Here’s a really lovely Q&A I did!

The truly tedious thing about being unwell a lot is how fast so many things slip through the cracks. This being one of them! The lovely people at asked me if I’d participate in an author Q&A, and of course I said yes because there’s not much I love more than banging on about books and writing. They were great questions, I answered them as best I could, and I hope if you’re an aspiring writer you might find them helpful.

You can read the interview here.

Guest Post: David B. Coe

David B. Coe is another fantasy author whom I met through the work before meeting him in person. I have the clearest memory of reading and recommending David’s books when I had my bookshop. Imagine my joy (and relief!) when I discovered he is a truly lovely guy as well as an entertaining writer. I have read Spell Blind,  the first book in his new urban fantasy series, and it’s a great addition to the genre, highly recommended. It now gives me great pleasure to share this Q&A David and I did recently, to celebrate the upcoming release of his two new books: His Father’s Eyes (August 4) and Dead Man’s Reach (out now) … DBJacksonPubPhoto800

Tell us about your love affair with speculative fiction: when it started, how it’s progressed over the years, which books, authors and experiences have influenced you throughout your career. I was eleven years old and attending a sleepaway summer camp. My parents thought I would enjoy doing theater and so I tried out for a play with a weird name and got the lead part playing a character who had an even weirder name. The play was a dramatization of The Hobbit, and I, of course, played Bilbo Baggins. I loved the role and the story, and upon returning home started reading the book. By the time I’d finished, I was hooked. I read Lord of the Rings, next and knew then that I wanted to read as much fantasy as possible. A few years later, I read Stephen R. Donaldson’s first Thomas Covenant trilogy, and realized that I wanted to spend my life writing fantasy. The books were so strange and dark; the lead character both repelled and intrigued me. I was fascinated by the possibilities. If Donaldson could do this with his series, what might I do with books of my own? I’ve since fallen in love with the books of Guy Gavriel Kay. I think he is the author who has most influenced my work stylistically. I could go on. I have so many friends who write professionally, and I’ve read so much terrific speculative fiction over the years. But really those are the three who shaped my professional development the most: Tolkien, Donaldson, and Kay. You started out writing otherworldly/epic fantasy. What was the attraction there? In what ways did those stories scratch your storytelling itch? I think in large part it was the influence of those three authors I just mentioned. The works that informed my creative ambitions were also epic, alternate world fantasies, and so that was what I wanted to write. Early on, I never even considered writing anything else. My heroes wrote epic, so I would, too. It helped that before embarking on my writing career, I had earned a doctorate in history. I understood how history worked, how economies, cultures, and societies developed. My degree was in environmental history, and so I even had a sense of how the physical terrain and climate of a nation might shape the human institutions that grew up in that setting. I felt comfortable creating worlds for my stories, and I was eager to see what I might come up with as I blended my historical background with my passion for magic and fantasy. Tell us about the series you’re writing under your pen name D. B. Jackson. How did the spark of that series ignite, what enchants you about it, why do you think readers will enjoy it, and what can we look forward to in the latest installment? deadmansreachAs D.B. Jackson, I write the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in Boston during the 1760s and 1770s, on the eve of the American Revolution. Ethan Kaille, my lead character, is a conjurer and a thieftaker, the 18th century equivalent of a private detective. Each book is a stand-alone mystery blended with some key historical event, with a little bit of magic thrown in — so again, I get to blend my love of history and my love of fantasy. This newest installment, Dead Man’s Reach, coincides with the Boston Massacre in March 1770. The books are tremendous fun to write, in part because of the challenge each represents. My goal is to blend my fictional elements — my characters and magic system, the murder mysteries and narratives — with actual historical happenings, in a way that seems completely natural and seamless. I don’t want my readers to know where the history ends and the fiction begins. The inspiration for the series actually came to me years ago, as my wife and I were preparing to live in Australia for a year. I read Robert Hughes’ fine history of Australia, The Fatal Shore, which traced Australia’s origins as a penal colony. In the early chapters, while discussing the British law enforcement system of the 18th century, he went on at some length about thieftakers and some of the colorful and corrupt personalities who roamed the streets of London “solving” crimes. I knew then that I wanted to write books about thieftakers. It took a few years — I had another series to write — but eventually I came back to that inspiration and wrote Thieftaker, the first book in the series. The rest, as they say, is history. You’ve also got a new series started in your David Coe persona: this time urban fantasy. What prompted the shift to this subgenre? Tell us about the different demands of writing urban fantasy, compared with epic fantasy and alternate history fantasy. What delights you about this series? hisfatherseyesYes, under my own name I am writing a contemporary urban fantasy series called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson. Again, I get to mix magic and mystery in a series of stand-alones, which I really enjoy. The magic system in this one is different from anything I’ve done before. My lead character, Justis Fearsson, is a weremyste. Every month on the full moon, and the nights just before and after, he loses control of his mind and his magic. And slowly, these moon phasings, as they’re called, are driving him permanently insane, just as they did his father, who is also a character in the series. These books are the first novel length works I’ve written in first person, and I just love the voice of the series. Part of that is the fact that they’re set in our world and in our time. For once, I get to write books about people driving cars, using modern technology, speaking in a modern, natural lexicon. It was very freeing, which was the whole point. I started writing these because I wanted to change things up a bit, to try something new. I like jumping around among different subgenres. I think it keeps my writing fresh. It certainly keeps me from ever feeling bored with my work. I’ll go back and write more epic and more historical, but these books have been tremendous fun. The newest volume, His Father’s Eyes, which comes out on August 4, includes a chapter from the perspective of Jay’s delusional father that may well be the best piece of writing I’ve ever done. ***** David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, was released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Yes, there has indeed been a long and deafening silence

Because honestly, the whole ongoing spinal drama has knocked me sideways. Nearly 7 months of constant screaming blowtorch pain, and multiple weekly medical appointments, and handfuls of drugs, and mostly poor sleep, and freaking out over all the work not getting done …

It’s been a challenge. But hooray! I am now released from multiple weekly physio appointments, the drug regimen is winding down, the pain is all but gone, there is still chiro and massage but they are manageable and I have a functioning brain again. Which means I can think straight to write and move well enough to go back to the beginning, again, with the fitness program.

In the meantime, though, as I get myself organised for life as I used to live it, enjoy this great interview with Australian spec fic author Thoraiya Dyer, who’s just made her first novel sale.

Read about it here!

Talking Grimdark …

The term ‘grimdark’ was coined a while ago to label darker, grittier kinds of fantasy fiction. Some of the authors known for this kind of storytelling are Joe Abercrombie, Richard Morgan, George RR Martin, Mark Lawrence — and me, apparently! Well, not the Mage books so much, but I’d agree that the Godspeaker trilogy isn’t what you’d call a carefree romp in a sunlit meadow.

Anyhow, there are some discussions being had about this particular sub-genre and its current state. Mark Lawrence asked me if I’d like to weigh in, and I did, along with a host of thoughtful writers.

You can read the conversation here. My thanks to Mark for asking me to join in!

City of Stars guest post, and other stuff

So I was very kindly asked to do a guest post for the great blog City of Stars. Shortly thereafter my stupid liver decided to knock me for six, and then a couple of lumbar discs slipped … so it’s been fun, fun, fun at Casa Karen. Not. And sigh. And moan. And grumble.

However, I’m on the mend and back on my feet and now playing crazy catch-up. To that end, here’s the link to that guest post!


Guest Post: Angus Watson

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with British speculative fiction writer Angus Watson.

Angus WatsonIn his twenties, Angus Watson’s jobs ranged from forklift truck driver to investment banker. He spent his thirties on various assignments as a freelance writer, including looking for Bigfoot in the USA for the Telegraph, diving on the scuppered German fleet at Scapa Flow for the Financial Times, and swimming with sea lions off the Galapagos Islands for the Times. Now entering his forties, Angus lives in London with his wife Nicola and baby son Charlie. As a fan of both historical fiction and epic fantasy, he came up with the idea of writing a fantasy set in the Iron Age when exploring British hillforts for the Telegraph, and developed the story while walking Britain’s ancient paths for further articles.  Age of Iron, the first book of his Iron Age trilogy, will be published on September 2nd. You can find out more at his website.

AGE OF IRON Final cover

Now here is Angus in his own words …

I’m going through the copy edit of Clash of Iron – book two of the Iron Age trilogy – at the moment. The copy edit is the second last edit before publication, when an expert reads your book and says ‘this bit doesn’t work, that word’s wrong’ and so on, then you get to go through what they’ve said and lament how they just don’t understand you and change it all back…. Not really, my current copy editor, a man named Richard Collins, is excellent (the final edit is the proof edit – basically a spell check).

Anyway, reading this copy edit almost a year after I finished writing the book, I’m surprised to be surprised by the gore. It’s not wall to wall by any means – most of the book is Continue reading

Guest post: Donna Maree Hanson

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with Australian speculative fiction writer Donna Maree Hanson.

DMHansonDonna Maree Hanson is a Canberra-based writer of fantasy, science fiction, horror  and, under a pseudonym, paranormal romance.  She has been writing creatively since November 2000. In January 2013, her first longer work,  Rayessa & the Space Pirates, was published with Harlequin’ s digital imprint. This novella length work is a young-adult, science-fiction adventure/romance (space opera). A sequel to Rayessa & the Space Pirates will be out with Escape in early 2015.

Dragon Wine is to be published by Momentum (Pan Macmillan Australia’s Digital Imprint) in two parts, Shatterwing and Skywatcher, in September and October 2014. She can be found at her blog here.

Now here is Donna in her own words:

Ten years in the making

I can’t believe it took ten years.

I have heard it said that it takes ten years to be an overnight success. Well, I’m not a success yet, though I suppose that depends on what the definition of success is. In my case, it is getting a story published that I’ve been working on for ten years, so maybe I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been working on other stuff too. Continue reading

Guest post: Peter M Ball

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with Australian speculative fiction writer Peter M Ball.

Peter BallPeter Ball is the manager of the Australian Writer’s Marketplace and co-ordinator of the bi-annual Genre Con writer’s conference. His SF and fantasy short fiction has been published in Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine and the Harper Voyager anthologies Dreaming Again and Year’s Best SF 15. In 2009, he won the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Short Story. His novellas Horn and Bleed are currently available through Twelfth Planet Press, and he’ll be releasing Flotsam, an urban fantasy novella trilogy set on the Gold Coast, through Apocalypse Ink publishing in 2014. Find him online at


And now here is Peter in his own words:

There’s all sorts of advice out there about how to write a book. There is remarkably little that tells you what things will be like once the book is finished and released into the world, waiting for other people to read it. When you hit that point, you’re more-or-less on your own, despite the fact that it’s a strange and bewildering time for an emerging writer. Continue reading