Weird and Wonderful and Frightening: An Interview with Fantasy Renaissance Man Howard Andrew Jones

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Howard Andrew Jones is a true renaissance man of modern fantasy. He began writing short stories featuring his Arabian heroes Dabir & Asim for magazines and anthologies like Paradox, Sages & Swords, and Black Gate. He switched to novels with the widely acclaimed The Desert of Souls, one of the major works of fantasy of 2011. He followed that with a sequel, The Bones of the Old Ones (2011), and a 4-book sequence for Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows, Stalking the Beast, Beyond the Pool of Stars, and Through the Gate in the Sea.

In addition to writing, he’s also a gifted editor. He edited eight volumes of the collected tales of Harold Lamb for Bison Books, rescuing the early short fiction of one of the greatest adventure writers of the 20th Century from the moldering pages of pulp magazines. He was Managing Editor for the early e-zine Flashing Swords from 2004-2006, and in 2006 accepted the position of Managing Editor of Black Gate. He is the founding editor of Goodman Games’ new sword & sorcery magazine Tales From the Magician’s Skull, which published two issues last year. And in late 2018 he became Executive Editor at Perilous Worlds, where he oversees the publication of new titles for some of most popular properties in fantasy, including John C. Hocking’s Conan and the Emerald Lotus and Conan and the Living Plague.

Though that keeps him plenty busy, he has not neglected his own writing. For the Killing of Kings, the first novel in a brand new series, The Ring-Sworn trilogy, arrives today from St. Martin’s Press. It’s the top pick of the month of March for Bookpage, and Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, saying it “will have readers laughing, crying, and cheering.” Somehow Howard found time to sit down with us for a lengthy interview about his writing process, his influences (including Zelazny, Raymond Chandler, and Leigh Brackett), and the fast-changing trends he sees from his catbird seat in the industry. Enjoy.

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The Poison Apple: Mr. Sci-Fi: An Interview with Marc Zicree and the Future with Space Command

Monday, February 18th, 2019 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

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Crowens: I wanted to interview someone whose focus was not only the entertainment industry but also science fiction. Previously, almost everyone I’ve interviewed has been involved in fantasy or horror. After following you on Facebook I really wanted to interview you. Right away, I’ve been able to pick up on your “contagious enthusiasm” and high energy.

Zicree: Glad I could do it.

What was your very first job in the entertainment industry, and how did you get your foot in the door?

I grew up reading in the genre watching the original versions of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, and I started going to science fiction conventions when I was a teenager growing up here in LA. My heroes were the writers. There was a lot of crossover from the stories I read and the writers from those three shows: Richard Mathieson, Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, Harlan Ellison… they were all doing books and TV shows. When I was ten, I heard Ray Bradbury speak at a local library — a huge influence, and I became a big fan. When I was around fifteen or sixteen-years-old I started going to conventions and meeting them, and from there they became mentors.

There was also a radio show on KPFK in Los Angeles called Hour 25, and they interviewed all the great science fiction writers. Around 1973 when I was eighteen, I wrote a half hour radio play that was a satire of science fiction conventions, TV shows and movies called Lobotomy. So, I wrote, directed and acted in it with three of my friends and it aired on KPFK. On that same show, I heard Harlan Ellison talking about the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. When I was nineteen and an art student at UCLA, I attended Clarion that summer. It was at Michigan State University. The students included people like Kim Stanley Robinson and Robert Crais, who became well-known science fiction and mystery novelists, respectively. Our teachers were Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delaney, Kate Wilhelm, Damon Knight and Joe Haldeman – all very famous and accomplished science fiction writers. It was a great lineup.

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Wordsmiths: An Interview with Waubgeshig Rice

Friday, February 8th, 2019 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

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A while back at Can*Con 2017, I had the pleasure of meeting author and journalist Waubgeshig Rice for a panel discussion on post-apocalyptic fiction and First Nations perspectives in Canada. The panel came together partly because Waub was beginning to promote his then-forthcoming novel Moon of the Crusted Snow, which released in 2018 from ECW Press (and I reviewed a little while ago here). Despite being incredibly busy with different projects, Waub was game for a one-on-one interview to discuss Moon and some of his other work, which I’ve included in full below. Before that, here’s a little more information about Waub, courtesy of his website:

Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation. His first short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, was inspired by his experiences growing up in an Anishinaabe community, and won an Independent Publishers Book Award in 2012. His debut novel, Legacy, followed in 2014. A French translation was published in 2017.

He got his first taste of journalism in 1996 as an exchange student in Germany, writing articles about being an Anishinaabe teen in a foreign country for newspapers back in Canada. He graduated from Ryerson University’s journalism program in 2002. He currently works as a multi-platform journalist for CBC News in Sudbury, where he lives with his wife and son. In 2014, he received the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation for excellence in First Nation Storytelling.

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The Beautiful and the Repellent: An Interview with Charles A. Gramlich

Monday, January 21st, 2019 | Posted by SELindberg

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It is not intuitive to seek beauty in art deemed grotesque, but most authors who produce horror/fantasy actually are usually (a) serious about their craft, and (b) driven by strange muses. Weird fiction masters (Robert E. Howard, Poe, Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft…) held serious beliefs that their “horror” was actually beautiful. 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, and Darrell Schweitzer.

Charles Gramlich grew up on a farm in Arkansas but moved to the New Orleans area in 1986 to teach psychology at Xavier University. His degree is in Experimental Psychology with a specialization in Physiological Psychology; Charles served as chair of the department several times between 1988 and 2002. He was instrumental in developing the Psychology Pre-medical program for the department. He’s since published eight novels, three nonfiction books, five collections of short stories, and a chapbook of vampire haiku. Charles likes to write in many different genres but all of his fiction work is known for its intense action and strong visuals. Check out his Razored Zen blog and Amazon page.

Previous interviews are revealing: in 2007 Shauna Roberts interviewed Gramlich about his Talera Cycle (also included in Write with Fire) and in 2014 Prashant C. Trikannad’s interview focused on his western Killing Trail. This round we focus on his poetic take on pulp adventure. In addition to publishing many short stories that fit the bill, he published an essay in Weird Fiction Review #7 called “The Beautiful and the Repellent: The Erotic Allure of Death and the Other in the Writers of Weird Tales” (Fall 2016 edition).

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Wordsmiths: Talking Horror and White Noise with Geoff Gander and Tito Ferradans

Friday, December 14th, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

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There’s been something about this past year – tons of creators I know are doing awesome things, particularly in my Ottawa backyard, nearby in Toronto and elsewhere across Canada. It sounds cliché, but watching these projects come to fruition is one of the highlights of being a creator myself, and I’ve been lucky to chat with a few people and put together interviews to share with all of you – starting today!

Recently I had the pleasure of chatting with Ottawa horror author and games writer Geoff Gander about some exciting news: the purchase of film rights to his 2014 short story “White Noise” (published in AE Sci Fi). The short film of the same name is being written and co-directed by Vancouver-based screenwriter Tito Ferradans, who joined us to discuss the process of converting from short story to film, and the horror genre in general. He also shared some screenshots from the film to give you a glimpse of what “White Noise” will look like.

Hope you all enjoy! And make sure to check out links to the White Noise Indigegogo campaign below!

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Wordsmiths: An Interview with Kevin Hearne, Recorded Live at Can*Con 2018!

Saturday, November 17th, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

You know what I haven’t done here in a while? Interviewed some fellow creatives.

Luckily, on top of writing for Black Gate I’m also one of the programming directors for Can*Con, Ottawa’s annual conference for sci-fi, fantasy and horror writing (okay, you probably knew that already). Last month at Can*Con 2018 I had the pleasure of sitting down with Guest of Honour Kevin Hearne, author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Seven Kennings series, Tales of Pell, and more, for a live interview — and hey, we just happened to record it.

Check out the video above for a discussion of how Kevin works, the role of the author in society, the perfect whiskey for a whiskey sour, some special shout-outs to his friends in the industry, and a sneak peek at what’s next for the Iron Druid Chronicles!


Pie and a Slice of Sky: An Interview with Brooklyn Writer Rob Cameron

Friday, October 26th, 2018 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

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Writer Cameron Roberson (Cam Rob)
of Brooklyn SF Writers group & Kaleidocast

Greetings, Black Gaters! I’m here today with an interview for you with Rob Cameron, or “Cam” as I like to call him, a New York speculative fiction writer, among — as you will see — other things.

Cam was one of the first friends I made in New York City. Wait, let me take that back a few steps. It all started with Readercon, as so many things (including my marriage) do! It was probably Readercon, circa 2015. I was attending a panel to hear Ellen Kushner talk about something very interesting that I cannot now recall. I do recall that she opened the panel up to questions very early — which is one of her neat tricks: she’s there to serve the audience, and wants to talk about what interests them most. One of the first questions from the audience — and I remember thinking it was very keen and interesting — came from a bright-eyed young man who was sitting on the edge of his seat, leaning forward, as if he wanted to be the first to hear everything. He obviously knew Ellen, and she him, but I didn’t know him, and I thought, “Well! He must be a friend I haven’t met yet!” and determined at that moment to fulfill my own prophecy and get to know him better.

It turns out that this gentleman was none other than Rob Cameron, writer, gamer, teacher, as well as one of the main movers and shakers of the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers and Kaleiodocast, the podcast they produce, which features fiction by and interviews with speculative fiction writers, and also stories that occur in a shared world.

The more I got to know him, the more I realized Cam was at the heart of New York’s electric, eclectic, thunderous spec fic scene, deeply involved in a community of writers all rising together, reading and critiquing each other’s work, attending events and conventions, and learning the business of being a writer. I thought he’d be a fantastic person to interview for Black Gate, so that we could all share in some of his knowledge, wisdom, and love of pie. After all — ’tis the season for pie. But then, when isn’t it?

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Myke Cole and The Queen of Crows

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

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The Sacred Throne novels by Myke Cole (Tor Books)

I first met Myke Cole at a World Fantasy Convention some years back, but I feel as though I’ve known him a little longer because John O’Neill published him in Black Gate, and Myke’s fiction is direct and compelling and intense, rather like Myke himself.

The second novel in his new series has just debuted, and I thought it high time to sit down with him to talk about the book and his writing.

HAJ: Suppose you bump into me on an elevator with a copy of your book, and I ask what the book’s about. What do you tell me?

Myke: It’s about the weight of expectations, and the struggle to do what’s right in spite of them.

I’m interested in your brief description and want to know more, so what else do you say about it?

The weight of expectations are falling on a young woman in a suit of badass power armor, so she’s got a fighting chance :)

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Modular: Sagas of Midgard Invades… Well, Midgard

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 | Posted by Gabe Dybing

SoMcoverIt’s been awhile, and not because there’s been any shortage of Norse-themed role playing games! In this time, we’ve had the 5e derivative Dragon Heresy, a d6 system called Vikingr, older campaign settings such as Hellfrost and systems such as Trudvang Chronicles, and many others. Our topic on this Odin’s Day, however, is the latest of these: Sagas of Midgard.

Honestly, I had kind of retired from investment in Viking-age rpgs. My home game hasn’t involved the Norse-specific setting for more than a year, my pocketbook doesn’t drip nine golden rings as Odin’s Draupnir does, and there isn’t much utility in owning much more, since I doubt I’d be able to wrest my gamers from my tabletop version of Fourth Age Middle-earth anytime soon. But the Sagas of Midgard Kickstarter advertised savage, fast-paced gameplay and rules for Raiding—an essential component of the northern milieu and one that I had not ever seen treated to my satisfaction. So I backed a PDF copy, mostly out of curiosity.

When I received it, I realized I was encountering something much more than a few interesting mechanics. This looks like a really good game! You’ll notice that I don’t precisely say that it is simply because I haven’t had a chance to run it yet. Character abilities originate from five separate Domains, and each Domain is governed by a Norse deity. At character creation (and during advancement) players spend points within these domains for specific powers and abilities. These are fueled by a currency called Favor, which characters can obtain through a variety of methods, many of them mechanical. The core mechanic is what the designers call the “Rollover System.” Every task and adversary has a “Rollover Score,” usually between 1 and 100, that a PC has to beat (with a roll of d100) to obtain the effect she wants. There are modifiers, of course, resulting from other game mechanics, and a core feature is that the GM never rolls the dice, something shared by a few other systems and (though denying the GM the pleasure of rolling dice) allows her to focus on storytelling and character interaction.

My main criticism, though, is that the rules explanations can be hard to follow (while recognizing reasons for the authors’ organizational choices). I contacted the authors about this, and they told me that they already had been drafting a “cheat sheet” that should be helpful even to new gamers. And, in the midst of my enthusiasm for their game, I succeeded in getting the creators, Nick Porter and Dominic De Duonni, to agree to an interview.

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The Beauty in Life and Death: An Interview with Sebastian Jones

Sunday, October 21st, 2018 | Posted by SELindberg

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Niobe returns to reclaim her throne in 3 tales. Get the Erathune hardcover, She is Death #1 & #2, and the vampire epic, Essessa #1!

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 Fultz, Janeen Webb, Aliya Whiteley, and Richard Lee Byers. Recently we heard from the legendary author and editor of weird fiction, Darrell Schweitzer!

This round we corner Sebastian A. Jones: Author, actor, and teacher, Sebastian A. Jones grew up in England and moved to America at the age of eighteen where he founded MVP Records, releasing albums that included James Brown, John Coltrane, and Billie Holiday. In 2008 he founded Stranger Comics and Stranger Kids. Sebastian has written children’s books including Pinata and co-created the I Am book series with Garcelle Beauvais, including titles I Am Mixed and I Am Living in 2 Homes. Under Stranger’s dark fantasy line Asunda, he has received critical praise for his written work on The Untamed: A Sinner’s PrayerDusu: Path of the Ancient, and Niobe: She is Life, co-authored by Amandla Stenberg.

Note that the Asunda, the world of Niobe, is being realized with Pathfinder for RPG lovers. Check out the recent Paizo interview for more, and the ongoing Kickstarter which brings an omnibus versions of Niobe to life.

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