RT Book Reviews announced the nominees for this year’s RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and we’re pleased to see a number of Orbit titles among them! See the list below the cut.
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This year, Barnes & Noble is debuting a new promotion called “Discovery Friday” to give you a start to your holiday shopping. On Friday, November 22nd, there will be events and activities at Barnes & Noble bookstores across the country. A number of Orbit authors will be participating at their local B&Ns. Check the list below to see if one of them will be near you!
- Rachel Aaron/Rachel Bach: B&N #2974, Athens, GA
- Amanda Carlson: B&N #2514, Edina, MN
- David Dalglish: B&N #2931, Springfield, MO
- Mira Grant: B&N #2569, Walnut Creek, CA
- Ann Leckie: B&N #2542, Ladue, MO
- Brian McClellan: B&N #2079, Mentor, OH
- Michael J. Sullivan: B&N #2238, Tyson’s Corner, VA
by November 12th, 2013-
I have a confession to make — I like characters that are flawed. I like them bitter and acerbic, and as capable of evil as they are of goodness. I particularly like those who are a little…unhinged. Not so much crazy-dangerous as crazy-reckless.
In the Immortal Empire series, I created Xandra Vardan who I think is a delightfully twisted character. I don’t want to go into spoiler territory, so I’ll say only that Xandy is a monster — even amongst the werewolves and vampires that populate her world. She’s a good-hearted person (for the most part). She’s loyal to those she loves and would do anything to protect them. She’s also snarky, petty and sometimes a raving bitch. And sometimes, she’d like to eat your liver — maybe open a vein. It would be entirely too easy for Xandra to kill, and she’s pretty certain she’d like it. In most stories she’d probably be the villain. In Long Live the Queen (and the first two books in the series, God Save the Queen, The Queen is Dead), she’s the hero.
I don’t think I’m alone in this preference for slightly mad characters. There’s a reason why Faith was so popular with Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans. She was predictable only in her unpredictability — a wild card. I loved it when Willow went dark, or when Spike and Dru came out to play.
A common mistake amongst authors — new and experienced — is to make our main character(s) so ‘good’ that they lack depth. That depth tends to then go into secondary characters who end up stealing every scene they’re in because they’re much more interesting and complex than the hero. In other cases, it simply doesn’t make sense for the protagonist to be that twisted. Buffy was a little of both. She didn’t have the luxury of being mad. Buffy had to be responsible and strong and righteous. That doesn’t mean she was always good, however. After all, she seem to have a thing for emotionally unstable men… One of my favorite episodes, though, is the one that had you wondering if Buffy really was a vampire slayer, or a poor delusional girl in a mental hospital. Either way, she’s screwed.
The bottom line is that characters need a balance of unpredictability to go with that predictable behavior. Everyone has a code by which they live, but we’re all capable of horrendous things. However, in a protagonist, that balance needs to be really clear — your narrator needs to be at least a little bit reliable. The most fascinating characters are good people capable of terrible things.
Or not so great people capable of great things. A great example of a recent character who made being twisted work is Captain Jack Sparrow. Not the most heroic of men, but when it comes right down to it, he can usually be depended on to do the right thing — or something that will lead to the right thing.
Xandra tries to be a good person, but sometimes she falls short. She’s not really that nice — she’s selfish and petulant, and sometimes she’s a raving bitch. There were times when I worried for her sanity, and those were the times I loved her most. The monster in her wants blood and violence and maybe a little song and dance to go with it. In the movie Con Air Steve Buscemi’s character Garland Gray is an absolute nutcase — a psychopathic killer who once wore a victim’s head as a hat. He’s twisted. He’s also the most compelling character in the whole movie, and when he walks away in the end, you’re rooting for him even though you know he’s a monster. In fact, if you want a great example of twisted characters, watch ‘Sons of Anarchy’ — almost every one on that show is exactly the sort of character capable of both good and evil. I think Xandra would feel right at home.
In LONG LIVE THE QUEEN (US | UK | AUS) Xandra comes up against a character even more twisted than herself. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Ally was incredibly fun to write. She was also heart-breaking. The more whacked I tried to make her, the more attached I became. My favorite characters in the series are the ones that are monsters and accept it — maybe even like it. At the very least, they make no excuses.
We’re thrilled to share the stunning cover art for the first four books in D.J. Molles’ Remaining series, which follows Captain Lee Harden and a group of survivors as they fight to rebuild a devastated America. The eBooks of all four will be available from Orbit starting January 2014, with print additions coming out in successive months starting in May.
In the meantime here is a synopsis of the first book in the series, THE REMAINING….
In a steel-and-lead-encased bunker 20 feet below the basement level of his house, a Special Forces soldier waits for his final orders. On the surface, a plague ravages the planet, infecting over 90% of the populace.
The bacterium burrows through the brain, destroying all signs of humanity and leaving behind little more than base, prehistoric instincts. The infected turn into hyper-aggressive predators, with an insatiable desire to kill and feed.
Soon the soldier will have to open the hatch to his bunker, and step out into this new wasteland, to complete his duty: SURVIVE, RESCUE, REBUILD.
This gritty tale of survival and perseverance will enthrall fans of World War Z and The Walking Dead.
THE REMAINING (US | UK) – Paperback – May 2014, eBook January 2014
THE REMAINING: AFTERMATH (US | UK) – Paperback – June 2014, eBook January 2014
THE REMAINING: REFUGEES (US | UK) – Paperback – July 2014, eBook January 2014
THE REMAINING: FRACTURED (US | UK)– Paperback – August 2014, eBook January 2014
Cover design by Lauren Panepinto.
The second round of voting for the 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards is officially open! Thanks to you, ANCILLARY JUSTICE, AMERICAN ELSEWHERE, and THE INFERNAL DEVICES: CLOCKWORK PRINCE have been added to the list of nominees via write-in decision. Below are the Orbit books up for a Readers Choice Award.
The second round of voting closes on November 16th so don’t forget to cast your vote before then.
You can still watch our online event, “A Night at the Space Opera,” on YouTube! Science fiction authors Daniel Abraham (James S.A. Corey), Ann Leckie, and Rachel Bach were joined by Scientific American associate editor Clara Moskowitz to talk about the genre and humanity’s future in space.
James S.A. Corey is the author of the Expanse series, starting with the Hugo Award nominated LEVIATHAN WAKES (US | UK | ANZ); the most recent book was ABADDON’S GATE (US | UK | ANZ). Look for CIBOLA BURN in June 2014!
Ann Leckie is the author of the debut novel ANCILLARY JUSTICE (US | UK | ANZ). io9 called it “the mind-blowing space opera you’ve been needing,” and NPR Books called it “assured, gripping, and stylish.”
Rachel Bach is the author of FORTUNE’S PAWN (US | UK | ANZ), which came out on Tuesday! Look for the sequel, HONOR’S KNIGHT (US | UK) in February 2014. She is also the author, as Rachel Aaron, of the Eli Monpress epic fantasy series.
The first round of voting for the 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards is officially open! Below are the Orbit books we’re thrilled to see still on the list.
The first round of voting closes on November 9th so don’t forget to cast your vote before then. This is also your only chance to write-in titles for the various categories. Let your voice be heard!
by November 6th, 2013-
If you look at the early reviews of my new novel, FORTUNE’S PAWN (out now, by the way! [US | UK | AUS]), you’ll find one word repeated over and over again: fun. This word also appeared in reviews of my fantasy series, THE LEGEND OF ELI MONPRESS (written as Rachel Aaron [US | UK | ANZ]), so much so that I was actually joking to my husband that I should call myself “Rachel Aaron, the fun author!”
And you know, I’m okay with that.
Fun is a seriously underrated novel component. There are plenty of serious books that make you cry or think in a different way or show you something beautiful and deep. I strive for all that in my works as well, but never at the cost of a good time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a cathartic cry as much as the next person, but the books I come back to over and over again are the ones that left me smiling and exhilarated and hungry to read more.
Too often, we say “escapist reading” like it’s something lesser. Like we should be ashamed that we’re enjoying something just because it’s fun. I think that’s absurd. It’s like saying ice cream is lesser because all it does is taste delicious. We need delicious, because life is hard. Bad things happen even to the luckiest of us, and the world can too often be a stressful, dark, unfriendly, unkind place. A good, fun book is like an escape hatch from all that grim reality. It’s a safe space where we can run away and have a good, dramatic, thrilling time, and sometimes, when you really need to a respite, that can feel like a miracle.
Hearing someone had a blast reading my books is the greatest complement I can receive as a writer. I’m proud to be a trusted provider of quality life escape hatches. And while I can’t guarantee my story will change your world forever, I can promise that it’ll be one hell of a ride. So come have fun in my imagination. Let me entertain you. At the very least, you’ll never be bored.
FORTUNE’S PAWN is available now! Check out the first chapter here, and get ready for even more fun this Thursday. Rachel Bach will be joining authors Daniel Abraham (1/2 of the James S. A. Corey writing duo) and Ann Leckie tomorrow for an evening of science fiction, technology, and space opera. RSVP to the Google event today.
Welcome to the most in-depth, behind-the-scenes, play-by-play account of how a cover is born, from the point of view of the Art Department. We’re charting the conception and birth of the Shadowdance series by David Dalglish.
So far we have talked about the first real step of a book, Acquisition, and then what goes into Cover Briefing. Then we let our minds wander and collect inspiration and form Directions for the cover. Then we agreed on a Photographer and Illustrator. We’ve even found our hero, the Cover Model. And we found a Trampoline for him to do stunt work on safely. We decked him out in book-specific Costume & Props. We spent all day at our Photo Shoot. We received the Rough Cuts, and while the illustrator was working, Kirk was developing the Design Roughs. Then we got the Final Retouched Illustrations in and got to the design on the Final Covers. And now, believe it or not, we’re at the end of our little cover art journey, and even though you’ve seen the final book designs in the last post, I give you a treat:
It’s been a pleasure taking you through the cover process for such a fun series. We really put a ton of work into all our covers here at Orbit, and I hope you’ve enjoyed peeking behind the curtain. I don’t think people realize quite how many moving parts, how many stages of work, and how many people make up the cover process. And remember, we’re doing a whole season’s worth of covers at once. Whew.
Thank you to amazing ninja Bryce Bermingham, Photographer Michael Frost and his team, Illustrator Gene Mollica, the team at Hollywood Stunts, our video guys Eric Westpheling and Louis Rebecchi, our prop makers and costume builders and everyone who had a hand in bringing these covers to life. Thanks also to Kirk Benshoff, my co-conspirator in Art Direction & Design. And of course, thanks to David Dalglish, who thought up such a cool concept for us to make a reality.
This weekend is World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, England, and the Orbit UK crew will be out in force! Good luck to all of the nominees for the World Fantasy Award.
November 1: Mira Grant’s PARASITE tour continues! B&N #2280, 401 NE Northgate Way #1100, Seattle, WA, 7 PM
November 2: Mira Grant’s PARASITE tour continues! B&N #2262, 12000 SE 82nd Avenue, Portland, OR, 2 PM
November 1-3: Marlene Perez at the Vegas Valley Book Festival
November 7: A Night at the Space Opera, a Google Hangout online event with James S.A. Corey, Ann Leckie, and Rachel Bach, 7:30 PM
November 9: Michael J. Sullivan at the Science Fiction Association of Bergen County, 7 PM
November 22: Several Orbit authors will be participating in Barnes & Noble’s “Discovery Friday,” a nationwide event with promotions and events at local stores!
- Amanda Carlson will be at B&N #2514 in Edina, MN, 7 PM
- David Dalglish will be at B&N #2931, Springfield, MO, 7 PM
- Ann Leckie will be at B&N #2542, Ladue, MO, 5 PM
- With possibly more Discovery Friday events to come!