Interview with DJANGO WEXLER

WexlerD-AuthorPicWelcome back to Civilian Reader. For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Django Wexler?

Hmm. Fantasy novelist, games enthusiast, student of history and economics, once and future programmer, cat wrangler. Something like that?

Your latest novel, The Infernal Battalion, will be published by Ace in January. It’s the fifth novel in your Shadow Campaigns series. How would you introduce the series to a new reader, and what can fans of the first four books expect from this new novel?

The Shadow Campaigns is military fantasy set in a Napoleonic world – muskets, cannon, cavalry, and subtle and hidden magic. It follows the spectacular career of Janus bet Vhalnich, a young officer who rises fast amidst a revolution, focusing on the men and women who follow him and where their loyalties truly lie. Continue reading

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Quick Review: BLACKWING by Ed McDonald (Gollancz/Ace)

A promising debut grimdark fantasy

You think you know Misery? You’ve not seen anything yet…

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery — a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Blackwing is one of the most hotly-anticipated debut fantasy novels of the year. Social media and the blogosphere have been filled with glowing reviews, squees and other evidence that suggests the hype has been entirely justified. There’s a lot in here that will certainly appeal to plenty of fantasy fans. However, I ultimately came away from this novel underwhelmed. Continue reading

Interview with ED McDONALD

McDonaldE-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Ed McDonald?

Hello! That would be me. I’m an author, swordsman, medieval historian, lecturer, husband, reader, and gamer.

Your debut novel, Blackwing, will be published by Gollancz. It’s been getting quite a bit of pre-publication buzz. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Blackwing is the first part of The Raven’s Mark series. It’s epic fantasy in scope, but with a tight focus on a single character and the individual part he plays in a wider conflict. The pace is more like a thriller than the usual wander through a fantasy landscape, so I’d say that if you like your fantasy fast paced, character driven, hard hitting, free from gender bias and set on the edge of a post-apocalyptic magical wasteland, then it’s probably for you. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Inspiration for Fantasy Authors” by Anthony Ryan

RyanA-AuthorPicWhilst I don’t like to stereotype, I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this then there’s a fair chance you’re familiar with the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. In one of the earlier episodes Penny asks Leonard “What did you do today?”, to which he responds, “Well, I’m a physicist, so I, y’know… thought about stuff.” Although I wouldn’t want to imply that the complexities of writing fiction are of a similar order to particle physics, writers, like physicists, do spend a considerable amount time thinking about stuff. When it comes to inspiration thinking time is crucial. When I count all the stories I actually wrote, compared to those I thought about writing, I come up with a ratio of approximately one in ten, i.e. only about 10% of my ideas actually turn into stories and then only after a lengthy period percolating in the confused teapot of my imagination. Continue reading

Interview with S.K. DUNSTALL

DunstallSK-AuthorsPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is S.K. Dunstall?

S.K. Dunstall is the pen name for Sherylyn and Karen Dunstall, sisters who live in Melbourne, Australia.

We’ve told stories ever since we can remember. At first, we wrote individually, but even back then we always dipped into each other’s stories to edit them. We gradually came to realize that the stories we worked on together were better than the ones we worked on alone, and were a lot more fun to write.

Your latest novel, Alliance, is published by Ace. The second in your Linesman series, it looks rather interesting: How would you introduce the series to a new reader, and what can fans expect from the second book?

Linesman is classic space opera, although our protagonist, Ean, might not quite be your classic space opera hero. It’s character-based, lighthearted action/adventure with some fun moments. Continue reading

Excerpt: THUNDERBIRD by Jack McDevitt (Ace Books)

McDevittJ-ThunderbirdUSI’ve not read anything by Jack McDevitt before. His next novel, Thunderbirdlooks quite interesting, though:

On a Sioux reservation near Devils Lake in North Dakota, a working stargate dating back more than ten thousand years has been discovered. Going through the gate leads the traveler to three mysterious destinations: an empty garden world dubbed Eden, a strange maze of underground passageways, or a space station with a view of a galaxy that looks like the Milky Way.

The race to explore and claim the stargate quickly escalates and those involved divide into opposing camps who view the teleportation technology either as an unprecedented opportunity for scientific research of a disastrous threat to nation, not to mention planetary, security. One thing is for certain though — questions about what the stargate means for humanity’s role in the galaxy cannot be ignored.

Thunderbird is due to be published by Ace Books on December 1st, 2015. To celebrate the impending release, the publisher has sent me this excerpt to share… Continue reading

Interview with ZEN CHO

ChoZ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Zen Cho?

I’m a lawyer and writer from Malaysia, living in the UK. My short story collection Spirits Abroad was published by Malaysian press Buku Fixi in 2014 and was a joint winner of the Crawford Fantasy Award. I’ve edited an anthology called Cyberpunk: Malaysia, also published by Fixi, which came out this year.

Your debut novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, will be published in September by Tor Books. How would you introduce the novel to a new reader, and is it part of a planned series?

Sorcerer to the Crown is a historical fantasy set in Regency London, about England’s first African Sorcerer Royal, Zacharias Wythe. Zacharias is trying to reverse the decline in England’s magic when his plans are hijacked by ambitious runaway orphan and female magical prodigy, Prunella Gentleman.

The book is the first in a trilogy, but while the books will be linked, the plan is for each book to focus on different characters. The hope is that people will be able to read them as standalones. Continue reading