Excerpt: Propheticus

Author Emma Daley has stopped by today with a teaser for the Propheticus Blog Tour! Here’s an excerpt from her work:

I knocked on the door of the tiny desolate hut and waited in anticipation as I prepared myself to face my past. The camp was far from any of the others and was not as well kept. From the branches of the trees hung the carcasses of tiny dead ani­mals that seemed to be fresh. The fire pit was freshly used, I would say the night before. And all kinds of spears and daggers lay tilted against the outside of the hut. Somewhat fresh foot­steps marked the ground in puddles. They seemed to be going nowhere and everywhere. It was as if she had been pacing the ground over and over and not all in the same spot. I finally spotted a shadow move from within the hut, and called out to the woman. But she hung in the shadows and the only sign that she was even there was the scampering around I heard within the hut and the clanking of things in her path. I called to her to come out from the shadows, reciting the story I had shared with the tribe earlier, in hopes of the same welcoming reaction. She still refused to emerge, so I waited in her tiny camp for her to respond. The children that had followed me there played hide-and-seek in the nearby trees and every once in a while when they heard the clanking from inside the hut and we thought she might emerge, the children were jolted from their carefree game and stood poised to see the woman inside. That went on for hours. I began a different tactic, sing­ing tunes that the Justerians used to sing to their prey to lure them into their hunting traps. It was habit, I suppose. But still there was nothing.

After hours had passed and the copper moon departed, the woman’s tall figure slowly crept out of the dark shadows of the hut. I stared in awe at her physique. She was tall and lean with short golden hair that sparkled in the dark and piercingly blue eyes. She wore leather clothes and always had a weapon strapped to her belt. When she walked, it seemed more like pacing or scurrying the way animals moved when they were on a hunt.

Author Links:

Propheticus Blog

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback





Excerpt: In the Shadow of Vesuvius

Author Liz Carmichael has stopped by today with a teaser of her book In The Shadow of Vesuvius

All I wanted then was for Levi to put down the tray and leave. Every delay, even the most minor ones, made me want to scream until I had no voice left to scream any more. The sooner Levi went downstairs and cleaned up the kitchen, the sooner he would go to the slave quarters. Then he and the rest of the house would sleep, or at least be out of the way, and I could leave.

But not today – oh, no. Today, he wanted to talk, and he dropped onto the mat next to Remy with a huge, lop-sided grin on his stupid face. His dark-lashed ebony eyes shone with some inner pleasure I neither knew, nor cared to know about.

‘Don’t you have any work to do?’ I folded my arms across my chest.

‘No, I ate while I helped Cook. Then I cleaned the kitchen while Dominus and Domina dined. I’m all yours for now.’ His ridiculous, broad grin stayed teeth-grindingly in place.

‘Well,’ I snapped, ‘Remy won’t eat with some bug-eyed fish staring at him. And I don’t mean the one on the plate. If he becomes too excited he won’t settle for siesta, and that means he’ll be fretful when I take him to his mother.’ With fists on hips, I glared at him. ‘You know what happens then, don’t you?’

Jumping to his feet, Levi held up his hands in surrender. ‘Forgiveness, Domina Mirabelle. Just trying to be friendly, no need to turn into an old shrew. I’ll leave you in peace. Eat. Enjoy.’ Before I could say anything else he left. That’s when I saw the slices of spiced chicken and olives, with a small chunk of cheese and half loaf of bread next to them. Levi had remembered how I much hated fish – eel most of all – or had Cook remembered? Maybe bringing the fish for Remy was Levi’s way of covering up what he had really brought for me.


About the Author

Although born in Scotland and spent time in other countries, Liz is now happily settled in Melbourne, Australia. She is an editor as well as a writer and avid reader – especially historical fiction – who loves researching, though she can get so caught up in research she forgets about the story she’s researching for.

Liz also draws and paints for relaxation, and will do illustrations for her books whenever possible. She walks her daughter’s dog because both need the exercise.

She has a Dip. Art (Professional Writing and Editing), and taught writing and editing for two years until the need to concentrate fully on her own writing took over again.

Her favourite authors, in no particular order, are: Sue Monk Kidd, Sara Donati, Geraldine Brooks, Vanora Bennett, Sarah Dunant, Cormac McCarthy, Markus Suzak, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Robert Harris. For Crime: Michael Connelly, Minette Walters, Jeffrey Deaver, and Dean Koontz for his crime with humour. Newest favourite authors are Anne Obrien and Pauline Gedge – writers of historical fiction, of course.

Author Links:


Purchase on Amazon for Kindle

Purchase on Amazon in Paperback

Purchase on Barnes & Noble

Excerpt: Oblivion’s Forge

Simon Williams returns to the blog after yesterday’s interview with an excerpt!  As promised, here’s the first chapter of Oblivion’s Forge, the first in the Aona series.  This novel is available on Completely Novel and Amazon.  

More information about Simon’s novels can be found at his website, www.simonwilliamsauthor.com.

I – A Single Word


 As the blackness closed before him, and the fury of the void flung him half-broken to the rocky ground, he thought for a certainty that this would be his last moment.

A dull red sun hung in the distant west, on the point of dissolving into the dusty horizon. Behind him, a scream that seemed to come from the earth itself was cut short savagely, and the black portal that had spat its fury at the unwilling watcher vanished from the world forever.

Vornen opened his eyes hours later, with the sun a faint memory in the west and a biting cold wind tugging at his ragged clothing. Already the first hint of frost settled upon the ground.

Continue reading

Author Interview: Simon Williams

It is my great pleasure today to have Simon Williams on the site, author of the Aona series. As part of a two-stop visit, today I feature an interview with him. Tomorrow, we’ll get a chance for a sneak peek into his novel, Oblivion’s Forge.

Gwen: It’s good to have you here today, Simon! Tell us a little bit about the Aona series.

Simon: It’s a series of what may well end up being five books- the first two are completed and pubished and I’m working on the third. Hopefully I’ll have to available by the end of the year. The series could be described as “dark fantasy” but is also technically futuristic (albeit very distant future) – although this becomes apparent quite gradually.

Rather than a standard chronicle of “good versus evil”, the Aona books are really more about what happens to the characters that make up the story when faced with the threat of evil on all sides- two great forces preparing to do battle. As one such character points out bleakly: “Light and dark, but all of it evil.”

So it’s also about survival and battling against seemingly insurmountable odds, set in a fantasy world which also has elements of “tech” in it (particularly as the story moves on and we learn more about the actual nature of this world and how the various races came to be here).

Gwen: Your first book, Oblivion’s Forge, is about what happens when a race of beings find something that they’ve been searching for for a long time. It’s a classic theme of literature but I’m wondering, was there anything in your own life that sparked the choice to write an exodus story? Any personal anecdotes behind the creation of Aona?

Simon: Not personally as such, but to an extent, although I wasn’t consciously influenced by any pre-existing works of fiction, I was influenced to an extent by films such as Blade Runner and Terminator 2. That may seem a little odd given that they’re much more sci-fi than fantasy, but anyone who reads the books will see soon enough that the influences are there (somewhat tenuous influences but there nonetheless!)

Gwen: Your world is decidedly dark, with weakening wizards and characters who must make difficult choices. The story is beautifully written but as a writer myself, I know how wrenching it can be to tell these kinds of tales. Were there any moments that you struggled with as you wrote Oblivion Forge and Secret Roads?

Simon: Oddly enough I have no trouble at all writing the dark / disturbing scenes, but I struggled a little for a time when I was putting the characters together and developing their relationships. It wasn’t a major obstacle, but in the third book, The Endless Shore, some of these relationships become more serious, and I need to find a way of making them real, making them work with the story. By this time, with the relationships having become more involved, “deeper” if you will, I’m hoping that they will be easier to visualize. But it’s a part of writing that doesn’t come especially easily, perhaps because of its complexity. The solution is simply to write it, write it again, write it a third time- and keep writing and keep visualizing until it’s there and until it works.

Gwen: With that in mind, as you worked on these stories, did you find that writing them affected your own view of the world or of the people around you?

Simon: It’s the other way round really. I think every writer’s view of the “real” world (and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what is “real” or “true” from what isn’t, given the ever-increasing pace of information) helps shape their works, whether they’re a fantasy writer or not.

Gwen: To talk a little about the book’s mechanics, I know that you’ve recently made the choice to make the Aona books available for Kindle and it seems to have been a hard decision. Tell us a little bit about that.

Simon: It was one of those “if you can’t beat ‘em…” decisions. I’m still a fan of physical books, and I do find it a little sad that authors have been often reduced to selling their books for next to nothing via Kindle, or even giving them away- but that’s the way the world is, and there’s no going back, so I decided to make Oblivion’s Forge available on Kindle- and Secret Roads will also be available soon.

I guess also I like the idea of physical books in that they linger on long after a writer has ceased to exist; somehow, the idea of someone in some future time coming across a hard copy and reading it seems a nice one than thousands of free copies floating pointlessly around in cyberspace…

Gwen: That is a sentiment I definitely agree with. It does make one wonder what books will linger three generations from now.

Switching subjects a bit, do you have any new projects on the horizon?

Simon: There are *always* new projects on the horizon! Aside from the third Aona book, which is progressing well, I’m compiling an anthology of short stories- some older ones that were published a while back, but also some new ones- although I haven’t a clue what to call it yet.

And my other project is a book called The Spiral, which is an experimental work that I can’t even adequately describe as yet! But I’m quite excited about it.

Gwen: How can readers find out more about you and your books?

Simon: My main site is www.simonwilliamsauthor.com but my blog site at www.worldofaona.com is updated much more frequently.

And there are tasters of both Oblivion’s Forge and Secret Roads available on Completely Novel.

Excerpt: The Orphan, the Soul Catcher and the Black Blizzard

Author Kimberlee Ann Bastian has stopped by my blog today with an excerpt from The Orphan, the Soul Catcher and the Black Blizzard for her blog tour. Check it out!

“Harry’s Billiards”

From Chapter 7: Summit – Charlie and Bartholomew arrive at Harry’s Billiards for the gang truce Charlie is to negotiate between Victor (the Polish Leader) and Kalvis (the Lithuanian Leader)

“Ah, Kalvis,” welcomes the bald man as he comes up to the short man, greeting him with a friendly hand. “It’s quite da pleasure, been too long.”

The short man takes his eyes off Bartholomew and addresses the bald man, welcoming him with enthusiasm.

“That it has, my friend,” says Kalvis as he shakes the bald man’s hand. “And how have you been, Harry?”

The bald man frowns. “Not well. Business has been slow.”

Continue reading

Author Interview: Alana Lorens

It’s a busy week for interviews here at A Few Words.  Today, I’m pleased to welcome Alana Lorens to the blog.  Alana’s here to talk about love, law, and the dramatic inspirations behind her new novel, Conviction of the Heart.  

Gwen:  Welcome to the blog, Alana.  Tell us a little bit about Conviction of the Heart.  I know that when I read the summary of the novel, knowing what I do about your background, I found the concept fascinating.

Alana:  Here’s the blurb that kind of sums it up:

Family law attorney Suzanne Taylor understands her clients’ problems—her own husband left her with two babies to raise alone. Now that they’re teenagers, her life is full. The last thing she wants is the romantic attentions of a police lieutenant, no matter how good-looking.

Lt. Nick Sansone is juggling the demands of a new promotion, and doesn’t need complications either. But when he sends a councilman’s battered wife to Suzanne for help, he realizes he wants to connect with the lovely, prickly lawyer on more than a professional level.

They are soon confronted with a different battle, when the abused woman’s husband threatens retribution. The powerful, well-connected councilman can damage both their careers—not to mention hurt those they love. Can they bend enough to admit they need each other in a time of crisis? Or will a husband’s revenge take them down before they ever get a chance?

Gwen:  I know that we all carry some of our own history into our writing but as a fantasy writer, I find that I often have to translate my personal experience.  Now I understand that you have a background in law yourself, Alana.  How did that influence you in writing this book?

Alana: Suzanne’s story is a lot like my story. I went to law school as a single mother with two preschoolers, and during many of their growing-up years, I had my own practice without having a man to contribute to our lives. My practice has been family law all along, and that subject matter carries some real tough issues along with it. I have a bullet hole in my office window, from someone unhappy that I represented their spouse. I’ve sat in hallways with women who were too afraid to even face their abuser, just on the off chance they might look him in the eye and lose their nerve. I’ve taught classes in independence, step by step, showing abuse survivors the way to learn to take care of themselves, mentally, financially and legally.  Of all the things I’ve written, there is probably more of me in this book.

Gwen:  Writing that intensely can be a struggle personally but I’ve found that it often leads to great rewards.

Still, even with stories based on our own experience, there’s often the need to incorporate places and people that we didn’t know about before.  What was one thing you discovered over the course of creating Conviction of the Heart?

Alana:  I’d been to Pittsburgh a number of times, but I really didn’t know much about the various neighborhoods. In order to set the social strata correctly, I had to go visit some of the ritzy sections for the councilman’s home and also the less wealthy to choose a place where we might find the young prostitute Cassandra.

Gwen:  There are so many compelling people that we encounter in this story.  Do you have a favorite character in the book?  Hard question to ask a writer, I know…aren’t they all our favorite characters?

Alana:  It is hard to choose! Suzanne is so much like me that I can’t really call her my favorite. Nick Sansone, the hero, on the other hand, is a great guy who’s never found the right woman, and so he’s over 40 and never married. He’s not looking for casual sex or time-wasting dates. His mom and dad had a wonderful, solid marriage that lasted for forty years, and they raised him to respect that lifestyle, so that’s what he wants, too. It’s kind of a staple in the Pittsburgh culture—families with strong religious roots and ethnic ties, blue collar, solid citizen. And Nick is definitely cut from that cloth. When the villain takes Nick’s good name and reputation and trashes it, it pains Nick probably more than a bullet wound could have done, because he really values the honor he brings to the table.

Gwen:  Let’s go back to Suzanne for a moment.  This character is surrounded by adversity in her life.  She’s a family law attorney, she’s raising teenagers alone, and she has this tremendous case looming ahead.  What do you think her greatest challenge is?

Alana:   She’s pretty confident about her abilities in the courtroom, so I don’t think she’s really preoccupied with the technical aspects of defending her client, Maddie Morgan, against her abusive husband. Once the abusive husband makes the case personal, attacking first Suzanne, then her new relationship, and finally her defenseless children, then she really has to kick up her game to the highest level. She has some really good kids, and they’ve been a little insulated from their mother’s job—but a real villain knows how to break into those mother-child bonds.  Sadly for him, he doesn’t realize just what this mama grizzly will do to protect her children.

Gwen:  As a mother myself, I can really relate to strong women with a lot on their plates.  How does Suzanne find ways to cope with everything that she faces?

Alana:  Suzanne has created a little corner of her own in her remodeled farmhouse, a home office that nourishes her and she can go there when she needs to de-stress:

Several hours later, the dishes done, daughters in bed, Suzanne retired to her office to complete the work she’d brought home. She spread her materials out on the polished oak rolltop desk, one of the prized possessions of her sanctuary.

                When the farmhouse had been remodeled, Suzanne had taken great pains to make this room as comfortable as possible, because she planned to spend a lot of time in it.  The southern exposure held a bay window with a seat cushion matching the sage and mustard, large-flowered chintz draperies which fell from ceiling to floor, ruffling softly at the bottom. The room’s west window was filled with plants, hanging, potted, rooting, that benefited from the long hours of sunshine each day. Paintings of geraniums and other flowers hung on off-white walls. A conversation corner grouping of natural rattan with soft flowered cushions, ruffled pillows and a glass-jar lamp filled with sea shells completed the office.

It also allows her to work from home when she can, so she can keep an eye on her teenaged daughters—in this day and age, unsupervised teens can get into so much trouble so quickly!

Gwen:  I’m pretty sure that was true even back when I was a teenager.  [grins]  So I’ve got to ask–we know about Suzanne but how about you, Alana?  Do you have any coping strategies you’d like to share with us?

Alana:  Juggling so many things as I do, I definitely relate to the need to create space for myself. One of the best gifts I’ve come across lately is the ability to say “no” when people ask me to volunteer for things. Sure, I probably could do whatever it is, but if it’s going to create pressure and upset the rest of my day, then is it really worth it? Not usually. This leaves me time to say “yes” only to those things I really want to do.

Gwen:  There’s one last question that I’d like to ask before we go and it’s perhaps a tricky one to answer.  Conviction of the Heart deals with the difficult topic of domestic violence.  Do you have any advice for authors who write about sensitive themes?

Alana:  Some of the women and men I’ve worked with over the years have been the strongest people I know, and have lived through lives that would bring others to their knees. If I’m able to convey part of this journey in a way that explains their situation to others—i.e. answer the question “Well why doesn’t she just leave?”—which isn’t really the          questions at all—then I’ve shed a little light that might help make the next survivor’s road easier.  Domestic violence is epidemic in this country and even worse in other countries around the world. Shining a light on those who’d like to help , and being thoughtful about how their stories are conveyed, is something I think authors can do.

Gwen:  Is there anything you’d like to share with our readers?

Alana:  I hope you read CONVICTION OF THE HEART, and that you enjoy it. The issue of domestic violence is one that creeps through the social strata of our society, men and women, rich and poor, young and old. The Centers for Disease Control announced last week findings from a ground breaking study that indicates domestic and sexual violence against American women at epidemic rates that affects “on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.” Everyone can help—contact your local battered women’s shelter or support agency and find out how you can volunteer.

Not sure where yours is?  Look it up here: http://www.ncadv.org/resources/StateCoalitionList.php

To purchase Conviction of the Heart, visit Alana’s website.


CONVICTION OF THE HEART (release date June 8, 2012)

And SECOND CHANCES (release date July 2012)

The first and Second books of the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer Series!

Come by the following blogs or live booksignings listed on Alana’s website and leave a comment to be entered in a drawing—at the end of the tour, Alana will give away one ebook copy of each book and one paperback copy of each book—Four lucky winners!

About the Author

Alana Lorens (aka Barbara Mountjoy) has been a published writer for over 35 years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at theSouth Dade News Leader in Homestead, Florida. Her list of publications includes the non-fiction book 101 Little Instructions for Surviving Your Divorce, published by Impact Publishers in 1999, stories in A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women, in December 2008, and A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Parents, in June 2009. Her Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series (as Lyndi Alexander) is available from Dragonfly Publishing; THE ELF QUEEN in 2010, THE ELF CHILD in 2011, and THE ELF MAGE in 2012.

Her newest release (as Alana Lorens) is SECRETS IN THE SAND, in the Crimson Rose line from The Wild Rose Press. CONVICTION OF THE HEART is her sixth published novel, which will be followed in July 2012 with SECOND CHANCES, a women’s fiction with romantic elements story. The Wild Rose Press is also publishing her contemporary romance novella THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE later this summer.

When she’s not busy writing, practicing law or teaching, she takes care of a husband and a bunch of kids and blogs on a variety of subjects, including autism, science fiction and life at Awalkabout.

Author Interview: Peter Giglio

Words can’t express how thrilled I am to have Peter Giglio, Pushcart Prize-nominated horror author, on this site.

Horror is what I cut (or perhaps, sharpened) my teeth on as a young adult and my love for the genre has definitely influenced me as a writer.  Peter is one of my favorite authors, not just in horror but overall.   He takes ordinary people and places them in extraordinary circumstances but he does so without losing the nicks and scars and flaws that make them so real.  His novels tend to resonate with me in ways that I never could have anticipated.  His latest, Beyond Anon, is no different.

Today, we’re discussing both Anon novels along with Peter’s upcoming projects and what keeps him awake at night.

Gwen:  When I first read Anon, it hit me like a hammer because it reminded me of my days working retail.  There’s a line in a Radiohead song, actually, that sums that whole period up for me: “…a job that slowly kills you, bruises that won’t heal…”  And that’s the sense that I had while reading Anon—the idea that there’s a corporation that owns you but that doesn’t even know what it is that they own.

So, Pete, where does Anon come from?  Is there a similar connection between you and previous life experience that contributed to conceiving this novel?

Peter: Oddly, I had great workplace experiences. But I followed the world banking crisis closely. I’d also been reading a lot about Nazi Germany. These things came together at the right time. Then one night I was watching an old re-run of Cheers, of all things, and Shelly Long (aka Diane Chambers) used the word “Anon.” I wasn’t interested in the modern use of the word, a shortening of “anonymous.” I was more interested in the real meaning of the word, and the concept of anxiety and how that feeling leads people to accept things they normally wouldn’t. The trains did run on time during Hitler’s reign of power; he was even Time Magazine’s man of the year.  And his system of evil wasn’t his alone. He was so popular that he was able to sell his brand of evil wholesale. Considering the evil of our financial organizations, I thought about everyone who was able to get a mortgage and seemingly achieve their “American Dream,” whether their loans should have been approved or not. Again, the banks were able to sell wrong by giving people what they wanted.

Anxiety! People worried they’d never own a home. Anxiety! Europe was anxious for stability! Anxiety! That was where I wanted to take Anon. And that archaic word—which means soon, presently, shortly, immediately, forthwith—rang through my head. That’s what financial organizations had promised—Anon! Why wait? You can have it now. Who cares that there might be a bigger price to pay in the long run. You want it now, don’t you? So I dredged up my past in Corporate America and twisted every experience into something useful.

Gwen:  Anon was published in June of 2011.  Since that time, we’ve seen a lot of change—or attempted change—directed at institutions.  I’m going to use Occupy Wall Street as an example here but there are others.  Do you think that readers can identify more with a story like this in the wake of economic and political turmoil than they would during a period of economic prosperity?  Did you have any of that in mind as you were writing the novel?

Peter: I was more interested in human nature. But it’s ironic that the “Occupy Wall Street” folks have taken up the word “Anon,” meaning anonymous, as a battle cry. The irony of that isn’t lost on me. I find it humorous. But the book Anon was really pro-individual and anti-establishment. It’s more counter-culture, in my humble estimation, than the “Occupy” movement. After all, the “Occupy” movement is just another organization, though clearly not as organized. Many are there just to feel like they belong to something, with no understanding of what they really stand for. That’s dangerous. I’m not anti-establishment, per se, but I do question groupthink. My views are humanistic and very pro-capitalism. And I do believe that win/win situations exist, as long as people are put first. If you have to kill thousands or bankrupt millions to make a profit, however, I’m not down with that.

Gwen:  What motivates you to tell stories, particularly one like Anon?  Many authors would take a concept like this and sterilize it, but I found it compelling because I could relate to so many of the themes within.  I suppose what I’m really asking here is… when you began writing Anon, what came first?  The characters?  The plot?  Tell us a little about how it developed.

Peter: I kind of hit that above. It was reading about Nazi Germany, following the banking crisis, and listening to Diane Chambers, one of my earliest crushes. Who can go wrong with that strange marriage of ideas, huh? The twins came before Rory, and I originally opened the book with them. It wasn’t working. I needed an impending evil, something we could see coming that they couldn’t. I knew Rory’s story, but he was going to come into the novel as something mysterious. That didn’t work either. So I opened the book with him, made it look like he was going to be the protagonist, then subverted the hell out of traditional structure. As soon as I made those decisions, I knew I’d cracked the code. I knew I had something original. While I was sad that Michelle didn’t get introduced for 15,000 words, the book benefited. It’s a strange book. Thank God it’s a strange book!

Gwen:  One of the things that I’ve always loved about your work, whether it be this novel or one of your other pieces, is your ability to write characters who manage to be both sympathetic and horrifying.  Your villains are rarely just villains and your heroes sometimes fall down on the job.  Let’s take Rory, for instance—did you plot out his journey through the course of the novel or did the changes in his personality and character develop organically?

Peter: Anon developed more organically than anything I’ve written. I created character profiles for everyone, then I let them determine direction. If I couldn’t channel them, I stepped away. I hit a roadblock at one point and abandoned the novel for two months. At another point, Anon was 150,000 words long and a big, fat mess. I had to work the book into a new shape, around 80,000 words, and take out all the parts that didn’t work. It was my first book, so I learned a lot writing it. Things come easier now. So glad I had that experience. For the record, I don’t like archetypes. I like people. If all your good guys wear white and all your bad guys wear black, I don’t want to read your book or watch your movie.

Gwen:  As a horror author, what frightens you personally?  I’ve noticed a lot of social and political themes in your work which is something that I personally find more terrifying than most monsters.  Do you feel the same?  Or is there something more mundane that you tap into when you write your novels?

Peter:  I’m not terrified of vamps or zombies, because, guess what, they don’t exist! I’m afraid of real things: crazy drivers, idiots with power, wild animals, and heights. I worry about heart disease and cancer and…you get the idea. I don’t worry about a zombie apocalypse.

Gwen:  Now if I understand right, Pete, the sequel in this series, Beyond Anon was one of those books that nearly didn’t get written.  That was surprising for me to discover as a reader since from the moment I put Anon down, I wanted to know more about what happened next.  What changed your mind?

Peter: Like I said earlier, I am a capitalist. Anon didn’t sell for the first six months it existed. How could I write a sequel for a potential readership of 50 people? Other things I was doing were starting to catch fire, so I thought Anon would be the forgotten first novel. I’m really glad I got to write the sequel, because it means the first book has readers. In fact, it’s my most widely read piece of work.

Gwen:  What was the most difficult thing about writing a sequel?

Peter:  Finding Michelle six years later. She was always going to be the focus of the sequel. But who was she? I didn’t start writing ‘til I found her, and I found her a lot sooner than I expected.

Gwen:  The thing that pulled me into Beyond Anon immediately was Michelle, your protagonist (who happens to be gay).  As a bisexual woman myself, I find it rare that I see my own feelings reflected so clearly in fiction, much less in fiction where the point of the story is not homosexuality.  I loved the way that you managed to give us a sense that sexuality was a part of Michelle’s life but not the whole of it.  Can you tell us a little about the challenges of writing a character who was dramatically different from yourself?  Or was she really that different?

Peter:  She’s a lot different than I am. I never went through anything remotely like what she did. So I had to consider who she was. I had to find her anger, and I had to embrace it. I consider myself an empath, so I enjoy looking at things through a new set of eyes. Getting into Michelle’s head was challenging and fun. I had to ask a lot of “what if?” questions and figure her out before I could write the book. Like I said, it all came quicker than I expected. I revisited Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy a couple of times so I could avoid making the same mistakes he did. I love Michelle deeply. And I always knew that if I could find a way to love her without sexualizing her or playing out cheap male fantasies, I would succeed. I think I did.

Gwen:  I definitely feel that you did.

Did you or do you have any fear in telling Michelle’s story?  I know that there is often a perception that people outside of a particular class or group, particularly one of minority status, can’t tell their stories.  Personally, I disagree but what’s your take on it?

Peter: I think we all have to tell human stories. Michelle told me she was gay. I could ignore that revelation or explore it. I explored it. To ignore her wishes would have betrayed the character. And to turn the character into something cheap or tawdry because of the revelation would have missed the point. Strong gay characters are prevalent in romance fiction—as if they are only defined by rules of attraction. And when they are in other types of shows or movies or books, they are generally over sexualized. It’s important to note that I’m not a revolutionary. Joe R. Lansdale’s Hap & Leonard books showed me the way. Joe often leads, and young writers would do well to pay close attention to everything he does. Everything!

Gwen:  Michelle is also compelling for the way that she attacks not only Anon as a corporation but other social institutions.  There are a lot of themes woven into this novel and references to struggles that all of us are facing today (religious discord, gay rights, social justice)—tell us what inspired you to go deeper into some of these issues.

Peter:  I was working themes of organizational evil. It was all a natural progression. Ignorance and hatred, after all, are taught.

Gwen:  Now that you’ve closed the door on the Breedloves, what’s next on the horizon?

Peter: Several new books, short stories, and screenplays. I wrote a novel with Scott Bradley that’s coming soon from Ravenous Shadows. It’s called The Dark, and it has received positive advance reviews from many respected novelists and screenwriters. And Scott and I have written a slew of short stories that will appear soon in various anthologies, including John Skipp’s PSYCHOS, which also features work by Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Thomas Harris, and many others. Not too shabby, huh? I have a two year option on the screen adaptation of Rick Hautala’s Little Brothers, which I plan to write with Scott, and we’re still shopping our feature-length adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Night They Missed the Horror Show,” endorsed by Joe. I’m also working with Eric Shapiro on a few projects that are top secret. And I have my next two solo novels outlined, as well as a couple of short novels with Scott, all of them waiting patiently for me.

Gwen:  If readers want to find out more about you and your work, what’s the best way for them to do so?

Peter: The best way to find out about my work is to buy a book and read it. If you’re not ready to buy, go to www.petergiglio.com. But, seriously, the Anon eBook is $2.99, less than the cost of a McDonald’s value meal or a fancy drink at Starbucks. I spent a year of my life writing it, not 20 seconds frying cheap mystery meat or frothing fattening cream and overpriced coffee.

[Editorial note: I’d like to add that while Peter raises a good point about the price and availability of his novels, you don’t buy a Peter Giglio novel because it’s cheap. You buy it because it’s good.]

You can find Anon on Amazon in e-book and paperback format. The sequel, Beyond Anon, just came out today in paperback!

Free literary novel today & 6/8/12 – Sykosa

Readers of A Few Words may recall that some months ago, I posted an excerpt of a YA novel that received a lot of comment because of its “YA for 18+” marker. Sykosa fostered a lot of great conversation on my social networks, including two guest posts from the author Justin Ordoñez on “Defining the Book that Rejects Definition.”

Well, I’m very happy to report that Sykosa, is available on Amazon for free through June 8th.

I’d love to hear what others think, both of the novel and of the concept of defining YA by age. I think as authors further explore this genre, we’re going to see more conversation of this type occurring.

TIL #2: Thomas Edison’s To-Do List, Octavia Butler, & the Creepiest Drum Ever Made

I don’t know if this week’s list is actually so much things I like as it is things that fascinate me. (Really this feature should be called “Random Things That I Saw on the Internet This Week” but it’s a bit late now.) My time is short today so I’ll keep this brief as well.

#1: Thomas Edison’s To-Do List

I know that we’ve all had those days where our To-Do lists seemed insurmountable. I was feeling that way this weekend…until I saw Thomas Edison’s.

The lists have everything from “ink for the blind” to tons of mysterious machines. It’s a bit like glimpsing into the thoughts of a mad scientist. I’m sure the Oatmeal would agree.

#2: Octavia Butler fanvid

The Parable series by Octavia Butler is one of my favorite works by any artist ever. It speaks to me in ways that few other books have. It could be my personal–and strong–connection to that story but when I saw this video, it brought a tear to my eye.

#3: A Drum made out of human skulls

As an author who writes novels named after artifacts, I’m always keeping my eyes open for new ones. I uncovered this ritual pellet drum from Tibet in the digital collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Man, do they have some great objects!)

Whenever I find myself looking at an artifact like this, it brings to me all kinds of questions. Why did they use human material in the making of the drum? How was it obtained? For what rituals was it used? Through what hands did this drum pass? What about the artifact are we misinterpreting simply because of its age and provenance?

A lot of interesting questions. I may have to do some further research later on.

Excerpt: Dissolve

Today, we bring you the first chapter from Dissolve by Andrea Heltsley!

I felt a lurch in my stomach as the room spun and the night caught up to me. I didn’t even have the chance to excuse myself from the tall dark and handsome I had been dancing with all night. I drank too much too fast. All the hangover remedies in the world weren’t going to be able to fix this blunder.

The nightclub lights were swirling into melted colors and the music was turning from techno to smashing beats inside my head. Slowing to steady my breath, I bit back the metallic taste and rushed out of the crowd and into the bathroom.

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