Interview: Michael Meyerhofer, Author of The Godsfall Trilogy

MichaelMeyerhoferAuthorEveryone, please welcome the author of The Dragonkin Trilogy and The Godsfall Trilogy back to the blog today, Michael Meyehofer.

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

Thanks for having me! Well, since it’s too late for me to be an extra on The Next Generation, I guess I’d want to be a Dothraki horse lord on Game of Thrones (minus the torture and murder of innocent shepherds, of course).

MeyerhoferWytchfireWhat makes you cringe?
Melodrama, bullies, emotional crescendos that haven’t been earned. Awkward people (like myself) trying to be sexy.

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

I’m not sure this counts as a whole niche but one thing I’d like to see in high/epic fantasy is more inclusion of LBGTQ characters. It doesn’t have to be overtly political and heavy-handed; in fact, I think it’s better if it’s done subtly. One of the protagonists in my first trilogy was a gay male, and there are a couple more homosexual characters in the latest novel (The Dragonward), but their sexuality is fairly peripheral, just another aspect of their character. And incidentally, one of my gay characters named Jalist has been mentioned by readers over and over again as their favorite character. So that means, without having to get on any kind of big political soapbox, the novels were able to introduce readers to the prospect of a gay character that they liked simply because he was a good character—which is the whole point.

I’d also like to see more fully realized female characters. That’s something that’s improved a great deal, especially recently (thanks in no small part to GRRM), but honestly, there’s still a big temptation to write female characters in fantasy stories that fit into one of the three old archetypes: 1) the hot female who exists to be hot, 2) the frilly innocent female who exists only to be murdered/raped in order to fuel the male protagonist’s quest for revenge, and 3) the two dimensional swordbro who happens to be a woman. That doesn’t mean that writers can’t play around with these archetypes, maybe take an old idea/trope and put a twist on it, but providing both male and female characters who have actual personalities, including both internal and external conflict, is a good start.

(Whew, just realized I kinda went off on a rant there…)

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

One of my favorites doesn’t exactly gross ME out, but I’ve seen it make others cringe: dust is mostly human skin. In other words, when we clean, we’re basically mopping up tiny pieces of other people’s flesh. And when we have allergies, or if we’re in a dusty room, we’re breathing in—and sneezing—on other people’s arms and elbows.

MeyerhoferKnightswrathIt’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?

I’d invite Anne Sexton, the Buddha, and Nikola Tesla to discuss Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye… and maybe just for kicks, Twilight.

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?

Absolutely! I think the issues raised by art and literature—the politics, for lack of a better word—have always influenced the outside world, but with fantasy and sci-fi, that influence is more readily apparent, simply because those genres have such a huge, thoughtful audience. I’m not just talking about the inspirations that led to us having some of the technology from Star Trek and Back to the Future, but cultural aspects, too. It seems to me that the relatively new acceptance of homosexuality is owed not just to brave real world activists, but the compassionate portrayals of gay and lesbian characters in fiction. The same could be said for female empowerment. Sure, there’s always been a shortage of fully realized female characters, even in sci-fi/fantasy, but those that DO exist have had an enormous, culture-shifting impact, I think.

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?

I remember a book I read as a kid, pretty sure it was The Neverending Story, in which the narrator asks that same question. Introducing reality is good for making your stuff more realistic, of course, but “because it’s realistic” isn’t quite a good enough excuse. There has to be something else going on, some metaphor or plot point that advances the story. For instance, the main character stepping outside the crowded inn to go to visit the outhouse isn’t very interesting, and therefore, isn’t really pivotal to the story. On the other hand, the main character visiting the outhouse and noticing something important on their way back in, or even just musing how the reek of the outhouse is starkly different than the perfume of the pompous nobles celebrating back at the inn… that’s a bit better.

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

Ha, funny you ask that, given my answer for the previous question, but one of the most difficult jobs I ever had was collecting urine samples in a treatment center. I only worked there for a few months, but my job was basically to… well, put on rubber gloves, stand there while somebody did their business, then collect said business whilst trying not to look creepy. Often, I was required to use eyedroppers and thermometers and weird space age gadgets to test the sample for drugs or alcohol, while the person was standing right there, glaring at me. In all cases, the difficult part of the job wasn’t actually handling the samples—believe it or not—but trying to appear casual, even tell jokes to try at put the other person at ease as quickly as possible. In a strange way, that job was a good trial run for being a teacher.

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’ve always wanted the Dragonlance books to be made into a good video game. I’ve played a few versions that were all right, but none that felt truly epic. A version that focused mainly Raistlin’s quest to become a god (and maybe also on Caramon’s quest to protect and/or stop him) would be interesting, too. I’d also like to see a big Game of Thrones-like MMORPG made for Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni books.

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

Actually, where and when I write isn’t really all that important, since it changes often. The basic routine is mostly the same, though. Whether I’m home or in a coffee shop somewhere (usually with a few gallons of caffeine within easy reach), I put in headphones, tune out the rest of the world, and basically just force myself to start typing—even if it’s a mess and will require lots of revision later.

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

With The Dragonward out now and its sequel (The Wintersea) forthcoming, I’ve mainly been promoting this new series (The Godsfall Trilogy). When I find the time, though, I work to spread the word about its predecessor, The Dragonkin Trilogy. I’ve been amazed and humbled by the sales and reviews, but as we say in this business, the work never stops. Especially lately, I’m offering free review copies, and possibly even free copies of the audiobook versions to anyone willing to write a review. I don’t think I really understood how important book reviews could be until I started publishing books. They’re basically what keeps us going. So if anybody wants to give The Dragonward and/or the previous Dragonkin Trilogy a try, let me know! I’m happy to provide free review copies, in exchange for a good faith promise to write a fair review.

Places to Find Michael Meyerhofer

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MeyerhoferWytchfireBook Blurb for Wytchfire, Book 1 of The Dragonkin Trilogy: In a land haunted by the legacy of dead dragons, Rowen Locke has been many things: orphan, gravedigger, mercenary. All he ever wanted was to become a Knight of Crane and wield a kingsteel sword against the kind of grown horrors his childhood knows all too well.

But that dream crumbled—replaced by a new nightmare.
War is overrunning the realms, an unprecedented duel of desire and revenge, steel and sorcery. And for one disgraced man who would be a knight, in a world where no one is blameless, the time has come to decide which side he’s on.

MeyerhoferTheDragonwardBook Blurb for The Dragonward, Book 1 of The Godsfall Trilogy: Three years after the War of the Lotus, alliances have already begun to unravel. As Rowen Locke struggles to maintain peace, troubling news reaches him from every corner. Persecution of the Shel’ai has reignited in the south, spurred on by a fanatical priest. To the north, the Isle Knights are withering under the leadership of mad Crovis Ammerhel. Old friends fight each other when not drowning their sorrows in taverns.

A new threat emerges from across the sea, dispatched by the same exiled Dragonkin who have been plotting their revenge for centuries. Rowen and his companions soon realize that the target is the Dragonward itself: their one and only defense against an evil so vast even Knightswrath could not vanquish it.

Interview: Gary & George of Unsung Stories

HockingDejaVuFolks, please welcome the brains behind Unsung Stories, an indie SFF publisher based in London, UK. Unsung Stories publishes intelligent genre fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, speculative, steampunk, and importantly those works that blur the boundaries between these genres.

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/horror/scifi fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

So this turned out to be a vast question that we couldn’t really answer concisely at all. We’re both in agreement on the themes of the answer, as below, but given it’s a big question we figured it deserved a big answer.

George

Starting with an easy one I see! All narratives, contemporary SFFH, Homeric epics, Jane Austen and even The Daily Mail, are reflective of the society that created them and help shape history. So unicorns, dragons, the Cyclops, witches, changelings and more, have very specific functions beyond whether or not people believe they’re actually there. The same applies to Ebenezer Scrooge, Hamlet, Emma Woodhouse and Malcolm Tucker.

Demons and angels. Our aspirations and our fears. How we manifest these in art has changed, absolutely, but the reason why we do it remains as essential and indefinable as ever.

As to whether contemporary SFFH affects human cultures today? Of course! The how is more telling. One of the most pervasive SF narratives of recent times is Star Trek, which is at its core a utopia project. Sure, they’re knocking on the doors of the Heavens, and it’s about intrepid adventurers and individual acts of heroism, but the thesis is of humanity at its best. Reaching to the stars, embodying justice in a universally welcoming and productive society. Add a splash more hubris and tragedy and you’re getting back into the same territory as Homeric epics. Only this time Icarus has shields and inertial dampeners.

One idea I have is that we use different genres for different purposes. So science fiction is about exploring hypotheses for humanity. What our existence will mean when the fundamental state of humanity has changed. Gibson does this excellently, Haldeman’s The Forever War and countless others. It’s a sandbox for thought experiments, inherently philosophical at heart.

Fantasy has created vast explorations of history and the moralities of governance and action. We can transpose political realities into new environments and comment on and satirise them. There’s so much of humanity’s history to understand and fantasy lets us do that freely, calls on us to tackle political and sociological Gordian knots.

Finally horror might be the most introspective of the three. Sure, it’s about scaring people but it’s also based on what we are afraid of. It’s more than big rats, it’s the darkness and the void, our weaknesses and fears, our inability to protect what we love.

Obviously that’s three broad generalisations, and only offered as a springboard for thought. It’s a big question!

Gary

All of human history, all human life, is shaped by narrative; it’s how we fundamentally understand and process the complex, messy reality we find ourselves in.

I see that SFFH affects human culture today in some very profound ways. Speculative fiction as a whole has always been a wonderful way of exposing and exploring collective hopes, dreams, fears and nightmares.

Trends in science-fiction can accurately map entire cultures’ feelings towards the future – do we see utopia or dystopia ahead? Will technology set us free, or create new traps for us? Do we even believe in a future anymore? In turn, these narratives exploring these issues will inform how we think about ourselves and the way we live, and where we are going (or perhaps going wrong).

The horror genre is a place where our worst fears, anxieties and repulsions can be explored (and exploited). I think there are two camps of horror fiction, the cathartic ‘ghost train’ types of horror, where everything works out in the end, where the evil is defeated and mankind overcomes: fiction ultimately as a form of validation that the world is OK. 

Then there’s the other kind of horror, pioneered by Lovecraft and perfected by writers like Thomas Ligotti, where there is no victory, no catharsis, where the bad things win. This is my preferred model of horror fiction – not because I think life is hopeless or inherently ‘bad’, but because I think this kind of writing serves a useful function, to allow readers to face and explore difficult emotional topics.

We have a deep psychological need for monsters. Through storytelling we can turn an abstract fear into something physical that can be, at least potentially, defeated. Fear of the consumerist, mindless masses become zombies, aggressive male sexuality takes form in the werewolf, the ghost is a clear manifestation of past guilt/trauma, and so on.

With fantasy the enduring appeal of Tolkien and the LOTR films, the continued popularity of epic fantasy novels, the Game of Thrones phenomenon are all things that cannot be discounted. It would be nice if some mainstream fantasy was not based on the models established by Tolkien (Celtic/Saxon/Norse European myths, essentially). But there’s obviously some appeal to that kind of mythic setting that has a real appeal.

WhiteleyTheBeautyIt’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 invite list first: Iain M. Banks, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett first of all because you need wise, nice and irreverent people to balance any debate. To stir the pot I’d add Hunter Thompson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Adam Roberts, Octavia Butler, John-Paul Satre and Charles Bukowski. That should provide enough knowledge, experience and strong-willed extroverts to ensure a healthy debate, right? Or at least an unforgettable evening. Actually, maybe add Imperator Furiosa as referee.

As for the books? I’d go with Ubik, The Trial and The Master and Margarita. Not because they are perfect bedfellows but the all fascinate and terrify me in equal measure. They all poke at the consensus of the ‘normal ‘state of affairs, be those philosophical, social or political. And they all leave you with very difficult questions.

Are strict guidelines for genres dead in today’s book market? Where does Unsung Stories fit in? 

Increasingly I’d say genre is being normalised, the distinctions eroded by audiences growing more sophisticated. We’re not the people who thought The War of the Worlds was real. Genre tropes are commonplace now and we are seeing an increasing number of crossover success stories both ways. Ishiguro is exploring genre in his work. Cloud Atlas was nominated for the Booker and the Clark and Nebula. Gaiman is an international sensation despite being massively Genre, even starting out in *gasp* comics. And of course SF and fantasy are all over TV and cinema. So it’s increasingly not about defining the lines between ideas, but the opportunities in how they interact.

Here at Unsung Stories, we love non-generic takes on genre. We want to give a home to writers who grab this opportunity with both hands. The people who don’t see rules or conventions, just the way their story is. Commissioning isn’t about if we can see a market, it’s about finding the stories we love, and know deserve to be published.

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

Philip K. Dick, probably. He’s the man who posited a Matrix-like reality decades before even Gibson started at it. Aside from writing some of my favourite books his take on reality fascinates me as much as it seemed to trouble him. Especially because he didn’t seem to have that layer of detachment from the problem academics do. So I’d talk to him about what his philosophies of perception and what it is he thinks we’re not seeing.

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

All of the bits that weren’t terrible, ideally. But if I had to pick one it would be The Sandman because it achieves so many different things. It’s a glorious collection of short stories, it’s a revelation for the potential of comics, it’s a vast indulgence of amazing ideas, it’s funny, it’s scary, it’s utterly heart-breaking in several places, and so much more.

In fact, if I could have just one page, I’d ask for Delirium and Death in the funeral procession from Worlds End. It might just be perfect.

Over the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

One thing I find fascinating is the development of monsters in horror. After the explosion in the 1960s monsters abound, starting with the classics like Dracula, Frankenstein’s creation and werewolves. Then aliens are introduced, incomprehensible powers given physical form. Soon we’re creating new demons for cinema like Freddy and Jason, where they can be defeated but only temporarily. The step after is the one that grabs me though, where they all suddenly become human. Us. No more immortals, no masked killers returning from the grave. Teenagers. Your neighbours. Your children…

With SFF we’re beyond grimdark and sci-fi horror now as well. Bank’s Culture is full of stories that blur the ideas of who is the hero. We love Game of Thrones and Abercrombie because it’s not so simple to say who the hero is. We’re interested in the grey areas more these days, probably because we understand them better than the extremes of heroism or villainy.

So yes, absolutely. And watching how this growing canon of influences develops is something I find incessantly fascinating.

The other thing is post-apocalyptic fiction is huge right now, which works on the base assumption that we somehow failed as a race. As a result of technological developments in the last 20 years we have burgeoning global identities, a greater awareness of what is happening across the world. Maybe we’re coming to realise it’s not about heroes and villains, but about our collective responsibilities as a species?

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 Unsung Stories into the multimedia realm?

I think it will continue to evolve as it already has been. Ebooks are commonplace now for instance, and apps and enriched variants are going the same way. A lot of the most interesting examples I’ve come across have been games – Device 6 or Dear Esther for example – but that doesn’t mean it will all be games. What I will say, is I suspect the great ideas will come from writers/indies who create something as a labour of love. People in the industry are readers, gamers, fans, just like everyone else. So they’ll be there with everyone else when good things happen.

Unsung don’t have plans right now, but if we see an idea we like enough we’ll go for it. There’s no reason for stories to be limited to books any more (however much we love them). The crucial thing is to ensure the story works for the format. So, for example, rather than shoehorning a popular book into a graphic novel I’d want to see something written with comic format in mind. It’s about best serving the stories, after all.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment where you were gushing over an author’s work?

I exist in a perpetual state of anxiety as a rule so that would mainly involve every conversation I’ve had with an author, ever. I’m also particularly bad at recognising people as we rule so my worst moments are the opposite kind where you talk to someone, usually spouting flawed opinions at great length, to then discover they’re Pat Cadigan, or someone like that. Things like that happen to me, so I operate the working assumption that my brain hates me.

That said, when I met Brian May I had a not-inconsiderable haircut myself and proceeded to compliment him on his hair. Not his music, charity work or career as an astrophysicist. His hair. I got the impression I wasn’t the first person to do that.

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

I’m not sure what it was called but there was something involving a mad professor taking a teenage boy to Jupiter where he had to play hockey with 20 metre tall bruisers. It’s the illustrations I remember more than anything. Something I remember the title of though, is either the Mary Plain books by Gwynedd Rae, or The Arabian Nights. That and poring over the Terran Trade Authority books in my primary school’s library.

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

We have our Unsung Live event scheduled for 20th October in Kings Cross, London. This is SFF storytelling, with readings from Simon Guerrier, Robert Sharp, Cassandra Khaw and David Hartley. We’re doing this because we couldn’t find any live-lit events for genre fiction and thought there should be at least one! Tickets are free, you just need to RSVP to secure a place at – www.meetup.com/unsung/events/224926265/. It was very popular last time so booking is advised!

We do have other things in the pipeline in terms of books, but nothing I can talk about yet. They’ll be good though, promise.

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Giveaway & Interview: JD & Amy of Whimsy & Wonder Creative Press

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffDear Dabbers, please give a warm welcome to the brains and beauty behind Whimsy and Wonder Creative Press, Amy & JD. It was a real treat to interview this couple. We chat about several TV shows, where to spend the holidays, the tribulations of self-promotion, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss out on the paperback GIVEAWAY – scroll to the bottom for that.

If you could be an extra on a TV show, what would it be?

J: We actually were extra’s on TV show once. It was a show called “Murder In Law”, a show about people getting murdered by their in laws, and we were in one of the cheesy reenactments, which was a lot of fun. If I could do it again I would want it to be on Game of Thrones as a Wite, or on The Walking Dead as a Zombie, because who doesn’t want to be put in professional quality zombie make up at least once in their lives?

A: I would like to be an extra on Outander. So I could potentially see/meet (stalk) Sam Heugen.

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?

J: I think a supernatural creature, because I’ve always wanted to befriend like a cool monster or something that would be my friend or companion or something, so maybe if I was rescued by supernatural creature, like a mogwai or a hippogriff or something I could make that a reality.

A: Space Alien. That way we can become friends and they can prove to me that everything they cover on Ancient Aliens is true.

What fictional world would you like to visit for the holidays?

J: Harry Potter for sure. First of all it’s just really friggen magical. Secondly, I’ve always dreamt of Christmas at Hogwarts, and thirdly, I feel like less terrible things happen in the Harry Potter world than a lot of others. Like, Westeros I would be for sure worried about whether I would even make it through the holidays. Middle Earth is also extremely terrifying, although a holiday in a hobbit hole does sound rather cozy. Basically I don’t want to spend the holidays in a universe where I end up being somebodies red shirt, and overall Hogwarts seems pretty safe, what with the Dark Lord vanquished and all.

A: I would go to Who-ville.

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

J: We were actually just talking about this. I would love to re-watch the Sixth Sense and Empire Strikes Back again without knowing the twists ahead of time. I was too young to watch either of those movies when they came out (I wasn’t even alive when Empire came out), so by the time I was able to watch them they were entirely spoiled for me.

A: I think I would want to experience The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time.

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?

J: I think The Hunger Games would make a really bitchin’ video game, but I would want it to be something where I could design my own character and pick my own weapons and skills and stuff. Like you could choose whether you want your weapon to be a bow and arrow, or a sword or a trident or whatever, and then choose to build up specific skills like foraging, or hunting, or camouflage before finally duking it out in a random arena with different environments like forest, or dessert or tundra. Actually the more I think about it the more that sounds like an amazing game. Somebody should get on that.

A: I would really enjoy a video game version of Carrie. It’s probably the closest I will ever get to having telekinesis and working out my high school issues.

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

J: Warning: Is Prone To Dancing In Embarrassing Places (including but not limited to; grocery store lines, bowling alleys, and movie theaters).

A: Warning: Can become very hungry – keep snacks nearby.

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?

J: I have a really hard time with this actually. It’s really challenging to get anyone to listen to you in the void that is the Internet, and there’s way to many talented people making good stuff, so it’s really hard to get noticed. Add to that a crippling condition I have called social awkwardness, and it can be kind of a mess sometimes. That being said, it does have it’s moments, when people really seem to enjoy what your doing.

A: It’s a very fun job to have, getting to be like hey everybody look at how awesome we are. The most challenging part is some people just aren’t interested or may give criticism on things you have spent a really, really long time on. That can be very nerve racking.

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

J: Sherlock Holmes, because I would be really curious to see what he would deduce just from seeing me. GandalfProfessor X and Dumbledore, because they’re so wise and I’ve always wanted them to be my life coaches, so I would seek their guidance. Since I get one more probably Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, because I feel like we would be good friends.

A: I would choose Jamie Fraser from Outlander Because he’s gorgeous I’m not going to pass on that opportunity. Gandalf from Lord of the Rings – I feel like he would have really good advice on life. Furiosa– from Mad Max: She is just so bad ass would love to have a beer with her. Effie Trinket– from the Hunger Games- I feel like she could give me style advice and I could see her getting along really well with Gandalf. And Michone from The Walking Dead- another bad ass female who probably would become best friends with Furiosa…..and maybe me…..

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?

J: Well, we’re just getting started so I’ve yet to have anyone gushing over my work, but I did get to meet Stan Lee at a Comic Con once. It was at the little photo booths they set up where you pay to get your picture taken with a celebrity and I was so excited, so I wanted to come up with something clever to say. It’s crazy because I had a very long line to wait in to figure it out but I didn’t, so when my turn came I couldn’t think of anything except for “it’s so great to meet you”, and because it was Stan Lee, and because he is possibly the coolest human on the planet he just clapped me on the back and said “You’re god damn right!” and then they snapped the picture. It was awesome. I still have the picture.

A: When we got our picture of George Takei he said “OH My Look At Youuuu.”  So I took that as a compliment and felt like my life was pretty accomplished after that.

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

J: I can’t say that I can think of just one, because that’s kind of just our life. We’re always bickering about some odd movie or another. Amy still makes fun of me for liking the movie “The Mist”, which she refers to as “The Mist-take”, which she thinks is very clever.

A: There are many to choose from and now that I cant think of any but Jerrud and I tend to get into arguments about how fast the zombies would be moving on TV shows. Pretty much our whole relationship is arguing one geeky thing to another.

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffBook Blurb for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff:

Have you ever wanted to read a story about a dancing robot? How one about a vicious hamburger eating, teenaged zombie? Or perhaps a retired super hero working a day job as mailman? Have you ever felt that your life would be enriched by a fierce and vitriolic debate amongst wizards about beard lengths? Have you ever once felt a talking tree might have the answer to all of your problems? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book might be for you*. In the tales within, you will find all of these, and so much more. So go ahead, give it a try. You just might find what you’ve been looking for. *Please consult with your doctor before reading this book to discuss risks of an awesome overdose

CollinsPeopleSuckBook Blurb for People Suck

People suck, especially when your not one of them. In this adult(13+) picture book follow the journey of human suckage as explored by creatures suck as a yeti, a swamp monster and space aliens.

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Amazon for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff

 

GIVEAWAY!

JD & Amy are generously offering up two copies each of their books: Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff, and their new picture book People Suck. These will be paper books and, therefore, we have to limit this giveaway to USA only due to postage. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) What state do you live in? 2) Do you have an awkward fanboy/fangirl moment to share? 3) Which book would you prefer to win? 4) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends November 15th, 2015, midnight.

Rafflecopter for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff

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Rafflecopter for People Suck

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Interview: Dean Warren, Author of The Pacification of Earth Series

WarrenAmericanRevoltEveryone, please welcome Dean Warren, author of military scifi and futuristic ecological disasters! We have a nice chat about his books, how humans affect the environment, and much more. Enjoy!

Why do you write?

For me, writing a novel or a short story is day-dreaming.  I pose myself a challenge or a circumstance and flesh out an alter ego and supporting characters to encounter it.  I’m intellectually consumed by science, so most of my plots involve that.  I wondered what would happen if we hard wired a computer to a man’s brain.  You’d have world-taming logic, memory, and information resources, allied with aggression and lots of negative emotion.  I called that novel Man Over Mind.  A second novel explores the results of a cure for age–which geneticists are working on.  That novel I called Growing Young.  And so on.  Currently, I’m consumed with humanity’s fate.  When I went to college, the world’s head count was 3 billion; today its over 7; the World Bank says by the end of this century it will be 12.  Desperate people are piling up on the shores of North Africa looking to roost and feed in Europe; we have Central Americans besieging our southern border.  Southwest Asia is brimming with refugees.  Billions exhaling CO2 and burning coal, wood, and oil in order to live.  The world is warming, the seas will rise, and violence will escalate.  We’re like the lemmings, en route to jumping as a species off the cliff.  I’m currently writing a fifth novel on that predicament.

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

Arthur Koestler. He was publishing way back in my college, formative days.  He was basically a political writer, attacking Russian communism.  I, too, am political, although not nearly as profound, or successful.  I would ask him whether he thought there was hope for humanity, how should we concerned people behave.  Of course, he committed suicide.  I think he would claim illness rather than cowardice

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

Minions are key in an author’s efforts to properly portray the human environment in which the action takes place.

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

I liked G.R.R.Martin’s Game of Thrones‘ first four books.  Lots of skullduggery, action, good characters.  Intellectual fantasy.

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?

I’m old fashioned, I guess, and try to get to the point, either action-wise or intellectual-wise, without delving into dull, dirty linen.

Places to find Dean Warren

GoodReads

Audible

Amazon

Interview: Kathryn Meyer Griffith, Author of Dinosaur Lake

GriffithDinosaurLakeFolks, please slap your eyeballs together for an entertaining interview with the talented Kathryn Meyer Griffith. I have enjoyed a few books of hers so far (The Nameless One & Dinosaur Lake) and have a few more queued up. Today we chat about writing in the horror genre for decades, family, cover art, and much more! Enjoy!

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

I’d like to interview Edgar Allan Poe. He had such a tragic, short life and to this day the real reason for his death is a mystery in itself. Was it drink, drugs or suicide? I think of him as one of the early horror/mystery genre writers. I’d love to talk to him and know what his life had really been like. If he was as unhappy as history sometimes portrays him and why he decided to write the macabre and mysterious. Also at twenty-six he married his thirteen year old cousin. Wouldn’t the social networks and media have a field day with that these days?

GriffithTheNamelessOne(2)  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?

I usually don’t or I breeze over them as a quick mention. Travel is easy to express; you only hit the highlights. People know, as humans, we have physical needs so why dwell on them in a novel unless they’re really necessary to the story or plot; most times they aren’t. Also, in my early writing days in the 1980s I bent to the times and my publishers’ pushy editors and sometimes put cuss words in my books. I was up against Stephen King, Koontz and others and they cursed in their novels, so I thought I had to also. Though I rarely used curse words myself in my real life. But as the years and books went by I stopped using the heavy curse words or profanity, because I wanted my novels to be read by people of all ages, and now days I hardly use more than a damn or a hell once and a while. I let a character’s actions depict their frustration or anger, not profanity.

GriffithDinosaurLakeII(3) Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Ha, ha…a lot of them. I’m afraid I’m one of these authors that like to read what’s current in fiction or my genres and not the real old stuff. I did read some of the old classics in high school as most kids did, but since I’ve been too busy writing to read anything I don’t really want to read…and the ancient works are some of what I don’t feel like reading. This is a secret I’ve kept for decades, but now I’m too old to care what others think of me. Writing good stories are all I care about. I was born a storyteller so all I feel I have to do is tell my stories.

GriffithHumanNoLonger(4) If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

In my life I’ve been, and am, an artist and when I was very young I sang out with my brother, Jim. Folk duo in the sixties and then in a few classic rock bands. Then I got married (way too young), got pregnant and dropped out for a while. Started writing out of despair and loneliness. My brother went on to sing out professionally, along with the real day job, as I had, for over thirty years and I went deeper into my art – I was a graphic artist for twenty-three years in the corporate world – and from age twenty-one on into my writing. I really loved singing but I wasn’t good enough (my brother always said) to do it for a living. Good thing. I wouldn’t have twenty-three novels, two novellas, twelve short stories published and eighteen audio books (soon to be twenty) if I would have continued on with the singing or the art career. But I had a passion for singing and miss it to this day. And my brother? He was a gifted musician and songwriter for over forty years but he’s been battling esophageal cancer the last two and can no longer sing or play. He’s such a brave man, but he misses the music, too. BUT if I couldn’t be any of those three, heck, I’d probably be broke and homeless because I’m a storyteller and that’s all I can be/want to be.

GriffithDinosaurLakeIII(5) What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

I’m a neat freak. Always have been. Everything has a place in my house and it stays there. I hate messes. I got that from my mother. She always said, “We might be poor but at least we can be neat and clean.” And that went for our home as well. And I’m the same way with my home now. I’m very organized and I don’t abide clutter. I like to write on my laptop in my living room, TV on for company and a fire in the fireplace, sitting on my plush sofa with a hot cup of my chocolate coffee on the side table. I used to write at a stationary computer in a writing room, but it felt too much like work, so these days I like the comforts of my front room. If I had a deck with a view (trees not neighbors) I’d write out there on nice days, yet I don’t have a deck. Darn. I also like to be totally alone when I write. It’s easier to go into my make-believe worlds and live what I’m writing.

GriffithEvilStalksTheNight(6) If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Beats me. Are you talking about five of MY characters or someone else’s? I can’t right now off the top of my head pick five other author’s characters (except maybe the five main characters in Stephen King’s masterpiece end-of-the-world novel The Stand…which would be neat) but if I had to pick five of MY characters I would pick the main five from my apocalyptic end-of-days saga A Time of Demons. One’s an angel, Manasseh; one’s a demon, Rayner; main character Cassandra and her cohorts, her singer-songwriter brother, Johnny; a carnival clown named Walter; his psychic girlfriend Sarah; and another demon-fighter named Obadiah – all warriors for God fighting demons in the end days as the Rapture approaches. Now I’d LOVE to go on that journey with them in their RV all across the country and fight the good fight with the swords given them by the angels. And I’d have my homemade chocolate coffee with them and maybe bake them a chocolate cake, too. They fight hard so they could use the treats.

GriffithWitches(7) 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? 

Since I’ve been writing now for over forty-three years and published since 1984, I do get people who say: “I read your 1993 book Witches when I was in high school, ages ago, and have never forgotten it.” Or someone will email me and gush over my very first horror novel published in 1984, Evil Stalks the Night, and how much they loved it…as a kid. Makes me feel so old but it’s also flattering that they remember one of my books decades later. I love it.

GriffithNightCarnival(8) Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I’m going to be absolutely truthful…there are lots of great covers out there, too many to list, but my favorite are the covers Dawne Dominique has done for me the last five years. They’re amazing, especially my Dinosaur Lake covers. And yes I also believe a cover, and a good blurb, is a necessity for selling books, particularly self-published books. I’ve had so many awful covers when I had no choice in the matter with my legacy publishers, but now I get to pick and design my own (because I started self-publishing in 2012)  and Dawne seems to read my mind she’s so good. To me a great cover not only conveys the essence of a novel but has dynamic colors and a haunting ambiance. It’s got to jump out at you, bite you and then haunt you after it’s gone.

GriffithTheLastVampire(9) What do you do when you are not writing?

Lately (since 2010) I’ve been so busy bringing out my old novels, rewriting, writing new stories and working with narrator/producers creating the audio books that I have had little spare time for anything else. I hope to be able to slow down when all my books (fifteen are still with a publisher until 2015-2017) are finally self-published and I completely own their rights and have them all out again. But I try to spend time with my husband, of thirty-six years, and my family. I have five siblings and I try to spend as much time with them as I can, especially Jim. I love TV. Dramas and PBS or BBC America mysteries. Game of Thrones type stuff. Star Trek. I like to go to the movies. I love to read, of course. Horror and murder mysteries or anything spooky. I like to bake, sugar cookies and chocolate chip being my favorites, and I enjoy walking in the woods and marveling at nature. Colorful sunsets, ocean or lake vistas can mesmerize me. They give me a sense of peace that as I’ve gotten older soothes me.

GriffithEgyptianHeart(10) What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I remember, way back in the dark ages of the mid 1950s, reading the Dick and Jane Primer books and having such a feeling of accomplishment being able to decipher them. I was very young and I had no trouble reading the words. I was so good at it as well as spelling. I loved reading from then on. I began reading everything I could get my hands on, going to the library for free books because my family was so poor, and developed a great love and respect for the written word and authors. But one of the earliest recreational books I ever read that left a real impression on me was a novel called Smokey. I’ve looked it up recently but it no longer exists and what a pity. It was about this horse and all the travails of its life. So many sad things happened to the horse but in the end the animal came home and grew old happily. It was so poignant it made me cry. I never forgot that book and years later it was one of the reasons I became an author myself. Imagine – being able to make people feel something that much that they cried, or laughed or grew angry. Now that was power. When I was young I thought authors were gods. Now I know they aren’t, they’re just people – storytellers – like me.

Thanks for having me here, Susan and Dab of Darkness.

And thank you Kathryn!

A short author bio:

KathrynMeyerGriffithAuthorKathryn Meyer Griffith has been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before she quit to write full time. But she’d already begun writing novels at twenty-one, over forty-four years ago now, and has had twenty-two (10 romantic horror, 2 horror novels, 2 romantic SF horror, 1 romantic suspense, 1 romantic time travel, 1 historical romance, 2 thrillers, and 3 murder mysteries) novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books/Eternal Press; she’s self-published her last 7 novels with Amazon Kindle Direct. Her Dinosaur Lake novels and Spookie Town Mysteries are her best-sellers. She’s been married to Russell for thirty-six years; has a son and two grandchildren. She has one cat, Sasha, and the three of them live happily in an old house in the heart of a small quaint town in Illinois. Though she’s been an artist, and a singer in her youth with her brother Jim, writing has always been her greatest passion, her butterfly stage, and she’ll probably write stories until the day she dies…or until her memory goes. 2012 & 2014 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS *FINALIST* for The Last VampireRevised Author’s Edition and Dinosaur Lake.

Places to Find Kathryn & Her Books

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s books can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/ld4jlow

All her 18 Audible.com audio books here:

http://tinyurl.com/oz7c4or

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kathryn-Meyer-Griffith/579206748758534  

Personal Site:

http://www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith

Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/889499.Kathryn_Meyer_Griffith

Interview: Terra Harmony, Author of The Akasha Saga

HarmonyWaterPlease welcome Terra Harmony! We chat about ecosystems, obstacle courses (enhanced through wine), board games, and much more. Please sit back and enjoy!

You consider yourself an eco-fantasy author. What ecological niches of Earth have you pulled into your writings and expanded upon?

Each of my books of the Akasha Series is titled as an element, Water, Air, Fire, and Earth. I really try to focus in on the plight of each element, why they are so important to us, and how we can use them as natural resources.

‘The Painted Maiden’s Trilogy’ is a lot less in-your-face eco-ism. (I think I just made up a word.) In this series, I try to portray the beauty of the oceans, our planet’s most valuable resource. I want my readers to fall in love with this element, and to understand everything that will be lost if we continue along our current path.

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

A dragon! Totally. A nice dragon, to be a little more specific. I would definitely try to ride it. I think I would want to avoid any beast that could read my mind. Sorry, Edward.

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?

Game of Thrones should definitely be a board game. Or is it already? I just googled it…..and putting an Amazon order in now, very good reviews. My gosh it’s like $45! I’m gonna have to wait until the next paycheck. Anyway, I would love to play as Daenerys Targaryen (the dragon lady, of course). But one of those Facebook quizzes told me I am most like Jaime Lannister, so either one of those characters would be good!

HarmonyTheKindredCurseAnthologyWho are your non-writer influences?

Anyone who gives back (especially to the environment). I don’t think I am necessarily influenced by any one or group of people, especially celebrities. I am encouraged by small, every day acts of kindness or hints of confidence and strength.

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

I don’t enjoy classics – or their reboots. Is that terrible of me to say? Give me vampires, romance, comedy, horror – but give it to me in a contemporary writing style and don’t remake something that has already been done!

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

Let’s make it red wine, and instead of a table let’s make it an obstacle course (we will down the wine first). I find you can really discover a person’s true character when putting them through a challenge. I’m not that great at discussion – or talking, for that matter. Actions speak so much louder than words.

I’d love to experience this with Jaime Fraser from the Outlander Series, Captain Jack Sparrow (we need a wild card in there somewhere), The Black Widow from The Avengers, Pippi Longstocking (she is so awesome), and Franklin (the turtle from those children’s books – I have to be able to beat someone).

HarmonyTheDreamerPlaces to Stalk Terra Harmony
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads

About the Author: Terra is author of the eco-fantasy novels in the Akasha Series, ‘Water’, ‘Air’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Earth’, as well as the Painted Maidens Trilogy. Terra was born and raised in Colorado but has since lived in California, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, and Virginia. Terra has served a 5½ year enlistment in the Marine Corp, has earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree and presently runs the language services division of a small business. Terra currently lives in a suburb of Washington, DC with her husband of fifteen years and three children.

Interview: Sarah Dalton, Author of Blemished

ApexBlogTourBanner

DaltonBlemishedWelcome everyone to The Book of Apex Blog Tour! Today, I have Sarah Dalton here, author of the Blemished series, giving us an interview. She was kind enough to swing by again, having been here last week with her guest post: Cruelty Is Needed.

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?

Well, I like to think that humans are a lot less superstitious than they used to be when we hunted dragons and unicorns! I’m not sure we’ll ever be that suspicious again, what with the internet and Wikipedia and everything. Maybe after the apocalypse.

But that doesn’t mean fantasy literature doesn’t have an effect on human cultures. Reading rich fantasy worlds can enrich our imaginations and influence a generation as they grow into adults. Fantasy worlds inspire art, and costume, and language. We only need to look at the success of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, and the wonderful TV adaptation, ‘Game of Thrones’ to see how it is inspiring artists, writers and enthusiasts. DeviantArt is full of wonderful fan art just for starters.

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

I like a good old-fashioned vampire. There’s definitely an allure about the prospect of an eternal life living in the shadows. Plus it would be fascinating to sit and talk to someone who had lived for a thousand years, to discover their opinions on war, or what life was really like.

Dragons I would avoid at all costs. I’ve played enough Skyrim to know you don’t mess with a dragon.

DaltonMyDaylightMonstersWith 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?

Yes! I have been lured outside my comfort zone. I’m a genre-hopping reader anyway, but I’ve recently ventured into reading New Adult. I’ve not read any romance for a long time, but there are some real gems in New Adult, and it’s a genre that may have not emerged if it wasn’t for ebooks.

I think we’ll see more niche markets and unusual books, especially in length. Publishers tend to have a preferred word count, but self-published books can be any length at all. I’ve published three novellas so far, books that probably wouldn’t have found an audience without epublishing. We will also see more book bundles and anthologies hitting the scene. I’ve worked with other self-published authors to put together anthologies and multi-author bundles. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to find new readers.

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

Oh wow, that’s a tough question! Most of my characters are teens, so it would be a pretty unrealistic cosplay. The MC for my upcoming YA fantasy has a white stag to ride. That would be particularly awesome.

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

I love Game of Thrones. Who doesn’t? For some reason I couldn’t get into the books, despite them being well-written and engaging, but the TV show is probably my favorite show airing right now. The costumes, the acting… it’s all fantastic, and I think the characters are brought to life beautifully.

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

Creative mess! The messier it is, the more I’m struggling with a plot bunny. I get steadily more and more untidy as I delve into the writing process. Every now and then I have to have a complete tidy to clear my head and focus.

I prefer to write in my office, but I can work in other places. It’s better in silence, so working in cafes, as lovely as it looks in films, isn’t usually very practical. Also I stare into space when I’m writing, which freaks people out in public.

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

I’m working with an amazing bunch of authors to put out a YA dystopian bundle of six books. I’m really excited about that.

I’m also working on two new series, one a YA high fantasy called White Hart about a young girl born with the craft, a magical power which binds her with nature, the other called Mary Hades, which is a YA paranormal horror. I’m in the early stages of this one. It’s a follow up to my gothic novella My Daylight Monsters, about a girl who can see ghostly beings that help her solve mysteries.

Places to Stalk Sarah

Facebook

Goodreads

Website

Blemished Website

Twitter

Want to see more of blog tour? There’s reviews, interviews, guest posts, even more giveaways. Well, don’t hesitate to jump over to Little Red Reviewer (the maniac who organized this delightful blog tour) to see what all is going down this month.

Of course, you can always check out Apex Magazine for more SFF goodness.