Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

 I’m thrilled to have Mercedes M. Yardley, dishing out some great advice on how to finish that book on my blog today!

Five Tips for Getting the Book Done When You Don’t Wanna      

By Mercedes M. Yardley

  1. Get yourself a deadline.

Or, preferably, have your agent or publisher get you a deadline. Because believe you me, you’ll take your deadline a whole lot more seriously if other people are holding you to it. Editors, artist, and layout will all be depending on you. Nobody likes that feeling of being the weakest link. Don’t let it be you. You’ll work faster, I promise.

  1. Minimize Distractions

This might mean turning off your phone. It definitely means turning off your TV. The phone was created for your convenience, and right now it might not really be that convenient. Turn it off, as well. Can you put a sign up on your door so people won’t drop by? The neighbor kids aren’t allowed at your house today. This isn’t an everyday thing, of course. You don’t want to shut your life inside of a box permanently. But when you’re on a tight deadline and your nose is to the grindstone, be ruthless. Ruthless. Rawr.

  1. Readjust Your Standards

The world tells us that we can do it all. We can balance careers, home, and family effortlessly. Have shiny white teeth. Run faster and smell better, jump higher and do it all with grace.

You know what? The world lies. When you’re really doing your best to hit a tough deadline, you’re simply going to have to let some things drop. Scale everything down a notch. The house doesn’t need to be as clean as usual. The kids won’t die if you do take-out or cereal for a few nights. The television that never goes on? Now’s a good time to delight the kiddos with a movie so you can work.

It isn’t forever. But it really is okay to let things fall for a little while. You and your love ones will make it through.

  1. Learn to say no.

It’s difficult. Friends are going to ask you to go to the movies. They’ll want to go hiking and come over to hang out. And that’s okay most of the time. But if you’re on a tight deadline and you really need to finish your book, then you’re going to have to say no more than you’d like.

But when you’re finished? Then say yes. Yes, yes, yes to everything. You’ll have plenty of time to play!

  1. Use Self-Restraint.

Literally. There are two free downloadable programs that will block you from using certain internet sites during your productive time. Self-Restraint is for your PC and Self Control is for the Mac. Use them to block your access to Facebook, to your email, and your favorite sites that you find yourself mindlessly scrolling instead of focusing on your writing. Use it for 15 minutes. An hour. A day. When the time is up, you can access these sites again.

And when your book is finished, things can go back to normal. I promise.

At least until the promotion section begins. Then, my friend, you’re simply on your own.  Best wishes to you.


About Mercedes M. Yardley: I have two broken laptops, three kids, a husband and no time to write, although I try my very best. I like to write stories. I like to write poems. I like to write essays and sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they aren’t. I’m the author of Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, and Nameless: The Darkness Comes, which is the first book of what I’m calling The Bone Angel Trilogy. I specialize in the dark and beautiful

Want More Mercedes M. Yardley: Website | Twitter


Maze_coverTread carefully, today presents us with this fantastic guest post by J.M. McDermott!

Traveling through most major cities outside the East Coast on foot is a terrible idea. I lived in Fort Worth for a while and I tried to walk and ride a bike as much as I could, but it meant dressing in long jeans and a denim jacket even in high summer for the brambles and trickling weeds. There aren’t safe paths for foot traffic since everyone drives. Pedestrians are dangerous. They must be vagrants and criminals and folks that don’t belong.

We have forgotten what hills and valleys mean, mostly. Living in hills used to mean climbing them all day, every day. Living in mountains was a physical act, not just a view. The material reality of 40,000 years of human history isn’t lost completely for us, who ride the top of human slavery by any other name in this world of ours, but that is a topic for another day. I was watching a fantasy film too much, observing the way we imagine a more interesting world, with goblins and kings and a labyrinth of stone. The film was Henson’s Labyrinth. I have seen it so many times, I could play it scene-by-scene, line-by-line in my memory. But, materiality of things: If I set foot in such a place, I would die long before I ever found the goblin city.

Heroic heroes are actually very dull. Childhood is heroic and someone will win top of the class, a trophy, a race and a game. Adulthood is the realm of confusion, mixed blessings, failure, the long, slow decline. My book is more interested in the muddle and confusion of living, because my only hope in the maze is to find other survivors there, form tribes, hold what place we can against the monsters that are always around the next curve in the stones.

Maze is a book of survivors, lost but hanging on together. Most of them are human enough.

There is a material reality that is hard to imagine when every night we sleep on a full stomach in an air conditioned room. Imagine walking off into the dark where all doors and windows are closed against you, and every turn in the path is a mystery and a menace. Life is a maze, and we fight for our place in the known spaces, with what magic spells we muster to hold dominion where we stand.

 About the author: J.M. McDermott is the author of Last Dragon, Disintegration Visions, The Dogsland Trilogy, and Women and Monsters. He holds an MFA from the Stonecoast Program from the University of Southern Maine. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Maze is his new weird/dark fantasy novel published by Apex Book Company. It is available now.

J.M. McDermott can be found on Twitter and over at his Blog.


On the blog today we have an interview with outstanding Generation V Author, M.L. Brennan, who was kind enough to answer some of my burning questions! Tomorrow I will be posting a full review of her novel Generation V. Be sure to be on the lookout for the next book in her series, Iron Night, It’s sure to be killer!

Q:  Ok – I have to ask this – were you influenced at all by the TV show Being Human or movie Twilight? There are certainly similarities between the main characters.

Brennan: While I’ve heard of the show Being Human, I’m sorry to say that I have yet to watch it, so any similarities are purely chance or similar sourcing.

In terms of Twilight – while I never saw the movies, I did read the first two books. While I do have a similarity of vampires and a main character being to some sense shocked into a sense of growth out of a period of just-getting-by stagnation, I think the difference between Fortitude Scott and Bella Swan would be the instigation of the growth. For Bella, it’s meeting a romantic partner that triggers her out of a mindless routine of mediocrity, which is an external trigger. For Fort, though, it’s being faced with a moral situation where the easiest course of action would be to do nothing and return to his normal life, but that he instead chooses to engage with and, as a result, grows and evolves. So for him it’s an internal trigger.

Regarding TV shows – I think I was most influenced by Firefly, primarily the mix of action and high stakes with a hefty dose of humor, but also the extent to which the pilot episode showed Mal Reynolds to be a character who could be pushed very hard by people or events, but that once he drew a line in the sand, he was willing to risk everything, even when all the odds were completely stacked against him. I thought that was an interesting character idea, and it was something that I really wanted to explore with Fortitude Scott.

Q: I loved the depth of information about the vampire breeding and history you created for Generation V. Do you have plans to create a larger world based on this background?

Brennan: Thank you! I was fortunate enough that Roc liked the world of Generation V enough to have an interest in sequels, so I was able to expand on the physiology and the history of the vampires, as well as expand on other species not fully explored initially, in subsequent manuscripts. Right now the sequel to Generation V, Iron Night, will be published on January 7th, and I’m currently finishing the third book in the series. So I’ve gotten the opportunity to really push the boundaries and explore, which is wonderful!

Q: Fortitude Scott and some of the other characters have some “tongue-in-cheek” names, it seems to me, along the lines of the names of characters in Star Wars. (Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo, etc.) Was this intentional on your part and were these the original names for the characters?

Brennan: In my initial construction of the world, the characters actually had fairly standard names that were meant to be representative of their time of origin. Given that this was a set of siblings who were born and shaped by extremely different eras of history, I wanted that to have a reflection in their names. It was much later that I started becoming dissatisfied with this idea (primarily because I really didn’t like a lot of Civil-War era male names), and I re-addressed the names. The oldest sibling, the sister who was born during the American Revolution, had always been named Prudence, and it was during my second pass that I thought about possibly using her name as the start of a theme, and giving all of the siblings a matched set of virtue names. At that point I also realized that I could use their names to give a bit of a hint about the nature of each sibling. Prudence, for example, is literally prudent, but not in a positive way. She would kill a person who might someday cause trouble for her family, for instance, and not be concerned at all. Chivalry is chivalrous, but in a way that has painful ramifications on his life and the lives of those connected to him.

Q: Are any of the circumstances that Fort finds himself in based on some real life experiences on your part?  (Well – we hope not the blood sucking experience!) Or perhaps are you more aligned with Suzume?

Brennan: Oh, definitely. After I’d gotten my undergraduate degree in creative writing, I spent a lot of time taking crappy jobs and experiencing the joys of underemployment. A particular low moment was when I was working for a temp agency, and my boss asked me if I could alter my resume to remove any reference to my college degree – she felt that employers would be more comfortable hiring me if they thought that I only had a high school degree. So that contributed to the way that I chose to shape Fort – as a guy who had a degree that was proving practically useless post-graduation, and was finding it extremely frustrating. I also had my share of crappy apartments – though fortunately I was spared horrible roommates and cheating girlfriends. But I had enough friends who had experienced both that I decided to add that in.

Q: It’s apparent you enjoy this genre of writing. Any other types of writing you would like to work on?

Brennan: I’m really enjoying the directions that urban fantasy has allowed me to explore. Further on I’m sure I’ll want to dip my toes into classic fantasy or sci-fi, both of which I’ve enjoyed for many years.

Q: What is your biggest surprise since becoming a published author?

Brennan: How absolutely lovely people are! This summer I was able to attend ConnectiCon, WorldCon, and NYCC, and I met fantastic and enthusiastic people at all three. So being able to not only attend conventions, but also speak on panels and meet fans of the book through autographing sessions has been a very unexpected but delightful perk of being a published author.

Madeline Ashby is the author of the stellar novel, vN: The First Machine Dynasty and the soon to be released, eagerly anticipated sequel, iD: The Second Machine Dynasty. I’ve been lucky enough to get Madeline to grace my blog and answer a few questions, since she is most assuredly extremely busy with the upcoming launch of iD.

 TS: First thing, how did you come up with the premise for vN and then subsequently iD?

MA: The first novel came about more slowly and organically (pun intended). At first, I started writing a short story about a man who discovers that his wife and daughter are robots. Then I realized that was a Twilight Zone episode, so I figured I should take it from another angle. And then I wrote the prologue to vN. At least, a version of it. And everyone in my workshop basically told me that I wasn’t finished, yet, that what I’d written wasn’t really a story. But I could see the story, and so I wrote it. 

With the sequel, it was a lot faster. A lot of things had changed in my life. I was sitting with my partner (horror writer David Nickle), and we were eating French fries with honey-wasabi sauce at a bar in Toronto’s Greektown, where he lived at the time. We were about to move in together. We were ragged from packing, and we both had books to write as soon as we set up our new office. I had most of the opening of iD sketched out and written, but I needed to go further and I was stuck. So we talked about it, about what that story needed to say and the places it needed to go. And later, when I was still a little bit scared of where it was going, I spoke with my therapist about it. He’s counseled a lot of artists, so we discussed how to invert some of the things I’d done in that first novel, and really show the world from a different perspective. 

TS: In vN, Amy appears as the centralized main character and Javier the “sidekick” ( a very enjoyable one). What made you decide to switch the focus towards Javier in iD?

MA: I felt like I had gone as far as I could, with Amy. At the end of vN, Amy has gone through a metamorphosis that I wasn’t ready to depict just yet. I wanted to see her from the outside — I wanted to see how other people, especially those close to her, would perceive that change. And I thought Javier would be the perfect vehicle for that. He’s such an active character. He always moves the plot along so fast and so decisively. So I knew he could carry that weight. I knew he could dance his way through a whole book, and I knew he had more to say about himself. 

TS: One of my favorite scenes in vN is the way that you could tour the different time periods of the destroyed city of Cascadia. Can we expect similar wonders in iD?

MA: I think you can. False environments, themed environments, branded environments, have always fascinated me. And I really wanted to pick up on that in the second novel. One word: Stepford.

TS: With writing the sequel, was it difficult trying to match the same tone and setting as that in vN or did it come naturally?

MA: I would say it was difficult, but only in the sense that it was difficult for me personally. The actual process was easy, but the mental game was hard. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, because the first book had done so well. I thought there was no way to make lightning strike twice. I had to let go of that expectation first, before I could move forward. And when I finally did, things were a lot easier. The thing about Javier as a character is that he’s terrifically strong — once he’s with me he’s with me, and so I really don’t have to worry about achieving the right voice. 

TS: If you could sum up vN, iD, and the entire “Machine Dynasty” so far, in one or two sentences to those readers unfamiliar to your world: What would you say?

MA: Imagine a world in which robots replicate themselves, like a set of Russian nesting dolls. Imagine that they’re programmed to love us, to care for us no matter what, to fulfill our every need and desire. Now imagine that they start to learn what we’re really like as a species. 

TS: What is your biggest surprise since the publication of vN?

MA: I think the emotional reactions of the people who read the books are always a surprise. I didn’t really think of the first novel as all that disturbing. I recognize, now, that says more about me than it does about other people. But I have people tell me that they were a little scared, a little disturbed, a little swept up. And that’s always a surprise, because they weren’t in the weeds with me, and they didn’t see all the time spent agonizing over word choice. It’s always weird when someone tells you that they read it in a single sitting, or a single day. On the one hand, you’re so very pleased. On the other hand, you almost wish they would read it again slower this time, so they could see everything you did. The first impulse is obviously better: a second, slower read would doubtless expose all the mistakes you made. 

You can find Madeline at her website, or follow her on twitter.

A few months ago I had the privilege of reviewing Apex Publications’ fantastic anthology, Dark Faith: Invocations. One of the short stories in it was “I Inhale the City, The City Exhales Me” by an author I knew very little about at the time, Douglas F. Warrick.  I reviewed his short by describing it as: “…like watching the creation of a deranged anime cartoon come to life. Not normally my thing, but this short rocked and sums up my entire opinion of Dark Faith: Invocation. 5 out of 5 stars.” So what is the point of telling you all this? Oh yea, that’s right, I have that exact same author, Mr. Warrick, here today for a few interview questions. He also has a brand new collection of shorts, Plow the Bones, coming out soon which I will be reviewing.  Hopefully we can stir up some more deranged and fantastical creations, peaking your interests in the works of the writer that is Douglas F. Warrick.

Q: I noticed through social media that you have an affinity for tattoos, which I think is extremely awesome. Do these in anyway cross-over with any of your stories?

I do love getting tattooed.  No matter how much it hurts (and it frequently hurts a great deal, especially on the chest, which is where I’ve gotten my newest one; don’t listen to people who tell you “It didn’t hurt that much,” those people are liars).  I get tattoos for the same reason that I go to the gym.  I have an aesthetic goal I want to reach.  This goal is entirely personal, it doesn’t depend upon whether or not other people find the aesthetic compelling or repulsive.  I just know what I want to see when I look in the mirror.  In that sense, I have a certain amount of leverage over my body.  I can work toward sculpting the shape of it, and I can pay to have it decorated, and then I feel like it’s all mine.  I wonder how many people feel a sense of ownership over their body.  I don’t think any of my tattoos have a particular connection to my stories, though.  I’d love to write something about tattoos at some point, if I can find the right idea.

 Q: If you could sum up your upcoming book Plow the Bones, in just a few sentences to a complete stranger looking to buy the book, what would they be?

 Reading Plow the Bones is like walking through the world’s most melancholy freakshow tent.  If in your secret heart of hearts, you’ve always wanted to read about a punk band made of living clay or a girl whose happiest moment occurs when her head catches on fire, the purchase of this book will fulfill a lifelong dream for you.

 Q: What is it like being an author for Apex Publications?

 Heaven.  I couldn’t ask for a nicer group of people to work with.  Jason Sizemore, Janet Harriett, and Lesley Conner have split their time between promoting the hell out of the thing and coaching me through my frequent bouts of nervous hyperventilation in the lead-up to its publication.  I made my very first short story sale to Apex Digest back in 2006, so Apex feels a little like home to me.  There’s a nice bit of nostalgic symmetry at play.

Q: I have a great fondness for short stories that knock the wind from my lungs and leave me gasping for air. Am I going to suffocate reading Plow the Bones, and do you have a personal favorite within this collection?

 I can’t provide any guarantee that anybody will asphyxiate whilst reading Plow the Bones, unless they’re using it in terribly unorthodox ways.  Don’t try to swallow it or press it firmly against your trachea or read it with a plastic bag over your head.  I can’t afford the legal fees.  But yeah, I hope people are impressed with it.  I hope it breaks their hearts.  I hope it makes people want to write stories.  I think it will.  I’m very proud of this book.  As for favorites, that’s tough.  I think the story I’m most proud of in this collection is “Inhuman Zones: An Oral History of Jan Landau’s Golem Band.”  That was so much fun to write, and it’s the story about which I most often daydream.  It’s a story about live music and local bands and magic and isolation.

Q: I’ve read lots of anthologies and hundreds of short stories, however, I don’t think I have read an entire collection by one author in a single book in a long time. This fact that you have your collection of shorts getting published in a single book speaks volumes for your ability and talent as an author. I would love to hear your input on this?

I love single-author collections.  One of the reasons I love them so much is that they give the reader a chance to explore the recurring themes in an author’s work, themes of which the writer  him or herself may not even be aware.  And in a collection, that experience is more compressed and more immediate than it would be over the course of several longer works.  Pick up Love Ain’t Nothing but Sex Misspelled by Harlan Ellison or Theatro Grotesquo by Thomas Ligotti or Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges.  Each story obviously exists as its own entity, but over and over again, those authors tell us what scares them, what compels them, what angers them, what turns them on.  For a while after reading those books, the reader adopts those attributes into their own thought processes.  Your friends start to remind you of Ellison’s down-and-outers.  The city you live in starts to feel like one of Ligotti’s paranoid industrial wastelands.  Your dreams feel sexy and full of secret importance, like Borges.  If it is very good, a collection allows a writer to infect a reader.  I don’t know that I’m good enough for all that, but I want very much to be.  I hope that I at least get close.

 Q: Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind your short story “I Inhale the City, The City Exhales Me”  ?

 Osaka is a very cool city.  I wish I could spend more time in it.  Maybe some day I will.  The coolest thing about Osaka is that it’s always awake.  There’s always something going on.  Parts of it (especially the parts about which I write in “I Inhale”) are pretty touristy, but that comes with its own bombastic charm.  I knew I wanted to write a story about it, about how bright and kinetic it is.  About a year after I visited Japan, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the attitudes American men have about Asian women, and the depictions of women in some Japanese media.  Through the course of that conversation, I was faced with an interesting conflict.  I’m a feminist (or a feminist ally, if you prefer that nomenclature for male feminists, as I know some do), and I find myself angered by systemic misogyny, regardless of the culture from which it stems.  However, I’m also coming at my feminism from a deeply privileged perspective.  I’m a white heterosexual dude, and because of that privilege, the act of passing judgement on a culture to which I don’t belong feels icky.  So on the one hand, I don’t like the way some Japanese media treats women.  On the other hand, I don’t like the some way white westerners marginalize Asian cultures.  I still haven’t resolved that conflict.  But that was the seed for “I Inhale.”

 My last question:  Any particular reason you have been so successful with your short stories?

 Ha-ha.  It’s strange to read a sentence describing me as “successful.”  I don’t think of myself that way.  So thanks for that, it really does mean a lot to me.  In any case, I’m where I am because I work hard, I read a lot, and a lot of people believed in me.  People stuck by me when I was being obstinate or when anxiety turned me into a hermit.  People encouraged me or kicked my ass or waited patiently, and they were able to intuit when to do which.  If I have any success, I have it because of the support of those really great human beings.

 Interested in finding out more about Mr. Warrick ?

Douglas F. Warrick Bio:

Douglas F. Warrick is a writer, a musician, and a world-traveler.  His first published short story appeared in Apex Digest back in 2006.  Since then, Douglas’s work has been published in a variety of periodicals, websites, podcasts, and anthologies, and has grown progressively stranger.  Douglas originally hails from Dayton, Ohio, but his travels have taken him all over Asia.  Douglas has screamed Buzzcocks lyrics with Korean punk rockers in the neon alleys of Seoul, marveled at the oddness of Beijing’s masked opera singers and illusionists, piloted a bicycle through Kyoto on the way to the Golden Temple, broken up a fight between an Australian tourist and a Thai street vendor in Bangkok, and learned that the world is much weirder more wonderful than anything he could fabricate.

Purchase Plow the Bones (You can still get signed copies!)

Social Media:

Author Blog:


Twitter: @douglasfwarrick

Publisher Website:

Coming May 7, 2013 (US/Canada) – May 2, 2013 (UK)
From Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot Books
Distributed in U.S./Canada by Random House

I’ve been given the pleasure of asking Christian Schoon a few questions, and while doing some research on his background, I’ve come to a conclusion that he is the proverbial jack of all trades. His first young adult novel, Zenn Scarlett is being published by the wildly popular YA publisher, Strange Chemistry. The cover is simply breath taking, I’ve caught myself staring at it in awe multiple times. Mr. Schoon has also as per his webpage bio has: “Acted, toured with a theatre group, sang lead, played bass, and/or wrote lyrics for a number of rock bands, shingled roofs, sold Halloween costumes, wrote for a med school paper…”  and too much more to list. So this leads to my first question.

Q: Is there anything you can’t do?

 Of the one or two things I can’t do (my wife is totally ROFL right now) something I’d LIKE to be able to do is rope, as in: handle a lasso. No, really. This would be useful. We foster horses here on our farm. Most of them come from abuse or neglect situations and a few of them are too wary of humans to be able to put a halter on them or even get close enough to work on their feet if hooves need trimming, etc. In these cases, being able to accurately toss a lariat around a reluctant horse’s neck would be handy. I’ve played around with lariats a little, but when I see someone who can snare a galloping horse, while he or she is also riding a moving horse, I’m filled with deep wonder and admiration. And, around here, it’s not just horses that occasionally need catching. One of the shelters we volunteer with had an emu hop the fence and take off cross-country. I coulda been a ropin’ hero that day.

  Q: I’ve been peeking at the upcoming release of Zenn Scarlett for a while now, the scope of the story sounds very daunting. Are you sure you can cover everything in one book while giving justice to this fresh world you are creating?

Turns out I don’t have to cover all my exoveterinarian bases with one book – the sequel is mostly finished and is due out in about a year. That being said, I do cover a lot of ground in the initial novel. Hopefully, I did my authorial job of fleshing out all the character, creature, cultural and planetary fine-grain detail. Guess you and other readers will let me know how I did.

 Q: I’m curious what difficulties you had writing Zenn Scarlett as the main character is a young female and if you had any problems relating with her emotions or connecting to her since you are a male? Also, I’ve noticed a lot of  male authors recently have strong female leads:  Chuck Wendig – Miriam Black, Jonathan Howard – Katya, and yourself included. Do you have any thoughts on this?

 Great question. I’ve actually had feedback from several early reviewers on this, and they were kind enough/perceptive enough (please choose one) to say I’d done a pretty fair job of nailing this particular element of the story. My friends would say this is due to my never having grown up (or even getting very close). I suspect that’s a big part of it. Also, one of the real-world role models for Zenn is our local veterinarian, who is female, but who also preserves a marvelous eternally-youthful aspect to her own personality as far as her enthusiasm, empathy and fearlessness when it comes to working with animals from tiny kittens to 450-pound black bears or 10-foot alligators. As for the prevalence of strong female characters recently, I’m not really sure of the root cause. For me, as mentioned, it just seemed natural to have my protagonist be a 17-year-old girl; the majority of small-animal vets are female, too. But I’ll go out on a limb and venture that Sigourney Weaver’s breakout role as the kick-ass female xenomorph-slayer in the first Alien film back in ‘79 planted a sort of cultural guidepost that may have had some influence, at least in my SF genre.

 Q: Young Adult fiction seems to be all the rage lately and Strange Chemistry is an excellent incubator for your book to hatch from.  Did at any point in writing this novel did you consider making this just a regular Science Fiction novel and not YA based or was it strictly YA from the onset?

 It was YA from the very start, and the genesis of the book was about eight years ago, so the YA tsunami was just beginning to build. I think this was largely due to my above mentioned arrested development issues.

Q: I’m always interested in knowing what surprises authors once they realize their book is actually getting published! Anything strike you unawares or was the procedure just another old  form-fitting hat thrown on top of a familiar bald spot for you?

 Hey, who told you about my… oh, metaphor… never mind. When I still lived in Los Angeles, I wrote and sold a number of TV scripts. So, some of the print publishing industry procedures – contracts, feedback from agent/editor, etc. – seemed similar to me. But, on the other hand, the initial agent submission process and then submitting to publishers, was a whole new ball game, so the “waiting for The Call” thing surprised me by being such a nail-biter.

 Q: Looking at your “authorial background story” it says you participate in several awesome local animal welfare groups which I think is fantastic! This obviously connects in a way with Zenn Scarlet and her exoveterinarian training,  but does it also have underlying themes within the book ?

 The main thematic link between my animal rescue/rehab volunteer work and Zenn Scarlett’s story is that humans need to be more respectful and tuned in to meeting the needs and preserving the habitats of the animals with whom we share the planet.

 Q: Do you have any other areas you would like to pursue in writing after the Zenn Scarlet series is complete?

Since I’m currently working on the sequel, I’m still pretty well immersed in Zenn’s world and not thinking very far beyond it. But I really enjoy steampunk and have some ideas about something that might be sorta fun to pursue in that realm. I’ll drop in here and let you know if that particular dirigizepp ever gets airborne…

Tons of thanks to Christian Schoon and the folks at Strange Chemistry for allowing me to be about of this blog tour. Need more from Mr. Schoon?

Christian Schoon Bio:

Born in the American Midwest, Christian started his writing career in earnest as an in-house writer at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California. He then became a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in Iowa several years ago, he continues to freelance and also now helps re-hab wildlife and foster abused/neglected horses.  He acquired his amateur-vet knowledge, and much of his inspiration for the Zenn Scarlett series of novels, as he learned about – and received an education from – these remarkable animals.

Pre-Order Zenn Scarlett on Amazon:

Find Christian at:


Author blog:

Twitter: @cjschoon

Publisher’s website:

Somewhere in the dark void of space, reality is splitting open and David Annandale is stepping through, hopefully to answer a few of my needy questions and not squash me for my impertinence.  I’ve already ordered a copy of his limited edition novel, Mephiston, Lord of Death.  While I’m waiting for its arrival to review it, I had a few burning questions burst into my skull. Hopefully, I chose them wisely.

Q: First question, what is it like to gain passage through the iron barred gates and earn yourself a much coveted seat in Black Library’s  prestigious authorial ranks?

 Annandale: I’m no doubt pointing out the obvious when I say that it’s damned exciting. The experience is something along the lines of delighted shock. You mean I get to write about these characters and this world? You mean I get paid to do so? What wonderful lunacy is this? I am very conscious of the privilege it is for a writer to play in this universe, one I most certainly do not take for granted.

 Q: Have they requested anything specific from you to write about? Or do you supply most of the ideas behind your stories and then wait for their approval? Also, what kind of time frame, once a contract is agreed upon do you have to finish in? (I’m sure it varies based on shorts versus full-length novels, etc.)

Annandale: All of this varies according to the nature of the project. Some pieces, if they are part of a group of stories or a particular bit of continuity, will need to be shaped to a specific need. Others are much more wide-open. And the same is true for the time to completion. So I hesitate to say to quantify things too precisely.

 Q: When writing within a setting like Warhammer 40k, that has so much preexisting “fluff” or background, how much extra time does it actually take to do research? Do they supply you with background material or do they have someone always editing for conflicting issues that might arise? This makes me wonder if you ever feel like you are walking on eggshells, just waiting for one to crack and in response an angry fan base will tear you and your desecration of their holy land to shreds?

 Annandale: With a fictional universe this big and rich, there is certainly a responsibility to do one’s utmost to get the details right. I have found the team at the Black Library enormously helpful in this regard. Whatever questions I might have while I’m writing, there is always someone who can give me the answer, and then the editing process is vital in this regard too. The time spent on research again depends on the subject – some characters or factions have a lot more written about them than some others. I don’t think of the research in terms of “extra” time in comparison to non-tie-in work, though. Any book is going to require research, some more than others, and the research for some books is easier than it is for others. The nice thing about researching a Warhammer 40K story is that I never feel that I am alone.

 Q: I’ve heard before in forums and other areas the notion that too much “domesticity” in Warhammer and Warhammer 40k is not what the Black Library is looking for? (I’d rather like to see more of it.) So let me glue this together with my question, is there an area you would love to touch upon and write about that isn’t accessible right now?

 Annandale: I really haven’t felt myself straining against limitations or barriers. Actually, let me rephrase that: I have, but in the sense that I have been encouraged to push myself creatively, breaking down my imaginative barriers, finding out exactly what I am capable of as a writer. And that’s pretty wonderful. So no, I haven’t found myself  wishing I could write about something that was closed off to me.

 Q: Has anything come as a surprise since working for Black Library  that you didn’t foresee since being published by them?

Annandale: What hadn’t sunk into my thick skull properly until I actually started writing for Black Library was that the enormous variety of characters, settings and even story formats would lead to the creative expansion I just mentioned. For example, Mephiston: Lord of Death represents the most sustained use of first-person and present tense I have ever attempted, and my story for The Mark of Calth involves some fragmentation of sentence structure of a sort that I haven’t tackled in a long time, and exercising that writing muscle again was enormously gratifying.

 Q:  Do you have a personal favorite, novel or series, currently published through Black Library by another author?

Annandale: I really couldn’t narrow things down to a favorite. If I picked one, I would instantly think, “Oh, but what about this one?” There have been so many times where I have literally cackled with pleasure while reading the books or listening to the dramas. I’ve been sitting here for the last half hour thinking of all the things that have delighted me in the Tome of Fire trilogy, in Eisenhorn, in the Path of the Eldar trilogy, in Know No Fear, in the Night Lords trilogy, in Fear to Tread, in Gunheads, and so on, and so on, and so on. Too much great stuff. So nope. Can’t do it. If I have to pick, I’m going to start weeping.

 Q: Last question, would you ever be interested in writing for the Warhammer setting and not that of 40k ? If, so what rocky paths would you traverse down?

Annandale: I’m pretty busy in the 40K universe, much to my delight, but I would certainly be very happy to raise some hell in the Fantasy setting too. As to what paths I would follow, I’m sure whichever one presented itself would be fun, though I do have a fascination with all things reptilian.

Want more from David Annandale ? Here is a review of mine covering  his audio Veritas Ferrum. Also you can reach him on twitter HERE.

David’s two other current novels through Black Library are Death of Antagonis and Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha.