– 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.
Author Catherine Egan joins us today to talk about her latest release, Julia Vanishes!
Can you tell us a bit about this world where Julia lives?
Julia lives in Spira City, which is a sort of alternate version of late-Victorian-era London or La Belle Époque in Paris. The Prime Minister, Agoston Horthy, has outlawed all forms of magic and superstition, and witches are drowned in public Cleansings. The city is still reeling from a failed revolution and a terrible plague that left Julia’s brother scarred and crippled. It seems that magic has been virtually stamped out, but scratch the surface and the city is teeming with hidden powers and what Julia’s friend Liddy calls Something Elses.
What are these witches like? What are their abilities?
Witches can only work magic by writing it down, so an illiterate witch would essentially be powerless, and a witch with a pen is considered armed and dangerous. While they can alter nature in some small ways, the larger the spell, the greater the physical toll it takes on the witch. Julia’s mother never fully recovered from using magic to save her son’s life when he was ill as a child. Witches are also physically much stronger than ordinary people. They cannot be burned, and so fire is the test for a witch, and they cannot swim or float, so they are killed by drowning.
What do you have planned next after JULIA VANISHES? Any other stories on the horizon?
My horizon is made of stories! Right now I am still working on the sequels to JULIA VANISHES, but I confess that every now and then I guiltily spend my writing time making notes on my next planned book instead of tending to Julia. I’ve loved writing these books, but I am very ready for the next thing, and it is ready for me!
What is your favorite genre to read?
I don’t know if I have a favorite genre. I suppose the majority of my books are literary fiction, SFF, or historical. If you mix those three together, like in Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’m in heaven.
Can you tell us about your journey to getting published?
I think I’ve been stumbling blindly for a long time without a clear idea of what I wanted to write or what I wanted to do with it. I published short stories in journals for many years – I thought I was writing magic realism for adults, but if I’d noticed earlier that half my stories had teen protagonists and a ghost or a troll or a fairy godmother it might not have taken me so long to come around to YA fantasy.
I wrote a novel for adults that nobody wanted, but I had a long exchange about it with the editor of Coteau Books, a small indie press in Saskatchewan. He gave me excellent feedback for a very thorough rewrite. When I told him I was going to take a break and write a children’s book, he told me to send it to them when I was done, and so I did. This “break” turned into me feeling like I’d found my genre, and Coteau Books published my three novels about a young Sorceress finding her place in the world.
While those books were coming out, I was working on JULIA VANISHES, which I sent by standard query to four agents when I was done (or: when I thought I was done!). Steve Malk thought it was promising and asked if I was willing to revise it. I said OF COURSE and we spent about a year reworking it. He would send me (excellent) notes, I’d rewrite the book, send it back, and he would send more notes. The result was a much better book, of course, and it sold quickly once it was done. What are your plans for book release day?
I haven’t thought about it yet! It should probably involve chocolate, don’t you think?
About the Book: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers invites readers to meet a heroine like no other in JULIA VANISHES (on sale June 7, 2016 / $17.99 / Ages 14 up), the first book in the Witch’s Child trilogy by Catherine Egan. Filled with murder, magic, mystery, and betrayal, this captivating read will have teen readers and fantasy lovers hanging on every page as they become acquainted with Julia and the things she needs to do in order to get by—even if it leaves a mark on her conscience. Even as the line between good and evil seems to become more blurry every day. . . .
Julia lives in a city terrorized by a serial killer. A city that witnesses the drowning of anyone deemed a witch, and that has outlawed all forms of magic. With no biological family to call her own, Julia and her brother have taken up with a group of thieves who steal in order to survive. And Julia makes a great thief and spy, thanks to her unusual ability to remain unseen. Not invisible exactly, but just beyond people’s senses. In her world, it is a valuable trait to have.
Now a teenager and fully immersed in the life that has been handed to her, Julia finds herself being paid to spy in the house of Mrs. Och, a woman known to aid witches and associate with a cast of mysterious characters. It seems as if suspicious activities are happening both inside and beyond the house’s walls, too and Julia’s boss wants her to report back with every detail.
As Julia becomes more entrenched in the Och household, she realizes that the job she has been paid to do is a conflicting one. If she delivers the information required of her, she can harm some of the very people she is starting to care for. But if she doesn’t, she won’t receive her payment, and she puts herself at risk for some very unpleasant consequences. A traitor no matter how she looks at it, Julia now faces the ultimate dilemma and the results will both surprise and stun readers.
About the Author: CATHERINE EGAN grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Since then, she has lived on a volcanic island in Japan (which erupted while she was there and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now-husband), in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Beijing, on an oil rig in the middle of Bohai Bay, then in New Jersey, and now in New Haven, Connecticut. She is currently occupied with writing books and fighting dragon armies with her warrior children. You can read more about her at catherineegan.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ByCatherineEgan.
Tell us a bit about THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM in your own words.
It’s about a girl whose family owns a secret dream shop where they buy, bottle, and sell dreams, and the adventures that she and her best friend — a loyal and cupcake-loving monster named Monster — go on when someone starts kidnapping dreamers.
Who is Sophie, and why are dreams so important to her?
Sophie is a twelve year old girl who can’t dream. When she does dream — which she can only do by drinking someone else’s bottled dream — the creatures in her dreams come to life. (Hence her best friend, Monster. He was from a classic monster-in-the-closet dream.)
Because her parents own a dream shop, she is surrounded by other people’s dreams — a constant reminder of what she can’t have. Not having her own dreams makes her feel different and lonely and like she’s missing out on something magical, beautiful, and vital.
I love dreams. I always try to think about something awesome right before I fall asleep, in hopes I’ll dream about that instead of a boring missed-the-train or can’t-find-the-bathroom dream.
Each of your novels seem to have a vastly feel, despite all being in the fantasy genre. Do you read a variety of different books? Does this influence your writing style?
Um… no. ducks head in embarrassment I know every writing teacher will tell you it’s important to read a wide variety of books. But honestly? Life is short. I read what I love. And what I love is fantasy. My favorite kind of book is one that takes you on an adventure, one that introduces you to new friends, and one that makes you feel as if the world is just a bit larger and more magical than you thought it was before.
And yes, this absolutely influences my writing style, because I try to write the kind of book that I would want to read. Really, that’s my primary criteria for every idea, for every character, for every scene: Would I want to read this?
What are you working on next?
Next, I’m working on an epic fantasy trilogy for adults about bloodthirsty nature spirits and the women who can control them. The first book, THE QUEEN OF BLOOD, will be coming out in fall 2016 from Harper Voyager. I’m really, really excited about it!
What’s your strangest dream that you remember?
I was Cindy Brady’s invisible best friend. I lived in the corner of the square between Cindy and Alice. I was there when the football hit Marsha’s nose. I was there when the boys put itching powder in the sleeping bags. And I flew for help when Bobby and Greg get trapped in the meat locker — but no one could see me because I was invisible.
Absolutely no idea why I had this dream, but for days afterward, I couldn’t get the Brady Bunch theme song out of my head.
I’m the Lady Geek of the Week over at Being Geek Chic! You can see my interview here: http://beinggeekchic.com/post/111308001192/lady-geek-of-the-week-angela-the-scifichick It’s a fun site! Take a look around while you’re there.
SciFiChick.com was able to interview author James Frey to talk about his latest ambitious release – Endgame!
Can you tell us a bit about the story behind Endgame?
The book is about a game that has been prophesied and foretold for thousands of years. Generations of players have trained for it in secret. It starts when 12 asteroids slam into earth’s surface. The outcome of the game will determine the future, if any, of humanity. The story is told over the course of three novels, and a series of novellas. I hope readers find it exciting and fun, and it keeps them turning the pages to find out what happens next.
How does the associated treasure hunt work?
There are puzzles and clues built into the book. If you solve them they lead to location of a hidden key. If you find the key it opens a case filled with $500,000 dollars worth of gold.
When is the rest of the trilogy scheduled to release?
A novel will come out every October for the next three years, and there will be a series of novellas that come out in-between the release of the novels.
I read that a game and film based on the novels are coming too. Can you talk a bit about those?
Google Niantic is building an ARG and a mobile game that will allow readers and gamers to
Can readers enjoy the book without getting involved in the puzzles?
Absolutely. The first priority was writing a fun, cool, exciting book, a book that could be read and enjoyed without engaging the puzzle at all. I hope people love the characters and the story as much, if not more, than the experience of the puzzle.
If this series and multi-platform compilation is successful, do you plan to do more?
Right now I’m focused on Endgame. There’s so much work and so much planning to do. I do think that in the future, readers will see more projects like Endgame. Things like it have been discussed and debated and predicted for years, and it is inevitable that more will be created.
What’s next for you and/or Full Fathom Five besides the Endgame novels? What are the next novels on the horizon?
Full Fathom Five is doing all sorts of things. The fifth I am Number 4 novel came out and the series is rolling along. We have another Dorothy Must Die novel coming out, and our first pilot just got ordered. We’re working on some new ideas and are hoping for a great 2015!
What inspires you?
Books and movies and games and music. Readers who write to me. Things I see in the world. I always try to write and create things I wished existed in the world. Things I wish I got to experience as a reader.
Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?
Henry Miller, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Jack Kerouac. I live Tolkien, CS Lewis, George RR Martin. I just read Lev Grossman’s new book The Magician’s Land, and loved it.
What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?
Hang out with kids. Ride go-karts, swim in our pool, get chased around. And I read for about an hour every night.
Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?