Category Archives: Fiction

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With Jennifer Allis Provost

Today, I get to interview Jennifer Allis Provost! Welcome Jenn!

1)  This is the penultimate book in the series.  What’s it like to write a middle book in the series?  Is it hard to keep action going and provide some answers but not all?

COPPER VEINS was great fun to write, and it’s the most action-packed of the series. I find the hardest part about writing a middle book is to keep the story arc moving along smoothly. I try to keep the overall goal of the series in mind without giving away too much. And remember Sara’s best frenemy, Juliana? There’s a BIG reveal about her.

2)  Would you enter this world if you could?

Umm…maybe. The Mundane world is  pretty strict society, with the government regulating everything from food to who you can reproduce with. And, their food tastes like crap. (Interestingly, the Mundane realm, and Sara’s job in particular, were based on an actual job I had in the insurance industry.)

The Otherworld, while filled with beauty and magic, is also full of danger. Maybe I’d stop by the Whispering Dell on a Saturday night, just to see what Ash the blacksmith is up to.

3)  Mundane world or Raven clan?

Raven clan!

4)  What are you reading now?

DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews and THE WAYFARER REDEMPTION by Sara Douglass

5)  What are your top five books? (you can do authors if that’s easier)

MOON CALLED by Patricia Briggs

MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews

HOUNDED by Kevin Hearne

DARK CURRENTS by Jacqueline Carey

ANGEL’S BLOOD by Nalini Singh

6)  What book would you make mandatory reading?

The entire ELFQUEST series by Wendy and Richard Pini

7)  What 2015 books are you looking forward to?

DEAD HEAT by Patricia Briggs, MAGIC SHIFTS by Ilona Andrews, STAKED by Kevin Hearne, THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black, and REQUIEM by Maggie Stiefvater

Books to Watch For In 2015: Copper Veins

One of the things I’m most excited for in 2015 is the chance to read Copper Veins, which is the third book in Jennifer Allis Provost‘s Copper Girl series.  It’s coming out on July 7!

Summary:

Sara’s pretty sure her life is perfect.

Not only are she and Micah finally married, her father, who’d been missing since the Magic Wars, has been found. Actually, he just strode up to the manor’s front door, but whatever. Sara knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth.

But Baudoin Corbeau isn’t content to return to family life. He’s decided that he will be the force of change in the Mundane world, and lead the Elemental resistance to victory with his children at his side. What’s worse, Baudoin doesn’t approve of Sara’s marriage, and makes every attempt to separate her from Micah.

After a visit to the Mundane realm leaves Sara, Max and Sadie imprisoned by the Peacekeepers, Sara’s doubts creep to the surface. Is her father right? Does she belong in the Mundane realm, not the Otherworld? Is Micah really the right man—make that elf—for her?

Was marrying him a mistake?

I love the idea that happily ever after isn’t necessarily all that happy and that the wedding isn’t the end of the story.  I can’t wait to see what Jenn does with this series.

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With Sara Blaedel

As you know, I am a huge, huge fan of Sara Blaedel and am absolutely delighted to host her on the blog today.

1)    Is it hard to write a series and keep the characters fresh while also remaining true to who they are? (You are succeeding admirably, by the way)

No, it’s actually quite easy. The characters evolve naturally as the series grows. But it’s I also have to think about plots long-term so my characters land where I want them to. I have written the series about Louise Rick and Camilla Lind for ten years now, and sometimes my characters do not behave the way I wanted them to, but basically I am the one who decides…although they can be a little difficult to control. But my stories are fairly tight, so the characters have also had to adapt to the plots I have laid out.

2)    Do you have a favorite character? If so, who?

Well, Louise and I have gotten to know each other pretty well in the ten years we have worked together. And Camilla is the character that is most similar to myself. But I’m probably most in love with some of my minor characters, perhaps because many of them deserve to have their very own stories told.

3)    What was the inspiration for this novel?

Actually it was an article I read in a Danish newspaper that got me started. I often write based on indignation, or something I cannot understand, but really want to understand. It’s not that long ago that we were treating odd characters in our society as indecent. And there are still people whose lives are marked by the horrible conditions we previously subjected people with mental, emotional, and physical challenges and their families to. We can be quite smug sometimes, and in this book I try to say: Hello, look what we did, let’s not degrade other human beings ever again. And since I am a crime writer by heart, and since the subject put all sorts of pictures in my head, the story immediately took shape.

4)  What are you reading now?

I always try to keep up with the new Danish crime writers. My priorities are to keep up with what’s coming next.

5)  What are your five favorite books? You can do authors if that’s easier.

I love Cheryl Strayed’s WILD, it made me want to do an eye-opening hike myself. And Gillian Flynn, Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter and Jojo Moyes. And I really, really enjoyed Dicker’s THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR.

6)  If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?

Such a difficult question! I would have to say: all of them. So many books have made a difference in my life, from comic books to serious tomes…I couldn’t choose just one!

7)  What 2015 books are you looking forward to?

THE ARC OF THE SWALLOW by Sissel-Jo Gazan and THE TRUTH ABOUT PRETTY GIRLS by Karin Slaughter.

Books To Watch For In 2015: The Forgotten Girls

It’s no secret that I absolutely love Sara Blaedel and the fact that her new book is out (relatively) soon is the best news.

The Forgotten Girls has quite possibly the best premise ever:

“In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick–the new commander of the Missing Persons Department–is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed–and hidden–in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed.”

It sounds so good and so, so sad.

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With DK Mok

1)  How long would you last in this world?

Let’s see, it’s a magical fantasy world with technological capabilities hovering somewhere around the Middle Ages. To be honest, I don’t think I’d last very long in a world without lots of public libraries, fast internet, and easy access to chocolate biscuits. Then again, it just might be worth sacrificing my laptop in exchange for an enchanted castle.

The world in Hunt for Valamon resembles a medieval society in that the feudal system is commonplace, and adventurers bristle with swords and bows. However, the local cultures tend to be more progressive and diverse, and there’s a good chance that a bookish idealist like me would find a home in a cosy library somewhere.

2)  What was the inspiration for this novel?

There were a number of influences behind this novel, but one of them was my love of fantasy worlds. I grew up playing games like AD&D, Quest for Glory, and Might and Magic. While I enjoyed rampaging through dungeons and slinking through catacombs, over the years, I found myself increasingly intrigued by characters who weren’t typical heroes. The healers, the diplomats, the puzzle-solvers—people of quiet courage and ingenuity.

I decided that I wanted to write a story about a healer who finds himself thrust into an adventure better suited to fighters, archers, and thieves. I still wanted dungeons and catacombs and explosions, but I wanted to see how a healer would handle those challenges.

The idea bubbled away in my thoughts for several years, and when I finally began to write the novel, it had evolved into a darker and more complex story, exploring issues of vengeance, the cycles of war, and the power of compassion. But at heart, it’s a fantasy adventure with a spirit of discovery and hope.

3)  Your other book is sort of intellectual action.  Was this book easier or harder to write?

Every book has its own unique challenges. My urban fantasy novel, The Other Tree, involved far more research—delving into botany, archaeology, and Sumerian ancient history. My latest novel, Hunt for Valamon, required much more detailed plotting in the outlining stages. Being epic fantasy, it has a larger cast of characters, more intertwining story threads, and the arcs are more complicated. Overall, I think Hunt for Valamon was more challenging to write because I also needed to create the history and cultures of that world, although the process was one I enjoyed.

4)  What are you reading now?

I’ve just started reading the second book in the Sorcery Ascendant SequenceBlood of Innocents by Mitchell Hogan. His first book, A Crucible of Souls, won an Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and it’s exciting to explore such a richly imagined fantasy world, especially one with an intriguing magic system.

I’m also keen to start on Dragons at Crumbling Castle by Terry Pratchett, Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix, Fivefold by Nathan Burrage, several FableCroft anthologies, and a precarious tower of to-be-read books.

5)  What are your five favorite books? You can do authors if that’s easier.

I’d have a hard time choosing just five books, so I’ll have to go with authors.

Roald Dahl: I grew up reading The BFG, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach, and I adored the wildly fantastic adventures his characters went on. I loved the way he combined the darkly comic elements with gentler messages about courage and kindness.

Terry Pratchett: He’s one of my heroes, and his books played a significant role in shaping my attitudes and ideals during my formative years. I love the way his books combine quirky humour and entertaining adventures with thought-provoking themes and incisive social commentary.

Isaac Asimov: I discovered his books in high school, and they had a profound impact on me. His stories explore ideas of artificial intelligence, identity, humanity, and civil rights, raising difficult questions while taking the reader on an amazing journey through futuristic worlds.

Oliver Sacks: I first came across his books at university, where The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat was virtually compulsory reading for Psychology students. Not only does he communicate case studies of neurological pathology in a way that’s interesting and engaging, he writes with immense compassion, affection, and respect for his patients.

Emily Dickinson: Well, technically she was a poet, but she told marvellous stories through her verse. She created such surreal and evocative images, ranging from the absurdist to the exquisite.

6)  If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?

That’s a tough one. I think every person needs a different book—the book that changes their life, that sets them on a path to becoming a better, truer person. People are so diverse, it’s difficult to pick just one book that’s going to have that kind of effect on a majority of people. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee had that kind of impact on me. In a way, it taught me the meaning of integrity, and that was a lesson well worth learning.

7)  What books are you excited for in 2015?

Books tend to sneak up on me, and I frequently only discover exciting books once they’ve come out, and sometimes quite a lot later. I’m only starting to work my way through Robin McKinley’s early books now.

As for upcoming books, I’m looking forward to the third book in Mitchell Hogan’s Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, as well as FableCroft’s Cranky Ladies of History anthology. I keenly await anything by Terry Pratchett, and I’ve heard rumours of a new novel from him, The Shepherd’s Crown.

I look forward to discovering more exciting books next year, and catching up on all the ones I’ve been meaning to read.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Kelly!

Books To Watch For In 2015: Hunt For Valamon

One of the books I’m most excited for next year is Hunt For Valamon by DK Mok.

Hunt_for_Valamon-cvr-3D

SO GORGEOUS, right? (Errick Nunnally did the cover.)

“When Crown Prince Valamon is impossibly taken from the heart of Algaris Castle, the only clue as to motive or culprit is the use of unknown sorcery.

Reclusive cleric Seris is happily tending to his book-infested temple until he finds himself drafted–for political reasons–to the rescue mission. His sole companion on the journey is Elhan, a cheerfully disturbed vagrant girl with terrifying combat skills and her own enigmatic reasons for seeking the prince.

Venturing into the wild, unconquered lands, Seris has no fighting prowess, no survival skills, and no charisma, as Elhan keeps pointing out. Armed only with a stubborn streak and creative diplomacy, he must find a way to survive outlaw towns and incendiary masquerades, all without breaking his vow to do no harm.

Chasing rumours of rebel camps and rising warlords, dangerous curses and the return of the vanished sorcerers, Seris and Elhan soon discover a web of treachery and long-buried secrets that go far beyond a kidnapped prince.”

I’m the publicist for this, so I’ve already read it (be jealous) but I know you’ll all love it as much as I did.  It’s out on April 7.

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With Darby Kaye

Kelly, this is such a treat to visit with you and your followers today. Do they know the running joke about “Sam Lord?”

1)  Are sequels easier to write than first novels?  Discuss.

What a great question! I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that before. And while I’m not trying to sound wishy-washy, I must say taht both the first one and the subsequent ones have their difficulties. With the first one, I am building a world that will be canon for the rest of the series. Which is fun, but I do have to be thinking ahead and not write a scene or create an element of that culture which would cause problems later. In fact, because I write my sequels right on the heels of my first books, I often go back into book one (if it hasn’t gone to print yet) and tweak things. Sometimes, I feel like I am writing backwards, but it works for me. I certainly did that for The Stag Lord and its sequel, Unholy Blue (aka Sam Lord).

2)  How awesome is it that my dog is in this book?! Talk about that. :)

Ah, yes. The awesomeness known as Sam Hager. Yup, Sam (Kelly’s adorable little terrier) was the inspiration for the puppy in Unholy Blue. While the breed is different—Sam is a Silky and the Sam in Unholy Blue is a Labrador mix—the same courage and adorable-ness is all Sam. Plus, the name was perfect. So, when Kelly started referring to Unholy Blue as Sam Lord, I just had to join in.

3)  Do you prefer writing adult or YA?  How are they different?  Is your writing process any different?

Good storytelling is good storytelling, and my writing process is about the same: Write a brief outline, then plunge in and forget to refer to said outline. But, both genres have their strength and weakness. When I first tried adult, I had to push myself to be over the top in order to turn off the YA editor in my head. Once I got going, I did realize there is a freedom in adult stories and also a cage. In YA (and middle grade), I can address Big Questions of Life without coming across as too cheesy.

4) Who are your five favorite authors? J.R.R Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, John Flanagan, Kevin Hearne and Cassandra Clare (for their respective fantasies), M.M. Kaye (for her historical novels), David McCullough (for his biographies of famous Americans), and C.S. Lewis (for his Christian apologetics books)

5)  What books are you looking forward to in 2015? They are both by Kevin Hearne: Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi (because Hearne and Star Wars? I know. I know!) and the next book in his Iron Druid series (because Owen. ‘Nuff said.)

Books To Watch For In 2015: Unholy Blue

The first book I’m incredibly excited for in 2015 is Unholy Blue by Darby Karchut (writing as Darby Kaye).

It’s the sequel to The Stag Lord, which is out Dec. 2.  That’s one of my favorite books from THIS year, but Unholy Blue is going to be even better.  Know why?

Because my dog, Sam, is going to be a character!!!!!!!!!

I’ve known about this for ages—since long before Stag Lord even came out—and I think it’s been roughly the worst-kept secret ever, at least if you know me, Darby, or both of us.

So this book is going to be called Unholy Blue, but because it’s the sequel to The Stag Lord, I’ve been calling it Sam Lord.  (Unfortunately, I now need to break myself of this habit, because it’s going to be really embarrassing if I—as the publicist—can’t get the name of the book right.  So please preorder Unholy Blue once you can, and please forgive me when I keep calling it Sam Lord.)

 

Into the Night

Into the Night by Suzanne Rigdon releases Dec. 2.  You can see her Twitter here.

INTO THE NIGHT cover with quote

This is one of my favorite books from this year.  (To be completely honest, I should point out that I’m Suzy’s publicist…but all that means is that it’s been my favorite for longer than it otherwise could have been.  This book is so incredibly fun, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it.)

When Selina Baker, a coordinator for a Boston non-profit, goes out on the town with her friend Jess, she never expects to meet the man of her dreams. And she certainly never expects him to be undead.

When things go from flirty to majorly flawed on her first date with James Lawton, he is forced to save her the only way he can–by killing her. Selina suddenly finds herself in the mix with the creatures she thought were made up solely for late-night TV. Into the Night follows Selina’s transformation from a wallflower into an impulsive and dangerous new vampire. With no choice in the matter, Selina becomes trapped between a new man, his wary brothers, and his cruel and controlling Queen, who wants nothing more than to watch her suffer. Selina must walk the fine line between adjusting to her new powers, life after death, and following the rules–all while avoiding disaster.

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Overview

This is the second year of Books to Watch For!  I got this idea after my friend Kathy started doing this last year (yes, I basically stole it—but with permission!).  You should stop by her site and see what she’s excited for, too.

This year, I also got incredibly ambitious.  I talked to many of my favorite authors to see (a) what they have planned for next year and (b) the books that they’re looking forward to.

As a reminder, each book is featured over the course of two days.  The first day is a synopsis and explanation for why I’m excited (although most of the time, it’s probably fairly self-evident—because, when Sara Blaedel, for example, releases a new book, I’m excited) and the second day is an interview.

Even more exciting, several of my favorites are releasing two books next year! It’s going to be a good year for people who are book-greedy like I am.

There are some amazing books ahead, so please let me know what you’re looking forward to.