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Author interview with Rjurik Davidson

Author interview with Rjurik Davidson

Author bio:
Rjurik Davidson, a young Australian author who won the Aurealis Award for Best Newcomer some years ago, has been writing about the city of Caeli-Amur for nearly a decade. His debut novel, Unwrapped Sky is set in this city-state where magic and technology are interchangeable; where minotaurs and sirens are real; where philosopher-assassins and seditionists are not the most dangerous elements in a city alive with threat. During the day, the ordinary citizens do what they must to get along. But at night, the spirit of the ancient city comes alive, to haunt the old places...


 Hi Rjurik, Welcome over to The Book Plank and for taking your time answer these few questions.

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Rjurik Davidson is? What are your hobbies, likes and dislikes?

RD: Asking someone about themselves is a pretty fraught thing. The early jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton used to frequently declare that he invented Jazz (he didn’t) and lie about his age to fit this story. It’s not, of course, than everyone is going to lie like Jelly Roll, but rather that we select a series of facts about ourselves which match our self-image. That qualification aside, I’ll tell you a few things. I’ve always tried to live a varied life, and have done many jobs. One of my qualities is curiosity. I love learning new things. There’s too much to know in this world. My interests include from quantum physics, ancient history, political theory, psychology and psychoanalysis. I’ve lived around the world (though Australian, I’m now in Europe), worked as a cook, clerk, lecturer, and builder. I speak French. I love to see things I’ve never seen before. I love to meet unusual people. I’m very loyal but don’t often forgive people who have treated me poorly.

BP: Unwrapped Sky is your debut. When and where did you decide that you wanted to become an author?
I first wanted to become a writer in my teenage years. Before that I wanted to be a scientist, though I don’t know if I really knew what that mean. Anyway, I loved reading – and read indiscriminately. For quite a few years in my late teens I didn’t read any genre, but was deeply interested in absurdist theatre, ‘postmodern’ fiction (Calvino, Borges, etc). Then I became interested in politics. But when I was at university, I discovered ‘New Wave’ science fiction of the 1960s, and then I started to realise I wanted to write speculative fiction.

BP: There are some amazing ideas behind Unwrapped Sky, what gave you the inspiration to write this story?

RD: When I became interested in politics, it wasn’t the politics of everyday government decisions (I still have trouble following the details of that), but rather the grand events of history: great social and religious movements, revolutions and counter-revolutions, wars and depressions. When I was about twenty years old, I wanted to write a novel where magicians formed an oppressed caste and revolted. I didn’t know how to write it at the time. The New Weird hadn’t happened and anyway, I was doing other things. When I returned to fiction after getting a doctorate, I attended Clarion South, came up with the fantastic city of Caeli-Amur, and all kinds of influences started to seep in: my interest in ancient myth and history, my interest in science and mathematics (when I first attended university, I studied maths), my attraction to weird fiction, my interest in historical revolutions and radicals. It all came together in Unwrapped Sky.

BP: Writing a debut is a daunting task, how did you tackle it?

RD: A bit at a time, and facing many challenges. Unwrapped Sky has three characters, and their stories entwine. That took some organising. What you gain in richness you pay for in pain. The trick is not to freak out and just keep doing bits and pieces every day. That’s the basic truth about writing: stick to the process and you’ll get there in the end.

BP: Now that you have written your debut, did you gain valuable experience that you will be applying in your future works?

RD: Like anything, you get better with practice. That doesn’t mean your future work will necessarily be better, but in general you become more proficient. I think my next book, called The Stars Askew, is more ‘fluid’ and ‘moves more easily’ than Unwrapped Sky. I was more confident when I wrote it.

BP: Unwrapped Sky is out this April. If you would have to sell your book with a single sentence how would it go?

RD: “I’m not saying that on your death bed you’ll regret not reading Unwrapped Sky. I’m not saying that. Not exactly.” Damn, that’s three sentences. Sorry. How about: “Revolution, betrayal, redemption - the fantastic city of Caeli-Amur will never be the same.”

BP: There are many debuts this year, where do you think Unwrapped Sky sets itself apart with amongst the others?

RD: Oh, that I couldn’t answer. The number of books coming out staggers me. All those writers! Don’t they have anything better to do?

BP: Did you encounter any specific problems when you were writing Unwrapped Sky?

RD: Plot problems. The whole thing became so unwieldy that I kept having to go back and rethink it. In its final state I think it has a nice balance between complexity and ease, but that took some work.

BP: What was the hardest part when you were writing Unwrapped Sky?

RD: Finding the time to write when you had to make a living. For some years I taught at university as a sessional tutor and lecturer. Even though I was more qualified than many of the full-time employees there, I was still (as all sessional teachers are) overworked, underpaid and exploited horribly. This was the chief reason Unwrapped Sky took so many years to finish.

BP: Besides the hardest part, which chapter or scene or character did you enjoy writing about the most?

RD: Generally I enjoy writing action sequences – they tend to fly onto the page – but there are that many in Unwrapped Sky. There is a scene where the main character Kata meets the imprisoned Siren (as in the mythic creature), who is called Paxaea. They see something of themselves in each other, and fairly spontaneously embrace each other. There are little moments through the book like that which I enjoyed a lot.

BP: If you would be given the chance to rewrite a specific part of the book before the publishing date would you do so? And if yes, which part and why?

RD: Yes, if there was one thing I’d change a little, it is the way the seditionist movement – the revolutionaries of Caeli-Amur – are isolated from the people. I’d include more interaction between them, so the seditionists didn’t seem such an isolated group. Then again, there’s much more of that interaction in the next book, The Stars Askew

BP: Unwrapped Sky left the story with a lot of room for the sequel, can you give us a sneak peek of what is in store for us?

RD: As I’ve mentioned above, the next book is called The Stars Askew (out April 2015, I’d say). It’s a sequel. I can’t give too much away, except to say that shortly after the end of Unwrapped Sky, things haven’t gone as expected. That’s currently with my editors. The first draft is done. After that comes the third book, The Black Sun. Hopefully I’m contracted for that and I can get it done by April 2016.

BP: Now that Unwrapped Sky will be published do you have other projects that you wish to persue in the near future?

RD: At the moment, I’m writing a steampunk novel set in an Alternate Australia. Here’s a fragment from the synopsis: “In Melbourne’s Museum, a wonderful exhibit of new technologies arrives, filled with splendorous mechanisms, including automatons of all kinds of creatures. When the central exhibit of the exhibition, the “clockwork man” goes missing, librarian and strong-willed suffragette Eugenie (Gene) Healy is asked by the burned out detective, John Lynch to help him with the investigation. The trail leads them to opium dealers and spiritualists, industrialists in the halls of a powerful men’s club, to a rural utopian community who have rejected the modern technologies, and into the hideout of one of the last bushrangers. They encounter the remnants of the megafauna such as marsupial lions that roam the forests and giant lizards that laze languorously by billabongs. In the desert, they find a secret, hidden for millennia which will change things forever.”

BP: Everyone enjoys science fiction and fantasy in their own way. What do you like most about it?

RD: The best of it is a thought experiment, which not only gives us a sense of wonder, but also lets us think about our own world differently. It’s a warped mirror that shows us the world anew.

BP: And just lastly, if you would have to give your top 5 favorite books, which would they be?

RD: Ahg. Uhg. You just broke my brain. I’ll give you five authors who were important to me, in no particular order, and with some thoughts in parenthesis. Eugene Ionesco (how do we make meaning?), Ursula K. Le Guin (how do we live ethically and ethically as political beings?), Leo Tolstoy (life in the face of the immensity of history), Thomas M. Disch (gritty, almost realist science fiction), Kelly Link (those short stories – wow!)

BP: Thank you very much for your time Rjurik and good luck with your future writing!

RD: Thanks for having me.

Guest Post: Merging the real with the unreal: Dark Vision by Debbie Johnson

Merging the real with the unreal: Dark Vision

If you set out to write an urban fantasy, you have a certain head start. You’ll have a city to work with – in my case, Liverpool. The fact that it’s one of the most famous cities in the world brings both advantages and disadvantages.

On the plus side, people will recognise it, feel at home in it, have an idea of how it looks, and possibly how it feels. How the people might sound, and how daily life there is lived. But that also brings with it responsibilities: what if a street needs to be moved to suit the needs of fiction? What if that historic building there just gets in the way? What if you get something wrong, and the people of Liverpool hold a giant banner-waving protest to complain? Unlikely, I admit, but all of this starts to go through your mind as you are creating a world that merges the reality of an actual, physical location with the magical, mystical world of fantasy.

I faced a similar challenge with the fact that I also chose to indulge my love of Celtic myths and legends in my debut novel, Dark Vision. It tells the story of Lily McCain, a pop writer on her local Liverpool newspaper, who has been socially isolated by the fact that the merest touch can result in her seeing devastating visions of a person’s future.

Into this solitary existence comes Gabriel – a centuries old Irish High King – bearing the news that all is not what she thought it was. The rest of the adventure centres around Lily’s battle to reconcile the reality she thought she knew with the unreality that her life becomes, weaving in and around some of the inspiring tales of Celtic legend to tell a new story. One that takes the very, very old and blends it with the very, very new.

The end result is a millenia-old Goddess walking the streets of 21st century Liverpool in her Doc Marten’s, listening to music on her iPod; worrying about losing her phone while she also worries about saving the world. That mix of modern day life with ancient myth was a tricky one to get right – but also intoxicating.

Now, when I walk through Liverpool myself, I can’t help wondering about the quiet side streets and the hidden entrances to stately buildings; about the unused docks and the hidden courtyards; about the spellbinding paintings in awe-inspiring galleries. About the way that it is a place where the past, the present and the future combine to produce something very unique.

With Dark Vision, I blatantly raided Liverpool’s heritage, and Liverpool’s present. I also rampaged through the Celtic legends I researched, needing to take inspiration but remain original. Into that mix I threw music and TV and film: Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Bill and Ted.

What I was aiming to create was a modern life in a modern world that would be recognizable to readers, but with the addition of brain-stretching concepts of prophecy, fate, and battling to retain your own identity against the odds. Plus, you know, some vampires and witches and evil fairies and bloodthirsty Gods.

It was a difficult recipe to follow, and hard to get the quantities just right before I cooked it in my mind. I hope it’s a world my readers enjoy.


Debbie Johnson, April 2014

Media Alert: Charlaine Harris - Midnight Crossroad Book Trailer

Media Alert: Charlaine Harris - Midnight Crossroad Book Trailer

Midnight Crossroad, the latest book by Charlaine Harris will be released by Gollancz on the 8th of May later this year and will kick off a new brand new series. Charlaine Harris is the best selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series and she has raised the stakes (no pun intended) each and every time with her books. No wonder there are high hopes and a lot of people anticipating the release of Midnight Crossroad, the first book in the Midnight Texas series. 

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It's a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There's a pawnshop (where someone lives in the basement and runs the store during the night). There's a diner (although those folk who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there's new resident: Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he's found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

If you stop at the one traffic light in town, then everything looks normal. But if you stay a while, you might learn the truth . . .
And do have a look at the book trailer as well!

A Love Like Blood

A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick

'I've chased him for over twenty years, and across countless miles, and though often I was running, there have been many times when I could do nothing but sit and wait. Now I am only desperate for it to be finished.'

In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars.

Seven years later he returns to the city - and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow...

Every once in a while you come across a book that has a very catchy synopsis and readily invites you to pick it up and devour it I had just this feeling when I read the synopsis of A Love Like Blood. It in someway tells what the main idea of the story is but already promises so much more, especially the sense of the narration by I presumed the main protagonist. it really got me excited and I finished this book in a single setting! What really separates A Love Like Blood from the other horror/vampire stories is that this story is so much more than just vampire hunting. The way that the story is brought to you as a reader is just spot on and readily submerges the reader in an rich story. A Love Like Blood is written by Marcus Sedgwick who is better known for his books in the Young-Adult genre.  

I am always a big fan of books that follow a first person narration, in most of the cases it really helps out to let the intentions, actions and perhaps the most important one reactions of the protagonist resonate that much stronger. And what better narration could there be in the case of a story of personal love and grief? This is exactly how Marcus Sedgwick tells his story. When I looked back on the story as an whole I don't think the narration could have gotten any better. Marcus Sedgwick did an amazing job with showing the story in this way, and it's written in a clear and to the point kind of way, but with a very strong emotional under current in when it comes down to the main protagonist Charles Jackson and everything that he is going through.

The story of A Love Like Blood opens up with a scene in the present before taking you back to the past to show how it all got started. Again this is something I really like to read, as you get thrown in the depths of a present timeline, everything is new and there is hardly any explanation - yet - this also raises a lot of question and really got me stoked for the remainder of the story. After the introduction, Charles Jackson starts his story back in 1944 and how it all came to be. He serves as an soldier in Britain's Royal Army in the Army Medical Corps division. One day back in 1944 he is walking down the streets in Paris and stumbles upon something, a man struggling and drinking the blood of a women, but with all the stuff that he has seen in the war, Charles discards this as a war trauma and continues as normal. After the war Charles is given a new position on the department of Haematology in Cambridge. On a return visit to Paris, Charles sees the same man from back in 1944, in a cafe and leaving with another girl, and the horrific scene he witnessed is again back in his mind. Charles manages to collect enough courage and follows this strange man. Trying to find an explanation as to what this man was doing to that young girl back in 1944 and he is likely to strike again. This short explanation only covers the first few pages of the book and is only the initial setup of the story as Charles' quest soon turn into something of an obsession and personal vengeance. The whole story spans about 20 years from 1944 till 1968 and only continues to develop and pick up pace more and more as Charles start to unearth secrets that could have better stayed buried. The best thing in here is that the locations aren't only focused in the parts of Paris and Cambridge but the investigation that Charles leads takes him to some dark and historical places that add a lot of creepy atmosphere to the story.

The main protagonist of A Love Like Blood, Charles Jackson, is an incredible strong protagonist and from the start of the book it is impossible not to relate to him. The solidity of his character is really drawn from how Marcus Sedgwick used the narration and the setting of the whole book. Of course the events along the way influence Charles' character in terms of developing him on several emotional sides. Because what first started out as a horrific scene, one he would have much rather not experienced and even faster have truly forgotten, soon turns out into a deadly obsession. It's part by the obsession to catch the killer that a lot of other emotions come to show. I can safely say that Charles is determined to get to the bottom of it all and with even some amount of disregard for his own life. This on many fronts again adds a nice few layer to his character as there are some unexpected and unpredictable events taking place along the course of this story. As for secondary characters there aren't actually any that you really get to follow in A Love Like Blood, the focus is really on Charles and how he navigates through this turbulent world. You do however get to know many different friend or rivals of Charles but not as in that much depth as Charles himself. And frankly to be honest, this isn't required at all since the focus is on Charles and how he came to this obsession. One thing that I did enjoy reading about where the scenes with the Count Verovkin. These parts with the bad guy added a whole new and dangerous persepective. 

Like I said above the story in itself is very cleverly executed with the narration. But there are also other elements that help build a very tight and intense atmosphere. A Love Like Blood is a story about vampires, but this word is hardly used and a lot is kept in the dark, dark background of the story. One of the things that really works in the favor of this storyline is that it is written in our own history 1944-1968 and there aren't any elaborate scenes or flashy moves by the vampires that make it turn more into the mainstream ones. Instead by keeping close to our own world, for me the dark crime/thriller elements only became that much stronger. Marcus Sedgwick really knows how to build up a great sense surrounding his story. A definite plus!

With A Love Like Blood, Marcus Sedgwick has created a very solid entry in the horror genre. It has a very unique concept using the backdrop of vampirism to create an utterly engaging story. When you look on the whole of the story it is a true horror story, the horror elements that Marcus Sedgwick introduces are brought to life in the fullest by the very strong first person narration and the emotions that the main protagonist, Charles Jackson, has to face. These go from elated joy down to cold hearted revenge and perhaps an unhealthy obsession. You can clearly see that Marcus Sedgwick knows how to bring out the best of his idea's in A Love Like Blood. I don't think I have encountered such a book during my reading ventures yet. This might sound conflicting since it's a horror story but it's a true pleasure to read and get lost in the personal dealing of Charles. Marcus Sedgwick executes his story in A Love Like Blood with masterful strokes from start to finish. I am definitely in for more of his stories.

Wolfhound Century

Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins, Wolfhound Century #1

Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist --- and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. 

A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. 

Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.

Last year I read some very positive news about Wolfhound Century but hadn't had the time to catch up with it. I was very intrigued by the synopsis and the cover art definitely helped to create a alluring sense about the book. The cover alone inspires a Soviet kind of feeling and the synopsis turns the Soviet world into an alternate version. I had this book high on my to read list and as I was just a few pages in Wolfhound Century proved to be a winner. Wolfhound Century is written by Peter Higgens whose stories have featured in various anthologies and magazines. This is his first full length book.

The first thing that will readily fall to note to every reader is the dark and grim atmosphere that Peter Higgens manages to create in Wolfhound Century. Most of the influence on the world of Wolfhound Century comes from the Soviet part, the world is pure fiction, but it does feel like it could have played out in the communist Russia. The inhabitants are controlled closely and only several things are allowed to happen. For me the best thing that was added to this setting was that Peter Higgins doesn't mention a specific age where his story takes place. It does lend a heavy hand towards the past, second world war, but also has some futuristic / science fiction elements that really make it stand out and which helps to make this world truly creative and inventive. 

In the story of The Wolfhound Century the is on the police investigator Vissarion Lom. Just like the whole setting and the world itself that is embodied in The Wolfhound Century, Vissarion Lom's character is one of those that completely build the story and makes the whole book come together. With the emphasis directly on Vissarion Lom's character, Peter Higgins doesn't spare the reader one moment to stray away from the pages. Even though you get introduced to Vissarion Lom's character step-by-step I knew that there had to be more going on about his character. He just couldn't be your average Joe detective and luckily Vissarion Lom was far, far from it! I like it when authors dare to go into new directions with their characters, I do have to say that it might seem that Vissarion Lom is a bit of the urban noir detective but this soon starts to change when you learn more and more about the past that he had to go through and the things that make him special. This latter combined with the worldbuilding truly complement each other. Terrific. What makes Vissarion Lom's character even stronger is that he doesn't stop developing all along the way of the book. In the beginning of the book his doing his job just as any officer true to this cause is, however as the plot starts to unfold Vissarion Lom starts to learn more and more of the new world that surrounds him in Mirgorod compared to his first rather provincial Podchornok. Besides Vissarion Lom there are also a bunch of secondary character and the first and foremost of them is the terrorist that Vissarion Lom is tasked to bring to justice. Joseph Kantor. Joseph is definitely one of the better bad guys that I have read about so far, or perhaps his character comes over very strong because he is the direct opposite in many fronts compared to the protagonist Vissarion Lom. From the first time you are introcuded to Kantor, you know he is bad news and doesn't stop when the only way forward is leaving yourself in the wake of corpses... The second one is childhood friend of Vissarion Lom, the rather eccentric ex-professor Raku Vishnik. Being new to the city or Mirgorod, Vissarion Lom has only one choice is he wants to find Joseph Kantor and that is to call upon Raku Vishnik for information. I do have to give it to Peter Higgins that he has created a set of amazing and interesting characters, be it protagonist or secondary ones, each of them is completely different and all have something alluring and special working in their favor, and it is that special something that keeps you glued to the pages dying to find out just what it is!

The storyline as you might have make up from the above paragraph focuses on detective VIssarion Lom, who has gotten a new job opportunity to catch a dangerous criminal. This might sound like a straightforward plot line but don't pin the story down too much on this as once you start reading and discover the dynamics of the world that Peter Higgins is building it proves to be quite on the contrary. Unpredictable and very engaging. Vissarion Loms' introduction to the capital of Mirgorod makes him see things in a different daylight. You are led to believe that the sole purpose in Wolfhound Century is for Vissarions Lom to stop Joseph Kantor. But... not for the full 100% as there are also other people playing their own dangerous games and to top this all off an fallen Archangel is whispering to a selected few... There are much deadlier players a foot in this game... This slow burning of the plot produced a nice awe-inspiring feeling when I neared the ending of the book. 

I am always a huge fan when an author shows both the opposing parties in a book and to my huge pleasure Peter Higgins does it as well. I do have to mention that you do have to execture your story in the right manner to keep flow and pacing of the story just right. Reveal to much and the story become to predictable, reveal to little and it doesn't have any added value and can become frustrating. Do it the right way and it can immensely enlarge the whole reading experience ten or maybe even a hundred fold. What I like about showing both sides is that you get to learn how the good guys act and plot their plans but also how the bad guys reacts and counter and scheme their plan. In case of Wolfhound Century you see Vissarion Lom navigating through a thick, highly corrupted world where you can trust almost no one, trying to catch a criminal. One the otherhand you have the bag guys, Joseph Kantor but also his alley on board the secret police, that makes up for a nice plot twist in the end. Peter Higgins showed the bad guys side in the right proportions definitely adding an extra few layers of depth to his story. 

Wolfhound Century is a truly unique read. The world that Peter Higgins has managed to create in this solid debut is filled with a lot of bold ideas, that all work well in a singular state but when combined they all complement each other further making the world that much more interesting. I can't recall having ever read a story set in such a world. Using an 1940's Russian setting in his own created world definitely helped to create a dark and gritty sense to the story that resonates through each and every page, there aren't moments of a ray of sunshine through the thick clouds, no this is a true noir fantasy story. The characters that Peter Higgins uses in his story are all fleshed out into the finest details and everyone of them stands out. Many a reviewer mentioned that this was one of the better debuts of 2013 and I do have to agree. If you look on the whole, I wouldn't have dared to say that this was a debut, it's written with such a confidence. The pacing and writing style that Peter Higgins uses really pulls you into his interesting world. I can only say that you have to give this book a try. It might take a few pages to adjust to the setting of the book, but once your in, your in till the finish! Recommended. Wolfhound Century is an excellent example of author with cool ideas that dare to take that extra step required to bring something new to the genre fiction.

Author interview with Weston Ochse

Author interview with Weston Ochse 

Author bio: 
Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently SEAL Team 666 and its sequel Age of Blood, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable Lists.' His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with 29 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. Please contact him through this site.  


Hi Weston, Welcome over at The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions.

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Weston Ochse is? What are your likes/dislikes and hobbies?
WO: I’m a guy in my mid-forties who feels very lucky to have curated the life he has. I’ve spent 30 years in the U.S. military and have travelled to nearly fifty countries. I speak a couple languages. I love to trout and salmon fish. I cook. I drink wine. I absolutely love to travel. And I write. If there was a title for a fisher-cooker-writer-traveller-person then that would be the one I’d use.

BP: You have written a various amount of books already, when and why did you decide that you wanted to become an author?
WO: When I turned thirty I did what I thought everyone was supposed to do (although I get blank stares when I say this in public so maybe I’m the only one who does this), and that was to look back and see what I’ve been doing that I want to change, and then look forward and decide to do those things I hadn’t done, but had wanted to. And then make those changes. One of those things I wanted to do and had never done was to write. I’d always wanted to, but never done it, using the various excuses we all have used. So I sat down and wrote my first short story. It took a month and was appallingly bad. I know it was because of the seven page rejection letter I received from Weird Tales (Thank you Darrell Sweitzer). But I kept at it. I wouldn’t be deterred. I used the same desire to accomplish a mission I learned in the military and saw each story as a hill to be taken.

BP: SEAL Team 666 is your latest series, what gave you the idea to write this series?
WO: The title and idea just begged to become a series. The title was actually created by Peter Joseph and Brendan Deneen at Thomas Dunne Books. Then we got together and thought, what if there’s an even more special SEAL team who protects America from supernatural attack. Then it was just a logical progression to have each book a separate mission.

BP: You have won an Bram Stoker award for one of you books, have you learned a lot from your previous horror books that you were able to use when you were writing SEAL Team 666?
WO: I was awarded the Bram Stoker award for my first novel. I now have more than twenty books in print if you count novellas and novelettes which were also published in book form. I’ve learned so much from each one and wouldn’t have had the chops to write SEAL Team 666 or even my upcoming military sci fi series from Solaris, Grunt Life.

BP: If you would have to sell your series with a single sentence, how would it go?
WO: Badass SEALs expert in supernatural warfare combat monsters so Americans can sleep happy in their beds and eat cheeseburgers.

BP: When you were writing either SEAL Team 666 or Age of Blood, did you encounter any specific problems?
WO: Because I’m still in the military and I know things which are both sensitive and classified, I had to self police in order to ensure I didn’t include that sort of information in the books. For instance, I know exactly the sort of weapons and armor SEAL Team 6 uses. I also know their TTPs. But I’m not going to share those. I don’t want to put those guys in harm’s way. Their job is tough enough. The last thing they need is for some middle-aged guy sitting at a computer somewhere putting them in danger. So I gave them weapons and armor which were several generations old. I upgraded these in Age of Blood, but these still aren’t the ones they really use. Things like that. I want the book to feel real, and it is real, but not too real, especially at the expense of those guys whom I deeply respect

BP: What was the hardest part to write in either of the two books?
WO: You know, I didn’t find it hard at all.

BP: Besides the hardest part, what part of the series have you enjoyed most in writing?
WO: Developing the scenarios for each book and establishing the mythologies. For instance, the first book takes place in Asia, so I used Asian specific monsters and supernatural creatures, each one a hint at who the ultimate baddie was. Age of Blood takes place in Mexico, so I could draw on not only Aztec, but also Mayan and Toltec mythologies. The third book, Reign of Evil, which I’ve just turned in, takes place in England. Being able to research and then develop the scenario I’m going to throw at these hard luck boys is so much fun.

BP: You have a background in the military, are you using any experiences of your when you were setting up your SEAL Team 666 stories?
WO: Oh hell yeah. I have to and I think that’s what makes these books so successful.

BP: SEAL Team 666 has a lot of information about military gear, weapons and such and tactics, did you have to do any extra research to get the facts straight?
WO: Yeah. I know some things, but there are guys out there who are walking talking gear heads and know all the stats and maximum effective ranges. I’m not one of them so research was a must.

BP: The fuchsia mask really cracked me up when I read it for the first time, are those things really done to the new guys?
WO: Oh yeah. It’s a thing we do all over the military The FNG has to earn the right to be part of any team, especially the most elite team, SEAL Team 666/

BP: You show a lot of supernatural creatures and demons in your story, do you still have more new creatures up your sleeves (read = hints towards vampire!)?
WO: Definitely. It’s all based on mythology. And I did use a vampire in Age of Blood. Remember the Obsidian Butterfly?

BP: The SEAL Team 666 has two books so far, the world does lend itself perfectly for new missions for the SEAL’s can we expect more books from you in the future?
WO: Reign of Evil takes place in England and comes out in December. This one’s going to be a shocker because someone we all know and love dies right away in Chapter 1.

BP: Do you have any other projects that you wish to pursue in the future?
WO: I’m always writing. I have Grunt Life coming out from Solaris in April 2014. This is the first of a military sci fi series based on the idea that a private company takes a brigade of PTSD sufferers and retrains them so they can fight the alien invasion.

BP: Everyone enjoys science fiction and fantasy in their own way, what do you like most about reading and writing it?
WO: I love the world building. Most of the other writers are so much smarter than me. I’m often in awe of their ability to create entire universes populated by men, machines and creatures that are absolutely believable. I think my strength lies in characterization.

BP: And just lastly if you would have to recommend your top 5 favorite books, which would they be?
WO: This list is ever-changing. But for this conversation let me say -- Old Man’s War by John Scalzi; The Forever War by Joe Haldeman; Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury; The Shibboleth by John Hornor Jacobs; and Night Film by Marisha Pessl.

BP: Thank you for your time Weston and good luck with your writing!

Media Alert: Tor to launch new Horror Award: The James Herbert Award for Horror

Media Alert: Tor to launch new Horror Award: The James Herbert Award for Horror

I didn't plan to write horror; it just poured out of me.’ James Herbert
To celebrate the life and career of one of the world’s best and most loved horror writers, Pan Macmillan and the estate of James Herbert are pleased to announce The James Herbert Award for Horror Writing.

The prize, which will be awarded annually, aims to discover and publicise a new generation of horror authors working today and celebrate the boldest and most exciting talent in the genre.  The winning author will receive a specially-designed commemorative statuette and a cheque for £2000.

The inaugural award will be open to horror novels written in English and published in the UK between 1st January 2014 and 31st December 2014. Self published novels are not eligible

Find out more information at the Pan Macmillan website

(source: Pan Macmillan UK )