July newsletter: Paul Tremblay, Clay and Susan Griffith, John Scalzi, Michael Swanwick, the Oak City Comic Show, Kim Harrison, Christopher Moore, and the latest NC books and news

Vol 5 No 5. Saturday, July 25, 2015: From scifi films on the radio to this year’s Manly Wade Wellman Award, I’ve got a lot to get to in this newsletter. But first! Some upcoming event highlights:

   

  • July 26 (Sunday) 4 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Paul Tremblay discusses his novel A Head Full of Ghosts. “A chilling domestic drama that blends psychological suspense with a touch of modern horror from a new, brilliantly imaginative master.”
  • August 6 (Thursday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Vampire Empire authors Clay and Susan Griffith for their “Crown & Key” trilogy (The Shadow RevolutionThe Undying Legion, and The Conquering Dark).
  • August 12 (Wednesday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Hugo Award winning and bestselling author John Scalzi for his new novel The End of All Things, set in his Old Man’s War universe.
  • August 13 (Thursday) — “Noir at the Bar” at Durham’s 106 Main, with: Eric Beetner (CA), Steve Weddle (VA), Greg Barth (TN), Eryk Pruitt (DUR), SA Cosby (fantasy/crime from VA), and a local artist who is about to publish his first sci-fi crime novel, Geraud Staton.
  • August 13 (Thursday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts NC poet and author Valerie Nieman for a reading from her new book of (sometimes speculative) poetry Hotel Worthy. Nieman is the author of Neena Gathering, a 1988 post-apocalyptic novel. Introduction by Richard Krawiec.
  • August 15 and 17 (Saturday and Monday) 7 pm — On Saturday August 15, Quail Ridge Books hosts Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award winning author Michael Swanwick for his new “Darger and Surplus” novel Chasing the Phoenix. Swanwick will visit Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books on Monday August 17.
  • August 16 (Sunday) 10 am to 5 pm — Oak City Comic Show at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown with Tommy Lee Edwards, Richard Case, Dale Mettam, Jeremy Whitley, and much more.

As you can see we’ve got a pretty packed few weeks ahead, and there’s still more to come with September readings from Kim Harrison and Christopher Moore, and the next SFWA Southeast Reading series event on Thursday, September 17 with authors Gail Z. Martin, Alyssa Wong, Ursula Vernon, Delilah Dawson, and Monica Byrne. And! Though November is a long way off, tickets for a special Welcome to Night Vale: An evening with Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor & John Darnielle event on November 3 at Chapel Hill’s Varsity Theater are on sale at Flyleaf Books.

Speaking of Wong and Vernon, though, gives me an opportunity to segue over to awards news: Read the rest of this entry »


Coming to Town: Paul Tremblay for A Head Full of Ghosts at Flyleaf Books, interviewed by Richard Dansky

Interview by Richard Dansky:

With A Head Full of Ghosts, Paul Tremblay has catapulted himself into the front rank of American horror authors. Born in Colorado but currently residing in Boston, Tremblay teaches AP Calculus by day and then unleashes an entirely different set of horrors by night. His previous works include Swallowing A Donkey’s Eye and the short story collection In The Mean Time, both from ChiZine Publishing. Nominated twice for the Bram Stoker Award, he also serves as a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards. He was kind enough to take time out from his Guest of Honor duties at NECON to talk a little about the role of pop culture references in fiction, blogging as a framing device, and why he’s disappointed in Les Stroud, ahead of his appearance this Sunday (July 26) at 4 pm at Flyleaf Books [Facebook].

Q: First question: Do you believe in Bigfoot?

Do I believe in Bigfoot? I do not. You know, I kind of want to, but I’m kind of taking up the “no Bigfoot” position just as devil’s advocate because my ten year old daughter is so [into it]. She hasn’t watched it much in the last six to 8 months, but my daughter had a section of time where she was totally obsessed with Bigfoot. She has a Bigfoot t-shirt and loves the show [note: the reality show Finding Bigfoot, which features prominently in A Head Full of Ghosts] so I would playfully argue with her that there was no Bigfoot. “How come they don’t find any bodies” and she always responds with “well, they bury their dead”. But I have a hard time believing that there’s a Bigfoot.

Q: Just a spoiler alert here – the last few episodes of Finding Bigfoot, they have not actually found Bigfoot. I know that’s a tremendous shock. Read the rest of this entry »


ConGregate in High Point this weekend!

ConGregate 2: Scoundrels and Rogues is set to open at the Radisson Hotel in High Point tomorrow, with writer guests of honor Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole, tons of programming, gaming, parties, and more, including Saturday evening’s presentation of this year’s Manly Wade Wellman Award. I’m looking forward to seeing so many friends old and new, including John Hartness, A.J. Hartley, Laura Haywood-Cory, Emily Lavin Leverett, Paula S. Jordan, Chris Kennedy, Darin Kennedy, Debra Killeen, Steven S. Long, Gail Z. Martin, Misty Massey, James Maxey, Margaret S. McGraw, Jay Posey, Gray Rinehart, Edmund R. Schubert, Rich Sigfrit, Michael G. Willians, Allen and Darcy Wold, and on and on. It’s going to be fantastic!

  

And while my schedule doesn’t quite permit it, I highly, highly recommend taking the train to the convention if you can. The High Point Amtrak station (HPT) is literally half a block from the hotel, with multiple trains daily from Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Greensboro, Burlington, Charlotte, and beyond. The routes to look far are the Crescent as well as the Carolinian and Piedmont. That’s how I got to StellarCon a couple of times when it was held at the High Point Radisson and it was just a fantastic trip. See you there?

N.C. Amtrak


The Hardest Part: Alex J. Cavanaugh on Dragon of the Stars

North Carolina author Alex J. Cavanaugh already has three Amazon bestsellers under his belt with his first trilogy, as well as a sizzling review from Library Journal which praised the series as one which “calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels.” After the publication of CassaStorm in late 2013, I’d been on the lookout for his next book, but it wasn’t until I e-stumbled onto it in late December last year on a popular Goodreads list (Most Anticipated Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Novels of 2015) at #3 that I started to get an idea just how much of a following Cavanaugh has grown over first years of his young writing career. As I wrote him, “Dude, That’s one way to let a guy know that you have a new book coming in April!” (Now he’s at #15 on the list, which is still pretty impressive, above such heavyweights as John Scalzi and Stephen King, and this fellow named Neil Gaiman. You may have heard of him.) Here, Cavanaugh writes about finding a new voice and a new world for Dragon of the Stars.

Dragon of the Stars - Alex J Cavanaugh

Starting a New Story After Finishing a Series
By Alex J. Cavanaugh

When I wrote my first book, I never envisioned a series. When it expanded to three books, I found certain aspects of the sequels were easier since the world and characters were already established. It provided a starting point on which I could continue to build.

Once I finished the series, I wasn’t sure I would write another book. I knew I wouldn’t continue with the Cassa universe. I’d taken the main character on his journey and there wasn’t much farther I could go with the story.

And then an idea hit me for a standalone story. Dragon of the Stars would not take place in the same universe though. That meant starting from scratch. Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, June 2015: David Mitchell, Al Robertson’s Crashing Heaven, Chris Beckett, Neal Stephenson, Terry Pratchett, Laura Barnett, and more

From the Other Side, June 2015
By Paul Kincaid

[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic.]

It has turned out to be something of a David Mitchell month for me. First to the glorious setting of the Union Chapel in North London where Mitchell and Neil Gaiman were in conversation, with Erica Wagner, the Literary Editor of The Times as a (fairly unnecessary) moderator. It turns out that, though they admire each other’s work, this was the first time they had actually met (the conversation was recorded and can be heard here). During the course of the conversation, Gaiman revealed that, just minutes before, he had received confirmation that the television series of American Gods is to go ahead. The novel itself will provide the first three seasons, and he had already laid out his plans for the as-yet-unwritten sequel which will provide subsequent seasons.

A few days later, Mitchell turned up in Canterbury where he gave the first ever public reading from his forthcoming novel, Slade House. He told me that this could be considered as a prequel to The Bone Clocks, though the extracts he read seemed to me to be more like a ghost story, and also one of the funniest things he’s written to date.

Slade House Crashing Heaven

But all of that, of course, is in the future. For the present, the big novel of the month is probably Al Robertson’s debut, Crashing Heaven (Gollancz). It’s a big concept sf thriller with elements of cyberpunk and elements of space opera in the mix, and an intriguing hero in the shape of Hugo Fist, a ventriloquist’s dummy whose AI mind is slaved to that of his companion, Jack Forster, and who is suspected of turning traitor in the recently-ended war against rogue AIs. Read the rest of this entry »


Coming to Town: Nathan Ballingrud for “Noir at the Bar” at 106 Main in Durham

Tonight (Thursday, June 18) at 6:30 pm, Downtown Durham’s 106 Main hosts the city’s second Noir at the Bar event, with eight authors of dark fiction from across North Carolina holding court over drinks to talk about their work, including Durham’s Eryk Pruitt (DirtbagsHashtag) and Chapel Hill’s Jeremy Hawkins (The Last Days of Video), as well as Asheville’s Nathan Ballingrud who took the time for an email interview ahead of tonight’s event. Ballingrud is the author of the award-winning 2013 collection North American Lake Monsters (Small Beer Press) and the recently-released novella The Visible Filth (This Is Horror). Listening to Ballingrud read his story “The Good Husband” from North American Lake Monsters at Quail Ridge Books a couple years back, I could feel my chest tightening, my breath straining, my stomach clenching. He infuses his work with such realism and dread, an unease born of infidelity, weakness and inadequacy, of irrevocable violence, of disconnect, of inevitable mistakes, of decay. Whether grounded in the everyday dirt of reality or, as he does as well as anyone I’ve read ever has, on that rusted knife’s edge between our reality and another which lurks, ever-present even if not mentioned directly, under the surface, just out of your peripheral vision, or even in your own mind. The Visible Filth combines elements of crime fiction and The Weird, with nods to books like Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow and films like Koji Suzuki’s The Ring, as bartender Will deals with the aftermath of a fight and a misplaced cell phone. I’m looking forward to catching up with Nathan, Eryk, and Jeremy, and meeting the rest of the fantastic lineup that Eryk has put together for this one.  See you there!

The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud

Q: What are some of the essential differences to you when writing horror v. dark fantasy v. weird v. crime fiction, other than, say, “in some of them there are some possibly supernatural bits”?

I’ve never set out to write crime fiction, so I’m not sure I can answer that. I even like to keep descriptors like “weird” and “horror” out of my mind when I write. I like to keep my own mental field as uncluttered by genre expectation as I can. As far as differences go, crime fiction seems to me to be more about the condition of our society. When I think of the novels of Richard Price, Dennis Lehane, Patricia Highsmith, John D. MacDonald, and others, the focus is either on transgressions against the social order, or they’re interrogations of that order. Horror fiction — if you’re going to set aside the supernatural for the purposes of this question — seems more focused on personal transgression, whether that’s spiritual or physical. Now, that’s a simplistic answer to a question which deserves several thousand words devoted to it, and I’m not sure I won’t change my mind about it as I think about it further.

Q: Tending bar is one of the staple occupations of crime and other dark fiction. Particularly a dive bar. How do you make these elements more than “genre markers”, keep them interesting and not just variations on a theme? Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Quick Updates: Red Adept, Brian Posehn, Noir at the Bar, and a crowdfunding roundup

Saturda, June 13, 2015: Upcoming events, books on sale, new podcasts, a new writing contest, and a crowd-funding roundup await you in this belated Saturday installment of “Friday Quick Updates”. But let’s be quick about it, because there are three (count ’em) events today alone:

  • June 13 (Saturday) 11 am to 2 pm — Raleigh’s Event Horizon Games hosts a multi-author book signing event for Garner-based publisher Red Adept along with publisher Lynn McNamee. Among those appearing will be local author Karissa Laurel, whose debut novel Midnight Burning is forthcoming from Red Adept.
  • June 13 (Saturday) 1 to 3 pm — Chapel Hill Comics hosts comedian and Deadpool comics writer Brian Posehn for an in-store signing.
  • June 13 (Saturday) 2 pm — The Burlington B&N hosts Samantha Bryant for a reading and signing of her debut novel Going Through the Change.

Meanwhile, on the latest episode of the Baen Free Radio Hour podcast, editor David Afsharirad hosts a discussion of his recently-released anthology The Year’s Best Military SF and Space Opera with authors Matthew Johnson, David D. Levine, Linda Nagata, and more. As Afsharirad says, “It’s a good one, if I say so myself.”

Speaking of that anthology, voting on the first annual Year’s Best Military Science Fiction and Space Opera Award continues through August 31. Read the rest of this entry »


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