“Friday” Quick Updates, Thursday Morning Edition: new Piedmont Laureate James Maxey this afternoon, Stephen Hren tonight, MWWA nominations open, and other news and events

Thursday, January 22, 2015: Two events today of interest and some big news to pass along merit a early edition of Friday Quick Updates this week.

First, at 3:30 pm, Chapel Hill Public Library hosts a Meet the Author Tea with newly announced Piedmont Laureate for Speculative Fiction, James Maxey. I’m looking forward to what Maxey does with this fantastic platform this year, as he’ll be tapped for a series of blog posts and appearances throughout the region, throughout the year. (Speaking of Maxey, he has also just unveiled new print and ebook editions of his Dragon Apocalypse series.)

Second, this evening at 7 pm, The Regulator Bookshop hosts Durham author Stephen Hren for a reading from his latest novel, Max’s Hungry Ghost. It’s a recommended Indy Pick and I’m looking forward to a lively talk, as Hren attempts to explain how his non-fiction work (Tales from the Sustainable Underground) intertwines with his speculative fiction. 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 »

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 »

September newsletter: John Hodgman, tiltExpo, HMLT, Stuart Rojstaczer, Kim Harrison, John Darnielle, The Escapism Film Festival, Scott Westerfeld, and more!

Vol 4. No 9. September 5, 2014: The first Friday of the month has no fewer than five events to pique your interest, and the first week of the month has already brought the first of five six! seven! new books by North Carolina authors that will hit stores in September.

Let’s start with those events happening today (Friday, September 5):


  • While most festival events are on Saturday and are free, the Bookmarks Festival in Winston-Salem, NC does have a pair of ticketed “Eat and Greet” sessions on Friday, with authors Lisa Leake and Rita Mae Brown. (The Saturday lineup includes Lev Grossman, Tiphanie Yanique, Maggie Stiefvater, Morowa Yejidé, Margaret Stohl, and Jen McConnel, among many others.)\
  • Running Friday through Sunday,  The Escapist Expo returns as tiltExpo — “Triangle Game Initiative (TGI), producer of the East Coast Game Conference – will bring a new consumer event, tiltExpo, to the Durham Convention Center this September 5th, 6th, and 7th.” Guests include Bob Chipman, Chewie Slate, Rich Perrotta, Mating Habits of the Modern Geek, and the UNC “Humans vs Zombies” team, and programming includes open gaming, panels, a costume contest, and an accompanying music festival.
  • At 7 pm, DSI Comedy in Chapel Hill hosts a superhero-themed night of improv battle: “This Friday, six courageous comedians (Power Up!) will face their arch-nemeses Pantie Raid in an epic Cage Match battle! Using a super power based on YOUR suggestions, watch as they soar to new heights of comedy. Will our heroes emerge victorious in their fight against their lingerie-loving foes? Only YOU can decide.”
  • At 8 pm, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern presents “HMLT: a version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet” at Durham’s Oval Park outdoor amphitheatre (1100 Oakland Ave) at 8 pm — “With a focus on the disintegration of two powerful families, Little Green Pig brings its signature intensity to Shakespeare’s masterpiece about the pathology of denial.”
  • Also at 8 pm — The Carolina Theatre of Durham presents John Hodgman with special guest David Rees: “John Hodgman is a writer, humorist, geek celebrity, former professional literary agent and expert on all world knowledge. He was the bumbling PC in Apple’s long-running “I’m a Mac; I’m a PC” ad campaign.”

And before I get to the new books and other news, here’s a sampling (for the full listing, see further down) of events further ahead this month: Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Carrie Vaughn for Dreams of the Golden Age, interviewed by James Maxey

As the author of the “Kitty Norville” urban fantasy series Carrie Vaughn has built a career and a following, and her origin story as a writer includes the 1998 Odyssey Writing Workshop and a long string of short story publications, including a Hugo Award nomination for “Amaryllis” and multiple appearances in George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards superhero book series. In 2011, Tor published her superhero novel After the Golden Age, and now Vaughn is out on tour for the January 7, 2014-published sequel, Dreams of the Golden Age. That tour reaches Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books on Friday, January 17th at 7:30 pm [Facebook event]. In conversation with Hillsborough author James Maxey for the “Coming to Town” interview series, Vaughn talks about the novel, larger than life heroes, comic books on television, and more. Enjoy!

Dreams of Golden Age comp

Interview by James Maxey

In After the Golden Age, you construct a world with several powerful superhuman heroes, but they turn out not to be the focus of the story. Instead, you tell us the story of Celia, the daughter of a pair of famous superheroes, who has no powers and no grand heroic intentions and is trying to make a career as an accountant. What appealed to you about Celia that you chose to make her the heart of the story instead of one of the costumed do-gooders?

To put it simply, Celia’s story was the most interesting. There are more than enough stories out there about costumed do-gooders. Thousands of stories. There are even quite a few stories about the children of costumed do-gooders. I wanted to do a couple of things with Celia: first, overturn the trope where the child of superheroes doesn’t have powers but then acquires them somehow — Celia never gets powers. And second, tell the near-universal story of the person who has never been able to live up to her parents expectations. I wanted to tell the story of someone living in a superpowered world, who is trying to reject that world. Most superhero fans dream of living in a superpowered world, but Celia is a person who has had entirely too much of that world.

Since Dreams of the Golden Age is set twenty years after the first book, are any of the heroes from the first book still active? Or has Commerce City been hero-free for a while? Or does the city even need these heroes, if the Destructor is finally safely locked away? Read the rest of this entry »

Release day: Witchbreaker by James Maxey

James Maxey‘s Dragon Apocalypse series has been a lot of fun so far — and yet every time I say that I feel remiss in focusing on the fun, and not enough on how creative these books are. Shapeshifters, incredible and bizarre powers, awesome relics, and of course mountain-sized primal dragons. The series started with Greatshadow in January — of 2012, just 11 months ago — and introduced our narrator, Stagger, briefly, before killing him. And then allowing him to continue to narrate the book, as well as the second book, Hush, which came out in late June, though it’s Infidel who gets the cover treatment on both:

Greatshadow (Dragon Apocalypse, #1) Hush (Dragon Apocalypse, #2)

And now, before 2012 is even over, a third book in the series is here just in time for your holiday gift card pleasure. First, the publisher copy for Witchbreaker: “Book Three in the stunning Dragon Apocalypse Trilogy — Five hundred years ago, the famed Witchbreaker, Lord Stark Tower, launched a war against the cult of witches, nearly wiping them out. Today, only a handful of women still practice the craft in secret. A young witch named Sorrow has dedicated her life to changing this reality, vowing to wipe out the Church of the Book and launch a new golden age of witchcraft. In pursuit of her goals, she bonds her soul with Rott, the primal dragon of decay, giving her nearly limitless powers of destruction. Unfortunately, tapping this power comes at the cost of her humanity, leading her into a desperate quest to find the greatest witch of all time, Avaris, in hopes of mastering her dark magic before it destroys her. But she’s not alone in hunting Avaris, as fate throws her into an uneasy partnership with a man who wants to be the new Witchbreaker. Can either of them survive their mutual quests when their journey leads them into battle with Tempest, the primal dragon of storms?”

Witchbreaker: The Dragon Apocalypse 3

Right away we know the series has moved to a new chapter. Gone is Stagger as narrator (for readers of Hush, we know his fate, but I’ll omit it here for those new to the series) and we are following the continued storyline of Sorrow, a young witch who featured large in the second half of Hush. She’s been using the technique of nailing various primal materials into her skull to gain mastery over the materials, and may have bitten off far more than she can chew with her latest nail. We’re in for more inventive powers, creative magic, and of course Maxey’s deeply human characters, with their flaws, passions, goals, mistakes, and costs. So! Whether you’re new to the series (in which case, welcome to the story of Stagger, Infidel, Menagerie, the primal dragons, and all the rest) or have been following along so far, it’s a Merry Christmas indeed as today sees the release of book 3, Witchbreaker. Get out those gift cards!

Listings for the physical book:

And listings for ebooks:

Tonight! “Winter Tales” in Hillsborough!

This evening (Thursday, Dec 13) at 6 pm the Orange County Main Library in downtown Hillsborough will host the storytelling event of the winter season, “Winter Tales” [Facebook], featuring original stories, poetry, and songs composed for the event by five local authors. (Along with cookies and hot cider!)

“Join authors Mur Lafferty, Alex Granados, Gray Rinehart, Becca Gomez Farrell and James Maxey for an celebration of the holiday season with original stories, poetry, and song.”



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