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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Interview with ADA HOFFMANN

HoffmanA-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Ada Hoffmann?

I’m an autistic computer scientist from Canada and a speculative fiction author. I’ve been publishing short stories since 2010, and I’ve been longlisted for the BSFA and Rhysling awards for my short work. I recently received my PhD from the University of Waterloo and now I’m adjuncting while living with a happy polyamorous family and a very good black cat. When I’m not writing or working, I like music, LARP, and autism self-advocacy.

Your debut novel, The Outside, was published this month by Angry Robot. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Outside is a space opera with AI Gods, cyborg angels, cosmic horrors, multiple factions of compelling villains, and an autistic scientist named Yasira who’s caught in the middle of it all. It stands on its own with a complete plot, but I’d love to expand it into a series if the publisher permits. Continue reading

Interview with CAMERON JOHNSTON

JohnstonC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Cameron Johnston?

Cameron Johnston lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with his wife and an extremely fluffy cat. He is a swordsman, a gamer, an enthusiast of archaeology, history and mythology, a builder of LEGO, and owns far too many books to fit on his shelves. He loves exploring ancient sites and camping out under the stars by a roaring fire.

Your latest novel, God of Broken Things, was published this month by Angry Robot. The second novel in your Age of Tyranny series, how would you introduce it to a potential reader? And what can fans of the first book expect from this follow-up?

The Traitor God is part blood-soaked murder mystery and part swords and sorcery Lovecraftian apocalypse. God of Broken Things expands that universe and we get to see the ramifications of the events in The Traitor God, and also Edrin Walker’s discoveries about himself and who he wants to be, as opposed to who he was told he was for most of his life. Readers will get to leave the confines of Setharis and explore the snowy mountains of the Clanholds, where Walker confronts daemons, ancient spirits, an invading army, and worst of all, the extent of his own powers. Continue reading

Guest Post: “The Challenge of the Middle Books” by D.B. Jackson

JacksonDB-AuthorPicMy newest book, Time’s Demon, comes out on May 28 from Angry Robot Books. This is the second book in The Islevale Cycle, my time travel/epic fantasy trilogy, which began with Time’s Children (October 2018). This was a challenging – and ultimately rewarding – book to write for a number of reasons. Time travel stories are always difficult to construct because of the constant danger of creating paradoxes, anachronisms, and plotting loopholes. Epic fantasies come with their own challenges – the need to balance and keep track of multiple narrative strands and point of view characters.

Finally, and most importantly for our purposes today, Time’s Demon is the second book in a trilogy – the dreaded middle book – and as such it presented a unique set of issues. Now, not everyone is foolish enough to take on time travel in their novels, and hard SF, space opera, urban fantasy, grimdark, steampunk, and other varieties of speculative fiction are not necessarily any easier to approach than epic fantasy. But most if not all of us writing in our genre will eventually confront the dreaded “middle book” problem. So I would like to discuss my approach to second books. Continue reading

Interview with TJ BERRY

BerryTJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is TJ Berry?

I write science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Seattle. I’m originally from the New York City area, so I have a lot of opinions on the subject of pizza. I’m a survivor of the 2016 six-week Clarion West Writer’s Workshop — also known as sci-fi summer camp. In a previous life, I owned a bakery, and one of my enduring skills is whipping up a batch of cookie dough from scratch in under three minutes. That comes in handy more often than you’d imagine.

Your next novel, Five Unicorn Flush, will be published by Angry Robot in May. The sequel to Space Unicorn Blues, how would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Five Unicorn Flush picks up after the magical Bala have disappeared from the universe and the authoritarian Reason regime has devolved into chaos. All of the cheap labor and magical faster-than-light fuel that humans exploited to fuel their intergalactic expansion are gone. One angry man, Cowboy Jim Bryant, has decided to take the last remaining faster-than-light warship and hunt down the Bala and return them to captivity. His former partner and current nemesis, Captain Jenny Perata, is hot on his tail, keen on stopping him. Continue reading

Interview with ANNA KASHINA

KashinaA-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Anna Kashina?

I tend to think of myself as a jack of all trades. So, here, naming just a few, I am a fantasy author, a mother, a ballroom dancer, a biomedical scientist, a native Russian speaker, a fan of martial arts, and a niffler – not always in this order. I draw on all these in my writing, every day.

Your latest novel, Shadowblade, will be published by Angry Robot in May. It looks interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s a standalone adventure fantasy with elements of romance, which could potentially be a series. The main character, Naia, starts off as a misfit trainee in the elite order of Jaihar blademasters, and works her way through the ranks, only to be thrown into the most dangerous and high-profile assignment their order has ever seen. It has a lot of action, politics, fancy blade fights, and of course, romance. Continue reading

Interview with KEREN LANDSMAN

LandsmanK-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Keren Landsman?

I’m a mother, a writer, a blogger and a doctor. I’m a specialist in Epidemiology and public health. I work in the Levinski clinic, which is a free STI clinic in Tel Aviv, as a physician, and in the mobile clinic for people in prostitution in Tel Aviv which the clinic operates. I also work for the Ministry of Health as an Epidemiologist, in charge of STI Epidemiology in Israel.

I am a founding member of Mida’at, a volunteer NGO dedicated to promoting public health in Israel, and I also currently manage Mida’at’s volunteers. Lastly, we just adopted three kittens, so most of my time is dedicated to preventing them from demolishing our home…

Your latest novel, The Heart of the Circle, is due to be published in August by Angry Robot Books. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Heart of the Circle is about people fighting for their rightful place in society. Sorcerers in Tel Aviv fight for their right to be who they are and to live their lives without fear of persecution. I’m currently working on the sequel, but The Heart of the Circle is a stand-alone novel. Continue reading