Monthly Archives: August 2011

What, August is Nearly Over?

I have several new developments to report this week. The third Dabir and Asim novel is coming along nicely, although I’m still tinkering with book 2, and the short story collection will be heading off to the copyeditor this week.

I sat down for an interview with Ryan Costello Jr.  of 3.5 Private Sanctuaryat GenCon, and he asked me some great questions about my Pathfinder Tales novel, Plague of Shadows. You can find that interview, along with a look ahead at the Pathfinder Tales line from the indispensable Pierce Waters of Paizo, by clicking here.

Lastly, I have been power watching an anime that exceeded my expectations. I discussed it in more detail at Black Gate, but here’s the start.

I haven’t watched much anime in my time. Frankly I haven’t gotten a lot out of the shows I’ve seen, many of which seem to consist of posing in the midst of fights and shouting at opponents. But I chanced upon something a few weeks back that began with potential and then delivered on it episode after episode. I found fabulous world building and strong character arcs.  I watched half hour after half hour the way I devour chapter after chapter in a great fantasy novel, poised on the edge of my seat wondering how things would resolve.

brotherhood2The show that so enthralled me is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The series is set in an alternate world in the 1900s, one very similar to our own, except that alchemy works. Those talented and diligent enough can transform matter from one state to another — fix a broken radio into one that works, or transform a metal bar into a sword. The story’s protagonists are a pair of young brothers of tremendous talent who used their powers to commit the ultimate alchemical taboo: they tried to bring their dead mother back to life. They paid a terrible price when the transmutation went horribly wrong, and spend much of the series trying to put things right.

As the young men search for solutions, they uncover  hidden layers to the way alchemy, their country, and their world, truly work. As the mysteries deepen, so do the characters and the world. I really don’t want to say much more for fear of ruining the many unfolding surprises.

If, like me, you’re unused to anime, there are a few caveats. There are occasional odd tonal shifts. For instance, when characters feel a really strong emotion (like anger or sadness) they’re often briefly transformed into caricatures of themselves, with exaggerated features. Some of the humor doesn’t translate and comes off as a bit goofy, and characters do sometimes speak over dramatically or are too revealing of their motivations when they talk. I wasn’t sure what to make of it after the first one or two shows, but kept watching… and I was glad I did. Most of the time it works, and overall it works brilliantly. Male and female characters are given strong roles, and face difficult choices.

The rest of this article can be found at the Black Gate web site.

Fictional Frontiers Interview

I got to sit down and talk with Sohaib Awan of Fictional Frontiers about The Desert of Souls, Black Gate, sword-and-sorcery, and Harold Lamb. Sohaib asked some questions that really got me thinking (and I wish I’d segued my discussion of 80s adventure movies into my discussion of earlier adventure movies, but ah well). I’ve begun listening into Sohaib’s show in the weeks since, and I’m pretty sure other speculative fiction fans will find the show not only entertaining, but insightful. My interview is here; the site for Fictional Frontiers itself is here.

How To Write Magical Words

I’m a fan of books aimed at writers, and I’m always delighted to find another good one.

howtomagicwords-review-e1295476993801-205x300How to Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion debuted in January 2011. Unlike most “how to write” books that I’ve ever seen, Magical Words is presented in bite-size chunks. The authors take turns writing about various topics, presenting short essays with information, advice, and helpful anecdotes, then get out of the way for the next essay. None of which are more than four or five pages long. It’s an ideal approach for someone working in this busy modern world, or for someone under deadline, or with kids, or who wants to read a little something before sitting down to write for the day, and editor Edmund Schubert is to be commended for the structure.

The book is broadly divided into seven categories, like “Characters, Dialogue, & Point of View” or “Self-Editing,” into which each of the short essays is placed. Perhaps because the material originated on the web site there’s an approachable, conversational quality to the advice — indeed, the contributing writers often react and expand upon the advice in the concluding remarks to each essay. As I read my way through the book I found myself looking more and more forward to seeing what the other writers would add, and what alternative perspective they might be able to offer. It was a lot like listening to a group of helpful professional writers as they trade tips among themselves — one has the sense that they are not so much talking at you as talking in a group in which you yourself would be welcome to drop in and ask for a few tips.

The rest of this essay can be found at the Black Gate web site.

Off to GenCon

I know I’ve mentioned it on my Fiction page, but with all the talk of Dabir and Asim and The Desert of Souls I haven’t been talking much about the other novel I released this year, Plague of Shadows, a sword-and-sorcery adventure set in Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales line. It’s available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and retailers nationwide.

A month or so ago Flames Rising published my behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the book, and you can find it here.

Friday and Saturday (August 5 and 6)  I’ll be signing copies of Plague of Shadows at the Paizo booth in Indianpolis at GenCon, during the best four days of gaming. I hope I will be seeing some of you there!

When I return, I plan to post a long overdue write-up of a great new book for writers, How to Write Magical Words, edited by Edmund R. Schubert.