Last month we introduced you to HOPE & RED—an upcoming adventure fantasy series we’re incredibly excited about! We’d like you to meet the author, Jon Skovron, and hear a little more about the novel.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m originally from Ohio, although I’ve since lived in Brooklyn, Seattle, and Pittsburgh. Now I live just outside DC, with my two sons and two cats. Rather than going to a regular college, I studied in the theater conservatory at Carnegie Mellon. But after a brief stint as a professional actor, I decided on the much more practical career of author. I started writing short SF&F stories in 2000, several of which were published in now defunct zines and online venues such as Baen’s Universe, where I had the honor of appearing in the same issue as Gene Wolfe. In 2006, my agent suggested I try my hand at this new craze called Young Adult, and my first YA novel was published in 2009. I’ve had two more YA novels published since, and my fourth comes out this August. HOPE & RED will be my first novel for grown-ups.
What is HOPE & RED about?
HOPE & RED takes place in an archipelago of islands called The Empire of Storms, with warrior monks, pirates, gang lords, science mages called biomancers, and a fair amount of monsters, violence, and mayhem. But as the title implies, this is ultimately a story about Hope and Red. They both lose their parents at a young age. Both are taken in by unconventional mentors who encourage them to transgress society, but in very different ways. Red is taught to become a thief and con artist in the urban slums, where he is fiercely loyal to his adopted neighborhood of Paradise Circle. Hope is secretly trained on a remote island as a warrior in an elite order that has specifically banned women. She seeks vengeance against the biomancer who murdered not only her parents, but her entire village.
When the biomancers team up with the gang lord of Paradise Circle to consolidate power, Hope and Red’s worlds come crashing together, resulting in a quest for justice that leads them all the way to the imperial palace.
Why did you decided to write HOPE & RED as an adult novel, rather than YA?
Don’t get me wrong. I adore writing YA, and will continue to do so. YA and adult Fantasy have a lot of similarities. But they also have some key differences. By nature, YA is all about teens. I wanted to write story that took these two characters from age eight all the way into adulthood. Also, YA is intensely story-focused. I love the lean efficiency of it. But this time I wanted to write a book where the world was rich and immersive, with a long, compelling history. Something you couldn’t see the edges of. I wanted characters that were complex and nuanced and broken. And frankly, I just wanted to write something R Rated, and not have to worry about gatekeepers.
There’s an lot of swashbuckling, sea-faring adventure in this book. Do you have any personal experience with sailing?
Quite a lot, actually. My grandfather was passionate about ships and sailing. When I was a boy, he often took me sailing for days on end. He taught me how to sail, of course, as well as all the parts of the ship, and odd little sailor adages that linger in my mind to this day. He was also a musician, so he’d often bring along his accordion, and we’d sing sea chanties once the sun went down.
HOPE & RED will be published next summer. For more news and updates, follow the author on Twitter.
I was fortunate enough to art direct David’s first series, the Shadowdance novels, so when I heard we were ready to work on his next series I was super excited. SKYBORN (US | UK | AUS) is about the Seraphim, an elite military force protecting a floating island of Weshern. The Seraphim guard the remnants of mankind, defying gravity using ancient wings and mastering powerful elements to wage war in the skies.
The new series has been a different design challenge from the Shadowdance books in that we wanted to convey a different feel for the cover art. In David’s first series, we wanted emphasis on the main character, a ninja-like assassin, and the books’ energetic action. In Skyborn, the characters are a bit more unique in that they have metal wings to fly, wield swords, and wear military uniforms. Ultimately, the new series needed to convey high adventure.
In what I would call serendipitous timing, the work of Tommy Arnold came across my desk as we were discussing the covers. His style just hit the nail on the head for this project. His ability to illustrate characters was spot on. He could also handle textures beautifully: fabrics, metals, flames, etc. And most importantly, his illustrations really pull the viewer in and engage you. It was a no brainer in reaching out to get Tommy on board.
So after settling on what we wanted for the covers, we got Tommy moving. I couldn’t have had more fun designing David’s super fun new series with such a talented artist!
I’m thrilled to present the cover to Skyborn by David Dalglish!
Skyborn, the first volume of a new series by David Dalglish, will be hitting shelves November 2015.
We have two Butcher-tastic* announcements to share with you today!
The first is that Jim Butcher will be coming to the UK – he will be a Guest of Honour at Eastercon, Dysprosium, which is taking place in London from 3rd-6th April. In the days following he will be touring the country with exact dates yet to be announced. Watch this space!
We can also announce the publication date for THE CINDER SPIRES: THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS, the first book in Jim’s brand new series of airborne adventure and mad sorcery. The book will be released in hardback and ebook on the 29th of September 2015 and it’s available to preorder now from major retailers.
In Jim’s own words, it’s “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Sherlock meets Hornblower. There are goggles and airships and steam power and bizarre crystal technology and talking cats, who are horrid little bullies.”
Launching today at Orbit, the first in a series full of battle-hardened warriors and bloodthirsty druids!
AGE OF IRON is the first volume of a trilogy of epic fantasy novels that takes you back to a British Iron Age full of magic, dark humour and good old fashioned action adventure.
LEGENDS AREN’T BORN. THEY’RE FORGED.
Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary travelling south to join up with King Zadar’s army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people. First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar’s most fearsome warriors, who’s vowed revenge on the king for her sister’s execution.
Now Dug’s on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join – and worse, Zadar has sacrificial druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that’s going to get them all killed . . .
It’s a glorious day to die.
Author Angus Watson is a journalist and fan of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch, who had the idea to write an epic fantasy tale set in this sparsely-recorded part of history while walking Britain’s Iron Age forts for a Telegraph feature:
“As we strode up to the massive walls of Maiden Castle, hewn from the chalk hill over centuries then abandoned 2,000 years ago, I asked my guide, Iron Age historian Peter Woodward, half joking, if the Iron Age was like the Conan the Barbarian books, with muscular men running about and rescuing virgins from snake worshipers.
“The Conan books and films are about as good a representation of the Iron Age as we have,” he said.
That was it. Here was my subject.”
You can read more from Angus on the Orbit blog this month, and he’s also on twitter, but first, let’s hear from AGE OF IRON’s fans:
‘Watson’s tale is gore soaked and profanity laden – full of visceral combat and earthy humor, and laced with subtle magic. The blend of historical accuracy and authorial liberties suggests an old-school sword-and-sorcery epic, though with some modern sensibilities thrown in for good measure!’ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
‘Would I read the next one? Yes, absolutely. Bring me my hammer, bring my beer, bring it on.’ SF CROWSNEST
‘Watson has created a brilliant and confident debut . . . If you like your fantasy packed with hammer-wielding heroes, bloodthirsty druids, strong female leads, action, intrigue, betrayal, and a brilliantly conceived world then AGE OF IRON is for you.’ THE BOOK BEARD
‘Thoroughly entertaining from the get go . . . I really got a kick out of the AGE OF IRON.’ THE ELOQUENT PAGE
The AGE OF IRON begins in all good book stores today. And you won’t have to wait too long for the rest of the trilogy, look out for CLASH OR IRON and REIGN OF IRON next year!
We’re proud to share this gorgeous cover from designer Hannah Wood and artist Steve Stone today! THE DAGGER’S PATH is Glenda Larke’s newest epic fantasy, the superb sequel to THE LASCAR’S DAGGER (UK|US|ANZ).
THEY FOLLOW WHERE THE DAGGER LEADS
When sailors came to Ardhi’s island home, they plundered not only its riches, but its magic too. Now Ardhi must retrieve what was stolen, but there are ruthless men after this power, men who will do anything to possess it . . .
Sorcerers, lascars, pirates and thieves collide in this thrilling sequel to Glenda Larke’s epic fantasy adventure, THE LASCAR’S DAGGER.
‘Outstanding all the way to the last word.’ – Elizabeth Moon on The Lascar’s Dagger
‘If you don’t read Glenda Larke you’re missing out on a treat’ – Karen Miller
Tom Holt’s latest comic fantasy, THE OUTSORCERER’S APPRENTICE, is now available in paperback and digital! This new novel – from an author many compare to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams – tells the story of a wizard who’s seen the profit in ancient prophecies and the investment value in a dragon’s hoard . . .
It’s a novel of overlords, underlings and inhuman resources. It’s THE OUTSORCERER’S APPRENTICE.
A happy workforce, it is said, is a productive workforce.
Try telling that to an army of belligerent goblins. Or the Big Bad Wolf. Or a professional dragon slayer. Who is looking after their well-being? Who gives a damn about their intolerable working conditions, lack of adequate health insurance, and terrible coffee in the canteen?
Thankfully, with access to an astonishingly diverse workforce and limitless natural resources, maximizing revenue and improving operating profit has never really been an issue for the one they call “the Wizard.” Until now.
Because now a perfectly good business model – based on sound fiscal planning, entrepreneurial flair, and only one or two of the infinite parallel worlds that make up our universe – is about to be disrupted by a young man not entirely aware of what’s going on.
There’s also a slight risk that the fabric of reality will be torn to shreds. You really do have to be awfully careful with these things.
Praise for Tom Holt:
‘Uniquely twisted . . . cracking gags’ Guardian
‘Gratifyingly clever and very amusing’ Mail on Sunday
With her brand new epic fantasy adventure THE LASCAR’S DAGGER out today, we asked Glenda to tell us a bit about the book and the story behind that title.
“What’s your book about?” It’s a question dreaded by every fantasy author.
After all, what if Tolkien had said, “A company of little guys with hairy feet who go on a long journey to throw a ring into some molten rock under a mountain…” Would you have bought the Lord of the Rings trilogy?
With my latest book – THE LASCAR’S DAGGER – I discovered a new problem.
“What’s your book about?”
“A lascar, and the spice trade and –”
“Alaska? Really?” (At which point I am on the receiving end of a peculiar look.) “I didn’t know they had a spice trade! And have you even been to Alaska?”
So I usually end up telling people about lascars instead.
The word ‘lascar’ rather carelessly bundles together men of many different nationalities. The only thing they had in common was that they were south Asians who worked for Europeans. They could come from any country from Yemen to Indonesia. They were mostly sailors, although sometimes the term was applied to the servants of British army officers. Generally, they were worked hard and were poorly paid.
Possibly the very first lascar was an Indian who sailed with Vasco da Gama in 1498. By 1660, they were so common on board British ships that the British Government enacted a law to limit their employment to no more than 25% of the crew. By the First World War, there were over fifty thousand lascars actually resident in Britain; lascars were in fact the first wave of Asian migrants.
But THE LASCAR’S DAGGER is not just about a man and his knife. It’s about a western civilization on the cusp of change as it comes into conflict with cultures on the other side of the globe. It’s about ambition and greed and the spice trade. It’s a fantasy, set in a world that never existed, but which evokes a time when Asia and Europe were on a collision course. In our world, Asia lost, and most countries ended up under colonial rule. In my world … there may be a different ending.
The cast of my trilogy is large and varied: clerics and royalty, merchants and servants, assassins and beggars, a lawyer, a prince, a privateer and a woman wanted for murder … and more importantly, there’s the lascar — and his blade.
The lascar’s dagger is, in fact, a character too, one that can manipulate events. After all, I write fantasy and there’s got to be magic, right? Better still, with magic, perhaps one can change the course of history.
Today we release the paperback of BLOODFIRE QUEST (UK|ANZ) – book two in Terry Brooks’s Dark Legacy of Shannara series following WARDS OF FAERIE (UK|ANZ). It’s a new epic fantasy set in the author’s core Shannara world, and it’s been knocking people’s socks off:
‘Explodes from the first page…the action doesn’t stop until the novel’s cliffhanger ending…Intense and exhilarating…Brooks is one of the best fantasy writers in the business’ ASSOCIATED PRESS
‘[Brooks] brings his distinct talent, giving a true grandeur to clashes involving terrifying creatures and powerful magic’ KIRKUS REVIEWS
‘A thrill ride that will leave readers wanting more…This volume, paired with the first, might be just the right place to introduce new readers to this fine writer’ BOOKLIST
The third book, WITCH WRAITH (UK|ANZ), is released very soon on 16th July.
Back in April, Terry did a very rare signing in the UK for the hardback release of BLOODFIRE QUEST. The queues at Forbidden Planet were phenomenal, and the signing went on for hours! See some pics of the event here.
For those who were unable to make it, we asked readers to send in their questions for this fantasy legend from afar. Now, we release Terry’s answers in the video below:
ps. Is it just me or is Terry awesome? No – the signs say it’s not just me . . .
Coming up in March is something we’ve all been waiting for: a new novel in the mind-blowing Philip K. Dick Award-winning Samuil Petrovitch series by Simon Morden. THE CURVE OF THE EARTH (UK | US | ANZ) is a pure hit of adrenaline-filled science fiction goodness. It features everyone’s favourite foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, cybernetically-enhanced, AI-implanted, sociopathic, mad Russian genius Samuil Petrovitch.
This novel is a great place for anyone new to the Petrovitch novels to start. If you’re a fan of the likes of Richard Morgan and his classic novel Altered Carbon (another Philip K. Dick Award winner) then this is certainly for you.
THE CURVE OF THE EARTH is set 10 years after the previous three Petrovitch books ended (EQUATIONS OF LIFE, THEORIES OF FLIGHT and DEGREES OF FREEDOM) and features more high-octane action in the gritty world of the Metrozone – a dangerous post-apocalyptic London full of crooked cops, mad cults and gun-toting nuns.
This story will again see Petrovitch come head-to-head with those people he just loves to hate: Reconstructionist America. But this time he’s on a trip to the frozen slopes of North Alaska to find out what’s happened to his adopted daughter Lucy…