douglassmith's blog

Aurora bundle spotlight: Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer

Far-Seer CoverThis post wraps up my spotlight series on the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's Aurora Award. For this last entry, we have an essay by Canada's Dean of Science Fiction, the multi-award winning, Robert J. Sawyer. In it, Rob discusses how his title in the bundle, Far-Seer, grew from a standalone novel to become the first book in the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy.

(The following essay originally appeared in the premiere issue of The Crystal Tower, the SF newsletter published by New English Library.) 

Copyright © 1995 by Robert J. Sawyer. All Rights Reserved

Far-Seer, which is now volume one of the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy, was originally written as a standalone science-fiction novel, and I sent the manuscript to my agent with trepidation. After all, I was asking him to sell a book that had not one single human being in it. Would an audience identify with the characters I'd created?

To my delight, my agent loved Far-Seer — but said that the milieu I'd created deserved an entire series, not just a single book. All well and good — except I hate series, much preferring to write standalone novels. But my agent kept pushing, and so I set about deciding what I would insist upon in creating a series of my own.

First, I told him I would do no more than three books, with a final, conclusive, overall ending. But more than that, each book would be a legitimate standalone novel (as Far-Seer already was), with its own real conclusion, rather than a cliffhanger ending. And I would use a different narrative technique in each novel, so that they would present fresh creative challenges for me.

Far-Seer was the story of Afsan, an intelligent dinosaur who was his race's counterpart of Galileo. For the second book, I decided to tackle a dinosaurian Darwin, and in the third, a saurian Sigmund Freud. And as I had in Far-Seer, I would up the stakes: for Afsan, discovering the true arrangement of the heavens was not just of scientific interest, but rather a life-or-death issue for his entire world. In the second book (eventually entitled Fossil Hunter), I would make the discovery of evolution much more difficult by positing a fossil record that seemed to prove rather than refute divine creation. And in the final volume (Foreigner), I would make psychoanalysis — of Afsan — key to avoiding the extinction of my dinosaurian race.

I'd done things in Far-Seer I never would have if I'd known it was going to be volume one of a series (most notably, I'd blinded one of my principals and made it impossible for my reptilian characters to lie). But I decided not to go back and change those things: they were appropriate for Far-Seer, and I wouldn't dull its edge simply to make the sequels simpler to write.

The Galileo-Darwin-Freud model suggested moving the action ahead by decades between each volume. Getting to revisit characters I'd first portrayed in their youth again at middle age and then near death appealed to me greatly. As for finding a different narrative voice for each book, the extended timeframe took care of that. As The New York Review of Science Fiction noted:

Sawyer evolves his very style of writing across the trilogy — the first a straight linear exposition, the second alternating story lines between chapters, the third deftly juggling four different story lines within each chapter — a strategy which nicely mirrors the writing styles of the linear Renaissance, dialectic 19th century, and the multi-perspectival 20th, or the milieus of Galileo, Darwin, and Freud on Earth.

Looking back on the finished Quintaglio Ascension trilogy, I am indeed glad that my agent twisted my arm this once. But I do wish I could get him to stop talking about what I should do for my next series...

~~~

And a short bio for Rob:

Robert J. Sawyer — called "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by The Ottawa Citizen and "just about the best science-fiction writer out there these days" by The Denver Rocky Mountain News — is one of only eight writers in history (and the only Canadian) to win all three of the science-fiction field's top honors for best novel of the year:

  • the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award, which he won in 2003 for his novel Hominids;

  • the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America'sNebula Award, which he won in 1996 for his novel The Terminal Experiment; and,

  • the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, which he won in 2006 for his novel Mindscan.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Destiny's Fall

DestinysFallCoverNext up in my spotlight series on the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's Aurora Award, is an interview with Marie Bilodeau discussing her novel, Destiny's Fall.

Destiny's Fall, the second book in Marie's Destiny Trilogy, begins five years after Destiny's Blood. In this SF space adventure with a feel of myth and legend, Layela is again in danger, this time from both the ruling empire and a usurper within her own world of Mirial. Here's the interview with Marie:

1. Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I’d say that my favourite character is Captain Avienne Malavant. She’s insane, unpredictable, and yet very loyal to those she considers family. In this book, she’s found her own way and is busy forging her own quirky family, all under the long shadow still cast by her life on the Destiny.

Plus, she likes throwing knives, which just isn’t that advisable, and drinks more than she should, all while captaining her own rusty spaceship. How could I not love her best?

2. Is there something in this book that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

I realize this is more along Canadian idealism than the reality reflected across our large wintry country, but accepting other’s beliefs and backgrounds as part of what they bring that’s unique and special to a place, as opposed to expecting them to just become like everybody else.

Early on, Avienne rescues a Slont, a very different race from her own. He doesn’t bring special powers to the equation, nor does he really have special knowledge. But he has heart, and is willing to fight for what he believes in, and for her, that’s enough.

I like to believe that most in Canada are not hoping to “melt in” all other cultures (whatever the hell Canadian culture itself might be), but that we can find common footing among all of our differences, and move forward together.

3. What's your strongest memory about writing this book?

It’s not about the book itself so much as the writing of it. I was having such a hard time finishing it up. I couldn’t find enough time, or motivation, or headspace. Eventually, I found a free weekend, from Friday evening to Monday about noon.  I booked a convent near Montreal (an ideal TV and Internet free retreat!), and I hid there.  In that time, I don’t think I slept. I remember wandering the dark halls in the wee hours of the morning looking for some form of caffeine.  I would hear the morning prayer chants traveling through the heaters, and I hadn’t slept yet.  I’d try to get some sleep but the story demanded, begged to be written. So I wrote.  A lot.

That weekend, I wrote 45,000 words, and finished the book.  It needed lots of love, but it was done. I’ve never replicated that level of productivity (insanity?), nor do I know if I could. Or would want to. Took a while for my brain to click back into “real world mode.” But I got it done, which is what mattered.

4. When did you know you'd be writing this story as a series? When you began the first book? During the first book? After the first book was finished?

The first book in the series, Destiny’s Blood, had a very final epilogue. My editor, Gabrielle Harbowy, asked me to rewrite, saying the readers wanted to get the chance to imagine the future of the characters. I loved that idea, so I rewrote.  Then, a few months later, Gabrielle asked for a couple more books in the series.

There was certainly more story to mine (there still is!), so I kept on mining. I have more ideas for Destiny, which someday may see the light of day. There are many more songs to be written in this fast-paced space opera world.

5. The Destiny series was translated into French, which is your mother tongue, so you actually got to read it.  Did you translate it yourself?  And what were some of the noted differences between the two books?

It’s a treat to have them in French, especially by a great editor like Les Éditions Alire.  I didn’t translate them myself, but they were translated by the amazing Élisabeth Vonarburg.  It was an amazing process. Élisabeth, who’s a celebrated novelist (if you don’t know her, you need to change that immediately. She’s a force of Canadian SF, and many of her titles are available in English).  She was tough, and it was like going through the editing process all over again, but (I dare say), the French books are better because of it. I was early on in my career, after all, and some of the mistakes were fixed by her eagle eye.

The title changes were fun, too.  In English, we focus (and play on the double entendre) of Destiny, which is actually the first ship. In French, the editor asked that we focus on Mirial, which is the mystical First Star of which Layela Delamores becomes Keeper, and is the main focus of all three books.

The French versions were picked up all at once, after all, so they saw the length of the series, and marketed accordingly.  Different than in their original English versions, where book 1 was out before book 2 was even under contract.

And a short bio for Marie:

Marie was born in Montreal (Canada) to a family with nomadic tendencies. As a result her childhood was spent roaming from town to town in Eastern Ontario. In 1996 she roamed further west in the province, attending Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. Along with earning a Bachelor's Degree in Religion and Culture with a minor in Archaeology (fields she has never once come close to working in, although they do come in handy for plot development), she also served two terms as President of the school's Science Fiction and Fantasy Club, an honor that she will never live down. Not that she cares to.

When not writing fantasy novels, Marie can be found engaged in the act of storytelling in any location where two or more people have gathered. She tells mostly original stories of her own creation or adaptations of fairy tales and myths. Visit her official website at www.mariebilodeau.com.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Steel Whispers

Steel Whispers CoverI continue my series of posts spotlighting the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award. Today we have an interview with Hayden Trenholm talking about his novel Steel Whispers, the second book in The Steele Chronicles trilogy.

Steel Whispers combines classic noir with near-future science fiction in this police procedural tale of a series of murders in a society increasingly divided by evolving cyborg and genetic technology.

1. Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Like all the Frank Steele novels, this one is told from multiple points of view; Frank in first person, all the rest in third. It would be easy to say that Frank is my favourite—after all, I wrote three books about him.

However, I have a real affection for Buzz Wannamaker, the Aboriginal cyborg from northern Alberta. He has a teasing sense of humour and is the closest thing to an action hero in the book (Frank is in his mid-fifties and badly out of shape). Buzz’s philosophy combines a strong sense of the social outsider with a deep desire to be part of something larger than himself. Much of this book is about what constitutes a family and Buzz, more than anyone else, understands that often the best families are ones we build ourselves.

2. What's your favourite relationship between two characters in this book and why?

My favourite relationship is between Frank and his dead son. No spoiler alert there, as Frank discovers his son’s body at a crime scene in the first chapter. His gradual discovery of who his son was and why he was the way he was drives the entire action of the book. Suffice to say, by the end Frank knows Joshua better than most father’s ever know their sons and in ways that almost no one can imagine.

3. Is there something in this book that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

The setting of course is purely Canadian in the city of Calgary and the country that surrounds it. Beyond that, a lot of the themes have to do with fairness and social justice, a belief that a society where everyone has a chance—and not just the rich—is a better place for everyone. The book is also very much about how you construct an inclusive society, rather than one that only works for those in the privileged class.

4. When did you know you'd be writing this story as a series? When you began the first book? During the first book? After the first book was finished?

I call the Steele Chronicles my accidental trilogy. I had no intention of writing a second novel (let alone a third one) until my publisher asked me to take it on. As a result, Steel Whispers is as much of a stand-alone book as Defining Diana and, I think, can be read without knowing much of what happened in the first. While some characters, like Steele and Wannamaker are carryovers from the first book, most of the others are brand new or had very minor roles in book one. The same by the way can be said—up to a point—about book three, Stealing Home.

And a short bio for Hayden:

Hayden Trenholm is an award-winning playwright, novelist and short story writer. His short fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies and on CBC radio. His first novel, A Circle of Birds, won the 3-Day Novel Writing competition in 1993; it was recently translated and published in French. His trilogy, The Steele Chronicles (Defining Diana, Steel Whispers and Stealing Home), were each nominated for an Aurora Award. Stealing Home, the third book, was a finalist for the Sunburst Award.

Hayden has won four Aurora Awards – twice for short fiction and twice for editing anthologies. He purchased Bundoran Press in 2012 and is its managing editor. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and fellow writer, Elizabeth Westbrook-Trenholm.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Tesseracts14

Tesseracts 14 CoverNext in my spotlight series on the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award, is an interview with Brett Alexander Savory, who along with John Robert Colombo, edited the anthology, Tesseracts14.

The Tesseracts series of anthologies is Canada's longest running, year after year showcasing the best in Canadian speculative short fiction. Tesseracts14: Strange Canadian Stories is no exception, with 23 amazing tales from some of the brightest lights in Canadian genre fiction.

1. Aside from being excellent examples of Canadian spec fic, was there something specific as editors you were looking for when selecting stories for this antho? Or did a unifying theme or tone emerge as you assembled the stories?

I think a particular brand of strangeness emerged as we read, so we might have leaned in that direction, yeah. Hence the subtitle: Strange Canadian Stories.

2. What is your strongest memory from editing this anthology / assembling this collection?

I remember most that I thought John and I would diverge greatly in some respects with regard to what content would appeal to us for this antho, but we were on the same page entirely, so there was really no disagreement at all about what should be included.

3. Is there something in these stories that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

I don't think there's anything particularly Canadian about the stories, no. I've never been all that interested in that aspect of things; I always just want the best stories I can find for any anthology or magazine I'm editing. Since the authors are all Canadian, I'm sure that sensibility is in there, regardless, but we didn't seek it out.

4. What music would be the ideal listening soundtrack for readers for this book?

Hmm, I dunno. Slayer is always a good bet for anything I'm involved in, so let's go with that. *laughs* ;-)

Here are short bios for Brett and John:

Mr. Colombo is the Toronto-based author and anthologist whose byline has appeared on over 200 books of quality. These range from volumes of poetry to compilations of quotations. Colombo has been variously dubbed: “The Master Gatherer” for his compilations of Canadiana; “John ‘Bartlett’ Colombo” for his ‘quote books; “Canada’s Mr. Mystery” for his collections of told-as-true ghost stories; and,“Superfan” for his pioneering interest in Canadian fantastic literature. John is a towering presence in Canadian letters, a member of the Order of Canada – Canada's equivalent of knighthood – and is Canada's premiere folklorist and collector and compiler of Canadiana, as well as a significant poet, broadcaster, editor, and publisher.

Brett Alexander Savory is the Bram Stoker Award-winning Editor-in-Chief of ChiZine: Treatments of Light and Shade in Words, Co-Publisher with Sandra Kasturi of ChiZine Publications (CZP), has had nearly 50 short stories published, written two novels and penned the foreword to Tesseracts Twelve. In 2006, Necro Publications released his horror-comedy novel The Distance Travelled. September 2007 saw the release of his dark literary novel In and Down through Brindle & Glass, and November brought his first short story collection, No Further Messages, released through Delirium Books. In the works are three more novels. When he's not writing, reading, or editing, he plays drums for a band that his wife wants him to call Magic Pussy. Acknowledged by Quill & Quire's "Best Books of the Year" list in 2007 for his novel In and Down, Brett lives in Toronto with his wife Sandra Kasturi, whose writing has been featured in previous Tesseracts anthologies.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Thunder Road

Thunder Road CoverI continue my series of posts spotlighting the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award. Today we have an interview with Chadwick Ginther talking about his novel Thunder Road, the first book in his same titled trilogy.

Thunder Road merges Norse mythology into a modern Canadian landscape in this gritty action-packed fantasy that fans of Gaiman's American Gods will love. Here's the interview with Chadwick.

1. What is your favourite scene in this book and why?

My favourite scene in Thunder Road is the first one I wrote: my protagonist Ted Callan being forcibly tattooed with magic powers by a trio of Norse dwarves. I’d just finished revising my first (and thankfully unpublished) novel, a 135K sword and sorcery book. I knew I wanted to do something a bit different, so I set it on contemporary Earth, and decided to try a single protagonist rather than having six narrators.

I didn’t know who Ted was yet, or why he’d ended up in a dank motor inn room in Winnipeg, or why dwarves were interested in him, but that scene was a lightning bolt to me, I skipped backward a bit to figure out the who and the why, and then I was off to the races. But I always come back to thinking about that first scene. If I’m doing a reading from Thunder Road, it’s usually the one I choose.

3. What music would be the ideal listening soundtrack for readers for this book?

I love getting this question, because while I can’t play an instrument or sing worth a damn, I love music and all my books have a soundtrack. I tend not to outline when I’m drafting, the closest I come is choosing twenty or so songs that feel how I want the book to feel, and place them in an order that I makes sense to me. I’m looking for pacing changes, and abrupt style changes when I do this as well, to hang important scenes upon.

There are two possible soundtracks for Thunder Road, the original playlist I used while I was drafting the book, and since I used song titles as my chapter titles, there is also the chapter title list which appeared in the finished book. They’re pretty close to one another in content, but I do have a slight preference for the original as some of the songs that didn’t make the cut for the chapter title list became important later on in the series and appeared on future playlists.

The Original Playlist:  When the Levee Breaks-Led Zeppelin; There She Goes My Beautiful World-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds; Riders on the Storm-The Doors; Things Ain’t What They Used to Be-The Black Keys; Great Expectations-The Gaslight Anthem; Little Miss Fortune-The Now Time Delegation; A Town Called Malice-The Jam; Welcome to My Nightmare-Alice Cooper; Until Morale Improves the Beatings Will Continue-Murder By Death; Gimme Shelter-The Rolling Stones (or The Sisters of Mercy cover version); Too Tough To Die-The Ramones; Misery Loves Company-Mike Ness (with Bruce Springsteen); Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)-David Bowie; Big Mouth Strikes Again-The Smiths; Where Evil Grows-The Poppy Family; Beautiful Future-Primal Scream; This World-The Staple Singers; Fire and Brimstone-Link Wray; If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)-AC/DC; The Red Headed Stranger-Willie Nelson

Chapter Title Playlist: When the Levee Breaks-Led Zeppelin; Riders on the Storm-The Doors; A Town Called Malice-The Jam; Welcome to My Nightmare-Alice Cooper; Gimme Shelter-The Rolling Stones (or The Sisters of Mercy cover version); The Ugly Truth-Matthew Sweet; Misery Loves Company-Mike Ness (with Bruce Springsteen); In the Houses of the Holy-Led Zeppelin; Little Miss Fortune-The Now Time Delegation; Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)-David Bowie; Walk on the Water-Creedence Clearwater Revival; Born to Run-Bruce Springsteen; Your Lucky Day in Hell-The Eels; When Worlds Collide-Powerman 5000; Dirty Old Town-The Pogues; Castles Made of Sand-Jimi Hendrix; I Fought the Law-The Clash; The Payback-James Brown; Where Evil Grows-The Poppy Family; Grandmother Waits for You-The Handsome Family; If You Want Blood (You’ve Got it)-AC/DC; Fire and Brimstone-Link Wray; Don’t Look Back in Anger-Oasis

4. Did you know you were writing a series when you first began this book, or did the idea of a series grow from the telling of this book?

Initially, I anticipated that I would be writing a series with Thunder Road. I wanted to write an ongoing series; I was reading a lot of urban fantasy at the time, and had designs that would’ve meant at least a few three book arcs before I’d said all I wanted to say with the characters and world of Thunder Road.

However, as I was writing the book, a single line near the end of the book changed my mind. This line made the story for the second book arrive almost fully formed, and that also sped up my timeline, so I ended up with a single trilogy, instead of three. I’ve since taken to filling in some of the plot points or characters I’d hoped to introduce with short stories to keep the series alive.

So far, the writing of my next series, starting with Graveyard Mind, forthcoming from ChiZine Publications, is following the open ended series plan. I’m drafting a followup and haven’t had any plan-destroying details thrown in by my characters, so assuming readers enjoy it, I’ll finally get my wish to have an ongoing series.

And a short bio for Chadwick:

Originally from Morden, Manitoba, Chadwick Ginther is the winner of The Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher, the winner of The Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction and thrice nominated for the Prix Aurora Awards for Thunder Road, Tombstone Blues, and Too Far Gone.

His short stories have appeared in many speculative fiction publications, and he co-hosts the Winnipeg arm of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series. A bookseller for over a decade, Chadwick Ginther lives and writes in Winnipeg.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Eutopia

Eutopia CoverNext in my interview series on the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award, is David Nickle with Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism.

Set in the early 1900's in Idaho, Eutopia, the first in a two-book series, delivers a dark and wonderfully creepy tale of eugenics, the supernatural, and a quest for human perfection gone horribly wrong. Here's the interview with Dave.

1. Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I actually like a lot of the characters in Eutopia and don't want to offend any of them. Germaine Frost, the nurse who's on a mission for the Eugenics Records Office and rescues her orphaned nephew Jason from poverty and isolation was about the most fun to write. Andrew Waggoner, the black physician who's instrumental in unravelling the biological mystery of the Juke organism in Eliada, Idaho, was a character that I loved and admired in the writing.

But ultimately, I've got to go with Jason Thistledown, a kid who struggles with his family's dark legacy and also with a genetic legacy that may set him apart from everybody. I saw in Jason a strength and innocence that had me rooting for him, even when the story as I was writing was doing its best to kill him.

2. Is there something in this book that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

Eutopia is set in the United States, in 1911 – a large part of it a day’s paddle from the Canadian border in north Idaho. But that’s as Canadian as the setting and characters get. The book is about America – the crazy optimism at the country’s frontiers that turned into a sickened mixture of American boosterism and ambition, and the very much unresolved matters of race and class inequalities. I’m tempted to say that the Canadian character in the book is one of perspective: it takes a critical look at the fallacy of the early American eugenics movement, and self-serving utopianism. The nature of the parasitic creatures known as Jukes might be seen as a vehicle to advance that oh-so-Canadian argument for atheism.

Rational and inclusive and secular: that’s the Canadian perspective, taken from our moral high ground. Would that we had that high ground. Canadians participated in forced sterilization of the disabled, the cultural genocide of the residential school system. We pray to strange gods here too.

One thing that might be uniquely Canadian: the book opens on one of its protagonists, Jason Thistledown, during a bad winter on a farm after the death of his mother. That used to be big in Canadian literature.

3. What music would be the ideal listening soundtrack for readers for this book?

There’s a range of music: some American orchestral music, like Aaron Copeland’s Apalachian Spring suite. Some of the Jurassic Park music that John Williams composed, Khachaturian's Spartacus music, Respighi's Pines of Rome / Fountains of Rome suite also captures the terrible optimism of American utopias that I was after in Eutopia. You won’t go wrong with Fleet Foxes—generally, for the north-western mood of the book, but thematically in particular, “White Winter Hymnal” and “Helplessness Blues.”

4. Did you know you were writing a series when you first began this book, or did the idea of a series grow from the telling of this book?

Eutopia is now part of a series of two books—its sequel, Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination is out now. But I didn’t plan it that way; I thought that Eutopia would be a nifty little stand-alone story, and when it appeared in 2011 I had no plans to write any more in that world. So I published two unrelated books after that (one, Rasputin’s Bastards, was previously written, and the next, The ‘Geisters, was written after Eutopia). Yet certain ideas nagged at me in the aftermath: science-fictional questions of exactly how the Jukes in Eutopia would exist in the larger world outside of the isolated mill-town of Eliada, and also some of the cognitive/theological implications of the Juke species. It became clear that even if the world didn’t need another Juke novel, I needed to write one. And who knows? Maybe the world did need one. Only one way to find out...

And a short bio for Dave:

David Nickle is a Toronto-based author and journalist whose fiction has appeared in magazines, websites and anthologies like Tor.com, Cemetery Dance, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Children of Lovecraft, The Madness of Dr. Caligari. Some of it has been collected in his book of stories, Monstrous Affections.

His first solo novel, Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, led the National Post to call him "a worthy heir to the mantle of Stephen King." His novel Rasputin's Bastards was called supernatural eeriness at its best. The novel The 'Geisters was published in 2013, followed by the collection Knife Fight and Other Struggles. Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination, the sequel to Eutopia, was released in fall 2017.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora Award bundle spotlight: Maddie Hatter

Maddie Hatter CoverNext up in my spotlight series on the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award, is Jayne Barnard with  Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond.

In this first title in her young adult steampunk series, Jayne delivers rollicking adventure, fantastic machines, colourful characters, and a heroine who uses her curiosity and intelligence to solve a mystery that will keep you guessing to the end. Jayne was kind enough to drop by and answer some questions on Maddie

1. Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Lady Sarah. She’s a Becky Sharp, a woman making her way up in the world through application of wit, charm, guile, and a few well-chosen aliases. She’s a lot of fun to write, and I thoroughly enjoyed sampling her continued adventuring in the third book, ‘Maddie Hatter and the Timely Taffeta’ (Tyche Books, October 2017).

2. What's your favourite relationship between two characters in this book and why?

I most admire – even envy – the relationship between Maddie and her mentor, Madame Taxus-Hemlock. While she has Maddie’s best interests at heart and helps her out when she’s stuck, Madame’s not an enabler. She supports Maddie’s strengths, empowering her with the skills and resources she needs to tackle challenges for herself. Mentoring is a vital relationship in business and in life, and women need greater familiarity with both sides of it.

3. What's your favourite scene in this book and why?

The ‘all suspects in the drawing room’ scene. Partly because it’s set in an isolated manor house on a Cornish moor - a trope I happily parodied from Gothic romances - and party because it’s a cliché of detective fiction that lends itself to up-ending. Like his better-known counterpart in the mustache-laden detective field, Hercule Hornblower attempts to manipulate and browbeat confessions out of each suspect in turn, but nothing in Maddie’s world works out the way it’s expected to, and so of course this scene doesn’t either.

4. Did you know you were writing a series when you first began this book, or did the idea of a series grow from the telling of this book?

The series grew out of this book. I had such fun with the characters - their improbable names, their gadgets, their dubious ethics – that I wasn’t ready to let them (most of them) go happily off into the New York sunset after all their adventures. When I started the second book, my publisher and I knew it would be a five-book series, each one a complete adventure that can stand on its own and yet, when taken all together, forming a single over-arching story of Maddie’s growth from a reckless adolescent to a respected professional in her Jules-Verne-meets-Indiana-Jones world.

And a short bio for Jayne:

Jayne Barnard is a founding member of Madame Saffron's Parasol Dueling League for Steampunk Ladies and the author of the Aurora-nominated Maddie Hatter Adventures. Her crime stories, set anywhere from the real past to several alternate futures, have seen print and prizes across Canada.

Fuelled by love of the wild, she's at work on a trilogy of mystery novels set in the forested foothills of the Rockies. The first, When the Flood Falls, won the Dundurn Unhanged Arthur in 2016 and is slated for release in 2018. She divides her writing year between Calgary, Alberta with an orange cat, and the rocky shore of Vancouver Island, where her only regular companion is an owl.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora Award bundle spotlight: Scream Queen

Scream Queen CoverI wrote earlier this week about the third ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award, that I'm curating for StoryBundle. The bundle runs to November 30, and over the next couple of weeks, I'll be highlighting the various books in the bundle by posting a serious of short interviews with the authors.

First up is Edo van Belkom, winner of the Bram Stoker Award and two-time winner of the Aurora. Edo's bundle entry is Scream Queen, a fun and creepy romp that uses reality TV to put a dark twist on the haunted house genre.

1. Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I really enjoyed writing about the Gowan brothers. Throughout the writing of the novel I pictured Bruce Campbell and Jack Black playing the brothers. SCREAM QUEEN was optioned once, but it never got to the point where I could make that suggestion.

2. What was the toughest scene to write in this book and why?

The toughest scene to write was right at the end. There is a way all these types of stories end and I didn’t want to do that. As it turned out, I think most people like it when stories are not turned on their ear. I’d still do it again. I always thought the Gowan brothers were the real heroes of the book, even though they might be slimy they come out unscathed… which one can argue is somewhat the way the world turns.

3. What's your favourite scene in this book and why?

I had a blast writing the scenes with the production crew as things were getting worse and worse in the house. I had to make it reasonable that people would stick around and continue to operate in the face of mounting horror. More money offered to the crew seemed to solve a lot.

4. What was the biggest surprise writing this book?

Authors often say the book practically wrote itself and I must say that was the case with SCREAM QUEEN. I knew where it was going so getting to that point was fairly easy to write and a lot of fun. I knew all along who was going to make it and who wasn't and I'm proud to say I stuck with that til the very end.

And a short bio for Edo:

Edo van Belkom, a former reporter on the sports and police beats for newspapers in and around Toronto, arrived on the horror scene in 1990. His first short story sale, "Baseball Memories," was selected for the prestigious Year's Best Horror Stories edited by Karl Edward Wagner. The story was also nominated for Canada's prestigious Aurora Award and appeared with work by Mordecai Richler and W. P. Kinsella in The Grand Slam Book of Canadian Baseball Writing.

Van Belkom hasn't looked back since. Some 150 short stories have sold to a variety of top magazines and anthologies. He has twice won the Aurora Award, taken home the Bram Stoker Award once, and been a finalist on many other occasions in a variety of categories spanning his work as a novelist, anthologist, and non-fiction author. His YA novel Wolf Pack won Ontario's prestigious Silver Birch Award. You can read more about Edo and his other books here.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from today until November 30 at midnight.

A great deal on the best in Canadian speculative fiction

Aurora Awards Storybundle 3 coversHow would you like to own, at an incredible bargain, ten books that readers like yourself have already voted to be the best examples of speculative fiction published in Canada? Well, here's your chance. I'm once again curating an ebook bundle for StoryBundle.com of winners and finalists for Canada's premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award.

The Auroras are awarded annually by the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association (CSFFA) for excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Introduced in 1980 as the Casper, it was renamed the Aurora Award in 1990. I'm honored to have won the Aurora three times and to have been on the final ballot another sixteen.

This Aurora bundle again delivers a great mix of speculative fiction genres: SF, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, steam punk, as well as young adult. The titles reflect the long history of the Auroras, spanning nearly a quarter century of Canadian speculative fiction from 1993 to 2016.

This bundle also provides a great introduction to several wonderful series, including the first title in three separate series and the second book in two more (which can be read as stand-alone titles). And the bundle lets you sample the rich tradition of Canadian short speculative fiction, with two acclaimed anthologies and a collection.

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you feel generous), you'll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format worldwide:

  • Destiny's Fall by Marie Bilodeau
  • Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond by Jayne Barnard
  • Evolve edited by Nancy Kilpatrick
  • Scream Queen by Edo van Belkom

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the above titles, plus six more:

  • Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer
  • Tesseracts14 edited by John Robert Colombo and Brett Savory
  • Thunder Road by Chadwick Ginther
  • Steel Whispers by Hayden Trenholm
  • Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism by David Nickle
  • Relativity by Robert J. Sawyer

The bundle allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from today until November 30 at midnight.

#SFWApro

50+ free urban fantasy titles

Urban Fantasy BookFunnel BundleAnother great ebook bundle promotion from BookFunnel launched today, this one with fifty-two urban fantasy titles. And as usual with these BookFunnel multi-author promos, all the titles are free!

Download as many titles as you want. All you need to provide is your email address to subscribe to the author's mailing list. BookFunnel makes it so easy to get your ebook onto your ereader, no matter what type of device you use. If you encounter problems, BookFunnel technical support is there to help.

You can always unsubscribe to an author's newsletter at any time. So I hope you'll check out the bundle here. It runs from October 30 - November 10, then it's over.

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