Saturday, March 24, 2018

Interview with Dyane Forde, author of Berserker (Book 3 of the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy)

Today on the Speculative Fiction Showcase, we talk to author Dyane Forde about her recently released novel Berserker, the third and final instalment of the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy.

1. Your novel Berserker, Book 3 of the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy, was released on March 8th. For readers who are new to the Trilogy, can you tell us a little about the story?
The Purple Morrow is the introduction to the trilogy, so it sets up the main characters, their world, and the various conflicts. At first, the story was supposed to be one book. I wanted to chronicle the journey of a man (Jeru) at his lowest point who, through various situations, finds resolution and transformation at the other end of the proverbial tunnel. So, why not write about a young man whose wife dies on their wedding night and, guilt-ridden, decides he can’t face the future? That is, until his homeland is threatened by the same Beast-Men who destroyed his village years before, he stumbles upon someone from his past who complicates his already complicated life, finds out he’s the saviour of mankind, while dealing with the most terrifying thing of all: the threat of falling in love again. Book 2, Wolf’s Bane, deepens the overarching mythology and sets up the final conflict between the two main characters, which takes place in book 3, Berserker. Clicking on the hyperlinks will bring you to my blog for a ‘behind the scenes’ look into each book’s backstory. 

2. What inspired you become a writer, and a writer of Fantasy?
I've loved books from the time I was a kid and always had one tucked away somewhere. That evolved into a desire to write, especially after I realized how flexible writing could be when I was in the first grade. I discovered that the sense and feel of a sentence changed depending on how words were put together. I always liked puzzles, and I think writing stories became a kind of a puzzle to me: how to put words together to describe what I was thinking or feeling. 

My short stories and flash fiction touch various styles and genres but my novels lean towards fantasy. I think it’s because I have the freedom to create a world from scratch that best suits my story and characters. 

3. Are they any books that have influenced you as a writer?
Hills like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway, was a short story that left a deep imprint on me. I read it in high school and was gobsmacked by how much story he told with so few words. I imitated that style for many years.

Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M. Auel, was a book I really enjoyed because of the world-building. Though it was a foreign, pre-historic world, Auel wrote it in a way that made it feel real; it was easy to picture. I tried to model that a lot in my trilogy.  

There are a slew of Margaret Atwood books I love. She’s such a smart, witty, enlightened author that it’s hard not to admire her work. 

4. Your story deals with two men, Kelen and Jeru, whose struggle will influence their world for good or evil. Have your characters ever surprised you when you were writing their story?
Good question! As for Jeru, not really. He’s the Everyman struggling to cope with huge responsibilities that often conflict with each other with the confidence and understanding of a regular guy. I expected him to struggle and fret but ultimately grow through the course of the story. 

Kelen is different. He wasn’t in the original cast, but suddenly popped into my head one day as I was walking to the bus and thinking about what the story needed for an upcoming chapter. He appeared fully-realized. So everything about him was a surprise!

5. What films are you watching at the moment, at the cinema or on DVD, a streaming service, etc?
Oh, I pretty much scour Netflix for quirky movies, low-budget movies (they aren’t all bad and I’ve found a few gems!), anime, and a lot of foreign movies and shows. I find it refreshing to watch foreign programs and films because the point of view, values, production, and writing are often different to North America’s. I really enjoyed the German series, Dark, and I frequently watch Korean movies. I enjoy listening to foreign languages. 

6. Do you read any other kinds of fiction?
I used to read a lot of science-fiction and, in fact, I think that was my go-to genre for years. I also read some mysteries or thrillers, but sadly, I don’t have a lot of time to read at the moment. The last books I read were some of Terry Brooks’ Shannara series (I really liked the Isle Witch), as well some of the YA books my daughter reads. I particularly liked The Rains and Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz. She likes that I show an interest in what she reads and we talk about the books afterwards. She’s a voracious reader, like I was. 

7. When world-building, where do you start? With the characters, or the place?
I think the characters come first. I figure out who they are and what their story is and then figure out what kind of world made or influenced them. A lot of the time, I end up building the world as I write the story—I’m not much of a planner. 

8. Are you a planner or a “pantser”? Or a little of both?
Honestly, I don’t plan books in advance on paper. I spend a lot of time thinking and arranging things in my head and then sit down to write. I write the story sequentially. I don’t know why, but the moment I write something down, like an idea for a scene, I lose interest. It’s like currency that’s been spent. I’m also terrible at taking notes while I write. That’s one reason editing and rewriting the trilogy was so painful. But, I’ve come to accept it as part of my process and get on with it. 

9. Is this the final book in the series, or will there be more?
Berserker is the last book in this series. But, the world of Marathana is rich, and there are so many other interesting characters in it that I could see myself expanding the world by featuring some of them. 

10. What next – another novel, or some shorts?
Right now, I have no immediate plans to write another book. I have some manuscripts on the backburner waiting to be rewritten or developed, but I’ve got a lot on my plate: a new blog in addition to my regular writing blog, I’m co-leading a writing group on Scribophile, plus I have a job and a family. I do participate in flash fiction contests from time to time, but most of the writing I do right now is article-related for blog or guest blogs. 

11. How do you think things are for indie fantasy writers?
I think sites like yours are doing a great job exposing us to new readers. (Thank you! SpecFic Showcase) There are so many fantasy books out there that it’s hard to get attention, especially for independent authors who might be better at writing than marketing. I’m happy that there is such an interest and demand for the genre and that writers are responding to the demand. Sites like yours make it easier for authors and readers to find each other. 


 “Love…can destroy, it can build, or it can do both at once. One must not underestimate the human bond.” –the Lightbearer

With the Papilion’s whereabouts unknown, the Shadow pursues its plan for Marathana’s destruction. In control of the Northern tribes and strengthened by allies in the Deep Southernlands, the Shadow prepares to unleash its ultimate weapon, the berserker.
Jeru’s sudden reappearance reveals the presence of a powerful, new will at work. Blessed by the Lightbearer and supported by a ragtag group of survivors and unexpected allies, Jeru prepares to lead the small army into enemy territory.  

As war breaks, Kelen and Jeru clash one last time. One seeks to destroy, the other to save. The strongest will prevail, sealing Marathana’s ultimate fate.

About Dyane Forde:

Forde's love of writing began with an early interest in reading and of words in general. She was amazed at how linking words together in different ways had unexpected and pleasing results on others. This sparked a life-long desire to write all types of things, from short stories, novels, flash fiction, to poetry. Berserker, Book 3 of the Rise of the Papilion trilogy, is Forde's third published book. The trilogy is available on Amazon. For more, visit her on her blog.

Where to buy: Amazon

Friday, March 23, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for March 23, 2018

It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with feminist science fiction, Black Panther, Black Lightning season 2 of Jessica Jones, the last ever episode of The X-Files, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Isle of Dogs, Krypton, Ready Player One as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, con reports, crowdfunding campaigns, science articles, free online fiction and much more. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on Black Panther:

Comments on Black Lightning

Comments on season 2 of Jessica Jones:

Comments on The X-Files finale: 

Comments on Pacific Rim: Uprising:

Comments on Isle of Dogs:

Comments on Krypton

Comments on Ready Player One:


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Gods and Demons (Dark Streets, Book 1) by B.R. Kingsolver

Release date: March 18, 2018
Subgenre: Urban fantasy 

About Gods and Demons:


Life's tough as an Elf girl stranded in Earth's realm. Humans don't believe in Elves or magic, so I try to stay low key.

Then a jaguar shifter drops in out of nowhere and tells me about an ancient blood-magic statuette, powerful enough to blow holes in reality. She needs an Elf to track it down, and I'm the only Elf available.

But every blood mage in the world also wants it. Enter stalker werewolves in a black Mercedes, a master magician leaving a calling card on my door, and demons every time I turn around. It wouldn't be so bad, but some of them are really rude.

Time for a lesson in manners.




Chapter 1

A woman walking home late at night has a choice. She can either walk in the light and hope people will help her if she has any trouble, or she can walk in the shadows and hope no one sees her. I figured no woman in her right mind walked through dark streets at night, so the predators should be looking elsewhere.
Of course, it didn’t require an IQ test to become a criminal, or a rogue Werewolf with robbery or rape on his mind. Maybe I needed to reevaluate my state of mind and my decision-making processes.
Three Werewolves in their Human forms stepped out of the shadows. A quick glance over my shoulder showed two more behind me. Under the circumstances, I didn’t think their intentions were honorable.
My sword whispered out of its sheath almost soundlessly, but I was sure the Weres heard it. I didn’t think I could take five Weres with only a sword, but mostly I hoped it would distract them. I surreptitiously sketched a rune with my other hand and spoke a Word under my breath.
A wild animal roared, filling the alley with a heart-stopping sound, and then the world caved in on the Weres standing in front of me. A dark shape fell from a roof to my right, landing on two of the Weres and knocking the third one against the far wall.
The shape resolved itself as an animal of some sort, maybe a large cat. Definitely a cat. It clawed the two men with all four feet. It bit one of the Weres in the head. I heard bones crunch and he went limp. The third man moved toward it with something in his hand. The cat slapped him. His head swiveled on his neck, and I noted that as he fell, his face continued to look over his shoulder. The cat bit the second Were’s head and then turned to look at me.
The entire fight took only a few seconds. I shook myself out of my shock and spun to face the Weres behind me. They stood frozen, but I guess my movement caught their attention. Proving they weren’t complete fools, both turned and ran. I was tempted to send the spell I held after them, but I knew I wasn’t alone in the alley.
I turned back and discovered the cat was gone.
A woman walked toward me. She stood no taller than my chest and appeared to be a full-figured Mexican peasant woman—similar to many of the hotel maids in the city—dressed in blue jeans, a loose white blouse, and a khaki jacket. She had dark skin, a Mayan nose, and her dark hair hung down her back in a braid as thick as my wrist. I shouldn’t have been able to see her eyes in the dark, but a thin ring of yellow surrounded her dilated pupils.
“Didn’t your mama tell you not to walk down dark alleys at night?” she asked in a Spanish accent.
“My mother said a lot of things I should probably have paid attention to.” I realized that I had seen her before—just an hour earlier at the club where I was listening to an Irish band—she had brushed against me at the bar when I was getting a­nother beer.
She chuckled. “Perhaps we should find somewhere else to talk,” she said. “Before anyone decides to ask questions.”
Without another word, she turned and started walking down the alley, stepping over and around the bodies of the Weres she had killed. I sheathed my sword and followed her. I wasn’t sure the sword would help me against a being that could turn three muggers into Werewolf tartare without breaking a sweat. Two of the Weres were shredded, soaked in blood, and their skulls were crushed. The third guy had a broken neck, and the side of his head and face were marked by four bone-deep slashes.
Whatever my mysterious benefactor was, she was absolutely the baddest woman I had ever met. I hoped that I would wake up in the morning and discover she was only part of a weird dream. Or maybe she wasn’t some kind of shifter. Maybe she was a mage and she’d called a demon or something. That thought didn’t make me feel any better.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“Okay. We need to talk.”
I stopped. The last thing I wanted to do was go anywhere with her. The whole scene in the alley was a horror show, and I just wanted to get as far away from it, and her, as I could. After a few steps, she realized I wasn’t with her and turned. I tried to keep my hand from shaking as I held out my business card.
“It’s late, and I’m beat,” I said. “Come by my office in the morning.”
She took the card and nodded. “All right. Try to stay out of dark alleys. Buenas noches.
I watched her walk away. She moved silently and with a sinuous grace that didn’t seem to fit her build. I released the spell I had been holding. Whether it would have stopped her—or her familiar—was something I wasn’t eager to test.
Not wanting to be followed to my house, I went to work rather than go home. I had a small cottage on the property where I lived when I first started the business. There was no chance of anyone invading it.
The cottage was a bit rustic and cramped with only three rooms. I built it when I first bought the land, as I didn’t have any money to rent an apartment. It didn’t even have heat or electricity the first few years, I just spelled light and heat.
My landscaping business covered eighteen acres of prime real estate near American University. I couldn’t afford such land at current prices, as evidenced by some of the eye-popping offers I had recently received, but it was fairly cheap when I bought it forty-five years before. There wasn’t any way I could find enough land for a nursery close to DC if I sold it.
As I walked past one of the four oaks that anchored the corners of the property, a Fairy swooped down and landed on my shoulder. She chattered in my ear, mostly about a neighbor’s dog, while I unlocked the gate and let myself in. I hoped that my Fairy nest buried the evidence if they decided to deal with the offending animal.
Fred and Kate, my garden Gnomes, had already gone to bed, and no light shone from the windows of their mound. When I entered the cottage, it smelled a little musty, and I opened a couple of windows to let it air out. I hadn’t stayed there in a while. After a quick shower, I snuggled under the covers in a bed that felt comfortingly familiar.




About B.R. Kingsolver:

BR Kingsolver, author of the Telepathic Clans and Chameleon Assassin series, grew up surrounded by writers, artists, myths, and folklore in Santa Fe, The City Different, in the Land of Enchantment.

After living all over the US and exploring the world--from Amsterdam to the Romanian Alps, and Russia to the Rocky Mountains--Kingsolver trades time between Baltimore and Albuquerque. With an education in nursing and biology and a Master's degree in business, Kingsolver has done everything from construction to newspaper editor and jewelry to computers.

Kingsolver, a passionate lifetime skier, currently spends time writing and working with computers while living nine blocks from the harbor in Baltimore as servant in residence to a very demanding cat.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for March 16, 2018

It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with A Wrinkle in Time, Red Sparrow, season 2 of Jessica Jones, Tomb Raider, Annihilation, Ready Player One, tributes to Stephen Hawking, Kate Wilhelm and Mary Rosenblum as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, con reports, crowdfunding campaigns, science articles, free online fiction and much more. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Tributes to Stephen Hawking:

Comments on A Wrinkle in Time

Comments on season 2 of Jessica Jones:

Comments on Red Sparrow:

Comments on the new Tomb Raider movie: 

Comments on Ready Player One:


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: