Humans with funny foreheads are easy; truly alien aliens are hard. With that in mind, here’s what we asked our panel of experts:
Here’s what they said!
ERIN M. EVANS got a degree in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis—and promptly stuck it in a box. Nowadays she uses that knowledge of bones, mythology, and social constructions to flesh out fantasy worlds. She is the author of several Forgotten Realms novels, including the Brimstone Angels Saga. She lives in Washington State with her husband and son.
Charles Tan: Hi Erin! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview.
Erin M. Evans: My pleasure!
CT: Without reading your previous novels, I was able to catch up on what was happening in Fire in the Blood. Are the novels being stand-alone intentional? How do you juggle bringing new readers up to speed, while still addressing the concerns of previous fans?
EME: This question cracks me up, because honestly I gave up trying to be new reader-friendly with this book. It seemed impossible! But apparently I can’t help myself.
I think the key is that the books in the series are both sequential and episodic—structurally it’s sort of similar to a drama you might watch on television. What’s the plot of the week, and how does it fit into the plot of the season, and how does that fit into the plot of the series? If you’re coming in cold, you might not fully understand those larger arcs, but if the “episode plot” is engaging enough, then you can pick up a lot as you go (and hopefully go back to read the earlier titles!).
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Jaym Gates is an author, editor, and public relations specialist. She’s the Communications Director for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and an SF Signal Irregular. You can find her at JaymGates.com, or on Twitter as @JaymGates.
Andrew Liptak is a freelance writer and historian from Vermont. He is a 2014 graduate of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, and has written for such places as Armchair General, io9, Kirkus Reviews, Lightspeed Magazine, and others. He can be found over at AndrewLiptak.com and at @AndrewLiptak on Twitter. His next book, The Future Machine: The Writers, Editors and Readers who Build Science Fiction, is forthcoming from Jurassic London in 2015.
Jaym and Andrew co-edited the War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, which is out now from Apex Publications.
Charles Tan: What was the genesis of the War Stories anthology?
Andrew Liptak: Jaym and I both attended ReaderCon in 2012, and while talking about a bunch of topics, Jaym spouted: “You know, I really want to do another anthology.” I said something along the lines of wanting to do something with military science fiction, and after that, we spent quite a bit of time talking very fast at one another. Shortly thereafter, we drew up a wish list of authors, started contacting them, and came up with the idea of War Stories.
Twelve bloodlines, twelve players, only one can win. Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton is a young adult adventure with a twist. There will of course, be a character who prevails as the winner, but there will also be readers who prevail as winners. The novel is filled with codes and puzzles and keys and hints. Solve them and the prize is yours.
Nils Johnson-Shelton is the coauthor of the international bestseller No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels. He is also the author of the Full Fathom Five series for tweens Otherworld Chronicles.
James Frey is originally from Cleveland. All four of his books, A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, Bright Shiny Morning, and The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, were international bestsellers.
James and Nils were kind enough to answer my questions about collaborative writing, the fun ideas behind Endgame, and what’s next for the series.
Andrea Johnson: Endgame has a lot of everything: lots of action, lots of end-of-the-world cataclysm, a massive mysterious puzzle, secrets that have been passed through generations, and a global group of young people fighting to stay alive. The whole thing is on a truly massive scale. What inspired this story, and how did that initial seed of an idea become Endgame?
James Frey: As far as the initial seed, it would have to be the ancient aliens theory of human evolution, which is pretty whacked out but at least plausible. Basically it says that at some point about 12,000 years a highly intelligent alien race visited earth and literally rejiggered our DNA, changing the way our brains work and completely changing the way our culture could evolve going forward. This is pretty easy to dismiss as a conspiracy theory, but I don’t really care. I love conspiracy theories. If nothing else, they make for great stories.
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Watch Neal Stephenson, Ed Finn, Keith Hjelmstad, Kathryn Cramer, Rudy Rucker, & Annalee Newitz Talk at Google
Recently, Neal Stephenson, Ed Finn, Keith Hjelmstad, Kathryn Cramer, Rudy Rucker, & Annalee Newitz went to Google to speak about Project Hieroglyph, a vision to imagine the an optimistic future. These ideas are encapsulated in the new anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, described thusly:
Inspired by New York Times bestselling author Neal Stephenson, an anthology of stories, set in the near future, from some of today’s leading writers, thinkers, and visionaries that reignites the iconic and optimistic visions of the golden age of science fiction.
In his 2011 article “Innovation Starvation,” Neal Stephenson argued that we—the society whose earlier scientists and engineers witnessed the airplane, the automobile, nuclear energy, the computer, and space exploration—must reignite our ambitions to think boldly and do Big Stuff. He also advanced the Hieroglyph Theory which illuminates the power of science fiction to inspire the inventive imagination: “Good SF supplies a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place.”
In 2012, Arizona State University established the Center for Science and the Imagination to bring together writers, artists, and creative thinkers with scientists, engineers, and technologists to cultivate and expand on “moon shot ideas” that inspire the imagination and catalyze real-world innovations.
Now comes this remarkable anthology uniting twenty of today’s leading thinkers, writers, and visionaries—among them Cory Doctorow, Gregory Benford, Elizabeth Bear, Bruce Sterling, and Neal Stephenson—to contribute works of “techno-optimism” that challenge us to dream and do Big Stuff. Engaging, mind-bending, provocative, and imaginative, Hieroglyph offers a forward-thinking approach to the intersection of art and technology that has the power to change our world.
Here’s a video of that event.
Why do we check under the bed for monsters or dread swimming in the ocean or sleep with the lights on? Most likely it’s because of a horror movie or novel. Maybe you watched or read it as a kid or even as an adult; maybe it was temporary or continues to this day. Nonetheless, the horror genre is responsible for many of our fears. And with that in mind we asked our esteemed panel the following question…
Joshua Palmatier is a fantasy writer with a PhD in mathematics. He currently works at SUNY Oneonta, while working on novels, short stories, and editing anthologies with Patricia Bray in his spare time. He has six novels on the shelf at the moment- – the Throne of Amenkor series (The Skewed Throne, The Cracked Throne, and The Vacant Throne), two novels written under the pseudonym Benjamin Tate (Well Of Sorrows and Leaves Of Flame), and the first book in a new series, Shattering The Ley. He is hard at work on the sequel. With co-editor and co-conspirator Patricia Bray, he also delved into the world of anthologies, editing two for DAW Books, and recently founded the small press Zombies Need Brains LLC so that he could continue editing anthology projects. He currently lives in upstate New York.
Joshua was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his newest kickstarer project, Temporally Out of Order, and his new small press, Zombies Need Brains LLC. To visit the kickstarter page for Temporally Out of Order, click here. In the meantime, let’s get to the interview!
Andrea Johnson: Your new anthology is called Temporally Out of Order. What inspired this title, and what themes can readers expect out of the anthology?
Joshua Palmatier: Ah, Temporally Out of Order. Actually, the genesis of the theme for this anthology is kind of interesting… Read the rest of this entry
Roberta Trahan, Author of THE KEYS TO THE REALMS, on Novel Research, Writing Strong Women and The Value of Community
Roberta Trahan is the bestselling author of THE DREAM STEWARDS epic fantasy series and the SciFi novella AFTERSHOCK. Her lifelong love of speculative fiction began at an early age, when a certain star-trekking television series inspired an alien-encounter essay that both shocked and horrified her third-grade teacher.
First published nationally as a teenager, Roberta went on to earn a degree in journalism and advertising at the University of Oregon and then worked in various sales, publicity, and marketing positions before eventually turning to creative writing as a career.
Roberta credits the work of classical masters like J.R.R. Tolkein, Marion Zimmer-Bradley and Mary Stewart with igniting her love of fantasy, folklore and history. But it is her own Celtic heritage that she claims as her muse. She blames a rogue alien genetic marker for her chronic addiction to caffeinated substances and her compulsion to invent imaginary worlds. She is also enamored with hummingbirds, and easily distracted by small, shiny objects.
A Pacific Northwest native, Roberta currently resides with her family in the Seattle area and is actively involved with her local writing community as an instructor and speaker.
An inevitability of reading many books (and subsequently reviewing books) is feeling disconnected when reading a book which has been well-received by a great number of people. In other words, you begin to wonder who is missing something: you as the reader for not “getting” what is so great about the book, or the other readers for helping to raise the book to its hallowed status. This idea was inspired, in large part, by the blog post The Reviewer’s Dilemma: Did I Miss Something? by Ria Bridges. That’s the long way of asking this week’s panelists the following question:
Here’s what they said…
Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation’. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.
Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called The Wild Girl, which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, The Wild Girl is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013.
Kate is probably most famous for Bitter Greens, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale interwoven with the dramatic life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. Bitter Greens has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’, and has been nominated for a Norma K. Hemming Award, the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Fiction, and a Ditmar Award. Having already sold more than a quarter of a million copies world-wide, it is being released in the US in September 2014.
Kristin Centorcelli: Congratulations on the new book, BITTER GREENS! Why did you decide to tackle the origin story, I suppose you could say, of Rapunzel?
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You can read the first chapter of The Clockwork Dagger at Tor.com.
The ingredients for Cooking the Books podcast #004 – “The Clockwork Kitchen: Cooking the Books with Beth Cato” include:
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James Dashner was born and raised in Georgia but now lives in the Rocky Mountains with his family. He has four kids, which some might think is too many but he thinks is just right. Once upon a time, James studied accounting and worked in the field of finance, but has been writing full time for several years. (He doesn’t miss numbers. At all.)
In his free time, James loves to read, watch movies and (good) TV shows, snow ski, and read. (Reading was mentioned twice on purpose.) Most of all, he’s thankful that he gets to make a living writing stories and considers himself pretty much the luckiest guy on the planet.
I was lucky enough to interview James about the Maze Runner book series, the (huge!!) new movie based on it, and much more!
Kristin Centorcelli: I’m very, very excited for The Maze Runner movie, and really enjoy the books as well! What inspired you to write the series?
James Dashner: Lots of different things, accumulated over the years. I think the first spark came when I watched The Shining as a kid. I was scarred for life by the scene at the end where Jack chases his kid through the garden maze with an axe. Books like Lord of the Flies and Ender’s Game. The TV show Lost. I think you can see all those influences.
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This week we asked our participants to talk about reading out of their comfort zone…
The right kind of author, and the right kind of book, can lure readers to try subgenres of fiction and genre fiction that they wouldn’t normally think to try. These authors and books lure unwitting readers into trying and embracing a new subgenre by virtue of being well-written, subverting genre expectations, and sometimes being a case of a favored author trying a new subgenre and following her into it.
Here’s what they said…