Jeff Salyards on The Functional Nerds Podcast

Jeff Salyards, author of Veil of the Deserters, joins John Anealio and Patrick Hester this week on The Functional Nerds Podcast.

Listen below, or at The Functional Nerds, or subscribe to The Functional Nerds Podcast through iTunes.

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Today only, you can get the Kindle platform version of Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards for only $1.99!

Many tales are told of the Syldoon Empire and its fearsome soldiers, who are known throughout the world for their treachery and atrocities. Some say that the Syldoon eat virgins and babies–or perhaps their own mothers. Arkamondos, a bookish young scribe, suspects that the Syldoon’s dire reputation may have grown in the retelling, but he’s about to find out for himself.

Hired to chronicle the exploits of a band of rugged Syldoon warriors, Arki finds himself both frightened and fascinated by the men’s enigmatic leader, Captain Braylar Killcoin. A secretive, mercurial figure haunted by the memories of those he’s killed with his deadly flail, Braylar has already disposed of at least one impertinent scribe . . . and Arki might be next.

Archiving the mundane doings of millers and merchants was tedious, but at least it was safe. As Arki heads off on a mysterious mission into parts unknown, in the company of the coarse, bloody-minded Syldoon, he is promised a chance to finally record an historic adventure well worth the telling, but first he must survive the experience!

A gripping military fantasy in the tradition of Glen Cook, Scourge of the Betrayer explores the brutal politics of Empire–and the searing impact of violence and dark magic on a man’s soul.

Thie $1.99 price for Scourge of the Betrayer is only good for Saturday May 24th so act fast if you want it.

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: What authors write the best action? What books feature the best action sequences? What does it take to make action really pop in fiction?

Here’s what they said…

Karina Cooper
After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (sort of), went to work in the real world (kind of), where she decided that making stuff up was way more fun (true!). She is the author of dark and sexy paranormal romance and steampunk urban fantasy, and writes across multiple genres with mad glee. One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an airship captain’s wife, and a steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, a menagerie, a severe coffee habit, and a passel of adopted gamer geeks. Visit her at www.karinacooper.com, because she says so.

When it comes to some of the best action I’ve read, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to Ilona Andrews—notably, her Kate Daniels series. This urban fantasy leans heavily on action, outlining the motion—and painting the intensity—in gorgeous detail that skimps on flowery prose. No superhero with impossible pain tolerance, you’re transported with Kate with every cut, every wound, every agony. When I think about authors and books that feature action, I can’t help but arrow right on this series.

Two other authors that come to mind are Chuck Wendig and Stephen Blackmoore. Both write a kind of urban fantasy genre, but both are extremely different. Wendig’s Miriam Black series—beginning with Blackbirds—shows action with an almost fascinating intensity. He describes combat sequences that aren’t so much “fights” as a grotesquely detached explanation of events that could go wither way. Blackmoore, in both City of the Lost and Dead Things, colors his often vicious action sequences with a noir grit you can feel to your bones. They are terse, which only allows my brain to color in the details with such ease that I’m both repelled and entranced. Exactly where I want to be when I pick up a Blackmoore or Wendig book.

Action can be so hard to get right, and extremely easy to get lost in. Too much detail slows down a scene, and a lot of beginning authors tend to want to block and write every gorgeous detail—like an epic martial arts movie scene. It takes a certain understanding of physical capability, some blocking, and the ability to curtail one’s prose to keep the scene going sharp, fast, tight, like an actual fight is. It’s a hard skill to learn, but one worth every moment spent revising to learn it. A reader caught up in the intensity and speed of a fight is one who is there for every breathless moment.

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REVIEW SUMMARY: Darkly humorous, intimately violent, promises great things to come.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Small town scribe Arkamondos finds himself in way over his head when he accepts a commission from the enigmatic Captain Braylar Killcoin and his rugged band of Syldoon warriors. As the company of battle-hardened killers embarks on a secretive mission at the behest of the Empire, Arki discovers there are far worse things in life than the mundane histories of millers and merchants…

MY REVIEW
PROS:
Black humor, brutality, camaraderie, detailed yet subtle world building, characters worth caring for.
CONS: Length. This is still a satisfying adventure but it is short.
BOTTOM LINE: I read 70 books in 2012 and I consider Scourge of the Betrayer to be both Debut of the Year and Fantasy of the Year.
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Jeff Salyards grew up in a small town north of Chicago. While it wasn’t Mayberry, it was quiet and sleepy, so he got started early imagining his way into other worlds that were loud, chaotic, and full of irrepressible characters. While he ultimately moved away, he never lost his fascination for the fantastic. Though his tastes have grown a bit darker over the years. Jeff lives near Chicago with his wife and three daughters. By day, he is a book editor for the American Bar Association; by night, he will continue to crank out novels as long as there are readers willing to read them. His debut novel, Scourge of the Betrayer, will be published by Night Shade Books in May.

Avoiding Tired Tropes When World Building

All writers play demigods-it’s part of the job description. We invent out of the ether, populate our worlds and stories with characters we create and control. However, readers still expect the author not to be a sloppy or lazy deity.

If a thriller writer sets a novel in Cleveland, she better know the ground, because without fail, Clevelanders will cry bloody murder on blogs far and wide if so much as a street name is off. If a highbrow literary writer crafts a scene in the Texas badlands, same dealio-he better not claim peyote was legalized there for religious ceremonies in 1960 when it was actually 1970. Someone somewhere will delight in pointing out the discrepancy. Get messy or apathetic with the facts and you better have some thick skin to survive the backlash, especially if you’re a routine offender.
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