The Hardest Part: Teresa Frohock on The Broken Road

North Carolina author Teresa Frohock’s debut fantasy novel Miserere was published by Night Shade Books back in 2011, and since she has been seen in a couple of anthologies: Manifesto: UF and Neverland’s Library Fantasy Anthology. Now she’s back with a more lengthy tale, this time a novella, The Broken Road, where “The world of Lehbet is under siege. The threads that divide Lehbet from the mirror world of Heled are fraying, opening the way for an invasion by an alien enemy that feeds on human flesh.” Here, Frohock writes about the difficulties in writing a mute protagonist.

By T. Frohock:

The hardest part of writing The Broken Road had to do with my protagonist, Travys, who is mute. In a film, Travys’ condition would be easily rectified, if not eloquently portrayed, through sign language and subtitles. Within a manuscript, Travys’ inability to communicate through dialogue presented several challenges for me. How would he “speak,” and more importantly, how would people unfamiliar with him be able to understand him?

While working on The Broken Road, I had the opportunity to read Robert Jackson Bennett’s novel The Troupe, which I highly recommend by the way. In The Troupe, Bennett portrays a character named Stanley, who does not speak. Bennett’s novel is set in the twenties, so Stanley carries a pad and pen in order to jot down short notes. These brief notes were always written in all caps to indicate Stanley’s words. The notes were succinct, yet Bennett managed to make the best use of a few words. Additionally, Stanley’s written notes were used sparingly. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part: Stacey Cochran on Eddie and Sunny

Raleigh author Stacey Cochran has written in several genres, from mystery to horror, science fiction to poetry. His latest project, Eddie & Sunny, is a crime novel / love story he’s elected to submit to the newly launched Kindle Scout program, a “crowdsourced slush reading” publishing project from Amazon which puts the choice of submitted books to reader votes; the winners receive a $1,500 advance and editing, design, and marketing support. This would be a big deal for Cochran’s writing career, so if what you read here sounds interesting, visit the Kindle Scout page for his book and click ‘recommend’. You can also read an excerpt from the book, ahd read about Cochran’s inspiration for writing it. Here’s the pitch: “Eddie and Sunny have never had much in life, save for each other’s love. For months they’ve lived out of a car with their young son. A tragedy on the road one night turns the couple into fugitives of the law, separates them, and eventually leads each to believe that the other has died and all hope is lost. A passionate, triumphant conclusion follows as the very essence of love, hope, and the American Dream unite in a novel of beautiful simplicity.”

By Stacey Cochran:

The hardest part of writing Eddie & Sunny was the ending. As the novel started to wind down I could see two logical outcomes for the story, but they were completely different. So I ended up writing both endings and talking a lot about them with my wife and my agent. Aside from that, the book was pretty easy to write. Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Jason Strutz for NC Comicon

As I wrote when introdudcing his collaborator’s Hardest Part essay: “I’m a big fan of both Lex Wilson and Jason Strutz, so I was quite excited to see their new 7-day-only “Quickstarter” Kickstarter campaign for their new one-shot comic, KLAY. Strutz was (along with Jeremy Whitley) one of my first Bull Spec interviews, for their Order of Dagonet comics, and he went on to do two print issue covers and other interior illustration for me, and I’ve also enjoyed his fantastic work on David Foland’s Pizzula, before, and this is completely unfair, he moved several states away. Still, he’s been no stranger, and he’ll be back in a couple of weeks for NC Comicon. Here, they’ve put together a multi-style story of “A superhero sidekick with elastic/morphing powers crosses multiple realities to solve his own murder” where Strutz has had to display both a typical 4-color “superhero” style as well as a darker-toned “noir” as well as peeks into other realities.”

Strutz is part of an absolutely fantastic lineup for this year’s NC Comicon this weekend (November 15-16) at the Durham Convention Center  — which includes John and Carole Barrowman, Fiona Staples, Tommy Lee Edwards, Bernard Chang, and many more — and here we talked about being so far from “home”, what he’s looking forward to this year, and of course his work on KLAY.

KLAY: A super hero "Quickstarter" (7 days only!) comic book's video poster

Q: Jason! Mon frère. You had built up not just friendships but close working relationships as well here in the Triangle before you exiled yourself to the frozen north. Have you felt like you were living in two creative worlds for the past couple of years?

Nah, It’s all one creative world, mine! The only effect it has is most of  the people I’m working with are in the Triangle, so it would be nice to talk in person more.

Q: You’ve were back for NC Comicon last year as well. What makes this such a special convention for you? Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Quick Updates: William Gibson tonight, NC Comicon next weekend, James Maxey’s Bad Wizard countdown sale, and more

Friday, November 7, 2014: Ever since seeing Zack Smith report about it for Indy Week’s fall arts preview, I’ve been looking forward to tonight: William Gibson will be at Motorco in Durham! Presented by The Regulator Bookshop, less than 40 tickets remain for this 7:30 reading, talk, and signing so: get your tickets, invite your friends (each ticket is good for two people, after all), and see you there! To whet your appetites, a pair of local interviews are available including Richard Butner’s for Bull Spec (“I get it by osmosis. It’s kind of impossible not to get it by osmosis, although that’s probably just a function of my particular Twitter feed.”) and Brian Howe for Indy Week (“I was given a demo by someone from Oculus Rift a couple of months ago, and I said, ‘Why couldn’t they do this before?'”).


There are also a pair of a pair of YA sf readings this weekend, with Lauren Kate and Robin LaFevers holding two readings each in the Triangle. Meanwhile, on Saturday and Sunday The Raleigh Review’s Southern Recitations reading and workshop series presents Mining the Mirror: Turning Emotional Landmines into Good Literature with Zelda Lockhart and Angela Belcher Epps. Among the “new-new” events since the October newsletter include:  Read the rest of this entry »

Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, October 2014: 12 Doctors, Peter F. Hamilton, Lavie Tidhar, Ann Leckie, and Garry Kilworth

From the Other Side, October 2014

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.]

Sometime around the middle of October there is a date that is very special for the publishing industry. It is the day when more books are published than at any other time, indeed there are some who suggest that more books are published than in the whole of the rest of the year combined. They are, largely, books aimed at the lucrative Christmas market, books intended to be given, not necessarily to be read. Nevertheless, there are usually one or two interesting titles to emerge from the crush.

In this instance, Puffin have come up with Doctor Who: 12 Doctors 12 Stories, an anthology of stories by top authors, available as 12 specially designed mini-books collected in a TARDIS slipcase. There is one story for each of the doctors. For instance, Eoin Colfer writes about the First Doctor (William Hartnell), Philip Reeve takes on the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), Patrick Ness covers the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison), Malorie Blackman prefers the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), and Neil Gaiman creates a creepy new monster for the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith). Most of these have been available as ebooks, but for this collection there’s a brand new story by Holly Black featuring the latest incarnation of the Doctor, Peter Capaldi. I’ve not always been a fan of Doctor Who, but I have to admit, that’s an impressive line-up of authors.

12 Doctors, 12 Stories - special gift edition Akira

Still on media sf, Palgrave Macmillan have published nine books on classic sf films to coincide with the British Film Institute’s massive science fiction season that I mentioned a few months ago. The BFI Film Classics are: Akira by Michelle Le Blanc and Colin Odell, Alien by Roger Luckhurst, Brazil by Paul McAuley, Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb by Peter Kramer, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Andrew M. Butler, Quatermass and the Pit by Kim Newman, Silent Running by Mark Kermode, Solaris by Mark Bould, and The War of the Worlds by Barry Forshaw. Again, you might quarrel with some of the titles, but you can’t quarrel with that list of authors. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part: James Maxey on Bad Wizard

Hillsborough author James Maxey is the author of superhero novels Nobody Gets the Girl and Burn Baby Burn, two epic fantasy series (Bitterwood and The Dragon Apocalypse), and a short fiction collection There Is No Wheel. Here he writes about his new novel Bad Wizard, the story of Dorothy Gale ten years after she returns from Oz. “Oz” has been fertile ground for authors to poke around in, from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked to John Kessel’s The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Geoff Ryman’s Was, and Maxey’s zeppelin-flying take brings something a little different to all of them. Maxey will host a launch party for the novel tonight, Wednesday, November 5th at the Orange County Library, at 6:30 pm. To hear more about Maxey and his books, you can also check out a podcast of his interview on Monday on Carolina Book Beat.

UPDATE: Nov. 11, 2014: Bad Wizard is currently featured as a Countdown deal, on sale for $0.99 for the next 12 hours or so, slowly increasing in price until it’s back at its regular $5.99.


By James Maxey:

Bad Wizard is the story of Dorothy Gale ten years after she returns from Oz. She’s now a reporter for the Kansas Ear, investigating the United States Secretary of War, Oscar Zoroaster Diggs—the man she met in the Emerald City who called himself the Wizard. Diggs returned from Oz with his suit stuffed full of high quality emeralds and instantly became the richest man in Kansas. His fortune and charisma swiftly propelled him to political power, and now, as Teddy Roosevelt’s most trusted adviser, he’s overseeing the construction of a fleet of rigid airships to spread democracy around the world. Of course, Dorothy knows his real motive. But how can she explain to her editor that Diggs is secretly planning to invade an invisible island in the sky ruled by witches? Stopping Diggs is going to take the help of her silver slippers, old friends, and maybe a Winged Monkey as she chases Diggs across the weird and deadly landscape of Oz.

The easy part of writing Bad Wizard was the villain. Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: William Gibson for The Peripheral at Motorco Music Hall, reviewed and interviewed by Richard Butner

This Friday, William Gibson is coming to town for an event at Motorco Music Hall, presented by The Regulator Bookshop, as Gibson tours internationally for his new book, The Peripheral, his first novel since 2010’s New York Times-bestselling Zero History. Gibson came to Durham on his tour for that book as well (photo, below/left) — it was a fantastic event and we’re expecting no less this time around. Below, Raleigh author Richard Butner reviews The Peripheral and interviews Gibson about the book. I hope you enjoy both. [Note: some information and events that occur later in the book are discussed in this review and interview.]


Review and interview by Richard Butner:

“The girl sat up in bed and said something in German. Her eyes were soft and unblinking. Automatic pilot. A neural cutout.” –Neuromancer

William Gibson dusts off this science fiction prop, the neural cutout, and deploys it again more centrally in The Peripheral. The novel is Gibson’s return to a far future, one that bears little resemblance to our present. Two futures, actually: in addition to one far downstream, another so close that you can smell it. Read the rest of this entry »


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