Guest Post: “I am Not in Control” by Joshua Palmatier

PalmatierJ-AuthorPicI’m certain nearly everyone who loves to read books and follows their favorite authors has heard those authors at some point say, “The character took control.” This is extremely common. In fact, with my own writing, if the characters don’t at some point take control and do unexpected things, then the book isn’t succeeding. The characters need to take on their own life for the author. If they aren’t doing that for the author, then they certainly aren’t coming to life for the reader. And that means the book has failed.

However, I want to talk about something a little more significant than a character suddenly revealing a lifelong passion for poisons, altering the plot and bringing in an added extra (darker?) layer to the character that you’d never considered. What I want to talk about is when the book takes control. Not just a character or set of characters, but the entire book. Continue reading

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Excerpt: BLOOD UPON THE SAND by Bradley Beaulieu (Gollancz)

beaulieub-3-blooduponthesandukToday, we have an excerpt from Brad Beaulieu‘s highly-anticipated Blood Upon the Sand, the next novel in his Song of the Shattered Sands epic fantasy series. First, the synopsis:

Second in epic new fantasy series of mystery, prophecy and death within the ancient walled city of Sharakhai, home to the Twelve Kings…

Çeda, an elite warrior in service to the kings of Sharakhai, is learning their secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She has already uncovered the dark history of the asirim, but it’s only when she bonds with them, chaining them to her will, that she feels their pain as her own. They hunger for release, they demand it, but their chains were forged by the gods themselves and are proving unbreakable.

Çeda could become the champion the enslaved asirim have been waiting for, but the need to tread carefully has never been greater. The kings are hungry for blood, scouring the city in a ruthless quest for revenge, while Çeda’s friend Emre and his new allies in the Moonless Host are laying plans to take advantage of the unrest in Sharakhai, and strike a major blow against the kings and their god-given powers.

The shifting tides of power are fickle and dangerous, though. The Kings and the Moonless Host have their own agendas, as does the dangerous blood mage Hamzakiir, whose plotting uncovers a devastating secret that could shatter the power of the hated kings. But it may all be undone if Çeda cannot learn to control the growing anger of the asirim that threatens to overwhelm her…

Blood Upon the Sand is due to be published next week by Gollancz in the UK, and DAW Books in North America. Now, on with the excerpt!

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Upcoming: OF SAND AND MALICE MADE by Bradley Beaulieu (Gollancz/DAW)

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Earlier today, Gollancz unveiled the UK cover for Bradley Beaulieu‘s next fantasy novel, Of Sand And Malice Made. As you can see above, it’s rather stunning (maybe one of my favourites of year — actually, alongside the cover for his co-written The Burning Light, which is to be published by Tor.com later this year). It’s the second novel in the author’s Shattered Sands series, but is a prequel to the first, Twelve Kings, which was published last year. Here’s the synopsis:

Çeda is the youngest pit fighter in the history of the great desert city of Sharakhai. In this brilliant new story, a prequel to Twelve Kings, she has already made her name in the arena as the fearsome, undefeated White Wolf. None but her closest friends and allies know her true identity.

But this all changes when she crosses the path of Rümayesh, one of the sadistic creatures known as ehrekh which were forged long ago by the god of chaos. They are usually desert dwellers, but this one lurks in the dark corners of Sharakhai, toying with and preying on humans. As Rümayesh works to unmask the White Wolf and claim Çeda for her own, Çeda’s struggle becomes a battle for her friends, her life, and her very soul.

The novel will be published in the US and Canada by DAW Books, with another great cover (below). Twelve Kings is published in the US/Canada by DAW Books, as Twelve Kings in Sharakai.

Also on CR: Interview with Bradley Beaulieu; Excerpt from Twelve Kings; Guest Post “On Co-Authoring Strata” (with Stephen Gaskell); Reviews of Twelve KingsThe Winds of Khalakovo and Strata

For more on Brad’s writing and novels, be sure to check out the author’s website, and follow him on Twitter and Goodreads.

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Interview with JACEY BEDFORD

BedfordJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jacey Bedford?

I’m a British writer who qualified as a librarian and then spent twenty years as a full-time folk singer touring the world with vocal trio Artisan. Since the band retired from the road I’ve become a booking agent, fixing music tours for other performers. I work from home and split my time between my music business and my writing. I’ve sold short stories to anthologies and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. My first two novels for DAW, Empire of Dust and Crossways, both science fiction, came out in 2014 and 2015 respectively and Winterwood, my first historical fantasy, comes out in February 2016. Continue reading

Excerpt: STARBOUND by Dave Bara (DAW)

BaraD-LC2-StarboundUSDave Bara‘s Starbound is the sequel to the author’s debut science fiction novel, Impulse. The author was one of the many hotly-tipped new science fiction authors of the past 12 months, and the novel seems to have clicked for a good number of SF fans. (There were so many interesting new series and SF novels published this past year.) I’ve not had a chance to read Impulse, yet (I do own it, though), but I’m certainly intrigued in the series. Here’s the synopsis for Starbound:

THE FIRST EMPIRE HAS RETURNED.

THE NEW GALACTIC UNION HANGS IN THE BALANCE…

The Lightship Impulse is gone, sacrificed while defeating First Empire ships the fragile new galactic alliance hoped it would never see again. 

For Peter Cochrane, serving as third officer on the Starbound and tasked with investigating a mysterious space station in a newly re-discovered system, the wounds of battle may have healed, but the battle is far from over.

Due to be published in North America by DAW Books in January 2016, the publisher has sent me this following excerpt to share. Continue reading

Quick Review: TWELVE KINGS by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Gollancz/DAW)

BeaulieuB-1-TwelveKingsUKA fascinating new fantasy series

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.

As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools — they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

I’m a fan of Beaulieu’s work. I haven’t read as much of it as I would like, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far. Twelve Kings is no exception: it offers a big, sprawling new fantasy world and series, populated by interesting and diverse characters — with shades of the horrific to add extra flavour.
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Excerpt: TWELVE KINGS by Bradley Beaulieu

BeaulieuB-1-TwelveKingsUKBradley Beaulieu‘s new novel, Twelve Kings, was published this week by Gollancz in the UK and DAW Books in the US (as Twelve Kings in Sharakai). The first novel in the Song of Shattered Sands series, it has already been on the receiving end of many glowing reviews. I’ve been following Beaulieu’s writing career since his debut, The Winds of Khalakovo (which was excellent), and had the pleasure of meeting him at World Fantasy Con in Brighton, 2013. Today, I have an excerpt from the novel to share, provided by Gollancz. First, here’s the synopsis:

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.

As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools-they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

Here’s what the author has to say about this particular excerpt:

“Throughout the book, I have several other characters interspersed with those of Çeda, the story’s main character. One of those point-of-view characters is King Ihsan, known as the Honey-tongued King. This excerpt contains Ihsan’s first appearance in the novel. I chose it because it sets the tone for the Kings, shows that the Kings are not all the same, and that Ihsan in particular may have more plans than the rest of the Kings realize.”

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