Guest Post: An Annotated Chapter of PURE CHOCOLATE by Amber Royer (Angry Robot Books)

RoyerA-C2-PureChocolateFirst chapters are hard, you guys. First chapters of sequels – doubly so.

And first chapters for a ‘verse where you’ve built in complicated linguistics and alien cultures with questionable morality? Well… you still have to start somewhere.

There’s a balance with sequels. You don’t want to bore the reader who just finished the previous book, and you don’t want to stall getting started telling the story to re-cap what is now backstory. But you don’t want to people to feel like they walked into the “middle of the movie” either.

I’ve been a writing instructor for UT Arlington for the past eleven years, so I’m sure if some of my students read this, they’ll get a kick out of seeing me pick apart my own work instead of theirs.

Some of what I’m about to say will be bordering spoiler territory, but I’ll try to keep it vague.

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Guest Post: “Interview with the Gumshoe” by Graham Edwards

EdwardsG-AuthorPicI knew I shouldn’t have gone to that bar. There I was, sitting on a stool staring down a shot of Southern Comfort, when in he walked – a weary-looking gumshoe wearing a crumpled fedora and tattered leather coat.

I knew him at once, and why wouldn’t I? He was the hero of my new novel, String City, large as life and looking mad as hell. What follows is a transcript of our conversation. I’ve called it an interview, but really it wasn’t.

It was an interrogation.

GUMSHOE: What in the name of Hades do you think you’re playing at?

GRAHAM EDWARDS: I’m sorry?

GUMSHOE: (pulling a copy of String City from his coat pocket) You think this is funny? Continue reading

Upcoming: THE WATER DANCER by Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World/Hamish Hamilton)

CoatesTN-WaterDancerUSI’ve been reading Ta-Nehisi Coates‘s journalism for some time — mainly via The Atlantic — and have enjoyed his non-fiction books and also his brief run on Marvel’s Black Panther comic series. Earlier today, I spotted the cover for The Water Dancer, the author’s upcoming new novel. The premise sounds pretty interesting, so I’m looking forward to reading the novel later this year:

A boldly imagined work of magic and adventure from the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me.

Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage — and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child — but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn’t understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram’s private rebellion. Spurred on by his improvised plantation family, Thena, his chosen mother, a woman of few words and many secrets, and Sophia, a young woman fighting her own war even as she and Hiram fall in love, he becomes determined to escape the only home he’s ever known.

So begins an unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, all Hiram wants is to return to the Walker Plantation to free the family he left behind — but to do so, he must first master his magical gift and reconstruct the story of his greatest loss.

This is a bracingly original vision of the world of slavery, written with the narrative force of a great adventure. Driven by the author’s bold imagination and striking ability to bring readers deep into the interior lives of his brilliantly rendered characters, The Water Dancer is the story of America’s oldest struggle — the struggle to tell the truth — from one of our most exciting thinkers and beautiful writers.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Water Dancer is due to be published by One World (North America) and Hamish Hamilton (UK) in late-September 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Guest Post: An Annotated Chapter of THE BAYERN AGENDA by Dan Moren (Angry Robot Books)

MorenD-GCW1-BayernAgendaAll right, people: this is not a drill. I’m here to give away all of the precious secrets.

And by “secrets” I mean “hard work and lots and lots of editing.” Because that’s what goes into making a book.

I spent a lot of time working on both my first book, The Caledonian Gambit, and my second, The Bayern Agenda — years, in fact — and as you might imagine, they underwent numerous changes over that period.

The chapter you’ll read below, the opening of The Bayern Agenda, is far from where I started out all those years ago. It’s been tweaked in response to reactions from beta readers, my agent, my editor, and, perhaps most importantly, me. When you spend that long working on something, it’s hard not to learn a thing or two along the way.

So, out of the goodness of my heart — well, and because I was asked to — I’ll be sprinkling observations and comments throughout the chapter, letting you in on the thinking that went into constructing it. (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything that comes later in the story.) Consider it a look behind the scenes, a VIP backstage pass, a look at how the magician pulls off their tricks. Enjoy.

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Quick Q&A with MARK GREANEY

GreaneyM-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Mark Greaney?

I am the author of the Gray Man series. Previously I co-authored three novels with Tom Clancy and wrote four more Jack Ryan novels after Tom’s death.

Your latest novel, Mission Critical, was recently published by Berkley. The latest in your Gray Man series, it looks really interesting. How would you introduce the series to a new reader…?

It tells the continuing saga of Court Gentry, a former CIA officer turned private assassin, who only takes on operations he feels are righteous. He has an off-the-books contract relationship with the CIA, as well. Continue reading

Interview with ELIZABETH BEAR

BearE-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Elizabeth Bear?

Elizabeth Bear is totally not Spartacus, or the Batman. Unequivocally.

I am, however, a third-generation science fiction reader, a pretty decent cook, and a Hugo-award-winning writer.

Your latest novel, Ancestral Night, is due to be published by Gollancz in March. It looks really cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Ancestral Night is the story of Haimey Dz, a hardscrabble salvage operator who uncovers evidence of a tremendous crime and a powerful ancient technology. In so doing, she becomes a target for all sorts of interested parties with uses for this information, or the desire to suppress it.

It is indeed part of a series — first in the series, in fact–but each of the books is meant to stand alone. I’m currently at work on the second book, Machine. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by Bill Clinton & James Patterson (Little, Brown/Century)

ClintonPatterson-PresidentIsMissingUKAn interesting, substantial political thriller

The President Is Missing confronts a threat so huge that it jeopardizes not just Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, but all of America. Uncertainty and fear grip the nation. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the Cabinet. Even the President himself becomes a suspect, and then he disappears from public view…

Set over the course of three days, The President Is Missing sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation. Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this is the most authentic, terrifying novel to come along in many years.

There was a lot of buzz surrounding this novel before it was published. Understandable, of course, but I nevertheless somehow managed to leave it quite some time before reading. I’m very glad I did, though. This is an entertaining political thriller that should definitely appeal to fans of the (sub-)genre. Continue reading