Exploring new worlds in Urban Fantasy

by newuser09876 28. July 2014 08:56

Urban fantasy (UF) is a subgenre that often deals with modern settings and adds magic, monsters and mayhem to produce a great story.  While many stories simply use the area as a back drop, UF utilizes the city or town itself in a very personal way. Often the city is seen as a character in itself adding flavor and character to the story line. There are many UF stories out on the market, but not all of them successfully pull the city into the storyline well.


Not everyone has the advantage of being able to live in or visit different areas of the world. UF stories give readers the opportunity to visit places they might not get to experience. Many of the more popular UF books are set in areas of the United States. Chicago and New York are very popular settings. But not all UF stories are set in the US.


Authors such as Marie Brennan and Barbara Hambly set their stories in Europe. Underworld is set in Budapest. Other UF settings include Moscow and Dublin.  These stories pull in the setting giving the stories not only a scene but shapes how the story flows.


This month AIP has released a new UF series from Peter M. Balll titled Flotsam. The first book titled Exile, introduces us to Keith Murphy. On the outside he seems like a drifter, and he is, but he’s also something else. He’s part of a team that helps clean up the really scary things that most people have no idea about. He’s good at it, but something went wrong on his last job.


Exile is set on the Gold Coast in Australia. It’s a unique setting for a unique story. Like many other UF series, the Gold Coast is kind of like a double sided coin. Peter drops you into the shadowy side of the city first, where things go on that most wouldn’t care to know. It isn’t until later than he shows you the light side, where normals go about their business. Peter does a great job in explaining how the real Gold Coast city helped shape the story in his blog.


So if you are in the mood for a bit of adventure but can’t spare the time or money for a big trip, check out some of the Urban Fantasy titles we have here on AIP.  You will not only get a great reading experience but can get a taste of the world without worrying about your luggage.

~The Shadow Minion

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Interview with Peter M. Ball

by newuser09876 21. July 2014 10:37

1. The Flotsam series is based on previously published webseries. Has it been difficult to shift it from an episodic format to a novella format?

I’m going to be honest: I hated writing the first version of Flotsam.

Partially this is because my approach to writing isn’t particularly suited to writing serialized stories. I tend to start with a very light world and character sketch, then fill in the details as the story goes on. Often this means I’ll learn something important very late in the drafting process that either changes the story, or requires a lot of foreshadowing in order to make things work.

You can do that when you’re drafting a story or a novella – it’s a simple matter to go back and change the things that contradicts what you’ve just written, or drop hints that this revelation is coming. But in a serial, where you’re churning out a story a month? You have to commit to things early. You have to stay true to what’s already been printed. And if you come up with a better idea, well, you’re out of luck.

In addition to being ill-suited to the form, the year I spent writing the series version Flotsam was pretty trying in other ways. It started with my dad having a heart attack, involved me having three different jobs in a twelve-month period, and I spent a lot of the second half of the year in-transit as I travelled for work.

All of this was pretty big change for me. I’d never worked a job where I went to an office and I’d certainly never been required to travel. I didn’t cope well with the way it all impacted on my schedule and the Flostam series suffered for it. I was happy with what I achieved in the series, but it never really felt like I’d succeeded in telling the story I wanted to tell.

On the other hand, I love novellas; there’s something about the length that suits the way I write, and I’ve got a better feel for the pacing of the story. It also tells a story in a very different way, compared to the serial, so it’s less like rewriting the serial and more like telling a new story with the same source material. In my head, their basically two different continuities, similar to the approach Marvel takes with its comics and its films.

My only disappointment has been my inability to figure out how to fit Keith Murphy, Supernatural Pro-Wrestler, into the novella continuity.


2. Exile is set on the Gold Coast of Australia. Have you ever been there? Are parts of the story set in real world locations?

I grew up on the Gold Coast, and my parents still live there (despite my best efforts to convince them they should leave). It’s a deeply weird city, in a lot of respects, and it’s definitely one of those places where the differences between people’s experiences run very deep.

You’d probably find a lot of people who’d make the tongue-in-cheek argument that nothing on the Gold Coast is real. It’s a city built around tourism - beaches, theme-parks, bars, and shopping – and it’s very, very good at faking things and creating replicas of other places.

But everything in Flotsam is based on a real place. Keith’s safe-house is based on a place a friend of mine lived in high school, where we used to play D&D until about six in the morning then hike down the hill to the beach. Langford’s house is where another friend of mine grew up, or at least my hazy memory of the place some twenty years later. Jupiter’s Casino and the Hard Rock Surfers Paradise are open to visitors all year around, although I’m pretty sure I’ve taken some liberties with both their layout and insinuation that there are demons working there.


3. Will you explain what the Gloom is?

There will be some pretty broad hints in the next novella, Frost, but I’m not sure there will be a really detailed explanation in the series. Mostly this is Keith’s fault: the world gets filtered through his point of view, and he doesn’t really want to know what the Gloom is. He’s content knowing that it’s the place where demons and other creatures come from, and he should probably start shooting anything that calls the Gloom home.


4. Do you have any other stories set in the same fictional world?

Just the one: Tithes, which appears in the Coins of Chaos anthology, takes place in the same continuity as the Flotsam webseries (you can tell, ‘cause it only features Randal, as opposed to Randal and Wesna, as Sabbath’s representatives).


5. What are you working on now?

I’ve got a pretty ambitious run of projects on my plate this year – you can see the full list over on my website – but right now I’m doing some rewrites on the second Flotsam novella, Frost, and preparing to take a run a romance novella titled Hot For Teacher as a change of pace from Keith and his tendency to think about pragmatic solutions.

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Exile, Flotsam 1, is Live!

by Jennifer 14. July 2014 09:44

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EXILE, Flotsam 1 by Peter M. Ball

by Jennifer 7. July 2014 12:38

EXILE, Flotsam 1 by Peter M. Ball
To be released on 14 July 2014!

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AIP acquires CROSS CUTTING from Wendy Hammer

by Jennifer 30. June 2014 09:46


Apocalypse Ink Productions is proud to announce they have acquired CROSS CUTTING, the novella trilogy (THE THIN, THE HOLLOW, THE MARROW) from Wendy Hammer. This dark urban fantasy is set in contemporary Indiana.

Trinidad O’Laughlin is a Walker. She has the power to magically bond with a place and call to it for aid, but without a territory to call her own—she’s adrift. Trinidad grew up on the shores of her namesake island and in Ireland, but it’s cities that call to her. Trinidad travels to Indiana in search of a home and the possibility for romance with Achilles Vetrov, a clairvoyant bass player she knew years ago.

Wendy Hammer grew up in Wisconsin. She has English degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Ball State University. She now teaches literature and composition at a community college. Her stories can be found in Pantheon Magazine’s anthology Gaia: Shadows and Breath, on Liquid Imagination, and in Plasma Frequency. Another will appear in the forthcoming anthology: Suspended in Dusk (Books of the Dead Press). Wendy lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with her husband.

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RPG Bard: RPG Book Creation for GMs, Writers, and Fans

by Jennifer 21. June 2014 08:22

Check out the new RPG Bard Kickstarter project. RPG Bard allows authors and GMs to create beautiful roleplaying game books for D&D 5.0, 4.0, 3.5, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, and other game systems, then save them out to PDF for immediate use, sharing, or online, print, or print-on-demand sales. Our book "Industry Talk: An Insider's Look at Writing RPGs and Editing Anthologies" by Origins award-winning author Jennifer Brozek will be part of the backer rewards, along with four titles from other award-winning authors.

Here's a cover example.



Genre Talk: Dark Fantasy

by Jennifer 18. June 2014 09:15

Speculative fiction covers a very broad range of literature from sword and board fantasy to the monsters that keep you up at night. Most of the time a story will be pretty clear cut as to what it can be classified as, but some stories sit in between two genres.


When we think of magic, many people think of brightly colored fairies who grant wishes. Bad things don’t happen when magic is involved, does it?


Horror might seem simple, but it’s one of the most complicated genres to write. It’s a genre of making you care about someone or something then yanking it away leaving the reader shaken.


What happens when you mix the two?


Imagine a story where fairies trick children into leaving their homes and take them back to the hollow hills only to be slowly devoured by the very creatures that promised to save them from a dull normal life. Or, murder victims have been found in the city and it’s up to a detective to not only find the murder but stop him before he completes his rituals to open a portal of darkness.


Stories like these can be classified as either fantasy or horror but most often sit in a sub-genre called dark fantasy. Dark fantasy combines elements of the fantasy genre such as magic with darker elements such as monsters. Often these stories have a more grim setting and very little humor. Dark fantasies also often have a sense of urgency, as things must be stopped before it is too late.


While the term dark fantasy is probably relatively new, the genre isn’t. The original Brother’s Grimm stories were as dark and fantastic as they come. Many of our modern fairy tales are softened renditions of these dark stories. H. P. Lovecraft wrote about magic and monsters in his tales. If you’ve read Elric of Melnibone, you’ve tasted the dark words of Michael Moorcock.  Even Stephen King has dabbled in dark fantasy in his Dark Tower series. Many movies such as Pan’s Labyrinth, the Dark Crystal, and Legend also deal with magic and dark themes.


Like much of speculative fiction, dark fantasy gives us glimpses not only into fantastical worlds but the strength of the human spirit as it faces surmountable odds. These stories gives us hope that even when things seem darkest, persistence and hope can turn things around. It’s an important thing to remember when we look at our world today.


So if you like magical elements and dark themes give some dark fantasy stories a chance. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite genre to enjoy.


~The Shadow Minion


Origins Game Fair

by Jennifer 8. June 2014 22:45

Apocalypse Ink Productions will be at Origins Game Fair with a table in the Library in the dealers hall. Jennifer Brozek and Dylan Birtolo will also be at Origins in the Library and on panels in the Writers Symposium. Be sure to come by, say hello, and get a book signed!

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Jay Lake

by Jennifer 2. June 2014 06:58

I thought a lot, yesterday, about how to make a professional blog post about the death of one of our authors, Jay Lake. In the end, I think the personal blog post I made just hours after I discovered that Jay had passed is the best thing I could have written.

“I do not want to read this on Tor.com. I do not want to write this about Jay. I don’t. I really don’t. But I have no choice. Jay is dead.

He wrote for me. My first anthology,
Grants Pass, when I was nothing and no one. He wrote for me every single time I asked him to. For the Edge of Propinquity. For small press anthologies and large.

He was my mentor for years before I published his non-fiction book,
Jay Lake’s Process of Writing. We talked by phone, by Skype, and at conventions. He was generous with his time and his advice. It was this wealth of knowledge that led me to ask him if AIP could publish a non-fiction book. It was then I learned so much more from him.

I can’t help but feel for his family, Bronwyn, Lisa, and the rest of those family members—by choice and blood—whose  names I just can’t remember though the tears.

All I can remember is how good he was to me and how much I’m going to miss him.

Radcon 2009 - Not the first time I met him in person but close to.

JayWake 2013.”

All of us at AIP will miss Jay. Our hearts and sincere condolences go out to his family.


9 June 2014 - This link was sent to me by Simon Owens: The Legacy of Jay Lake: the Novelist Who Blogged His Own Death. I think it is worth a read.

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Intereview with Dylan Birtolo

by Jennifer 19. May 2014 08:58

Interview with Dylan Birtolo, author of The Shadow Chaser.

What drew you to Speculative Fiction?

In all honesty, I have to blame this on my parents. I grew up in a home where science fiction and fantasy were everywhere. Heck, the first stories that I remember my parents reading to me as a child were the Chronicles of Narnia. It fed my imagination when I was young and I’ve always had an overactive imagination. That just helped give it shape and a playground to run amok in. There is something fascinating about those two words “what if” that just entertains me.

Was there a reason you started writing?

I think that I started writing when I realized that it gave me even more freedom than reading a book. Sure, reading a book was a great way to escape, but a lot of times I would want things to end a different way or would want some different element pulled into the fantasy world. It just clicked that if I wrote the stories, I could do anything I wanted. And then there was the idea that I could share it with other people, and create a world for their imaginations to run wild in. It was just too much to pass up.

Where do you get your ideas?

All over. My mind wanders a lot when I am not actively engaged in something and sometimes I will be walking down the street when I will see something that will trigger an idea. Like if someone is jogging with their dog I suddenly might start thinking about what if the dog was the one in charge taking the human for a walk, or something like that? I also tend to get a lot of ideas from my martial arts. I like to write combat, and most of my stories have a lot of combat in it. One of the exercises that we do is shadow sparring, where you imagine fighting multiple opponents. It is inevitable that I will be doing this and then start adding in other fantastical details, like telekinesis or energy shields and the like. I can’t help it – I just pull in these ideas. Those usually blossom into a world or into a character, and then that becomes something I want to right about. So what will start as a random thought will grow into a universe where I might want to tell a story.

Now if I have to write for a specific anthology with a specific theme, I usually mull the theme over in my head for a few days, trying to think of a twist to it that I can add. I want to put in something unique. It doesn’t necessarily have to be “the big twist” at the end of the story. For example, I was invited to submit to an anthology about time travelers. I wanted to do something different, so I thought “what if there was a time traveler, but he could only go back in time for fractions of a second? What would he do with this? What COULD he do?” And the story evolved from there.

What's your current writing process? Outliner/Pantser, when, do you play music? pen/paper or keyboard/ink? any rituals? Etc

I definitely have my rituals. I have one notebook which I use for every story I am about to start writing. When I am in the planning stages, that is the extent of my ritual. I don’t so much like music, but it doesn’t bother me either. The thing is, I never know when the idea will hit me. As I said, my mind wanders a lot. So I have the notebook and a pen with me at all times. That way when the idea does hit, I can write some notes and sketch out the storyline. I will do this until I have a pretty good idea of the story scene-by-scene.

After that, it becomes a bit more ritualistic. I always write on the computer and always in the same font and format. The interesting part is that this is not the font or format I want to submit a story in. But, it is what I am used to and what I like, so I keep it even though it means more work on the back end. I play (either on headphones of my speakers) one of two playlists. Each one runs for about 4 to 5 hours. I usually alternate between the two and will skip to certain sections in the playlist if I need a specific type of music to fit the scene. And once the writing starts, it HAS to be on the computer. I simply cannot write fast enough with pen and paper to keep up with my brain. Heck, sometimes I have trouble typing fast enough.

How did you get started with AIP? 

I got started with AIP because I met Jennifer Brozek several years ago. She was actually the first person to buy a piece of short fiction from me and publish it. That was for the Edge of Propinquity, before AIP existed. When I decided that I wanted to run a Kickstarter project for my novels, I needed to get a publisher to buy into the project and back it provided enough funds were raised. Naturally, I approached Jennifer to see if AIP would be interested. She is an amazing editor and has excellent business savvy, so I knew it would be a good choice for me if they would be up for it. Thankfully, they said they were and that’s what started our working together.

Talk some about the Sheynan series.

The Sheynan series is a collection of books set in the modern day, but with a twist. As you’ve learned by now, I like twists. There are a bunch of people who exist that can change into an animal form. But they keep their existence hidden from the rest of humanity. It was important for me to make the stories seem realistic. I tried to create it in such a way that it might seem like these people do really exist and it isn’t pure fantasy, because I think it is more fun that way. So I spent a lot of time thinking about things like how they would hide their identity, what steps would they take to keep it a secret, what resources would they need at their disposal to keep from being discovered, and so on. I wanted to make it believable enough that someone might just wonder “what if…”

As for the individual books, they follow a young man who has the very rare ability to shift into any animal. Needless to say, this makes him a very valuable ally or asset depending on who you talk to. I don’t want to spoil too much, but basically he is a normal guy living a somewhat normal life who gets put into this crazy world and realizes that nothing is going to be the same again. This trilogy is about him, and the evolution he goes through. At the end of each novel, he is substantially different than he was at the beginning.

You mentioned before that you practice and teach martial arts (and joust- so cool!) Did that make the action scenes easier for you to write?

Most definitely. I have always been good at writing action scenes. Most of my early stories were almost exclusively action and fighting because I knew it was my strength. I think a lot of that comes from my experience. I know techniques and I know weaponry and can pull that in to make the fights a little more believable. You would be surprised at how much a little bit of believability makes any scene that much stronger.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I just finished up the rewrite for The Bringer of War, the second novel in the trilogy. While I am waiting for the editor to get back to me on that draft, I am working on a couple of short stories for anthologies I was invited to submit to. I am also plotting out the third book in the series since that one will be brand new and is not just a rewrite. I have the general outline completed but need to compose my scene by scene layout. And at the same time – because you can never have too many irons in the fire – I have a classical sword and sorcery novel on hold. The Sheynan trilogy comes first, but I am antsy to get back to this other new novel I have partly completed.

Best and worst advice you've received or heard about writing.

The best advice I ever received was on how to know you’re a writer. You’re a writer and you should be if you have these story ideas clawing through your head and you feel like you need to get them out. If you don’t have that level of passion, and that need to tell a story, you should seriously consider if professional writing is for you. Because it will take that level of drive.

The worst advice I ever heard was that you need to write and publish four books a year to make a living off of writing. Whether or not that is true, I think it is horrible advice because it takes what should be, in my opinion, a very creative and enjoyable process, and breaks it down into a “realistic day job”. Now, I realize that sometimes people need a reality check, especially about how hard it is to make a living as a writer. And I fully admit that I don’t know how close to true that statement is because I’ve never been just a fiction writer for a living. But, even just hearing it put a bad taste in my mouth.

Any last words?

Enjoy what you do. There’s this other piece of advice that isn’t specifically related to writing that I absolutely love. Two people are having a conversation and one asks “What’s the purpose of life?” and the other responds “To live.” Yes, that can be viewed as a smart ass comment, or can seem very shallow. But, I think there is a much deeper truth to that. Living is going to be different things for different people. For me, a large part of it is telling stories, and hearing or reading other people’s stories. That’s why I do it, and I think it is something important to keep in mind. To pull it back to writing – the minute you start writing for someone else, or start writing for a specific goal or “market” other than something you enjoy creating, nine times out of ten that’s the moment you are going to lose the reader.

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