Interview with AMAL EL-MOHTAR and MAX GLADSTONE

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Let’s start with an introduction: Who are Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone?

AE: Two sentient beings, both alike in dignity, in fair EssEffEff, where we set our — wait maybe that’s too zoomed out. Let’s see. Max is a brilliant superhuman writer, author of The Craft Sequence books (at six and counting!), just-released standalone space opera The Empress of Forever, and head writer of Serial Box’s Bookburners.

MG: And Amal is a world-renowned and award-winning writer, editor, scholar, NYT-published critic, and general badass — her phenomenal “Seasons of Glass and Iron” won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards!

This is How You Lose the Time War, a novel you have written together, will be published in July. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

AE: It’s an epistolary spy vs. spy novella across time and space; think Griffin and Sabine meets Killing Eve by way of Steven Universe. Alternately, imagine if Florence + the Machine’s Lungs was a novella in which all the songs are sung to women in letter-form. Continue reading

Interview with PETER McLEAN

McLeanP-AuthorPicWelcome back to CR! For new readers, let’s begin with a quick introduction: Who is Peter McLean?

Hi, thanks for having me back! I’m a British fantasy author based in Norwich, England, which is a small city a couple of hours from London on the east coast of the UK. I wrote the Burned Man urban fantasy series a few years ago, but am now mostly known for last year’s Priest of Bones which came out October 2018 from Ace in the US and Jo Fletcher Books in the UK. I’m married to Diane and, like most authors, am owned by a cat.

Since we last spoke, you’ve started a new fantasy series that is generating a lot of great interest and reviews. How would you introduce the series to a new reader?

When my agent and I were first shopping Priest of Bones to editors we pitched it as “The Godfather with swords”, and I still think that’s a pretty accurate representation. It’s a gangster story set in a quasi-Tudor world, told in the first person narration of crime lord turned soldier turned priest Tomas Piety. In the tradition of mafia family epics, it’s a story of power and corruption, intrigue and revenge. Continue reading

Guest Post & Excerpt: “Making of the Prologue” by David Hair, author of HEARTS OF ICE (Jo Fletcher Books)

HairD-SQ3-HeartsOfIceUKFirst up, I’m a planner: The Sunsurge Quartet is mapped out from start to finish, before I start writing Book One. That includes the Prologues, which I’m using (along with mid-book ‘Interludes’) to introduce the backstory and current status of the villain who’s going to feature most in the next part of the story. They give the reader a chance to see inside the enemy’s heads, and set the agenda for the coming chapters.

In this series, the main villains are part of a cabal trying to tear down human society, and they use theatre masks to disguise their true selves. I was inspired in this by Venetian carnival masques, of which I have a bit of a collection after going mad in a Venice mask shop. I invented my own mask designs and a backstory for them, using the concept of a tradition of morality tales that theatre troupes adlib on stage, every show unique. These can be high art or low farce, always with the same eight characters and central theme – a romance between Ironhelm (the sturdy knight) and Heartface (the innocent maid). Their love is aided or thwarted by the other six characters: the meddling Beak, the prankster Jest, the duplicitous Twoface, the lucky Felix, the nemesis-like Angelstar and the sorrowful Tear. The tale is narrated by a narrator known as the Puppeteer. Continue reading

Quick Chat with EVIE MANIERI

ManieriE-AuthorPicWelcome back to CR! It’s been a little while, so let’s start with an introduction for newer readers: Who is Evie Manieri?

Besides being the author of the (now complete!) Shattered Kingdoms trilogy, I’m a New Yorker, a UX designer, a mom, a knitter, and a classic film buff.

Your latest novel, Strife’s Bane, will be published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books in paperback later this month. It’s the final book in your Shattered Kingdom series: how would you introduce the series to new readers, and what can fans expect from this novel?

The series is centered around the conflict between the Shadar, a tiny desert kingdom with a strategic natural resource, and the Norland Empire who have conquered and enslaved them. All of the books in the series take place within the same timeframe: Strife’s Bane picks up the story just a few weeks after the events of Fortune’s Blight. Strife’s Bane specifically is about the struggle of the Shadari to hold on to the freedom they’ve finally won from the Norlanders, while the person who engineered all of their misfortunes — one of their own — comes back to collect on her investment. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Grimdark or Grimheart?” by Peter McLean

McLeanP-AuthorPicHi Stefan, thanks for having me back on Civilian Reader!

Last time I was here I was talking with you about my Urban Fantasy books and you asked what might be next, and I said,

“The majority of what I actually read for pleasure is secondary world fantasy, and I’ve always wanted to write a brutal Conan-esque Grimdark swords-and-swearing adventure story so that may see the light of day eventually.”

Well, it sort of did see the light of day.

And yet, at the same time, it sort of didn’t. I did write a brutal secondary world fantasy novel, and that’s Priest of Bones which is out on October 2nd from Ace. But it’s not quite what I had in mind when I originally answered that question three years ago. Continue reading

Upcoming: PRIEST OF BONES by Peter McLean (Jo Fletcher Books/Ace)

McLean-PriestOfBonesUKIn October, Jo Fletcher Books (UK) and Ace Books (US) are due to publish the new novel by Peter McLeanPriest of Bones. The first novel in the author’s new series, The War of the Rose Throne, I think it sounds great. This has been variously described as a must for fans of Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch. I think, given the synopsis, I think I’d add Daniel Polansky to that list (his Low Town series looks to me to be in the similar sub-genre of fantasy crime/noir). Here’s the synopsis:

‘Sixty-five thousand battle-shocked, trained killers came home to no jobs, no food and the plague. What did Her Majesty think was going to happen?’

Tomas Piety takes his duties seriously: as a soldier, as a priest of Our Lady of Eternal Sorrows and as a leader of men. He has come home from the war to reclaim his family business, to provide for his men and to ensure the horrors of Abingon can never happen in Ellinburg.

But things have changed: his crime empire has been stolen and the people of Ellinburg — his people — have run out of food and hope and places to hide. With his best friend Bloody Anne, his war-damaged brother Jochan and his new gang, the Pious Men, Tomas sets out to reclaim what was his.

And as Tomas is dragged into a web of political intrigue by the sinister Queen’s Men, forced to work against the foreign infiltrators lurking in the backstreet taverns, brothels and gambling dens of the Stink, one thing becomes clear.

The war has just begun.

I think this sounds great. Really looking forward to reading it. McLean’s first series, The Burned Man, is published by Angry Robot Books.

Also on CR: Interview with Peter McLean (2015)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: FOUNDRYSIDE by Robert Jackson Bennett (Crown)

BennettRJ-1-FoundrysideUSRobert Jackson Bennett is one of my favourite authors. From his earlier, stand-alone novels to his Divine Cities series, I think he’s one of the best fantasy authors writing today. Therefore, any new novel from him is to be considered cause for celebration. This year, Crown (North America) and Jo Fletcher Books (UK) are due to release the first novel in his new Founders series: Foundryside. Here are the details:

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a thief must join forces with the town’s only honest cop to stop a ritual that will kill thousands — and threatens to make their home a battleground between ancient evils.

The city of Tevanne has grown rich, thanks to its mastery of the magical technology known as “scriving” — the art of inscribing an item with sigils to imbue it with some aspects of sentience.

Or more precisely, the four merchant houses who monopolize scriving have grown rich. For their employees, their servants — their slaves — life in the city is orderly, protected. For those forced to live without House protection — and those who choose to throw off House shackles — well, Tevanne’s not such a fun place to be.

And in a town like Tevanne, it’s hard to imagine two more natural enemies than Sancia Grado and Gregor Dandolo. Sancia is a former slave whose ordeals have made her an unnaturally talented thief. Today she uses her skills to steal from the very Houses that Captain Gregor Dandolo is sworn to protect. But when the two clash over Sancia’s theft of a powerful magical artifact, the fallout leads them to confront a common threat — a plot by Tevanne’s masters to develop a weapon capable of unleashing devastating warfare across the world.

Foundryside is due to be published by Crown in North America, and Jo Fletcher Books in the UK, in August 2018. I really can’t wait for this one!

Also on CR: Interview with Robert Jackson Bennett (2012); Guest Post on City of Stairs and the Super Tropey Fantasy Checklist”; Excerpt from City of Stairs; Review of City of Stairs

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter