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February 11, 2020

Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf is one of the most challenging books I’ve read in a long time. It’s also one of the most fascinating.
 

Let’s start with the structure. The story is mostly told in first-person by Tracker, a bounty hunter who has “a nose” (the ability to track by scent), “an eye” (a wolf eye in place of one of his human eyes), and “a mouth” (a habit of saying caustic things). But Tracker isn’t relating his tales directly to the reader. He’s being interrogated by an...

February 6, 2020

I'm thrilled to announce that my historical-fantasy novella "Magic in the Mud Show" (set in the Barnum & Bailey Circus of 1892) is in the Winter 2020 issue of The Colored Lens. The story will eventually serve as a prequel for my forthcoming novel Magic in the White City. But for now, "Magic in the Mud Show" stands alone. You can pick it up (along with some other great stories) on Amazon.
 

December 13, 2019

World Without End is a worthy follow-up to Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett’s epic tale of medieval cathedral building.
 

World Without End isn’t strictly a sequel, though; the novel still takes place in Kingsbridge, a fictional English city, but the story begins in 1327, 150 years after Pillars of the Earth leaves off. The main characters from the first book—particularly Jack Jackson, Lady Aliena, and Prior Philip—are remembered, and a few of the new characters are even descended from...

November 11, 2019

Nicholas Eames’ Kings of the Wyld is essentially a Blues Brothers version of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). It’s pretty awesome.
 

The story is set in a fantasy world teeming with a monster manual’s worth of beasties. Mercenary adventurers chase glory by hunting these creatures, and the most-famous group of exterminators was Saga—“was” being the operative word. Two decades after going their separates ways, the groups’ members are old, fat, drunk, married, etc. But when the former leader’s...

October 26, 2019

Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files are some of the fastest-paced books I’ve read. Set in modern-day Chicago, the intensity of these fantasy-noir novels ramps up almost immediately and barely leaves you time to catch your breath as the story hurtles forward. Sometimes they’re a little too fast; I often feel a bit exhausted after finishing one. So when I picked up The Aeronaut’s Windlass, the first book in his new Cinder Spires series, I wondered if that frenetic speed would carry over.
 

It...

October 21, 2019

Here's the text of an article Janice Hardy was kind enough to let me post on her excellent Fiction University site.
 

I’ve never really had long-term writer’s block. But short-term? Far too often. The daily race to pen at least a page or two is almost always littered with obstacles, some of which trip me up on a regular basis.

Here’s how I get over them.

Reconsider Motivation

A lot of times I’m stuck because my characters are acting against type, and I just haven’t realized it yet. O...

October 8, 2019

Would I have liked Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass as a child? Probably. I certainly did as an adult.
 

This young-adult, modern fantasy—the first in Pullman’s His Dark Materials series—stars a scrappy girl named Lyra who grew up as an orphan looked after by the staff of a fictional college in Oxford, England. But when her friend Roger is kidnapped by a mysterious group known as the Gobblers, she sets out to save him, a journey that takes her to the Arctic and beyond.
 

It’s a fun ta...

September 14, 2019

I liked Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay’s take on 8th Century China, but it might be the first historical fantasy I’ve read that felt too realistic.
 

The magic in Under Heaven (shamans, ghosts, etc.) only exists on the margins, yet that isn’t what threw me off. And I respect how much research Kay clearly did on the Tang Dynasty, even though he occasionally delivers his version of the details as bald info-dumps. Mostly, I just wish the protagonist’s decisions and actions mattered more.
 

I...

August 8, 2019

One of the most interesting things about Marvel's narrative podcast Wolverine: The Long Night is that Wolverine is barely in it.
 

The story is set in the fictional town of Burns, Alaska, taking place before Logan (aka Wolverine) joins the X-Men but after he's escaped the Weapon X program that lined his bones and retractable claws with adamantium, a nearly unbreakable metal alloy. Instead of following the gruff anti-hero as he struggles to find a new purpose, however, The Long Night is...

July 15, 2019

The Black Resurrection, the second book in my Red Wraith series, is out today on Amazon! Want a preview? The first chapter is below:
 

Da looked away as the Imperial Guards mutilated his nearly completed dragon.
 

He’d had time to finish the body, enhancing its elephantine base by grafting on the necks of a hundred snakes, the bellies of a thousand frogs, and the scales of countless carp. The four legs were done too, ending in tiger paws tipped with hawk talons. And the head was perfect,...

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I write mostly speculative fiction. Usually fantasy, with historical elements mixed in. Sometimes there's a bit of mystery too, or (shhh!) even a little romance.

 

But it's weird—it's always weird. Consider yourself warned.

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