close

The Qwillery | category: Angry Robot Books | (page 6 of 9)

home

The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

qwillery.blogspot.com

Interview with Ferrett Steinmetz, author of Flex - March 5, 2015


Please welcome Ferrett Steinmetz to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Flex was published on March 3rd by Angry Robot Books.



Interview with Ferrett Steinmetz, author of Flex - March 5, 2015




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

Ferrett:  I wrote my first poem when I was in seventh grade. The first line was “In a time / when people live with the spider of hunger in their bellies,” and my anthropology teacher was so amazed at my burgeoning talent she asked to take the poem home with her.

Years later I realized it was my anthropology teacher who was impressed, not my English teacher, and that in fact my poetry was more dreadful than Vogons. But it was too late! I’d written too much! I was committed.

So my advice to all new writers is to find a fan straight away, and don’t question their qualifications too closely.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Ferrett:  Every novel I write involves the same process:
  1.  Come up with an interesting first scene.
  2.  Write the first half of the book.
  3.  Write about 15,000 words of the second half of the book.
  4.  Realize that those 15,000 words are totally wrong – they don’t answer the questions I raised in the first half of the story, I have the wrong antagonist, and by the way the characters are all wrong.
  5.  Spend three days defending to anyone who will listen that NO, these 15,000 words are great, I spent three weeks writing them, there’s certainly no need to chuck them out and devise a far better idea.
  6.  Chuck them out.
  7.  Drink an entire gallon of vodka.
  8.  Weep vodka tears.
  9.  Come up with a better idea.
  10.  Woozily stumble my way to the end of the book.
So as you can clearly see, I’m a die-hard plotter.



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

Ferrett:  Drinking a gallon of vodka. But I am committed to the process.



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

Ferrett:  Okay, let’s get serious. I have a ton of influences, but the influences that ring most truly here are probably an odd combination of 1980s authors – David Eddings in the Belgarion, Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series (one of the lead characters, Valentine DiGriz, is named after the Rat in a direct homage), Spider Robinson’s Callahan series, Stephen King’s The Stand. You see, what I love most about fiction is that sense of a band of brothers coming together, that sense that you are not just seeing a friendship but being there as the affection forms - and so Flex is largely about a couple of very different people making a home together in a world that hates ‘mancers.

But I also go a little darker, because my other influences are more modern – yes, there’s the keen edge of that old sourpuss Harlan Ellison lurking around in there, but I also love the rough-tinged violence of China Mieville, the biological imperatives of Peter Watts, the unflinching psychology of Kij Johnston, Suzanne Collins’ sharp-eyed take on class boundaries.

So basically, I wind up with a lot of friendship simmering in a stew of dark prose and psychological destruction.



TQ:  Describe Flex in 140 characters or less.

Ferrett:  A desperate father will do anything to heal his daughter in a novel where Breaking Bad meets Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files.



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

Ferrett:  The thing people seem to really like is how magic works in the world of Flex. It all comes down to obsession. If you’re a Crazy Cat Lady, and really love those kitties, then eventually you might cross the event horizon and start doing Crazy Cat Magic. You’ll become a felimancer. But by then, the only thing you’ll care about is protecting your rampant horde of kittens, which explains why ‘mancers haven’t exactly taken over the world.

The lead character, Paul, is a bureaucromancer, and he believes firmly in the power of the DMV – for him, keeping good records is literally what holds civilization together, so he can cast some very odd spells. The woman who teaches him how to brew drugs? She’s a videogamemancer, and she can go Grand Theft Auto on people at a moment’s notice. And there’s all sorts of other ‘mancers – but most of them don’t live for too long.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Flex? What appealed to you about writing an Urban Fantasy novel?

Ferrett:  It started as a thought experiment – someone joked about brewing magical drugs when I was roleplaying, and I thought, “Well, how would magic drugs be different?” And so I thought of how magic drugs would work (it’s kind of a distorted, backlashy version of Harry Potter’s Felix Felicis potion), and what sort of limitations mages would have to encounter in making them to make it nice and dangerous for my lead characters, and pretty soon I had envisioned a guy who was totally unsuited to be selling drugs.

So of course he became my lead. So it goes.



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

Ferrett:  Paul, the lead character, is an amputee – his right ankle was crushed in a battle with an illustromancer. So I did several days’ research on what happened when you lost your foot, how you got around, what sorts of psychological effects it tended to have. I even know precisely what model his artificial leg is.

Beyond that, not much. I write fantasy because it’s far easier to make things up.



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

Ferrett:  The easiest character was Valentine, a sexy overweight goth videogamemancer who I’ve done my damndest to make her both into an interesting character and unapologetically unashamed of her body type. She’s snarky as all heck, which is pretty much the role I play at any party, so her dialogue pretty much consisted of finding the most awkward thing it was possible to say and transcribing it.

The hardest character was the terrorist ‘mancer who serves as the antagonist of the book. When I outlined my writing process earlier, I’m not kidding – originally, the book had an entirely different villain! But as I slowly discovered who Paul was, I realized I needed an enemy who was diametrically opposed to all the things that Paul believes in. Paul is a person who believes in saving people, in fairness, in pushing back the power of kings and corporations to make life easier for the little guy – and I needed someone who stood against all of that.

The villain is, of course, a ‘mancer. But exactly what type of ‘mancer she is remains a mystery to Paul for much of the book.



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

Ferrett:  “Say, Ferrett, who would you cast in the roles of your lead characters Paul and Valentine?”

And the answer is that I don’t know. It’s odd, because Paul is a scrawny amputee who is, frankly, a little colorless – he loves sharp suits, but isn’t particularly handsome. And Valentine is about fifty pounds overweight and totally sexy. Neither of them are classic Hollywood types, and despite the fact that I love Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy, they’re too whacky for the role. I wish there were more slots in Hollywood for dramatic BBW beauties, but you won’t find them, and you won’t find a lot of short-and-scrawny thirtysomething dudes either.

So basically, I wish there were enough roles in Hollywood to cast it!



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

Ferrett:

     “I’ve fucked up a lot of things in my life, Paul. Pretty much all of them, in fact. But ’mancy?” Valentine flexed her fingers, unleashing a smile sharp enough to draw blood. “One skill can redeem a life splintered with flaws. But only if you’re very, very good at it.”



TQ:  What's next?

Ferrett:  I’m putting the finishing touches on the sequel to Flex, Flux, wherein even cooler things happen, and am also working on sort-of sequel to my Nebula-nominated novella Sauerkraut Station, wherein a boy takes an apprenticeship in the finest and strangest restaurant in all the stars. (Yes, yes, get your Douglas Adams jokes in now.)



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Ferrett:  Thank you! What an awesome challenge you have here. I’m rooting for all y’all.

TQ:  Thank you!





Flex
Flex 1
Angry Robot Books, March 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback (US/Canada) and eBook,
Cover Art: Steven Meyer-Rassow

Interview with Ferrett Steinmetz, author of Flex - March 5, 2015
A desperate father will do anything to heal his daughter in a novel where Breaking Bad meets Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files.

FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.

FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.

PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.

But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Magic Pill • Firestarter • Bureaucramancy • The Flex & the Flux ]





About Ferrett

Interview with Ferrett Steinmetz, author of Flex - March 5, 2015
Ferrett Steinmetz is a graduate of both the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and Viable Paradise, and has been nominated for the Nebula Award, for which he remains stoked.

Ferrett has a moderately popular blog, The Watchtower of Destruction, wherein he talks about bad puns, relationships, politics, videogames, and more bad puns. He’s written four computer books, including the still-popular-after-two-years Wicked Cool PHP.

He lives in Cleveland with his wife, who he couldn’t imagine living without.


Website ~ Twitter @ferretthimself

Review: Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz


Flex
Author:  Ferrett Steinmetz
Series:  Flex 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, March 3, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857664600 (print)
Cover ArtSteven Meyer-Rassow
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review:  Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz
A desperate father will do anything to heal his daughter in a novel where Breaking Bad meets Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files.

FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.

FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.

PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.

But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Magic Pill • Firestarter • Bureaucramancy • The Flex & the Flux ]


Melanie's Thoughts:

Paul Tsabo has a life of regrets. He regrets what happened to his marriage, regrets killing the 'mancer (magic user) who caused him to lose his foot but most of all he regrets every starting to use mancy. Of course, he thinks he is different, he isn't a Flex addict and that he is using his magic for good. The former cop believes he is helping people in his dead-end job working for an insurance company by using his magic to help the needy get the money owed to them. Everything changes when Paul's daughter is horrifically burnt in a fire started by someone using Flex.

Paul is on a mission to find anyone or anything that can help him heal his daughter. Mancy seems to be the cause and solution of all his problems. He ends up joining forces with the videomancer Valentine who uses her magic to turn life into one big Mario Brothers game. Valentine is everything Paul isn't but together they go toe to toe with some of the scariest villains in town. Steinmetz takes both Paul and the reader on a wild, high octane ride. I started out quite liking this book. I thought that Steinmetz was incredibly innovative in his world building. The Flex, the Flux and the mancy all combined with Paul's quest for a way to heal his daughter all made for a great read. However, Steinmetz made critical mistake that caused me to lose interest halfway through. The pace of the story turned too frenetic, too many terrible things happened to Paul and Valentine and more importantly, Paul came through it almost completely unscathed. Needless to say Paul is injured by the continual onslaught of action grew tiresome.

In what I think was an attempt to have Paul go through some metamorphosis from innocent to ruthless Steinmetz introduces both Paul and the reader to the drug lord Gunza. I couldn't figure out what the point of this character was other than to add a bit more horror to the plot. The Gunza subplot lasted several chapters and I found myself rushing through them in the hopes of relief. Even by the ending I couldn't figure out exactly why this character had so many chapters dedicated to him. Steinmetz could have easily have trimmed the plot and stuck to the main villain Anathema rather than focusing so many pages on Gunza and his brother Oscar. Overall, this is an innovative and interesting debut but I hope that Steinmetz keeps the plot a bit tighter in future books. Although I was disappointed with aspects of the plot I think that Steinmetz was very clever in his world building. The Flex, Flux and different types of mancers kept me reading when I might have put the book down. Beware as Flex is not for someone who can't stomach copious amounts of swearing, violence and poor personal hygiene. Fantastic cover, if not a bit creepy.

Cover Revealed: The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu


Angry Robot Books has revealed the cover for The Rebirths of Tao, the final novel in the Lives of Tao Trilogy by Wesley Chu. The cover is by Stewart Larking. The Rebirths of Tao will be out in Mass Market Paperback in North America and eBook on April 7, 2015.


Cover Revealed: The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu
Many years have passed since the events in The Deaths of Tao: the world is split into pro-Prophus and pro-Genjix factions, and is poised on the edge of a devastating new World War; the Prophus are hiding; and Roen has a family to take care of.

A Genjix scientist who defects to the other side holds the key to preventing bloodshed on an almost unimaginable scale.

With the might of the Genjix in active pursuit, Roen is the only person who can help him save the world, and the Quasing race, too.

And you thought you were having a stressful day…

File Under: Science Fiction
[ Father & Son • The Final Program • The Hero’s Path • The Circles of Life ]



Previously

The Lives of Tao
The Lives of Tao 1
Angry Robot Books, April 30, 2013 (US/Canada)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Cover Revealed: The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu
When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…

File Under: Science Fiction [ The Tug of War | I Was Genghis | Diary of a Slob | Spy vs Spy ]



The Deaths of Tao
The Lives of Tao 2
Angry Robot Books, October 29, 2013 (US/Canada)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Cover Revealed: The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu
The Prophus and the Genjix are at war. For centuries they have sought a way off-planet, guiding humanity’s social and technological development to the stage where space travel is possible.

The end is now in sight, and both factions have plans to leave the Earth, but the Genjix method will mean the destruction of the human race.

That’s a price they’re willing to pay.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Manning Up | A Long Journey | Bye-Bye Mankind | Personal Space ]

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Ferrett Steinmetz

Flex
Flex 1
Angry Robot Books, March 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback (US/Canada) and eBook,
Cover Art: Steven Meyer-Rassow

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz
A desperate father will do anything to heal his daughter in a novel where Breaking Bad meets Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files.

FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.

FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.

PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.

But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Magic Pill • Firestarter • Bureaucramancy • The Flex & the Flux ]

Guest Blog by Jo Anderton - Day Jobs - October 18, 2014


Please welcome Jo Anderton to The Qwillery. Guardian, the 3rd Veiled Worlds novel, was published in June!

Guest Blog by Jo Anderton - Day Jobs - October 18, 2014



Day Jobs

Day jobs are usually necessary, not necessarily evil, often interesting, but always time consuming. Balancing them and a writing life can be a challenge. But you know who I really feel sorry for? My characters. They're used to hanging out in my study, lobbing ideas at the back of my head and generally bitching about the terrible things I put them through. Can you imagine how frustrating it must be to mope around in an empty room for at least eight straight hours a day? No one to harass into telling your story. No one to guilt-trip when they strip you of your hopes and dreams. I mean, they probably follow the cats around and shout story ideas at them, but cats don't listen to anyone.

But never fear! I have the perfect solution. If I need a day job to earn my keep… then so can they.

Tanyana, of course, works at an artsy architectural firm during the day. Actually, I don't know why she bothers involving herself as the main character in my Veiled Worlds novels, because she makes a bucket-load of money at her day job. She designs the kind of projects that usually get labeled 'public art', and half the population think are a waste of taxpayer funding, but are actually very important and sometimes even practical. They win awards. She actually quite likes her day job, because if she ever has to go on site then there are rigorous OH&S codes to keep her safe. They're much stricter about that kind of thing in Sydney than in her home city of Movoc-under-Keeper. It's very unlikely that she will fall eight hundred feet and land on glass, and even if she did she'd be in for a hell of a lot of compensation instead of a lifetime of drudgery as a debris collector. She doesn't even have to hide the silver bands of her debris collecting suit, wrapped around her wrists and neck, because her clients just think they're the most unusual jewelry they've ever seen, and someone with that kind of taste must be worth the huge amount of money she's charging.

Seriously, given what poor Tanyana goes through in Debris, Suited and Guardian, if I was her I'd just stay at work!

Kichlan… you know, I'm not so sure I'd give him the same advice. Kichlan gave up on a promising medical career to spend more time with his brother Lad. Worth the sacrifice? It’s always hard to tell, isn't it? He could be racking in the bucks by now, and probably saving lives and being generally awesome at the same time. Instead, he works a couple of low-paying jobs with flexible hours so he can always be there when Lad needs him. He probably likes the mail-centre job the most. It's mind numbing, but peaceful. No real stress, not compared to running a debris-collecting team and trying to keep Lad away from the puppet men 24/7. He one he hates the most is the fast-food joint. It's the way the oil from the deep-fryer stinks up his clothes. Which might sound odd, because he's used to smelling like muck from crawling around Movoc-under-Keeper in search of debris, but there you go.

His brother, Lad, has what you might call a kind of developmental delay. In Movoc-under-Keeper this can be dangerous -- the puppet men keep an eye out for debris collectors like him. They're special. But trust me, we do not want the puppet men to catch him! This doesn't mean he can't contribute and help out the brother who works so hard to look after him. Turns out Lad has a very spiritual side -- after all, he's regularly in touch with another plane of existence. He makes a bit of cash doing tarot and palm readings at the local hippie shop. He's also a wonderful yoga teacher. He's remarkably flexible for a man of his hulking size, and once his new clients get over that surprise they discover his soothing voice and calm energy. No one meditates as deeply as Lad.

So there you go, it's good to know my characters are keeping busy when I'm at work and ignoring them…

…Oh, apparently I forgot someone. And they're not happy about it.

The puppet men would like to let you know that they carry their weight too. Which is not very reassuring, because I'm not really sure they technically weigh anything. What do these creatures in their human-masks do when they're not trying to destroy two worlds and generally ruin Tanyana's life?



Actually, I don't think I want to know.





The Veiled Worlds

Debris
The Veiled Worlds 1
Angry Robot Books, October 1, 2011 (US/Canada and eBook)
       October 6, 2011 (UK print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
     Cover Art by Dominic Harman

Guest Blog by Jo Anderton - Day Jobs - October 18, 2014
In a far future where technology is all but indistinguishable from magic, Tanyana is one of the elite.

She can control pions, the building blocks of matter, shaping them into new forms using ritual gestures and techniques. The rewards are great, and she is one of most highly regarded people in the city. But that was before the “accident”.

Stripped of her powers, bound inside a bizarre powersuit, she finds herself cast down to the very lowest level of society. Powerless, penniless and scarred, Tanyana must adjust to a new life collecting “debris”, the stuff left behind by pions. But as she tries to find who has done all of this to her, she also starts to realize that debris is more important than anyone could guess.

Debris is a stunning new piece of Science Fantasy, which draws in themes from Japanese manga, and classic Western SF and Fantasy to create this unique, engrossing debut from the very exciting young author Jo Anderton.

FILE UNDER: Science Fiction [ Sentient Matter | Cast Down | Cruel Betrayals | All Is Lies ]



Suited
The Veiled Worlds 2
Angry Robot Books, June 26, 2012 (US/Canada and eBook)
       July 5, 2012 (UK print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
    Cover Art by Dominic Harman

Guest Blog by Jo Anderton - Day Jobs - October 18, 2014
The Veiled Worlds, Vol II

Tanyana has chosen to help the Keeper, to stand against the Puppet Men, who continue to force the Debris into unnatural creations.

And when even her own suit becomes aggressive against her, Tanyana must weigh some very personal issues against her determination to serve the greater good.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Parasite | Make Monsters | Hidden Strings | Needs of the Many ]



Guardian
The Veiled Worlds 3
FableCroft Publishing, June 6, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
    Cover Art by Dion Hamill
    Cover Design by Amanda Rainey

Guest Blog by Jo Anderton - Day Jobs - October 18, 2014
The grand city of Movoc-under-Keeper lies in ruins. The sinister puppet men have revealed their true nature, and their plan to tear down the veil between worlds. To have a chance of defeating them, Tanyana must do the impossible, and return to the world where they were created, on the other side of the veil. Her journey will force her into a terrible choice, and test just how much she is willing to sacrifice for the fate of two worlds.





About Jo

Guest Blog by Jo Anderton - Day Jobs - October 18, 2014
Joanne is a writer of speculative fiction, and this is what she's always been. In Joanne's case, that tends to range between fantasy, horror and the just plain weird. Her debut novel, Debris (Book One the Veiled Worlds Series) was published by Angry Robot Books in 2011. Book two Suited was published in 2012. Guardian, book three, was published in 2014.

Her collection The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories won the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Collection! And she won the 2012 Ditmar for Best New Talent!



Visit her online at http://joanneanderton.com and on Twitter @joanneanderton


Guest Blog by Kameron Hurley - Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants - August 29, 2014


Please welcome Kameron Hurley to The Qwillery. The Mirror Empire, the first novel in the Worldbreaker Saga, was published by Angry Robot Books on August 26, 2014 in North America and digital format and will be published on September 4, 2014 in the UK in print format.



Guest Blog by Kameron Hurley - Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants - August 29, 2014




Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants

I get a lot of questions about worldbuilding. It’s right up there with characterization as my favorite part of writing, and is most certainly my favorite part of choosing to write in genre. I can create whole worlds from the ground up.

As I relish in this power of virtual creation, it always seemed odd to me that more people didn’t spend time worldbuilding. Weird writers like China Mieville, KJ Bishop and Angela Carter impressed me with the lush weirdness of the worlds they built, both fascinating and horrifying me as a reader. So when I went to create the creatures inhabiting the world of my latest book, The Mirror Empire, my new epic fantasy novel, you can bet building fantastic creatures was top of mind.

In my God’s War trilogy, I had created a world powered by different types of insects – some real, some made up for the book. Using bugs as a form of commerce and technology affected every other thing in the book, so it was vital to get that system down early. For The Mirror Empire I wanted to have a similarly ubiquitous and strange way of populating the landscape that affected how people worked, traveled, lived.

So… why not flesh-eating plants?

Cue the “feed me” jokes. Yes, they are apt.

I tinkered with the idea of having these semi-sentient types of plants, like walking trees and ground cover that would creep up and engulf you if you sat still too long. I imagined huge bladder traps and massive pitcher plants that ate people and mammals instead of insects. I had also made the primarily point of view culture in the book vegetarian, which seemed to present some interesting issues: it wasn’t as if they could pretend plants didn’t have feelings and motivations when some of them really, really did. So their choice to be vegetarians, I suspected, was not going to be a wholly moral one.

I also made a conscious choice to steer clear of totally unfamiliar names when telling readers what my creatures were, from bears to treegliders to pitcher plants to bladder traps. I used real-world names whenever possible for things that were… well, almost like their earth equivalents. There were already a lot of made-up names across several cultures, and I wanted to reduce the number of new terms that readers were introduced to. So even though the bears on this world have forked tongues and bifurcated paws and protruding fangs, I call them bears. And even though the bladder traps are six feet tall and hidden underground, attached to the roots of trees, instead of miniscule things meant to catch bugs attached to the roots of small plants, they’re called bladder traps.

I learned this trick from author Tara K. Harper, whose Wolfwalker books appear, at first blush, to be standard fantasy novels. But as you get deeper into it you realize the “horses” have six legs, and the other creatures and landscapes you thought were fantasy pseudo-familiar are… not. I had a similar moment of dissonance reading Paul Park’s Starbridge Chronicles, when, halfway through the book there’s a sentence like, “He pushed her tail out of the way” and I was like HOLY CRAP THEY HAVE TAILS???

It turns out that when you’re building really weird worlds, waiting to reveal just how weird they are is kinder to the reader than a mess of word vomit at the start. I had approached many aspects of writing the God’s War trilogy the same way, using real-world words (though not always English ones) to describe things that most assuredly… were not. Or were, at best, used to define slightly different types of things.

Steering clear of too many made-up words is probably my biggest piece of worldbuilding advice, especially if, like me, you’re already making up a good deal, from the names of the people and places to the gods and the unique terms and titles used by several different cultures. You’re already going to have some interesting word salad. Try not to overdo it.





The Mirror Empire
Worldbreaker Saga 1
Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014 (US/Canada print/digital)
     September 4, 2014 (UK print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Guest Blog by Kameron Hurley - Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants - August 29, 2014
From the award-winning author of God’s War comes a stunning new series…
 
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

File Under: Fantasy





About Kameron

Kameron Hurley is the author of the novels God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel. She has won the Hugo Award and been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Nebula Award, the Locus Award, BFS Award, and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Her latest novel, The Mirror Empire, was published by Angry Robot Books on August 26th, 2014.

Website  ~  Twitter @KameronHurley  ~  Facebook




God's War Trilogy / Bel Dame Apocrypha

God's War
God's War / Bel Dame Apocrypha 1
Night Shade Books, February 1, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 307 pages

Guest Blog by Kameron Hurley - Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants - August 29, 2014
Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn't make any difference...

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on--

There's not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war--but at what price?

The world is about to find out.



Infidel
God's War / Bel Dame Apocrypha 2
Night Shade Books, October 1, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 300 pages

Guest Blog by Kameron Hurley - Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants - August 29, 2014
The only thing worse than war is revolution. Especially when you're already losing the war...

Nyx used to be a bel dame, a government-funded assassin with a talent for cutting off heads for cash. Her country's war rages on, but her assassin days are long over. Now she's babysitting diplomats to make ends meet and longing for the days when killing people was a lot more honorable.

When Nyx's former bel dame "sisters" lead a coup against the government that threatens to plunge the country into civil war, Nyx volunteers to stop them. The hunt takes Nyx and her inglorious team of mercenaries to one of the richest, most peaceful, and most contaminated countries on the planet -- a country wholly unprepared to host a battle waged by the world's deadliest assassins.

In a rotten country of sweet-tongued politicians, giant bugs, and renegade shape shifters, Nyx will forge unlikely allies and rekindle old acquaintances. And the bodies she leaves scattered across the continent this time... may include her own.

Because no matter where you go or how far you run in this world, one thing is certain: the bloody bel dames will find you.



Rapture
God's War / Bel Dame Apocrypha  3
Night Shade Books, November 6, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook,372 pages

Guest Blog by Kameron Hurley - Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants - August 29, 2014
After years in exile, Nyxnissa so Dasheem is back in action in service to the bel dames, a sisterhood of elite government assassins tasked with eliminating deserters and traitors. The end of a centuries-long holy war between her country, Nasheen, and neighboring Chenja has flooded the streets of Nasheen with unemployed – and unemployable – soldiers whose frustrations have brought the nation to the brink of civil war.

Not everyone likes this tenuous and unpredictable “peace,” however, and somebody has kidnapped a key politician whose death could trigger a bloody government takeover. With aliens in the sky and revolution on the ground, Nyx assembles a team of mad magicians, torturers,and mutant shape-shifters for an epic journey across a flesh-eating desert in search of a man she’s not actually supposed to kill.

Trouble is, killing is the only thing Nyx is good at. And she already left this man to die…



You may buy the complete God's War Trilogy in a digital omnibus edition (Night Shade Books, July 15, 2013):

Guest Blog by Kameron Hurley - Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants - August 29, 2014


Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014


Please welcome Rod Duncan to The Qwillery. The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter, the first novel in the Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series, will be out in print in the US and Canada and in eBook format everywhere on August 26th and in the UK in print on September 4th.



Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter is the first novel in your Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series and is Fantasy. What attracted you to Fantasy and steampunk in particular?

Rod:  I was brought up on science fiction and fantasy. Long before I could read the books for myself, my father used to read them to me. He had stacks of Astounding Science Fiction magazines and Analog Science Fiction and Fact. I think some of them dated back to the early 1950s.

I was late starting to read for myself. But when I did, I went for Tolkien in a big way. Then a little later I found Mervyn Peak’s Gormenghast books. I’d also list the Sherlock Holmes stories as an early influence. With that alone, you might guess why I was attracted to steampunk.

But throw place into the mix and my choice to go for steampunk starts to look inevitable. The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter begins and ends in a fantasy version of Leicester, England. Much of the real city was built in Victorian times. Walking through its streets, you catch glimpses of the Victorian world in the architecture as well as under your feet – with cobblestones showing through where the road surface has worn away.

I guess I wanted to bring the sights, sounds and smells of the 19th Century city back to life.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or pantser?

Rod:  A bit of both. A place or a character might set me writing – with no clear idea of where I am going. I’m happy to let a sense of narrative drive guide me at first. But after twenty thousand words or so, I expect to have figured out what the most significant plot points are going to be. Enough to give me a mental map of where the book is going. There’s still plenty of room for discoveries along the way. I need to be able to surprise myself as I write, otherwise I would get bored.



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

Rod:  Plotting. I’m always thinking and talking about it. I even teach courses on it. But there is something about holding all those events in my head at once that I find challenging. The plot of a novel is more than a head-full. That’s my problem.



TQ:  Please tell us something about The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter that is not in the book description.

Rod:  My protagonist lives on a canal boat. She rationalises her strange choice by saying it gives her the freedom to live her double life - to the world a dutiful sister but in secret a private investigator. Really, I think she lives in a boat because she is curse-blessed with the spirit of a wanderer. She was born in a travelling show and can’t abide the thought of living in bricks and mortar.



TQ:  What kinds of research did you do for The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter?

Rod:  For the framework of ideas that underpin the books, I had to research the history of the early part of the Nineteenth Century. Revolutions and social disorder are important. The Luddites feature prominently.

But to get the feeling of the world right I had to research different kinds of things – the texture of fabrics, the smell of coal smoke, the sound of steam engines.



TQ:  In The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter who was the most difficult character to write and why? Which character surprised you the most?

Rod:  Elizabeth, the protagonist, was at once the hardest, the easiest and the most surprising character to write. I have written a first person narrative with a female protagonist before. (My crime novel, Backlash, took that form.) But Elizabeth was tricky. Gender identity is one of the themes of the story. Thus I could not fudge the issue. It had to be prominent and it had to be right. But once I could hear her voice, she was a joy to write. And she is constantly surprising me.



TQ:  Without giving anything away what can we look forward to in Unseemly Science, the second novel in the duology?

Rod:  Elizabeth is going to be forced to leave her boat and travel north to the cities of Derby and Nottingham, trying to stay one step ahead of the law and at the same time solve a mystery that concerns a large quantity of ice.



TQ:  What's next?

Rod:  I have not finished writing about Elizabeth. The series title The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire gives a hint of where the tides of history are pulling her. I’m looking forward to sharing the journey.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.


Rod:  It’s been my pleasure. Thanks for the interesting questions.





The Bullet- Catcher's Daughter
Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 1
Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014 (North America Print; ebook)
     September 4, 2014 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook,
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014
Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.

But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

File Under: Fantasy





About Rod
(from the Angry Robot website)

Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014
Rod Duncan is a published crime writer. His first novel Backlash was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, and he has since written three other novels (all Simon & Schuster UK), and had his first screenplay produced.

His background is in scientific research and computing, and he lives in Leicester.






Website  ~  Twitter @RodDuncan


Guest Blog by Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - July 31, 2014


Please welcome Carrie Patel to The Qwillery. The Buried Life will be published in Spring 2015. You may read an interview with Carrie here.



Guest Blog by Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - July 31, 2014




Fiction is about transformation. Blurred snapshots become cities and worlds, half-remembered dreams become characters, and the glances and whispers exchanged between them become a story. And nearly every story is about changes large and small.

Writing a story is often about fleshing out a metamorphosis. Part of the thrill for a reader is seeing a world under a bell jar and watching what happens when the pressure changes. As the heat rises, the setting melts and reforms. Characters slough off one skin after the next, and the landscape of the story is transformed by these gradual or violent changes. We the readers wait to see what’s on the inside.

A good transformation is carefully paced and painstakingly illustrated; you can see a seemingly incongruent beginning and end that nevertheless fit together perfectly once all of the stages are assembled. A shoddy transformation becomes melodramatic at best and unbelievable at worst. If a writer’s job is the suspension of disbelief, then the most important trick of all is the alchemy of characters and settings.

The Buried Life takes place in Recoletta, a city that is the product of one momentous change that has settled into an entirely new shape over hundreds of years. An underground city built from the ruins of one civilization has become a tiny empire of its own. By the time of events in the novel, Recoletta is due for another tectonic shift. The factions that have controlled the city find their power base eroding. As it crumbles, it exposes a sordid and long-hidden history that they fight desperately to cover up.

The characters who get caught in the middle of this shift find themselves transforming, too, dodging the warring factions and trying to anticipate the emerging shape of their new world. They must adapt to survive the changes around them, which means stripping away the trappings of their classes, backgrounds, and professions to find the hidden strengths and vulnerabilities that will drive them.

The most interesting mysteries aren’t just about what lies at the heart of a plot, but rather about what makes up the characters caught in the thick of it.

Anticipating a character’s reaction can be one of the hardest parts of writing for me. Sometimes, characters’ responses will be clear and unambiguous; I know exactly what they’re going to do. But at other times, they can feel as maddeningly unpredictable as real people. Ask them the same question at five different parts of the story, and you’re likely to get as many different answers.

Part of the fun and mystery of writing is plotting those trajectories, for characters and stories alike, with known reference points. You start with the data points you know and puzzle out how to get from one to the other. The blank spots on the map—the ones that come alive with monsters—can then be illustrated in full color. In that way, discovering the story and the characters can be as much of a mystery for the writer as it is for the readers.





The Buried Life
Angry Robot Books, Spring 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
Cover by John Coulthart

Guest Blog by Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - July 31, 2014
The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

File Under: Science Fantasy [ Thriller | Society in Ruins | Fully Booked | New and Weird ]





About Carrie

Guest Blog by Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - July 31, 2014
Carrie Patel was born and raised in Houston, Texas. An avid traveller, she studied abroad in Granada, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M University and worked in transfer pricing at Ernst & Young for two years.

She now works as a narrative designer at Obsidian Entertainment in Irvine, California, where the only season is Always Perfect.

You can find Carrie online at www.electronicinkblog.com and @Carrie_Patel on Twitter.


Review: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu


The Lives of Tao
Author:  Wesley Chu
Series:  The Lives of Tao 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, April 30, 2013 (US/Canada)
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857663290 (print)
Cover Art:  Argh! Oxford
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…

File Under: Science Fiction [ The Tug of War | I Was Genghis | Diary of a Slob | Spy vs Spy ]



Brannigan's Review

The Lives of Tao is a realistic, action-based, science fiction story tailor-made for the modern-day video gamer. I don't think I'm the first person to read this book and think of a certain time-traveling video game franchise that just happens to land in the coolest eras. Wesley Chu excels at writing fast-paced action scenes that show an honest point of view in regards to how the characters react both physically and emotionally to the wounds and stress of battle. Chu used the fact that the main character was an everyman to wonderful effect for comedy, which helps lighten the mood. Chu should also be praised for the fact that he didn't make the beginner level of Roen annoying. I've seen this before and hate it when authors do an origin story and start off by making the hero a weak, annoying schmuck. Thankfully, Chu does not do this with Roen, while still showing him to be a normal guy, who's inexperienced with being a super spy or even basic healthy living--he is a likeable character.

One of the aspects of the novel I was worried about the most ended up being one of my favorite parts. Due to Tao's nature as as alien life form who has to live inside a human host to survive, I was wondering how I as a reader would be able to connect to the two main characters while they shared the same body, but Chu used the beginning of each chapter to great effect to allow Tao to shine and allow me to spend some quality time alone with Tao, and I have to say I enjoyed it so much I'm hoping for more time with Tao in future books.

Ever since I first heard about the Science Fiction sub-genre, Secret History, I've wanted to check it out and I'm glad Chu was my first adventure in Secret History fiction. It was handled perfectly, he followed the Goldilocks adage, and now I will use Chu as my measuring rod against all other authors who write in this sub-genre.

My only complaint of the book would be the fact that Roen becoming a super spy and going on missions and travels around the globe doesn't seem to raise any flags with his roommate/best friend or parents. Chu briefly explains all of this as being part of Roen's new “job,” but I felt Chu could have used the secondary characters to show more concern and even confusion at the 180 degree change in Roen's life, not to mention the battle wounds. I think it would have helped make Roen feel even more real and offer some humorous scenes, but there are two more books in the series, so maybe Chu's saved that for the next book.

The Lives of Tao gives you everything you ever wanted in an action adventure sci-fi book. You've got aliens, intense battles, humor and interesting questions posed. There is plenty of violence but not major issues with language or adult situations, so I would recommended it to young adults and adult readers. I'd also recommend it to anyone who likes earth-bound science fiction, secret history and video game enthusiasts who need to take a break from the consoles.






Also available

The Deaths of Tao
The Lives of Tao 2
Angry Robot Books, October 29, 2013 (US/Canada)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
Cover Art: Argh! Oxford

Review: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
The Prophus and the Genjix are at war. For centuries they have sought a way off-planet, guiding humanity’s social and technological development to the stage where space travel is possible.

The end is now in sight, and both factions have plans to leave the Earth, but the Genjix method will mean the destruction of the human race.

That’s a price they’re willing to pay.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Manning Up | A Long Journey | Bye-Bye Mankind | Personal Space ]



Upcoming

The Rebirths of Tao
Angry Robot Books, December 30, 2014 (US/Canada)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook

Five years have passed since the events in The Deaths of Tao. The world is split into pro-Prophus and pro-Genjix factions, and is poised on the edge of a devastating new World War.
A Genjix scientist who defects to the other side holds the key to preventing bloodshed on an almost unimaginable scale.

With the might of the Genjix in active pursuit, Roen is the only person who can help him save the world, and the Quasing race, too.

And you thought you were having a stressful day…

File Under: Science Fiction

Interview with Ferrett Steinmetz, author of Flex - March 5, 2015Review:  Flex by Ferrett SteinmetzCover Revealed: The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Flex by Ferrett SteinmetzCover Reveal - Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. JensenGuest Blog by Jo Anderton - Day Jobs - October 18, 2014Guest Blog by Kameron Hurley - Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants - August 29, 2014Interview with author Rod Duncan - August 19, 2014Guest Blog by Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - July 31, 2014Review: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?

Cancel
×