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Author Interview: Seth Skorkowsky

Author Interview: Seth Skorkowsky published on 3 Comments on Author Interview: Seth Skorkowsky

Seth Skorkowsky’s debut novel, Dämoren, an urban fantasy featuring nasty monsters, modern-day knights, and a sentient pistol, was released in 2014 by Ragnarok Publications. Since then he has proven to be an incredibly prolific writer. Not only did he publish Hounacier, the second in his critically-acclaimed Valducan series, but he’s also released two hefty collections of stories featuring his hero, the Black Raven.

He graciously agreed to an interview with galleywampus, to celebrate the publication of The Sea of Quills.

J Wilbanks: Hi, Seth! Thanks for joining us.

Seth Skorkowsky: Thank you very much for having me.

JW: First things first – you have a new book out this week! You must be pretty excited. What can you tell us about it?

SS: I’m very excited. Sea of Quills is my second collection of stories following a thief called the Black Raven. They’re a pulpy throwback to the old fantasy tales where each story is a self-contained adventure. I regularly refer to it as a mixture of James Bond and the Gray Mouser.

JW: I read that you first envisioned this character back in 2008. What gave you the impetus to drag him out of your mind and expose him on the page after all that time?

SS: In 2008 I published my first Black Raven story, The Porvov Switch, in Flashing Swords Magazine. They picked up a total of six Black Raven stories, but went under after printing three of them. At the time we’d discussed makingthe first collection, Mountain of Daggers, and they advised me to get the total count up to 90,000 words. After Flashing Swords folded, I started work with Rogue Blades for it. Then a very large publishing house expressed interest, and it spent two years waiting on a decision before I retracted my submission to look elsewhere. All in all, the process was over five years of frustration before Ragnarok picked it up. By that time, I had twenty stories and had split the collection into two volumes.

JW: You’ve written The Sea of Quills (and its predecessor) to be a series of interrelated short stories. I love that format, and it reminds me of the shared-worlds of the 80s and 90s, like Liavek. But it’s not a commonly seen format. What led to you creating it this way?

SS: I love short fiction. So my original plan was to publish them like the old Conan or Fafhrd & Gray Mouser tales where they appear in different magazines and anthologies and eventually being brought together into the collection. It didn’t quite work out that way.

JW: Which of the stories are you most proud of in Sea of Quills? Which was the hardest to write? Which one is your wife’s favorite?

SS: I’m the most proud of The Noble Hunter. Some of the scenes in that one were floating around in my head for years before I found a good place to use them. It was also the hardest to write because I had to balance everything with its companion story, City Beneath the Kaisers, which I wrote at the same time. My wife’s favorite is Temptation’s Proposal. We both love masquerade balls (even our wedding was one) so she likes the setting and the villain in it is her favorite.

JW: The world you’ve built in Mountain of Daggers and Sea of Quills is rich with untold stories. Can we expect more?

SS: Definitely. I have plans for several specific adventures and hope to keep Black Raven stories as something I continue to write for years to come.

JW: You have another series, also published by Ragnarok. The first two in the series are already out. When can we expect the third book?

SS: The third novel is Ibenus. Currently I’m 75% through the first draft. The plan is to finish it up and have it ready for Ragnarok by the end of the year. Publication should hopefully be mid-2016, but that’s really an educated guess until I have it turned in. In the meantime, I have a pair of Valducan short stories coming out with Emby Press and Bloodshot Books that will take place before Dämoren and expand some on the world and the weapons.

JW: I love that you’re writing a female lead character! Is the process of building her character different from how you created your male characters?

SS: Yes and no. The biggest difference between Victoria and the heroes in the previous books is that we get to experience her growth with her. Dämoren and Hounacier both begin years in the past and then fast-forward to the present, bypassing the transition from everyday person to demon-slaying knight. Victoria’s journey begins after the events in Hounacier and we get to ride along with it.

JW: Thanks for being so forth-coming about your yet-to-be-written Ibenus! We’re very excited to read it. We love the Valducan series – it is a series, right? You plan to write more Valducan after Ibenus, yes? We have to have more, Seth!

SS: It is a series. I have some ideas for the fourth book, and began sprinkling seeds for it in Hounacier. Once I’m finished with Ibenus, I’ll have to see if I have enough to go ahead and start it, or possibly continue work on a different project that’s been mulling around.

JW: Okay, now for a fun question, just because I’m nosy. List three things you would NOT do for 10 billion dollars.

SS: 1: I would not leave my wife. Whatever escapades I can do with $10 billion would be no fun without her.
2: I would not give up gaming. It’s too much of my life to live without it.
3: I would never cut off my own legs and serve them at a formal dinner no matter who might attend it.

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Sea of Quills is available to read today!

Book Gossip: Volume One

Book Gossip: Volume One published on 6 Comments on Book Gossip: Volume One

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The last book in Jacqueline Carey’s Agent of Hel trilogy, Poison Fruit, came out last fall. So what has she been working on? Two projects, it turns out. The first is a novella, “One Hundred Ablutions”, which will be published in Yanni Kuznia’s Fantasy Medley 3. It will tell the tale of Dala – a young woman chosen by her people’s overlords to be a slave among slaves, and will include themes of ritual and redemption. The anthology will also include novellas from Kevin Hearne, Laura Bickle, and Aliette de Bodard.

Carey’s next novel will be a dark retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and will chronicle the lives of the titular characters Miranda and Caliban. It will be published in July 2016. I am still hoping that this is a code, and what it really means is that she is writing a new trilogy set in Terre D’Ange, but that hope is dwindling fast.

Seth Skorkowsky will be publishing a new collection of Black Raven stories in October, and is also hard at work on the third book in his wonderful Valducan series: Ibenus. He gave us a brief teaser of the plot, and it looks fantastic. Don’t believe us? Read it for yourself.

After surviving a demon attack, disgraced police detective Victoria Martin tracks down the Valducans in search of answers. Recognizing her potential, and despite the warnings of the other knights, Allan Havlock, protector of Ibenus, takes her in as his apprentice. As the Valducans travel to Paris to destroy a demon nest infesting the catacombs, the knights find themselves hunted by an Internet group intent on exposing them. Victoria, who belongs this group, must desperately play both sides to not only protect herself, but Allan whom she has begun to love. Ibenus, however, has other plans.

Back in April, Guy Gavriel Kay announced his new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, which will be published in spring 2016. This will, of course, be one of his lyrical and thoughtful fantasies in which he reveals a culture that has its roots in our world, but is obscured by a fantastical lens.

In The Children of Earth and Sky Kay returns to the familiar territory established in several earlier works, a reimagining of the melting pot of the medieval Mediterranean. In his hands well-known places and events are transformed into the wonderful and strange through the lens of fantasy, and brought to life with brilliantly drawn characters and the most graceful of styles, which will seduce his many fans and new readers alike.

Isn't this a beautiful cover?

The interesting bit about this is that in February of last year, he sold not one, but two books. Could Children of Earth and Sky be the first in a duology like the Sarantine Mosaic or Under Heaven and River of Stars? It’s a wonderful notion – how many of us wish Tigana had been the first of two (or, maybe, seventeen) books?

Perhaps he could take a page from Robin Hobb? Her Realm of the Elderlings series is made up of sixteen novels.

robin hobb

Assassin’s Fate, the book every single one of her fans longs for, yet are terrified by, is the culminating novel. It is sure to be wonderful and bittersweet at the same time, especially since she allows her story to take her to dark places. I can’t say that she ever simply “kills off” characters for the fun of it (or to add some drama), but she is devoted to the story she wishes to tell. No one is safe. No one is safe from having to wait, either. Typically, Hobb has a publishing schedule that has a book by her out every year. To my deepest sorrow, it looks like we will have to wait until spring 2017. It will be worth it. The best things are worth waiting for.

Fortunately, sometimes patience wins the day! Our wait for Grim Oak Press’s Unbound is nearly over, however. Shawn Speakman, expert author wrangler and talented writer, has put together another anthology that is… bound… to be a fantastic read. A lot of anthologies celebrate a particular theme, or joke, or location. Unbound is a compilation of stories that the authors just wanted to write. The Table of Contents is impressive, with Kristen Britain, Tim Marquitz, Terry Brooks, Shawn Speakman, and Jim Butcher. (Yes, the Butcher story will involve our first glimpse of Harry Dresden post-Skin Game). Speakman prizes collectibles, and knows exactly what book lovers want. Follow the link to Grim Oak Press to purchase limited editions and ARCs.

In other news:
1. The first book in Tad Williams’s new Osten Ard trilogy has been delayed by one full year due to publishing shenanigans.
2. Christopher Moore is working on a book called Noire, set in 1947 San Francisco. Will the Author Guy never cease to surprise us?
3. Ernest Cline, author of Armada and Ready Player One, has signed another contract for a science fiction novel to be delivered at a later date.
4. Jeff Vandermeer spent the month of August away from social media, and came away 100,000 words richer. He is working on not one but two new novels for us.

That’s it until next time! Feel free to share in the comments any juicy book-related gossip.

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