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Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

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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


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

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
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INTERVIEW | Ken Scholes author of Canticle (The Psalms of Isaak)

Ken Scholes has been garnering accolades for many years for his short fiction including being a finalist for the Endeavor award for his short story collection Long Walks, Last Flights,  & Other Strange Journeys.   Only this year did his debut novel Lamentation release to start The Psalms of Isaak series, which just came out in mass market last month.  This month saw the publication of volume two Canticle.   Lamentation had been hanging around my to-read shelf since its release and when I heard the second book was about to come out I thought it was high time I got to it.  After reading both volumes back-to-back it would be an understatement to say this series will be anything other than memorable for years to come. The characters are well done and the plotting is unbelievably deep. 

MH:  Hello Mr. Scholes, welcome to Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf. Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself? 

SCHOLES:  Sure.  I grew up in a small logging town near Mount Rainier in rural Washington State.  I spent some time in both the Navy and the Army and have a degree in History. 

I've worked in a variety of fields including some good stretches in the nonprofit sector, the ministry and in local government.  I spent about a decade writing short stories before I tackled my first novel.  I'm a winner of the Writers of the Future contest—a program I heartily support for new writers trying to break in.  

I live in Saint Helens, Oregon, with my wife Jen West Scholes and our brand-new twin daughters, Rachel and Lizzy.

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

SCHOLES:  The scholarly city of Windwir and its Androfrancine Order, after two thousand years of digging knowledge and relics from the ruins of civilization, has been utterly destroyed.  Its sole survivor—a steam-powered metal man that once worked in its Great Library—claims to be responsible.  But as alliances shift and armies come together around the Desolation, it's quickly apparent that there is more to it than meets the eye and the world is changing once again....

MH: The Psalms of Isaak is a very difficult book to classify.  There are strong Fantasy elements as well as Sci-Fi aspects along with a smattering of Steampunk.  How would you describe the world?

SCHOLES:  I have an unfair advantage over my characters, who believe firmly that they're in a fantasy novel or my readers, who have to wait for the gradual reveal.  I guess I would call it a post-apocalyptic epic.

MH: What music did you listen to while writing Lamentation:

SCHOLES:  Simon and Garfunkel, Matchbox 20, Carbon Leaf, Augustana, Five for Fighting, Alanis Morisette, Tori Amos, Eva Cassidy, Goo Goo Dolls, Paul Simon, Don McLean, Live and much more.

MH: I know it is difficult to pick favorites, but what is a short story of yours you feel best encompasses your strengths as a writer and why?

SCHOLES:  It really is difficult to pick favorites.  But I think the one that feels the most like "me" is "Last Flight of the Goddess."  It's available as a .pdf download through here.  [There is also] a link at  It really captures what I think is most important in life and is a gift I wrote for my wife one Christmas.

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

SCHOLES:  Oh, Bilbo Baggins definitely.  Before the ring turned sour on him, of course.  I love the notion of the ordinary and simple becoming heroic when placed in extraordinary circumstances.

MH: I’ve noticed similarities between Walter M. Miller, Jr’s A Canticle for Leibowitz and The Psalms of Isaak.  Did reading Miller’s work have a hand in Lamentation?

SCHOLES:  Only in as much as it was part of the canon of post-apocalyptic literature that influenced me as a teen.  That and Hiero's Journey and Earth Abides and host of others, mixed in with a generous helping of Clark Ashton Smith and Cordwainer Smith.

MH: Between Lamentation and now Canticle it is clear this world is heavily influenced by Religion.  How has your own spiritual quest influenced your writing?

SCHOLES:  Well, I could spend a few years on this question and still not quite convey how deep the influence goes.  I think writers are influenced by all the different facets of life and certainly our desire to connect with our environment at a spiritual level is a part of that. 

And my spiritual travels have taken me down some interesting roads.  I've moved glacially through a more fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity (and indeed was a minister for a time) into a more ecumenical and contemporary expression.  Along the way, I studied many other religions—particularly in the context of world history—and eventually landed in secular humanism as more of an agnostic atheist (i.e. can't know for certain and don't have a belief in gods).  But because I've believed some things Very Strongly, I think it gives me the ability to explore these notions in the context of fiction in a different way than if I still practiced a religion.

MH: You’ve said The Psalms of Isaak will be 5 books long.  When can we expect volume 3 Antiphon?

SCHOLES:  I'll be done revising Antiphon at the end of October.  You should see it in September 2010.  And ideally, Requiem will follow 9-12 months later with a similar stretch between that and the final volume, Hymn.  Of course, things could change on those last two—could happen somewhat faster or somewhat slower.

MH: That is quite a schedule.  What, if any, plans do you have for books outside the series?  Are you working on any new short stories we can check out soon?

SCHOLES:  Well, I have a rich world to mine for more series—both before and after the events in The Psalms of Isaak.  And possibly during.  I also would like to adapt my short story, "Invisible Empire of Ascending Light," into a trilogy.  My most recent short story, "Love in the Time of Car Alarms," will be in DAW's anthology The Trouble With Heroes.  I have a few other short projects in the pipe for 2010 (along with a second short story collection) and a short novel for sometime in 2011 when I finish Hymn but nothing I'm able to announce yet.

MH:  How has being a Dungeons & Dragons player influenced your writing?  Do you still play regularly and what is your favorite Character Class?  Lastly, what is the best character name you’ve created for D& D?

SCHOLES:  D&D was a huge influence.  It taught me what I call the storyteller's waltz—the give and take between player and Dungeon Master is much like the give and take between a reader and a writer.  I don't play at this point and wish I had the time to.  Last time I touched it was 2001 and that was the first time I'd played since the 80s.  My favorite classes was the paladin or the half-elvish fighter/thief in AD&D.  Best name—well, I lifted it from a SF movie and changed the spelling—Ankharr Mohr. 

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

SCHOLES:  Well, most people don't realize I'm actually an introvert if they meet me in public.  It's actually the one thing people often refuse to believe about me.  I tend to be outgoing and gregarious but I actually get my energy from being alone and people wear me out quickly.  And many probably don't know that I play guitar and harmonica, with over 60 songs written and hundreds of covers memorized.

I always wanted to have a pet monkey, but alas, I do not have one.

MH: To go along with the theme of this blog: What is your favorite type of hat?

SCHOLES:  My green superman ballcap.  Which is, alas, missing at the moment.  But I will find it.  Someday, I will replace it with a Batman ballcap.

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

SCHOLES:  Yep.  Hope you all enjoy the books and that you'll look me up at!

MH: Thank you for your time.  I’m looking forward Isaak’s further chronicling of this strange and wonderful world.

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Anonymous said...

I keep hearing about this series. I think I'll pick up Lamentation and give it a whirl.

ediFanoB said...

Good review! I finished LAMENTATION last week and I must say Mr. Scholes is an extraordinary story teller. Looking forward to read CANTICLE.