Saturday, January 31, 2015

From the Shelf to the Page: This Week in the Ruins

Another busy week in the Ruins this time around, with some very exciting posts:

Stacking The Shelves and Mailbox Monday are a pair of weekly memes that are about sharing the books that came your way over the past week, and which you've added to your shelves - whether they be physical or virtual, borrowed or bought, or for pleasure or review.

A quieter week on the review front this time around, but there were a few titles that hit my sweet spots and demanded I snatch them up for review:

Behind The Darkness: Alien Abduction by Robert E. Dunn
An alien abduction 20 years ago, a group of friends at an isolated ranch, and the return of not just the abductee but the monsters as well.

Sea of Darkness by Brian Hicks
A real-life tale of the civil war submarine H.L. Hunley, its discovery by Clive Cussler, its raising, its restoration, and its secrets revealed.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is another weekly meme, this time focused on what books are spending the most time in your hands and in your head, as opposed to what's been added to your shelf.

• Doll Face by Tim Curran
Six friends, trapped in a town that does not exist, stalked by a supernatural force that demands they submit and become living dolls.

Cannonbridge by Jonathan Barnes
Something has gone wrong with history in this gripping novel about a lie planted among the greatest works of English fiction.

What's topping your shelves this week?

Friday, January 30, 2015

WTF Friday: Dead Heat by Ren Thompson

Every once in a while, as the mood strikes me, I like to indulge in those titles that are a bit odd . . . a bit different . . . a bit bizarre . . . and a bit freaky. These are books that don't get a lot of press, and which rarely get any retail shelf space.

They're often an underground of sort of literature, best shared through guilty whispers, and often with embarrassed grins. These are our WTF Friday reads!

Pay no attention to the gorgeously misleading cover. Dead Heat is a book that was pitched to me as a "horror / zombies / lesbian novel" with a trigger warning for "dark themes and also for snuff" - and that pitch is exactly what this novel is all about.

The post-apocalyptic zombie genre has been done to death, but Ren Thompson has managed to do something fresh and original with it that I really enjoyed. This was dark, twisted, and extremely creative in the telling.

Before I get into the story itself, let me geek out for a moment. This may be a near-future zombie apocalypse, but the soundtrack here consists of classic Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Guns 'n Roses, and more. Thompson uses music to set the scene in a number of places, and the rumbling bass and racing guitars are perfect for getting the heart racing. Also, this is a story that unabashedly Canadian, taking us from the abandoned ruins of Ontario Place, to the streets of Etobicoke, to the Scarborough Bluffs, Wasaga Beach, and even Niagara. I'll be honest, that makes my heart bleed red and white all day long.

Okay, so back to the story. This is a book about zombie hunting, brutal cage matches, and near-homicidal rules of conduct that involve beating strength into people . . . and tenderness out. As the story opens, we see Dana Layton falter in the face of true zombie horror, putting the rest of her zombie hunting team at risk. It's completely understandable but, in this world, just as completely inexcusable. Upon return to camp, she's summoned before their leader, who proceeds to invite the team - including her girlfriend - to beat her nearly to death.

And that's the normal part.

So, where does the WTF element come in? Well, in a world torn apart by a zombie apocalypse, there are always people who are willing to sink lower than zombies. In this case that means zombie snuff porn . . . and that means precisely what you think it does. We're talking women riding zombies bound to the bed, some of whom are zombified in mid-coitus, while others are left to be fed upon as an after-orgasmic snack. Thompson spares us the truly pornographic details, but there's no question what's going on - and getting insight into the minds of the producers is even uglier. It's not just darkness for the sake of being disturbing, it's a crucial element of the plot, and it all plays into the final climax (no pun intended).

That's not to say it's all doom and gloom. There are glimmers of hope, including an East Coast refuge for repopulating the Earth, and some interesting studies into whether zombies are evil, sick, or just soul-less animals. Then, of course, there is the romance between Dana and Kelly that grounds the two women, gives them hope, and counters the blood and darkness they face night-and-day. The romantic element is definitely secondary to the horror, but still an integral part of the plot . . . and an interesting part of its telling.

What really amazed me about the story was Thompson's use of language. The frantic, passionate, almost hungry scenes of erotic romance between Dana and Kelly deliberately echo the description of zombies feeding, while their playful bedroom bondage scenes echoes the darker, dirtier, much deadlier restraints used in the snuff films. It's a contrast that isn't immediately apparent, but once you start making the connections, it's really remarkable.

Dead Heat is not your standard zombie novel. It's something deeper, darker, and more delightful. Thompson plays with emotions almost as well as she does with words, crafting a novel that completely delivers on its pitch.

Kindle Edition, 194 pages
Published January 12th 2015 by Storm Moon Press, LLC

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fantasy Review: The Unremembered by Peter Orullian

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. While I make every attempt to avoid spoilers, please be aware that an ARC synopsis, press release, or review request may disclose details that are not revealed in the published cover blurb.

With Trial of Intentions due to hit shelves in May, Peter Orullian has seized the opportunity to revisit and revise the opening volume of the Vault of Heaven with his Author's Definitive Edition of The Unremembered. I haven't read the original edition, so I can't compare the two, but I can confidently say I enjoyed this new edition on its own and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of its forthcoming sequel.

This is, as some critics have accused, a largely generic epic fantasy that hits on a lot the major tropes. There's the mysterious loner who arrives on the scene to mentor and lead the quest. There are the two simple farm boys, best friends, both of whom are coming of age, and one of whom is 'chosen' to be a form of savior. There's the fallen hero who risks everything, returning from his exile on penalty of death, to do the right thing. There's the seemingly benign organization - in this case the League of Civility - that has short-sightedly put the world as risk with their fear of magic. There are also, of course, the rival empires with divided loyalties who bicker and stall, standing in the way of defeating the evil with a united front.

Now, let's be honest - all fantasy is generic to some degree, and tropes are tropes for a reason. That doesn't necessarily make for a bad book, just a familiar one. What really matters, what ultimately makes an epic fantasy something special, is what the author brings of himself to the genre, and what he does with it that's new and unique. With The Unremembered, Peter Orullian does several things that made this stand out for me.

First and foremost is his writing style. This is a very well-written story, with realistic dialogue, fantastic visuals, and a well-paced narrative. With the exception of a few conversations that are crucial for the reader to understand the mythology of this new world, there is no info dumping or unnecessary exposition. I suspect that may be one crucial difference from the original, since Orullian has said that this edition is shorter and more focused, with fewer POV shifts, but that's hardly a bad thing - and it bodes very well for the next book.

Second is his use of music. Not surprisingly, Orullian is a multi-talented man who has professionally toured as a featured vocalist. Music is in his blood, and it's also in his ink. It has power in his world, a power over mortals, over magic, and over the creatures that lurk behind the magical Veil. In fact, there is a legendary Song of Suffering that is key to the entire story, a song that only a select few can survive the singing of, and which is necessary to keeping the Veil in place. It goes deeper than that, though, with common sounds having a musical quality to them in the way they're described, and even some conversations having a lyrical aspect.

Third, and this connects closely with my next point, is the strength of the characters. Yes, many of them are based on familiar fantasy tropes or archetypes, but they are all well-defined, with distinct personalities. There's no blurring of faces or forgetting of names here. Orullian establishes each character immediately, entrenching them in our imaginations from their first appearance. They're not all likable, but they're not all supposed to be. Instead, they're all realistic, with a good bit of depth, and some real growth throughout the story. Far more than just a coming of age tale, this is also a story about coming to terms with who they are and where they've come from.

Speaking of where they've come from - and this is something that struck me as exceptionally well done - Orullian weaves a compelling theme of parental protection. Birth parents, adopted parents, and an absence of parents are all significant to the tale. The story actually opens with a young woman being accosted by a created from beyond the Veil, even as she tries to give birth to a child who is the product of rape. Another character struggles to deal with the fact of his adoption, while another comes from a race where the women die young, leaving children to be raised by a series of adopted mothers. Perhaps most significantly, that fallen hero I mentioned was exiled because of his actions involving a royal birth, and his punishment is to take the children abandoned in the Waste and find homes for them. Finally, just to keep things dark, there's also the hunger for creatures from beyond the Veil to seize children and drag them back with them.

Finally, there's the world-building and the mythology, which are always at the heart of any really good epic fantasy tale. The Unremembered is a book that mixes the sprawling sort of epic fantasy that we expect from Robert Jordan & Tad Williams with the more intimate, sometimes claustrophobic grimdark fantasy that Peter V. Brett & Mark Lawrence have made famous. Mythologically, there's a lot going on here, and Orullian doesn't waste any time throwing us to the Bourne, just one of the monsters from beyond the Veil. Historically, there's a long and complicated history to the world, involving heroes, villains, sacrifices, betrayals, and strained alliances. Politically, it's just as complicated, with those rival empires, divided loyalties, and the taint of the League of Civility I mentioned earlier. It's a book that demands some patience in terms of explanations, but I was well satisfied by the end that I understood what was going on and why.

Ultimately, The Unremembered is not a book that's going to greatly challenge you or thrust you far outside your comfort zone. It's not a ground-breaking work or one that's destined to shatter genre expectations. Enter into it with an appreciation for familiar fantasy tropes, however, and you will find yourself well-rewarded with a darker, more mature sort of epic fantasy that has a lot of flair and a lot of depth to be enjoyed.

Paperback, 480 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2015 by Tor Books
(first published March 31st 2011

Tough Travels - Law Enforcement

Every Thursday, Nathan (over at Fantasy Review Barn) leads the gang in touring the mystical countryside, looking for fun and adventure. His Tough Traveling feature picks one of the most common tropes in fantasy each week, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones, and invites us to join in the adventure. All are invited to take part, so if you're joining the journey late, no worries . . . we'll save you a spot in the caravan.

This week’s tour topic is: LAW ENFORCEMENT

Seems odd to think that in fantasy cities in which entire economies revolve around crime there is room for the men in blue (or crimson, or whatever). But the law does the best it can, even when faced with magic, mystical creatures, or rogue deities.

I can think of a ton of titles that come to mind, but foremost among them are The Watch novels (from Guards! Guards! to Thud!) of Terry Pratchett. Whether you're talking the City Watch or the Night Watch, it doesn't get better (or funnier) than the adventures of Commander Vimes, Captain Ironfoundersson, Corporal Nobbs, Sergeant Cheery Littlebottom, Constable Visit-the-Infidel, and Corporal Buggy Swires. They've evolved considerably since the days when a bunch of thief-takers saved the city from a dragon, becoming rather respectable and diverse, even allowing a vampire to join their ranks (the wonderfull named Lance-Constable Salacia von Humpeding)

In City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, law enforcement (or occupation) of the city of Bulikov is very much at the heart of the story. This is the story of a land conquered and oppressed by the Worldly Regulations, which outlaw the possession of divine objects and the worshiping of the old gods. What starts as a simple murder investigation soon turns into a story of rebellion, with two women standing against the tide of chaos - Shara Komayd, diplomat and spy, and Turyin Mulaghesh, soldier turned reluctant governor.

Meanwhile, Sebastien de Castell's Traitor's Blade is about the clash between law enforcement officers new and old. The Greatcoats have been disbanded, following the death of the King, but they were once the most elite of law enforcement, responsible for meting out justice and upholding the King's Law. It's not just a story about law enforcement being usurped, but one about bastardizing and betraying it altogether. One of the key turning points in the story revolves around a week during which the current rulers and protectors stand back and watch as blood is allowed to run freely.

A more unusual take on the idea of law enforcement is found in Shield and Crocus by Michael R. Underwood, which mixes a little superhero vigilante-ism into the epic fantasy. The superhero powers here are a birthright bestowed upon the heroes by virtue of their race. Known as the Shields of Audec-Hal, they are a small group who fight against the tyrants by means of what is essentially vigilante guerrilla warfare. It's a fantasy novel with a comic book or video game feel, but really quite imaginative.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Skull Throne by Peter Brett

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Skull Throne by Peter Brett
Expected publication: May 26th, 2015 by Tor Books

The first three novels in New York Times bestselling author Peter V. Brett’s groundbreaking Demon Cycle series—The Warded Man, The Desert Spear, and The Daylight War—set a new standard for heroic fantasy. The powerful saga of humans winnowed to the brink of extinction by night-stalking demons, and the survivors who fight back, has kept readers breathless as they eagerly turned the pages. Now the thrilling fourth volume, The Skull Throne, raises the stakes as it carries the action in shocking new directions.

The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.

Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honor and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.

But Arlen Bales, the Warded Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honor refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a savior, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.

In the south, Inevera, Jardir’s first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing one another and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for glory enough to make a claim on the throne.

In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late.

Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton—rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.

All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them. Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared. . . .

Okay, so technically I'm no longer waiting, since I nabbed the e-ARC last week, but this is a book I've been anticipating for a while. I read the first 3 books back-to-back-to-back, so waiting on a new Demon Cycle novel is kind of a new experience, but I'm looking forward to diving in soon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Getting Published in Canada by Kristi Charish (with GIVEAWAY)

A huge thanks to everybody who entered. 
Our winner is Christiana P.
Be sure to watch your email for a message from Kristi!

Regular readers here in the Ruins are likely already familiar with Kristi Charish, whose debut novel, Owl and the Japanese Circus, I had the pleasure of reviewing last month. This is a book for fans of urban fantasy who are looking for something a little different, with Kristi managing to successfully reignite my excitement for a genre that I felt was becoming tiresome and repetitive. There is already a sequel on the release calendar, along with her first novel in a new series, which is actually what brings her by today . . .

Getting Published in Canada
by Kristi Charish

Over the past two weeks since my debut novel OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS came out I've been hitting the blog tour/promotion circuit. It’s been an absolute blast talking to readers both this side and the south side of the Canada/US border, but one of the themes that keep coming up this side is getting published in Canada. So that’s what I’m here on Beauty in Ruins talking about today.

Now, my first disclaimer before you read anything below is that I’m new to the game. Very new. I only started writing in Feb 2010 (I was on vacation) and finished my first novel (OWL) in the spring of 2013. After querying I was picked up by my agent, Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative, and by the fall had a contract for the first two books in the OWL series with Simon and Schuster. Back in December, I signed three books in my second urban fantasy series, KINCAID STRANGE, with Anne Collins at Random House Canada.

One could successfully argue I’m too new to the writing/publishing game to know what the hell I’m doing (it’s a fair point). One could also argue I managed to get five books in two series under contract with publishers before the first book came out so I must be doing something right. Personally, I figure it’s probably a bit from column A and a bit from column B, plus a whole heaping bucket load of luck.

The point is take absolutely everything I say below with a grain of salt.

With that heavy disclaimer, I give you 9 things I’ve come away with over the past five years about publishing and getting published.

1. There are No Rules, Only a Handful of Patterns
I went into the querying process (sending out a letter to agents asking if they want to see your manuscript) fully expecting to be rejected by at least 50, maybe accepted by the 100th, and then have my first novel not sell. Harsh expectations but this was the consensus, the average publication path most speculative fiction authors out there had experienced.

What in actuality happened:

  1. Finished Owl and the Japanese Circus.
  2. Wrote up a letter, got a list of agents who represented authors I liked, and emailed a batch of them over a month (personal emails only, no spamming lists. You’ll get booted to the junk mail folder) 
  3. Heard back from Carolyn Forde (who represents Ian Hamilton, one of my favorite authors) the day after I emailed her. A manuscript request and phone call later I had representation. 
  4. A few months later Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket US picked up my manuscript and the sequel.

What is the take away from my experience? The publishing world isn't fair and though it has a lot of patterns there are next to no rules. Everyone’s path to publication is going to be different. I repeat: Mine was unusual. That isn't to say my path to publication isn't valid- it could and does happen to new writers all the time – but it’s not an accurate representation of how getting published is supposed to go. Go into publishing with as few expectations as possible and if someone feeds you a line about rules, run. They’re probably trying to sell you something.

2. First time out you might want to go traditional...or not.
The debate between self-publishing and traditional publishing hasn't changed much since I started writing. If anything it’s intensified. Is one better or worse? It depends on just about everything from the author, novel, readers...

I didn't go the self-pub route so I can’t say much to that. You’d be much better off seeing what Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking, and E.L James have to say, as all three have had huge success.

As to traditional publishing? I like having an agent. My agent strategizes with me about my long-term career goals and has the connections and publishing industry know how to get my manuscripts in front of the right editors. She deals with the legalities of contract negotiations and it’s her job to make sure I sign the best deal possible for my book and my long-term career goals. My agent/agency also takes care of overseas and film rights, which can be tricky. So far I've found having an agent a huge help to my writing career and well worth the commission.

I also like the advantages that go with having traditional publishers. They've sold books before and they have a much better idea than I do about how to package and market a debut novel. They arrange editors, cover artists, marketing plans and strategies, promotion, reviewers, get books to retailers, and there is the matter of advances. Yes, as many authors have pointed out you now more than ever have to market yourself through social media, but going through a publisher, especially as a debut, opens a lot more doors than you think. Are publishers perfect? Of course not, nothing is, and neither is self-publishing. Pick the one that will work for you and keep your options open.

3. There are serious advantages to being Canadian.
When I first started out I was told in order to be taken seriously as a writer I needed an American agent. New York was where all the big deals were made.

Like most writing/publishing advice out there, there is some truth to the statement. New York is still where the heavy hitters of the publishing world reside. But in my experience, there is a huge advantage to being a Canadian author. First, there are fewer of us, and that’s not marginalizing the Canadian reading population or publishing world. On the contrary, when Canadian writers throw their hats in with the Americans, not only are they competing with each other but with all the Americans and every other hopeful writer on the planet.

A lot of bestselling Canadian authors (Ian Hamilton, Yaan Martel, Kelley Armstrong) have Canadian agents. Canadian Literary agencies are more than capable of negotiating with New York and over seas publishers and do so on a regular basis. The best part? They represent Canadian clients. Yes, there are fewer agencies in Canada than in the US, but they’re an option for us that the Americans don’t have and shouldn't be over-looked. I feel I've had more opportunities working with a Canadian agent and agency than I would have had otherwise.

We also have access to the Canadian publishers. All the major publishing houses have branches in Canada and publish under their own imprints. It’s not easier – there’s tough competition from other Canadian authors and there are fewer editors buying work – but it’s an option our American counterparts don’t have so why not take advantage?

4. Some Things you just can’t buy.
If you take no other advice off this list, please, please, for the love of assorted Gods and your bank account, please, take this one. 

You cannot buy your way into publishing.

Anyone who tells you different (or worse, offers you a way) is screwing you over.

Between writing conferences, critically acclaimed workshops, MFA programs, and conventions there are a multitude of places for you as a budding author to drop a serious amount of coin. And those are just the reputable ones. I know a number of aspiring authors who have spent upwards of 5000 dollars on reputable workshops and university track writing programs and have yet to be published.

For total transparency below I've listed my total expenditures on workshops and conventions before I was published. It was less than 500 dollars.

  1. Vancouver Science Fiction Fantasy Convention: Free workshop with published authors included with 40$ weekend convention ticket.
  2. Vancouver Community College 6 week Speculative Fiction Writing Class: $120   
  3. Vancouver Public Library Workshop with writer in residence Spider Robinson: FREE, as in world-class writer, no money left my pocket. 
  4. Shadbolt Community Center 6 week Writing Workshop with Aurora Award winning author Eileen Kernighan: $120
  5. Norwescon Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention (Seattle): FREE writing workshops included with 60$ weekend membership. Also included publishing, editing and pitch workshops. 
  6. Subscribed to David Farland’s Daily Kick, a daily series of writing lessons delivered to your inbox: FREE

Spending money on the more expensive and prestigious workshops will not increase your chances of getting published or getting an agent. Once you’re published and have a bit of money from your work under your belt, great! Try one of the bigger workshops, but there’s no need.

The sorry truth is you can’t buy your way into a book deal. Writing is a solitary event.

5. The outfit doesn't make a book
And I’m not talking about the cover (though covers can totally make or break a book. For example, imagine your favorite action/adventure with a full on romance cover. The readers who pick that up are going to be real pissed). In this case I’m talking about another kind of dressing. The prose.

There’s a real propensity for critique groups and workshops to focus on prose- the way you convey the story rather than the story itself. This may upset one or two critique group workshops out there, but the more I learn about the craft of writing (and the more professional authors I meet), this strikes me as an amateur’s mistake.

It’s like worrying about how a gown for a ballroom dancing competition is going to look without asking yourself whether you know how to dance. The outfit helps you look good but if you can’t dance, no amount of trussing up is going to help. Twinkle Toes who showed up in the potato sack is going to win.

The purpose of good prose is to make a good story look better, but people read a story for the story- especially in commercial fiction. No amount of fancy writing is going to make a lackluster novel better than a spectacular story – even if the spectacular story decided to show up wearing a burlap potato sack and Birkenstock sandals. And don’t doubt for one second this doesn't happen every day in publishing. In fact, once in the publishing door there are a slew of editors (content, copyediting, proofreading) whose job it is to fix up the typos, prose, and make sure the logic of the story fits.

Yes, the story needs to be as ready to go as possible but wasting hours making it perfect is a poor expenditure of your time- especially when you should be working on the next project.

6. You have to pass the crazy test
Now, when I say ‘crazy test’ I am not in any way, shape, or form alluding to mental illness. That would be insulting. What I’m referring to is a writer’s ability to behave in a congenial/civil/constructive manner when discussing their work with an editor or agent, criticism and all. And the behaviors I outline below absolutely deserve the derogatory and insulting imagery the word ‘crazy’ evokes.

The following behaviors all earn a ‘Crazy Test’ fail: Name calling the editor or agent, arguing ostensibly about your work, online flame wars, choosing to take insult without provocation, tantrums, refusing to consider constructive criticism, angry emails sent out at 3 am, and – my favorite – inappropriate comments or jokes involving anything to do with race/sexuality/religion/gender.

Publishing is a business and you will be tested on your professionalism before anyone buys your book.

7. Signal to Noise
  Your enemy isn't a bad review. Your enemy is no review. There seems to be a real assumption going around with new authors that a bad review will prevent hordes of their readers from discovering their book. I haven’t seen it. In fact, the opposite is true. There is many a book I've picked up that’s been denounced as space cowboy trash (I happen to like space cowboys) or an urban fantasy that’s been ripped apart by reviewers for not enough romance (I actually prefer less romance, more adventure in my UF reads). The point is a bad review meant someone read your book and took the time to write something about it. Be thankful. Most people won’t bother reading.

And, speaking of reviewers... Repeat after me: Those reviews are not the reviews you are looking for. They are written for other reviewers and readers. And that goes triple for the comment threads.

8. There is no such thing as a secret handshake.
There is this perverse and pervasive myth amongst hopeful authors that if they just make the right connection, sneak into the right party, and figure out the secret handshake, they will earn admittance to the land of lollypops and unicorns, where editors pay you, the unproven debut author, to write a book they've never seen.

No one is going to give you money to write a novel (except celebrities, and even they don’t get paid to write the book, a ghost writer with an extensive portfolio does).

A novel is a product that a publisher is contracting from an author. Unless you have an extensive, commercially proven portfolio, no one is going to pay you for a product they can’t see.

There is no secret handshake or mystical industry party in Shangri-la.

Still don’t believe me? I was (still am in many ways) about as unconnected in the literary community as you can get. First, I have a science degree so no MFA or English department connections. I’m not really on the Speculative Fiction conference circuit (See number 5. Plane rides and conference tickets can get expensive) and though I've made a few local writing friends I’m still getting to know most of the writers in the Pacific Northwest. Yet that didn't stop my manuscript getting picked up off the slush pile or prevent publishing house editors from considering it. Remember what the product you’re selling is. A story.

9. “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more of it I have.” Coleman Cox, 1922.

I left this one for last because it’s a damn good note to leave on.

No doubt about it, I've been incredibly lucky in publishing. I currently have five books under contract to two major publishers before the first one is out and I've only been writing 5 years.

I also have worked harder at writing fiction than anything else I've ever attempted in my life. When I started I was getting up at 7am to write for a couple hours before heading to the lab where I did my PhD, then writing on the train home and until I fell asleep on the computer keyboard (my spousal unit has a lot of unflattering and very un-photogenic dirt on me). Once I switched to full time writing the pace didn't let up- I simply had more time to write. Get up at 7am, write. Break at 9. Then more writing. Gym at 5, then – you guessed it – more writing. And that’s not considering social media, promotion, etc. It’s 2 pm on a Sunday as I’m writing this article. Once I’m done, I've another article to finish, a podcast to go on, writing on my next novel I haven’t gotten to since my book came out. I won’t get to bed until maybe 10 or 11pm. 14 or 16 hour days are a reality for a full time writer. And I wouldn't change it for the world.


About the Author

Kristi Charish is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. The second installment, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Jan 2016. Her second urban fantasy series, KINCAID STRANGE (Random House Canada), about a voodoo practioner living in Seattle, is scheduled for release mid 2016.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.



Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

To help celebrate the release, Kristi Charish has kindly offered up one (1) copy of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS for a lucky readers here in the Ruins (hardcopy for USA/Canada or ebook for International).

To enter, just pop me at email at bob[dot]beautyinruins[at]gmail[dot]com and let me know how you follow the Ruins - whether it be here on the BlogFacebookTwitterGoodreads, or Booklikes.

Giveaway ends Sunday at midnight, and I'll draw the lucky winner Monday morning.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fiction Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. While I make every attempt to avoid spoilers, please be aware that an ARC synopsis, press release, or review request often include details that are not revealed in the published cover blurb.

With his third collection of short fiction, Neil Gaiman presents us with stories, verse, and even a 50th anniversary Doctor Who story, all previously published (please note that Black Dog, the one story exclusive to the collection, was not included in the ARC).

Having only read him in novel or graphic novel form, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances was my first introduction to Gaiman's short fiction. It was an interesting read, largely entertaining, and even if there was a long, deep stretch of works in the middle that just didn't grab my attention, there were more than enough strong entries to book-end that gap.

Rather than review every tale in the collection, I thought I'd just offer my observations on those that worked best for me:

The Thing About Cassandra was most definitely an early highlight, and even if I saw the twist coming a few pages early, it was still a great story.

Down to a Sunless Sea was one of the shorter tales here, but powerful in the depths of its sorrow. The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains . . . was absolutely fantastic, with the stunning image of a girl perhaps too-tightly bound by her ponytail, and marked by the cleverness of a promise. Adventure Story was too short, but unexpectedly comic, while Orange was odd, oddly told, and oddly compelling.

Click-­Clack the Rattlebag was really just a tease, ending just as we get to the meat of it, but I quite liked the monstrous concepts of the Click-Clack and the Rattlebag. An Invocation of Incuriosity was a great story within a story, full of myth and fable, while “And Weep, Like Alexander” was a fun story about un-inventing and the unintended consequences of progress. Nothing O’Clock, the Doctor Who story, was one of my favorites, taking as its inspiration the simple question of "What time is it, Mr. Wolf?" and making of it something perfectly creepy, properly Who-amusing, and entirely unsettling in its resolution.

Pearls: A Fairy Tale was just that - a faery tale - but a contemporary one of drugs, dogs, hookers, stepmothers, and magic, that I quite enjoyed. Kether to Malkuth and The Sleeper and the Spindle both continued the classic faery tale theme, but in a more familiar setting . . . even if Gaiman puts a few unexpected twists on the traditional tropes.

Introductions are always a tricky thing when it comes to a collection, and you wonder/worry about how much the author might give away, but I think it fits here as an intro (rather than an appendix). Gaiman really sets the stage for each tale, telling us less about them and more about how they came about. They allowed me to appreciate some stories (such as A Calendar of Tales), even if I didn't enjoy them, and really served to expose his inspirations. All in all, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances is a solid collection, despite the dry spot in the center, and perfect for those of who don't follow his short fiction obsessively.

ebook, 352 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by William Morrow

Saturday, January 24, 2015

From the Shelf to the Page: This Week in the Ruins

A busy week in the Ruins this time around, with some very exciting posts:
Both the Tim Marquitz and Paul Rudd giveaways are still open, so be sure to check them both out and enter today!


Stacking The Shelves and Mailbox Monday are a pair of weekly memes that are about sharing the books that came your way over the past week, and which you've added to your shelves - whether they be physical or virtual, borrowed or bought, or for pleasure or review.

After being so good, so diligent, and so strong, I completely fell of the wagon this week when it comes to my book addiction. New titles on the review front that I just couldn't resist include:

• The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett (The long-awaited 4th volume in his Demon Cycle doesn't hit the shelves until the end of March, but I'm ready to dig in now!)

• Haterz by James Goss (A blackly comic crime novel about a one-man crusade to make the internet a nicer place, whatever it takes, and no matter how the bodies pile up.)

• Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love by Mercedes M. Yardley (A story of demons and monsters, serial killers, and doomed, vengeful love.)

• Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman (His third collection, this once includes an American Gods exclusive and a 50th anniversary Doctor Who tale)


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is another weekly meme, this time focused on what books are spending the most time in your hands and in your head, as opposed to what's been added to your shelf.

• The Unremembered by Peter Orullian
I missed out on this when it was first released, but I wanted to catch up before the sequel lands this spring . . . and so far the 'Author's Definitive Edition' rocks.

• Dead Heat by Ren Thompson
A perfect reason why you should never judge a book by it's cover - yes, there is a lesbian romance involved, but it's also a very bloody, very violent horror story of a zombie apocalypse.


What's topping your shelves this week?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

REVIEW: Wrapped in Plastic: Twin Peaks by Andy Burns

Wow, what a strange few months it has been for Twin Peaks fans. After 25 years of teases and denials, Lynch and Frost finally announced we'll be getting a long-awaited continuation of the series in 2016, with Agent Cooper, Laura Palmer, and Audrey Horne already confirmed to return. In addition, Frost announced he'll be writing an accompanying novel to fill in the 25 years between the two series.

As a result, Wrapped in Plastic: Twin Peaks couldn't have come at a better time, even if the timing means Andy Burns finished the book before the news of a confirmed revival could provide a fitting epilogue.

It's a relatively short book and a quick read, but Burns does a great job of examining what made the show special, and of exploring its lasting legacy in terms of influence and inspiration. He breaks down the technical details of how scenes were framed, of how different effects were achieved, and of what kind of direction actors and writers were given to discover the characters. He talks about just how much influence Lynch's cinematic vision had on the series, and which of the other writers were most responsible for its most memorable moments. I was barely a teenager when Twin Peaks first aired, so I was largely ignorant of the technical, stylistic aspects. Looking back, and applying Burns' analysis to the scenes I remember, casts the series in a whole new light.

While the homages and tributes are obvious, such as the Darkwing Duck parody that I still quote to this day (and which he fondly recalls), the overall influence on TV is something I had never considered. We've become so accustomed to things like season-long story arcs, cinematic production values, and weird or experimental storytelling, that it's easy to forget how much Twin Peaks did first. Burns walks us through both sides of that influence, and really helps to put the show's legacy in context. We toss around terms like 'ground-breaking' all the time, but this is one of those shows where that term is completely deserved.

If you've never seen the show, this isn't likely to make you want to go back and watch the original series, but fans will find a lot to appreciate in Wrapped in Plastic: Twin Peaks. Along with reminding us of how fantastic the show was, it's a great recap of the characters and story lines, and a perfect way to get quickly reacquainted with the world Lynch and Frost created.

Paperback, 144 pages
Expected publication: February 10th 2015 by ECW Press

Tough Travels - Pets

Every Thursday, Nathan (over at Fantasy Review Barn) leads the gang in touring the mystical countryside, looking for fun and adventure. His Tough Traveling feature picks one of the most common tropes in fantasy each week, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones, and invites us to join in the adventure. All are invited to take part, so if you're joining the journey late, no worries . . . we'll save you a spot in the caravan.

This week’s tour topic is: PETS

Everybody needs somebody to love. And the best companionship doesn't always come from the same sentient group, does it? Be it furry or scaled, large or small, sometimes an animal companion is the best thing a person can have. (Thank you to Nathan's wife for this week’s topic).

Do familiars and companions count as pets? Well, they may protest the fact, but let's ignore the barks and growls and assume that they do indeed count . . .

The first pet I can remember encountering in epic fantasy (if you don't count the ferrets in the BeastMaster movie) is Guenhwyvar from R.A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale trilogy. A sleek black panther, she was actually an astral being that Drizzt Do'Urden could summon to his side through an onyx figurine. Limited to 12 hours of physical existence each day, she served as both friend and animal companion to Drizzt, accompanying him as much to stave of the loneliness of being exiled from his homeland as to fight alongside him in battle.

My favorite pet, hands-down, would have to be Oy, the cute, humorous, sadly loyal billy-bumbler from Stephen King's Dark Tower Saga. Kind of a cross between a dog and a raccoon, billy-bumblers have zebra-striped fur, spiral tails, and gold-ringed eyes. Both smart and clever, they have the ability to understand and mimic human words and actions. Jake Chambers adopts Oy as his pet in the third novel, and the little billy-bumbler remains a faithful companion right to the very end, serving to save the lives of the ka-tet on more than one occasion, and providing one of the saddest, most touching moments King has ever written.

Pets are, of course, a defining aspect of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. First we have the Stark children (and Jon Snow), who each get to adopt a cute little Direwolf pup. Of course, these cute little pups eventually grow to monsters the size of small ponies, and aren't shy about tearing out the throats of anyone threatening their owners. Then there are the baby dragons that Danaerys hatches and adopts. They're a little harder to tame, with some hungers that can't easily be appeased, but a dragon is a cool pet no matter how quickly it grows.

Part pet, part friend, and part familiar, Nighteyes is one of the most remarkable characters in Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy. Fitz is blessed (or cursed) with the Wit, a magic of the Old Blood that most find distasteful. It allows him to befriend and bond the young wolf, Nighteyes, with their relationship a driving force in the trilogy. There are accusations they bonded too young, and Nighteyes certainly seems more like a domesticated dog than a wild wolf, but he's a huge part of the story.

Sticking with the wolf theme for a moment, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time brings us Hopper. It's through his friendship with Hopper that Perrin begins to understand his role as a Wolfbrother. The two are able to communicate through a visual form of telepathy, consisting of images rather than words, and their affinity allows Perrin to enter the wolf-dream and run alongside Hopper as a wolf himself. It's definitely more of a familiar or friendship relationship that a pet one, but Hopper remains a trusted part of Perrin's destiny all the way through the series.

Finally, and this definitely counts as more a companions than pets, but there are few animals in epic fantasy more memorable than Yfandes from The Last Herald-Mage by Mercedes Lackey. These intelligent, loyal, honorable horses are Heralds who have passed on and chosen to come back as a Companion, to choose a Herald, and become bonded to them. Vanyel is a dark, tragic sort of hero, and Yfandes carries a heavy burden in trying to convince him that he's loved, and that his life is worth living. This is one of the darkest, saddest, most tragic fantasies I have ever read, but also one of the most powerful - it's what made me a fan of Lackey, even with an ending that rips your heart apart and pours shadows into your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Trial of Intentions by Peter Orullian

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Trial of Intentions by by Peter Orullian
Expected publication: May 26th, 2015 by Tor Books

The gods who created this world have abandoned it. In their mercy, however, they chained the rogue god—and the monstrous creatures he created to plague mortalkind—in the vast and inhospitable wasteland of the Bourne. The magical Veil that contains them has protected humankind for millennia and the monsters are little more than tales told to frighten children. But the Veil has become weak and creatures of Nightmare have come through. To fight them, the races of men must form a great alliance to try and stop the creatures.

But there is dissent. One king won’t answer the call, his pride blinding him even to the poison in his own court. Another would see Convocation fail for his own political advantage. And still others believe Convocation is not enough. Some turn to the talents of the Sheason, who can shape the very essence of the world to their will. But their order is divided, on the brink of collapse.

Tahn Junell remembers friends who despaired in a place left barren by war. One of the few who have actually faced the unspeakable horde in battle, Tahn sees something else at work and wonders about the nature of the creatures on the other side of the Veil. He chooses to go to a place of his youth, a place of science, daring to think he can find a way to prevent slaughter, prevent war.

And his choices may reshape a world . . . .

The second title in the Vault of Heaven series, Peter Orullian's Trial of Intentions is a mesmerizing fantasy epic that turns the conventions of the genre on its head.

Delayed partly because of the demands of his day job, but even more by his editor being fired (after sitting on the manuscript for about 2 years), Orullian's second volume of the The Vault of Heaven, is finally on its way. I'm currently reading his Author's Definitive Edition of The Unremembered, and I can tell you I am already anxious for the next chapter.

GIVEAWAY: London Warriors by Paul Rudd (Audiobook)

A huge thanks to everybody who entered. 
Our winners are Jamie, Susan, Erin, and Mya.
Be sure to watch your email for a message from Thorstruck!

The environment is changing. Nature is running amok. The fires of Hell are ready to erupt and mankind’s time on earth is coming to an end. 

Nightmare forces are attempting to break free from the underworld and the boundaries that split reality from Haydes are fracturing. The London Wall cordons off the heart of the city from the rest of the country. Lives have been lost on both sides, and with pressure mounting the Prime Minister takes drastic measures. Extermination squads attempt to eradicate survivors of a brutal war that still stains the streets.

With a Super Soldier Serum lost in the Inner Sanctum, the fate of the world is now the responsibility of one group of anti-heroes. Shamed Bounty Hunter Roman Richards leads a team of hardened death row convicts into the Inner Sanctum, confronted by hell itself. The team are tracked by a merciless breed of humans, sent forth by Demiurge, the new ruler of the Sanctum. With the Demi-god’s demonic army gaining strength by the second, the intruders sanction that only the strongest will survive. Devious allies, undercover agents, demons, warriors, psychopaths and cannibals, they are all present as the battle begins.

To help celebrate the Audiobook release, Thorstruck Press has kindly offered up a handful of copies of London Warriors for the listening pleasure of some lucky readers here in the Ruins.

To enter, just pop me at email at bob[dot]beautyinruins[at]gmail[dot]com and let me know how you follow the Ruins - whether it be here on the Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or Booklikes.

Giveaway ends Sunday at midnight, and I'll draw the lucky audiobook winners Monday morning.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fantasy Review: A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda

As much as I loved A Turn of Light, and as much as I was looking forward to A Play of Shadow, I didn't really see how Julie E. Czerneda could draw a second tale out of such a small, self-contained world. The village of Marrowdell was a fantastic setting, but its magical seclusion hardly allowed for the outside world to intervene. Similarly, Jenn Nalynn was an amazing character, but her own magical essence hardly allowed for her to simply stroll outside the valley and take the story to the larger world. Yes, I wanted more of the magic, and more of Julie's subtle twists on traditional fantasy, but I was worried what kind of a shadow a less-than-stellar book might cast over the first.

As it turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. In continuing the story of Jenn and Bannan, A Play of Shadow not only expands upon the magic of Marrowdell and the Verge, it does successfully finds a way to take us beyond that world - all while honoring the rules and limitations of A Turn of Light. In all honestly, even though this second volume lacks the novelty factor of the first, I do think I enjoyed it more. It's broader in scope, more magical in every way, and benefits from what I think most readers will agree is a more even, more exciting pace.

The story opens on a quiet note, reacquainting us with the characters and their world. Despite what we might have expected, the romance between Jenn and Bannan has progressed slowly, so don't expect any sudden leap towards wedded bliss. No sooner are we reacquainted, however, and we're just as quickly separated. Bannan is accompanying a trade caravan out of Marrowdell, while Jenn is off to visit Wisp and Mistress Sand in the Verge. While the lovers are soon reunited, both learn new secrets and new insights into the magic of Marrowdell and the turn-born, setting up some interesting conflicts and introducing some new threats to both their worlds. When Tir makes a winter return, near-death and with Bannan's nephews in hand, the story takes off in exciting and unexpected directions.

There's so much magic and wonder to be discovered in this world, I'm hesitant about saying more. Suffice to say, the scenes within the Verge are absolutely stunning, with little touches and major flourishes that really bring that magical realm to life. The journey to Channen, a canal town of magic and magicians, is a very nice addition to the tale - it adds another traditional fantasy element to the tale, and opens it up to some deeper, darker political machinations. I will say that we do finally get to meet Lila, Bannan's sister, and her appearance on the scene is well worth waiting for. Otherwise, Wisp and Scourge get to take on some new roles, while the house toads take on a whole new significance to the tale . . . as do their turtle cousins.

A Play of Shadow is everything I could have hoped for in a sequel, complete with the one thing the original book lacked, and that is a villain . . . or villains. Yes, there are two core conflicts here, one involving Jenn and another Bannan, and they serve to round out the tale. Rest assured, however, that while this second volume does add to the tale, it doesn't sacrifice any of the sweetness, the magic, or the wonder of the first. Definitely recommended.

Paperback, 608 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by DAW Trade

Monday, January 19, 2015

INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY with Tim Marquitz (author of Dirge)

Good morning, all. Yeah, I know it's Monday, and it's cold, but Tim Marquitz is here to get the week off to a good start. Author of the Demon Squad series and Editor in Chief of Ragnarok Publications, Tim has stopped by to talk about his latest novel, Dirge.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to stop by today, Tim. For those who haven't yet had a chance to enjoy Demon Squad, Blood War, Dead West, or your standalone tales, tell us a little about yourself and what we can expect from Dirge.

Thanks so much for having me. I’m a bit schizophrenic when it comes to writing, shifting genres based on the whims of the voices in my head. That said, there are certain aspects of my writing that transcend the genre, and those are that my work is always going to have a dark bent—sometimes exuberantly dark—it will always be set at a faster pace than most stories, and I like to put my characters and world at risk. Dirge is no different.

It’s dark and bloody and relentless, but it’s also a tad bit literary, if you can believe it. Mind you, it’s not Rothfuss or Lawrence, but I went into the story purposely looking to make the writing more lyrical, more impactful than you find in the Demon Squad books, specifically. I wanted to expand my voice and the character of Dirge and add some grace to how the story and world are presented.

Q: The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and what has the journey to publication been like?

I've had it lucky compared to a lot of folks. My fourth book, Armageddon Bound, took shape and was published shortly after it was finished, back in 2009. I’d only been truly dedicated to my writing since late 2008. There was no prolonged period of nerves or contemplation making the journey quick and relatively painless despite being a substandard affair. At least early on. The stumbling blocks cropped up later.

That said, the fact that Armageddon Bound was published poorly has turned out to be a good thing, in my mind. It allowed me to overcome the ego aspect of being “published” while forcing me to learn and examine and dissect the publishing world so I could do better. I’d also gained an agent six months after being published, which of course fell apart, again making me try even harder to succeed.

It wasn't until I had about five books published that the reality of my situation sunk in, and I was made to evaluate my place in publishing. I was caught up with a publisher whose focused changed from trying to produce quality work to one that decided larger numbers of books were their way to succeed. As such, given that and issues behind the scenes, I moved on to self-publishing. And while I still had a million things to learn, I was on my own to do them. There was no one to blame for my failures except myself. As such, I try to better what I do between each release, still striving toward that sense of accomplishment rather than feeling as if I’m always aspiring.

Q: On that note (as if I could ask for a better segue), in addition to being an accomplished author, you are also, of course, Editor in Chief of Ragnarok Publications. What’s it like being on both sides of the author/editor relationship?

It’s interesting, to be sure. I try my best to separate the two jobs because, as an author, I’m friends with a lot of these folks I’m forced to evaluate and reject on occasion. I deal with them online and at conventions and I don’t want to quash their dreams any more than I want my own quashed. I know what it’s like to struggle to get a story accepted, to have a publisher want my work, and I definitely know what it’s like to hear, “No.” It’s not comfortable.

But because I've been on the receiving end, I feel (I hope) I come across with more empathy than an editor or publisher who isn't still striving to make it in the writing world.

Q: You've written short stories, standalone novels, and series novels across multiple sub-genres of horror. What’s been your favorite genre or format to dabble in?

The most fun I have writing is when I’m working on my Demon Squad books, which is urban fantasy. There’s just a freedom in the genre that allows me to cram a bunch of crap I like together and make it work. I can play with or against the tropes more easily than I could in another genre with more rigid boundaries.

My second most favorite is horror, though I don’t do it often much these days. There’s just something primal about writing a character or world that exists solely to please itself. Some obstacle gets in the way, it’s removed, brutally. The genre is a great stress reliever.

Q: When writing, do you find yourself considering how another editor or a reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?

I write 99% for me. The other 1% is based on genre boundaries and whether I have a specific goal in mind for the piece I’m writing. I’ll sharpen or smooth edges for the piece to fit where I want it to go (theme, genre, etc) but I write what comes to me naturally. I wouldn't want to do it otherwise.

Q: In terms of reader reactions, what is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've encountered to date?

Well, I’m apparently both racist and sexist and quite misogynistic, if you can believe a few of my reviews. Had one reviewer state emphatically that I hate women because of the nature of my character and that no one who cares for their daughters should let them near my work.

And while I try to ignore stuff like this, it’s pretty shocking to have someone come out and call me these things, standing behind their accusations simply because they've read something I made up, defining me and my character entirely based upon one in my books.

Q: That's rough, especially when you're dabbling in the dark side. I know you've listed Barker, Butcher, Keene, and King as your influences - and I'm sure the same accusations could be made of them all. Assuming we're talking to readers with an open mind, what do you consider to be the three must-read books that any horror fan absolutely must read before they die.

That’s rough as I don’t consider myself anywhere near well-read enough to make that determination. My personal favorites would be The Damnation Game by Barker, Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, and I think I’m going to have to plead the 5th on this last one as far as must reads. That said, there are a ton of folks out there spitting out fantastic tales of terror that will eclipse the masters, if they haven’t already.

Q: Okay, you mentioned Barker, so I'll let you off the hook. Before we let you go, though, what can we look forward to from you next?

Man, last call already, huh? It’s been fun.

Right now I’m working on the first full length novel of my Clandestine Daze UF series as well as book eight in the Demon Squad series. DS8 will be out by mid-year, and the Clandestine Daze book will make the rounds with agents before it sees the light of day so no telling when it’ll be out. Beyond that, I’ve a handful of projects I’m working on and plan to make 2015 a year full of me, whether people want it or not.

Awesome. Thanks again for stopping by, Tim.


About the Author

Tim Marquitz is the author of the Demon Squad series, the Blood War Trilogy, co-author of the Dead West series, as well as several standalone books, and numerous anthology appearances including Triumph Over Tragedy, Corrupts Absolutely?, Demonic Dolls, Neverland's Library, and the forthcoming No Place Like Home and Blackguards.

The Editor in Chief of Ragnarok Publications, Tim most recently compiled and edited the Angelic Knight Press anthologies, Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous and Manifesto: UF, as well as Ragnarok Publications' Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters.

Connect with Tim: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Blog


About the Book

Dirge by Tim Marquitz
Expected publication: January 20th 2015 by Permuted Press

Wreathed in the ashes of betrayal, forced to come of age in the dungeons of her stolen inheritance, Kallie Brynn Soren died so that Dirge might be born.

In the midst of an undead invasion, Kallie is gifted powers by a dying priest. His last wish is for her to use them against the Necrolords in a way his faith would not allow. Reborn as Dirge and free of the priest’s conscience, she is more than happy to do so.

But when fate brings Dirge into the employ of the emperor–the same man whose machinations brought about the murder of her father–the opportunity for revenge becomes too much to ignore.

Torn between vengeance and the need to protect the only people she dare call family, Dirge learns there is a much deeper purpose to the Necrolord’s advance. Should it come to light, it might destroy everyone.



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