All posts by Ashley Crump

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Nicole Galland on The Mongoliad

Nicole Galland is the author of: The Fool’s Tale, Revenge of the Rose, Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade and I, Iago. After growing up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduating with honors from Harvard, she divided most of the next 16 years between California and New York City before returning to the Vineyard to stay. During those 16 years she variously made her living in theatre, screenwriting, magazine publishing, grad-schooling, teaching, temping, and random other enterprises. She is the co-founder of Shakespeare for the Masses, a project that irreverently makes the Bard accessible to the Bardophobics of the world.

[Photo credit: Eli Dagostino]

SF Signal is delighted to have the opportunity to talk with Nicole Galland, author of one of the seven authors of the group-authored trilogy The Mongoliad. She takes time out with us to talk about the evolution of The Mongoliad concept, the delights of cross-country composition via Skype, and how both a methods of writing and storylines evolve over time.

SF SIGNAL: How did the idea of The Mongoliad originally develop?

NICOLE GALLAND: My understanding is that the guys wanted to create a story set in the 1300’s as a screenplay (it was to be called Gallowglass), and somehow that evolved in reverse chronological order to the tumultuous events in Europe, 1241. As that shift was happening, they decided to pursue technological innovation in the way the story was deliverable in non-book form.

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Staggering Under the Weight of Week 4: The Lies of Locke Lamora Read-a-Long Continues!

Wow. Just. So. Much.

When we put together this read-a-long for The Lies of Locke Lamora so that each of us had sections to write questions for you, little did I know I was getting the section that would rip my heart out. And I’ve read this before.

Little Red Reviewer not only has a great discussion going on this week, but has an excellent graphic as well. (Yes, that is snickering you hear from the peanut gallery here!)

Follow me after the jump for the this week’s questions –
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Locked In: Week 3 of The Lies of Locke Lamora Read-a-Long!

It’s week 3 of The Lies of Locke Lamora Read-Along! Questions this week are provided by My Awful Reviews and he’s got some good ones for us, delving into the depths, nooks, and unclean crannies of Locke Lamora’s persona.

Quick Note: Week 3 covers chapter five thru the end of Interlude “The Half Crown War,” so if you’ve got any questions of your own that you’d like to post, make sure they stay within that time-frame.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, follow me after the jump for this week’s questions!
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Your Turn: “The Lies of Locke Lamora” Read-A-Long, Week 2

We’re back!

Wondering what’s going on here? we’re reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch on a five week schedule. Check the link for details – there’s even a slow-a-long for people who don’t have time/aren’t able to whiz through this fast! Something for everyone…

C’mon, you know you want to…

Ready? Take the jump with me and we’ll get into the questions for the week!
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It’s Here! “The Lies of Locke Lamora” Read-A-Long, Part 1 (Your Turn to Weigh In!)

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch Read-Along is here!

Open your books and go – let’s discuss the questions for week one:
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Join Us in ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ by Scott Lynch Read-Along! Here’s The Plan…

Thanks to everyone who has signed up to participate in the The Lies of Locke Lamora read along. We’re delighted to have you along for the ride! Haven’t signed up yet and want to? Email me at beinganashley (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know that you want to sign up. You’ll receive a confirmation email from me, and then the magic begins…

Have you got your copy of Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora? If not, now is the time to run (that’s right, do not walk) to your local bookstore, library, or electronic retailer of choice. A basic paperback should cost you less than ten bucks.

If you’ve never participated in a “read-along”, here’s a crash course: Your hosts are Dark Cargo, My Awful Reviews, Little Red Reviewer, and me – hosting for SF Signal. I intermittently twitter as @ohthatashley. Finally, the most excellent Dark Cargo Explorer is hosting a “Slow-Along” for those who do not read as fast as the schedule below indicates. So there’s NO reason not to join us!

Because there are a lot of book editions floating around, the reading schedule is based on chapter headings, not page numbers. It works out to about 120-140 pages per week.

Here’s the reading plan:
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Join Us For “The Lies of Locke Lamora” Read-A-Long!

It’s coming – it will steal your time, it will pick your pocket, and it will win your heart.

We can’t do it without you, so read on!

SF Signal is delighted to announce that we will be participating in a read a long of Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora along with you, in concert with the fine folks from:

Who is Chains? Why should he find young Locke a bargain? Who, exactly, are the Gentleman Bastards?

You’ll find out on the first of March. Why do you need to know now? Well, you need the book, don’t you? Or you need time to dig it out of your TBR pile…(yes, I saw that!) Or your TBR again…(that would be MY pile) Kids, it’s going to be epic. Go forth to your book piles, library, or bookshop and get ready.

Your hosts will be reading the book and putting up posts at regular times, rotating around. Our posts will include our impressions of the story as it unfolds and questions zinging around in our heads.

What will you do? The possibilities are endless. What would you like to do? You can follow along and comment on our posts. If you would like to be on an email list for this adventure, email me at beinganashley [at] gmail [dot] com, replacing the [at] and [dot] accordingly. If you have a great idea, email me! Otherwise, pop in when you like and/or sign up to follow the other sites.

The Lies of Locke Lamora has wit, character, intrigue; and also violence, questionable language, and sex. What more could you ask for?

I can’t wait!

REVIEW: The City & The City by China Miéville

REVIEW SUMMARY: Police procedural, Miéville style. Dark and probing.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In twin cities that could be anywhere, creating the illusion that they aren’t that far from the reader – there’s a murder. In the course of a deceptively simple police procedural, Miéville’s characters ask questions about the nature of what we see, what we don’t, and why.


PROS: This book was like gold for me – a mystery by one of my favorite SF authors; the book brings up interesting questions about what we see daily, and the things we choose to see or not see.

CONS: The navigation of Besz’el and Ul Qoma can be difficult until the reader becomes familiar with the mechanics.

BOTTOM LINE: A tightly plotted murder mystery that raises some interesting philosophical and cultural questions.

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REVIEW: Kraken by China Miéville

REVIEW SUMMARY: Miéville’s best book so far.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In a London where the magical is normal, mages see fire coming for the city. Billy Harrow is utterly unprepared to find out he’s supposed to avert the apocalypse.


PROS: I was never quite sure what was coming next, and I laughed out loud, which is a first with a Miéville book.

CONS: Be warned that this is not a beach read. It is intense. The involvement of the UMA, while a necessary plot point, felt a bit like forcing personal politics into the thing.

BOTTOM LINE: This is not your everyday apocalypse.

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REVIEW: Lightborn by Alison Sinclair

REVIEW SUMMARY: This book, the second in a trilogy, focuses on intrigue within and between the Darkborn and Lightborn courts. It is a political thriller heavily laced with magic.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Tensions are rising between the Darkborn and the Lightborn. Do they have the strength for a historic alliance to save their world?


PROS: Fascinating magical system; political intrigue; all the action of a thriller.

CONS: The social stratification seems much like an English Regency court and is a little irritating at times. The action in the book follows so closely on the heels of Darkborn that it’s a mixed blessing. I want book three!

BOTTOM LINE: The action, political intrigue, and magical plotting draws the reader deeper into the world of the Darkborn and Lightborn.

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REVIEW: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

REVIEW SUMMARY: A quest disguised as a coming-of-age novel.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An ordinary nine year old girl receives an unexpected birthday present: a whole new concept of “emotion(al) eating.” This is the story of how she copes.


PROS: Rose is an ordinary nine year old with extraordinary self-possession. The humanity of the Edelstein family is what makes them believable. The supporting cast is a good one.

CONS: A minor character or two seems thrown in, but this feels like a nitpicky complaint. The major complaint is that there seems to be a “hole” in the story.

BOTTOM LINE: This book gave me mental whiplash. This is the first time I have literally had a “so that is what happened!” 24 hours after reading a book. This one will stay with you.

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