Faces of Publishing Exclusive Interview Lineup on BookBanter

Faces of Publishing

On February 1st I debuted the first of my new interview series, Faces of Publishing, where I go beyond the book and the author, and take a look into the world of publishing and the people who made that book happen.  Throughout 2012 I’ll be putting up a new interview on the first of every month with a publicist, editor, agent, ebook specialist, marketing manager, or some crucial person involved in publishing.  My first interview was with Justin Golenbock, a senior publicist for Tor and Forge Books.

[I will still be doing occasional interviews with authors throughout the year, most likely on the 15th of the month.  Be sure to check back often on the website, or subscribe to this blog.]

Below is a listing of the interviews I’ve got lined up so far that you can enjoy reading throughout the year.  They are subject to change and I’m adding more all the time and hope to keep this going for a long time.

  • April 1st: Danielle Bartlett, PUBLICIST for HarperCollins.
  • May 1st: Michelle Brower, AGENT for Folio Literary Management.
  • June 1st: Brady McReynolds, PUBLICIST for Berkeley/NAL.
  • July 1st: Paula Guran, EDITOR for Prime Books.
  • August 1st: Kevin Smith, EDITOR.
  • September 1st: Lynn Pasquale, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL PUBLISHING for Prometheus Books.
  • October 1st: Jaime Levine, EXECUTIVE EDITOR for Grand Central Publishing.

“Discount Armageddon” by Seanan McGuire (DAW, 2012)

Discount Armageddon

It has been readily agreed by most fans that Buffy the Vampire Slayer needed to end in season 7 when it did, but it has still been greatly missed.  The comic books from Dark Horse have done a little to fill this empty void, but thankfully Seanan McGuire, bestselling author of the October Daye books, has a new series with a new character that feels much like a new incarnation of Buffy, except less with the superpowers and more with the weapons and kickass fighting skills.

In this world every ghost, ghoul and monster you’ve read about since you were a kid exists; a number of them look almost human, or can make themselves look presentable in everyday society.  They’ve been around for a long time, and sometimes they overstep their boundaries and enjoy the taste of some human flesh.  There are two groups in the world that exist to control and police these cryptids: one is the Covenant, a religious group that has been around for centuries and sees the cryptids as a scorn upon the earth to be killed and got rid of, whether they be succubus, boogie man, or dragon (but dragons haven’t been around for hundreds of years); the other is the Price family.

The Price family have also been around for quite a while, and they’re the good guys who separated from the Covenant a long time ago because they had this crazy notion that some cryptids deserve not to be hunted to extinction.  There was also some inter-marrying going on.  Enter our heroine, Verity Price who enjoys spending her free time running and base jumping along the rooftops of New York, checking on the local cryptids and making sure they’re staying in line.  She earns some okay money and decent tips at Fish and Chicks, a local strip club, where she waitresses only, even though her boss — a bogey man — would love to have her do more; hence Verity’s choice uniform on the cover of the book.  Verity also happens to be a talented ballroom dancer, which keeps her in shape and her martial arts skills honed, making her made up dancing persona quite the celebrity in the ballroom dancing circles.

Things begin to get pretty crazy when a young, muscular and surprisingly attractive Covenant member shows up to start purging the city and Verity keeps running into him and seriously falling for him.  Then cryptids start disappearing and it seems like there might be something really big under Manhattan either killing them or making them get the hell out of town; plus there’s some strange snake cult looking for virgins.  And then she has this large nest of Aeslin mice living with her, celebrating all manner of weird mice-sized festivals.

Discount Armageddon at first feels a lot like a combination of the October Daye series and McGuire’s other Newsflesh series under her Mira Grant pseudonym, as the first person perspective makes it seem like the reader is enjoying one of those books just with different details.  But by halfway through the book, Verity Price establishes herself as a strong independent protagonist, part of a tough and interesting family, and the world is complex and fully established, with a cornucopia of cryptid species that each have their own established and researched pedigree.  By the end of the first book in the Cryptid series, readers will be thoroughly hooked and checking out the cryptid glossary at the end of the book and wanting more cryptid crunchy goodness.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Discount Armageddon from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley (Little, Brown, 2012)

The Rook

Daniel O’Malley’s debut novel, The Rook, has a storyline that will hook any person who’s looking for a book in the fantasy genre that’s something a little bit different.  Myfanwy Thomas wakes up with no recollection of who she is or where she is or whether this is even her body.  When she reads the letter in front of her she finds out that this is in fact all true.  She is now somehow in the body of this Myfanwy Thomas who is no more.  As this new Myfanwy puts the carefully laid out pieces together, reading more letters sending her on to specific destinations, she discovers she is a “Rook,” which is a special elite-level operative working for a secret government agency within the United Kingdom, known as the Checquy.  The goal of the Checquy is to rid the world of supernatural beasts, but Myfanwy finds out there is a mole within the organization who wants her taken out of the picture.

While this sounds like a riveting story with a lot of promise, it is the method in which it is delivered that is disappointing.  There is a way of writing about a compelling story such as this one that can be done by showing and revealing through dramatic scenes and descriptive writing, and the other is through telling and regurgitation of what happened with little variety.  Sadly, The Rook pertains more to the latter, and while it can be said that a combination of these two writing styles can be employed to effective means, this particular one is told through the recounting of scenes and exposition-filled letters.  It is a style of writing that was practiced much in the past, and is antiquated and outdated, which is sad for a story like this that at first seems interesting and compelling, but the constant “infodumping” becomes a nuisance that ultimately distracts from the story.

Originally written on February 11, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Rook from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“1Q84” by Haruki Murakami (Knopf Books, 2011)


Bestselling Japanese author Haruki Murakami returns with his next encapsulating novel, and this one’s a long one.  Originally released as three separate serialized books in Japan, 1Q84 has been released as a 944-page behemoth in the US.  It is the year 1984 and the main character, Aomame makes the decision and exits a taxicab on a gridlocked freeway and goes down an emergency escape staircase and finds herself transported to an alternate world of sorts, though it is still very similar to our own; she comes to call it 1Q84, where “Q” is Japanese for ?.

Aomame is a special kind of person; technically an assassin who has developed a way of stabbing a person at a specific point in the back of the neck with a small ice-pick type implement that immediately kills the person and makes it almost impossible to rule as anything other than a heart attack.  Aomame’s targets are vicious, cruel man who have been bad to their spouses or children or other people for a long time and don’t deserve to live in this world.

Then there is the other main character, a writer named Tengo, who is rewriting a most unusual novella penned by a seventeen year-old girl with the goal of having it win a literary prize and become a bestseller.  It is a most unique tale about these “little people” who create an air chrysalis, which is the title of the book.  Only, once the book becomes hugely successful, Tengo learns more about the origin of the story from the author, as well as the fact that these little people may very well be real in this 1Q84.

Aomame doesn’t notice much different with the world of 1Q84, except that the police wear different uniforms and carry automatic machines guns, and also come nightfall there are two moons that rise up: one that looks just like ours, and another smaller misshapen one that rises shortly after it.  This is also a world where the little people exist too, though only Tengo knows about that.  And yet, under Murakami’s skillful hand, the two are destined to meet and be together, after their previous involvement when they were children; it will take time, but the question remains whether it will be soon enough before the little people carry out their own special plan.

1Q84 has many of the elements that Murakami fans have come to expect from him, with his unique characters that draw you in, a crazy world that makes you feel like you’re playing a Japanese horror game in some ways, and a writing style that will sweep you along.  A weak point with the book is that while it was originally three books, it could’ve used some editing, which is always a risk with long works that span multiple volumes, and it slows the pace, detracting from the story.  Nevertheless, 1Q84 is a darkly enchanting novel that will suck you in and not let you go until you are satiated at the end, where a number of questions are answered, though of course, not all, for something must be left to the imagination, otherwise it wouldn’t be a true Murakami novel.

Originally written on February 13, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of 1Q84 from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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BookBanter Column on Forces of Geek: Great Tools For Writing

Great Tools for Writing

Book Banter

A lot has changed in the world of writing since the first word was recorded by human kind, and how writer’s write has changed greatly also.  There were the Egyptians recording on their papyrus, Homer carving into stone, Chaucer writing away on vellum, Shakespeare scratching on parchment, writers of the twentieth century tapping away on their typewriters; and then there was the dawning of the new age of the computer or word processor. [CONTINUE READING . . .]

“Heir of Novron” by Michael J. Sullivan (Orbit Books, 2012)

Heir of Novron

The final collected volume of the Riyria Revelations, Heir of Novron, is now available and the really cool thing about is that it’s probably the best volume, bringing together the two best books of the series: Wintertide and Percepliquis.  What’s also interesting is how each book is quite different from the other, one might even say they’re diametrically opposed in some ways: the former is a shorter, smaller, concise story that deals more with intrigue and knowing who you know and being in the right place at the right time, as well as focusing on one town and the enchanting celebration of a winter holiday; the latter is an epic fantasy tale that many have come to enjoy with the genre, featuring a grand quest, a band of important characters, and important events that will change the world of Elan and its people.

In Wintertide, on this year’s holiday of the same name, a special celebration has been planned.  The New Empire wants to make a big deal of its victory over the Nationalists, and has some important public executions planned: the villainous Degan Gaunt and the Witch of Melengar.  The only problem is that Royce and Hadrian are in town and they happen to be good friends with both of those people and have plans of springing them free whatever it takes.

Sullivan clearly had fun with Wintertide, playing around with Hadrian engaging in a joust, even though he doesn’t know much about the whole nobility and chivalry thing, but he sure knows how to fight.  And how having friends in the most unlikeliest of places often proves invaluable.  Fans will enjoy this penultimate chapter, with Sullivan’s strong descriptions and scenes of the winter festivities; of the sounds, sights and smells.  It’s an enjoyable, thrilling tale before the final showdown.

In Percepliquis, the beginning of the end has begun: the elves of old have crossed the Nidwalden River in large numbers and are coming to take over; they threaten the entire continent of Elan.  The people have little hope left; they know they don’t stand a chance against these powerful elves.  And it all comes down to Novron’s heir, who must make a stand, and the only way he can do that is by finding the sacred horn.  It will involve an arduous quest, with a strong group of warriors who also possess intellect.  They will have to travel deep beneath the ground, in search of the ancient, ruined city of Percepliquis, following an old diary that may not even be true.  Fortunately, Royce and Hadrian are coming along for the ride, so if these intrepid few have any chance of finding the horn and saving the people of Elan, only these two will be able to make it happen.

In the longest volume yet, Sullivan has outdone himself here with lots going on: multiple storylines, lots of action, lots of conflict between friends and enemies, important details from the previous books brought to light, travels through various terrains, and an ultimate duel.  With the thrill of a top-rate action movie, combined with the epic grandeur of Tolkien’s Return of the King, this is a final showdown you won’t be able to stop reading, let alone put down.  Who will live; who will die?  In this grand finale, anything can happen . .. you won’t want to miss it.

Originally written on February 11, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Heir of Novron from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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