What’s new in the new year

A few things, actually. I’d like to send a huge shout out to friend and fellow author/editor Charlie Finlay who has been named the new editor for Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, taking over from Gordon Gelder. I’ve known Charlie for around 15 years. We first met online on the Del Rey Online Writer’s Workshop. We’ve met in person a time or two at various SFF Cons. I am thrilled for him. My one concern is that this will cut into this own writing.

Speaking of writing, I handed in the proposal for my next military history book and have turned my attention to the proposal for my next fantasy. If all goes well I’ll have it ready by the end of the month.

On a personal note, I grew a beard, shaved it, and am growing a new one (or am I regrowing the old one)?

Here’s to 2015 being a fantastic year!


In defense of Dwarves and other fantasy elements

I recently did an interview with Fantasy Faction and thought I’d share it with you here:

What have you been up to since the completion of the Iron Elves, with Ashes of a Black Frost?

In the three very long years since the end of the Iron Elves I wrote my next novel, Of Bone and Thunder, and my first nonfiction book, Bloody Jungle, about the Vietnam War. I didn’t mean to take three years, but life has that annoying habit of getting in the way. I now write full time as I resigned my position as military history editor at Stackpole Books last year. I’m still adapting to the transition. I was a military history editor for thirteen years so to leave that behind wasn’t easy. On the plus side, I do travel more, and I am working at writing more, too.

Of Bone and Thunder gets described as a bit of Apocalypse Now meets The Lord of the Rings. How do you feel about this?

Of Bone and Thunder (cover)Chagrined, but only mildly. I think most people understand that marketing employs some hyperbole in order to get eyeballs fixed in their direction. The point to using comparisons like Apocalypse Now and Lord of the Rings (or Full Metal Jacket meets Game of Thrones as a reviewer commented) is to give the reader a framework, something to latch onto. OBAT is very much the melding of the Vietnam War experience in a deeply realized fantasy world. In that sense, the marketing term is dead on. If you’re at all familiar with Apocalypse Now and LOTR then you get a feel for the book immediately. Now whether that’s for you is another question entirely, but in one sentence you have the general sense and sensibility of the novel. There will be blood, magic, drugs, chaos and a redemptive ending, if not a cheery and sunny one.

For the rest of the interview, go here:  INTERVIEW


My interview with Suvudu on all things fantasy, war and more

I recently did an extensive phone interview with Matt Staggs which is now up at SUVUDU  We talk about Of Bone And Thunder, fantasy at large, war, grimdark and lots more.

You can read the entire interview HERE

You’re a military historian. How did you get into writing fantasy?

I was always fascinated by it, and I was a Dungeons & Dragons player all throughout high school, so it always fascinated me. I’m probably one of many that was captivated by Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, which is really a fantasy, and I always wanted to write.

The combination happened where I was able to write fantasy with more of a military angle.

When we say “fantasy with more of a military angle” I think of guys like Glen Cook. Who are some of your favorite authors, past and present?

It’s interesting because I’ve always viewed the majority of fantasy as being military fantasy. If you go back to the Lord of the Rings, it’s a story about a really large war. All throughout so much epic fantasy, whether it’s Game of Thrones today or going back to The Lord of the Rings, most epic fantasies are war-like and military, even if people don’t want to label them as such. What has inspired and interested me hasn’t been something that has just been labeled military fantasy, because I think that there’s a lot more military fantasy than people admit to.

Do we normally have a “fantasy” view of warfare, anyway? Does war lend itself to fantasy because the majority of us don’t – and won’t – have any idea what real war is like?

I actually think that fantasy allows us to explore these more difficult areas. A lot of people aren’t reading about Iraq, Afghanistan, or Vietnam, which is obviously the war that I used for this book. Fantasies help us to understand what it is to be at war, especially if it’s something that has been well-researched. Fantasy can look exactly like that: Something that’s fantastic and make-believe, but in reality, I think it allows a lot of people to look at what it means to go to war and to risk everything in a way that’s more accessible to them. Continued…

Dreaming, grinding and flying or how I write

I was in the Book Cellar today on York Avenue here in Gotham (NYC) checking out the shelves as I do most Saturday mornings. I’ve found a lot of great reference material there, plus I enjoy the people and the atmosphere. Everyone there is there because of books. This morning I was also dropping off a signed copy of Of Bone And Thunder which the store (non-profit) will sell to support the public library (which is located above them…which I probably should have mentioned sooner).

So, a woman asked me about writing and if I do it every day. Ha! Seriously, ha! I wanted to say I wish, but I’m not certain I do wish I wrote every day. The fact is, I’m a dreamer, a grinder, and every once in a while, a flyer. A good chunk of my writing is not writing, but dreaming (visualizing if you will) a scene complete with dialogue. I can do entire chapters that way. I’m not a plotter in the sense that I write this stuff down in point form or summaries. Whenever I’ve tried that I become bored. Instead, I play it out in my head, see it, see the scenery, the sky, where the characters are standing, what they are saying etc. It gives me a three dimensional sense of the space and how the characters are interacting in it. It’s also fun. It’s free-flowing and vibrant, but it’s still only in my head at this point.

And so the grind begins. I’m not saying all writing is a grind, but in my attempt to transcribe my vision into words that will invoke the vision I have in my head in yours, I write, and rewrite and repeat. Just to give you a small example, I came up with several hundred different titles for Of Bone And Thunder. My guess is that for every page in the book, there is one that didn’t make it. This process can be exhausting at times, and frustrating, and lead to a sense of despair. So much so that I won’t write for weeks. What saves me and the books is when I fly.

Flying is when the ideas flow like the wind. When I’m not just writing fast, but well, and inspired. Suddenly, everything fits, and everything makes sense. I’ve laughed out loud, I’ve teared up, I’ve even growled as I wrote. The state of euphoria I enter transcends time (I swear hours have flown by in mere minutes). It’s more than a book going on sale or a subrights deal. That feeling is why I love to write. It’s possible that it’s why I need to write, but that’s an area of my psyche I haven’t yet fully explored.

All that being the case, I would nonetheless like to write more consistently. Of Bone And Thunder took three years. I’m planning to write my next novel in a year to a year and a half. As I resigned from my full-time job last year I will now be able to devote more time to dreaming, grinding and flying, so hopefully the books will start coming a whole lot faster.