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Jim Butcher Interview Links

Jim Butcher Interview Links published on 3 Comments on Jim Butcher Interview Links

This is a new kind of post for us. As you may know, a part of The Butcher Block’s goal is to 1) compile and transcribe interviews with Jim Butcher, and 2) earn our own interview with the author. Here is the so-called “table of contents” for that goal, starting with the most recent and continuing on further back.

FALL 2015

This one does not have new Dresden information, but since a lot of us are aspiring writers, this is writing advice gold:

October 12, 2015 Author Stories Podcast with Hank Garner

_____________________________________________________
Interviews from The Aeronaut’s Windlass Tour:

Several of these interviews contain a lot of information about The Aeronaut’s Windlass (as they should). We look forward to someday analyzing the crap out of the Cinder Spires, but we will have to wait until several more are published. If you have not yet read it, you are in for a treat. In almost every interview, he mentions how much fun he had writing it, and it shows. It’s breathless, breath-taking, fun, and generally any positive adjective you can think of.

October 02, 2015 The Aeronaut’s Windlass Tour – Petaluma
Interview and Transcript

October 02, 2015 The Aeronaut’s Windlass Tour – Google
Google Interview and Transcript

October 01, 2015 The Aeronaut’s Windlass Tour – Skokie
Interview and Transcript

September 22, 2015 Reddit AMA
Reddit AMA – Dresden Information

September 21, 2015 DRAGON*CON!
Interview and Transcript!

SPRING 2015

April 12, 2015 Easter*Con
Interview and Transcript

_____________

Does The Butcher Block have a chance at scoring our very own interview?

View Results

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The Self-Published Fantast Blog-Off Post 2: Bloodrush & The Thief Who…

The Self-Published Fantast Blog-Off Post 2: Bloodrush & The Thief Who… published on No Comments on The Self-Published Fantast Blog-Off Post 2: Bloodrush & The Thief Who…

About the Contest

The Self-published Fantasy Blog-off (SPFBO) is sponsored by Mark Lawrence and carried out by 10 hard-working blogs. You’ve probably heard of Mark Lawrence. He’s written a few books.

The contests itself is explained HERE.

And the final results of the contest are given HERE.

Galleywampus is not directly involved in this contest. However, I will read and review the ten finalists. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll be invited to officially take part in the contest next year. I know I want a tower of independently published novels myself.

I’ve decided to write two reviews per post.

The first post can be found HERE, and featured Priest by Matthew Colville and Under a Colder Sun by Greg James.

This second post will feature Bloodrush by Ben Galley and The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung.

The books at the SPFBO are also being rated by the blogs, so I determined to add my own ratings to the mix. I gather that these ratings are on a 1-10 scale. I am comparing these books to my own general preferences, and these preferences tend toward the center. I don’t often assign a 9 or a 10, unless the book truly blows me away. I also don’t assign 1-3 ratings often, unless the book is really, truly something that I can’t find a good thing to say about it. Most of the books I review fall into that 4-8 range.

Reviews

 

spfbo4

Bloodrush by Ben Galley is sort of like those old books about an old world teen coming to the American frontier. I’ve always wondered if I view these books differently because I am on the frontier end rather than the point of origin. But this isn’t quite By the Great Horn Spoon or “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.” The whole “feel” if this book is nostalgic.

This is a world similar to our own, but the tweaks are intriguing. America is a kingdom, at least in alternative 1867. Faeries are real and they’re not Tinkerbellesque. Spirits of the land, compiling bodies from railroad ties and rails and broken wood, destroy Railroads in America and eat people.

The magic (sorry, magick!) has been deeply considered, and I enjoyed that aspect. Bloodrushing is interesting, and it reminded me favorably of the magic system developed by Brandon Sanderson for Mistborn. Both involve ingesting a substance to obtain specific powers, and both are limited by what the person is capable of turning into a usable result.

Merion isn’t perfect. He’s a kid, thirteen, who has lost a great deal, and then shipped to another country to live with an aunt he didn’t know existed. I understand his perspective. Going from posh England to Middle-of-Nowhere Wyoming is tough to handle. He does whine a fair amount. But I’ve read a lot of YA and children’s fiction, and I don’t think it is more than I see in many of those works.

His aunt, Lilain, is fairly likable, in an eager frontier-woman sort of way. Rhin and Lurker are also somewhat stock, but I feel they overcome their humble origins and add something interesting to the tale. We see a few surprises through Rhin, and surprises always make me happy.

This is a coming of age story. We see a boy become a man here, and the sequel will likely follow the young man into adulthood.

I’m left with a wary feeling for this book in one area, and this is in regard to the native inhabitants to the Americas–the ones settlers forced into smaller and smaller areas while their land was taken away. You know, the Shohari. No, not the indigenous Americans, or “Indians” as some call them, or as they were often called in the 1800s. As far as I can tell, the Native American humans don’t exist here. Rather, there are humanoid inhuman, somewhat more animal than person, beings who take the place of the “majestic savage” here. Considering the amount of dehumanizing that happened to the Native Americans in the real world, it makes me awfully uncomfortable to see them erased and re-imagined for the sake of magical beings. I don’t think this was the intention of the author, but it kept popping into the back of my mind as I read the book.

Overall, I liked it. I liked it a lot. I enjoyed it enough that I picked up Bloodmoon already and will have a full review of that book up, er. Eventually.

Rating: 8.0

 

thief who pulled

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by  Michael McClung.

This was an enjoyable tale. It felt sort of like a western, though it is obviously a fantasy work. The primary character, Amra Thetys, is a no-nonsense, frontier-woman feeling character who happens to be a hell of a thief. She tends to stay out of trouble, but she has a hard time keeping this philosophy when a good friend is murdered. She digs into the motivations and events that led to his death, and from there things get really weird. And dangerous. And fun–for the reader, anyway.

This was easily one of my favorite works from the blog-off. There is enough history and weird powers and secrets to keep things grounded, with enough action and humor to keep the book moving along at a brisk pace. It’s short, but I think it was the right length for the book. And knowing there are more books in the series, I’ve already downloaded the second book from Amazon. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into The Thief Who… stories.

Rating: 8.0

An Interview with Lynsay Sands

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About the Interviewee

Lynsay Sands is the New York Times bestselling author of the Argeneau Vampire series. She has written more than thirty-four books and anthologies since her first novel was published in 1997. Her romantic comedies span three genres — historical, contemporary, and paranormal — and have made the Barnes & Noble, USA Today, and New York Times bestseller lists. Her books are read in more than twelve countries and have been translated into at least six languages. She’s been a nominee for both the Romantic Times Best Historical Romance Award and the Romantic Times Best Paranormal Romance Award, was nominated and placed three times in the RIO (Reviewers International Organization) Awards of Excellence, and has several books on All about Romance’s Favorite Funnies list.

Lynsay’s latest novel is Runaway Vampire.

The Interview

GW: Hi, Lynsay! Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview with us! We are celebrating Valentine’s Day (okay, we celebrate Valentine’s Month) by sharing with our readers – who mostly read traditional fantasy and science fiction – some of the stand-out writers and series from the Paranormal Romance side of the street. Of course, you are one of our favorites. Where would you suggest new-to-romance readers start with your Argeneau series?

51zmj81S8zL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_LS: Most of my Argeneau books are standalone stories, so you can read them in whatever order you choose. That being said, I do know some readers like to read them in their written order, for them I’d suggest they start with book #1, A Quick Bite.

(Argeneau Reading Order)

For those who don’t mind reading them out of order, though, then it really depends on preference. If you’re in the mood for humor then I’d suggest Single, White Vampire, The Accidental Vampire or Under A Vampire Moon. Or if you’re in the mood for more of a thriller then I’d suggest The Immortal Hunter, Immortal Ever After or The Immortal Who Loved Me.

GW: Your series is one of the longer and more successful series in the paranormal romance category. I’ve seen other series get somewhat repetitive, but not yours! In fact, the series seems to have series within it: we have deeply personal family books, we have Enforcer books, light-hearted romps, dark mysteries, and what seems like everything in between. Do you have a strict pattern of what you’re going to write next in terms of thematic elements, do your editors make suggestions, or does the story evolve organically?

LS: No, there’s no pattern and no suggestions. I’m a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of gal. I write the stories as they come to me. I sometimes have an idea or two percolating for a few years in my head before I write them, but it’s mostly just ideas, scenes I’d like to write, or characters I want to play with. I don’t actually plot anything out before sitting down to write it. I find when I do that and start writing already knowing what’s going to happen, I get bored with the story and don’t want to do it. And I believe if I’m bored, the reader will pick up on that and be bored as well, so I toss that story aside and start another instead. Fortunately, my editor doesn’t insist on outlines and whatnot, but gives me my creative space and lets me do my thing. I guess I’m lucky that she has that much faith in me and gives me that kind of leeway.

38568GW: What I am most impressed about regarding the Argeneau series is how ably you create arcs that last for several books. For example, the name of a character’s dog all the way back in the first book is revealed to be significant in the ninth book. Does this happen naturally, or do you have a series Bible you consult in order to layer in your mysteries?

LS: Mostly it just happens naturally. I do have a character archive that I can refer to, but when I named that dog back in the first book, I had no idea what was coming in book nine (good thing I didn’t name him Spot or something, huh?). And there are loads of other things that have happened that later turn out to be important where I’ve thought to myself, “Wow, it’s like I planned it or something,” when in truth I didn’t, at least not consciously. Actually, to me, it sometimes feels like a host of characters decided I should tell their story for them, flew into my head to act out their history, and I’m just watching the film of their life in my mind and scrambling to get it all written down. Their actions quite often surprise me. I’ll be typing madly away and give a startled laugh at their antics because I didn’t see it coming, or I’ll be thinking, “You little devil. I can’t believe you did that!” or “Oh wow, that explains a lot!” LOL.

Hmmm…I probably shouldn’t have admitted that. I should say, oh yes, of course it’s all plotted out. Every word, every coincidence, every thing…which reminds me, you can cut this out if you like, but I recall when I was in one of my University English classes, the professor pointed to a description in a novel we had to read. The description was of shadows moving across the floor as a door opened and he assured us that this was deliberate foreshadowing from the author of the tragedy that was going to happen in chapter twenty-something. I remember thinking at the time. “Really? Holy crap, I don’t write like that. I don’t foreshadow way ahead or even plot way ahead. Maybe I’m not a good writer. Maybe I’m doing it all wrong!” It really made me doubt myself. But now, sixty plus books later, I wonder if the truth isn’t that the professor was wrong and it wasn’t a simple description of what the author saw in his/her mind’s eye as he/she wrote. I don’t know. Every one has a different writing technique. Perhaps some authors do spend weeks or months or even years fretting over every word placement and such, but I don’t have the patience. I just enjoy the movie playing in my head and write down what happens in it.

As for that archive I mentioned… Unfortunately, I don’t always think to check it, and even when I do accidents happen. Like in one of the earlier books Marguerite claimed to prefer showers to baths because they are faster, and then in her own book she claimed to prefer a nice relaxing bath. We didn’t think to put her bathing preferences in the archive, and I didn’t remember myself, but readers certainly noticed, lol. I don’t just need the archive, I need someone to double check every little thing I write down, unfortunately, that would take forever and readers don’t want to wait forever for the books. So, there are mistakes on occasion, and I just have to accept that I’m not perfect.

1422252GW: One of the major villains in the series was recently put to rest. Forcefully. Will we see another villain rise up who has a several book arc?

LS: Yes. I’m working with one now. He was supposed to appear two books ago, but sometimes characters don’t play nice and he was one of them. So I put that book aside and wrote The Runaway Vampire where the evil character is merely mentioned, or his handiwork is. And then I meant to introduce him in Tomasso’s story, but again, he wouldn’t play, so Tomasso’s story steered away from him to a sandy beach and was written with just the revelation of this villain’s name. Now I’m working with him again.

So far he’s cooperating, but we’ll see. I suspect part of the problem is I really don’t like this villain. This guy’s a real piece of work, a brilliant psychopath as opposed to the major villain you mention who was more of a disorganized sociopath. The things this new villain has done to people…ugh! And his victims are mortal and immortal alike. Definitely a psychopath. But I’m sure there will be other villains like that as well. I like challenges and a proper villain is usually smart enough not to get caught right away. He’d hardly be a challenge if he were stupid enough to get caught in one book.

Besides that though, there’s still a villain from past stories out there who will eventually have to be dealt with, but I don’t have any plans for him in the immediate future.

(Here’s a fun question for readers…Can you guess who I’m referring to? )

GW: We know that Dante’s book will be followed by Tomasso’s (can’t wait!). But do you know yet what the future holds for the Argeneaus? Can you give us a scoop on what we can look out for in 2017?

LS: LOL. Guess I kind of just answered that, but I’ll tell you more. If this villain stays to play this time, and I have high hopes he will (after all, third times the charm, right?) then this book will introduce a whole host of new characters who are– Hmm, not sure how to put this, they aren’t immortals, but they certainly aren’t your average humans either. Guess that’s the best way to describe them for now. And if I like these characters as much as the Argeneaus, this book might start a new series all it’s own.

However, there will definitely be more Argeneau stories to come in 2017. I can’t say much more than that though, mostly because I don’t know much more than that myself and don’t want to. Wouldn’t want to get bored and drop my Argeneaus, I enjoy them too much to risk that.

20452210GW: Thank you so much for your time! We always like to conclude our interviews with a silly question: What is your silliest childhood memory?

LS: Well… Wow, silliest childhood memory. Okay, well the first one that comes to mind isn’t my silliness so much as my mom’s, but believe me I take after her so… Anyway, it was the day my younger sister came home from the hospital after being born. I was seven, my older sister ten and we were both excited about this day. We’d helped pick out the pretty pale yellow dress she would wear home and everything. Well, the car pulled up and my parents came in, my mother carrying this little bundle all wrapped up in a blanket. My big sister and I rushed forward, squealing to see the baby and Mom smiled and bent down as she lifted the blanket aside to show us our new sister. We both gaped, then sort of blinked, looked at each other and asked with confusion, “Why is she yellow?”

Mom frowned and peered down at the sweet little face, bit her lip and said, “I’m not sure. I thought maybe it was just the dress making her look yellow.”

I think it was Grandma who frowned and said, no she didn’t think that was the case. The baby was definitely yellow. It looked like she was jaundiced. Well a panic ensued and my parents rushed out and hurried back to the hospital, thinking our baby was sick and needed immediate attention. They were back surprisingly quickly, and with another baby. It seemed a mistake had been made at the hospital. A switch. My mother had been given the wrong baby. The nurses realized that when they checked the baby’s hospital tag and saw that it said “baby Small.” They asked my mother hadn’t she read the hospital tag when she was given the baby? Yes, she said, but she thought it referred to the baby’s size.

It still makes the family laugh, and it is funny in retrospect, but it’s also kind of frightening to think that if that child hadn’t been jaundiced, Mom never would have known that Small was the family’s last name, not the size, and we might now have a different sister. Imagine that! No, don’t, aside from loving my sister, I quite like her as well and wouldn’t want any other.

A Moment in Support of Karrin Murphy

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As someone who works in the law enforcement field I have always found Karrin Murphy to be an interesting character and someone who is easily relatable. While some have a hard time understanding her mindset it is pretty easy for me because I deal with the same mindset every day. When some people see suspicious activity I see just the usual police mindset. Let me take a moment to discuss a few things about Karrin that comes out to me. First is the fact that from the first short story to storm front we see Karrin move from a regular beat cop on patrol to Captain Murphy of her down division. For those who do not know how rank works in the police departments here is a brief scale:

Patrol
Corporal
Field Training Officer
Sergeant
Lieutenant
Captain
Commander
Deputy Chief
Chief
Superintendent

My guess is that with Karrin’s rank she was bumped up to head special investigation and probably skipped some ranks in between, which can often happen. For example an officer who goes to run the city jail in my department becomes a Sergeant because of the new responsibility and heading a department, skipping many of the traditional patrol ranks. The question of why Murphy was bumped was never answered but it absolutely part of police culture for a family legacy such as Murphy to be protected to a certain extent. Many families have a long history of military or police work and when you grow up with it you become more used to it, you also become more and more of a family. Even now I see how Murphy comes to the aid of her fellow officers or even more front and center is how they guard her, even after her drumming out of the force. One inconsistency in the firing of Karrin Murphy is that since the 1980’s the Chicago police department has been highly unionized. Without knowing her previous record as an officer or issues she may have had it is hard for me to say that she would have been possibly fired for the offense that was committed. Usually the union does have the backs and defense of officers who work hard and in most cities they are also covered by a civil service commission that would also be brought in.

During police work and after there are an incredibly high percentage of officers who find themselves in some sort of mental distress. This is pointed out well in her episode with alcohol and valium. Studies have found that female officers are 23% more likely to contemplate suicide and 25% more likely to have a heart attack than a normal female. Not only is Karrin dealing with these stresses but also the stress of being best friends and hopefully lovers with one of the most powerful wizards in the world. In Skin Game we see Karrin try and save the day and break one of the swords of the cross, during most police training we are trained to respond and neutralize the threat to innocents before we consider anything else- in my mind this is what she was doing. I believe Karrin was a superbly well written police officer who has a plethora of issues that she is dealing with all while saving the world. Mr. Butcher does an great job of showing her not just as a wall and a silent police officer but as someone who makes mistakes, has real issues and problems and is a true three dimensional person.

Brock Baker

Between the Covers, or

Between the Covers, or published on No Comments on Between the Covers, or

My Shopping Cart This Week was an Embarrassment of Riches

Dearest reader,

What a busy busy week!

I feel like everything came out this week, not one, not two, not three, but FOUR new books I simply must read. Plus a bonus novella that was both a surprise and a delight. And now comes the hard part, where I am going to SIMPLY RAVE to you about how amazing two (and a half) of these books are.

18739426Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson

As the faithful reader here knows, I was not a huge fan of the original Mistborn trilogy, though my issue was rather singular to me, and not a problem with the books themselves. Namely, I deeply dislike both Kelsior and Vin (though for rather different reasons). But this is a mark of Sanderson’s success not of his failure, as he wrote characters real enough that I could hate them, and not because they’re poorly written.

But the new Mistborn books are a whole new cut of cloth. I adore Waxillium, and Wayne is a delight. ‘Alloy of Law’ was a fun return to the world, and then there was ‘Shadows of Self’, which stunned me. Oh was it good! And now the latest, ‘Bands of Mourning’ which is just WOWWWWWWW!! Now can it just be 2017 already so I can read the last book in the new sequence The Lost Metal.

.

23909755City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

So, a confession: I read this book months ago. AND I LOVED IT. I mean, I knew I would, since I adored the first book in the series, and Bennett might be incapable of writing a bad book. But ‘City of Blades’ is a great read in a very different way than ‘City of Stairs’, and while it might not be a better book, it’s also not a worse book; and that says something since ‘City of Stairs’ was my favorite book of 2015. The nice thing about these books is they stand apart from each other. You don’t need to know what happened in ‘City of Stairs’ to get any part of ‘City of Blades’. I suspect that next year’s ‘City of Miracles’ will be the same. Though I do hope for a return of a couple of VERY SPECIFIC CHARACTERS from City of Stairs in Miracles. RJB, if you read this, YOU SHOULD KNOW WHO I MEAN.

There’s cookies in it for you if you make it happen.

Please?

.

25372801All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
So since we’re all friends here, I have a confession. I haven’t finished this one yet. So my review is not on the completed book, but only the first half.

When I started this book, I kind of expected All the Birds in the Sky to be one of those over hyped books by an new author which was going to be good as a first novel, but not actually as good as the hype. And the hype has been ABUNDANT. And in a way, it IS very much a first novel. The beginning of the book is a lot of telling without showing, and it has a strangely slow build up to where the action really starts. But, in spite of that, I am really loving it. There’s something strange and beautiful about it that reminds me slightly of Patricia McKillip and Charles de Lint, with more than a hint of the pre-apocalyptic dread of Sheri Tepper’s ‘Beauty’.

All in all, I hope the book finishes as well as it is going right now, because I want it to be one of those instances where the buzz is deserved.

.

51gZ5QdYeUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Up next, besides finishing All the Birds in the Sky and the poor neglected Trial of Intentions by Peter Orullian which I keep setting aside to read more current books so I can write about them for you all (Do you see the sacrifices I make for you?); I also have two books I am so excited about that I can barely speak. Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold are new books by two of my favorite writers in the business, and if I hadn’t gotten an advance copy of ‘Gentleman Jolie’ (Thank you lovely Chris, for coming through!)

Layout 1This isn’t the book I’d recommend starting Bujold with, especially not the Vorkosigan Saga, as it depends heavily on what has come before.Much of the weight of this book comes from emerging from the shadow of a character that isn’t present in this book at all, though his absence is constant. If you’re looking to start the Vorkosigan books, good places to start are Shards of Honor and The Warriors Apprentice. If you prefer fantasy, her Curse of Chalion is superb. All of three will stand alone very well.

25489443Patricia McKillip was one of the first writers I really fell in love with (her writing, not her, I’ve only met her briefly though she seemed lovely) and is one of the finest writers of fantasy alive, in more opinions than just mine. Each of her books is like a little gem; perfect and lovely. Kingfisher will no doubt be another lovely book. If you’re not familiar with her, her books are beautifully written compact stories, and not sprawling epics (though when she turned her hand to epic fantasy, she produced one of the classics of the style, her acclaimed Riddlemaster Trilogy). Excellent places to start with her are The Book of Atrix Wolf and The Forests of Serre, or if you want something a little more epic, the previously mentioned Riddlemaster trilogy.

Alright my lovelies, I am off to read some more, or possibly sneak in some of this week’s ‘Shannara Chronicles’. I promise not to write anymore fan fiction about that adorable Will Ohmsford.
This week at least.

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off Post 1: Priest & Under a Colder Sun

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About the Contest

The Self-published Fantasy Blog-off (SPFBO) is sponsored by Mark Lawrence and carried out by 10 hard-working blogs. You’ve probably heard of Mark Lawrence. He’s written a few books.

The contests itself is explained HERE.

The ten finalists are listed HERE.

And these are the ratings given to the books so far HERE.

Galleywampus is not directly involved in this contest. However, I will read and review the ten finalists. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll be invited to officially take part in the contest next year. I know I want a tower of independently published novels myself.

I’ve decided to write two reviews per post. This first post will feature Priest by Matthew Colville and Under a Colder Sun by Greg James.

The books at the SPFBO are also being rated by the blogs, so I determined to add my own ratings to the mix. I gather that these ratings are on a 1-10 scale. I am comparing these books to my own general preferences, and these preferences tend toward the center. I don’t often assign a 9 or a 10, unless the book truly blows me away. I also don’t assign 1-3 ratings often, unless the book is really, truly something that I can’t find a good thing to say about it. Most of the books I review fall into that 4-8 range.

Reviews

priest

Priest by Matthew Colville is an interesting work of fiction. I was often left uncertain about what would happen next. It is a bit like a work of noir, but that isn’t quite right. “A fantasy hard-boiled” is on the cover, and that’s partially what I experienced. It reminds me a bit of an episode of an old crime program, or a locked-room mystery. We know that something happened, and we know the end result. This is sort of a “whodoneit.” We don’t know who did it, or why, or even specifically how it was done. The protagonist isn’t given much to work with.

My biggest complaints, honestly, are that 1) Heden, the protagonist, was often needlessly cruel to the knights, in ways that felt slightly out of character based on some of his previous actions, and 2) he’s terribly obtuse. These areas work as both strengths and weaknesses of the work. I think the book would have been significantly shorter and we would have observed much less of interest if Heden had used this old adage by Epictetus: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” He wants to swing in, get his answers, and go back to his self-inflicted hermitage. That’s not the job he was asked to do, it isn’t the job that would have simplified his and others’ lives, and it wasn’t what was in the best interest of the story.

The book is not a typical fantasy. It isn’t really a quest narrative, and it certainly isn’t a “coming of age” story. The protagonist isn’t a teen or twenty-something. In these areas, the book is a breath of fresh air. Fantasy isn’t a genre for endless Tolkien revisions.

I enjoyed the work. There are some interesting characters throughout, the mysteries within the forest are intriguing, and I’d really like to step down into that basement. There were parts that remained unwritten, which is fine; there are more books.

Rating: 6.5

spfbo2

Under a Colder Sun by Greg James is a bit of grimdark (or dark fantasy, maybe sword and sorcery) fiction with a Conan-like protagonist in Khale the Wanderer. Not young Conan. Old Man Conan, if he also had sorcery at his disposal and immortality at hand. Khale is a badass. He is more complicated than first laid out for the reader, and I appreciated that complexity. Sure, he’s a “bad guy” but he has layers.

The protagonists are not particularly likable. These aren’t good guys trying to kill bad guys. These are mostly just bad guys. The motivations are realistic (to the story) and their actions fit their worldviews. I didn’t really have anyone to cheer for, with Khale being the most interesting.

There are some over-simplified characters that feel like they are the archetypes of, rather than depictions of, full-on characters.

The story is written well. While there are some areas that I feel like I’ve read before, there was some new as well. Ultimately, this book wasn’t really my taste. But it is worth a go if the basic concept catches your attention.

Rating: 5.5

Easter*Con Interview

Easter*Con Interview published on No Comments on Easter*Con Interview

The beginning of the author chat delves into his origin story as a writer: how he grew interested in writing in the first place, how he was mentored in graduate school, and how the Dresden Files came out of trying to prove his instructor wrong by doing everything she told him to do. He discusses how he never set out to write urban fantasy, he didn’t want to write urban fantasy.

EASTERCON: “I’m seeing new subseries in the Dresden Files develop over the years. You’ve got the continuing subplot with the Black Council, the White Court and Black Court – though the Red Court has been thoroughly resolved – and you have the Denarians, and then you’ve got Mab’s scheming. And – it’s really coming into view the cross-cultural, cross-mythological, and then there’s sort of Cthulhu lurking in the shadows. Was this deliberate, did you set out to design it this way, all these interlocking playgrounds as it were, or is this sort of an emerging property of the thing?”

JIM BUTCHER: “Oh, pretty much the emerging property, except one thing I had planned, I knew that every fifth book I wanted to have the Denarians show up. So they were scheduled for books 5, 10, 15, and 20. Yeah, it’s really that simple.”

EASTERCON: “Do you often have major new factions appearing?”

JB: “Well, yeah, to a degree. Kind of – the most popular bad guys of the series are only just now starting to show up. The Fomor, we’ve been seeing bits and pieces of those in the last few novels, and even more closely followed in the short stories that have been out lately. You get the closest glimpse of them in John Marcone’s story, which is called Even Hand, which is one of my favorite short stories because God, that is a scary guy. A lot of what I’ve been doing, a lot of the writing I did in the early series, I was very good about trying to set up for the end of the series. I remember wondering to myself – am I ever going to be able to write the end of the series? I’m having fun. I love getting to pay off things that I’ve been laying out for a long time. The one I’m working on now, this one is Peace Talks. Basically all the member nations of the Unseelie Accords are gathering together. I’m sure everything will go smoothly, then afterwards they’ll all go down to the bar together and sing some songs.”

They spoke a lot of the Codex Alera, and how it sprung out of a bet Butcher made with someone who was wrong on the internet. An interesting thing to not: If he returns to Alera, it would be to cover the adventures of the first Cursor class after Tavi becomes First Lord.

EASTERCON: “You talk about the twenty book arc for the world – what about the character arc? Do you have an outline of what those characters are learning through that journey?”

JB: “The character arcs that I had in mind are – were – for very objective stuff. This character is going to have to grow this much in order to face this amount of danger or risk. That was mostly centered around Harry. But how they got to that point was not scripted very closely. Personality wise, I didn’t script it very well at all because at that point I wasn’t capable of keeping track of that as a writer. That’s something I’ve been learning as I’m going on. One other thing I specifically did not do, was I did not script Harry’s love life. I wanted that to be something that was organic and part of the books. As it turns out, the people you love can have some minor effects on the rest of your life. I don’t know if Harry will get a happy ending in that sense. That’s something I’m telling myself.”

EASTERCON: “After you complete Dresden Files, do you see yourself writing more stories within that sort of setting, some of the other characters, slightly spinning off and expanding?”

JB: “I’ve got one spin-off series in mind at the moment. It stars a character we’ve already met. I’m not gonna tell you who. Then I’ve got a young adult series my sister and I are sketching out now, it’s gonna be Maggie going to St. Mark’s Academy for the Gifted and Talented with Mouse. It showed up in one of the Bigfoot series. It’s a school where a bunch of supernatural beings send their kids to school together.”

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