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

Interview with DALE LUCAS

LucasD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Dale Lucas?

Since ‘International Man of Mystery’ is taken, I guess I’ll settle for Connoisseur of All Things Geek and globe-trotting bon vivant. I’m a pretty typical nerd who grew up skinny and pale, subsisting on a steady diet of genre films, Ace paperbacks, comic books and brain-rotting cartoons. These days, I write stories between 9 to 5 shifts at a day job, gobble books, enable my foodie impulses and, when able, travel. I can also mix a pretty mean Old Fashioned.

Your new novel, The Fifth Ward: First Watch, will be published by Orbit in July. It looks rather fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s most definitely the starting point for a series! My standard pitch is: it’s Lord of the Rings meets Lethal Weapon. Or, if you prefer, The Wire in Middle Earth. Basically, I just took all of the buddy cop movies I grew up watching — Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours, Running Scared — and even hard-edged police procedurals like NYPD Blue, and set one of those stories about combative partners out for justice in a teeming urban jungle in a classic, pre-industrial fantasy city full of humans, dwarves, elves and orcs. Continue reading

Review: IF WE WERE VILLAINS by M.L. Rio (Flatiron/Titan)

An excellent literary thriller

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

M.L. Rio’s debut novel turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. The writing is excellent, the story is gripping, and the characters are varied, realistic and engaging. An easy, early contender for best novel lists. I very much enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Chat with JOSEPH HELMREICH

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Joseph Helmreich?

I’m a New York-based writer and this is my second book and first novel. I also play in a band called Honeybrick and I’m a ventriloquist, though I never mention that last part except at the start of interviews.

Your debut novel, The Return, will be published by this year by St. Martin’s Press. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s a sci-fi thriller about a physicist who gets abducted by an alien ship during a live TV broadcast and then turns up years later and claims it never happened. It wasn’t planned to be part of a series, though I’d certainly be open to doing a sequel. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS by Jason Rekulak (Simon & Schuster/Faber)

An endearing tale of adolescent attraction and distraction

What happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine… The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys — Billy, Alf, and Clark — who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan — they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

I very much enjoyed this novel. The Impossible Fortress has a little bit of everything: young love, a daring heist, some mystery, and a fair amount of nostalgia. It is also very well written. If you’re looking for an amusing coming-of-age novel, then I’d recommend this. (Especially if you are in your 30s/40s…) Continue reading

Review: RIVER OF TEETH by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

gaileys-riverofteethAn classic-style Western. Only, with killer hippos…

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

River of Teeth has a fantastic premise: what if hippos were imported into the United States, to make up for the decline in buffalo stocks? This was a real proposal, way back when, and Gailey has done a great job of imaging an America in which hippos have spread and thrived — some are used as mounts, and there are thousands of deadly “ferals” populating the waterways. Now, throw in a group of mercenaries, drawn together on an operation (not a caper), and you have all the ingredients for a fun, original adventure. Continue reading

Interview with NICHOLAS EAMES

eamesn-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Nicholas Eames?

That’s a question I’ve wrestled with for many years, actually. “The Luckiest Man in the World”… let’s go with that.

Your debut novel, Kings of the Wyld, will be published by Orbit next month. It looks great, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Kings of the Wyld is a fun, fast-paced fantasy novel that takes place in a setting where mercenary bands have gained the notoriety of rock stars. Between ‘gigs’ that include hunting monsters in the vast forest known as The Heartwyld or fighting them in crowded arenas, they drink to excess, party like madmen (or madwomen), and generally act like hooligans. The story follows a band called Saga, once the most celebrated mercenaries in all the world, who must reunite after decades apart to rescue the daughter of their leader, Gabriel. It’s the first in a series called The Band, but this and each of the following books will essentially stand-alone, since each will feature a different band altogether.

Also, as someone who treasures fantasy novels that appeal to those skeptical of the genre, I’d like to think this one, despite the myriad tropes within, may just be capable of that. Even the music references are subtle enough to be missed altogether. Continue reading