Tag: Featured Author

Author Interview: Matthew Isaac Sobin

Warbler’s Note: I’m thrilled to bring you the words of Matt Sobin, author of a beautiful novelette called THE LAST MACHINE IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM. If this interview intrigues you enough to want the book—and it should—let me know in the comments below and you will be entered to win one of two copies of the book! 

I repeat: leave a comment below the post for a chance to win a copy of this book!

Q:  Much of THE LAST MACHINE, stylistically, is highly poetic. As I understand it, your background is in poetry. Is this your first long-form piece? How did your work as a poet influence the way you approached this story?

A: I love this question. Since the story is told from Jonathan’s perspective, perhaps I’ve created the first robot poet? That’s kind of cool to think about. I thought that an android with knowledge of all of Earth’s languages, who had analyzed every written work, should be eloquent. Not stilted and mechanical. Why shouldn’t he tell his story poetically with striking visual images?

This is my first published work but not my first long-form piece. I have a completed novel that I am preparing to publish. I am considering entering it into the upcoming Launchpad competition on Inkshares. It’s very different from The Last Machine in the Solar System. It’s literary fiction instead of SciFi. For both the unpublished novel, and this novella, I think my poetry plays a role in terms of how I think about imagery. I really want people to see what is being described. With The Last Machine, I tried to describe big beautiful images on Earth, on terraformed Mars, and then in outer space, so that the reader would see it alongside Jonathan. The feeling an image conveys is also important to me. When Jonathan and Nikolai stand next to the Atlantic Ocean and see the buildings half-drowned in the distance, it should be a striking image, and emotional too. I hope readers see the image in their minds while feeling it in their hearts.

Q: Working with Jack Katz on designs for Jonathan must have been remarkable. Did working with him influence or change the story in any substantial way?

A: Working with Jack is my greatest privilege. I always tell people who ask that I never tell Jack how to illustrate my work – whether it was this story or one of my poems. I am obviously biased, but from an artistic perspective, the man can do no wrong. So to your initial premise of us working on designs together, I would say that we would talk about how it would be great to have an image of Nikolai constructing Jonathan in his Ukrainian laboratory, or Jonathan flying by Jupiter or Saturn. But our discussions were always in the most general terms, and then I would let myself be surprised with what he came up with. And it was always great.

Conversations with Jack influence me but don’t change the story, per se – let me explain. He is one of the purest creatives out there since he’s unimpeded by the noise on the internet or even on TV. He has his books, his art, classical music and a collection of movies. When Jack starts speaking about Nikolai, the creator, like he’s a real person, I listen closely. He wants to know, did he have siblings? What were his parents like? What sports did he play in school? Would he care about politics? So Jack was very invested in not only The Last Machine but in the larger narrative of Nikolai’s life, which I plan to write. And I thought about a lot of these questions. I wasn’t always sure of the answer but I usually had a leaning in one direction. Jack would say something along the lines of, “Nikolai is inside you, he is you, you just have to unearth that fossil within.” So in theory, the story has already been written.

Q: THE LAST MACHINE is a lament to humanity, delivered as a eulogy for a lost friend that scales outward through the telling. Did you find any contemporary events pushing you to tell this story? Can you remember what was going on in the world in general when the idea struck you?

A: Well, let’s see. I started writing The Last Machine in the Solar System on October 1, 2015. I know exactly because I always write longhand and date the pages! The Presidential campaign was underway, but I don’t really remember that influencing me. Initially, I didn’t even know I was writing The Last Machine. I was just writing to write. I had watched a really fascinating show on the Science channel about the life cycle of the solar system. I was mesmerized, particularly about the death of the sun. And then of course the question, what would it mean for humans? Would we even be around at the point? Then it was easy to make the jump: Maybe humans would be gone, but a robot might still be around. I didn’t go in with any plans to make a big statement or comment on politics – though in the end, there are a few subtle commentaries. I thought it would be cool to visually tell the story of the life and death of the solar system, and it evolved from there. That humanity’s future seems so precarious and uncertain right now made the ultimate direction and end of the story straightforward, and perhaps inevitable.

Q: Are there other stories that you want to tell in the universe of THE LAST MACHINE?

A: Absolutely! One short story is already complete. It’s called The Creator and the Machine. It’s more of a true short story, about half the length of the novella. And it’s told very differently than The Last Machine. A lot more dialogue and action, which I’m sure readers will appreciate. It takes place during the period on Earth right after Nikolai and Jonathan conclude their travels, but before they depart for Mars. The story was an opportunity to explore the relationship between Jonathan and his creator. We delve more into Nikolai and his personality. But the story is really about Jonathan trying to understand the concept of physical pain, and ultimately emotional pain. So I think it’s quite interesting.

I’m hoping to publish The Creator and the Machine as an eBook in the next few months. The longer term goal is to write a full length biography of Nikolai with Jonathan as its author. I’ve only just gotten started.

Q: What are you reading now, and what’s the one book you’d recommend to anyone?

A: As a writer, I find myself interested in how other writers write. So I am constantly picking up new books, and reading a few pages, tasting their words and sentence structure like I’m at a restaurant with a sampling plate. I read a lot of book openings. Sometimes I pick up books and open to a page at random to check out what’s going on there. So I sample from a lot more books than books I actually read cover to cover. The other day I read the opening to Gravity’s Rainbow; that was fascinating. A very different style.

One book I’m reading (and plan to read most of) is a collection of essays by Albert Einstein called Out of My Later Years. I find both Tesla and Einstein very intriguing. There’s a lot of the two of them in Nikolai.

A book I’d recommend to anyone? Do I have to go SciFi? If it’s SciFi and folks haven’t read it, then of course, Foundation by Asimov is #1 in my hierarchy. If I am going outside SciFi, I would say that it’s time to bring the short story form back to prominence. Especially with the demands on our time, short story collections are a lot of fun. I love reading stories by Fitzgerald and Kipling because of their ability to impact readers emotionally in just a few pages.

Special thanks to Angela Melamud at Inkshares for arranging this interview and providing the books for the giveaway. Don’t forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win the book!

As always, if you want to pick up the book and  support the blog, you can do so on Amazon.

EDIT: The contest portion is closed. Winners have been contacted. Thanks for participating!

Author Interview – William Schiele

Wow! Here it is: the very first Warbler video. For the very first of the “produced” Warbler content, I had an excellent conversation with the author of Tears of the Assassin, William Schiele.

**Note: evidently, none of the links I wanted to place in this video will work. That being the case, check out the links below.**

For the very first of the “produced” Warbler content, I had an excellent conversation with the author of Tears of the Assassin, William Schiele.

William Schiele on Twitter 
Tears of the Assassin on Amazon
The Gray Man by Mark Greaney on Amazon
Sync City by Peter Ryan on Amazon

Author Interview: Robert Batten

Robert Batten is in the top 25 in the Launch Pad contest, which means his work has a shot at being placed in front of some serious eyes in Hollywood. In this interview we chat about his book, Human Resources, zombies, Tasmania, and what’s next for him in the contest.

Q: Tell me a little about yourself—how long have you been writing?

In some ways, I feel like I’ve been doing it forever, and that it was inevitable.  All my life, I’ve been a story person — whether telling my own or losing myself in someone else’s. I first started writing as a child, and have continued — on and off — ever since.


Robert Batten, in the flesh

As a child of two outdoor education teachers and mountaineers, my childhood was dominated by exploring  the unrivaled wilderness of Tasmania. Rugged mountain ranges, dense temperate rainforests, high alpine plains; a perfect training ground for any budding adventurer.

This was a setting  with few people (typically only the ones we brought with us), and no internet or other modern distractions. Through necessity, I learned to entertain myself armed with books and my imagination.

Travel was an important contributor to  my formative years. I was fortunate to have parents afflicted with an irresistible urge to explore our amazing planet, an affliction they passed on. I’ve come to view traveling as storytelling in motion — every landscape a new setting, every person a new character in their own narrative, every culture a new tapestry steeped in history. Once you start unravelling that web it’s impossible to stop.

At university, I followed my passion for gadgets and studied Information Systems rather than English. That path has led to an interesting and diverse career in IT, but left my drive to tell tales unfulfilled.

Since then, I’ve picked up my writing a few times. Each time I’d start trying to craft a complex world, get caught in the details of planning (rather than focussing on the story), and intimidate myself into stopping. That changed in early 2010 when I did something different, which was the genesis of Human Resources.

human-resources-cover-3Q: Tell me about Human Resources. 

It all started with a vivid and specific dream. Unlike most of my dreams, this one stuck with me, bouncing around my subconscious, clamouring for my attention. After daydreaming my way through the sequence repeatedly, I decided to write it down. This time, I didn’t attempt to craft a world, just to capture that single scene.  I think that was crucial for me as it reminded me how much I enjoyed writing. Next thing I knew, I was knee-deep in a novel.

The premise of that dream, and the setting for the novel, was a simple one. When the zombie apocalypse comes (and let’s face it, we all know it’s coming), what if the ones to save us were more dangerous than the horror they saved us from? Creatures who were acting out of cold, calculated self-interest?

Human Resources is set in the near future, years after a zombie-like plague overwhelmed civilisation. In the aftermath, all that remains are heavily fortified city-states, created and ruled by global corporations, which in turn are owned and run by vampires. The novel is a story of survival, of freedom, and of unlikely alliances. Possibly most importantly, it is a story of choices — the tallying of risk, the weighing of sacrifices. Sometimes the “right” path is obscured behind shades of grey. Sometimes the greater good demands sacrifices we can’t bear to make. Those decisions define us, and they define our characters. The players in Human Resources have some tough decisions to make.

Q: Were there any books/movies/video games/interpretive dances inspired you to tell this story?

Many, though few directly. I’ve always loved stories in any medium. Books, TV, movies, games, anime, manga — I’ve probably spent as much time out of reality as in it. My preferred genres are Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and (particularly) Urban Fantasy and Alternate Reality. I devour series such as The Dresden Files, Kate Daniels, Guild Hunter, Harry Potter, and Throne of Glass. It’s inevitable that my style and content will reflect some of this, but none of those books have directly influenced Human Resources.

There are some books and movies with closer parallels to the world of Human Resources, either in thematic elements, style, or setting. The Passage by Justin Cronin is an amazing take on a vampire apocalypse, and blew my mind. Daybreakers with Ethan Hawke shares some common setting elements with its vampire-run corporate dystopia. There are also some similarities with aspects of I am Legend.

Early on, I realised I wanted the novel to stand confidently as a science-fiction, with some supernatural elements. This raises some pointed questions about who and what my vampires are, so I set out to discover exactly that. I’ve since published some of the results of that investigation here.

Q: Have you always imagined it as a screenplay as well?

Yes and no. As someone who has spent time playing RPG’s — tabletop and PC/online — I always felt Human Resources would make a great game setting. In my mind I’ve also envisioned it as an anime, rather than visualising it as a live-action movie or TV series. The possibility that it could be picked up for that is an exciting prospect, but for now I am trying to focus on getting the novel into shape fit for publication. Baby steps!

Q: You’re from Tasmania! Why is the story set in the Siberian mountains?

I love my native island state of Tasmania. For those who are about to open a new tab and Google it, Tasmania (or ‘Tassie’ as it is affectionately known by locals) is the Southern-most state of Australia. It is an island some 350 kilometres (220 miles) from the main Australian continent. It’s rugged, sparsely populated, but filled with incredible National Parks and World Heritage Areas.

Moving on to the question, the novel isn’t set in Siberia. Only the virus which brought about the destruction of the civilised world, leaving behind a horde of transformed horrors, originated in Siberia. The story picks up decades after this outbreak and the virus has since covered the globe.

I needed a large urban city for the setting to work. The entire population of Tasmania is only about 500k; I needed somewhere larger and more strategic. In the end, I chose to locate the story in Sydney. Chapter One mentions Edison’s office having a view of the bridge and opera house — these landmarks are the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Q: There’s a trope within the Zombie genre, wherein the world is the same as ours but without any idea about what zombies are. Do you have any opinions about that?

I think it is, to an extent, necessary for many of these stories to work. If you want to take a serious approach to the genre, having victims who are unfamiliar with the lore seems to make this more believable. I feel that if the world started with people well-versed with zombie novels and movies, there tends to be a natural shift towards a comedic approach. Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, and Cabin in the Woods are great examples of this. In a world jaded by zombie cliches, where the CDC has published zombie survival plans, zombies just aren’t scary anymore. However sheepish some might be to admit it, I think we have all spent time planning what we would do, where we would go, and what supplies we would need. The result is a lot less harrowing than a setting full of ignorant, unsuspecting mobile dinners. To me, just seems to fit better.

In Human Resources the question is somewhat moot. Being set so long after the outbreak, it really doesn’t matter what people knew before it occurred. I do want to be careful in what I say when I relate this back to my novel — I’m toeing the line of spoilers — but my zombies are a little different than the classic variety. Indeed, it could be argued the infected in my world share more with those of I am Legend rather than The Walking Dead. I’m afraid you’ll need to read the book to find out more about that.

Q: How long is left in the contest, and how are you what’s your position as of today?

The contest has two concurrent streams; a formal judging stream and the crowdfunding competition.

The formal judging stream concludes at the end of November, with a number of prizes to be announced. This will include at least one manuscript being optioned by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free and at least one author being signed by Energy Entertainment.

The crowdfunding competition runs until 16 December (PST), at which point the three manuscripts with the most pre-orders will be published by Inkshares.

As of right now, Human Resources is performing strongly in the crowdfunding competition, holding the number one position. It has also been named by the Launch Pad judges in their Top 25, so it is also in a position to pick up one of the major prizes from that stream.

In addition to the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition, there have been two exciting new developments in the past week:

  1. Human Resources was named by Inkshares in their new “2016 List” of top projects not yet published.
  2. It crossed the magic 250 pre-orders threshold, which means one way or another Inkshares will publish the novel. The question — dependent on the competition outcome — is whether it will be mass produced and marketed, or print-on-demand.

Q: Any final thoughts you want to share?

Up until May this year, I had not shared my writing with anyone outside a close circle of trusted friends. Indeed, the primary audience for my writing has been my wife, who’s unfailing support and encouragement has kept me going; I certainly hadn’t believed I could be published. A lucky chain of events led me to Inkshares and provided the excuse I needed to share my work — a community-run event encouraging authors to exchange critiques.

Psychologically I’m still struggling to accept all that has happened since then. First joining the Inkshares community, making connections and building confidence, then The Launch Pad Manuscript competition. I’m grateful to Inkshares for their platform, as well as the other partners in the competition. But what I really want to do is single out the Inkshares community. From that first day they have been welcoming and encouraging and I have been carried to this point in part by their enthusiasm and generosity.


Featured Author: Rebekka S. Leber

As one of the hosts of Drinkshares: Last Call, Rebekka Leber (Facebook, Twitter) has cemented herself as an influential member of the Inkshares community. Her book, Proxy, is available for preorder now and if what I’ve read of it is any indication, it’s going to be gritty and dark, witty with snark, and … I can’t exactly think of a third pair rhyme that works. Long story short: it’s going to be a fantastic book. Learn more about Proxy and Rebekka below.

image00 About Proxy:

Max Lucas only ever worried about one thing: how she was going to score her next bottle. She’s not proud, but it’s the only thing that ever gets the voices to shut up.

When a horrific murder lifts the veil on her mysterious ancestry, she finally learns the reason why she can hear the thoughts of an entire city and why she can move objects with her mind. She’s a Preternatural.

Now, the ancient Preternaturals who once ruled the world as gods need her help to keep safe the most precious of human resources: the human soul. The entirety of human history has been written on the back of a conflict between the Preternaturals and the Vapids, an enemy that could upset the natural balance by profiting from the removal of human souls. Max will learn that hard way that the version of history you read about in textbooks is always written by the winners,  and until now, that has been the side she’s chosen.

To protect the human soul, Max agrees to become the only weapon that can fight against the Vapids. But, right now…she just needs a goddamn drink.  

Q: What part of your novel’s world excites you most?

A: The thing that I find most exciting is that Proxy is something new to me. Even though I am writing it, I am discovering it for the first time. The premise is really nothing all that new, and while it is not truly a “chosen one” story, it does feel like that sometimes. The story is so hard to describe, and that is because I have such trouble finding something to compare it with, as I truly feel that by the end of the story, no matter how many familiarities you may find in the story, it proves itself very hard to define as one particular type of story.

The genre at times is undefinable, and I believe that is simply because it is a story written within a historical background. As a history teacher, I often explain to my students that history is the subject that encompasses all other subjects, and writing history is no different. Perhaps this is why is has been so easy to create a historical novel with science, fantasy, and humor aspects, with elements of sociological and political conflict. What is even more exciting is I never really know where the story is going to take me.

The other exciting thing about this story is that I genuinely say it is a female driven story. Now, that is not to say it is chick lit—far from it. Which, that clarification in itself makes me sad that I have to defend a female driven novel as “not chick lit,” but that’s an argument for another day. The story did not originally start out leaning so heavily on the female characters, but they kind of ran away with the plot. Many of the roles in the story that began with male characters shuffled to female characters over the eight years I have been writing. Having the females drive the plot meant that many of the periods in history became periods in which women were questioning their place in society or the limitations that bound them, so one of the underlying themes in the story is female enfranchisement and agency, But, then, as the great Gene Roddenberry taught us with Star Trek, science fiction has always been the best mechanism for discussing social justice issues without preaching about it.

Q: What (if any) are some novels (or films, games, etc.) that are similar to yours?

A: Many people who have read the excerpts has stated that it reminds them of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Their words of course, not mine—not that I mind being compared to the writer of Stardust and my favorite Doctor Who episodes—but, I am not bold enough to compare my writing to his. At least in concept, they are similar, since both deal with gods who have long since lost their power among human beings.

What I do hope people see when the read it is the influence from my favorite writers: Christopher Moore and Joss Whedon. Moore’s books have always been my favorite for the way they mix humor into fantasy. Plus, he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to dirty joke, and I have no filter. So, whether it is actually funny or not, that is up to the reader, by I have tried to make it as funny as it is dark. And, that is also influence that come from our lord and creator, Joss Whedon. One the best pieces of advice I have ever read on writing came from him:


What I love about that quote is it is basically my approach to life- humor is the best defense mechanism, and nothing in this world is so sacred can’t make fun of it.

Q: What was the most interesting bit of information you uncovered in your research?

One of the first books I read during my research for Proxy was a book called Spook that attempted to explain the science of the soul, mostly in how it had been studied in the past.

Now, as an atheist, the fact that I writing a book that asks serious questions about religion should surprise nobody, but I will admit that I do find religion and spirituality fascinating. It’s actually one of my favorite things to teach in World History.  In fact, the idea for this book came to me in my sophomore year World Religions class in college during our section on Hinduism. I remember taking notes as we talked about the Trimurti, and the creation of all the souls in the universe at the conception of the universe, and a thought struck me: I wonder if Brahma accounts for growth? Is that something they control, especially considering that India is one of the most populous places in the world. What if they didn’t plan for it?

So, the original idea for Proxy was simple: What would happen if uncontrollable population growth lead to a shortage of souls?

Then, when I was reading Spook, I was struck again by an idea that anyone who loves science as much as me should have realized: Consciousness is just energy, right? It’s just a bunch of electrical signals that are interpreted by our brain as “thought.” And, the First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, on transformed. So… that means that when a person dies, the energy that is their consciousness has to go somewhere  because it just can’t  just die out. Where does it go? What does it become then? This became the basis for the science in my story. When the first sentient human beings began to die, their souls escaped their body as energy, and being sentient, it sought out a new host. But, after the first vessel, it is transformed. It began to need energy to sustain itself, and thus, the soul becomes a parasite. The funny thing is this actually has some historical truth in the fact that when human beings were hunter-gatherers, we were healthier, taller, and lived much longer. Now, in reality we know that it was the advent of a less healthy diet from agriculture in which we traded sustainability for diversity in our food supply that caused the early humans’ problems, but it also led to civilization. So, it wasn’t a huge leap to think that the price we paid for higher thinking and civilization was mortality.

Q: How much time is left in your campaign?

A: Currently there are 52 days left as of July 13th. It ends on 9/4.

Until the end of my campaign, I am holding a drawing every Friday to reward new readers and people who make the most referrals that result in orders. Prizes will consist of Proxy themed art, shirts, and glassware. Check my Facebook page for more information.

Q: Is this your first novel?

A: Officially, yes. I have written stories since I was a kid, but I really cut my teeth as a writer in fan-fiction. It sounds nerdy, but it was an excellent way to learn the mechanics of writing. It allows you to play with pre-created characters and concepts, so all you have to focus on is character voice, dialogue, and plot without the added pressure of world building. I always received compliments for my ability to capture the voice of the characters, and that I wrote realistic dialogue. Dialogue and description continue to be my strengths as a writer, and I built that strength writing fan-fiction before I moved to writing my own original works.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: I’m always working on something, but the next project I plan to focus on will probably end up being a series. The concept is still pretty raw, but it is based on a campaign I created for our home brew table top game. It will be set fantasy world existing in a time period like that of the Early 1900’s, mixing dieselpunk, magic, and mythical creatures. I like to sell the concept as “magic, motorcycles, and mermaids.”

Being the child of the most famous and powerful couple in the history of the realm has become a bit played out for Imperatrix Verity Starling. She rebels, refusing the accept her responsibilities as Imperatrix. When a vision of being tethered to her own Sentinel is seen by the Priestess, she is forced to embrace the inevitable and begin the task of growing up, accepting her role as one of the few magically blessed half-Paragons and heir to the throne.

But, after she meets her Sentinel, Orion Gray, she gets much more distracted ideas. Blowing off lessons and skipping meetings with her Father’s cabinet- all in preparation for her assuming throne some day- Verity is constantly hounded to shape up. Having to live in the shadow of your parents is a burden for any young girl on the verge of adulthood, let alone the by-product of the a relationship that has become akin to fairytale, and deep down, she feels like there is not point in really trying- she could never live up to their legacy.

When her blissfully carefree world is blown apart, and she is spared from the carnage only due to her carelessness, she will be forced to accept that she may be the only person who can restore the realm in the wake of disaster. Unfortunately, she has to lose everything and grow up first.

A draft of this project is already posted in Inkshares.

Featured Author: Kelsey Rae Barthel

Note: at the time this interview was conducted, Beyond the Code was not yet published. The book is now available on Amazon.

After an unplanned hiatus, we’re back with another featured author! Kelsey Rae Barthel’s book Beyond the Code caught my attention long before we’d been put in touch by a mutual contact. Her book will be published by Quill, Inkshares’s light-publishing imprint. Follow along with Beyond the Code on Twitter and Facebook.

beyond_frontAbout Beyond the Code:

As a Knight, Luna had always believed in the Knights code of honour and the Hand Council that governed them. That believe costs her dearly when Damon Lexus orders the death of Luna’s master to cover up her strong arming other Knights into her service through black mail and murder. In her search for justice for her fallen master she discovers that the Hand Council had been corrupted. That they were allowing masters like Lexus to steal Knights from their masters. Luna must join forces with Ranger, the hunter sent by the Hand Council to kill her, to topple the corrupt order that betrayed them and change their world for the better. They must break away from being mere tools of battle and become the heroes they need to be to do the impossible. This story combines a covert shadow war, fast paced action, deep seeded conspiracies, and remarkable super powers.

Q: What part of your novel’s world excites you most?

A: The super powers and the action. I grew up watching anime and reading X-Men comics, and I love the idea of badass warriors with super powers.

Q: What are some novels (or films, or games, or whatever) that are similar to yours?

A: A lot of Marvel comics come to mind, as well as the show Arrow (for the action.)

Q: What was the most interesting bit of information you uncovered in your research?

A: I would say the most interesting bit of research I did was going to a gun range to see how firing a handgun felt.

Q: How much time is left in your funding campaign?

A: It’s done! I’m really happy that Beyond the Code ended up on the happy site of Quill.

Q: Is this your first novel?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: I have a lot of ideas in the works, but the only one that’s currently in the writing stage is the sequel to Beyond the Code.

Ageless Spoilercast — Interviewing Paul Inman

After reading and reviewing Paul Inman’s Ageless, I had the pleasurable opportunity to directly ask him several things about the novel. Our conversation meandered a bit, so I hope you’ll stick with it for its (rather lengthy) entirety.


Featured Author: Jonathan Dital

Today’s featured author, Jonathan Dital, is another author originally from Israel on Inkshares, something that makes me exceedingly happy to see. His book, And the Wolf Shall Dwellsounds like an excellent and action-packed spy novel. Go ahead and check it out on Inkshares!

And the Wolf Shall Dwell-cover

About And the Wolf Shall Dwell:

John is a regular Joe, a foreigner working in the city of London, like many others. On a cold London morning, in a train station, a man bumps into him and later finds his death. This incident thrusts him into a world of espionage, politics and Jihadi terrorism, and sets him in an adventure which he did not choose. A spy thriller as such, the novel is more than just action, but also a dive into the world of International Politics. Aiding a retired MI6 agent, Adam Grey, John finds himself unraveling a political scheme that ranges out of the scope of his routine life and trails all the way up to the top of Westminster’s corridors. The duo’s adventure would take them all around London, but will they manage to find those responsible in time?

Q: What part of your novel’s world excites you most?

A: If I had to choose, I’d say the beginning of the novel. Here’s John, a regular guy like myself, on the same route I take every day to work. Only this time, something out of the ordinary happens. I think unlike other espionage thrillers, the protagonist could have easily been you or me, and that first chapters which set the scene to the events that would follow – still excite me when I read back today.

Q: How much time is left in your campaign?

A: The campaign ends on July 15, which is incidentally my birthday.

Q: What inspired you to tell this story?

A: I was always attracted to spy thrillers; not James Bondy kind of action/film-ready books, but genuine cold war stories, such as John Le Carré’s, or sophisticated twisted tales such as Grahame Greene’s. My story in essence, is a story of a foreign guy, living and working in London, a diversified multi-national city. I’m a sucker for old spy tales & politics, and both elements are there setting the suspense. However, I’d like to think that the book would appeal to anyone, even just because of my descriptive London imagery, a city I’ve learned to love (hence the #ComeSeeLondonThroughMyEyes campaign).

Q: What was the most interesting bit of information you uncovered in your research for And the Wolf Shall Dwell?

A: Two things: SIS (and all the British secret services) publish their annual reports – available for the public to download. And the second is that the City of London is so heavy in history and interesting places – that you wouldn’t fit them all even if you wrote a thousand books.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: On raising two small children with my wife (2 years plus, and a 7 month baby) – which is a full time job even when it’s not!

Featured Author: Peter Ryan

Periodically, a book will come around that deserves some additional attention. While this one is not in the Geek & Sundry competition, it’s got eleven days remaining in its campaign. Time being of the essence, I felt it prudent to weave it in with this batch of featured author posts. Take a look at Peter Ryan‘s Sync City.


Sync City CoverAbout Sync City

Armed, surly and vulgar. Jack Trevayne is humanity’s best hope for the future. Just don’t tell him.

Sync City is the first part of the Sync City cycle, a story set on Earth in a dystopian past, present and future.

Jack Trevayne is a Keeper, a blunt, no-nonsense enforcer for a group of pacifist post-humans known as the Deacons. Jack’s responsibilities, with the help of his sentient motorbike and sometimes partner Vic, are to keep the timelines clean and protect humanity by killing the War Clans and the Scythers. He also doesn’t mind a drink or two along the way. But this is only part of the story. Forces beyond his understanding are dragging Jack into a battle to save the planet from an artificial intelligence known as the First Code. He’s done this before. He doesn’t want to do it again. But he has no choice.

Life is complicated – Jack is not.

Warbler’s note — check out the video promo and audio episodes on YouTube.

Q: What part of your novel’s world excites you most?

A: I love beginnings, and I love contrasts. The start of a new book, whether reading or writing, is an exciting time. The whole story lies ahead of you and the possibilities are endless. With Sync City I try to get off to a scorching start and maintain the momentum throughout. I want the reader to jump straight into the story with me and hang on for the ride.

With Sync City I also attempt to blend two stories into one book. We follow not only Jack Trevayne’s (the protagonist) current adventure, but also explore his backstory. How the two adventures weave and inform each thread of the story was tremendous fun to write and, hopefully, to read.

I also love the Spartan nature of the world in which Jack exists. In our present society we are overwhelmed with information and choices. The backdrop to this story is sparse and unforgiving. The choices are simple – live or die. On top of that, the technology that exists in Sync City is well beyond current day standards, but the way the technology is employed harks back to a simpler time. The excitement I derived from writing the book was as a consequence of these contrasts.

Q: What are some novels that are similar to yours?

A: In terms of character development and dialog, Sync City is very much hard-boiled in nature. The characters have a tough existence and need to make tough decisions – they kill drink and they kill hard. Raymond Chandler was a definite influence, as was Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon. The much overlooked James Crumley’s The Mexican Tree Duck had to be involved in there as well.

In terms of setting and feel, many people who have read the earlier drafts end up comparing Sync City to movies rather than books, with Blade Runner and the original Australian version of Mad Max being among the most common.

Q: When do you expect your book to be released (knowing that it’ll get Quill)?

A: My funding period with Inkshares is up in a eleven days. My manuscript is complete, though there is some proofreading to complete at my end. If I go down the Quill path, the time between manuscript submission and printed books is estimated to be around four months.


And while we’re on the subject of campaigning books on Inkshares, there’s another important book you can’t miss. JF Dubeau, author of The Life Engineered, is funding another book on Inkshares.

A God in the ShedPrototype_4 is funding for another week (7 days!), and has only 72 books left—at the time of this writing—to achieve full Inkshares funding status. Take a look and consider helping JF—really, a terrific guy—out with his second novel.

Featured Author: Tal M. Klein

Readers, it is once again time to feature a group of great books on the blog. Inkshares is running a new contest, this time with Geek & Sundry, searching for the next great works of hard science fiction. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of hard sci-fi, I boil it down to this: hard sci-fi is fiction that builds upon the known rules of plausible science, emphasizing and explaining the science as an integral part of the world and/or plot. That definition might not capture hard sci-fi for diehard fans, but it’ll suffice for us. So, let’s dig into our first featured author, Tal M. Klein, and his book, The Punch Escrow.

Cover Tal M KleinAbout The Punch Escrow:
It’s summer in New York, 2471. Teleportation is the elite mode of transportation. Air pollution isn’t a problem anymore. Advanced nanotechnology has made everlasting life possible. Artificially intelligent things make daily chores a cinch. And yet for some reason, everybody seems to want Joel Byram dead.

Trouble is, Joel doesn’t seem to want to die.

Disavowed and hunted, he must reluctantly fight against the laws of both man and science to survive. Armed only with his wits and an encyclopedic knowledge of trivia, Joel isn’t giving up on reclaiming his life (and his wife).

Don’t blame the mosquitoes though, they’re only helping.


Q: What’s your favorite thing about your world?
A: I guess my favorite things about my version of Earth in the 25th century is that it’s not particularly dystopian, or at least not much more dystopian than Earth today. Sure, since much of commerce and social discourse is tethered to internet connected cranial implants, Big Brother is technically “bigger,” but humanity has compensated for it in creative ways. Some people choose to disconnect sometimes, some “cut the cord” all together. Also, I really enjoyed coming up with the ways in which humanity overcame climate change and pollution, like mosquitoes that are genetically modified to “eat” carbon gases, exhale air, and excrete water. Having four centuries between me and the protagonist is a very comfortable buffer with which to evolve society and technology.

Q: Why did you choose to fund with Inkshares?
A: I chose Inkshares because I wanted to connect directly with readers. I really love my book. Writing it has been an amazing experience. When you’re not a “professional” author, it means juggling writing between work, family, friends. I didn’t want to put control of these characters and this world I’d created in my precious “stolen” time in anybody else’s hands. The Inkshares community and staff were incredibly welcoming. My good friend Peter Birdsall recently got his book funded on Inkshares and his experience was great. I considered others like Unbound and Reedsy, but Inkshares had the best platform for what I was trying to do.

Q: What books out there are similar to yours?
A: First and foremost, I really feel an immense amount of debt to Andy Weir, Ernest Cline, and Scott Meyer for inventing the “hard science fiction and also fart jokes” genre. They really paved the path for my protagonist’s voice. Second, since teleportation is front and center in the plot, I wanted to ensure I really studied and understood the science behind what would make it possible, how it might become a pragmatic form of transportation. Other than Ned Beauman’s “The Teleportation Accident,” I haven’t really been impressed by the way most novels have handled teleportation. The best treatment I’ve ever seen of teleportation is in the short film “The Un-Gone” by Simon Bovey.


Stay tuned for more featured authors over the next few weeks, and be sure to check out the contest at Inkshares.

Featured Author: Patrick Jamison

Inkshares is running another contest with the Nerdist, so I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce the work of a fellow author. Without further warbling, here’s Patrick Jamison’s Infinity Mind.


About the book:

Mason is a non-violent protester against the dictatorial government of Raquel Velasquez, the reigning leader of El Dorado, the oldest and most secluded colony on Mars. For his actions, he is thrown in jail, beaten to within an inch of his life, then recorded as dead.

Waking up in a lab, Mason soon discovers the government’s ulterior motives for his arrest when he realizes he has been surgically altered to have telepathic abilities. He is the first success in an ongoing experiment to create unstoppable assassins — a telepathic police force that will quell all resistance to the Velasquez regime. Despite his resistance, he succumbs to the brainwashing techniques of his new master, Oduya, the right hand man to Velasquez.

Oduya, the project’s mastermind, is a terrifying man on his own. With a past both dark and dangerous, he has his own motives for creating telepathic agents, motives that could have deadly consequences. Mason is sent on missions to eliminate all individuals who threaten Velasquez’s government — many of whom were former colleagues — but when his next mission is to eliminate his wife, Sabina, remnants of his old self create a war that jeopardizes his programming.

Will Mason break free and rise up against the dangerous man whose control extends far deeper than the grasp he has on Mason’s mind? His actions, for good or ill, will define a new political era and a power that extends to the infinite depths of the mind.

About Patrick Jamison: 

Patrick Jamison is a life-long lover of space opera, starting with Star Trek and moving far beyond from there. He is fascinated by alien cultures, galaxy-spanning plots, and the deeply flawed humans that inhabit these stories.

Outside of his passion for sci-fi and space opera, Patrick works in a community resource center, has two cats, and has a deep love of coffee and chocolate. Quite often, he can be found on a Saturday morning in a coffee shop, furiously typing a story, while listening to electronica.  He’s also currently learning how to play the violin – so far, it’s ear-piercingly screechy.

Q: What inspired you to tell this story?

A: Considering my love of Star Trek, it might be surprising that the inspiration for this story is because of a disinterest in sci-fi with aliens in it. It seems every sci-fi blockbuster from Hollywood deals with aliens that are on their way to obliterate humanity.

Then I stumbled on three things – the movies Moon and Children of Men, and the short-lived TV show Charlie Jade.  All three tell compelling and engrossing sci-fi stories that feature no aliens.  Moreover, they also feature average people in the lead roles, someone who is not ready to be the hero of the story, yet somehow manages to save the day.  Usually, this is from accepting the importance of their unique skills play and the realization that if no one else is able to solve the crisis, then it has to be them.  (Well, the guy in Moon doesn’t exactly save the day, but he leads the viewers in a compelling exploration of self and what it means to be who he is – it’s absolutely fascinating.)

I wanted to write a story like that, but make it a bit more space opera-y than Moon, Children of Men, or Charlie Jade.  That’s how Infinity Mind came about.  It takes place in a colony on Mars and involves space opera elements like telepathy, but it takes it in the direction that these inspirations led me in – Mason starts out as an average person, not ready for the monumental task ahead of him, but then he realizes that no one else will do it for him.  He sets out to free the colony from oppression.  But in the true tradition of space opera, there are other strategies at play from competing powers – everybody has their own agenda and rarely do those plans ever overlap.

Infinity Mind is, I believe, a compelling story with fascinating characters.  I wanted this story to be told by these characters only – so I took the time to really enrich them.  I didn’t want a plot where, basically, any character could be swapped out with someone else.  No, these characters were meant for this story, and this story was meant for this book.  Infinity Mind is a real ride, I promise you, but I hope you’ll also come to care as deeply about the characters as I do and really root for them throughout the story.