Genre of the Month, June - SciFi

Sci-Fi LGBT+ Novels that don’t Suck

It’s a sad thing to admit but there is a distinct lack of well-written sci-fi books featuring LGBT protagonists.  They do exist, but they seem too often lost in a sea of romance books masquerading as sci-fi.  If you are looking for romance, well then that’s all well and good, but if you really just want a true sci-fi book with all the techno-jargon, space travel, dystopian futures, and a diverse cast but without the constant angst and love scenes, you might have a difficult time finding one you like.  Worse yet, you may find yourself in the midst of the swamp of clichés, the graveyard of throw-away characters, or the pit of faux diversity.  Hopefully, we can alleviate some of that pain by slogging through the mediocre to bring you some true science fiction gems.

Warchild Series by Karin Lowachee

Superbly written sci-fi with a wide cast of characters, this space opera is well worth the read.  Lowachee is able to craft characters you care about in a world that feels deeply developed while still remaining character-focused.  The three current books delve into multiple issues, some quite dark, each from a different character’s perspective.  For the most part, they are light on the romance as well, although Cagebird brings it front and center.  The fourth book, The Warboy, is currently awaiting a release date.  

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin 

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This classic was published in 1969 as part of the Hainish Cycle. However, each book can be read as a standalone.  It focuses on a human emissary to the alien planet of Winter, where the local alien species can shift their gender.  For its time, it was groundbreaking.  The romance is still downplayed, left to subtext for the most part but the characters are interesting, well-developed, and don’t stoop to clichés.  The world building, too, is what you would expect from LeGuin.  It has a wealth of details and depth, all presented from both an outsider’s point of view and from the perspective of an insider.  Despite its age, we highly recommend this book.

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Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey

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The synopsis of this book can seem a little misleading, making it seem like another played-out werewolf fic.  It is not, though, and more than worth a read.  It’s set in a not so distant future in which the US and Mexico are in an ongoing war, resulting in a DMZ along the border of Texas and Mexico.  The story takes place in the town of Santa Olivia within this demilitarized zone.  The setting is a gritty, realistic dystopia, but not so much one of overt malice and oppression but rather more like neglect.  The characters are all very well developed.  No one feels like a two-dimensional caricature, resulting in antagonists who are sympathetic and good guys with flaws. The lesbian romance is more central in this, but very well-written with a fully developed arc complete with both emotion and action.  If you like a bit of superhero flavor with your dystopian sci-fi, this is the one for you!

These are just a few we think break the mold and stand out as well-written and developed, with LGBT protagonists who are not simply clichés, throw-away, or there to fill a quota.  If you know of more LGBT Sci-Fi books, we’d love to hear about them! Post your favorite in the comments and

Post your favorite in the comments and Happy Pride Month!

Genre of the Month

The Grimdark Universe of Warhammer 40k

“In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.”

Megalithic ships looming in the bleak emptiness of space.  Ethereal, high-tech crafts streaking through the void between space and time. Enormous warriors in power armor, tech priests covered in cybernetic oddities, elven warriors with supernatural abilities, and chitinous abominations bent on devouring the galaxy.  You will find all these things and so much more awaiting you in the grimdark universe of Warhammer 40k.  

A realm of sci-fi that stands out in all its Gothic-horror, high-tech, magic glory. In the 41st millennium, the universe is a grim place.  Man has spread to a million worlds, but there are countless horrors waiting for them amongst the stars.  There are brutish Orks, haughty and territorial Eldar, and the ideological Tao, all of whom have their own ideas of how the galaxy should operate, and none of whom agree with mankind on the matter.  As for humanity, they follow the God Emperor, the beacon which guides them through the void, their salvation, and their doom.  Warhammer 40k is a complicated universe, to say the least, but from it come endless stories of valor, war, and tragedy, all nestled within a unique setting.  Navigating this bleak galaxy is dangerous and difficult, but the God Emperor has mercifully guided us to these beginnings.


Gaunt’s Ghosts

This series follows the deeds of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith First-and-Only, better known as Gaunt’s Ghosts.  These brave souls are not marines clad in power armor; these are men of the Imperial Guard.  Their stories are told with brutal, fast-paced action, tragedy, and the bond between soldiers who have nothing else but each other.  Reminiscent of the descriptions of WWII, Gaunt’s Ghosts will give you an intimate view of the ugliness of war in the 41st millennium.  

Space Wolves

One of the fan-favorite factions, the Space Wolves are an epic combination of space marines, vikings, and supernatural beasts.  They ride into battle on giant dire wolves and attach huge claws to their power-armored fists. They can also gain the memories of any creature they eat!  It’s wicked cool!  The Space Wolf Omnibus is a great place to read about all the epic, if slightly over the top, action.

Horus Heresy

If you want to understand one of the most important events in the history of 40k, read the Horus Heresy.  The characters and actions taken in this series shaped the galaxy in a thousand different, irreversible ways.  The primary focus of this series is Horus, the Emperor’s favorite son, and how descent in the ranks leads to a rift within the Empire.  There are so many things that happen in the Horus Heresy series that it really must be experienced first hand.  


These are just a few examples to get you started, and once you’ve seen the Imperium, it only gets more grim and dark from there.  From there, you can travel “cannot-be” void of the warp to visit the tomb worlds of the Necrons, the hives of the Tyranids, or the endless horror show that comprise the realms of the dark Eldar.  If you like a little horror, a Gothic flavor, and a bit of arcano-punk with your sci-fi, the 41st millennium is the place to be!  

Genre of the Month, Recipes

Bangers and Mash

Still a favorite in pubs and restaurants around the world, this British dish frequently makes an appearance in historical novels set in working class England.  It’s a hearty meal, and very easy to prepare.  So if you need a good meal to warm your belly while reading tales of the working class, grab a hammer, suspenders, and these ingredients.

  • 4-6 Beer-soaked sausages
  • 1.5 Pounds of golden potatoes, skinned
  • 1/2 Yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • (Optional) Brown or onion gravy, cheese, and/or peas and carrots

Fill a large pot 3/4th’s full of water, and allow to boil.  Once boiling, add the potatoes, cover, and let boil for 30 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.  In a large skillet, melt a tablespoon of butter, then add the onions and garlic.  Sauté the onions until soft, then add the sausages.  Make sure to turn the sausages regularly so they are thoroughly cooked on all sides. Once the potatoes are soft, drain the water, add a splash of milk, and as much butter as you like.  Mash to a fine puree; optionally you can mix in some cheddar cheese or canned peas and carrots at this point.  Spoon a hearty helping of mashed potatoes onto your plates, optionally top with gravy, then add one or two sausages and onions.  Enjoy your warm, filling meal!

Genre of the Month, Recipes

Amaretto Cherry Poached Pears

Poached pears have been a favorite dessert for hundreds of years and have been featured in several historical fiction novels.  They are more easily made in autumn when pears are at the height of their season, but thanks to modern grocers we can get canned and sometimes fresh pears year round.  The term “poaching” may be a little intimidating to some, but this recipe is much easier than you might think!  If you want a sweet treat to enjoy while reading a historical novel set in the 16th to 18th centuries?  Grab a powdered wig, hand fan, and these ingredients.  

  • 4 anjou pears, slightly firm
  • 1 cup amaretto
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons cherry syrup
  • Vanilla bean Ice cream

Peal the pears, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the cores.  In a medium saucepan, combine the amaretto, water, and syrup to a boil.  Then, add the pears, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Allow the pears to poach for 25-30 minutes or until the pears are soft enough for a fork to go through easily.  Remove the pears from the mixture and place in desired serving dishes, the return the remaining liquid to medium-high heat and simmer until the mixture thickens.  Pour the syrupy liquid over the pears, add a scoop of ice cream, and enjoy!

Genre of the Month

Alternate Punk Subgenres – Sandal, Candle, and Silk

 

At this point, most people are aware of the steam-powered, brass-goggled mayhem that is the steampunk genre.  And many people probably can recognize the neon, holographic entertainment riot which constitutes the cyberpunk genre.  There are, however, many other punk genres that don’t get nearly the same amount of attention and publicity that they perhaps should.  

If you have no idea what “punk” subgenres are, here’s a quick explanation.  Punk is a tag that is often used to describe a number of sci-fi/alternate history genres that heavily rely on “retro-futurism.”  That is, the combination of the technology, fashion, and tropes of specific historical eras with a fantastic futuristic spin.  With the exception of cyberpunk and nanopunk, which are more like a retro idea of what the far future would look like, the punk genres operate with the idea that futuristic technologies evolved within the context of past eras.  Thus, steampunk is full of steam powered jet-packs, airships, and outlandish Victorian vehicles all encased in brass and glass.  

But if the be-goggled, Victorian steampunk doesn’t quite do it for you, and you’re not into the neon, holographic mohawks of cyberpunk, maybe some of these sub-punk genres will be more to your liking.  

Sandalpunk

This subgenre assumes that early western iron-age civilizations never fell, and essentially, ancient Greece and Rome continued to evolve to develop advanced technology.  This one tends to include a lot of fantasy elements as well, with colossal bronze statues, mechanical gorgons, and machine driven chariots   A bit silly?  Yes.  Still freaking awesome?  You bet!  Check out The Hesperian Trilogy by Alan Smale.

Silkpunk

Silkpunk consists of motor-driven technology with far east aesthetics using ancient eastern materials such as silk, bamboo, and paper, as well as the island aesthetics of south-east Asia using coral, feathers, and coconuts.  This one is relatively new on the “sub-punk” scene, but it already has several amazing literary examples that we highly recommend!  As one of the few sub-punks that does not heavily rely on western or European themes, Silkpunk is poised to be the next big, unique punk genre.  We cannot recommend enough The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu and The Red Threads of Fortune by J.Y. Yang.

Candlepunk

Jumping just a little bit ahead in time, Candlepunk, also sometimes called Castlepunk, assumes that the medieval era kingdoms continued to develop future technologies.  The best part of this one, however, is its own subgenre, Plaguepunk.  Think alchemical guns, plague masks, and a grim-dark medieval setting!  Try The Plague Tales by Ann Benson and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

Rococopunk

Much of the fashion of the Rococo era already lends itself well to “punk” genres, with its outlandish, ship covered wigs, porcelain doll-esque makeup, and excessively frilly clothing.  It’s not a huge stretch to imagine these aesthetics being applied to porcelain mechanized butlers or clockwork powered ships.  Rococopunk exists in the space between Steampunk and Candlepunk, slightly more silly than both, but definitely more punk.  The unique thing about this particular sub-punk genre is that it also focuses on the era in which so many wars, particularly Revolutionary wars, took place.  So it presents an interesting dichotomy between beautiful fashion with retro-futuristic war machines.  Check out Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson.

Decopunk

This one takes the beautiful aesthetics of art deco in the 1920’s and applies retro-futurism to that.  It usually features mobsters, gold guns, and lots of heavy deco architecture.  Outside of literature, one of the best examples of decopunk are the first two Bioshock video games, which mix decopunk and biopunk in the wonderfully derelict underwater city of Rapture.  If you are interested in decopunk be prepared to be assaulted by lots of gold and intricate designs with hard lines; it’s wonderful!  Try BioShock: Rapture by John Shirley.  

This list hardly scratches the surface of the many sub-punk genres, and if you love alternate history, we highly recommend you check them all out!  Which sub-punk genre is your favorite?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Genre of the Month, November - Science Fantasy

Interview: Kelly Blanchard

In honor of Science Fantasy month, we are pleased to have Kelly Blanchard, author of the Chronicles of Lorrek, join us for an awesome interview!

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  So, first I want to thank you for joining me today.

Kelly Blanchard:  Thank you. It’s an honor. 🙂

Perisho-Denley:  November is our Science Fantasy month, and you write quite a bit in this genre. Can you tell us about your current/most recent books?

Blanchard:  I just published the second book of my ‘Chronicles of Lorrek series‘. The series starts with sorcerer Prince Lorrek suddenly returning after being missing for ten years. He finds that in his absence his reputation has been marred, and he has been accused of terrible crimes, so he sets out to clear his name. However, sometimes favors are asked and deals are demanded, so it’s not a simple task. And everyone is wondering what EXACTLY happened ten years ago right before he disappeared. He’s the only one who knows the truth, and he isn’t very forthcoming. Book 2 begins after he struck a bargain, and it has dire consequences. He’s sent from his medieval kingdom into the highly advanced land of Jechorm to hunt down a specific person, but at that time he finds himself swept up in a much bigger war between advanced technology, medieval warfare, and ancient magic.

Perisho-Denley:  That sounds so exciting! Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to mix magic and technology like that?

Blanchard:  I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars, and I used to write Star Wars fan-fiction, so I was used to highly advanced technology in stories and such. However, I also like the idea of magic, spells, and sword fighting, so I combined the two genres. It worked out really well, and it allows me to expand beyond a single world.

Perisho-Denley:  That’s really cool. Do you still write fan fiction? Do you find that it helped your personal writing a lot?

Blanchard:  It certainly helped me craft my writing abilities. I call fan-fiction the training arena for writing. There are no expectations there, and it’s just a huge playground, playing in the world someone else created. It’s easier to focus on things such as character development, plot, description, and such when you don’t have to create a whole new world on top of that. Unfortunately, I don’t write fan-fiction anymore only because I’m too busy writing original fiction. If I ever had the time, I’d love to write some, but I’m too busy.

Perisho-Denley:  Understandable. Where do you draw your inspiration from to write Science Fantasy? Are there any Sci-Fan books or movies that have been really influential on you?

Blanchard:  Inspiration comes from everywhere. Sometimes it’s watching TV Shows like Intelligence. I love how the computer images looked to the main character when he was viewing the data, and it’s an idea I can use later if I ever need it. Other times it’s a song or line someone says. Sometimes I like to go to YouTube and watch crossover fanmade videos like Loki meeting Daenerys. Makes for an interesting story. I pull on so much that it’s hard to know *exactly* what I use because I use a little bit of this, a little bit of that, so by the time I’m done, it’s unrecognizable from what it was originally.

Perisho-Denley:  That makes sense. How long have you been writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Blanchard:  Before I knew how to use quotation marks or write proper paragraphs, I was creating stories by drawing very pathetic stick people to show the story. I can’t draw for the life of me, so you can imagine how relieved I was to finally grasp the concept of writing at such a young age. I became serious about writing when I was twelve after a horse accident dashed my dreams about riding horses in championships. Around that time I discovered fan-fiction, and I’ve been writing ever since.

Perisho-Denley:  That is pretty neat that you started at such a young age. Do you find that you are just as or more passionate about it now that you are published?

Blanchard:  Honestly, the fact that I’m a published author hasn’t changed my passion about writing. I absolutely LOVE writing, and the publishing and promoting is simply another aspect of it. I hope to eventually do workshops about writing and self-publishing because that’s always been something I’ve wanted to do, but my passion for writing is the same. It’s just very exciting to get feedback from people who love my book and those readers who claim my series is now their favorite series ever. That’s high praise, and I’m always amazed by it.

Perisho-Denley:  That is high praise, congratulations on that!

Blanchard:  Thank you!

Perisho-Denley:  Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Is there a specific time and place you prefer to write, or can you write anywhere?

Blanchard:  If I have my earbuds and music to drown out the sound, I can write anywhere. When I was in college, I had 15 minutes between class, so I would go to my classroom, sit in the hallway because the door was locked, and I’d put my earbuds in and start writing. This is how I taught myself not to get distracted. However, I prefer to be at home in my room writing if possible, and I like writing in the morning. This way I can get my writing done for the day and get on with whatever real life throws my way. I like to have a bit of an outline for my story, so I know what I’m writing next, and I always try to write 2,000 words each day. Sometimes I’ll go over that, and sometimes I have bad days and I can’t reach that goal, but I’m pretty stubborn and tend to reach it. It helps having a clear mental image in my head of how I want the scene to play out.

Perisho-Denley:  Is there any specific method you swear by for keeping track of your outline and notes, or do you prefer napkin notes?

Blanchard:  Sometimes I organize in Scrivener, but usually what tends to happen is that I just open a document in Word and just start outlining. If organization gets much bigger, involving pictures and such, I’ll switch to Scrivener to keep it all contained.

Perisho-Denley:  I know this is a dreaded questions for writers, but I have to ask. Which authors or books have inspired you the most?

Blanchard:  The writer who inspired me most is actually a Star Wars fan-fiction author by the name of Red_Rose_Knight. I don’t even know her real name. But when I was reading her stories online, I could SEE it clearly in my mind, and I paused and asked myself how she did that. I went back through her stories and really studied her writing technique. That experience alone taught me more than actual published books or creative writing class has ever taught me.

Perisho-Denley:  That is awesome! Inspiration can come from the least expected places, sometimes. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to write Science Fantasy? Or just writing in general?

Blanchard:  Well, for writing in general, when you’re writing the book, don’t worry about publishing it. A lot of people are determined to publish the first book they ever write, but there is so much more to writing than simply writing, and that takes work. The best thing to do is to focus honing your craft. Once you’ve mastered that and have a good handle on it, then focus on building your platform and publishing your work. As for writing Science Fantasy, anything’s a possibility, but be careful. Try to make it realistic and blend the two genres together.

Perisho-Denley:  That is excellent advice. What about advice for surviving NaNoWriMo?

Blanchard:  The common word of advice is to write 1,667 words a day, but I say 2,000 words. It’s an easier number to remember, and you don’t have to do a lot of math to figure it out. Also, if you write 2,000 words a day, you will automatically be ahead of the game. This gives you breathing room in case you have a day when you just can’t get any writing done. Also, know how quickly you can type. For instance, in 15 minutes, I can write 500 words. That means in a half an hour I can write 1,000, and in an hour I will write 2,000 words. Knowing this means that I can plan to have just an hour every day to write in order to reach my goal. Sometimes I can’t have a solid hour block to write, so I have to break the 2,000 words into four segments of 500 words each. That’s easier to manage, and it just takes a few minutes. That is why it is important to know how quickly you type.

Perisho-Denley:  Very good point. One last question, before I let you go. Do you have anything coming up that readers can look forward to? And where is the best place they can find your current books?

Blanchard:  I have book 3 and the prequel of my series are already written. Book 3 has been revised and is ready to be sent to the editor, but i literally just published book 2, so I’m not publishing that book just yet. I’m going to write another book of the series before releasing book 3. I’m always writing and publishing!  Soon I hope to have a newsletter people can sign up for to get one-shot stories and behind the scenes glimpses into my world, but I haven’t had the time to set that up yet. Right now, you can find my books on Amazon, Kindle, iBook, Nook, and Kobo.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKellyBlanchard/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellannetta

Amazon: https://goo.gl/P2iIno

Barnes and Noble: Book 1 ‘Someday I’ll Be Redeemed’ — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/someday-ill-be-redeemed-kelly-blanchard/1123600995

Barnes and Noble: Book 2 ‘I Still Have a Soul’ — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-still-have-a-soul-kelly-blanchard/1124842686

iTunes: Book 1: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1097600040

iTunes: Book 2: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1166017446

Kobo: Book 1: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/someday-i-ll-be-redeemed

Kobo: Book 2: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/i-still-have-a-soul

Genre of the Month, November - Science Fantasy

Interview: Jeffrey Cook

For our Science Fantasy month, we are joined by Jeffrey Cook, author of the Dawn of Steam series, the Fair Folk Chronicles, and a contributor/organizer of the Writerpunk series.

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  First, I want to thank you again for agreeing to this interview!

Jeffrey Cook:  Absolutely. I love what all of you have done with Books & Quills, and I’ve loved the features so far. I’d love to see you do well with it.

Perisho-Denley:  Thank you! So, to start, I want to talk about your amazing Punk series you’re a part of. Can you just briefly tell us about that?

Cook:  Sure. So, Writerpunk originally began, similar to Books & Quills, out of the Nanowrimo facebook group. An author named John Wesley Hawthorne is the main culprit — he noticed whenever ‘punk’ scifi came up, steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, etc., there were a handful of us responding regularly. So he started a group and invited a few people to join. After a while, between John, and Esaias Glaster, the suggestion came up that we could write some ‘punk’ anthologies. Maybe adaptations of classic works or something. So, already a full-time author, I jumped at it. When it was agreed Shakespeare would be a good opening theme, I took ‘The Winter’s Tale’ and gave it a steampunk twist. After it had been edited, cleaned up, rewritten, etc., I went back to the group and asked how everyone else was doing… and there were crickets. From there, I kind of took up some of the organizational reins. We set a deadline, put some phenomenal folks in charge of different areas: Carol Gyzander, JL Sarchet, Lia Rees, Katherine Perkins — all have been really essential to it. But we put out Sound & Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk, with 5 stories. We’ve done 2 more volumes since — with all profits going to help PAWS Animal Rescue in Lynwood, WA — a charity I’m pretty passionate about. Each book contains ‘punk’ sci-fi adaptations of public domain works. Right now, we have 2 volumes of Shakespeare adaptations, and Poe is the newest. We’re starting the build-up towards next year’s, which will be ‘English Class Goes Punk’.

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome! I am a huge fan of Poe, so I’m glad he’s been “writerpunked.” I think the punk subgenres are some of the best examples of Science Fantasy. Can you tell us what originally drew you to these genres?

Cook:  I started writing the Dawn of Steam series of steampunk novels due to a waking dream. I had two of the characters mostly fleshed out, and started building a world around them. A friend, who was already a steampunk fan, mostly from the perspective of her dressmaking, Victorian manners and tea parties, etc., suggested it as a genre to look into for the series. I’d previously read and enjoyed some of the classics of both cyberpunk and steampunk. But writing my own ‘punk’ series, with heavy doses of real history, exploration, parts of the world that don’t get a lot of attention in US history books, etc., with some Jules Verne-esque sci-fi involved was what really got me fully immersed. When Writerpunk started, I had the first two books out, and the third in editing.

Perisho-Denley:  I know there is a pretty vibrant community surrounding these genres, conventions, etc. Do you draw a lot of inspiration from the subculture?

Cook:  I love the subculture out here and have the good fortune to get to interact with it quite a bit. I sell books every year at Steamposium here in Seattle, Gearcon in Portland, the Fairhaven Steampunk Festival up in Bellingham — where I graduated — and a couple other events. A lot of the steampunk folks show up at other events as well. I’m not sure I’d say I draw a ton of inspiration specifically for the books — a lot of my steampunk tends to be earlier era, heavily based on history and historical events, and a little more sci-fi-light than a lot of it. But the community certainly helps inspire me to keep writing in the genre, and enjoying what I do.

Perisho-Denley:  That’s an awesome way to connect with fans, for sure. How long have you been writing, or is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Cook:  My mother likes to tell the story about how I first declared I wanted to be an author when I was about 6 years old. It’s certainly something I’ve been hoping and working towards since the last couple years of high school. I spent a lot of years doing some writing on the side while focusing on paying the bills. Then, after being laid off from a job in the insurance industry, I started focusing on it full time.I put out my first novel in 2014, with a few more first drafts done, but in editing and rewrites, and have 11 books out now, not counting the contributions to the anthologies or short stories.

Perisho-Denley:  That’s pretty awesome. Do you remember which book or author inspired that first declaration?

Cook:  When I was 6, I think that’d most likely be either CS Lewis, James Howe, or some combinations. Those were my favorite authors at the time.

Perisho-Denley:  What about your favorite author or books now? I know to a writer that’s like asking them to choose a favorite child, but I have to ask!

Cook:  My favorite book of all time is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I have some nods to it in Dawn of Steam, since those books are set to be contemporary with her. I love James Clavell — especially Shogun. William Gibson, JRR Tolkien, Asimov, Shakespeare, Pratchett. Kind of eclectic. The last couple years, I’ve been reading almost solely indie works, with the exception of Shiv Ramdas’s Domechild — amazing book. But also finding some fantastic indies that I’ve been really enjoying.

Perisho-Denley:  That is a very respectable list. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Is there a specific time and place you write best at, or do you prefer to write anytime?

Cook:  Writing has become a full-time job. I work pretty extensively with my editor and fairly regular co-author now throughout most days. I do a lot of my new writing once my wife and the dogs go to bed, usually around 11, but that’s shifting at times currently, with conventions on most weekends requiring me to get ready to be up by 7ish.

Perisho-Denley:  Sounds like a pretty full schedule. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Cook:  I have way too many hobbies for my own good. I’m a table-top role-playing game player, I attend a live-action role play when I can, which is about 1 weekend in 4. I love watching sports, especially American football. I get into the occasional computer games as well. I also have 3 large dogs who occupy a lot of time, but it’s well worth it.

Perisho-Denley:  That is awesome that you role play!  Do you find that role playing games help your writing?

Cook:  Oh, most definitely. I love the creativity involved. It helps a lot with character and world building, certainly. But yeah, I started role-playing when I was 8 — and it’s become a life-long thing.

Perisho-Denley:  That is fantastic. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into writing punk or other Sci-Fan genres?

Cook:  #1 piece of advice: read. Read the classics of the genre. If it’s ‘punk’, read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, read Neuromancer, read The Anubis Gates, read Morlock Night, and particularly read The Difference Engine. Then look at some of the more modern stuff. Read indie stuff, go to a convention and engage with the fans, go to panels. Much the same with general sci-fi — read Asimov, read Bradbury, watch some movies, and then take a look at the newer stuff and indie stuff. Get familiar with things like the Mohs scale, because if you’re selling sci-fi books, people will want to know if you’re more space opera, more hard sci-fi, etc. And then, my advice to anyone wanting to write in any genre: it’s a job. The inspirations can be a lot of fun. But there’s days it’s hard, and times you need to put a lot of hours in too. It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had — but it’s still a job.

Perisho-Denley:  That is excellent advice. One last question before I let you go. What is your best piece of advice for surviving NaNoWriMo?

Cook:  Provide yourself with incentives — carrots instead of sticks. Pick out things you like or like to do. Food, tv shows, etc., and tell yourself that if you get your word count in, you can have that dessert, or watch your show, and if you don’t, then you can’t. It can be small things — but it really can help, as long as you stick to it.

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome! Thank you so much! What do readers need to look out for coming from you and/or Writerpunk?

Cook:  My next few projects involve finishing the Angel’s Grace urban fantasy trilogy, putting out a collection of steampunk short stories (historical event-heavy, action-adventure, lesbian steampunk shorts), and then getting to work on a new YA Fantasy, Unchosen, which approaches the question “What happens when the Chosen One dies in Chapter 1?” And then Writerpunk is gearing up for our 4th release, coming next May, of ‘What We’ve Unlearned: English Class Goes Punk’, keeping to our one-book-a-year plan.

Perisho-Denley:  Fantastic! Thanks again for joining me today, and I look forward to reading more of your stories!

Cook:  Very welcome, and thank you!

Writerpunk books:

Dawn of Steam:  https://goo.gl/SSpuAZ

Fair Folk Chronicles:  https://goo.gl/MW4m6A

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/dawnofsteamtrilogy/?fref=ts

Twitter:  @JeffreyCook74

Genre of the Month, November - Science Fantasy

Interview: Andrew D. Michaels

For our Science Fantasy month, Andrew D. Michaels joins us to talk about his book, the December Project!

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  So, to start off, can you tell us a little bit about your current project?

Andrew D. Michaels:  Well the December Project is a two part series that takes a look at an almost dystopian society that has been united under an umbrella based government.The government, known as the legion, is extremely development focused, to where their goal is any advancement for the greater good at any cost.One of the scientist groups have been looking at DNA and gene modification for the purpose of accelerating evolution for adaptation to their changing environment

Perisho-Denley:  That sounds pretty awesome! What inspired you to write this story?

Michaels:  It was started as kind of a joke. I was talking with some of my friends in Theta Fleet which is a roleplay based gaming sim set for Star Trek universe (Check them out at theta fleet.net!) And we were brainstorming ideas about how and why the utopia idea never really took off. Everything from corruption and greed to war and such came up. Eventually it got around to the competition of advancements and how people were always trying to one up each other with the ‘next big thing’ So the idea came of what if the next best thing wasn’t the best thing? Like if there was something created that we weren’t ready for or could handle, how would humans react to something like that?

Perisho-Denley:  Some of the best ideas start as jokes, I think. How long have you been into RP, and do you find it helps a lot with your writing?

Michaels:  I’ve been playing and running D&D for a little longer than fifteen years now and it is extremely influential in my writing. A lot of my stories stem from one game or another

Perisho-Denley:  That’s awesome! What was the main thing that drew you to the Sci-Fan genre?

Michaels:  I blame Orson Scott Card for that one, haha! I came across his Ender series and I had the little lightbulb that fantasy wasn’t strictly dragons and spells and such. So I started experimenting with a few sci-fi based games to become familiar and then story ideas started to form and here we are lol.

Perisho-Denley:  That is an excellent source for inspiration! Besides the Ender series, and I know this is a dreaded question for writers, but what authors or books have you been most inspired by?

Michaels:  That one is actually fairly easy for me. My inspiration comes from Stephen King, Robert Jordan, and Piers Anthony for a majority. Recently I have wandered over to PC Cast, and Orson Scott Card.Though I’m currently reading David Baldacci, but I’ll have to get back to you on him.

Perisho-Denley:  Stephen King is especially good for Science Fantasy, the Dark Tower is so amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Is there any specific time or place you prefer to write, or can you write anytime?

Michaels:  I’m usually at least writing in my head whenever I can, but as far as sitting down to write I save at least an hour or two every day.I have a playlist that helps me so much when I’m writing because it keeps me focused on what I’m doing, because I can tend to get distracted fairly easily.My favorite spot is the library down the road. The staff there have been fantastic and extremely helpful when I need to find or research something.

Perisho-Denley:  Playlists are a must, in my opinion. I shouldn’t keep you much longer, so one more question. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into the Sci-Fan genre? How about advice on surviving NaNoWriMo?

Michaels:  My tips for surviving nano? Get a group together. Someone(s) to beta, brainstorm and keep things going. Someone to kick your butt when you stray and support you through. And someone who knows how to doodle.Nothing motivates me more than a completed cover for a project.As far as sci-fan in particular, find something you like and can relate to. A game, movie, books, whatever and start there. Also look into other authors in the genre so that you can become more familiar with it and get comfy. Always write what’s comfy. If you feel not comfy with your writing, it’ll show in it.

Michaels:  And build a playlist. Music is a great influence in writing. Something slow and sad or upbeat and jumpy will be conveyed in your word choice as well

Perisho-Denley:  All fantastic advice. Actual last question. Where is the best place for people to find your work? Any genre.

Michaels:  As I’m unpublished for the time being, not much of anywhere. December Project is anticipated early 2017, and Black Bridge is going out just before New Years this year. Announcements and behind the scenes extras can all be found on my fb page or my Instagram. Facebook.com/AuthorADM Insta: ADMAuthor

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome. I know I’m looking forward to reading it! Thank you again for joining us!

Michaels:  Thank you!

Facebook: Facebook.com/AuthorADM

Instagram: @ADMAuthor

Genre of the Month

Interview: Tuuli Tolmov

For our Science Fantasy month, Tuuli Tolmov joins us from Estonia to talk about her upcoming book, Aristarkhov’s Method.

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  I want to thank you for agreeing to chat with us today!  So, to start off, can you tell us a little about your book?

Tuuli Tolmov:  Well, the main character is psychiatrist Aleksandr Aristarkhov, who studies sleep paralysis. It is a phenomenon in which an individual is half awake, a state between wakefulness and sleep, but is unable to speak or move. Usually it is accompanied by hallucinations (Check out The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli). So, Aleksandr discovers that it is possible to control what his patients are seeing while being in that state. He reaches to their deepest fears and being unable to move, they die in adrenaline overdose. The heart stops because of fear. That’s the main storyline of the book, how he is obsessed with this study

Perisho-Denley:  That sounds very thrilling. What inspired this story?

Tolmov:  I have experienced sleep paralysis few times myself. Quite interesting and scary. But the story itself, how someone kills using sleep paralysis, came to me when I was chatting with my friend. She’s a writer too, and we were brainstorming different ideas how to kill her characters. Yes, writers plan the murder of their characters out open, right in the cafe. So it came to me suddenly and I thought- Hey, this would be fun to write in my next NaNoWriMo.

Perisho-Denley:  That’s a very good combination of inspiration! And having experienced it yourself, that will certainly make the story more realistic. Is there anything in particular that drew you to this genre? Have you written other stories in the scifi genre?

Tolmov:  Most of my novels and short stories are connected to sci-fi. I have published a few short stories in a local sci-fi online magazine. I have always loved sci-fi and fantasy, both of them. They let both reader and writer to explore unlimited possibilities of the imagination. And it is exciting! Nothing can hold you back. I can create entire worlds with my own laws of physics, nature, life forms, culture etc.

Perisho-Denley:  Agreed! That has always been what drew me to those genres as well. I know this is a dreaded question for any writer, but can you tell us which authors or books inspired you?

Tolmov:  Well, Harry Potter opened the world of fantasy to me at age 8 and interest in sci fi became little later for me, in age 14 thanks to a local author Leo Kunnas. But I think I have no specific authors, who I consider my role model. I read quite a lot and I pick things up here and there.

Perisho-Denley:  That makes sense. So when did you know you wanted to be a writer? Or is it just something you’ve always wanted to do?

Tolmov:  Yes, you can say it was something I always wanted to be. I dreamed about stories I’d like to write, but I didn’t do anything about it. I picked up writing seriously when I moved to bigger town and started my University years.

Perisho-Denley:  Can you tell us a little about your writing process? Is there a specific time or place you prefer to write, or can you write anytime?

Tolmov:  There are two conditions I work best in. I prefer to write in the morning before school or work. In that case, I need absolute silence and at least 2 hours. The other is basically opposite- in a cafe, alone, drinking tea and letting the fingers do their magic. I found cafe’s’ ambience soothing.

Perisho-Denley:  I can understand that, maybe it’s all the caffeine in the air. Can you offer any advice to someone who wants to break into the scifi genre? Or any advice on surviving NaNoWriMo?

Tolmov:  I have very warm feelings towards NaNoWriMo, so my advise would be go out and meet some other participants- to talk, to write together, to listen to their ideas.They are absolutely amazing and inspiring people who will not let you quit. About breaking into sci-fi genre… expect a lot of world building and weird google search history. Also, don’t be afraid consult with people who are good in science.

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome! That is all excellent advice. I should let you go, but one last question; where is the best place people can go to read your stories?

Tolmov:  I haven’t had a chance to translate my work into English. I write in my native tongue, Estonian. If there are any Estonian readers, they can check out Reaktor, our online sci-fi magazine, or some of my earlier work in Meie Jutud forum. My book will be published in the middle of January, also in Estonian.

Perisho-Denley:  Very cool. I want to thank you again for joining me today, the story sounds amazing and I look forward to hearing more about it!

Tolmov:  Big thanks to you too.

Instagram: @tumelilleke

Genre of the Month, November - Science Fantasy

Interview: Stephanie Wideman

For our Science Fantasy month, Stephanie Wideman, author of the Space Station Olympus series, joins us for an interview!

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  First, I want to thank you again for joining me today. 🙂

Stephanie Wideman:  Thanks for having me.

Perisho-Denley:  Can you start us off by telling us a little about your Space Station Olympus series?

Wideman:  In a nutshell: Greek Mythology in Space. A bit longer, it’s about the survival of humans and aliens after the destruction of Earth 3, so far in the future that both species have forgotten anything about where they came from. The gods now rule over the humans, taking human hosts as part of a not-so-secret secret. Each book revolves around a Greek myth from beginning to end as we get to see different aspects of life on the station and as the humans migrate to a planet later in the series.

Wideman:  I tried to design it so that the reader won’t have to know about Greek mythology to keep up with the story line.

Perisho-Denley:  That sounds really exciting, and unique. What inspired you to meld Greek myth with Sci-Fi?

Wideman:  Well, originally, it was supposed to be a straight up retelling of Greek Myths set in Ancient Greece. I’ve always loved Greek myths, so it was an easy subject. I did it for NanoWrimo 2009. However, when I was writing the first novel, Iona, and the main character was then called Psyche, I came to a problem. In the myth, Psyche throws herself off a cliff. I went nuts pouring over maps trying to figure out what cliff. So I said, “Screw it! It’s in space!”. Thus, Space Station Olympus was founded. It really opened a lot of doors for the retellings and settings of the stories.

Perisho-Denley:  That is a pretty great way to solve a problem! So in designing the universe this story is set in, did you draw from other myths, or create your own? I imagine there is an impressive history of this galaxy.

Wideman:  I pretty much only drew from what I knew of Greek mythology and created everything else from my own mind. There is a lot of history of the aliens and humans, but I only put in what pertains to the story at that moment in time. Such as, they do fear they are the only ones left. There has been no contact with the other space stations, all of which house a different religion and mythology, in several centuries. I haven’t decided if I want to do spin off someday, but I’m keeping my options open.

Perisho-Denley:  With myths, your options for spinoffs really are endless. That is very cool. So was this your first Science Fantasy story? Or have you written in the genre before?

Wideman:  I actually don’t remember reading much Sci-Fi growing up. A few Mercedes Lackey books here and there, maybe. I did watch more Sci-Fi, though. I mostly read Fantasy. As for writing, this is really my first journey into Sci-Fi. I tend to focus more on the characters and less on the ship because of that.

Perisho-Denley:  Makes sense. I know this question is hard for most writers, but I have to ask, which authors or books inspired you to write most?

Wideman:  Oh, let’s see, who did I read the most growing up? I did read a lot of Stephen King. I used to read a series called The Unicorn Queen which influenced me a lot growing up. It’s out of print, but I think there’s a free version on the net somewhere. I can’t remember who wrote that series. I read a lot of Nancy Drew. Honestly, I read what I could get my hands on. It wasn’t so much an author that inspired me, but the worlds that opened up to me. I’ve been writing since I was about 7 years old. Each time I read a good book, I want to cause that same reaction in a reader. When I read a bad book, I tell myself, “I can do better.”

Perisho-Denley:  That is a good way to react to a bad book! So since you have been writing for so long, do you feel any different about writing now that you are published? Has it changed how you write?

Wideman:  I have more respect for the craft. It’s not easy to write. It looks easy, it really does. I don’t think it’s really changed how I write, but I am more conscious of what I write and what audience I’m reaching out to. I started writing just to get my stories out, and I still do that, but I am more aware of who might be reading my stuff.

Perisho-Denley:  That is a very good point. So can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Is there a specific time and place you prefer to write, or do you prefer to write when the mood strikes you?

Wideman:  My schedule is to hectic, I haven’t had a chance to create a writing process yet, but it’s on my list. I tend to write whenever I have a chance. I bring my notebook for the first draft with me everywhere and type everything up at night or in the morning. If I can, I make it to my local writer’s meetings to work on my stuff. My usual writing process that I’ve been able to keep has been this: first draft in year A, second draft and editing in year B, send to professional editor, beta readers, get cover and publish in year B as well, write next novel in year B and publish in year C, and so on. I always have something going on each year, either working on the next book or editing the current one.

Perisho-Denley:  Sounds like it’s effective! What advice would you offer for someone wanting to write in this genre? Or perhaps, something you wish you knew before you published?

Wideman:  Well, I can answer both. Be prepared for bumps in the road. I just published my third book, and I am still finding new ways to mess up. Writing isn’t easy and there will always be some kind of set back. The important thing is to push through them. A lot of times, we forget we can always go back and fix something later. Don’t like the cover because it was done on short notice? Re-release the book later with a new cover. Published authors do this all the time. Couldn’t afford an editor? Again, when you can afford one, re-release the book. Accidentally hit publish on your self-publish site? Don’t panic. There are ways to fix that. It may look like your world is falling apart, but take a deep breath. It’ll all work out. As I said, I just published my third novel. I hit publish too soon, but didn’t think anything of it since I had proofed the book digitally and thought it looked fine. Big mistake! I got my copy and it was 1/3 the size it should be. My font was too small. I had to go back and republish my novel after making the font bigger. I now have three copies of tiny font book, and I’m hoping they were the only copies purchased. If not, hey, collector’s editions.

Oh, and advertising works. I still haven’t figured that one out yet. 🙂

Perisho-Denley:  That is some excellent advice. And hey! When your books become super popular, those small print copies could be extremely collectable!

Wideman:  That’s the plan. I was in both a panic and laughing too much over them. As I said, it’ll all work out.

Perisho-Denley:  One last question before I let you go; what is your number one piece of advice for surviving NaNoWriMo?

Wideman:  Don’t see the end goal as a hard limit. By that, I mean, if you don’t make 50K words, you didn’t lose. There is no losing in NaNoWriMo. When I first started, I only saw the goal and got really bummed if I didn’t get my 50K in by the end of the month. Now, it’s gotten easier because I know I’m closer to my goal by November 31st than I was on November 1st. Only get in 25K? Well, that’s 25K more than you had. Life happens. Every word written is a word you didn’t have before, and that’s all that matters.

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome! Thank you again for joining us! Where is the best place for people to find Space Station Olympus?

Wideman:  I mostly publish on CreateSpace and Amazon. But I have three sites for information, depending on what they want to know. Tumblr: tumblr.com/blog/slwidemanbooks; this is for my “cute and fluffy” entries. I do character profiles, updates on writing, and the like. WordPress: StephanieWritesBooks.wordpress.com; a more serious writing site. I have backgrounds on my books and plan to put my more serious writing tips here. A bit under construction but should be viewable. Facebook: facebook.com/SLWidemanBooks; use this site for quick updates, first peek at contests and convention/signing schedules.

Space Station Olympus:

Facebook: Facebook.com/SLWidemanBooks

Tumblr: tumbler.com/blog/SLWidemanbooks

Blog: stephaniewritesbooks.wordpress.com