Greek myth and forbidden romance meet in this exciting new urban fantasy by Marlene Perez. STRANGE FATES is a hot, new series for adult readers which follows the perilous journey of Nyx Fortuna – an immortal with a serious bone to pick with fate. Read the first chapter here or check out this interview with the author to find out more about the mythology and how Marlene transitioned from writing YA to adult fiction.
Strange Fates is a departure from your YA works. Even though he looks like he’s twenty, Nyx is already several centuries years old. What made you decide to write from the POV of an older protagonist?
I was interested in a different take on an immortal. They’re often written as wiser and all-knowing, but in my experience, more years on the planet doesn’t necessarily make you any wiser/better, especially if you haven’t dealt with your issues. Nyx has definite issues he hasn’t dealt with. He also has a bit of a drinking problem and addiction slows or stops emotional growth. He’ll grow throughout the novels, but it will be slow and painful.
What has the transition been like switching from YA to adult urban fantasy? Did you change your writing process at all?
My writing process usually starts with me finding some little gem of information somewhere and then huddling over it like Gollum did with the ring, muttering “my precious” and hoarding it, waiting for the right time/right book to use it in. I wasn’t trying to write from a male point of view, but Nyx just started talking to me. He was a little drunk at the time and I knew I had to start Strange Fates in a bar.
To celebrate publication of THE CURVE OF THE EARTH ( UK|US|ANZ), Orbit was lucky enough to be treated to a rare interview with one of the post-apocalyptic world’s most brilliant minds: Doctor Samuil Petrovitch.
In part two of this interview, we try to get to the heart of Petrovitch’s relationship with Reconstructionist America, ask him a few more personal questions about the type of music he likes,and find out what projects he’s got on the burner right now.
I want to ask you about your attitude towards Reconstruction.
SP: What did you want to ask that isn’t already a matter of public record?
What is the relationship like between the Freezone and the USA?
SP: Is there one?
I’m asking if there is.
SP: We’re two mutually exclusive ideologies. Reconstruction America is actively seeking to destroy the Freezone, however they can, and I have to assume that at some point it’s going to come down to whether they think they can get away with annihilating us, including Michael. For the Freezone’s part, and I’m not the Freezone’s spokesman on this or anything else, we have absolutely no intention of getting into a shooting match with the Yanks. All our projections show that Reconstruction will collapse within a hundred years, so we’re happy to play the long game. All their base will belong to us. Eventually.
To celebrate the publication of THE CURVE OF THE EARTH ( UK|US|ANZ), Orbit was lucky enough to be treated to a rare interview with one of the post-apocalyptic world’s most brilliant minds: Doctor Samuil Petrovitch.
Over the course of his life, Doctor Petrovitch has been called a lot of things: hero; cyborg; menace; traitor; father; a**hole.
Now, for the first time, you can meet the man behind the metal (and the myth) in this two part interview. Find out some of his favourite things (cat videos?), discover more about his AI companion Michael, hear more on the Freezone that arose from the ashes of post-Armageddon London – and get to the heart of his strained relationship with Reconstructionist America.
(NB: the below does contain some foreign swearing, as is typical of Petrovitch’s blend of old-school Russian and English. For translations, please see our Russian swearing glossary.)
Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Dr Petrovitch.
SP: Yeah, okay. I’ve been told this would be a good idea, something I very much doubt. I’ll apologise in advance for punching you in the face.
I suppose I should be grateful you’re not shooting me in the face.
SP: Yes. Yes, you should. Are you going to ask me the first yebani question or do I just walk out now?
You’ve been called many things, Dr Petrovitch, and opinions about you are sharply divided. Some see you as some sort of digital saviour, others as the Antichrist himself.
SP: There isn’t actually a question there. Try again.
I’m asking you how you see yourself.
SP: In a mirror. Or I can just pop out one of my eyeballs and turn it around. Seriously, that’s a really dangerous thing to ask me. I could, if I wanted, give you my unshielded ego for the next half hour, but no one really wants to see that, not even me. I have a very strong sense of self, but I’m not so far up my own zhopu as to think that matters at all. What matters is what I do, not how I think of myself as doing. Ask me another, better question.
Rojan Dizon doesn’t mind staying in the shadows, because he’s got things to hide. Things like being a pain-mage, with the forbidden power to draw magic from pain. But he can’t hide for ever.
Because when Rojan stumbles upon the secrets lurking in the depths of the Pit, the fate of Mahala will depend on him using his magic. And unlucky for Rojan – this is going to hurt.
Only two more weeks until FADE TO BLACK (US | UK | AUS) releases online and in stores. Here’s an interview with Francis Knight. Find out how the city of Mahla came to be and more about the magic system employed by Knight’s pain mages.
Have you always known that you wanted to be a writer?
No, I can’t say that I have, probably because it never occurred to me to write down all the stories in my head. I’ve always read, and always made up little stories but it was only when I was struck down with ME that I started to write—I was housebound, and it was almost a defence against day- time TV. So I wrote one of my little stories and found I was addicted to writing.
Did the idea for the Rojan Dizon books come to you fully realised or did you have one particular starting point from which it grew?
As with most of my ideas, it came a piece at a time, each piece from a different direction. The idea really takes hold when they gang up on me. The theme came from one direction, Jake from another, whereas Rojan came as I was writing. He was kind of an experiment—I’d never writ- ten in first before, and he is polar opposite to me in many areas (though we do share a trait or two), so he was almost a challenge I set myself, to see if I could do it. I splurged out fifty thousand words in a month—at this stage it was a future dystopia world, but then my writers’ group pointed out, quite fairly, that I am horrible at making up future tech. One member suggested, “Why not make it a dark fantasy?” which kind of fed into a separate idea I’d had for a world where magic lived with technology. I dabbled a bit then left it on my hard drive for a few years, tinkering with it every now and again in between other projects. It was only when I decided to actually knuckle down and do something with it, when I started with the idea of pain magic in fact, that it really came to life. It was waiting for me to have the right idea to make it work, I think.
This week sees the release of THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ) , the second novel in Ian Tregillis’s landmark series, the Milkweed Triptych. The trilogy began with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and concludes with the forthcoming NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ).
These novels feature a secret history of Twentieth Century conflicts in which scientifically-enhanced superhumans and dark magic collide. The result is described by Fantasy Faction as ‘oh-so compelling, fascinating and frighteningly convincing’ and by Cory Doctorow as, ‘some of the best – and most exciting – alternate history I’ve read. Bravo.’
It’s possible to draw a few parallels between the themes in the Milkweed novels and Charles Stross’s highly popular Laundry Files (including the recent THE APOCALYPSE CODEX – UK | ANZ) – a series of science fiction spy thrillers featuring Bob Howard, once an IT geek, now a field agent working for a British government agency dealing with occult threats. They’re what SFX calls ‘beautifully handled, believable and well envisioned – a highly enjoyable bit of spy-fi.’
For that reason we were really interested to hear these two exceptionally clever Orbit authors in conversation about their series. The results are below!
Ian: In an afterword to THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES (“Inside the Fear Factory”) you mention that while writing the first Laundry novel you were advised to avoidTim Powers’s novel DECLARE. And that later you were made aware of the Delta Green supplement to The Call of Cthulhu RPG, which again resides in a similar neighborhood.
(After BITTER SEEDS debuted, people assumed I had been influenced by DECLARE, Delta Green, *and* the Laundry novels! But, like you with DECLARE, I wanted to avoid cross-contamination. So I didn’t dive into THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES until after I turned in THE COLDEST WAR, at which point I was 2/3 through the Milkweed trilogy and the story was on a ballistic trajectory.)
But of course even Powers wasn’t the first to marry espionage and the occult –Dennis Wheatley’s novel THEY USED DARK FORCES first appeared in 1964, and Katherine Kurtz‘s LAMMAS NIGHT was published in 1983, as just two examples.
In the above-mentioned afterword, you make a strong case for why it’s natural to blend horror, the occult, and espionage. So is this an idea that’s continually bubbling into the aether to be rediscovered by other writers? Or have we reached the point where we’re having a conversation within an actual subgenre?
Charlie: It is indeed an actual subgenre! Or maybe a sub-subgenre: a corner of that section of urban fantasy that is preoccupied with the interaction between agents of the state and the occult. Read the rest of this entry »
THE RED KNIGHT by Miles Cameron releases in the US today and we’re thrilled to see others enjoying this novel as much as we have! Check out some of the great reviews below.
- “Dear reader, I couldn’t put this book down. I lost sleep. I walked around carrying it from room to room, bumping into furniture because I was so captivated by its story…This is a stirring, gritty, and at times brutal epic fantasy treat.” – Stefan Raets, Tor.com
- ”Overall, The Red Knight - top 25 novel of mine - is an excellent debut…I think you will be won by the intricate story and sophisticated world building the author put so much thought into.” - Fantasy Book Critic
- “It’s not often these days I find myself wanting to find time to continue reading – with this one, I did, to the point where, at the end, I was sad to see this group go. It’s a pleasingly complex and greatly satisfying novel…” - SFFWorld
I am a passionate fan of the cult of chivalry and all that entails.. I honestly can’t remember whether I read T.H.White’s Sword in the Stone or Steinbeck’s Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights‘ first, but I read them close together, and they were followed by a visit to the cloisters in NYC. And I love the wilderness–the real wilderness, where you are five miles from a road. I guess Red Knight puts the two together.
Where did the first seeds of the idea for The Red Knight come from?
The Traitor Son series was born like Athena from the head of Zeus. Okay, that’s a bit strong, but I was looking at an icon of Saint Michael and the Dragon (it hangs in the Met) and my mind wandered–about how monsters might have really worked, about why monsters are such a common motif–and about exactly how Saint Michael got his red-brocade covered breastplate to do up. I sew, I tinker, I make armour, and I reenact. That image of Saint Michael asks so many questions–often, when I’m stuck on The Red Knight, I go back and look at it again. Why does he have a buckler? With a long sword?
John R. Fultz: ICE FORGED is a “fresh start” in a new fantasy world, one that is separate from your previous five books (which were all set in the same world). Why start fresh after six books’ worth of fleshing out your first fictional universe? Along those lines, what was your initial inspiration for ICE FORGED and the Ascendant Kingdoms?
Gail Z. Martin:I love my characters and the world I created in my previous series (Chronicles of the Necromancer series and The Fallen Kings Cycle), but the action had come to a natural resting point. I still hope to tell more stories about that world, but there is a natural break in the action for the characters, so it seemed like a good time to go do something else myself for a while.
I got some of the inspiration for Ice Forged and the new Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series by turning a few elements of my original series upside-down. In my first series, my main character is a necromancer, with very powerful magic. In Ice Forged, my main character has very little magic, more on the hedge witch level of power. In the Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings books, my main character keeps magic from failing. In Ice Forged, the magic upon which the civilization depends becomes impossible to harness and wipes out much of civilization. In my original series, my main character was wrongfully hunted as an outlaw. In Ice Forged, my main character not only actually committed the murder for which he is exiled, he is unrepentant about it.
Stories, for me, begin with the question, “What if?” What if…a civilization depended on magic like we depend on the power grid—and the magic could no longer be controlled? What if…the only one who might be able to restore the magic was someone exiled to the farthest reaches of the world? What if…the future of the kingdom depended on a handful of convicts?
My other favorite question is, “And then what?” As I think through a plot, I always ask myself, “And then what?” So they have a battle—and then what? So there’s a confrontation with the forces of the opposition—and then what? So they win a battle—and then what? Even after a victory, there are messes to clean up. For me, that’s where the story starts.
2013 is off to a great start, and if you’re a fantasy reader there are a ton of great books to choose from. With the releases of A MEMORY OF LIGHT (UK | AUS), ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS), and now SEVEN KINGS (UK |US | ANZ), you have a lot of reading to do.
Today let’s talk epic fantasy with authors Gail Z. Martin and John R. Fultz. Below is the first of a two part interview about writing in the genre and the most recent projects of these two authors. Come back tomorrow for the second half.
Gail Z. Martin: SEVEN KINGS is your second novel, and you’ve said that you think it is even better than your debut work. What did you learn writing your first book, and how did that affect your new book?
John R. Fultz: What a great question… I think that writing SEVEN PRINCES was very freeing for me because at the time I wrote it I had no guidelines, no publisher, no deadlines, no expectations except those I built myself. I remember telling a friend: “I’m going to write this story and let it be as long as it wants to be, and take as long as it needs to take.” After years of writing short stories it was time to make the transition to novelist, and all the advice I’d been given said “First, you must write the novel—everything else will follow.” So I took a “damn the torpedoes” approach and wrote the novel that I most wanted to write, with all the elements that had fascinated and attracted me to epic fantasy for decades. I came up with some fascinating characters, dropped them into an interesting setting, and basically let them run. It was very cathartic, and I finished the novel in far less time than I thought I would—I had built up some serious momentum. I usually write novels over the summer when I’m not teaching, and I’ve written three more “summer novels” since then. Of course the “idea work” begins months earlier, but summer is my official “writing season,” when I go nocturnal and spend as much time as I want in front of the keyboard. With SEVEN PRINCES I also had some great advice from a local writing group to help me get the early chapters just right.
With SEVEN KINGS, things had changed. New challenges presented themselves, and my priorities were quite different. I had already established a great cast of characters that I loved writing about, as well as the world they inhabited and most of the major conflicts that drove the narrative. The rules of sorcery were there (if not fully revealed yet), as well as the threads of many plotlines that would carry throughout all three books. So my job with Book II: SEVEN KINGS was to “deepen” the pot. I wanted to introduce some new characters, and to reveal more of the mystery that is Iardu the Shaper, including his role in the history of the world. I had always planned to explore the dichotomy of Lyrilan and Tyro as the Twin Kings, two very different brothers attempting to rule the same kingdom. And I knew I would stay with Vireon and Sharadza, the Children of Vod. My Book I antagonists had been defeated but not completely vanquished in the first book, so I needed to take them to a new level. Finally, I wanted to explore more of the deep history of the Shaper’s world, and reveal some heretofore obscure regions of it. This is why I decided to begin SEVEN KINGS deep in the jungles of Khyrei, a nation ruled by wicked powers that the rest of the world hates and fears.
There were also some “happy endings” in SEVEN PRINCES that I always intended to reveal were far from “happily ever after.” For example, Sharadza’s marriage to D’zan seems like a fairytale ending in the first book, but in the second book you find out the marriage is a failure—and for a reason that Sharadza refuses to reveal. Likewise with Vireon and Alua’s seemingly “perfect” family…there is more going on here than either of them suspects and it takes seven years to manifest. Life rarely serves up genuine happy endings, and I wanted to reflect that in this series by going back and showing the consequences of the new situations established at the end of the first book.
I guess you could say my goal with SEVEN KINGS was to raise the bar on the conflict, the characters, the threat, and above all the sorcery. Someone told me that SEVEN PRINCES was really all about sorcery, and I agreed. If that’s true then it also applies to the entire series. In some ways I wanted to subvert all the victories of the first book and show that the real story is far more vast and complex, like magic itself. Hopefully this mirrors how difficult it is to be a King, as opposed to a Prince. A King actually has to rule the kingdom, fight the wars, confront the overwhelming threats, and live with the terrible choices he makes. Kings rarely get second chances.
In many ways SEVEN KINGS is the “Act Two” of the trilogy, and traditionally the second act of any drama expands and complicates the elements of the first act. This is also why the second part of any trilogy is often considered “darker,” and I expect that to be said of SEVEN KINGS as well. It is decidedly darker: The worst is yet to come for these characters and the world they have built. Also, Book II: SEVEN KINGS takes place seven years after Book I, but Book III will take place only seven DAYS after Book II. So there is a much more immediate connection between Books II and III than between I and II.
Who would you be, if everything you were and everything you had was stripped from you? Blaine McFadden will find out when Gail Z. Martin’s latest novel, ICE FORGED (UK | US | AUS), releases this January.
ICE FORGED is the first book of Gail’s new series – The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Check out the interview below to find out what you can expect from this series debut including tidbits about about the magic and world of the Ascendant Kingdoms.
Your previous five novels, including the Chronicles of the Necromancer trilogy and the Fallen Kings cycle, were all set in the same world and featured many of the same characters. ICE FORGED marks the beginning of a new series. How much of a departure are we in for? How did the new series come about?
This is a whole new enchilada! Brand new world, completely new characters, totally new magic system and gods.
I love my Fallen Kings Cycle and Chronicles of the Necromancer series characters (and do plan to come back to tell more stories about them at some point), but let’s be honest—after everything I’ve put them through, in what for the characters is a little over 2 years, the survivors really deserve to put their feet up and have a few beers for a while.
So I’d been playing with the idea of what if magic broke (as it nearly did in the Chronicles books), and what if we had a post-apocalyptic medieval world, and what if a world sent its convicts to the northern rim (instead of, in our world, Australia)….and I was off and running.
Get acquainted with Orbit author Gail Carriger in the most recent episode of Sword & Laser! Gail joined Veronica and Tom for tea and to talk about her Parasol Protectorate series (starting with SOULLESS [US | UK | ANZ]) and other projects.