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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Guest Blog by Michael Pogach - Book Signings without the Excuses


Please welcome Michael Pogach to The Qwillery. The Spider in the Laurel, Michael's debut novel, was published by Ragnarok Publications.



Guest Blog by Michael Pogach - Book Signings without the Excuses




Book Signings without the Excuses

By Michael Pogach

About once a week I find a blog or article about how authors, particularly indie authors (self-pub or small pub), can make themselves stars by doing book signings. Most feature similar advice. Show up early. Stay late. Be friendly. Have customized pens or bookmarks or a poodle with your book’s title shaved in its fur or whatever.

And for every such article, I run into the same excuses for why book signings are a waste of time. Things like:
-They’re useless because I didn’t sell any books the first time.
-The in-person audience just doesn’t get me.
-Spending those 2-4 hours writing is a better use of my time.
-My book is too complicated to pitch to customers walking by in a bookstore.

Before I go any further, let me say that I’m not trying to attack anyone’s position on book signings. Don’t like doing them? No problem. Find them too stressful to be productive? That’s okay. But so many of the reasons I hear for avoiding book signings aren’t much more than half-assed excuses, the kind I hear from my students on essay deadline day.

Here’s the deal with book signings, folks. They’re not going to make you a bestseller. They’re not going to kick your amazon sales rank up 500k spots. And you’re not going to meet a rep from Sony Pictures who just happens to be in the neighborhood and wants to make a movie out of your novel.

BUT…

Book signings can be wonderful events that build your fan base. Look, I’m a nobody. Yet, I sell at least a dozen books at every event I attend. No bullshit. Never less than 12. My best signing produced 34 sales. That’s over 100 copies sold at half a dozen or so book signings in the six short months that my debut novel, The Spider in the Laurel (Ragnarok Publications), has been out. I say this not to brag, but to hopefully show I know at least a little on the subject.

So allow me, fellow authors, to ask two questions before we start looking for somewhere to place blame for less than successful signings.

1) Will you sell twelve copies of your book in four hours doing anything else besides a book signing?

2) Are you actually SELLING your book at your event?

The answer to the first question is easy. Most of us indie authors aren’t selling twelve paperbacks on average in a week. So, are the three thousand words you could write, or two chapters you could edit, in that four hour stretch worth more than a dozen sales? If so, then you do you, friend. No judgement from me. But if not…

Selling is a shitload more than just hocking wares. It’s more than just setting up a table, smiling, and saying, “Would you like to see my new book?”

I’ve been to many events where the author never smiles, never stands up, and just shouts at customers with the grace of a construction worker whistling at women, “Hey, do you want to buy my book? Free autograph.”

Newsflash – the autograph doesn’t sell the book, nor will it entice a passerby to pick up your book. And that’s the key. Get the customer to put their hands on the novel. Feel the cover. Read the back. If it’s in their hands, you’ve got the got the sale. It’s just up to you to close it.

Or blow it.

Engage, friends. That’s the key. I’m a writing professor and author now, but my previous careers included selling auto parts, electronics, cell phones, and motorcycles. Selling one was no harder than another. Because you’re never selling the product. You’re ALWAYS selling yourself.

“Hi, how are you doing today?”
“Okay. What’s this? You selling a book?”
“I’m just showing it off. What do you like to read?”

BAM. There it is. Whatever the person tells you they like, run with it. They like romance? Talk about the relationship between your characters, even if it’s an action/adventure. They like thrillers? Focus on the stakes your protagonist faces, even if the whole thing is an internal conflict. They don’t read unless it’s about wizards or vampires with a fetish for high school girls? Well, there’s got to be a Hermione or tortured emo guy somewhere in your book. If not, focus on generic relationship types and plot points. There’s only so many fiction roadmaps out there. And (sorry to break it to you) you aren’t the first author since Cervantes to invent a new one.

Know this: The customer won’t remember a damn thing you say. But they will remember YOU.

Want a goal? On average, I make a sale to 50% of the people who hold my book in their hands. And because I engage with these complete strangers, many of them show up at subsequent events…with friends in tow. My own traveling fan base. That’s what book signings create. A bond between you and your fans.

Don’t buy it? That’s okay.

Still don’t want to do book signings? That’s fine too. But if you do want to get out there and do a signing, I hope this article helps you find success.





The Spider in the Laurel
Rafael Ward 1
Ragnarok Publications, September 21, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Cover by M.S. Corley

Guest Blog by Michael Pogach - Book Signings without the Excuses
In Tomorrow's America, Belief is the New Enemy.
Even a Silent Prayer can get you Black-Bagged.


In the Citizen's Republic of America, religion is outlawed. Historian Rafael Ward is a good citizen, teaching students the government approved narrative of the nation's history. But when he is tasked by Relic Enforcement Command with destroying the artifacts he cherishes, he begins to question the regime's motives and soon finds himself caught up in a secret revolution. It will take the uncompromising faith of an outlaw Believer as an ally, and the acceptance of his guilt for his mother's death, to help Ward break free of the government's yoke. If he's lucky, he might also prevent an apocalyptic future for which his secular world is completely unprepared.

The Spider in the Laurel questions the methods of both governmental authority and those attempting to subvert the status quo. It presents two unique visions: a new, never-before-heard fairy tale; and an alternate creation mythos inspired by Genesis and other ancient and Dark Age mythologies.





About Michael

Guest Blog by Michael Pogach - Book Signings without the Excuses
Michael Pogach is an author and English professor. He began writing stories in grade school. He doesn't remember these early masterpieces, but his parents tell him everyone in them died. He's gained some humanity since then, even allowing characters to survive once in a while. He is a graduate of Penn State and Arcadia University. His work has appeared in New Plains Review, Third Wednesday, Workers Write, the chapbook Zero to Sixty, and more. The Spider in the Laurel is his first novel.


Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @MichaelPogach

A Single Feather by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte


Please welcome Marsheila Rockwell and Jeffrey J. Mariotte. "A Single Feather" will be published in Ragnarok Publication's MECH: Age of Steel Anthology presently on Kickstarter. I'm a backer! Check out MECH on Kickstarter here.




A SINGLE FEATHER
by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte


The impetus for this story was the following image and the facts behind it:

A Single Feather by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
Protecting Our Mother For Our Unborn Children.
by Gregg Deal, 2013

This poster was made from a photograph of Amanda Polchies, a Mi’kmaq woman who held up an eagle feather in front of a line of RCMP at a Canadian fracking protest, seemingly keeping them at bay. “What if,” we thought, “The feather really had power?”

Of course, that wasn’t a story by itself, and certainly not a Mech one. But we didn’t stop there. What if the Earth itself decided that fracking needed to be stopped? What if it took a mobile, active form and rose up against the oil rigs and the drilling tearing it apart? And what if the power that feather – and whoever held it – had was the power to control the vengeful Earth?

That was the essence of the tale we came up with, but no good story is that cut and dried. They’re usually a combination of new and old ideas, mixed together in an author’s (or two authors’) brainstew until something original and uniquely them rises to the top. So it was with “A Single Feather.”

Environmental causes have always been near and dear to both of us, but for Jeff, it runs in the family. His, brother, Michael Mariotte, is the president of NIRS, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, an activist organization that seeks a nuclear-free planet and a sustainable energy future for us all. Recently, Michael was honored in Washington, DC for his decades of effort with the organization, and we were there. We saw dozens of old pictures of Michael (for whom the character, Michael Turcotte, is named) protesting – and being arrested – at nuclear plants around the county.

Those images combined with the image of Amanda Polchies to give us the character behind the story – an idealistic Native American protester and her more pragmatic and cautious boyfriend (and, of course, instigator Michael).

During the time we were stewing over and planning the story, it seemed that an oil-train bomb was exploding every week, somewhere around the country. Most of these traveling disasters originated in the Bakken formation of North Dakota, where a major oil boom was underway (a boom that has since gone bust, as every energy boom does—a casualty of the plummeting price of oil).

One of the worst—and presumably a major influence in the decision of Amanda Polchies and others to protest at Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada—took place in Lac-Mégantic in Quebec Province, Canada. On July 6, 2014, a 74-car train carrying Bakken crude derailed and rolled downhill into Lac-Mégantic’s downtown. The crash and explosion killed 47 people. Of the buildings in the small city’s downtown area, more than half were destroyed outright; all but three of those that remained were condemned and slated for destruction due to oil contamination.

There was a city there, where people lived and worked and shopped and laughed and dreamed, and then there wasn’t. Amanda and her fellow protesters saw that happen and didn’t want it to happen where they lived, or where anybody else lived. They wanted to call attention to the rate at which runaway carbon consumption is making our world a more dangerous place. They wanted us to think about what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it, and to start making decisions about our actions that take such considerations into account.

Amanda stopped a line of armed men with a single eagle feather and a well of courage most of us will never know. In our story, Bree Little Feather displays bravery, too, and her courage animates a much more powerful force—a Mech of a different type than most we expect to be found in the anthology—to carry out her will. And then some.

We’re delighted that the book exists (or will soon, anyway), because who doesn’t love giant robots? But we’re also thrilled to have been given the opportunity to write this story, to pay some distant tribute to the real heroes, the Amandas and the Michaels who work and fight and cajole and testify on behalf of people everywhere and the planet we all share. Their efforts give voice to the powerless.

But sometimes, the Earth speaks for itself.





A Single Feather by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
MECH: Age of Steel is a collection of 24 mecha-inspired short stories in the spirit of Pacific Rim, Macross, Transformers, Robotech, Gundam, Evangelion, and more. MECH features a vast array of tales featuring giant, human-piloted, robot war machines wreaking havoc in blasted cities, or on dystopian landscapes, or around space stations and asteroids against a cosmic backdrop, or wherever, you-name-it!

MECH is anchored by authors such as Kevin J. Anderson, Ramez Naam, Jason Hough, Jeremy Robinson, and Jody Lynn Nye. This anthology features illustrations for every story and is the perfect companion to its sister title, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters. So strap in. Activate your interface array. Let's rock!





About Marsheila and Jeffrey

A Single Feather by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
Soon-to-be husband and wife team Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell and Jeffrey J. Mariotte have written more than 60 novels between them, some of the most recent of which are The Shard Axe series and a trilogy based on Neil Gaiman's Lady Justice comic books (Rockwell) and Empty Rooms and Season of the Wolf (Mariotte). They’ve also written dozens of short stories, separately and together. Some of their solo stories are collected in Nine Frights (Mariotte) and Bridges of Longing (Rockwell). Their published or soon-to-be-published collaborations include the novel 7 SYKOS and short works “A Soul in the Hand,” “John Barleycorn Must Die,” “V-Wars: The Real HousewiVes of Scottsdale,” and “The Lottons Show.” Other miscellaneous projects include Rhysling Award-nominated poetry (Rockwell) and Bram Stoker Award-nominated comic books (Mariotte). More complete bibliographies and news about upcoming projects, both collaborative and solo, can be found at marsheilarockwell.com and jeffmariotte.com.


Marsheila Rockwell Twitter @MarcyRockwell

Jeffrey J. Mariotte Twitter @Jeff Mariotte

Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary: Reading and Writing are the same.


Please welcome Duncan McGeary to The Qwillery. Duncan is the author of the Tuskers series for Ragnarok Publications in addition to other works including the recently released The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders: Blood of the Succubus.



Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary: Reading and Writing are the same.




Reading and Writing are the same.

When I'm reading a book, I get lost in it. I'm not conscious of reading, I'm involved in the story.

The same thing happens to me when I'm writing. I'm involved in the story and I'm not really conscious of the words. The story invades the same space in my mind that a good book does. When I'm really on a roll, I might as well be reading something that someone else wrote. Not to get all mystical and everything, but it really does seem to be coming from a place outside of myself.

I'm surprised by what my own characters do, by sudden twists in the plot, by an especially elegant phrasing or a deep (for me) insight. When the writing is good, I notice it in the same way I notice when I'm reading.

I've come to the conclusion that writing and reading inhabit the same psychic space. Call it the Story Space.

This is both a problem and a blessing.

I always have difficulty reading for pleasure when I'm actively writing. And since I'm always actively writing these days, that's a problem.

I tend to get too critical of what I'm reading. I see the tricks and to not forgive the small mistakes. I over-analyze the stories. (This over-thinking is especially noticeable with TV and movies, who can be terribly transparent in their plots sometimes. The sleight-of-hands and red herrings are just too noticeable.)

In my first writing career, back in the 80's, the problem of not reading got so bad that I had to force myself to read, to overlook the flaws, to just read for pleasure. As years went by without me writing, I settled back into my old pattern of enjoying the story, overlooking flaws, of accepting the writer's made up world.

When I'm reading -- but not writing -- I tend to be much more forgiving. In fact, I most often go along with what the writer has done. The writer has to do something pretty egregious to pull me out of the Story Space.

Here's where the two processes intersect. While I may feel completely absorbed by my writing when it's going well, when it isn't go well I notice it much more than I do as a casual reader. I forgive myself less for weaknesses in my own plots and characters and writing than I do other writers.

I suppose this is good for my writing. I try to be sure to stay within the Story Space, because if I'm not there, I can't expect my reader to be there. I try very hard not to do anything to pull the reader out of the story.

By relaxing into the telling of the story, I make it possible for me to write by realizing that it is all the same space, that I am a writer because I'm tapping into the same Story Space that has given me so much pleasure over the years.

My writing and other people's writing tend to blur in my mind, as if the Story Space is occupied by everyone who writes, including me.

If all the above is true, it means that anyone who reads can probably become a writer, just by telling the story.

The Story-Space is the same, whether you are writing it or whether you are reading it.





Tuskers
Wild Pig Apocalypse 1
Angelic Knight Press, January 12, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 238 pages

Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary: Reading and Writing are the same.
Barry had created a little piece of paradise in his southern Arizona backyard—until the javelinas came.

His battle to rid his property of the wild pigs soon escalated into war. Too late, he realized these weren't ordinary animals. They were something new, something meaner and smarter. These pigs weren't just at war with him; they were at war with the human race.

And the humans were losing.



Tuskers II: Day of the Long Pig
Wild Pig Apocalypse 2
Angelic Knight Press, May 25, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 258 pages

Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary: Reading and Writing are the same.
Barry and Jenny inherited a fortune, with a single stipulation: that they hunt down and eradicate the Tuskers. They can only hope the Tuskers are gone. They aren't sure they can follow through on the genocide of an entire new species.

Genghis, the smartest and most ruthless of the Tuskers, survives. Deep in the desert, he breeds with the wild pig population. These mutants learn from humans, and quickly surpass them.





The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders: Blood of the Succubus
Sagewind Publishing, February 1, 2016
eBook, 310 pages

Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary: Reading and Writing are the same.
URBAN DICTIONARY: Manic Pixie Dream Girl or MPDG: A pretty, outgoing, whacky female...whose sole purpose is to help broody male characters lighten up and enjoy their lives.

When Doug goes hiking with Suzanne in the Cascades, he thinks he's lucked out. She's his dream girl.

But that night in the tent, she turns into something else, something out of his nightmares.

The Succubus has many names and shapes, but she's perfected the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, every young man's sexual fantasy. She leaves a trail of bodies behind her.

Serena sees through the beguiling persona, tracking the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, determined to stop her. She is joined by Rick, the last of the Guardians, and by the friends of her last victim.

The Succubus calls on her sisters, the Daughters of Lilith, for help. Once they were goddesses. Imprisoned for millennia by the Guardians, drained of their life giving blood, the Succubae vow vengeance upon men, preying on their sexual desires.

When these forces converge, the Succubae and humans confront their true natures.





About Duncan

Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary: Reading and Writing are the same.
I've lived in Bend, OR, my whole life (which is becoming increasingly rare in this boom town.) After graduating from the U of O in the '80s, I wrote the fantasy novels Star Axe, Snowcastles and Icetowers. While trying to write full time, I started filling in at a local book/comic book store called Pegasus Books and eventually became manager—then 30 years ago, I bought the store from Mike Richardson, who is now the publisher of Dark Horse Comics.

In the last few years, Pegasus Books has become stable and I've returned to writing like crazy. I sold a four-book deal to Books of the Dead Press, followed by another trilogy, The Vampire Evolution, which consists of Death of An Immortal, Rule of Vampire, and Blood of Gold.

I've been very busy with several other books in the works, and I'm proud to have sold my Wild Pig Apocalypse, Tuskers, to Ragnarok. I hope you guys will check out all my books, as I try to make them entertaining, fast reads.

WebsiteTwitter @PegasusBooks

Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Our Inner Rogue


Please welcome Seth Skorkowsky to The Qwillery. Sea of Quills is published today by Ragnarok Publications. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Seth a Happy Publication Day!



Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Our Inner Rogue




Our Inner Rogue

People usually gravitate to heroes that represent what they want to be or what characteristic they wish they had. That might range anywhere from physical strength, to a cool magical ability, or simply the freedom to perform the tasks that we secretly wish we could do.

For me, that secret desire is crime.

Now, I’m not a criminal. I have moral hang-ups and a fear of being in trouble that has kept me on the straight and narrow path. Yet, deep down, there’s a part of me that wishes I could somehow shed those scruples and fears and perform some daring caper.

There’s a wide array of thieves in fiction, ranging from conmen, cat burglars, spies, and assassins. Of course these are romanticized ideals, and nothing like in real life, but that’s the fun. We can take an imaginary tour of a seedy existence without the risk of dirtying our hands or souls.

Thieves represent the underdog. They’re usually alone or in a small gang and are tasked with beating the impossible by going where no one can go, and taking what no one can take. Instead of armies, magic swords, and power armor, a rogue’s arsenal consists of disguises, technical knowhow, a mastery of lying, infinite patience, and a physical prowess worthy of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat.

In Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, he sums up what we love in fantasy rouges as, “Richer and cleverer than anyone else.” And that’s what it’s really about. We love the idea that someone can outwit any obstacle and stick-it to whomever they please.

Got an impossible safe to crack? They crack it.

Got a hundred guards protecting an impenetrable fortress? They’ll get inside.

Booby traps: No problem. Laser grids: Try harder.

There’s a side in each of us (at least in me) that when we’re at a museum, staring at a priceless relic secured behind glass, alarms, cameras, security guards, and a hundred witnesses, that whispers, “How could I get that?” And we begin that fantasy where we’re not afraid of getting caught, or of heights, where we know how to bypass these defenses through wit or gizmos and say, “You thought you were so safe, but I got it. I beat you.”

Very rarely does the prize of a fictional heist matter. What’s important is seeing the style and finesse in which our roguish hero accomplishes their goal. Once they have it, we can share that sense of victory that we too have outwitted and stuck-it to our opponents.

Fiction, especially fantasy fiction, is about escape. Some might dream of being knights riding across fantastical landscapes and saving kingdoms. I dream of dark alleys and a dagger up my sleeve.





Sea of Quills
Tales of the Black Raven 2
Ragnarok Publications, September 28, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 296 pages
Cover by Alex Raspad

Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Our Inner Rogue
For Ahren, it’s no longer a question of someone trying to kill him but who will try next.

Still on the run for a murder he didn’t commit, Ahren adapts to life as an outlaw and the reputation of the Black Raven grows. But nothing comes easy. Dogged by bounty hunters he finds himself crossing steel with pirates on the high seas and battling monsters in subterranean cities. If that wasn’t enough, he’s paid to assassinate an immortal and must break out of a heavily-fortified prison.

Just another day in the life of the Black Raven.

Sea of Quills is the second book in this collection of tales by Seth Skorkowsky, the author of Damoren and the best-selling Valducan urban fantasy series.



Excerpt

Ahren removed his tools and easily picked the simple lock. He pulled it open, revealing a set of shallow shelves nestled in the hidden space behind. Folded documents and jeweled trinkets dominated the hidden cache. A flat wooden box rested alone atop the highest shelf. Inside, Ahren found a brass disk composed of four moving rings around a central hub adorned with a blood-red stone. Removing it from its velvet lining, Ahren held it up to see a small hole punched through three of the moving rings, all engraved with random letters, words, and numbers. Time was precious, but he had to be sure.

Placing the coded note on the desk, Ahren set the disk in the center and slid the rings until they aligned with the crimson dots. A small point protruded from the outmost brass ring. Rotating it around the cryptogram’s letters he could decipher their meaning.

Relief coursed down his body. Ahren quickly slipped the parchment and key into pouch at his back, and removed a black feather. He returned to the hidden shelves and placed the quill atop the key’s box with a grin. As he reached to close the bookshelf door, a sharp point dug into his neck.

“What are you doing, lover?” Karolina whispered behind him.

Ahren hadn’t heard the study door open. How long had the dance been over? “I’ve found the Count’s hidden documents. The Tyenee plan to blackmail him.”

“Hmmm,” she purred in his ear. “But that’s not what you stole. What is the brass disk for?”

Ahren cursed mentally. She’d been in the room for some time. “It’s a sentimental trinket the Count stole from an old business partner after backing from a deal,” he said. “My job is to take it to prove a point.”

“And that point is?” The night ruby clacked inside her mouth with every word, making her invisible whenever her lips closed around it.

“No man is invincible.”





Previously

Mountain of Daggers
Tales of the Black Raven 1
Ragnarok Publications, March 9, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 294 pages
Cover by Alex Raspad 

Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Our Inner Rogue
Some call him hero. Others, a menace. But everyone agrees that Ahren is the best thief in the world. Whether he’s breaking into an impregnable fortress, fighting pirates, or striking the final blow in political war, Ahren is the man for the job.

After being framed for murder, his reward posters named him the Black Raven. To survive, Ahren finds himself drafted into the Tyenee, a secret criminal organization whose influence stretches across the world. Their missions are the most daring, the most dangerous, and the penalty for failure is death. When no one else can do it, they send the Black Raven.





About Seth

Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Our Inner Rogue
Seth Skorkowsky was born in Texas in 1978. He currently lives in Denton, Texas, with his wife, and works for the University of North Texas. His short story "The Mist of Lichthafen" was nominated for a British Fantasy Award (long list) in 2009. Dämoren is Seth's debut novel and was recently nominated and shortlisted for the Reddit Fantasy Stabby Award for "Best Debut Novel."

He recently signed a two-book deal with Ragnarok for his "Black Raven" sword-and-sorcery collection. When not writing, Seth enjoys travel, shooting, and tabletop gaming.

Website  ~  Twitter @SSkorkowsky   ~  Facebook

Guest Blog by Michael Pogach - Top 5 Deaths You Won’t Admit Made You Cry (But You Did)


Please welcome Michael Pogach to The Qwillery. The Spider in the Laurel was published on September 21st by Ragnarok Publications.



Guest Blog by Michael Pogach - Top 5 Deaths You Won’t Admit Made You Cry (But You Did)




Top 5 Deaths You Won’t Admit Made You Cry (But You Did)

There are certain scenes in books that you always remember. Epic battles. Beautiful moments of prose. Plot twists that punch you in the kidney. I remember deaths. Maybe it’s all the obsession recently over the frequent deaths George R.R. Martin engineers that got me thinking back to my favorite death scenes. Maybe I just need a therapist. Whatever the case, here are five characters’ deaths that have stuck with me over the years.

1) Sturm Brightblade. Dragons of Winter Night. Dragonlance Chronicles: Volume 2, by Margaret Weiss & Tracy Hickman.
Poor Sturm. He was the one character you really wanted to see just have a drink and relax. Somewhere under all that armor lurked the life of the party. But all he could see was the Code and the Measure. His is the perfect death for the angsty teen to read over and over, dropping tears each time. Because, let’s face it, he and Raistlin were the angsty teens of the group – tormented loners who were going to do things their way no matter what – and you just knew Raistlin wasn’t going to be killed off.

Sturm dies following his stubborn Code. He dies alone. He saves the day. He’s the James Dean of the Dragonlance series. And it’s just gut-wrenching when you read the final line of Chapter 13: “Sturm’s sun shattered.”

2) Robert Neville. I am Legend, by Richard Matheson.
Will Smith’s death, as Robert Neville, isn’t bad. But the movie completely redefines the novel’s title, making it a claim of heroism rather than the horror of self-discovery. In the novel, Neville comes to the startling realization that, as the last human in a world of vampires, he is the boogey man. We’ve spent 120 or so pages rooting for him against the undead apocalypse, only to be forced to accept the law of numbers. As Neville recognizes, “I am the abnormal one now. Normalcy was a majority concept, the standard of many and not the standard of just one man.” His daily hunts to exterminate the vampires, who have built their own nocturnal society, equates him with the worst serial killers in history.

When Robert Neville says, “I am legend” at the end, he is condemning himself to become the terrors that go bump in the daylight. He is the monster, not them. And that, my friends, is as sad as it is disturbing.

3) Arthur. The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
We all know the story of King Arthur. It’s been done, and done again. But Bradley really gives us something unique in The Mists of Avalon. She tells the story from the points of view of the women who never really get their say in other Arthurian retellings.

As expected, Arthur engages Mordred in the final battle and is mortally wounded. In the stillness of the aftermath, Morgaine comforts him. “Take me to Avalon, where you can heal me of this wound,” he says. Such futile hope. Arthur dies. We know it. She knows it. Only he is naïve enough to think there’s a tomorrow. And in the end, “he died, just as the mists rose and the sun shone full over the shores of Avalon.”

I hope I can write a character’s final line like that one day.

4) V. V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore.
He’s a terrorist. An anarchist. An all-around bad dude. But you have to like V, don’t you? Okay, to start, yes this is a graphic novel. But it’s my article, and I make the rules. So graphic novels get the thumbs up. And I just dig V.

His is probably the least cry-worthy on this list. But I had a friend a long time ago who told me she couldn’t help a few tears every time she reread V’s death scene. V insists he is an idea, and that he can’t be killed because “ideas are bulletproof.” He’s wrong about not being killed, of course. But he’s also correct, as Evey puts on the Guy Fawkes costume and incites the rebellion. In this way, I think, V’s death is quite similar to Sturm’s. It’s his inspiration that scores the final victory, though he isn’t there to see it. Yes, he’s still a terrorist, anarchist, and all-around bad dude. But every now and then, don’t you want to put on that mask and go show the government what you think of them?

5) Roland Deschain. The Dark Tower. The Dark Tower VII, by Stephen King.
Yeah, yeah. He doesn’t die. Spare me your arguments. The man dies. He is forced through the final door by the hands of Gan and ka and the Dark Tower itself. Across that threshold he ceases to exist as the man with whom we’ve traveled through seven novels. He is reborn as himself all those years and pages ago, ignorant of all that has transpired. Reincarnation. Transmigration. Whatever. Roland Deschain dies. My list. My rules. He dies.

But just in case you’re not buying it yet, let me offer this. Roland’s story opens and closes with these words: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” Now, I ask you, what is the man in black but death? What has Roland been chasing all this time but his own demise?

Agree with me or not, Roland’s end in Book VII left me stunned. King couldn’t be that cruel, could he? The truth is, life is that cruel. And Roland’s end is both the dream and the nightmare of death. For, we all want another chance. But how many of us would be horrified to discover that the moment of death simply delivers us, again and again, right back to where we started? Knowing that, how many of us would opt for oblivion?





The Spider in the Laurel
Ragnarok Publications, September 21, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Cover by M.S. Corley

Guest Blog by Michael Pogach - Top 5 Deaths You Won’t Admit Made You Cry (But You Did)
In the Citizen's Republic of America, religion is outlawed. Professor Rafael Ward is an everyman capable of the kinds of decisions most everymen cannot stomach, and he has been tasked by Relic Enforcement Command with destroying the very artifacts he cherishes. It will take the uncompromising faith of an outlaw as an ally, and the acceptance of his guilt for his mother’s death, to help Ward break free of the government’s yoke. If he’s lucky, he might also prevent an apocalyptic future for which his secular world is completely unprepared.

The Spider in the Laurel questions the methods of both governmental authority and those attempting to subvert the status quo. It presents two unique visions: a new, never-before-heard fairy tale; and an alternate take on the concept of creation from Genesis and other narratives based on ancient and Dark Age mythologies. It straddles the line between simple adventure and the type of novel that can force a reader to question their beliefs.





About Michael

Guest Blog by Michael Pogach - Top 5 Deaths You Won’t Admit Made You Cry (But You Did)
Michael Pogach began writing stories in grade school. He doesn’t remember these early masterpieces, but his parents tell him everyone in them died. He’s gained some humanity since then, even occasionally allowing characters to escape his stories alive. Michael lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and daughter. The Spider in the Laurel is his first novel.

Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @MichaelPogach

Interview with C.T. Phipps - July 6, 2015


Please welcome C.T. Phipps to The Qwillery. Esoterrorism, the first novel in The Red Room urban fantasy series, is published today by Ragnarok Publications. Please join The Qwillery in wishing C.T. a Happy Publication Day.

Join C.T. and Ragnarok for the July Block Party to celebrate the publication of Esoterrorism on Facebook tonight at 8pm here.



Interview with C.T. Phipps - July 6, 2015




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

C.T.:  Oh, I've been writing since I was six or seven years old. I've been writing **well** since about five years ago. I was inspired by Jim Butcher's DRESDEN FILES and Charles Stross' LAUNDRY FILES to create something similar. Truth be told, the Red Room and Derek Hawthorne have been rattling around in my head since the late Nineties. It's only now that I've become proficient enough to actually get their story down.



TQAre you a plotter or a pantser? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

C.T.:  I'm going to share one of my secrets: I create a list of about a dozen really-cool things I'd like to see in the novel or adventure and then I introduce the characters to them. I have a general idea of where I want a book to go, for example, but things change as I think my heroes (and anti-heroes) react to events. Many times, I have a plot point planned only for me to think, "You know, Derek/Gary/Jacob wouldn't do that."

For me, the most challenging thing is to avoid overwriting. I love my world and characters so much, I have to be very strict with myself to avoid going on tangents about them. Thankfully, I have very good editors for helping keep the plots moving. Really, I could talk for days about any aspect of them. Did you know Derek's favorite video games were Borderlands 2 and Alpha Protocol? Stunning, I know.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

C.T.:  I mentioned Jim Butcher and Charles Stross for being my chief influence for Esoterrorism. Derek isn't particularly much like either novel's protagonist but he does have their similar sense of sardonicism and disdain for authority (despite being, quote-unquote, "The Man"). I briefly beta-read for Jim Butcher, actually, before my father was hospitalized (he's fine now) and I wasn't able to keep up with the group. I've also been blessed to know several authors who write the kind of fiction I love to read like Tim Marquitz (Demon Squad), Shana Festa (Time of Death: Induction), Rob J. Hayes (Ties that Bind), and Jim Butcher (Confessions of a D-List Supervillain) who have helped inspire me in times of writer's block.

But if I had to name my favorite authors? We could be here all day. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Andrjez Sapkowski, Robert Jordan, Marion G. Harmon, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, David Weber, and a few hundred other ones I could name off the top of my head.



TQDescribe Esoterrorism in 140 characters or less.

C.T.:  Snarky secret agent Derek Hawthorne unravels conspiracy within his ruthless employers. Spies, succubi, zombies, mercs, & magic, oh my.



TQTell us something about Esoterrorism that is not found in the book description.

C.T.:  The books are kind of a deconstruction of the "Hidden World" concept. A lot of urban fantasy has the premise of a conspiracy keeping the supernatural hidden from the rest of us. Esoterrorism and the Red Room Files in general includes a lot about how that kind of coverup would require gross abuses of power, constant lying, and outright brainwashing. It's, at heart, incredibly amoral and weighs on our heroes for their part in it. That's going with the idea our heroes do think that it's better than the alternative (unrestricted magic and weirdness for everyone to access).



TQWhat inspired you to write Esoterrorism? What appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

C.T.:  I love fantasy of all types: epic, grimdark, dark, sword and sorcery, high, low, and everything in-between. Urban Fantasy appeals to me because I think there's very few stories which aren't improved by the addition of dragons. On a more serious note, Urban Fantasy begins with a world we all know and we get more world-building than we could ever put to paper just by saying, "look out your window. That's where this is set. Now this is where the plot begins."

As for what inspired Esoterrorism, well, I was a big fan of The X-Files in the Nineties along with many tabletop RPGs in the same genre: Delta Green, Mage: The Ascension, Vampire: The Masquerade, and Spycraft. I'm not a believer in real-life conspiracy fiction since, for the most part, reality trumps anything we could dream up but I don't mind drawing from the peculiarly American mythology of secret all-powerful societies controlling everything. I just enjoy portraying them as full of incompetence, nepotism, backstabbing, and people just doing their jobs as any other government branch.

My depiction of spywork is a little more James Bond than George Smiley but if you're going to insert werewolves and demons, your spies might as well kick ass.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Esoterrorism?

C.T.:  I did my best to sort of immerse myself in the kind of world I wanted to create. It's easy enough to envision the House (the conspiracy Derek works for) and the Red Room (its operations branch) but I had to start working out who provided them with their tools, equipment, funding, and so on.

I could have just easily just said, "They're rich and powerful because they are" but that would have been a cheat in my opinion. So, I did a lot of research on agencies both fictional and otherwise to get a sense of how I wanted the organization to feel. If nothing else, when you find out most of the Red Room's spies do more paperwork than shooting, you start think they're a little more believable.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

C.T.:  Derek is a character who is just very easy to right because, at the end of the day, he just doesn't give a damn. Having been an agent dealing with the supernatural for over a decade and having made way too many moral compromises for his own sanity, he's really dropped all pretenses of caring what his superiors or coworkers think. It allows a nice flow from the brain to the mouth which I think makes him terribly amusing.

One of the harder characters was his partner, Shannon O'Reilly, who is a character very much like an opinion. What you see is not necessarily who she is and what she reveals isn't necessarily all there is, even when she trusts and likes you. They're really kind of a Yin and Yang pair in the spy world. I also think it's what attracts them to each other.



TQWhich question about Esoterrorism do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

C.T.:  Who would win in a fight? Derek or Wolverine? To which I'd ask, "Movie Wolverine or comic Wolverine?" Ha-ha, no. If I wanted a fan to ask any sort of question of me, I'd have them ask, "What is Esoterrorism really about?" For me, it's about the ambiguities of the human condition in a very inhuman environment.

Poor Derek was literally born into the House and has been raised to be one of its agents, which means that he's something of an outside to the rest of the world and the honesty about our environment we take for granted. I had a lot of fun creating a morality for people who lie, cheat, and kill for a living--all, ostensibly, for the greater good. How that would affect someone who is, otherwise, a normal person was an interesting writing challenge. Especially, when you also note he lives in a world with quote-unquote real monsters.

Really, the fact Derek is a mountain of snark just covers up what a terrible time he's having. You know, in-between the martinis and beautiful double-agents. I'm not saying the job has no perks.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Esoterrorism.

C.T.:
"Karl, I've had a really bad day, so if we could skip to the part where I kill you I'd appreciate it."
And
"We are not listening to Magic Carpet Ride on a magic carpet. We're on a serious mission here."
The last one just begs for context, I think.


TQWhat's next?

C.T.:  I have another series published by Amber Cove Publishing called, "The Supervillainy Saga" which is a tongue-and-cheek look at what sort of person would want to become a criminal in a world of superheroes. The first book, The Rules of Supervillainy, came out last month to surprising acclaim and the sequel, The Games of Supervillainy, should be out this Fall.

What I'm really excited about, though, is both the sequel to Esoterrorism, Eldritch Ops, and my epic fantasy novel, Wraith Knight, also being published by Ragnarok Publications, next year. I think fans of my writing in Esoterrorism will like these books every bit as much even if the genres are different.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

C.T.:  I very much appreciate you interviewing me!





Esoterrorism
The Red Room 1
Ragnarok Publication, July 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 420 pages

Interview with C.T. Phipps - July 6, 2015
Derek Hawthorne was born to be an agent of the Red Room.
Literally. Raised in a conspiracy which has protected the world from the supernatural for centuries, he's never been anything other than a servant of their agenda. Times are changing, though, and it may not be long before their existence is exposed.

When a routine mission uncovers the latest plan of the magical terrorist, the Wazir, Derek finds himself saddled with a new partner. Who is the mysterious but deadly Shannon O'Reilly? What is her agenda? Couple this with the discovery the Red Room has a mole seeking to frame Derek for treason and you have a plot which might bring down a millennium-old organization. Can he stop the Wazir's mission to expose the supernatural? And should he?





About C.T. Phipps

C.T. Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger, reviewer for The Bookie Monster, and recently signed a deal with Ragnarok Publications to produce the urban fantasy series, The Red Room.

C.T. Phipps is also the author of The Supervillainy Saga, the first book of which, The Rules of Supervillainy, was released this June.

Website  ~  Twitter @Willowhugger  ~  Google+

Guest Blog by Rob J. Hayes - Stories are Written on Paper, Not Stone - May 28, 2015


Please welcome Rob J. Hayes to The Qwillery.  The Price of Faith, the 3rd novel in The Ties That Bind trilogy, was published on May 5th by Ragnarok Publications.



Guest Blog by Rob J. Hayes - Stories are Written on Paper, Not Stone - May 28, 2015




Stories are Written on Paper, Not Stone

I hit a strange type of writer's block the other day. It wasn't that I couldn't get the words down on screen, but that I suddenly realised I had no idea where the story was going in the next chapter.

I consider myself a fairly organic writer, an architect rather than a gardener, a pantser rather than a planner. That being said I do tend to have a rough outline, in my head at least, when I begin a new story. I know who the main characters are, their strengths and flaws, their goals and their past, and I know where I want their arcs to begin and end. I know (most) of the main plot points, and have a good few big events that are going to happen along the way including who will turn up to the event, and who won't walk away from it. In every story I sit down to write I know my beginning, my middle, and my end. What I generally don't know is most of what happens in between. I like to leave that up to the characters.

So while writing Best Laid Plans (the new duology being published by Ragnarok Publications in 2016 – I had to get a plug in here somewhere), one of the characters who started out with a supporting role began taking up more and more of the spotlight. It's her own fault really, she turned out to be such a compelling and deeply flawed individual that I had no choice but to focus more and more of my (and the story's) attention on her.

While I was happy to focus more and more attention on this engaging character (with little regard to what it meant for the larger scope), the other day it presented a problem. I encountered one of my planned plot developments (quite a major one) and realised it no longer made any sense. The chapter just didn't flow well in the light of this character's development and her current identity within the story, and worse still was that it actually detracted from the character she had become.

I um'ed and I ah'ed, I procrastinated and deliberated. Eventually I came to the decision that the plot point just no longer made sense and needed to be removed in its entirety. This unfortunately meant a lot of careful editing of previous chapters (including the removal of at least 2 chapters), but it felt right. This character had come into her own, going from strength to strength, and I wanted to perpetuate that, even if it meant major changed to the story as a whole.

There is a moral to this little stream of consciousness I present to you and it is this. If you are writing a story, you should always be open to change. Maybe the story takes an organic twist you didn't see coming until you put it down. Maybe you realise something simply didn't make sense from the start. Maybe your beta readers/agent/editor sit you down and tell you something is crap and it just needs changing. I'm not saying you should pull a Lucas (changing things after the fact because... well it doesn't matter, Han still shot first), but you should always be open to making your work better. Sometimes better involves shifting the spotlight a little, sometimes it involves a chainsaw. Be bold, but be open minded.





The Price of Faith
The Ties That Bind 3
Ragnarok Publications, May 5, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Cover by Alex Raspad 

Guest Blog by Rob J. Hayes - Stories are Written on Paper, Not Stone - May 28, 2015
Separated and miserable, Thanquil Darkheart and Jezzet Vel’urn both have their reasons for wanting to leave the Dragon Empire. Jezzet flees from the wrathful fury of an Empress scorned while accompanied by the ever insidious Drake Morrass, and Thanquil sets out to find and judge his one heretical loose end.





Previously

The Heresy Within
The Ties That Bind 1
Ragnarok Publications, November 10, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook
Cover by Alex Raspad

Guest Blog by Rob J. Hayes - Stories are Written on Paper, Not Stone - May 28, 2015
Thanquil Darkheart is an Arbiter of the Inquisition, a witch hunter tasked with hunting down and purging heretics. Thanquil Darkheart is also something else, expendable.

When the God-Emperor of Sarth tells Thanquil there is a traitor operating among the highest echelon of the Inquisition he knows he has no choice but to sail to the city of Chade and follow the Emperor's single lead.

The Black Thorn is a murderer, a thug, a thief and worse but he's best known for the killing of six Arbiters. These days he travels with a crew of six of the most dangerous sell-swords in the wilds.

After a job well done they find themselves on the run from the law once again but the boss has good news; a new job, the biggest any of them have ever pulled. First, however, they need to evade capture long enough to secure travel to the free city of Chade.

Jezzet Vel'urn is a Blademaster; a swords-woman of prodigious skill but she knows that for a woman like her in the wilds there are two ways out of most situations; fight or fuck. Truth is, all too often for Jezzet's liking, it comes down to a combination of the two.

Jezzet is chased half-way across the wilds by a vengeful warlord until she makes it to the free city of Chade. Instead of sanctuary, however, all she finds are guards waiting to turn her over for some quick gold.



The Color of Vengeance
The Ties That Bind 2
Ragnarok Publication, January 19, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 388 pages
Cover by Alex Raspad 

Guest Blog by Rob J. Hayes - Stories are Written on Paper, Not Stone - May 28, 2015
Beaten, battered, and damned near broken with a bounty on his head so large he’s tempted to turn himself in, the Black Thorn finds himself on trial for the crime of being him. Despite the impending probability of death he has but one thought on his mind; taking revenge against the Arbiter who took his eye.

In order to carry out his vengeance Thorn must first escape Sarth and recruit a new crew, each one with their own designs on revenge.





About Rob

Guest Blog by Rob J. Hayes - Stories are Written on Paper, Not Stone - May 28, 2015
Having served in a hundred different offices as a keyboard monkey Rob J. Hayes finally decided to follow his life long passion of daydreaming. After writing a small horde's worth of short stories (many of which can be found on his website), he released his debut trilogy "The Ties that Bind" in 2013 as an indie publication and followed it up with the standalone release The Northern Sunrise in 2014.

Having now signed a deal with Ragnarok to bring "The Ties that Bind" to traditional paper publication Rob is furiously working away at a follow-up series set in the same world.

When not writing Rob is usually found either card gaming, computer gaming, board gaming, dice gaming, airsoft gaming, or pretending to be a Viking.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @RoboftheHayes

Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary - Horror… Happily - May 27, 2015


Please welcome Duncan McGeary to The Qwillery. Tuskers II: Day of the Long Pig was published on May 25th by Angelic Knight Press, an imprint of Ragnarok Publications.



Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary - Horror… Happily - May 27, 2015




Horror… Happily.
Duncan McGeary

         I was surprised that when I came back to writing, I chose to write horror. Even more, that I continued to write horror. Happily.
         It seems to me that horror is an open genre. There are no required formulas to the horror, as least as far as I can tell. Anything can be turned into horror -- any subject, any setting, any format; any other genre or no genre at all. The only expectation is that it has something scary in it. The fright can be physical, psychological, or spiritual, or any combination thereof.
         To me, it's a very freeing genre to write in. I just need to dig down into my own malaise of concerns and sure enough, there is always a twinge to be explore, which can be turned into something frightening.
         So far, I've delved into historical events, trying my best to be authentic and accurate about what happened to the Donner Party, and using werewolves as both real and symbolic elements.
         I've written a vampire trilogy that asked whether redemption could be achieved by anyone. An exploration of the religious and the spiritual.
         I've written a story about hyper-intelligent wild pigs on the rampage called Tuskers, who represent nature's revenge against mankind's neglect and arrogance.
         I've just finished two stories, one that include elements of Noir, with a gangster Golem, and another that is a sexual thriller involving Succubae.
         I love fantasy and mysteries, but it seems to me that they are trapped by convention, if not formula. That to break from these conventions, the form has to be stretched so much that it bends and sometimes breaks -- or at the very least, calls attention to the effort. Whereas horror can be bent in any direction and it won't surprise the reader.
         There are, of course, sub-genres within horror where the reader has expectations of certain conventions, but I don't have to go there; and even if I break from expectations, it seems to me that the horror readers are more open to such twists.
         I have yet to have an idea for a story that I didn't think could be improved by exploring the horror elements of that story.
         Or maybe I'm just twisted. Happily.





Tuskers II: Day of the Long Pig
Wild Pig Apocalypse 2
Angelic Knight Press, May 25, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 258 pages

Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary - Horror… Happily - May 27, 2015
Barry and Jenny inherited a fortune, with a single stipulation: that they hunt down and eradicate the Tuskers. They can only hope the Tuskers are gone. They aren't sure they can follow through on the genocide of an entire new species.

Genghis, the smartest and most ruthless of the Tuskers, survives. Deep in the desert, he breeds with the wild pig population. These mutants learn from humans, and quickly surpass them.





Previously

Tuskers
Wild Pig Apocalypse 1
Angelic Knight Press, January 12, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 238 pages

Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary - Horror… Happily - May 27, 2015
Barry had created a little piece of paradise in his southern Arizona backyard—until the javelinas came.

His battle to rid his property of the wild pigs soon escalated into war. Too late, he realized these weren't ordinary animals. They were something new, something meaner and smarter. These pigs weren't just at war with him; they were at war with the human race.

And the humans were losing.





About Duncan

Guest Blog by Duncan McGeary - Horror… Happily - May 27, 2015
I've lived in Bend, OR, my whole life (which is becoming increasingly rare in this boom town.) After graduating from the U of O in the '80s, I wrote the fantasy novels Star Axe, Snowcastles and Icetowers. While trying to write full time, I started filling in at a local book/comic book store called Pegasus Books and eventually became manager—then 30 years ago, I bought the store from Mike Richardson, who is now the publisher of Dark Horse Comics.

In the last few years, Pegasus Books has become stable and I've returned to writing like crazy. I sold a four book deal to Books of the Dead Press, followed by another trilogy, "The Vampire Evolution," which consists of Death of An Immortal, Rule of Vampire, and Blood of Gold.

I've been very busy with several other books in the works, and I'm proud to have sold my Wild Pig Apocalypse, Tuskers, to Ragnarok via their Angelic Knight Press Imprint. I hope you guys will check out all my books, as I try to make them entertaining, fast reads.

WebsiteTwitter @PegasusBooks

Interview with Steve Diamond, author of Residue - April 21, 2015


Please welcome Steve Diamond to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Residue was published on April 20th by Ragnarok Publications.



Interview with Steve Diamond, author of Residue - April 21, 2015




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Steve:  Thanks for having me! I've been writing for a long time now, but I didn't start taking it seriously until 2007 or so. It wasn't until 2011, though, that I began taking a hard look at my writing. I caught a break with a short story for a small press, and I realized I really wanted to get better so people could enjoy my work. So I wrote lots of short fiction to start, and a ton of practice fiction based on tabletop RPGs I was playing. That was when I really started to improve, and authors I knew began telling me I really needed to get more fiction out there.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Steve:  I started out pure panster. But as time went on, I found I needed a bit more structure to my writing. I found I needed to know--with a pretty good measure of concreteness--what my ending was, and a few stops along the way. That said, I'm still not a complete plotter. I've tried that method too, and I hate it. The lack of discovery takes all the fun out of the writing for me. I'm in the middle of panster and plotter, but I shade closer to panster.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Steve:  For me, the first difficulty is figuring out my ending. Starting has never been hard for me. But that ending? Coming up with a finale that doesn't feel cheap, cliché or forced? Yikes. After that, it's finding time to sit down and actually write the thing. I'm the Finance Manager for a Department of Defense contractor. It's rather demanding. When I get home, I like to spend time with my wife and kids. So it isn't until they are all asleep that I can generally do any writing. And by then, I'm generally pretty exhausted. But that's hardly a unique situation. I try and write, even if it's only for 30 minutes. And I think about what I'm going to write all day, so when the time comes I can get it all down on paper fairly quick.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Steve:  Influences? The main influences on my writing are Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Jonathan Maberry, Brian Lumley, Joe Lansdale, and Robert McCammon. They are, unsurprisingly, also my favorite authors. Now this isn't to say that no other authors are inspiring to me, nor that I don't have other favorites. I'm a fan of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Westerns, Thrillers, Comedy and any mix of those genres. I learn different things from different authors in different genres. That's why I try and read so widely. I didn't learn the same things from Sarah Pinborough as I did from Jasper Kent or from Daniel Abraham. But those three are amazing storytellers from different genres that have taught me tons.



TQ:  Describe Residue in 140 characters or less.

SteveResidue is a YA/Adult Horror novel about a kid named Jack Bishop who can see psychic residue left behind by monsters and murder victims.



TQ:  Tell us something about Residue that is not in the book description.

SteveResidue is really a mish-mash of a few genres. Of course the main genre being Horror. But it's also got some Science Fiction in it. It's also got a lot of action in it, and hopefully some humor. As people, we are rarely just one thing, and I feel like books should follow suit. Likewise, the book description doesn't highlight the general attitude of my characters. For some reason, a lot of YA and Adult Horror these days (and I suppose YA in general) has a lot of whiny protagonists, or protagonists that play the victim the whole novel. Call me crazy, but I've know a lot of people--teens and adults--that don't fall into that classification. So my characters are strong--not necessarily in a physical nature, but strong in some aspect--and they are proactive rather than reactive.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Residue? What appealed to you about writing fantasy?

SteveResidue was inspired by watching the TV show Chuck, while also doing a re-watch of the X-Files, while re-reading Brian Lumley's Necroscope. I know, some wildly different types of shows and books. Now my novel takes place in present-day, small-town America, so it isn't quite what I'd call "fantasy". Perhaps a bit Urban Fantasy. Urban Horror. Whatever. Anywho, what appealed to me writing this type of story was the idea of monsters in a small town combated by kids. After that, the idea of having kids be real, strong protagonists that try their hardest to get through a situation that could kill them. Lastly, when I first came up with the idea for this novel, a prom scene came to mind. It's...intense. I simply couldn't wait to write a story that led to that scene.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Residue?

Steve:  I did some research on ESP, and I clarified some of my knowledge in Norther California. I also did research on my own and though subject matter experts on firearms. Additionally, I went shooting quite a bit to get a newbie's understanding on guns, and the human body's reaction to them when using them for the first time. It was all super enlightening and a serious blast (no pun intended).



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Steve:  Jack was the easiest character to write because his reaction all felt natural. How would I react to finding out I can see psychic residue? Pretty easy stuff. Plus I'm a guy, so guys are easier to write for me. Alexandra Courtney--Alex--is the main female point of view character in the novel, and she was hard to write. She can read minds, and writing that in a way I felt was unique turned out to be pretty difficult.



TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Steve:

Q: How do you handle mind-reading in your novel?

A: Why is mind reading always shown like it's such a drag on the character? Such a burden? I never understood that. I think of people I know who have had disabilities for most of their lives, and to them, it isn't always a burden. People adapt. So why wouldn't a person who has been able to read minds adapt? Why would that person just see it as a normal part of their life...like breathing. When you look at it that way, you get to start having fun.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Residue.

Steve:

"Some girls do cheerleading," Alex said. "I shoot stuff."

A week ago I was a normal kid with normal friends at a normal school. I had a normal and boring job. Now I had freaking ESP, was going on some cloak-and-dagger mission for a guy I had never met, and was apparently becoming a weapon that people were fighting for.



TQ:  What's next?

Steve:  I recently published a Horror anthology I edited - Shared Nightmares. I also have a short story in an anthology about giant robots coming soon. Now that those are off my plate, I'm working on the sequel to Residue, currently titled Parasite. Book three, Catalyst, will follow shortly thereafter. Somewhere in there I have a short story for a charity anthology, and I'm pitching around another Horror anthology. We'll see if Privateer Press wants more from me this year. I'm also on the lookout for any other anthologies I can participate in. I've really come to love writing short fiction, so if you want me, you got me.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Steve:  Thank you so much for taking the time to set this up. It's been terrific. I hope you and your readers enjoy Residue!





Residue
Project Sentinel 1
Ragnarok Publications, April 20, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 226 pages

Interview with Steve Diamond, author of Residue - April 21, 2015
RESIDUE follows 17-year-old Jack Bishop after his father is abducted and a monster is let loose in his small town. As he looks for his father, he begins to notice that he can see the psychic residue left behind by monsters and murder victims. Along with the mind-reading Alexandra (Alex) Courtney, Jack uses his growing ESP abilities to stop the deaths in the town, and find out why his father was taken.

About the Author: Steve is your typical reader of books who loves to tell you what is good and, more importantly, what he hates. He grew up reading Lloyd Alexander, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Terry Brooks. Then he got a job at a Waldenbooks. In addition to improving his literary tastes, he was soon doing a lot of the managing duties there, and helped that particular store become the Numero Uno ranked store in the country. It was during this time that he decided his taste in books was better than everyone else’s (duh), and his customers/friends/family agreed.





About Steve

Interview with Steve Diamond, author of Residue - April 21, 2015
Steve Diamond founded and runs the review site, Elitist Book Reviews (www.elitistbookreviews.com), which was nominated for the Hugo Award in 2013, 2014 & 2015. He writes for Baen, Privateer Press, and numerous small publications. RESIDUE is his first full-length published work. His is also the editor of the Horror anthology, SHARED NIGHTMARES.


Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @sddiamond80


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