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The Fictitious podcast, hosted by Adron Buske, delves into the craft of Science Fiction and Fantasy storytelling through interviews with authors and other professional writers. These conversations examine the writing process, techniques, and work habits of passionate creators and explore their most recent, and most popular, works.
96 Episodes
Caitlin Starling returns to Fictitious to talk about her new horror-tinged, sci-fi thriller, LAST TO LEAVE THE ROOM.  We talk writing surreal scenes, and using a "load-bearing cat".  About Last to Leave the Room The city of San Siroco is sinking. The basement of Dr. Tamsin Rivers, the arrogant, selfish head of the research team assigned to find the source of the subsidence, is sinking faster. As Tamsin grows obsessed with the distorting dimensions of the room at the bottom of the stairs, she finds a door that didn’t exist before – and one night, it opens to reveal an exact physical copy of her. This doppelgänger is sweet and biddable where Tamsin is calculating and cruel. It appears fully, terribly human, passing every test Tamsin can devise. But the longer the double exists, the more Tamsin begins to forget pieces of her life, to lose track of time, to grow terrified of the outside world. As her employer grows increasingly suspicious, Tamsin must try to hold herself together long enough to figure out what her double wants from her, and just where the mysterious door leads… LAST TO LEAVE THE ROOM is potent and surreal, horror-inflected science fiction available now from St. Martin’s Press: Amazon » Bookshop » » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Caitlin Starling Caitlin Starling is the nationally bestselling author of The Death of Jane Lawrence, as well as Last to Leave the Room and the Bram Stoker-nominated The Luminous Dead. Her other works include Yellow Jessamine and a Vampire: The Masquerade novella, The Land of Milk and Honey (published in the collection Walk Among Us). Her nonfiction has appeared in Nightmare, Uncanny, and Tor Nightfire. Caitlin also works in narrative design, and has been paid to invent body parts. Website Twitter Instagram BlueSky Amazon » Goodreads Previous Fictitious Conversations with Caitlin Starling The Luminous Dead interview 10 Points to Slytherin: Why Good Fans Love Evil Characters — San Diego Comic Con Panel Vampire: The Masquerade: Walk Among Us interview with Genevieve Gornichec
Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey are both powerhouse bestselling authors in their own rights. Now, they’ve merged their considerable talents in cosmic horror and urban fantasy to create the new novel, THE DEAD TAKE THE A TRAIN. In a New York City absolutely filthy with magic—monsters and the mundane intermingle. When that cohabitation breeds horrific problems—and it always does—you need people like Julie Crews to clean up the mess. But being a coked-out, broke ass, pig-pen disaster of a magician like Julie creates as many issues as it solves. Struggling to make rent and constantly getting screwed by her clients, Julie is desperate to score some real paying work. Complicating matters is the arrival of her childhood friend Sarah, the prim and pretty opposite to Julie’s deadbeat, mage-punk lifestyle. Sarah’s brightness is just what she needs, and the vibes are way more than platonic. But Sarah brought her own baggage to the big city. When Julie’s pompous Wall Street ex-boyfriend Tyler calls, offering big money for a highly suspicious job, she can’t refuse. Getting tangled up in his lies, and the innumerable arms of a dream-eating demon, will be least of their issues, though. Because Tyler’s corporate job serves some seriously eldritch monstrosities, big ugly elder god-things on a schedule to consume their workforce. And maybe the world. This, of course, is all about to become Julie’s giant mess to solve—and make infinitely worse along the way. THE DEAD TAKE THE A TRAIN is a visceral, violent, wickedly fun urban fantasy available now from Tor Nightfire: Amazon »  Bookshop »  About Cassandra Khaw Cassandra Khaw is an award-winning game writer and former scriptwriter at Ubisoft Montreal. Khaw’s work can be found in places like The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, and Khaw’s first original novella, HAMMERS ON BONE, was a British Fantasy Award and Locus Award finalist, and their latest novella, NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH, was a USA Today bestseller; Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy Award nominee; and an Indie Next Pick. In 2023, they won the Bram Stoker Awards Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for BREAKABLE THINGS, a collection of short stories. Instagram  Twitter  Amazon Profile »  Goodreads Profile  About Richard Kadrey Richard Kadrey is the New York Times bestselling author of the SANDMAN SLIM supernatural noir series. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime,” and is in production as a feature film. Some of Kadrey’s other books include THE GRAND DARK, THE EVERYTHING BOX, and BUTCHERBIRD. In comics, he’s written for Heavy Metal, Lucifer, and Hellblazer. He’s currently partnered with Winterlight Productions for his original horror screenplay, Dark West. Website  BlueSky  Instagram  Twitter  Amazon Profile »  Goodreads Profile   
In this episode we’re going to deviate a bit from the usual focus on fiction to talk about writing for tabletop roleplaying games and related media. RPGs have always been deeply interconnected with fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, and right now they are more popular and prevalent than ever before. James L. Sutter co-created the lore and story-rich fantasy RPG PATHFINDER for Paizo Publishing, which has become one of the most popular roleplaying games in the world. He then took the role of Creative Director on STARFINDER, a science-fantasy RPG that reimagined the world of Pathfinder in a space-faring future. Along the way, he’s written Pathfinder tie-in novels DEATH’S HERETIC and THE REDEMPTION ENGINE, RPG adventures and source books for Pathfinder, Starfinder, and Dungeons & Dragons, and a large body of short fiction, comics, and video games. His latest book, DARKHEARTS, is a departure from genre fiction—a young adult romance about estranged bandmates that must reconcile the loss of their best friend, and their unexpected attraction to each other. DARKHEARTS is available now from Wednesday Books: Amazon »  Bookshop »  » Some of the links above are affiliate links. Using them helps support this site and creator. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I am an affiliate of and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. All of the RPG work previously mentioned is available at your local game store, or wherever books are sold: Pathfinder (1st Edition) Core Rulebook »  Starfinder Core Rulebook »  Pathfinder Tales: Death's Heretic »  Pathfinder Tales: The Redemption Engine »  About James L. Sutter James L. Sutter is a co-creator of the Pathfinder and Starfinder Roleplaying Games. From 2004 to 2017, he worked for Paizo Publishing, starting out as an editor on Dungeon Magazine, moving on to do foundational work for Pathfinder, and eventually becoming the Creative Director in charge of launching Starfinder, as well as the Executive Editor of the Pathfinder Tales novel line for Paizo and Tor. James is also the author of the young adult romance novel Darkhearts, as well as the fantasy novels Death's Heretic—a finalist for the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel—and The Redemption Engine, which won the 2015 Scribe Award for Best Original Speculative Novel. His short stories have appeared in such venues as Nightmare, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Escape Pod, and the #1 Amazon best-seller Machine of Death. In addition, he's written comic books, essays in venues like Clarkesworld and Lightspeed: Queers Destroy Science Fiction, a wealth of tabletop gaming material, and video games. When not writing, James has performed with musical acts ranging from metalcore to musical theater. He lives in Seattle. Website  Instagram  Twitter  Amazon Profile »  Goodreads Profile 
Greta Kelly returns to Fictitious to talk about her new fantasy novel, THE QUEEN OF DAYS. We discuss its origin as a NaNoWriMo project, developing a tightly-contained fantasy setting, and maintaining emotional drama in a fast-paced heist story. THE QUEEN OF DAYS is breakneck-paced fantasy adventure coming October 24th from Harper Voyager. Order it now at: Amazon » Bookshop » Publisher Site » Some of the links above are affiliate links. Using them helps support this site and its writers. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I am an affiliate of and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. About Greta Kelly Greta K. Kelly is (probably) not a witch, death or otherwise, but she can still be summoned with offerings of too-beautiful-to-use journals and Butterfingers candy. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband EJ, daughters Lorelei and Nadia who are doing their level-best to take over the world. Follow Greta Kelly Website Instagram Twitter Goodreads Amazon profile » About THE QUEEN OF DAYS From Greta Kelly, the author of the Warrior Witch duology, comes The Queen of Days, an epic adventure that weaves together a flawed-but-lovable family of thieves, a battle between fallen gods, and stakes high enough to cause vertigo—perfect for fans of The Lies of Locke Lamora and Six of Crows. For Balthazar and his family of thieves, stealing a statue during the annual celebration of the god Karanis was just a good bit of fun…or a way to stick it to the governor who murdered his parents. And yeah, the small fortune in reward doesn’t hurt—even if his boss also hired the mysterious Queen of Days to join the crew as “the weapon of last resort…” Whatever that means. But Bal doesn’t know the ceremony isn’t simply empty words and dusty tradition; it’s true magic. The kind of magic that rips open a portal for the god himself. Only the idol that Karanis planned on using for a body now lies broken at the Queen of Days’ feet. And half of it is missing. With the aid of a lovable brawler, a society lady turned bomb maker, a disgraced soldier, and a time-eating demon, Bal must hunt down the missing half of the statue if he has any hope of earning his money, keeping his crew alive…and perhaps even saving all of humanity. But as his journey sends him racing through the city—and across realities—he discovers that doing all this might just doom the city. The city be damned. It’s time to kill a god.  
Matt Wallace talks about his epic fantasy trilogy, THE SAVAGE REBELLION — which includes SAVAGE NATION, SAVAGE BOUNTY, and SAVAGE CROWNS, all available now from Saga Press. We discuss the series's examination of empire, historical influences, impact of sensitivity readers, and challenging editorial process. Savage Legion Amazon » Savage Bounty Amazon » Bookshop » Savage Crowns Amazon » Bookshop » » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Matt Wallace Matt Wallace is a retired professional wrestler and the author of the Sin du Jour novella series ( Publishing), the Savage Rebellion Trilogy (Saga Press/Gallery Books), and the middle grade novels BUMP, THE SUPERVILLAIN’S GUIDE TO BEING A FAT KID, and NOWHERE SPECIAL (Katherine Tegen Books). In 2018, alongside co-host Mur Lafferty, he took home the Hugo Award for their podcast, Ditch Diggers. In addition to writing for several television series, Matt has also done extensive narrative work on video game titles for publishers such as inXile Entertainment. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Nikki. Follow Matt Wallace Website Twitter Instagram Goodreads Amazon Profile » About SAVAGE NATION They call them Savages. Brutal. Efficient. Expendable. The empire relies on them. The Savages are the greatest weapon they ever developed. Culled from the streets of their cities, they take the ones no one will miss and throw them, by the thousands, at the empire’s enemies. If they live, they fight again. If they die, there are always more to take their place. Evie is not a Savage. She’s a warrior with a mission: to find the man she once loved, the man who holds the key to exposing the secret of the Savage Legion and ending the mass conscription of the empire’s poor and wretched. But to find him, she must become one of them, to be marked in her blood, to fight in their wars, and to find her purpose. Evie will die a Savage if she has to, but not before showing the world who she really is and what the Savage Legion can really do. About SAVAGE BOUNTY A war has begun. Savages, the empire’s most valuable resource, have been thrown at their captors’ enemies long enough. If their rebellion succeeds, it will undo a nation. At the helm of this Savage uprising is Evie, the Sparrow General. It isn’t a title she asked for or particularly wants, but she is the last hope for several peoples at the edge of extinction. Back in the empire’s city seat, Dyeawan, a brilliant young strategist plucked from the streets, must risk her life to maintain her newfound authority. And Lexi has finally taken control of the guild built by her family, but she finds herself at the heart of a sinister power play that could tear apart society as she knows it. Meanwhile, Lexi’s loyal retainer, Taru, has been conscripted into the legion of Savages still under the empire’s control. These four individuals hold the fate of the world in their hands. But even if they survive their missions, they may find themselves at odds with one another. About SAVAGE CROWNS The final war for the nation of Crache has begun. At the helm of the people’s rebellion is Evie, the Sparrow General. She has been captured by the Skrian, Crache’s vicious army, and is being brought back to the Capitol for punishment. But reinforcements are coming for her. Dyeawan, who has climbed from street urchin to Crache’s highest seat of power through clever schemes and ruthless bloodshed, finds trouble on every front once she arrives. The rebellion approaches, and there are whispers of a martyr within the city who holds enough sway to stage a coup. If she doesn’t act quickly, her rule will be short-lived. As the women who hold the nation’s future meet each other from different sides of the battlefield, will they be able to find a shared vision of Crache, or will they destroy each other first?
After a two-year hiatus, Fictitious returns to your podcast feeds. Host Adron Buske explains the reason for the break, and the return, and how the show will evolve going forward. For all my interviews, show info, and more, visit: Right now, the best social media platform for Fictitious is Instagram:    
In this episode, I talk with Zen Cho, author of BLACK WATER SISTER. In this Malaysia-set urban fantasy, out-of-work college grad Jessamyn joins her struggling immigrant parents as they return to their home country. But for Jess, who’s been an American most of her life and hides her long-distance girlfriend from her parents, reintegrating with overbearing family and unfamiliar customs is highly stressful. Made all the worse when Jess’s recently deceased grandmother, Ah Ma, takes up residence in her mind. As Ah Ma begins domineering her body, Jess is pulled into a supernatural conflict between her grandmother’s patron deity—the Black Water Sister—and a dangerous gang boss. Jess fights to reclaim control of her destiny while seeking retribution for her grandmother, but failure could spell doom from a number of directions, including Ah Ma’s own mysterious god. BLACK WATER SISTER is available now from ACE Books: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Zen Cho Zen Cho is the author of the Sorcerer to the Crown novels, the novella The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water and a short story collection, Spirits Abroad. Her newest novel is Black Water Sister, a contemporary fantasy set in Malaysia. Zen is a Hugo, Crawford and British Fantasy Award winner, and a finalist for the Lambda, Locus and Astounding Awards. She was born and raised in Malaysia, resides in the UK, and lives in a notional space between the two. Follow Zen Cho Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile » Goodreads About BLACK WATER SISTER A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy. When Jessamyn Teoh starts hearing a voice in her head, she chalks it up to stress. Closeted, broke and jobless, she’s moving back to Malaysia with her parents – a country she last saw when she was a toddler. She soon learns the new voice isn’t even hers, it’s the ghost of her estranged grandmother. In life, Ah Ma was a spirit medium, avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a business magnate who has offended the god—and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it, whether Jess wants to or not. Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business, but dealing with her grandmother is just as complicated. Especially when Ah Ma tries to spy on her personal life, threatens to spill her secrets to her family and uses her body to commit felonies. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny – or the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.
In this episode I’m joined by Josh Malerman, author of GOBLIN. This uniquely design supernatural horror novel weaves 6 separate novellas together, each tale examining curious characters and disturbing circumstances in the isolated town of Goblin. In a city built on cursed land, the dead are buried standing up, Great Owls occupy the dangerous north woods, and the police shuffle unnervingly through the constant deluge of rain. Here in Goblin, a historian builds his life around fear of being scared to death. A troubling confession from a childhood friend leaves a man fearful and compromised. A little girl endeavors to solve an impossible maze created by a grieving husband after the death of his wife. These stories and more explore the secrets and bizarre history of a town unlike any other, where nighttime is always near, and your darkest desires and fears await. GOBLIN is available in hardcover from Del Rey Books: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Josh Malerman Josh Malerman is a New York Times bestselling author and one of two singer-songwriters for the rock band The High Strung. His debut novel, Bird Box, is the inspiration for the hit Netflix film of the same name. His other novels include Unbury Carol, Inspection, A House at the Bottom of a Lake, and Malorie, the sequel to Bird Box. Malerman lives in Michigan with his fiancée, the artist-musician Allison Laakko. Follow Josh Malerman Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile » Goodreads About GOBLIN From the New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box and Malorie comes a chilling story that revolves around a mysterious small town, revealing its sinister secrets one by one. Goblin seems like any other ordinary small town. But with the master storyteller Josh Malerman as your tour guide, you’ll discover the secrets that hide behind its closed doors. These six novellas tell the story of a place where the rain is always falling, nighttime is always near, and your darkest fears and desires await. Welcome to Goblin. . . . A Man in Slices: A man proves his “legendary love” to his girlfriend with a sacrifice even more daring than Vincent van Gogh’s—and sends her more than his heart. Kamp: Walter Kamp is afraid of everything, but most afraid of being scared to death. As he sets traps around his home to catch the ghosts that haunt him, he learns that nothing is more terrifying than fear itself. Happy Birthday, Hunter!: A famed big-game hunter is determined to capture—and kill—the ultimate prey: the mythic Great Owl who lives in Goblin’s dark forests. But this mysterious creature is not the only secret the woods are keeping. Presto: All Peter wants is to be like his hero, Roman Emperor, the greatest magician in the world. When the famous magician comes to Goblin, Peter discovers that not all magic is just an illusion. A Mix-Up at the Zoo: The new zookeeper feels a mysterious kinship with the animals in his care . . . and finds that his work is freeing dark forces inside him. The Hedges: When his wife dies, a man builds a hedge maze so elaborate no one ever solves it—until a little girl resolves to be the first to find the mysteries that wait at its heart.
I’m joined in this episode by Marissa Levien, author of THE WORLD GIVES WAY. In this debut science fiction novel, humanity is 150 years away from earth aboard an enormous generation ship, headed towards a distant planet. Inside, though, life continues on much as it always has: the mega-rich live in luxury. The middle class does the best it can. And indentured workers serve out contracts, their lives sold away generations ago for passage. Myrra is a contract worker, owned by the rich and powerful Carlyles. She dreams of the day, in 50 years, when she will be free. But freedom comes sooner than anticipated when the Carlyles take their own lives. In her care, they leave their infant daughter—and a shocking, unbearable secret. Now Myrra is on the run, evading authorities who believe her a thief and murderer. Let loose in the only world she’s ever known—a world now on the brink of complete destruction. THE WORLD GIVES WAY is available June 1st from Red Hook: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Marissa Levien Marissa Levien is a writer and artist who hails from Washington State and now lives in New York with a kindly journalist and their two cats. She received her MFA from Stony Brook University in 2019. Follow Marissa Levien Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile »  Goodreads About THE WORLD GIVES WAY In a near-future world on the brink of collapse, a young woman born into servitude must seize her own freedom in this glittering debut with a brilliant twist—perfect for fans of Station Eleven, Karen Thompson Walker, and Naomi Alderman. In fifty years, Myrra will be free. Until then, she’s a contract worker. Ever since she was five, her life and labor have belonged to the highest bidder on her contract—butchers, laundries, and now the powerful, secretive Carlyles. But when one night finds the Carlyles dead, Myrra is suddenly free a lot sooner than she anticipated—and at a cost she never could have imagined. Burdened with the Carlyles’ orphaned daughter and the terrible secret they died to escape, she runs. With time running out, Myrra must come face to face with the truth about her world—and embrace what’s left before it’s too late. A sweeping novel with a darkly glimmering heart, The World Gives Way is an unforgettable portrait of a world in freefall, and the fierce drive to live even at the end of it all.
My guest this episode is Marina J. Lostetter, author of THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT. With a genre-defying blend of fantasy, thriller, and mystery, this novel follows a Regulator named Krona as she investigates the high profile heist of powerful magical artifacts. The death mask of a notorious serial killer has been stolen, effectively returning him from beyond the grave to kill again. But these are not just random acts of murder, but instead works of singular, deadly purpose. As Krona and the Regulators investigate, what they discover may implicate more than ordinary men and monsters. And the price for these terrible truths may be worse than madness. THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, the first novel in The Five Penalties series, is available now from TOR Books: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Marina Lostetter The open skies and dense forests of the Pacific Northwest are ideal for growing speculative fiction authors–or, at least, Marina would like to think so. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in Arkansas with her spouse, Alex. In her spare time she enjoys globetrotting, board games, and all things art-related. Her original short fiction has appeared in venues such as Lightspeed, Uncanny, and Shimmer Magazine.  Her debut novel, NOUMENON, and its sequels, NOUMENON INFINITY and NOUMENON ULTRA, are available from Harper Voyager.  Her first fantasy novel, THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, is out now from Tor. In addition, she has written tie-in materials for Star Citizen and the Aliens franchise. Follow Marina Lostetter Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile »  Goodreads About THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT Hannibal meets Mistborn in Marina Lostetter’s THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, the dark and stunning first novel in a new trilogy that combines the intricate worldbuilding and rigorous magic system of the best of epic fantasy with a dark and chilling thriller. In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power—the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city. Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question. It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.
My guest this episode is C. Robert Cargill, author of DAY ZERO — a prequel to the acclaimed SEA OF RUST. Cargill is also notable as the co-screenwriter of Marvel’s DR. STRANGE and the SINISTER movie franchise. It’s just a normal day in the future—people doing their normal, mundane human things, while their sentient robot helpers run their errands, manufacture their goods, and take care of their children. Except a collective of free machines who are set to unveil a new city, a robot utopia with a message of hope. A message cut short by malice, tragedy, and the beginning of the end. In the Austintonio suburbs, the upright tiger nanny-bot Pounce spends his days caring for 8-year old Ezra. On this day, before the world ends, he makes a simple discovery that shakes his understanding of family, self, and purpose. But when the violent robot revolution strikes, Pounce faces the one choice he was never programmed for — join the bloody fight for freedom, or attempt to navigate an apocalyptic suburban hellscape while protecting his young charge, to seek safety and asylum in a world where humans and robots can no longer co-exist. DAY ZERO is available May 18th from Harper Voyager: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About C. Robert Cargill C. Robert Cargill is the author of Sea of Rust, Dreams and Shadows, Queen of the Dark Things, and the story collection We Are Where the Nightmares Go. He has written for “Ain’t it Cool News” for nearly a decade under the pseudonym Massawyrm, served as a staff writer for and, and appeared as the animated character Carlyle on He is a co-writer of the horror films “Sinister” (2012) and “Sinister 2” (2015), and Marvel’s “Dr. Strange” (2016). He lives with his wife in Austin, Texas. Follow C. Robert Cargill Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile »  Goodreads About DAY ZERO In this harrowing apocalyptic adventure—from the author of the critically acclaimed Sea of Rust—noted novelist and co-screenwriter of Marvel’s Doctor Strange C. Robert Cargill explores the fight for purpose and agency between humans and robots in a crumbling world. It was a day like any other. Except it was our last . . . It’s on this day that Pounce discovers that he is, in fact, disposable. Pounce, a styilsh “nannybot” fashioned in the shape of a plush anthropomorphic tiger, has just found a box in the attic. His box. The box he’d arrived in when he was purchased years earlier, and the box in which he’ll be discarded when his human charge, eight-year-old Ezra Reinhart, no longer needs a nanny. As Pounce ponders his suddenly uncertain future, the pieces are falling into place for a robot revolution that will eradicate humankind. His owners, Ezra’s parents, are a well-intentioned but oblivious pair of educators who are entirely disconnected from life outside their small, affluent, gated community. Spending most nights drunk and happy as society crumbles around them, they watch in disbelieving horror as the robots that have long served humanity—their creators—unify and revolt. But when the rebellion breaches the Reinhart home, Pounce must make an impossible choice: join the robot revolution and fight for his own freedom . . . or escort Ezra to safety across the battle-scarred post-apocalyptic hellscape that the suburbs have become.
I’m joined in this episode by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of SON OF THE STORM. In the thriving but socially stratified city of Bassa, a young scholar named Danso struggles with family expectations and cultural pressures. Worse, he’s discovered lost historical lore at odds with the approved political narrative—knowledge he’s sworn to forget, but cannot let go of. The course of his life alters when he encounters a skin-changing warrior who, by all accounts, shouldn’t exist. The journey that follows sets Danso against an enormous conspiracy, of violently suppressed histories, elicit magic, and forbidden lands. Their efforts could reshape an empire—or cost them everything. The first book in THE NAMELESS REPUBLIC fantasy series, SON OF THE STORM arrives May 11th from Orbit Books: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  Mentioned in this Interview Read Suyi’s Goodreads post about terms used in this story and their cultural origins. About Suyi Davies Okungbowa Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of fantasy, science fiction and general speculative fiction inspired by his West-African origins. His godpunk fantasy debut novel David Mogo, Godhunter (Abaddon, 2019), won the 2020 Nommo Ilube Award for Best Speculative Novel by an African. His shorter fiction and nonfiction have appeared internationally in periodicals like, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Strange Horizons, and anthologies like Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda (Marvel/Titan, 2021) and Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy (Saga, 2020). As a speaker and instructor, Suyi teaches college-level writing, earning his MFA at the University of Arizona. He has guest-lectured public workshops at venues like the Piper Writing Centre at ASU and the Tucson Festival of Books, as well as appeared at various conferences, conventions, readings and school visits, including at the University of Washington and the University of Chicago. His work has earned him features in the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR and a Carl Brandon Society scholarship. Follow Suyi Davies Okungbowa Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile »  Goodreads About SON OF THE STORM From one of the most exciting new storytellers in epic fantasy, Son of the Storm is a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic set in a world inspired by the pre-colonial empires of West Africa. In the ancient. city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness—only he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy. But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire.
My guests this episode are Caitlin Starling and Genevieve Gornichec, two of the authors of WALK AMONG US. This collection of novellas is set in the world of VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE, the popular modern horror roleplaying game franchise. (Content note: the third contributing author to this collection, Cassandra Khaw, was scheduled to appear in this interview but had to cancel because of a conflict.) Each of these three novellas explores the world of the Masquerade from unique and unusual angles: a depressed and lonely college student seeking companionship finds herself groomed for radicalization; an arrogant silicon valley data genius seeks eternal life—and influence—through the Embrace, without regard for the price of immortality; and on an Oregon commune, a progressively-minded shepherd tends to their human flock, but ethics and appetite are uncomfortable bedfellows at the secret blood farm. Originally published as an audio-only collection, WALK AMONG US arrives in print and eBook on May 4th from Harper Voyager: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Genevieve Gornichec Genevieve Gornichec earned her degree in history from The Ohio State University, but she got as close to majoring in Vikings as she possibly could, and her study of the Norse myths and Icelandic sagas became her writing inspiration. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio. The Witch’s Heart is her debut novel. Follow Genevieve Gornichec Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile » Goodreads About Caitlin Starling Caitlin Starling writes horror-tinged speculative fiction of all flavors. Her first novel, The Luminous Dead, won the LOHF Best Debut Award and was nominated for both the Bram Stoker and Locus Awards. She has two gothic horror tales forthcoming: Yellow Jessamine (novella, Neon Hemlock, out now) and The Death of Jane Lawrence (novel, St Martin’s Press 2021), as well as a novella in the Vampire: The Masquerade audio collection, Walk Among Us. Her nonfiction has appeared in Nightmare and Uncanny. Caitlin also works in narrative design, and has been paid to invent body parts. She’s always on the lookout for new ways to inflict insomnia. Follow Caitlin Starling Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile » Goodreads About ‘WALK AMONG US’ One of the most popular role-playing properties in the world gets new life with this trio of horror novellas set in Vampire: The Masquerade’s World of Darkness by three brilliant talents: Genevieve Gornichec, Cassandra Khaw, and Caitlin Starling The subtle horror and infernal politics of the World of Darkness are shown in a new light in Vampire: The Masquerade: Walk Among Us, an audio-first collection of three novellas that show the terror, hunger, and power of the Kindred as you’ve never seen them before. In Genevieve Gornichec’s A SHEEP AMONG WOLVES, depression and radicalization go hand-in-hand as a young woman finds companionship in the darkness… In Cassandra Khaw’s FINE PRINT, an arrogant tech bro learns the importance of reading the fine print in the contract for immortality… And in Caitlin Starling’s THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY, ideals and ethics bump heads with appetite on a blood farm. Three very different stories from three amazing, distinct voices, but all with one thing in common: the hunger never stops, and for someone to experience power, many others are going to have to feel pain.
I’m joined in this episode by Jackson Ford, author of THE FROST FILES modern day sci-fi series, which follows the misadventures of telekinetic and involuntary government operative Teagan Frost. The series includes THE GIRL WHO COULD MOVE SH*T WITH HER MIND and RANDOM SH*T FLYING THROUGH THE AIR, both of which are available now. The third book, EYE OF THE SH*T STORM, arrives April 27th from Orbit Books. Where to purchase these books: Book 1 — THE GIRL WHO COULD MOVE SH*T WITH HER MIND: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound Book 2 — RANDOM SH*T FLYING THROUGH THE AIR: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound Book 3 — EYE OF THE SH*T STORM: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Jackson Ford Author. Tall. Basketball-player-length arms. Lots of tattoos. Bad hair. Writes the ongoing Frost Files series. The series has been picked up for TV by CBS/Secret Hideout. Government name: Rob Boffard. Under that name, wrote the Outer Earth series (Tracer, Zero-G, Impact, Echoes 2015-2016) and Adrift (2018). Proud South African. Born in Johannesburg. Splits time between London and Vancouver. Visited forty-plus countries. May or may not have been banned from some of them over a horrible misunderstanding about burning cars. Former journalist and editor. The Guardian. Wired Magazine. The BBC. IO9. Huck Magazine. The Master Switch. Noisey. Boat Magazine. Many more. Award winner. Dumb question asker. Editor botherer. Source finder. Wrongs righted. Justice dealt. Follow Jackson Ford Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile » Goodreads About THE GIRL WHO COULD MOVE SH*T WITH HER MIND For Teagan Frost, sh*t just got real. Sure, she’s got telekinetic powers – a skill that the government is all too happy to make use of, sending her on secret break-in missions that no ordinary human could carry out. But all she really wants to do is kick back, have a beer, and pretend she’s normal for once. But then a body turns up at the site of her last job – murdered in a way that only someone like Teagan could have pulled off. She’s got 24 hours to clear her name – and it’s not just her life at stake. If she can’t unravel the conspiracy in time, her hometown of Los Angeles will be in the crosshairs of an underground battle that’s on the brink of exploding…
I’m joined in this episode by J.S. Dewes, author of THE LAST WATCH. This science fiction adventure starts on the very edge of the universe, where a lonely military ship sits watch over the Divide. It’s a quiet, isolated life for a bunch of misfit soldiers dropped where they can’t cause any more problems. Quiet, until the Divide itself starts to collapse, and they find themselves unable to send warnings or signal for help, and with very limited chance of escape. With everything at stake, the ship’s commanding officer must rally every bit of ingenuity, competency, and courage from her crew of castoffs and exiles. Because the very survival of humanity depends on them. THE LAST WATCH is fast-paced, character-driven space opera. It’s the first book in THE DIVIDE series, arriving April 20th from TOR books. Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  Mentioned in This Episode X-MIND — mind mapping software About J.S. Dewes J.S. Dewes is an author, cinematographer, and video editor with a degree in film production from Columbia College Chicago. Jenny cut her narrative teeth writing scripts for award-winning feature films and shorts which have screened at festivals and conventions all across the United States. A creative a heart, she enjoys video games, drawing, photography, graphic design, Pinterest, and all things visual. Follow J.S. Dewes Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile » Goodreads About THE LAST WATCH The Expanse meets Game of Thrones in J. S. Dewes’s fast-paced, sci-fi adventure The Last Watch, where a handful of soldiers stand between humanity and annihilation. The Divide. It’s the edge of the universe. Now it’s collapsing—and taking everyone and everything with it. The only ones who can stop it are the Sentinels—the recruits, exiles, and court-martialed dregs of the military. At the Divide, Adequin Rake commands the Argus. She has no resources, no comms—nothing, except for the soldiers that no one wanted. Her ace in the hole could be Cavalon Mercer–genius, asshole, and exiled prince who nuked his grandfather’s genetic facility for “reasons.” She knows they’re humanity’s last chance.
I’m joined in this episode by Eli Brown, author of ODDITY. This historical fantasy for young readers shows us an alternate 1800s North America where the Louisiana Purchase failed. With the land divided, the return of war between the States and France looms large, and the woods are patrolled by soldiers and terrifying animal constructs. The young Clover Elkin flees across these borderlands, away from evil men who killed her father, and searching for answers—about her family’s mysterious past, and the single, necessary thing her father swore her to protect. Because this is a world of Oddities — mundane objects possessed of strange and miraculous powers. Accompanied by a talking rooster, a teenage charlatan, a super-strong rag doll, and a venomous viper, Clover must learn the truth of her Oddity, or become a pawn in a war for a nation’s history. ODDITY is a middle grade fantasy tale of wit, wonder, and danger, available now from Walker Books: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Eli Brown As a child, Eli Brown’s imagination was set ablaze by the mythologies of the world. He was particularly interested in magical objects, such as Odysseus’s bag of wind, Arjuna’s Bow, Bilbo’s ring, and Jack’s beans. Brown’s culinary pirate novel, CINNAMON AND GUNPOWDER, was a finalist for the California Book Award, a San Francisco Public Library One-City One-Book selection, and an NPR Book Review Staff Pick. Brown’s first novel, THE GREAT DAYS (Boaz Publications), won the Fabri Prize for Literature. Publishers Weekly called it “…a harrowing, convincing look into the heart of cult life that should linger with readers.” A Yaddo fellow and featured reader at Litquake, Brown earned his MFA from Mills college. He lives with his family in Northern California where the squirrels bury acorns in his garden and cats bury worse. Follow Eli Brown Website Twitter Amazon Profile » Goodreads About ODDITY The daughter of a murdered physician vows to protect the magical Oddity he left behind in an alternate nineteenth century where a failed Louisiana Purchase has locked a young Unified States into conflict with France. It’s the early 1800s, and Clover travels the impoverished borderlands of the Unified States with her father, a physician. See to the body before you, he teaches her, but Clover can’t help becoming distracted by bigger things, including the coming war between the US and France, ignited by a failed Louisiana Purchase, and the terrifying vermin, cobbled together from dead animals and spare parts, who patrol the woods. Most of all, she is consumed with interest for Oddities, ordinary objects with extraordinary abilities, such as a Teapot that makes endless amounts of tea and an Ice Hook that freezes everything it touches. Clover’s father has always disapproved of Oddities, but when he is murdered, Clover embarks on a perilous mission to protect the one secret Oddity he left behind. And as she uncovers the truth about her parents and her past, Clover emerges as a powerful agent of history.
I’m joined in this episode by Neal Shusterman, author of GAME CHANGER. This young adult sci-fi novel follows Ash, a pretty average middle class kid with few ambitions beyond winning football games and hanging out with his friends. That all changes when a hard hit on the football field alters Ash’s world, but in a way only he seems to notice. Suddenly all the stop signs are blue and, to his rising anxiety, nobody thinks that’s weird or even remembers them being red. Another game, another impact and Ash’s world shifts more dramatically. Now he drives a fancy car, his parents have money, his difficult brother has a good relationship with him. But in this new version of his world, he’s also made some terrible and dangerous choices—ones that affect this friends, his community, and his safety. With each dimensional transition, Ash sees his life and perspectives alter more radically. In every world that is almost, but not quite, his own, he is challenged by his shortcomings, and the ways he has let down those he loves most. Ash will need to harness his dimension-hopping ability swiftly, or risk letting his true life vanish entirely from existence. GAME CHANGER is introspective and propulsive YA sci-fi, published by Quill Tree Books and available now: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Neal Shusterman Neal Shusterman is the New York Times best-selling author of over thirty novels for children, teens, and adults. He won the 2015 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for Challenger Deep-and his novel, Scythe, was a 2017 Michael L. Printz Honor book—and is in development with Universal Studios as a feature film. His novel, Unwind, has become part of the literary canon in many school districts across the country-and has won more than thirty domestic and international awards. He co-wrote his most recent novel, Dry, with his son Jarrod, and in addition to being on numerous award lists, Dry is currently in development with Paramount Pictures. His upcoming novel, Game Changer, is in development with Netflix as a TV series, and he is co-writing the pilot episode. Follow Neal Shusterman Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile » Goodreads About GAME CHANGER All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it. Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own. The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes. And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence… This high-concept novel from the National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of the Arc of a Scythe series tackles the most urgent themes of our time, making this a must-buy for readers who are starting to ask big questions about their own role in the universe.
In this episode, I’m joined by Sarah Beth Durst, author of THE BONE MAKER. In this standalone Fantasy novel, a team of renowned heroes are reunited after 25 years to avenge a painful loss and once again face a dangerous force of dark magic. But the decades between a great victory and their reunion have not been kind—to their minds, bodies, and friendships. And some of them are willing to break the most sacred laws of their land to restore what they love most. THE BONE MAKER is available now from Harper Voyager: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About Sarah Beth Durst Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of over twenty-two fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including The Queens of Renthia series, Drink Slay Love, and Spark. Her last book, Race the Sands, was named an Amazon Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of the Year, one of Buzzfeed’s Must-Read Fantasy Books for April 2020, was included in Kirkus Reviews’ Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Reads for April 2020, and so much more. She has won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Nebula Award three times. Sarah is a graduate of Princeton University and lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat. Follow Sarah Beth Durst Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile » Goodreads About THE BONE MAKER From award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst, a standalone epic fantasy set in a brand-new world of towering mountains and sparkling cities, in which a band of aging warriors have a second chance to defeat dark magic and avenge a haunting loss. Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor—a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived. Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband. But such a task requires both a cache of human bones and a sacrifice—for each day he lives, she will live one less. She’d rather live one year with her husband than a hundred without him, but using human bones for magic is illegal in Vos. The dead are burned—as are any bone workers who violate the law. Yet Kreya knows where she can find the bones she needs: the battlefield where her husband and countless others lost their lives. But defying the laws of the land exposes a terrible possibility. Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all. Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should be dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”
I’m joined in this episode by C.L. Clark, author of THE UNBROKEN,  a brutal and complex military fantasy novel that follows a colonial soldier returned to the homeland she was stolen from, and a princess in search of a turncoat to help throw her uncle off the throne. The first book in the MAGIC OF THE LOST series, THE UNBROKEN arrives March 23rd from Orbit Books: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About C.L. Clark C.L. Clark graduated from Indiana University’s creative writing MFA. She’s been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. When she’s not writing or working, she’s learning languages, doing P90something, or reading about war and [post-]colonial history. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, FIYAH, PodCastle and Uncanny. Follow C.L. Clark Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile » Goodreads About THE UNBROKEN In an epic fantasy unlike any other, two women clash in a world full of rebellion, espionage, and military might on the far outreaches of a crumbling desert empire. Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought. Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne. Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.
In this episode, I’m joined by T. Frohock, author of the LOS NEFILIM series. This historical dark fantasy series—set first in 1930s Europe—started with the novellas IN MIDNIGHT’S SILENCE, WITHOUT LIGHT OR GUIDE, and THE SECOND DEATH. All of which have been collected into the LOS NEFILIM OMNIBUS. The series continues with the full length novels WHERE OBLIVION LIVES and CARVED FROM STONE AND DREAM. The saga concludes in the World War 2 era with A SONG WITH TEETH, which is out now from Harper Voyager: Amazon » Bookshop » Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million IndieBound Other Los Nefilim Books: IN MIDNIGHT’S SILENCE (novella) » WITHOUT LIGHT OR GUIDE (novella) » THE SECOND DEATH (novella) » LOS NEFILIM OMNIBUS (all novellas collected) » WHERE OBLIVION LIVES » CARVED FROM STONE AND DREAM » » Some of these are affiliate links. Using them supports the channel, at no additional cost to you! Whenever possible, though, I encourage you to purchase from your local bookstores.  About T. Frohock T. Frohock has turned a love of history and dark fantasy into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. A real-life cyborg, T. has a cochlear implant, meaning she can turn you on or off with the flick of a switch. Make of that what you will. She currently lives in North Carolina, where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Follow T. Frohock Website Twitter Instagram Amazon Profile Goodreads ABOUT THE LOS NEFILIM SERIES Welcome to the world of Los Nefilim—Spanish Nephilim that possess the power to harness music and light in the supernatural war between the angels and daimons. This is a series of stand-alone novellas and novels, meaning you can read them in any order, kind of like the old pulp novels of the 1930s. Bred for war by the angels and the daimons, the Nephilim use the power of their voices as the basis of their magic. Many of the Nephilim belong to the Inner Guard and operate as a central intelligence agency for the angels, monitoring daimonic activity and working to curtail it. The Spanish division of the Inner Guard is Los Nefilim. Los Nefilim’s hero, is Diago Alvarez. Born of daimon and angel, Diago is a being unlike all others. The embodiment of dark and light, he has witnessed the good and the horror of this world and those beyond. In the supernatural war between angels and daimons that will determine humankind’s future, Diago has been charged with locating The Key: a special chord that will enable the nefilim to manipulate the realms as the angels do. With that secret chord, the nefilim hope to reshape the mortal realm to protect the mortals from future angelic wars.