Saturday, 25 August 2012

Five Classic Sci-Fi Novels Worth Rediscovering


We have a guest today, writer Aniya Wells, who stops by with some recomendations for scifi reading:


5 Sci-Fi Classics Worth Rediscovering

Though my reading has been concentrated in other genres lately, science fiction was truly my first love, and I retain the same affection for it today that I had when I was a teenager. I made my way through most of the attested classics of the medium, hungrily poring through lists of the most critically adored novels, and this process set me on a journey of mind expansion that taught me how to think, how to question, and how to wonder. Here are my five personal favorites within the speculative canon:

1. Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Naturally, I could as easily have chosen any number of other Dick masterworks. A Scanner Darkly and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said are not far behind. And The Man in the High Castle may be an even better book, but I feel its alternate-history framework doesn’t fit as comfortably into the quintessential ‘sci-fi’ rubric. Ubik, on the other hand, best embodies all the queasy, paranoid, wildly imaginative glory of Dick while setting out from a recognizable sci-fi starting point. A mind-boggling and unsettling dissection of the unreality of reality, like all the master’s best, soaked with the particular kind of existential fear and sadness that made him more than a cerebral trickster.

2. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

Again, I like this one about equally with The Stars My Destination, but The Demolished Man wins the tiebreaker with its virtuoso mystery ending. This tale of telepathy, conspiracy, and murder in an apparently crime-free society must have been dog-eared by Dick back in the 50s; it contains many of the seeds of the work discussed above.

3. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

The hype is all true. This one is simply the most fun book I’ve ever read. Stephenson employs a postmodern kitchen-sink approach, throwing in enough good, funny, crazy ideas for 10 sci-fi novels and somehow making it all work. Hiro Protagonist, hacker and pizza boy for the Mafia in a Balkanized America of corporate city-states, meets...oh, you’re just going to have to read it (or re-read it) yourself.

4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

One of the most formally perfect novels ever written (minus the controversial and, in my opinion, regrettable final chapter). Many are scared off from reading this by the narrator’s use of an invented slang called Nadsat, but it’s all part of the total aesthetic package of the book and is music to my ears, as much as Alex’s beloved Ludwig Van is to his.

5. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer

Unlike many sci-fi fans, I don’t go in much for series: I want a different thing every time and am always suspicious of the motivations behind stretching out a “franchise.” The point being, I haven’t read the rest of the Riverworld series but I hear they’re good. This first one certainly was. It portrays a strange kind of afterlife on another planet where people from different times on Earth wake up and try to figure out what is going on. Peculiar and intriguing...perhaps I ought to read the rest after all.



Aniya Wells is a freelance writer and blogger. In an age in which consumers have access to unprecedented amounts of information, Aniya hopes to help her readers decode this information to make better decisions about personal finance, parenting, health, and more. She can be reached at aniyawells@gmail.com.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

An Interview with Resa Nelson, author of the Dragonslayer Series


Today I'm playing host again, this time for fantasy author Resa Nelson as she stops by for an interview as part of her Stone of Darkness Blog Tour.  Take it away Resa...

Interview with Resa Nelson


Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

For me, writing is like air – I can’t imagine living without it.  When I’m writing, the characters and the book are very real to me, and it’s thrilling!  Otherwise, my life is probably pretty tame.  I’m a movie fanatic, I read whenever I can, I love animals and nature, and I’m dedicated to exercise (which I actually love – I know, I’m one of those weird people but I love chocolate, too!).  When I was in college I had to take a course in human anatomy and a dissection lab.  It was a night class, and the building looked like Dracula’s castle at night.  I had to walk up a rickety staircase to the top floor, and the cadavers were stored in these coffin-like metal cases.  The first night I was terrified!  But the course turned out to be fascinating.  Because I’ve seen what happens on the inside when you do and don’t take care of yourself, I exercise every day and plan to keep it up for the rest of my life.

Can you tell us about your Dragonslayer fantasy series?  How did it originate?

It began as a short story I wrote and that was published in a magazine.  I wrote a second story in that world that was published in the same magazine.  The reader response was so strong that I thought it would be a good idea to expand it into a novel – but only if I came up with an idea that I loved with my whole heart.  During the next 8 years I had a few ideas but rejected them.  Finally, I came up with an idea that I felt excited about, and I wrote Book 1 (The Dragonslayer’s Sword).  While writing it, I realized the world I’d created could support a lot more story, and one book turned into a 4-book series.  I like to give people a way to sample my work for free, so I have a free “mini” ebook of the two short stories I wrote in my Dragonslayer world.  There’s no obligation, and everyone is welcome to download it at http://www.resanelson.com/files

Your third book in the Dragonslayer series is now published.  Can you tell us a bit about it?

In Book 1, one character shares some information about an event that has happened in another country:  a warrior king is spreading a new religion and has destroyed a temple for people who worship tree spirits.  (This is based on a similar incident that happened in real life during the Middle Ages that I came across while researching this series.)  It’s just a sentence or two mentioned in passing.  But in Book 2, my main character Astrid gets caught up in a situation that takes her to that foreign country, and she sees the ruined temple, which changes her.  In Book 3, Astrid travels through foreign countries and ends up coming face to face with the warrior king.  She learns that his plans are far more serious and threatening than anyone has imagined.  She realizes that she and her country will be facing trouble, and she has to do something to warn the people she loves.

You’ve also written another book, Our Lady of the Absolute.  What is it about? 

It’s about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt.  So the story takes place right now in the real world, but the fantasy element is that there’s a place in the world where people live like they did in ancient Egypt.  They worship the gods of ancient Egypt, and the goddesses Isis and Sekhmet play a huge role in the story.  These people deal with outsiders, but they don’t like them.  They keep the rest of the world at arm’s length.  The hero is Meres, a woman who loves her husband but feels like an outsider in her culture because she has no children.  She’s devoted to her country and her people.  But there’s a serial killer on the loose, and Meres doesn’t know that she’s the killer’s next target.  This book is a bit more like a mystery/thriller, but what is has in common with all my novels is that the main character is a woman who is strong, smart, and courageous.

You’ve been a columnist and contributor to various sci-fi and fantasy magazines, before becoming an author.  What drew you to these genres?

Long before I wrote novels, I started out as a short story writer.  I always wanted to try my hand at journalism and had taken courses in journalism in college.  When a friend took over the editorship of a magazine, he felt unhappy with the quality of the nonfiction because he had a different vision.  He decided to recruit some of the science fiction and fantasy writers he knew to take a crack at writing nonfiction, and I was lucky to be included in that group.  It’s like the old saying about being in the right place at the right time.  But I already had some experience as a copywriter, and I knew the basics of putting an article together so it wasn’t too much of a leap.  Once I got started, I ended up selling articles to 16 magazines.  Best of all, most of the articles I wrote were about upcoming movies and TV series.  I’ve been a huge movie fan all my life, so it was a perfect fit.

What is the hardest part of writing fantasy fiction?

That’s a really good question.  For me, I think the hardest part is striving to keep my work as fresh and unique as possible.  I’m always pushing myself to figure out the best and most unexpected ways to put twists and turns into my books.  I also want my work to grow organically out of my own life and experiences and world view.  So it boils down to resisting the temptation to use clichés or get anywhere near stories that other people have already written.

What type of research have you done for your books?

Lots!  In my Dragonslayer series my main character Astrid is a female blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers.  I took a course in blacksmithing.  I also took courses to learn historically accurate techniques of using swords and other weapons from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  I ended up joining a sword guild and was a weapons demonstrator at a museum for several years.  I’ve also traveled and read a lot of books that I borrowed through interlibrary loan.  In a nutshell, I’ll do whatever kind of research I think I need to write a good novel.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Work at your craft constantly.  There’s so much to learn, and then you have to figure out how to do it all at the same time.  I learn by doing, and I’ll bet I wrote at least 100 short stories before I made my first professional sale.  I’m always learning about the nuts and bolts of my craft and working at becoming a better writer.  My goal is for each book I write to be better than the last.

What’s next for you?

In early summer I finished Book 4 (which is the final book in my Dragonslayer series), delivered it to my publisher, and it’s scheduled for publication in November.  My next novel is going to be near-future science fiction blended with mystery, and I plan to start writing it in September.  I’m in the phase of thinking through the big story of the book and doing research.


You can find Resa's books at her website and a list of her blog tour stops here: http://www.resanelson.com/stone-of-darkness-blog-tour/


Bio:
Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop.
Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Her first novel, The Dragonslayer’s Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award and was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in her 4-book Dragonslayer series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was published last December, Book 3 was published in May, and the final book in the series is scheduled for publication in November.
Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended."
Resa lives in Massachusetts.


And be sure to check out my other blog In the Spotlight on September 11th when I feature Resa's Dragonslayer series.
 

Monday, 20 August 2012

When Fantasy Melds With Sci-Fi: A Review of The Darkness by Crystal Connor


My Book Review of The Darkness:


The Darkness by Crystal Connor is an intriguing and entertaining book that mixes fantasy and science fiction by juxtaposing the concept of black magic against mad science.  It melds corporate power against dark arcane might, each side led by a strong female protagonist.

The book chronicles the lives of two women, Artemisia, an influential businesswoman and scientist and Inanna, a powerful and dangerous witch.  Their lives intersect through a child they both claim as their son.  Eventually it is his choices and anger that touches off a chain of events that lead to the book’s tense climax.

There is a lot to like about this book, strong characters, compelling plot, tension, exotic settings and a nice undercurrent of philosophical and ethical ambiguity towards science and witchcraft.  I loved how the author sets up the contrasting lifestyles of the two main female characters, both so wildly dissimilar, yet oddly matching.  Also, even with the often controversial subject matter, the author draws the reader into caring about the characters, despite their actions.

I did, however, find the structure of the flashback sequences that pepper the beginning of the book rather jarring at times and this gave the flow of the narrative a disjointed feel.  This may be a matter of taste, but I felt a few of the scenes could have used a bit more in the way of introduction.  But not a large problem in the overall read of the book, so I give The Darkness a recommend.


The Darkness is the first book in the author's The Spectrum Trilogy
It's available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats.


Friday, 17 August 2012

Real-Life Inspiration for Science Fiction

A guest blogger stops by today, Samantha Gray, with some thoughts on sience fiction turning into reality...



Real-Life Inspiration for Science Fiction


“Write what you know.” The phrase seems to be the mantra of every creative writing instructor of my college years. In a classroom environment that rejected any genre fiction, I very rarely injected any level of surrealism or fantasy into my stories. Instead, I learned how to craft realistic human drama with clarity and precision.
My true passion has always been speculative fiction. Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and H.G. Wells were the lights of my youth. Today, I can use my instructors’ advice in two different ways. I write what I know of human drama; and I pair my imagination with advancing technologies that point to the future progress and demise of our species.

Age Reversal

Two years ago, Harvard scientists released information on a study that reversed aging in mice. The mice were genetically modified to lack certain rejuvenating features. After being treated, the signs of aging began to reverse. The downside is that this approach could serve as a catalyst for cancer. Also, the study says that these effects in mice may not be mirrored in humans.

Mind Controlled Technology

Three years ago, Pierpaolo Petruzziello became the first person in the world to make complex movements using a biomechanical hand. After losing his hand and forearm in a car accident, the young man participated in an experiment that proved mentally controlled robotic prosthetics to be a realized technology.
Electrodes that were implanted in two nerves of his remaining arm served as neural interfaces between Petruzziello’s body and a robotic arm. Using intense focus, Petruzziello was able to manipulate the robotic arm with his mind.
This year, a woman who was paralyzed for 15 years was able to mentally control a bionic arm to serve herself a drink of coffee. This technology involves a chip that is implanted into the brain. Currently, patients are required to be plugged into a series of wires and electronics; but scientists say that future technology will be wireless. 

Enceladus

Who cares about ol’ lifeless Mars? Some scientists are pushing for exploration of Enceladus, an icy moon of Saturn and potential haven for life. Compared to Earth, Enceladus is teeny tiny. It could fit inside the Gulf of Mexico with room to spare.
However, the moon has an atmosphere and water geysers that erupt from the surface and into space. (This is how Saturn’s icy rings are formed.) Organic compounds, a subterranean ocean and geothermal energy sources all suggest the tiny moon could be a breeding ground for living things. 

Submarine and Ocean Technology

Some of the most futuristic projects in development are those that involve submarine and deep ocean technology. The Water Discus underwater hotel is a project slated for construction in Dubai. Guests will be able to sleep underwater, and there are number of interesting safety components that will accompany the project.
Also in conception is a solar-powered floating resort that will comfortably fit six people. It is a combination of luxury yacht and hotel; but the design echoes space craft designs of science fiction films.



Samantha Gray is an expert in online education and a freelance writer.  She wants to hear your feedback and ideas, too, at samanthagray024@gmail.com

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Interview with Cynthia Vespia

Another day, another interview, this time with writer Cynthia Vespia, author of the Demon Hunter Saga...


Interview with Cynthia Vespia

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.
I’ve loved books since I was very little. I used to make up short stories and write them out on my sister’s old typewriter. It wasn’t until reading Dean Koontz in high school that I thought about writing as a career. It’s fun creating characters and worlds. I like doing anything that is creative which includes graphic design and video. Making something out of nothing and having a finished product that you can be proud of juices and motivates me. I’m also big into fitness. I am a certified personal trainer and former fitness competitor.

Can you tell us about your latest book?
My latest release is SINS AND VIRTUES, a suspense novel through Musa Publishing. SINS AND VIRTUES is more about human interaction and the struggles people go through in life. Fantasy novelist Ben Haskins has taken a remote cabin in the wilderness to revive his shaky marriage and failing career. Within the peaceful surroundings he runs into real trouble when convicted criminal Sam Mitchell breaks into the cabin after she escapes from prison. Marked by a dark past of abuse Sama is volatile and ready to snap. It is up to Ben to use his writer’s gift of words to diffuse the situation before time runs out for them both.
The story pans out in four very different, white-knuckle, sweat-drenched, anxious viewpoints: Sam Mitchell who is intent on finding her way free and clear from the law at any cost; Sheriff Steve Walker ready, willing, and able to take out anyone in the way of what he wants; Lara Haskins who fears not only for her husband’s safety but also her lover Steve; and Ben Haskins caught in the middle of it all.
In the midst of this unique hostage situation the pace is nail-biting and suspenseful, leaving the reader guessing in each chapter. At the same time it is a strong, character driven piece that peels away the layers of raw human emotion through intense passages of dialogue. It is the type of situation you want to read about but hope you never find yourself in.

Many of your books have strong fantasy elements, most notably your series, the Demon Hunter Saga.  Could you tell us about those books?
I love fantasy! Demon Hunter was born because I wanted to try my hand at a fantasy series. Up to that point I’d done mostly contemporary. It took about two years to write the first in the series, Chosen One, but I’m very happy with it, I feel as though it is my strongest and best work to date. It garnered a lot of positive reviews including being compared to Robert E Howard’s original Conan series which I grew up reading so I am very humbled by the comparison. The follow up Seek and Destroy was a fun ride. I wanted to incorporate pirates and do something on the water. That also met with favorable reviews where one reader, a fellow author, compared it to Stephen King’s Duma Key! How can you not love that? I finished the trilogy with Heroes Call which was a short and sweet wrap up for these characters I’d come to love. They were originally released as separate e-books but now they are available in one “Saga” of about 500 pages!

Can you tell us about your writing process?  Where do your ideas originate?  Do you have a certain writing routine?
I get my ideas randomly. Most of them spring up from “what if” questions. Like what if this situation took place, or how would someone react if that happened. I always try to have paper and pen on hand now because you just don’t know when the Muse will strike and I don’t want to forget my idea. Look at JK Rowling penning Harry Potter on a train ride!
As for a writing routine, no I don’t have one per say. I try to do a partial outline just so I don’t get lost in my plot or give my character the wrong eye color. Other than that I just go for it and try not to worry so much about the first draft. That’s what editing is for.

What do you find most challenging about being a writer?
Marketing and promotion. Especially now with all the self pub titles out there. It is a virtual sea of books and in order to stand out you have to know how to effectively market and promote your work. It is exhausting and not fun in the least. If I could I would hire a PR person so I could have more time to write.

Who were your writing inspirations?
As I said I used to read voraciously as a kid. I was inspired by CS Lewis, Piers Anthony, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Robert E Howard, Tolkien, Rowling. I also love discovering new voices in writing.

How do you research your books?
That’s what the Internet is for! If I’m unsure about something I will fill it in the best I can and then when I go back I look up the proper word. For instance I just wrote a short piece about a sniper and though I’m a gun enthusiast I need to look up all different makes and models of sniper rifles, ammo, etc.

What advice would you give beginning writers?
I get asked for advice a lot and the first thing I tell them is finish the book! There’s no sense worrying about the rest of it if you haven’t finished writing the book yet.
Also, when you decide to write something don’t go with the trends. For instance if you are writing a vampire novel because it is popular right now by the time you finish it and it goes to print something else will be the big thing. Write what you want to write!

What’s next for you?
I’m doing a follow up to my Demon Hunter series. It will follow my hero’s children as they continue the family tradition of demon hunting.


You can find out more about Cynthia at her website: www.CynthiaVespia.com 
She's also on Twitter and Facebook

Monday, 13 August 2012

Interview with Shirani Rajapakse

Today's another day for an interview and we're going international with author and poet Shirani Rajapakse, who stops by to discuss her new book and her writing...



Interview with Shirani Rajapakse
 

  1.     Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Hi I’m from Sri Lanka. I write poetry, plays and fiction. I’ve been writing for over fifteen years but only started publishing recently. Last year I published my debut collection of short stories titled Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011). It was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award 2010 in manuscript. Since then I’ve been submitting work, mostly poetry, to various e-zines and anthologies.

  2.     You are a poet, a playwright and a fiction writer.  Do you find shifting between different writing styles to be a challenge or does it come easily to you?

I first started writing poetry way back when. A few years later I began experimenting with fiction and liked that too. Playwriting is a more recent addition. I saw something on the web about a playwriting competition and although I hadn’t written a play before I thought I should try to write one even if I didn’t submit it to the competition. It seemed like a challenge – an exercise in writing to see if I could make it work. I began writing the play and enjoyed it so much that I decided to write another. It was extremely stimulating to do something different in terms of writing; to tell a story in a different form. In a play unlike in fiction you can’t show the atmosphere through narrative. Everything rests with the characters and you have to be careful what words you give them to speak as the spoken word is crucial. One wrong sentence and you lose the momentum. So this was a challenge. 

Strange as it may seem I don’t find it hard to move from one writing style to another. I don’t sit down at my computer and say, now I’m going to write fiction or poetry. It just comes out the way it does. I usually write in my head first and then put it all down in the computer. Writing in different styles is also helpful as I don’t get stuck with writer’s block and whenever I’m stuck writing poetry I can move to prose and vice versa. I don’t write as many plays, just written two, but when I was writing I didn’t have a problem getting through with it.

  3.     Which do you enjoy doing most, writing poetry, plays or stories?

I think I’d answer that with all. They are all different and pose different challenges. For instance an incident that takes place on a rainy can be written in different ways as a story, a poem or even as a play. You can say three different things about the same incident and it is interesting to be able to create different types of art with the same situation or incident. It’s also interesting to see what comes out in different styles and this is what I enjoy the most. Similarly if you use the same incident and fit it into different genre you can also have something different.

  4.     Where do you find inspirations for your poetry?

I’m inspired by just about anything and everything around me. Something I read about could set off words, or an incident on the road or a picture. It’s not hard to get inspired to write poetry. I think poetry is one of the few mediums you can work in where you never get bored. I’m sometimes surprised I can write more poetry than fiction as I don’t really consider myself a poet but more of a fiction writer.

  5.     Could you tell us about your book of short stories, Breaking News?

Breaking News is a collection of nine short stories. It is of mixed genre. Four of the stories fall into the “living under the threat of terrorism” genre or category. The Sri Lankan government was locked in a war against terrorism for 30 years and most of the time people lived in fear of being attacked. It was like living in a 9/11 scenario for 30 years. The four stories set in different parts of the country and portraying the lives of people in various social milieu and ethnic background depicts life during these turbulent times. Six of the stories are told from the woman’s perspective or have women as central characters.

  6.     What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy the freedom to write what I want and how I want. I enjoy being able to move from fiction to poetry to drama and back and I enjoy juggling ideas for stories or poetry in my head and seeing how they turn out on the page. It’s also the ability to work with words, choosing different words to suit the context as it were. Somewhat like doing a crossword where you have to find the appropriate words for the story.

  7.     What’s a typical writing day like for you?

Sometimes it can be quite boring with nothing to do but edit what I’ve already written, and I do spend a lot of time editing or going through my work before I submit anything. But when I start writing it is sometimes nonstop until either my brain tires out or my fingers stop working the way they are supposed to. I think you tend to be busier when you are a full time writer.

  8.     Who are your favourite writers?

I have many favourite writers. The strange thing is some of the writers I considered as favourites in the nineties, when I was studying literature at the University, like Thomas Hardy and E.M. Forster are no longer my favourites. I’ve outgrown them like I’ve outgrown most others. I used to think this was strange but then realised that perhaps the reason I liked them at that time was due to some reason which is no longer relevant now. Presently I’m reading Orhan Pamuk, and Paulo Coelho. I just finished reading Simone de Beauvoir.  

  9.     Do you have any upcoming projects or books?

I’m submitting poetry and fiction to e-zines and anthologies regularly. Some of my poetry is expected to be published in Contemporary Poetry from India, a poetry anthology featuring Indian and Sri Lankan poets. I’m not sure when it will be due. I’m editing a novel that I want to submit to publishers and I’m also involved in promoting an anthology called Song Of Sahel that brings together artists from around the world to create awareness about the plight of the people living in the Sahel region in Africa. The anthology will include poetry, prose, art, photography and music and will be in the form of a multi-media book and will be launched worldwide on the web on September 15.  Apart from this I’m trying to put together some of my poems into a collection to be published sometime in the future.


You can find more about Shirani Rajapakse and her books on her website:  http://shiranirajapakse.wordpress.com




Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Interview With Author Robert Ford

Today we are joined by writer and filmmaker Robert Ford, who stops by for an interview:
 
 Interview With Robert Ford

1- Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Hello. My name is Robert Ford. I live in London and divide my time between writing and working in film and television on the editorial side of things. Currently in training for the Graeco-Roman wrestling, Rio 2016.

2- You’ve written your first novel, The King of Spain.  Can you tell us a bit about it?

The King of Spain is set in an old people’s home, in the future. It’s a dark comedy about the people who work there and the adventures they have. It’s quite silly but very serious and hugely entertaining. Of course.

3- What inspired you to write this particular story?

The King of Spain came about through a collision of elements, of thoughts and concerns. There were a set of personal strands that I wanted to explore and a set that were more global. It sound obvious, but the more I thought about things, the more I came to realize that these two tracts were absolutely interrelated, and it was from that starting point that everything else flowed.

4- You’ve written several screenplays, as well as the book.  What is the biggest difference you’ve found between writing a screenplay and a novel?

I loved the freedom that a novel affords you. You don’t have to think about the physical or financial constraints of making the final film. About casting or time pressures or any of those things. It felt liberating, not least in the respect that I could suddenly use language in a much more sophisticated manner - my screenplays were probably over cooked in terms of stage directions etc. At the same time I tried to remember that with a screenplay you can conjure a scene, and introduce characters with very few words. There is an economy inherent in their form and at their best this allows the reader to flex their imagination, which is a real strength.

5- You’ve also worked in film and had your directorial debut with Sexy Pig, broadcast on the BBC HD channel.  What was that experience like?

It was great, especially as the film was shot for no money and with no resources. Felt like we achieved a great deal with not much.

6- What is a typical day of writing like for you?

Unfortunately I rarely get to write during the day. More often I’ll write at night, when the rest of the world is sleeping.

7- What’s your greatest challenge when it comes to writing?

Finding time. Ideas come to me easily. I write slowly but I get there in the end. The biggest issue I have is finding time after work to write, especially now that I have a daughter. And I’m not someone who does well off no sleep, although I’ve had to adapt. My greatest wish is that one day someone will pay me to write. During the day.

8- Who are your writing inspirations?

Lewis Carol, Hubert Selby Jnr, Hunter S Thompson, Charles Dickens, Graham Greene, Roald Dahl, Haruki Marukami.

9- What’s next for you?

Once all the 4p royalties are in from the book I plan to buy a boat. Well, a rubber dinghy anyway. Yachts are so, like, last year. The dingy is a classic design and cheaper to run. My wife has offered to row us across the Irish Sea so we may hole up in Dublin for a while. TBC.


Author Bio:
After graduating from Reading University in 2003, Robert Ford briefly worked as a journalist in India before turning to the world of film editing, where he has been employed ever since. As well as prose, he has written several screenplays, and his directorial debut Sexy Pig was broadcast on the BBC HD channel last year.
He now lives and works in north-west London, roaming the streets in search of inspiration, drinking too much coffee and not writing as much as he should.

The King of Spain
When unworldly 22-year-old Sam is offered the chance to swap life in his regulation bungalow for a job at a countryside retirement home, he drops everything and heads to the rolling fields of Sussex. But things at the eerie Edge Hill are far from what he imagined.
The residents are easily over 100 years old, but due to rigorous cosmetic upkeep they look like they are in their twenties. The strange ‘handlers’ who work in the facility seem to have everything under control – until a geriatric stampede sets off a mind-blowing sequence of events that threatens to alter his life for ever.
In this sensational debut novel set in the not-too-distant future, Robert Ford has created a universe of his own in order to brilliantly illuminate the one – and the age – we all share…
 
The King of Spain:
 


Monday, 6 August 2012

Magical, Mystical Tour: A Look Inside A Prince from the Shadows

Today the spotlight is on the book A Prince from the Shadows by J.Curtis Mace, as he stops by as part of his Blog Tour.
He's bringing with him a post detailing the fascinating background on the magic of the world inside A Prince from the Shadows, and a giveaway of a PDF copy of his book and some digital character art to one lucky commenter :


 The Myst

The magic of Erthlynd is called the Myst. This is the force of energy that surrounds and permeates everything. It can be moved and manipulated and even seen, but only by someone with a gift for the art. True mystics can harness this energy. They and use their own energy and even cast it out from themselves. It can also be combined with elemental magic (and other ancient strengths) and moved to a greater effect.
Before the breaking of the Old World and the "coming apart of all things," this Myst was contained in core of the great earthstone and only touched the world indirectly. Still, men abused the power and everything around them to know end, until the planet destroyed itself to be free of them.
And with the breaking, the Myst was set free. 
Of course, there was no one to use (or abuse) this magic, no life left to benefit from it. The great destruction erased even the memory of living things. But the Myst is the energy of everything, and it never dies. The deepest magic remained, and eventually it brought about another change.
It took a countless age for the Myst to manifest itself again. But life was eventually given a second chance. 
On the barren surface of the stone that would later become Erthlynd, a small flame appeared. Flaring blue at first then green with it and then red, this fire was the raw manifestation of the Myst burning in its purest form. These Fyres of Creation, the Incyn Vi'Ari, were literally the spark of life and the catalyst for living things brought back into the world. 
Of course, Man tried to control this fire and its elder magic and take it for their own.
The Incyn Vi'Ari ended the First War by changing the face of Erthlynd again to protect itself from Man's lust for power. Closed off from the world by the Genesys Mountains, the power of the Myst housed beneath the base of Ilsfore's Peak, still touches the world directly, but it's protected by the surrounding stone and by the fabled few who swore oaths to protect it.
The hands of Man can no longer touch the flame and the power of the Myst within, but those with the gift can manipulate the Myst and move it at their will. 
These are mystics, and Jeodyn is one of them.
In the East, the art of mystic manipulation was lost and forgotten. Those with the gift were/are looked down on as witches and evil men. In West though, the Myst was embraced. Vallyn, Jeodyn's first forefather, brought the study of the art with him into the West, and for a long time it flourished. The Blood of Vallyn was known from its beginning as a line of mystic kings, until one king without the gift took the throne. There had been others to carry Vallyn's blood and not his passion for the Myst, but this last king's pride and insecurity got the better of him, and he banished the practice, forcing it underground. 
With the practice banned, those who studied the Myst were forced into hiding. They banned together to form the Brothers of Sodal, and they studied the Myst in secret. They were a close-knit of group of brothers who vowed to never let Vallyn's teachings die. It was always understood that one should know the Myst and study and keep it, so that they may keep it safe from those who would abuse it. This promise kept the mystic art alive in Vallynhelm. 
When my story starts, the art of mystic manipulation has been banned for generations. Jeodyn is the first of the Royal line to be accepted as one of the Brothers of Sodal. His friend Leye is a very strong mystic, who would only take their offer to join if they took him.
The Brothers have their traditions, and a young mystic's seeking is one of their oldest. Earning a beard and dreadlocks during the year alone in the wild is another, though it's now custom to shave them before coming home (Jeodyn decides to keep them as tribute to the old ways). He spent all year in seclusion studying his art and realizing his talent.
Jeodyn can move objects by focusing on the energy surrounding them, he can even break them apart. Focusing on the energy of the Myst inside him (which is very strong, the strongest since Vallyn himself, though Jeodyn doesn't know it yet), he can cast his Myst as a punch or a strike, as an extension of himself. He's learning to channel it, and he even has the opportunity to use his own strength with another magic just as powerful and just as old as the Myst.
With the new incarnation of an ancient darkness now gunning for his family, Jeodyn's gonna need every bit of the strength he possesses and then some to keep his family safe. He knows his greatest power is rooted in the royal blood he shares with his namesake (Vallyn), and he knows he must use everything he can to keep that bloodline unbroken.


A Prince from the Shadows

A reluctant prince, determined to be a better man than his father, the king, has ever been, Jeodyn spent his last year in the wild, secretly studying the banned art of manipulating the Myst. Returning home, he knows he'll have to face his king's wrath and his mother's worry. But what Jeodyn finds with his younger sister is completely unexpected: Jynn has become dark and distant of late and has committed herself to a lover whose sinister demeanor personifies her own rebellion perfectly. No one realizes just how dark Jynn's heart has turned though or how deeply she's fallen, until she disappears.
Now, everything Jeodyn has learned and everything he's ever known about himself will be tested, when he sets out to do what his father should but never will: defend their family. Convinced Jynn will only leave again if they force her back, King Thayne gives the order that no one is to follow after her. So, to keep the promise he makes to his mother, Jeodyn must leave out alone to face the creature of darkness that has taken his sister.
Noirlok was born a man of Vallynhelm, but he lost his love and his life to the throne he swore to protect. Now, he has sworn revenge. To him, Jynn is that vengeance he's wanted for so long and the face of the love he'd for so long been without, and he takes her as his own. With the dark legion of shadowmen known as Shadorym behind him and the night at his command, Noirlok is ready to use all his power to keep what is his.
When Jeodyn ventures into the darkness of the ShadowLands to face Noirlok and take Jynn back, the fight to defend what they all have at stake begins.
A Prince from the Shadows is Book One in the series, Heroes and Flame, Blood and Myst.

The book is available from Lulu.com and Apple

About the Author:
J.Curtis Mace was born in Baltimore, MD, lived in Colonial Beach, VA, then North Hartford, MD and moved to Caroline County to in the ninth grade.  He graduated from CHS, class of ’96.  He's lived in Richmond, VA ever since (except for brief stints in Abilene, TX and Venice, CA).
He's married, he and his wife Heather have three children, and a dog.  He loves writing, art, and telling stories. Sharing them with the world is a new thing for him, but he's quickly learning how much he loves that too.
 



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