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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - November 22, 2015


Melanie's Week in Review - November 22, 2015


When the weather outside is frightful and the fire inside is delightful....let it snow let it snow let it snow. Believe it or not it snowed today. It only lasted 10 minutes and melted before it hit the ground but snow is unusual England especially in November. I bet you are wondering why I am giving you a weather report well snow and cold  = an excuse to wrap stay on the couch all day with a good book. Bring on the snow! Anyway, what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - November 22, 2015
I am going to start with one of the most HILARIOUS books I have read in a long time - The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone. Dahlia is down on her luck, no job, no prospects of finding one and living off the generosity of her friend Charice. No one is more surprised than Dahlia when she is hired by to locate and return a stolen spear. Not just any spear but the Bejeweled Spear of Infinite Piercing, a prized possession in Kingdoms of Zoth. Dahlia isn't sure whether she is more surprised to be hired as an private investigator, a job she has not qualified to do or whether what she has been hired to find is part of a video game. Her very first case is turned on its head when her client ends up murdered by the real-life replica of the sword she was hired to find. Dahlia's on the case whether she wants to be or not.

I really enjoyed Dahlia's tale. Wirestone is very, very witty and is one of the first authors I have come across that is able to make Dahlia's witty dialogue sound exactly that, rather than making her sound like a perpetually wise cracking joker.  The main focus of the plot is the multi player role playing game - Kingdoms of Zoth - oh and the murder, of course.  I thought the scenes where Dahlia is 'in game' especially  amusing but I believe that even if you aren't a fan of video games you will still enjoy the story. Dahlia is a great character and you can't help but cheer on this down on her luck gal. I hope that Wirestone has more in store for this great character.


Melanie's Week in Review - November 22, 2015
I had the opportunity to read a couple of short stories. One such short was Brighter Than the Sun by Darynda Jones. This time the story is told from Reyes POV starting when he is just a young boy until he first meets Charley. This gives us more insight into Reyes' past and how the abuse he suffers as a child shapes him as an adult. We also get the opportunity to see more of his relationship with his sister and what he withstands in order to protect her. I thought this short story was OK. Without Charley (or should I say with her in the periphery) there seemed to be something missing. I think that Reyes needs to be developed a bit more in order to carry a story on his own. Once Jones gets past telling us about Reyes' past it may just be him giving Charley the 'googly love eyes.


Melanie's Week in Review - November 22, 2015
The final story I have to tell you about is Domnall and the Borrowed Child by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley. Domnall is old and his bones hurt when it rains but even so he is still the fae's best scout. When Maeve asks him to get Mother's Milk to save a sick fae child he knows he can't say no. Unfortunately, the baby 'switch-a-roo' doesn't go quite to plan but a baby's live is at stake so Domnall does what it takes to save the child.

This as an enjoyable short story. It was also a tiny bit sad at the end and not quite the happy ending I was expecting but good nonetheless.


That is it for me this week. I am quite satisfied with my reads this week as I have had a few disappointing weeks lately. Until next week Happy Reading.





The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
Redhook / Orbit, October 20, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

Melanie's Week in Review - November 22, 2015
For fans of The Guild, New Girl, Scott Pilgrim, Big Bang Theory, Veronica Mars, or anyone who has ever geeked out about something.

The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.

Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she's not living her best life. But that's all about to change.

Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she's offered a job. A job that she's woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?).

Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she's just the girl to deal with them.




Brighter Than the Sun
A Reyes Alexander Farrow Story
     Charley Davidson 8.5
St. Martin's Press, October 6, 2015
eBook, 112 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - November 22, 2015
All his life, Reyes Alexander Farrow has suffered the torments of the damned. Only one thing has given him hope: the woman who radiates a light that no mortals can see; a light that only the departed can see...

Told from his point of view, BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN chronicles the first time Reyes ever encountered Charley, and how their relationship has been the one thing that can either save him or doom him.




Domnall and the Borrowed Child
Tor.com, November 10, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 112 pages
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

Melanie's Week in Review - November 22, 2015
The best and bravest faeries fell in the war against the Sluagh, and now the Council is packed with idiots and cowards. Domnall is old, aching, and as cranky as they come, but as much as he'd like to retire, he's the best scout the Sithein court has left.

When a fae child falls deathly ill, Domnall knows he's the only one who can get her the medicine she needs: Mother's milk. The old scout will face cunning humans, hungry wolves, and uncooperative sheep, to say nothing of his fellow fae!

Interview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss


Please welcome Max Wirestone to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss will be published on October 20th by Redhook.



Interview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss




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

Max:  This is actually my very first book, so just I started just over a year ago. I wrote UNFORTUNATE DECISIONS when I was doing collection development for my library, and I noticed that my geek readers and mystery readers overlapped on their book taste a lot, even though there were no books that scratched both itches. I thought I'd dig up a geek-themed mystery to add to the library, but I couldn't find anything. The book I was looking for didn't seem to exist, which was unbelievable to me.

So, I wrote it.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Max:  I am a panster through and through. Even when I try to plot, things go off the rails. I feel like comic writing is like doing a good improv, except that you are doing all the parts and you can go back if you mess up. Things usually get very silly, very quickly.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Max:  I have a tendency to go too big. My first drafts always start off with too many characters, and I have to cut them down as I go.. (The first draft of this interview had three people in it.) I get there, but my path is littered with bodies along the way.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Max:  My heart belongs to the stylists-- Raymond Chandler, P.G. Wodehouse, Ngaio Marsh, Raymond Carver -- writers that you instantly recognize because they have voices that jump right out at you. It's funny, because they don't necessarily have voices that that are similar to each other. I think perhaps I just appreciate their confidence. Also, most of them are funny, especially Raymond Chandler, who really doesn't get enough credit for his comedy writing. .



TQDescribe The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss in 140 characters or less.

Max:  An inept detective; a stolen weapon from an online game, a Jigglypuff cap and MURDER.



TQTell us something about The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss that is not found in the book description.

Max:  The climax of the book takes place at a Con, and is a very loving send-up of Con culture, both good and bad. If you've ever gone to an overcrowded con and thought about killing someone, this is the book for you.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss?

Max:  Aside from just thinking that it would be a nice addition to my library, I really wanted to have a book that was for geeks, by geeks. I often feel that geek characters get consigned to being sidekicks, or else they have their actions commented on by disapproving non-geek characters. I was sort of thinking: to hell with all that. Dahlia Moss is a book that's supposed to feel like you're at ComicCon or PAX-- a safe, warm, crazy place where you know that you're among your own people. It's like a hug, or perhaps a Vulcan salute, assuming the Vulcan in question was drunk and prone to saying things like "I love you, man."



TQWhat is your current favorite MMORPG?

Max:  The best MMO still is World of Warcraft, which is an unimaginative answer, but quantifiably true. My all time favorite, though, was City of Heroes, which I thought was a wonderful, weird, game that that really let players be creative. You really could spend days in the character generator, inventing your own superhero with ridiculous powers and insane cosplay. My main character in that game was Hester Prynne, who had hellfire themed powers. Her costume was ridiculous, with flames running up her legs and, of course, a scarlet 'A'. I remember running into a player who who role-playing as Sir Issac Newton and thinking: these are my people.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss?

Max:  Don't laugh, but I read quite a bit about Pokemon. One thing I was careful about was making sure that Dahlia didn't have exactly the same geek interests that I did, and let her have her own geek hobbies. To be sure, this was all deeply pleasurable research.



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

Max:  I find Charice, Dahlia's somewhat overdramatic roommate, very easy to write. As the parent of a four-year-old, I think I'm generally tamping down on chaos and so it's very freeing, as I do when I write Charice, to just let it run free.

The trickiest character is Detective Anson Shuler, whom I adore, but runs absolutely ram shod over any notion of plot I have. He was initially supposed to be in a single scene and then disappear forever-- his name is a Magic the Gathering joke, which should give you an idea how much currency I expected him to have-- and yet each time I revised the novel he made more space for himself. This continues to be true in the sequel. I quite like writing him, but it can be frustrating when he does not steer the novel in the direction I would want.



TQ Which question about The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Max:  I keep anticipating the question: "Just who the hell do you think you are?" which I feel certain that someone will pose, probably while throwing a drink at me. It hasn't happened yet, however. Maybe we could do it anyway, just so I won't be nervous anymore.
TQ: Just who the hell do you think you are? (throws drink, which is tricky to manage over the internet)

Max: I'm no one! No one I tell you! (sobs)
Wow, that was actually really freeing. I'm glad we did it. I feel liberated.

TQ Note: No authors were harmed virtually or otherwise in the posing of that question.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines/paragraphs from The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss.

Max:

I got up and Nathan stood quickly, stashing his bento box back into his bag. I was all but

physically shuffling him out the room, but he was stalling me. If he were a Pokémon,

this would have been where he revealed his super-effective stat reduction on me. He made pouty

eyes and scratched at his neck.

This worked surprisingly well.

“Don’t laugh, but I kind of wanted to hang out with a private detective,” he explained.

His embarrassment lasted nanoseconds, and he was bright again. “Makes you feel like you’re in

on something. You know, put the squeeze on the old up and down. Derrick the gin mill.

Hoosegow the bean shooters.”

“You’re just stringing together nonsense words.”

“Maybe,” said Nathan. “But you have to grant that I’ve got the cadence down.”



TQWhat's next?

Max:  There at least two more books coming up in the Dahlia Moss series. Astonishing Mistakes will come out next year, and is a riff on the alpha-male culture of fighting game tournaments. Also I make fun of Twitch a lot-- the streaming service, not the hip-hop dancer. Charice gets engaged, Shuler gets sloshed, and Dahlia is knocked off a steamboat. It's a good time.

I'm also brewing up a fantasy novel that's lightly inspired by It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Instead of Ethel Merman, there's a talking skeleton. (As I consider that sentence I realize it looks like some kind of madlib, but this is actually a thing that is happening.)



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!





The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
Redhook / Orbit, October 20, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
For fans of The Guild, New Girl, Scott Pilgrim, Big Bang Theory, Veronica Mars, or anyone who has ever geeked out about something.

The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.

Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she's not living her best life. But that's all about to change.

Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she's offered a job. A job that she's woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?).

Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she's just the girl to deal with them.





About Max

Interview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
Photo by Elizabeth Frantz
Max Wirestone is a librarian in a small New Hampshire town. He lives in New England with his editor-husband and his non-editor son. Find him @maxwires.













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Melanie's Week in Review - November 22, 2015Interview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss

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