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An Interview with Lynsay Sands

An Interview with Lynsay Sands published on

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.

Google Interview

Google Interview published on 1 Comment on Google Interview

I have spent the last day listening to and reading interviews with Jim Butcher, and I have to admit that some of them are frustrating in the repetition of standard questions. But I should have known that Google would have something special – not only did the interviewer push beyond the stock questions, but she obviously read and was delighted by The Aeronaut’s Windlass. She is savvy about promotion, and she kept her questions about TAW. She was great!

GOOGLE: “What book are you reading right now?”

Jim Butcher: “I just got done reading Tribal Bigfoot by David Paulides for my nonfiction which is a book that compiles Bigfoot sightings and encounters in connection with Native Americans. And I’m reading the first Powder Mage book by Brian McClellan.”

GOOGLE: “Does the nonfiction book have anything to do with Dresden?”

JB: “No, I’ve just been fascinated by Bigfoot since I was a small child, I used to have nightmares about him.”

GOOGLE AUDIENCE MEMBER I FELL IN LOVE WITH: “I’ve read all the Dresden Files, and I’ve recommended them to friends, and I say: “But the first two… they seem a little… like he didn’t know where he was going”. And then Summer Knight happens, about book three or four, and it seems to just gel and all of a sudden there’s this major arc. Is that a correct assessment, or is that incorrect? At what point did you have that big arc that you’re building now? And I hope I’m not offending you.”

JB: “Oh, not at all. Okay. When I first wrote the first Dresden Files book, I turned in the first couple of chapters and my teacher told me I did it. It was publishable. Then she told me I needed to plan out the rest of it. She meant the rest of the book—I took it to mean the rest of the series. […] As I’ve continued writing, I’ve learned to trust the readers a whole lot more. When I first started setting up the story, I was only dropping one or two little hints and a couple little things that were going to continue into the long haul and otherwise trying to focus on Harry’s immediate surroundings, basically. And then I realized – oh, wait a minute, readers are much better at putting all these things together than I thought. So I started incorporating more and more, more subplots, more characters, more hints to the future, and more pay off from the past. I’m basically writing for people like me, for nerds. Nerds are smart, they can work this stuff out. As I learned to trust the audience more, the books got better.”

GOOGLE AUDIENCE: “I love the Dresden Files, the arc, the payoffs. Normally I would never ask this, but it’s driving me nuts. Every time a new Dresden File comes out, I reread the entire series and take notes. In Proven Guilty, when Harry’s driving back, he gets hit by a drive-by, and there’s some hints, and that never gets resolved in that book and I haven’t seen a resolution since. Is that – will that—“

JB: “YEEEEEEEEEAH, THAT’S WEIRD, RIGHT? There’s a lot of little stuff like that that’s been seeded through, actually, and will get answered eventually but hasn’t been yet. And that’s cool. It’ll be more fun later.”

GOOGLE AUDIENCE: “Back to the role-playing thing. We as readers love to see characters level up. But I’ve seen many authors that level up too much. The campaign goes Monty Hall and it ceases to be fun, almost. In your books, thankfully, you don’t seem to have an issue with that. Is it hard not to write yourself in a corner that way, though?”

JB: “No, because I know what the end is. The reason why series get too long, and people get too powerful, they get handed the dagger of Cain or whatever and it just keeps going and going… the story was supposed to end before that, but they didn’t end it. Stories aren’t stories unless they have an ending to them. I don’t believe in a neverending story. It’s easy to keep Harry in check in terms of where he’s getting at as he gets more buff and more contacts. It’s because I know what he’s going to be fighting, you know, like in the next book or down the line. I can kind of gauge – oh, he needs to be about this far here, so that he is never the super overpowered guy who just smashes things. It’s all about pacing and where we’re going to wind up.”

GOOGLE AUDIENCE: “Silly Dresden Files question. I remember in Cold Days the shenanigans regarding the origin of Demonreach. And can we expect more time shenanigans in future books?”

JB: “More time shenanigans? SIR, one of the Laws of Magic states that you cannot mess with time like that! OF COURSE, there will be more time shenanigans! I only established the seven Laws of Magic so I could have Dresden methodically break them one by one!”

An Interview with Shawn Speakman

An Interview with Shawn Speakman published on

51wR6eamEQL._UX250_Shawn Speakman grew up in the beautiful wilds of Washington State near Mt. St. Helens. After moving to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, he befriended New York Times bestselling fantasy author Terry Brooks and became his webmaster. It has led to a life filled with magic and words.

He was a manager at one of the largest Barnes & Noble Booksellers in the country for many years but now owns the online bookstore The Signed Page, manages the websites for authors Terry Brooks and Naomi Novik, and freelance writes for Random House at

Shawn is a cancer survivor, knows angel fire east, and currently lives in Seattle, Washington.

About the Book

We were fortunate to score an interview with Shawn in which we discuss his latest anthology, Unbound.

Unbound features works by:


  • Joe Abercrombie
  • Kristen Britain
  • Terry Brooks
  • Jim Butcher
  • Rachel Caine
  • Harry Connolly
  • Delilah S. Dawson
  • David Anthony Durham
  • Jason M. Hough
  • Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Mark Lawrence
  • Brian McClellan
  • John Marco
  • Tim Marquitz
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Peter Orullian
  • Kat Richardson
  • Anthony Ryan
  • Shawn Speakman
  • Brian Staveley
  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Sam Sykes
  • Mazarkis Williams


Todd Lockwood contributed the cover artwork.

Unbound is getting a lot of pre-release attention, and I know that a ton of people are excited to read it, me included. Can you walk us through the process of creating an anthology, from start to finish? What’s it like to be a story-wrangler?

The decision to publish Unbound was a hard one but not for the reasons you might think. When I published my debut novel, The Dark Thorn, and the anthology Unfettered, I didn’t know if I wanted to start a publishing press. Having talked to Subterranean Press’s Bill Schafer a great deal when putting together Unfettered, I knew how much work it would be. I had to convince myself that it would be worth it. That took longer than I thought.

After I decided to grow Grim Oak Press with Unbound and Unfettered II, it became much easier. I have befriended many writers over my twenty years of working in the field and extending anthology invitations has been easy, especially with the success of Unfettered. Once I had about 20 writers, I told them to get to work. They write. I receive the stories. I edit. My friend Rachelle copyedits. The writer fixes the edits. And voila! We have a book! The hardest part? Arranging the stories in a way that maximizes the impact of the overall anthology on the reader.

Which three stories in Unbound are you most excited to see reader reaction to, and why?

Since Unbound is an anthology without a theme—the writers could submit any story they wanted to in so long as it was a genre tale—I have received some great stories. I can’t pick a favorite. That said, I am really interested to see what people think of Madwalls by Rachel Caine, River and Echo by John Marco, An Unfortunate Influx of Filipians by Terry Brooks, and Jury Duty by Jim Butcher. The first two are really emotional tales and the last two are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Especially the Brooks story. Anyone who loves the Landover series will want to buy the anthology just for this story alone!

Not only do you have a short story of your own in Unbound, but you’re a novelist as well. Which is more difficult for you, writing a novel, or writing a short story?

I know many authors who have a hard time with short stories. Terry Brooks is famous for saying it takes him twice as long to write a short story as it does a novel. For me, I’m the opposite. Short stories come very naturally to me. Always have. I can have an idea, flesh it out entirely within an hour, and finish writing it in a few days. In fact, I take more enjoyment from short stories—at the moment, anyway—because I am reaching a broader audience with them. And they have helped me with my novel writing, where each chapter should be similar in design to that of a short story.

The other great thing I love about writing short stories is the chance to discover new things about my novel’s world without having to force it into the novel. For instance, my Unbound story is a grimdark tale told from the point of view of a villain who has a cameo in The Everwinter Wraith but who plays a much larger role in the next book, The Splintered King. I needed to write the Unbound short story before I could even think about writing his chapter in Wraith. I didn’t know Tathal Ennis until that happened.

I hope you don’t mind if, now that I have your complete attention, to ask about your next full length novel: The Everwinter Wraith. What can you tell us about it, aside from it is set five years after The Dark Thorn? How far into the writing process are you with it?

The Everwinter Wraith is ultimately about consequences to life choices. My main character, Richard McAllister, helped avert a disaster of Biblical proportions in The Dark Thorn. But his role in that novel indirectly moved other chess pieces on the board. I’ll just say that nature abhors a vacuum and evil loves to take up residence in that void.

As far as writing, it has come far too slowly. I have a lot going on in my life, especially with Terry’s The Shannara Chronicles airing in January, and finding time to write has been difficult. But I’ve been putting down words at a great pace for the last month. Terry and I are even racing words right now. I hate to lose. And so does he. So it makes for a fun competition that benefits both of us. The Everwinter Wraith is over 1/3 done but that part is always the hardest 1/3 for me. I expect things to move even faster as we head toward the New Year. I should know a publication date by then.

And last, a fun question: If you were given ten million dollars (after taxes), what are the first three big-ticket items you would buy?

I’m a simple man with simple needs. I don’t possess a lot of “things,” if that makes sense. I’d probably build a nice home on the Oregon coast, build a nice home on the Hawaii coast, and the third big-ticket item I would hold back in case my future children needed something big-ticket.

Interview & Giveaway: Julie Czerneda

Interview & Giveaway: Julie Czerneda published on 4 Comments on Interview & Giveaway: Julie Czerneda


Julie Czerneda has graciously allowed Galleywampus to host a stop on her blog tour for This Gulf of Time and Stars. We also have a giveaway listed way down below.

About the Author

CzernedaCPC-008095wproSince 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has shared her love and curiosity about living things through her science fiction, writing about shapechanging semi-immortals, terraformed worlds, salmon researchers, and the perils of power. Her fourteenth novel from DAW Books was her debut fantasy, A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel, and now Book One of her Night`s Edge series. Her most recent publications: a special omnibus edition of her acclaimed near-future SF Species Imperative, as well as Book Two of Night`s Edge, A Play of Shadow, a finalist for this year’s Aurora.

Julie’s presently back in science fiction, writing the finale to her Clan Chronicles series. Book #1 of Reunification, This Gulf of Time and Stars, will be released by DAW November 2015. For more about her work, visit or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

About the Books

The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future with interstellar travel where the Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification will conclude the series and answer, at last, #whoaretheclan.


Galleywampus: You first started writing about Sira almost twenty years ago. Now that it has been over a decade since the Trade Pact Universe series concluded, what was the most challenging part of writing about Sira again? Did you know what she was up to all these years? Are you finding that Sira had changed for you in that time?

Julie: More like thirty, to be honest. It took me ten years to sell my first book, after all. Time does fly! There were a few challenges, that’s for sure. Mostly because I’d written so much else, and differently, in the interim. I talk about trying to regain my early “voice” in my post in “Writing Like I Used To”, but that was only one aspect. The details within the previous six books was another; fortunately, I had betareaders to help me (who joined me to talk about that at Publishing Crawl ). The plot, that was the thing. Glad you asked.

The story—Sira and Morgan—didn’t go away and come back. I find everything I’m working on, or thinking of working on, is in my head some place. Ideas pop out at the least convenient time. I dash from the tub. Write in the dark. Most often, the best of these occur to me when I’m supposed to be focused on what I’m writing right now, the stuff with a deadline. I’ve learned to give in, write the note, and put it some place safe. For Reunification? I’d years of jots and hints, most in a journal but an appalling number stuffed in file folders. I needed to organize. Somewhere BIG.

Like my office wall, the one without bookshelves. The one we’d freshly painted, having filled in the myriad tack holes that somehow had accumulated. (Innocent humming.)

Postit-wall20151031_160904w_proMy husband, being vastly clever, spotted the signs. You see, an author about to nest a new book acts much like a pregnant bird or dog. A certain glassy stare. A tendency to pick up random bits of paper and stick them in unpredictable places. Turning in place. Before I could pick up my first thumbtack, he’d obtained nice flat metal thingies meant for curtains and screwed them along the wall, handing me a box of magnets. (He took the tacks.)

I was off. First up were large sheets of paper; next came Post-its. Each had a separate plot point garnered from my journal and folders and I worked until they were all there, roughly organized by where in the three book arc of Reunification they’d matter most.

I’ll tell you a secret. The act of writing down plot points, then choosing—finding–where they belonged on the wall, is what locks them in my head. The whole mass is still up on the wall, but I haven’t so much as glanced at it since I stuck the last note in place. I like having it there; I don’t have to have it there. Please don’t tell Roger.

Did I know what Sira was up to? Interesting question. I knew Gulf would pick up her story mere weeks in character-time after To Trade the Stars, so as far as I was concerned, she and Morgan were still in the afterglow of Happy Ending. What I had to know was the momentum to conflict was building in the background, and powerful forces were about to collide.

Galleywampus: Love plays an important part in your books involving Sira. Why does this subject resonate with you?

Julie: Oh, it plays an important part in all of my books. Not only romantic love, although I’m a fan where it’s right, but the love of family, love between friends. To me it’s the thread that works through our lives and society as a whole, holding us together, giving life meaning.

In Sira’s case, I needed her to evolve into a sympathetic character and to represent what any Clan was capable of, given the opportunity. The powerful self-serving alien bent on human seduction has not only been done to death, it doesn’t interest me. Yes, the Clan have subverted their own reproduction into something cold and pragmatic, but they are a passionate race and this wasn’t always their way. The Clan are also xenophobic. Sira may have reasoned what her Human, Morgan, might be able to help her accomplish—to the good of her kind—but to any Clan, intimacy with something so alien as a Human is unimaginably repugnant. Without spoiling the story, if Sira hadn’t been capable of love and compassion, of growth into those feelings not only for Morgan, but others, I wouldn’t have a believable plot.

Morgan himself is her model. He’s deeply compassionate, with a strong moral centre developed from experience as well as personal inclination. He represents, in that sense, the best of us.

One of my favourite scenes is where Morgan confronts Sira, who’s developed a full-on adolescent crush on him (much to her confusion). He tells her she doesn’t know what love is and manages a decent job of muddling through sexual attraction versus true caring for another. Later, once she’s come to understand the difference, she does her utmost to shield him, from her Clan instincts and her kind.

Among my joys in their relationship is the interplay when they work together, which doesn’t always go smoothly. While Sira has immense abilities and power, Morgan has practically rebuilt his starship and treasures it. To work alongside as crew, she’s trying to learn and almost too enthused, especially when he knows a mistake in space happens only once.

Galleywampus: How does your background in biology fit into your science fiction writing?

Julie: I’ve mentioned in an earlier interview (it’s a tour, after all) on Fantasy Book Café that I create my aliens and their worlds using that background, along with my fascination with the odder aspects of living things. Spider sex, for one. Birds seeing in ultraviolet. Parasites. Nature offers a buffet of wonderful details I couldn’t make it up!

That’s world-building. My biology background is the source of my story ideas too. The Clan Chronicles came about from my wondering what would happen if an intelligent species bred for a costly trait. How far would they go? Species Imperative is my take on how an innate biological drive, in this case migration, could impact on a peaceful, well-tuned galactic civilization. Beholder’s Eye? Oh, there I’m playing with all things biological, but at the core is my speculation on what an almost immortal species would be like—and how might one come about. In the Company of Others features space exploration and settlement, but it started with my own dismay at species that seem harmless being released where they become horrendous pests to the local wildlife.

It’s fair to say there’s nothing about my biology background that isn’t in my science fiction. (And sneaks quietly into my fantasy as well.)

Galleywampus: You are a DIY fan. What has been your favorite recent DIY project?

Adding flock to simulate various types of vegetation.
Adding flock to simulate various types of vegetation.

Julie: When I’d finished Stratification, the prequel trilogy within the Clan Chronicles, I’d planned a break to try my hand at my first fantasy novel. (I talk about my reasons at Fantasy Book Critic I was determined not to sound like a science fiction author trying their first fantasy novel. I started by changing everything possible about my writing process, from my office décor to where I’d start. I wanted to have an intimate setting, Marrowdell, where everything took place within a single valley and village. I wouldn’t write a word, I vowed, until I could “see” the place for myself.E---Marrowdell-Model-in-glass-case-CPC-001045aw_pro Being a thorough sort, I researched pioneer settlements, including pacing one out, and came up with the rough size of my valley. From then, it was a process of determining scale, and I was off.

Understand I didn’t have details of the story or any outline. I was delighted to discover those as the landscape came to life. It took 28 eight hour days to complete. Here’s an abbreviated photo blog of the process.

Once finished, I put it where I could refer to it while I wrote. It gave me everything from line-of-sight to how long it’d take someone to walk from point A to B, shadows and light by time of day, and, most importantly, where “magic” had clawed the ridges to either side.

Thanks for such great questions!

Galleywampus: Thank you, Julie! And enjoy the rest of your tour!

Author’s links

Author’s Website


1. We are so very fortunate that DAW has provided us with a hardcover copy of This Gulf of Time and Stars to the winner (US or Canada);

2. Audible has given us a copy of the audiobook (1) (US or Canada) to give away as well!

Sample from the audiobook version of This Gulf of Time and Stars, narrated by Allyson Johnson, courtesy of

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Cover Credit: Matt Stawicki (
Author Photo and Model Photos Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography (

Interview: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor for Apex Magazine

Interview: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor for Apex Magazine published on 1 Comment on Interview: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor for Apex Magazine

lesleyLesley Conner is a writer, social media editor and marketing leader for Apex Publications, and Managing Editor for Apex Magazine. She spends her days pestering book reviewers, proofreading, wrangling slush, doling out contracts, and chatting about books, writing, and anything else that crosses her mind on the @ApexBookCompany Twitter account.

Most of her nights are spent with a good book and a glass of wine. Her alternative history horror novel, The Weight of Chains, was recently published by Sinister Grin Press. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.

Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner are co-editing an anthology coming out in early December called Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1. This looks like an awesome anthology, and I’ll be standing in line for a copy. Well, sitting at my computer, clicking and clacking for a copy.


Apex Magazine is also in the middle of a subscription drive.


The magazine is attempting to hit these Kickstarter style “stretch goals” :

  • $500 – A 5th piece of poetry UNLOCKED
  • $1,000 – New short story by Chikodili Emelumadu UNLOCKED
  • $2,000 – Interview with Chikodili Emelumadu
  • $2,500 – A 6th piece of poetry
  • $3,000 – New interview with Ursula Vernon
  • $4,000 – 2nd reprint exclusive to Apex Magazine eBook/subscriber edition
  • $5,000 – New novelette by Ursula Vernon set in her “Jackalope Wives” world
  • $6,500 – Stretch Goal! We’ll open to Apex Magazine submissions in December, 2015, rather than January, 2016


Subscriptions are $17.95 until the end of the drive. It will conclude on November 13th.

Subscribe to the magazine at the Apex website or at Weightless Books (gift subscriptions are also available);


Support Apex Magazine via Patreon;

Or you can donate subscribing.

If you miss the drive, don’t sweat it, you can still support the magazine later.


Lesley was kind enough to provide us with an interview, allowing us an inside look into the workings of an online literary magazine.



Galleywampus (GW): How long have you been at Apex? How did they find you, or did you find them?

Lesley Conner (LC): I’ve been part of the Apex for around 5 years now. I met owner/publisher Jason Sizemore at a convention called Context. We kept in contact after the con through Facebook and when he posted about needing a blog editor, I applied. Jason didn’t feel I was a good fit for that position at that time (I did end up filling that roll at one point) but he did think I’d be able to help out with social media. That’s where I started – managing the Apex Publications Twitter and Facebook accounts – and from there I learned other skills and took on more responsibilities until one day Jason asked if I would take over the role of managing editor.

ApexMag04_1024x1024GW: What does it mean to be the “managing editor” of Apex Magazine?

LC: Boiled down to the simplest terms, being the managing editor of Apex Magazine means that I make sure everyone else has what they need to be able to do their jobs.

Doing that involves a lot of different tasks. I divvy out all of the submissions to our submissions editors as they come in, read stories being held for further consideration, and answer queries. Once we’ve selected the content for the magazine, I search for artwork, fill out contracts, make sure we have our interviews set up, help find and select nonfiction and reprints, collect the authors’ bios and payment information, and help proofread and deal with copy edits. On release day, I send out our newsletter, send the final issue to all the contributors and our editorial team, write blog posts and a press release.

The day after release, we start all over again.

GW: You wear a lot of hats for Apex. Which hat fits you the most comfortably?

LC: After 5 years, all of my roles at Apex fit relatively comfortably – Apex is a part of who I am – but by far my favorite task is searching for cover art. My grandfather was an artist and my dad has a degree in art. I grew up in house where art hung on every wall and I’ve always loved spending hours roaming through art museums. I, in no way, think this makes me some sort of art expert, but I have a passion for it and I think that comes through in the pieces that I select for Apex Magazine and Apex Book Company.

The reader response to the cover art for Apex Magazine has been amazing. I love to see so many people excited about a beautiful image, and being about to shine a spotlight on wonderful artists like Adrian Borda, Carly Sorge, and Beth Spencer has been great.

cover_db7f1550-ec87-43e8-be58-d3d70a99598a_1024x1024GW: What can you tell me about slush wrangling?

LC: Ah, slush …

When Apex Magazine is open to submissions, we receive between 800 and 1100 submissions a month. I divvy those out to our slush readers. Our slush readers are amazing and I’m incredibly grateful to have such a wonderful group of dedicated readers. They are the first eyes that see the stories sent in to Apex. Any they feel should be held for further consideration I read, and from those, I send the best of the best up to our Editor-in-Chief Jason Sizemore.

Reading stories is only part of slush wrangling. Another big part of it is making sure that we have a quick response rate. Apex’s goal is to respond to every submission within 20 days of when it was submitted and sometimes it’s necessary to send reminders if we’ve had a story for a while. It is incredibly easy to fall behind and then you’re playing a forever game of catch up.

Finally, I also answer queries from the writers. If writers have any question at all, they can send me an email and I will try to reply with an answer as quickly as possible. If I don’t have the answer, I go and find it.

GW: Apex and its published stories have won and been nominated for several awards. Are there any particular awards Apex has been nominated for, or that your company has won, that you feel most proud of?

LC: It’s always thrilling to hear that a story or poem Apex published has been nominated for an award. It’s that moment of validation that we’re on the right track and that people are enjoying what we’re doing.

Then winning an award! That’s even better. Apex has had stories win the Nebula in short fiction for the last two years – Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” in 2014 and Ursula Vernon’s “Jackalope Wives” in 2015. Both stories are amazing. But that’s not surprising. Both authors are incredibly talented.

Apex Magazine was also nominated for the Hugo Award for best semi-prozine in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Even though I wasn’t the managing editor at that time, working for a magazine that has been nominated for such a big award is amazing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope that we snag another Hugo nomination.

ApexMag09.15_1024x1024GW: Set the record straight. Are there any common misconceptions, or things people might not know, about online magazines?

LC: I don’t think people realize how much work goes into running a monthly publication. It isn’t just finding stories you like and posting them online. It’s finding the perfect stories and figuring out how to put them together in a way that is cohesive. It’s copy edits and proofreading and sending all of the contributors the proof copy to make sure we haven’t missed anything. It’s finding cover art, and nonfiction, and reprints, and excerpts. It’s marketing and promoting and building eBooks and updating the website and unforeseen problems that pop up at the worst time. And it’s doing it month after month without a break. There’s a tight schedule to keep and, no matter what is going in your personal life, that schedule marches on and the new issue has to be ready by the first Tuesday of the month. If one person falls behind, then we’re all scrambling.

That type of schedule can be draining, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. I get to work with some of the best scifi writers of our time and with new writers who are just beginning to get their feet wet in the publishing word. The excitement over discovering an amazing story in the slush pile doesn’t fade. And recognizing names that repeat in the slush pile and seeing an improvement in the writing never fails to bring a smile to my face.

When you wake up and have taken care of all of those incredibly important “life things,” and head to where you work, what’s the first thing you do?

First, I feel I should point out that I work from home, so the important “life things” I do before work are more or less just brushing my teeth and pouring a cup of coffee. I jump into Apex work when I’m still sort of groggy from sleep, so I tend to work on things that don’t take a lot of deep thought first thing in the morning.
When we’re open to submissions, the first thing I do is deal with those. Anything new that came in over the night gets assigned to a reader, I send out rejection letters on stories the slush readers have decided to pass on, and let authors know if we’d like to hold their story for further consideration. I know authors want to hear back about submissions as soon as they possibly can, so finishing this first thing is a good way to start off the day.

ApexMag0815_1024x1024When we aren’t open to submissions, I tend to check my email first thing, dealing with any that can be completed quickly. This helps whittle do my to-do list and makes things seem more manageable. Anything that needs a closer look, I save until after my coffee has taken hold.

GW: Books: do you read monogamously or polygamously? In other words, do you read one book at a time, or juggle multiple books?

LC: I really want to say I read monogamously – that seems like the proper, less mind-twisting answer – but it isn’t true. Most of the time I’m reading three books: one on audio that I listen to while I do chores and exercise, a hefty hardback that sits beside my seat on the couch that I read in the evenings, and either a graphic novel or paperback that I take with me whenever I leave the house. That way I always have something close at hand to read.

For the most part I don’t find this problematic. Since I visit all three on a daily basis, it isn’t difficult to remember what is going on in each story and most of the time I can keep the story lines separate. The only time I can’t is if I happen to be reading two novels that are the same genre with similar plot lines. If I happen to be reading two scifi novels set in space, it could get tricky. The other thing I find is if I’m reading two books that are the same genre at one time I tend to get really bored pretty quickly. Recently I was reading two novels that both dealt heavily with teen romantic angst. It was a bit of a slog to get through them both.

About Apex Magazine

apex banner

Apex Magazine received a Best Semiprozine Hugo nomination in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Apex placed two stories in the 2010 Nebula Award category of Best Short Story, and their stories won the category in 2014 (“If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” by Rachel Swirsky) and again in 2015 (“Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon. Dozen of their stories have been selected for the annual Year’s Best anthologies over the past five years.

Interview: Tim Marquitz, writer of ZILF!

Interview: Tim Marquitz, writer of ZILF! published on

About the Author

11146109_776005002517862_703355410499549462_nIf you aren’t reading the books of Tim Marquitz because you haven’t heard of Tim Marquitz, you should probably know that you no longer have that excuse. You’re looking at his face right now. Look at it. You saw his name up in that title. It’s right there in damned bold font. I made it bold myself. You’ve now heard of Tim Marquitz.

Tim Marquitz is the author of the long running Demon Squad series, the Blood War Trilogy, co-author of the Dead West series, as well as several standalone books, and numerous anthology appearances including Triumph Over Tragedy, Corrupts Absolutely?, That Hoodoo Voodoo that You Do, Widowmakers, At Hell’s Gates 1&3, Neverland’s Library, Blackguards, SNAFU Survival of the Fittest, Future Warfare, and Hunters (Cohesion Press), In the Shadow of the Towers (Night Shade), and Unbound (Grim Oak Press).

Tim also collaborated on Memoirs of a MACHINE, the story of MMA pioneer John Machine Lober.

Tim is co-owner and Editor in Chief of Ragnarok Publications.

He’s a damned magician is what he is. If you’ve been burned before by having to wait years for the next book in a series, he’s the balm for your burn–apply liberally.

We have been fortunate to secure an interview with Tim on the kick-off date to his Kickstarter campaign for the novel ZILF!.

Author’s Links

Ragnarok Publications

About the Kickstarter

Join Ashford Dane as his post-apocalyptic existence is thrown into chaos by the sudden arrival of a ZILF!

Yeah, you know what I’m talkin’ about. If not, look it up. I’ll wait…

Comfortably situated at the end of the world Ash stumbles across a group of soldiers traveling through his neighborhood and meets Vix, the hottest pseudo-corpse since Lily Munster. Lonely, and mostly bored off his ass, Ash invites them to dinner only to have uninvited guests show up for a nibble. A cannibalistic nibble, that is, and these guys like their meat burnt.

Ash’s home and a lifetime of supplies go up in flames and he’s forced to flee with the soldiers. Nowhere else to go he joins their mission: To hunt down the only scientist capable of saving Vix from the horrible infection that threatens to turn her into a full blown zombie.

Things just go downhill from there, hordes of zombies standing between them and their goal. But hey, if they succeed maybe then Ash’ll stand a chance of escaping the dreaded friend zone.

Like the Demon Squad novels, ZILF! will be jam-packed with crazy action, adventure, and excitement, as well as chock full of witty one liners and topical humor (likely requiring some kind of cream) with all the zombie tropes turned on their decayed little heads in fun and interesting ways.

The plan is to have Carter Reid, that guy from the Zombie Nation and the cover artist for the Demon Squad novels since book three, whip up an awe-inspiring cover that, not only will I be proud to showcase, but that YOU’ll be super stoked to stare at endlessly, wishing you were standing right there with Ash and Vix. On top of that, Carter will craft five scenes from ZILF! to be included in the book in black and white. (I will post pictures of Carter’s ZILF! art as soon as I have something.)



Galleywampus (GW): How did your idea for a zombie comedy take shape?

Tim Marquitz (TM): As I often do, I found myself scrounging for fun zombie entertainment, something in the vein of Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead. Sadly it’s rarer than you think. Anyway, while I was searching I started thinking about the standard zombie tropes and imagining what a fun zombie romp would include. Then it hit me that I could simply write my own and get exactly what I wanted. So I started brainstorming and came up with my protagonist, Ashford Dane (a nod to Evil Dead.) As soon as I envisioned him my brain immediately kicked into gear and I knew just who I needed to play as a foil against Ash’s nerdy, LARPing self: a hot zombie.

GW: What can you tell us about your protagonist, Ashford Dane?

TM: Ash is your stereotypical gamer/LARP nerd. He lives alone, no girlfriend, no prospects, but he’s fairly well versed in hitting things and knows all the zombie lore from years of role playing. As such he was ready when the end of the world came along.

GW: What does ZILF mean? I mean, obviously, it couldn’t possible mean, uh…

TM: That’s exactly what it means. Zombie I’d like to …. That said, ZILF isn’t erotica, it’s comedy, however juvenile.

GW: Who would make the sexiest zombie?

TM: I have to say Keira Knightley. She’s beautiful and she’s halfway to being a skeleton already yet she still looks amazing. Another step toward the undead wouldn’t hurt her a bit.

GW: You’re about to take out some zombies. You put on your gigantic earphones and flip on your Walkman: who is playing? In other words, best music to play while killing zombies.

TM: For fun I’d turned on Carcass and blast Reek of Putrefaction. I think “Maggot Colony” would be the perfect complement to zombie killing.

GW: Zombies: Fast or slow?

TM: I prefer the visual of the slow zombie but my preference would be to mix them up, give the good guys a bit of a challenge by never knowing which ones they’ll be facing down.

GW: How has writing this novel differed from your other works, like Demon Squad or Clandestine Daze?

TM: It’s actually much closer to my Demon Squad stuff than Clandestine Daze. The humor is lowbrow and it’s a little off the wall. That said, the idea was to play more into the idea of normal people battling against the apocalypse than the Demon Squad, the power levels way different. This is more a traditional zombie romp in scale but if you like the DS books you’ll find plenty to enjoy here, the pacing and action and visuals all there.

GW: What is the best part of Kickstarting a novel? What’s the hard part?

TM: You know, I’ve never Kickstarted a novel before. This is something new for me. Ultimately though, I think Kickstarting it provides me with a bunch of opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise. The ability to include fun interior art pieces and to create merchandise and actually include the readers in the book make this way more fun than me slapping down a bunch of words by myself. Also, from a marketing perspective, it seems like the idea could break down a few doors and get the book out to a wider audience.

The hard part is all the preparation and fulfillment. I’m no longer just writing a novel that I publish right after. I now need to create all the rewards and write the extra bits and pieces if the stretch goals are reached. Then I need to organize everything and get books and rewards out to people quickly. There’s a whole lot more to the process than my normal way of doing things.

GW: What are you working on next?

TM: I have a couple projects I’m working on. The first is a comedic dark fantasy novel entitled War God Rising. Like ZILF it’s fun and action-packed and off the wall. Then there’s my Tales of a Prodigy novel, which stars my eunuch assassin from the Neverland’s Library, Blackguards, and Unbound anthologies. It’s way darker and more serious than ZILF or WGR but I’ve been wanting to write that one for a while now. After that I have a monster novel I’ve been invited to write.

GW: Thank you, Tim.

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