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I want to welcome D.B. Jackson to the blog today!  He's here to talk about his newest novel Time's Children, the first book in a new series. I'll let him give you more specifics below, but you should definitely rush out and buy it.  Right now.  I'll wait. …  And now that that's done, here's D.B. Jackson (aka David B. Coe), who' really here to talk about how writing short fiction helps write novels:


My newest novel, Time’s Children, the first book in the Islevale Cycle, has just been released by Angry Robot Books. This is a time travel, epic fantasy series, and I’m incredibly excited to see the book in print. But while Time’s Children is the first book in the new trilogy, it is not the first Islevale story I’ve had published. “The Guild of the Ancients,” a short piece set in my world and featuring one of my key characters, appeared earlier this summer in Guilds and Glaives, an anthology put out by Joshua’s publishing company, Zombies Need Brains.

 

I love writing short fiction, just as I love writing novels. I believe that while the two forms obviously share elements, they also present the writer with different challenges and a host of opportunities. I often suggest that writers who are just starting out take time out from their novels to write some shorter pieces. Why?

 

I’m glad you asked.

 

1) Writing short fiction helps us hone our craft. Short stories demand an economy of prose and directness of narrative that are less essential in a novel. It’s not that novels can or should be wordy or meandering, but rather that with a short story we have 6,000 words or so to tell a satisfying tale, rather than 100,000. Every detail should have purpose. Plot points should follow one upon the other. Characters should be drawn with precision and care. Prose should be clean and concise. I love the challenge of writing a good short story, just as I enjoy constructing an effective novel. But while I’m not sure writing my novels makes me better at short fiction, I know that writing short fiction has helped me grow as a storyteller and writer of novels.

 

2) Short stories help with our character development and world building. I sold my first short story after I had published four novels. The story I sold was about an episode from the history of the world I created for my Winds of the Forelands series. I knew the outlines of the event – a key moment in that history – but until I wrote the story, I didn’t fully understand it. That understanding informed passages in the remaining Forelands books. Similarly, my story in Guilds and Glaives features a key character in the Islevale books: the time demon, Droë. Writing from her point of view, exploring an important moment from earlier in her life, taught me a good deal about her, and also helped me refine her voice. And in between that first published story and this most recent one, I’ve used short fiction again and again to inform my novels. Think of them as research, as a way to learn more about the ingredients to be used in your larger projects.

 

3) Selling a short story earns us money and advances our careers. Sure, the money we earn for novels will outpace the money for short stories. No question. Novels gain more attention as well. But start with the points I’ve made above. Writing the short story serves artistic purposes – honing our craft, sharpening our sense of character and world and voice. If we can then also earn a bit for the story, well that’s gravy. More, any sort of professional sale can help a beginning writer gain the notice and consideration of editors and agents. Put another way, the money we earn for a short story is secondary to the mere fact of the sale itself. For writers who are already established, the short fiction sale may carry less significance. But speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that I still value every sale, every new credit, and every opportunity to work with a new editor.

 

Not every short story has to be set in a pre-existing world. They don’t all have to be practice for our larger works. And not every short story needs to be sold. (Though I would urge you to submit those stories that you feel represent your best work. What do you have to lose?)  Even if writing a short piece does nothing more than polish your writing, it’s worth the effort. Because ultimately, while all the reasons I’ve given above ought to convince you to write short fiction, those are not the most compelling reasons I can offer.

 

The fact is, writing short pieces, crafting workable stories with so few words, is tremendously fun and deeply satisfying. I love the novels I’ve written, and I’m proud of all of them. But some of my most memorable experiences as a professional writer have come with my shorter work. So check out “Guild of the Ancients” and the other stories in Guilds and Glaives. And then check out Time’s Children. You might enjoy that, too.

 

*****

D.B. Jackson is the pen name of fantasy author David B. Coe. He is the award-winning author of twenty novels and as many short stories. His newest novel, Time’s Children, is the first volume in a time travel/epic fantasy series called The Islevale Cycle. The book has just been released by Angry Robot Books. The second volume, Time’s Demon, will be released in May 2019.

 

As D.B. Jackson, he also writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. As David B. Coe, he is the author of the Crawford Award-winning LonTobyn Chronicle, which he has recently reissued, as well as the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy. He wrote the novelization of Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood, and, most recently, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy.

 

He is also currently working on a tie-in project with the History Channel. David has a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Stanford University. His books have been translated into a dozen languages.

 

He and his family live on the Cumberland Plateau. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

 

www.dbjackson-author.com

www.DavidBCoe.com

www.dbjackson-author.com/blog/

twitter.com/DBJacksonAuthor

www.facebook.com/DBJacksonAuthor/

www.facebook.com/david.b.coe


 

 

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)
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.

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