Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy Middle Grade

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Thomas M. Kane

Happy weekend to you all and welcome back to the Sunday Brunch Series! Episode 26 features Thomas M. Kane, author of many scholarly books and articles as well as the fantasy series Mara of the League!

He was kind enough to join me today to talk about Mara, Cold War history, his time writing gaming material, and tons more!

Without further delay, here he is ⚔️🥞


🍳Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤 I used to live with a cat who ate paper. He figured out which button to press to make my computer printer eject sheets of it, so whenever he finished with one page he could help himself to another.

🍳What’s your brunch order today?

🎤 Pancakes sound good!

🍳So you also published gaming material? I was interested in learning more about your transition from gaming supplements, to role playing for students, to eventually lecturing on military exercises?

🎤 Yes, I broke into professional writing by publishing articles for role-playing games in Dragon magazine in the 1980s. Roger Moore, who was then editor at Dragon, was incredibly supportive. By the early 1990s, I was writing adventures and supplements for a wide variety of game systems, notably Shadowrun, Cyberpunk. GURPS, Top Secret, Talislanta, Ars Magica and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

A lot has changed in the gaming world. However, I’m thrilled to add that some of my work is still in print. I’m especially pleased to say that Atlas Games is still offering the Cyberpunk and Ars Magica adventures I wrote for them. Atlas encourages an original approach to writing gaming scenarios, with emphasis on character development. My work for Atlas includes The Chrome Berets, a Cyberpunk adventure in which characters wage guerrilla warfare. Greenwar, another Cyberpunk scenario featuring corporate takeovers and South of the Sun, an Ars Magica sourcebook about the legendary kingdom of Prester John.
I also designed wargames for Strategy and Tactics magazine and Command. When I started teaching politics at the University of Hull, I developed a module (i.e., a class) called The Nature of War, which dealt with the human side of warfare. To give students a taste of the confusion and complexity surrounding military command. I ran a week-long simulation of the World War Two German attack on Tobruk. Students took the part of leaders on the opposing sides and spent a week writing battle plans. We then worked out what we thought would have happened if they had implemented those plans in real life. The students often spied on the opposing team and attempted other hijinks which added to the fun.

Meanwhile, as you mentioned, I participated in a Royal Navy wargame called Operation Tropical Endeavour. I also observed a simulated battle involving real tanks at the US Army’s National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin. The NTC trip was especially valuable from a writing point of view, since it was an opportunity to see what military operations look like when you are in the middle of them. Or, perhaps, not to see—one truth which Fort Irwin demonstrates is that modern battles take place across great distances, and that the enemy is usually out of sight.

🍳You also travelled a ton while living in the UK, do you recall having a favorite destination?

🎤 When I was growing up, I really wanted to explore a cave. In Europe, I finally got to. Being deep inside the earth is an amazing experience. Perhaps the most memorable cavern I visited was the Cueva de la Pileta in southern Spain, which features paintings that are approximately 20,000 years old. The paintings are extremely detailed and realistic—more realistic, in fact, than the relatively recent prehistoric artwork found in other parts of the cave.

🍳Let’s talk about your series, Mara of the League!  You likened the Waan conflict to the real-life Cold War, in which to summarize, neither the U.S. nor Russia really wanted to attack each other directly. How did the war translate into a fantasy series for you?

🎤 You are right, that’s one of the most important similarities. Mara’s homeland, the League, is locked in a rivalry with a country called Waan. Both sides know that if they wage a full-scale war, they risk devastating the countryside and triggering a civilization-ending famine. Therefore, they spy on each other and stir up trouble for one another’s allies while trying to avoid direct confrontation.

This standoff has lasted over a century. Most League citizens expect it to go on forever. However, as the story progresses, Mara becomes convinced that Waan’s leaders see the stalemate as no more than a temporary obstacle, and that they are working to engineer a situation in which it can invade the League at an acceptable cost. The question then becomes whether she can convince her rulers to fight back against Waan’s plot in time.

So, the Mara of the League series is mainly an adventure story. The first three books involve espionage and political intrigue. Book Four features military strategy and battlefield action. The series also devotes a lot of attention to Mara’s thoughts and to her attempts to make sense of her world. Like the university class I mentioned earlier, this series is very much about the human side of things.

Anyone who enjoys exciting stories can enjoy this series. Those who are interested in history may notice that Mara is facing situations which resemble crises which erupted in real life. Fans of Cold War thrillers may notice that I’m taking a different approach from many authors in that genre. Sir John Hackett set the tone for many Cold-War-gone-hot books with his novel The Third World War (spoilers ahead).

The Third World War depicts a scenario in which weak Soviet leaders stumble into an ill-considered war with the West. The numerically superior Soviet forces do considerable damage at first, but Western defenders thwart them with superior technology and skill. Soviet leaders then fire one nuclear missile, but when the West retaliates with a single nuclear strike of its own, the Soviet government collapses.

Hackett’s novel is enthusiastic about military hardware. It pays relatively little attention to the ways in which a third world war would touch the lives of its characters, and of everyone on earth. Although Hackett suggests a political scenario which could bring war about, he depicts the Soviet leaders making hasty decisions, with few motives beyond staying in power. He glosses over the fact that the Soviet Union was founded upon a belief system which held that war to the death with the liberal nations was a historical necessity, and which gave them a compelling reason to prepare for such a conflict in a long-term and systematic way. Other thrillers (e.g., Ralph Peters’ Red Army) present the Soviet Union as a more formidable opponent, but even they stick to tried-and-true scenarios of Soviet numbers going head-to-head against Western hardware. A great deal of Western military planning rested on the assumption that something like this would happen in real life. Real-life international relations scholars tended to downplay the importance of Communist ideology as well.

Russia’s mistakes in its 2022 invasion of Ukraine makes Hackett’s depiction of Soviet incompetence seem believable. On the other hand, the increasingly visible ideological splits in contemporary politics remind us that Soviet leaders may have sincerely believed in their version of Communism. Fortunately, we will never know whether Hackett’s vision was realistic.

The Mara of the League series takes advantage of its fantasy setting to get away from arguments about what would actually have happened if the Soviet Union had attacked the West and explores what might have happened in an ideologically-driven conflict where the antagonists know what they are doing.

🍳Whew. What would you say to someone who reads that and says “Wow, I’d love to read the Mara books but I know nothing about this portion of history”?

🎤No background knowledge is required. The story begins with an eleven-year-old girl trying to save her family. She doesn’t know much about war or politics yet. Readers learn along with her.

🍳What prompted you to start Mara off as a tween, and grow her up pretty quickly throughout the series?

🎤As an adult in Book Three, Mara warns her country’s ruler of an attack no one else sees coming. Many think she is wrong, and that following her advice could provoke a civilization-ending war. Her experiences at twelve and seventeen helped her see threats which others overlooked and motivated her to want to defend herself at all costs.

[[She also got used to standing her ground when people thought she was wrong as a young kid! My favorite theme so far is trusting your own logic and intuitions]]

🍳You took an unconventional view of witches which I really liked, and brought a rather realistic fear of magic into the first book.  Why did you choose that take, vs, say, bringing real magic into the series?  Did it fit into the “flintlock fantasy style” a bit more?

🎤So glad you liked it! Mara spends her youth confronting her own country’s injustices. So, much of the story concerns the ways societies respond to dissent, the ways people turn against each other, and the ways powerful institutions keep control. The fact that Mara’s government did not need any evidence of real magic to accuse her aunt of witchcraft was part of the point.

However, real magic may exist in Mara’s world. There’s a scene in which her father claims to have seen it. When I came up with the idea for this series, I planned to include working magic. I planned to have it play a role in warfare similar to the role played in real life by nuclear weapons. As I started to write, I found I could tell the story I wanted to tell relying solely on the real-life problems of feeding armies in the early gunpowder era, so the magic weapons turned out to be unnecessary

🍳I loved the audiobooks and thank you for the chance to listen! How did you connect with your narrator? Was it a positive overall experience bringing Mara to audio?

🎤Again, so honored by your kind words! I beta-read Stevie Marie’s excellent fae-based fantasy Heart of Darkness. A few months later, she posted on Twitter that she planned to start narrating audiobooks. By good fortune, I saw the tweet and responded to it. I am thrilled with her work, and I’ve gotten lots of encouraging feedback. I’m incredibly grateful to have connected with her.
I’m currently listening to Stevie’s Kingdom of Acatalec. It’s a science fiction adventure about a feisty pilot who competes in an illegal drone race to save her friend. Strongly recommend.

🍳Have you read anything amazing recently?

🎤A few months ago, I discovered Gillian Flynn’s thrillers Sharp Objects, Dark Places and Gone Girl. I found her characters relatable and really enjoyed the way she explores their thoughts and feelings. Also very much admire the way Flynn crafts sentences. Unfortunately, she hasn’t written much, so I went looking for other authors who take a similar approach. This led me to discover Paula Hawkins, who is also brilliant. Just started Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, and it looks as if it is going to be fantastic too.

🍳Thanks so much for taking the time to interview! The last question is always an open forum, so please take this space to talk about anything I missed, or anything in the world that you want to share!

 🎤Now that Mara’s series is complete, I’ve written a book about her mother Abigail. Abigail is a seventy-eight-year-old lawyer. As the war between Waan and the League rages around her, she comes out of retirement to defend a teen accused of murder. This fantasy legal thriller is titled The People vs. Abigail Bennet, and it will be available for sale in early 2023.
I also invite everyone to subscribe to my free monthly newsletter at thomasmkane.com. Every issue includes original articles or short fiction. The next issue features a return to Life in a Cup, a series of humorous tales and personal reflections based around experiences I’ve had drinking coffee.


There you have it! Thank you as always for tuning into Sunday Brunch, and do let us know if you enjoyed this interview!

You can find the author and his books online at:

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/thomasmkane11

Website: https://www.thomasmkane.com/

Book sales: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XWXP1X2/?ref_=d6k_applink_bb_dls&dplnkId=86e72651-f7fe-4546-96b3-f9bfa4db2526

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series ~ Featuring W.O. Torres

Sunday Brunch is back! Before getting started I want to thank everyone who supports both indie authors and smalltime bloggers, including my little interview series! Brunch has always been a beacon of community and I’m endlessly glad to see how the indie SFF world supports it’s members!

That said, episode 25 of the Sunday Brunch Series features self published sci-fi author W.O. Torres! He is entered into the second SPSFC competition and if you don’t know what that is, I’ll include the link at the end!

Sci-fi means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and I love W.O.’s story! Read on to see how sci-fi positively influenced his life and eventually led to holding a book of his own!


🍳Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤Thanks for having me. So, an interesting fact about me that isn’t in my bio is that I have had three very close calls with death over my lifetime that include: a near drowning at Lake Camanche after swimming between islands and having to be saved by a boater, water poisoning (drank 160 ounces of water in a four hour period because I was training in 112 degree sun and didn’t know you could die from drinking water) and being hit in the temple with a rusty nail that was attached to a 2×4, while at the landfill. In each instance there was a medical professional who shook his/her head at me while uttering the same sentence…”you are lucky to be alive.” So, I got that going for me, which is nice.

🍳What’s your favorite brunch food?

🎤My favorite brunch food is such a great question and in my case it has special consideration. For the past 25 years I have skipped breakfast as part of an intermittent fasting regimen. But, when the stars align and the kids are in school, me and my wife have the day off and find ourselves craving mimosas…I will go bonkers over brunch! I start with a mimosa or bloody mary that has a piece of bacon in the drink.I absolutely love omelettes and will sometimes have them for dinner. I like to create my own with pepper jack cheese, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes. Or, if I can find it on the menu I will always order a plate of chilaquiles, which instantly reminds me of my Abuela’s cooking

🍳I love that you mention sci-fi and other related media like Marvel comics as an outlet away from getting into trouble as a teen! What did that look like for you?

🎤I’m not using hyperbole when I say Marvel Comics altered my life in a good way. My neighborhood was filled with gangs, drugs and violence and unfortunately if you grew up there, it was inevitable that around the age of junior high school, you were recruited into the gang that spanned a couple generations. At the same time this was going on, I was out of my mind obsessed with Marvel Comics…think late 70’s to early 80’s (before Spider-Man had a suit that turns into Venom and when the “New X-Men” featuring Wolverine, Night-Crawler and Colossus had only been in print for a few years). I met a very small group of kids in grade school who were like me, and by that I mean could reference the origin story for Daredevil. We formed our own little “gang” and while other kids our age were running the streets, we were holed up in each other’s bedrooms arguing over the leadership styles of Professor X versus Mr. Fantastic

🍳You also mention Star Trek in your bio so we had better have your favorite show and favorite captain, bonus points for including your rationale 🤣

🎤 I began watching Star Trek in 1976, I know this because I have vivid memories and pics of my 6th Christmas presents which were 10″ action figures of the entire crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (no letters after), that included a transporter room (you placed a figure in one side, then spun the top and watched them fade until appearing on the other side…I would give anything to still have it)!!! So, when I tell you who my favorite Captain is, rest assured that it is not a decision I entered into lightly. I’ve watched them all (full disclosure, I haven’t started watching Strange New Worlds yet) and there is one leader who stands above the rest and their name is…Captain Jean-Luc Picard. I will literally start a barroom brawl with anyone who disagrees with me. I have worked in Law Enforcement for nearly 25 years and we train constantly and never stop talking about leadership. It’s a weird thing in that nobody seems to be able to agree on a definition for what a leader is, but we all just know it when we see it. And that’s Picard. I would follow any order that man gave. Plus…Sir Patrick Stewart, I mean, c’mon on!

🍳So you grew up loving sci-fi and now have written a scifi book! How cool is that?

🎤I’m in my fifties now and have had a lifetime of experiences and sometimes when I reflect on all the people and places and emotions, the one constant throughout my life is and has always been, science fiction. Magazines, movies, comics, television series, books, stories and even discussions all surrounding sci-fi are littered like tiny dots across my timeline. I’ve always written stories but I never once completed a story, until my recently self-published novel, Tomorrow Lives Today. Once I held a copy of my own sci-fi / time-travel book in my hands, it didn’t matter that it took me a lifetime to finally do it. Something about that moment when I stopped being just a consumer and finally became a contributor…it’s an indescribable feeling, really.  
 

🍳The book focuses on time travel and technology, fun sci-fi topics! Are these your favorite subgenres or what nudged you toward writing the story that you did?

🍳I have so many favorite sci-fi tropes that I could never pick just one. If I’m being honest, I will probably never feel complete until I write a space-opera at some point in my life. That being said, there is something viceral that happens to me on a biological level whenever watching/reading about time-travel. I don’t know what it is but it began when I was fourteen years old and The Terminator hit theaters. That movie warped my mind like no other movie previous to it. My friends couldn’t stop talking about cyborgs (which don’t get me wrong, I love them as well) but I couldn’t stop asking theoretical questions about going back in time. The past thirty-five years I have made it a priority to consume any story that has to do with time-travel as that initial feeling still hasn’t gone away. So, when I started writing my novel, Tomorrow Lives Today, it began with a premise set in actual science I had just read about about called The Technological Singularity; a hypothetical future point in time where tech growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unfathomable changes to humankind. I think the dots lined up and it just made sense to use time-travel as a tool to tell this story the way I wanted to.

🍳What was the last amazing book that you read?

🎤The last amazing book I read that I find myself thinking about months later, was Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. He’s a great writer first and foremost and he delves into trippy sci-fi concepts that he neatly connects to human relationships. I love his books. If you haven’t already read Dark Matter, it is about parallel universes and decisions made. That’s another genre that has exploded recently that Star Trek (the original) was decades ahead of in telling. Thank you Gene!

🍳Your book made it into SPSFC2! That’s exciting – are you excited? What are your general thoughts about a self published sci-fi competition?

🎤YES! Having my book selected as part of SPSFC2 felt like when your coach scans the bench and calls your number! GET IN THERE! I think it goes back to this new feeling (my book has only been out since 6/2/22) of being a contributor and not just a consumer. There are three-hundred other book entries so the chances of winning with so many other talented writers are about as good as successfully navigating the innards of a Borg Cube (yes, I’m saying there’s a chance), but just being included is a WIN as far as I’m concerned.  

🍳Do you have any advice for those who are also self publishing, or considering it?  I think the most common lament I hear is that it’s hard to get eyes on a new self published book

🎤 The best advice I can give after spending nearly four-years writing, editing, finding Beta Readers, a professional editor and illustrator, and countless revisions is…don’t give up. You can walk away and take a break, but keep thinking about your book, keep scribbling notes in a pad next to your bed or on your phone in the middle of a boring work meeting. Seek out other writers on social media in your genre and ask questions, answer questions. Keep pushing, keep grinding and enjoy the little victories, like closing a time loop or coming up with a dope line your antagonist would say and the end result will be greater than you ever imagined. Sometimes when the day is kicking my ass at work, I say to myself, “Hey, you wrote a sci-fi novel that’s four-hundred and fifty-one pages…you can do anything!”

 

🍳Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! This is the open forum question, so if you want to talk about ANYTHING else, please do so here!

🎤Thanks for having me and listening to me rant about things I’m passionate about. Each time I connect with anyone who is part of the sci-fi world always leaves me in a better mood than where I started. Since you handed me an open mic, I would also like to mention that books and stories need diverse characters. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and I can count on one hand how many Mexican-American characters I read or watched in sci-fi stories. It’s gotten better, but still a long way to go. My MC is Mexican-American like me, but his love interest is a black female. I am neither black nor a female but I didn’t think it should stop me from writing about Destiny Jordan, who is one of my favorite characters I have ever written. So, I connected with two extremely talented writers who happened to be black females and asked if they would consider being Sensitivity Readers to make sure I was showing empathy in my writing and avoiding any negative stereotypes when it came to Destiny. The experience from their feedback improved my writing in so many ways and I do believe some stories are best told from a unique perspective, but I also see tremendous value in adding diverse characters in your story, even if the characters differ from the writer.


Check out his book here!

 

Meet the author: bio from Am*zon

Mr. Torres resides in Northern California along with his beautiful wife, brilliant daughters, and their wonder dog, where he often writes once everyone is finally asleep.

As a child of the ’70s, his original works are inspired by his love of the golden age of Marvel Comics, Saturday afternoon Kung-Fu Theatre, Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond, The Twilight Zone, and all things strange and unexplained.

These obsessions helped him avoid gangs, violence, drugs, and dropping out of high school, which were sadly all too familiar occurrences in his neighborhood.

He is wrapping up a twenty-five-year career in law enforcement and looks forward to the next chapter. Tomorrow Lives Today is his debut novel and was partly inspired by a lucid dream he had the same day his childhood idol, Stan Lee left this world and crossed over to the other side.

When not writing, he can be found coaching youth sports, attending dance recitals, and on occasion, enjoying a super burrito with carne asada…or carnitas.

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/wotorreswrites

Here also is the SPSFC link where you can track the progress of this book along with 299 others!

https://thespsfc.org/


Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read and support indie authors!

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring W.P. Wiles!

Welcome back to Sunday Brunch! Episode 24 features fantasy author W.P. Wiles, in conjunction with the online tour for his recently published novel The Last Blade Priest!

I really appreciate Angry Robot for letting me nag so many of their authors, and of course the authors for taking the time to interview!

Without further delay, let’s jump in!


🍳Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤I very much wanted to call my daughter Halo, after the Alan Moore character Halo Jones, but my wife said that people would think I had named her after the computer game, and she was right.

🍳What would your brunch order be?

🎤Orange juice, black coffee, apricot danish, poached eggs on toast. 

🍳Everyone talks about tropes these days and The Last Blade Priest seems to be full of subverted tropes.  Were there one or two specific ones you went out trying to tackle ?

🎤When I first started writing, I thought it would be almost entirely from the point of view of Inar, a builder who is reluctantly employed as a guide by a party of rich, arrogant people from the League who want to survey a mountain pass that leads into a forbidden kingdom. So you’d have a fairly standard fantasy set up: a questing party of mismatched outsiders trying to penetrate this mysterious holy land, containing a magical mountain, facing perils and so on. But I quickly realized that I wanted more than a taste of this distant and decadent religion, I didn’t want to only present it from the outside, I wanted to spend time with it and in it. So you also get a perspective within the religion, among the scheming priests in their forbidden fastness – you get the quest from both sides. Another trope that I had fun with was the Elves, but maybe we’ll talk about them separately … 

🍳On the trope topic, do you have a least and most favorite one to read!

🎤I am a sucker for the Gothic, so I will always enjoy crumbling, isolated houses, forbidding ruins, dark ancestral secrets and all that jazz. It’s hard to name a least favourite because I think almost anything can be executed well, or at least given an interesting twist. Zombies have been done to death, though. Let’s have more ghouls, mummies, wraiths and skeletons instead. 

🍳I had to look up a ton of words used in TLBP to describe locations and building structures; most seemed rooted in old English. It felt authentic! Was the language used a conscious choice to set atmosphere/tone/setting or what brought you to your architectural descriptions?

🎤 Naturally an author doesn’t want the reader to have to go to the dictionary too often, and I hope you didn’t have to! But a little bit of unfamiliarity in the language helps give a world a sense of difference and that difference can help it feel real. I write about architecture in my day job so I guess that’s also a language I’m familiar with. 

🍳The book is pretty dense to start with –  names, places, titles, etc, did you have any thoughts about including an index or did you trust readers to stick around for the explanations later on?

🎤I hope that explanations follow new words or concepts pretty closely, even if they don’t happen at once! An author has to walk a line between two dangers. On the one side is the danger of confronting the reader with too many unexplained terms and concepts and leaving them struggling to understand what’s going on. On the other side is the danger of stopping to explain everything as it comes up, which slows everything down and can feel like an author showing off how much attention they gave to all the details and the world building. So you have to navigate between those perils. As a reader I don’t mind having to figure out some stuff for myself, and I find early exposition dumps a little dry, so maybe that’s the direction I tend to lean as a writer. But maybe a glossary would be a good idea for the future! 

 🍳I personally love world building and it was pretty intense in TLBP.  Lore, religion, tradition, text, there were so many factors.  Was there one part of the world you liked creating and embellishing the most or did it all come together as one piece?

🎤I did enjoy thinking about the architecture a great deal. I wanted it to be coherent across the various locations and cultures that appear. Some places build in timber because they don’t have ready access to stone, in other places it’s the other way round. The religious architecture of the Mountain worshippers bear traces of their history: they once built cairns for sky burial and human sacrifice, emulating their holy mountain, and when they got to building temples they made them faintly mountainous, with sloping sides, lit only from the top. But I would like to reassure any prospective readers that this is kept very much in the background! Some people enjoy inventing fantasy languages – I enjoyed creating a fantasy architectural tradition. 

🍳One other question I love to ask is – What idea or theme or visual came first for you in creating the novel?

🎤 A hidden religious kingdom and a holy mountain were probably the starting points. I am a keen armchair mountaineer. I love to read about mountain-climbing and the high places, the strangeness of glaciers, the almost mystical experiences brought on by altitude sickness. There is an astounding surrealist film by Alejandro Jodorowsky called The Holy Mountain, which I saw as a young man and it left a deep impression on me – it’s saturated with this very disturbing imagery, much of it religious. I think that probably planted a seed, long ago, although the book is very different.

🍳Elves as chaotic villains! I liked your recent short piece on Orcs as villains.  What prompted the choice for elves in this role?

🎤As I wrote in that little essay, Orcs are great antagonists, but they’re just antagonists. They can be a little one-dimensional. Meanwhile, I’ve long been tired of the haughty, cultured Elves we’re all familiar with. Their immortality made me think of a short story by Martin Amis called “The Immortals”, which is in Einstein’s Monsters. It’s about a group of immortal beings who have just watched civilisation get wiped out in a nuclear holocaust. But are they in fact immortal, or are they just delusional, traumatized survivors, slowly dying? I don’t want to give too much away about it, but what if Elves were less a race and more an altered state, and an extremely dangerous one? So they have pointy ears and a sense of overpowering superiority and they think they’re immortal, but … 

🍳One random bookish question – what’s your favorite fantasy novel?

🎤My favourite recent fantasy would have to be Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. It’s a terrific novel, with vivid characters, an unforgettable gothic setting, intrigue, gore, well-executed magic, mysteries … everything, really. It’s also very funny. As for long-term favourites … Titus Groan meant a great deal to me, and the influence of Gormenghast castle can be felt in my own creation of the Brink. Also Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun

🍳Thanks so much for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything you’d like to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤Thanks for having me! Don’t eat any strange mushrooms!


Meet the author:

W P Wiles was born in India in 1978. He is the author of three novels: the Betty Trask Award-winning Care of Wooden Floors (2012), The Way Inn (2014), and Plume (2019). When not writing novels, he writes about architecture, and he is a regular columnist for RIBA Journal. He lives in east London.

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

The Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series – Featuring Dave Dobson!

Happy Sunday again! Brunch is back, this time in conjunction with Escapist Book Tours
 
 
Episode 23 features Daros author Dave Dobson and a giveaway.  Thanks for my digital copy to read too!
 
Daros is a space opera that made it to the semifinal round of the current SPSFC! I’m happy to have a feature on the tour and will share book and giveaway details at the end. For now let’s jump in!
 

 
🍳Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?
 
🎤I’ve taken part in several sediment drilling expeditions on ships. The longest one was for two months on the JOIDES Resolution off the coast of Brazil as part of the Ocean Drilling Program.
 
🍳What’s your brunch order like?
 
🎤Pretty much waffles, french toast, pancakes – anything with syrup. And at brunch you can usually grab a bunch of bacon or sausage when nobody’s looking, if it’s a buffet. Otherwise, I have to order a reasonable amount. My grandma used to make me bacon nearly every morning when we visited, so it always reminds me of those times out in California.
 
🍳I know this is a Daros interview but Snood was the first game that anyone in my family ever got hooked on – and you were the designer? That’s amazing! Can you talk about it?
 
🎤Sure! Snood was a really great experience for me, and it still gives me a little bit of third-rate celebrity, although it’s faded a bit from the public mindset. It started as this game I made for my wife, and then I ended up releasing it as shareware using the free web space they gave all Michigan students back in 1996. I had released a couple other games that way, games I wrote when I was supposed to be working on my research. Snood really took off that year and the next, mostly among Mac users on college campuses, and it became a national thing a few years later after an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that got picked up in syndication and hit newspapers all over the country, back when newspapers were a primary way people got information. There have been at least 30 million downloads of the game (although that’s a little hard to calculate). The number of people who actually paid for it is significantly smaller.
 
My favorite part of the whole experience was hearing from players who were having fun with the game. For the first few years, all of the payments came in via postal mail, because nobody was used to paying for things online. That meant I would go out to my mailbox every day and find a few letters, sometimes more (the biggest day I remember was over 30 different letters), from all over the world, many of them with crumpled $10 bills inside, most of them with a nice note.
 
The weirdest thing that ever happened to me was actually being identified from my grainy website picture at a movie theater in Ann Arbor as the Snood guy. I had no idea people were even paying attention to that. Once we had T-shirts and other clothes, I liked wearing them to public places like amusement parks. Sometimes people would point at the shirt and say, “Hey, I play that game,” and I’d be able to say that I wrote it. It was super cheesy and self-indulgent, but it was really fun, and I got to meet some players that way. My favorite one of those was in a random motel elevator in Wyoming when I was with my dad. He thought that was really fun.
 
🍳There are a ton of gamers here too, can you tell us some pearls about your game design life/career/etc?
 
🎤 I don’t know about pearls, but I’ve always been a gamer and a game designer. Video games were born (at least in mainstream life) during my childhood, and I would save all the money I had to go to the local video arcades with my friends. Once we got a computer, I taught myself programming and started making games. They were terrible, but it was really fun, and it’s a hobby (and eventually a business) that I’ve kept up ever since. Even before that, I loved playing board games and card games, and I used to design them when I was a kid and make my friends and family play them. Some of them were really spectacularly bad. I can remember this Roy Rogers game I made, where you moved around this track with events happening to you, and the way I designed the board, you had to roll a 3 and then a 6, or you’d get sent back to the corral and have to start over. It was impossible. My parents played for maybe 20 minutes, and my brother for a little longer, but that wasn’t one of my successes. More recently, I’ve put out a set of puzzle card games, the Dr. Esker’s Notebook series. Getting a bunch of those printed and starting to sell them has been really fun (and a little scary, sending a bunch of money overseas), but it has all the excitement of the early days of Snood.
 
🍳 Ok, Daros!  Your book did pretty well in the inaugural SPSFC!? How was the competition experience for you as an author?
 
[Note: Daros was a semi-finalist – didn’t make the finals. Placed 15th out of 377]
It was really, really fun. My fellow authors formed a really strong community, reading and promoting each other’s books. The judges are all volunteers, and they put a ton of work and thought into their reviews and evaluations, and most of them ended up being big supporters of the indie authors who took part also. I’m so grateful to Hugh Howey and Duncan Swan for running it, and also to the fantasy precursor to the SPSFC, Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO. I’ve entered that a few times, and it has a similar supportive community and really neat vibe.
 
🍳I love asking authors why they chose specific magic or precious or valuable items – so the valuable green Chevron that Becca was in possession of – a random choice or a real life object??
 
🎤That was just something I added when I wrote the second chapter of the book. It has nothing to do with real life, just an object. I usually write without a firm plan in place (in writer lingo, I’m a pantser), so when I added that, I knew it should probably end up being important to the story, but I had no idea what it was or what it did. I didn’t really figure that out until about 70% of the way through the book, when I started figuring out what the big story was and how it might end.
 
🍳Daros is pretty funny despite some tough subject matter! I love the chapter titles!  Did you originally set out to write a book with humor or did it get more or less light as you went?
 
My kids and my students and my long-suffering wife will tell you that I’m nearly always looking for a way to make a joke, so I like to include humor in all of my books. Some of them are funnier than others, but I try in all of them to include a full range of emotions – they’re not just full of gags. In Daros, the relationship between Brecca and Lyra was a great spark for humor, and Frim’s unusual situation was also a way to get at some humor, sometimes pretty dark.
 
The silly chapter titles are something I do in all my books. I started with Flames Over Frosthelm back in 2019, and I had a lot of fun with it, so I’ve done it in every book since.  Daros has some of my favorites, some of them real groaners.
 
🍳Do you have favorite themes to write about, and if so how did they manifest in Daros?
 
🎤I love reading books where the main character is somebody you can cheer for. I don’t need them to be perfect, but I do need them to be trying to help others and have a strong sense of right and wrong and of justice. So, that’s what I tend to write. I love an interesting villain, but I’m much more drawn to heroes, especially people who are forced into challenging situations and have to muddle through. That’s why Frim is how she is in Daros – I wanted to include somebody from the invading alien force as a narrator character, but I hit upon the idea of having that person be a secret rebel. That let me like Frim (and it also put her in danger, which was cool) while still revealing more about the Zeelin’s culture and goals.
 
 
🍳Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?
 
🎤Favorite authors are numerous. Some that I like a lot are William Goldman, Nnedi Okorafor, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Scalzi, and Ursula K. Leguin. I’m a total sucker for the John Carter books – I loved them as a kid, and they’re obviously dated and sometimes problematic today, but they were romantic, thrilling, and exciting as anything. I try to model my writing after The Princess Bride – an engaging story that you end up caring a lot about, but with a lot of fun along the way. A lesser-known personal favorite is Bridge Of Birds by Barry Hughart (and the sequels). A really great story about a charming pair of friends having a grand adventure in ancient China.
 
 
🍳Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!
 
🎤Thanks so much for having me – these have been fun questions to answer. If anybody wants to write, I love getting email from readers (or Snood fans) – just drop me a line at dave@davedobsonbooks.com.
 

Author Bio & Links
 
A native of Ames, Iowa, Dave loves writing, reading, boardgames, computer games, improv comedy, pizza, barbarian movies, and the cheaper end of the Taco Bell menu. Also, his wife and kids.
In addition to his novels, Dave is the author of Snood, Snoodoku, Snood Towers, and other computer games. Dave first published Snood in 1996, and it became one of the most popular shareware games of the early Internet. His most recent project (other than writing) is Doctor Esker’s Notebook, a puzzle card game in the spirit of escape rooms.
Dave taught geology, environmental studies, and computer programming at Guilford College for 24 years, and he does improv comedy every week at the Idiot Box in Greensboro, North Carolina. He’s also played the world’s largest tuba in concert. Not that that is relevant, but it’s still kinda cool.
 

Giveaway info! 

Prize: An eBook, Audiobook, or Signed Paperback copy of Daros!
Starts: June 6, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: June 12, 2022 at 11:59pm EST

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79e197ac28/

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

The Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series – Featuring R.W.W. Greene

Hello friends and Robots! First off Happy Mother’s Day if this applies to you in any way shape or form!

For episode 22 of the Sunday Brunch Series I am honored to be kicking off the Angry Robot Books Mercury Rising tour with author R.W.W. Greene! Mercury Rising releases this coming Tuesday the 10th!

Let’s jump right into the interview, then I’ll share book and author info at the end!

Also do 100% be sure to check out this stunning lineup of content through the rest of the tour!

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🥞 Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?
 
🎤First, thanks so much for inviting me to brunch. Interesting fact … Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t swim. Is that interesting or pathetic?
 
 
🥞I think it’s awesome that you listed breakfast as a possible interview question! This was meant to be 😂 what’s your favorite brunch food?
🎤Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day — whatever time of the day I choose to have it — and this big plate of eggs and homefries sets the mood just right. I will be accompanying it with nigh-infinite cups of black coffee and maybe a sliver of that quiche.
🥞 One of my favorite topics is morally gray characters and you nailed it with Brooklyn in Mercury Rising.  What do you think makes a good morally gray character?

🎤When the Color Wheel of Our Lives spins, it blurs into grayness. We might be blue or orange at certain points, but the average is that cloudy gray. You’re a good person. Okay, would you steal if you were starving? If your kids were starving? Do you ever drive faster than the speed limit? Ethics come from the outside. Morals are interior, and like everything else inside us, they’re slippery. We tend to resolve the cognitive dissonance of our own immoral actions pretty quickly. It’s just one puppy. Everybody does it. I’m a good person, and I pee in the shower, so obviously, to be a good person, you must pee in the shower, too.

I think the trick is to make the character as real as possible, and realize that real is really messy.

🥞Each of your books takes a big issue (as in pollution or climate change or war or etc) and gives the readers a big *hey this is happening* message – is this the thought that starts your book ideas? Is there an issue that’s particularly near and dear to you?

🎤My stories usually start with character and situation. For “The Light Years,” I had some version of Adem and his arranged marriage. For ‘Twenty-Five,’ I had Julie being left behind on Earth. For ‘Mercury,’ I had Brooklyn and his need to just make it through the day and get back to his apartment.

The ‘hey this is happening’ stuff comes in because everything is happening all the time, and it keeps happening over and over. We’re drowning in the rhymes and resonances of all the things we’ve (the Big We) ever seen or done. I suppose I’m most attuned to things that will affect the future. Which, I guess, is everything.

I don’t sleep all that well, and I take pills for anxiety. I wonder why

🥞You were a part of a “swearing in SFF” panel at Quarancon! Can you share your general thoughts on foul language & slang in SFF?

🎤Swearing is interesting because we lose vocabulary as the arc of history bends toward justice. I don’t hear origins as expletives nearly as much as I used to. Being a bastard isn’t the curse it once was. As the meaning of ‘bitch’ changes and evolves, being a ‘son of a bitch’ ain’t so bad. Slut-shaming is slowly giving way to sex-positivity. As we become more secular, there are fewer gods to blaspheme.

Most of what we’re left with is body parts and bodily functions. And fuck, which is  the Swiss-Army knife of swear words.

What would a wood elf find profane? ‘You slayer of trees! Culler of conifers! Maple mauler! Fucking asshole!”

A William Gibson cyberpunk-cowboy: “Cube! (from ‘cubicle’) Drug-cutting corpie! You dirty little dataport! Virus licker! Fucking asshole!

🥞Is there more to come in the Mercury Rising universe? {I loved the open ending but also want more Brooklyn}

🎤 There is. Angry Robot and I have contracted for a second book in what is meant to be a trilogy. You’ll see book two in early summer of 2023. If all goes well, the third book should come out summerish 2024, either from Angry Robot (fingers crossed) or self-published.

{{I’m on board, ESPECIALLY IF AR FINALLY EXPLAINS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 400. I should start asking the authors}}

🥞After three books now and multiple short stories, what is the most valuable (or entertaining) feedback you’ve gotten so far?

🎤One short-story reviewer pronounced me a ‘middle-aged writer,” which while true, hurt. A dude on Goodreads recently gave ‘Twenty-Five to Life’ one star because he didn’t like who I dedicated the book to. One gent out on the West Coast of the U.S. wrote and said ‘The Light Years’ helped him come to terms with his father, which is cool but completely unplanned.

Probably the most useful feedback I’ve received is ‘Don’t read the reviews!” I don’t always listen.

🥞Random Sci-fi question: With the conference coming in May, any thoughts on the Nebula nominees this year?

🎤My secret shame — not so secret now — is that I often don’t get to the Nebula nominees until they are on the final ballot. I read a lot, easily three or four books a week, but much of it is not in-genre and the stuff that is doesn’t always show up on awards lists. After the ballot is released, I usually go on an all-Nebula reading spree so I can cast an informed vote.

There are so many books being published, I have no idea how anyone keeps up, and that’s not including all the novellas, novelettes, and short stories. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

{{True fact, I’ve succumbed to mood reading and pretty much anything from AR}}

🥞Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🎤My favorite SFF author is currently a three-way tie among William Gibson (always), Becky Chambers, and Seanan McGuire. Gary Shteyngart is orbiting this triumvirate waiting for one of them to die or retire.

I’ve recommended Mary Doria Russell’s ‘The Sparrow’ more times than I can remember. Series … maybe the ‘Emberverse’ stuff by S.M. Stirling.

Character … Henry Palace in Ben Winter’s ‘Last Policeman’ series. Or Trixe Belden. If you push me, Trixie beats Henry all the way.

🥞Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤Thanks so much for having me. The company was excellent and the quiche divine. Have a lovely day!


There you have it!

If you want to see my early Mercury Rising review, click here!

Author Bio:

R.W.W. Greene is a New Hampshire USA writer with an MA in Fine Arts, which he exorcises in dive bars and coffee shops. He is a frequent panelist at the Boskone Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Boston, and his work has been in Stupefying Stories, Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, and Jersey Devil Press, among others. Greene is a past board member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. He keeps bees, collects typewriters, and lives with writer/artist spouse Brenda and two cats

Book Blurb:
Even in a technologically-advanced, Kennedy-Didn’t-Die alternate-history, Brooklyn Lamontagne is going nowhere fast. The year is 1975, thirty years after Robert Oppenheimer invented the Oppenheimer Atomic Engine, twenty-five years after the first human walked on the moon, and eighteen years after Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven sacrificed their lives to stop the alien invaders. Brooklyn just wants to keep his mother’s rent paid, earn a little scratch of his own, steer clear of the cops, and maybe get laid sometime in the near future. Simple pleasures, right? But a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes is about to make his life real complicated.
So, rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from the assholes who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland?  Brooklyn crosses his fingers and picks  the Earth Orbital Forces. A few years in the trenches and then — assuming he survives — he’ll get his life back, right? Unfortunately, the universe has other plans, and Brooklyn is launched into a story about saving humanity, finding family, and growing as a person — while coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments and finding out the real enemies aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster.

Unless they are.

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series – featuring Chris Panatier!

As part of the Angry Robot Books tour for Stringers, I am entirely thrilled to chat with Chris Panatier on episode 21 of the Sunday Brunch Series!!

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I reviewed Stringers here, now let’s focus on the author!  There were some other recent interviews included in the tour (check them out!) so I went a little out there and asked about everyday heroes, short fiction, dog-goats, and so much more.

Here he is!


🥞Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤Thanks for having me! I guess one fact is that I know how to glue on fake eyelashes

Screenshot_20220424-092741

🥞Do you or your main character have a favorite Brunch food?

🎤My favorite brunch food is probably eggs benedict or like a giant hash. Ben’s favorite brunch is anything he can cancel out later with healthier food. Patton’s favorite brunch is drugs.

🥞My two favorite character archetypes are “morally gray” and “irredeemable jerk”, therefore I loved the snarky bounty hunter Aptat.  Is there anything you would be able to share about the character?

🎤This is a great question! I’m so happy Aptat came along. I have found myself drawn to exploring characters who eschew moral codes and Aptat was a perfect way to play with the freedom one has when they feel no longer bound to an ethical framework. Even though Aptat is a self-described “bespoke” flesh construct and decidedly not human, they give us one perspective of how some might choose to behave in a lawless state of nature. Aptat loves to point out that moral codes only work so long as everyone is in on the plan—which they are not. And while these are all serious discussion points, I wanted Aptat to be fun. They love the Real Housewives of television fame, pop music, and dancing. And what Aptat lacks in morals, they make up for in blistering commentary—they are free-wheeling, with a come-what-may attitude which I thought to be a natural extension of their freedom from societal norms of conduct.

🥞 In both Stringers and The Phlebotomist your main human characters avoid tropes. They are everyday people thrust into bizarre situations where their heroic capacity is tested! Is this your preferred approach to character writing?

🎤 The funny thing about both books is that neither main character has to go through some transformation to become heroic. I think that both Willa Wallace and Ben Sullivan ended up taking actions that most people would take in the same circumstances. Does this mean that most people have heroic capacity? Maybe—if it’s for the right reasons. Willa and Ben are driven only by what motivates them and their actions stem from that. As for tropes? Tropes are tropes because they work, I guess. They’re compelling and interesting. The only tropes I tend to stay away from are those where an ordinary person transforms into an extraordinary one. I rarely find those arcs believable as I think human beings, at least, are who they are. Now, you may not know it until they are tested and it may surprise, but it’s only because they hadn’t been in that situation before that we hadn’t seen the “hero” potential.

🥞Do we want to know what your Google search history looked like during your research for Stringers??

🎤 No comment. But I will say, hypothetically, that the very first search might have been very similar to this: “bug that fucks itself in the head”.

🥞What is the most valuable (or entertaining) feedback you’ve gotten so far about Stringers?

🎤 The thing that has made me most happy is that people have seen the serious stories woven into Stringers amid all the jokes. There are some big emotional pieces to the book and I’m glad people are finding them and they are hitting. The most entertaining feedback has to be the love for Mr. Pickles. It’s just a jar of pickles. Totally inanimate. And yet it’s pickles 24/7. Not complaining at all, I love it.

🥞I know this is the Stringers tour but I’ve enjoyed tracking down and reading some of your short fiction!  Which stories would you point new readers to?

🎤 Oh that’s lovely! My short fiction is way different than my books. Two suggests. For those who enjoy longer, more fleshed out science fiction, I have one longish story about conflicting clans of octopuses trying to get home to their planet (yes octopuses are not from Earth, this is science) called “The Eighth Fathom” and it was published in Metaphorosis Magazine. A short one I love to this day is called “Angels of Purgatory” and it was published in The Molotov Cocktail Magazine and a winner of one of their flash contests. All my shorties are on my website here: https://chrispanatier.com/short-stories/ 

Will you share a picture of your dog-goat?

This is Gretel. Tell me that this animal isn’t at least part goat:

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🥞 A while back you were writing about a Sci-Fi Trilogy that you were working on, is there any chance of that ever coming to fruition? Do I dare ask what it was about?

🥞 I wonder if that was my very first project—it probably was. Like a lot of writers, I had Big Dreams™ for my first novel, but also a pretty realistic appreciation for what it would take to get published. Of course, that didn’t stop me from daydreaming about how huge it might, could, maybe, possibly get. After 80+ rejections from agents I recalibrated my expectations. Lolol. Anyway, it’s a portal fantasy/sci-fi tale about a girl trying to save her brother. I still love the core of the story and expect to return to it in the future.

🥞Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  Last 5 star read? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🥞I think all books get five stars because, look, you wrote a book. That said, I really have to recommend The Despicable Fantasies of Quentin Sergenov by Preston Fassel. That novella is fantastic. Ex-pro wrestler gets kicked out of the league for being gay, gets turned into a velociraptor and seeks revenge. Splatterpunk, but like, literary. For a series, I always recommend the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. Favorite literary character is a tie between Randy Marsh of Southpark (do cartoon scripts count as literature?) and Portia the spider from Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. 

🥞 Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤Thanks for having me!


Meet the Author:

Chris Panatier lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, daughter, and a fluctuating herd of animals resembling dogs (one is almost certainly a goat). He writes short stories and novels, “plays” the drums, and draws album covers for metal bands. Chris’s debut novel, The Phlebotomist, was on the “Recommended Reading” list for Bram Stoker Award 2020. Plays himself on twitter @chrisjpanatier.

Check out the other book tour stops!

stringers online tour week 3

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: featuring A.C. Cross!

Hellloooo everyone, Happy Easter! The Sunday Brunch Series is finally back after it’s ridiculously long hiatus.

Episode 20 features author A.C. Cross as part of the Escapist Book Tours (tour) for his newish book! Where Blood Runs Gold is a “weird western” – part Wild West, part Walking Dead, a very entertaining and quick read overall.

This was an especially impressive interview because I sent these questions to AC at approximately 0020 one night, and by 0045 I had this entire thing back in my email, zero edits required, good to go! He is a smart writer and I fully recommend reading tbe book

There is a giveaway happening during the book tour, so check that out in the links after the interview!!


🥞Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! Can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤I fell off a building and slashed my leg open in college while trying to impress a girl. It sort of worked, but the scar and the story are the best things to come out of that.

🥞 We are all adults here, pitch us your book in #AITA format!

🎤’I (50sM, sheriff) rescued a girl (13F) from an abusive living situation, but my job is violent and I’m not emotionally available to take care of her. AITA?’

🥞What is your favorite Brunch food?

🎤 Can I say mimosas? Because if so, definitely mimosas. If not those, I am a sucker for both steak and eggs – steak medium rare, eggs over easy, white toast, and a beer – and Eggs Benedict, but that’s usually only if I expect that it’s going to be a heavy day. 

🥞 Seeing as this is an Easter Sunday interview, do you have any Easter plans?

🎤 This year is going to be a little different than years past. We would usually cook a turkey and full meal, go to church in the morning, hunt for Easter Eggs, and just relax. However, with my dad passing recently, it’s probably going to be a more subdued affair. That’s okay, though! New times need new traditions. Maybe I can find some rabbit to roast. The irony there would be funny, at least to me. 

🥞 Want to talk about your use of religion / fanaticism / cult appeal in the novel?

🎤 Sure! One of the things I’m kind of a sucker for in media – books, movies, games, etc. – is a cult or fanatics as villains. There’s just something so fascinating about how someone can twist and warp people and utilize them for his or her own purposes. The idea of charisma being so overwhelming that it drives sense from a person just digs into my brain like a splinter, in a way. What’s so fun about writing those kinds of groups is the amount of freedom you have in creating them! There’s no set form for how to write them. You can create entire universes in service of fleshing out those organizations. I mean, if you’re ever stuck in a story and don’t quite know where to go, throw in a cult side plot and watch things go off the rails in the best way possible.

🥞 What’s your favorite slang phrase that you used in WBRG?

🎤 I believe that ‘shit-kicking horsefuck’ , used by Merle in the first chapter, is my favorite. It’s so gloriously obscene. 

🥞 One of my favorite archetypes is the morally gray character, so I loved ErrolWhat do you think makes a good morally gray character (and what makes Thorpe a good one)?

🎤 I think that the best morally gray characters are ones that operate from a place of wanting to do good for the world. They truly want to make things better or help people. It’s just that, for whatever reasons, they have found or decided that the ends justify the means and that the end goal is more important than how it’s accomplished. Hanging a man from a beam in order to stop him from butchering families? Justified. Beating a child predator near to death? Justified. For the best morally gray characters, they see the world from a broader perspective than a typical hero. It doesn’t matter how they get the job done. If it’s done, it’s a success. Errol definitely has that mentality, at least in my mind. 

🥞 Care to explain your Twitter handle?

🎤 This one takes some explaining. When I was back in undergrad (2009 or thereabouts…I’m old, shut up), my group of friends had a guy named Dan in it. He’s an incredibly nice, sweet, giving guy and was great fun to tease lovingly because he would get flustered. One day, a few of us went out to lunch at a local Mexican place and the conversation somehow got around to how Dan needed to stick up for himself because he would, basically, do anything to be liked. He was there and protested, to which one of us (I think me) mentioned that we could probably get him to even eat cat food. This sparked an intense, hilarious discussion over the next fifteen minutes. We were winding down when Dan spoke up and said, and I quote “Okay…when I do this…” and nothing else he said mattered because he made a fatal mistake. See, he didn’t say ‘if’ he were to eat cat food, implying that there was a negotiation. He said ‘when‘, which basically flat out said he would be doing so.

From there, it was a long-running gag that, eventually, I turned into my first website. For a few years, I would write comedy articles and things like that on the site before life got in the way. I’ve locked the website down now because a lot of the content is more juvenile and mean-spirited than I would like now, but Dan Eats Cat Food became the Twitter handle and, at this point, I feel so attached to it that changing anything about it seems wrong. 

🥞 I believe we were promised an exclusive meme, related to your brand!

exclusivecrabmeme

You asked for this

{{Yes, yes I did 😂}}

🥞 What part of the WBRG idea came first? As in Western, horror, exploding corpses … What was the book’s backbone?

🎤 It’s kind of tough to say, to be honest! After playing through Red Dead Redemption 2, I was enamoured with the character of Arthur Morgan. He danced over the ‘gray hero’ line and back so many times. That gruff, violent man with a good heart? It spoke to me and I wanted to make someone like that. Once I had that, I wanted to do something different. Darker. I really love cosmic horror and unexplained stuff like that, so what if there was a world where things like that existed and it was just normal? Flesh-eating Dust, golden blood, monstrous things lurking in the wild? I love all of it. And the best part about that? There is a LOT more to the state of San Dios than is covered in WBRG. Part of why I love the Dishonored games is just how invested they are in building a world that exists outside the context of the story. The little snippets of information that you can learn that inform you about a world far bigger than you are experiencing in the game…delicious. I kinda love world-building, if you couldn’t tell!

🥞 What’s next for you?

🎤 That’s another good question. Technically speaking, I have over 50 ideas and counting waiting in my WIP pile. Realistically speaking, I have three. The first is a sequel to WBRG with a different character and it’s a reinterpretation of the Twelve Labors of Hercules. I am really excited about it. The second is a dark, bleak noir-style book that is violent and twisted and I love it. The third, and the one I’ve done the least with, starts as kind of an epistolary exploration of grief and loss before descending into, as always, an apocalyptic cult organization harvesting grief to feed a mountain god. 

I don’t write normal things, do I?

{{Normal is boring}}

🥞 What is the most valuable (or entertaining) feedback you’ve gotten so far for WBRG?

🎤 My favorite feedback was from my editor, Sarah, at a certain part in the book. She simply put in the comments: “You asshole.” I take that as a win.

🥞 Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  Favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🎤 I don’t know that I have one! I have so many books and know so many authors that it’s a tough question to even start with.

It’s not as well known as his Lot Lands series, but Jonathan French’s Autumn’s Fall series is absolutely fantastic. There’s also another series by a friend of mine named Ashley Wrigley called Mesopotamia//Tiamat that I just devour about once a year

This will sound strange, but Dwight from Sin City. He’s complicated, heroic, smart and dumb at the same time, and chivalrous. He just speaks to me.

🥞 Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤 I’m so glad to be able to have this conversation! I love answering questions and letting people know more about me. Anyone and everyone is free to add me @daneatscatfood on Twitter or check out my website www.aaronccross.com for news and a few free short stories to peruse!

{{Once again, I shit you all not, he typed that in about 25 minutes with no prep}}


I hope you are all convinced by now to enter the giveaway!

Prize:  A Signed Paperback Copy of Where Blood Runs Gold!
Starts: April 14th, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: April 20th, 2022 at 11:59pm EST

Enter here


Meet the Author!

A.C. Cross is a doctor, but not the kind that you want treating you for kidney stones or pneumonia or anything. That’d likely make your situation much worse.

He (currently) lives in the Great White North of the United States as a bearded, single man.

He’s a lover of words, many of which you have just read in this very book.

He’s an admitted scotch whisky and beer snob and his liver would not argue with him.

He has written four books now, including this one, but the other three (in the Roboverse) are funny and not nearly as sweary or violent.

You can find more about him as well as some neat little free stories at www.aaronccross.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/daneatscatfood
Author Site: http://www.aaronccross.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22062732.A_C_Cross

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Sarah J. Daley!

Welcome back to the Sunday Brunch Series! Episode 19 this week features adult fantasy author Sarah Daley!  Her debut novel Obsidian just released on 1/25 and my full review is posted on the blog here if anyone wants to check that out! There are purchase links below as well

P.S. thank you endlessly to Gemma from Angry Robot Books for suggesting and facilitating this interview! 

Read on to see the motivation for Shade Nox and her tattoos, swoony casting choices, some hints about the sequel, and so much more!


🥞Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤I’m a pretty decent skier for having grown up in the Midwest. I didn’t learn until I was almost 30, and it terrified me at first. After a few years and some lessons, I grew to love it. Although, I have had some spectacular crashes, including a freak accident where I sliced open my knee on my own ski. Ouch.

🥞Do you have a favorite brunch food?

🎤That’s a difficult question because I love brunch so it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing. If I had to choose, I’d go with something decadent like a big Belgian waffle with lots of syrup and butter, or an order of fancy French toast. No matter what, I must have a side of sausage links. Oh, and a mimosa. It’s not brunch without a mimosa! 

🥞It’s always interesting to hear about different publication journeys and Angry Robot has a knack for sussing out talent! How was the “open door” submission process? (I mean obviously it went well, congratulations!!!)

🎤Frankly, I was about to give up on the traditional route and try self-publishing. I couldn’t imagine going through endless querying to find an agent (I hadn’t tried since the days of snail mail and SASE. Yes, it was a looong time ago.) But my heart wasn’t in it; I knew my limitations and successful self-publishing is hard, hard work. Still, the restaurant where I’d been working folded, and I decided to focus on writing instead of leaping back into cooking. Basically, I decided to give it one last shot. It was do or die time. So, as I was finishing up the latest draft of this novel, Angry Robot opened their doors. The timing was too perfect; I polished the first 50 pages, wrote a query and a synopsis, and sent it to them. Once I sent it off, I told myself nothing would come of it and put it out of my mind. Two months later I got an email request for a full manuscript. I was excited, but nervous, and again told myself nothing would come of it. Two weeks (give or take) after that, I got my offer. Even then, I could hardly believe it. Finally, after decades of writing, I was going to be published!  

Obsidian_mini jacket

🥞What was the first aspect of Obsidian that came to your imagination?

🎤It all started with a girl. A friend of mine, actually. Tall and blonde and tatted up long before it was a thing, she became my inspiration for a badass wizard woman taking on the establishment. I tend to write female main characters, so it was pretty easy to put her into a story. And I wanted to make her the hero – the strongest of the strong. Not the love interest, not the supportive friend, not the ‘helper’ who makes sure the hero gets to his destination, but the hero. From there, the story grew, the setting evolved, but the hero remained who I’d first imagined. 

🥞If you’re planning a sequel, can you share anything about your plans for it? (Please say yes, I need more of Raiden’s story)!

🎤The sequel is written for the most part. Obsidian is a stand-alone book, but Shade’s story is just beginning. Her enemies aren’t going to walk away and leave her in peace. She’s upended their entire existence, and that is unforgivable. It will take everything she has and more to face what’s coming. And Raiden will be right there with her. His past and what makes him so special are explored in more depth; he’s a major player in the next installment. Obsidian was a fast-paced adventure with a clear end goal, but the sequel gets more complicated. New enemies rise from the shadows and Shade and her people will be tested as they never have been.

🥞Do you have any tattoos? A favorite or any favorite stories related to them?

🎤I don’t have any tattoos – I’m not that cool lol – but I love them on other people. I love looking at them, and I admire the artistry and beauty of good ink. Being in the culinary industry has made me appreciate them even more. Every chef, line cook and wait person I know has awesome tattoos. My friend’s tattoos inspired me to put them in my story and make them part of the magic system. I’m happy to see how ubiquitous tattoos have become among the younger generations. I’d like to think my generation (the Xers) started the trend, but millennials and gen Z took it to the next level.  

🥞 Shade was really going against the island’s gender norms in Obsidian, with the tattoos and magic, is that a theme you were focused on?

🎤 The tattoos are vital tools of a bloodwizard’s magic, and they represent power and prestige. It’s why the Corsaro parade around in gladiator skirts, to show off their impressive ink. But they’re for men, for bloodwizards, to flaunt. Women have bloodmagic in Malavita, but it’s a patriarchal society, and they don’t openly wield it. To work her magic, Shade has to dress similarly to the men in her world, revealing an immodest amount of flesh. The fact that her tattoos are extraordinary only makes her enemies hate her all the more. It’s bad enough she thumbs her nose at the Brotherhood and the Corsaro by openly practicing magic, but to be stronger than all of them while she does it is unforgivable. Her tattoos are only a problem because they are on a woman.

🥞I liked that your characters were neither true heroes or true villains, they felt believable! What do you think makes a good morally gray character?

🎤I like characters who believe they are right and act accordingly, no matter the consequences. That whatever they have to do to achieve their ends is fine because it is necessary. The Brotherhood wants to maintain their power, but some believe Shade is a threat to their world, not just to their organization. Stopping her is necessary, and right, in their minds. I don’t like bad guys who act evil just to be evil, and I don’t like heroes who never make mistakes or never act impulsively. Those are the kinds of characters I like to write about and read about. The only truly evil creatures in my story are the Unseen, but they can’t help it.

🥞With so many films and adaptations coming out these days, which actors you’d cast for your main characters?

🎤I would love to see Charlize Theron cast as Shade, even though she’s a tad older than my MC. She’s just so cool and tough. I just watched Fury Road again and she was absolutely perfect in it. Who even needs Mad Max?? I also think Brie Larson would be great. She’s closer in age to Shade and she already played a literal superhero!

marvel_10

Dante Safire is tall, dark and handsome, and I can see someone like Henry Cavill (let’s aim high lol) pulling off his bearded, brooding look.

{{Oh my. *Swoon*}}

cavill_11_a_p

As for Raiden, I think Manny Jacinto would be ideal. He has the boyish good looks I imagined for Raiden. Plus, he’s absolutely gorgeous. 

Manny-Jacinto-in-The-Good-Place-1

{{Raiden’s face when Shade laughed after he tried to arrest her}}

🥞What main idea do you want readers to take away from Obsidian?

🎤Mostly, I want them to root for Shade even though she’s arrogant and snarky and a bit reckless at times. For all her bluster and her incredible power, she’ll do anything to save her friends and her clan.  

🥞Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🎤It’s hard to pick a favorite author. I’ve read extensively across many genres. I’ve read everything Robin Hobb and Octavia Butler have ever written, though, and I can’t say that about any other writer/s. I always recommend Hobb’s Liveship Traders series and The Farseer Trilogy, and I’ll never stop telling people to read Parable of the Sower! It has to be one of my all-time favorite books. Her Patternist series and Lilith’s Brood trilogy are also excellent. Just, literally, pick up anything she’s written and it will be awesome.

A favorite literary character is equally difficult to choose. I love the Fool from Robin Hobb’s books (of Fitz and the Fool fame) and Tyrion Lannister from GOT (the books, although Peter Dinklage was an excellent casting choice) because both were odd and brilliant and complex. I also think Elric of Melnibone was one of the coolest swordsmen ever created. (I was obsessed with Moorcock when I was young.) Those are just the ones I can think of right now. I mean, I could list favorite characters for pages. 

🥞Thank you so much again for taking the time to interview! If you want to add or say or talk about anything else, please do so here!!

🎤Thank you for asking me about my book!


Book purchase & Author links!

Sarah J. Daley is a former chef who lives and writes in the Chicago Metropolitan area with her husband and teenaged son. She earned a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Though she still enjoys the heat and chaos of a professional kitchen, she is now writing full-time. She enjoys traveling, creating costumes for comic con, riding the occasional horse, and streaming old sitcoms for background noise.

On Twitter: @SarahJDaley

Instagram: @sarahkennedydaley

To buy Obsidian:

Obsidian

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy Horror Paranormal

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Beronika Keres!

Thank you for joining us on the Sunday Brunch Series this week!

Episode 18 features fantasy and horror author Beronika Keres! We originally ‘met’ when her debut novel Cracked Coffins was considered too thematically intense for a book tour! Luckily I was able to have a read anyway because dark vampire thrillers are everything and it was definitely a thriller!

The second novel Binding Blood released on December 7th. There are purchase links below if anyone has not checked these books out yet!

That said – I am glad that we finally got to chat about challenging content, favorite vampires, obviously brunch, and more!

Here it is!


🥞Welcome to the SBAIS! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your literary life?

🎤Hello! I’m Beronika, and I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to read and write. So far, I’ve published Cracked Coffins and Binding Blood, the first two books in The Cracked Coffins Series. I have a bunch of stories in various stages of production and am so antsy to get them out.

When I’m not writing, I’m usually studying for university, consuming copious amounts of caffeine, and listening to my favorite gothic rock or punk songs on repeat.

🥞Could you tell everyone a bit about your publishing journey?

🎤My publishing journey has been long, so it’s a dream that I was able to release my first book in 2020. I think I was eight or nine when I first tried to get something published. I wrote a little story, found a major publishing house’s address on the copyright page of some book, and sent it in. It came back with a return to sender stamp—of course—but I didn’t let that deter me. I tried many times to write a full book and did so successfully at twelve. I had some success with short stories over the years, but I was really focused on being a published novelist. This was way back when many viewed indie publishing in a negative light, so I was convinced traditional publishing was the only way. Yet when that view shifted, and I realized the control indie publishing would grant me, I pursued that instead. Two books in and I’m happy with that decision.

🥞Congratulations on the second novel! What do you think was the biggest point of growth for you as an author between the two books?

🎤Thank you! My biggest point of growth is probably my writing. I worked with an awesome editor for Cracked Coffins who taught me so much!

🥞Seeing as we just got through the holiday season, what would Marianna’s favorite holiday be? What about Denendrius?

🎤Holidays would be a sore spot for Marianna, given her situation, but she’d yearn to experience a normal Christmas the most. I can see Denendrius periodically liking Valentine’s Day under certain conditions. He also would have celebrated Saturnalia when he was a human during his time, so I imagine he would shift to celebrating a non-religious version of Christmas, providing he has a reason (like Marianna) to care about celebrating.

🥞Cracked Coffins is a perfectly dark story so far! Did you start off knowing that it was going to be a dark fantasy? Did it get less or more dark as you started writing?

🎤I actually first wrote Cracked Coffins as a young teen during the last vampire craze. Denendrius as a character existed before I completely knew the plot for the novels, so I knew any story including him would be grim. The first apartment scene and the following forest scene were the first parts written and were based off dreams, and I’ve been told the latter is one of the darker scenes in the book. Some parts of the series are darker than other parts, though there are lighter areas. Yet overall, the dark themes are fairly consistent.

🥞I love that vampires are making a comeback! Do you have any favorite fictional vampires or vampire related literature?  

🎤I love that they’re making a comeback too! Yes, of course! I love Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. I just absolutely adore Lestat, Louis, and Claudia for so many different reasons. I also really liked Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde. I think about that book from time to time, though the ending was bittersweet to me. 

🥞How do you feel about brunch? Any favorite brunch foods?

🎤I love brunch even though I don’t eat it very often. Bacon, waffles, and cinnamon rolls are my favorite!

🥞Marianna went through the ringer in Cracked Coffins, (drugs, death, domestic abuse, etc), is it emotionally difficult or otherwise challenging to put your characters through hell?

🎤It can be hard sometimes. Some themes and topics in Cracked Coffins are personal to me, so it can be interesting to wade through those feelings again to write. I always feel equipped to handle the topics, at least. Doing research can be difficult as well, especially stumbling upon real-life stories of people’s personal experiences (whether it be from those suffering from addiction or recovering, abuse survivors, or from those who were in the foster care system), or articles about abusive victims who weren’t able to escape.

But I also find it therapeutic to visit these sorts of situations with a fictionalized and supernatural approach. Including vampirism in a kidnapping/domestic violence story adds a whole new dynamic to explore. I thought the mortal/immortal power imbalance was a good way to portray some of the helplessness and hopelessness that can be felt in that sort of entrapment. Of course, adding violent creatures makes everything darker, but the supernatural also creates different avenues for hope that don’t exist in the real world.

🥞After two books, what’s the most valuable thing you have learned going forward into the next?

🎤How to adapt, be flexible, and try new techniques! Indie publishing makes this easy, which is why I love it so much.

🥞Here is the quick round of rapid-fire bookish questions! Do you have a favorite literary character of all time? Favorite book that your always recommend? Favorite author?

🎤It’s so hard to pick a favorite author since there’s so many that I love. John Saul, R.L. Stine, Stephen King, and Scott Westerfeld, to name a few.

One of my favorite literary characters is Janie Johnson from The Face on the Milk Carton (one of my favorite books since childhood) by Caroline B. Cooney. I always recommend that book and the subsequent ones.

A couple more of my favorite books that I’m always quick to recommend are Lighthouse Nights by Jake Vander Ark and Room by Emma Donoghue!

🥞Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to add, say, or feature, add it here!

🎤Thank you! It’s been a pleasure. I’m currently hard at work on the third book in the series and can’t wait to share more information about it!


Meet the author – from  https://www.beronikakeres.com/

Beronika Keres is a fantasy, thriller, and horror writer. After deciding in the second grade that she was destined to be an author, she has spent her life honing her craft and pursuing her dream. Fueled by coffee, she can often be found chasing plot bunnies and writing books.

When she isn’t writing, she can be found spending time with her family and enjoying the forests, mountains, and lakes of where she resides in British Columbia, Canada.

Cracked Coffins is her debut novel


Social Media and Book Links!

https://www.beronikakeres.com/

https://www.instagram.com/beronikakeres/

https://books2read.com/CrackedCoffins

https://books2read.com/Binding-Blood-2

Categories
audiobooks Author Interviews & Guest Posts

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Benjamin Fife!

Hello friends! I certainly didn’t expect to take the entire month of December off from the Sunday Brunch Series, but life happens. Brunch is back in the new year!

Episode 17 is something a bit different, for the first time I am chatting with a professional audiobook narrator! Thank you so much to Benjamin Fife for offering to feature!

I am seriously visually impaired and 100% passionate that audiobooks ARE books! I am so excited to bring you guys this interview, read on to learn all about what it took to become a narrator, his favorite characters, and honestly more interesting sounding bookish recommendations than I have ever seen in one place before!

Here he is!


🥞Welcome to the SBAIS! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your background?

🎤 I took drama in High School from a very good teacher. We studied dialects, the international phonetic alphabet, 12 guideposts for actors, studied motivations for characters and so on.  At the time, it was an easy A, and I had fun with it.  Sometimes at the time and often in the years between then & when I started actually narrating, I tended to think I wasted my time with it and probably should have taken a foreign language instead. I DO still wish I had auditioned for more plays when I was in HS & college, but at the time I was fully immersed in Band Geek life (I was basically the head band geek at my HS).  I kept using the skills I learned in drama as my partner and I started having kids & I began reading aloud to them.  for a decade and a half at least, we’ve read nightly to our family & I gradually would do more characterization & performance instead of just “reading.” And the nightly family read, combined with a commute to my dayjob regularly listening to audiobooks, I became more and more interested in narrating professionally myself

🥞Could you tell everyone a bit about how you became a professional narrator? What does the career path look like for anyone that might be interested?

🎤 About 4 years ago, my wife found the ACX website & with that, I had a new passion that overtook my interest in anything else.   For a lot more on this – check out the blog post.

https://www.bennyfifeaudio.com/post/an-unedited-and-mostly-transparent-account-of-becoming-a-successful-audiobook-narrator-part-i

{{This is a great post detailing how he got started and how ACX works – I had never heard of it before.  I definitely recommend any authors trying to have an audiobook made to check it out too, as well as interested readers}}

🥞What traits or aspects of an audiobook do you think makes a listening experience truly special?

🎤 An audiobook is an incredibly intimate experience.  I think of it as a partnership between the author, the narrator, and the listener and each is an essential part.  The idea – author; the performace – narrator; the imagination – listener.

I love narrating also for the emotional catharsis.  When you read a book, yes, you can have a unique imagination, but having it performed for you is like an individual play in your mind and performance is definitely the key.  Nothing makes me happier than when an author listens to my performance and is moved to tears, other than perhaps if a listener feels the same way

🥞Do you have a favorite genre or accent to narrate?

🎤 Fantasy and Scifi without a doubt.  Especially stories that explore the human condition in the tradition of Asimov.  I also adore classics.  My bestselling series combines a few of these and I love coming back to again and again.  Jane Austen’s Dragons by Maria Grace.  9 books so far and counting.  And an enormous little name drop twice in book 8 to let you know there’s definitely more coming.  Last year I also had the pleasure of narrating Ebenezer: The True Life Story of Ebenezer Scrooge by Douglas Bass.  A Christmas Carol is my favorite book of all time, Dickens is my favorite deceased author, and Doug did a great job expanding A Christmas Carol to something more like Great Expectations or David Copperfield.  I’m planning on eventually doing my own recordings of the complete works of Dickens, and this was a good primer. Doug’s version is 17 hours versus A Christmas Carol’s normal 3.

So along with that – I enjoy narrating in accents of the British Isles.  That was what I studied in HS & have held onto most – And yes, I realize I’m not perfect in my accents.  I’ve lived all but 2 years of my life in Idaho, USA. But when you get into accents of the UK, there are such a glut of variations.  I kind of have my own idiosyncrasies I’ve adopted for my basic “brit” narration, and then branch off from there for various characters.  But I love doing & learning all kinds of different accents. Mountain Folk by John Hood presented more in one book last year than I’ve ever done. (Think American Revolutionary war plus Myth Folk).  Various Brit accents, German, Indigenous American, southern us, and so on.  It was a fun challenge and a fun book.  I’m currently recording Ark of the Apocalypse by Tobin Marks and it features a lot of Russian accents, among others.

🥞Is there a standout favorite character that you have ever voiced? If so, what made them special to you?

🎤 Probably Brant from Jenelle Schmidt’s Minstrel’s Song series.  (Starting with King’s Warrior.)  He’s essentially the Ben Hur of the series.  Lots of depth to his character and some surprising and an abundance of tragedy and drama in his life.  Also the only series I’ve narrated that I read the whole thing outloud to my kids as well.  If you like LOTR, Lloyd Alexander, or C.S. Lewis, I think you’ll like that.

🥞Do you do any writing yourself or are you more of a reader?

🎤 I’ve mainly blogged so far – but I have several stories that have been floating around in my head for some time.  I’m committing to writing 30 minutes a day this year. (My answering these questions qualifies for today).  I have a nonfiction book I’ve outlined and a book I’m hoping to co-write with Maria Grace that will fit in her Jane Austen’s Dragons universe – but branch out considerably.    I work with some authors who put out an amazing amount of material and I have no idea how they do.  Ask me in a year & we’ll see how my 30 min commitment changed things for me. Hopefully I’ll have something to show for it.

🥞How do you feel about brunch? Any favorite brunch foods?

🎤 Considering my prime recording time is 10 PM to 2 AM, my breakfast probably qualifies as brunch.  I love a lot of breakfast foods.  Give me a good omelette any day.  Danish Delight is a dessert / breakfast / brunch food I think I’ve had just a handful of times in my life and its to die for.  My mom made it once, maybe twice when I was very young.  I never stopped asking her for it after that, but never got it again.  about 10 years ago, my wife surprised me with it on my birthday and she did it a couple more times after that…. I should learn to make it myself probably.

Also… I make a mean oatmeal for our family very often. Add a tablespoon of butter (or more) to the water while boiling, a pinch of salt and somewhere between a dash to a tablespoon of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and poppy seeds.  Serve with honey and raisins, or craisins, or whatever other fruit you want.  My kids love it.  So do I. Ready in 10 minutes, cheap, nutritious and delicious.

🥞As someone who is pretty severely visually impaired, I tend to be passionate that AUDIOBOOKS ARE BOOKS!!!  Do you have any thoughts or input on this debate in the reading community?

🎤 People who don’t think Audiobooks are books are being snobs. Plain and simple. I may garner slightly more information reading the physical book (or ebook – which is also a book), but I am able to consume & process so many more books because of audiobooks.  Dickens had characters who learned via audiobooks! (Our Mutual Friend (which I first listened to because of Person of Interest, but that’s another story entirely).  Cyrano de Bergerac presented the idea of Audiobooks in L’Autre Monde: ou les États et Empires de la Lune (“Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon” in 1657!  (Also known as A Voyage to the Moon – which the famous old silent movie was based on). I don’t take issue with anyone who has a hard time focusing on audiobooks.  Different people learn differently, but the material is the same whether you’re reading the symbols on the page or someone else is presenting them in the sounds that are also symbols for ideas.

🥞Here is the quick round of rapid-fire bookish questions! Do you have a favorite literary character of all time? Favorite book that your always recommend? Favorite author? Feel free to include audio recs!

🎤 Ebenezer Scrooge

And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran

Dead – Charles Dickens

Living – Timothy Zahn

Indie that I’ve narrated for – Gonna be hard to really pick, so I’m going for a 3 way tie so far – Maria Grace, Jenelle Schmidt, and C.D. Tavenor.  I’ve also narrated more for each of them than almost anyone else. More than a million words between the three of them.

Indie that I haven’t narrated for: Carol Beth Anderson.  I love her Magic Eaters series. And she does a pretty darn good job narrating it herself.

🥞Thank you so much for taking the time to interview!


Here is his website and social media links!

https://www.bennyfifeaudio.com/  for audio samples, blog posts, and more!

On Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/fife_benjamin

On Soundcloud:

https://m.soundcloud.com/user-29643215