Annotated Excerpt: THE LAST ROAD by K.V. Johansen (Pyr)

JohansenKV-GotCR5-LastRoadThe Last Road is the fifth and final novel of Gods of the Caravan Road, and although the other novels in the series can be read alone (counting The Leopard and The Lady as one book, Marakand, in two volumes) it’s written assuming that the reader has at least read Blackdog. You could probably get by piecing together supposition about Ahjvar, Ghu, and Yeh-Lin from the middle books, but you need to know Moth and Mikki and Holla-Sayan. However, they aren’t the people they were at the end of Blackdog. This is almost two centuries later. Their world has changed and so have they.

I’m very excited — make that, very nervous — to be offering this up to you at last.

First, here’s the novel’s synopsis:

When even the gods are dying, the hope of the world may lie in its most feared enemies. A new god proclaimed as the All-Holy has arisen in the west and leads an army eastward, devouring the gods and goddesses of the lands between, forcibly converting their folk and binding their souls to himself. The very fabric of the world appears threatened by forces beyond the understanding of scholars and wizards alike. Even the great city of Marakand, where the roads of east and west converge, seems powerless to resist the All-Holy, though the devils Moth and Yeh-Lin and the assassin Ahjvar, undead consort of the god of distant Nabban, have come to stand with it. That may avail Marakand little, for the shapeshifting Blackdog, once a champion of the gods, follows obediently at the All-Holy’s heel and Lakkariss, the sword of the cold hells, is in his master’s hand.

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Guest Post: “On THE LAST ROAD” by K.V. Johansen

JohansenKV-AuthorPicThe books of Gods of the Caravan Road have several central protagonists: Holla-Sayan in Blackdog, Holla, Ivah, Ahjvar, and Ghu, in The Leopard and The Lady, then Ivah and Ahjvar and Ghu in Gods of Nabban. However, the character to whom the series as a whole belongs is Moth, the devil Ulfhild Vartu. With the half-demon wer-bear Mikki at her side, she begins it, in “The Storyteller,” acquiring the black sword Lakkariss from the Old Great Gods in order to avenge her brother and Mikki’s mother on her cousin and former ally, Heuslar Ogada. She ends it, standing at the centre of events in The Last Road. In between, she and Mikki wander in and out of the others’ tales, with Moth, at least, avoiding ever becoming too close to any of them, even Ivah, in whom she sees perhaps an echo of her own lost daughter, but strongly, of herself. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Five Books That Inspired Me to Be a Writer” by Laurence MacNaughton

MacNaughtonL-AuthorPicPractically every human being, at some point or another, has closed the covers on a satisfying book and thought: I should write a book like that.

That initial burst of inspiration is quickly followed by nagging doubt. Do you have what it takes to write?

After all, knowing how to write is only half the battle. The other half is finding the inspiration, the self-confidence, the grit to actually write something worth reading. And the fortitude to stick with it through months or years of rewrites, revisions, and rejection.

It’s not easy. But it can be done. The best advice on toughing it out comes from those who have cranked out hundreds or thousands of pages of prose, and shared their hard-earned insights on what it’s really like to be a writer. Here are five books about writing that inspired me most. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: THE BONE SHIPS by RJ Barker (Orbit)

BarkerRJ-TC1-BoneShipsUSToday, we have the honour of sharing an annotated excerpt from RJ Barker‘s highly-anticipated novel, The Bone Ships! The novel is due to be published by Orbit Books this week in both the UK and North America. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

A brilliantly imagined saga of honour, glory, and warfare…

Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare.

For generations, the fleets of the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war.

Then the dragons disappeared. But the battle for supremacy on the high seas persisted.

When the first dragon in centuries is spotted in far-off waters, both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.

Now, I’ll turn it over to RJ…

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Guest Post: “Our Fascination with Genre Distinctions” by Christopher Ruocchio

RuocchioC-AuthorPicI don’t know what it is about genre distinctions that so fascinates writers and readers alike. We enjoy them perhaps for the same reason we obsess about character classes and skill trees and so on in games like Dungeons and Dragons and why so many of us obsess (wrongly) about “magic systems” (as if anything which supercedes and violates natural law should be systematic, ha)! We like complexity, perhaps too much, we like categories (heavens, so much trouble in fan culture of late is the result of trying to categorize fans and creators alike: for their immutable traits, for the beliefs, for their politics, and so on). Complex categories give the world a texture that we nerds find pleasing, for they bespeak a deep sense not merely of order, but of ordered chaos.

The best of both worlds. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: ASH KICKERS by Sean Grigsby (Angry Robot)

GrigsbyS-2-AshKickersToday, we have the annotated first chapter of Sean Grigsby‘s latest novel, Ash Kickers — the sequel to Smoke Eaters. Published this week by Angry Robot Books, the author has added some commentary about the story and his writing. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

With ex-firefighter Cole Brannigan in command of the Smoke Eaters, the dragon menace is under control. Thanks to non-lethal Canadian tech, the beasts are tranquilized and locked up, rather than killed. But for Tamerica Williams, this job filled with action and danger, has become tediously routine.

When a new threat emerges, a legendary bird of fire – the Phoenix – it’s the perfect task for Williams. But killing the Phoenix just brings it back stronger, spreading fire like a plague and whipping dragons into a frenzy. Will it prove to be too much excitement, even for adrenalin-junkie Williams?

And now, on with the excerpt!

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Guest Post: “How My Daughter Reacted When I Made Her a Main Character in my Novel” by David Walton

WaltonD-AuthorPic“They never write stories about people like me,” my thirteen-year-old daughter said. She had just finished yet another YA novel filled with active, adventurous, extroverted sort of people. But Naomi isn’t like that. She’s a beautifully quiet, caring, quirky introvert. Being with other people causes her anxiety, and her favorite activity is reading a book alone. She’s more likely to help quietly from the background, unseen, while others take the lead, and never argues with or confronts others. She wanted to know: Why were none of the people in those novels like her?

I decided that the world needed a protagonist like Naomi. For my novel Three Laws Lethal, I created a fictional Naomi, eight years older than the real one, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania. I invented for her a library nook that no one else knew about where she could spend hours reading or working and feel safe. I gave her an inner thought life based on all of the science fiction and fantasy books she’d read and reread. Continue reading