Born of Metal with A L Knorr (and AD Schneider)

One of the Urban Fantasy series I’m really digging is Born of Metal by AL Knorr and Aaron D Schneider. First, it’s an exciting series with cool magic and a Sudanese-British protagonist, which isn’t something you see every day. It’s also a good example of something you see a lot in Urban Fantasy: the team up in order to get books in a series into the world quickly. Since Johnny Lycan is going to be a trilogy, I’m intrigued and a bit intimidated.

I spoke to Abby Knorr, who was most insistent her co-author, AD Schneider got some love too. (A thousand blessings upon her. I’ve been the B side of a book. It can be lonely.) Here’s the interview.

Tell us about yourself, and give your co-author some love while you’re at it.

I’m a textbook introvert with a serious problem: my imagination is a runaway train and I’m just a panicked passenger along for the ride. I’m a Canadian living in the UK who married a brilliant cook which has saved my life more than once because while I’m working (which is almost every day including weekends) I often forget to eat. I force my arse to the gym or to the yoga studio or dance studio to try and remember how to socialize with people and move my body but as many writers can attest, getting away from my computer is a real challenge. I love the ocean and all things in it both living and … well, not, such as shipwrecks and ancient cities. It was this first love of nautical history and marine biology which spawned my first series (Elemental Origins). People often ask me if I ever run out of ideas but a more likely problem is that I’ll never get to write them all. My mom taught me to read when I was three (I was put ahead a grade because of this), and unbeknownst to her, she created a monster with an insatiable appetite for stories and storytelling. Life is storytelling, and don’t you forget it.

Aaron is a storyteller posing as a writer. If he’d been born in the days of nifty new longboats and mead halls he’d have been trying desperately to make it as a skald or bard, illiteracy be damned! He loves tales, legends, myths, and epics, modern or ancient, sacred or sinister. They’ve shaped him so much it seems only natural he’d want to shape his own. So here he is trying to scratch his mark on time’s edifice, and finding himself perpetually grateful for the people who give him a chance. He’s also the brains behind the Warring Realm trilogy.

What’s Born of Metal and the Inconquo series about?

Born of Metal is about a young Sudanese-Brit named Ibukun who is descended from a line of supernaturals (metal elementals, in case the title didn’t give you a clue) called Inconquo guardians. It’s an origin story that follows Ibby as she discovers her heritage while interning at the British Museum and finds a hidden, magical artifact which unlocks her abilities. Born of Metal is as adventure story but its also a ghost story and a coming of age tale. Ibby first appeared in my book Born of Air as a secondary character but I loved her so much that I knew she needed her own series. Working with Aaron D. Schneider to bring her story to life was a brilliant choice because Aaron has amazing writing skills, especially in combat, which Ibby ends up in a lot as an iron-slinging, metal-warping guardian and the only supernatural who stands between the destruction of London and the original Inconquo, a terrifying demi-god from Sumerian myth named Ninurta.

What is it about that form of magic or the story that intrigued you?

Elemental magic has always appealed to me because magic rooted in nature seems somehow more believable than other forms and we tried to make Ibby’s story as believable as possible. Her series could actually cross over into Sci fi but we didn’t categorize it there because it is shy on technology. The Inconquo mythology sprang from Sumerian myths and gods and is also connected to the story of the Euroklydon from the bible (where Born of Air sprang from). The original Elemental Origins series touched on the major elemental magics (water, earth, fire, air, and aether) but Ibby’s story as a metal elemental was dying to be told so I created a subcategory of Earth elemental for the metal elementals to sit in. Aaron had a lot to do with helping expand the metal elemental mythology and Ibby’s trilogy is truly a joint creation.

Abby, who are the authors you enjoy?

There are so many. Off the top of my head my favorites and the authors who have influenced me are Kelley Armstrong, Stephen King, Ken Follett, JK Rowling, Anne Rice, Frank McCourt, Arthur Golden, and Laure Eve, to name a few.

Where is the best place to learn about your work and your insane number of books?

Amazon is the best place to look since everything is all linked and in one place. My website is another good resource (subscribers can get free fiction there), and for Facebook or Instagram users, I have accounts there as well.

NOTE FROM WAYNE: In a month or so I am going to be offering a FREE story, not seen anywhere else, for subscribers to my newsletter. Please use the form on the side of the page to get on board and learn more about my work, including the upcoming novel, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk.

And if this is your first introduction to me and my work, check out my novels on Amazon.

Living Forever is the Best Revenge- Craig Zerf

I have had my share of people who don’t like my work, but the idea of turning that negative feedback into a 7-book series has never ocurred to me. That is, until I discovered Craig Zerf’s work. The first of his works I read was Dead Declan, which is a concept so bonkers I had to read more. Here he talks to me about his popular “Forever Man,” series.

So what’s your deal? Your personal story is unique.

I grew up in South Africa. Got married there, had a son, left and moved to England almost twenty years ago. I only started to write when I got to the UK. And, because I have always been a huge fantasy fan, that’s the genre I went for.

How did you settle on fantasy and where did The Forever Man come from?

My first series, Plob, was an attempt at humour. It was okay, I suppose. You always look back at your first books and say, I could have done better. But it got me started and, for one brief week, it actually topped the charts in both the UK and Germany and was voted the year’s best read by BBC Radio 4 listeners.  It was around this time I learned an important lesson… there are some seriously strange folk out there!

I had one, fan? Stalker? Arch enemy? Not sure what to call them. They purchased and read every one of my books and then proceeded to give them one-star reviews with comments like… This one is even worse than the last. Finally, they left a review that simply read ‘Every day I scour the obituaries for Craig Zerf’s name in the vain hope that he has died. Even if I live forever, I will never recover the time I have wasted reading his books.

It was then that I came up with the idea of writing a series where the main character is immortal. I know it’s been done before. Dracula, various mages and fae types. But I wanted to portray a normal man, a reluctant hero, who gets gifted, or cursed, with immortality and supernatural powers.

How would he react? Would he be good? Bad? Indifferent?

What if it turned out that the very world was in trouble and he was the only one who could save it? What would he do?

I called the series The Forever Man and it’s been described as a genre-bending fantasy series with post-apocalyptic heroes, battles against mythical creatures, and wild temporal jumps.

Writing a whole series to piss off one critic seems extreme, but it worked. How would you sum up The Foreverman in a couple of lines?

I suppose one could say, Lord of the Rings meets Mad Max and Game of Thrones. It’s available on Kindle, paperback and audio. There are six books at the moment but I’m ready to release seven and eight in a couple of weeks.

What writers influenced you?

Obviously, whatever I write has been influenced by my favorite authors. My early reads, when I was five, six, seven years old, were Enid Blyton books. Especially the Magic Faraway Tree.

Next stage, and I’m talking nine or ten here, were books like Biggles, Willard Price and the Hardy Boys.

As I hit my teens I graduated to Wilbur Smith (I love his earlier novels. Gritty, over the top, verging on heroic fantasy). And I discovered David Eddings. The Belgariad. Well…talk about life-changing. This was proper fantasy. Epic stuff.

After that came David Gemmell. To this day, David remains my favorite author. Clearly, Terry Pratchett also has to be taken into account.

And, finally, Michael Marshall. His books like Only Forward, and Spares are proper modern classics. He is truly one of the writers that I stand in awe of. Genius.

Where can people learn more about your work?

The best place to see all my work is my Amazon Author Page.

In a month or so I am going to be offering a FREE story, not seen anywhere else, for subscribers to my newsletter. Please use the form on the side of the page to get on board and learn more about my work, including the upcoming novel, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk.

It’s Official: Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk is Coming November 19

The Russian tasted like borscht and cheap cigarettes. Well, his blood did. It’s not like I actually ate him—I wasn’t that far gone. But with that much blood flying around, some of it got into my mouth and as nasty as it tasted, I licked my lips and felt it fuel my anger.

Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk Chapter 1

Intrigued?

I hope so, because that’s how my new book opens and I’m thrilled to announce that my latest novel is coming November 19th from the good folks at Black Rose Writing.

Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk is an urban fantasy detective thriller. Okay, that’s a fancy way of saying the lead character is a Chicago PI with a concealed carry permit, a rich new client, and a case that gets so weird being a werewolf is the most normal thing he has to deal with.

Yes, you heard it. Johnny Lupul has issues. The book is exciting, scary, funny, and there may or may not be werewolf sex.

It might not be historical fiction, but it’s full of the same exciting action, unique plots, and humor in dark places you’re used to if you’ve enjoyed my other work. Come join me. I promise it won’t be dull.

Do you like free reading? Of course you do, so listen up.

In a month or so I am going to be offering a FREE story, not seen anywhere else, for subscribers to my newsletter. Please use the form on the side of the page to get on board and learn more about my work, including the upcoming novel, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk.

And you can see all my current work on my Amazon Author Page!

           

When Magic Betrays with Anne Marie Lutz

Not too long ago I came across the novel “Taylenor.” Not knowing anything about the author, I took a chance and enjoyed the way it upended a familiar fantasy trope. Sure, there’s a young, idealistic female mage. But what happens when she learns the system she’s been faithfully supporting is actually corrupt and killing people? It was intriguing enough to want to talk to the author, Anne Marie Lutz.

So, who are you and what’s your deal?

I’m an author of fantasy novels and short stories. My novels are epic fantasy, and my short stories all have a touch of the supernatural about them – fantasy or even a touch of horror.

For some reason, I’ve never been interested in writing fiction set in the real world. I remember my early attempts at building a fantasy world — all the complex interactions that go into making a world that seems real. I was so excited when I went to a convention where there were panels on worldbuilding, and people actually talked about fantasy maps, the realities of long-distance travel on horseback, what to consider when describing an alien planet, and similar topics. I was in my element!

I was raised in Youngstown, Ohio, leaving to go to Ohio State and major in journalism. A few years later I went back to school for my MBA, and worked as an office manager and an operations analyst. I left that world years ago, and I’ve fulfilled a lifetime goal by writing fantasy novels. My Color Mage novels, Black Tide and Sword of Jashan, were recently reissued, and my newest stand-alone novel is Taylenor. I’ve always wanted to write a space opera, so maybe that will be next!

What’s the story behind Taylenor?

Taylenor is a fantasy novel about Jaena, a young traveling priest of her peaceful goddess, Imn-ashu. Jaena finds a boy with a rare mage talent that is linked to a terrible illness. She takes him to the city to try to save his life, only to find that she has delivered him into the hands of the Mage Defender, who rules by stealing the magic — and the lives — of children. 

Desperate to right the wrong she has done, Jaena races for aid to save Wiel and destroy the Mage Defender. At stake are the lives of the last remaining taylenor as well as Jaena’s own survival – and the destruction of an ancient scourge that has reawakened to threaten all the people of Cassahn.

What is it about that form of magic or the story that intrigued you?

This is such a good question! Since I’m a discovery writer (EDITOR’S NOTE: MUCH NICER WORD THAN PANTSER!) who finds out what my novel is about while I’m writing it, the roots of Taylenor developed slowly.

Jaena, my main character, is a strong woman in spite of being a priest of a peaceful goddess. She discovers that she has unknowingly led someone into great danger, and takes it as her duty to rescue him and others who have fallen into the Mage Defender’s trap.

I was fascinated by the kind of heroism so many ordinary people show in real life – not swinging swords in battle (though there are a few battles in Taylenor), but fighting in her own way, out of a sense of duty and love. Although it turns out that Jaena has her own special ways of fighting.

As for the details of the magic – it’s a bit of a spoiler, so I’ll leave that for those who choose to read the novel!

Who do you read in this field that people should know about?

I’ve read and enjoyed many authors’ work – in and out of my favorite genres. I’ll have to pick only a few, because I could go on and on.

I started with the classics: Bradbury, Heinlein, C.S. Lewis. “The Mote in God’s Eye” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle was a favorite, a great first-contact novel. I also loved Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books are addictive space-opera reading with complex characters, and some of my favorites.

More recently, I’ve enjoyed N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, as well as Martha Wells’ All Systems Red. I always laugh a lot when reading one of Jasper Fforde’s humorous novels featuring literary detective Thursday Next. I am watching, but haven’t yet read, The Expanse series, which I think is some of the best science fiction I’ve seen on television. I appreciated George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books as well – would recommend them to anyone as essential epic fantasy.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog! I’ve enjoyed your questions. Readers can follow me and check out reviews and events at any of the places below. Also, I occasionally post a free short story on my Facebook author page and my blog.

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Marie-Lutz/e/B00CF67TEM/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

My blog: https://annemariesblog.wordpress.com/about/

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/authorannemarielutz/

Twitter: @color_mage

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6569602.Anne_Marie_Lutz

Speaking of free stories. In a month or so I am going to be offering a FREE story, not seen anywhere else, for subscribers to my newsletter. Please use the form on the side of the page to get on board and learn more about my work, including the upcoming novel, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk.

And you can see all my current work on my Amazon Author Page!

The Long-Distance Leader is in Polish and Italian. Cool, huh?

Those of you who read my blog but don’t read my business books may not know that The Long-Distance Leader, Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership is an airport best-seller and a pretty big deal in the management and leadership world. How do I know?

Because the rights have been sold to the book in Italian and Polish. Take a look:

It’s in Polish! Djakuje
In Italian.Molto grazie

Not for nothing, but we’re waiting for the cover of the book in Mandarin, which would be amazing.

We are currently hard at work on the sequel, The Long-Distance Teammate- Stay Engaged and Productive Working From Anywhere. Cover reveal is coming soon!

If you haven’t checked out my day job and the good work we’re doing at The Remote Leadership Insitute, click and learn more.

Meanwhile, if you want to see all my work, fiction and non-fiction, you can find it on my Amazon author page by clicking here.

Memory Lane: The First Story I had Published

“You took my uncle to a cockfight?” There was no arguing the point, and it really wasn’t a question so much as an opening statement so I kept my fat mouth shut. My wife didn’t slow down even a bit. “…My 75 year old uncle… To a cockfight… That you found on Instagram?”

Tio Fernando’s Field Trip

So since there hasn’t been a lot of new activity, I thought I’d share some of my short stories that some of my new readers might not be familiar with. This is the first piece I had published in a real honest-to-God magazine, the now defunct eFiction.

It’s about cockfighting, marriage and goofy old men. Enjoy.

Of course, if you enjoy my short story, you might enjoy one of my novels such as The Count of the Sahara or the Lucca le Peu Stories, Acre’s Bastard and Acre’s Orphans.

You can also read my other short stories under Short Stories and other Pieces

Damn, this has been quite a year.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I hate New Year’s Eve and all the nonsense that goes with it. Too much thinking and chewing on regrets, as a rule. That said, it is impossible not to take some time (mostly involuntary. I’m working but clients don’t want to talk to me til the new year.) to reflect on what became of 2019. It’s been a monster, writing-wise.

A novel published, 5 short stories accepted, a new novel finished and ready to find a home, and the contract signed for a new business book is a pretty good year. Screw imposter syndrome!

To start with, my third novel, Acre’s Orphans entered the world in January. As you know, it’s the sequel to 2017’s Acre’s Bastard. No kidding, I love this book and it’s been the best-reviewed and rewarded of my career. It won recognition from Chill With a Book, Discovered Diamonds (finally got one on my third try!) and an Indie BRAG Medallion. It also got a lovely review from Storgy.

If I’m honest, while I think it’s the best novel I’ve written, it has also sold a whole lot less than my other books. This has got me thinking about my approach to getting my work into the world. More on that in a minute.

It’s been a wild year for my short fiction as well.

In February, my story The Forger of Cairo appeared in Storgy Magazine. This matters, and not just because it’s a pretty good little horror tale in a darned fine lit magazine. It marks my transition from writing mostly historical fiction to broadening my scope to other genres. This story also plays an unexpected role in my new novel.

But Storgy wasn’t done with me yet. In May, they did a review of Acre’s Bastard, then followed up in July with a very kind follow-up on Acre’s Orphans. To top it off, my first foray into flash fiction took the third prize in their 2019 Flash Fiction Contest. I am deeply grateful for my association with these maniacs. They like me, they really like me.

Another magazine that has been very good to me this year is Twist in Time Magazine. In March, my story about the French Foreign Legion in Viet Nam, Dien Bien Phu 1954, came into the world. Then in September and November, they serialized Los Angeles, 1952. You can read the origins of that story here.

Yet another story came out in September. Ava, Lana, and Old Bob Campbell appeared in Ragazine. This is the second magazine that shuttered its doors just after publishing one of my stories (RIP eFiction.) I am trying not to take that personally. By the way, the roots of this story are explained here. Worth checking out if you already haven’t.

Also in September, Kevin Eikenberry and I signed the contract to do the sequel to The Long-Distance Leader- Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. I’m plugging away on The Long-Distance Teammate- Stay Engaged and Connected While Working Anywhere, and it should see the light in January of 2021. Oh, and the Long-Distance Leader came out in Italian!

The sequel to the Long-Distance Leader is in the works

So, about this new book. Johnny Lycan is unlike anything I’ve done before. It’s a modern, urban fantasy/thriller about a detective in Chicago who happens to be a werewolf. Yeah, I know. Here’s where that reexamining my approach thing comes in.

I am currently searching for an agent (ideally) or at least a publisher for this new book. It could be the basis of a series. At the very least I might make some money on it.

In Italian, no less

While I’m incredibly proud of the Lucca stories, it is clear I”m not cut out to be a successful self-publisher. Good work that doesn’t find readers is just kind of soul-crushing. I have no plans to self-publish another novel. I know that bodes ill for a third Acre’s book, but such is the way of the world. Lucca will have to wait.

And working in a new genre basically means I’ll have to start over with my PR efforts. This blog will change direction somehow, although I don’t know what that will look like land I’ll be hanging out more with Urban Fantasy and Horror folks than historical fiction writers.

Big changes, indeed, but screw it. This has been an exhausting, thrilling and tension-filled year. Lots of highs, and some lows (obsessively checking your sales numbers can be a very depressing thing.) I am grateful for the support of those who read my blog and my books. I hope you’ll stick with me on next year’s journey.

Happy new year, God bless us, everyone, see you on the flipside.

It’s Official. The Long-Distance Teammate is Coming.

Kevin Eikenberry and I are excited to announce that we have signed the contract for the sequel to The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.

The Long-Distance Teammate: Stay Engaged and Connected While Working Anywhere is under construction, and will be out in January of 2021 from Berrett-Koehler books.

The Long-Distance Leader has been a big hit, especially in airport bookstores. We are exceptionally proud of both the book and our relationship with our publisher.

I’m excited about the new book. Much of it is based on our work launching the new 12 Weeks to Becoming a Great Remote Teammate product at the Remote Leadership Institute. While most of you don’t care much about my day job, I urge you to check it out.

What does this mean for my other writing? I”m going to be heads down between now and the new year on not only this project, but finishing the final tweaks to Johnny Lycan. There also won’t be much short-story work happening. I’ll keep you posted.

Join Me In Person on November 16th

Las Vegas types, please join me on November 16th at Copper Cat Books, in Henderson Nevada. 1570 West Horizon Ridge Pkwy Suite 170
Henderson NV 89012

I’ll be there from noon-3 PM signing (and hopefully selling!) my award-winning novels including:

The Count of the Sahara

Acre’s Bastard

And Acre’s Orphans, the exciting, prize-winning sequel;

Stop in to say hello and support local booksellers Wendy and Anthony. See you there!

Colorado Noir with Bruce Most

As evidenced by the fact that my two most recently published short stories (Los Angeles 1952 and Ava, Lana and Old Bob Campbell) were set in the 1950s, it’s clear I have a fondness for that time period. Especially the whole post-war existential angst thing that made detective stories so fabulous. Now, the first place you think of when the subject comes up is probably NOT Denver, Colorado, but that’s the setting for Bruce Most’s mystery, The Big Dive.

Bruce, tell us about yourself.

I like to kill people—well, on paper. I’ve devoured mysteries since I was a kid, feasting on my grandfather’s cheap paperback collection of Perry Mason courtroom mysteries and the greats of the 30s, 40s, and 50s such as Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, and Dorothy Sayers. My all-time favorite remains Raymond Chandler. (Editor’s note: I read approximately 20 Perry Mason novels as a kid, our house was full of them. An early corrupting influence. Sorry, you were saying…)

 I began writing fiction in my late teens and early 20s—sci-fi short stories, mostly—and was paid handsomely in rejection slips. The rejections encouraged me to graduate in journalism and make a less risky, paying career as a freelance writer, seeing print in numerous national publications. I wrote mystery novels on the side. I published my first two with St. Martin’s Press—about a brash, tough woman bail bond agent named Ruby Dark, whom I still love. Along with my Joe Stryker novels I’ll discuss below, I also published a mystery set in Wyoming ranch country, Rope Burn, with cattle rustling and murder. And surprise, not having written short stories since I was young, I recently saw my first short story in print in Mystery Weekly—The Dead Man in the Pearl Gray Hat.

What’s The Big Dive about?

The Big Dive is the sequel to my award-winning mystery Murder on the Tracks. It’s set in 1951 Denver. My protagonist, Joe Stryker, is a Denver street cop. His patrol partner is murdered almost before his eyes—the second partner he’s lost in the line of duty. Beyond his emotional trauma, Joe faces two baffling questions: How did the killer pull off such a brazen murder and escape? And why was his partner—a man so by the book that fellow cops scornfully nicknamed him “Saint Benedict”—murdered while burglarizing a pawnshop?

 But finding the answers is complicated. To protect his dead partner’s reputation—and save his own career—Joe lies to investigators and his wife as he operates in the shadows to discover the truth behind the unexplainable. All while dodging a homicide detective hell-bent to pin the crimes on Joe. His investigation leads him to a ring of dirty cops and deep secrets going back to the unjust Japanese-American relocation camps of the war. Before Joe can answer the baffling questions and track down the brutal killer, he must risk his career, his marriage . . . and his life.

What is it about that time period that appeals to you?

 As I mentioned, Raymond Chandler is my favorite mystery writer and I’ve always loved the 1940s hard-boiled gumshoe settings with the snap-brim fedoras and dark streets. I set the two Joe Stryker novels in the late 1940s and early 50s as a homage to Chandler. Also, I was intrigued with the tumultuous cultural and economic changes in post-World War II, exemplified in Joe’s difficult relationship with his wife.

Totally unfair question, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

That’s like asking who’s my favorite child. But if I must . . . There’s a scene where Joe travels to the ruins of the Japanese-American relocation camp in southeastern Colorado (a real location). He finds key evidence there for solving the crimes. But the scene also paints a portrait for Joe and the reader of the heartbreaking and shameful internment of Japanese-American citizens. I find it an affecting scene.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

The Big Dive and Murder on the Tracks are available in ebook and print on Amazon, as are my other mysteries. My website www.brucewmost.com includes links and excerpts of all my mysteries. Readers also can check out blogs about The Big Dive book at https://www.brucewmost.com/blog. They also can find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

We interrupt this interview for a shameless plug. Acre’s Orphans has won a much-coveted “Discovered Diamond” award for historical fiction. You can read the review here, or just take my word for it and buy the book. Of course, for all my books there’s my Amazon Author Page.