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Mark Lawrence and the Prince of Fools

Friday, July 4th, 2014 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

Mark Lawrence-smallI’d been wanting to talk with the talented Mark Lawrence about his writing process for a long time and the occasion of his release of Prince of Fools (not to mention the wining of a certain prestigious award) seemed like as good a justification as any, and Mark kindly answered all of my questions in detail. I hope you’ll find them as interesting as I did.

Howard Andrew Jones: Congratulations on winning the David Gemmell Legend Award. What was the ceremony like?

Mark Lawrence: Thanks, it was the only award I’ve ever been interested in winning, so it was very gratifying to do so!

I couldn’t tell you what the ceremony was like. I’ve only been further than ten miles from my hometown once in the last ten years. My youngest daughter (10) is very disabled and I’m needed to look after her. Even when we have carers in I still need to be around to lift her. So getting away is very difficult indeed. Add to that the fact that I was sure I had zero chance of winning!

I do know the event was held at the headquarters of the Magic Circle in London which is a very nice venue and it was well attended. My agent received the award on my behalf. I would loved to have been there.

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On the Deck of a Sinking Ship: An Interview with Robin Riopelle

Saturday, May 31st, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Deadroads 9781597805131Robin Riopelle is the debut fantasy author of the novel Deadroads, released by Skyhorse Publishing’s newest imprint, Night Shade, in April of 2014.

The publication of her first novel was a bit more stressful than it normally would be, because her original publisher, Night Shade Books (NSB), teetered on the edge of bankruptcy a year ago, just as the novel was about to be released.

So, just to start with the basics of the story, when did you write Deadroads, what is it about, and what was the process to sell it to Night Shade?

Deadroads was written fairly quickly about 3 years ago. I was inspired, I guess you could say, really intrigued by the connection between Acadian and Cajun cultures.

I’ve always liked darker fiction and I have always written stories with an element of magic, but not capital M magic. Supernatural elements in my stories need to feel organic and slight. Deadroads is about a fractured family with roots in both Louisiana and New Brunswick, and about how they come together while trying to find out what killed their father. Of course, a larger and more ominous mystery about their parents’ past is revealed.

And there’s ghosts. A lot of ghosts.

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Author Spotlight on James Sutter

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

redemption engineI recently got a chance to talk with my friend (and editor) James Sutter about his new novel, The Redemption Engine, which debuts this week. In this wide-ranging and honest Q&A, James talked about his book and characters, the writing process, misperceptions about genre fiction — particularly of the tie-in flavor — and his hopes and dreams.

What would you say to someone wary of reading game fiction? (I would personally point them towards your first novel, Death’s Heretic, being number three on the Barnes & Noble Book Club’s 2011 Best Fantasy list.) But what would you say?

 

I would say that I used to be wary of it, too. As a kid, I read a ton of tie-in novels for properties like Star Wars, Dragonlance, etc. Then I got older and snobbier, and decided that anything with a logo couldn’t possibly be quality art. I won’t pretend there wasn’t evidence for that — a lot of tie-in books aren’t great. But as Theodore Sturgeon taught us, a lot of any art form isn’t great.

Once I started working in the game industry and realized just how many fabulous authors have done or currently do tie-in work, my opinion changed again. When you’ve got folks like Brandon Sanderson and Greg Bear writing tie-in novels, can you really claim that they’re somehow going to lose their chops just for that one book? And the truth is that great authors have always written novelizations, scripts, tie-ins, and other work-for-hire. Hell, Isaac Asimov himself wrote the novelization for Fantastic Voyage.

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Art of the Genre: An Interview with David Martin

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Scott Taylor

tumblr_mwxucxtvi61ro2bqto1_500So it’s April, which is a lovely time of year here in L.A., with moderate temperatures in the mid-60s and 70s most days as the city gets ready for June Gloom to set in and cast a shadowy marine layer over everything for a month.

I was hoping to relax in the splendor of Ryan Harvey’s satisfied silence at the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as well as Kandi’s casting as innocent bystander #3 for the next Michael Bay film (you know, the beautiful young woman who gets filmed in slow motion from a gratuitous boob angle as some huge vehicle flies over her head), when my phone decided to ring.

Now there is only one person that calls me when I really, really don’t want to get a call, and that is always our editor John O’Neill.  To make things worse, this time not only was he intent on sending me out for an interview to the New Mexico desert (temps already climbing in to the 90s), but I was to take Goth Chick with me.

Why?  I have no idea, as her mission was coded ‘top secret’, although my money is on a clandestine meeting with UFO witnesses around Roswell.  Whatever the case, I soon found myself boarding a plane (yes, out of Long Beach again) with Chick.  I was pleased, however, that she was searched by the TSA four times before she made it through security, but that joy quickly evaporated when I had to sustain the brunt of her dark mood for the two-hour flight into Albuquerque.

Still, Chick is always fun to have around, and after a few miniature bottles of vodka, followed by a solicitation to join her in the ‘Mile High Club’, she was back to her caustically lovely self.  Now I know what you’re thinking, but a gentleman never kisses and tells, and besides, what happens above Vegas, stays above Vegas.
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Rising Star Indie Publisher Mirror Comics on their Weird Western Mission Arizona

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

a MISSION_GN_00_cover_02bMission Arizona, the graphic novel from indie publisher Mirror Comics, recently came out on ComiXology. I already had a paper copy and loved this take on the weird western (like the dark weird westerns Buried Eyes by Lavie Tidhar or A Feast for Dust by Gemma Files), but I knew less about making comics or the changes in the comic book industry with e-comics sites like ComiXology, so I decided to chat with Mirror. Dominic Bercier is the president and publisher (and artist of Mission Arizona), while Kristopher Waddell is the editor-in-chief and co-publisher (and the writer of Mission Arizona). Both live in Ottawa, Canada.

Mission Arizona is a dark weird western about an old west town that has an unpleasant crossing with the supernatural world. Its outlaw hero is destined, by fate and birth, to face this supernatural evil.

Derek: Where does Mission Arizona come from? It’s got a bit of a spaghetti western feel, overlaid with the destiny of facing off against a terrible evil, but begins with a travelling showman sequence. How did these different flavors make it into the mix?

Kris: My interest in writing in this genre came from my childhood experiences watching old Roy Rogers and Gene Autry westerns with my Dad. Horror has always interested me because I’m fascinated by the abject, and our culture’s obsession with fearing the other. It probably doesn’t help that I watched Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws and Alien at a very young age.

In Mission, I really wanted to explore loss and redemption. Padre Martin Risk loses his wife and child, Samuel Risk loses his home and his family, while the town of Mission loses its soul. I wanted to write about the struggle and the consequences of dealing with loss, and the protagonist’s fight for redemption.

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Basic Dungeons and Dragons is Still Kicking: An Interview with Module Writer Geoff Gander

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

To_End_the_Rising_Web_CoverGeoff Gander is a dark fantasy writer and D&D module-creator living in Ottawa, Canada. Geoff and I met over early morning coffee to talk gaming.

Derek: So, you write Basic D&D modules. You’ve had 2 modules printed by Expeditious Retreat Press. Even when I was a small town teenager, I could still get my hands on a variety of role playing games, especially AD&D, making Basic seem like yesterday’s news. Now, twenty-five years later, people are paying you money to write modules for Basic. Where’s that market coming from?

Geoff: We’re seeing the rise of old school gaming in classic pen-and-paper RPGs as well as computers. Many old schoolers who played D&D and similar games in the 80s are now introducing the games to their children, or they may have followed the general flow of gaming culture towards the latest products on the market, and have grown nostalgic for what got them into the hobby in the first place.

There are also people like me, who grew dissatisfied with the quality of mainstream gaming products and stayed with the systems they enjoyed, long after they went out of print.

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Magic, and Miracles: An Interview with Bruce McAllister

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 | Posted by Garrett Calcaterra

Bruce McAllister-smallBruce McAllister lives in idyllic old town Orange, California. Outside his 1914 craftsman-style home, wild parrots squawk as they fly overhead from sweet gum tree to palm tree to an aged church bell tower in the distance. Inside, the home is neat and sparsely furnished. The only semblance of clutter is in McAllister’s writing office, where the desk is smattered with a few sheets of loose-leaf paper, and where along the sidewall, piled on top of a fold-out table and in plastic bins beneath it, he keeps his cobble collection. These fossil-riddled rocks are from the Santiago Creek riverbed where he routinely walks with his dog Madge. Like the seashell collection he had as a boy — and which plays a prominent role in his newest novel, The Village Sang to the Sea: a Memoir of Magic — these cobbles are a reminder of the wonder in the world around us, “rationale mysticism,” as he calls it.

Similar to Brad Latimer, the protagonist in The Village Sang to the Sea, McAllister grew up in a military family and lived in Italy for a time. Like Brad, his hunchback teacher caught him writing a story one day and, rather than punish him, the teacher encouraged him.

When he was sixteen, McAllister became nettled with another teacher, this one back in the United States, who was overemphasizing the importance of symbolism in literature. In an act of annoyed defiance, McAllister wrote a now famous letter, which he sent to 150 authors, including the likes of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Fritz Leiber, wherein he asked their thoughts on symbolism in their work and whether it was ever purposeful. To his surprise, the vast majority of the authors wrote back. “It was a miracle they responded,” he says.

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Art of the Genre: Interview with Jack Crane

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Scott Taylor

dragontreeentsYou know, sometimes your boss just refuses to let you enjoy your life… It’s no different here at Black Gate L.A. even though our intrepid editor-in-chief John O’Neill is thousands of miles away in Illinois.

I mean, take this month as a perfect example. On any given day the sun is shining, my office partner Ryan Harvey is talking non-stop about the upcoming release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Kandi, our secretary, is whispering/weeping to her agent about her lack of a callback, but all in all life is pretty good.

Then wouldn’t you know it, I get a text from the aforementioned Mr. O’Neill to gather up my winter gear and before you can utter the words ‘polar vortex’ I’m on a flight to Pennsylvania for an interview.

Now granted, it is an interview of a lifetime, breaking bread and talking shop with legendary Dragon Magazine cover artist Jack Crane, but nonetheless couldn’t Dr. Evil himself have picked early autumn to get this copy?!

Anyway, off I went to brave the cold, first to Philadelphia and then on up the Westchester Pike to the fine and frosty town of elven thousand souls, Broomall, PA. If you’ve never been to Broomall, I wouldn’t suggest going when it is -8 degrees, but still it is a fine little piece of Americana.

With my sightseeing limited, I headed to Phil A Mignon, a nice down home pizza and burger joint to meet with Jack before going to his studio. My order, well a ‘filet cheese steak’ of course, and some highly recommended raspberry peppercorn wings. It was darn fine food, and the filet was incredible compared to the standard greasy Philly steaks.

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Inkjetlings Round eTable: Jackson’s Desolation of The Hobbit?

Monday, January 6th, 2014 | Posted by Nick Ozment

smaugThis week Frederic S. Durbin, Gabe Dybing, and I discuss our impressions of Peter Jackson’s latest film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The conversation is a casual and meandering one among friends, although I have tried to group observations under distinct topics. In keeping with the informal nature of the exchange, I have used our first names.

First Impressions (and a link to a completely different review)

FRED: It’s a lot of fun. I was surprised in this one by the extreme departures from the book . . . so this one felt to me like I was watching really well-done fan fiction. But if you can accept that, the movie really is entertaining. It’s fun seeing the characters and settings. I’ll hold off saying any more until I’m sure you guys have seen it.

GABE:  It was a lot of fun, but it certainly will be interesting to talk about. How about you, Nick? Are we waiting for you to see it?

NICK: I finally did get to The Desolation of Smaug — Mel and I arranged a date night and saw it together. She is a HUGE fan of the LOTR movies, but with this film, she feels that something is just off. I found it an enjoyable spectacle, with the caveat that in tone it is very little like Tolkien.

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Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, Part 4 of 4

Sunday, December 1st, 2013 | Posted by christopher paul carey

Tales of the Wold Newton Universe-smallOctober marked the release of Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, a new anthology from Titan Books that collects, for the first time ever in one volume, Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton short fiction, as well as tales set in the mythos by other Farmerian authors.

The Wold Newton Family is a group of heroic and villainous literary figures that science fiction author Philip José Farmer postulated belonged to the same genetic family. Some of these characters are adventurers, some are detectives, some explorers and scientists, some espionage agents, and some are evil geniuses. According to Mr. Farmer, the Wold Newton Family originated when a radioactive meteor landed in Wold Newton, England, in the year 1795. The radiation caused a genetic mutation in those present, which endowed many of their descendants with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as an exceptional capacity and drive to perform good, or, as the case may be, evil deeds. The Wold Newton Universe is the larger world in which the Wold Newton Family exists and interacts with other characters from popular literature.

To celebrate the release of the new anthology, we’ve asked the contributors to discuss their interest in Philip José Farmer’s work and to tell us something about how their stories in the book specifically fit into the Wold Newton mythos.

For today’s installment, please welcome author and co-editor of Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, Win Scott Eckert.

Christopher Paul Carey
Co-editor, Tales of the Wold Newton Universe

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