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Author of queer, wry sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
Editor of all fiction genres.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Irish Punk Rock Horror: An Interview with Richard Long

Hello hello!

Well, February is coming to a close--the scariest month of the year is almost over. Sigh. However, the gem of the month is HERE: one Richard Long, author of bestseller The Book of Paul. That's right. We have our first ever official CELEBRITY on the blog.

Now, I'd already read The Book of Paul in ebook form. Below is a sample of my reaction when I got an autographed edition from Richard himself.

 This is me, with autographed book, elated beyond belief and human reason. The squealing and jumping up-and-down part, not shown, came immediately afterwards.

Now, as you all know, I like a bit of horror now and again, mostly in the 'Weird Fiction' side of the genre, though offbeat paranormal books also catch my interest. (In the dystopian/horror overlap area, you might remember my interview with sharp new voice JC Eggleton about his book, Brookhavenfrom a few months back.)

I like to feature fellow indie authors not only because I am one, but also because it's a great way for my readers to stumble on awesome things that just might not be on bookshelves near them. Today's feature guest, Richard Long, reads like a big-name published author--which, at this rate, he's going to be--is definitely one of the most unmissable. Without further ado and gushing, please give a warm welcome to Richard Long!

Q: Describe yourself in 20 words or less.

A study in contradictions: Iconoclast. Family man. Dark past. Bright future.

Q: Tell us about your novel.

The Book of Paul is…different. There’s a classic Gothic horror, apocalyptic, good
vs. evil struggle. There’s also a Romeo and Juliet love story. It’s dark, creepy,
kinky and funny. The setting is the East Village of New York in the mid-90s. Paul
inhabits a condemned building in Alphabet City. At first you might think he’s
some crazed serial killer with occult obsessions, but as the story progresses you
realize that there is much, much more going on with Paul than you ever would
have expected or could imagine. It’s a very wild ride.

Q: Horror lately has been about vampires and werewolves. Two of the authors
I'm featuring this month are vamp and werewolf writers, though very excellent
ones. Did 'The Book of Paul' diverge from this intentionally?

Traditional monsters don’t hold any fascination for me, but I like the archetypes
that vampires and werewolves represent. A traditional werewolf is a person,
who, through no fault of his own (other than being in the wrong place at the
wrong time), is condemned to a very long life committing countless murders and
atrocities. He is usually tortured by his “other” self and racked with guilt. I think
that’s easy for people to identify with and easy for a writer to play with once you
take the fur and full moon baloney away.

As for our other fanged friends, once you lose the garlic and coffin mattress
trappings, a vampire is essentially a parasitic immortal being. There are a couple
of those in The Book of Paul, but they don’t tap into some unlucky person’s
jugular for a quick pick-me-up. All this being said, I’m developing the ultimate
vampire/werewolf/zombie epic with my 12-year-old son. Probably a screenplay.

From author's website. If you think the cover is gorgeous and elegant, wait until you get to the prose...

Q: You have a very unique tone and writing style, and I don't say that often.
Which writers inspire you?

I’m most inspired by Irish playwrights. Enda Walsh. Martin McDonagh. Beckett.
My style of writing, particularly the way I balance humor and horror, is more
related to their work than any novelists I’ve read.

Q: Paul has a cruel sense of humour, and while readers love him, he's an
ambiguous character at best when it comes to morality. Did writing about
his ...unique approach to solving problems... ever bother you?

Sure, some of the things Paul does are completely reprehensible. I’ve cried on
more than one occasion while writing scenes with Paul. On the other hand, he’s
the more fun to write than any other characterthe ultimate gleeful villain. He’s
exceptionally smart, sophisticated, wise and very funny. Writing Paul is like
taking your Id off the leash.

Q: You mix Celtic folklore, druidism, an illuminati-like society, violence, rock
chicks, and a healthy dose of societal critique in "The Book of Paul". How did you
make such an eclectic idea work?

I don’t write from an outline. It all just comes spewing out from some unlimited
reservoir of oddness. I only write about things that interest meand I have
exceptionally eclectic and varied interests: mythology, ancient cultures, religion,
philosophy, occult lore, science, conspiracy theories, dystopian scenarios,
contemporary society. One of William’s lines that I really like is: “I want to know
how things work.” I want to know how people “work”, particularly marginal
characters like the ones in this story. People on the fringe.

Q: Was anything in 'The Book of Paul' inspired by contemporary issues in

When I first moved to New York City I lived in the East Village/Alphabet City
neighborhood where most of the action takes place. It was a lot of fun, and very
scary at times, back-in-the-day before gentrification. So that edgy quality and the
darkness of the particular lifestyle I was living inspired the general mood. The
tattoo/piercing culture was also influential. The tribalism. The fascination with
pain-pleasure. Outside of those cultural aspects, I’m fairly convinced that we are
on the precipice of a seismic upheaval called the Singularity. Apocalypse soon!

Yes, he really is this terrifyingly handsome. No, he's not actually Paul. Maybe. Kind of. We're not sure yet. 

Q: What do you plan to write or publish next?

I’m finishing the first volume of a YA fantasy series called The Dream Palace and
then it’s back to the sequel of The Book of Paul and a screenplay of The Book of

Q: Which foods do you absolutely hate? 

Sea urchin.

Q: What would you do if you ran into Paul in real life?

Buy the man a drink. Cozy up on the barstool next to him. And just listen for as
long as he wanted to talk.

Naturally, you already know you can't live without the book. Buy it here on Amazon. Keep in mind that The Dream Palace, also by Richard, is coming soon!

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. A review of The Hobbit is coming, as well as more info about The Loved, The Lost, The Dreaming in paperback. Spring is going to bring a fantasy theme with it--interviews with fantasy authors, content related to fantasy films and reviews, and some political commentary--the phuquerie you've come to expect from me. Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Monday, 18 February 2013

Sex, Blood, and High Stakes: An Interview with Travis Luedke

Hello hello!

To continue with the terrifying theme for February, I have one of the best--perhaps the best--vampire erotica author out there today, the rising star Travis Luedke. Travis' books surprised me. Until I ran into those, I was still thoroughly disgusted by Twilight and even Anne Rice's works; too much porn and not enough blood. With the Nightlife series, I discovered that there were authors who could combine bloodthirsty monsters of the night, hardboiled crime, and kinky sex in ways that didn't make me homicidal.

Be warned, though--Travis tends to write very hot stuff, and if you pick these up, expect plenty of adult content.

So, with your seatbelts on and condoms at the ready, please welcome the one and only Travis Luedke!

Q: Describe yourself in 20 words or less.

Obnoxious, talkative, flirtatious, sarcastic, helpful, intuitive, clever, total sci-fi/horror/fantasy/paranormal/vampire/erotica nerd, irreverent and occasionally irrelevant.

Q: Tell us about your novels.

I write sexy, dangerous misadventures involving vampires and an interesting assortment of wickedly corrupt men and women of the night.  Gangs, pimps, prostitutes, cartel, mafia, drug dealers, addicts, alcoholics, all those wonderfully colorful people you find rubbing elbows in the back alleys, night clubs, and strip joints.

Here’s the tag line:  The Nightlife Series is sexy, violent, and occasionally violently sexy.

Q: Vampires have been very hot since Twilight came out. How is your approach different than, say, the usual romantic vampire book?

Well these creatures are indulgent.  They live in a world of constant blood, sex, and arousal.  The act of feeding is highly erotic, causing the victim to experience multiple orgasms.  A vampire’s bite is the most powerful drug imaginable, exstasy, euphoria, and a near instant addiction if we’re not careful.
They are also lethally violent predators, designed to cut through flesh like a hot knife through butter.  They slip through the nightlife quietly, unobtrusively, until cornered.  Then it gets ugly, people die.

Provided by the author. You can tell he's about to get up to no good. 

Q: Are vampires pure fun to help people escape, or do they have significance in our culture right now in other ways?

There are numerous movements today involving one or more beliefs in real-life vampirism.  There are those who believe they consume the life-energy of other people, and there may be some truth to that.  I have had a few ex-girlfriends who sucked the life right out of me and my pocketbook.  Call me a believer.
There are also men and women today who drink blood on a regular basis and consider it a normal part of their diet, very literal vampires.  Dentally implanted fangs and sharpened claw-like fingernails are only a few of the interesting modifications you find among those who consider themselves true vampires.

Q: You write pretty gritty, sexy stories. In addition to vampires, all three of your books feature involvement with gang and mafia violence. What got you interested in this (excellent) combo?

I actually lived on both sides of the Mexico border for four years.  I had occasion to witness and experience things you might expect from a Quentin Tarantino film.  I have known a number of interesting individuals who made their living in a decidedly illegal trade.  I learned that Tequila has an amazing ability to loosen the tongue.
Many of the interesting characters you meet in my novels have been inspired by people and events I touched on in real life.

Q: You tend to write about unconventional couples, including bisexual women and polyamorous situations. How do you write bisexual women that are more than man-candy?

I’m going to steal one of my favorite lines, “I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability.” ~ Jack Nicholson ~ As Good As It Gets
On a serious note, I don’t find it difficult to imagine all the things I would do to a girl, if I was I girl.  I live very vicariously through my writing. J
And truthfully, I actually had a very close lesbian friend at one point.  We hit the bars together, both hunting for the same thing.  At the end of the night we compared notes to see how many phone numbers we each collected.  I usually won the competition.

Lookie! His newest release has a poll! You can vote on it just below this. Aren't they pretty/?

Q: You're also going to be releasing some young adult novels. What was it like transitioning from your very extreme, balls-out style in the adult novels to the young adult audience?

It’s strange for sure.  It’s like cutting out a piece of my soul to remove the excess sensuality and eroticism from my writing.  But I think I found a balance.  To be sure, my YA is not your goody-two shoes stuff, its gritty, true-life, troubled teens who face difficult challenges as they grow to become adults.  I am sticking with what I know and love, paranormal thrillers, but it’s toned down on the sex and violence for a YA readership.

Q: What do you plan to write or publish next?

I am currently in heavy edits/rewrites of the next novel in the Nightlife Series, The Nightlife Paris.  After that I will begin preparing to publish my first YA novel, The Shepherd.  From there I will move on to The Nightlife London, and then jump back over to another YA novel.  I should have no less than four novels published this year, if not more.

Q: Which foods do you absolutely hate?

Black licorice, mustard, and guacamole.  I couldn’t even imagine eating them individually, a mixture of the three would surely be slop fed to inmates at the seventh circle of hell.

Q: Werewolves: love, hate, or meh?

Though it seems a little overdone in today’s ebook market, I am okay with werewolves.  I have a love for all things supernatural, and I collect books and film of such.  Vampires are my first love.  Werewolves would have to be the second runner up.  I will try my hand at werewolves soon enough.  Your favorite two vampires, Aaron and Michelle will butt heads with werewolves eventually.  Who knows what kinds of things you find in the back alleys of the Nightlife.

That's all we have from Travis for right now, but as you can see, you will need to go shopping after this interview. Even newbies or vamp-haters will love these, and people who already enjoy the genre are falling all over themselves for the Nightlife series. You know I don't gush often--these are really quite good.

The Nightlife: New York

The Nightlife: Las Vegas

The Nightlife: Blood Slave

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. A review of The Hobbit is coming, as well as more info about The Loved, The Lost, The Dreaming in paperback, and there is even another interview still coming for horror month. Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

No Mis-Stakes: An Interview with Sharon Stevenson

Hello hello!

I have the talented and snappy Sharon Stevenson dropping by today. I reviewed her book Blood Bound  as a favour, and to my shock, found an incredibly gritty, witty, funny paranormal novel that I could not help loving. Normally the vampy stuff is not my thing, but as you'll find in the interview, there are a more than a few things about Sharon's writing that set her apart. Please give a warm welcome to Sharon Stevenson!


Q: Describe yourself in 20 words or less.

I read, I write, I watch TV.  I’m married.  People laugh at my rant-y outbursts.  Is that 20 words yet?

Q: Tell us about your novels.

They are Modern Fantasy novels set in an alternate reality Scotland.  Shaun & Sarah Gallows are a brother and sister demon tracking team and they kick a lot of supernatural ass.

Q: Many paranormal novels about young slayers or young paranormal people are very glamorous and flashy. Why did you take such a no-nonsense and ordinary approach?

I basically wrote the book I wanted to read, which was probably borne out of frustration after I read a few really unbelievable YA novels in a row. What I came up with is definitely not YA, as there is adult language and situations, but the characters do start out in their late teens.  I wanted flawed characters I could care about, dealing with things they struggle to cope with, because that to me is what growing up is all about.  I don’t want to read about attractive cardboard cut-outs saying and doing whatever the writer needs them to just to move the story along.

Provided by author. You have no idea how badass that blonde chick is. 

Q: What do you think about happy endings? Is it better to go gothic, or is there room for the happily-ever-after in a world where monsters walk?

Happy endings are nice, and that's the problem.  I don't want nice when I pick up an urban fantasy book, especially if it's a series.  I want to be shocked and entertained, and I want to worry about the characters.  Happy-for-now endings are fine, if there's still the threat of something horrible lurking just around the corner.  If I stop worrying about the characters I'm not going to pick up the next book.  I suppose what I'm saying is happy endings are okay for stand alones but a not-so-happy ending is usually always the more shocking way to go.

Q: What do you think of the trend for the last few years of writing erotic vampires and werewolves?

It all comes down to context and believability.  The humanising of these creatures which were traditionally always monsters was pretty much inevitable, but I’m fine with it if these types of characters remain monstrous in some way, true to their inhuman urges, so it all just depends how the writer handles it.

Q: Shaun gets picked on a lot by his sister. What do you think about the relationship between twins? Why is it so fascinating?

To me it’s a pretty typical brother-sister relationship.  They take the piss and don’t always take each other seriously but ultimately they look out for each other.

She is even wittier than she looks. Behind those innocent eyes, an elegant bouquet of wit is being arranged. 

Q: This novel is off the beaten track for a paranormal story. Do you consider your characters role models?

I just tried to write realistic characters with human flaws.  I wouldn’t say they were role models. They try to do the right things but they make their mistakes like everyone does and they’re still growing up.

Q: What do you plan to write or publish next?

I’m in the editing stages for the third Gallows novel ‘Fate Fallen’, plus a short story from Elle’s perspective.  I’ll be releasing these at the end of March.
I’ll then be getting back to editing my Urban Fantasy Horror/Comedy novella called ‘Raised’ which will be the first book in a new series and should be ready for release sometime in the summer.

Q: Which foods do you absolutely hate?

I’m not a big meat-eater but cook it in an amazing sauce and the chances are I’ll eat it. 

Q: What sort of weapon would you most like to kill supernatural creatures with?
A chainsaw.  What kind of Bruce Campbell fan would I be if I said anything else?

Thanks for sharing your awesomeness, Sharon! As for the rest of you, drop by her page and nab her books or Sarah and Shaun will be by to stake you. 

Blood Bound

Demon Divided

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. I've got a few reviews to catch up on, more news coming, and even some fantastic interviews with fellow authors. Don't miss a thing for horror month! Stay tuned and please share. Oh, and get a free copy of The Stolen: Two Short Stories while it's hot. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Breaking News: Updates on "The Loved, The Lost, The Dreaming" and More!

Hello hello!

I am bubbling with excitement--a normal state for me, admittedly, but MORE SO THAN USUAL! There may be an excessive use of the 'caps lock' key for this one.

So! There's a bit of good news and a bit of bad news, and a bit of really wonderful news to boot. We'll start with the bad news.

Bad news: I'm not doing the YA full version for 'The Loved, The Lost, The Dreaming' because it'll take me a lot of bloody time and I will have to cut out too much. I don't mind scaling down the blood and explicit sex, but there isn't enough to make it really worth the censorship.

Good news: 'The Underlighters', the headliner story for TLTLTD, will be released on its own as a stand-alone novel, probably at some point in the next couple of months. And, as I mentioned, plans to write prequel and sequel stories to go along with it haven't changed. I'm currently working on getting the paperbacks for TLTLTD set up. You can bet on an update when that's done, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Partly to make up for that, I will be putting out The Stolen: Two Short Stories for FREE again this week, from Feb 14 to 16, because...I love you guys! You can also look forward to more frequent freebies as soon as I am off of Kindle Select *shakes fist*. So, there's that.

Wonderful news: It's finally coming. In April, the novel that started it all, a standalone story I first began working on in eighth grade...will be released. This one is a true stand-alone, unrelated to all my other works, and after the final batch of revisions, it will be ready to share with the world. It's more than due to be released. 

Synchronicity is the story of six young university students who sign on for a virtual reality game beta. They soon find themselves in the middle of a deadly cat-and-mouse revenge plot. It's anyone's guess who will survive. 

More details about the premise and a cover reveal will be coming, so stay tuned!
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don’t miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. I’ve got a few reviews to catch up on, more news coming, and even some fantastic interviews with fellow authors. Don’t miss a thing for horror month! Stay tuned and please share. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Howling at the Harvest Moon: An Interview with Joyce Chng, Werewolf Writer

Hello hello!

Well, it's February. Valentine's is right around the corner, and I can't think of a more terrifying time of year. So, because we all miss Halloween and because it's a scary month, I'm doing a special feature on--you guessed it--horror! Oh, and there's the fact that I just released a horror anthology myself, but we'll get to that in a 'Breaking News' update very soon.

For now, let's get it started with an interview with amazing werewolf writer Joyce Chng, one of the writers featured on the top 10 list I put up earlier this year. Without further ado, find out what makes this incredible folkloric writer tick.

Q: Describe yourself in 20 words or less.

Determined. Dreamer. Writer. Mother. Occasional cat-herder. Eternally hopeful.

Q: Tell us about your novels.

My novels are about Chinese werewolves, even though they do not fall in the traditional sense of the word. They are wolves inside human bodies or wolf spirits inside human forms. They are fully wolves, not beholden to the moon. The novels also deal with family and family issues/dynamics – things we don’t get to see in other books in the urban fantasy/paranormal category. At the same time, the novels are also about sibling relationships (and rivalries). Then again, I just wanted to see novels about Chinese werewolves set in Singapore.

Q: Your story showcases a love for Southeast Asian mythology. How did fairy tales and folklore influence the creation of your stories?

I grew up with fairy tales and folklore! As a child, I listened to my parents and grandparents tell stories about Sun Wukong (the Monkey God/King), Chang’Er (the lady in the moon) and warriors, generals, warrior maidens. To me, they are as vivid and real as the sun or the wind.
I also grew up in a country where we have different races and ethnicities. Singapore is after all a small island-state at the tip of Peninsular Malaysia, and surrounded by the islands of Indonesia. So, imagine the types of folklore and mythology infusing the culture.

The lovely Joyce Chng! Photo provided by author. 

Q: In addition to your wonderful Lang stories, you have two other novellas, one of which is an excellent short story collection in a sci-fi magical world, and the other has more of a fantasy feel. What are the differences between 'fantastic science fiction' and more realistic urban fantasy settings?

To be honest, the differences are… minute. Let me explain. J
‘Fantastic science fiction’ relies on – well- science and a dollop of fantasy. ‘Realistic urban fantasy’ relies on – our understanding of ‘realistic’, urban cities/spaces and imagination. The two sounds the same, at the end. The willingness to imagine.
The sci-fi magical world (or science-fantasy, as the SFF community will tell you) has magic, is generally low-tech and is set on an Earth-like colony world. The magic lies within individuals. The urban fantasy setting is more contemporary and rooted, in the sense we can readily identify the urban landscape (“That’s a city.” “It’s a country in Southeast Asia!”) It still has magic, but magic based on the understanding of folklore and mythology.

Q: What do you think of the trend for the last few years of writing erotic vampires and werewolves?

“To each his or her own.”
A trend is a trend is a trend. As trends go, it will fade in time. But I am always looking out for urban fantasy that focuses on family/group dynamics and vivid landscapes.

Q: Jan is a mother, a wife, and a pack leader. I'd describe her as feminist, but realistically so. Was that intentional?

It was intentional. I am a feminist. ;)
Jan takes charges, has her own mind and fights on her own terms. But at the same time, she has to balance these with her social roles.

Photo supplied by author. I really love the book, and this cover only adds to it. 

Q: A lot of people will be surprised to see a werewolf story set in Singapore. What would you like 'traditional' genre readers to take away from the novels?

That there are other stories outside their scope. That the world is far more diverse.

Q: What do you plan to write or publish next?

I am still in the midst of writing a spinoff series from the Jan Xu books. Also short stories, if I am inspired to write them. Plot and theme bunnies attack me all the time.

Q: Which foods do you absolutely hate?

Yes, I must be the only Chinese who hates tofu.
But otherwise, I eat anything (or that I am game to try everything).

Q: Which type of mythological creature would you like to take in a fight?

Phoenix. Or Firebird.
Then, followed by Dragon (Chinese). 

Of course, I can't send you home without a reminder about Joyce's books, which you can buy on Amazon and Smashwords

Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. I've got a few reviews to catch up on, more news coming, and even some fantastic interviews with fellow authors. Don't miss a thing for horror month! Stay tuned and please share. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out!