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 »

Coming to Town: Jeff VanderMeer at Quail Ridge Books for Authority, interviewed by Mur Lafferty

Tallahassee author Jeff VanderMeer has been no stranger to the Carolinas, both through his work teaching at the SharedWorlds teen writing summer camp at Wofford College and quite a few events over the years. We’re thrilled to be welcoming him back again this year as part of his Southern Reach Summer Tour which includes 4 stops in the Carolinas in just over a week, starting and ending with Wednesday events (July 9th and 16th) at Hub City in Spartanburg, SC around readings on Thursday (July 10th) at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books at 7:30 pm and Saturday (July 12th) at Asheville’s Malaprop’s Bookstore at 7 pm. Here, VanderMeer is interviewed by Durham author Mur Lafferty about The Southern Reach series and Shared Worlds; we find out about some giveaways as well as get his thoughts about possible expansions to the trilogy, which will be completed with Acceptance in September.

Annihilation Authority

Interview by Mur Lafferty:

ML: The Southern Reach trilogy is unlike other books in so many ways, one of the more mundane yet rare things about it is its release schedule. We’re used to publishing’s glacial pace- why three books within a year?

JV: The publisher, FSG, suggested this schedule—they’re very proactive and inventive in how they think about marketing books. Their thought was that three books in one year, in inexpensive trade paperback editions, could create a lot of interest for this kind of series. And then the fact it was FSG meant I felt free to do what I usually like to do with a series: write three very different novels that fit together but don’t follow the usual “rules” for trilogies or for connected books. From my point of view, it was the perfect situation: a perfect plan for the commercial side of things and complete freedom to explore what I wanted to explore, hopefully in a way entertaining for readers.

ML: … And how have you handled the pressure of that speed of production? Read the rest of this entry »

July Newsletter: Wilton Barnhardt, Jay Posey, Jeff VanderMeer, ConGregate, David B. Coe, Serenity, and more

Vol 4. No 7. July 7, 2014: We are in for an absolutely fantastic July, with readings from Wilton Barnhardt, Jay Posey, Jeff VanderMeer, Lydia Netzer, Deborah Harkness, David B. Coe, and Mur Lafferty, new convention ConGregate in Winston-Salem with guests of honor Larry Correia and Toni Weisskopf and the presentation of the Manly Wade Wellman Award, and! even more, including comics events and the annual charity screening of Serenity at the Raleighwood Cinema Grill.

Let’s start with NC State professor Wilton Barnhardt, who has two readings early this week in support of the new paperback release of his NY Times bestselling Southern novel Lookaway, Lookaway, optioned earlier this year by HBO for a comedy series. He’s my guest on Carolina Book Beat this morning (Monday) at 10 on WCOM-FM, then reads at Flyleaf Books at 7 pm on Monday night, and at McIntyre’s Books on Tuesday at 6:30 pm.


Speaking of Tuesday, Durham author and game writer Jay Posey will be at the Cary B&N at 7 pm for a reading of Morningside Fall, book two after his debut novel Three in his “The Legends of the Duskwalker” post-apocalyptic series.

Then starting mid-week it’s the Jeff VanderMeer show, with 4 readings in the Carolinas in just over a week, starting and ending with Wednesday events (9th and 16th) at Hub City in Spartanburg, SC around readings on Thursday (July 10th) at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books at 7:30 pm and Saturday (July 12th) at Asheville’s Malaprop’s. And! He will be my guest via phone this week on Carolina Book Beat at 11 AM. (Do check out his conversation with Frank Stasio on WUNC’s The State of Things which aired last week.)

New convention ConGregate will be held July 11-13 in downtown Winston-Salem, with guests of honor Larry Correia, Mark Poole, and Toni Weisskopf, and the presentation of the 2014 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy to one of the six excellent nominees:

Read the rest of this entry »

Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, June 2014: One Three One, Barricade, the Gemmell Awards, and more

From the Other Side, June 2014

By Paul Kincaid

Okay, we have to accept that, however much we might value its qualities, science fiction can sometimes serve as a repository for the mad, the bizarre, the plain bonkers. Which may be why we get One Three One: A Time-Shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel by Julian Cope (Faber). Cope is, of course, the former lead singer of The Teardrop Explodes who has also written  couple of well-received books on ancient megaliths, and some eclectic works on obscure rock music, so for his first attempt at fiction we could expect pretty much anything; and that’s pretty much what we get. It features a Cope-like rock star travelling around Highway 131 in Sardinia, but along the way we get fascist kidnappers, football fans gearing up for Italia 90, counter-arguments to C.S. Lewis, praise for D.H. Lawrence, and a cast of comic eccentrics with the sorts of names that scream ‘comic eccentric’. It is, in short, a sort of catch-all mess with bits of thriller and sf and football novel and the whole bizarre list of Julian Cope’s obsessions all thrown into the mix, and yet it seems to work. Well, it does if you like time-shifting gnostic hooligan road novels.

One Three One: A Time-Shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel Barricade

One Three One is clearly the oddball novel of the month. Controversy of the month brings us to a debut novel by Jon Wallace, Barricade (Gollancz). I’d been thinking of mentioning the book in this column, since initial reviews suggested it was a moderately-interesting page-turner, but then came Christopher Priest’s damning review at Arc, and suddenly the internet was alight. Wallace didn’t help his cause with a couple of ill-judged if defensive posts, but the controversy did drive a lot of people to read the book who might not have done otherwise, though I noticed that the general reaction afterwards was that Priest had been too generous. But the best thing to emerge from this mess, and the thing I really wanted to draw your attention to, was this superb post by Tricia Sullivan, which amounts to a heartfelt manifesto for those who want to revisit some of the most well-worn of contemporary sf tropes. Read the rest of this entry »

ConTemporal 2014: Day One

ConTemporal 2014 is underway, and there’s even more mood-setting decorations throughout the hotel, music playing, costumes everywhere. Here’s a few photos, including of the massively expanded high tea room:

It wouldn't be a NC sf convention without Allen Wold, here looking quite dapper. Be warned: he's carrying a badge.

It wouldn’t be a NC sf convention without Allen Wold, here looking quite dapper. Be warned: he’s carrying a badge.

I admit it. I jumped just a little bit when this little trike's animatronic motors kicked into life.

I admit it. I jumped just a little bit when this little trike’s animatronic motors kicked into life.

Luckily for all concerned, this guy doesn't move.

Luckily for all concerned, this guy doesn’t move.

Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Dave Lee for ConTemporal, interviewed by Paul Cory

ConTemporal is this weekend (June 27-29) at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown, and artist guest of honor Dave Lee is one of dozens of guests coming to town for the event. Lee’s travel isn’t too far, as his Hatton Cross Steampunk is located in Gloucester VA. An accomplished and award-winning Steampunk artist, he is also an author: his Steampunk western novel entitled Country in Ruin:1865 is published through HCS Publishing and its sequel World in Ruin:1870 is due out in 2014. Here, Lee took the time for some questions from Durham photographer Paul Cory.


Dave Lee, photo by Paul Cory

Interview by Paul Cory:

Q:  Why Hatton Cross? Is there a particular significance to the name?

A: It started out as a joke. A British friend of mine said the best way to pick your steampunk name was to pick two or more names from London underground stations. There are more than a hundred with very unique names. Hatton Cross is a station and I just liked the sound of it. I’ve always had it in my head that we’d have a group instead of an individual.

Q: How did you get introduced to steampunk, and what about it keep your creativity flowing? Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Quick Update: Manly Wade Wellman Award nominations close TONIGHT, Monica Byrne reading tomorrow, and! ConTemporal is coming

Friday, June 13, 2014: Today is the last day for nominations for the 2014 Manly Wade Wellman Award, which close tonight at midnight! If you are or were a member of illogiCon, ConCarolinas, ConTemporal, or ConGregate, you are eligible to vote; if you haven’t, please fill out the registration form and I will get your e-ballot to you right away.

Tomorrow, Durham author Monica Byrne is reading at McIntyre’s Books at 11 am. She was on WUNC’s “The State of Things” with Frank Stasio yesterday, discussing her novel The Girl in the Road, which she’ll be reading from at the event.

Via Warren Rochelle, a fantastic article about Fred Chappell by  for the Triad City Beat. “There is an octagonal wooden table on the side of a small deck in Fred Chappell’s backyard, one of three places in his house where he sits to write.”

A Kickstarter campaign by Silence in the Library Publishing, HEROES! A Diverse Superhero Anthology which has reached its initial funding goal, and which is very close to reaching a stretch goal of including a story from Charlotte author Gail Z. Martin.



6-22 — Raleigh Little Theatre presents Noël Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” at Cantey V. Sutton Theatre. “ A novelist invites an eccentric medium and clairvoyant to his house to conduct a séance for research for his next book. The scheme backfires when he is haunted by the ghost of his temperamental first wife.” More info:

13 (Friday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Quail Ridge Books’ Teen Writers Collective Performs.

14 (Saturday) 11 am — McIntyre’s Books hosts Monica Byrne – The Girl in the Road.

19 (Thursday) 6 pm — “Noir at the Bar” in Durham as “Seven gritty crime writers descend upon Downtown Durham to talk books, writing, and drinking at 106 Main. Join Grant Jerkins, Phillip Thompson, Steve Weddle, Eryk Pruitt, Charles Dodd White, Peter Farris and Chad Rohrbacher for a night so dangerous, you’re going to need a drink.” More info:

20-22 (Friday to Sunday) — Heroes Convention in Charlotte, presented by Charlotte comics shop Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find, at the Charlotte Convention Center. More info:

26-29 (Thursday to Sunday) — ConTemporal in Raleigh at the Hilton North Raleigh Midtown. “Join us for the Third Annual Extravaganza!” More info:

27-28 (Friday and Saturday) — The High Country Festival of the Book in Downtown Boone, NC. More info:

27-29 (Friday to Sunday) – LibertyCon, Chattanooga, TN. Guests include Pittsboro author David Drake and master of ceremonies Jim Minz. More info:

[As always for the latest listings see the most recent newsletter.]

June newsletter: MakerFaire, Noir at the Bar, ConTemporal, and the last week for Manly Wade Wellman Award nominations

Vol 4. No 6. June 6, 2014: First, it was pretty amazing to see so many fantastic NC authors and fans at ConCarolinas last weekend. (And, OK, sure, those coming in from out of state as well!) June is a bit quieter in terms of readings, though (of course) there’s still plenty going on, from Maker Faire this weekend to ConTemporal to close out the month, and the first “Noir at the Bar” event on June 19 with a half-dozen (and counting) crime novelists holding court.

Looking further ahead, while there’s rumor and word of a D.B. Jackson signing at Quail Ridge Books in July, I don’t have the final details to pass along just yet. But! The “NEW” event listings include the annual “Can’t Stop the Serenity” charity screening of the Firefly movie in July and not one but two readings with John Scalzi in late August.

Meanwhile, new content (other than a few “Friday Quick Update” posts) since the last newsletter includes:

And, speaking of Durham author Monica Byrne, she was my guest on The Latest from Carolina Book Beat: Monica Byrne which is now available in podcast. There’s one more night to catch her play Tarantino’s Yellow Speedo at Durham’s Manbites Dog Theatre, and she will be at McIntyre’s books on Saturday, June 14.

Lastly, I need to draw your attention to nominations for the 2014 Manly Wade Wellman Award, which have been extended through Friday, June 13. If you are or were a member of illogiCon, ConCarolinas, ConTemporal, or ConGregate, you are eligible to vote! If you haven’t, please fill out the registration form and I will get your e-ballot to you as soon as I can.





Read the rest of this entry »

Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, May 2014: Comics Unmasked exhibition, and new books from Nick Harkaway, Paul Cornell, Trudi Canavan, and Jeff VanderMeer

From the Other Side, May 2014

By Paul Kincaid

So, with the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the annual awards circus comes to an end (at least until the Hugos in August) in the splendid surroundings of the Royal Society. Under the gaze of Thomas Hobbes and Earnest Rutherford and other worthies we were treated to an award ceremony that seems to be getting longer every year. This time, for instance, there was a nicely unsettling short film from Sci-Fi London’s competition to make a film in just 48 hours, followed by a reading from each of the shortlisted novels by one of the professional readers for Audible. Eventually, however, the envelope was opened by last year’s winner, Chris Beckett. And the winner was, perhaps inevitably, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, the novel that seems to be gathering just about every award going this year.


Just a week after the Clarke Award ceremony, I went along to the British Library to see their Comics Unmasked exhibition. I think Dave McKean, who designed the show, went overboard on the Anonymous figures with their Guy Fawkes masks who stood in crowds, watching at every turn in the exhibition. Yes, the exhibition does emphasise the political dimension of comics, but this was rather heavy handed. Nevertheless, what’s on display really is fascinating, from a medieval parable told just like a strip cartoon, to examples of erotic comic art, by way of super heroes, the Illustrated Police News, Andy Capp and a Gorillaz video. I recognised lots of comics from my own childhood, and there are plenty of more recent work by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Posy Simmons and others. The exhibition is on until 19th August, and it really is worth paying a visit. Read the rest of this entry »


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