look at a lot of the international versions of the stories and work with them. I mean there are over three hundred known Cinderella stories and we regularly use maybe three. That’s a shame, especially when some of them have some great elements like the heroine leaving home to find her own way or man–eating trolls.

JanelInTheRedWhat is your favorite fictional holiday (from books, movies, or tv)?

Speaking of Jim Henson…and probably showing more of my inner workings than is healthy….Refrigerator Day, from the TV series Dinosaurs. I would totally be all about celebrating the glory of the fridge.

JanelHollyAndIvyIf you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Oh, man! Questions like this always get me! I always have to fight the instinct to put a bunch of people together that might become a powder keg, just to see what would happen. Definitely Jareth, the Goblin King, from Labyrinth. I’ve always really been intrigued by that character since you really don’t know a lot about him other than his role (that he seems bored by), and if you believe his interpretation of things in the end scenes, that may be a front because it’s how Sarah expects to see him. Barbara Gordon/Batgirl would be one that I’d definitely want to talk to, but only in her pre-new 52 version. I found her transformation into Oracle so emotional and inspiring, and it did wonders for her characterization in the comics. I really hate that all that got reverted. Salem the cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch because I am that big of a geek and a cat person and I cannot help but think that it would be hilarious. Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale because I just want to know everything that goes on in that town and he’s probably the best one to get the dirt from. And I’m sure Clyde from Olde School would make me invite him to keep the peace – he’s annoying like that. He was once a magical/possibly evil entity, and now is stuck as a non-magical songbird with a deep, sexy voice who helps the lead character in my book as long as it means he gets unlimited access to red wine and cable television. He wouldn’t want to be left out…plus he’d probably give Salem a run for his money.

Man, only five? I guess I’d have to save the invites to Eowyn, Aslan, Meg Murry from Madeline L’Engle’s books, The Endless from Sandman, Tamora from Titus Andronicus, Loki, Skinner Sweet from American Vampire, The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in your Home from Welcome to Night Vale, and half of the standard fairy tale characters for the Christmas party……..Come on. You know that would be amazing!

JanelTheOtherManCare 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 feel like this happens on a day to day basis for me. I tend to talk prolifically about anything I’m really enjoying, be it a band, movie, book, whatever. I know it gets obnoxious and although I try to dampen that down, I do get really passionate about what I’m into at times. I’m also still not used to people coming to conventions to see me or coming up to me to talk about my books, so I have to really stop myself from going “Me? Really?” and looking around in confusion.

Probably the best example of me overreacting isn’t actually me gushing to anyone, but an incident that happened a handful of years ago. I was in the middle of just a lot of different things going on and I’d recently lost a family member, so I was a ball of tension anyway. I love going to the library and I had found a book of source material written by Ray Bradbury around the same concept of Fahrenheit 451 that either didn’t make it into the book or were written before or after, etc. I didn’t realize until I’d gotten home that it was a limited edition…a signed limited edition.

The thing about me is I’m a huge lover of Ray Bradbury. His work really encouraged me to keep writing, and I could speak about his influence forever. He’s one that I keep slowly going through the list of his works, debating whether to read it all or leave some go, so there’s always something to look forward to. And having that book in my hands that I happened to check out, knowing that it wasn’t available anymore and at the time I didn’t have the money to spend on it, anyway….
….this is so embarrassing, but I lost my ever-loving mind.

There’s a story he wrote in Dandelion Wine called The Happiness Machine, and it involves a husband trying to make his family happy by building a machine that would show them all these different things that they didn’t happen to have. The wife comes out of the machine sobbing and says something to the effect that they were things she didn’t even know she wanted, and now she knew she’d never get them. That’s about what it was like for me, to hold that thing in my hands, running a finger over the signature, knowing I’d love reading it, knowing I’d get attached to it, knowing I had to give it back…

Yeah, definite meltdown. My mother happened by and actually thought someone else had died or some other tragedy had happened until I calmed down enough to explain. After realizing that she’d given birth to a crazy person, we actually sat down and tried to find a way around the situation, but by then most of that edition had been bought up.

A lot of my friends suggested a lot of ways around the library process, but I couldn’t in good conscience do anything with a book that advocated literacy and shared knowledge, so I actually had my mother take it back so I wouldn’t be tempted. I never read a single part of that book because the thought of having it but not having it just tore me apart.

In hindsight, a lot of it was probably me expressing a lot of grief and frustration at the things that were going on, but man that was a huge catalyst that actually got me to express a lot of that emotion. I was also fortunate enough that a dear friend of mine found a signed copy of Dandelion Wine (my favorite Bradbury book) and sent it my way to ease the ache. I’ve never forgotten the gesture and it helped to reorient my headspace at the time. Still, I will admit that I’ve never tried to check that book out again.

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

I feel like this happens once a week, so it’s really hard to choose or remember a specific incident. I get involved in the Marvel vs. DC debate a lot, and I end up getting way more detailed in any Batman discussion than I probably should. People tend to rope me into a lot of discussions about fantasy or fairy tales. Sometimes I’ll play devil’s advocate about titles I’m not really into or things I love but don’t think need endless sequels, just to make sure everyone keeps an open mind. Lately, since I’ve become a regular listener of Welcome to Night Vale, the most recent geektacular discussion involves deciding out of my friends and family, who would be a resident of Night Vale and who would belong in Desert Bluffs. I got talked into moderating a fanfiction panel at a writing convention a few weeks ago. Whatever your feelings on it (and I have many different ones), as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed this secret theory that fanfic is the new oral tradition and a lot of the “new” archetypes specific to it are downright Jungian, but for slightly different reasons and goals. I’ve had a lot of moments lately traumatizing people with that more intellectual take on fandom. It’s always something – if I can inject people’s daily lives with a little bit of geekiness and get them to appreciate all the fun stuff out there, then I’ve done my job,

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

Most of my upcoming stuff is still in the development stage at the moment – I’m finishing up some standalone manuscripts to shop, working on a few proposals, and plotting out the next Kingdom City book. I’m discussing a few other projects, including an issue of Tales of Indiscretion dedicated to my short fiction, but as of yet I don’t have any official dates on anything. I’m hoping to make an appearance in the Columbus, Ohio area on October 25, but that’s still being finalized and I’m still working on my 2015 schedule, as well.

I will have a story in The Big Bad 2 anthology, which focuses on characters traditionally seen as “evil” getting the spotlight. “A Family Affair” will be a prequel to my vampire story “Real Wild Childe” in the first Big Bad anthology, and deals with cold war era vampires and a fairly interesting housewife.

There’s a lot to discover on my blog, though! After a short break I’m trying to get back to regular posting, and a full list of my available releases, as well as magazines and anthologies I’m in is there. There’s also a full page of different Kingdom City fun, including little shorts featuring Clyde the bird. The main link is http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com and the rest can be found by clicking at the subheadings. I always welcome people to message me on my FB author page or tweet me or leave a comment on the blog. I love hearing what people have to say!

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Interview: Garrett Calcaterra, Ahimsa Kerp, & Craig Comer

CalcaterraKerpComerRoadsToBaldairnMotte2Everyone, please welcome the authors of The Roads to Baldairn Motte, Garrett, Ahimsa, and Craig. Today we chat about influential books and movies in the realm of fiction, tattoos versus cosplay, fictional beasties, and the challenges of self-promotion. Enjoy!

1) 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?

Craig: Absolutely. Today, you still see elements of fantasy fiction adorned on fashion items and throughout pop culture. Walking Dead and Game of Thrones shirts, mugs, and stickers are everywhere, and more so, you hear lines from these worlds quoted on news shows and by sports commentators.

Ahi: In some ways, probably more so than ever. I think Star Wars broke through the glass nerd ceiling and now fantasy is more popular than ever. However, it’s often a bit empty. Sci-fi can push for social betterment, but fantasy often seems to wallow in meaningless entertainment. They’re not mutually exclusive, and I’d love to see more ambitious fantasy.

Garrett: I think all genres tend to wallow in meaningless entertainment, even sci-fi and literary fiction. And you know, that’s fine sometimes. I see nothing wrong with literature functioning as escapism—life can get rough, and what better way to put aside your problems for a few hours than in a fun book?

But I’d argue that there is still ambitious fantasy out there. It may not shape history anymore, but it works in subtle ways. I think Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is so popular because it’s rooted in complex, believable characters. It functions in the same way good literary fiction does: we, as readers, learn something about the human condition from these characters.

Fantasy can also be a medium for exploring alternative philosophies and social viewpoints. I’m currently reading The Mists of Avalon for the first time, for example (I know, not exactly new, and yes, shame on me for not reading it a long time ago!), and it does an amazing job of making the reader question our patriarchal culture, not to mention our modern disconnect with nature and the magic in the world around us. That’s perhaps the biggest impact fantasy has, reminding us about magic. I just finished Bruce McAllister’s Dream Baby and it’s this amazing, sort of paranormal fantasy set during the Vietnam War, based on the premise that being in heightened combat situations awakens a dormant, magical ability in certain humans. That’s what good fantasy is all about. It makes us question our reality. Is there something more to modern human existence than working like a dog just so you can buy the newest iPhone or 60” flatscreen TV?

CalcaterraDreamwielder2) What fictional world would you like to visit for the holidays? Is there a fictional holiday that you would like to take part in?

Craig: I’m not sure any of the worlds I love so much are great for visiting. They are scary and dangerous places! But maybe Philip Pullmans London from, His Dark Materials. It’d be a trip to walk around and see everyone’s daemon running around!

Ahi: My answer is boring because I just want to go to Middle-earth. Hang out with the Dunedain, visit Rivendell, cruise up to the Misty Mountains… yup, that’s the dream.

Garrett: Yeah, my first choice would be Middle-earth too. The Shire probably has some pretty good holiday fixings going on. Hmm…where else? My girlfriend and I adore animals—to the point we like our pets more than most humans—so once we get married it would be pretty fun to take her to Narnia and visit the talking animals in the court of Cair Paravel.

3) 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?

Craig: I think the level of reality has to match the tone and themes of the work. Something like A Game of Thrones needs to be gritty and real because the reader is so closely imbedded in the character’s perspective, and those details describe the world Martin is creating. Something like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust is more whimsical. Too many details there would weigh down the prose. But for each, the important thing is consistency.

Ahi: I love books where people swear and poop. But it has to be for a reason. Usually those mundane realities are cut because they don’t advance the story, and we don’t really need to know how many times per minute your protagonist blinks.

Garrett: Yup, I’ve got little to add beyond that. If I’m writing a dark, gritty tale, I use those realistic elements the same way I use setting description to create a believable backdrop and establish the tone.

ComerAbandonedTowers4) Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

Craig: I would love to have a Heinzelmännchen come stay at my house and do all the care taking! I would avoid any type of giant arachnid. Small little guys hanging on webs are fine; huge Shelob sized ones, not so much.

Ahi: I have quite an affinity for Yetis. And I would really like the platycore from Munchkin as a pet. Who would I avoid? Most fantastical creatures probably! But China Mieville‘s slake moths especially creep me out.

Garrett: I would love to encounter a dragon from Pern and have an Impression. How awesome would it be to fly on the back of a dragon and communicate telepathically? As for creatures to avoid, I’d have to say the Great Old Ones. I feel like I’m a pretty easygoing guy and could get along with most nefarious creatures, but the inhuman evilness of Cthulhu is too much, and the thought of losing my mind terrifies me.

KerpOriginsCollidingCausalities5) More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

Ahi: I have no prediction as to how it’s going to evolve, but I am excited to see how it all goes down. I am definitely excited to continue to learn different kinds of storytelling as they continue to grow.

Craig: We’re already seeing interactive ebooks and tie-in novels for PC games. I think that will continue, and at some point a synergy (or at least an attempt at one) with social media—perhaps a choose-your-own-adventure with thousands of readers creating the story together?

CalcaterraKerpGoodBrewHardToFindGarrett: It’s an exciting and unpredictable time. For the biggest authors in the publishing world, yeah, you’re gonna continue to see their fictional worlds turned into multimedia franchises like we’re seeing with LOTR, A Game of Thrones, The Chronicles of Narnia, and American Gods. For those of us authors who aren’t best-sellers, technology will function to enhance the way we interact with readers. The new e-book edition of The Roads to Baldairn Motte has an enhanced character index with hyperlinks, for example, which is helpful for a sprawling mosaic novel. Earlier this year, Ahimsa and I were able to re-release A Good Brew is Hard to Find, a choose-your-own-adventure style humorous fantasy. Its first incarnation was on a website with clunky html a decade ago, and now it’s a slick, easy to read e-book. I too am excited to get to write in these different mediums, and am always open to new opportunities. Ultimately though, novels are my favorite and I hope novels are able to retain their market share in our attention deficit world where books have to compete for attention against other media.

ComerDragonmountAnthology6) What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

Ahi: It depends on the project, but I quite enjoy the role of researcher. I read 5-10 books per novel, and my booksmarks folders on Chrome have 30-40 links each. We live in the best time ever for research, as the wealth of human history and progress is all available on the same machine you type your story on.

Craig: There’s a book, What Would Your Character Do?, that I find useful for fleshing out character ideas. It puts them in different scenarios and asks a litany of reaction and motivation type questions. World building, for me, is the best part of the creative process, and I use everything from old childhood tales to military encyclopedias. The internet has made it easier than ever to find information, and not just with who, what, and where.  There are dialect translators, guides for creating armor, guides on botany and Victorian costume—everything is out there.

Garrett: I don’t read many non-fiction books and feel pretty inadequate in my knowledge of history compared to Ahi and Craig, but I do take my research seriously. I mostly rely on reference materials when writing fantasy. I did a ton of research to make sure I had my nautical terminology correct when writing The Roads to Baldairn Motte, for example, and that came in handy for Dreamwielder too. Beyond that, the non-fiction I read tends to be newspaper and magazine articles on technology and climate change. In fact, I posted an annotated bibliography on climate change and science fiction on my blog, if anyone wants to check it out. (link: http://garrettcalcaterra.blogspot.com/2013/06/an-annotated-bibliography-for-science.html )

ComerBardsAndSages7) With the modern popularity of ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label 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?

Ahi: I mean, genre is just a marketing tool. I’d like to see it removed entirely to be honest. Genre is rather a limiting, didactic way of looking at something much broader and nearly infinite in scope. As to ebooks, they haven’t lured me out of my comfort zone, as I read from a wide range already.

Craig: I agree with Ahimsa. It’s a double-edged sword, though, because you still need readers to find your book, and that can’t be on author name recognition or friend recommendation alone. Online lists have become a prevalent source for finding new books or songs or whatever, but even those are necessarily broken down by some sort of meta-label, whether it be genre or some other categorization.

Garrett: Yeah, I agree. In theory, better online categorization, meta tags, cloud servers and whatnot makes it easier for readers to find a broader range of books, but in reality it’s just become part of our norm, and readers still gravitate toward their individual interests. Back when I was in junior high and grade school, if I wanted a new fantasy novel (and I did, pretty much every week) I either went to the public library or the one bookstore in town that had a big section of fantasy novels. Now people only have to tap an icon on their Kindle or Nook to accomplish the same thing, but they still have their specific interests. Though the mediums have changed, we’re approaching our author branding and marketing toward a target audience with the same general philosophy that authors were using back in the 80s. Having said that, I could be totally wrong, and maybe that’s why my book sales aren’t tearing up the charts!

CalcaterraPiratesAndSwashbucklers 8) From your own writings, are there any characters you would like to cosplay?

Ahi: Ha! Good question. I’m afraid I would feel like a total wanker if I dressed up as my own character when there are thousands of great characters already out there.

Craig: None myself, but the heroine of my next novel, The Fey Matter, is modeled in part after my fiancé. So in some sense, she’s cosplaying all the time.

Garrett: I’m not really into cosplay, but I wouldn’t protest if my girlfriend wanted to dress up like Lyrie from Baldairn Motte, and I’d be happy to be Terryll Pace, her pirate lover. “Arr! Come to me, you lusty wench!”

Oh, and Ahimsa and I both have literature-inspired tattoos. I have a Frank Frazetta cover from a Bradbury book tattooed on my shoulder and Ahi has tattoos of all kinds of cool shit: Cthulhu, Odin, an airship from China Mieville’s The Scar, I think. Tattoos are sort of like cosplay, but way tougher and cooler.

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

Ahi: I still think Trainspotting is the gold standard of adaptation. How anyone could turn that book into a movie is beyond me, but it was sheer genius. I haven’t read any PC game adaptations but working in licensed worlds takes skills all their own (maybe a bit like our own shared world actually) and my hat’s off to those who tell those stories.

Craig: Wonder Boys is one of my favorite movies, so that pops to mind. And the BBC’s Sherlock is very well done.

Garrett: I think Fight Club is one of the few movies that is better than the book, and I’m a big fan of the book and Palahniuk. I suppose I could say the same for American Psycho, in that the movie captures the essence of the book and makes it a tighter, more cohesive story. As far as fantasy goes, I think the first Narnia movie was very well done. Can’t say that I’ve read any books adapted from games or other media. My nerdiness is pretty well confined to original SF/F/H, and then real life scientific research (I have a BS degree in chemistry and bio, if you can believe it).

ComerBardicTalesSageAdvice10) In 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?

Craig: Throughout the whole writing process, I love the anticipation that someone out there will get as excited as I am about a character or plot point or setting. The rest of self-promotion is awkward and a bit embarrassing—kind of like swimming in a public pool amidst a cloud of warm water, while trying to get everyone else from swimming away from you.

Ahi: The only good part of self-promotion, for me, is the chance to meet like-minded people.  I really appreciate that aspect, but the rest of the horn-tooting is not something I’m at all fond of.

Garrett: Ditto for me. I don’t think any proper writers like self-promoting their work. If we did, we’d probably be salesmen rather than authors. But like Ahimsa said, being involved within the SF/F/H community is an entirely different matter. Doing this interview, for instance, is quite fun. I’ve also written articles and interviews for Black Gate, SF Signal and my own blog, The Machine Stops, and that’s awesome because I genuinely like to interview people and write non-fiction. So for me, the best sort of self-promotion comes in the form of being visible and active within the community in that capacity. That’s where you’ll see the best, most honest side of me. On Twitter or FB posts where I’m plugging my books, not so much.

 ComerPulpEmpire11) Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Garrett: Well, the big event for us, of course, is the release of the new edition of our mosaic novel The Roads to Baldairn Motte. The book is out in e-book format from Reputation Books as of the new year (January 1, 2014), and if it does well enough we’ll maybe see a print edition later in the year. In the meantime, the three of us are all cranking away on our own individual novels. I’m working on a high-action sequel to Dreamwielder, and then also my more serious near-future cli-fi novel. Craig is doing revisions on The Fey Matter, and Ahi is working on his Indo-fantasy. We try to attend conventions and conferences when we can, but I don’t think anything is on the books now apart from our virtual book tour online. So thank for having us and helping kick things off!

Craig: I wanted to thank a Ben Thornton for letting us use his artwork for our new cover! It’s awesome and got all three of us charged up to put together this revised edition of the book. Thanks also to you, Susan, for having us over for this chat at Dab of Darkness!

Ahi: Nothing else of mine to share, but I’d like to thank all who read this for their interest and time. Keep reading—everything. You’re awesome!

Thank you gentlemen for sharing so much and joining us here at Dab of Darkness!

Places to Stalk Garrett, Craig, and Ahimsa

Garrett Calcaterra Website

Craig Comer Website

Goodreads – Garrett

Goodreads – Ahimsa

Goodreads – Craig

Twitter – Ahimsa

Twitter – Garrett

Facebook – Craig

Facebook – Garrett

The Roads to Baldairn Motte