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Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Mixing Story Styles


Please welcome Seth Skorkowsky to The Qwillery. Ibenus, the 3rd novel in the Valducan series, was published on September 1st by Ragnarok Publications.



Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Mixing Story Styles




Mixing Story Styles.

When I wrote my first novel, Dämoren, I wanted to capture a certain feeling that I enjoyed from my favorite monster hunting movies and shows (Hellboy, Blade, Hellsing, and a few others). What I ended with was a solid action/adventure story.

Once it was finished, I started work on a sequel. Having just spent over a year on action/adventure, I needed something different. I didn't want to just rehash the same thing, so I wrote Hounacier as a mystery/horror. It was undeniable a sequel to the first novel, but of a very different flavor.

Once Dämoren hit print and many readers praised the action and international adventure, saying how they couldn't wait for the next one, I started getting a little scared. What if people wouldn't like me mixing up a winning formula? That fear welled into full blown terror by the time Hounacier was completed. I loved the book. It was exactly what I intended, but it was also extremely different than its predecessor.

I sent it in to Ragnarok Publications, wondering when I'd receive the, "What in the hell is this?" reply. Instead, on Thanksgiving night I received a message from Tim Marquitz saying that he loved it. For the first time, I voiced my concern and Tim waived that off, saying that the book was solid.

That eased my fears until a few weeks before publication day when the pre-release jitters stated up. (Seriously, if you ask any author in the two weeks before release, "Are you nervous?" you'll be answered with maniacal laughter. Or maybe that's just me.)

Reception was amazing. While some readers were disappointed that Hounacier wasn't the same as Dämoren, most were even more complimentary of the sequel than they had been for the first novel. I had effectively switched genre styles while maintaining the overall feel.

It was a great relief, especially since I'd already begun writing the next book, Ibenus, where I mixed it up again. For the third book, I decided to make it more like Dämoren with a large cast, plenty of action, and a European setting. But I also made a few significant changes.

For one, it's multiple point of view. That's a fairly drastic change, but the story demanded it. Now, instead of following a single demon hunter, we follow three.

The biggest change is the mood. Ibenus mixes the action of Dämoren, the horror of Hounacier, but has a new flavor: Romance. While the other novels had love interests, the romantic relationships were never the focus. But a central theme to the Valducan Series is the idea that our heroes are essentially married to their sacred weapons and often have difficulty with human relationships. This was a theme that demanded exploration. So, while we have all of the shooting, screaming, monsters, and action that makes the series what it is, the central aspect is romance.

I wouldn't dare call Ibenus a Romance or Paranormal Romance, not by a long shot. It's not going to draw romance novel readers into the Valducan world. It's simply a new flavor to the overall story and gives its readers something fresh.

Does mixing genre themes frighten me? You bet it does. But it's also rewarding. I never want any of my books to feel like the "same old thing." Readers would get bored and so would I. It also forces me to stretch my author wings because writing each novel feels almost like my first. My Beta Readers have gotten used to the disclaimer, "OK, I'm trying something new."

Currently, I'm working on my 4th Valducan novel. As always, I'm mixing genre styles. This time I'm toying with Spy Fiction, but that's a blog post for another day. Right now I'm enjoying the thrill of something fresh and hope my readers will, too.





Ibenus
The Valducan 3
Ragnarok Publications, September 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 410 pages

Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Mixing Story Styles
After surviving a demon attack, disgraced police detective Victoria Martin tracks down the Valducans in search for answers. Recognizing her potential, and despite the warnings of the other knights, Allan Havlock, protector of Ibenus, takes her in as his apprentice.

As the Valducans travel to Paris to destroy a demon nest infesting the catacombs, the knights find themselves hunted by an Internet group intent on exposing them. Victoria, who belongs to this group, must desperately play both sides to not only protect herself, but Allan, whom she has begun to love. Ibenus, however, has other plans

Ibenus is the third book in the Valducan series, for which Skorkowsky was shortlisted as "Best Debut Author" in the 2014 Reddit Stabby Awards.





Previously

Dämoren
The Valducan 1
Ragnarok Publications, April 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 406 pages

Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Mixing Story Styles
In the same vein as SUPERNATURAL, HELLBOY, and BLADE comes...DÄMOREN.

A secret society of monster hunters.
A holy revolver forged to eradicate demons.
A possessed man with a tragic past.
A rising evil bent on destroying them all.


MATT HOLLIS is the current wielder of the holy weapon, Dämoren. With it, he stalks and destroys demons.

A secret society called the VALDUCANS has taken an interest in Matt’s activities. They see him as a reckless rogue—little more than a ‘cowboy’ corrupted by a monster—and a potential threat to their ancient order.

As knights and their sentient weapons begin dying, Matt teams up with other hunters of his kind such as LUIZA, a woman with a conquistador blade; ALLAN, an Englishman with an Egyptian khopesh; MALCOLM, a voodoo priest with a sanctified machete; and TAKAIRA, a naginata-swinging Samurai.

As the hunters become the hunted, they must learn to trust one another before a powerful demonic entity thrusts the world into a terrible and ageless darkness.




Hounacier
The Valducan 2
Ragnarok Publications, March 15, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 356 pages

Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Mixing Story Styles
Eleven years ago, atheist MALCOLM ROMERO met a god. Now he’s a demon-hunting voodoo priest armed with a holy machete named Hounacier.

After the murder of his mentor, he returns to New Orleans to catch the killer. But more is at stake when Malcolm finds himself betrayed, and his holy blade stolen. Now Malcolm’s only hope to save his soul and to recover HOUNACIER, is the Valducan knight sent to kill him, MATT HOLLIS, wielder of the holy revolver DÄMOREN.





About Seth

Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Mixing Story Styles
Seth Skorkowsky is a writer that gravitates to the darker sides of fantasy, preferring horror and pulp heroes over knights in shining armor. He is the author of Dämoren and Hounacier, both titles in the Valducan series. Seth has also released two sword-and-sorcery collections in the Black Raven series, Mountain of Daggers and Sea of Quills. He lives in Flower Mound, Texas.



Website  ~  Twitter @SSkorkowsky   ~  Facebook


What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28


This is the twenty-eighth in a series of updates about formerly featured Debut Author Challenge authors and their 2015 works published since the last update and any upcoming works for 2016. The year in parentheses after the author's name is the year she/he was featured in the Debut Author Challenge.




Part 1 herePart 11 herePart 21 here
Part 2 herePart 12 herePart 22 here
Part 3 herePart 13 herePart 23 here
Part 4 herePart 14 herePart 24 here
Part 5 herePart 15 herePart 25 here
Part 6 herePart 16 herePart 26 here
Part 7 herePart 17 herePart 27 here
Part 8 herePart 18 here
Part 9 herePart 19 here
Part 10 herePart 20 here



Stephanie Saulter (2014)

Regeneration
(R)evolution 3
Jo Fletcher Books, May 3, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 376 pages

[US cover not yet available]
The gillungs - waterbreathing, genetically modified humans - are thriving. They've colonised riverbanks and ports long since abandoned to the rising seas and the demand for their high-efficiency technologies is growing fast.

But as demand grows, so do fears about their impact on both norm businesses and the natural environment. Then, a biohazard scare at Sinkat, their colony on the Thames, fuels the opposition and threatens to derail the gillungs' progress. But was it an accident, or was it sabotage?

Detective Sharon Varsi has her suspicions, but her investigations are compromised by family ties. And now there is a new threat: Zavcka Klist is about to be released from prison - and she wants her company back.




Jamie Schultz (2014)

Sacrifices
An Arcane Underworld Novel 3
Roc, July 5, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28
Things get a little demonic in the latest Arcane Underwold novel from the author of Splintered.

Thanks to their recent involvement with a magus crimelord and his demonic partner in mayhem, occult thieves Anna Ruiz and Karyn Ames are both stuck sharing head space with a demon. But while Karyn’s possession has had the unexpected benefit of focusing her visions of the future, Anna’s demon is spurring on her darkest urges, and it’s only a matter of time before she acts on them—and hurts someone in the process.

To save their skins, the two need to find a mysterious relic. But with their search taking them into some of the darkest places in the arcane underworld, Anna and Karyn will have to ally themselves with a group no self-respecting thief would be caught dead with—the Federal Bureau of Investigation...




Seth Skorkowsky (2014)

Mountain of Daggers
Tales of the Black Raven 1
Ragnarok Publications, March 9, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 286 pages
Cover by Alex Raspad 

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28
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.


Hounacier
Valducan 2
Ragnarok Publications, March 14, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 287 pages
Cover by Shawn T. King

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28
Eleven years ago, atheist MALCOLM ROMERO met a god. Now he’s a demon-hunting voodoo priest armed with a holy machete named Hounacier.

After the murder of his mentor, he returns to New Orleans to catch the killer. But more is at stake when Malcolm finds himself betrayed, and his holy blade stolen. Now Malcolm’s only hope to save his soul and to recover HOUNACIER, is the Valducan knight sent to kill him, MATT HOLLIS, the wielder of the holy revolver DÄMOREN.


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

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28
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.


Ibenus
Valducan 3
Ragnarok Publications, September 13, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook
Cover by Shawn T. King

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28
After surviving a demon attack, disgraced police detective Victoria Martin tracks down the Valducans in search for answers. Recognizing her potential, and despite the warnings of the other knights, Allan Havlock, protector of Ibenus, takes her in as his apprentice.

As the Valducans travel to Paris to destroy a demon nest infesting the catacombs, the knights find themselves hunted by an Internet group intent on exposing them. Victoria, who belongs to this group, must desperately play both sides to not only protect herself, but Allan, whom she has begun to love. Ibenus, however, has other plans.




Brian Staveley (2014)

The Providence of Fire
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 2
Tor Books, December 8, 2015
Trade Paperback, 624 pages
Hardcover and eBook, January 13, 2015

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28
The Providence of Fire is the second novel in Brian Staveley's Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, a gripping new epic fantasy series

The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.
Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.

Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, a renegade member of the empire's most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.

Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.


The Log Cabin
A Tor.com Original
Tor, December 8, 2015eBook, 32 pages

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28
On a cold winter's night, a goblin is caught stealing firewood. Then things start getting weird.


The Last Mortal Bond
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 3
Tor Books, March 15, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 656 pages

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28
The trilogy that began with The Emperor's Blades and continued in The Providence of Fire reaches its epic conclusion, as war engulfs the Annurian Empire in Brian Staveley's The Last Mortal Bond

The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.

But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all--Valyn, Adare, and Kaden--come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.


Note: Brian will be writing 4 standalone fantasy novels for Tor. For more visit Brian's website here.




Adam Sternbergh (2014)

Near Enemy
A Spademan Novel 2
Broadway Books, October 6, 2015
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Hardcover and eBook, January 13, 2015

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28
The Taut, Unflinching New Thriller from Adam Sternbergh, Author of the Critically-Acclaimed Shovel Ready
 
New York is toxic—decimated by a dirty bomb years ago.  The limnosphere is a virtual safe haven—if you’re rich enough to buy in.  Spademan is a hit man—box-cutter at the ready.

His latest job is to snuff out Lesser, a lowlife lurking around other people’s fantasies.  As Spademan is about to close the deal, Lesser comes back from the limn with a wild claim: terrorists are planning to attack New York. Again. This time from the inside out.

The warning sends Spademan down a dark path full of unsavory characters and startling revelations.  A shadowy political fixer tells him of a long-running power struggle that goes all the way to City Hall.  A brilliant Egyptian radical brings Spademan to the mysterious far-reaches of the limn.  And a beautiful nurse holds the secret to what, and who, is behind these attacks—and she seems to want to help Spademan stop them.  But he works best alone.  Or so he thinks.

Spademan has always had his share of enemies, but now they’re coming at him from all sides and it’s impossible to know whom to trust.  To stay sharp, his only option might be the one thing he swore he’d never do again.
[description from the Hardcover edition]

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 Seth Skorkowsky - Mixing Story StylesWhat's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 28Guest Blog by Seth Skorkowsky - Our Inner Rogue

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