Gareth L Powell joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about his latest release Light of Impossible Stars which releases today!
1. Tell us a bit about Light of Impossible Stars.
Light starts with the sentient warship Trouble Dog low on fuel and hunted by the Fleet of Knives. But with human civilisation crumbling, what difference can one battered old ship make?
2. This is the conclusion to your trilogy. Did it end the way you thought it would when you first began?
Broadly, yes. Some things changed; some characters went in different directions than I had anticipated. But the essential bones of the story remain as I envisioned them.
3. Do you have a favorite character? Are they someone to whom you relate?
Sal and the Trouble Dog are both very dear to me, but my favourite is probably Nod, the stoic alien engineer. He was a lot of fun to write.
4. What is your writing process? Did it change after first getting published?
I’m not sure I really have a process. I write a 4- or 5-page outline of what I think is going to happen in the book, and then I start writing. And I keep writing until it’s finished.
5. What’s next for you? What are you working on?
I’m currently working on two new standalone novels for Titan, both space operas.
6. What are some of your favorite science fiction novels?
Too many to list! Samuel Delany’s Nova has been a big influence on me, as have the Culture novels of Iain M Banks. More recently, I’ve loved books by Alliette de Bodard, Ann Leckie, Emma Newman, Nnedi Okarafor, Martha Wells, Adrian Tchaikovsky…
7. Do you prefer physical books, ebooks, or audio? Why?
I generally prefer physical books, but I do own and use a Kindle.
8. What is something your readers don’t know about you?
I am an extremely good shot. Last time I fired an air rifle, I got all five shots through the bullseye.
About the Book: Low on fuel and hunted by the Fleet of Knives, the sentient warship Trouble Dog heads to the Intrusion—an area of space where reality itself becomes unstable. But with human civilisation crumbling, what difference can one battered old ship make against an invincible armada?
Meanwhile, Cordelia Pa and her step-brother Michael eke out their existence salvaging artefacts from an alien city. But when Cordelia is snatched from her home, she begins a journey that will help her understand the strange songs she hears in her head and the strange things that happen around her. What extraordinary affinity does she have for this abandoned alien technology, and how can it possibly help the Trouble Dog?
Brian Andrews, author of Reset, joins SciFiChick.com today and provided his own Q&A as a Guest Post…
1. I suspect there must be an interesting backstory with RESET, where did you get the idea for this story?
Once upon a time, I was having dinner with someone who’s plugged into real life X-files investigations around the world. He made a strange comment, almost in passing that he’d heard the Army had found a bizarre piece of tech in Afghanistan in 2002 while looking for Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora cave complexes. I asked him what it was and he shrugged, saying only that it was determined to be very old but contained advanced technology. Intrigued, I started asking questions around my network, but I didn’t get any hits. Next, I contacted a Canadian photo journalist who embedded with the 10th Mountain Division (the shooters spelunking the actual Tora Bora caves), but he said he’d not heard anything of the sort. Eventually after hitting enough dead ends, I decided to stop digging. But the germ of the idea stuck with me, nagging my author’s brain and not letting go. I started asking myself questions like: What if the Army really did find an orb with advanced technology in a cave? What could it be? Where might it have come from? What is its purpose? In brainstorming these questions, RESET was born.
2. Let’s chat mind control and tin foil hats. This novel is almost theatrical in nature, with some “high concept” elements. You’ve pecked a lot in here: mind control, armageddon devices, the 6th Extinction, and a “men in black” style government conspiracy that could control the fate of the world. Can you speak to this?
RESET was described on TOR.com as being a genre-bending novel. I think this is the perfect description. I’m most drawn to stories with what I would call “near-term” science fiction elements—technologies that exist now, but are only in an embryonic stage of development. Artificial Intelligence is a perfect example of this; there are millions of possible scenarios that could unfold as AI matures, but we can only speculate about which will come to fruition. It is this speculation that drives my novels. Mind control technology is the core theme of RESET.
As an author, the natural temptation is always to try to “save” your best ideas for the perfect time in the perfect story so you don’t waste them—kinda the literary equivalent of not wearing your favorite shirt so it stays nice. RESET is the novel where I finally came to my senses and pulled our every cool idea I’ve ever wanted to showcase in a book: Mind Control, Parasitic Organisms, the discovery of Alien Technology, Underground Bunkers, Doomsday Preppers, a crazy old Conspiracy Theorist, and DARPA (of course).
What I ended up with is a story that pays homage to conspiracy theory lore of the past three decades while feeling both nostalgic and fresh. And yes, I even found a way to work in the proverbial “tin foil hat” into the plot, but in this case the tin foil hat is a Faraday Cage helmet designed to stop nefarious Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Yes, mind control is real folks…just look up TMS and Duke University and you’ll find reporting on actual research that will make you shiver in your chair.
3. RESET has an incredibly strong female cast, with Army wife Josie Pitcher emerging at the novel’s true hero. Can you speak to this?.
In writing this story, I fell in love with all the characters, but probably to Josie Pitcher the most. Josie embodies the type of heroine the world needs today, someone who is compelled to action by curiosity, loyalty, and courage, rather than self-interest and ego. Josie is no Atomic Blonde or Jessica Jones throwing punches and kicks; her weapons are the ones real heroes use to fight their battles—her wits, her power of persuasion, and her courage to act in the face of impossible odds. With RESET, I wanted to take Superman saving the damsel in distress storyline and flip it on its head. In RESET, you start by meeting this tough as nails 10th Mountain Army ranger who seems like he’s unstoppable, until suddenly he’s not and the only one who can save him is his young, tenacious Army wife. Ultimately, the fate of the human race rests on Josie’s shoulders…but that’s all I can say!
4. I noticed that the audiobook was performed by the voice actor Ray Porter who also reads your TIER ONE series. Can you speak to his performance on this book?
Definitely! In my opinion, narration is storytelling in its purest form. If you think about it, the oral tradition of storytelling is at the core of human culture. We’ve been swapping stories for millennia—be it sitting around the campfire, the dinner table, or at a child’s bedside. That’s why it was so important for me to get Ray to read this novel—he is a world building narrator because he captures the nuance and emotional connection between the characters. Nobody does dialogue better than Ray. I’ve listened to the recording several times now and it is a masterwork, with over a dozen different characters performed. Please check it out on Audible, I promise you won’t be disappointed. LINK: https://adbl.co/2J81cwd
5. One final question: The ending of this book has been described as an OMG event reminiscent of M. Night Shyamalan’s early movies. Can you talk about this without spoilers?
RESET has the biggest twist of any novel I’ve ever written and yes, the reveal comes in the very last “two” chapters. I would call this a double-barrel twist, the first twist begetting a second twist that, I’m not sure has been done before. That particular comment you referenced from Charle DeLint with the comparison to an M. Night Shyamalan ending is high praise. There’s also a certain poetry to the ending of RESET. I use the symbolism of a Celtic Knot in the novel several times, an intertwining with seemingly no clear beginning and no clear ending—everything comes full circle. I can’t wait to hear reader’s reactions!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian is a US Navy veteran, nuclear engineer, and former submarine officer. He co-authors the Wall Street Journal best-selling TIER ONE thriller series (Tier One, War Shadows, & Crusader One) with Jeffrey Wilson. He is a husband, father, coffee lover and occasional malcontent. His latest stand-alone thriller, RESET, is new for 2018. You can find him online at: www.andrews-wilson.com and @bandrewsjwilson Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2oUCyHT
Henrietta is a sixteen-year-old schoolteacher who is desperately trying to keep her secret magic fire power under wraps. As you do when you’re a teenage girl in the Victorian era. That changes when she’s declared the prophesied one, destined to save England from its longstanding war against seven monsters. So she’s whisked off to London, where she makes another alarming discovery: she’s not the prophesied one after all. All of this makes Henrietta intelligent, brave, someone who is a little too comfortable with lying, and deeply untrusting. However, she also yearns to look after the people in her life, so that’s one very positive quality.
What is this fantasy world like?
Magic is out in the open and very much accepted in this version of Victorian England. The three main branches of magic are sorcerers, who are predominantly wealthy and powerful, magicians, who are scattered and have been relegated to permanent second-class citizen status, and witches, who are killed outright when they’re found. The sharp class division has come about because a decade before the story begins, a magician named Howard Mickelmas and a witch named Mary Willoughby opened a portal to another dimension and let seven horrible monsters through. That stared the war, and got both their magical races imprisoned and killed. There is a reason that sorcerers want to kill witches and only keep magicians downtrodden, but that reason will be revealed later on in the series, so I can’t say too much now.
Can you tell us about your journey in publishing?
My first time querying a manuscript was hell. I’d spent two years teaching myself to write and edit a novel for publication, and after six months of querying I’d had maybe two full requests. It was so dispiriting, and I stopped writing for adults and decided to write for the YA market. I found an idea that I loved, spent a year working on it, and then queried again. This time, the process was pretty much a dream. One week after I queried the man who became my agent, he offered to represent me. A few months after that, we went on submission, and less than two weeks later we had an offer. In some ways, the grueling and painful first attempt at publishing made the later success so much sweeter. I’m extremely grateful that I had that challenging beginning.
This will publish a few days after, but how do you plan on celebrating release day?
I’m going to force myself to sleep later than seven o’clock! Also, I’m planning on getting together with a group of friends that evening, and even though it’s a Tuesday we’re going to have a few drinks. You can’t go too crazy. Everyone has work the next day!
Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?
The big inspiration for this series, and for me in general, is Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I call that book my Lord of the Rings in terms of its influence on me, and my writing. Growing up, my parents didn’t keep many fantasy books in the house, but my dad was a big horror guy, so I was weaned on Stephen King. It is the kind of book I didn’t appreciate as much when I was younger, but now that I’m an adult I see its power. Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury were two of my biggest influences as an adolescent, and nowadays I love Diana Gabaldon. There are some great YA fantasy books from up and coming writers like Alwyn Hamilton, Traci Chee, Tara Sim, Audrey Coulthurst, and Roshani Chokshi. And even though I’m not a huge sci-fi person, Dune was one of the most important reads of my life. It was the book that made me want to write speculative fiction professionally, and I’ll always be grateful to it.
Author Barry Lyga joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about his latest release: The Secret Sea!
1. Can you tell us a bit about The Secret Sea in your own words?
The Secret Sea is the kind of book I imagined myself writing when I was a kid: crazy science, super-powers, alternate universes, a real mash-up of genres, but with a core of strong characters at its heart. It’s about family and friendship and what survives death and how far you’d be willing to go to save someone you love…and what could make you not save them.
2. Who is Zach Killian?
Zak is the book’s main characters, a 12-year-old New Yorker with a heart condition and a voice he hears that sometimes warns him of danger. He totally trusts it…which may or may not be a good idea!
3. Is your alternate reality universe more science fiction-based or fantasy?
It’s definitely science fiction, but so advanced that it seems like magic. The kinds of things we think of as supernatural in our world — voodoo, ghosts, etc. — are just highly evolved sciences over there.
4. What are some books/authors you enjoy?
Oh, so many! In comics, there’s Alan Moore and Paul Levitz. In classic literature, there’s John Milton and Edgar Allan Poe. More recently, there’s Libba Bray, Paul Griffin, and Emma Donaghoe.
5. What inspires you?
So much! I always say that inspiration is like carrying around a magic blender into which falls all sorts of random things: snippets of overheard conversations, the sound of a bird, a mural on a wall, a thought, a notion. And then the blender goes off and what comes out is a story, whether you’re ready for it or not!
6. What has your publishing journey been like?
As with so much of life, it’s been a bizarre and unpredictable series of ups and downs. I’ve been fortunate enough to publish for a full decade now, with something like 16 books out there in the world. Some of them were longshots, but someone believed in them (and in me!) and they got to find their audience. Some took off; some didn’t. And in both cases, I have no idea why! I’ve given up trying to figure out how this business or this journey works — I’m just holding onto the roller coaster for dear life!
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Zak Killian is hearing a voice. Could it be a guardian angel? A ghost? No, that’s crazy. But sometimes the voice is so real. . . . It warns him of danger.
One day Zak is standing on the subway platform when the tunnel starts to fill with water. He sees it before anyone else. The voice warns him to run. His friends Moira and Khalid believe this is more than a premonition, and soon all three find themselves in an alternate universe that is both familiar and seriously strange. As Zak unravels the mystery behind the voice, he faces decisions that may mean the end of their world at home―if they can even get home!
In his most propulsive and heartfelt book yet, acclaimed author Barry Lyga explores the depths of friendship, the bonds of family, and the nature of the universe itself.
How do you make world-building choices when writing alternate history?
All of the pieces have to make sense together. Given the alternate-history premise, how would economics, politics, and warfare change? How about fashion and sports? How would these changes affect each other? I try to think through the implications of the initial change, and every change that results from it, until I come up with a fully-realized world where the reader can say “ah, of course that would follow.” I also pull in a lot of unexpected details from real history, which is weirder and more surprising than anything I could make up.
What inspired you to write Arabella of Mars?
Like many great successes in life, this one came from failure. I was shopping my first and second SF novels and working on a third, but editors and agents kept telling me categorically that “SF doesn’t sell.” I didn’t really believe it, but if the editors and agents did that was a sufficient obstacle. So I looked through my ideas file for something that was sufficiently SF for my own self-respect (and to hold my interest through the two years it takes me to write a novel) but close enough to Fantasy to match the market’s tastes. The idea I settled on was this: “What if the sky were full of air?” The answer, eventually, was Arabella of Mars.
What is your favorite quote from the book?
Wow, that’s a toughie. But I’m quite fond of this paragraph from the prologue: Some day, Arabella thought, perhaps she might take passage on such a ship. To sail the air, and see the asteroids, and visit the swamps of Venus would be a grand adventure indeed. But to be sure, no matter how far she traveled she would always return to her beloved Woodthrush Woods.
– Can you tell us a bit about The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent in your own words?
It is a comedy about colliding universes, and the insurance agents who have to put things right.
– Who is Tom Stranger?
He is number one in customer satisfaction, three years running. Tom’s life is insurance. His home universe was totaled because it had insufficient coverage, so he’s pretty hard core about helping his clients. He’ll do absolutely anything to provide good customer service, and in the multiverse that means everything from zero-G kung-fu to dinosaur wrestling.
– Where did this idea come from?
I was driving down the street one day with Mike Kupari (who is also a novelist) and we passed a sign for Tom Stanger Insurance. Mike read Stanger as Stranger, and said out loud what kind of insurance would you buy from a guy name Stranger? And it kind of spiraled out of control from there. Authors are weird like that.
– What is this universe like?
That is the fun part. It is all the universes, smooshed together. If you can think of something, it is out there somewhere. And when two universes collide, Tom will be there (well, unless neither one is covered, because then it isn’t his problem).
– What book genre do you prefer to read?
My main genres are science fiction and fantasy, but I read pretty much everything. I love westerns, thrillers, mysteries, and I read a ton of non-fiction.
– Is writing for a strictly audio book any different than writing for print?
Yes and no. I write the same for both, but I feel that listening to my own work in audio has made me a much better writer over the years. It teaches you to make your dialog and descriptions better, it helps with the pacing, and really drives home the unnecessary bits that you should have edited out. Above all, it teaches you to quit saying He Said or I Said or She Said too much. That drives me nuts.
– What are you working on next?
I’m currently putting together an anthology of short stories set in my Monster Hunter International universe, featuring writers like Jim Butcher, Jonathan Maberry, John Ringo, Faith Hunter, and Jessica Day George.