Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Podcast - Interview with John R. Fultz

I had the chance to talk tribal fantasy with fantasy author John R. Fultz, author of the fantasy trilogy THE BOOKS OF THE SHAPER, short fiction anthology THE REVELATIONS OF ZANG, and the brand new stand alone "tribal fantasy" novel, THE TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE.

My Interview with S.C. Flynn

Hey! I had the awsome opportunity to be interviewed by blogger S.C. Flynn who's doing a fantastic work featuring bloggers from across the web who are covering genre fiction.  Be sure to pop on over and check out my interview, and scope out the rest of the site as well.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NEW PODCAST! The Grim Tidings Podcast

I'm very excited to announce the launch of an all new podcast that I'll be co-hosting. It's called The Grim Tidings Podcast, and I'm proud to say it will be a podcast about all things Grimdark! Joining me will be Philip Overby and Ross Evans.  It's a show for fans, by fans, and we hope to bring listeners a weekly dose of all the cool things happening in Grimdark realism, including books, movies, tv, video games, news, interviews, and much more. If it's grim, gritty, and all together awesome, you can expect us to talk about. I've been working in professional broadcasting for over a decade, so my hope is to deliver a high quality program, that's both listenable and entertaining. You can find The Grim Tidings Podcast on iTunes and Stiticher, or drop by our Facebook page. If you like the show, please be so kind as to leave a review, and spread the word. But that's not all... We also plan to do companion episodes that focus specifically on writing.  We're not experts, but we want you to join us on our journey toward publication. We'll speak to other writers and experts in the field to get tips and insights to writing and publishing fantasy fiction. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Grim Interview: Peter Newman

I was excited to see that Marc Alpin and the awesome folks over at Fantasy Faction had scheduled another Grim Gathering event, April 10th in Bristol, UK (for anyone living across the pond you can get all the details here). Then I scrolled across the names of those who'd be in attendance. Mark Lawrence, check. Peter V. Brett, check. Joe Abercrombie, check. Peter Newman. Peter Newman? The name didn't ring a bell. But my curiosity was instantly spiked, and I set off to some serious Google-fu just to find out how this stranger could just somehow show up from nowhere and rub elbows with my literary superheroes. So today I simply aim to find out, just who the hell is Peter Newman? What I've discovered is that Peter is a professional, a gentleman, and his forthcoming title from Harper Voyager, titled The Vagrant, available April 23rd, has some pretty epic praise already, and is one of the most anticipated debut releases scheduled for 2015.

Where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets? Secret identities?

I grew up just outside Watford (which is just NW of London for those of you outside the UK). I now live in Somerset with my wife, Emma and our son, sometimes referred to as the Bean. I sometimes pretend to be a butler.

When did you first start writing? 

I always loved that kind of thing at school but it seems (sadly) that most of the creative writing in primary school and early secondary school gets replaced with literary criticism as you get older. I first had a ‘proper’ go at writing in my early twenties. It ended badly and I didn't write anything else till 2011.

What authors and / or books have had an influence on your craft as a writer?

That’s quite hard to answer. I know a lot of books where I thought ‘I wish I could write like that!’ and I know a lot of books that I love even though they may not be the finest examples of literature, but it’s hard to say what exactly influenced my craft. Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light and the Amber chronicles blew my mind when I was growing up. The books were incredibly imaginative, fast paced and the world building is excellent. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was another major winner for me. He seems able to write so deeply so easily. Weis and Hickman’s Dragonlance chronicles imprinted on me early so I’ll always have a soft spot for them. And Watchman by Alan Moore. I’m still processing that and I read it nearly twenty years ago.

Tell us about your forthcoming debut novel The Vagrant?

It’s an epic fantasy set in a far future world that has recently suffered a demonic apocalypse. It features a silent protagonist, singing swords, demon knights, a baby and a badass goat.

Many of our readers are aspiring writers. Can you give us just a few details on how you landed your publishing deal?

It was pretty straightforward really. I wrote a book. It sucked (but I’m still fond of it). I wrote a sequel. It sucked less. I wrote a third book in a new world. It only sucked a little. I re-wrote it and it was good but not good enough. Then I wrote The Vagrant. It didn’t suck at all. It still went through multiple drafts, test readers and all that kind of thing.

Then I looked at all of the agents that were taking on submissions for SFF and all of the publishers taking unsolicited manuscripts and read their guidelines very carefully. I also went to some UK conventions and attended the panels on getting an agent and how to write submission letters.

After that it was just a case of picking who I liked (which was quite liberating). Then, in August 2013 I sent it out to publishers and agents. I was signed on by Juliet Mushens in December 2013 and she got me a deal with Harper Voyager in January 2014.

What does a writing day look like for you?

On a happy day when I’m not doing my other work, I’ll take my son to school, make a nice strong coffee and indulge my social media fetish for about fifteen minutes. Then I switch everything extraneous off and get started. I like to have music to help transition into the writing. After a while I associate a particular album with a particular project and the opening bars of the first track spark that world in my head. For The Vagrant it was the Mass Effect 3 soundtrack.

I write fairly slowly, excavating as I go. When I’ve written a scene I read it aloud to Emma for feedback and reassurance. I find I notice problems reading to another person that I don’t notice when reading it in my head. When I’m in a project I try to write something every day, even if it’s just a few hundred words, five or six days a week.

You also happen to be a writer for the Hugo nominated podcast Tea & Jeopardy, tell us about the show.

It’s a geeky interview show crossed with a dash of audio drama and a lot of silliness. Each episode is set in a special Tea Lair. Past examples have included an undersea base, a volcano, a giant robot and the labyrinth. A guest comes to the lair and has tea and cake with Emma while she interviews them. Afterwards they have to survive a peril of some sort, often instigated by the butler, Latimer (I voice the butler). Past guests include: Aliette de Bodard, Joe Abercrombie, Myke Cole, Seanan McGuire, John Hornor Jacobs and N.K. Jemisin.

If you’re interested, you can find all the episodes here.

Tell us how you came to join the panel at the upcoming Grim Gathering 2 event? What are you looking forward to at the event?

It went something like this:

Harper Voyager: Would you like to be part of the Grim Gathering?


The end.

As to what I’m looking forward to: ALL OF IT! Honestly, it feels incredible to be alongside such a great collection of writers. It’s a touch intimidating too. I think I’ll be more than ready for a drink afterwards!

What are your thoughts on the Grimdark sub-genre? Where do you see the future of Grimdark?

Tricky one! I suppose when somebody says Grimdark to me, I think of fantasy with a more realistic edge (even if there is world-shaking magic). Where a happy ending is unlikely and where there isn’t necessarily any kind of narrative justice.

I think Grimdark makes a nice counterpoint to more heroic fantasy. I also think at the moment there’s a really healthy range of fantasy out there and there’s plenty of room in it for more gritty and epic stories (as well as lighter romps).

Wizard, rogue, warrior, or cleric?

If we’re talking 5e then Wizard all the way. I’m all for standing at the back and blowing stuff up. I’m also quite a fan of teleportation, reading lots and magical servants to clean the house.

Speaking of D&D 5e, what role has gaming (video games, table top gaming, etc) played in your writing?

Quite a big role, I think. I've roleplayed constantly since the age of eleven. I ran a Warhammer campaign for six years and used to know the rulebook so well I didn’t need it. I've also run Amber, Gurps, Exalted and D&D 3rd edition (I’m proud to say I took a party from 1st to 20th level). Gaming taught me about world building and making interesting characters; however running a game isn’t the same as writing and while a game might help generate ideas and flesh out areas of a secondary world, it won’t deliver you the perfect novel on a plate. Trust me on that one.  I've played a lot of video games too and I have no doubt that Final Fantasy 7 has left deep marks in my delicate brain, as has most of Bioware’s back catalogue. Yes, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect (MASS EFFECT!), Dragon Age, I’m looking at you. Oh, oh, and Torment. What a game that was.

What is the single most profound piece of writing advice you've ever received?

I don’t know about profound but I’d say keep writing is the most important thing, especially while out on submission.

Following the release of The Vagrant, what other projects are on the horizon?

Next up is the sequel, due out early next year. All other projects are highly secret but have a high probability of containing demons.

Where do you see Peter Newman in the next 10 years?

Ha! I’m finding it hard to see past April at the moment. But okay, it’d be lovely if, in ten years, I’m chatting to you about my tenth book coming out in a new series and we’re looking fondly back on this interview. That or I’m a bitter drunk, ranting about the good old days, when I used to hang out with Abercrombie, Brett and Lawrence. Let’s go with option one, shall we?

Also, is there anywhere on the web where we can read some of what you've written? And where can our readers find out more about you?

Well, you can certainly hear something I’ve written. I did a short story for the Pseudopod podcast last Halloween that you can listen to here.  Mine is the last story in the episode called The Biggest Candle of Them All.

I blog at and I’m @runpetewrite on twitter. Feel free to come and say hi.


Thanks so much Peter, best of luck with The Vagrant release, and we'll be seeing you soon at the Grim Gathering.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Grim Interview: Daniel Polansky

Today we're joined by Daniel Polansky, a Brooklyn native and author of the Low Town trilogy, and the upcoming Empty Throne duology, of which the first installment Those Above, is slated to hit the shelves on February 26th in the US. 

The Low Town series was a blend of noir and fantasy. Would you say that your upcoming series (Those Above) is more traditional fantasy, or can we expect more genre blending?

A: It's a little hard to say--the Low Town stuff had a very deliberate sort of an aesthetic, being in first person and with that stylized hard boiled dialogue. Those Above is somewhat grander, both in terms of the language and some of the themes. It's sort of a noir on a much larger scale, the foolishness and brutality of nations as opposed to of individuals.

One of the reasons why so many people loved your first trilogy was because of the genre blend. Can readers expect more noir in your upcoming novel?

A: Yes, though perhaps of a less conventional sort. There's a strand of the novel dealing with urban poverty and the crime that runs through that, and there's generally a lot of violence and malfeasance and drinking and bad behavior.

Who would you say was your biggest influence as a writer?

A:I suppose it would maybe depend on the book? The Low Town stuff was all Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, but Those Above is somewhat more flowery. I like to think that my writing is evolving, and so therefore my influences evolve as well. Hopefully that doesn't sound pretentious.

You’ve said in the past that Westerns were a big influence for Low Town and it’s respective sequels, what influences were you inspired by to write Those Above?

A: It's really hard to go back and pull apart all of the original threads. I'm a big history buff, have been for a long time, I think I was reading Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire while I was coming up with some of the ideas for Those Above. Robert Graves's I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Lots and lots of other things, probably.

Do you read any other authors in the genre, and if so who are your favorites?

A: Sure, lots of people. Myke Cole and Mark Lawrence and Stark Holborne and John Hornor Jacobs. I always say Gene Wolfe so Gene Wolfe once again. Tim Powers is awesome. I could go on for a while here.

Considering you were published by the time you were in your mid twenties, what advice could you offer to struggling writers?

A:Read a lot. Read more than you're reading. Read the most difficult books that you can make yourself read, push your comprehension skills, sharpen your understanding of language and your knowledge of the world.

Where do you see the fantasy and science fiction genre in the next ten years?

I am honestly the absolute worst person to answer this question. Trends and currents in the marketplace are just not something I have a very good grip on, probably to my detriment. I suppose there will be some good books and a lot of bad ones, but that's hardly a change in the status quo.

What does an average day of writing look like for you?

A:I'm a night owl, so I wake up late morning and brew a pot of coffee and just get to it. I try to get down a thousand words or so, then I go for a long walk and find a coffee shop and try to do it again. This pattern repeats until happy hour, and then I trade coffee for beer.

How do you feel about the rise of Grimdark? Do you consider your books Grimdark?

A: In any genre or subgenre there are some good things and some bad ones, so without trying to be pedantic I would say I like good grimdark and dislike bad grimdark. As far as my own books go, I can understand why someone would group them in under that rubric, but again you have a very different perspective on the stuff you've written. They just have their own look to you.

The synopsis for Those Above hints at the three main characters we will get to meet, a woman, a general, and a boy killer. Was there one in particular that was especially fun to write?

A: You're not really supposed to pick favorites (like with children) but yes, totally. The woman referred to in the blurb is Eudokia, the Revered Mother, sort of a Machiavellian type controlling the strings of empire from behind the scenes, and on a bunch of levels she was just so much fun to write.

If Low Town was made into a film, whom could you see playing The Warden?

A: Me. I would play him. I would make like Stallone with Rocky and refuse to grant the rights unless I was the lead also. would have to bulk up about sixty pounds and get taller and also a lot older and have my face beat up. But I could do it.

When you aren’t busy writing, what other hobbies or activities are you involved in?

A: Reading. Chess. I walk around the city. I talk to people occasionally. I don't travel like I used to but I'm usually still out of the country a few months a year.

If you lived in Low Town, what would your job be?

A: Oh Christ, nothing very impressive--I'm clever enough to get into trouble but not tough enough to get out of it. I guess everyone's clever enough to get into trouble. Anyway. I'm going to go with dream vine tester. I would be good at that.

Considering your novels have many darker elements to them, have you received any negative reactions from family, friends, or readers?

A: Well, some people just don't like my books, obviously, but I gather you're asking more along the lines of if I've offended anyone, to which the answer would be; a few people. Some readers have a way of taking the things a character says as being things you think, something especially common with a first person perspective. But that's pretty rare, honestly.

Is there a certain novel you would suggest is essential reading for struggling authors who want to write in the fantasy genre?

A: Not really, not one guy in particular. There are a lot of great writers but there's not really a silver bullet answer here. But just to say something I'll say Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe, which is pretty tremendous.

Fantasy has many mediums these days ranging from films, to video games. Are you a fan of any of these popular franchises?

A:Sure, some of them, probably not anything unexpected. Firefly was great. Lord of the Rings was really cool. Game of Thrones, except having read them it's a little less exciting. I had my Xbox stolen a year ago and never got around to buying another, so my video games skills have kind of atrophied. My peak video game skills are all centered around like, early 2000's rpg's. My Morrowind character was on point.

Without giving away any spoilers, what can fans look forward to with Those Above?

A: Sex, blood, greed, death, hope, despair, evil. Lots of evil. It's bigger and more expansive than the Low Town stuff, there are a lot of viewpoints, I swung a bit more for the fences, if that makes sense. Hopefully people respond in a positive way.

How many books are planned for your newest series?

A:Two! Just the two of them. I don't know why people don't write duologies more. Did I spell that correctly? THESE ARE SO RARE THAT I DON'T KNOW THE PROPER SPELLING. Anyway, two. But a strong two! Like a kick in the head, two.

Thanks for joining us Daniel, looking forward to the new book, and best of luck with the release.

Thanks tons for having me! Please, if you have any interest, go out and pick a copy of my book. You could read it, or you could use it for terribly uncomfortable toilet paper, or you could buy a bunch of copies and build a fort. I think this last plan is probably the best.