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Friday, December 18, 2015

Interview with David Dalglish (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of A Dance Of Cloaks 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of A Dance Of Blades
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of A Dance Of Mirrors 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of A Dance Of Shadows
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Cloak & Spider
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with David Dalglish 
Read Fantasy Book Critic cover art interview with David Dalglish
Read "Sequels And Satisfying Endings" by David Dalglish (guest post)

Q] Many congratulations on the launch of your new series. Can you talk to us about its inception & how you developed it from the core idea?

DD: For a good year The Seraphim was just a vague idea in my head, something I hoped I might one day write (I still had two Shadowdance novels to finish up at the time). I knew at some point I needed to branch out into a brand new world. After something like twenty novels in the same world, I needed the chance to start from scratch. For both good and bad, my Dezrel stuff is based on a world I first created when I was seventeen. Well. I’m not seventeen anymore. Time to see what happened if I left the standard Tolkien-esque fantasy world.

Anyway, I knew I wanted magic and swords and whatnot, but more restricted, more controlled, and with detailed rules for how everything worked. I bounced ideas around, and it wasn’t until a single image popped into my head on a walk one day that I knew I had to write this story. It was of two children sitting at the edge of the world, watching the night sky be swallowed by fire. Even in the middle of writing the sixth Shadowdance book, I took a break to bang out that first chapter, and was pretty much in love with the book ever since.

Q] What were some of the main inspirations for you with regards to this series? Specifically what were you aiming for?

DD: I’ll freely admit my love of the classic SNES RPG Chrono Trigger and its influence on me, not just in this book but my storytelling as a whole. And my favorite part was in the city of Zeal, this giant floating island in the sky, lush and green and with rivers running off the sides and down to the ocean below. Loved it, absolutely loved it. Even as a kid I wanted to tell some sort of story using that type of setup as a backdrop. Upon committing to such a world, the development of the Seraphim and a caste of flying warriors came naturally.

Q] You are known for your high-octane fight sequences and epic-action in you books. With these books, what new barriers are you trying to break?

DD: The big goal was mass aerial combat. Tricky enough trying to ensure readers can visualize a large scale battle, but one happening in all directions? It turned out to be as hard to write as I expected, but the end product exceeded my hopes as well. The mere idea of soaring through the air is exhilarating, but to have magical elements flying in all directions, bodies dropping, soldiers keeping in tight formations prior to frantic, desperate mid-air melee? So much fun.

Q] How many books are planned in this series? Will this just be a trilogy or do you have more books in mind?

DD: I’m writing it as a trilogy, so the third book will have a nice, definitive ending. I may continue to do more in the world, but it’d likely be with new characters and a significant time jump forward.

Q] Please tell us a bit about your main characters and the world they inhabit?

DD: Humanity’s been all but decimated, the remnants living on six floating islands surrounded by an endless ocean. What keeps the islands afloat, what powers the magical gauntlets and wings granting flight, are all carefully guarded by the ruling religious class, the theotechs, in the largest of the islands. The five outlying minor islands are their own independent nations, and their aerial armies are known as the Seraphim. The two main characters are twins, Kael and Breanna Skyborn. Their parents were both Seraphs, slain in battle against another island. The story follows their attempts to enlist as Seraphim, to learn to fly and throw ice and fire as a way to find vengeance for their parents’ deaths.

Q] You mention that you current series’ protagonists are orphans. Your debut series also featured orphans as well Shadowdance (to be fair Haern wasn’t technically an orphan but he thought of himself as one). Why is this theme about orphans running so strong among many of your stories?

DD: The main characters in both The Paladins and The Half-Orcs are also orphans, now that I think about it. People are going to assume I have parental issues (it’s not true, I swear, my parents are awesome!). I wish I had a good answer. Part of it is when you have main characters you want to go on sweeping adventures, it’s easier if there isn’t anything to tie them down and hold them back. In case of Skyborn, it allows some intrigue and motivation depending on how the parents’ died. Maybe it’s just a theme I enjoy exploring. I don’t know.

Q] Once again as was the case with the Shadowdance books, Orbit has really aced the covers. What were your thoughts about it? What input did you provide to Kirk & the artist?

DD: As much as I love the Shadowdance covers, the covers for Skyborn and Fireborn are just…unreal. I can’t say enough good things. As for my input, it’s been pretty light overall, mostly in detailing the outfits and the wings. Everything else is all Orbit, and they thoroughly nailed it.

Q] Congratulations on the new addition to your family. How has fatherhood been for you? Has it made you look back at any writing choices that you made previously in your books? Did you want to change them now?

DD: There’s one very specific death in a very early book I wrote where a young child of a main character drowns. At the time I wasn’t even married yet, but upon editing it up to self-publish it, I actually had my own two year old daughter. Suddenly it was her face I was seeing while editing it, and dear lord, I’m not sure I could write that scene now. I could barely endure editing it.

But would I change it? Nah.

Q] Will you be returning to the world of your previous series? What other books are you currently writing?

DD: My fans have actually been rather patient with me, God bless ‘em. They waited two years for the seventh Half-Orc book, and once I finish up the third Seraphim book, Shadowborn, I’ll be right back to writing the eighth. By the time I finish, it’ll likely be closing in on a year and a half. Perhaps not the longest of wait compared to most of the industry, but for me, that’s practically a lifetime.

Q] How long do you think this series will go or how much more magical mayhem can the world of Dezrel withstand?

DD: I’ve got at least three more books planned out in my head, the most interesting dealing with a bit of a teaser I snuck into the very end of the sixth and final Shadowdance book. But honestly, I can go for a while so long as readers are still willing to tag along. Sure, I blew up the world, but there’s still plenty to do in attempting to pick up the pieces.

Q] Many thanks for your time and any parting thoughts for your legion of fans?

DD: Thanks so much for coming into my silly little worlds. I’ll do all I can to entertain, so long as you’re willing to give me the chance.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Library Of Souls by Ransom Riggs (Reviewed by Joshua Redlich)

Official Author Website
Order Library Of Souls HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Ransom Riggs grew up in Florida, where he spent his formative years making silly movies with his friends in their various backyards, snorkeling, and complaining about the heat. He studied English at Kenyon College and film at the University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles. He makes films you can watch on his YouTube page. He enjoys traveling to exotic lands and complaining about the heat. He would like to thank you for reading this short biography.

OVERVIEW: Picking up right where Hollow City left off, this conclusion to the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy follows sixteen-year-old Jacob as he attempts to save his peculiar friends from the hands of their enemy, the Wights. Together with Emma Bloom, a girl who can create fire at will, and Addison MacHenry, a talking dog, Jacob must venture back in time to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the worst slum in all of Victorian London, where the fate of not just his friends but all of Peculiardom rests in his hands.

FORMAT: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs is the conclusion to the bestselling trilogy, Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children. This 464 page, young adult novel is narrated by the protagonist, Jacob Portman, and illustrated throughout with vintage, black-and-white photographs. The book was published by Quirk Books on September 22, 2015 in Hardcover and as an e-book and audiobook.

ANALYSIS: The final installment in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy has been eagerly awaited by millions of fans, including myself. Sadly, though, it failed to meet my expectations.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the first book in the series, drew readers in with a unique plot, a deliciously dark atmosphere, and a collection of bizarre, black & white vintage photos that illustrated the book and from which the author created the story. The characters were complex and interesting, the story was fast-paced and engaging, and the ending was the sort that left me gaping at the last page like a fool, unsure how I could possibly survive the wait for Hollow City, the next book in the series.

Library of Souls, unfortunately, did not live up to its predecessor. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t much to love about the story. The setting of the book, one of the worst slums of Victorian London, was very well realized, and it fit perfectly with the dark tone of the series. Additionally, the story sheds light on the history of Peculiardom, something I always found interesting that the other books in the series only scraped the surface of. And the story was far from boring. The novel wasted no time getting started, picking up on the very first page and quickly moving from one adventure to the next until the conclusion. Yet despite the good writing and quick pacing, it failed to meet my expectations.

For one, the legend of the Library of Souls, which is essential to this story, came out of nowhere. There was no mention of it, as far as I can remember, in the first two books, and its sudden importance in this book made the entire novel feel like one of those filler episodes on a super hero television series that introduces a new villain in the beginning and deals with him or her by the end. The fact that it was so crucial to the events of the entire series and yet introduced almost randomly in the final book was a bit disappointing. It would have been great if the author had mentioned the Library of Souls earlier on, perhaps keeping it a mystery until Library of Souls to build suspense. But even more disconcerting was the peculiars’ seemingly lack of interest in the library, and what its existence could mean for them. Not a single one seemed even slightly interested in it.

In addition to the flaws surrounding the Library of Souls, there were a number of other issues I had with the book. It was incredibly predictable and completely devoid of suspense, with most of the story feeling like irrelevant fluff before the final showdown between the peculiars and the Wights. And the vintage, black and white photographs the author uses to illustrate his books, an aspect of the series that has always been a personal favorite, were severely lacking. Only a few of them managed to capture the bizarre eeriness of the photographs used in the prior two novels; the rest were just a collection of landscapes and portraits with little or no intrinsic peculiarity. On top of that, there are a number of copyediting errors, such as the inclusion of unnecessary articles and several double negatives. An unsatisfactory and fairly anticlimactic ending is just the icing on the cake.

CONCLUSION: Despite my issues with Library of Souls, I still believe the series, as a whole, is fantastic, and I am quick to recommend it to younger and older readers alike. The story is original, the characters are relatable, and the writing is smooth and a pleasure to read.


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