Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Debbie Wiley | Fall Fantasy Book Recommendations!
Author Guest / November 14, 2019

Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley  Fantasy novels are magical with their ability to transport you to other worlds. Worldbuilding is crucial to the success of any fantasy novel as we need to believe in these imaginary and sometimes quite fantastical worlds. Character development is important as well since we have to care about the fates of the characters. Despite the fact that both elements are important to any genre but particularly the fantasy genre, most readers have a preference for one or the other and I have to admit I prefer complex worldbuilding over character-driven novels. Here are some of my recent favorite fantasy novels in which the authors do a marvelous job at balancing both character development and worldbuilding. Who doesn’t love a series featuring a Library in charge of the world? Rachel Caine’s brilliant series, The Great Library, recently concluded with the fifth and final book, SWORD AND PEN. SWORD AND PEN showcases all of the characters we’ve grown to love and cheer for putting it all on the line in hopes of finally creating a world of peace and information, where the Library doesn’t squelch knowledge it doesn’t like. The worldbuilding is phenomenal, as we have…

Elle Katharine White | Exclusive Interview: FLAMEBRINGER
Author Guest / November 14, 2019

Welcome to Fresh Fiction, Elle! Please tell us about yourself and about your latest novel, FLAMEBRINGER. Hello! Thanks so much for having me. I’m Elle, I write books, read books, and enjoy any and all things nerdy. Flamebringer is my third book and the last in the Heartstone trilogy, which follows a healer, her dragon-riding husband, and their no-nonsense dragon as they hunt down the monsters plaguing their kingdom.         FLAMEBRINGER marks the third and final book in your Heartstone fantasy series! Without giving too much away, what has been the most satisfying part about finishing this fantasy epic? It was a bittersweet experience, saying goodbye to these characters, but it was a good feeling to tie off their character arcs and (hopefully) give them and the readers a sense of closure. It was fun too, resolving mysteries from book one. Little clues, offhand conversations, subplot threads you might have missed in Heartstone will come back in a big way in Flamebringer. It was satisfying to bring it all full circle. It’s interesting that this fantasy series is inspired by Jane Austen! What are some of the ways Austen’s work influenced you while writing the Heartstone series? The first book…

K.V. Johansen | Top Five New Characters
Author Guest / October 22, 2019

Everyone has their favourite character once they settle into a book, the one they’re rooting for. As an author, you have to care about them all if you’re going to do them justice and bring them to life as real people, but you still end up caring about some more than others. If I were choosing my top five characters from the series, this list might look a little different. (For starters, it would contain some enemies of Moth’s who are now quite definitely dead, the usual fate of Moth’s enemies.) However, for The Last Road, which is book five of my epic silk road fantasy Gods of the Caravan Road, here’s a top five characters list. 1. Moth The Last Road is an interlaced story told in five novels and a short story, containing separate but interconnected adventures. Moth — the devil Ulfhild Vartu — is the thread that binds them all together. She’s the one who wanders in and out of other people’s stories, sometimes taking on a central role, sometimes only brushing by on the periphery. She’s a middle-aged (centuries-old, immortal, but middle-aged) warrior, wizard, storyteller, and devil, a being of two intertwined, conjoined souls, who have…

C.R. Richards | Author-Reader Match: CREED OF THE GUARDIAN
Author Guest / October 18, 2019

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Author-ReaderMatch” where we introduce you to authors as a reader you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present C.R. RICHARDS! Rabidly Reads and Writes: Heart pounding, spine chilling, emotion-stirring Dark Fantasy Novels About the Author: C.R. Richards loves dark fiction stories. She enjoys the sensation of sitting on the edge of her seat, intensely anxious to discover the next twist in a good book. Yes. She loves being scared, but not too scared. No slasher movies, please. In a secret confession, the author admitted she still watches reruns of Supernatural tucked under her covers. Richards makes her books all about the characters. She spends a great deal of time developing their personalities, desires and their failings. If the reader doesn’t care about the character, then what’s the point? What I’m Looking for In My Ideal Reader: Adventures with me won’t be comfortable or light-hearted. Expect journeys into the dark and creepy. My ideal reader will boldly embrace the unexpected, laugh in the face of danger and fortify their reading nook with the warm fuzziness of a loyal pet. I’m looking…

M.C. Planck | Author Reader Match: BLACK HARVEST
Author Guest / June 12, 2019

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Author-Reader Match” where we introduce you to authors as a reader you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present M.C. Planck!  WRITES: Science Fiction and Fantasy ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I was born in the USA and spent a good four decades there, studying philosophy at the University of Arizona and co-founding a small scientific instrument company. After that I spent a few years convincing missiles to fly but that was never really satisfying, so when I met an Aussie girl in an on-line debate forum I packed up and moved to Melbourne. We now have a brilliant daughter and two lazy cats, but sadly no kangaroos. WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR IN MY IDEAL READER MATCH: Readers who want to read about heroes, who care as much about the side characters as the main, who want a world they could imagine living in, who want to see happy endings even while they know that the real world does not sell its victories cheaply. WHAT TO EXPECT IF COMPATIBLE: Realistic, believable worlds with real human characters even while they are zooming around in…

Tracy Townsend | Author Reader Match: THE FALL
Author Guest / June 11, 2019

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Author-Reader Match” where we introduce you to authors as a reader you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present Tracy Townsend!  What do I write: I’m an author who looks at fantasy and science fiction and says, “This is great. I want to do all of it.” I love fantasy that dabbles with technology; futurism riddled with fun anachronism; big-concept genre plots with deep, personal, character-driven stakes; people who are almost monsters and monstrous beings that are almost people. I love writing that appeals to a sense of adventure and doesn’t give up on literary style to do it. My novels are set in a world full of washed-up mercenaries, crooked cops, charming criminals, scrappy pickpockets, cynical clergy, murderous trees, nightmarish ogres, and endless secrets and conspiracies. More about me: I teach science fiction and fantasy literature as well as creative writing, so you can bet I put story craft and knowledge of genre fiction at the front of my writing. Of course, there’s a lot of my background as a martial arts instructor and acting coach mixed in, too. I…

Debbie Wiley | Recent Paranormal and Fantasy Novels I’ve Enjoyed
Author Guest / April 18, 2019

Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley  I don’t remember the first fantasy novel I ever read but I do remember the first one I fell in love with. JRR Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT captivated me like no other book had, taking me on a long and winding quest where creatures of legend lived and breathed. Since that long-ago time in 8th grade, I’ve soared on the backs of dragons with Anne McCaffrey, attended wizarding school with Harry Potter and JK Rowling, and gone on a quest with a talking cat with Tad Williams. Diving into other worlds is one of the biggest allures of fantasy novels. Marshall Ryan Maresca has done a marvelous job at world building, crafting four series set in the same world. THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, the first book in the Maradaine series, caught my attention initially and features a mage student at the local university who has a secret life as a crime fighter against a major crime boss. The Madalaine Constabulary series now has three books in it, including the most recent one, A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES. Not only is the Madalaine Constabulary series my favorite of the four, but A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES is my favorite book out…

Erica Cameron | Why Fantasy?
Author Guest / November 8, 2018

One question I get asked the most is, “Why of all the genres did you choose to write a fantasy series?” I have always loved the fantastical. Epic adventures captured my imagination. Impossible magic enthralled me. Dragons, mermaids, fairies, and monsters thrilled every time I met them. One of my earliest book-specific memories is my father reading The Hobbit to me and my younger sister chapter by chapter every night, beginning to end. Twice. My first favorite author—at least the first I discovered for myself—was Tamora Pierce who gave children of the 80s and 90s female knights, demigods, and heroes, and from her, I branched deeper into the science fiction and fantasy section of the library and the bookstore. It was basically a given that when I committed myself to write a book, I wanted to create a fantasy world. It took me about fifteen years between the first attempt and first published fantasy novel. It took me a little longer than that to truly understand all the reasons why writing the book was so hard as well as why I loved fantasy for far more than the layer of magic on its surface. Speculative fiction—which includes fantasy, science fiction,…

Jeffe Kennedy | A Square Peg in a Round Hole
Author Guest / October 11, 2018

One of the early reviews of THE ARROWS OF THE HEART notes that the heroine, Karyn—while appearing to have been the meek and obedient daughter—has actually always been a square peg in a round hole. When I asked my fan group on Facebook (Jeffe’s Closet) what they’d like me to talk about, one reader suggested Karyn’s unconventional upbringing. It’s true that, in my fantasy world society known for its oppressive conventions, especially regarding the role of women, Karyn af Hardie has grown up in an unusual way. On the surface—especially when she appears in earlier books in the series—Karyn has always seemed like a conventional Dasnarian woman. Her rank in the Dasnarian Empire is very important to her. She clings to her arranged marriage with tenacity because, for a Dasnarian woman, her husband is everything. Since women in this culture cannot handle money, and usually aren’t taught to read or count, having a husband, or father or brothers, to protect and care for them is critical. It’s a matter of survival. Also, like all women of her station and upbringing, Karyn has been carefully taught to defer to men in every way. Defiance is not an option. See again: a…

Christopher Krovatin | Five Questions to Ask Yourself While Writing Paranormal Fiction
Author Guest / October 11, 2018

Writing my latest novel, FREQUENCY, was a blast. The book is a YA retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale that’s steeped in music—hard rock and EDM, primarily—so it gave me a chance to get weird and imaginative with how different forms of music affect different people in a supernatural way (plus, any chance to reference Motörhead in a novel is a gift from the universe). But one obstacle I kept encountering is that paranormal stuff allows for laziness. How does the hero escape the clutches of the villain? Magic! How does the villain know about the well-laid scheme against them? Werewolf! You get the idea. All these tricks are easy and played out, and as a reader, I hate books where paranormal elements were conveniently placed because the author obviously wanted to knock off early for lunch. So if you’re writing paranormal literature, here are a few questions to ask yourself to keep your writing challenging, entertaining, and grounded in just enough in reality to create real conflict. 1. “What if there was no magic?” The most important question. Back when I was brainstorming worlds for a sci-fi publishing imprint, I had a colleague who asked this all the…