Category Archives: Guest Post

Days of the Dead Blog Tour: Gail Z. Martin Guest Post

Swords & Shotguns: Epic and Urban Fantasy
By Gail Z. Martin

What’s the difference between epic fantasy and urban fantasy?

Generally speaking, epic fantasy happened long ago, often in a medieval time period, with swords and castles. The stakes are big, often the fate of a kingdom or dynasty at risk. Urban fantasy usually means books set in present-day or at least Twentieth or Twenty-First Century, where it’s our world but with magic and the supernatural.

I think the lines are blurrier than that. I could envision a story in a medieval setting that deals with supernatural goings-on within a city that saves the world but never has the epic Lord of the Rings-style big battles. And I’ve written stories set in a modern city where the fate of the world hangs in the balance because of paranormal problems.

I write epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk. (And as far as I’m concerned, Steampunk is often Victorian urban fantasy with cool gadgets.) So while the sub-genre categories are handy on Amazon and to tell booksellers where to shelve novels, they matter less to me as an author, because I come up with the story first, and then figure out which bucket it best fits.

Epic fantasy is fun because I get to put my degree in medieval history to use and research fun things like trebuchets and garderobes, and what kind of explosives were available in the 1400s. Oh, and I’m gaining the ability to swear with words no one’s bandied around since before Shakespeare.

Urban fantasy means I can use pop culture references and modern slang, and I have to research the history of the cities in which I base stories, because people live there and can catch me if I’m wrong about something. I look up stuff on guns and modern explosives and probably have a file at the FBI for questionable internet searches.

I think the hardest thing about writing in both epic and urban fantasy is switching mindsets. My urban fantasy characters have largely experienced the same world I live in, with some paranormal twists. But the epic fantasy characters are going to see the world differently because of how people back then understood science, medicine, rank and class. They’ll pay no attention to things like abysmal sanitation or take for granted the pecking order of a hereditary nobility, but fail to understand disease transmission or infection. Not only is the wording different, the world view is different. This is important, because if you don’t write about characters who are products of their times, then you’ve just got modern people dressed up in costumes.

So the trick with urban fantasy is to make people believe that there are ghosts in Charleston, SC, vampires in Central Park, or fae riding motorcycles through West Virginia. You’ve got to get readers to suspend what they know about the world and make room for magic and the supernatural, which suddenly makes the familiar into new territory.

And the difficulty with epic fantasy is creating characters who are true to their world and the limitations of the knowledge and cultural failings of their time and make them sympathetic and relatable to modern readers. To be realistic, they’re going to have some of the biases and blinders common to their era, and that becomes a growth opportunity for them to overcome. They’re going to view the world through scientific fallacies and since-disproven theories. Yet for the reader, those assumptions and the actions that follow have to make sense and not get in the way of the story. They may be progressive or enlightened in some ways, and very much a product of their times in other ways.

Believe it or not, this is the fun stuff for an author. People in the past had incredibly clever ways of dealing with the world around them in lieu of the technology we take for granted, and ferreting those details out makes the world come alive. Likewise, when I can find a bit of history or a detail about a modern city that supports the case I’m building for a supernatural threat, I celebrate, because the plot then becomes even more tangled up with the setting.

I’ve written three epic fantasy series so far, including the new Darkhurst series (Scourge) and the upcoming Assassins of Landria series. I’ve also written or co-written two urban fantasy series (Deadly Curiosities, Spells Salt & Steel) with three more new series forthcoming. There’s lots of territory left to explore!

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Get all the details about my Days of the Dead blog tour here: http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/2017/10/25/its-my-days-of-the-dead-blog-a-palooza/

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight 2017, back for more with new authors and fantastic new posts! 130+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! All of my guest blog posts have links to free excerpts—grab them all!

Rafflecopter giveaway—enter for a chance to win a copy of Spells, Salt and Steel! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9751c0426/?

An excerpt from our new Spells, Salt, and Steel: A New Templars Novel— http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/short-stories-and-more/spells-salt-steel/spells-salt-steel/excerpt-spells-salt-steel/

And an excerpt from my friend Jean Marie Ward’s ‘Fixed’ from The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity: http://jeanmarieward.com/books/excerpt-fixed/

About the Author:
Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. Vengeance: A Darkhurst novel, is the second in a new epic fantasy series for Solaris (coming April, 2018). Her Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC has a new novel, Vendetta, and a new collection, Trifles and Folly. Spells, Salt, and Steel is the first in another new urban fantasy series set in upstate Pennsylvania.

Other work includes the Chronicles Of The Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms series, the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, and Iron & Blood (co-authored with Larry N. Martin)

Find her at www.GailZMartin.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin.

Hawthorn Moon Guest Post with Gail Z. Martin

Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications

The Allure of the Outlaw
By Gail Z. Martin

What is it about bad boys, girls who break the rules, and outlaws that hooks us into stories over and over again?

Maybe part of it’s wish fulfillment–a chance to escape the confines of ‘appropriate’ behavior by proxy without fearing the consequences. Perhaps some of it is trying out our rebel wings before we fully commit to burning bridges. Often, it’s just sweet to see the outsider win, the outcast show everyone up, the misfit save the world.

Think about some of the outlaws we love the best: the crew of the Serenity, Captain Jack Harkness, Han Solo, the Winchester Brothers, Butch and Sundance, the Doctor, and even, eventually, the command team of Babylon 5 and many more. They do the right thing, even if it’s in the wrong way, even if their methods don’t fit with what society expects. We wish we had their courage, and sometimes, we do.

In my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle, we saw a couple of kinds of exiles. Prince Martris (Tris) Drayke became an exile along with his friends when Tris’s half-brother seized the crown and killed the king. Jonmarc Vahanian went on the run after raiders murdered his family and he double-crossed a vyash moru blood mage. Cam and Carina’s father threw them out of their home because of Carina’s magic and the bad luck thought to accompany twins.

The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga finds disgraced lord Blaine McFadden exiled to the Velant prison in the harsh arctic expanse of Edgeland for a murder he doesn’t regret. His circle of close friends–Kestel, Dawe, Piran and Verran–have been sent into exile for their own crimes. When they return to a devastated homeland where even magic no longer works, they find themselves strangers in a hostile land.

Scourge is the first book in my new Darkhurst series for Solaris Books (launching July 15). Undertaker brothers Corran, Rigan and Kell Valmonde become outlaws when they refuse to obey the laws forbidding them from killing the monsters that are murdering friends and neighbors, and that would kill or jail Rigan for his unsanctioned ability with magic. It’s medieval monster hunters in a corrupt and dangerous system. It’s Supernatural meets Game of Thrones.

One of the things I think we like the best about outlaws is that they take risks and defy the powers that be in ways we often wish we could in the real world. They actually tell off the bully, fight against the unfair system, and bring about a rough sort of justice. We cheer for their victories because those wins are so hard to make happen in real life. Watching them win gives us hope, and makes us believe there is a reason to continue resisting.

Sometimes, the heroes we read about inspire us to do the right thing even if society disapproves. Whether it’s standing up for something who is being harassed, voting against laws that unjustly target vulnerable groups, or refusing to go along with an institutionalized injustice, our fictional heroes give us courage to be our better selves. There’s a little bit of outlaw in all of us.

About the Author:
Continue reading Hawthorn Moon Guest Post with Gail Z. Martin

The Suffering Tree: Meet the Characters and Giveaway!

The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano

OFFICIAL DREAM CASTING FOR THE SUFFERING TREE

Nathaniel Bishop: Edvin Endre
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5481344/mediaviewer/rm214560768
Nathaniel is a seventeen-year old indentured servant, working on a tobacco plantation in Maryland 1706. He’s tall, with a lean, muscular build from years of physical labor, his back and body badly scarred from years of abuse. He wears his long brown hair tied loosely back from his face, out of the way of his fiddle. Once, he had brown eyes. But when he rises from the grave, Tori observes that his eyes take on a “shade of green common in nature, but completely unnatural in the context of a human face.”

Emmeline Belle: Odeya Rush
https://static.cinemagia.ro/img/db/actor/28/06/60/odeya-rush-646542l.jpg
Emmeline Belle came to Maryland on the same ship as Nathaniel when they were children. She has long, wavy black hair and startlingly light gray eyes. Though her beauty was undeniably rare, her fierce personality, shameless immodesty, and rebellious spirit angered some and terrified others. She was often suspected of being a witch.

Ruth: Amandla Stenberg
http://ell.h-cdn.co/assets/16/17/980×490/landscape-1461617059-gettyimages-507244236.jpg
Ruth was a slave to Archibald and Dorothy Slaughter in the early 1700s. Having grown up alongside Nathaniel and Emmeline, even though she was Emmeline’s best friend they had very different personalities. Ruth was reserved and quiet, fearful of drawing attention or challenging the rules. She had dark brown eyes, high cheek bones, and a delicate build. She wore her curly hair tucked inside a white cap, and often pulled it low to cover a missing ear, which was cut off by Archibald Slaughter as punishment for a failed runaway attempt when she was fifteen.

Tori Burns: Willow Shields
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3094377/mediaviewer/rm3895869184
Tori Burns looks nothing like the rest of her family, a fact that bugs her more than she likes to admit. She wears her black hair cropped close to her head, longer in the front so her bangs shadow her eyes, and layers of dark clothes covering most of her skin. She’s not “goth”, but whatever. Let people assume whatever they want about her. She doesn’t much care.

Jesse Slaughter: Lucas Till
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1395771/mediaviewer/rm439793920
Jesse is the blond-haired, blue-eyed boy next door. Literally. Tori’s family inherited a strange piece of land right in the middle of his parent’s farm, making Tori his new neighbor. The son of Dorothy and Alistair Slaughter, Jesse is the town golden-boy. Smart, popular, destined for a big inheritance and a bright future. . . until Tori’s family showed up and ruined everything.

Alistair Slaughter: Mark Wahlberg
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000242/mediaviewer/rm434810880
Jesse’s father is a pillar of the community, from a long line of farmers and philanthropists. The salt of the earth, everyone knows he’d give anyone from Chaptico the shirt off his back. . . that is, if their family had lived their long enough, and if he felt they deserved it. As far as he’s concerned, the Burnses haven’t earned anything that belongs to him. Strong, stern, and quick to pull the trigger on his temper, he doesn’t plan to make their stay in his family’s home a comfortable one. Or a long one.

Dorothy Slaughter: Liv Tyler
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000239/mediaviewer/rm913100032
Jesse’s mom, Dorothy (please, call her Dot) is proud of her home and family. It shows in the way she keeps everything in perfect order, from the tasteful décor in her living room to her modest hair and make-up to the pristine hem of her perfectly pressed skirt. Her family is highly respected in the community, a community that has centered around their generations-old farm since the founders of Chaptico first set foot in this county. And even if things aren’t going quite as she planned for her family since the Burnses came to town, she’ll do everything she can to keep up appearances and take care of her family.

Matilda Rice: Alfre Woodard
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005569/mediaviewer/rm2864366080
Matilda Rice has lived in Chaptico her whole life, just like the rest of her family have all the way back to Emmeline’s time. She should know. Hunched over her cane on her rickety front porch overlooking Slaughter Farm, she and Emmeline talk quite often. Truth be told, they talk a lot more than Matilda would like. Especially now that Nathaniel’s come back. Most people think she’s just old and senile, mumbling to herself and seeing things that aren’t there through her cataract-clouded eyes. As the bridge between the past and the present, Matilda sees a lot more than people realize. And definitely more than the Slaughters want her to know.

Archibald and Elizabeth Slaughter: Colin Farrell and Jessica Chastain
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0268199/mediaviewer/rm2649147136
Wealthy and powerful, the Slaughters lorded over Slaughter Plantation from the late 1600s until it burned in 1706. After the plantation was restored and the structures rebuilt, the land was passed down to Slaughter’s son.

Supporting Cast:

Sarah Burns: Wynona Ryder
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000213/mediaviewer/rm2612203520
Tori’s artistic, eccentric widowed mother.

Kyle Burns: Finn Wolfhard
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6016511/mediaviewer/rm2301953280
Tori’s younger brother.

Magda & Drew: Kiernan Shipka and Tequan Richmond
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2215143/mediaviewer/rm3648189184
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1343331/mediaviewer/rm735027712
Tori’s best friends from school.

Bobby Coode: Grayson Russell
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2124254/mediaviewer/rm3219328000
Jesse’s cousin and best friend.

About The Suffering Tree:
“It’s dark magic brings him back.”

Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family-it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” As the suspicious looks and muttered accusations of her neighbors build, so does the pressure inside her, and Tori returns to the pattern of self-harm that landed her in a hospital back in D.C. It all comes to a head one night when, to Tori’s shock, she witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events-including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin-that seem to point back to Nathaniel.

As Tori digs for the truth-and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel-she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried at any cost.

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Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion, I have a copy of The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano (as well as other goodies!) for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends June 30. I’ll draw a name on July 1, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading The Suffering Tree: Meet the Characters and Giveaway!

Marshall Ryan Maresca Guest Post and Giveaway: THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW!

Guest Post: “Who are your influences?”by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Any artist of any stripe gets asked this question, and I know for me, it’s always challenging to come up with a coherent answer. My influences come from so many places, different mediums. It all filters into my head and percolates in my subconscious to create the sweet, dark brew that I write. It’s not always easy to say, “That, that’s where that comes from.”

Not always.

However, in the case of The Holver Alley Crew, it’s pretty easy. Not the heist-story influences, though many of those are probably pretty evident. No, I’m talking about the influence on the feel of the book; its soul.

“Have you got soul? Then Dublin’s hardest working band is looking for you.”

The Commitments is possibly one of my favorite movies ever. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you stop right now and go find it on Netflix or something and dig in.

I’ll wait.

All right, back?

The Commitments is full of the sense of place that I wanted to capture with The Holver Alley Crew, as well as the sense of desperate people coming together to form a group to achieve something greater as a team than they ever could individually. Of course, in The Holver Alley Crew they’re coming together for crime and revenge, rather than music—but the spirit is the same.

Because they’re people who life has beat down, and in coming together, in doing something, they give themselves hope.

“You’re missin’ the point. The success of the band was irrelevant – you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it’s poetry.”

It’s a movie where the impoverished and rundown Dublin is very much the main character. People know each other, they support each other—unless they’re screaming at each other and trying to crack their skulls open. There’s pride in where they’re from, even if it’s a s***heap, because it’s their s***heap. This is what I tried to invoke in creating the West Maradaine neighborhood of North Seleth.

My Holver Alley characters—the Rynax brothers, the Kesser cousins, Kennith, Mila and Almer—they’ve been discarded and stepped on throughout their lives, especially after the fire that destroys Holver Alley.

And, of course, for them, the heists and thieving is their art. It’s as much what they do and how they express themselves as the music is for the band in The Commitments.

Soul is the music people understand. Sure it’s basic and it’s simple. But it’s something else ’cause, ’cause, ’cause it’s honest, that’s it. It’s honest. There’s no f****’ bull****. It sticks its neck out and says it straight from the heart. Sure there’s a lot of different music you can get off on but soul is more than that. It takes you somewhere else. It grabs you … and lifts you above the s****.

And that’s what they’re doing for themselves in Holver Alley Crew—lifting themselves above. But, you know, with knives and crossbows instead of soul and song.

______________________________________________

Courtesy of DAW, I have a copy of The Holver Alley Crew by Marshall Ryan Maresca for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends March 24. I’ll draw a name on March 25, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Marshall Ryan Maresca Guest Post and Giveaway: THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW!

MARTIANS ABROAD Blog Tour: Carrie Vaughn Guest Post

Carrie Vaughn joins SciFiChick.com today to promote her new release, Martians Abroad, and talk about the worldbuilding fantasy vs. science fiction!

The Details that Build a World
by Carrie Vaughn

Worldbuilding is the lifeblood of SF&F. We love these genres because we want to travel to other places, see new and amazing worlds, the more fantastical, futuristic, and amazing the better. And the more believable those worlds seem, the more we feel like we could buy a ticket on a starship or simply step through a wardrobe to see it all for ourselves, the happier we are. Build that world, readers will come.

I spent ten years writing an urban fantasy series in which werewolves, vampires, and all sorts of magic exist in our world. My new book, Martians Abroad, is about a third generation Martian colonist visiting Earth for the first time.

Was hard, switching gears? Was it a big leap to go from magic to space ships?

I gotta say, and this may come as a surprise to some people, worldbuilding in the science fiction book might just be little bit easier. Because all the information is right there. If you’re extrapolating from where we are now to where we might be in a couple of hundred years — colonizing the solar system, imagining what the technology might look like, considering what science tells us is possible — the choices are limited. Yes, you have to be accurate. People will fact check every word you write. But for most of the questions an author like me has about this science-fictional world I’m creating, there’s going to be a plausible answer. A more plausible answer, anyway. A scientifically reasonable one. We can make good guesses about the effects of low gravity on human anatomy. I know how to describe the Martian landscape because I can look up hundreds of beautiful pictures, thanks to the rovers Curiosity, Spirit, and Opportunity. After the last fifty or so years of solar system exploration and discovery, there’s surprisingly little I had to make up. And can I just gush about how utterly cool that is?!

In fantasy, authors often have to build their worlds from the ground up. Yes, I can make it all up by the seat of my pants. It still has to be believable. I still have to make choices that make sense and seem right and fit together to make a great story and a world my readers want to visit. And there are no real right answers. On the one hand, anything goes, right? Well, I’m not sure about that. I think this freedom from real-world data also means I need to be a lot more careful because there’s no good way to double check my work. No way to know if what I’m writing is believable until it ends up in front of a reader. The reader always has the final word on whether the worldbuilding in a book is successful.

In the end, both fantasy and science fiction require thoughtful world building and attention to details. The source material may be different, but the goal is the same: make the reader believe.

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About Martians Abroad:

Teenage Polly Newton has one single-minded dream: to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. But her mother, the director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly’s plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth—the one planet Polly has no desire to visit. Ever.

Homesick and cut off from her desired future, Polly cannot seem to fit into the constraints of life on Earth, unlike Charles, who deftly maneuvers around people and sees through their behavior to their true motives. But when strange, unexplained, and dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up, Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.

About the Author:
CARRIE VAUGHN, the New York Times bestselling author of the Kitty Norville books, is also the author of the stand-alone novels After the Golden Age and Discord’s Apple, and the young adult books Voice of Dragons and Steel. She holds a Masters in English Literature and collects hobbies—fencing and sewing are currently high on the list. You can visit her online at www.carrievaughn.com.

Author Guest Post: Alex Bledsoe on World Building!

Bledsoe

SOME THOUGHTS ON WORLD BUILDING
by Alex Bledsoe

World-building is a cornerstone (heh; building pun) of fantasy. Starting with the assumption that something unreal exists—vampires, dragons, elves, whatever—we then expand into the ways it influences the world in which the story happens. I’ve done it in three different ways.

The most obvious way, in my Eddie LaCrosse novels and stories, is to create an entirely new world from scratch, one that has no connection with our own, either in history, culture or religion. It’s called a “secondary world” in fantasy-speak, a term coined by Tolkein to differentiate a setting from the real, or primary, world. I’ve always disliked that term, because it implies a diminution, as if the fantasy world was somehow less than the real world. Granted many times it is, but when it works, it’s as real, as primary, as the one I’m sitting in as I type this.

When I created the world of Eddie LaCrosse, I made a couple of decisions up front. People would have regular names (i.e., Eddie), they would not speak in either faux Shakespeare or cod-Bilbical (“Behold, he is the Chosen One, who will fulfill yon Prophecy!”), and that the characters would all have identifiable jobs. I chose all this because I wanted to write the series in a voice similar to the great noir writers (Chandler, Parker, Vachss). It’s hard to do that seriously with Tolkein-ish names (“Eowyn walked into my office with a stride like a prize Rohan filly”—see?).

My Tufa novels take place ostensibly in the “primary” world, but deal with a unique fictional culture that exists within it. To make that work requires a balancing act between things the reader knows (cars, farms, families, et al.) and things they likely don’t (fairies, dream time, etc.). There’s no guide for this sort of thing; it either feels right, or it doesn’t. Sometimes it feels right at first, then goes wrong as you develop it further.

This is very close to the concept of “magical realism,” a term often used by literary writers who don’t want to be classified within a genre (i.e., “speculative fiction” instead of “science fiction” [I’m looking at you, Cormac McCarthy]). It was first used to describe the work of Latin American authors such as Isabel Allende, and has an appropriately nebulous definition. But I read a great description once (don’t ask me where) that said, in paraphrase, “It takes the world as everyone knows it, except for one aspect that’s slightly askew.” Think the magical cooking in Like Water for Chocolate, or the clairvoyance of The House of the Spirits.

This approach has the beauty of maintaining the sense of wonder that sometimes get lost when “paranormal” elements are accepted as part of the world, as in much of urban fantasy. The lack of overt explanation for either the reader or the characters means that they share the surprise at any “magical” occurrences.

I wrote two vampire novels set in 1975 Memphis, and that presented a challenge not unlike building a fantasy world. Although I lived through that period as a child, I wasn’t attuned to the subtleties of it; my memories are mostly of pop culture references. I had to research events, attitudes, even Seventies clothing (AGHHH!) in order to create—or in this case, recreate—the world. And as Michael Cimino said about Heaven’s Gate, “One uses history in a very free way,” so there is one glaring (to me, at least) anachronism that so far no reader has mentioned.

I’ve written about other “worlds” in various short stories, including westerns, horror, and of course, fantasy. Through all this, I’ve learned one thing: you can’t take the world for granted. Even in an entirely contemporary, entirely mundane story, you may be creating a world that a potential reader has never seen. It’s your job to figure out the details that will conjure that world in the reader’s mind so that they can inhabit it as fully as your characters. If you achieve that, then you have built a world.

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier author photo

“Apocalyptic Fantasy”
by Joshua Palmatier
I’ve been reading fantasy for * coughcough * number of years and in a good portion of the novels I’ve read there are hints—or sometimes even blatant references—to “the world before the Cataclysm”! It’s a common theme, one that’s basically a trope now. I think there are many reasons for this, the most obvious being that if the reader thinks this strange new world they’re reading about is connected to their own world in some way, they’re going to connect to the story more as well. But I always wondered about that Cataclysm. What could bring about such significant change? And if the Cataclysm referred to our own world, how did the disaster itself bring us from our current world to this fantasy world I’m now reading about?

This of course got me thinking . . . never a good thing. How DID the apocalypse come about? I’ve always loved reading apocalyptic novels, and yet I’d never seen a fantasy novel where the characters actually live through the apocalypse. They’re always set hundreds of years later, when the world has changed and magic has been activated or reborn somehow. (Not that there aren’t such books out there; I just never ran across them.) So why not write a fantasy novel—not sent in our world, but a true secondary world—and tell the events that led up to the apocalypse and what comes after? This, along with the conjunction of a few other ideas, such as using ley lines as a power source, birthed the “Ley” series.

Also, I really like to blow s#&% up. * grin *

The premise is that, in this secondary world, society has evolved around using the ley lines in a way not unlike how we use electricity. Rather than having the society rooted in some kind of medieval setting, I decided that the world should be more advanced. So, imagine New York City or London, but instead of electricity, everything is being powered by the magic of the ley lines. Light, heat, transportation, etc.—all of it controlled by the Prime Wielders and their closely guarded Nexus. And the Wielders are controlled by the Baron, who’s using the Nexus and the advantages of the ley to rule the Baronial Plains with an iron fist. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, of course. But the main point is that I wanted to write a novel where the reader experiences what the fantasy world was like BEFORE the Cataclysm that changed it. And then I wanted to explore what the world was like afterwards with the survivors. These are those two novels—SHATTERING THE LEY and THREADING THE NEEDLE. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the Cataclysm that so many fantasy novels refer to, here’s your chance.


Courtesy of DAW, I have a copy of Threading the Needle by K. Eason for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 15. I’ll draw a name on July 16, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Joshua Palmatier

Blog Tour: Ada Palmer Guest Post

Ada Palmer

Author Ada Palmer joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about the world from her latest release Too Like The Lightning!

Too Like the Lightning: A World of Diaspora

The flying cars on the cover of my science fiction novel <em are more than just a promise that this will be a classic, energetic science fiction setting, with dazzling futuristic cities reminiscent of golden age SF. They’re also the center of the political system in my version of the 25th century. This future is linked together by a system of flying cars so fast that you can commute from anywhere on Earth to anywhere else in two hours, close enough to bring the whole planet into practical commuting distance.

Imagine if such a system came in as suddenly as smart phones, and within a few years it came to be effortless to commute from continent to continent. There would be political and even military consequences (we hear about that phase of history in the background of the story), but it’s easy to see how it would also revolutionize lives, and families. No one would have to choose where to live based on a job anymore, since you could in Bermuda, work in Tokyo and lunch in Paris while a spouse or roommate worked in Buenos Aires and you met for dinner in Antarctica. It’s easy to imagine the real estate upheaval as people rush to buy homes to the most beautiful and exciting parts of the Earth, but that generates another political consequence: a world of expats.

With these flying cars, suddenly living in another country wouldn’t be any impediment to still working and socializing primarily in your birth nation, and a huge portion of Earth’s population would suddenly start living in another country. Or is it really living in another country when you spend only a third of your time there, another third working in a second country, and the rest having fun in every corner of the Earth? And what about children born of parents who are Japanese but bought a home on the French Riviera to grow the view? This happens today with expat couples and immigrants, but if the flying car system came in it would suddenly happen to half or more of all the children in the world, within a generation.

This is the birth of the world of Too Like the Lightning, a world of diaspora, in which all cultural groups are spread all around the Earth, and living in the region where your ancestors lived is the exception, not the rule. It is a world of diaspora, much like the world of the internet where we have friends scattered around dozens of cities, and many of our most important relationships are unrelated to geography. In this 25th century, nations as we know them—geographic nations—are a thing of the past, since now that virtually no children grow up in a place that corresponds to their languages and cultures, a fully mobile global population finds it absurd that, in the olden days of people were governed by the laws the splotch of dirt where they happened to be born. Instead, as part of coming of age, young adults choose freely among several globe-spanning borderless nations, selecting the ones whose culture, policies and ideology are most personally appealing. Adults live by the laws of their chosen nations no matter where on Earth they reside, and what is legal or illegal in one house may be completely different from the house next door, depending on the choices of the family.

This world of diaspora is a fantastic place to explore political interaction, and especially cultural interaction. When you start Too Like the Lightning you’re plunged into a whirlwind mix of different races and languages, a detective from Alexandria investigating a break-in in Chile affecting a family with Chinese, Indian and Mestizo members and political effects on Japan and Paris. But this isn’t an exotic jet-set, this is normal life in this world of diaspora, when there are no majorities anywhere on Earth, just dozens of minorities mixing coequally in every space. It’s an amazing plunge, and an amazingly dynamic space in which to see how one mystery can sweep through and touch every corner of such an interconnected world.

About the author:
Ada Palmer is the author of the recently released sci-fi novel Too Like the Lightning and a professor in the history department of the University of Chicago, specializing in Renaissance history and the history of ideas. Her first nonfiction book, Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance, was published in 2014 by Harvard University Press. She is also a composer of folk and Renaissance-tinged a capella music, most of which she performs with the group Sassafrass. Her personal site is at adapalmer.com, and she writes about history for a popular audience at exurbe.com and about SF and fantasy-related matters at Tor.com.