jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
Today we have an interview with Harry Connolly, author of multiple fantasy books, including the new trilogy The Great Way. I've asked him a few questions about himself and the book below. Check it out, and then go check out his books!

1. First, introduce yourself!

I’m Harry Connolly. My debut novel, Child of Fire, was published
by Del Rey and made Publishers Weekly’s Best 100 Books of 2009.

My followup epic fantasy, THE GREAT WAY, was funded through Kickstarter.
As I type this, it’s the ninth-most-funded Kickstarter campaign in the
Fiction category. Book one, The Way Into Chaos, came out in
December, 2014. The Way Into Magic came out in January, 2015. The
final book of the trilogy, The Way Into Darkness, came out last week.

I was born and raised in Philly but I’ve spent most of my life in
Seattle, where I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling parent.

2. Now give us the Hollywood pitch version of your new book/project.
Two sentences max. Something along the lines of "[Book Title] is
Harry Potter crossed with Aliens, with a touching twist of Knocked Up

Wow, I suck at this part. Let me try this: "THE GREAT WAY is about a
sentient curse that causes the collapse of an empire."

3. Give us an expanded description of the book/project. What makes
this project different and worth checking out? What sets it apart from
everything else in the field?

One of the most common tropes in epic fantasy is the Fallen Empire.
Essentially, somewhere in the past there was a continent-spanning empire
that collapsed, leaving nothing behind but a common language, a bunch of
ruins for the characters to explore, and stories of lost art and
technology. George RR Martin’s Valyria (and its Valyrian steel) is a
good example of this.

I thought it would be interesting to show the collapse of an empire like

Not only did this give me a chance to break out of the typical Medieval
setting by drawing on much earlier models, it gave me the opportunity to
write about empire itself, and the way that people find themselves
identifying with power, even if they believe they’re opposed to it.

4. What part of the writing process for this book/project did you
struggle with the most? Why was that particularly difficult? What did
it teach you about the writing process (if anything)?

I have two point of view characters for this trilogy: a middle-aged male
soldier and a teenaged female spell-caster. Being a middle-aged man
myself, capturing the voice of the soldier wasn’t too difficult (even
though we’re nothing alike), but that fifteen-year-old girl required
extra care. Too many adult male authors sound like creeps when they try
to write teenage girls.

Obviously, I needed to draw on my own experiences of my youth, back in
the misty dawn of time, to capture that fierce loyalty to friends and
the tendency toward strong emotional response that every teenager feels.
Also, I decided I was not going to write a romance plot for her;
frankly, too many female characters of every age are defined by who
wants to kiss them. In these books, there’s attraction, but the
main focus is on a small group of female friends. I also tried to make
her character as specific as possible. Readers will sometimes see a
female character as a stand-in for all women and girls, usually because
the female character is the ONLY one. So, not only did I try to make her
situation specific to her, I made sure to include a bunch of female
characters who are just as specific.

Finally, I sought out and read a few online journals written by young women.

Did I mention creepiness above? I felt a little creepy doing that, but I
made sure I was looking only at public accounts and I didn’t interact
with the writers in any way. I looked at the things they shared with the
world and how they talked about it, and I went away.

Based on early responses, it seems to have worked out pretty well.

5. What was your favorite part of writing this book/project? What
gave you chills when you wrote it and made you think, "Oh, this is

The climactic confrontation in the second to last chapter of the last book.

I’m not going to spoil it, obviously, but I will say that with the way I
work, I do a fairly detailed outline of the beginning and middle of the
book, then I’ll start on the first draft—well, it’s really the second
draft, since any outline is basically an abbreviated first draft.
Usually, I don’t know what the ending is going to be.

When it suddenly occurred to me how the trilogy should end—how it
had to end, honestly—I was startled and delighted.

Which is perfectly normal for me. I’ve found time and again that, if I
don’t know what the end of a book is going to be, I can trust that the
beginning and middle will provide one. A few books, like my upcoming
pacifist urban fantasy A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark, come
with an ending already attached. That’s less fun, but every creative
choice an author puts into their work is a resource to be used later,
esp when the ending is needed.

That’s how I work, anyway. It keeps things lively.

Readers interested in learning more about The Great Way, ("Epic Fantasy
that reads like a Thriller" — Kat Richardson) can find out more about
book one, The

Way Into Chaos
, and I offer sample

chapters on my blog
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
jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
Hey, all! Today we have an interview with Mindy Klasky, here to promote the start of her new series Diamond Brides with the book Perfect Pitch. I asked her to answer a few interview questions. But first, here's a brief description of the book and the cover art!

Cover Copy: Reigning beauty queen Samantha Winger is launching her pet project, a music program for kids. All she has to do is follow the pageant's rules—no smoking, drinking, or "cavorting" in public.

That's fine, until D.J. Thomas—God's gift to baseball—throws her a wild pitch. He slams her in an interview, and the video goes viral. Sam's no shrinking violet. She parlays D.J.'s apology into a national T.V. appearance—and a very unexpected, very public kiss.

Soon, paparazzi catch the couple in a steamy make-out session, and Sam's music program is on the block. The blazing hot relationship is threatened even more when D.J.'s son begs to trade in Little League for music class.

Can Sam and D.J. sizzle past the sour notes and find their perfect pitch?

Author Bio: Mindy Klasky learned to read when her parents shoved a book in her hands and told her she could travel anywhere through stories. As a writer, Mindy has traveled through various genres, including hot contemporary romance. In her spare time, Mindy knits, quilts, and tries to tame her to-be-read shelf.

Link to where to buy the book!

And now the interview:

1. First, introduce yourself!

I'm Mindy Klasky. Once upon a time, I was a lawyer, and then I was a librarian. Now I write books full time.

I've changed genres almost as often as I've changed careers. I started out writing traditional fantasy (e.g., The Glasswrights Series) and then I wrote light paranormal romance about a librarian who finds out she's a witch (The Jane Madison Series.) After that, I took a spin through category romance. I've written for several traditional publishers and I've published works independently through Book View Café, an author-owned publishing cooperative.

2. Now give us the Hollywood pitch version of your new book/project. Two sentences max. Something along the lines of "[Book Title] is Harry Potter crossed with Aliens, with a touching twist of Knocked Up humor!"

Perfect Pitch is Bull Durham crossed with old-fashioned category romance, with a hot splash of Fifty Shades of Gray (for the heat of the love scenes not the, ahem, writing style.) It's the first of nine short, hot contemporary romance novels in the Diamond Brides Series.

3. Give us an expanded description of the book/project. What makes this project different and worth checking out? What sets it apart from everything else in the field?

Perfect Pitch (and the other Diamond Brides books) are perfect summer reads. They're short--around 150 pages each--and they're fun. Each book tells the story of a different player on the (imaginary) Raleigh Rockets baseball team.

Perfect Pitch is different from most of my books, because there isn't a hint of anything magical or paranormal in the story. Also, each book is narrated from two third-person points of view--the hero's and the heroine's--which is different from the first person narration of my Jane Madison Series and the As You Wish Series.

(Savvy readers will probably realize they're reading a Klasky book, though. I couldn't get away from the descriptions of food that mark my writing. And I had to keep a strong line of humor running through the books!)

Oh! And the books aren't just for baseball fans. They're for anyone who enjoys reading hot stories about men and women who are smart, confident professionals. Each one stands on its own, telling a complete love story that just happens to have a baseball stadium as its backdrop.

4. What part of the writing process for this book/project did you struggle with the most? Why was that particularly difficult? What did it teach you about the writing process (if anything)?

The Diamond Brides Series is hitting the market on a rapid release schedule--nine complete novels in eight months. (Perfect Pitch launched on March 31, Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Catching Hell hits stores on April 13, and Reaching First will be out on May 4. After that, each book will launch on the first Sunday of the month, through November 2.)

Although the books are self-contained, they all involve the same baseball team, and there are many recurring characters, along with a number of common places (Artie's Steakhouse, the Club Joe coffee shop, etc.) In order to manage the massive number of details that anchor the series, I needed to change my writing process. Instead of keeping each novel in a separate "Project" on Scrivener (my preferred writing software), I kept all nine in one massive Project.

That single huge Project allowed me to cross-reference details. For example, I could make a global change to a character's name and be confident that I'd made the adjustment in every book. Along the way, I discovered that the single Project also allowed me to track writing tics. I discovered that far too many of my characters used certain phrases ("one hundred percent certain" was a particularly glaring one), and way too many characters shared actions and reactions. (At one point, I had more than ten different people "offering a mock salute" at various points in the series!)

Ultimately, juggling these nine stories has taught me a lot about my writing "defaults," the words and phrases I fall back on without thinking. I've learned to recognize many of my weaknesses, even correcting a number of them in the drafting stage, instead of waiting for edits.

5. What was your favorite part of writing this book/project? What gave you chills when you wrote it and made you think, "Oh, this is GOOD!"?

Many of my books have had romantic storylines, and several of my characters have ultimately found their true loves. Perfect Pitch, though, was the first of my books to have a flat-out, not-behind-a-closed-door love scene, in quite graphic detail.

And I found, while writing that scene (and ones in the other Diamond Brides books) that it's fun to write sex! Especially when there's the added challenge of making each scene different from the others, true to the specific characters, and inventive enough to entertain readers of the entire series. A good love scene isn't just a graphic description of body parts and what they're doing. It's also a revelation of character--it shows who the hero and heroine truly are, what they value, what they believe. (In that respect, a good sex scene is like a good battle scene--the careful blocking reveals far more than the unadorned events.)

I've had a wonderful time writing Perfect Pitch and the other books in the series. And I hope you'll have a great time reading them!

Thanks, Joshua, for the chance to stop by and talk to your readers!
jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
Today, we have an author interview with Stephen Leigh, author of the upcoming novel Immortal Muse from DAW Books Inc! I asked him to introduce himself and the book, and here's what he had to say. Welcome him to the bog! And leave any questions you have in the comments section.

1. Introduce yourself.

Okay . . . Hi there, I’m Stephen Leigh (my friends call me Steve). I’ve had more than twenty novels published, and somewhere around fifty short stories -- most of those were under my own name, though a few books and short stories were under the pseudonym S.L. Farrell. This does not make me prolific; it makes me, well, older than many other writers. I’ve been writing for a long time. For instance, I’ve done several stories over the decades for George RR Martin’s long-running WILD CARDS series, which started way back in 1984, and that’s not the beginning of my career.

I’ve also been a full-time musician, and I have a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art that I really haven’t used as much as I’d like, and a Masters degree which I do use: I currently teach Creative Writing at Northern Kentucky University, which despite its name, is actually a few miles across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m married, and we have two kids who are now too old for me to have possibly been responsible for their existence -- at least I like to think so.

And, oh yeah, one reason why I’m here is because I’ll have a new book out next week, of which I’m a particularly proud parent.

2. Give us the "Hollywood Pitch" of your new book, two sentences max. (Such as: "This book is Harry Potter crossed with Silence of the Lambs, with a touch of Dumbo thrown in!")

Two sentences max?!: you are a cruel taskmaster, Joshua! I’m a novelist, not a poet. Okay, here goes . . .

"Imagine an immortal muse whose survival depends on the creativity she nurtures within her lovers, and another immortal who feed not on artistry but on pain and torment. Imagine them chasing each other through time, giving the reader glimpses of the famous and infamous, all caught up in this ages-long battle which will end in current day New York City."

3. Now give us a more in depth description of the book. What makes this book cool? What will make it stand out on the shelves?

The cover will help it stand out on the shelves, and the fact it’s a hardcover will ensure that it can stand upright on its own. (Unless, of course, you buy the e-book version, in which case it’s made of digital bits and will reside in your e-reader, which is probably not on a shelf . . .)

What I think makes the book cool is the structure: we start in current day NYC, then shift back to the mid-1300s to glimpse some of the beginning of the tale. The book continues to alternate between events in NYC and historical segments, where the reader glimpses Bernini’s Rome, Vivaldi’s Venice, Lavoisier and Robespierre in the French Revolution, William Blake and John Polidori in 19th century London; Gustav Klimt in turn of the century Vienna, and Charlotte Salomon in WWII France.

And it all ties together . . . You have a blend of history and fantasy, romance and enmity.

Finally, here’s the Publishers Weekly starred review version: “In this centuries-spanning historical fantasy, Leigh spins an epic tale of love and hate. It starts with French alchemist Nicolas Flamel, and his wife, Perenelle, in 1352. When Perenelle develops an elixir that bestows immortality, they find themselves unable to die. Her eternal existence is fueled by the symbiotic relationships she forms with creative types as their muse; Nicolas is driven by the need to inflict suffering and death. She wants to survive. He wants to torment her. As their paths cross time and again across numerous lifetimes, Perenelle is forced to constantly reinvent herself and take on new friends and lovers. When they meet again in modern New York City, it seems as though their war may finally be over. Leigh seamlessly inserts his two immortals into history, playing with actual people and events to deliver beautifully-rendered glimpses of different eras. Leigh strikes the perfect balance between past and present, real and imagined.”

4. What was the hardest part of writing the book, the part you struggled with most (without spoilers)? What part of the writing was the most fun (without spoilers)?

For me, the hardest part was also the part that was the most fun, as contradictory as that sounds.

As you know from the above, the book has sequences taking place from the 1300s through to current time, and so I had to do a plentitude of research in order to get the “look-and-feel” of the various periods. I ended up reading about dozen or more non-fiction books and innumerable articles on the internet to gather the necessary information to pull out the necessary details that would make the settings (and the historical characters) come to life. My Scrivener file is stuffed with references that I needed in the writing. That was where I struggled the most -- trying to avoid horrible infodumps and attempting to weave the details of the time into the story without stopping the narrative dead in its tracks. One of the dangers of doing a lot of research is that you uncover all sorts of wonderful little things and you want to put every last one of them in the book . . . and you can’t.

And on the other side, the research was also the fun part. I’ve always loved reading non-fiction material, especially of an historical nature, but the real beauty of research, to me, is that it always, always sparks a few dozen new ideas for the story and the worldbuilding of the novel. I love that part. I love how research can send my mind flying off in an entirely new, unexpected, and better direction; how suddenly a character or a place or a time in the novel awakens and becomes solid. I love the “aha!” moment when I’ve been wrestling with some issue in the novel and the subconscious plucks something from the reading I’m doing, holds it up in front of me, and declares “Here’s the answer!”

Those are wonderful moments that spring from the hardest part of writing.

5. Explain your writing ritual: Must have you have coffee or tea or something else? Music or silence? Any special desktop items or totems helping you write?

Tea, thank you. I’ve given up coffee, but I generally have a cuppa on my desk all day. Lapsang Souchong is my favorite: it’s a black tea where the leaves have been dried over a pine fire, and it results in a very smoky smelling and tasting tea that reminds me of an Islay Scotch without the alcohol. Too strong a tea for a lot of people, though. I was walking down the hall at school with a mug of Lapsang, and my colleague walking alongside me stopped, sniffed, and said “Is something burning around here?”

And I generally have music playing: usually iTunes on random play -- and my library has everything from rock to celtic to jazz to classical, so the music can be really random.

But beyond the tea and music . . . I try to make writing a habit and write every day, no matter what, even if it’s just a page or two. When I sit down to write, I’ll generally go over what I wrote the day before, proofing and revising the scene, with the hope that when I hit the blank part of the file I have some momentum built up and am moving downhill well enough that I don’t slam to a screeching halt when I actually have to put new words on the screen.

I’ve found over the years that I tend to write lean in the initial drafts; when I revise, even though I’m deleting words and sentences and sometimes even paragraphs or scenes, I generally find that the net result will be that I’ve added to the word count.

For instance, with IMMORTAL MUSE, the very first draft (which no one but me and my spouse Denise ever see) was less than 120, 000 words. Draft B, a terrifically heavy revision, came in around 167,000 words. Draft C was 172,000. The finished book is roughly 178,000 words. Bear in mind, too, that between Draft C and the final draft, I deleted two entire sections, one of almost 10,000 words, the other about 12,000, because they didn’t seem to me to work well enough. I replaced them with two new sections. That took a long time…

My computer’s a 13” Macbook Pro (currently one with Retina Display and solid state drive), which when on my desk is hooked up to a large monitor and a separate keyboard and trackpad. With the last half-dozen novels or so, I no longer write in a word processor. I abandoned MS Word ages ago, as it began to feel like the world’s worst and most-cluttered writing interface. I then switched to Nisus Writer Pro, a word processor I still like quite a lot, and which I still use for short fiction and correspondence. Several years back, though, I came across Scrivener, a program designed specifically for the task of writing novels, tried it, and realized that the program thought the way I did. I’ve written every novel since (and several novelettes and novellas as well) in Scrivener. When the work’s finished, I have Scrivener compile it into an RTF file, and I take that into Nisus and do a quick clean-up -- and that’s what I send to my editors.

A long, long time ago I realized that if I was ever going to be a writer, I needed to train myself to write in whatever scraps of time I could find -- which is still what I do. The laptop’s generally with me, and if I get a free half-hour or so, I open it up and start banging away on the current work-in-progress. I don’t wait for the Muse (immortal or not); I just start working and trust that the Muse will hear me laboring away, realize it’s work time, and come sit with me for a bit . . . and if she doesn’t, well, that’s what revision is for.

So there you have it: my work habits.


I want to thank you for the opportunity to talk a bit with your readers, Joshua. IMMORTAL MUSE was a four year journey from the time I set down the first sentence to its appearance in the bookstores, and I’m glad to see it finally out there quivering on the shelves waiting for a reader to open it. I hope it’s a book that readers will enjoy quite a bit.

Let’s hope so, anyway!

Stephen Leigh’s website
IMMORTAL MUSE page on website (with links to amazon, B&N, Powell’s, and iBooks)
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
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
My life is finally calming down enough that I can catch up on a few things. Like this interview with A.M. Dellamonica, an author with Tor Books who has a new book called Blue Magic on the shelf right now. I asked her a few questions about writing and the book and here's how she answered. Take a moment to check it out, and then go order the book!

Bio: A.M. Dellamonica lives in Vancouver, B.C., where she's been writing fantasy and SF for over twenty years. She teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, and in workshops at conventions and conferences like Norwescon, Orycon, and the Surrey International Writers' Conference. When she's not writing, reading, teaching or thinking about books, she takes photographs and sometimes sings in a choir.

Alyx blogs for, and is currently writing a series of highly popular 'rewatch' reviews of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which will celebrate its fifteenth birthday this March.

Her newest book, Blue Magic is the sequel to the Sunburst Award-winning Indigo Spring.


1. First off, why don't you introduce yourself and your new book. Tell us
what makes this book special!

BLUE MAGIC completes the story of the magical spill begun by Astrid Lethewood in INDIGO SPRINGS. Astrid is the last known chanter on earth, which means she alone can take the dangerous magical source material, vitagua, and transfer it into objects which express various magical abilities that people can safely use.

In its raw state, vitagua is essentially a contaminant, and in the first book gallons upon gallons of it escape into the Oregon woods not far from Portland. As a result, the forest itself has overgrown to the point where it's an impassable thicket, destroying Astrid's hometown and driving magically mutated wildlife into the Western U.S. and the Pacific Ocean. Now the U.S. government is trying to contain the disaster as it continues to unfold... and Astrid is seeking a safe way to bring the world's magical ecosystems into some kind of balance before matters get even worse.

2. Where did that idea come from? Do you have a "genesis story" for the

I wrote a number of stories about the mystical objects, chantments, before embarking on INDIGO SPRINGS. The best-known of these was probably "Nevada," which Ellen Datlow bought for the old site. It was set at my grandparents' old ranch house in Yerington, Nevada, and a good proportion of the magical objects there were things from the toybox my grandmother kept for any kids who came to visit.

In "Nevada", I focused on the corrupting effects of magical power on people, and there was a glancing mention of the chantments having been made by one of the two mad sisters in the story. Some time after that, I was playing around with a separate idea, this almost-toxic magical fluid, of a magical/chemical spill worsened by another power-mad individual, in this case Sahara Knax. It occurred to me that the two elements, the chantments and the vitagua, could be married to each other quite nicely.

3. What did you find was the most challenging aspect of writing in the fantasy genre?

Fantasy is home for me. I write SF and mysteries and literary fiction and alternate history, but the fluidity of magic, and the ability to set aside the rules of the real world--I'm always really comfortable there. But I do tend to fall back on trying to make a bit of science fiction-type sense of my magical systems, so with the Books of Chantment, there was a bit of a challenge in harmonizing the stuff from "Nevada" with the vitagua itself. But like most writers I have a community of other writers to fall back on, so I got advice and perspective from a number of readers. Ultimately I just had to wrestle with it until it made sense.

4. Magic is typically integral to fantasy. What makes your magic unique?

The magic in this series has a long backstory. It always had a physical component--it began as a type of cell, actually, neither animal nor vegetable but with qualities of both. In the Middle Ages an organization allied with the Roman Catholic church tried to establish a monopoly over enchantment, and instead ended up driving the cells into a sort of remission. Time, lack of space and a prolonged struggle for control over magic ended up altering its nature, so that the resulting fluid, vitagua, was both off-the-scale powerful and extremely dangerous. This is why it has the effect of mutating any living tissue it happens to contact.

Chantments, meanwhile, are more like the little magical objects that populate a million fantasy stories: they can make you pretty, extend your life, mesmerize other people... they're safer to use, but some of them are quite powerful too.

5. If you had to do the "Hollywood Mashup" for you book, what would it be? (Like, "This novel is like Harry Potter combined with Silence of the Lambs with a little Hangover thrown in on the side!")

Think Chernobyl disaster in Narnia and you're getting pretty close.

6. How would you classify your novel? Dark fantasy? Epic fantasy? Urban fantasy? Or do you just let the readers decide for themselves?

The classification you'll see among bookstore professionals, reviewers, and librarians would be urban fantasy--it has magic set in the here and now. The other term I've heard, which I like a lot, is ecofantasy. A lot of people think True Blood when they think of urban fantasy, but this is 100% vampire-free. It has monsters, but they're products of an eco-magical disaster.

7. Where can we find out more information about you and your books?

I am all over the web. My official site is and I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, and Google Plus, usually as AlyxDellamonica. I do a lot of blogging and writing for - in fact, there's going to be an Indigo Springs tie-in story up there soon. It's called "Wild Things", and it takes place between the events of the two books. In the meantime, I have two other stories there, "The Cage" (which is traditional urban fantasy, my tag line for it being 'Baby Werewolf has Two Mommies') and an other-world fantasy called "Among the Silvering Herd."

The Links

My Site:
Tumbler (mostly Instagram Photos):
The UCLA Extension Writers' Program:
All my TOR articles:
TOR Stories: "The Cage" -
"Among the Silvering Herd" -
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
A day or so ago, I posted an interview with Gini Koch, author of the Alien series (including Touched by an Alien and Alien Tango) up at the DAW Books blog ([ profile] dawbooks). Check it out here. You can find out how she and I met, how we sold our first novels to DAW, and other assorted fun facts. *grin*


jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Joshua Palmatier

March 2019

10 111213141516
17 181920212223


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 20th, 2019 08:09 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios