The Hardest Part: Lou Anders on Frostborn

In his ten years and counting tenure at Pyr, award-winning editor and art director Lou Anders has been on the other side of the desk from many fantastic fantasy novels and their authors, from James Enge’s Blood of Ambrose to Clay and Susan Griffith’s Vampire Empire and Allen Steele’s Apollo’s Outcasts, he’s made suggestions and fought for cuts and rewrites. As he writes here, he intended to (and in fact did) approach writing a novel with a willingness to revise to sell, but something happened along the way that turned the editing process into the hardest part of seeing his debut novel, Frostborn, published. Frostborn is the first book in Anders’s “Thrones and Bones” series for young readers, “a thoroughly enjoyable Viking-infused middle grade fantasy for boys and girls and their parents, with a winning combination of board gaming, frost giants, barrow mounds, and (of course!) dragons; fairly equal parts The Hobbit and (yes!) The Lion King with How to Train Your Dragon and The Black Cauldron flavoring atop a foundation of board games.” (Quoting myself, reviewing the audiobook elsewhere.) I’m already indebted to Lou for his kind words about Bull Spec early on, and for giving me the time for an in-depth, at-length interview in Bull Spec #4, and I hope you’re as interested here in what he has to say as I was.

Frostborn with Blurb

By Lou Anders:

When I wrote my first manuscript, the agent I was courting put me through an intense rewrite before he would agree to take me on and another one after he did. I told him I’d do anything to get it where it needed to be, and at one point we were debating having me rewrite the entire book to take it from third person to first person.

When I wrote my second manuscript, having already put it through several rewrites, I rewrote the entire thing to alter it from a young adult to a middle grade novel at the behest of an editor who thought she would be able to pick it up if I did.

My motto was “do what it takes to sell” and don’t be precious about anything. Read the rest of this entry »


The Exploding Spaceship Recommends Some Good UK Books for US Holiday-goers

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This column features some good reads for all ages which are not currently available in the US.  Many US fans are traveling to the UK for conventions and holidays during the summer months so Your Humble Reviewers thought to provide some suggestions for book souvenirs and gifts.

For the middle grades, we highly recommend The Book of Beasts (paperback from Head of Zeus) by John and Carole Barrowman which is the third volume in their Hollow Earth trilogy. The first two books are available in the US, but volume three has not reached the American side of the Atlantic yet.  These books are very fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring twins who magically animate through their art. They are set on an island off the coast of Scotland (it doesn’t really exist but features of it come from real Scottish places).  The third volume sees the twins separated for most of the book, and so makes the characters change quite a bit and grow in unexpected ways. This is our favorite currently ongoing middle grades series.  The pacing and excitement make this a good choice for reluctant readers and since the twins are Emily and Matt, it is a good choice for either sex. Plotting is good enough that older teens and adults will enjoy it too. And yes, if you Doctor Who and Torchwood fans thought the name was familiar, that is the actor who plays Captain Jack Harkness and his older sister who write the series.

Book of Beasts UK cover 21570450

For all ages over about ten years, we recommend the War-Fighting Manuals (small hardbacks from Gollancz), an interesting series of little handbooks set in a fantasy world where Orcs, Elves and Dwarves are constantly at war and the humans are sort of bystanders. Den Patrick has written 3 very engrossing little books called, Elves War-Fighting Manual, Dwarves War-Fighting Manual, and Orcs War-Fighting Manual. The manuals are from the viewpoint of a human named Sebastian Venghaus, who has extensively researched the three cultures by living with them for an extended period of time.  Each book talks about the weapons, armor, and culture of the race plus you get an idea of how the human is treated when he is a guest. The setting is very interesting, the writing humorous but clean and the books written in such a way that you can open the book to almost any section an enjoy reading from there. As pencil and paper roleplaying gamers since the 1970s, we immediately thought these looked like excellent reference material to run a fantasy adventure campaign, as well as providing some much needed fun reading as an escape from the difficult reading in many of today’s fantasy volumes. Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Quick Updates: Charles Soule, Teen Author Summer Slam, Maggie McNeill, book clubs, the Baen Writers Bootcamp, and more

Friday, August 15, 2014: Like clockwork, once the newsletter goes out, events I missed come to mind or come pouring in. While I’ve updated the online newsletter with these “NEW-NEW” August events, here they are:

  • NEW-NEW: 15 (Friday) 8 pm — Michael D. Acosta’s film Devolve Babylon to show at Geeksboro Cinema in Greensboro. Recently selected into the Eastern North Carolina Film Festival, DVDs are available at: WWW.gogwellfilms.com
  • NEW-NEW: 19 (Tuesday) 7 pm — The RTSFS book club discusses John Scalzi’s Redshirts at the B&N at Southpoint. “I’m sure we will be [also] discussing who won the Hugos this weekend. For Sept Half a King by Joe Abercrombie and for October Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey.”
  • NEW-NEW: 21 (Thursday) 7 pm — Durham County Southwest Library’s Sub-Genre-O-Rama Book Club discusses Plain Fear: Forsaken by Leanna Ellis, an “Amish-vampire-police procedural romance novel”. More info: http://meetup.com/sub-genre-o-rama
  • NEW-NEW: 29 (Friday) 10 pm — Durham author Mur Lafferty will be the guest for “Mr. Diplomat” at DSI Comedy Theater in Chapel Hill. Free. More info: http://www.dsicomedytheater.com/shows/details/mister-diplomat/

Still that’s only a slice of what’s going on this weekend and next week. Today at 5:30 pm, comics writer Charles Soule will hold a writing workshop at Ultimate Comics, ahead of a signing tomorrow from 11 am to 3 pm. “The writer of Letter 44, Superman Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Red Lanterns , She Hulk, Inhuman, 27, as well as the upcoming Death of Wolverine mini series will be in the store signing! Mark your calendar now! Don’t miss your chance to meet one of the newest superstars in comics!”

Saturday, August 16, Ultimate Comics hosts writer Charles Soule (She-Hulk, Wonder Woman, Death of Wolverine).  Ladies of the Night: Short Stories by Maggie McNeill Read the rest of this entry »


August Newsletter: Mur Lafferty wins the Manly Wade Wellman Award; events with Charles Soule, Lev Grossman, and John Scalzi; more news and links; and an announcement on the future of Bull Spec

Vol 4. No 8. August 14, 2014: Well, it was bound to happen. In about a year of monthly guest hosting on Carolina Book Beat, I hadn’t had a podcast fail. Well, it happened in early July, as guests Wilton Barnhardt and Jeff VanderMeer were really quite fantastic, but if you didn’t catch it live, you missed it. Mea culpa.

July was a banner month for events, with Barnhardt, Jay Posey, VanderMeer, Lydia Netzer, Deborah Harkness, D.B. Jackson a.k.a. David B. Coe, and Mur Lafferty all holding events, not to mention new sf convention ConGregate in Winston-Salem with guests of honor Larry Correia and Toni Weisskopf, where Lafferty was awarded the first Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy for her novel The Shambling Guide to New York City. Lafferty writes, “It was a huge honor to win, and an even bigger honor to be the first recipient.”At the same awards ceremony, Rich Sigfrit won the Cornerstone Award for his 10+ years of contributions to Carolinas fandom.

 

Speaking of awards, Natania Barron (for her Pilgrim of the Sky Live video reading series) and Tony Daniel (as host for Baen Free Radio Hour) were nominated for Parsec Awards, along with Bull Spec “alum” Tina Connolly (for her Toasted Cake speculative fiction podcast). Honoring excellence in speculative fiction podcasting, the awards will be presented at Dragon*Con. Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, July 2014: Irregularity edited by Jared Shurin, and other happenings and books pre-LonCon

From the Other Side, July 2014

By Paul Kincaid

Most disturbing news of the month came right at the beginning of July when we learned that Terry Pratchett had pulled out of this summer’s International Discworld Convention in Manchester because of what he calls ‘The Embuggerance’. So far his early-onset Alzheimer’s disease has not affected his attendance at events like that, but now, as he says, it ‘is finally catching up with me’. Though he still seems to be keeping up with his writing schedule. In the same announcement he declared that work on the fifth Tiffany Aching book is well under way.

And while we’re on the subject of best selling writers, a tip of the hat to top children’s author Allan Ahlberg, who this month turned down the Booktrust’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement award because it is sponsored by Amazon. He describes Amazon as ‘a baleful influence on the British book trade’ because of its war with Hachette and its blatant tax avoidance in the UK.

On to books, and the title that really caught my eye this month is Irregularity edited by Jared Shurin and published by Jurassic London [Kobo | Kindle | B&N]. It’s another collaboration with the National Maritime Museum tied in with their Longitude season, which I’ve mentioned before. This time we are offered 14 original stories ‘inspired by the great thinkers of the Age of Reason — those courageous men and women who set out to map, chart, name and classify the world around them. The great minds who brought order and discipline to the universe.’ Except that these stories feature someone or something that refuses to obey the dictates of reason. You’ll get a flavour from the Adam Roberts story that has the irresistible title of ‘The Assassination of Isaac Newton by the Coward Robert Boyle’. Other than the title it doesn’t owe much to Ron Hansen’s classic western, but it does include a time-travelling Robert Boyle, the secret of e=mc2 hidden in a lost work by Lucretius, and lots of quotes from Queen songs. Other authors in the collection include Nick Harkaway, E.J. Swift, Claire North, James Smythe, and academic Roger Luckhurst making a rare and surprising foray into fiction.

Irregularity

Irregularity / edited by Jared Shurin / Jurassic London, July 2014

Read the rest of this entry »


Coming to Town: Deborah Harkness for The Book of Life, interviewed by Sharon Stogner

Deborah Harkness was at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books on Saturday as part of her ongoing tour for The Book of Life, the highly-anticipated final installment of the bestselling All Souls Trilogy which began with A Discovery of Witches.  The sequel Shadow of Night debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and in total, over one million copies have been sold in the States with publications following in 38 countries. While we couldn’t have this interview for you prior to her reading and signing, Quail Ridge Books still has signed copies in stock, and for those elsewhere in the country, she still has tour stops in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Houston, Austin, Denver, and Scottsdale, before heading to Canada, Amsterdam, and the United Kingdom.

 

The Book of Life picks up right where Shadow of Night left off. After traveling through time, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to continue their hunt for the magical alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, otherwise known as the Book of Life. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they re­unite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception—ready to face old enemies. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for the Book of Life and its miss­ing pages takes on even more urgency. In the tril­ogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and forbidden passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowl­edge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.”

Interview by Sharon Stogner

SS: The last book in your All Souls Trilogy, The Book of Life, released July 15. This trilogy had to be an epic undertaking. Are you going to sit back and enjoy some time off or jump right back into another series?

DH: As a matter of fact I’m going to finish up with the book tour and go straight into the classroom for spring semester! I do need a bit of a rest, too, before I commit to another project. All I can say is I have many more stories to tell and look forward to telling them.

SS: What made you want to include a romance in the All Souls Trilogy? Was that aspect harder to write than the other elements of the story? Read the rest of this entry »


Coming to Town: D.B. Jackson (David B. Coe) at Quail Ridge Books for A Plunder of Souls, interviewed by Margaret S. McGraw

D.B. Jackson (also known to fantasy readers as David B. Coe) is an Award-winning author of fifteen published novels. He’s currently on a book signing tour to promote the newly released A Plunder of Souls, third in the Thieftaker Chronicles, and will be at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books and Music on Monday, July 21st, at 7:30pm. Jackson is a frequent visitor in the Carolinas, including the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop, ConCarolinas in Charlotte, and most recently, ConGregate in Winston-Salem. Here, Jackson is interviewed by Durham writer Margaret McGraw about the Thieftaker Chronicles with Tor Books, and his next big project, the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy series with Baen Books.

a plunder of souls cover DBJacksonPubPhoto800

 

[Interview by Margaret S. McGraw]

MM: Let’s talk about the Thieftaker Chronicles, beginning with Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry. The third book, A Plunder of Souls, was just released this month. You’ve blazed a trail in the subgenre of historical urban fantasy. How did that come about?

DJ: I call the Thieftaker Chronicles historical urban fantasy because the novels combine elements of historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery. The books are set in pre-Revolutionary Boston, and each plot line coincides with some significant historical event leading toward the American Revolution. My lead character is a conjurer who can cast a wide array of spells. And he is also a thieftaker, the eighteenth century equivalent of a private detective, so each novel also revolves around the investigation of a murder or other grisly crime. So there is a historical element, a magical element, and a mystery element: historical urban fantasy.

MM: And how about the buzzphrase “Tricorn Punk”? Read the rest of this entry »


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