The Bringer of War is Now Released!

by Jennifer 29. September 2014 09:50


The Bringer of War
Sheynan trilogy #2
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Intereview with Dylan Birtolo about the Sheynan Trilogy

by Jennifer 23. September 2014 09:09

Here is an interview with Dylan Birtolo, author of The Shadow Chaser and forthcoming novel, The Bringer of War.

1. The Shadow Chaser and The Bringer of War were previously self-published. What was it like to go back, re-edit, and re-write these books?
It was challenging in a way that I was not used to. It was both easier and harder than writing a story from scratch. On the one hand, it was easier because the plot and general arc of the stories was already set in stone and I couldn’t deviate from it if I wanted to. This gave it guidance and kept it on target right from the beginning. I never had to question where the story was going. On the other hand, this was restrictive which meant I didn’t have enough room to play. If I had a great idea of how to do something in the story differently, I had to bench it. It wasn’t something that I could run with and see where my imagination took me.

2. Now that these two books have been revamped, how are you approaching, The Torn Soul, the third and final book in the series?
One of the most wonderful things about being able to go back to the first two books and knowing that a third one was in the wings was that I could add some hints and teasers about the third book. What this means for the third book is that it is a much bigger overall arc than the previous two. The stakes are raised and it adds a lot of stress and adrenaline to the story, in a good way. Also, I am using it as a book to tie up some of the loose ends for Darien’s evolution.

3. What is your favorite bit about writing the Sheynan trilogy?
I really enjoy the world that I created, mainly because of two things: my love of animals and the fact that it is a world that could exist just outside of our perception. I really enjoy stories that are based in reality because I find it much easier to get lost in them. I like to think that my stories do that because you could believe it is the world we live in today. From a writing technique perspective, I really enjoy the fact that I am able to create an arc that spans three novels, showing the main character as he grows and tries to adapt to what this new world throws at him.

4. Have you written other stories in the Sheynan universe?
I have. As I said before, it is a fun world to play in, so I like to tell stories in this world. I have written two additional stories to date. One of them deals with two of the supplementary characters in the second novel. The other story I wrote is not connected to the trilogy at all beyond the fact that it takes place in the same world.

5. If you met Darien in a dark alley, what do you think would happen?
It would depend on when I met him. Early in the first novel, I think he would be spooked and run off. His general attitude and approach to strangers changes as he gets more used to his abilities. By the end, I think we would walk past each other without saying anything or giving any recognition. But I know I would feel the weight of his stare stabbing into me from behind just between my shoulder blades. I might look back over my shoulder, but he wouldn’t be looking as far as I could tell. It would just be that feeling. And then he’d be gone.

6. If you had the choice, would you become a shapeshifter if your only choice was to becoming Sheynan (a multi-shifter) with all its inherent flaws?
Without a doubt, I would make that choice. It is important to note that I am a firm believer in the saying “the flame the burns twice as bright lasts half as long”, and I’ve always wanted to go for the option of burning as bright as possible. I just hope that I would have the courage and dignity to walk up to my fate honorably at the end before it became too late. Explaining exactly what that means would be a bit of a spoiler, but trust me, it would not be a pretty situation.

7. Where can your fans find all things Dylan Birtolo related?
The best bet is to look at my website. I keep it up to date with any announcements about book releases and conventions I am attending. My website is dylanbirtolo.com. Enjoy!

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The Bringer of War cover reveal

by Jennifer 8. September 2014 10:02

The Bringer of War, Book 2 of the Sheynan Trilogy by Dylan Birtolo
To be released on September 29, 2014

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Dystopias, the Apocalypse, and World Annihilation

by Jennifer 1. September 2014 21:26

By looking in the news, it’s easy to understand how some people might think current events could bring life as we know it to the brink of the end of times. Police and citizens face off in the streets of small towns. A volcano in Iceland shows signs of being ready to erupt. Scientific breakthroughs put humanity on the fast track to discovering the secrets of the universe. Other events such as severe droughts or extreme rainfall scream climatic changes. It’s no wonder people look to the future of our world and wonder if we'll survive.


But this kind of outlook isn’t new. Throughout history people have thought the world was going to end. Things like comets, eclipses and other natural disasters were thought to be signs of an impending apocalypse. Plagues have decimated the human population. Even in the 50s people nervously watched their TVs for news about the Cold War and nuclear weapons.

Even though these scenarios are frightening, they can be inspiring as well. Over the years, authors have turned the fear and destruction of the end of the world and spun it into tales of hope for the human race.

Stories such as dystopias, the apocalypse and world  annihilation have  fascinated writers and readers for ages.  When things become troubling, it takes human strength and spirit to go on when everything you’ve ever known crumbles to the ground.

Dystopias are generally stories where some portion of everyday  life is controlled by the government or societal entity.  Authors such as Margaret Atwood and Suzanne Collins reveal worlds that have shattered and have been held together by a forceful government. When the characters face odds that most people can’t overcome, they find assistance from those who feel the same and begin to change the world.

Apocalyptic stories are often those that  start with--or right before--an action that changes the world. Disease, a nuclear event, or natural disaster are often common catalysts for the state of the world.  Writers such as Cormac McCarthy and Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore throw characters in to survival situations like we’ve never dreamed of.

But what happens when  humans go too far?  World annihilation is a common theme for many science fiction stories. Because  of uncontrollable factors, the Earth, our home, is destroyed. Where does humanity go? Does humanity survive?  Well, authors answer that question in many ways. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series and  Ray Bradbury deal with a dead Earth in their stories.

Even though the world as we know it, could end, these authors show us that humanity, no matter how flawed will go on in some form.  It’s heartening to realize that people will continue fighting and living even through a disaster.  Perhaps there is hope for us yet.

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Interview with Ivan Ewert about Famished: The Commons

by Jennifer 19. August 2014 08:39


Famished: The Commons
Gentlemen Ghouls #2
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1. Previously, you've written series for me. Now that you are writing novels, has it been difficult to shift it from an episodic format to a novel format?

It’s a mixed bag. I prefer the structured cadence of the serial format, with a specific deadline every month. But that leaves little time for review of the work by independent alpha or beta readers, which sharpens the quality of the work I’ve done in novel format.

Peter Ball talked in his interview for Exile about some of the specific difficulties in the serial format around outlining and planning. While it’s true that there are restrictions there, sometimes those restrictions can result in wonderful things you never thought of. It’s similar to structured poetry vs. blank verse.

For example, I actually “killed” Gordon at the end of Year One, and only then learned the editor wanted me to continue the story another year. Without that wrinkle, Orobias would never have been created. He and his agenda have become so central to the story since then, it’s hard to imagine the books without him!

Overall, I’ve converted to the novel format. I wouldn’t mind going back to serials, but I’d use the skills I’ve learned in the past two years to approach it differently this time around.


2. Famished: The Farm and Famished: The Commons are set in middle America and on the East coast. Have you ever been there? Are parts of the story set in real world locations?

Nearly all the locations are real! Though I can’t speak to the activities of the people who actually live and work in those buildings. Every location Gordon visits exists – from St. Raymond’s Catholic Church outside Sun Prairie to Pete’s Hot Dogs in Greenville to the Attitash ski resort. A large part of the concept of the Gentleman Ghouls series is how closely tied to the real America their world is.

I’ve lived my entire life in the American Midwest, mostly northern Illinois along the border with Wisconsin. The landscape fuels a lot of my ideas and creativity, and Madison, Wisconsin (where Famished: The Farm begins) is one of my favorite places in the world. From there I use a lifetime of walking through forest preserves and woodlands in the upper Midwest to spin the rest of the Farm’s story.

There’s a special note of horror in parts of the Midwest. We have the wide open spaces of the West, but less of the self-reliance that could save an isolated individual. When you look across a prairie, realizing there is nowhere to hide from anything that pursues you, it’s a disturbing sensation...

As a child we often vacationed in Vermont and Maine. While I haven’t been back to New England in decades, the impressions of those resorts inform many scenes in The Commons.

With all of that said, Google Earth is a godsend! It’s not the same as being there, of course; but it does provide more of those wonderful restrictions I mentioned above. Putting Carol’s house on a specific cul-de-sac in Greenville, South Carolina allowed me to inform the attack of the Ghouls in a more realistic manner than just dreaming up a subdivision.


3. Will you explain who "the Boeren" is?

The Gentleman Ghouls place a lot of importance on bloodlines and families. Gordon Velander’s great-grandfather, Han Boeren, left the Farm in the prologue to that novel and remained free under the assumed surname of Velander until his death. His son, Hank, and grandson, Thomas, had no idea of their relation to the Gentleman Ghouls – or even of their existence.

When Sylvie finds Gordon and recognizes his bloodline, she immediately looks for other male relatives. Finding none, Gordon simply becomes known as “The Boeren” in her communication with the Ghouls, and the title sticks.


4. Do you have any other stories set in the same fictional world as the Gentlemen Ghouls universe?

I write flash fiction and small scenes when I need to fill out a character’s background, or see how they’d respond to different scenarios. Some of the character studies I draw up result in full-fledged short stories – Linh’s final estrangement from her father, Jacob’s encounter with his grandfather in the Commons cellar. Some are horror, some are more slice of life.

Understand that I wouldn’t share them in their current rough form. They’re more like exercises to give me a better feel for the character, though I’ve considered running Goodreads contests with these sketches as potential prizes for fans.


5. What are you working on now?

My number one priority is outlining and starting work on Famished: The Ranch, the final book in the Gentleman Ghouls series. I have a cycle of short fantasy stories and a young adult urban fantasy simmering on my back burners, but I don’t plan to do any more serious work until The Ranch is with beta readers.

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FAMISHED: THE COMMONS has been released!

by Jennifer 11. August 2014 09:22


Famished: The Commons
Gentlemen Ghouls #2
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FAMISHED: THE COMMONS, Gentlemen Ghouls 2

by Jennifer 4. August 2014 10:20

FAMISHED: THE COMMONS by Ivan Ewert
To be released on 11 August 2014

You might have noticed the new cover style. Here's Famished: The Farm's new cover.

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Exploring new worlds in Urban Fantasy

by Jennifer 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 Jennifer 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.


Exile
The Flotsam series #1
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Exile, Flotsam 1, is Live!

by Jennifer 14. July 2014 09:44


Exile
The Flotsam series #1
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