Interview with ANNA SMAILL

smailla-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Anna Smaill?

I’m the author of The Chimes, a dystopian novel about a world dominated by music. The Chimes is my first novel, though I’ve also published a collection of poetry – The Violinist in Spring. I spent many of my formative years studying the violin, and music has been a big influence on both my poetry and fiction. I also currently teach New Zealand literature in the English programme at Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand. My husband Carl Shuker is also a novelist.

Your World Fantasy Award-winning novel, The Chimes, published by Quercus in North America, is out now in paperback. It looks rather fascinating: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Chimes takes place in a world where music has replaced the written word, has become a force of communication, and is the highest form of intellectual and spiritual pursuit. The book explores music as a totalitarian force, and asks how something so beautiful might also be a source of violence and control. It is a standalone novel. I haven’t entirely ruled out returning to the world of the book, largely because I would love to check in on the two key characters Simon and Lucien and see how they’re getting on. This is largely nostalgia, though. I felt a real sense of loss when I finished the novel, and I still miss the sense of immersion in that world. Continue reading

Excerpt: DESPITE THE FALLING SNOW by Shamim Sarif (John Blake Books)

SarifS-DespiteTheFallingSnowShamim Sarif‘s Despite the Falling Snow is out today, published by John Blake Books. Below, you will find a short excerpt from the novel. Before that, though, here’s the synopsis:

The enthralling narrative of Shamim Sarif’s powerful second novel moves between present day Boston and 1950s Moscow.

After an early career amongst the political elite of Cold War Russia, Alexander Ivanov has built a successful business in the States.

For forty years, he has buried the tragic memories surrounding his charismatic late wife, Katya — or so he believes. For into his life come two women — one who will open up the heart he has protected for so long; another who is determined to uncover what really happened to Katya so long ago. The novel’s journey back to the snowbound streets of post-Stalinist Moscow reveals a world of secrets and treachery.

Shamim Sarif’s elegant writing delicately evokes the intensity of passionate love and tragic violence.

Continue reading

Upcoming: THE LAST BOOKANEER by Matthew Pearl (Penguin)

PearlM-LastBookaneerUSPBOk, The Last Bookaneer is already out. But the paperback is published by Penguin in April, and I wanted an excuse to share the cover, which I rather like. Matthew Pearl‘s novels always look interesting, but for some reason I’ve never got around to reading one. Here’s the synopsis for his latest:

book′a-neer′ (bŏŏk′kȧ-nēr′), n. a literary pirate; an individual capable of doing all that must be done in the universe of books that publishers, authors, and readers must not have a part in

London, 1890 — Pen Davenport is the most infamous bookaneer in Europe. A master of disguise, he makes his living stalking harbors, coffeehouses, and print shops for the latest manuscript to steal. But this golden age of publishing is on the verge of collapse. For a hundred years, loose copyright laws and a hungry reading public created a unique opportunity: books could easily be published abroad without an author’s permission. Authors gained fame but suffered financially—Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, to name a few — but publishers reaped enormous profits while readers bought books inexpensively. Yet on the eve of the twentieth century, a new international treaty is signed to grind this literary underground to a sharp halt. The bookaneers are on the verge of extinction.

The astonishing story of these literary thieves’ epic final heist. On the island of Samoa, a dying Robert Louis Stevenson labors over a new novel. The thought of one last book from the great author fires the imaginations of the bookaneers, and soon Davenport sets out for the South Pacific accompanied by his assistant Fergins. But Davenport is hardly the only bookaneer with a mind to pirate Stevenson’s last novel. His longtime adversary, the monstrous Belial, appears on the island, and soon Davenport, Fergins, and Belial find themselves embroiled in a conflict larger, perhaps, than literature itself.

Matthew Pearl is also the author of The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, The Last Dickens, The Professor’s Assassin and The Technologists.

Upcoming: THE COUNTENANCE DIVINE by Michael Hughes (Hodder)

HughesM-CountenanceDivineUKI stumbled across this on Hodder’s website yesterday, and my eye was caught by that stunning cover. There wasn’t a synopsis on the publisher’s page, but there was on Amazon. Here it is:

In 1999 a programmer is trying to fix the millennium bug, but can’t shake the sense he’s been chosen for something.

In 1888, five women are brutally murdered in the East End by a troubled young man in thrall to a mysterious master.

In 1777 an apprentice engraver called William Blake has a defining spiritual experience; thirteen years later this vision returns.

And in 1666, poet and revolutionary John Milton completes the epic for which he will be remembered centuries later.

But where does the feeling come from that the world is about to end?

That sounds pretty interesting, and has been described as “a brilliant cross between David Mitchell and Hilary Mantel,” which is certainly intriguing. The Countenance Divine is published in the UK by Hodder, on August 11th, 2016.

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

Interview with MICHAEL LIVINGSTON

LivingstonM-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Michael Livingston?

I’m someone who wears a lot of hats.

In my day job, I wear the hat of being a professor of English at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. I teach courses mostly in medieval literature — Beowulf, Chaucer, and such — but I publish far more widely in literature and history. Most of my colleagues refer to me as a cultural historian specializing in the Middle Ages, and that fits well enough — except that I also publish a fair amount on the works of Tolkien and other modern fantasists.

And now, thanks to The Shards of Heaven, I get to add the Hat of Novel Writerness, much to my great astonishment and glee!

Your debut novel, The Shards of Heaven, will be published by Tor this month. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Shards of Heaven is the first novel in a trilogy of the same name. It’s the story of fantasy and history colliding at the rise of the Roman Empire, as the children of Caesar fight to find and control the legendary artifacts of gods both old and new, and a new myth is born in the struggle. Continue reading

Upcoming: SON OF THE MORNING by Mark Alder (Pegasus)

AlderM-SonOfTheMorningUSMark Alder‘s Son of the Morning was first published a couple of years ago in the UK by Gollancz, but I just spotted that it is finally coming to North America, too — it is due to be published by Pegasus Books in February 2016. The cover is to the right, and the synopsis is as follows:

In an epic novel that reimagines the Hundred Years War — in a world where angels and demons choose sides on the battlefield — England and France find themselves locked in a holy war, but which country has God’s favor?

England, 1337: Edward III is beset on all sides, plagued by debt and surrounded by doubters. He refuses to pay homage to the newly crowned Philip Valois of France and seeks to secure his French holdings, but he’s outmanned. Philip can put 50,000 men in the field, but he is having his own problems: he has summoned the angels themselves to fight for France, but the angels refuse to fight. Both kings send priests far and wide, seeking holy relics and heavenly beings to take up the cause of their country, but God remains stubbornly silent, refusing to grant favor to either side.

Meanwhile, among the poor and downtrodden, heretical whispers are taking hold: what if God — who has never been seen to do anything for them — is not the rightful leader of the heavens after all? And as Edward’s situation becomes increasingly desperate, even his counselors begin to believe that if God won’t listen, perhaps they can find a savior not from Heaven, but from Hell.

In a sweeping tale packed with courtiers and kings, knights and priests, and devils and angels, Mark Alder breathes fresh and imaginative life into the Hundred Years War in this unique historical epic.

The sequel for Son of the Morning appears to be Son of the Night, which Amazon UK has listed for a November 2016 release, although this is possibly subject to change. No cover art as yet.

Mark Alder is a pseudonym, and the author also writes as M.D. Lachlan, whose Wolfsangel series is also published in the UK by Gollancz. The cover for the UK market is below:

AlderM-SonOfTheMorning