Interview: Jeremy Flagg, Author of the Children of Nostradamus Series

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Jeremy Flagg. We chat about his love of graphic novels, the hope for a Salvatore-based tabletop game, and plenty more.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

Currently with the boom of comic book movies and TV shows, I’m honestly surprised the same hasn’t happened in the literary world. I grew up on comic books, in fact, it’s how I learned to read. However, the jump from illustrated stories to novelization seems to be a slow process. With only a few breakouts such as Brandon Sanderson or Peter Clines, the market is vastly underserved. But despite the market having yet to sway in that direction, there are some amazing superhero inspired stories happening. I think the ability to get inside the head of the hero makes it a unique medium that brings a lot to the table for the genre.

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’m a superhero writer, I should pick a superhero, but I think I’d have to go with the supernatural. There is something about these myths and folklore that continue to make us wonder. I like the idea that there is a world we’re not quite sure about. I’m curious to see what wonders there are. Granted, with my luck I’d be stuck with a grumpy gnome saving me.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

I’m a 90’s kid through and through. I was born in the early 80’s, and loved the music of the time, but nothing will surpass the 90’s for me. My playlists are filled with songs from the late 90’s and even the weird look we had during that period sticks with me. Despite that though, there’s a bit of an 80’s child hiding in there. I secretly like to think I’m a punk in corporate clothing.

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

We’re on the verge of so many emerging technologies, I think it’s fascinating to see how much science fiction has simply become science. Still, the thing I’m dying to see is the computer screen from Minority Report. I find myself frequently annoyed that I don’t have enough screen space and constantly flipping through windows. I frequently have my laptop hooked up to a TV and my iPad next to me. It’d be amazing to have it all in one place and just be able to manipulate it with my hand. We’re not far from it, I think this one may actually happen during my lifetime.

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

Not the worst by a long stretch, but definitely the most difficult would have to be teaching high school. I’ve been a high school art teacher for a decade now and it’s a demanding job. You’re constantly pushing kids to be creative and step outside their comfort zone. It’s extremely rewarding, but after a day of wrestling with kids, you find yourself lacking the creativity to do your own work. There are the hand full of kids who give back as much as you put in, and those have been the ones that continue to inspire. Writing on the other hand, during my off months is a walk in the park. The only temperamental thing I have to deal with is my laptop, and that’s nowhere near as complicated as wow-ing a room of twenty-five teenagers. The only difficulty is in forcing myself to sit down and write when I have the time (which isn’t too difficult for me.)

You’re granted a super power and given the chance to team up with 4 other superheroes (or supervillains). What power do you have and who have you teamed up with?

The obvious answer is teleportation. I will always want the ability to teleport. I hate going places, but I’m always happy once I’m there. As for the others I would team up with? Not that I haven’t thought about this in depth, but it’d be Nightcrawler, Colossus, Magneto (every time needs the slightly villainous character) and Phoenix. That’d pretty much be the unstoppable superhero team. I may have spent more than a little time figuring this out (aka a lot.)

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

I would love to see R.A. Salvatore’s Demon War Saga turned into some sort of tabletop game. Salvatore has a wonderfully unique perspective on traditional fantasy and I think it’d make for a great storyline. I’d love it even more if it were turned into a console game similar to Skyrim. I’d want to play Pony, one of my favorite female leads who wields magic and her female intuition like a weapon. That’d be a pretty badass game.

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

I actually teach a college class about graphic novels. There are a variety of great pieces that should be in there. I like to blend great stories such as the Watchmen alongside classic superheroes such as X-Men’s Inferno with things like Maus. My favorite question to pose the class is to ask, do comics influence society or does society influence comics? I like exploring the need for diversity in mainstream comics and how smaller companies are filling in these niche categories. I feel if given enough time, there could be entire concentrations in comics similar to Art History at this point. Unfortunately, I don’t think we respect comics as much as we do novels. I am happy however to see them get more attention thanks to the popularity of movie adaptations.

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

Marvel beats DC. Star Trek over Star Wars. Sub before Dub. With the company I keep, there are always geeky conversations happening. I’m always down for a geek argument.

About Author Jeremy Flagg:

Jeremy Flagg is the author of the CHILDREN OF NOSTRADAMUS dystopian science fiction series and SUBURBAN ZOMBIE HIGH young adult humor/horror series. Taking his love of pop culture and comic books, he focuses on fast paced, action packed novels with complex characters and contemporary themes.

Jeremy is the Co-creator of Massachusetts Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors and member of the Metrowest Writers writing group. He is also an active member of the New England Horror’s Association and Broad Universe.

Jeremy spends most of his free time at his desk writing snarky books. When he gets a moment away from writing, he watches too much Netlix and Hulu and reading comic books. Jeremy, a Maine native, resides in Clinton, Massachusetts and can be found in local coffee shops pounding away at the keyboard.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Synopsis of Nighthawks:

New England is a walled off radioactive prison. People exhibiting extraordinary abilities are hunted for experiments. The only talent twenty-six-year-old Conthan has in life is his art and knack for sarcasm. When a cop threatens his life, Conthan discovers he has the ability to teleport. Hunted by the military and a woman with her own gifts, Conthan finds exiles in the Boston wastelands with powers of their own. For the first time, he sees potential to become a hero. But as he unravels a conspiracy threatening the world, he must decide between his survival and his humanity.

Audible ~ Amazon

Interview: Robert Kingett, Author of Off the Grid: Living Blind Without the Internet

Folks, please welcome journalist and book author Robert W. Kingett to the blog today. He was kind enough to give me a bit of his time for an interview. After listening to his book, Off the Grid, I was very excited to pick his mind on several things.

Off the Grid came out in 2015. What lessons from that month of no internet still linger with you?

The lessons that still linger with me are lessons I’d thought I’d lose, honestly, like, don’t take humans for granted. I see a time when human interaction will become even more haphazard in the future. I see the scope of the net changing even now that I am back online in ways I never considered before. It seems like the internet is turning into a place where people go if they want to feel outraged or to feel validated by someone or something. Self-confidence, in my generation anyway, is fading very fast so a lesson that I hold onto very dearly, in my journalism work and personal life, is value your own thoughts and ideas but don’t seek praise or validation or a pat on the back. Nobody is as important or worthy as you are and your closest, offline, friends. Treasure yourself, and this goes for writers and journalists today too. Just write. Don’t try to please an audience because, chances are, half of the comments section won’t understand you anyway. Report on what you believe is right. Write because you enjoy it, not because you are trying to be the most ethical person on the planet.

Ethics will never be fulfilled fully by one journalist or writer. Why should you try so hard to be everybody else’s version of ethical when they will just call you fake anyway? What’s the point? Stick to your own passion and your own ethics and become who you always wanted to be, not someone everybody wants you to be.

The other lesson that lingers with me is the lesson that keeping up research skills and asking questions is more important than people realize. Now that I am back online, I see so many people willing to believe the first Google result they see. Many don’t look for dissenting opinions or even try to ask questions anymore. This is scary. We are becoming a generation that cares about facts but doesn’t understand the motive behind the facts. We don’t care to know why someone else thinks differently. We’re locking ourselves into a subconscious echo chamber and, that too, scares me. I still talk to people I don’t agree with. I still seek out differing opinions. I always will. I hope others continue to do the same.

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

Without a doubt, it would be the Big Bang Theory. That show is my favorite of all time. I think it’s hilarious and the character development is outstanding, among other aspects of the writing, but I’d totally get into a heated argument with Sheldon about Star Wars because I’m sure I’d know something he doesn’t and it would be great just to have an argument with him. He’s a great actor and character, by the way. He has a lot of depth and development.

You are an advocate for greater media access for the disabled. What has been your greatest struggle in that role?

Honestly, the biggest struggle in that role has been getting people to care, on all fronts. Many in the disability community want others to make things happen for them but when this advocate or that person trying to change things reaches out, very few in our community do anything. They want to reap the rewards of hard advocacy without advocating.

On the non-disabled side, even today, people continue to see us as the lowest form of society so they don’t want to do anything for us. We must constantly prove why we need accessibility changes, even in this current year. I don’t understand why companies and things still, in a lot of cases, refuse disability accommodations in buildings and on the web. Many will fight to the death with excuses of cost and liability and other lame excuses. All of you guys, the ones who don’t have a disability, are temporarily abled. There may come a day where you need accessible housing or to use a website or to find a job with an understanding employer. What then? Will it be too late for you to get what you need? Probably. Just think about that.

If you could pick a fictional character to officiate at your wedding, who would it be?

Without a doubt, it would be Albus Dumbledore. I just think he’s a person everybody should meet, at least once in their lifetime.

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

I’d honestly talk to V. C. Andrews about writing to vanquish her own personal daemons through stories. I am a weird cookie so I read all kinds of books, even some where many would feel very uncomfortable, like reading about sexual endeavors with other family members. The problem is I have a very open mind. I ask questions. I want to know about things that others find really off the wall, so I will read things that others won’t even consider trying. For V. C. Andrews, it’s her incest characters. I don’t care about that at all. In fact, I dove deeper to understand their histories and ways of thinking. It just fascinated me. Even if you don’t agree with something, wisdom can be found anywhere.

I’d ask her things about writing, her thoughts about life in general. People who write very unorthodox things have an insight into the world most will refuse to explore or figure out. I’d want to just ask her questions for a day about anything just to see her point of view on things just because I know there will be some wisdom I can take from her views.

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

I’ve been a journalist for many years and I’d cover political issues. I still do, but something hard, and, yeah, I am going to say it, is listening to a Trump supporter blabbering on about destroying a system they barely grasp to begin with. I’m not a Trump supporter. I won’t pretend to understand people who like his word salads of stupidity. I find it hard to listen to people who want to bring hatred and segregation back into this country.

Writing Off the Grid was a different kind of challenge but it was a much easier challenge. It was a challenge within myself. Could I honestly write about my frustrations and humorous thoughts? Could I look inside of myself to see what I am getting out of this month offline? While challenging, I believe I did well. I’m not saying I did stellar work but I did darn good pondering if I do say so myself.

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 be more inclusive of the disabled?

I see it happening by accident, honestly. I see the publishing industry becoming accessible by accident not by design. With the rise of E-Books and audio books that will only continue to make things better for us. I still also believe podcasts, audio only podcasts, will grow as well.

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

Without a doubt J. K. Rowling because I’d just love her sense of humor to tag along. I’d also take Brandon Sanderson, and, maybe Eoin Colfer because, well, we need a boy genius with us. It would be neat to see how Artemisia Fowl would handle me getting everybody into trouble with my curiosity. I’d take Robert J. Sawyer, even though he isn’t a fantasy author, because he would be just as creatively curious as I am and this could help in puzzles, perhaps.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Mine would probably have commas or colons between the words. Weird, strange. Outrageous, needy, lovable, and, crazy.

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

Obviously the most difficult is getting people to notice me without me doing my part to add to the outrage pool, but it gives me a sense of freedom to set my own work hours and schedule. I have the freedom to say no to a person I can’t stand, interviewing me that is, if I wanted to, although, I’d never do that. It’s hard work letting people know about this project I’ve worked hard on it and it’s even more difficult to tell people why they should care, but it’s liberating all the same because I get to meet other authors with great audio books who I’d never meet otherwise. Some of the best books I read have been from authors I never agreed with on anything.

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

The most memorable argument I had with someone was about the horcruxes in the Harry Potter series. A high school buddy of mine agreed with my guesses that Harry was a horcrux. A few other people in the class did not agree with us. The teacher tried to get us to quiet down so she could teach us science but the whole class was fired up. She chucked her whole lesson plan and held a debate class instead. It was a shocker to us to realize that we were right all along!

Are you planning any further experiments? Any future books in the works?

I’d like to start opening doors up for other disabled writers like me. There’s a lot of contests for disabled artists, painters, and the like, but nothing for disabled authors or writers or journalists out there, really. I am working on a few other books, yes, mostly memoirs and politically incorrect humor books, like erotic retellings of classic fairy tales, but I’m trying to do many things, including hosting an essay contest where the blind writers get adaptive technology, or something similar.

I’m also working on ways to give back to organizations I fully support like Planned Parenthood and the like. If someone donates to one of my journalism campaigns or similar, I want to open doors and give back to people. It’s hard but it can be done! With me, it will happen. It may not happen tomorrow or the next day but I will open doors for people, eventually.

As for my next journalism project, I am working on the day in the life of an incest couple. I am gathering interviews, spending time with their family, and the like, so I can create a unique human interest story.
I am also still trying to break into the Modern Love section in the New York Times. That’s my priority right now. I will make it there though! Just watch me.

Places to Stalk Robert W. Kingett

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Off the Grid: Living Blind Without the Internet

Journalist Robert Kingett accepts a dare, one that at first seems simple: to adapt to his blindness without the Internet. This account is a cozy diary of battling with an FM radio, hooking up a landline phone, and the journey of adapting to a brand new way of living from someone who has never disconnected from the World Wide Web.

Audible ~ Amazon

Audiobook & Signed Book Giveaway + Interview: Brandon Bosse, Author of the Phillip Aisling Adventures

BosseTheDreamsOfPhillipAislingAndTheNuminousNawaaganEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Brandon Bosse. Don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – signed paper copies and Audible.com/.UK copies of The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan. 

What’s next for Phillip Aisling?

Well that could be answered a few different ways. First, and what I’m most excited about, I am working with a team of talented UCSD students to create a virtual reality game called Phillip’s Lucid Dream Training.  It is based on the first and second books, so it will actually be a bit of a preview of book #2. In the game, the player takes on the role of Phillip, a young true Dreamer just getting started learning how to master his dreams with lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming and virtual reality go hand in hand because both transport you to a world that looks incredibly real, but you are aware that it isn’t real! A demo version will be coming out later this year for Google Daydream and a full version for HTC Vive later.

Next, the second book is underway titled The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Lessons of Lucidity.  In this book, Phillip begins training by the Dream Masters to learn how to fully take control of his dreams. I have taken your comments to heart that the story needs something more to draw the reader in, so expect the story to take an epic turn in book #2. I have tons of notes that I’ve been collecting as I’ve been doing research for the book over the years. I cannot wait to get them down into a book. It is just so hard to find the time to write between all the other projects I have going on!

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?

If I had to choose? Oh but why choose?! Why not be rescued by a supernatural alien who happens to be my own personal superhero?! Since my book is about interdimensional travelling via lucid dreams, I am imagining a being that has developed the ability to open portals to any point in time and space, which would be quite supernatural indeed. I imagine that this being would rescue me just as my eyes close as I prepare to accept my unfortunate fate and my spirit transitions back into the astral. By some unexplainable supernatural force I’m swiftly yanked back to reality by the interdimensional alien, pulled to safety within the hyperspace of infinite possibility. Or I suppose I could have just gone with a superhero. Superman. Yes, let’s go with Superman. He will do nicely. Come to think of it, he is a supernatural alien superhero!

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

My favorite movie of all time, The Matrix. I recently re-watched it again for the umpteenth time, but this time with a friend who had never seen the movie before. It brought back many fond memories of what it was like to watch it for the first time.

[SPOILER ALERT] Go watch the movie if you haven’t already! Come back and read the rest afterward!

There is a scene near the beginning where Neo is offered a deal by Agent Smith to “wipe the slate clean” in exchange for helping track down Morpheus, but Neo instead gives him the finger and demands his right to a phone call. Agent Smith responds, “What good is a phone call if you cannot speak?” and Neo’s mouth begins to seal shut as the lips inexplicably begin to grow together! When I first saw this movie I was really taken aback by this scene, as was my friend watching it with me for the first time. This is the first point in the movie where you realize some something really serious is up. It’s moments like that in the movie and many other ah-ha moments that make me want to relive it all over again for the first time.

What makes you fall in love with a story?

I love a story that has a misunderstood, goodhearted protagonist that has supernatural abilities. Remember the 1995 movie Powder? It featured a misunderstood albino boy who had telepathy and telekinesis and was taunted relentlessly by ignorant boys and eventually died by converting back into pure energy. I loved that movie and was very moved by it. I also loved Matilda. Her parents didn’t get her at all, but her teacher helped her realize the potential of her telekinetic gifts! Now that was a fun movie!

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

In no particular order, I would select the following 4 fantasy authors to join me on a magical quest:

J.R.R. Tolkien – because he practically invented the modern genre of magical quests! Although, he is a bit long-winded at times, which might get annoying after a presumed weeks long journey together, his ability to imagine fantasy worlds would no doubt prove more than useful.

Brandon Sanderson – First of all, Brandon has a cool name! Haha! He has impressed me many times with his prose in The Way of Kings and is a big inspiration for me as I set off on writing book #2 in my Phillip Aisling series. The fact that he’s roughly my age helps, too!

J.K. Rowling – Speaking of inspiration, Harry Potter was absolutely a huge influence on my book! Ms. Rowling’s knowledge of magical systems would be essential to solving any puzzles along the way.

Terry Pratchett – He seems like a happy-go-lucky, lighthearted fellow. His ability to imagine worlds rivals those of Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. I’d invite him just to add some much needed levity to the bunch!

Who or what are your non-writer influences?

I would definitely say that Rob Bryanton’s video, Imagining the 10th Dimension, was the most influential source I drew from when forming the ideas for dream magic in the book. It was in 2007 when I awoke from an unusually vivid dream and I had been watching YouTube videos about higher dimensions. I came to the realization that given the infinite probability space that exists in the theorized multidimensional hyperspace, then dreams are then glimpses into alternate positions therein. Now take that concept, and write a young adult novel about it. There’s 99% of the inspiration for The Dreams of Phillip Aisling.

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

I remember watching The Incredible Hulk as a kid and liking it, but the new movies are, well, incredible! There’s just something about how realistic CGI can make the Hulk that a body-builder with green body paint and purple spandex just doesn’t live up to, you know? Plus, the story line, dialog, and acting are more on par with what we’ve come to expect with modern movie production. As for reboots that I haven’t gotten into, sticking to the superheroes, I’d say that I really wanted to like The Flash reboot, but just couldn’t get into it. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV these days and so I’m very selective with what I’ll give my attention.

Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. Will you tell us a bit about your book’s cover art?

I absolutely agree! A mistake some indie authors make is putting their heart and soul into their writing but then scrimp on the book cover. While I still agree that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you still need a cover that grabs the attention and imagination of potential new readers. The cover is the first impression that either leads someone to invest their time into reading your book or not. My book’s cover was illustrated by the very talented Andres Cortes. If you want your best chance of getting a book cover you’ll absolutely love then I recommend you do what I did. Here is a blog article that gives away my secret to getting the perfect book cover.

As for how I came up with the scene for the cover, I knew it needed to capture the more important moment of the namesake of the book, ‘The Numinous Nagwaaagan’. In the depicted scene, Phillip is receiving his prized possession from the Oracle, an old Native American woman who’s dreams have shown her all she ever wanted to know of the future.

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

Well other than picture books from early childhood, like the Berenstain Bears, the first full length novel that I recall reading was The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. It made me want to learn more about wilderness survival. I loved it!

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

Nightcrawler from X-Men would be a great partner for any obstacle course! He has always been my favorite of the X-Men because his teleportation ability is awesome and he is always so compassionate. Of course having him with me would almost be like cheating considering he could simply teleport us both past any obstacle, but you did say I could invite any fictional character of my choice!

Thank you Susan for these fun questions! They certainly lead me down a few unexpected paths that have even contributed to ideas for my book series!

Book Blurb for The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan

BosseTheDreamsOfPhillipAislingAndTheNuminousNawaaganPhillip Aisling is just like any other boy, or so he thought. On the night of his 13th birthday he has a dream so vivid that he is convinced it was real! He soon learns that he has begun training with the Dream Masters. They practice lucid dreaming to be able to fully control their dreams, giving them immense power. But when his vivid dreams turn into nightmares he never wants to fall asleep again!

In his struggle to understand his remarkable dreams and prevent terrible nightmares, he finds The Dreamer’s Dictionary written to help young Dreamers make sense of their new powers. It begins with a very peculiar poem:

“Through the Gates of Dreaming come powers untold.

There are distant worlds for true Dreamers to behold.

You may not understand just what your dreams mean

Once you have broken through the barrier in between.

Each moment you sleep brings signs without number.

May this book bring meaning to visions of your slumber.”

The dictionary leads him to seek the guidance of the Oracle who gives him a numinous nagwaagan, or a magical dreamcatcher, to protect him from the draiths that are causing the nightmares. With the protection of the nagwaagan hanging above his bed, he is finally able to safely return to dreamland. But his struggle to learn to control his new powers has only just begun!

Join Phillip and his friends on an epic journey to learn how to become a powerful Dreamer. Explore the possibilities of where our dreams might come from. Are our dreams nothing more than glimpses into alternate realities within the multiverse?

Have you had a dream so vivid that you are certain it was real? Would you like to control your dreams? Maybe you too are a true Dreamer!

About Brandon Bosse

BrandonBosseAuthorBrandon Bosse is a computational cognitive neuroscientist, biomedical engineer, and visiting scholar at UCSD. He has worked in the field of retinal implants for the past 10 years, including prior work in Germany and Australia. During this time he wrote The Dreams of Phillip Aisling. He was inspired to begin writing the story after awakening from an unusually vivid dream in 2007. He is a Lucid Dreaming and Virtual Reality enthusiast and is also working on a VR Game called Phillip Aisling’s Lucid Dreams, where the player can learn lucid dreaming techniques while exploring Phillip’s dreamland.
Follow Brandon at facebook, twitter, and instagram to get regular updates about the VR project, the newly released audiobook, and the next book in the series!

Places to Find Brandon Bosse

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

GIVEAWAY!

Brandon Bosse is generously offering up 2 signed copies of the paperback and 2 copies of the Audible audiobook (winners choose Audible.com or Audible.UK) of The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan. You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Are you interested in the signed book or the audiobook? 2) What reboots have you enjoyed? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends March 1, 2017, midnight. Additionally, if you are interested in receiving a free copy of the book (including audiobook copies) in exchange for an honest review, you can contact Brandon through any of his social media.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Time Travel Tagging

I was recently tagged by Lynn over at Books & Travelling with Lynn. The subject is all about books and time traveling, in one way or another. I really enjoy these tag posts as they often give me something to talk about without having to use a lot of brainpower. Here are the Q&A.

SummersOwlDanceWhat is your favorite historical setting for a book?

It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve read plenty of stories set in ancient Greece (Mary Renault), Roman murder mysteries & ‘celebrities’ (John Maddox Roberts, Conn Iggulden), and the 1800s of the American West (David Lee Summers, Cherie Priest). Also, the Tudor era attracts me. In fact, I’m currently wrapped up in Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory.

AsimovStarsLikeDustWhat writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

Isaac Asimov is near the top of my list. His books feature prominently in my childhood/teen years. I read his Lucky Starr series but also many of his adult novels. For kicks, I’d love to meet Homer and put to rest the age-old argument on whether Homer was male or female or collection of authors. I wouldn’t mind meeting Pearl S. Buck. Her novel, The Good Earth, was required reading in both the 5th and 9th grades (I moved and changed school districts, so that’s why I got hit twice with this classic) and I loved it both times. She had a very interesting life and it wouldn’t just be her books I’d pester her with questions about, but also her travel and years living in China.

LynchTheLiesOfLockeLamoraWhat book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

There’s so much good stuff out today! Apart from a few classics, most of the ‘safe’ or required reading I had access to as a kid was boring and often felt fake or like it was missing a big element of life – you know, all the gooey, messy bits that make all the good parts that much better. Luckily, I had full access to any SFF novel in the house and there were plenty of those. So to supplement my childhood bookshelf, I would give myself Andy Weir’s The Martian, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

Chupacabra
Chupacabra

What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

I would speed ahead to my future self and hand her a copy of Robert E. Howard’s stories. His writing is some of the best I have enjoyed and yet several of his stories, Conan or otherwise, have certain sexist and racist elements that really repel me. This book would remind me that humans, including myself, are flawed and that things change over the years, such as views on a woman’s proper role in high fantasy adventure. Yet despite these shortcomings, a person can still love a story, or a person, or a country, etc.

ChaneyTheAmberProjectWhat is your favorite futuristic setting from a book?

I always enjoy closed systems and several feature in SF stories. These are domed cities (Logan’s Run by Nolan & Johnson), underground villages (The Amber Project series by JN Chaney), underwater towns (Lucky Starr & the Oceans of Venus by Isaac Asimov), very large space stations (The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey), etc.. There’s the wonder of discovering these places, seeing how they are supposedly working and will go on working forever, and then watching it all come apart in some horrible way that means death for most of the people in the story. Yeah, welcome to my little demented side.

 

Grahame-SmithAustenPrideAndPrejudiceAndZombiesWhat is your favorite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

For fun, I wouldn’t mind visiting Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I really like the idea of making polite ball jokes, decapitating zombies, working out in the dojo, and politely trading British insults over tea. Honestly, I think that is the only way I would survive the Victorian era.

RobertsTheKingsGambitSpoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

Back when I was eyeball reading printed books (I do mostly audiobooks now) I had a ritual. I would start a book and at that moment that I knew I was hooked, that I had fallen in love with the story, I would turn to the last page and read the last sentence. Most of the time this didn’t spoil anything, but every once in a while there would be a final line that gave away an important death or such.

PriestMaplecroftIf you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

Actually, I do have a Time Turner. My husband bought it for me at the start of September while he was at an SCA event. It was right after we learned that I was quite sick but a few weeks before we learned just how sick. So, lots of bitter sweet emotions tied up with that piece of jewelry.

Anyhoo, if I had a working one, I would go everywhere and do everything. I would start with planning things that Bill and I have wanted to do together (like celebrating Beltane in a pre-Christian era) and then add in things that I have always wanted to do but which my be a big snooze fest for Bill (such as Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage).

JonasAnubisNightsFavorite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

Currently, I’m enjoying the Jonathan Shade series by Gary Jonas. Time travel really becomes an element in this urban fantasy series in the second trilogy with Ancient Egypt featuring prominently. I also adore Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I finally read a Stephen King novel, 11-22-63. The characters were great even as the underlying premise was only so-so for me. The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones was a fun, crazy creature feature.

ButcherColdDaysWhat book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, for sure. I’ve read the early books several times each and I get a laugh out of them each time. Also I would like to experience Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey all over again for the first time. That book showed me how prudish some of my ideas were when I first read it. I wonder what it would show me now? Perhaps the same thing, if indeed this book has had as big an impact on who I am as I think.

Tagging Other People

So in general with these fun tagging posts, I never want anyone to feel obligated to play along. As usual, if any of you want to play along, I definitely encourage you. You can answer any of the questions in the comments or you can throw up your own blog post and then let em know about it so I can come read it. Here are some people who I think would like this particular time travel subject:

David Lee Summers

Under My Apple Tree

Beauty Is A Sleeping Cat

On Starships & Dragonwings

Giveaway & Interview: Rebecca Chastain, Author of A Fistful of Fire

ChastainAFistfulOfEvilHeya folks! Please give a warm welcome to urban fantasy author Rebecca Chastain! We’re hear to chat about her latest book, A Fistful of Fire, which is a sequel to her book A Fistful of Evil. We also talk about temp jobs, Firefly, fantasy book clubs, and plenty more. There’s also a spiffy giveaway so scroll to the bottom of the post to check that out!

If you could be an extra on a period piece what would it be?

Does a futuristic show count? If so, I’d love to an extra on Star Trek: Voyager and get to work with Captain Janeway. I’m a big fan of the themes the Star Trek TV shows have covered. I’m a sucker for books and movies with themes revolving around a group of people working together to accomplish more than they could singularly, the strong bond of friendship making life better (even if it sometimes makes life harder, too), and a pursuit of knowledge without leaving behind humanity and ethics.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

The best things about book clubs are getting to discuss fun reads and socialize, so with those criteria in mind, I’d invite:

  • Phèdre nó Delaunay (from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series), for her insatiable quest for knowledge; I imagine she’d raise a lot of interesting points.
  • Rupert Giles (from the Buffy the Vampire TV series), who seems like he’d have insight and amusing anecdotes.
  • Temeraire (from Naomi Novik’s popular series), for his fresh perspective, and because any chance I can include a talking dragon in one of my clubs, I’m going to jump at the chance.

Our three books for discussion would be E-Squared by Pam Grout, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. The first to see what sort of wonderful things we as a group could manifest, the second because I imagine everyone would be fascinated and come to the science from very different perspectives, and the third because it’s a great novel that I think would appeal to everyone in the group—and getting a dragon’s take on a dragon-origin novel would be entertaining.

ChastainAFistfulOfFireIf 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?

Definitely a supernatural creature. In my scenario, I’m rescued from drowning by a friendly kelpie who I can converse with telepathically. She and I form a great friendship, and she introduces me to a whole wonderful supernatural world. Having always been horse crazy and also yearned to speak telepathic with animals, this fantasy satisfies the eight-year-old me and makes the current me want to write a novel…

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

Firefly. For its very brief lifespan, the show packed in so much. I’ve rewatched the series many times now, but… The first time the reavers are seen on screen was one of the creepiest things I’ve watched in a long time (I’m not a horror fan, too, so it almost turned me off the show). Now, I’ve spun the story so many different directions in my head—where I’d take the characters, how I’d redo different character arcs, what I’d like to see in all-new episodes if I could write/watch them today—that it has lost the novelty I felt during the first viewing.

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

For a few months after I graduated college, I worked temp jobs. The worst position was at a non-profit doing cold calls to businesses to try to get the managers and CEOs to participate in a fancy dinner, during which they would make cold calls to their business associates to get them to donate to the non-profit. The process combined several of my least favorite things: talking on the phone with strangers, asserting myself while asking for something, and extreme, endless monotony while simultaneously being mildly panicked by the whole experience.

In A Fistful of Evil, I gave the main character, Madison Fox, a temp worker background, though it’s only referenced and never seen on the page. It was a minor tribute to a hellacious time in my life, one which every day I’m enormously grateful is far in my past. The only comparison I can make between that job and writing is that they are the exact opposite. Now, I spend my days talking with a bunch of people I’m intimately familiar with because they exist and were created in my head, I get to decide when they say yes or no to my plans, and the days are never boring.

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

  1. Brandon Sanderson: He creates great magic systems that are unique, and he might have something special up his sleeve to help our quest.
  2. Ilona Andrews: (is this cheating, since Ilona Andrews is two people?) For sheer bad-assery.
  3. Kim Harrison: The way she weaves big-picture and smaller plot points together makes me think she’d be great with any puzzles we encountered along the way.
  4. Robert Asprin: Because you always need a little humor in your quest.

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

I’ve known I was a writer for pretty much my whole life. I’ve always made up stories to entertain myself—during road trips, in class, at recess, while riding my horses, and especially while dressing up my cats. My kid-self was more intense than I am now: a lot shier and more serious. I’ve overcome some of my shyness, though I still need more solo/down time than my more outgoing friends. I know my kid-self would be in awe of the life I lead now and very impressed that I have three books out for sale. But she’d also be disappointed that it took me so long to get here. (She expected to be a New York Times bestselling author by the age of eighteen.)

Thanks for the great interview!

AuthorRebeccaChastainAuthor Bio:

Rebecca Chastain is the International Amazon Fantasy Bestselling author of A FISTFUL OF EVIL and MAGIC OF THE GARGOYLES. She has found seven four-leaf clovers to date, won a purebred Arabian horse in a drawing, and once tamed a blackbird for a day. Dreaming up the absurd and writing stories designed to amuse and entertain has been her passion since she was eleven years old. She lives in northern California with her wonderful husband and two bossy cats.

ChastainAFistfulOfFireBook Blurb for A Fistful of Fire:

Madison Fox survived her first week as California’s newest illuminant enforcer, defending her region against imps, vervet, hounds, and one lascivious demon. If her grumpy boss, Mr. Pitt, was impressed, he hasn’t told Madison. In fact, there’s a lot her boss has been closemouthed about, including the dark secret haunting his past.

But Madison’s problems are just igniting. Neighboring regions report an uncharacteristic flare-up of evil, fire-breathing salamanders blaze unchecked across the city, and Black Friday looms. Trapped doing cleanup amid mobs of holiday shoppers, Madison watches from the sidelines as dubious allies insinuate themselves in her region.

As suspicions kindle and the mysterious evil gains strength, Madison must determine who she can trust—and whose rules to follow—before her region and career go up in flames.

Sizzling with adventure and sparking with magic, A Fistful of Fire is fused with Madison Fox’s trademark blend of humor and ass-kicking action.

Places to Find Rebecca Chastain

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

As part of the book blog tour, Rebecca Chastain is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Just enter via the Rafflecopter link below. Hurry because this giveaway ends October 16, 2015 midnight EST. Good  luck!

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: James Livingood, Author of Pale Rider

LivingoodPaleRiderFolks, please welcome the highly entertaining James Livingood. I have had the pleasure of enjoying 3 of his stories (Pale Rider, Summer Sword, & Magic Factory). We chat about Brandon Sanderson’s works, supernatural creatures, Firefly, and plenty more. Also, don’t miss out on the audiobook giveaway at the end of this post!

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

I would rather have a dragon than be a dragon. Popular media shows dragons as hording gold and the closest I’ve every come to that is having a “piece of eight” pirate treasure mounted in my office. I am not very materialistic.

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 like the idea of a supernatural creature saving me from doom. Much of the current portrayal of superheros seem like “happy accidents”. They accidentally gain great power and now use that power for good. On the other side of that space aliens feel like deus ex machina. They can be anything the author wants because humanity has never met an alien. Furthermore, alien technology can be whatever the author wants. However, supernatural creatures are purpose driven which I find fascinating. They exist for a reason and that binding (then breaking) of rules is what draws me to fiction.

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

Book: God Emperor of Dune

Movie: Flash Gordon

TV Series: Firefly

For me, the entire Dune universe came to a conclusion in the God Emperor of Dune book. Flash Gordon is something my family watched on a regular basis. The soundtrack was created by Queen and the movie was a cheesy type of fun. Finally, Firefly was well written and a pleasure to watch.

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

Brandon Sanderson would be the guide, since he knows the rules. Kevin Hearne could provide jokes and positive attitude. Jim Butcher could be the brooding one in the back that comes up with a crazy plan. Finally, I could sacrifice Terry Goodkind to the lion / volcano / angry natives. After reading all 11 of the original Sword of Truth series, I ended up only liking one book.

Who or what are your non-writer influences?

There are a lot of them: family, friends, teachers. I’ve been lucky to have so many great people in my life that singling just one out is difficult.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

My other job is playing with technology. Beyond writing, it’s the closest thing to playing with magic. Using universal machines to create anything and communicate anywhere feels very magical.

LivingoodSummerSwordCare 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 once got into an awkward argument with Brandon Sanderson. I felt he wrote the exact same female characters better than Robert Jordan. He was humble and disagreed. However, I was in full fanboy mode and I kept pushing my point. It was very awkward.

Which favorite fictional worlds would you like to visit?

I am working my way through Scott Meyer’s Magic 2.0 series. I think it would be fun to visit a world that I could program like a computer code. Living in that world would be like the holodeck in Star Trek.

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

The first one I remember reading would be Where the Wild Things Are.

LivingoodPaleRiderBook Blurb for Pale Rider: Zombies Versus Dinosaurs:

“I am often left to wonder why a zombie, walking around in the sun, smells better than a pooping dinosaur.”

Two worlds collide in this action novelette. Zombies have destroyed civilization. Gasoline fuel is no longer an option, but humanity must find a way to survive. In response to trying to restore our way of life, we engineer franken-monsters. Because of their small brains and massive sizes, these beasts make quick work of farming and clearing land. These large creatures are immune to the zombie virus and perform excellently in loud conditions. They are easy to train. They behave like war horses, prone to help charge in and defend our livelihood.

In honor of the past, and to help build our future, we named these creatures dinosaurs.

Places to Stalk James Livingood

 

GIVEAWAY!
James is giving away 5 Audible.com copies of Pale Rider: Zombies Versus Dinosaurs! To enter do the Rafflecopter thing below OR answer the following in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) Please leave a contact email (I promise not to do anything evil with it) 3) Do you have an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment? Giveaway ends September 15, 2015, midnight.

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A Memory of Light, Part VIII

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along.

This week, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is our host and has cool non-spoilery fan art. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers  has in-depth answers.

I want to take a moment to thank everyone! First, Anya of On Starships & Dragonwings who kicked off this mad read along over 2 years ago. A big thanks to Liesel, Eivind, and Sue who kept is going! And a wee little thank you to all you silent stalkers out there. Here we are at the end of this 15 book (including the prequel) read along. It’s been a magnificent ride!

This week, we covered Chapter 38 to the END. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Egwene speaks to Rand from beyond the grave and he has a hard time “letting go” of those who’ve died on the battlefield. What did you think of this part and it’s solution?

This was one of my favorite parts of the ending. Rand finally got it! He is not the only hero in this tale! I know others have been trying to tell him this for ages now. Sometimes it was frustrating to watch Rand feel like he had to carry all this on his shoulders and let no one help him. Then when he was suffering from all the deaths in the Last Battle, I kind of wanted to slap him. Of course, there will be deaths!

So it was great to see Egwene giving him this last message, watching him realize the truth, and then part of the self-imposed load being lifted from his shoulders.

2. There’s a new horn blower, and we see more of Brigitte, Noal, Artur Hawkwing, and others. Comment on what you liked of this section. What did you expect, not expect?

This was also awesome! I loved that Olver could call the Heroes of the Horn and the Noal was the one to step in and save him. It was also great, if a bit predictable, that Brigitte appeared and saved Elayne one more time. I am sure this helped Elayne get over her pain of losing her Warder and friend, not to mention preventing her belly from being cut open.

However, I do wish that the rules of the Horn had been explained a bit more by the end of the book. Everyone, including Mat, thought the Horn was tied to him. So was it his balefire death wierdness that severed that tie? Or his hanging by the Aelfinn? Or do you simply need to be somewhat pure of heart and in desperate need?

3. Lan lives, Alana dies, and Thom is successful at killing many members of the Black Ajah outside the pit. Questions? Comments? Happy dances?

I was totally emotionally prepared for Lan to be dead, just like he has been emotionally prepared to die for his entire life. That said, I was quite happy to see him live! Hooray!

I am glad that Alana let go of her Bond to Rand prior to dying. I have to wonder if Rand sent her off (how many books ago) in order to get caught and be used by the Dark One as a leash at this point. Rand must have put trust in her to release the Bond, if that is in fact why he sent her off.

Then again, since Alana forced the Bond onto him, he might have been a little distracted by her death, but not devastated.

Thom’s role, while perhaps not considered major, was still awesome. At the very first, as an Aes Sedai approached, and Thom put a knife in her, I had this horrible moment where I thought that just maybe Thom was a super secret Dark Friend, but was then immensely relieved that he was simply taking out Black Ajah and the like.

4. Androl impersonates Rand to trap the evil idiots, Grady opens a gateway to Hinderstap (dah!), and Logain breaks the seals. What was your favorite and why? (Feel free to comment on all.)

Androl is getting a lot of practice with his impersonations! And once again, we see that the uncoordinated efforts of the bad guys keep leading them to doom and despair! Mmaaahhhhwwaaaaa!

While it was interesting to glimpse Hinderstap again, I found Logain’s final actions to be the most interesting. Logain was definitely craving power and vengeance and it was nice for him to hold both within his sights, and then let it go. His actions to rescue and protect some noncombatants, and his subsequent realization that the Black Tower and Asha’men could become protectors, was excellent! I really like how his character arc ended.

5. Aviendha vs. Graendal. Aviendha loses her feet (ouch!), and kills Rhuarc. Ultimately Graendal’s compulsion backfires. What did you think of the final solution here?

Aviendha’s time as a fighter have most likely come to an end. At least she will be able to go on as a teacher of one kind or another. It was a little hard losing Rhuarc, mostly because I think he will kick himself for an eternity in the next life and the one after that for falling to Compulsion.

While we see Graendal’s Compulsion backfire and she becomes an adoring servant to Aviendha, I wonder what happens to her afterwards? Does Aviendha keep her around long enough to pick her brain? Does Nynaeve release Graendal from the Compulsion (while she is shielded) and then execute her?

6. Perrin takes out Lanfear and Slayer, and the worlds flicker. Meanwhile, the Wild Hunt comes to Thakandar and the spirits of dead wolves appear on the slopes. Um, discuss!

Wow! Just wow! Perrin took a real beating, and I didn’t expect him to play much more of a role in the final chapters of this book. So I was both delighted and a little worried to see Perrin back in play. Let me just say I was quite relieved that Perrin lived as I was worried he was Rand’s Red Shirt in this series.

Having so many wolves lost was a little heart rending, but we all knew that was coming books ago. They died well and accomplished much before the end.

7. Rand, Nynaeve, and Moiraine exploit the flaw in Callandor to trap Moridin. How well-thought-out was that? Are you surprised it worked?

OK, now please be kind, but I still don’t fully understand Callandor. For me, listening to the audiobook, things happen really fast sometimes and I don’t have the luxury of rereading a sentence or paragraph or page.

So, with that in mind, I am very glad that the trick worked. Obviously, for the ending, it was fairly important that it did work. On the other hand, I am pretty foggy on just what the big deal was, why Callnador was needed, and what role Moiraine played (other than looking intense and serious for the past several chapters).

8. What did you think of Rand’s final solution for the DO’s prison? Will it hold?

I liked how this was resolved. Last week, we saw Rand come to the conclusion that destroying the Dark One would not benefit the world, but instead create a world where folks were not truly themselves and couldn’t experience true free will.

So, of course he had to come up with a new solution and I liked what he came up with. As this is a world where the Wheel weaves as it wills, and there are no true endings or beginnings, I don’t expect it to hold forever. We will have another massive confrontation sooner or later.

9. Comment on some (or all) of the aftermath: our ta’veren heroes are ta’veren no longer, Ilturalde will rule, Tuon is pregnant, Moghedien survives…as a damane!!!, Faile lives, Cadsuane as Amyrlin, Rand vs. Moridin and the three women around the funeral pyre, and Loial’s writing makes an appearance. In the end, Rand doesn’t channel, but thinks his pipe is lit and it is. What does it all mean? What did you like/dislike? Was there anything unresolved you wanted to see? General thoughts, feelings, reactions. (This is your last chance to geek out! :D)

I think all 3 Ta’veren are very relieved to no longer be Ta’veren. Plus, Rand has to disappear now so it’s probably good that Mat and Perrin can’t track him with the rainbow sensory ties they use to have.

Ituralde has a good head on his shoulders, so I think things will go well with him leading.

Tuon is pregnant and threatening Mat’s life….again. I think he is amused and likes a woman who keeps him on his toes.

I had mixed feelings about Moghedien. Part of me really wants her dead, because alive she will eventually wreak havoc. Also, it’s obvious some of the Seanchan were scouring the done & dead battlefield for possible slaves to be collared while no one was really paying attention – against the agreements laid down by Tuon and Rand. Naughty Seanchan!

For Perrin’s sake, I was glad to see Faile still alive. I wouldn’t have mourned her passing, but I would have hated to see Perrin mourning for the rest of his life.

Cadsuane will make a decent Amyrlin. She has a wealth of knowledge, years, and hands-on experience. Hopefully she has learned some tact and won’t be such a bully.

It was awesome to see Loial lived and gets to go on to write his book – perhaps the very books we read!

And finally, Rand gets to do a body swap at the last minute. He gets to take over Moridin’s handsome and whole body and ride off into the sunset, with his Bonds in tact with his mini-harem. Um…..WTF? Did anyone else have a moment there? OK, we have seen for several books now that Moridin and Rand are somehow attached to each other. But this sudden leap to a whole body swap at the end…well, I didn’t feel it was necessary. I was OK with Rand dying because he was OK with making the ultimate sacrifice. Plus, he had already reproduced with Elayne and perhaps Min & Aviendha as well.

And, of course, I would have loved more info on how Demandred came to be in charge of an entire nations of Dark Friends. So I must (happily) run off to read the short story in the anthology Unfettered.

I would also like to know how Taim came to have the Seals. I know Eivind gave some very plausible ideas of how this came about. Still, I would have liked it explained in the narrative.

OK, now that I have picked apart the ending, over all I really enjoyed it. Yes, there was some death and tears, but we won! The world goes on and most of our heroes continue on with their lives. There will be more adventures!

Will the WoT world be opened up for other writers to write in? How about an HBO series based on the books? One can only hope.

A Memory of Light, Part VII

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the next to final week of this read along.

This week, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, is the host and can be found in the comments. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia has cool non-spoilery fan art. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers  has in-depth answers.

This week, we covered Chapter 37, entitled ‘The Last Battle’. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1.  What did you think of the structure?  That is, one huge chapter with no breathers.  Was it appropriate for the battle, or did you find the difference from before jarring?

I thought the structure worked. We got to see the battle from several view points and I never felt like I had battle fatigue. In fact, I am eager to see what the final week brings, because things are still happening!

2.  Tuon orchestrates a fight with Mat, and decides to return only after some careful deliberations.  Ice-cold gamble or foolhardy move by Mat?  Am I the only one who thinks the Seanchan have gotten away with very little fighting so far?

I was surprised that Tuon agreed to the fake (or semi-fake) argument as she can get stuck on what is appropriate for her station.

But then I was more surprised that she was actually contemplating not returning to the battle! Has she not been paying attention? Ugh! I wanted Min to give her a slap.

And yes, the Seanchan as a whole have not been as engaged in the Last Battle as everyone else. I hope Mat can change that. After all, they do have a sizable force made up of competent warriors and a solid command structure.

3.  Androl and Pevara spend much of the battle behind enemy lines to recover the seals, practicing telepathy and other fascinating effects.  Why not another lava trick?  Logain also challenge Demandred.  What do you think of his motivations?  Where will his glory come from?

I think it is great that Androl and Pevara are exploring this double bond and also building a solid friendship (and perhaps something more?). Maybe Androl isn’t capable of such a big trick unless he is the recipient of a circle of channelers? Still, it would be cool if he made tiny little gateways that shot out little lava streams. That would distract the bad guys, if nothing else.

I think Logain wants to do good, but his time in captivity has also made him want to lash out. It really does remind me of Rand shortly after he was released from the Aes Sedai and their box. I am not sure where his glory will come from. I had hoped that he would get to take out Taim, but we saw that he did not. Perhaps Mogedien or Padan Fain? They’re lurking around somewhere, right?

4.  In the meantime, Rand and the Dark One exchange visions for the future.  What do you think of all these?  Can Rand really kill the Dark One now?

This was unexpected, but I really liked it. A few weeks ago, I asked if the Dark One could be killed, because he/it was kind of like a force of nature or Elemental. Now that we have seen this exchange of visions, including one in which the Dark One and evil no longer exists, we see that life would not be balanced or complete. So, no, I think Rand will have to find a way to contain or minimize the Dark One.

5.  Some choose not to fight for various reasons.  What do you think of Ila’s thoughts on violence, now, at the Last Battle?  Did you expect the gai’shain to fight?  Any difference between them and the reluctant mercenaries from the prologue?

The forces of the Dark are not going to give quarter. They are not interested in taking captives, except maybe a select few. They are not interested in a swift and honorable defeat of the enemy and will then rule in relative peace and efficiency (like the Seanchan). No, the Trollocs want to kill you and then eat you. The Red Aiel are literally mad with blood lust. The Sharans will enslave at best, and torture and kill at worst. The elderly, the young, the weak, the inebriated will not be spared. Essentially, if the Dark wins and you are left alive, you will wish you were dead.

So, it’s silly to try healing Trollocs, or simply turning them free to run wild in a lightly populated place. I think the Aiel as a whole will understand if the gai’shain pick up arms and fight at this time. I am sure there can be a way found to ‘regain’ any honor lost in such an act. And, yes, I think there is a philosophical difference between the gai’shain and the reluctant mercenaries – honor versus coin. But in practicality, no. They all need to get armed and get busy.

6.  Faile and Co. make it to the battle, only to be betrayed by Aravine.  Do you think anyone other than Olver made it out (Faile, especially)?  What did you think of Bela’s heroic death?  Where does the Horn go from here?

Aravine! Argh! Dark friends pop up in such inconvenient places.

I am not sure if Faile made it out alive. She was horsed and uninjured when she lead off the Trollocs. But it is a messy battle field. Quite frankly, if Faile dies I will be sorry for Perrin’s loss but not particularly sad that Faile is gone.

Fuck! Bela! Man, that was hard. She was there from the beginning. She will be mourned.

I am not sure how Olver will get the Horn to Mat. Perhaps Mat will figure out somehow that Olver has the Horn and will borrow one of the Seanchan flying beasties, swoop down, pick up the boy, and then boy fly to glory blowing the Horn!

7.  Gawyn, Galad and Lan all decide to challenge Demandred.  Gawyn pays the ultimate price: foolish move, or a reasonable gamble to remove the most dangerous enemy on the field?  Galad tries to avenge him, and fails, only for Lan to do the deed and finally fulfill his series-long death wish.  What do you think of these events?

Demandred is definitely a bad ass, even if he is an arrogant ass. So I think we all saw it coming that Gawyn would attempt something foolish with his fighting skills and the Seachan assassin rings. However, I didn’t see him be quite this foolish and accomplishing nothing. He didn’t even wound Demandred nor take out some key commanders in Demandred’s army. I was surprised that there was such an empty death for Gawyn.

I thought it was interesting that Mat sent Galad a note and the necklace with the duplicate foxhead medallion. Mat actually does do a lot of thinking, but I guess he has to be under some pressure for it to manifest.

Lan has been looking for his death since before we met him. So I am not surprised that he found it on this battlefield (though we haven’t seen his head on a spike nor had Nynaeve feel his last breath yet – resurrection?).

8.  Egwene, having lost her warder and husband, slays M’Hael (WITH a sa’angreal) and then lays waste to the Sharans, and kills herself, Lews Therin style.  Did you expect Egwene to be the first out of the original crew?  Was her fate sealed already when Gawyn died?  What will her legacy be, as Amyrlin?  And what of this new weave—the Flame of Tar Valon?

I was not expecting Egwene to die at all, even with Gawyn’s death! This totally surprised me. Yet, I was OK with it. This is the Last Battle and I don’t think everyone is going to make it out alive. After all, we have several heroes in the series and sometimes heroes die spectacularly.

As to Egwene’s legacy, well I expect all these crystals she created in sealing cracks will become pretty valuable. Maybe even turned into angreals of some sort. Also, nearly all her words were recorded for some reason or another, so I think the aes sedai who are left will take greater heed of them.

I think this new weave, the Flame of Tar Valon, will be very, very hard to teach without turning oneself into a giant crystal pillar. It will be studied, as best it can be, and written about ad naseum. But I am not sure anyone will be able to duplicate it until the Wheel turns again and we have another Last Battle and the need is great.

9.  Elayne, having suffered huge losses for the whole battle, is taken by Mellar, threatening to cut her babies out.  What will come of this?  Is Birgitte now permanently dead, or is she just waiting on the other side for the Horn to blow?

OK, as incompetent as Elayne is, I don’t particularly want to see her dead through said incompetence. Sigh….who will save Elayne this time? Bryne is gone, Bashere too. Birgitte too. Maybe Mat will blow that Horn soon and Birgitte’s first act will be to save Elayne’s ass one more time.

And yes, I totally think Birgitte is waiting in the ethereal wings for the Horn to blow.

10. Anything else you feel I missed?  Ogier?  Dragons?  The beautiful Shendla?  Demandred’s approach to the battle?  All the minor deaths: Hurin, Mr. and Mrs. Bashere, Bryne and, dare I say Siuan?  Min’s spy-hunting?  Leilwin?

There was so much in this chapter! I am pretty sure Siuan and Bryne are gone. Min’s visions don’t lie and they did separate in order to get some things done. I was worried how Egwene would take the loss of one of her closest advisors (Siuan) but with Egwene’s death, that is no longer a concern.

If Faile lives, I am sure she will take the loss of her parents hard. Though they did pass in glory, so that will be celebrated. Faile is enough of a warrior to see that.

Egwene freed Leilwin from the Bond before doing her last act, right? So, I am sure Leilwin will mourn her in some way, but she won’t be crushed by it. Perhaps she and Bayle will go on to do some more good deeds.

Since the Seanchan aren’t doing too much at the moment, I guess Min has time to hunt for spies. I wouldn’t be surprised by how many she might uncover.

A Memory of Light, Part VI

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week, Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers  is the host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia has cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 29-36. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Finally, Graendal’s Compulsion of the Great Captains has been uncovered. Do you think that Mat’s medallion will protect him from her ‘advances’? It seems as if Ituralde was the only Captain to resist the Compulsion: any ideas about why that might be?

I expect Mat will be able to resist as long as he has the medallion and/or doesn’t sleep. It seems Graendal only worked her Compulsion on the captains while they rested. And perhaps that is why Ituralde held out longer than the others – he was getting less sleep. Maybe? His battle line was being pretty hard hit, so most folks weren’t getting much if any sleep.

Or maybe Graendal was running out of time and hit the other 3 harder because those battle lines were considered more critical? We’re running out of time for all the answers to be laid out before us, so we might have to settle for speculation on things like this.

2) Mat rides into battle and is suitably awesome. Do you think that Tuon is reassessing her ability to control her Prince? Could this be the end of formal Seanchan society as it has existed for thousands of years?

Yes, I think Tuon is reassessing many things right now. I am not sure how much that reassessment will change her mind tho. No matter how proper it is for her to control her man, that won’t happen in this relationship. So, she can either fight it and look the fool (even if she executes Mat she will look the fool) or she can pretend that it is right and proper and change society.

So, I am hoping that Mat can show that change is a good thing under fire, and later on show that it is also a good thing in times of peace. After all, there is that whole slavery issue that won’t sit well with him or the folks of Randland.

3) Perrin and Slayer clash again. It seems like Perrin is still outmatched, although he is continuing to improve, but will he ever be able to dispatch his enemy? Were you surprised that Lanfear proved to be as fickle as we had suspected? Will Perrin take any further part in the Last Battle now that he has returned to the waking world?

So I was terribly worried that Perrin might not make it out of this series alive….but now that he has landed back in the Waking World, injured but alive, I think he will make it. I am not sure he will be the one to take out Slayer. After all, Perrin had to leave his Aiel buddy in the Dream World and I would be surprised if Slayer had taken serious note of him. So he might be able to sneak up on Slayer and take care of business. Of course, he might die too.

Lanfear! Erg! Well, we knew that she is playing her own game.

4) The battle outside Cairhien is almost lost and even the mighty Ogier are starting to fall when Androl produces a miracle. What did you think of Logain’s comment about the notes in Taim’s rooms: does he have a list of all the Shadow’s battle plans? Please comment on the epicness of Androl’s miracle! 😀

I am both glad and a little concerned that Logain will be stepping up. His character line has been building for books now, and then he was MIA for a good while, and now he is back in time to help out in the Last Battle. But did he come off as a little too focused or even egotistical to anyone else? I drew a vague correlation between Logain and Rand – two men who suffered greatly at the hands of others while completely helpless. I am concerned that Logain may lash out as Rand did once upon a time, but not be nearly as successful….or perhaps take out some of the good guys as collateral damage while attempting to get Taim.

Androl’s miracle was awesome! If he can somehow open gateways to lava, what else can he open gateways to? Snow storms? Epic hurricanes? Deep, icy ocean waters? Androl may just be the scariest man on the field!

5) Tuon is taking the End Of The World in her stride, with her giant travelling throne and making full use of Min’s Talent. Are you a little disturbed by her serenity at this time? Do you think that Min’s demands will be met, or will she eventually refuse to reveal her viewings?

Tuon has been raised since birth to command the world and maintain absolute, total control at all times. So, quite frankly, I am not surprised that she and her court have all these trappings and still hold to ceremony and hierarchy. Tuon has to maintain serenity on the outside, even if she has concerns or fears going through her head.

Min rocks! I think Tuon needs folks to push back on her, and I am so glad that Min is doing so in such a public way without pleasantries, etc. I think Tuon will behave for the duration of the Last Battle. But after that…well, I hope Min has some type of security that will give her an out is Tuon gets imperialistic.

6) Just for a change, things go horribly wrong. Do you think that the black spikes were a deliberate attack against Faile’s group? Can you believe that Vanin and Harnan are actually Darkfriends, or were they just after the tobacco? Is there any chance that the Horn will make it back to Mat’s hands?

The black spikes seem too convenient for the attack to be happenstance. I would suspect intentional fuckery from the side of evil. But I am not sure the Evil knows Faile’s mission. So, maybe just trying to upset/hurt Perrin, an important Ta’veren, by killing his wife.

I was completely surprised that Vanin and Harnan were suspected of being Darkfriends! And they ran! So, I really hope they are not as our heroes need to be able to trust valued friends at this time, but damn! It’s totally possible they were up to no good.

I have this silly vision in my head of Mat and Olver riding double on a horse passing the Horn back and forth, calling the Heroes to their aid. Wouldn’t that be epic? Haha! Olver would have the story of his life if he assisted Mat in calling forth these epic Heroes.

7) Red veiled Aiel infiltrate the camp in Thakan’dar and cause mayhem. Do you think that even Cadsuane and Sorilea are powerful enough to defeat Graendal? Will the Aiel ever recover from the shame of learning about the fate of their male channelers?

I think we need Cadsuane to play nice for once and do the whole Team Work thing. If she can do that, then Graendal doesn’t stand a chance against Cadsuane and Sorilea.

That was a powerful revelation – the moment some of the Aiel realized that the red-veiled Aiel were a product of their traditions. I really felt for them in that moment because I know their whole society (whoever remains after the Last Battle) will take it very seriously and will pay toh forward, probably for generations.

8) Rand is frozen in place as he battles the Dark One. Why is Moridin frozen as well? Do you think Nynaeve will be able to do anything to help Alanna before she can release Rand from his Bond? Is there any chance that Nynaeve can save the world by simply bopping Moridin on the head with a big rock?

I can only think that the Dark One wants Moridin frozen as he deals with Rand. After all, the DO has got to have a big ego, so he has to be the one to take out Rand (if he can). If Moridin does it, it would steal all the DO’s thunder.

I am not sure Alanna will release Rand. She has been pretty selfish about that since the beginning. But Rand was forcibly bonded to her and there has never been any real affection, so I am not sure her death will have a huge impact on him.

We all want to hit Moridin over the head with a big rock, but right now, everyone has their hands full and Moridin isn’t doing anything. Perhaps hitting him would disrupt something else?

Other Tidbits:

Min got new clothes! How cute! I just hope they have the ability to conceal more knives, instead of less.

Olver and his cuddle time! How old is he now? 9? 12? I don’t recall how old he was when he was first picked up. But isn’t he getting to be that age where snuggling into any woman’s bosom is a little suspect?

Do you think Nynaeve will be able to teach the Wise Ones the art of healing the male channeler madness? If so, perhaps some of the red-veiled Aiel can be captured and returned to society…maybe.

OK, this might sound harsh. Did Rand send Alanna to the Pit to be captured on purpose? If so, why? I am not sure……

A Memory of Light, Part V

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week,  Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is the host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has tiny violins for our bad guys.

This week, we covered Chapters 22-28. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. What do you think of the Sharans so far? You can address fashion, choices, attitude, class distinction, the fact that one of the Forsaken leads them, whatever you want, or all of the above.

I really like tattoos. However, it looks like they are used to note class and since tattoos are permanent, I am not sure this allows for much movement among the classes, except for downwards.

And they totally came out of the blue…so I am not really liking them. Oh, and their entire army appears to be willing Dark Friends and not tens of thousands of people enslaved or under mass Compulsion. It would be fascinating to read about their society and see how they went about developing this army of darkness. I read on-line that the anthology Unfettered has a short story written by Jordan & Sanderson on the Sharans that was cut from this book, so I plan to check that out once we finish the series.

2. Gawyn is actively using the Bloodknife’s ring, Leilwin saves Egwene’s life, and Egwene meets with Tuon, amidst the chaos of the raging battle. What do you think, what stood out to you, what do you predict will happen?

First, I am pretty worried about Gawyn doing some heroically stupid at some point during this book and if Nynaeve isn’t around to heal him, he won’t live to see the epilogue.

I no longer think Leilwin is contemplating assassinating the Amyrlin Seat, and with Gawyn gearing up to be a bloody hero, it is probably a good thing she is hanging out with Egwene.

I am glad that Tuon is meeting all sorts of new and interesting people that keep telling her she is full of herself and dead wrong about some things. 🙂

3. It seems that both Agelmar and Bashere might be darkfriends. Do you think they are? If not, what is going on, and might it be connected to whatever Graendal was doing, messing with people’s dreams in T’A’R?

So last week, I totally missed that Bashere was having difficulties as well and thought it was just Agelmar. So I was worried about a Darkfriend amongst the Great Captains. But this week I see that it is happening to at least 2 of the Captains and we also have Perrin’s POV showing Graendal up to no good. So, is it possible to do some kind of Compulsion through dreams? Maybe it wouldn’t be called Compulsion as it would have to be more subtle than that. Anyway, I think both these men are being tampered with and, of course, the Side of Dark probably has their thoughts and mental plans about the battle. Neither of those things are good for our heroes.

4. Rand finally enters the Pit of Doom with Nynaeve and Moiraine, leaving Thom outside to witness the fight below. Rand’s blood stains the rocks, we hear the DO’s voice and Moridin shows up. What do you think of how this is playing out? How do you think Rand will fare?

So I am guessing that Rand, Nynaeve and Moiraine will have folks to battle inside the Pit, while Thom will do his best to keep anyone from attacking them from behind, if they get past the army. Rand has to battle the DO at some point, so I don’t know if he will finish the fight with Moridin first, or if the ladies will tackle him while Rand goes straight to the DO.

As for how Rand will fare….well, since Book 1 we have and he have been told he has to die. If he doesn’t die, I expect others will have to. This is THE LAST BATTLE, so I expect we will have a few dead heroes by the end of the book and if Rand is one of them, then we know he died for a good cause, having already spread his seed among three worthy ladies.

5. Oh good heavens, Perrin! Slayer tries to kill Rand in the Pit of Doom, but Perrin heads him off. They fight, and Perrin sees phantoms from the waking world (and maybe other worlds!). The wolves want him to lead them into the Last Hunt. He sees Rand and Moridin sword-fighting, speaks to Nynaeve, though she’s in the waking world, puts the dream spike around the Pit of Doom, and figures out how to defeat the red-veils (in T’A’R’ at least). Um…discuss!

Perrin sure is learning quickly! I really enjoy the scenes with him. He is so practical in his thinking and his approach to problems. I believe many wolves will die, both in the waking world and T’A’R, but I am also looking forward to Perrin leading them in the Last Hunt.

That’s cool he can speak to Nynaeve from the Dream World, but I was also concerned about him distracting her during a critical moment.

And Perrin has to face Slayer, right? There’s no way around that! They have to fight! And I fear it will be messy. Quite frankly, I have been worried for some time that out of all of Rand’s friends, Perrin is wearing the Red Shirt and won’t come out of this battle alive.

6. Fortuona has developed some interesting thoughts about Mat. She names him Rodholder. When she hears of Min’s talent, she names her a Doomseer and suddenly Min is as important (and trapped) as Mat is in the Seanchan court. Mat throws away his “emperor’s clothes” and heads for the battlefield. Were you surprised by the twist with Min? Are you excited to see Mat on the battlefield? Discuss!

While I had not thought about Min and the Seanchan, it made total sense that they would be fascinated with her and hold her in high regard, with their talk of omens every five minutes.

I am glad that Mat is making some of his own choices about clothing. After all, he is not wholly Seanchan even if he is married to the Empress. I especially laughed when he threatened bodily harm to the one of the clothing attendants who wanted to remove his small clothes. The Seanchan always take him serious in such things!

Yes, it will be good to see Mat on the battlefield. I expect his luck will help many and keep him alive.

7. Perhaps comment on some (or all) of the more minor events, such as why Moiraine and Nynaeve are getting along so well, while Moiraine and Lan aren’t, why Nynaeve would actually seem older without her braid, Elayne’s war speech before her troops, the darkness that shadowed the sun for a time, or the fact that Aviendha has officially joined Team Badass.

I hadn’t really noticed Moiraine not getting on with Lan. Perhaps she knows Nynaeve is with child and she wants Lan to be more careful? But Moiraine has always struck me as more practical than that – if there was ever a time for risk takers, it’s during the Last Battle.

Elayne’s war speech was pretty good. I liked that she didn’t give them false hope and yet pushed them towards something worthy of fighting for.

There’s something like 6 solar and 6 lunar eclipses each year (but best you look up those numbers). Obviously, it matters where on Earth you are as to how many you personally witness each year. But the thing is, eclipses aren’t that uncommon on our world, and so I would expect one to show up in Randland. But putty my nerdy girl glasses aside, I really enjoyed this small bit because our history shows humans reading a lot into eclipses and comets during major battles, so why not during the Last battle?

Hooray for Aviendha! You know she will make sure shit gets done.

Other Tidbits:

Demandred sure does seem to have a big ego on him – even larger than many of the Forsaken.

I think all those years of stealing pies and messing with badgers in the Two Rivers really prepared Mat for having words with Tuon on a regular basis. 😉