Author Interview: C.J. Ledee

Today I am interviewing C.J. Leede, author of the new horror novel, Maeve Fly.

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DJ: Hi C.J.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

C.J. Leede: Hey there! I’m a horror writer living out in California with my boyfriend and our rescue dog pack! I grew up in Austin, TX and New York, NY, and I’m a big hiker, road tripper, and forever Trekkie. Maeve Fly is my first novel, coming out this summer with Nightfire, and I’ve got two more following! 

DJ: What is Maeve Fly about?

C.J.: An LA theme park princess by day, Sunset Strip barfly by night whose world is upended when a new hockey player moves to town. It’s about loneliness, Halloween, the things we cling to, and overall is a sordid debaucherous love story. 

DJ: What were some of your influences for Maeve Fly

C.J.: American Psycho, Story of the Eye, and Notes from Underground all factor in heavily! But also My Heart is a Chainsaw, The Final Girl Support Group, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Faust, Fight Club, and I’m always reading Stephen King, so I feel like that’s got to have worked its way in too. Also just Los Angeles and its history! All the gritty and shiny dive bars, the Sunset Strip, the *large theme park in Anaheim*. This story never could have come to be if I hadn’t moved here from New York! I tried to include everything that I felt was vital to this town. 

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?  

C.J.: Maeve enjoys misanthropic literature at dive tiki bars, internet trolling, strange and unsettling youtube videos on repeat, obscure music and trivia, all things Halloween, the grit beneath any shiny surface, masturbation (the weirder the better), theme park visitors, authenticity, audacity, anomalous princesses, non-conformity, pina coladas, and routine. She would do anything for the few people she loves, even if it ends in a bloodbath. She’s a lot of things that maybe aren’t the healthiest, but she is at her core endlessly loyal… in her own wolfish way. 

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Author Interview: Sunyi Dean

Photo Credit: Richard Wilson of Richard Wilson Photography

Today I am interviewing Sunyi Dean, debut author of the new fantasy novel, The Book Eaters

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DJ: Hi Sunyi! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Sunyi Dean: I’m a biracial autistic author and separated mother of two kids. I was born in the States and grew up in Hong Kong, but I now live in the north of England, specifically inner-city Leeds. When not reading or writing, I like running, hiking, swimming, boardgames, video games, and table-top RPGs.

DJ: What is The Book Eaters about?

Sunyi: TBE has a kind of dual-story happening. On one hand, it’s about a secret society of people who eat books and how they survive in the world. On the other hand, it’s not about those people at all, but one specific woman who is trying to escape that society. The stakes are small and personal, and I chose to focus on the arc of an individual rather than a broad-scale conflict. 

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Book Eaters

Sunyi: The Victorian fairytales of George MacDonald, the Brontë sisters, ‘classic’ English literature, 90s culture, and various landscapes in England and Scotland (both urban and rural). 

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? 

Sunyi: Devon’s one goal is to protect her son, who is a little (lot) different from the other ‘eaters in their society. She’s not a good person, and does increasingly bad things in pursuit of her goal, but her actual motivations are not evil, and come from a heartfelt place. 

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Author Interview: Alex White

Today I am interviewing Alex White, author of the new science-fiction novel, August Kitko and the Mechas from Space!

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DJ: Hi Alex! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Alex White: I’m a science fiction author who loves music and tech. I wrote a big space fantasy trilogy for Orbit called The Salvagers, as well as two critically-acclaimed Alien books and a Star Trek novel. I’m known for engaging, deeply human characters and cinematic action.

DJ: What is August Kitko and the Mechas from Space about?

Alex: Jazz pianist Gus Kitko expected to spend his final moments on Earth playing piano at the greatest goodbye party of all time, and maybe kissing rockstar Ardent Violet, before the last of humanity is wiped out forever by the Vanguards–ultra-powerful robots from the dark heart of space, hell-bent on destroying humanity for reasons none can divine.

But when the Vanguards arrive, the unthinkable happens–the mecha that should be killing Gus instead saves him. Suddenly, Gus’s swan song becomes humanity’s encore, as he is chosen to join a small group of traitorous Vanguards and their pilots dedicated to saving humanity. 

DJ: What were some of your influences for August Kitko and the Mechas from Space

Alex: There’s plenty of anime–Evangelion, Macross Plus and Escaflowne. From America, there’s some Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a pinch of Pacific Rim. There are also quite a few musical influences: John Coltrane, David Bowie, Prince and Hiromi.

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Author Interview: Raymond E. Feist

Today I am interviewing Raymond E. Feist, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Master of Furies, final book in the Firemane saga!

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DJ: Hi Raymond! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Raymond E. Feist:  My official bio has all the usual stuff, born in L.A., moved to San Diego fifty odd years ago, traveled a lot, got fired from many jobs before discovering writing.  Educated at UC San Diego, and the rest of that sort of data. At my age, wanderlust, romance, and adventures are mostly fond memories and (slightly exaggerated) stories.  Writing is the toughest and best job I’ve ever had.  I write to entertain, nothing more, but occasionally good fiction touches on a truth or two that readers take seriously,  My kids are grown and moved away.  My current vices include sports (San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Rams), really good whisky, great films (and a few guilty pleasures), and reading history and biographies.

DJ: What is Master of Furies and then the Firemane saga about?

Raymond:  There really is no twenty-five word or less answer to that one. The smart aleck answer is, “About four hundred and eighty pages, and three novels, respectively.”  Summing up novels is tricky, because of spoilers, so let’s start with the Firemane Saga.  My novels are all pretty much find a character and stick him or her into a world of hurt then see how they cope.  The three novel chart the journey of three main characters, Hatushaly, the scion to a fallen kingdom, raised in secret by a hidden nation of criminals and assassins.  He has known Hava, a young woman who was also raised by the same people.  Third is Declan, a smith’s apprentice who becomes a master swordmaker.  Destiny brings them together, with their stories intertwined by fate.  Revenge becomes a factor in all their lives and drives them along paths none could anticipate.

Master of Furies is the third volume in that story, resolving horrific events and conflict detailed in the previous two books, bringing our main characters and others to life changing choices and irreversible consequences. Mysterious enemies are revealed and massive challenges manifest.  Lives are forever changed and new confrontations arise that span worlds.

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Author Interview: Joseph Stone

Today I am interviewing Joseph Stone, author of the new horror and fantasy novel, A Perfect Night, first book in the Haunted Women series.

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DJ: Hi Joseph! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Joseph Stone:  Hello, there!  I am a historical and dark fantasy novelist.  Aside from regular folks, my characters include ghosts, demons, werewolves, and now witches.

DJ: What is A Perfect Night about?

Joseph:  This novel is about a girl named Fran who loses her mother at a young age, only to find the woman’s spirit remains by her side.  The spirit comforts Fran when she’s sad or lonely, and disciplines her when she misbehaves.  As Fran becomes a teenager, those disciplinary punishments become more severe and terrifying.  One day, the estranged family of Fran’s father contacts her, and she learns what her abilities to sense spirits truly is.

DJ: What were some of your influences for A Perfect Night and the series? 

Joseph:  I’ve always wanted to write about witches since I read Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches as a boy.  I loved the enormity of that story and the idea of a human bloodline having significance to the spirit world. 

The idea for this story came from a dear friend of mine, also named Fran, who revealed to me how she and her family have been haunted by spirits all their lives.  It’s not a matter they’re comfortable discussing, but each of them has had multiple, often unpleasant experiences with ghosts.  Fran came to believe ghosts are attracted to her family because she and her siblings can sense the ghosts’ presence.  To this day, Fran will not visit her aunt’s house because of the number of angry ghosts in the house who would taunt her as a girl. 

The idea of a haunted house simmered with me for years before Fran also revealed that her mother’s spirit has visited her many times.  They had a humorous relationship as adults in life, and to this day, her mother’s ghost plays pranks on Fran.  A favorite keepsake will go missing for days or weeks, only to reappear on Fran’s pillow one night before going to bed.  The idea of a parent remaining on earth to play with their child struck a chord with me, and a much larger story was born in my imagination.

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Author Interview: Edith Pawlicki

Today I am interviewing Edith Pawlicki, author of the new fantasy novel, Trials of Fire and Rebirth, latest installment in The Immortal Beings series.

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DJ: Hi Edith! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Edith Pawlicki: Thanks for having me! I always love talking about writing! Since 2016, I have been a full-time mother of twin boys. Honestly, that pretty much consumed my existence for two years, but I have always loved writing, and in 2018, I started again. My sons started school in 2020, and that’s given me a lot more time to write (Trials of Fire and Rebirth is my fourth book since I started writing again).Writing novels is wonderful for me because I am interested in everything! I double-majored in Japanese and Computer Science, and I minored in history; I taught English abroad and math and programming in the US before my sons were born. Throughout college, I was an assistant to the manuscript librarian at Rare Books and I spent my summers as a park ranger – so really, everything intrigues me, and books are a great way to use what I learn!

DJ: What is Trials of Fire and Rebirth and then The Immortal Beings about?

Edith: I created the Immortal Beings world for Vows of Gold and Laughter because I was fascinated by xuanhuan (western-influenced Chinese fantasy) and basically wanted to create an Asian-influenced western fantasy to explore. For Vows, I set myself the challenge of writing four very distinct characters with contrasting love stories but a shared quest. Their story was  too complex for a single volume, so I split it into tales one and two of the Immortal Beings. For each story within the series, I choose an idea  that I want to explore. For Trials of Fire and Rebirth, I was thinking about objective versus subjective reality. In the book, there’s a mortal cult that worships the God of Destruction. He thinks they’re crazy and does his best to ignore them, but as the atrocities that they commit in his name get worse, he realizes he has to face his past mistakes in order to understand and stop the cult. In the course of this, he meets a young god who is dealing with her own contradiction: she considers herself a woman, but she presents as male to the world. So the book explores both how truth can warp into delusion, and how belief can manifest a new reality, all while two gods fall in love and try to make the world a better place!

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Immortal Beings series? 

Edith: I watched the Chinese epic Ashes of Love in 2019, and it blew my mind. The only Chinese fantasy I had encountered before that was the Monkey King as a child. I started researching the mythology in Ashes of Love only to realize it was based on a fantasy novel rather than mythology – Heavy Sweetness, Ash-Like Frost by Dian Xian. I started exploring xuanhuan, xianxia, and wuxia (subgenres of Chinese fantasy) and decided I really wanted to create my own Eastern-Western fantasy fusion. Most of the book is pure fantasy, but it draws on Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Hindu, and Thai influences. I think that Japan comes through the most strongly because I was exposed to Japanese culture since birth and lived there, but my grandfather grew up in India and my sister-in-law is Chinese, so a lot of stuff in my subconscious bubbles up and merges together. 

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Author Interview: Maya Deane

Today I am interviewing Maya Deane, author of the new fantasy novel, Wrath Goddess Sing!

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DJ: Hi Maya! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Maya Deane:  “As I was sitting down to this interview, I heard about the murder of a trans woman and the acquittal of her killer. They had gone out on a date together a month before he killed her; then he tracked her down a month later and broke every bone in her face. At a time like this, when trans women’s lives are under constant peril and what little progress we’ve made is threatened by total annihilation, I think the most salient thing about me is that I am a trans woman, and will live or die with other trans women. In happier times, I might also add that I am a genuinely strange woman, a linguist’s daughter, a poet, obsessed with history, mad for cats, glorious in jewelry, skilled in the ways of food, cunning with makeup, and, no lie, an instructor in meme analysis. But all of that is beside the point when the lives of my sisters can be ended, free of consequences to their murderers, because one man decided to go back and murder his Tinder date and there was at least one transmisogynist on the jury, happy to rebrand the trans panic murder defense as something like ‘fear of mistaken gender identity.’”

DJ: What is Wrath Goddess Sing about?

Maya: Wrath Goddess Sing is about divine anger and love. It is the story of Achilles, a woman like me – and a legendary warrior – who fled to the island of Skyros to live as herself, far from the cruelty of the world outside. But war followed her to Skyros, and the heroes of the Achaians demanded that she fight for them to recover the lost Hittite princess Helen, whom the Achaians viewed as an innocent kidnapping victim cruelly ripped from her husband’s people. Naturally, Achilles had no interest in fighting for her old oppressors, but when her divine mother the Silent One offered her everything to fight – and destroyed the bubble of safety she built for herself on Skyros – Achilles went to war. There she found death – and love.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Wrath Goddess Sing

Maya: They are innumerable, but I owe a particular debt to Tanith Lee, who taught me that stories can be spells and that love can become more powerful than any god. I also owe a debt to the late Shannon Andrews, who encouraged me to tell the truth and never coddle my readers, and to Alina Boyden, who taught me so much about the way transmisogyny constrains trans women’s lives – and taught me how we must, with absolute resourcefulness and indomitable bloody-mindedness in the face of it all, persist, thrive, grow, and live

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Author Interview: Andrew Claydon

Today I am interviewing Andrew Claydon, debut author of the new fantasy novel, The Simple Delivery, first book in the Chronicles of the Dawnblade series!

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DJ: Hi Andrew! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Andrew:  Firstly, let me thank you, DJ, for offering to interview me. This is my first interview as an author, so it’s really exciting. 

So about me, I’m an independent author from Somerset in the United Kingdom who has just published his first book. I grew up a lover of fantasy and sci-fi in any form; films, television, books, whatever. I’ve also always been quite creative. Over the years I’ve tried multiple times to write a book, as it’s always been a dream of mine. My failing was self editing. I’d write a couple of chapters, go back over it, assume it made no sense and scrap the idea for a while. During lockdown I got that writing itch again. I’d started seriously at the gym just beforehand, weight lifting. With that comes a bit of mental discipline. As I started to write again, I was able to keep pushing myself on, ignoring the idea to edit too early and get my first draft finished. If I can push myself to do one more set on the squat rack I can certainly ignore those negative voices in my head. Finally, I had a first draft done. It was rough, but I saw the potential in it and so did others who read it. That was enough to give me the drive to keep working and get my book published, which I am massively excited about. It’s been an amazing journey so far.

DJ: What is The Simple Delivery about?

Andrew: It’s about a boy called Nicolas. I say boy, he’s just turned 21, but I’m thirty nine so that seems pretty young to me now. He is your atypical village boy and he is comfortable being just that. He has no big dreams of adventure or seeing the world. He is happy with his life as is. If I just let him do that, it wouldn’t make a very interesting book. Nicolas’s bubble bursts when he gets chosen to go and deliver a message. He, obviously, doesn’t want to go, but he’s in a situation where he has no real choice. He consoles himself with the fact that at least it’s a simple job. It is, until one near death experience changes everything, and suddenly he finds his life spiraling out of his control as he goes on an adventure to save a kingdom from a necromancer and a horde of vampires.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Simple Delivery and the series? 

Andrew: This could be quite a long answer. If I were to narrow it down I would say that the film Willow would be one of my biggest influences. It’s fantasy, but at times it can be light as well as serious, fun as well as action packed. That was the tone I went for with the world I built and how I wrote the story. There are serious moments of course, but also some tongue in cheek moments to balance it out. I think another influence would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I always loved the interplay between the characters, the banter. That’s something I hoped to replicate in my dialogue. Beyond that, there are just so many others; Warhammer games, Marvel, Skyrim, Conan to name a few. I think some of my influences are apparent in the book as I like to include little nods, or easter eggs, to my various influences. Sometimes it might just be a bit of dialogue that makes you think ‘hang on…’, or the name of a character. Some people will notice them, some may not. But for me it’s fun to include them anyways. 

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Author Interview: K.D. Edwards

Original Photo by York Wilson

Today I am interviewing K.D. Edwards, author of the new fantasy novel, The Hourglass Throne, final book in the first trilogy of The Tarot Sequence, which has been planned as a 9-book series!

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DJ: Hi K.D.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

K.D. Edwards: Absolutely! I’m…. Well, what am I? I’ve lived in a lot of states, and held a lot of jobs. Eventually I settled into HR, and built a life around that in higher education in North Carolina. I’ve wanted to be a published writer as long as I can remember–and set out to fulfill that dream over 10 years ago when I began planning this series of a reimagined, modern-day Atlantis.

DJ: What is The Hourglass Throne and then the Tarot sequence about?

K.D.: It’s the world as we know it – with an Atlantis. The island, which had remained hidden for all of human history, was finally revealed in the 1960s. In the modern day, my story focuses on the fallen prince of the Sun Court, and the found family he builds as he grows closer to reclaiming his family’s mantle. It’s series built around several core concepts: broad world-building, humor, found family, and queer identity. The HOURGLASS THRONE marked the climax of the first trilogy in the planned 3-trilogy series.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Tarot sequence

K.D.: Definitely the major arcana of the tarot deck. I use the archetypes as models for the power centers in my series. The main character, Rune, is the last prince of the Sun Throne. I was also inspired by the great urban fantasy series – Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, Ben Aaronovitch’s River of London…

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?  

K.D.: Oh good grief, I hope so. I try to make each of my characters as distinct as possible. I think I succeeded? I know my readers have their favorites, which is always a good sign. But the main character is Rune – the fallen prince. His most profound relationship is with his human bodyguard, Brand. They were bonded at birth in the crib, and have spent nearly every moment of their life together. They are not romantically intimate–but they are, in many ways, the love of each other’s lives. The sphere of characters expanded from there: the quirky prophet; the knight-like boyfriend; the accidentally-adopted teenaged ward…. I’m also trying to show, as the series progresses, greater representation of queer identity. Rune is best described as demisexual; Addam as pan sexual; Quinn as ace; Layne as non-binary…

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Author Interview: Aric McBay

Today I am interviewing Aric McBay, author of the new speculative fiction novel, Kraken Calling!

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DJ: Hi Aric! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Aric McBay: I’m an author, an organizer, and an organic farmer.

I live and work on an organic farm on one of the Thousand Islands (Ontario) on the traditional territory Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory. it’s very beautiful and lush this time of year, and we have a lot of wildlife, including endangered species that we set aside habitat for. 

Being a farmer – and seeing the huge impact the climate emergency is already having on our farm and farms around the world – definitely helped motivate me to write this book.

As a community organizer and farm organizer, I work on a lot of different issues from prisoner justice to Indigenous solidarity to anti-pipeline campaigns to unionization, to name a few.

As an author, most of my previous work has been non-fiction about social movements and social movement strategy. My book Full Spectrum Resistance (2019, Seven Stories Press) is a two-volume exploration of how to build more effective movements. And your readers might also be interested in my 2020 book Direct Action Works: A legal handbook for civil disobedience and non-violent direct action in Canada, which they can get for free online. 

Kraken Calling is my sixth book, but it’s my first novel. The shift to fiction has been exciting and fulfilling for me. This may seem counterintuitive, but I believe that fiction can allow us to connect to fundamental truths even more deeply than non-fiction.

DJ: What is Kraken Calling about?

Aric: Kraken Calling about social movements, the climate future, and people trying to make a difference in the world, even when doing so is extremely difficult. 

The chapters of Kraken Calling alternate between 2028 and 2051.

In 2028, activists fight an increasingly desperate battle against the climate emergency and capitalism, but their every victory brings down repression. Meanwhile, discontented by protests and polemics, a radical movement named Kraken grows in the shadows. 

Twenty years later, an oppressive regime has taken control after a series of epidemics, economic shortages, and ecological disasters. The population suffers ruthless “triage” at the hands of an Emergency Authority that cares only for its own inner circle. Revolutionaries struggle for survival and support. In the city and on a remote farm, regular people try to stay out of the conflict. But no one can avoid the coming storm. 

Popular social movements and underground liberation groups clash, and people struggle against the limitations of their time. In 2028, the underground seems premature—but by 2051, they may be too late.

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