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INTERVIEWS

Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded

RECENT REVIEWS

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Cold Days by Jim Butcher

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Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

MISHMASH | Brent Weeks's Black Prism Description, Another Gaiman Odd Story, & a New Cover


Not much has been released previously about Brent Weeks's next series Black Prism except this small blurb found on the Brent Weeks site:
It’s set in a new world. Think more 1500 Mediterranean Sea, rudimentary fire arms and magic together. Woot. But don’t worry, it’s not a pirates-and-their-peg-legged-mateys book. Cross my heart. But there are awesome characters, lots of action, much cooler magic this time out, secrets, lies, betrayal, and butt-kicking. You know, the good stuff. 
But I have finally tracked down a somewhat meatier description [Edit: Weeks has said through Twitter that this is no longer totally accurate so beware as he is still writing]:

The world attempts to heal in the aftermath of a savage war, which took place sixteen years ago. Now all is ordered and controlled by the world's only magic school, the Chromeria, which keeps a tight political reign on all nations through its acolytes' highly-sought abilities. By manipulating the colour spectrum, these gifted individuals gain access to great power, and the head of the Chromeria is the most powerful of his generation. Supposedly. Gavin defeated his malevolent twin Jarven at the height of the last war but Jarven's prison won't hold him for much longer. Balance is vital in a world where magic controls all from the weather, to the harvest to war. Now that balance is about to change.
It looks as though the first volume from Black Prism is tentatively set for an August 2010 release in the UK from Orbit. Orbit's UK and US schedules are generally pretty close so we should see it here in the states around the same time.  Given Weeks's receiving New York Times Best-seller status I'd expect a hardcover release.


One of my earliest reviews was for Matthew Sturges's Midwinter (seen here), which I enjoyed quite a bit more than most other reviewers it seems.  It was an early candidate for one of my top reads of the year, but given the exceptional reads that have come out since it has fallen down the ladder somewhat.  However, I'm still looking forward to the follow-up The Office of Shadow, which Pyr has just released the cover for with the art done by Chris McGrath.  The Office of Shadow should be released the first half of 2010.



Lastly, over at Amazon UK they have listed a new book called The Tales of Odd by Neil Gaiman.  This edition will have the entirety of Odd and the Frost Giants and a second Odd story which continues his journey.   Here is the description to The Tales of Odd:
The two stories in this exciting novella follow the adventures of the intrepid young Viking Odd. As a brave and solitary twelve-year-old, in the first tale, he endeavours to free three Norse Gods trapped in the bodies of an eagle, a bear and a fox; then, in the second, a few years older, taller and stronger he sets off on a testing and epic journey to the Holy City of Jerusalem. But of course with Neil Gaiman's wit and style the stories transcend the normal and become humorous, rich and layered tales of a life lived courageously.
My bet willl be that the second Odd story will be published solo in the US next year.  As a reminder, the first 25 pages or so of Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Front Giant's is available here.


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AUTHOR INTERVIEW | Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker

Boneshaker blew me away so much I had to learn a bit more about the author Cherie Priest. Priest is the author of many books including the much lauded Eden Moore series of Southern Gothic stories starting with Four and Twenty Blackbirds in addition to many other works. You can check out my review of Boneshaker here and be sure to visit The Clockwork Century site, which gives you plenty of more info about the world Cherie has concoted with it wonderful alternative history of a Steampunk America.


MH: Hello Cherie, welcome to Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself?

CHERIE: I’m a bespectacled spec-fic quasi-goth with a passion for cheap red wine and steampunk, and a morbid fear of sloths. I was born in Florida but moved around a lot, sort of settled in Tennessee, and ended up in Seattle because, well, these things happen.

MH: For those who haven’t read BONESHAKER, what would you say to prospective readers to whet their appetite? And what can readers expect out of The Clockwork Century world?

CHERIE: Imagine Seattle in 1880. Imagine it surrounded by a wall, and filled with a poisonous gas that turns people into zombies. Now imagine a fifteen-year-old kid with a bone to pick and something to prove … sneaking underneath the wall. And NOW imagine exactly how righteously pissed his mother is when she finds out what he’s done.
Basically, this is a story about a woman with nothing left to lose, and a city full of zombies, pirates, mad scientists, and career criminals to fight her way through in order to save her son.

MH: Will all the books focus on the same characters or will it be more of a mosaic series where smaller characters come to the fore?

CHERIE: My next projects from Tor and Subterranean will be set in the same universe, called The Clockwork Century. Though the stories are related—sometimes by sharing characters, sometimes with more distant connections—they’re not precisely sequels to one another, and I’m setting them up so they can be read in any order, more or less.
For example, the book coming from Subterranean next year (CLEMENTINE) is about a man who appears only as a secondary player in BONESHAKER. And DREADNOUGHT (coming from Tor next fall or winter) follows the daughter of one of BONESHAKER’s main players—but her adventures take place back east, beginning in Virginia.

MH: When did you first learn about Steampunk? What does Steampunk mean to you?

CHERIE: I’ve been generally aware of steampunk for quite awhile, primarily because I’ve spent years hanging around the periphery of the goth scene—and there’s a lot of overlap between the two. I love Victoriana and retro-futurism, and one thing sort of flowed into the other.

But a couple of years ago I became really intrigued by steampunk; I was starting to see it all over the place, all of a sudden, and it struck me as something absolutely LOADED with potential. Coming from a bleak, industrial-cusp 19th century zeitgeist, there’s so much to play with from a world-building standpoint—and also oodles of social commentary to be mined.

I’ve been known to joke that the core tenets of steampunk are reduce, reuse, and recycle. But I’m only half joking. If there’s a “core” to steampunk philosophy and style, it comes from a spirit of customization and repurposing, rejection of mass culture and disposable commodities, and a demand for accessible technology that can be repaired rather than replaced.

MH: Where do you see the world of Steampunk going? Will it only become bigger or will it remain a smaller sub-culture such as Goth?

CHERIE: It’s hard to say. I think much will depend on the next couple of years; “steampunk” has become such a buzzword in publishing and video games, as well as in TV and movies … so there’s a lot in the works right now that won’t hit the streets for another ten or twelve months.
The quality of the forthcoming projects and pop culture’s reception of these projects will—at the very least—determine whether or not steampunk stays more or less a “subgenre,” or whether it’ll claw its way to a higher tier of visibility.

MH: Not much has been mentioned about CLEMENTINE, which as far as I can tell will be a novella with Subterranean Press. I can guess that it will focus on one of the airships we see in BONESHAKER, but what more can you reveal? Is there a release date in mind yet?

CHERIE: CLEMENTINE is a hoot and a half, and I’m really excited that Subterranean was interested in it. In short, one of my favorite secondary characters in BONESHAKER needed a little more page time … and I wanted to show what happens to him after the final events in BONESHAKER (the story does not end fantastically well for him).
So yes, it’s the story of this man and his crew heading back east in pursuit of a stolen dirigible—and along the way, they pick up disgraced former spy Maria “Belle” Boyd, who’s now working for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Together, the old spy and the old pirate wreak a little havoc and raise a little hell.

MH: Seattle’s catacombs are used to great effect in BONESHAKER. Were the catacombs instrumental in creating your story or did you see it as something you could just work in to the story? (for background visit here)

CHERIE: The Seattle Underground is a well-known local institution, and I do love touring it. In fact, it’s usually the first thing I do when out-of-towners come calling—I drag them downtown to the Underground. Support your local historic societies and their projects, that’s what I say!

To sum it up quickly: In 1889 Seattle essentially burned to the ground. The subsequent rebuilding involved a regrade that lifted the city some thirty feet off the mud-flats upon which it had been originally established. Due to a discrepancy between how fast the business owners wanted to rebuild and how fast the city officials wanted to regrade, the underground was created. The streets were raised and then the sidewalks were installed years after the businesses reopened … shutting off the ground floor of most of the shops and services.

It’s hard to describe. But the end result is that basically, the entire old quarter of Seattle is completely hollow underneath the sidewalks. And yes, it’s very difficult to know about this without wanting to write about it. However, my version of the hollow underground and the real version of the Seattle Underground share virtually no historic similarity. The underground in BONESHAKER is mostly a result of the residents excavating beneath the city – connecting basements and cellars with tunnels, tracks, and pathways – in order to escape the poisonous gas.

MH: What is your preferred type of hat?

CHERIE: I’m a fan of top hats in the winter; I have several, including a good wool one that’s very warm. But when the weather is nicer, I dig wee tiny (essentially decorative) top hats with netting … and the occasional sunhat. Yes, I have one. It’s cream-colored, and has a lovely silk band. Because you can’t wear brown and black all the time, that’s what I say.

MH: Do you have any plans for any new books outside of The Clockwork Century series?

CHERIE: Oh, certainly. In fact, I have a couple of books coming out from Bantam in the next couple of years, and these books have absolutely zilch to do with the Clockwork Century. BLOODSHOT and HELLBENT are very modern, urban fantasy chic. Also, I’m working on the next Wild Cards mosaic from George R. R. Martin’s consortium—and that’ll be a noir detective piece.

But after those, I’m not sure. I’m noodling on a young adult project or two, as well as a Belle Epoque Lovecraftian project that I’d love to work on. But not right now. Too much other stuff in the queue. Ah, well. Hopefully after the New Year, things will calm down enough that I’ll have time to think about what happens next.

MH: If you could be any character from a fantasy book who would it be and why?

CHERIE: Um … Gosh. Probably Jack from Charles De Lint’s “Jack the Giant Killer” books. Because those were the first really modern fantasies I ever truly loved—and let’s be honest. She was a total bad-ass.

MH: Who are some authors/books you think are under appreciated and deserve a wider audience?

CHERIE: I’m afraid I’ll be accused of friend-nepotism here, but I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t think they were awesome, so here goes: definitely Mark Henry{Road Trip of the Living Dead}, who is probably the funniest guy writing perverted zombie fiction alive; Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series is also very cool if you like dark modern noir with monsters; and Caitlin Kittredge{Street Magic} is still a bit new on the scene, but her Black London books are really excellent; Cat Valente’s {The Orphan’s Tales}books are always fascinating, dreamy reads; Jess Nevins is a librarian who composes some of the damn-finest reference volumes out there, including The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana and others; I just picked up Sara Harvey’s The Convent of the Pure and it’s remarkable.

These kinds of questions are always hard because I know so many writers, and so many of them are just so GOOD. But if I don’t stop rambling, people will just start eye-rolling, so I’ll wrap it up there.

MH: What are 2 things about you most people don’t know? Do you have a pet monkey you keep sequestered in the backyard? Are you building your own clockwork automaton?

CHERIE: Let’s see. (1). I have a scar on my lower abdomen from an accident years ago, when an old boyfriend tried to teach me how to surf. I fell off the board and got caught in an undertow, which scraped me along the ocean bottom and wore a hole through my bathing suit and my skin like low-grit sandpaper. (2). I loathe black licorice. Even the smell of it makes me gag; and I can’t eat anything flavored with anise for the same reason. Red licorice is fine, though. And I’m actually kind of fond of the “Starburst”-flavored strips. Those are fine. But black licorice? Will seriously make me throw up.

MH: Is there anything else you’d like to add?


CHERIE: Thanks a bunch for having me! You have a wonderful site here, performing a great service for us spec-fic writers everywhere.

MH: Thank you for your time. I’m looking forward to more Steampunk awesomeness.  Keep away from the black licorice!

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HE SAID / SHE SAID REVIEW | Soulless by Gail Carriger (Orbit)

This review is the first He Said/She Said review written by my wife, Lore and me. Hopefully, we'll do more in the future.  When I came back with my haul from BEA Soulless by Gail Carriger immediately caught her eye. It is rare that she reads a fiction book let alone a fantasy book except for the occasional Gaiman or vampire related read, as she is much more of a non-fiction fan. I've been telling her about Steampunk for quite a while and this one seemed to fit the bill to initiate her into the fold.  She has since enjoyed Clockwork Heart as well.  Please note we did write these without reading the others' thoughts so some ground has been covered in both takes.

He Said:

Soulless is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series, which is an enjoyable melding of Urban Fantasy, Romance, Humor, and a good helping of Steampunk. We are dropped into a world where the Supernatural has been engrained in society since the Renaissance when Vampires and Werewolves were made public. The premise comes from the idea that Supernatural creatures are long lived so that they have been affecting society for quite a long time. These Supernaturals are now afforded a certain level of class and accrued wealth because of the length of their lifetimes as happens with old money families.

The main character, Alexia, is what is known as a Soulless, who are quite rare. When she makes contact with beings of the Supernatural she negates their power as long as she is touching them, which is a nice twist. This sets up for a few somewhat silly scenes between her and a certain Werewolf. Alexia is considered a spinster at 25 and because of her half Italian origins has the wrong look for most English gentlemen.  Given these circumstances she dedicates much of her time to the study of the unusual using her deceased father's library and is afforded the chance to do things other proper women can or would not do such as befriending a Vampire.  Yet it seems she does have a suitor despite her self-deprecating tone.

There is nothing magical going on, as the author has opted to instead focus on the creatures and Steampunk technology, which appears aplenty towards the end.  Overall, Soulless flowed well, but the middle was a little slow with the romance aspect taking a bit too much time to cement itself.  There is plenty of action and witty dialogues along the way to things keep moving a pace. The dialogue and Alexia's own internal thoughts were the best aspect.  I thought the properness of it all would grain on me after a time, but the author interjects so much humor that she averts that chasm to the point where I looked forward to having things made more formal again to appreciate the jokes and situations. There is a wide cast of characters many of which I would have liked to learn more about.  With 2 more planned books I am sure some will end up better fleshed out.  I especially loved the inclusion of the waxed face man and his associated mythology.  It is one type of creature I think should get more used in Fantasy books, but is generally overlooked.

She Said:

Soulless leads you through English society where vampires and werewolves play leading roles. They coexist along with humans and have roles in the protection of the Queen and governing councils. All of a sudden supernaturals start going missing and strange stagecoaches start to roll through town – and strange is a big concept in a land where mortals and supernaturals mingle.


Alexia Tarabotti is the starring character that takes a little time to grow on you. Then again she is an opinionated spinster who exists without a soul, a preternatural as it were. Despite this she is intelligent and amusing enough to befriend humans, werewolves, and vampires alike. The latter being of sufficient interest since Alexia has the ability to wipe werewolves and vampires clean of their supernatural condition merely by a touch of the hand. She lives a guarded life sharing the fact that she is soulless with very few and only sparks interest in her character through her close involvement with the supernatural governing societies.


As a creature with dominating X chromosomes I did appreciate the strength of Alexia combined with her high fashion sense and silver tipped umbrella. I also enjoyed her use of personal time for self-education as opposed to searching endlessly for a mate in a society where this could change her status and lifestyle. Gail’s supporting characters were also well crafted. Both Professor Lyall and Flute prove to be characters that thrive on their service to main characters and have endearing qualities that make you wonder more about their back-stories.  I hadn’t read too much fiction as of late being more of a fan of non-fiction paranormal then fiction but Gail Carriger brought this story across in an interesting light. At points some of the story line felt predictable and just when I thought I knew how it would play out the author would send the story in a new direction and catch me off guard. Which is always a turn on that keeps me flipping the pages. Though the story intertwines with a hot romance from a budding female author there is enough action to make it an excellent read for either sex.

She Said:


I look forward to reading future books in this series and perhaps further books from Ms Carriger featuring some of my favorite supporting characters.  For the fashinistas and steampunkers out there check out the Victorian Paperdoll Dress-up Game that Orbit created.  I'd love to see more movies in the Steampunk genre and Soulless would definitely make for a good one.  The first chapter of Soulless is available in audio here.


He Said:

Some male readers might feel it has a bit too much romance, but there is a lot to like about Soulless.  The humor and mix of backstory for the world is wonderful with much to be revealed.  There is a good amount of scientific discussion about how Werewolves and Vampires are what they are and how the soulless concept fits in with them both.  The ending worked well even if it was a tad expected but still satisfying, however the epilogue sets things up for bigger adventures in the future as Alexia gets involved in a secret political position of sorts.  I give Soulless 8 out of 10 Hats. Given Carriger's acumen towards hats I think she'll appreciate this rating. Changeless, Book the Second, in the Parasol Protectorate series will be out in April 2010 and both of us are sure to check it out.

Book link: US Europe Canada


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VIDEO | Mieville, Ringo, and Link Sci-Fi Discussion from Book Expo 2009 and

Book Expo has now posted a whole bunch of the discussions taped at the show here.  During my trip to BEA I really wanted to go to the Sci-fi discussion with John Ringo, China Mieville, and Kelly Link but I only managed to catch the last 15 minutes or so.  Now we can see the whole discussion moderated by Del Rey editor Chris Schluep in which China Mieville sounds smart and John Ringo makes good points while wearing a Utilikilt:



Here is the Scott Westerfield, Holly Black, and Cassie Clare discussion about Alternative History:



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MINI REVIEW | Purple and Black by K.J. Parker (Subterranean)

Pseudonymous K.J. Parker has been making a name for themselves over the last few years with well-reviewed Military Fantasy such as The Engineer Trilogy and The Company. When I heard about the Purple and Black novella I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to dip my toe into her works. Purple and Black is told through the letters an Emperor of a sprawling land and one of his oldest friends who is also current governor of one of the most remote parts of the country. The letters are printed in black and purple, which is used to good effect by Sub Press's two color design.

The worldbuilding while not fully developed feels like a medieval setting with the back pinning of a religion akin to the Egyptians of old where the ruler is close to being a God. Yet there is a lot of backstabbing history in this government, which pops up again and again as it is the theme of the story. The Emperor with an often funny yet self-defeated tone fell into his role as the rest of his relatives killed each other, which left him the de facto ruler.

The characters while scant come across well for such a short number of pages, but Parker does manage to tell a good yarn with an usual story which is complete to boot. Overall, Purple and Black is a tasty treat and would provide a great break for those of us draw to giant fantasy tomes. I give Purple and Black 7 out of 10 Hats. Fans of political themed Fantasy would be advised to track a copy down as Sub Press is sold out, but it does look like Amazon and a few other retailers still have copies.  [Edit it seems Sub Press does still have the signed limited edition, but not the trade].  I'll probably try Parker's other works in the future as I'm interested in her style outside of this format, but she has shown she can do a little with a lot.

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Contest for The Golden City by John Twelve Hawks



I have one hardcover copy of John Twelve Hawks' The Golden City recent release up for grabs.  This is the third volume of the Big Brother SFish Fourth Realm Trilogy that started strong with The Traveler and followed with The Dark River

Send an email to madpye (AT) yahoo (dot) com with your full name and snail mail address with "GOLDEN" in the subject line. The deadline is midnight October 5th. I'll announce the winner the following day. This contest is open to the people of the United States and Canada only (sorry  rest of the world). If you send multiple entries you will be disqualified from the contest.


Be sure to stop by IAmJohnTwelveHawks.com to see what John’s fan’s have done to celebrate The Golden City.  Here is one of the videos, which is a reading from The Golden City:


MISHMASH | Neil Gaiman and Wheel of TIme Free Reads and New Steampunk Cover



The first 25 pages or so of Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Front Giant's is available here.  This is actually quite a large chuck of the text.  I read Odd soon after the UK World Book Day edition was released and enjoyed it immensely.  It is one of those books you wish had been around when you were 10 years old.  The Odd story involves a sort of greatest hits of Norse lore with a young boy.  Gaiman has said he wants to do more stories with Odd somewhere down the line.



Tor has also released the audio of chapter 2 from The Gathering Storm here.  You need an account with tor.com, but it is free and being a member puts you on their e-mail list about things such as this.




Elizabeth Bear has posted the cover to her new Steampunk novella Bone and Jewel Creatures with Subterranean Press to be released in March 2010.  Here is the description:

Dark magic is afoot in the City of Jackals...

Eighty years Bijou the Artificer has been a Wizard of Messaline, building her servants from precious scraps, living with the memory of a great love that betrayed her. She is ready to rest.
But now her former apprentice, Brazen the Enchanter, has brought her a speechless feral child poisoned by a sorcerous infection. Now, Messaline is swept by a mysterious plague. Now the seeping corpses of the dead stalk the streets.

Now, finally, Bijou's old nemesis--Bijou's old love--Kaulas the Necromancer is unleashing a reeking half-death on Bijou's people. And only Bijou and her creatures wrought of bone and jewels can save the City of Jackals from his final revenge.

COVER EVOLUTION | The Martian Chronicles (1950-2009)

After reviewing The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition (here) I started to think about the evolution of covers quite a bit, especially those books that have been around for decades.  Below are a few examples of cover treatments given to The Martian Chronicles over the years, which include some beautiful and some not so beautiful versions.

1950 First Edition

I've seen this listed as the first edition cover of The Martian Chronicles, but I'm not entirely sure if it is. I have to say it is one of my favorites though. The usual treatment of Bradbury's name and the coloration of the art are wonderful and set the tone for many other covers to come. This is the type of cover that never feels old such as the cover for Fahrenheit 451 that has been used for years.

1951 First Paperback edition

One of the worst version out of the lot, but it was a product of its time.

1958 Edition

A fairly basic design, but still a nice austere look.

1954 Edition

A pulp cover that looks designed for a young audience.  Ohh, rocket ships!

1967 Edition

Very bland cover, but it definitely fit with the time period of 1960s movie posters.

1984 Grand Master Series Edition

This is one of the few editions that show the Martians. It seems most of the covers want to show the human factor or some dry bleakness.

Unknown Year, but I'd guess in the 70s or early 80s.

Again another very bland version. For some reason his publishers' love showing a globe of some sort.

1976 Japanese Edition

Believe it or not, but this is a very sedate cover for a Japanese edition.

1997 Newest Trade Edition

Simple and straight forward.  Notice how the title is much smaller than Bradbury.  You can definitely tell that as Bradbury's fame grew so has his name on most covers.

2008 UK Edition

Makes me think of a more turn of the century type book.

2009 Sub Press Limited Edition

Overall, this is definitely one of the better covers.  It does a good job of giving you an alien feel yet some how homey.

So which one's do you like or hate?

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REVIEW | Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Tor)

Cherie Priest is one of those authors I've been hearing good things about for years. However, I've never tried her books previously as I'm not into horror or ghost related tales much, but when I heard she was doing a Steampunk book I immediately added it to my watch list. It did not disappoint at all.  Boneshaker is full of Steampunk awesomeness. The setting is unbelievable detailed with its decrepitness yet infused with a ragamuffin lifestyle of people getting by in the most unexpected ways. You've got mad scientists, steampowered tech, ravenous zombies, air ships, and air pirates all in an eerie apocalyptic landscape.  Yet this is a story with heart.

Set in Seattle circa 19th century, but in an alternative history where the civil war is on going and the gold rush made it to Seattle a little earlier. Boneshaker refers to a machine that wrecked the downtown of Seattle about 15 years prior, which released a gas that turned people to zombies.  The ruined portion of the city has been walled-up since and most people live in what is called "The Outskirts."  Zeke is looking to redeem the Father and Grand Father he never knew for their involvement surrounding the events of the boneshaker so he travels into the walled-off city looking for proof.  His mother predictably goes in after him, but what ensues is a rollicking look into a vivid world.  The point of view switches between mother and son as they stumble through the city and meet allies and enemies.

One thing that may bother some hardcore Steampunkers is this isn't much real Victorian-ness going on, but the other elements of Steampunk are here.  Boneshaker has more of a greasy soot covered Wild West feel to it, but it does make it refreshing to leave England.  The characters start off a bit standoffish, but grow quickly endearing.  Briar is especially a tough nut to crack as she has built-up so many layers between her and her son Zeke, yet she is my favorite.  Briar is a woman who made some very hard choices in life and hasn't had it easy because of those paths chosen.  There are a lot of other intriguing characters as well in this blight soaked city.

Superbly plotted and paced, if you are going to read one Steampunk book this year make it Boneshaker. I give Boneshaker 9 out of 10 Hats. Cherie has a second novel in the series titled Dreadnought coming in 2010 with Tor and a novella, Clementine, expected with Subterranean Press as well.  I'll be procuring both whenever they become available.  I'm interested to see if Priest will focus on the same characters or widen the world and maybe leave Seattle.  Check out Clockwork Century, which supports the world Cherie created and free Clockwork Century story entitled Tanglefoot is available here.  See some of the original sketches for the book cover here.  I do like idea of some recent Steampunk books that are leaving the stuffy Victorian theme behind, but I wonder if we should just start calling the subgenre Steam Fantasy? 


Book link US Europe Canada

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The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

Cover Unveiled for Warriors Edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

GRRM has revealed the cover to what could be the biggest anthology of 2010.  For the table of contents visit an earlier posting.  The title treatment works well, but the art is a little underwhelming.  Given the breath of different warrior archetypes one would think they had plenty of other ways to go.  It seems Tor wants to go for as general an audience as possible with this anthology, but given there is a new Dunk story I can see few fans passing this one up.  GRRM also mentioned The Mystery Knight will be the longest Dunk story yet.

MINI-REVIEW | In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent (Spiegel & Grau)

Have you ever wanted to learn about the origin of Tolkien's Quenya language spoken by the Elves? Or about other made up languages? Than In the Land of Invented Languages is the right book for you. Journey with the Arika, a trained linguist, to Klingon Conventions where she attempts to earn her beginner's certificate. Discover how Esperanto became one of the best known invented languages and why it is dying along with the system and history of many others.

This is the type of book that could be dry, but Arika averts that danger by interjecting jokes liberally such as wanting to find out what the word shit is in these languages first and foremost, because who doesn't want to swear in other languages? The lighthearted and informative style will keep you intrigued even when some of the translations and diagrams can get tiresome, although they do help explain the formulas for many of the languages. I give In the Land of Invented Languages 8 out of 10 Hats. Fans of Stefan Fatsis's Word Freak or Kurlansky's Salt: A World History would enjoy this one.


Book link US Europe Canada

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Temple Library Reviews Interview Me!

Harry over at Temple Library has seen fit to include me in his Reviewer Time series. Check out the interview here to learn about some of my predilections, my ratings system, my thoughts on negative reviews, and a whole lot more. Thanks Harry!
Cheers,
Michael, The Mad Hatter

REVIEW | The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines (DAW)

Jim C. Hines is best known as the author behind the Jig the Goblin series of misadventures. The Jig series is as solid as humorous adventure fantasy can get and I'd even go so far as to say they are better than Asprin's MythAdventures. Give them a try if you haven't already, starting with Goblin Quest, which is sure to remind people of a D & D game gone awry. My love of the Goblin books is why I decided to give The Stepsister Scheme a try.

Princess fairy tales. Girly right? Not in the hands of Mr. Hines. There is hardly anything girly about this story and these women. Hines seems to have almost effortlessly morphed these so-called Disney Princesses into heroines a la Charlie's Angels of the highest order. Most fairy tales have a much darker origin than many people realize and some are down right nasty. For example, think about Hansel and Gretel for a second. That old woman wanted to fatten those children up in order to eat them. Can you get much more ghoulish than that?

 The humor isn't as plentiful as in the Goblin books, but these are much more serious characters and situations. To start you have Danielle (Cinderella) who has fallen into palace life with her two Wicked Stepsister still causing trouble. Than you have Talia (Sleeping Beauty) who is about as hard as nails as you can get, but understandably so. Lastly, but certainly not least is Snow who is sort of the balance between the other two, while also being powerful magician in her own right and nasty with her snowflake throwing starts.

There is also Queen Beatrice, whose character is not explored much, but I'm sure it will come up as the world progresses. I have a feeling Hines has a lot in store for the world building, but he did a worthy job of melding the fairy tales into a comprehensible world as well as creating a Fairy town as fun as I've seen. The Stepsister Scheme is a self-contained rescue mission of a certain price with a few teasers thrown in of stories to come.

Hines' style has grown a bit more intricate, but it is still packed full of action and a twisting of the stories we all loved as children. I give The Stepsister Scheme 8 out of 10 Hats. The Mermaid's Madness, the second in the series will be released in early October and judging by its description is sure to raise the ante. This is Charlie's Angels for the fantasy fan and they'll gobble it up.


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REVIEW | Already Dead (Joe Pitt 1) by Charlie Huston (Del Rey)

I know, I know. I was just ranting about Vampires in New York recently. How many books have come out in the last 10 years with Vampires in NYC? Shit loads. How many are aimed at men? Not as many as you would think. I've been seeing Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt series on UF for Men list for a few years, but until recently never looked beyond the covers, which are pretty cool. I'm glad I finally picked this one up as it hit all the right buttons. Already Dead is an easy and quick pulpish read at less than 270 pages, which can easily be finished in a couple sittings. Already Dead falls in the category of Crime novel more than Urban Fantasy, which is what sets it apart. I was reminded greatly of Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim (reviewed here) in terms of its badass style, format, and creating anti-heroes you can root for, although Joe Pitt has better control of his temper than Stark. Pitt is a mercenary of sorts in Manhattan. He is also a card carrying, blood drinking Vampire with an attitude problem, which leads to some great dialogue and violence galore. NYC was once controlled by The Coalition, which is one of the oldest Vampire clans. Nowadays Manhattan is divided into different territories with the Coalition controlling the largest portion from 14th street up to Harlem with the rest of lower Manhattan divided into small clans. Vampires from one group are not supposed to travel through the areas of the others without permission although some groups are friendlier with others. Joe Pitt lives south of 14th street in the area controlled by The Society, a group Pitt was part of in the past, but he now works as a free agent for any group that pays. The Enclave group is the most original aspect of the world build as they go about things very differently than other Vampires and I can already tell a lot of future books will center on them. Pitt is pulled from one group to another and is one of those characters that seems to just fall into crap and get pulled deeper and deeper. With his rough tone and punk demeanour, Pitt gets cajoled into what looks like a simple case of a missing rich Uptown girl who likes to go slumming while tracking down some roving Zombies which are a little too close to home. The world building is huge with the hierarchy and division of the Vampires and deep history many of the characters share in addition to some prophetic statements made by certain clan members. Packed full of bloody action, off putting sex, Zombies, and terse dialogue Already Dead is an impressive start to a series that you have to force yourself to put down. The Vampire politics are gorgeous and I can't wait to see how big this world gets as Huston has four books out with the 5th and last due out soon. Did anyone say Vampire War? I give Already Dead 8 out of 10 Hats. I plan to pick up the next couple Pitt novels at some point in the not too distant future. Trying out Huston's standalone crime novel The Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death is a distinct possibility as well. Book link: US Europe Canada

Winner of Mark Teppo's Lightbreaker

The lucky winner of Mark Teppo's Lightbreaker (reviewed here) is Sue Mickelson from CO. Thanks to all who entered! Also, be sure to check out my interview with Teppo here.

Scalzi's The Abject Holy Terror Of Night Ranger

Scalzi's is having a little photoshop contest on his Whatever blog, which features him in a Night Ranger t-shirt. I thought I'd throw a couple in the hat for fun in an attempt not to do actual work.
Here is one that sticks closer to the rules:

REVIEW | The Quiet War by Paul McAuley (Pyr)

The Quiet War is Space Opera that hits close to home and is surprisingly digestible with its pacing. I find many Space Opera's a bit overdone, but that is not the case here. In fact this is the first must-read Sci-fi book of the year. The Quiet War having already been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award is quite deserving.

Earth and the outer separatist colonies have been at odds for the past 200 odd years. Earth is recovering from a planetary wide environmental collapse, which seems all too feasible presently. A Green fervor has taken hold of the people and the politics as they have repairing the planet, which leaves all of the power to the most wealthy families. The colonies exists as an egalitarian societies loosely connected, where debates run rampant and action is slow.

However, the people of Earth and the colonies are diverting on more than just politics. The colonies are situated on moons around planets in our solar system where they have been changing themselves genetically for generations to adapt to these new environments and also lengthening their life spans to hundreds of years. Many now consider them a separate species and as the gap widens so does the trust each group has for the other. Earth's own attempts at toying with humanity's capabilities are quite startling, especially the creation of the people on the moon, which I wish were used a tad more.

The Quiet War shows that no matter what side you are on, throwing yourself too much in any direction can take you further away from your goal as so much scheming is going on you never know when a favor will be called in. Nearly every character is a pawn in a greater game of chess. Just when you think you've reached the Queen a new piece swoops in to take position. Told from multiple points of view at a multitude of locales The Quiet War brings heaps of action and suspense. The characters are sometimes stuffy, but never uninteresting. The science is spot on and believable.

This is my first exposure to McAuley's work, but he has definitely piqued my interest with his highly informed style and voice. The Quiet War is the best Space Opera I have read in years. I give The Quiet War 9.25 out of 10 Hats. I didn't find out until I finished, but there is a a sequel, Gardens of the Sun, scheduled for release in October in the UK. No US publication date has been announced but McAuley has said Pyr will be the publisher so don't be surprised if you see it on their Spring/Summer 2010 list. That said The Quiet War does stand on its own but I for one would like to see what the future holds for some of these characters.


Book link: US Europe Canada

COVER ART | Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey

Jasper Fforde is best known for his Thursday Next series and the spin-off series of sorts called Nursery Crimes. Shades of Grey is the start to a new unrelated series, which saw its release delayed for a little while, but things are now on schedule for a release right after Christmas. Here is the blurb followed by the cover originally used when the book was first announce followed by the just released and most likely final art.

Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie's world wasn't always like this. There's evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

I liked this version when I first saw it, but did feel it was a bit austere for a Jasper Fforde book.

I love the new art and wonder if it will have a die-cut cover given the title art. Either way I think it fits much more with Jasper's other covers. It especially reminds me of the UK covers, which are brillant. Also, Jasper recent paid Joseph Mallozzi a visit where he talked about Nursery Crimes and a few other things.

REVIEW | In the Garden of Iden (The Company) by Kage Baker (Tor)

In the Garden of Iden is the start to Kage Baker's long running time travel series The Company and was also her debut novel. Before I started In the Garden of Iden all I knew was that it played with the ideas of time travel, immortality, and involved some sort of company as the series name blatantly implies. After reading I can certainly understand why Baker has won numerous awards and has a strong following for the series. In the Garden of Iden is witty and and surprisingly engaging. The main character, Mendoza, is taken into the Company after almost perishing as a child during the Spanish Inquisition. Baker does a good job of showing how people lived during the time and how the Inquisition was viewed and acted. However, the back story is what really caught me with the idea of Dr. Zeus, who is sort of like the Moses/Einstein of the future, orchestrating events to his benefit. There were also other plot threads opened up such as cyborg Neanderthals that have been around a long time that I'd love to hear more about and is apparently something discussed in later books. The characters are a bit flat at times as are their motivations. Mendoza especially comes off emotionless, but all of sudden is taken by a influx of emotions which seem out of character. These misgivings could be explained away by the fact that Menzoda is an technology altered woman who has been given a lot of knowledge about the future, but still it bothers me. The pacing is also a little slow especially around the middle during the romance part of the story, which I didn't care too much for, but I have a feeling this may be a recurring theme in later books.

Overall, In the Garden of Iden has some great mythology building with some character issues, but it is still an enjoyable and quick read. I give In the Garden of Iden 7.5 out of 10 Hats. I'm intrigued enough to try the next volume, Sky Coyote, as I want to learn more about The Company and Mendoza's future. I'm also curious as to whether all the books center on Mendoza. If their are any fans feel free to comment. This was Baker's debut effort and I am hopeful it gets better from here. Baker also has a sort of prequel series that has elements of Steampunk coming out early next year titled Not Less Than Gods, which so far sounds interesting and I intend to give a read. The cover above is the Sub Press limited edition coming out by the end of the year although the trade hardcover won't be out until March 2010 from Tor.

Book link: US Europe Canada

AUTHOR INTERVIEW | Mark Teppo author of Lightbreaker

I enjoyed Mark Teppo's Lightbreaker (reviewed here) so much I had to interview him, which he thankfully accepted. Heartland the second book in the Codex of Souls series will be released in February 2010 along with many other planned volumes in the series. Teppo also contributed to the World Fantasy Award nominated Paper Cities Urban Fantasy Anthology reviewed here.



MH: Hello Mr. Teppo, welcome to Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf. Thank you for taking time to answer our questions. Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself?


TEPPO: Well, I’m in an inveterate bibliophile. The rest is more mundane: geek job in the biotech industry, father of two children who are already smarter than me, clumsy in ways of the kitchen and the yard; that sort of thing. As for the bibliophile part, books are a necessary part of my existence. When my wife and I were shopping for our first house, I used to get really bothered by homes that didn’t have any books. The creepiest was the place where the bookcases were hidden in the master bedroom closet. 


MH: For those who haven’t read Lightbreaker, what would you say to perspective readers to whet their appetite? 


TEPPO: It’s not Urban Fantasy as you know it. Instead of celebrating the magical in fantastic creatures (faerie, vampire, were-, and so on), Lightbreaker takes its cues from the historical record, building a system of magick based on existing systems and philosophical and religious history. 


MH: Lightbreaker delves into many different types of magick, but mostly Western Occultism. What is your interest/involvement in the Occult beyond books? 


TEPPO: Mitch Horowitz has a book coming out soon called Occult America and he starts off with a reminder that the derivation of the word “occult” is simply “the unknown,” and that it has been some of the more outrageous PR efforts of various entities and individuals who have given the term its nefarious meaning. Erik Davis, in his book for 33 1/3 on Led Zeppelin, likens himself to an “occulture critic,” and I really like that appellation. We are seekers of knowledge, really, and without labeling ourselves as adherents of any one system, we are interested in all of them. Which, I realize, isn’t really an answer. At least not a sensational one, but the truth is rather prosaic: I’ve done enough reading to see the parallels between too many religious systems; it’s hard to pick one as being “better” than another when most of them quickly label unbelievers as lesser people, and that seems counter to the fabulous mystery that is human existence. It’s more curious to me that we can have so many systems—and they all fervently claim superiority—but their differences come down to what you could, loosely, call “regionalisms.” It’s the same sort of statistical anomaly that gave birth to conscious life: that we’d all come up with widely divergent “religious” systems that have so much in common in their underlying framework. That, really, suggests, there is something grander at work, and clinging to any system as being better or more insightful than another seems to be missing the bigger picture.
MH: The idea of souls is central to Lightbreaker. How did you come to create Markham’s Chorus? 


TEPPO: I wanted to magic agnostic—as much as I could—in my system and so I wanted Markham to stamp his personality, if you will, on the world vision. The Chorus was a way to refer what was going on in his head in a shorthand way without having to rely on some nomenclature that relied on the audience’s knowledge of a certain system. Or, rather, I didn’t want readers to think, “Oh, he calls it ‘X,’ he must be a ‘Y.’” The “Chorus” came sort of naturally after that. I don’t think there were even that many choices I was considering. It was one of those “and he’s got these souls in his head—call ‘em a . . . ‘Chorus’ . . . yeah, that’s it, the Chorus” moments.


MH: How do your stories take shape? Are you a detailed outliner or more streams of consciousness?


TEPPO: Traditionally, I’m very organic, stream of consciousness, in my method. I will usually build enough of a framework to know what the book is supposed to be about, and then I’ll start. I’ll get about 60% of the way, hit that Dark Night of the Soul moment of despair, and then panic. That used to suck terribly, but I’ve gotten better about that point, and now I look forward to it, because it usually means that my subconscious has finally broken through and said, “No, really, this isn’t going to work; you need to back up a bit.” So, I do. I cut back to about 40% or so, figure out where the story is supposed to go (as it is there, floating in my head by now), and then it’s pretty much a straight path to the end. The couple of times I’ve explained this to people, it seems to terrify them, but I prefer to be actively writing rather than planning. So, this period where I spiral out of control is just me planning without a net, essentially. It helps that I’ve gotten over my dread fear of revising, and typically when I finish a draft, it’s fairly solid. The rest is a matter of knocking off the weird edges and polishing. 


MH: I noted a change between when the cover of Lightbreaker was originally announced and the final product. Why the change and are you happy with the final design? 


TEPPO: I’m thrilled with the cover. I gave Chris McGrath, the cover artist, a very vague description of Markham (“he’s a guy who likes to blend in with a crowd” was the gist of it, if I remember correctly), and we sent him the chapter where Markham and Katarina finally meet again. From that, he managed to build a cover that, I think, nicely encapsulates the antagonism of their relationship (they aren’t facing the same way), and sets the tone for the series. The folks at Night Shade opted to tighten up the focus of the image and lighten the edges, which I think was a great idea. McGrath tends to put a lot of texturing in his work (which I really dig), which doesn’t always translate well at a distance of more than five feet, and so I think that focusing in the two characters and building the white frame really makes the cover pop out more on the shelf.
I can’t complain. The cover presents the book in a very nice way.


MH: Without giving too much away, what is in store for Markham in Heartland


TEPPO: We opted to add the somewhat lengthy teaser for Heartland to the back of Lightbreaker to make it clear there was more going on than Markham realized. And Heartland is the culmination of that larger scheme. He goes back to Paris to deal with all the history that he left behind there and to confront the Watchers on their home turf. Everything is falling apart in the organization with the death of the Hierarch, all the Watchers are vying for a piece of the what’s left, and Markham is the wild card thrown into the mix. 

MH: So far The Codex of Souls has three books announced, but I read in another interview that you have plans for 10 books. What are you up to? And at what rate do you think they’ll be published? Do you have any plans for any more short stories with the same characters? 

TEPPO: In the short story department, there’s the novella “Wolves, in Darkness” that is posted to the codexofsouls.com website (Chapter One sample here, and there are links along the bottom to the rest). It takes place prior to Lightbreaker, and introduces some of the back story between Antoine, Markham, and Marielle. You can read it before Lightbreaker without it ruining anything in that book; however, you can also read it before Heartland as the events in that story are referenced quite heavily in Heartland. There’s also the piece “How I Came to Magick,” which I’m still working on finding the right place for, but I’m typically using it at readings as it is a nice introduction to the world. I’ve also been invited to submit a story to an anthology about wizards and I’m toying with something about the kanaimà practices in South America that will be a Markham story. These sorts of things aren’t part of the grand plan, but I’m not averse to them happening. Not all stories are novels, you know? As for the series itself, yes, I’ve plotted it fairly loosely through ten books, and ten is somewhat arbitrary, but I do like the idea of marrying the books to the structure of the Spheres of the Sephiroth, in which case, ten will, at least, be the end of the CODEX. Whether it is the end of Markham’s story, I don’t really know. But between now and, say, 2020, I don’t see any reason not to have a Markham book every year. Publisher and public willing, of course. The CODEX is structured as a rolling dualogy. Book 2 is the sequel to Book 1 and ties up that story line; Book 3 picks up some threads from Book 1 and wraps up in Book 4; Book 5 picks up left over danglers from Book 3, and Book 6. . . well, you get the idea. This also allows easy entry points for new readers, while also giving existing readers a reason to look forward to the next volume. I’m not interested in doing a reset every book. The world is a different place at the end of Lightbreaker, and it is going to continue to change, but at the same time, I don’t want to make it inaccessible to new readers who wander in at the fifth book. Nor do I really want it to be this open-ended thing that never has an end. I think this arc of Markham’s life will be played out by the end of the tenth book; if there is more to tell, then we’ll see what happens. . . 

MH: Who are some under rated authors you think should have a wider readership? 

TEPPO: I think Barth Anderson is fantastic. His The Magician And The Fool was brilliantly subversive and I wish everyone would rush out and read it immediately. Darin Bradley has a book coming out next year that I’m very excited about. The parts of it I’ve seen are the sort of linguistic cleverness that fills me with all sorts of jealousy. I’m glad to see that Chris Roberson and Cherie Priest have books coming out in a steady pace for the next few years as their stuff is always great to read. 

MH: What Urban Fantasy books do you read? 

TEPPO: Now that I’m done with Heartland, I can catch up with Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and Mike Carey’s Felix Castor books, which I’ve been putting off so as to not be too unduly influenced by. Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series (though I am one or two behind) is on my shelf too. I’ve started Mark Chadbourn’s Age of Misrule books, and I’m both glad and saddened that I hadn’t read them earlier. The writer in me is glad in that they would have totally put me off my game had I read them a few years ago; the reader is sad in that I’m sorry that I hadn’t known about them until Pyr published them over here in the US with sexy John Picacio covers. I’m really having a ball with World’s End, and am looking forward to devouring the other two. I have to admit that I’ve not been kept up with Urban Fantasy over the last few years as I had the impression that most of it was mired in vampire and werewolf mythology, and I have a blind spot to those sorts of creatures—I just don’t find them all that interesting and haven’t really found a way to write about them that doesn’t descend into parody almost immediately. As such, I’ve been out of touch, but I’m trying to get caught up. Some of my fears have been upheld, and in some cases I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books, for example. I’m glad to see that Dresden has stopped being a pushover. I saw the cover to the new one—Change—the other day, and it appears that Dresden is out of Chicago, and I’m very curious to see just how much change is in store for the character. 

MH: What was the road to having The Codex of Souls published by Night Shade? 

TEPPO: Long, and it’ll make any fledgling writer out there cringe in terror. Suffice to say that the first draft of Lightbreaker was written in 1995. The only things that remain from that draft is some of the characters, the Chorus, and the big widescreen ending. The rest—and it was a lot of thinly veiled vampires and werewolves and, OMG!, werewolves that were psychic vampires!—was thrown out for the New Millenial Rewrite where the whole Western Esoterica focus was pushed to be the world-view. Two agents, more than a dozen rejections spread out over two cycles of about two to three years each, two complete page one rewrites, and a lot of whisky later, it’s on the shelf. I have, for the record, now written six drafts of Heartland. The one I signed off on a few hours before I started these questions will, hopefully, be the last. It’s not as filled with explode-y! bits as Lightbreaker, but everyone is much, much meaner to each other. I think it’s a fair trade-off. 

MH: Do you have any plans for books outside of The Codex of Souls series? 

TEPPO: Yes, two things are in the brain bin now: the Sprawl books and what’s being referred to as the Devil Sex books. The Sprawl books are built out the world that can be found in “Chance Island” (check here), “Faith, Hidden in the Hands of the Blind”(check here), and the story in Paper Cities, “The One That Got Away.” I think. It keeps, er, sprawling. There’s a 17K novella called “Instrument” that will be the second book, I think. The first one will be about the Luckies, and “Faith...” was a bit of a test run of some of the characters. The working title of the first Devil Sex book is The Devil’s Paperwork, and it’s sort of The Office as if run by the Handmaidens of Satan with bits of the Malleus Maleficarum and Paradise Lost thrown in because, well, the distinction between “porn” and “erotica” is the amount of literary cred you can muster, isn’t it? It was initially meant to be something light-hearted that didn’t require a metric ton of research or that I actually get my Latin chops back up to speed, but it’s started to get away from me. Like these things do. I’m a couple chapters in, and I need to actually pause and write a synopsis so that my agent can go and off and sell this thing because, you know, that’s the way this process is supposed to work. 

MH: If you could be any character from a fantasy book who would it be and why? 

TEPPO: King Mob from Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, because I’d love to pull back the curtain on the Archons. Or one of the two protagonists from Colin Wilson’s The Philosopher’s Stone. The guys who trepane themselves into a higher state of consciousness. Actually, being a character in a Miyazaki film would be cool. I’d love to be a kid who could stun a frog in mid-leap and leave him hanging in the air. 

MH: What are 2 things about you most people don’t know? Do you have a pet monkey you keep sequestered in the backyard? Do you have a closet clown aversion? 

TEPPO: I hate squash. Utterly hate it. If that TV show Fear Factor was still on, all they would have to do for the food challenge is bring out a plate of baked squash and I’d be done. And I do hear the clowns once in a while. Seriously. Usually when it is dark. They’re out in the back yard, laughing. It’s creepy, and I don’t know what it is that triggers the noise in my head, but that’s what it sounds like. Not a lot of them. Probably only one or two, but that’s all it takes. . . 

MH: I have to ask. Where did you get bunny outfit and how often do you wear it? 

TEPPO: The best man at my wedding took us out bar “hopping” for my bachelor party. And he even said it like that, with big air quotes and everything. The upside is that I got to keep the suit which I thought was decent of him. Now, I drag it out once a year for Easter, and the kids couldn’t care less. Next year, no bunny suit. We’ll see how much fun Easter is then, damnit. 

MH: Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

TEPPO: The usual contact stuff: website www.markteppo.com, facebook , blog, and twitter. Thanks for the questions. 

MH: Thank you for your time. I look forward to the continuation of Markham’s story in Heartland.

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