CT Phipps and Dropout Nerds in Space

If you’ve read Johnny Lycan, you know that I”m a sucker for genre stuff that understands it’s genre stuff. I first came across Charles Phipps’ work through his Supervillainy Saga. It’s a hilarious but affectionate look at all the Superhero tropes we love, and also know are just damned silly. With his new series, Space Academy Dropouts, he does the same to Science Fiction. Here’s my interview with him.

So who are you and why do we care?

When the churning black ooze of the primordial soup created the enzymes that would evolve life on Earth, I was already old. Eventually, I became trapped in a human host when my cult failed the proper summoning ritual. So I am pretending to be a chubby geek from Ashland, Ky in the meantime. I own two dogs, am married, and am the world’s biggest fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek. I have multiple science fiction and fantasy series. I also review books at Booknest.EU, Grimdark Magazine, The United Federation of Charles, and the Before We Go Blog. Whoo!

What’s the book about?

Space Academy Dropouts is a delightful homage to all the sci-fi influences of my life from Star Trek to Star Wars to Mass Effect and Halo with a side order of Mel Brooks on the side. Vance Turbo, HERO OF SPACE is initially kicked out of Space Academy when he’s dragooned into a secret mission for the Interstellar Community’s security service. Unfortunately, it’s to serve as a decoy along with the worst crew in the galaxy. Events conspire to force poor Vance into doing what needs to be done even if he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to do it.

What is it about Vance that appealed to you?

Vance Turbo is my attempt to do Captain Kirk if he had the personality of William Shatner. No, just kidding. No, that’s Zapp Brannigan Poor Vance is a genius at what he does but what he does isn’t very smart. No, that’s Wolverine. Well, he’s a guy who would be a massive science fiction nerd in our world but lives in a science fiction universe so he has some advantage over his fellow cadets even though he really shouldn’t. He’s a snarky wiseass of the Harry Dresden vein but also a lot more idealistic than he lets on (or even admits to himself).

All books like this start with loving the genre, I know mine did. What are the roots of this particular story?

As mentioned, I’m a huge science fiction nerd and I feel like it’s always fun to take something familiar and put your own spin on it. In this case, I really enjoy the idea of a Deep Space Nine-esque take on a utopian scifi future. Yes, the Community is a great place to be and a massive improvement over the current world. However, you have to wonder what sort of challenges a place like the United Federation of Planets faces as well as what needs to be done to maintain such a place. Getting into that while doing all my comedy and twists was a lot of fun.

You are really active in the Urban Fantasy and Sci-fi communities. Who did this to you? Who are the authors you really enjoy?

I am a huge fan of Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, and other urban fantasy authors. For my space opera fandom, I’m a huge Jack Campbell fan and David Weber. I’m also a reader of both the Star Trek and Star Wars Expanded Universes. If I was going to recommend any indie authors, I’d recommend M.L. Spencer, Glynn Stewart, Rick Gualtieri, and Drew Hayes.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Goodreads:

My Amazon Author Page:

Twitter: @CT_Phipps

Facebook Fan Club:

Website: https://ctphipps.com/

The Second Book in the Werewolf PI series, Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker is out December 8. Preorder now from my publisher, Black Rose Writing, and save 15% with the code PREORDER22.

You can also join my new Facebook Author Page for constant updates and chances to win prizes.

Of course if you haven’t yet read Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk, what’s keeping you. You can get it in Kindle or Paperback.

An Update on Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker

Hey all. Just an update on the second book in my “Werewolf PI” series.

Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker will be out on December 8. We are mere weeks from a sneak peek at the cover, but I was editing it for publication today and came across one of my favorite bits:

“Yeah, sorry. But what is that thing?”

She looked and shrugged. “It’s a Chupacabra.”

“But aren’t they-” I swallowed the sentence. I was a werewolf standing in a room ninety miles from his body, holding hands with a witch. The “those-aren’t-real” ship had sailed.…

Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker

Yup, our boy is off to Las Vegas. You’ll find more laughs, gasps, and urban fantasy adventure coming December 8 from Black Rose Writing.

Blurb Begging and Advance Word for Johnny Lycan & the Vegas Berserker

One of the more humbling parts of the publishing process is where I find myself today: seeking those illusive “blurbs” for the cover. You know what I’m talking about: “I laughed, I cried, it was better than Wicked…” some author slightly better known than the author of the book you’re looking at.

Basically you’re creating the illusion of brilliance by association.

For the uninitiated, this is how it works. You think of someone who meets your criteria: They have to be someone you think will like the book. They have to be willing to read your imperfect baby even though it’s not formatted or finally proofed yet. Ideally, they are a known quantity so that the audience will say, “Hey, I’m a fan of John Wing, (or Sarah Tasz or Gemma Clatworthy or whoever) and if he/she liked it, I will too.”

I have been blessed to have an ever-expanding network of writers whose work I enjoy and have shared with you here. That’s where I went first.

Well, as I wait for the cover of the latest book, I have been sending out copies of Johnny Lycan & the Vegas Berserker and holding my breath. The results are trickling in and I’m happy to report people really enjoy it.

The first book in the Johnny Lycan, Werewolf PI series. Book 2 is out December 8, 2022

“Compelling characters, fast-paced action, magic crystals, and a berserker. It’s Johnny Lupul in Vegas baby!  As always, Wayne Turmel has created a compulsively readable action-packed story with a unique take on the werewolf mythos. An enjoyable read and I can’t wait for the next installment!” G Clatworthy, author of the Rise of the Dragons series

“Johnny Lycan and the Las Vegas Berserker is a riveting Sin City romp like I’ve never seen before. Aliens, covens, and magic of all stripes rocket across every page, with the reader (and sometimes Johnny too) holding on for dear life. Harry Dresden better watch his back–Johnny Lycan is the snarky, shapeshifting badass you’ve been waiting for.”S.G. Tasz, author of the Dead Mall series

“Get a flashlight, because you’ll be reading The Vegas Berserker well into the night. Johnny’s world is full of mischief, mayhem, and magic—excuse me, magick—and I can’t wait to read more.” —Luke Swanson, author of Spectators of War and The Other Hamlet Brother

“The stakes are high — life and death high — as werewolf private detective Johnny Lupul goes to Las Vegas to take custody of a mysterious ancient artifact. It’s a full moon, and the fur is about to fly!”  Jill Hand, author of the Trapnell Thrillers, White Oaks and Black Willows

“I loved this book. A rollicking, clever ride with a story so good you forget it’s a genre novel. If Jack Reacher was a werewolf, he’d be Johnny Lycan.”John Wing Jr, Comedian and author of A Car to Die For.

Can’t wait to see how these look on a cover. Hell, can’t wait to see the cover. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk, what the #@$%@#$% are you waiting for?

Witches and Villains with Isra Sravenheart

I believe one of the most important concepts in writing fiction is that the success of a story depends on the villain. Johnny Lycan would be a weird little adventure story without Kozlov. But good antagonists have a reason for being all villain-y. Some writers dig deep into that.

Enter Isra Sravenheart. Her books are full of witches, demons, warlocks, and others who have perfectly good reasons for doing what they do. I recently met her in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus Facebook group. We also appeared on the same YouTube interview with Opus Knight recently.

Isra, tell us about yourself.

Hi. I am Isra Sravenheart, a USA Today and Amazon Bestselling author. I first found success with my book Her Dark Soul in 2017 which is book 1 in my Dark Spell series. Of which I am currently promoting the boxed set of 1-4 in the series. I am very much an introvert at heart living with my four cats who are sassy as they deem themselves to be. I’m also an avid binge-watcher of fantasy and paranormal shows such as Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Buffy Angel. I also am releasing my first PNR book this May “Forbidden Rendezvous with the Devil” an interesting tale about young lone witch Sabine who has faced a break-up and now founds herself entangled with two vampires.

There’s a lot going on there. Tell me about your series.

Dark Spell series is a dark fantasy series featuring witches and warlocks. It’s an epic vivid world that I created with angels, demons, unicorns, dragons, light-bringers and I mainly focus on the aspect of villains and their POV. It spans eight books and mainly follows Isra and Astrid in their journey however things are not as clear cut as they seem. Don’t judge someone because nothing is what it seems. The good guys might look cute on the outset but they have their own tale of darkness to tell.

It has been compared to Grimms and Disney by many of its readers however it has a dark tone and focuses on aspects such as betrayal, forbidden love, unrequited love and dealing with one’s own personal demons (darkness.)

What are the roots of the story? Where does all this come from?

I love exploring a villain’s POV and while we’re not justifying what they did and we know it’s bad, we can understand the root of the character so at least their actions become understandable, Not everyone is born bad. There has to be a good reason. What makes people tick? I look at the ins and outs of the whole emotionally dragged-out mess, whilst not condemning them for it because everyone has their own reasons for being a certain way. It’s been a fun series to write and I love how there has been such a wide range of characters and eccentric personalities. My fave characters to write are Astrid and Samuel the light-bringer. He is off his rocker, to quote my editor Jody Freeman. 

Who hurt you like this? Who are the authors who influenced you?

Neil Gaiman. Gregory Maguire, L Frank Baum, Phillip Pullman. lots of dark fantasy vibes here. That;s kinda my jam and read most of these when I was young especially the oz and Wicked series. 

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

Goodreads, Amazon links, twitter, Facebook author page, website etc. Everything is nicely situated on my linktree including the boxed set review copies pinned to top, boxed set 1-4 buy page and my reader magnet for dark spell series https://linktr.ee/israsravenheart

The second book in the Johnny Lycan series is coming out on December 8. Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker, will be coming from Black Rose Writing. If you want to be the first kid on the block to receive swag or news about the book, sign up for my newsletter by clicking the link on the side of the screen. Meanwhile, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is available now in paperback or Kindle.

So, 2022 Looks a Little Busy

First, 2022 is not a real year. It’s science fiction. Blade Runner took place in 2019. Soylent Green takes place in 2022. But I’ll play along and pretend that it really is the Year of Our Lord 2022. If that’s the case, what will I be up to?

When it comes to the dreaded Day Job, there are two big creative projects in the pipeline.

We have signed a contract for The Long-Distance Team. Kevin Eikenberry and I have contracted with Berrett-Koehler publishers for another book. We’ll be following up The Long-Distance Teammate, Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership and The Long-Distance Teammate, Stay Engaged and Connected While Working Anywhere.

The Long-Distance Team, which is about designing the work culture you really want, is under construction. It will be officially out on January 22, 2023, but available for pre-order before the end of the year.

Also, it’s likely I will be doing a podcast. It won’t be the late lamented Cranky Middle Manager Show, but it will be informative and snarky. Details to follow.

On the fun, creative front look for the second in my werewolf detective series. Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker will be out before the end of the year from Black Rose Writing. The third book in the series is under construction so it won’t be 2 years between installments, I pinky swear.

Check out my latest novel, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk. It will give you something to do until your next WebEx meeting.

You can find out everything that I’m up to creatively by signing up for my infrequent but action-packed email newsletter. Use the signup box on the side of the screen.

Readers- I need your help. Seriously

Johnny Lycan 2 is done and ready to go to my publisher. But I need to do the dreaded back cover blurb. You know, the short bit on the back that sucks people into reading a book they’ve never heard of.

Here’s what I”m working with for Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker. Seriously, let a brother know what you think…

The world’s favorite werewolf P.I. is off to Las Vegas. What could go wrong?

Life’s good for Johnny Lupul. He has a steady gig and a growing reputation as a guy who can get things done. He’s even learning to keep his Lycan side under control—mostly.

But when he’s sent to Sin City on a simple retrieval job, things go sideways. He bumps up against a coven of unconventional witches, a psychic pawn broker, and a mysterious enemy with a darker and more violent secret than his own.

“Like Spenser for Hire with bite.”

“Turmel has created a series that’s part detective noir, part urban fantasy, with plenty of snarky humor.”

What do you think? Too much? Not enough? drop a comment or an email and help me out.

Johnny Lycan 2 is finished. Kind of.

I just put finished to the second book in the Johnny Lycan series. Well, an ugly, squawling, half-assed first draft anyway. Our boy finds himself in Las Vegas, and faces, among other things: a megalomaniac rancher, a honest-to-god Berserker, an ancient relic that may or may not be from Earth, a coven of bad-ass witches, and more about himself than he wants to know.

Believe it or not, book 3 is already outlined and will be started soon. Sorry about the delay between books. Turns out that between buying a house, navigating a global pandemic, a demanding day job and the general yukkiness in the air, I’ve learned something important. Existential dread is not great for the creative juices. You may quote me.

It’s aliiiiiiiive

Watch for Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker coming in 2022 from #blackrosewriting (blessings upon them)

If you haven’t read Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk, there’s still time to be one of the cool kids who find stuff before everyone else and lords it over them. Read it here

Dragons, Dwarfs, and Maybe the Most British Name Ever

I love connecting with other writers. Not long ago, just after I interviewed Jamie Davis about his paranormal paramedic series, we had a chat on an app called Clubhouse. We were joined by a delightful woman, who had the most British name ever. If you were going to choose a woman’s name for a fantasy writer, could you do better than Gemma Clatworthy? Didn’t think so.

As it turns out, she has a new fantasy series, and it’s a lot of fun. What other excuse do I need to ask her some questions?

Alright, Gemma. Give us the wonder that is you.

I’m Gemma Clatworthy, an urban fantasy writer based in the magical county of Wiltshire in the UK. I started writing children’s books during lockdown 2020 (the first book I published is titled The Girl Who Lost Her Listening Ears, which gives you some idea of how lockdown was for us!). When I’m not writing, I enjoy crafting, playing board games, tea and chocolate – not necessarily in that order!

When we were talking to Jamie, I mentioned that Johnny Lycan would have no Fae in it… and THEN I found out they are all over your book. So, apologies. (But Johnny will run into a lot of strange things, fairies and elves won’t be among them. My book, my rules.) Now that I’ve groveled appropriately, what’s your new series about?

My Rise of Dragons series follows the adventures of Amethyst, a half-dwarf jeweller who just wants a quiet life. In the first book, Awakening, her best friend is kidnapped and she’s forced to confront a gang of cultists who want to raise a dragon…and things keep going pear-shaped from there! 

Bonus points for “pear-shaped,” which is one of my favorite Brit expressions. What are the roots of the story? It’s so much fun. What was it that hooked you?

The root of the story was really that I wanted to write a character that wasn’t a standard elf or werewolf, (Editors Note: Ouch, but I suppose I deserve that.) which seem to be the leads in a lot of urban fantasy. I was inspired by a friend’s character in a D&D campaign we played – she was a straightforward barbarian who rushed in without really thinking, took a hit and kept going, which is pretty much my main character in a nutshell! I set the story in modern-day Cardiff in the UK because I really enjoyed mixing the magical with the mundane and in a couple of my stories I’ve used real buildings… which may get destroyed by dragons!

Who do you read?

My absolute favourite author is Terry Pratchett – his Discworld series is amazing. I like to think I’m a diverse reader so I also enjoy Ellis Peters (Cadfael series), Phillipa Gregory, Lyndsey Buroker, Nicholas Eames and KM Shea. That’s just a shortlist though because I read a lot.

As you should. So, where can we learn more about you and your work?

You can find me at my website: www.gemmaclatworthy.com 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/gemmaclatworthy 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/gemmaclatworthy

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gemma-Clatworthy

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/Gemma Clatworthy

Of course, if you’re NOT sick of werewolves (ahem) Please check out Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk. Volume 2 is nearly finished!

Get it from my publisher, #blackrosewriting or on Amazon

Scary Critters in the Canadian Woods- Katie Berry

Canada is underrated for scariness. You think everyone’s nice (which is a great cover for a serial killer if you think about it) and it’s all outdoorsy and stuff. But if you’ve ever been alone in the woods at night, there’s a high creep factor. A writer from my home province of British Columbia has it figured out. I came across Katie Berry’s book Claw and figured I should introduce her to you so…

Katie, been years since I spoke to anyone from Castlegar! What should we know about you?

First of all, thank you so much for having me here today. It’s great to have a chance to speak to everyone and let them know a little about myself. Where to start? I am from Ottawa, Ontario, originally. Moved out west in a family migration when I was young. We ended up in the Okanagan in what was then called Westbank. After moving around the province several times over the years, I have settled down finally, and now live and write in the beautiful West Kootenays of British Columbia.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. My first story was written in grade three. It was a four-page murder mystery. My teacher wanted the class to write a short story. Mine was the only story with a hand drawn cover. It really stood out, since it was hand-typed (thanks to my dad’s assistance) and had a lovely colourful cover: a large pool of bright-red blood lay on a sidewalk next to a vibrant green lawn surrounded by a white picket fence. I was a regular Rembrandt. ? Got an A- on it, too!

Canada has plenty of scary critters, but CLAW goes way above and beyond. Tell us about it.

CLAW is about a small town in BC that has several problems. Right about this time of year, they suffer a major earthquake, the town’s sole mountain pass cut off from the world. The other problem is with the ‘wildlife’ that keeps eating people wandering around in the local forests. Finally, there is a greedy cartel of murderous morons trying to hide a massive gold strike recently discovered in the area. The main protagonists, Austin Murphy and Christine Moon have been well received, with Christine being called a ‘kick-ass conservationist’ by one reader. I have had many people write to me telling me that they know these people, or people just like them in their own communities, and how the novel all seemed very real to them.

I always feel that the more you can ground your story in a realistic world that surrounds the reader, the easier it can be to introduce the more unbelievable elements. I recently heard from a zoologist who teaches at a university in the UK who just loved the book, saying it has everything he looks for in a novel, from story, action and characters, all the way to the title cryptid villain, who is actually not called CLAW, interestingly. It’s nice to have the scientific community at your back, I must say.

As someone who grew up in a hub for Sasquatch sightings (Bigfoot is so American), I love me a good cryptid. Where did the story come from?

The roots of the story. I had a dream. After that dream, I got to wondering about certain things in my area, and it all just sort of fell into place (eventually). It was a four year journey from that dream to reality, but I feel it was worth it. I am truly proud of that novel, and especially so when people tell me they rank it right up there with stories by King, Koontz and Crichton. I truly feel blessed to have done so well. CLAW has been in the top 5,000-10,000 on Amazon.com since just about a month after its release in December 2019. As of yesterday, I have sold just a little over 10,000 copies and counting. And the two new prequel novelettes I have recently released are also doing quite well. Another aspect of the novel was that I wanted to write something like a big-action blockbuster monster movie set here in the mountains of BC. With CLAW and its upcoming sequel and prequel, I think I have achieved that. CLAW is also available in paperback and audiobook (14.5 hours of fun!)

What is it about this kind of story that appeals to you?

I have always had an affinity for the horrific side of movies and television, and especially things that go bump in the night or with monsters in them. I remember watching the old Universal horror movies with my mom, such as the Wolfman, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man, etc. One of the things we also watched were reruns of Kolchak: The Night Stalker with Darren McGavin. It was that show that inspired me to be a writer. I actually wanted to be an investigative journalist like Carl Kolchak and bust monsters each week like he did. Hey, I was only ten at the time.

(WAYNE HAS TO INTERRUPT>>>LOVED Night Stalker! I actually had a dream the other night I got a TV deal to write a reboot of Night Stalker with Randall Park as the reporter. How do we make that happen?)

But that set me up with the writing bug and I never looked back. I actually did study journalism in college for a while along with abnormal psychology. Personally, I like things with the unknown in it. But unknown of the fantastic nature. I know that some people love a good psycho killer novel, but with all the horror in the world these days, I like to escape when I read, or write. Man’s inhumanity against man is something that holds little appeal to me, but nature’s inhumanity to man, or the supernatural’s, well, that’s another thing.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

For any reader that would like to keep up with my writing, my website is always up to date with links to all of my books at https://katieberry.ca.

Also, my Amazon Author Page is a great place to go

Let’s not forget Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19756937.Katie_Berry.

Link to all of the books on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3nxDvBv

Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is now available in paperback and kindle, and available almost anywhere from #BlackRoseWriting. It’s an American Book Festival Finalist for Best Horror of 2020. “Like Dresden Files with Bite.”

Are You Ready for the Werewolf Apocalypse? Steve Morris

I was a fan of werewolves long before Johnny Lycan entered my brain, and have been reading a fair number of Lycanthropic novels lately just to see what’s out there. One of my latest favorites is Wolf Blood: The Werewolf Apocalypse Begins. As you can imagine it’s a very different tale than mine, although it plays with some similar themes: Lycanthrophy as a disease, making conscious choices about what to do with it. That’s about where the similarities end. This is a flat out, badass thriller. I was happy to talk to Steve Morris about his series…

Steve, it’s great to meet another werewolf junkie. Please introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Steve Morris, and I did several different jobs before becoming a writer. After university I spent ten years working as a nuclear scientist. I then ran my own internet company for a while, before coming up with the crazy and misguided notion that a fresh start as an author would be a smart career move.

I really enjoyed Wolf Blood and look forward to the others. Tell us what it’s about.

Short answer – werewolves taking over the world! A virus originating in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania is brought back to London by scientific researchers. Once established in the city, it begins to spread exponentially. Back in 2017, when I started writing the series, a pandemic felt like an unlikely apocalyptic event rather than something we would all soon experience first-hand.

Long answer – all kinds of things. I’m interested in good and evil, and how it can manifest in each and every one of us, and how the dividing line can sometimes be paper thin. I wanted to explore the theme of diversity, and whether opposing groups of people can find a way to live together, or whether conflict is inevitable. The predator-prey division between werewolves and humans can be viewed as a metaphor for our times.

That’s what I love about werewolf stories, that we all have that inside of us and it’s how we cope that matters. What are the roots of the story?

The title of my series is “Lycanthropic.” The word came to me one day and I thought it would make a cool title for a book. I searched on Amazon, but no one had written a book with that title. So it dawned on me that I would have to write it myself.

I’d enjoyed a lot of zombie apocalypse stories, and so it seemed like an obvious move to write a story about a werewolf apocalypse. Most traditional werewolf stories involve lone werewolves in isolated settings, or else they are coming of age stories where the condition is often regarded as a curse to be overcome. I wondered what it would be like if lycanthropy wasn’t necessarily a curse, and if the werewolves weren’t hunted down and killed at the end of the book. I also wanted to explore what it would be like to be a werewolf.

I know why werewolves fascinate me, and my readers are probably sick about hearing why. But what’s their appeal for you?

I have always loved werewolves. I think that when I was a teenager, I would have liked to be one. The idea that you have this incredible power inside you that can be unleashed, even if you have little or no control over it, can be very seductive. I remember reading about them when I played Dungeons & Dragons, and realising that they didn’t have to be magical, but that lycanthropy might be an actual disease. That made them seem far more real, more plausible, and much more interesting to me.

I’m also very interested in transformation and reinvention, and werewolves and other shapeshifters are the embodiment of these qualities.

Who are you reading people should know about?

I read quite widely. I’ve just finished “Dracul” by Dacre Stoker, which I really enjoyed, and now I’m reading “The Terror” by Dan Simmons, who also wrote the amazing “Hyperion” books. Other authors I have greatly enjoyed include Frank Herbert, George R R Martin, Patrick Ness and Joe Abercrombie.

How can people learn more about you and the Lycanthropic series?

The best place to go is my website at https://www.stevemorrisbooks.com – here you’ll find links to Amazon.

I’m on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17204478.Steve_Morris

and my Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/stevemorrisauthor

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog!

Of course, for those who want to compare werewolf takes, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is now available in paperback and kindle, and available almost anywhere from #BlackRoseWriting. It’s an American Book Festival Finalist for Best Horror of 2020. “Like Dresden Files with Bite.”