jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
Today we have an interview with David B. Coe, author of the new novel Spell Blind from Baen Books. I've asked David some questions about the book and his many personalities below. See what he has to say!





1. First, tell us about the new book, SPELL BLIND!

DBC: SPELL BLIND is the first book in a new contemporary urban fantasy series called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson. My hero, Justis (Jay) Fearsson is a weremyste, a sorcerer whose power and sanity are subject to the pull of the full moon. On the three nights of the phasing--the full moon, and the nights immediately before and after--his magical power is enhanced, but his mind slips, leaving him least able to control his magic when he most needs to. In the long run, the cumulative effect of these phasings will leave him permanently insane, just as it has his father.

Jay is a private detective in Phoenix and was once a cop before his magic-induced psychological problems forced him to quite the force. The one investigation that haunts him most from his time as a cop is the Blind Angel Killer serial murder case, and now the Blind Angel has struck again, killing the daughter of Arizona’s most prominent politician. Jay is called back in to help in the investigation and finally finds the lead he’s been looking for. The Blind Angel has used magic to kill, and Jay thinks he finally understands why and how. But the killer is coming after him, and the full moon is approaching, and . . . well, that’s about as much as I think I should say. It’s a fun book--lots of action, lots of magic, and even a little romance.


2. What was the toughest part of writing this particular book? What gave you the most trouble?

DBC: That’s a more complex question than you know. This book--in a somewhat different form--originally sold to a small press back in 2005, and then that small press went bankrupt. My agent and I managed to get the rights back and we tried to resell the series. But we couldn’t and it soon became apparent to me that the book as first written was deeply flawed. (This may be symptomatic of why that first publisher went under . . .) The magic system didn’t work well, the plot was convoluted, and the narrative dragged in spots. I still LOVED the characters and their interactions, but the rest of the novel needed to be reworked. And so over the course of seven years--as I wrote my Blood of the Southlands trilogy and the books of the Thieftaker Chronicles (published under my pseudonym, D.B. Jackson)--I also rewrote this book. I tore it apart and put it back together, and when that didn’t work, I did it again, and yet again. I think I went through four new incarnations of the book, driven by my passion for and faith in the characters and the basic story that I wanted to tell. Eventually all of that hard work paid off and the book sold (we wound up with more than one publisher bidding on it), but the hardest part about this book, it turns out, was simply getting it right, allowing my creative abilities as a writer to catch up with my creative ambitions for the story I wanted to tell.


3. What makes this book different from all of the others out there? What part of it gave you the shivers and made you go, "Damn, that's good!"

DBC: Again, from the start of the writing process with this book and series, the thing I have loved the most about it is the web of interactions among my characters. Jay Fearsson is a man whose mind is in decline. He feels the effect of the phasings every month, and though he doesn’t yet sense any permanent damage from the pull of a lifetime of full moons, he knows--he KNOWS--that he is destined to go insane. There are drugs he could take--blockers--that would blunt the effects of the phasings, but they would also rob him of all his magical abilities. And he has made a conscious decision not to take them, to wield his magic as a cop and an investigator and live with his inevitable decline.

The relationships I have built around him represent the various implications of that choice. Jay is close to his father, and in every one of their interactions, Jay sees his own future in his dad’s mental problems. He begins a romance in the first book, and he sees in the relationship he wishes to have with Billie Castle, the normal, comfortable, even happy life he might lead if only he would give up magic and take the blockers. And he still works occasionally with his closest friend and former partner on the force, Deandra “Kona” Shaw. With her he sees the reason why he still needs his magic, why he can’t take the blockers and spare his mind. They do important work together; they solve crimes and save lives, and his magic is part of that.

So these relationships interact in a powerful way within the emotions and thoughts of my point of view character, and they make him unlike any other character I’ve created before. I think readers will respond well to Jay and his friends. I know that I’ve loved writing them.


4. You've gone back to the name David B. Coe for this series, while you're still producing books under the D.B. Jackson pseudonym. Why? What are the challenges of being published under two different names?

DBC: To be honest, when we pitched this series I didn’t care which name wound up on the cover. I would have been perfectly happy to publish these books as D.B. Jackson. And actually, since they’re contemporary urban fantasy and the Thieftaker Chronicles are historical urban fantasy (as opposed to the epic fantasy I have previously written under my own name) that might have been the better fit. But Baen Books ended up buying the series and they preferred that we put the books out under the David B. Coe byline. I think this was because I live in the Southeast, and this region is filled with Baen readers. And even though I’ve been writing for Tor, these fans have gotten to know me at conventions and signings and other events as David B. Coe. For Baen’s marketing purposes, writing these books under my real name made more sense.

The biggest challenges for me in maintaining the two writing identities really come down to keeping straight in my own mind “who” I am at any given moment. Most people know that David B. Coe and D.B. Jackson are the same person and so I do plenty of cross-pollination between the two. But there are times when I’ll do blog posts or interviews or appearances and the people hosting me will be more interested in the historical stuff, or perhaps in my epic fantasy backlist, and at those moments I need to take some care in being “the right me,” as it were.


5. SPELL BLIND is sort of a new genre for you. What was the most challenging part of writing in this new genre? What about this genre intrigued you?

DBC: Writing contemporary urban fantasy is something I’d wanted to do for some time. When I first conceived of the series in its original form several years back, I was just finishing up my second epic fantasy series and was gearing up to write a third. I wanted to write the Fearsson books at the same time, in large part because I was desperate to do something different. Now, given the history of these books, it’s obvious that I didn’t get to write the whole series back then, and I wound up finding that “something different” in the Thieftaker books. But still, I wanted to write in the contemporary world. I wanted to use colloquialisms, to bring pop culture references to my work, to make my point of view character snarky and relatable and very much a man of our world and our time.

As it turned out, that proved to be challenging as well as fun. There are lots of characters out there today who live in our world, and I wanted very much to write a character who was of our time and place, but who would also stand out from the crowd. And I think that coming up with the weremyste magic system, and giving Jay these serious and progressive psychological problems, I found a way to make him different even as he remains a familiar archetype. It’s been a fun process, and at this point with the second book in the series in production (HIS FATHER’S EYES will be out in August 2015) and the third book written and waiting to be revised and polished before I submit it to Baen, I find myself not wanting the series to end. I like these characters--all of them--and I want to write more Jay Fearsson books.





Thanks for the great interview, David! If you'd like to know more about David B. Coe (and D.B. Jackson), check out his author bio below, along with links to his various websites, blogs, etc.

David B. Coe is the award-winning author of more than fifteen fantasy novels. His newest series, a contemporary urban fantasy called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, debuts with the January 2015 release from Baen Books of Spell Blind. The second book, His Father’s Eyes, will be out in August 2015. Writing as D.B. Jackson, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach (coming in July 2015). He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

David B. Coe's Website
David B. Coe's Blog
D.B. Jackson's Website
David B. Coe's Facebook Page
David B. Coe's Twitter
David B Coe on Amazon.com
jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
Today we have a special author interview with D.B. Jackson (aka David B. Coe)! His latest novel, Thieves' Quarry--a historical urban fantasy--is the second book in the Thieftaker Chronicles and is already on bookshelves, released last week. The first book, Thieftaker, is now out in paperback. I sent David a few questions to answer regarding the series, his writing, and some general "get to the know the author better" questions as well. He's traveling today, but he said that if you have any questions for him regarding the books to ask them in the comments section and he'll be checking back off and on throughout the day to answer them. So what would YOU like to know about the series of D.B. Jackson? Ask away!






1. Introduce yourself and give us a brief summary of your new book, Thieves’ Quarry.

Introduce myself? Hmmm. Okay. [Waves.] Hi, everyone. I am D.B. Jackson, a.k.a. David B. Coe. I’m the author of fourteen published novels -- most of them fantasy -- and a number of short stories -- some fantasy and some science fiction. I have a Ph.D. in history, which, I suppose, gives me some small qualification to write historical urban fantasy. That’s what I’m working on these days.

Thieves’ Quarry is the second book in what I call the Thieftaker Chronicles, a series of stand alone murder mysteries, set in pre-Revolutionary Boston, with a touch of magic thrown in for good measure. The Thieftaker books follow the adventures of Ethan Kaille, a conjurer and thieftaker (sort of the 18th century equivalent of a private detective). In this book, which takes place in 1768, as the British occupation of Boston is just beginning, Ethan is hired by agents of the Crown to investigate the seemingly inexplicable deaths of every man aboard the HMS Graystone, a British naval vessel anchored in Boston Harbor as part of the occupying fleet. His inquiry soon entangles him in colonial politics, in a search for a cache of smuggled pearls, and in a deadly struggle with a powerful conjuring force.


2. Thieves' Quarry is the second book in the current series. Did you find writing this book more or less difficult than the first? What made it harder to write than the first? What was easier?

Well, as your question anticipates, there were ways in which it was much easier, and ways in which it was more challenging. It was easier because I began with a far better understanding of my setting, of my core characters, of my magic system, and of the history I was attempting to weave into the narrative. I was building on groundwork I had put down in Thieftaker, the first book in the sequence, and so I was able to delve deeper into certain elements of my story. In that first book, I was just trying to tell my story and to make certain that my readers understood enough of the background -- both of character and setting -- to enable them to follow along. And at the same time, I was learning, too. I was trying to get comfortable with my point of view character, with the voice and tone I wanted to establish not only for that book, but for the larger series. So, this time around I was able to relax a little more, play with things I had already figured out in book one.

By the same token though, there are challenges to a second book -- or a third or fourth or fifth -- that I didn’t have to worry about in Thieftaker. The biggest of these was the seemingly simple task of keeping characters and themes fresh. The last thing I wanted to do was just write Thieftaker again, but with a few cosmetic changes. I wanted this to be an entirely different book, one that would have certain familiar elements -- recurring characters, Ethan’s longstanding rivalry with the lovely and dangerous Sephira Pryce, the historical setting -- while going in very different directions. I learned that it is far more difficult to re-introduce characters than it is to bring them on stage the first time. Because I had to point my readers to the same qualities and attributes, but I had to do so in new ways.

The result, though, is a book that is, in my opinion, even stronger than the first, and probably better than anything I’ve written before. Those new elements I mention blend nicely with the familiar stuff, and my comfort with the material shows in the flow of the storyline and the leanness and clarity of the prose. I’m very pleased with this book.

3. You're using the pseudonym D.B. Jackson for this series, although you have published under the name David B. Coe. Why use a pseudonym? Was it your idea, or the publisher's?

The idea of using a pseudonym for this series came originally from my publisher, but it was, quite honestly, something to which I was open to from the start. Their reasoning, which made lots of sense to me, was that David B. Coe books had certain qualities -- they were alternate world fantasies, with lots of castle intrigue and high magic; they had many point of view characters and plot threads; and they tended to be extended story arcs, meaning that they took a few volumes to tell one overarching story. The Thieftaker books are different. These are urban fantasies, set in our world in that historical setting I’ve mentioned. Ethan is the lone point of view character. Each book is a stand-alone mystery, with a lean style and a noir tone. Put another way, it was an issue of author branding, of keeping David B. Coe books separate from D.B. Jackson books.

At least that’s what I tell people. The truth is, I’ve been with the Feds in the witness protection program for a number of years now. My real name is David “Mugsy the Keyboard Tickler” Gold. I turned State’s evidence a few years ago in the great Reserves Against Returns Scandal of the late eighties and early nineties, and have been on the run ever since. But don’t tell anyone . . .

4. What sets this series apart from the others? What kinds of challenges did you face writing a series so different than your other series?

Some of the differences are quite obvious: the historical stuff, the fact that it’s urban fantasy instead of epic fantasy, etc. But the thing that really sets this series apart from my previous work is my lead character, Ethan Kaille. And I mean that in a couple of ways. First of all, as I mentioned, he is the only point of view character for the series. Everything that my readers experience comes through him: through his senses, his intellect, his emotions. So, far more than in anything else I’ve written, I am dependent on the strength of my work in developing one character. He has to be someone my readers like and trust implicitly. And yet he also needs to be interesting enough to sustain the narrative and hold my readers’ attention chapter after chapter, book after book.

The real challenge, therefore, was creating a character rich and textured enough to bear all that responsibility. Ethan is, far and away, the most complex, intriguing character I’ve ever created. He is older than most fantasy heroes -- late-thirties, early-forties, which believe me, I know is not old in today’s world. But for a colonial setting and a fantasy novel, he’s a bit older than most protagonists. He has been a sailor in the British Navy, second mate aboard a privateering vessel, a participant in a mutiny, a convict laboring on a sugar plantation in Barbados. He is broken in many ways -- he lost part of his foot to infection during his time as a prisoner, and so he walks with a limp. He lost his future, his first love, his reputation, and is now trying to rebuild a life for himself. And, of course, he is a conjurer living in an age that conflates conjuring with witchcraft and condemns witches to death. So he lives much of his life in fear of having his spellmaking abilities discovered. The level of detail I’ve devoted to developing his character goes way beyond what I’ve done before. All of this, I believe, serves to make him an effective point of view character for the books.

5. Since this series is historical in nature, what comments do you have regarding the research involved as its background? Do you love the research? Despise it, even though it's necessary? Or did you just say, "To Hell with history!" and write what you wanted to write?

I mentioned that I have a Ph.D. in history, which is really a fancy way of saying that I’m a total history geek. I LOVED doing the research for this series and I was meticulous about trying to get stuff right. Of course there are fictional elements to the story -- the magic, the majority of my characters, the murder mysteries that Ethan has to solve, even that idea that there were thieftakers in 1760s Boston (there weren’t -- thieftakers did exist in London and other European cities in the 1700s, and briefly in the New World in the early 1800s, but they weren’t in Boston in the pre-Revolutionary era). But when I use historical events as a backdrop to my narratives, as I do with the 1765 Stamp Act riots in Thieftaker, and with the 1768 occupation of Boston in Thieves’ Quarry, I do everything in my power to be accurate with those details.

Why would I expend so much energy getting the little things right when so much of the story is made up? Because I want my readers to be transported back in time when they open the books. I want them to feel that they have gone back to a Boston that could have been. Nothing ruins my reading experiences faster than feeling that the author has gotten something wrong. Certain mistakes can be jarring, and can yank a reader right out of the narrative experience. I want to be sure that my readers won’t have that experience.

6. Give us the Hollywood elevator pitch for this novel (something like "Star Wars crossed with Harry Potter, angsty teenagers at University in space but waving lightsabers instead of wands!"). Who would play your lead characters?

Well, for fans of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books, the pitch has been “Harry Dresden meets Samuel Adams.” For those who aren’t familiar with Butcher’s work, I would say that it’s “Sam Spade meets Samuel Adams with a dash of magic thrown in.” I would like Mark Wahlberg to play Ethan, and maybe Mischa Barton as Sephira Pryce.

7. Coffee, tea . . . or something stronger? What keeps you writing?

Forgive me for this answer, because it is going to sound so, so holier than thou, but the thing that keeps me writing is exercise and a smoothie. I work out at the gym of the local university (where my wife teaches) every morning for about an hour. Then I come home and have a fruit and yogurt smoothie. And then I get to work. I’m not a coffee drinker at all. I love the taste of it, but I cannot take the caffeine. I’m hyper enough without it. And I tend to drink herbal teas only in the winter or when I’m sick. But the exercise and smoothie make me feel okay about spending hours sitting in front of my computer. Writing is a rather sedentary profession, at least physically, so that active and healthy start to the day is really important to me.

Now, in the evening, when I’ve stopped writing, then I like wine (Australian Shiraz and New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs), dark beer, single malt Scotch, and small-batch bourbon. Usually not all in one night . . .

8. Star Wars or Star Trek?

Are we talking originals or franchises? I love the first Star Wars trilogy (the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vadar ones) from the 1970s and 80s. And I never really enjoyed the original Star Trek with Shatner, Nimoy, and the rest. Too campy for me.

But I have not enjoyed the subsequent Star Wars movies, and I love the more recent Star Trek stuff, starting with The Next Generation, and continuing through Deep Space 9, Voyager, and the new movies with Chris Pine and Zachary Quintos. So, I guess my cop-out answer would be “It depends,” or “I like them both.”

*****

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first book as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasy, Thieftaker, volume I of the Thieftaker Chronicles, came out in 2012 and is now available in paperback. The second volume, Thieves’ Quarry, has just been released by Tor Books. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

D.B. Jackson's webpage
D.B. Jackson's blog
D.B. Jackson's Facebook
D.B. Jackson's Twitter
D.B. Jackson on Goodreads
D.B. Jackson on Amazon.com
jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
It's not only release day for DAW, but my good friend David B. Coe has a new release coming out under his pseudonym D.B. Jackson, the second book in the Thieftaker Chronicles series, called Thieves' Quarry! Check out the cover and description below, then check back next week for an exclusive interview with the author!





Ethan Kaille isn’t the likeliest hero. A former sailor with a troubled past, Ethan is a thieftaker, using conjuring skills to hunt down those who steal from the good citizens of Boston. And while chasing down miscreants in 1768 makes his life a perilous one, the simmering political tensions between loyalists like himself and rabble-rousing revolutionaries like Samuel Adams and others of his ilk are perhaps even more dangerous to his health.

When one hundred sailors of King George III's Royal Navy are mysteriously killed on a ship in Boston Harbor, Ethan is thrust into dire peril. For he--and not Boston’s premier thieftaker, Sephira Pryce--is asked to find the truth behind their deaths. City Sheriff Edmund Greenleaf suspects conjuring was used in the dastardly crime, and even Pryce knows that Ethan is better equipped to contend with matters of what most of Boston considers dark arts. But even Ethan is daunted by magic powerful enough to fell so many in a single stroke. When he starts to investigate, he realizes that the mass murderer will stop at nothing to evade capture. And making his task more difficult is the British fleet's occupation of the city after the colonials' violent protests after the seizure of John Hancock's ship. Kaille will need all his own magic, street smarts, and a bit of luck to keep this Boston massacre from giving the hotheads of Colonial Boston an excuse for inciting a riot--or worse.

Thieves' Quarry is a stunning second novel in D. B. Jackson's Thieftaker Chronicles.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the seventh contributor: D.B. Jackson ([livejournal.com profile] davidbcoe)! David’s contribution to the anthology is the short story The Tavern Fire, which uses the Ur-bar to explain the Boston fire in 1760, not only its origins, but also how a fire that destroyed a significant portion of the city managed not to kill anyone. Here’s the official description:

"The Tavern Fire" by D.B. Jackson: In eighteenth century Boston, a desperate woman comes to the Ur-Bar seeking a love potion but brings more to the casting than she expected as her own bitterness fuels a fire that threatens to destroy the city.

David probably doesn’t remember this, but I met him at Worldcon in Baltimore ages ago during a "Meet the Pros" mixer. I was there to meet with a potential agent and, hopefully, to "accidentally" run into the editors at DAW. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to randomly run into those editors, so ended up chatting with David and a few others for an hour to so. Thanks for taking the time for a complete nobody, David! *grin* Here’s his author bio from the anthology:

D.B. Jackson also writes as David B. Coe, the Crawford Fantasy Award-winning author of the popular series The LonTobyn Chronicle, Winds of the Forelands, and Blood of the Southlands, as well as the novelization of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. The first D.B. Jackson novel, Thieftaker, will be released in 2012. It is a historical fantasy and mystery, which, like "The Tavern Fire," is set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. D.B. likes any bar that serves dark ales on tap.

We’ll be giving away The Sorcerers’ Plague and The Horsemen’s Gambit as prizes in the contest.



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