Upon the Flight of the Queen by Howard Andrew Jones: a Trailer

Friday, November 8th, 2019 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

9781250148803November, 19th is a date worth marking on your calendar. It’s the day Upon the Flight of the Queen (St. Martin’s Press), the second installment of Howard Andrew Jones’ Ring-Sworn Trilogy debuts. I loved For the Killing of Kings, the first book. You can read my review of it here. It’s a terrific swords & sorcery tale with a heavy dose of swashbuckling. If you haven’t read it yet, it should be clear I heartily recommend it. It’s felt like an age since my last post here at Black Gate. I’m still not sure when I’ll return here with any sort of regularity, but for books like this, I’m willing to make an appearance.

I’m old, so the idea of doing a trailer for a book isn’t something I’ve ever thought of. Apparently it’s a thing and it can be pretty cool. Up above is the brand new one for Upon the Flight of the Queen and it was done by Jones’ son, Darian Jones, an animator (as well as many other talents as will become clear later). As trailers are a whole new concept for me, I figured I’d ask Darian about himself and how he created the one for Flight.


Fletcher: So, Darian, can you please, tell us about yourself and your animation background?

Darian: Hello! Well, like my father, I have always been a performer and a storyteller. As a kid, he and I would be unable to watch a movie or listen to a song without taking it apart and analyzing it together. Animation seemed like the natural marriage of writing, art, and music, all things I loved to create. It started with simple comics during middle school at recess (and anytime the teacher wasn’t looking). Then I tried my hand at stop motion using stuffed animals and action figures. Over time I just fell in love with the medium. There is a vast storytelling potential in animation. I believe it is the best way to make any story visually beautiful and expressive. Unlike film, animation grants its creator the most minute control over every detail. I determine exactly what colors I use scene-by-scene. I determine how a character gesticulates and how their face emotes when they speak. I can give them shark teeth or hair made of drifting clouds if I want. My commitment to the study of animation earned me straight As and a position as Lead Animator on our class’ student thesis film. My professor said it was not only my skills with the medium but also my ability to negotiate calmly and effectively during times of extreme stress that won me the title. Now I have graduated college and I’ve been making little animations every chance I get to build my portfolio and, hopefully, win new positions at studios. Until then, I’m doing freelance work for writers and businesses.

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Of Swords & Scrolls: An Interview with Author David C. Smith

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

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David C. Smith, June 2019 delivering the Guest of Honor presentation at Howard Days 2019

Joe Bonadonna introduces David C. Smith

In 1978, before emails and the Internet, I was working on a novella and reading Dave’s excellent first novel, Oron, when I came across a plot device/character trait in his novel that bore a striking similarity to something I had already incorporated into my story. Already a fan of Dave’s, and knowing he knew Charles Saunders, to whom I had sold several short stories for his and Charles de Lint’s excellent Dragonfields, I asked Saunders for Dave’s address; he was still living in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio at the time. I wrote Dave a letter and he responded almost immediately. From 1978 until early 1996, when he and his wife Janine — who has a graphic design degree and is a very talented illustrator who did the maps for the brand-new, Wildside Press edition of Dave’s Fall of the First World trilogy — moved to Palatine, IL we kept up a steady correspondence that rivaled if not exceeded the lengthy correspondence between Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft. Their move occurred during a time when Dave and I had taken vacations from writing. But during the summer of 1996, I finally persuaded him to work with me on a zombie apocalypse screenplay called Twilight of the Dead (later retitled Children of the Grave), and then we collaborated on what we consider to be a solid screenplay called Magicians, which was based on his two David Trevisan novels: The Fair Rules of Evil and The Eyes of Night. That script did exceedingly well in screenplay competitions and we still have hope that one day it will be optioned by some wise, far-sighted and talented producer or director. (By the way, it was at the late and lamented Top Shelf Books in Palatine, at the monthly author’s live-reading night in 2010, where Dave and I met John O’Neill, the Great Eye of Black Gate.)

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Accessible Dark Fantasy: An Interview with Carol Berg

Sunday, October 13th, 2019 | Posted by SELindberg

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Let us welcome Carol Berg (and Cate Glass)

Carol Berg majored in mathematics at Rice University, in part so she wouldn’t have to write papers. But while earning her mathematics degree, she took every English course that listed novels on the syllabus, just so she would have time to keep reading. Somewhere in the midst of teaching math for a couple of years, raising three sons, earning a second degree in computer science at the University of Colorado, and a software engineering career, a friend teased her into exchanging letters written “in character.” Once Carol started writing fiction, she couldn’t stop. Carol’s fifteen epic fantasy novels have earned national and international acclaim, including the Geffen Award, the Prism Award, multiple Colorado Book Awards, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. She has been twice voted the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Writer of the Year.

Carol’s newest work, written as her alter ego Cate Glass, is a fantasy adventure series called Chimera about a rag-tag quartet of sorcerers who take on missions of deception and intrigue in a world where magic earns the death penalty. The first book, An Illusion of Thieves, was released in May 2019 by Tor Books (A Conjuring of Assassins is due out Feb 2020). Carol lives in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains with her Exceptional Spouse. She routinely attends conventions and was recently a special guest at the 2019 GenCon Writer’s Symposium.

Carol Berg makes dark fantasy fun and accessible, a perfect candidate for our interviews on “Art & Beauty in Weird Fantasy” (see previous interviews listed below). Most authors who produce horror/fantasy are (a) serious about their craft, and (b) driven by strange muses. Let’s tap the mind(s) of Carol Berg and Cate Glass.

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Talking Rod Serling and the Dawn of Television with Graphic Novelist Koren Shadmi

Saturday, October 5th, 2019 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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Rod Serling is famously the creator and voice for The Twilight Zone, but as I recently discovered in a new graphic novel by Koren Shadmi, Serling was an influential creator at the dawn of the television age. Courtesy of Humanoids Press, I got an advanced copy of Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television, a graphic novel biography of Rod Serling. The publisher description reads:

We recognize him as our sharply dressed, cigarette-smoking tour guide of The Twilight Zone, but the entertainment business once regarded him as the “Angry Young Man” of Television. Before he became the revered master of science fiction, Rod Serling was a just a writer who had to fight to make his voice heard. He vehemently challenged the networks and viewership alike to expand their minds and standards — rejecting notions of censorship, racism and war. But it wasn’t until he began to write about real-world enemies in the guise of aliens and monsters that people lent their ears. In doing so, he pushed the television industry to the edge of glory, and himself to the edge of sanity. Rod operated in a dimension beyond that of contemporary society, making him both a revolutionary and an outsider.

I’ve got some exclusive excerpt pages to show you below, and some examples of the depiction of Serling’s military time.

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Call for Backers! New Podcast Derelict is a Science Fiction Thriller You Don’t Want to Miss

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Emily Mah

Since J. Barton Mitchell and I are in the same writer’s group, I had the privilege of reading the script for the first episode of Derelict before it was cast. If you liked Mitchell’s book, The Razor, or are otherwise a fan of action packed, hard science fiction, you definitely don’t want to miss this. Mitchell has provided the following interview, discussing the project in depth, but first, check out the first episode, then go back the production of future episodes here.

Emily Mah: As a science fiction author, your novel Valley of Fires concluded the Conquered Earth series (and was awarded best science fiction novel of 2015 by the RT Book Review), which included Midnight City and The Severed Tower. Last November you had The Razor (picked by Amazon as one of the best Sci-Fi books of 2018). With Derelict, you’re exploring a whole new medium: narrative podcasts. Why turn to podcasting?

J. Barton Mitchell: I actually started on the film side of things, my first success was as a screenwriter, I came to fiction later on. As a result, I tend to think cinematically, even when writing books. The narrative podcast medium was kind of a natural fit because it’s sort of cinematic without visuals (odd as that sounds). It’s, basically, like you’re listening to a movie. The format also lets you do projects that would be completely impossible from a budget standpoint if they were in film or TV. Derelict would be over a $100 million dollar budget as a movie…but, as a podcast, I can make it in my basement, and it’s almost just as visceral and engaging. I think that’s really exciting. The other thing is that, for me, the best kind of storytelling is where the audience is allowed to participate in the storytelling process. In other words, they get to fill in the blanks with their imagination. The audio format allows for that in a major way, because (like a novel) it’s sans imagery. The audience has to imagine the visuals themselves. I think that’s really exciting too.

Emily Mah: So, no spoilers, but what’s Derelict about and why should I tune in?

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Goth Chick News Interviews Thomas Morrissey, Author of Supernatural Thriller, Faustus Resurrectus

Thursday, August 8th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

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Sometimes a martini is more than just a martini.

Such was the case when on a recent visit to NYC, dinner in a small Italian restaurant began with a drink at the bar and a chance encounter with mixologist extraordinaire Thomas Morrissey. Turns out Thomas’ talents go far beyond creating delectable adult libations. Much to my utter delight, I learned he is also the author of a rather fabulous piece of supernatural fiction entitled Faustus Resurrectus.

The cosmic alignment couldn’t have been more perfect. Me, having a martini and falling into conversation with a man who writes scary stories. Introducing him to all of you was a no-brainer.

Before I do, I’ll let him describe a bit about Faustus Resurrectus.

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Torg Eternity: The Aysle Sourcebook Interview

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Torg EternityAbout a year ago I reviewed Torg Eternity, the reboot from Ulisses Spiele of the Torg tabletop role-playing game. I loved the original, one of the most wildly imaginative settings I’ve ever seen, and found the new version kept the best parts of the old Torg while making the mechanics smoother (I wrote up a session here). The game imagines our world attacked by other realities, each based on a different genre of fiction, which invade by making parts of our world operate according to their rules — increasing or decreasing the level of technology, adding magic or psionics or manifestations of the gods, and subtly encouraging people to behave in ways appropriate to their genre.

Now dinosaurs wander the jungles and mysterious ruins of the North American coasts. A cyberpunk theocracy’s taken over France. India faces colonial gothic horror. Splatterpunk technodemons in Russia have spawned a wasteland north of Moscow haunted by scavengers and monstrosity. East Asia sees zombies and bleeding-edge technology enveloped in espionage schemes. A maniacal pulp-era supervillain’s launched a New Nile Empire based in Egypt, opposed by masked Mystery Men. And in England and Scandinavia, wizards and elves and dragons are caught in a war between Light and Dark.

In the last year, two wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns have launched sourcebooks covering specific realms: first the lost-world realm of the Living Land, then the pulp reality of the Nile Empire. Now a third campaign has begun, for the sourcebook covering the fantasy realm of Aysle. I interviewed the Torg Eternity design team about the new book, how it approaches the fantasy genre, and what gamers can expect.

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Wordsmiths: Live Interview with Ada Palmer at ConFusion 2019!

Friday, June 28th, 2019 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a live interview! Back in January, I had the pleasure of attending ConFusion, Michigan’s annual conference for authors and fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror. If you’ve never been, I highly suggest you check it out; it’s become one of my top two U.S. cons for writers (alongside Readercon) and is always a ton of fun.

Like in 2018, the con-com let me sit down for a live interview with one of their GoHs, in this case the talented and insightful Ada Palmer. If you’re unfamiliar with her, Palmer is the author of the Terra Ignota series, which started in 2016 with Too Like the Lightning and is planned to conclude with book four, Perhaps the Stars, in 2020. Lightning earned Palmer the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2017, and it was also nominated for the Hugo. It is an intricate, literary exploration of a future Earth shaped by the end of nation states and a set of Universal Laws.

I’ve gotten very lucky in who I’ve been able to interview lately, but talking with Palmer was fascinating. In 50 minutes we barely scratched the surface of what I wanted to discuss, and we easily could have continued for another couple of hours, mostly so I could keep learning. I hope you enjoy the interview below and encourage you to check out her work.

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Power Couples in the World of Speculative Fiction: Jim Freund and Barbara Krasnoff

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

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Crowens: You guys are native Brooklyners, right?

Both: No.

Barbara: I’m the native Brooklyner. He’s from Queens.

Jim: I’m from Jackson Heights. She is from Canarsie… originally. It’s like the line from Captain America: Civil War when he meets Spider-man. Captain America is fighting him at the airport and says, “You’ve got heart, kid. Where are you from?” and Spider-man says, “Queens.” Captain America looks at him and says in a confrontational tone, “Brooklyn.”

(Laughs): That’s great.

Jim: Best line in the movie.

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Disgust and Desire: An Interview with Anna Smith Spark

Saturday, May 18th, 2019 | Posted by SELindberg

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It is not intuitive to seek beauty in art deemed grotesque/weird, but most authors who produce horror/fantasy actually are usually (a) serious about their craft, and (b) driven my strange muses.  This interview series engages contemporary authors & artists on the theme of “Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction.”  Previously we cornered weird fantasy authors like John FultzJaneen WebbAliya WhiteleyRichard Lee ByersSebastian Jones, Charles Gramlich, and Darrell Schweitzer. This one features the “Queen of Grimdark,” Anna Smith Spark.

Anna Smith Spark is the author of the critically acclaimed Queen of Grimdark. The David Gemmell Awards shortlisted The Court of Broken Knives and The Tower of Living and Dying continued the Empires of Dust trilogy (Harper Voyager US/ Orbit US/Can). The finale, The House of Sacrifice, will be published August 2019. Anna lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a Ph.D. in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website greatworks.org. Previous jobs include petty bureaucrat, English teacher and fetish model. Anna’s favorite authors and key influences are R. Scott Bakker, Steve Erikson, M. John Harrison, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Stewart and Mary Renault. She spent several years as an obsessive D&D player. She can often be spotted at sff conventions wearing very unusual shoes.

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